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[caption id="attachment_3831" align="alignleft" width="298"]ManFindsSolace This marble emblem for 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, was created by Charles Wagner, from Rainier, Wash., a mechanic with General Dynamic Land Systems. Wagner will present it to the brigade at the end of their deployment here. U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Zach Zuber.[/caption] DIYALA For Charles Wagner, a mechanic with General Dynamic Land Systems, it all started when three U.S. Soldiers lost their lives here in 2005.  Wagner, a U.S. civilian contractor then working in Mosul, had to find a way to deal with the pain of losing his friends.
As a way to elevate his sorrow and honor the U.S. military, Wagner began shaping marble stones into crests, crosses and hearts. Since that time, he has created many works of art for units and individual service members."This started out as a way to displace myself from what's going on over here, working during off hours to focus on other things," said Wagner, a native of Rainier, Wash. Wagner said he lost all three Soldiers on one mission, and he created hearts, crucifixes, and lancers for each of the parents as a way to connect to them. During that first tour, in 2004-05, he carved a full-size lancer for 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Then, during his 2006-07 tour with 3rd SBCT, 2nd ID, he created a replica of the Indian-head shield that represents the 2nd ID. When he deployed with the 3rd SBCT here in August, he received the request to make that crest, which includes the 2nd ID shield on top of an arrowhead, with the number three located above the shield. The piece, carved from nearly fifty pounds of marble, is a chance to leave a permanent personal memento with the brigade, said Wagner. "I was born at Madigan Army Hospital [at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.], so I kind of share the pride of the brigade," he said. "And for the Soldiers, this is my gift back because of what the military has done for me. It's a lot of pride for me to be asked to do this, and to offer it to the Soldiers of the brigade." Wagner is quick to share his gift with any who are interested. Often, when Soldiers drop off vehicles to his shop for repair, they see the stone carvings he has laying around. If a curious individual asks about them, Wagner gladly explains how they can create their own art from a simple block of stone. "If you give someone a square block, they can take a saw to the corners and round it off with a washer to make a perfect circle," said Wagner. "That's what I show to Soldiers I meet; to help them take their mind off of what's going on and let them drift somewhere else." After they are taught basic carving techniques, the Soldiers then have the opportunity to enlighten the teacher. "I can't understand why people do what they do just from looking in their eyes, but when I see what they make I see different creative views," said Wagner. "Everybody has a different opinion of how life is, and you can see that when someone is given a piece of stone and turns it into a unit crest, a shot glass, or even just a ball." By spending time here just like Soldiers do, he understands how they feel about being away from home, he said. His hope is to offer those willing to listen some of the knowledge he's gained through years of life experiences. "Our main thing here is to help Soldiers," he said. "The main thing is to at least make the time here seem shorter." Since he started working with stone more than seven years ago, Wagner has provided more than 100 Soldiers with a piece of marble and the proper tools to shape it. When the time comes this summer for him to present the crest to the 3rd SBCT, all will know that it also represents a piece of his heart. June 19, 2010: Written by Pvt. Zach Zuber, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
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
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
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.
thumb_TogetherSOTMay 15, 2010  is Armed Forces Day.  Right now volunteer men and woman are everywhere protecting we civilians here at home.  And in honor of the troops who do so much to protect us, hundreds of troop support groups across America ship thousands of care boxes each year to them all over the world.
Over 90% of Americans have never served in the military. I am one of them, representative of the rest.   And on behalf of all of those they protect, I thank the troops for preserving our liberties, livelihoods, and businesses.  Even though the borders of this country are penned with their blood, and even though we don't keep our national house in order, they go forth each day to protect it and give us more time.   Let's hope in the end we can all make them as proud of us as we are of them.Showings of support means a lot to them, and here is an inkling of their gratitude for the bonds between us. "I wanted to say thank you so much for sending out the care package to my airman. She received the box today and she was literally in tears and could not believe that there are people who cared enough to send her a box. She said she felt like it was Christmas or better because she has not had a Christmas since she was younger. It was great seeing her tell everyone who walked in the office about the box. Again, thank you and your team for taking the time to think of us over here and we truly do appreciate your support! " ~~ SSgt Leticia ----- "Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you so very much for the packages we received. We, the 2025th Transportation Company want you to know how appreciative we are for the phone cards, games, magazines, books, music CD's , DVD's, toiletries, the food and all the other goodies that were sent to us yesterday.  Major H---- was overwhelmed with the packages that came in and he right away distributed the goodies to all the soldiers. It is a hard road for us over here especially during the holiday season. Being away from our families is really tough but with the goodies and gifts it made everyone feel like getting into the holiday spirit. From the 2025th Transportation Company Family we would like to extend our heartfelt "Thank You" for all of your support. We will always have a place in our heart for you. " Thank you.  ~~ Major Earnest ----. Since her inception America has been unique among nations of the world.    We go further to do more good than any other nation on earth.    As acts  of freedom, not dominion.   Which is why so many foreigners want their pictures taken with our troops when they encounter them in transit. I periodically receive emails from people in other countries pining that they wished their people did for their military community the way Americans do for theirs.    You see, America is a charitable nation, with a majority who believes in the personal responsibility of doing good at the individual level.   Hence a voluntary military.  And hence the voluntary support for its members from us.  Indeed,  hundreds of charitable groups have arisen to support the troops' morale and well-being while they are deployed.   Are there amazing people in this country or what?  You will find these groups listed at www.SupportOurTroops.Org. So for Armed Force Day this year go out and find an event to participate in.   Or send a care package.   Or make a donation.   Find the core moral satisfaction in stepping up for those who step up for all of us. And to all the troops from all of us here at home, I say thank you, and may God bless and keep you safe. Martin C. Boire Chairman, Support Our Troops® Armed Forces Day 2010
[caption id="attachment_3904" align="alignleft" width="300"]SixNamesAdded Expert stoneworker James Lee cleans the work after engraving the name of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Taylor to Panel 7W, Line 81 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 4, 2010. Taylor's name is one of six added to the memorial. The new names represent veterans who survived serious injury in the war, but were determined by Defense Department officials to have died as a result of wounds sustained in the combat zone. DoD photo by William D. Moss[/caption] WASHINGTON This week, the names of six American servicemembers will join the list of other departed or missing troops featured on the intersecting black-granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Army Lt. Col. William Taylor's name was engraved at a ceremony today at the memorial on the National Mall here. The names of Marine Corps Lance Cpls. John Granville and Clayton Hough Jr., Marine Corps Cpl. Ronald Vivona, Army Capt. Edward Miles and Army Sgt. Michael Morehouse will be added later this week.The new additions are veterans who survived serious injury in the war but were determined by Defense Department officials to have "died as a result of wounds [combat or hostile related] sustained in the combat zone" that required drastic measures, such as amputation."It's an important honor to pay tribute to our nation's veterans of Vietnam, especially," said J.C. Cummings, the architect of record for the memorial. The main part of the memorial was completed in 1982. Cummings said a space on the wall allows Taylor's name to fit the chronological scheme as if his name had been in the database of fallen soldiers when the wall was first built. Of the six names being added to the wall this week, three of them can be placed as such, he said. SixNamesAdded2When these young men were over there, their units became a family, a military family," Cummings said. "We're lucky because we can put the name where it belongs, with their brothers and sisters in arms." Taylor's nephew, Thomas Carpenter, was in attendance today, along with family members of the five other servicemembers whose names are being added to the wall. Photos of each man were shown as each family gave a small tribute to their lost relative. "I'm humbled in front of this wall," Carpenter said, "where they are forever young, strong and brave." James Lee, a stoneworker whose Colorado-based company has worked at the wall since 1987, said each name takes at least a few days to prepare. Multiple test stones are used to ensure the newly engraved names match the older ones in shape, size and depth. "Every name that we add to the memorial further completes it," he said. The engravings for 11 other servicemembers, from the Army and Air Force, will be modified to reflect that they're no longer considered missing in action. The changes will bring the total number of names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to 58,267 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action. The six new names will become official when they are read aloud during the annual Memorial Day ceremony May 31 at 1 p.m. May 4, 2010: By Ian Graham-Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

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