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Meet Your Military: Soldier Becomes U.S. Citizen

[caption id="attachment_3841" align="alignleft" width="300"]SoldierBecomesUS Army Spc. Carlos Baptista of the Rhode Island Army National Guard’s 115th Military Police Battalion takes the U.S. oath of allegiance during his naturalization ceremony at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 19, 2010. U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane Arrington[/caption] GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba,- Army Spc. Carlos Baptista of the Rhode Island Army National Guard’s 115th Military Police Company had dreamed of becoming an American citizen since he left the island country of Cape Verde off the African coast when he was just 4 years old.
Twenty years later, that dream became a reality when he took the oath of allegiance while deployed here with Joint Task Force Guantanamo.Completing the process makes Baptista proud – and his parents, as well, he said.“I know this brings a big smile to my parents’ faces,â€Â Baptista said with a smile of his own, shortly after taking the oath that officially made him a citizen of the country he’d already sworn to support and defend almost four years ago. Along with Baptista, Army Sgt. Ardicio Galvao and Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jo Kurosu received their citizenship during the naturalization ceremony. Baptista joined the Rhode Island Army National Guard on Sept. 11, 2006, and he made it clear it was no coincidence he joined on that date. But while getting his citizenship has always been a goal, he said, it was easier said than done. “I’ve always been very busy, but I needed to start working on my citizenship,â€Â Baptista said. “[I had to] get it while in Cuba to come on this deployment. I was really lucky to have so many people help me. My command gave me the time I needed to study and prepare.â€Â Army Capt. Nicolas Pacheco, 115th Military Police Company commander, said he’s glad to see his soldier’s hard work pay off. “He was very passionate and dedicated,â€Â Pacheco said. “We were all proud to see him raise his hand in the first recorded naturalization ceremony in Guantanamo Bay.â€Â Baptista mentioned two of his former officers who he said were instrumental in encouraging him to pursue his dream of citizenship. Army Maj. Samuel Maldonado and Army Capt. Alex Arroyo “gave a lot of their spare time to help me get everything done properly,â€Â Baptista said. “They didn’t have to help,â€Â he added, “but I’m glad they did.â€Â Baptista was given an American flag during the ceremony. The flag, he said, will be safely sent home and respected. Now that he’s an American citizen, Baptista said, he’s glad he can do things he couldn’t before, such as applying for a security clearance and an American passport and apply to bring more of his family to the country he has called home for most of his life. “I always felt like something was missing,â€Â Baptista said. “But now that I’m an American citizen, I feel complete.â€ÂMay 13, 2010: By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane Arrington- Joint Task Force Guantanamo ***SOT***


Girl Scout Troop Adopts Female Marines

GirlsScoutsGirl Scouts of San Gorgonio Troop 1124 adopted two female Marine Privates who are both currently deployed overseas. The two women, along with Gunnery Sergeant Lee from the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Temecula, visited with the Daisy troop to talk to them about what it is like to be a soldier in the military. The girls were very curious about bootcamp and had many questions about what was like. They learned that it helped build strength and stamina. The Privates described what it was like to do massive amounts of marching and running with heavy packs on your back. "Do they give you extra time to do stuff because you're a girl?" one scout asked. "Sure they do," the women laughed. "The men have to make the run in 8 minutes. We have to do it in 8 1/2 minutes. They give us a whole extra 1/2 minute!" The troop also learned that the Marines are the only branch of the military that puts women on the front lines. GirlsScouts2The girls wanted to know who made a better soldier--men or women. The Marines replied that it depended more on the person rather than on their gender. The women talked about how courage, character and confidence, the foundations of Girl Scouting, apply to the military as well. These three important principles, they told the troop, are what make a good soldier. Gunnery Sergeant Lee gave each of the girls Marine lanyards and water bottles with the inscription, "Pain is weakness leaving the body." According to scout leader Irene Trovato, the water bottles were a big hit with the girls. One little girl in the troop still carries it around with her wherever she goes. One of the biggest lessons that the troop came away with was that girls could be pretty and feminine and still be strong soldiers. The Marines were all incredibly good sports, not only answering questions, but also working with the girls doing improvisational skits and planting flowers. GirlsScouts3Both of the female Marines are currently deployed overseas, and the Daisy Girl Scouts still stay in touch with their adopted friends by sending letters and drawings. Whenever either of the Privates writes back to a girl, she brings the letter to her troop meeting to read aloud to the rest of the scouts. The girls also take turns watering the flowers planted by the two Privates as a way to honor and remember them. According to Gunnery Sargent Lee, there are many other soldiers who would love to be adopted by the Girl Scouts. Troops can contact him at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Temecula for more information (951) 719-3486. May 12, 2010: By GSSGC Girl Scouts ***SOT***

Meet Your Military: Marine Publishes Book of Poetry

[caption id="attachment_3894" align="alignleft" width="300"]MarinePublishesBook Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Laura Stanislaw has been writing poetry for five years. Her first book of poetry, titled “One Heart, True Wordsâ€Â will be published by the end of May 2010. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Adam Jones[/caption] MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., – Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Laura Stanislaw looked down at her desert camouflage uniform through big, piercing blue eyes. Her slender fingers and well-manicured fingernails played with the pen on her desk as she considered a question from a visitor who wanted to know what motivates her to get out of bed every morning.
“I’m just happy,â€Â Stanislaw finally said with a shrug and a smile. The family readiness officer for Marine Aircraft Group 40 described her job as the most rewarding work she has done in the Marine Corps.Stanislaw’s work, and every other piece of her day-to-day life, has inspired her to publish a book of poetry. “One Heart, True Wordsâ€Â is slated to be published by the end of May and will feature 18 poems she has written since 2005.It all started with the poem “Passion,â€Â Stanislaw said. She was dating a man and spontaneously decided to write a poem about the relationship. She then easily transitioned into writing about everything in her life, she explained, good or bad. “I’ve been through a lot in my life,â€Â she said. “Over the years, I’ve learned to turn every negative into a positive. I’ve been sad and unhappy before. That’s no place to be. It’s unhealthy.â€Â Stanislaw’s poetry probes every aspect of her life without preference or prejudice, a feature she described as being important to the therapy the poems provide. “She is an ambitious and energetic person,â€Â said Dawn Rae, the family readiness officer for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. “She seems to get great satisfaction from helping people.â€Â Stanislaw said when she was participating in an advanced course in Quantico, Va., a gunnery sergeant stood up and told a story about a friend of his who was killed by a roadside bomb. As he told his story, Stanislaw said, she could see the shrapnel wounds from the event on the Marine’s face. That event was the driving inspiration behind the poem “Sacrifice,â€Â one of her favorite poems from her book. “Life is not as perfect as a bed of roses,â€Â Stanislaw said. “There are ups and downs, positives and negatives. In the end, stick it out and turn into the person you want to be.â€Â Rae said she is a big fan of Stanislaw’s poetry and finds it absolutely inspiring. “Through her words, feelings and emotions come alive,â€Â Rae said. May 12, 2010: By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brian Adam Jones- Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point ***SOT***


Girl Scouts Send Record-breaking Donation to Operation Gratitude

CookieGirlScoutOn Saturday, May 15th, Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio (GSSGC) will pack up 70,524 boxes of Girl Scout cookie donations raised through their I CARE program. The cookies will be shipped to Operation Gratitude, a non-profit, volunteer-based corporation dedicated to sending care packages to military service people deployed overseas. "This is the largest one-time donation from one Council we have ever received!" said Carolyn Blashek from Operation Gratitude. "What an amazing effort by these girls!" She is excited at the prospect of announcing this record-breaking figure at the armory on Saturday. "The crowd is going to go wild!" said Blashek. "We are so proud of our Girl Scouts and their I CARE project this year!" said Elizabeth Locke-Thomas, Vice President of Product Sales for GSSGC. "This was our largest collection to date, with 70,524 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Given our current economy, we were stunned by the generosity of so many." CookieGirlScout2Locke-Thomas believes the "double good deed" message of the I CARE program held a strong appeal for many people. "A donation of this magnitude is truly a Council-wide project. We had thousands of cookie booths throughout our six week cookie season, and at each booth Girl Scouts were reminding people 'If you can't eat them, treat them.' When you participate in our I CARE program, you are not only supporting our future leaders in Girl Scouting, but also our men and women serving in the military. How often do you have the opportunity to do two good deeds at once? It is a powerful message, and this year the community rallied behind it in a staggeringly generous way!" The I CARE program not only supports military service people but also local food banks, women's shelters, Ronald McDonald houses and camps. Cookie buyers can choose which organization they would like to gift with their cookie donation. The entire community benefits from this program in a broad umbrella of giving. On Saturday, May 15th, approximately 52 Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts will travel by bus to the Amory in Van Nuys to deliver the boxes of cookies and package them for shipping. May 11, 2010: By GSSGC Girl Scouts ***SOT***

Meet Your Military: Soldier Escapes Death, Re-enlists

[caption id="attachment_3889" align="alignleft" width="300"]SoldierEscapesDeath Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, congratulates Army Sgt. Brandon Bougades, after Bougades re-enlisted for six more years at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, May 7, 2010. Bougades escaped death when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb on the same day as his re-enlistment appointment, his 28th birthday. U.S. Army photo by Maj. S. Justin Platt[/caption] KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan, – When Army Sgt. Brandon Bougades told his re-enlistment noncommissioned officer, “Let’s get this done before something happensâ€Â during a May 6 conversation, he had no way of knowing how prophetic his statement would be.
The White Sulfur, W.Va., native -- assigned to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment -- had spoken with Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Waller of Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, about adding another six years to his time in the Army.To make the event special, he scheduled his re-enlistment ceremony for May 7, his 28th birthday.Just hours prior to the appointed time for the ceremony, something did happen. “I told you so,â€Â Bougades would later say as Waller, from Jeffersonville, Ind., walked into a combat support hospital room on Forward Operating Base Salerno, where Bougades lay in a bed receiving treatment for his wounds. While he was on a patrol east of Camp Clark, Bougades’ vehicle struck a roadside bomb that wounded his lower extremities. He was rushed by helicopter to the Salerno hospital by helicopter. This was the third time Bougades had been wounded in combat –- something he seems to take in stride. His first comment to medical personnel wasn’t about pain, but rather was about the re-enlistment appointment he might miss. “You can ask the medics,â€Â Bougades said. “From the second I came in, I told them, ‘I got to re-enlist. I’m supposed to do that today. I still want to.’â€Â The leaders at Salerno rushed to make it happen, with Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, taking the lead at the bedside ceremony. “Being here to do this is the ultimate honor for me,â€Â Luong told Bougades during the ceremony. “You know what I think of you. I’ve got 6,000 soldiers, and I could have picked you up out of a line-up because of my admiration for your leadership, and I’ve told you that before.â€Â “I love this job,â€Â Bougades said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I don’t want to be doing anything else.â€Â May 11, 2010: From a Task Force Rakkasan News Release

Sons of the Fallen Nationwide Theater Event

SonsFallen3Sons of the Fallen: A Live Movie Theater Tribute to Our Military Heroes On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 across the nation,  NCM Fathom and Conrad Ricketts, Executive Producer of "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" with the support of Schwans and Ford are partnering on a one night cinema event that takes audiences on an inspiring and compelling journey to a picturesque Rocky Mountain camp where 25 boys gather for a week of camp to honor the memories of their fathers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this touching one night in-theater tribute to our Military and their families on Tuesday, May 18 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern / 7:00 p.m. Central / 6:00 p.m. Mountain / 8:00 p.m. Pacific (tape delayed), come and experience an evening of music by Clint Black and a LIVE fireside discussions with the boys and the celebrity camp mentors, current "The Celebrity Apprentice" contestant and former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg, actor Ryan Merriman ("Final Destination 3"), and host of "Sons of the Fallen" and former Indy Car racer Joey "T" Truscelli. SonsFallen1This event touches on the all too familiar losses that military families often suffer; this historic evening focuses on the resiliency and courage of the human spirit. Boys like these live in every community across the United States and this program will inspire the hero in all of us to make a difference. Learn More Participating Theaters.

* Service members, please provide a non .mil address. Thank you.