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logo-sc-1urlfemaleNew York, April 5, 2011- "Greetings, The purpose of this e-mail is to simply show my gratitude for this organization. It is truly a blessing to have such a dedicated organization that cares and provides for our troops are much as Support Our Troops® does. Not only does it have a strong support system for the troops but it also simplifies the donation process. I have friends that have been able to donate through the website and I believe it is essential to have more organizations as this one dedicated to help those that serve our country on a daily basis by putting their own lives on the line to protect ours!"  Regards, Jasmel D.
[caption id="attachment_4064" align="alignleft" width="299"]DoughboyBurialMarks03152011 A soldier with the Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard," keeps a constant vigil over the casket of Army Cpl. Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last U.S. World War I veteran, as he laid in repose before his burial today at Arlington National Cemetery. A gold-leafed "Winged Victory" figure presented to President Warren G. Harding when the unknown soldier of World War I was buried at Arlington on Nov. 11, 1921 watches over Buckles' casket. DoD photo by Donna Miles[/caption] ARLINGTON, Va. America recognized the end of an era today as it bade a solemn farewell to Army Cpl. Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, as he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery here with full military honors.
President Barack Obama paid tribute to Buckles this afternoon as he lay in repose in the chapel beneath Arlington's Memorial Amphitheater stage. Buckles died Feb. 27 at age 110.Obama was the last of a long line of mourners who began filing past his flag-draped casket early this morning to pay their last respects to Buckles, and a whole generation of combat veterans he came to represent. The visitors paused in quiet reflection within the stark grandeur of the white-marble chapel. Its most striking adornment is a gold-leaf "Winged Victory" figure the Chinese government presented to President Warren G. Harding when the unknown soldier of World War I was buried at Arlington on Nov. 11, 1921. Today that figure, along with a single soldier from the 3rd Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard," kept a constant vigil over the last "doughboy" to serve in World War I. As they streamed from the chapel, the mourners a mix of families, school groups, veterans, even a Canadian air cadet group said they were honored to be able to say a final goodbye to a generation of American heroes. "I felt like it was my duty as an American to come here and give him my respects," said Ray King, who took time during a family trip here from Houston to pay homage to Buckles. "It's because of him, and those he served with, that we have the freedoms we have today." King's wife, Marilyn, said she felt privileged to be able to personally honor Buckles and those who served alongside him in World War I. "What we are doing here today is a statement, and to be able to be part of it is just awesome," she said. "We will carry this home in our hearts, and it is going to change us. I don't think we will go back to Texas the same way." At 4 p.m. this afternoon, members of The Old Guard transferred Buckles' casket to a horse-drawn caisson and made the slow, solemn trek to his final resting place. The soldiers, too, recognized the significance of Buckles' passing. "What we are seeing here is history," said Army Spc. Athiambo Onyango, who supported today's funeral activities. "To me, this feels like the passing of an era." Although he's participated in more funerals than he can count Arlington typically conducts more than two dozen every weekday -- Onyango said he felt particularly honored to be a part of Buckles'. "I think this is probably one of the most important ceremonies I've been in," he said, holding it right up with Obama's inauguration as an experience he'll never forget. Army Sgt. 1st Class William Cramer, another Old Guard soldier, said he, too, felt honored to render honors to Buckles and the whole lineage of World War I doughboys he came to symbolize. "But this is not just about Mr. Buckles," Cramer said. "It's also about what he represents This is the end of that lineage for that generation, a recognition of everyone who stepped forward and volunteered and a way to thank them for their sacrifices." After brief remarks at Buckles' gravesite, an Old Guard firing party fired three rifle volleys and a U.S. Army Band bugler sent the wail of "Taps" across the burial grounds. Buckles was laid to rest in Arlington's Section 34, slightly down the hill and within view of Army Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing's gravesite, and site of Arlington's World War I National Memorial that bears Pershing's words. "You are remembered," it says, recognizing 116,516 Americans killed in World War I. "Their devotion, their valor and their sacrifice will live forever in the hearts of their grateful countrymen." Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I -- the "War to End all Wars" -- that 16-year-old Buckles quit school with dreams of becoming a part of. After lying about his age to one recruiter after another, he finally hoodwinked one into enlisting him into the Army in August 1917. The United States had entered World War I just four months earlier, and Buckles was among fewer than 422,000 soldiers at the time. But within a year, he watched the Army swell to 2.4 million, most of it serving in the American Expeditionary Force. Buckles deployed to the Western Front, driving an ambulance in France and Germany and earning the rank of corporal before his discharge in 1920. As he lived out his later years in West Virginia, Buckles worked tirelessly to ensure the sacrifices made during World War I never be forgotten. One of his pet projects was a campaign to refurbish a little-known memorial to World War I veterans from the District of Columbia and rededicate it as a national memorial. In 2008, on the death of 108-year-old Harry Richard Landis, Buckles became the sole living link to more than 4.7 million Americans who served in that war. It's a role he embraced, visiting the Pentagon at age 107 for the unveiling of a World War I veterans' exhibit. "Whoever views this display will, I am sure, feel a connection to Mr. Buckles and his comrades-in-arms," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during that presentation. "We will always be grateful for what they did for their country 90 years ago." March 15, 2011: By Donna Miles- American Forces Press Service
[caption id="attachment_4093" align="alignleft" width="300"]AirForceCouple03082011 Air Force Master Sgt. Rudy Gamez and his wife, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez, spend time with their children, 3-year-old Eva and 5-year-old Tomas. The couple is blogging about their experiences while on separate deployments in Afghanistan. Courtesy photo[/caption] WASHINGTON From predeployment jitters to post-deployment reunion, an Air Force couple is taking a worldwide audience with them during their service in Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. Rudy Gamez and his wife, Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez, are documenting their experiences as they serve separate deployments in Afghanistan in the Air Force blog, "Double Duty: Know Before You Go." This is the master sergeant's sixth deployment and his wife's first. The aim, said Christina, a financial analyst stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is to pass on lessons learned to other service members preparing for their own deployments. "I want people to understand the emotions of deployments from both sides," she said. "I've been on the other side -- left at home with a full-time job and then some, with two kids and no family in driving distance. "Now I see it from the deployed side," she added. "I understand the need for a stronger emotional toughness so the deployment doesn't destroy you. It can be a helpless feeling over here at times, knowing you can only do so much to take care of the ones you love." The couple's blog posts have run the gamut from dealing with household packing to the pain of family separation to day-to-day life in a combat zone. Christina's blog posts range from the highly practical - such as a list of items to pack when flying overseas - to the whimsical. A recent post, for example, dealt with a conversation she had about fishing with an Afghan interpreter. "He told us that when the war first kicked off, their version of fishing was throwing a grenade in the water," she wrote. "The fish would be stunned, so it made it easy to scoop them up." Rudy, a communications director on Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, touched on attitude in one of his blog posts. "Sometimes our problems aren't so much the circumstances we're confronted with, but more the perspective in which we view them," he wrote. But most heartfelt are the couple's posts about their children, 5-year-old Tomas and 3-year-old Eva. Christina wrote extensively about the day in January when she left for predeployment training. A snowstorm had delayed their arrival at the airport, and she had only about 20 minutes to say goodbye to her family for a year. She clung to her children at the gate, but all too soon the final boarding call came. "I asked my family to take them and walk away first before I finally turned around to walk down the hall to my plane," she wrote. "It was, without a doubt, the hardest moment I've had as a mom." Now stationed in western Afghanistan, Christina still tears up when recalling that day, which not only is imprinted on her memory, but also is saved for posterity in the blog. "It was an emotional day from the start, and never seemed to stop," she wrote. Her husband, who is on his third deployment in three years, also shared his thoughts about that day in a blog post. "Today I am heartbroken," he wrote. "Though I was not there to drop off Tomas and Eva with Grandpa and Grandma, I feel a large emptiness. Our two li'l ones will be without Mom and Dad at their side for quite some time; the hardest fact I've had to come to terms with on this deployment. "It's not easily done nor accepted as today I am flooded with the emotion of how wrong this may be," he continued, "and bear an aching heart and a knot the size of Afghanistan in the pit of my stomach." The couple plans to continue to blog through their homecoming and reintegration. Rudy will return home a few months before his wife, so he will be writing about life as a temporary single parent, and Christina plans to shed light on the reintegration process. "It's not all glitz and glamour the pictures portray," she said. "It's stressful for just about every return. It's just the part we don't talk about -- maybe [now] now we can more." It's not always easy to bare her emotions for public consumption, Christina said, but she hopes by doing so, she can help herself while helping others. "I know, if nothing else, that I was able to help a couple of my friends that have been reading it and found out that they are deploying out this way in the next couple of months," she said. "It's also been very therapeutic getting it all out; talking about the emotions, the struggles and the laughs," she added. Her husband has found it tougher to pour out his emotions for the world to see. But he also sees the benefits in doing so. The blog, he noted, offers him not only an emotional outlet, but also a way to start a conversation with other service members. "I've talked to young service members about it, so it's been positive," he said. March 8, 2011: By Elaine Wilson- American Forces Press Service
 
[caption id="attachment_4103" align="alignleft" width="318"]RetiredArmyChaplain03042011 Retired U.S. Army chaplain Father Neal J. Buckon was ordained an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, Feb. 22, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Photo by Matthew Barrick[/caption] WASHINGTON Many retirees swap their business attire for shorts, but one retired Army chaplain hung up his black beret and Army camouflage uniform to don the "miter" hat and robes of a Roman Catholic bishop.
Chaplain Neal J. Buckon retired as a lieutenant colonel on Dec. 31, 2010. On Jan. 3, he received the news that Pope Benedict XVI had selected him as a bishop and assigned him as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Bishop Buckon will minister to Roman Catholics in the U.S. military worldwide. "I enjoyed two days of retirement," he said. On Feb. 22, Buckon was ordained a bishop during a ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, here. He joins three other auxiliary bishops and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who leads the pastoral team for the 1.5 million archbishopric. Buckon will work with three other auxiliary bishops to assist the archbishop in "his role as shepherd of the Military's Catholic faithful," Buckon explained. Buckon will be the vicar for the western region of the archdiocese. The region comprises 18 states and includes Hawaii and Alaska. "I will conduct pastoral visits to the Catholic Faith Communities on Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard installations," there, he said. "I will also assist and advise the Catholic chaplains assigned to the installations in Catholic-specific pastoral leadership," Buckon said, adding that a bishop is the minister of the sacrament of confirmation, which is the "final sacrament of initiation." Buckon has come a long way in a short time from his final Army chaplain days spent in South Korea with the 8th Army field chaplain for current operations, and as the Catholic chaplain for U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan/Seoul. "The selection to become a bishop is a great honor and a privilege, and it is somewhat humbling to be chosen," Buckon said. "I trust that God will supply the inspiration, the strength, and the courage for the ministry that lies ahead." "During many of the pastoral visits, I will confer the sacrament of confirmation upon the service members and family members who have requested and prepared to be fully initiated into the Catholic faith," he said. Pope John Paul II created the Archdiocese for the Military Services to provide a full range of Catholic Church pastoral ministries and spiritual services for U.S. military troops. The archdiocese serves more than 220 military installations in 29 countries, 153 Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, in addition to federal employees working in 134 countries, according to the Archdiocese website. Buckon is probably one of the few bishops authorized to wear a Ranger Tab. He initially served as an infantryman during earlier active duty service from 1975 to 1982. After seven years on active duty, Buckon left the Army and entered the ministry. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland, May 25, 1995, and later returned to the Army as a chaplain. "Twenty-eight years of military service," he said, "has prepared me for the responsibilities of a new ministry to the service members and families who selflessly serve in many parts of the world to protect the country we love." March 4, 2011: By Terri Moon Cronk- American Forces Press Service
 
[caption id="attachment_4115" align="alignleft" width="300"]ConnecticutGuardsmanFights03012011 Brian Macy, a sergeant with the Connecticut Army National Guard's 250th Engineer Company, gets into the ring during his comeback to professional boxing during a bout at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn., Feb. 4, 2011. Photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Debbi Newton, Connecticut National Guard Public Affairs Office[/caption] HARTFORD, Conn. His boxing fans eagerly awaited his return to the ring. After two years away, hopes were high for the young boxer. He came into the arena in red, white and blue trunks and robe over an Army physical fitness t-shirt. The crowd cheered.
"Ladies and gentlemen, in the red corner, wearing the red, white and blue trunks, making his long-awaited return to the ring after a year-long deployment to Iraq with the U.S. Army -- Brian Macy," boomed the ring announcer as Macy faced each side of the arena at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville on Feb. 4 and rendered a boxing-gloved salute to the crowd. Macy is a sergeant in the Connecticut Army National Guard. A single father, he is determined to make the best life possible for himself and Charlie, his four-year-old son.Macy, 27, started boxing when he was age 10 and quickly became someone to watch. He won the National Police Athletic League title in 2000 and had racked up 150 amateur bouts before turning professional. The super middle weight fighter said his parents told him he couldn't fight professionally unless he earned a college degree. So he did. Macy has a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from the University of Connecticut. He also is taking classes in music business management from Berkeley School of Music in Boston. He plans to get his master's degree in education and wants to teach special needs children. On April 21, 2009, Macy joined the Connecticut Army National Guard, enlisting with the 250th Engineer Company as a way to help pay for school and support himself and Charlie. He trained as a bridge engineer and deployed to Iraq with his unit for a year, taking him out of the boxing ring. His first sergeant in Iraq, Army Master Sgt. David Moorehead, has nothing but praise for Macy as a man and as a soldier. "He is a very good soldier," Moorehead said. "He came in older. He definitely joined the Guard with a plan in mind. He is a very normal person, well-liked by all. He is such a polite guy and would help anyone do anything. He came so willing to learn, to get involved." Macy worked as gun truck driver in Iraq. Moorehead said Macy did not forget boxing while he was deployed. "Somehow he found himself a heavy bag and he would work out on it. He gave boxing lessons to some of the soldiers." Now a New London resident, Macy has a very strict schedule. He gets up early each day and is running at 5 a.m. He takes his son to school and then heads to a nearby military installation to work out in the base gym. After the workout, he goes to a local Starbucks where he takes advantage of the free Wi-Fi to do his on-line music courses. He picks up his son and either takes him to Charlie's grandmother or drives halfway across the state to Middletown to train with "Iceman" John Scully, someone Macy calls the "best trainer there is." Scully has a long history as a boxer himself as a light heavyweight. He qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials and fought for the International Boxing Federation world title against Michael Nunn in Leipzig, Germany. He also has done boxing commentary for ESPN. When asked why he would travel so far on a daily basis just to work with a specific trainer, Macy simply said, "He's the best." Macy works out at the gym generally from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every day and then travels the hour plus back home. It makes for a long day -- but this is all part of his plan. A single dad, Macy wants to make the best life he can for Charlie. Seeing them together, one easily sees the love the father has for his son. Macy has another love -- music. He is working on hip-hop music videos as producer, writer and performer. He sees boxing as a way to help him in music. "The dedication and structure it takes to be a boxer helps keep you focused,' he said. "I hope the name I am making in boxing will help open doors to me in the music business, as well." Macy said his time in Iraq gave him time to think and plan. "The National Guard has opened up a lot of opportunities for me," he said. "I don't have to rely solely on boxing to make my living. I will be able to get my master's degree." Macy said he also has learned about discipline. "The discipline I have learned in boxing has helped me in life and in the Guard," he said. "And the Guard has taught me that a day is 24 hours long and you can get a lot out of it with discipline." Macy said he often is asked why he chooses to box. "Not the money," Macy joked. "I just love it. I like the art of it. I like the old-time fighters." He mentioned greats Pernell Whitaker and Willy Pep as two favorites. "The defensive aspect of [boxing] is what I like," he said. "They were the greats. They were the best. They weren't sluggers. They were artists in the ring." Scully called Macy a "boxing enthusiast" who studies boxing and boxers. "He wanted to be in the limelight since I first met him," Scully said of Macy. "He loves being in the ring. He has the discipline. [But] he has to become a little more regimented in his training." Back to the arena at Mohegan Sun. The bell rings and Macy enters the center of the ring against his opponent, J.C. Peterson of Fort Myers, Florida. It looks like it might be an uneven match-up. Macy is taller, appears to be in better shape, and he has the better record. But Peterson has longer arms -- providing a longer reach in the ring -- and Macy is fighting his first bout in two years. Peterson dropped Macy with a strong left jab in the first round. It shook Macy up, but he got up and continued boxing. It took Macy until the third round to get his feet solidly under him again. By the end of the third round, those that knew boxing were saying it looked like he might have come back enough to be even with Peterson. The fourth and final round started and it looked like Macy was coming on strong. The two pugilists battled to the final bell and both appeared to think they'd won. Several people ringside said it was too close to call and could go either way, but that Macy had looked good. The ring announcer called both fighters to the center of the ring for the judges' scores. The first judge scored the fight 38-37 in favor of Peterson. The second judge scored it 38-37 in favor of Macy. The crowd waited and the fighters looked straight ahead, confidence fading from both of their faces. The third judge gave the fight to Peterson, 38-37. Macy had lost the bout. It was a heartbreaking return to the ring for Macy, Scully and Macy's fans. But Macy was philosophical about his loss. Sitting in the locker room with Charlie falling asleep in his lap, Macy talked about the fight. "He [Peterson] was a tricky fighter and I couldn't execute," he said. "After throwing a punch or counterpunch, I couldn't follow through. I have to give him credit. And I was probably not as patient with the jab as I should have been." So why does he keep fighting? "That guy," said Macy, pointing to Scully sitting next to him. "Getting the training from him is like a drug. Other [trainers] are like Tylenol. This guy is like hard-core narcotics." Nearly two weeks after the comeback fight, Macy wondered: Is boxing still part of his future? Macy said he doesn't know. The money is not great and it does cost money to box. He has gym fees, trainer's fees, and equipment to pay for. He has a contract with a promoter, and a publicist. Yet, being a single dad supporting his son is his first priority, he said. Since the fight with Peterson, Macy has gotten a part-time job at an electric supply company. He plans on taking the accelerated Officer Candidate School program with the Guard. Macy would like to keep boxing professionally. He would like to get back into the ring. He loves the sport. He loves the discipline. But he loves his son more. "I don't want to end up a punch-drunk fighter," Macy said. That doesn't mean he has given up boxing. It just means he's keeping his options open and moving forward with his plan. March 1, 2011: By Army Sgt. 1st Class Debbi Newton- Connecticut National Guard
 
[caption id="attachment_4126" align="alignleft" width="300"]LastAmericanWWI02282011 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, left, talks with Frank Buckles, the last living American World War I veteran, during a Pentagon ceremony March 6, 2008. Buckles died Feb. 27, 2011 at age 110. DOD photo by R. D. Ward[/caption] WASHINGTON Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving American World War I veteran, died yesterday at his West Virginia home. He was 110.
Sixteen-year-old Buckles enlisted in the Army on Aug. 14, 1917 after lying to several recruiters about his age."I was just 16 and didn't look a day older. I confess to you that I lied to more than one recruiter. I gave them my solemn word that I was 18, but I'd left my birth certificate back home in the family Bible. They'd take one look at me and laugh and tell me to home before my mother noticed I was gone," Buckles wrote in 2009. Buckles tried the Marines and Navy, but both turned him away. An Army recruiter, however, accepted his story. "Somehow I got the idea that telling an even bigger whopper was the way to go. So I told the next recruiter that I was 21 and darned if he didn't sign me up on the spot!" he wrote. Buckles earned the rank of corporal and traveled England and France serving as an ambulance driver. After the Armistice in 1918, Buckles escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. He was discharged in 1920. In 1942 Buckles worked as a civilian for a shipping company in the Philippines, where he was captured in Manila by the Japanese the day after they attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He spent three and a half years in the Los BaƒÂ±os prison camp. He was rescued on February 23, 1945. Buckles married Audrey Mayo of Pleasanton, Calif., in 1946. The couple moved to his Gap View Farm near Charles Town in January 1954 where Buckles reportedly continued to drive his tractor until he was 106. On February 4, 2008, with the death of 108-year-old Harry Richard Landis, Buckles became the last surviving American World War I veteran. Since, Buckles championed veterans' causes, was invited to the White House and honored at the Pentagon. In March 2008 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates honored Buckles during a Pentagon ceremony in which officials unveiled a World War I veterans' exhibit. "Whoever views this display will, I am sure, feel a connection to Mr. Buckles and his comrades-in-arms," Gates said. "We will always be grateful for what they did for their country 90 years ago." Buckles, then 107, received a standing ovation from the mostly military audience. "I feel honored to be here as a representative of the veterans of WWI and I thank you," Buckles said. Buckles is survived by his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan. His wife, Audrey, died in 1999. In a White House statement issued today President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama saluted the fallen veteran. "Frank Buckles lived the American Century," the President stated. "Like so many veterans, he returned home, continued his education, began a career, and along with his late wife Audrey, raised their daughter Susannah. And just as Frank continued to serve America until his passing, as the Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation, our nation has a sacred obligation to always serve our veterans and their families as well as they've served us. "We join Susannah and all those who knew and loved her father in celebrating a remarkable life that reminds us of the true meaning of patriotism and our obligations to each other as Americans." Feb. 28, 2011: By Fred W. Baker III- American Forces Press Service
 

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