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US soldier recovers after losing all four limbs

December 14, 2009

On Easter Sunday, US army specialist Brendan Marrocco lost all four limbs in combat in Iraq. Glenn Osten Anderson visits Marrocco at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre as he recovers from his injuries and learns to use his prosthetic arms and legs

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2009/dec/11/us-military-marrocco-walter-reed


Good Morning

December 11, 2009

I have been having so much fun. If you are a FB Fan, please join the site, (Veterans Galleria – Click Here) and add your comments.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Don Ballard. Don has been awarded three Purple Hearts and also a National Medal of Honor Recipient. He is the only living Medal of Honor Recipient still alive in the State of Missouri. He was in Branson to be a guest at the College of the Ozarks and to do some fishing and that’s where I caught up with him. (no pun intended) I was at the landing when he came in from the lake. Fishing was good, he took some back with him to Kansas City.

Ballard was very humble, sincere, and passionate about the Navy Corpsman. Quietly he told me that he was returning to his platoon when they were ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army Unit. Seeing a wounded Marine he immediately rendered medical assistance and then gave orders to four Marines to move the casualty to a position of safety, as they prepared to move, an enemy soldier threw a hand grenade, and then started firing at these Marines. Ballard shouted a warning and then threw himself on the hand grenade, which failed to detonate. He then got up and continued to attend to the wounded Marines. He prevented possible injury or death to his fellow Marines. Ballard joined the Kansas Army National Guard, retiring as a Colonel. He continues to be apart of the veteran community in and around Kansas City. What an honor to hear his story. As I listened I again was reminded of how fortunate I am each day to have men and women putting themselves in harms way to protect me and my country.


A Soldier's Christmas

December 8, 2009

a-soldie-02The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,

Transforming the yard to a winter delight;

The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,

Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem.

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,

But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,

And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood; his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear

“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,

You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light

Then he sighed and he said, “It’s really all right,

I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night”

“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line

That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,”

Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam

And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red white and blue… an American flag.

“I can live through the cold and the being alone,

Away from my family, my house and my home,

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,

I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,

I can carry the weight of killing another

Or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers

Who stand at the front against any and all,

To insure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright

Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”

“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,

“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,

For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

“Just tell us you love us, and never forget

To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone;

To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,

To know you remember we fought and we bled

Is payment enough, and with that we will trust.

That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

©Copyright December 7, 2000 by Michael Marks

Author’s Note: In loving appreciation of the countless Americans who have, and continue to serve in the Armed Forces and those who gave their life for their country. Your sacrifices will never be forgotten. We look forward to the day you come home. God bless and keep you always, and God Bless America.

A Soldier’s Christmas was the first in this series of patriotic writings, drafted on Pearl Harbor Day 2000 when in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election our nation saw the right of US Armed Forces personnel openly questioned and debated. I felt it unconscionable that at the onset of the Christmas season, those serving to defend our nation would hear anything but our love and support. It is our challenge to stand for their rights at home while they stand for our lives and safety overseas. This poem went out and quickly spread around the world in emails, letters, and magazines. I received letters from Marines in Bosnia, soldiers in Okinawa, from a submariner who xeroxed a copy for everyone on his sub. Moms wrote, dads, brothers and sisters. I have saved and cherish every letter and set out to continue writing throughout the year.


New VA Web Site

December 8, 2009

Same name; new face! On Veterans Day, VA rolled out the first phase of a large-scale Web renovation to better serve America’s Veterans. This is the first and most visible step of changing VA’s Web domain to better serve Veterans and their families by making it easier for them to find the information they need about benefits and programs. Long term, VA goals for its Web presence are to make it easier and more inviting for Veterans by focusing on topics and tasks rather than office functions, improving the navigational structure to ensure consistency, and making it more visually appealing. The new Web site design will cover more than 500 VA Web sites and about 80,000 pages. Major changes include improvements in the navigational structure that provide consistency among all sites and consolidate major topics; a slide show section that showcases current VA events or hot topics; and bottom columns that feature news items, highlights and a “Quick List” with links directly to important applications such as Veterans On Line Applications (VONAPP) and MyHealtheVet. Check out VA’s new Web face by clicking here. http://www.va.gov/


Branson Veterans Task Force to Host Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony

December 2, 2009

The Branson Veterans Task Force will be holding a ceremony to commemorate “The Day That Will Live in Infamy” and to honor those who were lost at Pearl Harbor. The event will take place in front of the water and fire show area on the Branson Landing on Monday, December 7, 2009 from 12:00 to 12:30 and will end with a wreath laying in Lake Taneycomo. This is a free event, and the public is welcome to attend.

In the attacks on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in 1941 that brought about America’s entry into World War II, 3,500 people were killed, hundreds of aircraft were destroyed, and every battleship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet was either sunk or severely damaged. The following day, President Roosevelt made a speech before Congress and the American people stating that “December 7, 1941 was a day that will live in infamy.” Shortly thereafter, the United States was engaged in a two-front war in the Pacific and European theaters.

Branson Veterans Task Force is dedicated to honoring our Nation’s brave service personnel and veterans throughout the year. The BVTF does that, in part, by hosting events like Veterans Homecoming held during Veterans Week in November, Independence Day celebration, patriotic parades, Memorial Day ceremonies and more. The Task Force is dedicated to recognizing veterans, fostering patriotism, and educating the community. For more information about the Branson Veterans Task force visit www.bransonveterans.com or call 417-337-8387.


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