Girl Opens Birthday Present, Finds Soldier Stepdad Inside

19 March 2008

SANFORD, Mich. — At her seventh birthday party, Amber Birdsall thought the huge gift box wrapped in pink paper likely hid a pair of bicycles. She was wrong. Inside was something she wanted even more — her stepfather, a soldier who had been deployed overseas.”This is way better than bikes,” Amber said. 

The surprise began a few weeks ago when Amber told her inquiring mother that all she wanted for her birthday was to have her stepfather return home from serving 10 months in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Her mother, Trisha Johnson, 34, relayed Amber’s wish to her 39-year-old husband the same day that the girl expressed it. Army Spc. Glenn Johnson immediately started on the paperwork, not expecting his request for a leave to be granted because he is scheduled to come home for good in June. Much to their surprise, his request for more than a week of leave was granted. The soldier’s flight arrived in Flint, Mich., early Sunday afternoon and he was whisked away to Northern Lanes Recreation, a bowling alley in Sanford where his stepdaughter’s birthday party was taking place. Northern Lanes employees were in on the ruse and kept him hidden in the bar. When Amber and her 9-year-old sister, Kathy Birdsall, opened a colorfully wrapped refrigerator box, Glenn Johnson was inside. In addition to spending a lot of time at home with his family, Glenn Johnson and his wife planned a late celebration of their five-year wedding anniversary, which was on Valentine’s Day. “I told her she needs to get a baby sitter and a new outfit,” he said. “I’ll take care of the rest.”

Military words of wisdom

17 March 2008

  “A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade
launcher fire when you least expect it. That would
make you quite unpopular in what’s left of your unit.”        
-Army’s magazine of preventive maintenance.

  “Aim towards the Enemy”
– Instructions printed on U.S. Rocket Launcher

  “When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our
U.S. Marine Corps

  “Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate.
The bombs are guaranteed always to hit the ground.”
USAF Ammo Troop always

  “If the Enemy is in range, so are you.”
– Infantry Journal

  “It is generally inadvisable to eject over the area
you just bombed”
U.S. Air Force Manual

  “Whoever said the pen is mightier then the sword
obviously never encountered automatic weapons.”
– General MacArthur

  “Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo.”
– Infantry Journal

  “Tracers work both ways.”
– U.S. Army Ordnance

  “Five second fuses only last three seconds”
– Infantry Journal

  “If your attack is going too well, you’re walking
into an ambush.”
– Infantry Journal

  “Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once.”

  “Don’t draw fire; it irritates the people around

  “If you see a bomb technician running, follow him.”
USAF Ammo Troop

  “The only time you have too much fuel is when
you’re on fire.”

  “Blue water Navy truism: There are more planes in
the ocean than submarines in the sky.”

  “When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane,
you always have enough power left to get you to the
scene of the crash.”

  The three most common expressions (or famous last
words) in aviation are: “Why is it doing that?”,
“Where are we?” and “Oh S***…!”

  “Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never
left one up there!”

  “Flashlights are tubular metal containers kept in a
flight bag to store dead batteries.”

  “If something hasn’t broken on your helicopter,
it’s about to.”

  Basic Flying Rules: “Try to stay in the middle of
the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of
the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground,
buildings, sea, trees and interstellar Space. It is
much more difficult to fly there.”

 “You know that your landing gear is up and locked
when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.”


Received via E-mail.  We regret being unable to properly credit all comments, but enjoy the humorour advice!

White House honors last living American World War I veteran

10 March 2008

NBC/KSBY photo

Friday, March 7, 2008Reported by: Joe Vignolo, John Yang, NBC News


He’s the last of a dying breed in this country: a man whose story deserves our attention, respect and thanks.

He is the last known living American veteran of World War I. His name is Frank Buckles, and Thursday was his day at the White House.

Frank Buckles had an appointment Thursday in the White House West Wing, which didn’t even exist when he was born 107 years ago.

“Mr. Buckles has a vivid recollection of historic times,” said President Bush of Buckles.

Since last month, Buckles has been the only living U.S. Veteran of World War I, the last of nearly 5 million “Doughboys.”

“Well, I knew it would happen to somebody. I didn’t think it was going to be me,” said Buckles.

He was born in rural Missouri in 1901, the beginning of the 20th century. He lied about his age to enlist in the army when he was 15.

“I knew it was important, and probably, as a young boy, the thought of adventure,” said Buckles.

But he arrived in France just as the guns went silent, missing the war.

Years later, working for a steamship line in the Philippines, another war found him. The Japanese invaded at the start of World War II, and Buckles spent three and half years as a prisoner, eating from a tin cup.

“In Manila, in the last year of the war, I would get three-quarters of a cupful of mush, lucky to have some beans,” said Buckles of his imprisonment.

Today, he lives on the 330 acre West Virginia cattle farm he bought in 1954. He does 50 situps a day and only stopped driving a tractor five years ago.

“I was driving my car for exercise and to appointments when I was 102,” said Buckles.

Buckles is a piece of living, breathing history, the last living reminder of the “War to End All Wars.”

Packing up, moving out

10 March 2008

Ready to go to the sandbox….



Resolve to Win

10 March 2008

Proud Patriots member Eric Cooper spent his Saturday supporting the troops with Resolve to Win…

When my alarm buzzed at 3:30 a.m., I was surprised at how quickly this ol’ fortysomething got moving.Despite the early hour and challenges ahead, I was
excited to join America’s finest for a small part of an epic walk from the NC/SC border up to WashingtonD.C.  After a quick shower and an accelerated morning
routine, I departed at 4:02 for the 160 mile or sodrive to Emporia.  There I met up with Bob Miller, afriend and Marine Corps Vietnam veteran.  We grabbed
some coffee and Mountain Dew and intended to welcome the walkers to Virginia by escorting them across the state line.

Who were these walkers?  Three retired veterans who had recently been voluntarily recalled and served over in Iraq.  They determined to do something significant and difficult to show America that many of us want our troops to come home as winners, having accomplished a very challenging mission.  That’s how Resolve to Win was born. They also hope to build excitement and
momentum along the way, resulting in a large following in northern Virginia next weekend.  Route and schedule here:

Bob and I staged his vehicle at the VA/NC state line, then drove south on Hwy 301 and soon (by purecoincidence) found ourselves behind the Resolve to Win
recreational vehicle.  We knew from photos this was the walkers’ main support vehicle, so we followed behind it all the way to this morning’s starting point
in Halifax County.  There, in a light drizzle, we met up with walkers Dennis McCool, Carl Heerup and Marc Breslow, plus their support crew (Ada, Don, Carl, Pearl – my apologies if I missed anyone).  We learned the unfortunate news that Marc, after walking seven consecutive days, was going to depart for much-needed medical attention on his feet.  So the core group of four was down to two (Dennis and Carl).  The fourth member, an Army major or lieutenant colonel and Dennis’ son Gerry McCool, walked for several days in the beginning before needing to return to work.  However, he will rejoin the group for the last few days.  The group wished Marc a fond farewell, a speedy recovery, and plans to see him in D.C. on March 16th.

We stepped off at 7:30 in a light rain, which over the next couple of hours faded on and off, with one stretch of 10-15 minutes of fairly heavy rain that unfortunately soaked our footwear.  In addition to Dennis, Carl, Bob and I, we were joined by two active duty Army recruiters (Darrick and Trey, who were
determined to escort these amazing veterans through their area of operations) and another old Marine Corps friend, Larry Hoffa (whom we did not realize until just then would be walking with us).  Each walking segment was 6-7 miles, taking about two hours. There’s a half-hour morning break, a 45-minute lunch,
a half-hour afternoon break, with each day completed about 6:00 p.m.

During the first leg Bob called in to a Richmond radio station, and the DJs interviewed Bob and Carl.  Dennis normally receives a daily morning call from a Fox affiliate in Orlando FL that has been tracking their progress.  However, this morning for some reason there was no call.  People took turns carrying the American flag and the guidon (a long wooden stick with a metal pike on top, holding a small banner usually denoting a particular unit.  This blue banner with fringe says Resolve to Win.)  Since the recruiters and Larry were only planning to walk until lunch, I held off carrying the guidon until the later legs.  We walked along the right edge of Hwy 301 and were blessed to have NC sheriff and police escorts all the way to the lunch break.  I was disappointed that Virginia did not have anyone (police or otherwise) greeting us at the state line.  But the support crew and walkers all have Nextel phones, so they managed traffic very professionally with no significant problems all day.

During the second leg we heard a disturbance behind us, and saw an elderly veteran with an American flag double timing (running) to catch up to us.  We slowed down, and he walked with Dennis McCool up to a bridge (where his wife picked him up)  just to show us his support.  Very motivating!  And during this leg another gentleman pulled his southbound vehicle over, jumped out, snapped a couple of photos and thanked us for walking.

The rain cleared up after the first leg, and by lunchtime the sun was coming out.  A reporter from Littleton NC took pictures and interviewed some of the folks.  We ate and then bid a fond farewell to our Army recruiter friends, Darrick and Trey, as they had to prepare for an ROTC ball that evening.  Both were fun to have around, sharing knowledge of the local area, trail mix and Hershey’s kisses!  And Darrick kindly gave me a pair of hiking socks.  I had neglected to bring a back-up pair, and the wet shoes & socks resulted in a couple of blisters on my right foot by lunch.  So those socks did considerably cut down on my discomfort.  Larry was feeling pretty good, so he wanted to walk the third leg with us.  His wife Lori, following in a support vehicle, good naturedly agreed to go to work a little later so Larry could have some more fun with us (in a masochistic sort of way).

As Carl, Dennis, Bob, Larry and I set off on Leg 3 after a lunch of sandwiches, pickles and potato chips (and lots of fluids!), a white SUV pulled over in front of us.  It was a NC family of four who had heard about us on the radio and wanted to say “Hello” and cheer us on.  They chatted briefly with Bob, then drove ahead of us.  They pulled out a large unit flag for the 173rd Airborne, in which they have two sons (Sean and Chase, I believe) currently serving in Iraq.   9-year old Gavin was waving the flag, which was twice as big as him, in a strong wind, while 3-year old Raven was on the SUV’s hood waving to us as we walked
by.  At Dennis’ urging I ran back to a trail vehicle and retrieved some small American flags for the kids, Mom and Dad.  Bob and I went over to chat and snapped some photos.  They wanted to purchase some Resolve to Win t-shirts and hats, which were in the RV.  They decided to meet us at the state line (our third break area) to buy those, and then handed me a nice donation for RTW.  Raven had a picture of soldier brother Sean on her t-shirt.  If you can’t tell, those cute kids were the highlight of my day.    Bob and I then ran to catch up to the core group, and the running actually felt good to use some different
muscles for a while.  True to their word, they were waiting for us at the state line.  They bought a load of shirts and hats and spoke for a while with Dennis.
He cut short his rest and foot maintenance just to speak with them.  During the third break I needed to lance a couple of huge blisters on my right foot, and
Dennis gave me some moleskin which helped considerably.

After the break we all – walkers and support crew -posed for photos at the “Welcome to Virginia” sign. We said goodbye to Lori and Larry Hoffa, who were
gracious enough to run Bob back to retrieve my vehicle at the starting point.   That enabled me to walk the final leg with Dennis and Carl, who otherwise would have been alone.  Most of our route paralleled railroad tracks, and the trains were all honking, so we surmised they were talking about our march on the radio.  I started carrying the guidon early in Leg 3,  and never gave it up after that.  Leg 4 was extremely windy, and the fairly comfortable temperatures from the morning had dropped a good 15-20 degrees.  My hands were cold, but not enough to retrieve my gloves from the trail vehicle.  We heard via radio there were gale warnings in the area.  We weren’t surprised!
Early in Leg 4 we heard a snap, looked ahead about 40-50 yards as the crown of an old tree plummeted into the roadway.  Fortunately it was on the other side of the highway and no cars were coming.  I quickly cleared the debris and we continued.  We saw homes with shingles missing and at least two sheds with the roofs peeled back like tin can tops.  Needless to say, managing the guidon and American flag in those conditions was challenging.  Twice (during Legs 2 and 4) the American flag separated from the pole and was retired to the support vehicles.

As we approached the day’s final destination (a church parking lot 25-26 miles from the morning’s starting point), I could see Concrete Bob waiting with his
vehicle.  He’s never looked so beautiful (he was my ride back to MY vehicle!).  Dennis and Carl decided to skip going out for dinner and instead focus on warm
baths and caring for their feet.  So we posed for more pictures, including one for a nice veterans group in Missouri that sent a check for Resolve To Win.  It’s
nice to see the donations, because Dennis, Carl and the others have put a lot of their own money into this effort of love, with some wonderful support from
American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. We then said our goodbyes and everyone departed.  Don, one of the support crew, said Day 8 was the most challenging with the rain and wind, so I was especially glad to have joined these fine folks on this day and hopefully provided some good company and encouragement.

As Bob drove me back to retrieve my vehicle, the first song coming from the radio was Alan Jackson’s “Where We You (When the World Stop Turning,” a moving reminder of the horrible slaughter of 9/11/01 and its impact on our lives.  A very fitting ending to an amazing day dedicated to our troops.

I am sore, with a few blisters, but have no regrets.  However, it’s absolutely incredible to me that two gentlemen (one ten years and the other 19 years my
senior) have done this eight consecutive days, with another eight still to come.  These guys are first-class studs!  What keeps them going is not only the knowledge they’re walking for everyone in uniform defending our freedom, but also the support of everyone who walks with them or simply stands along
the route to clap, cheer on and thank them.  I urge everyone reading this to:
•       tell a friend and local/national media organizations about this epic journey
•       visit the below website to post a short note of encouragement and/or buy a t-shirt or hat
•       consider meeting them somewhere between Emporia and D.C. through March 16th.

Maybe YOU could be one of the thousands they hope to have escorting them over the Memorial Bridge from Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial on March 16th.  God willing, I’ll be there.

Rock on, Eric!   We need more like ya!


Salah Ali Saleh Nabhan goes to his “virgins”

5 March 2008

From SandRat’s Free Republic War News, a Washington Post Story “U.S. strike kills terrorist” —

U.S. forces found, targeted and killed in a Somali desert city the senior al Qaeda operative who masterminded the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and had since spent a decade in hiding, The Washington Times has learned.

Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who is one of the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists, was the target of a U.S. missile strike on a residence in Dobley, a small town in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border, according to a U.S. military official who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of the operation.

More at the link… Thank you Troops! You just made this world a better place — like you do everyday!

Darwin awards

5 March 2008

Gravity Still Works

“Gravity still works.”

(28 July 2007, Czech Republic) A pack of thieves attempted to steal scrap metal from an abandoned factory in Kladno. Unfortunately for them, they selected the steel girders that supported the factory roof. When the roof supports were dismantled, the roof fell, fatally crushing two thieves and injuring three others.

(21 June 2007, Philippines) Three entrepreneurs planned to profit from stolen scrap metal. They entered a former US military complex and approached the prize: an abandoned water tank. Bedazzled by the potential upside, the three threw logic to the wind, and began to cut the metal legs out from under the tank. Guess where it fell? Straight onto the thieves. Their flattened bodies have not yet been identified.

(31 July 1997) Two teens were disassembling an electric tower with wrenches when it toppled to the ground. They apparently wanted to sell its aluminum supports for scrap, but they failed to realize the essential role the aptly named “support” plays in a 160-foot tower. One of the men was crushed by the collapse of the ten-thousand-pound tower, while the other dug himself out from under, a sadder but wiser man from his close brush with a Darwin Award. Reference: Associated Press

A warrior was honored today

4 March 2008

Woodrow Wilson Keeble, MOH

MSGT Woodrow Wilson Keeble was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor today. The ceremony can be viewed at the Pentagon Channel….

Medal of Honor Ceremony – do a search for MSGT Keeble

His story is posted at The American Thinker and his citation reads…

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Sangsan-ni, Korea, on October 20, 1951. On that day, Master Sergeant Keeble was an acting platoon leader for the support platoon in Company G, 19th Infantry, in the attack on Hill 765, a steep and rugged position that was well defended by the enemy. Leading the support platoon, Master Sergeant Keeble saw that the attacking elements had become pinned down on the slope by heavy enemy fire from three well-fortified and strategically placed enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Master Sergeant Keeble dashed forward and joined the pinned-down platoon. Then, hugging the ground, Master Sergeant Keeble crawled forward alone until he was in close proximity to one of the hostile machine-gun emplacements. Ignoring the heavy fire that the crew trained on him, Master Sergeant Keeble activated a grenade and threw it with great accuracy, successfully destroying the position. Continuing his one-man assault, he moved to the second enemy position and destroyed it with another grenade. Despite the fact that the enemy troops were now directing their firepower against him and unleashing a shower of grenades in a frantic attempt to stop his advance, he moved forward against the third hostile emplacement, and skillfully neutralized the remaining enemy position. As his comrades moved forward to join him, Master Sergeant Keeble continued to direct accurate fire against nearby trenches, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Inspired by his courage, Company G successfully moved forward and seized its important objective. The extraordinary courage, selfless service, and devotion to duty displayed that day by Master Sergeant Keeble was an inspiration to all around him and reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


Proud Patriots teams with Wal-Mart

4 March 2008

From America Supports You’s newsletter….

ASY corporate-supporter Wal-Mart and homefront group Proud Patriots recently got together to pack and send over 2,200 care packages to deployed servicemembers in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. The packing took place at Wal-Mart’s annual “Year Beginning Meeting” where thousands of Wal-Mart store managers converged. Proud Patriots is a national organization that has been sending care packages overseas since 2004 to over 4,000 deployed military personnel. The Wal-Mart care package event was the largest Proud Patriots effort to date. Included in the packages were phone cards, disposable cameras, and comfort items supplied by Wal-Mart. Personal notes and cards were collected by Wal-Mart managers and associates from across the country to include in the packages as well.


4 March 2008

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