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Family Matters Blog: Blogger Notes Appreciation for Troops

[caption id="attachment_3816" align="alignleft" width="300"]BloggerNotesAppreciation07082010 Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, receives a tour of a Stryker combat vehicle from Army Sgt. Jed Glover while visiting with troops from the 2nd Infantry Division's, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team on Camp Victory, Iraq, July 4, 2010. DoD photo by Elaine Wilson[/caption] WASHINGTON I spent a good bit of time in the U.S. Embassy while in Iraq last weekend with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, which I wrote about earlier this week in "My Independence Day Weekend in Iraq With Dr. Biden."
In a rare moment of downtime, I joined Dr. Biden and her staff in the Embassy gift shop.In a quest for souvenirs for my children, I purchased one of the only items for kids:  a stuffed duck with a T-shirt that said "Duck and Cover." And that's exactly what I had done the night before, three times, while in my room at the embassy. I was typing a story on my computer when the call came over the loudspeaker: "duck and cover." There was a threat of indirect fire, the voice said, and people were supposed to either rush to a room without windows or, if walking outside, duck into one of several bunkers along the sidewalk. At the first warning, I ran into a windowless room, slightly panicked, and waited it out until the all clear sounded. Although I didn't hear anything, mortar explosions had been heard, according to later news reports. I took a slower pace at the second warning and by the third, at 4:45 a.m., I was so exhausted I ducked under a blanket rather than back into the windowless room. That day, elsewhere in Iraq, there was a deadly suicide bomber attack and another that wounded two Iraqi police officers. These incidents served as another reminder of the fact that our troops, and many civilians, are under the threat of attack each day in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whether in combat or not, all put themselves in harm's way just by serving there. Upon my return, my kids were thrilled to get the stuffed ducks that had traveled all the way from Iraq, but are still too young to catch the tongue-in-cheek humor of the "Duck and Cover" on those little black T-shirts. I went to sleep last night in my own bed, without the concern of incoming attacks or a "duck and cover" sounding over a loudspeaker. But I'll never be able to look at those stuffed ducks, perched now on my children's desks, without remembering that night and the sacrifice our military members and civilian employees make each day on behalf of all Americans. July 8, 2010: By Elaine Wilson-American Forces Press Service

Own a piece of NASCAR history! Bid on your Daytona raced Goodyear tires today!

goodyear-homeGoodyear is showing its continued support for the men and women of the United Stated Armed Forces by auctioning "Support Our Troops®" co-branded tires raced by NASCAR leading drivers in the Last Daytona Sprint Cup race. Join Goodyear and Support Our Troops in showing our gratitude and recognizing our troops service to our country by raising funds to benefit them and their families through the Support Our Troops® chritable organization. Bid now through July 17th on authentic race-used, special-edition Goodyear Support Our Troops® tires from the July 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway signed by your favorite drivers! Click on the banner below to choose your favorite driver's tires and place your bid on this piece of history. BidNow250px

Transcript of Press Conference for Formal Announcement Goodyear® and Nascar® Running Support Our Troops® Tires in July 4th Weekend Races

MartinBoire_RyanNewman (1)Thursday, July 1, 12:00 Noon EST, Press Conference Room in the Media Center, Daytona International Speedway, 1801 W. International Speedway Blvd.,  Daytona Beach, FL 32114  Stu Grant, Goodyear® General Manager, Global Race Tires Thank you Kris.  A little bit of history I think is worthwhile, we originally started this whole program, this whole concept of  logo-ing a Goodyear tire with Support Our Troops® as our way of saying thank you to the men and women in the military that are fighting for our freedom around the world. It would seem to be very appropriate for us to use this as a platform to say thank you. And obviously we have that in place, but as we looked at it and thought about it and discussed it in more detail we decided, you know, it's a great opportunity to use this as a platform to raise money for the Support Our Troops® organization. As Kris mentioned, it's a great organization, provides a lot of support for military families in the form of care packages, support to the families at home, as well as those on the front line. So what were going to do this were going to take one of these tire, have it autographed by each of the 43 drivers in Saturday's Sprint Cup event here and were gonna' make those tires available to the Nascar community and the larger community in general as an auction item for a to get a autographed Goodyear Nascar eagle with a Support Our Troops logo on it and autographed by a racecar driver. StuGrant_MikeHelton_MartinBoire_RyanNewman (1)It'll be an online auction, you can go to there'll be an icon that'll take you to that site. A 100% of the money that is raised in that program is going to go to the Support Our Troops organization. That online auction kicks of  Saturday July 3rd. It'll last through the17th of July. We hope that it provides some additional support for the organization. We are going to see the initial auctioning with a $20,000 dollar donation to the company. So were excited about our involvement, were pleased to support the Support Our Troops organization, and happy to be parted up with Nascar at this race here in Daytona. I'll turn it over to Mike. Mike Helton, President of Nascar®. 3_Special_Edition_Goodyear_Support_Our_Troops_TireThanks, Stew and this is one we have several of , but this is one of the really, really fun moments that we get to participate in this sport, and it's a bit humbling as well. When Stew first came to Nascar and said ya know, Goodyear'd like to take a look in doin' this, it started off maybe a little slower, but as it sunk in it became one of those elements that made us very proud of our relationships that we had in this sport.  Goodyear's relationships with Nascar goes back to day one, but ya know, here an Akron Ohio based manufacturer that's using its relationship  in Nascar to support an incredibly great cause, and I don't think anybody and any age level or any part of this country has not been touched by the military element, whether it's a father, a grandfather, a son, or a daughter, we all are directly have been effected by military troops members, but we all generally as citizens of this country are, I think obligated to be respectful and mindful of the men and women, who, for generations through today don that military uniform and fight for causes that gave us the opportunity to do things that we do. And this is a neat opportunity for Nascar via Goodyear and this program to echo support. I think one of the things that Nascar certainly hopes is part of its legacy and heritage is the incredible respect and pride that we have for the military. It goes back to Bill Senior. It played a roll in there bein' a fourth of July event here in Daytona, and we work very diligently to maintain that respect and promote that respect quite frankly among all of our ranks.  So thanks to Goodyear and to your organization for coming up to this.  It makes us very proud, and thank you very much. Martin C. Boire, Chairman, Support Our Troops® MartinBoire_RyanNewman (1)The troops tell me everyday how much it means to them when the folks here at home stand up for them the way they stand up for all of us. And I want to thank Goodyear and NASCAR for stepping up for the troops in a major way.   Like most of you I've never been in the military.  But I've been in some pretty tough spots in this world, and I can tell you that what the troops do for us each day,,, is an awesome miracle. In fact, the red in the flag stands for them and they're giving their all to America, not asking what she'll do for them.  So I ask you,,,  isn't it time to show how much we care? And Goodyear and NASCAR have stepped up to help you and I do just that with a really fun and great program at   You wanna do something simple and fun to help the troops?   This is easy.   Just go to, click on the SOT icon and get in on the action.  And keep checking back because new things are being added every day. So I say let's all get together and make the troops as proud of us as we are of them.  And now here is Ryan Newman one of the great men who is going to help you and I do the troops proud by actually driving the launch of this great program on these Goodyear Support Our Troops tires this weekend. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver, Ryan Newman 2-Ryan-Newman-Autographs-Special-Edition-Goodyear-Support-Our-Troops-TireThank you, Martin, I've always said people have asked me, and it comes every week, what does it mean to you to represent what the army, and the one word that always comes to mind is honor, and its an honor to represent the men and women that, past present and future, fight, that have fought and always will fight for our freedom, to have Goodyear work together with Support Our Troops®, and to drive a race car that has red, white, and blue on the tires, is really cool, so put our hands over our hearts and enjoy the great weekend.  There will be a lot of fireworks and some great racing but ultimately we need to sit down and think for a minute about the people that give us what we've got here and I really look forward to it.  I'm a little partial and hoping that the soldiers are pushing down on my tires and gripping my car a little more.  I'm kind of representing the US Army and what Support Our Troops and Goodyear have done in conjunction with Nascar to be able to put together a cool program like this is the first time I have been able to be a part of something that is this special with respect to what the soldiers and the great country that we live in is a part of so thank you very much. Questions Stu is this the first time that Goodyear has done labeling of this sort on a race tire? I can tell you for sure that this is the first time.  Your question is that this is the first time that Goodyear EVER loaded a tire with something other than Goodyear or Eagle? Yeah. It is the first time we've ever done that and I was telling Mike and Martin earlier how difficult it was to get the approval to do something like this. It was a great concept and a great idea we ended up going to the Chairman of the company to get authorization to put the name of another organization on the sidewall of our product.  So, yeah it s a big deal as Chris mentioned earlier and it's a first. Stu, will this be the only weekend that you have these branded tires or will they be at some other races at some other point? This is the only race that we are going to do this, it seemed appropriate that it be the 4th of July weekend to do something like this, it just all fit together. Yes, its just a one race effort.  The program online to raise funds and so on will go on for the next several weeks but as far as the racing operation and the look of the tires its just this event only. Stu is there any history or any way to gauge how much this tire set will bring and has anyone done anything similar to this to give you an idea of how much money will be generated at this auction? 1_Special_Edition_Goodyear_Support_Our_Troops_TiresYou wan to bid? We can start bidding now if you like.  You know what,  I don't know, maybe Martin could answer that.  We have no clue how much money we could raise.  We're just going to throw this out and see what happens and like I mentioned Goodyear is going to put an initial seed of $20,000.00 but I'm not sure how big this is going to get, I don't really know how much money we can raise.  I hope we can raise a lot. Obviously you brought enough tires to last the weekend, if your not going to do this program anymore what is going to happen to the extra tires that are branded. Are you going to sell them off or. People are fighting over the used tires and the new tires that are not mounted.  Honestly the Goodyear marketing program Nascar Marketing have a lot of outlets for these.  There's no shortage of people saying that I can do "x" with this tire and so and so.  There's a lot of programs that are providing outlets for these tires.  Kris (Goodyear marketing) if you want to expand   Yeah, as Stu was talking about we have some other uses for the tires.  As you go back and visit the site you'll see some other uses.  Also we are sending tires out to Military Bases and uses like that.  We are going to be spreading them far and wide and I think Martin is even working on sending some to Troops overseas.  Sowe are working on a lot of different  uses for the tires. Martin Boire.  I can tell you that one has already been spoken for by an eight year old boy that we passed on our way in.  Who informed his farther that he expects that tire to be purchased.   If an eight year old kid gets it I'm sure that real Americans that you find behind Nascar and Goodyear tire find out about this we're going to do well. ***SOT***

Soldier Recalls 4th of July Awakening

[caption id="attachment_3826" align="alignleft" width="277"]SoldierRecalls4th Five years after an improvised explosive device in Iraq put him in a coma for 11 days, Capt. Fred Babauta heads the Army World Class Athlete Program. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps.[/caption] FORT CARSON, Colo. The Fourth of July is especially significant to Army Capt. Fred Babauta, as this Independence Day marks the fifth anniversary of his awakening from an 11-day coma following an improvised explosive device attack in Ramadi, Iraq.
Babauta, now commander of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, was rushed to Balad Air Base in Iraq and transported via Landstuhl, Germany, to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, before he realized that he was alive. Army officials ensured that his wife arrived from Guam, and his parents from the state of Washington, in time to see their Soldier awaken."They all met me in San Antonio when I arrived," Babauta recalled. "Of course, I didn't know they were there because I was in a coma, but the Army took care of my family." Babauta remembers his last battle mission as if it happened yesterday. In June 2005, he was deployed to Ramadi with the 1st Battalion of the 503rd Infantry Brigade. "We were the brigade of [2nd Infantry Division] that deployed from Korea to Iraq," he said. "About two weeks out from us leaving country, I was walking by an IED and it went off. I was probably about 10 feet away." Babauta had served in Iraq for nearly a year before taking the one step that burned his entire face, stole the vision from his right eye and nearly took his life. "After the explosion went off, they got me into a courtyard and called [a] quick-reaction force to come pick us up," Babauta said. "I was out with a sniper team, and there were only five of us. QRF picked us up. They started out with five vehicles to pick us up, and they ended up only with two." The other three encountered more IEDs. "The two vehicles finally picked us up," Babauta continued. "We piled in the back, and they drove us back to our outpost. The doctor gave me a shot of morphine, packaged me up, the bird landed right outside our outpost, and they loaded me up." At that point, Babauta thought he was headed to Al Taqaddum Air Base. The severity of his injuries, however, called for treatment at Balad Air Base. "I remember them unloading me off the helicopter in Balad," he said. "It sounded like they pulled me into a hangar. I was on a stretcher and they put me on a bed. Doc said, 'Hey, I'm Doc so-and-so, I'm going to put this over your face,' which I guess was an oxygen mask, 'and you're going to feel a real quick pinch in your arm.' I guess he gave me a shot, sort of put me under, and I woke up 11 days later in Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston. Eleven days later was July 4th of 2005. The rest of the trip is a blur to Babauta. "I think they repaired my jugular in Balad," he said. "From what I understand, it didn't rupture until I got to Balad. I guess it was just probably hanging on by a string, but luckily the timing was great." An avid Detroit Pistons fan, Babauta went on patrol earlier that day with visions of watching a replay of his beloved team taking on the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals upon return to camp. "This is what I was thinking," he recalled. "I was going to go out for 24 hours. Game 7 was going to already happen. Someone was going to record it so I could come back and watch the game. I don't know if you remember that series, but the Pistons were killing the Spurs, and the Spurs came back and it was tied up, 3-3. So I was thinking I was going to come back and watch Game 7. It was in San Antonio. So the Pistons ended up losing, and guess where I wake up? San Antonio. "That was the worst." In the long run, however, Babauta counts his lucky stars to be alive. On the night he came around, folks were launching rockets not only in Texas but across the nation. "It was amazing," he said. "The nurse asked me if I saw the fireworks outside my window. I didn't see any fireworks, but I guess there was a fireworks celebration that night when I woke up." Born in Okinawa, Japan, Babauta was an Army brat who spent most of his childhood in Guam. He also lived on Fort Lewis, Wash., Fort Davis, Panama, and Fort Stewart, Ga. At age 22, he left the University of Guam, got married and reported to the 1st Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Ga. All of the men in Babauta's family served in the Army. His younger brother, Danny, 32, is deployed. His two older brothers both served four years before becoming policemen. Babauta, 38, is the proud father of three daughters. "In my house, my girls, they have to play a sport," he said. "They've got to do something. My oldest grew up playing soccer, and she's actually on a soccer scholarship to Winthrop University. She just finished her freshman year. The other two play volleyball." Instead of leading troops on the battlefield, Babauta now leads Soldiers to international and national-level athletic events while commanding the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. "It might be in a different context," he said, "but I think the principle is the same, as far as getting ready to go. They're going to war. They're going to meet someone on the mat that wants to beat them. So they've got to do everything now to be ready for that match in Council Bluffs. I would imagine everyone here can use that comparison. It's not as life-threatening as deploying to Afghanistan or Iraq, but I think there are a lot of similarities. Babauta takes great pride in the AWCAP, working constantly to increase awareness of the program. "Everyone knows a Ranger," he said. We're trying to push hard so that everyone knows the World Class Athlete Program. We're making good strides. We just need to continue." July 04, 2010: Written by Tim Hipps, U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command

Remarks by Chairman Martin C. Boire at July 1, 2010 Daytona Int'l Speedway Press Conference Unveiling Goodyear Support Our Troops Race Tires

[caption id="attachment_4796" align="alignleft" width="350"]MartinBoire_RyanNewman MartinBoire and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver, Ryan Newman at 7-1-2010 Press Conference Announcing SOT Tires for this Year's Races at DIS[/caption] Daytona Beach, FL July 1, 2010: The troops tell me everyday how much it means to them when the folks here at home stand up for them the way they stand up for all of us.
And I want to thank Goodyear and NASCAR for stepping up for the troops in a major way.Like most of you I've never been in the military.  But I've been in some pretty tough spots in this world, and I can tell you that what the troops do for us each day- is an awesome miracle.In fact, the red in the flag stands for them and they're giving their all to America, not asking what she'll do for them.So I ask you-  isn't it time to show how much we care?And Goodyear and NASCAR have stepped up to help you and I do just that with a really fun and great program at
[caption id="attachment_4797" align="alignleft" width="350"]StuGrant_MikeHelton_MartinBoire_RyanNewman Left to Right: Goodyear General Manager Stu Grant, NASCAR President, Mike Helton, Support Our Troops(r) Chairman Martin Boire, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver, Ryan Newman announce Goodyear, announce historic, weekend-long transformation of Goodyear race tires to say 'thank you' to the service men and women of the United States Armed Forces and to help launch the Goodyear Support Our Troops® fundraising and support program.[/caption] You wanna do something simple and fun to help the troops?   This is easy.   Just go to, click on the SOT icon and get in on the action.  And keep checking back because new things are being added every day.So I say, let's all get together and make the troops as proud of us as we are of them.And I am pleased to give you Nascar driver Ryan Newman, one of the great men who is going to help you and I do the troops proud by actually driving the launch of this great program on these Goodyear Support Our Troops tires this weekend.Martin C. Boire Chairman, SupportOurTroops.Org July 1, 2010
Permission is granted to reprint, rebroadcast, and quote the written material and images in this release in relation to this matter.

Colonel Comforted by Own "Old Glory"

[caption id="attachment_3836" align="alignleft" width="294"]ColonelComfortedBy The Commander of 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Col. Chuck A.E. Sexton, respectfully folds the American flag that he has carried with him on deployments for the past 24 years. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Gregory Gieske.[/caption] CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ It goes by many names Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Red, White and Blue but, no matter what you call it, the United States flag represents a free and unified country, indivisible, with freedom and justice for all.
However, for one U.S. service member here, one single, specific, U.S. flag provides a far more personal representation. Although worn, tattered, and frayed at the edges, it has witnessed the highs and lows of six different military deployments and has flown in five different countries.It's more than just the cloth and material, though, which gives this flag its special meaning. It represents the cause for which Soldiers have given their lives. It represents the Soldiers who serve their country, putting themselves into harm's way, preserving the freedoms we enjoy today.This specific flag has special meaning for Col. Chuck E. A. Sexton, the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team commander, 3rd Infantry Division, who has carried it with him for the past 24 years. The respect he has for this flag is a quality bestowed upon him by his parents. "Both my mother and father's families were immigrants to the United States who left Europe to get away from oppression and slavery in Eastern and Western Europe," said Sexton, a New York City native. "When they came to this country, they valued the country so much they defended it during World War II. They taught me as a kid growing up, to always respect my country and flag." Respect for the flag has carried over to Sexton's military service. After his initial enlistment in the Army as a private, he was commissioned as an Infantry second lieutenant in July 1985. "It's a part of you. It's something that's very comforting to bring with me each time I go," said the self-assured New Yorker. "When I flew it in Somalia, it got some battle damage there. It also got some damage in the first Gulf War. It's very comforting to have it with you. Usually I keep it folded now, because it's frayed at the edges in a couple of places and it's got some shrapnel rips in it. "In the first Gulf War the stars and stripes got a little greyer from the oil fires," he continued. "It took a little bit of shrapnel from Iraqi artillery and it put a couple of rips in it. The wind was really strong then, so it kind of unraveled a little bit at the ends, too." Sexton said he remembers with clarity a windy day, Feb. 27, 1991, after capturing the Jalibah Airfield, a place south of Tallil, along Highway 8, during Operation Desert Storm. "After we captured the airfield, at eight o'clock in the morning and things were still smoking, we pulled out our flags because we had them stowed during the attack," he said. "I mounted mine on top of the track. It was for a good reason part of it was for morale and the other was so we wouldn't get hit by our own aircraft. It was a really good feeling to see the good old Stars and Stripes unfurled and flying in the breeze. You heard a lot of the guys cheering and it was a good feeling, seeing that flag flying." It flew every day, and was then refolded until his next deployment, when he was called to serve in Somalia in 1993, where it was unfurled and once more flew on a daily basis. "Now, when someone asks me to re-enlist them, or asks me to promote them, I always bring it with me," said Sexton. "It's kind of neat to look over the last 20-plus years and the number of people that have stood under that flag with their hands up swearing an oath either an oath of re-enlistment, or an oath to our nation. It's easily in the hundreds now. "It's even neater to watch the Soldiers you've been with. It causes it to become more tangible and more of a living thing. That is the most critical part it represents the people. That's what makes our country great. It's the people it represents, instead of one specific leader. The flag talks about that continuity," he concluded, with a knowing smile. June 22, 2010: Written by Maj. Stephen Holt, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division ***SOT***

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