July 03, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC – As a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a top priority for U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R. Okla.) remains getting an up-close look at the tremendous work done by our service members in Oklahoma and across the nation. Many of the stories Senator Inhofe hears as he travels through Oklahoma and around the world are personal and therefore unable to share. Yet there are several stories that are being reported by the Oklahoma media that describe the heroic and selfless actions of our troops. A new feature on Sen. Inhofe’s website, “Inhofe Salutes”, provides a sampling of the numerous news stories reported in the Oklahoma media highlighting the courage, honor, and commitment of the men and women of the United States Armed Services. “Inhofe Salutes” will be added regularly to Jim’s Journal, as well as sent out once a month.
“I am proud of the many Oklahomans who courageously serve our nation in the United States military,” Senator Inhofe said. “In an effort to highlight just some of their tremendous work, I will be including some of the best news articles on my website from around Oklahoma that feature the honor, commitment and dedication of these fine young men and women.
“The Oklahoma media should be praised for their excellent coverage of our men and women in uniform. They are doing what many in the national media will not, telling the stories of true Oklahoma and American heroes who risked their lives to preserve our freedom. “As this nation continues its fight in the Global War on Terror, our military is on the front lines fighting for liberty and democracy throughout the globe. Through the efforts of our United States military, the world has been made a more secure, prosperous, and better place for all of mankind. The courage and dedication of our troops and their families are an inspiration to us all.”
***Inhofe Salutes is a round-up of news from across Oklahoma and the nation regarding military service. As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Inhofe is an avid supporter of our military forces, and believes they deserve the very best.
Oklahoma Press Telling the Heroic Stories of Oklahoma Troops
NewsOK.com Blog: Oklahoma Troops; News and Info on Oklahoma in the Military http://blog.newsok.com/oklahomamilitary
Tulsa World: Four brothers train for Guard mission this year (June 1, 2008)
MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer
http://www.tulsaworld.com/common/printerfriendlystory.aspx?articleID=20080601_1_A1_spanc55316BRAGGS — The Iraq theater of operations may never be the same after it gets a taste of Oklahoma’s band of brothers. The Blount brothers — Jason, Jeffery and twins Justin and Jarred — are headed to the Middle East later this year and have been training at Camp Gruber for the mission. The four are with the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s Enid-based 45th Fires Brigade, which is expected to go to Iraq or Kuwait by September or October to provide base and convoy security. It’s not uncommon in the Oklahoma Guard to have multiple siblings — in some cases fathers, sons and brothers in one family — head out on a mission. But four brothers is unique. “I’ve never seen it before in all my years with the Guard,” said Col. Pat Scully, spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard. The Blounts, however, are unfazed. For them, it is just business as usual — what they have been trained to do. They have been together before on Guard business, once when they pulled a yearlong duty at Fort Sill and another time when they were dispatched to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina relief. So there is no real apprehension among the brothers or their family about going to the Mideast. “Our parents raised us to be responsible and independent,” said Sgt. Jason Blount, 29, of Elgin. The four are the only children of Billy and Donna Blount, two Oklahoma natives now living in Clovis, N.M. The youngest of the four is Sgt. Je)ery Blount, 24, of Edmond. The twins, meanwhile, are 26, and both are captains. Jarred and Justin, who is older by a few minutes, live in Lubbock, Texas, where they are pursuing doctorate degrees in computer science.
The Oklahoman: Some Oklahoma troops starting their 4th tours (June 9, 2008)By Jessica Jackson http://newsok.com/some-oklahoma-troops-starting-their-4th-tours/article/3254833LEXINGTON — Hundreds of Oklahomans gathered Sunday morning in Lexington to say goodbye to loved ones leaving for Iraq during a deployment ceremony for the Oklahoma Army National Guard. The soldiers, of 2-149 General Support Aviation Battalion, 90th Troop Command, will spend two months training at Fort Sill, and then will go to Iraq, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Carlos Cascante. While some soldiers deployed on bus, others took helicopters to Fort Sill. The crowd cheered and waved as the helicopters doubled back around to fly over family and friends one last time before leaving.
The Oklahoman: Deployed loved ones to get, give messages (June 12, 2008)
A U.S. Army organization is providing military families with a way to talk to deployed loved ones on Father's Day. The Army Military Affiliate Radio System, or MARS, is a U.S. Defense Department-sponsored unit of volunteers who provide emergency communications in times of crisis. This year, volunteer amateur radio operators will deliver messages, known as MARSgrams, free of charge. Capt. Jeffrey Hammer of the Indiana National Guard, the Army MARS representative in Iraq, is expecting many holiday messages. "I am 100 percent set up to deal with them,” Hammer said in a news release. There is a limit of 80 words in each message, but there is no limit on the number of messages that may be sent. Messages must be typed in English. A complete postal address is always required, and the addressee's telephone number may help speed delivery.
The Oklahoman: Oklahoma Guard battalion shines (June 7, 2008)
By Lt. Col. Rodney Koerber, M.D.I returned in early May from a tour of duty as a medical officer at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq with the Nebraska Army National Guard. Camp Bucca is one of the largest detainee facilities in the history of modern warfare. Our mission was to provide health care for detainees as well as coalition forces. For the majority of my tour, the security guard force and the majority of the medics for my compounds were provided by an infantry battalion from the Oklahoma Army National Guard. In my frequent conversations with these citizen soldiers, it became apparent that many of them were on their second, third and even fourth deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. The mission was a difficult assignment for these soldiers in that they were asked to show compassion, constraint and respect in their guard duty of the detainees, the very individuals with whom they had engaged in combat in previous deployments.
Muskogee Phoenix: Military – Staff Sgt. Cassandra J. Locke (May 24, 2008)http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/archivesearch/local_story_145220354.html
Air Force Staff Sgt. Cassandra J. Locke has been decorated with the Air Force Commendation Medal for participating in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The medal is awarded to those individuals who demonstrate outstanding achievement or meritorious service in the performance of their duties on behalf of the Air Force. Locke, a community relations supervisor with six years of military service, is assigned to the 43rd Airlift Wing, Pope Air Force Base, Fayetteville, N.C. She is the daughter of John Locke, and Christel Locke, both of Truth Or Consequences, N.M. Her sister, Andrea Brenneman, lives in Muskogee. The sergeant graduated in 2001 from Hot Springs High School, Truth or Consequences, and received a bachelor's degree in 2007 from Campbell University, Buies Creek, N.C.
Muskogee Phoenix: Fort Gibson soldiers help restore power in Iraq (May 20, 2008)
By Capt. Geoff Legler 45th Infantry Brigade Central Office of Public Affairs
The Joint Area Support Group - Central’s Department of Public Works - or DPW - has been working for years to eliminate electricity problems in the International Zone, known as the IZ. On April 22, a major step was taken with the re-opening of the Ehtifalat power substation. Capt. Josh Lawson, of Fort Gibson, Okla., who serves as the DPW zone officer, stressed the importance of doing all he and his fellow service members could to help the Iraqi people. “We’re here to help the Iraqi people,” he said. “But, it’s not just about security - we also want to help the Iraqi people have a better life.” Maj. Eric Tuck, also of Fort Gibson, operations officer for the DPW, said the substation will provide reliable power to approximately 20,000 households both inside and outside of the IZ. He added that the station will provide local employment; a superintendent who will work and live at the station and 12 other Iraqi employees who will operate and maintain it.
The Edmond Sun: UCO ROTC commissions 5 new lieutenants into U.S. Army (May 10, 2008)
EDMOND — The University of Central Oklahoma Army ROTC commissioned five new lieutenants into the U.S. Army in a special ceremony Friday. Lts. Antoun Gulley, Jeffery Nantze, Shelby Vance Williams, Cody Willis and James Thomas Letterman each will head for the National Guard, Army Reserves or active duty. “I’m very proud of the cadets of the Broncho Battalion and what they’ve accomplished this year,” said Col. Lance Newbold. “They will accept more responsibility than most people in their lifetime.” He said the UCO Army ROTC received more than $100,000 in scholarships from the Army this year and completed its mission for having a certain number of cadets receive their commission. Lt. Col. Steve Russell was the special guest speaker. His unit was a central player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. “I served because of my love of country and the American way of life,” Russell said. “Our nation will prevail as long as we still have a few Americans that will take a stand.” He told the new lieutenants to lead and work together with their soldiers, be kind to the elderly, respect others and stand up to the bully. Only one in 10 Americans is willing to lead, he said. “As leaders you will have to take risks,” Russell said. “You can’t take counsel of your fears.” The ceremony ended as family members pinned the lieutenants’ ranks to their uniforms.
The Edmond Sun: Oliver North to tell tale of Edmond hero (May 10, 2008)Patty Miller
EDMOND —Forty years ago, on Mother’s Day May 12, 1968, Laverne learned her son’s outpost was overrun by the North Vietnamese Army and wiped out, with the exception of two men. Her son, Fredrick Joel Ransbottom, would earn a Silver Star citation for his valor, and 38 years later she would welcome home his remains. The identification methods used to identify Ransbottom’s remains, his journey home and his ultimate resting place will be the topic of former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, who is now a correspondent for Fox News Channel on defense/war issues. North visited Laverne Ransbottom and her family in Edmond three weeks ago with plans to broadcast her son’s story of recovery, identification and ultimate return home for burial. North hosts “War Stories,” a military history program broadcast at 8 p.m. Saturdays. The program covers stories relating to war and national defense.
McAlester News-Capital: MHS graduate Beed promoted to Lt. Colonel (June 9, 2008)http://www.mcalesternews.com/archivesearch/local_story_161113946.html
Donna E. Beed, a 1982 McAlester High School alumnus, was promoted to lieutenant colonel in a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on April 11 in the Vorder Bruegge Auditorium. The presiding official was the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Brigage Commander, Col. Ronald A. Hamilton. Master Sgt. Kathy Smith, First Sergeant, 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base of Oklahoma, was the narrator for the ceremony. The ceremony began with the singing of the national anthem by Elliot Smith, followed by a Scripture and the invocation by the Rev. Louis B. Jones II, pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. After remarks by Col. Hamilton, the orders were published and Major Beed was officially promoted to lieutenant colonel by her mother, Myrtle Beed, her sister, Lenora Johnson, her uncle, Ret. Lt. Gen. Russell C. Davis, and Ret. Sgt. First Class Denice Shaughnessey. The honoree gave remarks and acknowledged her gratitude to those who have been an integral part of her life and career.
Ada Evening News: Coal County OHCE sends items to soldiers serving overseas (April 16, 2008)
Sharon Mowdy Coalgate Correspondenthttp://www.adaeveningnews.com/archivesearch/local_story_107114117.html
The Coal County chapter of the Oklahoma Home, Community and Education Organization (OHCE) is participating in the state project to send needed items to servicemen and women who are serving overseas. During Sunday service at the United Methodist Church, Larry Thompson, a member of the Coalgate School Board, shared that he had received a letter from John Plunkett, principal from the Coalgate Schools who is serving in Iraq. Mr. Plunkett said that it is hot there — the temperature as well as the war activity. He appreciates the prayers as well as the letters and packages he has received.
Ada Evening News: Father, son together in Iraq (April 11, 2008)
By Specialist Stefanie Strong 1120 Ordnance Detachment, Oklahoma Army National Guard
CAMP CROPPER, Iraq — To most soldiers, being apart from their families during a deployment comes with the job. That’s the rule - and most soldiers are used to it. Once in a while though, the rules bend a little, and some families get to stay together through a deployment. In fact, for one father and son deployed to Iraq, deployment was a chance to grow closer than ever. Forty-seven-year-old Spc. Franklin Pursiville Sr. and his son, 20-year-old Spc. Franklin Pursiville Jr., from the 1120th Ordinance Company, both from Ada, Oklahoma National Guard, are not only deployed together, but the Pursivilles also work side-by-side, helping feed detained personnel. Pursiville Jr., who works in a hospital back home and is pursuing a degree in criminal justice, said that he is proud to serve with his father, who works as a truck driver. Pursiville Jr. said he feels lucky to have the chance to work with his dad. “It’s better to be with someone you know. You already have that relationship. You’re going to work pretty well together,” Pursiville Jr. said. Before they were deployed, the Pursivilles spent a lot of time together doing what they love most - enjoying the great outdoors. They said they camp, hunt and fish together, and there is always a friendly rivalry between them.
Altus Times: Like D-Day, 45th FiB looks to make mark on history
By Sgt. 1st Class Darren D. Heusel; Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs
While Oklahoma's old 45th Infantry Division never was a part of the Normandy invasion that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to as the "Great Crusade," they would soon play an integral role in the liberation of what was then commonly referred to as Hitler's "Fortress Europe." In all, the 45th ID would participate in four amphibious landings during World War II, battling their way across Sicily, Italy, France and Germany for 511 days. In the early 1950s, the "Fighting Thunderbirds" were one of only two National Guard divisions to see combat in the Korean War, participating in four campaigns that spanned 429 days. Today, Oklahoma troops continue the tradition of answering their nation's call to duty; whether it's helping to provide security in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, or engaging the remnants of an oppressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the East Coast. In fact, Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade, a spin-off of the old 45th ID, continues the proud Thunderbird heritage with some 2,500 Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers helping to fight off the evil beat in Iraq. Now, as the anniversary of D-Day approaches, more than 800 members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 45th Fires Brigade based out of Enid are preparing to make their mark on world and state history too.
The Lawton Constitution: Soldiers are symbol of nation (June 14, 2008)
By Mitch Meador
Soldiers, like the flag they wear on their right shoulders, are a symbol of the nation, Maj. Gen. Peter M. Vangjel declared Friday at a Fort Sill ceremony recognizing both Flag Day and the Army's 233rd birthday. "Their histories are so intertwined that it's fitting that they're celebrated on the same day. The Army has been there since the beginning, the first military service to hoist the flag of the United States over the field of battle, the first to have its members die to protect it and what it stands for," said Vangjel, commanding general of Fort Sill and the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence. The general used a wide range of symbols in his speech to drive home his point that "soldiers are the most influential ambassadors our country has. Their actions speak volumes." Vangjel said that in his office hangs a picture of a strapping young soldier in Afghanistan hugging a bloody blanket covering a young child who has just been killed by an explosive device. The soldier's head is buried in the blanket, and he is weeping as if the child was one of his friends or family.
The Oklahoman: OU alumnus to teach class from war zone (June 23, 2008)
By The Associated Press
NORMAN -- A University of Oklahoma alumnus embedded with U.S. soldiers in Iraq will teach from a war zone for a fall class that will use Web-based video conferencing. Mike Boettcher will co-teach the journalism and international studies course with Zach Messitte, an associate professor and director of OU's International Programs Center. Boettcher covered wars for 28 years as a broadcast journalist for CNN and NBC, but says he became frustrated with the way the U.S. media covered war. Beginning this week, he will be embedded with the U.S. troops for 15 months — the same amount of time as a soldier's deployment. "We don't believe you can honestly tell the story of a soldier unless you sacrifice like them," Boettcher said. The U.S. Army has given him travel orders that allow him to go anywhere in the country, Boettcher said. "They want the story out," he said of the soldiers who have to spend long months away from family in the 120-degree heat. Boettcher decided this would be the perfect opportunity to create a new kind of class for students to learn about war coverage. He approached OU President David Boren about the idea, and Boren agreed to it. Boren connected Boettcher with Messitte and Joe Foote, dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The class, "War and the Media," will be made up of half international studies students and half journalism students.
The Oklahoman: City grandmother exchanges home for war zone (June 23, 2008)
By Bryan Dean
Lisa Martin’s kids thought she was crazy when she told them she wanted to go to Iraq. Martin, of Oklahoma City, is a 49-year-old grandmother who works at the Tinker Air Force Base exchange, a retail store offering military members and their dependents everything from toothpaste to televisions. Jumping into bunkers to avoid mortar attacks isn’t in the job description. But Martin also is an Air Force veteran who wants to do her part to help the troops. So when she found out the military was looking for civilian volunteers to work at base exchanges in Iraq and Afghanistan, she was interested. Her husband, Heyward Martin Jr., understood. He also is an Air Force veteran and now works in aircraft maintenance at Tinker. But Lisa Martin, who spoke to The Oklahoman in a phone interview from Baghdad, said her three children, ages 20, 21 and 27, weren’t so understanding at first. “They pretty much thought I was out of my mind,” Martin said. “I just thought it was something I needed to do.” Martin spent nine months in Iraq in 2006. She went home for eight months, then went back in September 2007. Most civilian deployments for the base exchange program are for six months, but Martin has extended her stay and plans to remain in Baghdad through March. She said the base exchange she staffs at Camp Striker in Baghdad provides troops with the essentials like food, drinks and toiletries, and also a few luxuries like laptop computers and radios.
Guymon Daily Herald: Patriot Guard leads ride to remember on iron horse tour to memorialize local fallen heroes (June 17, 2008)
By Shawn Yorks
Don't be alarmed when you see a motorcycle procession heading down Highway 54 between Hooker and Guymon around noon on Saturday. The Patriot Guard will be conducting its "Ride to Remember" on Saturday in remembrance of two of Texas County's fallen heroes: Luke S. James and Joshua M. Pearce. "We are doing what is considered a Ride to Remember," said Gerry Stephens, one of the local coordinators of the event. "What we are doing is we are remembering the fallen soldiers that have sacrificed their lives." The tree in memory of James will be planted at the Hooker city park, and the tree in memory of Pearce will be planted at the Guymon High School alumni court and memorial. "We are just going into those towns and planting trees," Stephens said. "Those trees will be in memory of those solders." James died in Iraq on Jan. 27, 2004, and he is the son of Brad and Arleen James of Hooker. Pearce died in Iraq on Feb. 26, 2006 and is the son of Michael D. Pearce and Rebecca Hilliard of Guymon. The Patriot Guard is performing the Ride to Remember all across Oklahoma in memory of fallen soldiers statewide. "We are a group that honors soldiers and their families," Stephens said. "That is our mission." The trees are being donated by Bittersweet Station in Beaver and by Helms Nursery of Goodwell. The riders will begin staging at the intersection of Highway 54 and Highway 64 in Hooker at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, and begin the ride to Hooker city park at 10:55.Following the ceremony in Hooker, the riders will head southwest to Guymon, and begin staging at 12:30 p.m. at the Wes-T-Go Travel Center on Highway 54. The riders will head to Guymon High School beginning at 12:55 p.m.
Bixby Bulletin: Oklahoma media gets more than they bargained for, lightning, a peek at Homeland Security in action (June 27, 2008)http://www.bixbybulletin.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=19810420&BRD=2754&PAG=461&dept_id=573976&rfi=8
OKC/HOUSTON/GULF OF MEXICO: Twenty-two members of the Oklahoma media--radio, TV, and newspapers-- including the Bixby Bulletin news editor, Jo-Ann Jennings, and photographer, Derek Young, had more excitement during a flight with the Air National Guard than they had expected. Thursday, June 26, media spectators arrived at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City at 6 a.m., taking off in a KC-135 tanker at 9 a.m., finding themselves at lunchtime over the Gulf of Mexico, watching as two F-16's were refueled in the air. Mission completed, the media guests were flown to Ellington Air Force Base in Houston where 20 minutes earlier the main landing strip had been damaged when struck by lightening. The KC-135 was diverted to a different landing strip further away, putting their trip a few minutes behind schedule. Sitting in an air force bus, the media listened as briefing began concerning what would happen next, including a demonstration scramble. Suddenly, green lights flashed on two of the fighters parked in hangars which the media could see from the bus windows. So much for a demonstration. The alert was real. An unidentified aircraft had been sighted, and the scramble was on as a team of men pulled blocks from under the planes, preparing to roll out of the hangar onto the field. Hand-held and TV cameras were grabbed as the news seekers hurried from the bus, lining up across from the hangars, to take aim and get some great photo/video shots. Before getting off the ground, the pilots were notified that Western Air Defense had made contact with the unidentified craft, and the alert was called off; but they lifted for the sake of the media. The surprises were not over yet. While the media guests were having lunch, a lightening alert was called, and no one was allowed to leave the building where they had gathered. The media was grounded in Houston at Ellington Air Force Base for an hour and a half. Some slept; others got acquainted; all were good-natured about the day even though a few started the day with only three hours sleep, and some of those were looking at a new shift when they got back home. They had had a first-hand Homeland Security experience, more than they'd expected.
The Oklahoman: Class at OU to learn troops' stories (June 25, 2008)
By The Associated Presshttp://newsok.com/class-at-ou-to-learn-troops-stories/article/3261839
NORMAN — A University of Oklahoma alumnus embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq will teach a fall class using Web-based video conferencing. Mike Boettcher will co-teach the journalism and international studies course with Zach Messitte, an associate professor and director of OU's International Programs Center. Boettcher covered wars for 28 years as a broadcast journalist for CNN and NBC. Beginning this week, he will be embedded with U.S. troops for 15 months — the same period as a soldier's deployment. "We don't believe you can honestly tell the story of a soldier unless you sacrifice like them,” Boettcher said. The U.S. Army has given him travel orders that allow him to go anywhere in the country, Boettcher said. "They want the story out,” he said of the soldiers who have to spend long months away from family in the 120-degree heat. The class, "War and the Media,” will be made up of half international studies students and half journalism students. Students will learn about current events, studying how the media are covering the war, as well as how the media have historically covered wars. "What I'm trying to get them to do is look at it both historically and what's going on today,” Messitte said. Brian Blackstock, an international and area studies senior, said he initially was skeptical when he heard about the class from his adviser but became sold when he learned Messitte was involved. "I've never had anything with this kind of technical stuff,” he said. "We don't believe you can honestly tell the story of a soldier unless you sacrifice like them.”
Muskogee Phoenix: Guard kids learn about military at Camp Gruber Kids Kamp (June 25, 2008)
By Cathy Spaulding, Phoenix Staff Writer
BRAGGS — The kids know the drill: Up at dawn, a morning of precision marching, calisthenics, a new cadence chant, target practice, hiking, outdoor activities, mess, finally to bed after 10 p.m. The kids know the drill because their parents know similar drills through the National Guard. Scores of youngsters from across Oklahoma and some bordering states are spending this week at Camp Gruber’s Kids Kamp. The kids, aged 9 through 13, have one or both parents involved with the Oklahoma National Guard. “It gives kids the opportunity to experience the military like their parents,” said Jessica Hurt, state youth coordinator for the Guard. Owasso 13-year-old Darby Ballestero, who has attended the camp in past years, said the best part of the week is the friends she makes from all over the state. Maria Hensley, 12, also of Owasso, said her favorite part of the Kamp is “bed.” The kids need the rest after putting in such full days. “We give them a little bit of the military experience,” said Mike Alderson, a camp counselor retired from the 138th Security Forces. “They learn how to march, learn to keep cadence (marching rhythm). We have classes in first aid and safety.” One morning, the campers marched in the rain. Some didn’t mind, though. “It felt good — the rain,” said Thomas Adams, 13, of Norman. The kids also learn to shoot pistols and rifles and learn to rappel. On Wednesday, youngsters in each age group got a chance to relax by taking wagon rides through nearby Greenleaf State Park. Most importantly, the campers learn “to work as one,” Alderson said. “They work together as a team. Every grade level has different backgrounds, different hometowns.” Kids in each age group develop team spirit, partly by wearing the same-colored shirts. The green-shirted 13-year-olds learned a new cadence chant while taking their Greenleaf wagon ride Wednesday. Volunteer David Collins, 17, of Perry wrote the chant, a taunt for the yellow-shirted group, while the wagon rumbled through campsites. “Yellow, yellow, why you crying. You mess with green you will be crying. You are yellow for a reason. It ain’t for the summer season.” Because they spend so much time in humid summer heat, the campers get plenty of water refreshment. Some campers have traditional round canteens. Others have backpack canteens with rubber straws that can reach around to their mouths. The campers also get to share what it is like to have parents deployed overseas, especially in Iraq or Afghanistan. Thomas said his dad is on his way to Iraq and may be gone for a year. “We spend a lot of our time to discuss feelings about their deployment,” Hunt said. “We get them aware of what they are going through and connect with each other.”
The Oklahoman: City grandmother exchanges home for war zone (June 23, 2008)
By Bryan Dean, Staff Writer
Lisa Martin’s kids thought she was crazy when she told them she wanted to go to Iraq. Martin, of Oklahoma City, is a 49-year-old grandmother who works at the Tinker Air Force Base exchange, a retail store offering military members and their dependents everything from toothpaste to televisions. Jumping into bunkers to avoid mortar attacks isn’t in the job description. But Martin also is an Air Force veteran who wants to do her part to help the troops. So when she found out the military was looking for civilian volunteers to work at base exchanges in Iraq and Afghanistan, she was interested. Her husband, Heyward Martin Jr., understood. He also is an Air Force veteran and now works in aircraft maintenance at Tinker. But Lisa Martin, who spoke to The Oklaho- man in a phone interview from Baghdad, said her three children, ages 20, 21 and 27, weren’t so understanding at first. “They pretty much thought I was out of my mind,” Martin said. “I just thought it was something I needed to do.” Martin spent nine months in Iraq in 2006. She went home for eight months, then went back in September 2007. Most civilian deployments for the base exchange program are for six months, but Martin has extended her stay and plans to remain in Baghdad through March. She said the base exchange she staffs at Camp Striker in Baghdad provides troops with the essentials like food, drinks and toiletries, and also a few luxuries like laptop computers and radios. “It’s like a base exchange at Tinker, but we are more critical here,” Martin said. “There is not a Wal-Mart down the street or a 7-Eleven. It’s about half the size of the one at Tinker, so we have much less of everything, but we try to have a decent selection.” Martin said the base exchanges, about 50 scattered across Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait, mean troops don’t have to depend on care packages from home for everything. For Martin, providing for the troops is everything. She cares nothing for the politics of the war. “We’re still here,” Martin said. “People are still dying. We are here trying to help. That was my whole deal was to support the troops. They didn’t ask to be here.” Her children have since warmed to the idea. Her husband said he understood all along. “As I told her, it sounds like the USO,” Heyward Martin Jr. said. “As long as there is one person over there, they will need something from a base exchange. And they need someone there to help them get it.” Lisa Martin said she knows her family worries. She feels relatively safe, but still gets on edge when she has to go to one of the bunkers on base because of a possible mortar attack or when she hears security forces testing the base’s guns. “It is a war zone, and there are insurgents out there,” she said. “We have customers we see all the time that go out every day. They put their vests on and their helmets on and get in their armored Humvees, and they are out there trying to help.”
The Lawton Constitution: Military duty calls for these dads (June 15, 2008)
By CRYSTAL LEWIS BROWN
"Do not take any mission for granted." That advice was among the many words of encouragement Ret. Col. Ted Jonosko gave members of Detachment 2, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery during their deployment ceremony last Tuesday. For some in the group, their hardest mission fatherhood will be on hold for a while. As fathers nationwide today open gift boxes containing the requisite tie, tool set or macaroni picture frame, some dads are simply requesting the gift of time this Father's Day. When the 2/4 FA soldiers deployed earlier this week, with them went many veteran, new and soon-to-be dads whose only Father's Day wish this year is to be with their children. Sgt. 1st Class Donald Herrick is one father who is leaving his wife and two children to deploy to Iraq for the second time. "With everything in life, you just have to be flexible," he said. "I think being in a military family, what most people consider fixed holidays are kind of like floating holidays."
Duncan Banner: Patriot Guard Riders escort troops (June 23, 2008)
By John Walker
When a Texas National Guard unit went on active duty recently, it was escorted through south Duncan by the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) on its way to Fort Sill. Local Duncan residents participated by lining U.S. Highway 81, south of the Duncan Bypass and waved American flags to the passing soldiers. “Duncan is probably the last of civilization they will see before they reach Fort Sill, so we wanted to let them know we support them,” Dave Estrada said. When the unit reached the bypass on U.S. Highway 81 shortly after 11 a.m., it turned west and entered the on ramp to head toward Lawton. Billy Morgan, pastor of Freedom Biker Church in Duncan, invited his congregation to participate as the troops passed through Duncan. “We are very patriotic and supportive of America,” Morgan said. “We wanted to show them that there are people who support them and their sacrifice, even if some may disagree with the policies.” Harold “Chief” Feltman, who is a PGR and lives in Duncan, said that the organization is nationwide and performs escort services for departing and homecoming military personnel. The organization will also perform services for any veteran’s funeral, if the family specifically invites it. “We won’t go unless we’re invited,” Feltman said. Interestingly enough, PGR was originally organized to provide escort services at funerals and has since expanded its mission, he said. “PGR was organized in August of 2005 to combat protesters at funerals,” Feltman said. “By 2007, there were over 100,000 members across America.” PGR is a volunteer organization that is open to anyone who wants to ride, but motorcycles are not necessary. “They can drive pickups or cars, if they want to,” Feltman said. “Most of our members are retired military personnel, but it isn’t necessary. There are no local chapters or branches of riders, so when a ride comes up, people living within a certain mile radius are notified through e-mail about it. “It’s completely volunteer on whether they can ride at any event,” he said. Those who are members of PGR are patriotic and love America, Feltman said. “Many families will thank us for our service all the time and we always reply that it is an honor to do this for them,” he said. “I think members of the armed forces are not respected as much as they should be. It can be difficult being in the military these days.” For Feltman, his favorite escort service is for returning personnel. “Funerals are sad,” he said. “I like homecomings the best because people are reuniting after being separated for a long time.”
The Lawton Constitution: Sill sends 90 more to Iraq (June 24, 2008)
By MITCH MEADOR
Fort Sill said farewell Monday to approximately 90 soldiers in Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery who will soon link up in Iraq with four previously deployed radar sections from Bravo Battery. The 50 soldiers in Bravo Battery will fall under Alpha Battery command, as it is a Target Acquisition Battery (TAB) headquarters. Together, they will provide a Q-36 radar mission throughout northern Iraq, according to Capt. Billy Lambert, Alpha Battery commander. They will support the 1st Armored Division as part of Multi-National Division-Iraq. Charlie Battery, 2-5 FA, has completed virtually all of its training and will join the others in Iraq towards the end of July, Lambert said.
Stillwater News Press: Benefit, fund rasier for veterans’ memorial (June 28, 2008)
— Every day we are reminded of the sacrifices a soldier gives up serving his/her country. The local community has recently been made aware of how great that sacrifice can be when a Stillwater hometown soldier lost his life serving his country. Carolyn Christensen, veterans’ committee co-chairman says, “We can do more than say thank you; we can erect a “Veterans’ Memorial of Timeless Honor.” It will stand as a timeless reminder to honor the veterans by people of Noble County and surrounding areas. The memorial will stand as a tribute to all veterans from all the military branches no matter when they served. July 10, there will be a benefit dinner and auction to raise funds for the memorial at the park pavilion in Morrison; doors open at 6 p.m., serving starts at 6:30 p.m. and the auction begins at 7 p.m. Many quality items will be in the auction and the items will be available for previewing. Doc Miller, from Perry, will be in charge of the auction. The meal is being provided by members of the community along with the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary. The location of the memorial will be on Pawnee Bill Memorial Highway 64 and Casey’s Trail in Morrison. The site will be visible to anyone driving by, and parking is available for anyone wanting to take a moment to stop and pay respect to the veteran. Larry Veit, committee co chairman and American Legion Post commander, said that construction is to begin this summer on the memorial and possible completion before the first of the year.
Ada Evening News: Cookies to the troops (April 10, 2008)
Girl Scout Brownie Troop 65 of Ada sent cookies to the troops again this year, complements of David Roberson of Roberson Oil. The troop took the cookies to the Ada National Guard Armory on March 26. While there, the guard members led a presentation to the troop which included a slide show of photos from their recent tour in Afghanistan, sample army rations and demonstration of army gear. The troop is led by Angella Lee and Daniela Iorga. Pictured are guard members, from left , Army Sgt. Justin Parker, Sgt.. James Smith, Sgt. David Booth and Spc. Brad Barrick. Brownie Troop 65 members are, top row, Brianna Iorga, Gloria Lee, Trinity McKee, Amanda Daniel; bottom row, Megan Bonner, Gabby Oxley, Adeline Daniel and Destiny James. Ada
Evening News: Area residents support troops (March 28, 2008)
Ada — Members of the Chickasaw Nation and the Ada community-both young and old- paused to remember America’s troops Wednesday. The ceremony was conducted at Chickasaw Nation headquarters to commemorate the “National Support the Troops and their Families Day.” The day was designated by Congress to remember active duty troops and their families and their enormous sacrifices made in service to the United States. “We have deep debt of gratitude to these members of the armed forces-our friends and neighbors-who make selfless sacrifices to ensure our way of life,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. We honor all active troops and their families.” “Because of our military we can have our freedom and democracy,” Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor Jefferson Keel told the crowd. “We may not see it, but each and every one of us has someone over there.” Chickasaw legislator Wanda Blackwood Scott attended the ceremony to honor her son, Major Jimmy Dale Scott. Major Scott is in the midst of his third tour of duty with the United States Army in Kirkuk, Iraq. “He is coming home this year,” she said. The ceremony, which was attended by dozens of adults and children, included a flag presentation by the Chickasaw Honor Guard and a prayer by Lighthorse Police Chief Jason O’Neal. A moment of silence was observed to recognize the sacrifices of service members and their families. Following the ceremony, participants had the opportunity to write a note of encouragement or gratitude to servicemen and service women who are serving away from home.
From the Senator’s Press Office
Sen. Inhofe Op-Ed: Army transition means changes (Lawton Constitution) – June 15, 2008http://inhofe.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.JimsJournal&ContentRecord_id=920b18e7-802a-23ad-45e8-1a7fb348da00&Region_id=&Issue_id=Yesterday, June 14th, 2008, our nation celebrated the 233rd birthday of the United States Army. The c