According to some friends in London with ties to the British Army, there was no doubt that the victim was a British soldier, wearing a shirt for a charity that helps injured British soldiers, and close to the gates of a military base. He was hit in the street by a vehicle, on purpose, and the 2 occupants of the vehicle, got out and attacked him. They were armed with knives and a reported handgun. The 2 men stabbed, and reportedly decapitated the British soldier, and then stood around the body, talked to on lookers and even gave a video interview. (Pay close attention to the woman who walks right through the interview, sees the man with knives and bloody hands, and past the corpse in the road, and keeps walking!)
When the police arrived, the 2 terrorists threatened them with the gun, and wanted and waited for the "armed police" to arrive. It took almost 30 minutes from the time of the attack for the armed police to respond, and when they did they were charged by the attackers, who were promptly shot by the cops and arrested.
Here are my observations, and mind you, I have to distinct political ties...
I cannot imagine our police not being armed, and obviously strict gun laws don't work when criminals can still get guns, and are out arming law enforcement. This type of radical terrorist WANTS to be seen as a hero, and killed for his beliefs. You cannot reason, threaten, or otherwise intimidate a person like this. They only speak one language, violence, and you better speak it better than they do or you won't survive the argument. I still find it amazing that British troops, who are trusted to fight and shoot for their country overseas, are not trusted with a firearms permit when they return home. Obviously, a gun wouldn't have helped this soldier, as he was targeted with a vehicle first, but if this is a new "trend" of attacking troops once they return home, these poor heroes are sitting ducks there.
With the debates over firearms and Islamic terrorism making the news daily, I just ask that people remember WHO the criminals REALLY are, and treat them accordingly. It's hard to blame people for wanting to do everything they can to protect themselves, and their families.
If you are going to yell loudly about gun rights, you should be prepared to yell just as loudly when someone who is "legal" does something stupid with a gun. And if you are going to yell for more gun control, be prepared to yell praise at a legal gun owner that stops an act of violence. If you are a peaceful Muslim, be prepared to loudly condemn the actions of fundamentalists, and if you are a Christian, yelling about Islamic terrorists and "all Muslims" you should be yelling just as loud at members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
And just when you think that the world had gone mad... I give you the audio of a witness in Woolwich. She says that women, who just happened to be there and witness the attack, were laying on the body of the soldier to protect it from the terrorists who were trying to photograph it. Amazing.
My thoughts are with my friends from the British Army today.
Have we not learned a lesson from the thousands of Vietnam Veterans that have been a living example of our previous failings? How can this happen in America? We said that we would never again, turn our backs on our soldiers!?! What is wrong with a society, that cannot take care of those who would die to protect it?!? Is it that easy to forget? Is it because most of America isn't in the military? Only 1/2 of 1% of this country volunteers for service. The rest, sleep soundly under the warm and snuggly blanket. The least we can do is take care of the people providing it.
They aren't asking to be rich, or famous... They are asking to be taken care of, the same way someone on welfare, without health care would be! If Jerrald Jenson were an inmate, laying next to Suspect #2, in Federal Prison he would get better medical care, than what he is getting NOW for being a wounded veteran!
If you don't have anyone in your family that is in the military, if you have no Veterans that are related to you, "ADOPT" Jerrald Jensen, or someone like him, and FIGHT FOR THEM, THE WAY YOU WOULD FOR YOUR OWN BROTHER!
This is what we, as a nation of free people must do... Or, get ready to stand on that line yourself, because when enlistment slows, and how could it NOT with the benefits of our soldiers being cut constantly... We are going to need people, and if no one volunteers??? They will be telling you, instead of asking you!
Demand better from our lawmakers, who you can be rest assured will have fantastic health care, long after they are done passing self serving laws, and helping out their friends in Washington!
WE CAN DO BETTER! THEY DESERVE AT LEAST, OUR VERY BEST!
Remember why you have Monday off!
If you would like to help remember the fallen heroes from Massachusetts, donate to the Mass. Iraq & Afghanistan Fellen Heroes Memorial Fund!
OK, I saw this over the weekend, and I couldn't believe it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because these people (I refuse to call them kids because many of them are over 18) were small kids on September 11, 2001. To them, they think it's Pearl Harbor, something that their parents remember, but that is so far removed from their own reality. But, I cannot help but be offended, and pissed off that there are this many idiots, gathering together online, after the Marathon Bombing, with the united front of "He's too cute, and too much of a stoner" to be a terrorist. One girl said "I just don't see it!"
I tell you what honey... Come to Boston. You wanna see it? Go visit the Richard Family. You'll see more than you want to! Go sit down with Jeff Bauman, or Carlos Arrendondo, or any of the other victims, and witnesses of the Marathon Bombing.
What is so hard to believe? That Suspect #2, worked on explosives in his dorm room, at a college where he was getting financial aid? Or that he was involved with a premeditated attack on a group of civilians, on a State Holiday? Or that he was too much of a pussy to tell his bully big brother NO? Or that he could shoot at uniformed police officers, in the middle of a neighborhood? Or that he ran over, and helped to kill his own brother to save his own ass? Or, that he hid overnight, wounded, in a boat, trying to escape?
You know what I'm trying to figure out? Why someone who used this country as a life boat, and was given public assistance, financial aid, medical care, food, housing, and finally CITIZENSHIP, could so easily turn on that nation, and justify the killing of 2 women, and an 8 year old boy, and wounding hundreds of others?
I'm also trying to figure out what went wrong with you and your parents, that you think because he's too cute, or that he smokes pot that he isn't capable of evil? So, attractive people are good, and ugly people are evil? Pot smokers are good, and booze drinkers are evil? What the f*ck is wrong with you?
I have an idea... You explain the countless video angles to me, if #2 wasn't the bomber... How is he in the video, in the place of the bomb one minute and running away without his backpack the next. You said "I don't see it", well OPEN YOUR F*CKING EYES AND YOU WILL!
If you are the future of this country, we may as well just end it all now, because we are all doomed!
Come to Boston.... Or better yet don't. Because if I saw you walking down the street with your stupid tattoo, in honor of #2, I'd punch you in the mouth and knock your ass out!
And just when you think that the world is doomed...
You see this video from Astronaut Chris Hadfield, from the International Space Station.
He's one of the smartest people on Earth, and beyond, yet he still has enough of a sense of humor to want to use his unique position for something fun, like a music video. I wonder what David Bowie thinks of it?
It must be such a nice view from up there. You're far enough away to not see the evil that lives on the planet.
Bonus Zen, for anyone that loves fighter jets as much as I do!
My love for our Armed Forces knows no limits! But, when I see something like this, after what our city has just experienced, my heart is forced to grow to make room for the love!
Thank you gentlemen, for your service, your sacrifices, your dedication, your love, and your support!
Anyone that knows me, or that has listened to my show, knows that my emotions are worn right on my sleeve. After the heartbreak that we all experienced at the Marathon on Monday, and the fear that we have been dealing with all week, today I had enough!
Suspect #2 had shut down our city, and I couldn't take it anymore! I snapped!
Now that Suspect #2 is in custody, here is the audio from my mental meltdown this afternoon!
I am so proud of you Boston, and so grateful for our first responders...
There are many ways that you can Support The Troops. You can send care packages, help the families while the soldiers are deployed, volunteer, and then there's running...
Anyone who knows me, knows that I will do ANYTHING to help our troops! And they are probably the only people that can get me to run a 9K!
Yup, it's about 5.4 miles... And for a DJ at WAAF, that's a LOT!
I know I can do it, because I've done it before!!!
But, I need your help to meet my fundraising goals!
I'm running for "My Guys"... Who will you run for?
Get the feeling of crossing Home Plate at Fenway Park, and help the Home Base Program!
They do such amazing work with our troops!
The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program serves New England by identifying, motivating, and clinically treating wounded service members and veterans with combat stress and traumatic brain injury and their families. The Home Base Program serves the nation as a model for private-public collaborations as an educational resource about the invisible wounds of war that now effect an estimated 30 percent of those who served or are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are also working on the development of new treatments for post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
In New England, an estimated 50,000 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are affected by TBI and/or combat stress. These invisible wounds of war are complex, individualized and extraordinarily challenging for all those affected. Families of veterans affected by combat stress and/or traumatic brain injury often need support as they seek ways to better understand and support their loved veteran. Many veterans struggle with the stigma associated with these injuries and may be reluctant to seek care.
Many veterans struggle with the stigma associated with these injuries and may be reluctant to seek care. While anxiety and distress may not be as obvious as the physical wounds of war, the scars are just as painful and deep.
Through a range of activities and events, the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program informs and educates the community about combat stress and/or traumatic brain injury as we seek to mitigate the stigma and encourage veterans and their families to get the support and care they deserve.
Since the number of professionals specifically trained to diagnose and treat these injuries is inadequate to handle the growing demand, the Home Base Program also offers opportunities for health care professionals from across New England and beyond to increase their understanding of how to help veterans.
So, judging by the news coming out of Worcester, it's ok to assault police officers? Well that's what a group of high school students and even a "parent" thought yesterday afternoon when 50 of them surrounded 4 uniformed officers and assaulted them, causing injury. Yup, you read that right, a "parent" too. I use quotes, because the proper definition of parent is "a person who brings up and cares for another". Well, when your child is attacking a uniformed police officer, and you jump in and help... you are not "Bringing up" anyone, and therefor you are not a parent. You are an a**hole!
Being in a crowd of 50 and surrounding a small group of police officers does not make you tough.
You know what makes you tough?
You are tough when you are a little girl in Afghanistan, and walking to school everyday when terrorists, your community, and even some in your own family do not want you to be educated!
You are tough when you save the lives of 36 fellow Marines while you are under attack in Afghanistan!
You are tough when you are a police officer who is surrounded, outnumbered, and ARMED, and you never take out your weapon to defend yourself because you are surrounded by KIDS!
So, to those students in Worcester I say this: The world is bigger than Worcester, and a hell of a lot meaner too. Since it's obvious that your "parents" are not going to teach you the life lessons that you need to learn, you are doomed to learn them the hard way!
Worcester, MA (December 10, 2012) - On Monday, December 10, 2012 at approximately 2:07 PM officers assigned to the Community Impact Division were stationed in the area of Hamilton Street and Harrington Way as North High School was letting out students for the day. The purpose of the officers' presence was due, in part, by an altercation on Friday, December 7, 2012 when a fight involving several students broke out when school was ending for the day. On that day an off-duty Worcester Police Officer was driving by the school when the students were getting out. The officer observed 3 students kicking and punching a person who was on the ground. The off duty officer stopped and exited his vehicle to break up the fight. The three youths then attacked the officer and beat him as well. Several police officers responded to the scene and disbursed the unruly crowd which now grew to approximately 30 students. The 3 aggressors were placed under arrest. Those arrested were 16 years old and charged with Assault and Battery on a Police Officer, Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace.
Today, as students were leaving for the day a 15 year old male walked by the officers and began to loudly yell profanities at the police officers present on Hamilton Street by Stratfield Street. This male was causing a disturbance for the neighbors as he continued to yell profanities at the police. At this time two officers approached this male and asked him to stop yelling swear words. The teen apologized to the officers and stated that he was on the basketball team and did not want to get into trouble. At this time, approximately 40 to 50 teens began to gather and surround the officers. The teens were ordered to stay back but they refused. The group started to chant to free the teen that the officers were talking to. The group continued to close in on the two officers. Fearing for their safety the officers called for assistance.
Several officers arrived at the scene and immediately ordered the crowd back. There were two main aggressors in the group, Mr. Emmanuel Natal, 18 years old and Ms. Jasmine Hudson, 17 years old. Ms. Hudson began to yell to the police that she did not have to leave while Mr. Natal pushed his way through the crowd clenching his fists and yelling and swearing at the officers present. At one point, Mr. Natal refused numerous orders to leave the area and attacked one of the officers by punching the officer twice in the chest. Mr. Natal was tackled to the ground by other nearby officers. Natal began to violently resist being placed under arrest. While this was taking place John Clough, 17 years old, jumped on an officer's back while they were securing Mr. Natal. Mr. Clough began to violently resist arrest and fought with two police officers. As a result, one of the officers broke his leg in two places when they all fell to the ground during the struggle.
A 15 year old male was now acting aggressive to a female officer at the scene. Two other officers encountered this male and were in the process of placing him under arrest when Ms. Hudson approached one of the officers and began to punch him in the face. At the same time, a 16 year old female began to punch the same officer in the back of his head. The nearby female officer pulled the 16 year old off of the officer and the teen began to pull the officer's hair and punch the officer in her face with a closed fist.
Ms. Hudson was physically subdued and placed under arrest. Meanwhile the mother of the 16 year old female, Elsie Rivera, 37 years old, got in between the police and her daughter and tried to separate the daughter from the police. Ms. Rivera began to punch the female officer in the arm to try to free her daughter while the daughter was still actively resisting arrest. Ms. Rivera was placed under arrest and her daughter was eventually subdued and placed under arrest.
Ms. Rivera and her 16 year old daughter were both charged with Assault and Battery on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace. The 15 year old male was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace. Ms. Hudson, Mr. Natal and Mr. Clough were all charged with Assault and Battery on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace. The 15 year old male who instigated this incident was not in the area when the crowd was eventually under control.
The police officer was transported to a nearby hospital by Worcester EMS where he will be treated for his leg injury; his injuries will keep him out of work for several weeks.
Over the last few days, many people have asked me what I thought about "the girl from Plymouth". You know, the one yelling and flipping off the camera at Arlington National Cemetery, in front of the sign that says Silence and Respect. Lindsey Stone is her name and if you didn't know it before, after the news tonight, you will. This story has taken on a life of it's own, and it's only getting worse for Lindsey. Her and her co-worker, who were on a business trip last month in DC, when they visited Arlington and took the photo, are now both on unpaid leave from their jobs. The organization Living Independantly Forever, had to release a statement on their Facebook page condemning the photo, and stating that their employees actions do not reflect the company, or their stance on Veterans etc. There is even a page on Facebook, asking for their firing, and it has over 10,000 "likes" already.
So, how do I feel about it? Well, up until she posted the photo on her Facebook page, and all hell broke loose, I think Lindsey Stone was one of the luckiest people on the planet.
First, she is a woman, born in the U.S.A.., which the odds are against in the grand scheme of things. She could have been born in Afghanistan, China, or in the Congo, where she would have led a very different life. She could have been born in N. Korea, or Iran where I'm sure they do not look kindly at disrespecting their war heroes. Here in the U.S.A.., what she did isn't a crime, it's protected by the First Amendment.
Second, in one of the most tragic economies America has ever seen, Lindsey is employed, at what looks like an amazing organization, that is really helping people and changing the world for the better. How many of us can say that about where we work?
And finally Lindsey, judging by her actions alone, has made it through life without knowing anyone in uniform. That has to be the case right? I mean, how could she have family who has served in previous wars and do what she did? Or, how could she know someone now that is currently serving, after 10+ years of war and terror, and make the trip to Arlington and do what she did?
She's never had to say goodbye, or cry herself to sleep worrying. She's never packed a care package, or written a love letter to someone far away. She's never had to pray for a Skype call, or be afraid of the doorbell in the middle of the night. She's never had to see someone she loves go and look evil in the eye, only to come home a different person.
And most importantly, she's never attended a funeral, where a flag is given to a crying widow, or mother "On behalf of a grateful nation".
She doesn't know anyone buried at Arlington, except for the few that she learned about in school like JFK. She probably doesn't even know what Section 60 is.
How lucky for her!
She's part of the 99% that don't have someone they love, in harms way. How amazing for her. Up until a month ago, Lindsey Stone was living the American dream. The dream where Memorial Day and Veterans Day means long weekends off for BBQing, beer drinking, and good deals on new cars. Up until a month ago, Lindsey Stone wasn't afraid. Now, as the hours go by, she learns more and more that her "innocent" joke, wasn't a joke at all. Somehow, she made it through the gates at Arlington, and wasn't overcome with the sadness and loss that everyone else feels. But, now she feels sadness and loss... and regret too I bet.
When I first saw that photo, I thought it was a photo shopped joke, or a cruel prank. I even gave her the benefit of the doubt that she could be the victim in all of this. That someone took her picture and put it in front of that sign, to try and make her look bad. Obviously, that is not the case. This photo will follow her for the rest of her life. Every time she applies for a job, or applies for a loan it will come up. When her kids Google their Mom, that will be the first picture they see. Her name will be remembered, and she'll be treated differently by anyone who remembers... forever.
She released a statement on Facebook saying that it was a joke, and that they were just acting like "douchebags"...and that they meant no disrespect. Lindsey, you're right... you were acting like douchebags. You came up with the idea for the picture, you took the picture, and then you posted the picture online, and at no time did you think for a second... THIS ISN'T A GOOD IDEA!?! How comfy that little bubble that you live in must be!
Do I think that Lindsey Stone is the most evil person in the world? No! I am confident that there are people way more evil than she is. Arlington is filled with the bodes of those who died fighting that evil.
Do I think she is one of the dumbest? Yes, she probably is.
Like I said, up until she posted that picture, Lindsey Stone was one of the luckiest people on the planet...
Most people are surprised to hear that I've been to Iraq & Afghanistan, but I don't shoot guns. I went shooting for the first time AFTER I got home from Iraq in 2006. Maybe I should have learned BEFORE I went to the Middle East! Well, today I decided to change all that!
I met a guy named Phil in Afghanistan and went on some missions with him and his guys.
(Phil is on the right in the picture below)
Phil recently introduced me to Matt Devito from Downrange Firearms Training. Matt said that no matter how inexperienced I was, if I took his class, I would be able to shoot! He was right. Today I headed to NH, and took a 4 hour, private class and I brought Andrew our video guy along to capture it all on HD video (just in case I did something stupid!).
Here I am with Matt and Phil. We made the biggest guy, hold the smallest gun! :)
The video is on the way, but until then... Check out some of the pictures and more importantly the firepower that I wrapped my hands around!
Here's what was on the menu!
Andrew our video guy, captures Matt explaining what to do and what NOT to do!
Let the shooting begin!
WWII M1 Garand
Trying to learn how to be a sniper, watch out evil pumpkins!
Thank you Matt, for a great class! Now that I've started shooting, I'm addicted!
I can't wait to take your next class!!!
(Note the S&W 500 in my hand. YES, I shot that too. Wait until you see the video!)
Anyone who listens to my show, knows about my love for our service men and women, and my dedication to our Veterans! They are the "other 1%" who have volunteered, and dedicated themselves to protecting all of us. Imagine writing a blank check, and that check is worth your life. That's what they have done.
When you say "Support The Troops" it shouldn't just mean, while they are overseas. It means, supporting them and their families while they are gone and more importantly, when they come home. Did you know that more soldiers die from suicide after returning home, than die on the battlefield? PTSD, TBI, unemployment, divorce, and the overall feeling that they just don't "fit in" at home anymore, are just a few reasons why. Did you know that the divorce rate for deployed soldiers is almost 80%? Or that children of deployed soldiers have a harder time in school?
Generations of Veterans have been welcomed home as heroes, others were chastised, and still more were never even recognized at all. Our generation should learn from those that have come before us. This weekend, while you are enjoying the deals on cars and mattresses, make sure you thank a Veteran for everything that they have sacrificed in service to this country. They don't ask for thanks, and they don't expect it, but they deserve it, and so much more!
If you're looking to support some great Military based charities in honor of a Veteran in your life, allow me to suggest
Veterans, click here for a list of places to eat and drink this weekend for FREE!
Patriots Will Honor Veterans and Military Members Sunday
Veterans and active members of each branch in the military and Coast Guard to be honored in pregame flag ceremony. Patriots Charitable Foundation focuses on "Veterans and Military Volunteerism" as part of the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative.
In a pregame ceremony, more than 100 active military members, representing each branch of the military and Coast Guard, will join members of the Kraft family, Patriots alumni and cheerleaders to display a large American flag that will spread the entire length of the field.
The game will also feature a flyover from 439 Airlift Wing in Westover, Mass., a Color Guard ceremony performed by the Army National Guard and national anthem sung by the 215th Army Band’s Voices of Freedom. During the game, all service men and women will be asked to stand and be recognized and messages from military members serving oversees will be played in-game on the video boards.
Throughout the weekend, veterans and active military can enjoy a free trip to The Hall. From Friday, Nov. 10 through Monday, Nov. 12, The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon will offer free admission to all veterans and active military with their military ID.
Check out the list below, for Veterans Day events in your area. Feel free to add to this list by commenting on this blog!
At American Legion Post 40 199 Federal Furnace Rd. in Plymouth, MA. 6:30pm In honor of the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day, we will be having a Chicken Parmesan Dinner at 7:00 followed by dancing
DUXBURY The unveiling ceremony for the Duxbury American Legion Post 223’s War on Terrorism Memorial will be held at 11 a.m. Veterans Day (Sunday Nov. 11), with a reception at noon inside the Post, which is located at 5 West St. The memorial is dedicated to Army Lt. Timothy Steele, 25, who died while serving with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan Aug. 23 of last year. He was a 2004 graduate of Duxbury High School and 2009 graduate of West Point. The memorial is also dedicated to all other men and women who have lost their lives fighting the war on terrorism, wherever they served their country. Two of Steele’s Fort Drum comrades will be in attendance, including 1st Lt. Derek Rondeau, who will be the keynote speaker and served with Steele in Afghanistan, and 1st Sgt. William Collins, who will present the Fallen Soldier display.
The public is invited to attend and are requested to RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 781-536-4086.
Salute to Veterans Date: Monday, November 12th, 2012 9:00AM-11:30AM Where: Berkshire Christian School 259 Kemble Street Lenox MA 01240
Join students and staff to honor veterans and their spouses with a brunch a patriotic program. Enjoy a free brunch and listen as our students express their gratitude through music and recitation. All veterans and families welcome. To RSVP please call 413-637-2474 by Nov 7th. Info@berkshirechristianschool.com
Veterans' Day Celebration at the State House
Date: Sunday, November 11th, 2012 10AM-11:30AM Where: Massachusetts State House, Memorial Hall. 24 Beacon Street, Boston MA 02111
Join the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services along with distinguished guests and speakers in celebrating Veterans Day at the State House. **OPEN TO THE PUBLIC** For more information contact Sharlene Queenan at 617-210-5930 or email: email@example.com
Charlestown Lions Club Sunday November 11, 2012 9a-12p Pancake Breakfast Knights of Columbus Hall 545 Medford St, Charlestown, MA. 02129
$5 donation, children under 5 FREE
FREE Veterans Day Cruise- From Quincy & Boston
Date: Sunday, November 11th, 2012 From Quincy Shipyard at 10:15am, returning 2:30pm, Also departing from Long Wharf Boston at 11:00am returning 2:00pm
Join us on a special cruise highliting the military history of Boston Harbor. We will be making a stop at Fort Warren on Georges Island for a tour of the fort and a special tribute to longtime veteran and volunteer Charlie Boyer: Tickets are FREE for Veterans and cost $5 for families and friends. Reservations strongly recommended, space limited.
For reservations visit: www.bostonharborislands.org or call 617-770-0040 ext. 102.
Veterans' Day Fun Run 5k/10k Race, Walk or Roll
Date: Saturday, November 10th, 2012 Where: Bedford VA 200 Springs Rd, Bedford MA 01730
Join the Bedford VA in this year's Veterans' Day Fun Run! Proceeds will go to support deployed members & their families in the local community. Register at: www.afafunrun.com. Pre-Registration: $30.00 by November 1st. Or Race Day Registration: $35.00. For race questions and or volunteer opportunities: Call Ryan Lafferty 781-271-4581 or 978-727-3604. Kristin Pressly 781-687-4988 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Elizabeth Price 781-687-3067 or email: email@example.com
Sunday November 11
at the American Legion Post 193 in Winchendon, Cub Scout Pack will be honoring the Veterans both past and present.
There couldn't be 2 more polar opposites this election year than Kid Rock & Sean Penn. They are on opposite sides of the voting booth, and like most of America, they are split right down the middle. They have shot insults back and forth in the press over the years about the war... But, one thing brings them together... They are both Americans.
I can't tell you how sick I am of the commercials, facebook status updates, tweets, and opinions from both sides. It's ripping this nation apart, and sometimes I think that's EXACTLY what the extreme left and extreme right want... And most Americans fall somewhere in the middle. As citizens we know what it's like to compromise... But in DC, they don't even know how to spell it! I love this country more than anything, and after my trips overseas to Iraq & Afghanistan, I was even more convinced that I was so lucky to be born a girl in the USA! If I had been born anywhere else on Earth, I would be lucky to still be alive. Sometimes Americans need a reminder of how lucky we are. Our country may not be perfect, but we're free to say that out loud and do something about it!
Well, leave it to Kid Rock and Sean Penn, two opposites, who are both living the American dream, to remind us of how lucky we all are!
This movie will make you laugh, but more importantly, it should make you think!
With the 11th anniversary of 9/11 upon us, it brings mixed emotions for me. Obviously, the sadness of that day is the first emotion that I feel. The vulnerability of being attacked on our own soil, was something that my generation had heard about but never experienced. We were truly afraid. Pride is the next emotion that comes to mind. I was proud of how we stood as a nation, and united in our grief, anger, and patriotism. I was also proud of our team here at WAAF, for switching gears on a moments notice and doing something none of us ever thought we would have to do... the news. We became a well oiled machine, and you allowed us to be part of a day that none of us will ever forget.
The flag we hung in the WAAF studio that morning, still hangs today. It's hard to go through a day, without looking at it, and remembering.
Five years later, I headed to Baghdad, to say Thank You to our local troops, who had volunteered to go after the people responsible for that terrible day. I got to see with my own eyes, just how brave and selfless our troops could be. I spent the day of 9/11/06 with the 181 Engineers at Camp Cropper, and the night at a USO concert featuring Drowning Pool. They asked me to introduce them on stage, and it was one of the most emotional things I have ever done in my life.
Five years later, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I headed to Kabul, Afghanistan to visit our local troops. They were still, after all of these years serving our country proudly, and deserved to know that we hadn't forgotten about them. Unlike Baghdad, where I moved around a lot, I stayed with the same guys for the entire trip and went out on missions to visit other bases and other units. You can't spend that much time with people, and not get close. I made lifelong friends there.
A year has gone by, and another somber anniversary is upon us. But, I also have some great memories of this date, and I am conflicted by them. Obviously, I still remember the victims, and their families. However, I can't help but smile, thinking about all of the amazing people that I have met during my trips overseas. So, I went back, and looked at all of the video that we shot in Afghanistan, and there was a lot of serious, and emotional stuff. But in 2 1/2 weeks, you are bound to have a little fun, no matter where you are.
Now that "My Guys" are all home safe and sound, here is a little anniversary gift. Some of our greatest hits... The laughter through the tears.
Over the weekend, I headed out west to Barnes Air National Guard base to visit the 104th Fighter Wing. I've been out there a few times before, because of all of the cool aircraft that they have. I flew a refueling mission with the A-10 Warthogs. Those things are loud and totally badass! A few years later, I got to
fly in an F-15 with WOD my pilot.
It only took 9G's and 630mph to get me to pass out, and earn the Callsign: NARKO :)
I returned a couple of years ago to fly with John Klatt in his 300E stunt plane! So much fun!
But, the Mass. Air National Guard, is more than just kickass aircraft, a lot more!
On Saturday, I spent the morning training with the on base Fire Department. They dressed me up like a baked potato, and took me inside the burn house to 'save' a couple of dummies from the smoke filled tower. I was amazed at how heavy 'dead weight' was. The heat, the heavy gear, the sensory deprivation, the limited mobility, and the absolute trust in your partners required is beyond comprehension!
We even made Andrew our camera guy, put on a mask and follow me inside. This video should be awesome. I'm not sure that he knew this was in his job description. They lit a fire in the building and got the heat up to 900* at the ceiling. I got smoke in my eyes, and after my eyes teared up I looked like Alice Cooper as the make-up ran down my face. Not a problem that these guys have to deal with on a daily basis. I had to get in the shade, and take a few minutes to cool down, I though I was going to pass out! I don't know how they do it for hours at a time. I grew up in a Fire Fighting family, and I've been around it all of my life... But I have a new found respect for the job after that!
We got back to the firehouse, and I was soaked to the bone with sweat. Andrew was laughing his ass off when he took this picture!
The guys were busting my balls pretty bad about the last time I wore 'bunker gear'! There was a lot less under my suspenders! You'll have to find an old Mantown calendar to see that pic! ;)
After I spent some time sliding down the pole, it was time for lunch! After a pulled pork sandwich and fries, we headed to the Demo pit to blow up stuff. After a little begging, I got the OK to push the button for the Earth shattering KABOOM!
We set up a camera closer than we were allowed to stand, and hoped that it didn't get destroyed. They put us outside of the fence, and showed me how the switch worked. "Fire in the hole" BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!
A pound of C-4 is fun as hell to blow up, I wanted to do it again! We went down and inspected the damage in the pit, a 2' crater with a huge black smudge on the wall. NICE! We headed inside to learn how the EOD works, and to play with the toys. What could possibly go wrong?
We asked about dynamite, and how to build a bomb from a candy container. We heard the guys "talk shop" about their deployments, and took a tour of the training facility. I had to try really hard NOT to steal a fake bomb, but I knew nothing good would come from that. I can see the headlines now, "Boston DJ causes explosive scare, shipped to Git-Mo".
It was time for the suit... Unfortunately, for the EOD, the only frame of reference anyone has of them is The Hurt Locker. As it turns out, they look at that movie the way Slash looks at Spinal Tap... a joke. But the suit that Jeremy Renner wore, was in my future. The had a size small, but they thought it would be much funnier to see me in a large! They were right. I have never worn a Kevlar diaper like that before! The entire thing weighs around 85 pounds, with a big part of that in the helmet. YES, I made a Darth Vader reference, I had to!
They had me walk around outside with an inert missile, and not one person took a double take. I guess that's normal out there! They put me on the floor, and laughed as I tried to get up. They turtled me! Someone got the brilliant idea, of handing me a jump rope. You'll have to see the video, to see how that turned out. All I will say is that the EOD guys were crying from hysterical laughter, and I almost passed out again. Anything to make those guys laugh, talk about a stressful life!
After taking abuse from Andrew the camera guys all day, the EOD guys stuck up for me, and made him wear an OTV, just like I wore in Afghanistan. They handed him a training gun (they didn't trust him with a real one) and told him that he looked like a terrorist. You be the judge!
Later on that night, during that crazy rain storm, I bumped into some guys at the NCO's club that I met in Iraq 6 years ago during WAAF's Boston to Baghdad trip! It was so good to see them again, and I hope to go flying with them again soon!
The video is on the way, and you will see how foolish I looked trying to do the jobs of these highly trained and brave guys. The beer tasted great at the end of a long, and sweaty day! Thanks to everyone at Barnes, who couldn't have been nicer to Andrew and I. Thank you for everything you do for us! #SupportTheTroops
(thanks to MSGT Smith for taking the pics, while Andrew was busy coming up with stupid things for me to do, while dressed in super hot gear, in the sun!)
Labor Day Weekend 2012, I'll be spending it with friends and family, BBQing, skydiving, riding my motorcycle, and enjoying the last weekend of summer. A far cry from last year!
Labor Day Weekend 2011, I was leaving Logan airport early Saturday morning, heading to London, then Bahrain, and finally to Kabul, Afghanistan. It was my second trip overseas (Iraq 2006), and the first for my producer Mike. We spent months planning, training, passing medical tests, gathering gear, preparing our electronics, writing our wills, and mentally getting ready for the trip of a lifetime. We were headed in Kabul, through the commercial airport as 2 civilians, anxious to meet our military escorts, members of Hammer company 1-182 Infantry, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
When we landed, my luggage was missing, including my body armor. It was held up in London's strict baggage inspection. My first convoy was going to be free of any safety equipment, or so I thought. Within 2 minutes of meeting the guys that we would spend the next 2 weeks with, these strangers were all offering to give me their vests, and helmets so that I would be safe. I'm sure their families would have been proud and frightened at the gesture. I spent 45 minutes in the M-ATV hoping that we didn't get attacked because one of "my guys" was wearing no safety gear, and while it was their job to protect me, I could not have something like that on my conscience.
Our days were filled with a mixture of jokes, picture taking, ball busting, sweating, preparing for missions, going on missions, taking tours of facilities, more sweating, blogging, packing, unpacking, eating, sweating, and trying to do a radio show in 120* heat thousands of miles away from home.
Our nights were filled with much of the same. It was an emotional rollercoaster from the time you woke up, until the time you went to bed. BTW, with our schedule we were going to sleep at 0400 and waking up at 0600. No rest for the wicked!
Just like my trip to Iraq in 2006, my favorite times were spent hanging around with the guys. Sitting at the chow hall table, enjoying the US militaries fabulous food (my favorite was the red jello), or smoking cigars at a picnic table learning how to play cards. I made a few close friends in Baghdad on my first trip, so I knew that I would leave Afghanistan with a new group of brothers... I just had no idea how many!
During the trip, I was exhausted, sick with a terrible cough from the dry and badly polluted air, sore from the heavy gear and cramped quarters, scared, emotionally raw, slaphappy, overwhelmed, and strangely, I couldn't get enough of it. I loved every minute! I tired my best to sit down every day and blog about what life was like for me, and more importantly for our local heroes who were halfway through their year long deployment.
The 2 weeks went by in a blink, and before we knew it, it was time to come home. Once again, we had a very scary time at the airport. People always ask me what the scariest part of the trip was... That answer is easy. Any time that I wasn't surrounded by the military. In other words, Kabul International Airport, and in my private room to sleep. Troops weren't allowed inside the airport at all, and my room was a metal box, with no windows and only one door. Not a place to be during an explosion. I didn't sleep very well in there. I preferred the chair in the QRF shack (and so did Mike), surrounded by the noise of my guys! I would rather be on a convoy, at night with them, rather than in a quiet bed alone, sounds stupid I know. But, they made me feel safe and I knew that I was.
I cried the entire day getting ready to leave Afghanistan (I was told that I'm the only person that ever has), I cried during the convoy to the airport, and the entire flight from Kabul to Bahrain. Once in Bahrain, I drowned my sorrows in a long drink list courtesy of my new found brothers, and they watched me and Mike plow through it on Skype. It's amazing how drunk 2 Bostonians can get in an Irish pub, in the Bahrainian airport with a 3 page drink list from the Infantry! We sobered up halfway to London. Ouch!
Before we knew it, we were at Logan again. It was Sunday night in Boston, and we still smelled like Kabul. We missed our guys something awful, and spent the next the next 5 months packing care packages for them, chatting online with them, and making plans for their return. They were 5 long months, and we made a LOT of plans.
It seemed like forever, but early one morning, 5 months ago, I watched "My Guys" (as they had become known), walk off a plane, and smell the 'fresh' air of Boston for the first time in a year. I cried again.
The last 5 months have been spent getting to know them in a different way, out of their uniforms, calling them by their first names, meeting their families, attending their weddings, riding their motorcycles, playing with their kids, and watching them struggle to get back to "normal". I've talked them through divorces, and layoffs, buying and in some cases losing homes, drinking to celebrate, and drinking to forget. Crying from laughter, and from sadness and guilt. It took me a few weeks to get back to 'normal' after only being there for 2 weeks, but I am changed forever by the experience. Now imagine how it is for them? 5 months later, and they still have large pieces of themselves overseas. They look the same from the outside, but their insides are changed forever.
They have been bound together by a year at war, and even though I knew them for a short time during their deployment, I am bound to them forever as well. They are the best people I know. They are generous, selfless, brave, funny, loyal, truthful, blunt, crass, sensitive, and loving. I put my life in the hands of strangers, and it was returned to me in the hands of friends. I have been forever changed because I met them, and knowing that they are out there, protecting all of us, helps me sleep at night.
Happy Anniversary guys, I love you all more than you will ever know. Thank you for your service, your sacrifices, and your gift of friendship and love. I only hope that someday I can repay what you have given me.
Memorial Day weekend, is the unofficial start of summer... Many of us head to the backyard for a BBQ, or head North to the beach or to the Cape for the long weekend. But, we should not forget that this is a solemn weekend of remembrance. The sacrifices of our troops, the ultimate sacrifices, made by so many so that we can enjoy those BBQ's and beach days should be honored this weekend as well.
There are 300 Million people in the United States, and 1/2 of 1% serve in the armed forces. After 10 years of war, it amazes me that there are still people in this country that do not know someone who has deployed, but there are people like that. People who are lucky enough to watch the news and not be afraid, people who spend birthdays, and anniversary's with those that they love. People that go to bed every night, snuggled up to their soul mates without a care in the world. But the 1/2 of 1% of this country have missed those birthdays and anniversaries. They go to sleep alone, and their loved one's avoid the news, because it's too hard to think of the worst case scenario.
Fortunately for us, most of our brave service members come home at the end of a deployment. They come home different, but they come home. There are those, who do not. Those that have fallen, fighting for what they believe is right. THAT, is what Memorial Day is really about. Remembering them. It's the least that we can do. Remember the families that will never be whole again.
But, it's not just about this war, it's about all of them. Millions have died for those BBQ's and beach days... MILLIONS! And even if you don't know someone who has served and died in the last decade, I promise you that there is someone in your families past who did in another war, in another time. The 300 million of us, owe everything that we have to those brave, fallen warriors, who gave up everything for us.
This weekend 750,000 bikers will make their annual ride to Washington DC to pay tribute to our nations heroes for Rolling Thunder. But, you don't have to ride a motorcycle to our nations capitol do remember the fallen. Just remember!
This Memorial Day, I will be thinking of 2 of those brave soldiers...
PFC Jonathan Roberge who was the first KIA from my home town of Leominster since Vietnam.
and Sgt. Edward Grace who I had the privilege of meeting in Afghanistan.
Enjoy your weekend, just take a few minutes out of it to remember why we have Monday off!
It makes me happy to see people getting involved in support of our troops!
For many of them, the hardest part isn't serving overseas... It's coming home!
I can tell you from personal experience, from my trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, what a humbling experience it was to have these brave men and women watching my back... and to not be able to return that honor back to them is tough... That's why I do everything that I can to support them and their families once they've returned home.
This morning, I may as well have won the lottery. The last of My Guys were coming home from Afghanistan! I woke up at 2:15 this morning, to get ready to meet the plane at Logan. I was invited on a "Super Secret Squirrel" mission to surprise the guys before the Welcome Home ceremony in Melrose. Once the got off of the plane, they were bussed over to Terminal E for what I am sure was the best tasting Dunkin' coffee that they have ever had! The line was LONG, but well worth it!
At 6:30, it was time to get the buses on the road to reunite these guys with their families... FINALLY! With a State Police escort, the buses made it out of Logan, through the tolls and tunnel, and onto 93 North faster than anything I have ever seen! Traffic? What traffic!
The city of Melrose rolled out the red carpet for the 182. The fire department raised their ladders over Main street, and hoisted a HUGE flag for the buses to drive under. People came running out of their homes to wave at the returning heroes, and people waited patiently as the buses passed by, only honking their horns in support.
As we approached Memorial Hall, hundreds of loved ones lined the streets with banners and flags, screaming "Welcome Home and We Love You". The soldiers filed inside and got into formation so that they could be addressed by their Commander, LtCol Stewart.
After a brief greeting, and words of thanks from the command, they were released to their families. Kids ran to their Dad's. Wives and Mothers cried with happiness. Buddies hugged, and posed for photos and some soldiers even held their new babies for the first time. It was a very emotional scene. The room began to empty very quickly, as these battle tested soldiers could not wait another minute to complete the last leg of their journey home. A hot shower, a home cooked meal, and a good nap in their own beds were all on the itinerary.
It was an honor and a privilege to visit these men in Afghanistan, and it was just as much of an honor to meet their loved one's today. To put faces and names to the stories that I had heard over the many late night conversations in Kabul. These men are a testament to all that is good with America, and it's due to the amazing families that they all come from.
Thank you 182, for taking me in and protecting me while I was with you, and thank you to your families for the sacrifices that you have made during your soldiers absence. We all owe you a debt of gratitude... Something a simple "Thank You" does not feel like enough to repay.
Here are some videos from the local news crews of the scene... It was such an honor to be a part of this special day!
Take a look at Afghanistan from the air! I got to fly around the 'Ring of Steel' for about an hour, touring the bases, neighborhoods, and mountains that surround Kabul! Sometimes it's tough to figure out where you are because it looks like it could be anywhere... and other times, it can only be Afghanistan that you are looking at!
Thanks to the chopper pilots and the 26 MEB for setting this up for us!
This was one of the most emotional days of the trip. We had to drive about an hour outside of Kabul, into the country. There was a pretty big group of us, because when a general goes out to check up on things, it's a big deal! Along the way we passed evidence of the difficulties that still face Afghanistan. Vehicles that fell victim to IED's are everywhere!
When we arrived at the school, the Afghan soldiers were already there, as were the construction supervisors, translators, tribal elders, and a few kids. We took a tour of the construction, and Gen. Hammond pointed out a few ventalation issues that remained in the construction. His concern was that the kids wouldn't be warm enough during the winter months. They also looked at the new well, and discussed the time table. Then it was time to meet the kids, who had already started to gather outside, as soon as they saw the 'American trucks' pull in.
The US soldiers that escorted me, had prepared boxes of toys, pens, chalk, and candy for us to give out. What surprised me, was that the Afghan soldiers, the little boys, and the little girls had to be put into separate groups. First, the soldiers were given some soccer balls to keep them from 'intervening' while we played with the kids. Soldiers in Afghanistan have 'on average' a 3rd grade education, which is part of the recruiting problem. The more people grow up uneducated in Afghanistan, the longer it is going to take us to get out, and leave the country to stand on it's own two feet. The most important part, is that we leave them as a ally, because we cannot afford to have Afghanistan raise another generation that is desperate, uneducated, and hating America! We all know what comes from that! So, once the soldiers were taken care of, the male US soldiers, started tending to the little boys, and LT. Sullivan and I were left to handle the 35-40 little girls who had bravely arrived. They are used to being ignored, or worse. So everyone thought that if American women spent some time with them, that they would come out of their shells a little bit. They sat quietly at first, organized in a row, and shy. I started handing out pieces of colored chalk, so they could write and draw. These girls will all be allowed to attend this school when it opens, since that is a requirement of the US military. All schools are open to all students in the community, even the girls! I wore gloves to hide my long fingernails, since my hair was enough for them to adjust to! They thought is was CRAZY! We handed out the pens, and then got to the good stuff... LIFESAVERS! They love them! Everyone got something, and they were so grateful for the smallest gift!
As we finished the line of little girls, the boys started to run over to us, and they were much more aggressive. They grabbed and demanded. At one point I was surrounded by kids, and the girls were starting to back away, giving in to the boys aggression! This made me VERY upset! I saw one boy, about 10 years old, hit a 5 year old girl, so that he could take what I had just given her... I SNAPPED! I grabbed the kid by the shoulder, and screamed at him. Even though he didn't understand what I was saying, he could tell what my message was. he looked at me, like "who is this woman telling me what to do"? and as you can imagine, that did not go over well with me! I grabbed the chalk, and candy from his hand, and pushed him out of the way so that I could return it to it's rightful owner. She looked at me with confusion and gratitude in her eyes. I don't think any woman had ever stood up to a 'man' in front of her before, and certainly not FOR her. I rubbed her hair, and face and tried to get her to understand that I cared. She took the candy and chalk, and ran for the safety of the larger group of girls. The boy, still dumbfounded, walked away glaring at me. He learned a valuable lesson that day! DO NOT piss off purple haired bitches from Boston! :)
As we were getting ready to leave, I approached the US soldiers, and talked to them about the incident. I asked if it could have a negative impact on community relations, and for that I was sorry. They said "Don't be sorry"! One soldier said "That little girl will never forget the day a woman stood up for her, and that little boy, the tribal elders, and the Afghan soldiers, will never forget seeing a tough woman stand up to a man like that... even if he was only 10" but, in Afghanistan nothing is easy... They also told me, that it was possible that the little girl will be beaten because of what I did. I cried the entire ride back to the base, thinking of that little girl. Progress is slow in Afghanistan for many reasons, but seeing that school, and those children gives me hope that someday things will get better!
Since I have been home from 'The Stan' as they call it... I've had a bunch of people ask me what our guys need over there? Well, my answer is... It depends on where they are! Some of the guys that I met stay on base, and have almost everything that they need, but could use some creature comforts from home. Some guys, go out on missions and are asking for things for the kids that they meet along the way. While other guys, are WAY out, and have limited access to anything. They are the one's we hear from the least, because they have limited access to the Internet etc. So, the point of this blog, is to make one long list of things, so that people looking to help, companies looking to donate, and soldiers who would like to make requests, can all be in one place! Please do not share personal info like APO addresses etc here. We need to protect the identities of our troops, and your personal info back home! If you have specific questions on who to send things to, if you don't have a soldier in your life, email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org This is what I have so far!
1. Dunkin Donuts coffee! Everyone asks for it, especially the seasonal stuff that they miss.
2. Cleaning supplies like Clorox wipes, disinfectant sprays, Swiffers etc. Everything is DIRTY over there, and being able to keep things kinds clean is a HUGE plus.
3. video games and DVD's because they just can't get enough of them!
4. small toys, candy, and simple school supplies for the kids that they meet. This goes a long way with the elders in the communities where our guys are working. The more the locals trust our soldiers, the more valuable intel on the Taliban they are willing to share!
5. simple athletic equipmant wiffle ball stuff, soccer balls, basketballs, street hockey gear, playing cards and poker chips... any distraction during your off time, is a good one.
6. Canned air to clean electronics, night vision, and guns!
OK, that should get you started! Comment on this blog to contribute to the list, and thank you to everyone who asked me to do this, and of course... Thank you to our troops! We're all thinking about you!
I only coughed 5 times today... That's down from my normal 20 or so, since I stepped foot in Afghanistan.
The cough started almost immediately and has been a reminder ever since that my trip was real! Every night, I get off of the air, and sit in my office, trying to figure out how to get what is in my head... out. How to describe to the people back home, what it is like for our guys over there. That was my mission after all wasn't it? I'm just having a hard time putting the emotions that I feel into words. Maybe I should have paid better attention in college!
The night before I left for Afghanistan, I had a terrible dream. I dreamt that I died over there. On the Friday before my flight, I questioned whether I should go at all, wondering if I was the 'moth to the flame'. Then I questioned my fate, and maybe if I canceled the trip, I would die in a car accident on 495 or something. I tried to write 'the letter' that most soldiers write and leave for their loved one's just in case... I couldn't do it. I couldn't decide what my last words should be. I didn't know how to put my feelings into words, kinda like now! So, I did what I do best. I sat in a recording studio, and recorded a message for my family. I cried the entire way through.
Of course I was running late when my airport ride arrived to pick me up. I was frazzled, and still hadn't finished packing. I said my goodbyes quickly, and was filled with anxious and excited feelings. The anticipation on the flights kept me from napping, and I couldn't wait to get there.
When I arrived, it was a assault on my senses. The frenzy in the airport, and the inability to communicate with anyone when my luggage didn't arrive. The smell in the air, the sights in the streets, and cramped feeling in the M-ATV on the way to the base, told me right away that this trip was going to be unbelievable.
You can't imagine the ping pong of emotions that I was feeling, going from smiling and taking pictures, to attending briefings, and discussing worst case scenarios. Every minute has the option of going from good to bad and vice versa. There is a lot of waiting around in Afghanistan too. Waiting for something to happen, and then rushing around in a choreographed frenzy when it does. Going from a Spades game, to gunfire in minutes. I was enjoying a hot shower, at 6am one morning, and reacting to air raid sirens the next.
It's sensory overload in Afghanistan. And our guys have to put blinders on, and only pay attention to the mission in front of them. Now imagine that those blinders must block out abuse, starvation, suffering, anger, violence, and pure hate. They must ignore physical abuse happening on the sidewalk while they drive by. They are too busy looking for terrorists who may be trying to bomb them. They must ignore begging children, and search for IED's. Just complete the mission, and get back on base. Live to fight another day! We all talk about living each day as if it were our last... Well, these guys actually do it.
People always ask me what they need... Well, they don't need much. They have many of the comforts of home. The PX is filled with stuff that they can buy. They have free laundry services, and the Chow Hall is open 24/7. They need distractions, like we all do. Movies, Music, and video games are great for that. The Internet however, makes it tough to download those things over there. Many of the guys send external hard drives home, so they can be filled with stuff and sent back. The number of songs in your iPod is like a badge of honor, and it's not all what you would think.
One of my fondest memories with the guys, was on the road in the truck and we were arguing over what to listen to in the headsets. We let the shuffle feature decide and we spent 4 minutes in a convoy singing 'Call Me Al' by Paul Simon, complete with the Chevy Chase horn solo! Please press play and listen to the song while you read the rest of this...
This song, combined with the terrible surroundings is quite the definition of contradiction!
Back on base, the guys and I had to decide if we have the 'energy' to call home and get caught up on the days events. Family and work drama like who's mad at who, and what didn't get done today, can really add mental stress that you can't handle when you haven't slept in 2 days, it's 100*, and you were just getting shot at. I wonder what is worse for our soldiers... to live through letters like they did in WWII, when you waited for them at the mailbox every month, or Skyping home to watch your daughter on the potty, and read her a story before bed, only to have her scream and cry when you try to say goodbye. My work emails, and instructions on the broadcast became background noise and it was nice to be able to say... "I'm sorry the Internet isn't working, you're going to have to handle it without me." Sure, it puts a burden on the people back home, but with everything else going on in your head, there just isn't room. You have to put your feelings in a box here, and lock them away. Emotions are too dangerous to have on a day to day basis. The guys were surprised at how I reacted to certain things, because I was still thinking like I was at home. I hadn't developed the callous of war that is required to survive a year long deployment, and I never would. I only had 2 weeks to cram as much experience as I could into it. The smells they said would go away in a few days, and they were right. You get used to the smell of burning poop in a few days, but you pay the price of not being able to smell anything. They've been there for 5 months already and the callouses were already there. They need them to survive the next 7 months. They can't focus on the birthdays, anniversaries, football games, bachelor parties, and quiet dinners with their soul mates that they will miss. They need to shut off their humanity, and just survive. Sometimes I think that I was a branch to that humanity, when I was one on one with them. They would let their guard down, and talk about their wives and kids. The guilt that they felt missing out on the small things. They talked about their mom's and the cards they would get, and how they would never be able to repay the sacrifices they are making at home, to help with the grand kids and the mortgages. They would talk about near death experiences, and fellow troops that didn't come home from the last deployment. I tried not to show too much emotion, and just sit quietly and listen to what they had to say. I would reach out with a hand on the shoulder, or a pat on the back, knowing that human contact over there is pretty uncommon. I knew some stuff already because of my Iraq trip, and thanks to my husband and his deployment experiences I've learned a little more. Sometimes it's easier to talk, when you aren't asked anything. The other person just has to be willing to listen, and not judge. The standards of conduct are different when you are at war, and they don't want to be judged on their actions. The blinders of war are necessary for survival. I know that none of those guys would drive by the things they have seen back in Massachusetts, but they are required to in Afghanistan. They are not eager to shoot people back home, but are ready, willing, and able to do it on a moments notice there. Even the definition of 'clean' is not the same there, I learned that myself. If you want to send them something, send them cleaning supplies. It's oppressive to feel dirty and disgusting all of the time. It's impossible to keep anything clean, especially your electronics. Being able to control something small like a clean room, makes you feel somewhat human.
The roller coaster of emotions that I rode for 2 weeks, is a tough ride to get off of. Fun one minute, fear the next. It's like I slammed on the brakes and I'm sitting in the middle of the road, unsure of what just happened, and what to do next. I went through a similar experience 5 years ago when I returned home from Iraq, but this time it's WAY worse. I spent more time with one group of guys, and I had WAY more interaction with the locals. In talking with the guys, they are all expecting to bond over this shared experience together, but are very aware that they will scatter with the wind when they return. Some of them plan on leaving the military, some are already talking about marriages and kids, and some plan on heading back overseas as a private contractor, so that they can make some 'real money'. Whatever they decide, those plans are going to take a little while to get going. They are all going to need time to downshift.
When I got home Sunday night, my family was waiting at my house, cooking a big dinner, and waiting to hear all about the trip. I just wanted to come home, take a shower, and sit alone in the peace and quiet. Of course I couldn't say that to them. The bevy of questions was too much for me. Where to sit, what to drink, what I felt like eating... these are not tough questions, but for me at that moment, they were. It was too much for me. I ate my dinner, unpacked my gross, dirty clothes and took a long and much needed shower. I found the disc that I left for my husband, and broke it. Thankfully he'll never have to hear what was on it. I fell asleep on the couch for a bit, but when it was time to go to bed, I couldn't sleep. Isn't that always the way? After a night of pacing around the house, it was time to go to work. I probably should have taken a few days off, but there was too much to do! I've been clinging to Skype, my email, and facebook waiting for updates from Kabul. The guys have been asking how we are doing, and sending us messages that they miss us. One guy told me that he "missed my face". He said I was a welcome distraction at the end of a tough day, and that he looked forward to our card games and ball busting. I'm sorry if these blogs seem melodramatic to some, or if people don't believe that you can develop this kind of love and respect for strangers in such a short time, but it's how I feel. I worry about the families of these men, who may not understand why they are the way they are when they return. These loved one's who haven't experienced these soldiers, in the way that I have. I don't know them at home, in their jobs, with their kids... I only know them in their dirty uniforms, planning missions and playing Madden. Just a small part of who they really are, but a part that the rest of the people in their lives don't get to see. How lucky am I, that I got that chance?
I fear that as the days go by, and the more my cough fades away, the memories of my trip will fade along with them. The feelings that were so strong, will slowly slip into distant memories. I don't want to forget one moment, I want to feel every emotion just as strongly as the first time. With the invention of 'Social Networking' and the 'friend counter' that we all have on our facebook pages it's not easy to make REAL friends. I think that this trip has given me some lifelong friends, and I look forward to seeing them at home, surrounded by the one's that they love. I just hope that the callouses will fade away, and the blinders will eventually come off. That day can't come soon enough, and the date is circled on my calendar. Until then, I hope that I don't stop coughing!
Having to leave our guys in Afghanistan was tough form Mike and I. We got to see some old friends, and make some new ones! It's amazing how close you can become to people in just 2 weeks. Maybe it has something to do with the close quarters, or the long hours, or maybe it's the life and death circumstance that you are experiencing together. We walked around the QRF shack, and asked all of the guys one simple question...
If you could have 1 drink right now... what would it be?
We got some interesting answers...
Jameson & Ginger for Noftle
Tangeray & Tonic for Tanguay
A 'Stunt Man' for McConvey (he's such a pain in the ass!) Just in case you didn't know what a Stunt Man is... It's a shot of tequila, but you snort the salt, and squeeze the lemon into your eye. Like I said... He's a pain in the ass!
Or the Brooklyn Hooker... Pickle juice and JD.
There were simple requests like the Rum & Coke for Torch, and the Jager bombs for Foucher, Dustin and Murphy!
My Spades partner Scot asked for a Capt. and Coke and so did Bourne.
There was the Johnny Walker for Ward, and the Guinness for 'Tall Murph', and the Irish Car Bomb for Farrell. I think he just wanted us to order that in London, so we would get arrested!
Bill just wanted a shot of Makers Mark, and Mussig just said "Something strong"
Vath asked for a Soco and Cran (which I thought would be gross, and was actually great!)
Valentin wanted a shot of Patron!
As you can see, the guys just wanted us to be a couple of drunk f*cks at the airport!
Guys... These drinks are for you!
May you all make it home safely, so we can enjoy a round of drinks together! We miss you!
I was hunkered down with 'my guys' while the embassy and ISAF HQ were under attack. I had guys, who were total strangers the week before, making plans for my safety and thinking of my needs before their own.
2 weeks ago, I was on my way to Afghanistan having no idea what lay in front of me. I didn't know that I would make lifelong friends, I didn't know that I would witness life changing events, or see the worst that humanity has to offer.
Today, I am sitting in my climate controled office, eating microwaved food, and watching TV. My guys...? they are sleeping. Well, I hope they are sleeping... it's the middle of the night in Kabul. If they're not sleeping, it's because bad things are going on!
It took 9 months of planning to get this trip together, and in 2 weeks it's gone like a blur. If it weren't for the pictures, I would question whether it happened at all. The people in the office, have been congratulating me (and Mike) on a job well done, and asking questions like "how crazy was it REALLY over there?" The truth? You don't want to know... The stories that we've heard from the guys, the things that we've seen are not things that your brain allows you to forget, once you've heard and seen them. We got 2 weeks worth, 'my guys' get a years worth or more, if this isn't their first or last deployment. After 10 years of war, getting out with only one deployment is lucky.
I've been told by more than one veteran, that it's easier over there. The mission is clearly in front of you. You know who the bad guys are. You know what you're doing, and where you need to be. You're trained, and ready. It's simple. That is NOT the case back home. It's complicated, and messy at home. It's trivial. Lines at Dunkin Donuts, traffic, office gossip, laundry... these are all things that seem like a GIANT waste of time.
2 weeks ago, we were strangers.
A week ago, I was asked by a soldier to pass along a message to his wife, if he didn't come back from a mission. Before I left on Saturday, another soldier asked me to visit his sick and pregnant wife in the hospital, because he wasn't going to be home to do it.
2 weeks ago, I was the DJ.
A week ago, someone said "she's not in the Unit" and the response from one of my guys? "She may as well be!"
It's impossible for anyone to understand what our soldiers go through when they are sent to war. We've all had the experience with a family member from WWII or Vietnam. We've heard the stories that they are willing to tell. We've witnessed the dark places that they go to find those stories. It's called the 1000 yard stare, shell shocked, or more recently PTSD and TBI. I would never say that I understand them, or what they have been through. What I can say is this... I have been allowed not once, but twice in my life, to see behind the curtain. I've been given this gift, to peer briefly into a world, that most people will never understand. As an Army wife, it's an interesting perspective that I know most wives will never have. I have a new found respect for my husband and every other person that has worn a uniform for this country, and had to defend it's honor, in the face of hate and evil.
How will they be when they get home? How will they 'get back to normal'? Is that even possible? How will their families and friends react to the new person in the old body? How will this generation change the direction of our country as they age? What lessons can be learned from their sacrifice? How do you say 'thank you' for what they have given up, because they signed a blank check in service to our country, and we cashed it.
1 in 4 children will die in Afghanistan before the age of 5.
the average life span in Afghanistan is 48
A M-ATV up armored vehicle costs approximately $450,000
A new school costs $150,000
Digging a well to supply a village with fresh water costs $5,000
The war in Afghanistan costs $9.8 BILLION dollars a month
The average education of an Afghan soldier is the 3rd grade.
These numbers surprised me, for several reasons, especially the mortality rate of the children here. I'm not sure why I was surprised, after driving through the country and witnessing the things that I did.
Now I am not claiming to have all of the answers... As a matter of fact, I don't have ANY of the answers! But, I have seen many people comment on facebook saying that we should pull all of our troops out of Afghanistan, and just drop bombs... After looking into the eyes of this countries people, I can't imagine feeling that way. The children have such an innocence about them, and they're eyes almost beg for help. We saw a woman laying in the road so that she could stop traffic and get her kids to beg to the people in the stopped cars. We saw people buying raw meat on the side of the road from 'butchers' who were slicing in *100 degree heat, with no refrigeration or sanitary facilities. People just stop on the sidewalk and squat down to go to the bathroom. I've seen people do that while drunk, in an alley after a Sox game, but never like this. In this day and age, how can people still live like this? This country is such a contradition.
How can a military convoy get passed in a rotary by a guy on a donkey, talking on a cell phone?
How can people punish their infants by burning them, and then drop them off at the front gate of a military base knowing that the US soldiers will get the child medical care? Only to have the children returned home after?
How can grown men, who have sworn to protect their country, steal supplies from children that they receive from US troops?
How can women walk on gravel roads, with 2 small children, wearing full burkas, carrying firewood, and wearing HEELS?
In the last 10 years, the # of children in school in Afghanistan has increased 500% and the number of girls in school has tripled. I heard that part of the recruiting issue with the Afghan National Army is the fact that they are illiterate, and most only have a 3rd grade education. So before they can join, they have to learn to read and write. Imagine our country run by 3rd graders... Oh wait a minute, sometimes it feels like it is!
The only thing that makes me feel better about the financial drain of this war, is that education and healthy water is cheaper than trucks and guns... Maybe someday the nation of Afghanistan will have different problems, and maybe they won't, only they can decide their own path. But, after seeing what I saw, I can't imagine pulling our troops out of there and leaving that nation prey for the Taliban. They would never have a chance.
I still think about those kids every day, and I can't imagine how our troops will be coming home after a year in that country, witnessing what they have. If you think our country has problems, take a trip to Afghanistan...
The weather is amazing most days, even though it rained yesterday for the first time since we arrived. The scenery is unlike anything that I have ever seen. The mountains are majestic like the Rockies in the U.S. The fabrics and the clothing are so exotic and beautiful. There is a tangible optimism amongst the people that I've met, which would surprise most people back at home. Now, make no mistake... I am very well aware of the fact that I am in a war zone. This country is like walking around an episode of the Flintstones sometimes. The images of the dirty children playing in the streets rather than learning in school, the puppies that I know will never be loved like they would back home, the women in the burkas walking behind their husbands who are desperate for civil rights, and the buildings that were once beautiful, and are now blown apart remind me that the world is less than perfect. There is so much work to be done here, and it's going to take the Afghan people generations to move forward as a society.
But, the reason why I am writing this blog is our guys... Well, actually they are my guys now! I've been accepted into this group with open arms. As a woman, being allowed this kind of access to an Infantry unit in a war zone, is a special thing. They are not used to having a girl around. The long walk to the woman’s latrine is evidence of that. The guys were shocked from day 1, when they saw that I didn't pack suitcases, and that all of my stuff was in Army issue duffel bags. I traveled light here, since I knew I was going to be moving around a lot. I packed stuff that I knew I would need, and nothing more. 'Acting like a girl' is not going to win me any points here. I knew that before I arrived. It's a lesson that I learned 5 years ago in Iraq. From minute #1, they guys have treated me with respect, and have taken me under their wings. I'm always trying to stay out of the way, apologizing when someone needs to get by. I try to keep my stuff out of the way, and keep from making their lives any more difficult. But, I always here the same thing... "You're fine, you're not in the way, relax".
To the people back home who have loved ones over here, I can tell you this... You're loved ones are brave, well trained, hard working, and very special human beings. It's been an honor getting to know them. They miss home, and they long for the days that they can hang out at the bar and watch the Sox and the Pats... But they also love it here. They are understood here. They are surrounded by people who relate to them, and don't question why they do what they do. I try to imagine these guys, back at home, working 'regular' jobs and it's hard for me. I only know them this way. I know that reintegration is a tough thing for our troops that have seen combat overseas. The suicide rate for our veterans is scary, the divorce rate is well above the average, the incidents of alcoholism, drug abuse, and violence is evidence of this issue too. It's tough to imagine what they are going through, until you witness it firsthand.
The events that occurred in Kabul yesterday are a perfect example.
Yesterday the ISAF headquarters came under attack by the Taliban. I was there the night before, taking pictures and handing out T-shirts to the local troops that are stationed there.
When the word came down that the attacks were happening, the sirens went off on Camp Phoenix. The QRF (Quick Response Force) that we have been embedded with, were activated and told to get ready. 'My guys' started preparing for whatever may come their way. They began packing up the trucks with ammo, and water. They programmed the radios and cleaned their weapons. They had classified briefings to go over intel, and made plans based on possible scenarios. I was asked by one soldier to use my SAT phone, so that he could call his wife. He knew that she would be watching the news at home, and he wanted her to know that he loved her, before he 'rolled out'. He asked me to keep her number, and to call her if there was bad news. Remember that I just me him a week ago! I was told by Nick, my 'body guard' to get my stuff together, and stick close to 'the shack'. I'm safer around all of the troops and all of the weapons, than I would be in my room alone, Mike too. The guys were pacing around, waiting on the 'go ahead' to go and do their jobs. There is nothing they hate more, than sitting around when they know there is work to be done! They went through the training, and they want to be the ones to make a difference.
The war in Afghanistan is so different than Iraq. Here, they are fighting with a scalpel, not a machete. Most Afghans are good, and our troops are not here to hurt them, or destroy their way of life. They are here to root out, the select few insurgents that are hell bent on destruction and terrorism. This makes fighting a war very complicated. They have to worry about civilian casualties, and collateral damage, while hunting down and killing the enemy. It's a tough job, and they are doing their best. When innocent people are hurt and killed, it's used against the allied forces, to try and convince the populous that the troops are bad and that they don't care. Progress is slow. The guys waited around all day, 'all dressed up and no place to go'. The word came down that intel was sketchy and that while CNN was reporting rocket fire and attacks down town, it was possible that it was a plan to get the bases to deploy the fighting forces off of the major bases, thus leaving them weakened and easy targets. The question of how many resources to deploy, was the question to answer.
We passed the time with a card game, a movie, and video games depending on your poison. Some guys took the time to get a few minute nap in, while others just paced around counting the seconds until it was time to go. I just waited to be told what to do, and in the mean time... I took pictures. I figure that they guys would like to have these photos later on, to remember this experience.
They kept their senses of humor, and goofed around with me. Asking which weapon I wanted to take with me, and if I was ready for my first firefight. I knew very well that I would not be hitting the road with them, but if I could have gone, I would have been in that MATV so fast, it would have made their heads spin! I feel safer around them on the road, than I do on the base in my room alone. Its sounds stupid I know, but it's the way that I feel. I napped briefly on a chair in the middle of the chaos, and it was the best sleep I've had since I arrived.
In the middle of the night, some of the guys rolled out, leaving another team back on base 'just in case'. I was told to get some rest, and given specific safety instructions about what I should do if the base sirens went off again. While I struggled to get to sleep in my room, the guys in the shack waited to get the call, and the guys sent to ISAF earned their CIB's (Combat Infantry Badges) when they were shot at, and when a grenade was thrown at their vehicles. One minute they were joking around with me, and the next minute they had shrapnel hitting the sides of their trucks. That's how it is here... You never know what the next minute will bring, but whatever it is... they are ready for it.
I'm sitting here, trying to figure out what makes these guys tick. What makes a person run towards danger, when most people scatter away from it. They are not 'super heroes like in the comic books. They are mortal men, with flaws. They know that they are not perfect, but somehow together, when the sh*t hits the fan, they become perfect together. I am so grateful for the opportunity that they have given me, and I just don't feel worthy enough to accept this gift of friendship and loyalty that they have presented to me. I know that in a few days, I'll have to say goodbye and I don't know how I am going to do that. Soon enough, I will be at Logan, ordering an iced coffee, and heading home to my family, while 'my guys' are still here, waiting to go to work when they are needed. I'm not sure how I'll say goodbye, or how I'll feel. I just hope that I leave them with a little love from home, and the understanding that they have changed my life forever. One SGT. told me that I was 'breath of fresh air here' and another wrote home saying 'that the opportunity to just sit around and talk about Boston with someone from home was appreciated'.
It's not the scenery, or the culture, or the weather... it's the guys! That's why I love Afghanistan!
I've been spending a lot of time over the last few days, just hanging with the guys here in Afghanistan... It's amazing the conversations that you can have, while you are sitting at a picnic table praying to the internet gods! It takes so long to load pics, audio, and video that you have nothing better to do, than ask questions of anyone that comes your way. There is such a cross section of people here, it's amazing. There are over 15 countries involved in the allied forces in Afghanistan. The number of private contractors is amazing, and I cannot believe the number of locals that are walking around on base. Local Afghan civilians cook on base, they clean on base, and the build everything on base. Obviously they are supervised, but I NEVER had this kind of access to the local Iraqi's 5 years ago. It's culture shock times 10! Here are some of my observations so far.
1. burning tires and poop is bad for your sense of smell, and your lungs.
2. the sound of a Blackhawk hovering over your bedroom is something that you get used to, and amazingly makes you feel relaxed.
3. people with purple hair (especially women) in Afghanistan get stared at constantly. It's actually quite funny now!
4. there is such a thing as a 'brass magnet' and I am that person! It's UNREAL! The guys in my unit think it's out of control. They can never relax, you never know when a General is going to pop out and surprise us!
5. there is no other place that a dedicated soldier wants to be, than with 'his guys'. No matter the injury or illness, they just want to get back to work. I've never seen dedication like I have seen here.
6. bureaucracy is everywhere, even in a war zone.
7. there are certain things that our troops cannot live without... video games, movies, music, and Skype. Skype is the greatest for these guys. I'm watching a few soldiers Skype with their kids right now, and it makes me want to cry.
8. if you are tired enough, you can fall asleep anywhere!
9. DO NOT leave your Facebook page open in a room full of soldiers! BAD things can happen!
10. ball busting is he same in any language!
11. you could make a fortune selling frozen margaritas here. I would pay $1000 for one right now!
12. Army coffee and hot chocolate is a great way to start the day... waking up at 0500 to drink it is NOT a great way to start the day.
13. it is possible that the biggest and toughest looking guy in Kabul, is an accountant. I'm not kidding, his name is Donald, and he is HUGE!!!
14. anything can become normal, even people carrying automatic weapons into the cafeteria to eat breakfast!
15. having a private security detail and up armored vehicles drive you everywhere makes you feel like the President!
16. you can tell 'dick jokes' in front of the pastor, and not feel bad. He may even laugh!
17. jello is awesome
18. It's a small world. We keep bumping into people that we grew up with! My producer Mike is going to run from Mayor of Camp Phoenix soon, he knows everyone!
19. grown men, no matter how tough, LOVE to make ice cream sundaes!
20. "If you can win a war with Matchbox cars, why would you use a gun?"
This is an Afghan interpreter, that works with our soldiers every day. He is from Kabul, and he's not afraid to speak out against the Taliban. What he is doing is very brave, but also very dangerous. This makes him a target. I told him that I would not use his name or take his picture. He insisted that I do both! He wants people to know what Afghan citizens think about the Americans, and the job that they are doing overseas. If there is a definition of bravery, his picture should be with it!
When we thought about putting the AAF to Afghanistan trip together, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted our troops to know that after 10 years, we still support them. We wanted to make sure that they knew, that we recognized all of the sacrifices that they have made, and that their families have made. On that fateful morning thousands of lives were lost. Thousands more were changed forever, because they lost a loved one. We learned the true meaning of bravery when the first responders ran in, when everone else ran out. We also learned what a difference a few people could make when they banned together, to stand against a common enemy on Flight 93. Their American spirit has been felt every day since. The lives of many others changed that day too. The image of our beloved country, under attack, inspired thousands to enlist in the armed forces, knowing that war was soon to follow, and those who were already enlisted volunteered to extend immediately because they knew that they would be needed. In the 10 years since September 11, 2001 our nation has seen it's share of ups and downs. The economy has suffered, and our resolve has been tested. The one thing that has remained the same, is the spirit of our troops. They have endured multiple deployments, months and years away from home. They have seen the worst that humanity has to offer when faced with the enemy, and they have seen the hope for the future in the children who will hopefully grow into the generation that finally fixes the worlds problems. In my opinion there are no better human beings on Earth, than our soldiers. They work so hard, are not paid enough, they are used as political pawns in Washington, and they pay the price for the policies that they follow. They deserve all of of love and support, but they don't always get it. Today, I carry with me all of the love and support from the WAAF listeners to Afghanistan, where are troops are hard at work rebuilding a nation, and forging alliances with a people who will one day stand on their own two feet, and defend themselves.
Here are some of the pictures from the memorial service this morning, where members of all of the allied forces joined together this morning to pay tribute to every soldier who has died since September 11, 2011. Every name from every nation was read out loud. It took 2 1/2 hours just to read the American names. Another hour to read the names of the UK soldiers, and the rest of the day to go through the names of every other country involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.
The flags of the allied forces, at half staff in Patriot Square.
Members of the allied forces during the memorial ceremony.
The US and Afghan flags flying together.
General Hammond from the Mass Army National Guard speaking during the memorial service.
A member of the Canadian Army photographs members of the Mass Army National Guard during the memorial service.
The bunker gear tribute outside of the fire station on Camp Phoenix.
With members of the base fire department on Camp Phoenix
The patches from all of the fire houses that have been represented on base.
The third base that we visited yesterday, was by far the craziest.
Camp Bala Hissar has one mission, to monitor and protect the Aerostat balloon. It looks like a small blimp that hovers over Kabul, and is fixed with high res cameras and surveillance equipment that is operated by civilian defense contractors. This 'balloon' helps our troops keep track of possible targets, and allows an overview of the city day and night. I heard that it's a 25 million dollar balloon! You should see how big the helium tanks are for this thing!!!
This base is built into the side of a mountain in Kabul. The top of the mountain is protected by Afghan National Army troops, who work hand in hand with the US soldiers.
Let's just say, they are not used to having a woman around... Especially a woman like me!
The US troops that are in Bala Hissar right now, are half Mass troops and half from Alabama! This place is a cultural melting pot, and it works! They are very isolated fro the other bases, and are completely self contained. They build everything on base themselves, including the basketball court!
The hoop is a perfectly bent piece of rebar! These guys have skills.
The most amazing part of this base, is what it's named after. Bala Hissar, is a 1000 year old fort that was designed and built by Genghis Kahn, and the ruins of this fort still stand right above the camp! Check out some of these pictures. It's so amazing here. With the amount of unrest that this area has seen over the last 1000 years, it is unbelievable that these walls still stand! They just don't build things like this anymore!
We had to take the toursist shot! The views here are unlike anything that I have ever seen!
And even though you are surrounded by beauty, there are still obvious reminders of the destruction that this area has seen over the years!
This is where you would have lived, if you were a high ranking officer in the time of Kahn! Not too bad!
This is a lake bed, that is filled naturally at certain times of the year by runoff from the mountains. This entire area, was designed by Genghis Kahn himself. There is irrigation tunnels, and aqueducts that move the water around the village. And we spent 15 billion on the Big Dig???
And even thought this is a 'War Zone' the kids still play like every other kid, in any country in the world.
So, I finally had some time to sit down in front of a computer and try to explain what the last 48 hours have been like! In one word... CRAZY!
Mike (my producer and I) got to Logan airport at 6am on Saturday 9/3. We were allowed to park in the 'super secret' parking lot close to the gate. Our friends Tim and Barbara served as chaueffers, so we didn't have to take out a loan to keep our cars there for 2 weeks. We were met curbside by a "friend with a really awesome badge" who helped us navigate the check in process, and airport security. Our trip was a complicated one... Boston to London, London to Bahrain, Bahrain to Kabul. Total travel time 27 hours! We got upgraded to 1st class for the first leg of the journey, but after that... Let's just say Mike and I were close, very close in coach!
In London, we had barely enough time to get across the airport to make our connection. Those shuttle bus drivers are nuts. In Bahrain, Mike and I found an Irish Pub to toast the guys before we got into Afghanistan. Once we landed, we went through immigration in just a few minutes, and headed to baggage claim. It turns out that my bags were flagged by security in London because of the body armor, and they never made the Bahrain flight. I got the #'s for the airline, and headed through immigration. As soon as we left the airport doors, we were loaded into MATV's and driven through downtown Kabul, to Camp Phoenix.
Here are some of the lessons that we learned along the way.
Getting through security at Logan is a hell of a lot easier, when you are accompanied by a guy with a REALLY cool badge!
When checking bags, if you have military orders, present them in the beginning of the process. It will save you time and lots of money. (especially when checking body armor)
Savor every Dunkin Iced coffee, you never know how long you will be without one.
Flying First Class is awesome, PERIOD!
Jack N Coke at 9am is OK, when your final destination is Afghanistan.
Fruit cups RULE!
London drivers are FAR WORSE than Boston drivers.
In flight entertainment on Gulf Air includes Cheers, Happy Days, NCIS LA, and Barney... in Arabic.
Watching the sunrise over Baghdad from the window of a plane, is pretty damn cool.
People in Bahrain appreciate Linkin Park. It was playing in the airport upon arrival.
Fanny packs are all the rage in Bahrain.
Bostonians will find an Irish Pub anywhere one can be found. Even in Bahrain.
Malibu & Pineapple is good for breakfast.
There is NO ONE with purple hair in Afghanstan. Correction, there WAS no one with purple hair in Afghansistan!
The reason why we beat the Brits during the revolution... Their bags didn't make their connecting flight!
A BIG thank you to John Dennis, Dale Arnold, Chach, Meter, and everyone at WEEI for having me on this morning to talk about AAF to Afghanistan! Just in case you missed the interview, you can listen to it here!
Well, the official announcement has been made, and my departure is coming up fast! Once again, this trip is the culmination of months of work, hours of phone calls and forms, and calling in every favor that I could think of! I am so thankful to everyone who is involved with this project, and believe me... there are a lot of people on that list!
There's the obvious... everyone here at WAAF, Mike my producer, who volunteered to go with me. Without him, there would be no trip! Believe it or not, there was not a HUGE line of people begging to head into a war zone! The staff at the Mass Army National Guard have been amazing. They've been coordinating from which units I will visit, to printing T-shirts, and helping me track down the necessary gear. The EMBED office in Afghanistan, has been amazing as well, leading me through the paperwork process. I can tell you that after 2 trips to the Middle East, my record is CLEAN! I must include the Commanders and the members of the 182 Infantry, and the 26th MEB for accepting my EMBED application, and taking on the added responsibility of having a purple haired, rock DJ tag along during their deployment. If they felt that it would have a negative impact on their safety or impede their performance, they had the right to say NO. Thankfully, they didn't. I also have to thank the list of sponsors who stepped up to help cover the costs, of such an ordeal. Since the list of things provided to EMBEDS is very short (shelter, food, protection, and emergency medical) there are a lot of expenses involved. Flights, armor, medical costs, equipment, and fees, just to name a few. Thanks to the Mass Association of Realtors, Porter & Chester Institute, Manchester/Nashua Harley Davidson, DCU, Boston Firefighters Union Local 718/Boston Fireman's Post #94, Vater Drumsticks, Lane Printing, New Balance, and of course the Mass Army National Guard have all played a part in getting this trip off the ground! To all of them, I am eternally grateful!
Once the paperwork process began, and the expenses started to be taken care of... The uncomfortable conversations begin. There is nothing more 'fun' than having meetings about worst case scenarios. Sitting down with my bosses here at WAAF, to discuss injury, kidnapping, and death is no way to spend your lunch break. These meetings are enough to keep any boss from letting an employee head overseas. Thankfully, this was just an uncomfortable meeting and we've moved on. They know that I will be with the best, brightest, and bravest! I understand that everyone here is worried, but there are hundreds of families going through those very emotions everyday while their loved ones are deployed.
I spent the last couple of days making sure that I have everything on the 'required pack list', washing all of the gear, and going through my personal paperwork to make sure that everything is in order before we leave. All this, for 2 weeks! Now just imagine being one of these brave soldiers, or married to one! How do you plan to have your spouse be away for over a year? It's just mind boggling to think of everything you would need to do before they leave! How do you say "I love you" to the people in your life enough, to take care of an entire year of being away? The answer? You can't.
This is the reason for this trip! AAF to Afghanistan, is all of our way to say "Thank You" for everything that our troops go through to protect us, and everything that they give up to do their job! There is no way to say "Thank You" enough, but we'll try!
I'll start checking in, on the air from Afghanistan on Tuesday September 6!
A HUGE thank you to Gene Lavanchy and the Fox 25 Morning Show staff for having me on the show this morning! AAF to Afghanistan is a very personal journey for me, and it means a lot that you guys were willing to have me on! I will definitley come back with great pictures and stories when I return from Afghanistan!
CAPT Glen Kernusky, Mistress Carrie, SSG Jamie Gaiten, SGT Brian Kilgore and AAF to Afghanistan producer Mike Saia.
97.7/107.3 WAAF Honors the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks
Boston, MA (August 23, 2011) As the 10th anniversary of September 11th approaches, 97.7/107.3 WAAF will pay tribute to the loss and sacrifice that has been endured by our country’s military, first responders and their families since the catastrophic attacks of September 11, 2001.
In an ongoing effort to share the stories of the servicemen and women overseas, WAAF is sending afternoon drive personality, Mistress Carrie, on a mission to Afghanistan, “AAF To Afghanistan.” She will not only lift the spirits of the soldiers, but also share with WAAF listeners what life is like on the front lines. From her home base of Kabul, Carrie will send back photos and video of life in Afghanistan. She will bring soldiers with her on the radio, reuniting them with loved ones via telephone.
Preparations for the trip are underway and include rounds of shots to ward off disease and wearing heavy body armor on a daily basis to become accustomed to carrying around the extra fifty pounds of weight. Gifts for the soldiers – custom t-shirts and signed Red Sox memorabilia – are being collected and shipped ahead of time to Afghanistan.
WAAF is committed to honoring the memory of those lost in the ongoing war on terror as well as all who continue to fight on the front lines.
Keep your eyes on my blog for updates throughout our trip! -Mistress Carrie
BOSTON -- A Groton Marine has been killed in Afghanistan, officials said.
The Marine Corps liason to the House of Representatives confirmed Corporal William Woitowicz's death with Rep. Niki Tsongas at about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Â Woitowicz, 23, was killed Tuesday in combat in Baghis Province. He was assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
I don't know much... But I do know this... Our troops should not be paying to bring their Army issued weapons home from Afghanistan! And after the video below, surfaced online... Delta now agrees with me! They have 'modified' their baggage policy for our troops returning from overseas! Why does it take public outrage to get the right thing done?
A suggestion for Delta, change your slogan to "Delta Airlines, our troops M4's and Grenade Launchers fly free"!
Now that a few days have passed, the people of western Massachusetts have had a chance to survey the damage and come up with a plan to rebuild. I was asked by my friends at the 104th Fighter Wing in Westfield, to post this volunteer information. When the tornados hit, we got tons of calls here at WAAF, from people looking to help. But, these small towns didn't have the means to organize a huge volunteer effort on NO NOTICE. But, they are now asking for help. If you feel compelled to do something, and you don't have the extra money to donate to the relief effort... Maybe this is a better alternative. A list of requests and contact information is below! Thank you for being so generous with your time, money, and resources! You guys are the best!Â
The following notification is being sent per request of Jim Wiggs, Emergency Management
If you wish to volunteer your services to assist in getting Westfield back to normal operations, please contact us at (413)642.9359 and indicate you would like to volunteer.Â Please let us know what you may be capable of assisting us with and how many volunteers you have.Â We can use experienced chain saw operators, landscaping type assistance, people to rake, people to drag items out, people to feed volunteers, provide water, etc.Â We can use trucks, ATVs, wheel barrows, and other items to remove debris.Â You may also email us atÂ WEMAHELP@CityofWestfield.Org
Â Thanks for your support for the City of Westfield in this time of need.
Â Sincerely Jim Wiggs, Director, Westfield Emergency Management Agency
I got this press release today. There are lots of troops that live in theÂ areas destroyed by the tornados. Here's how we can help them!
Military Friends Foundation to Offer Support to
Local Military Families Impacted by Tornado DisasterÂ
The Military Friends Foundation, a non-profit organization serving Massachusetts National Guard, Reserve and Gold Star Families, is offering emergency financial support for local families of deployed Guard and Reserve and families of Fallen Service Members who were impacted by Wednesday nightâs tornado.Â
âWe are grateful that while our service members are sacrificing for the greater good of our Commonwealth, especially our Guardsmen who are serving our Nation overseas, the Military Friends Foundation is there to assist our military families in their own time of crisis,â saidMajor General Joseph C. Carter, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. Preliminary estimates indicate that more than a hundred families of deployed Citizen Service Members may be impacted.Â
âI commend the Military Friends for their efforts to aid military families who have been affected by these devastating storms. Their quick response to help these families will go far in the recovery efforts for the Commonwealth,â saidState Representative Harold P. Naughton Jr., House Chair of the stateâs Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. âAs a veteran of the Iraq War, I can say with confidence that the efforts of the Military Friends Foundation will be a great comfort to those overseas who are worried about loved ones at home. As we rely on members of the National Guard to protect us in times like these, it is important that we follow the example of the Military Friends Foundation and do our part to help protect their families as well.â
Immediate family members who face damages from the storm and live in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester Counties â areas deemed disaster zones by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency - are encouraged to contact the Military Friends Foundation at (617) 733-7994, via email at email@example.com or online at militaryfriends.org/911.
âThe initiative being shown by the Military Friends Foundation is an excellent example of how Massachusetts citizens come together to help each other quickly during times of need,âsaid Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the stateâs Veterans Welcome Home Bonus Program and manages the Mass. Military Family Relief Fund. âI offer my deepest condolences to all families that have been impacted by the recent storm and extend my sincerest wishes that these funds can play a small part towards getting veterans families back on their feet.â
âWe are pleased to be able to partner with state and local agencies to assist families of deployed service members who are struggling to deal with the aftermath of the tornadoes,â saidMilitary Friends Director Richard Girard, an Air Force veteran, of Agawam, an area impacted by the recent storms.
For more information on how to apply for assistance or to make a donation to support a local military family, please visit www.militaryfriends.org.
The Natick Veterans Council is honored to bring the only replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located in Washington, D.C.Â Â known as "The Moving Wall" to Natick on June 9th - 12th Â 2011.Â They are bringing the wall to our community to honor and respect those thatÂ made the ultimate sacrifice through remembrance and education and to give our community an opportunity that they would never otherwise have.
The Natick Veterans Council is a local non-profit,all volunteer organization; it does not receive any funding from the town of Natick.Â They cannot bring The Moving Wall to our community without your support.Â They need to rely on private/corporate sponsors to raise approximately
Â $50,000 that is required in orderÂ to bring this memorial display to our community.
Friday, while billions of people around the world were transfixed on the Royal Wedding, President Obama was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama visiting the families who lost everything in the tornado's... What we all didn't know was that he had justÂ ordered a super secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden. It's a good thing that he didn't get invited to the wedding after all huh?
And Saturday night, while at the White House 'Correspondence Dinner',Â TheÂ PresidentÂ was laughing and joking with a room full of press, and behind the smile, he knew the SEALS were hours away from capturing and/or killing the #1 man on the FBI's most wanted list. Public Enemy #1!Â A man with a 25 million dollar bounty on his head, that no one has been able to find!
And on Sunday night while we were allÂ going about our lives,Â The President was in the 'Sit Room' watching the Seals invade a $1 million dollar compound in Pakistan.
When it was over, The President broke into every network to tell us the amazing news!
And we weren't the only people watching the President on TV. Our own troops in Afghanistan were hearing the news at the same time!
And just like that... he's gone.
Sometimes you don't realize that you are living through a moment that will go down in history, and other times... You are very aware! Time slows down. You remember exactly where you were and what you wereÂ doing when it happened.
I was shopping with my mother when the news broke about John Lennon.
I was in class when the Space Shuttle exploded.
I was in the WAAF studio,Â when the towers fell.Â
And I was on my couch, with my dogs when I heard the news about Osama bin Laden.
I couldn't run to wake my husband up fast enough. He's an Army veteran, who fought in the War On Terror in Iraq for almost 2 years. I couldn't believe that I could actually say the words "They Got Him!"
The world changed again this weekend. The country was united in celebration and people are once again waving flags and chanting USA! USA! USA! Just like they were after 9/11.
I just wish that this 'euphoric' state would last.Â I wish that people were this vocal with their patriotism every day.
If there is anything positive that we can take from the last 9 1/2 years, It's this...
On 9/12/01 and today... Americans came together, united in their love of this country.
Today was a good day!
To our troops... You have made me proud once again! Job well done.
"The Massachusetts Iraq and Afghanistan Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund was founded by local decorated military members, veterans and Gold Star Families. Dedicated to honoring Bay State men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and gave their lives to our nation, our group is working with the state officials to create a permanent Memorial to our fallen heroes. Since the state can not fundraise for the Memorial, our group has been selected as the nonprofit partner that will take on the official fundraising role. We have filed the required paperwork needed and our request for 501c3 nonprofit status is currently pending. In the meantime, we are honored to be working with Groton-based Veterans Advocacy Services. So any donation to the memorial will be tax-deductible."
This is an amazing organization that is raising money, to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. These heroes were members of our community, and their families and loved one's should know how much their community appreciates their sacrifices.
"THE MASSACHUSETTS IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN FALLEN HEROES MEMORIAL FUNDâs first fundraising dinner is on THURSDAY DECEMBER 2, 2010 at the Boston Convention and Exhibitors Center. We hope that you will join us as a sponsor or in supporting this cause by purchasing a table or tickets. Funds raised at the dinner will be used to support the permanent Memorial to our fallen heroes here in Massachusetts. Dinner sponsorships will also allow some Massachusetts Gold Star Family members who have lost a loved one to attend the dinner free of charge. "
I saw this on one of the airshow planes... It gives the term 'bird strike' a whole new meaning!
Here I am with my two favoriteÂ Air National Guard pilots... John Klatt and WOD!
A HUGE thank you to Chief Johnson, MSgt Smith, John Klatt, the John Klatt Airshows staff, and everyone in the 104th Fighter Wing of the Mass. Air National Guard! Thanks for a great day! I'll see you at the AIRSHOW this weekend in Westfield!!!
A couple of years ago MSgt. Smith from the Mass Air National Guard came up to the studio and invited me to fly in an F-15 Eagle. I SAID YES!!!
At 9 G's I 'took a little nap' earning the callsign NARKO, short for narcoleptic (they added the K to make it more Rock N Roll).Â But, at least I didn't throw up!!! Evidence included! My empty vomit bag!
Today MSgt Smith called to invite me to fly with Lt. Col. John Klatt in an aerobatic airplane! Lt. Col. Klatt is a pilot for the Air National Guard, but he also flies in airshows in this aerobatic aircraft.Â
According to his official website www.johnklattairshows.com theÂ aircraft I will be flying in is called the 300 Extra. The Extra is powered by a 300 horsepower variant of the Lycoming 540 six cylinder engine. It weighs 1470 pounds empty and is certified to a load factor of +/- 10 Gs. NICE!!!!!!
For details and directions to the Westfield International Airshow, which is FREE and open to the public click here!
For more information on the Air National Guard call 1-800-TO-GO-ANG or log onto www.goang.com
If you or someone you know are an experienced medical professional, and would like more information on what role you can play in the Massachusetts Air National Guard please contactÂ MSgt Kevin Eccleston Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org
You know how much I love the men and women in uniform who protect this great country, and I am so thankful for this chance to fly!!!
A full report on my flight coming Thursday afternoon, and YES we will get it all on video for you!
THE GAME UNDERGROUND VIDEO GAME AND MUSIC FESTIVAL IS SPONSORED BY THE U.S. ARMY.Â TAKE THE FIRST STEP TO BECOMING STRONGER THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT YOU COULD BE. IN THE ARMY, YOUâLL DISCOVER ADVENTURE, THE CHANCE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY AND THE KIND OF TRAINING THAT TRULY PREPARES YOU FOR THE FUTURE.
WOW!!!! Tom Werner called in to talk about the Sox, the Run To Home Base, Supporting our Troops, the Yankees, Aerosmith at Fenway Park, Mork & Mindy and how slow we both run! I talked to him for 15 minutes and I didn't even ask him for free tickets ONCE!!! :)
Listen to my interview with Tom by clicking below!
If you can, please make a donation! Or, if you want to raise money by running, join Team WAAF!
Â Ever dreamed about running across home plate at Fenway Park as the crowd cheers you on?Â Want to be a part of an inaugural fundraising event that will help provide much needed services to local veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?Â Well, do we have the race for you!Â The Run to Home Base is a unique 9K fundraising run through scenic Boston, ending with the once-in-a-lifetime experience of crossing âhome baseâ (plate) at historic Fenway Park.
Friends and family can watch you from the stands at Fenway, with food, entertainment and fun family activities in the concourses of Americaâs Most Beloved Ballpark.Â The run takes place on May 23rd, starting and ending at Fenway Park.Â The Run to Home Base will honor heroic veterans and help raise much needed funds for the new Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program.Â
The U.S. ARMY medical department is looking for heroes to serve our heroes! Do you know a doctor or dentist who has become a hero to you or someone you know? To nominate your hero with the gift of the healing, complete the information below. The U.S. ARMY medical department is one of the largest and most advanced healthcare systems in the world and they are currently looking for the best of the best â to heal, to save, to serve!
Listen to Mistress Carrieâs interview with Dr. Cameron Wright, Thoracic Surgeon, MGH and Colonel, U.S. Army CLICK HERE!
Have you ever wondered what influence American culture is going to have on the people of Iraq? As we get ready to leave the security of Iraq to it's people, what 'American' traditions will be left behind? What things will be odopted? Well, it seems that there is a love of heavy metal music over there!
Check this out from Blabbermouth:
"Only The Dead See The End Of The War", the debut EP from the Iraqi heavy metal band ACRASSICAUDA, is available for streaming in its entirety using the widget below. Recorded in 2009 following the band's final relocation to the U.S., the CD was produced by TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick and mixed by engineer Josh Wilbur (LAMB OF GOD, HATEBREED, SYSTEM OF A DOWN). The four-song debut "explodes with ferocious war metal," according to a press release.this location.Viceland.com.
"Only The Dead See The End Of The War" track listing:
01. Message From Baghdad
02. Garden Of Stones
04. The Unknown
"Only The Dead See The End Of The War" is available for purchase at
ACRASSICAUDA made its U.S. live debut on January 21, 2010 at Brooklyn, New York metal dive bar The Charleston. The group played a 45-minute set in front of friends and family, including Skolnick.
Check out photos of the performance at
For the past six years, VICE has documented the story of ACRASSICAUDA in its struggle to stay alive and continue the group while enduring the disintegration of its own country throughout the war.
Also in stores now is the inspirational book "Heavy Metal in Baghdad: The Story of Acrassicauda" (VICE/MTV Books). Expanding on the internationally acclaimed, award-winning VBS.TV/VICE Films documentary produced and directed by Suroosh Alvi and Eddy Moretti, VICE editors Andy Capper and Gabi Sifre extensively cover the history of ACRASSICAUDA, beginning at their youth in Iraq and culminating in their eventual relocation to the U.S. in 2008. Featuring never-before-seen photographs, setlists, posters, and flyers, the book tells the real story of life during wartime in Baghdad.
"Garden Of Stones", the new video from ACRASSICAUDA, can be viewed below.
OK everyone. I can't keep quiet anymore! I am so tired of reading comments about how "we should be helping our own people first" and not helping the people of Haiti!
In the U.S., when you are hungry, Â there is a food bank... when you are sick, Â it is ILLEGAL for you to be turned away at a hospital... when you have no job, there is unemployment... and when you are homeless, there is a shelter! I know that this country is not perfect, but on our worst day... we are better off , than the best days in Haiti.
I would think as Americans, you would feel a kinship with Haiti. The Haitian people were slaves from Africa, who rebelled against their captors, and won... they created their own country so they could live in peace! Sound familiar? They have been ravaged by war, natural disasters and greedy leaders... Sound familiar?Â Read the history of Haiti here!
After 9/11 the world donated money, search teams and resources to us... After Katrina they did the same. See the list here!Â
If you want to know what would happen, if we just left Haiti to help themselves... with no infrastructure or medicine... With no security and no schools...
TAKE A LOOK AT AFGHANISTAN!
That country was ravaged by war ( which we were involved with... secretly), and when they needed schools and hospitals... we left! The people with the biggest guns took over and resented those who left them alone... US!
And look at where we are now... Back in Afghanistan!
Â So if you think that it is stupid for us to be lending a helping hand to the Haitian people... Imagine what would happen in 20 years, with a country 250 miles off of our coast if we didn't help!
And by the way... The same RED CROSS that is in Haiti right now helping the victims... Is in L.A. helping Americans who are flooded out of their homes, and they are the same RED CROSS who were here in Mass. last winter when the ice storm hit!
So, I wonder how someone who was raised in the greatest country on Earth,Â could write a comment on Facebook that says... "F*CK the people in Haiti, we have to worry about ourselves first!"
It makes me sick to read something like that! You should be ashamed of yourself!
I bet if you asked every Soldier and Marine on the ground in Afghanistan right now... "Would you rather be shooting people or helping to save orphaned children"? They would say... I'd rather save the children...
The men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are in Haiti right nowÂ doing what many people will not... They are helping! Once again, they make me proud to be an American!Â
Homes for Our Troops, a national non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2004. We are strongly committed to helping those who have selflessly given to our country and have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries since September 11, 2001. It is our duty and our honor to assist severely injured Servicemen and Servicewomen and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.
Homes For Our Troops is building a house in Massachusetts,
for SSG Michael Downing. This is an AMAZING story!Â
The are holding a 'Build Brigade' to buildÂ the weather tight shell of the house on
Â December 11, 12, 13 in Middleboro, Ma.
They need skilled labor, volunteers, materials etc.
I'm taking today off,Â Â not because I am a Veteran, but because I am married to one.Â In this time in our nation's history, it's more important than ever to show our Veteran's that we support them and that we are thankful for their service.
We all know someone from the Vietnam era who was yelled at, spit on and disrespected because they servedÂ their country...Â
Â 'Not on my watch!'Â
Our generation has the chance to do, what our parents generation didn't do... Welcome home those who have volunteered to protect this great country of ours!
Today is aÂ day to thank your family members, friends and total strangers for being brave and selfless. Today is a day to celebrate those who made it home and a day to remember those who didn't!
If you have worn a uniform in service to our country, I can say withÂ my wholeÂ heart...
If you're looking for a way to thank a Veteran, check out these groups and causes.
My old friend Zoltan, the founding member of Five Finger Death Punch called in to the show today. We talked about everything from his Hungarian roots, becoming a U.S. citizen, being lost in Las Vegas, how the band got together, the new album WAR Is The Answer and our love and support of the troops!
Just in case you missed the presentation, here is the video.
The Medal of Honor has been awarded 3445 times in the history of the United States.
The Medal of Honor has only been awarded five times since 9/11.
No one from Massachusetts has been awarded the Medal of Honor since Vietnam
... that is, until tomorrow.
Tomorrow,Â September 17, 2009 a local Massachusetts soldier is beingÂ welcomed into a sacred group... Medal of Honor recipients.
Sargeant First Class Jared Monti who was born in Abington,Â Â raised in Raynham, and is buried at Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in the EastÂ Room of the White House at 1:45 EDT.
SFC Monti, who would have turned 34 on Sunday,Â died on a remote ridge in Afghanistan trying to save his men on June 21, 2006.
SFC Monti's parents, Paul and Janet Monti, his sister Niccole, brother Timothy and neice Carys Monti are all scheduled to attend the ceremony
"The Medal of Honor is awarded to a member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:
â¢ engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
â¢ engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; orâ¢ serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit."
WHITE HOUSE RELEASE
President Obama to Award Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti
WASHINGTON â On Thursday, September 17th, the President will award Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant First Class Monti will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions in combat in Afghanistan. Then-Staff Sergeant Monti displayed immeasurable courage and uncommon valor - eventually sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his comrade. Sergeant First Class Montiâs parents, Paul Monti and Janet Monti, will join the President at the White House to commemorate their sonâs example of selfless service and sacrifice.
If you are ever fortunate enough to meet a M.O.H. recipient, you are in the presence of a true American HERO!
If you were old enough to be watching TV, you remember 9/11/01.
You remember where you were when you heard, what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt.
Other generations had Pearl Harbor, JFK, The Space Shuttle Challenger, this was a new generations moment...
The moment that they would remember forever.
A moment that changed all of our lives forever.
It changed the way we look at each other, it changed how 'safe' we feel at home, it changed the way we fly, it disrupted our economy, and it changed the lives of every man and woman who wears the uniform in support of this great nation, both home and abroad.
I remember being in the studio with Hill-Man, Hsu, Kevin and LB... Trying to get the updated news out as quickly as possibly. I remember the voices of the callers who were crying. I remember the roar of the fighter jets flying low, along the Pike headed for Logan, Â I remember the circle of planes flying overÂ Logan Airport waiting for their orders to land and I remember the towers... I watched them fall, and I was frozen.
My generation had heard about war from our parents, but we never really understood what it was like... Until that day.
Now, we know war all too well!
September 11, 2006
Five years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, I went to Iraq. I wanted to see what life was like for our brave men & women who were fighting 'the war on terror'. I was embedded as a reporter with several units from the Mass. Army National Guard. On 9/11/06 I was at Camp Cropper with the 181 Engineers. Camp Cropper was the new prison in Iraq where all of the high level insurgants were kept, including Saddam Hussein. I will never forget that day either.
That was the day that I learned what toll the terrorist attacks had taken on our troops. 12 hour days, 7 days a week, 140* heat. They are away from their families for long deployments, and never come back the same. Some of these guys had never seen their newborn babies... Can you imagine that?
I talked to so many soldiers while I was there, and I asked them all the same question... and I got the same answer back every time.
I asked 'What do you want the people back home to know?' and the response was always... 'We want them to know that we are here, working hard, doing a good job, and that we are trained, and ready to do what is asked of us. But most of all, we just want to be noticed and remembered by the people back home. Don't let them forget about us, make sure they know what we are giving up so that we can serve our country, and what our families are sacrificing so that we can be here doing our job.'
Have we been doing what the asked of us?
September 11, 2009
8 years after the attacks of 9/11/01, what has changed?
We are still looking at each other differently, flying has become a challenge... to say the least, our economy is still struggling, Saddam Hussein is dead, but Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose. 8 years later, nothing stands on the Ground Zero and our troops are still away from home.
Today, here in Massachusetts, the family of 22 year old Sgt. Jordon Shay will be at his memorial service in Newburyport. He was killed in action on September 3 in Baqubah, Iraq.
I bet today everyone that knew Sgt. Shay willÂ remember whereÂ theyÂ were, whatÂ they were doing, whoÂ they were with, and howÂ they felt.
It's not easy to be a soldier, it's even harder to have one in your family. You never know what can happen, and if they will come home.
In 2001, Sgt. Shay was 14. When he was old enough he joined the military, knowing that we were at war and knowing that he could go there and that he might not come home.Â He joined anyway.
On a day like today, everyone mourns differently. Some people need to talk about 9/11, some people don't want to talk about it ever!Â But today, even if you don't want to talk about it... Think of Sgt. Shay. Think about all of the brave men & women who are away from their families, far from home. Think about those people who lost a loved one on 9/11 and every day since.
Support all of those who bravely wear a uniform in service to all of us.
Just take a minute out of your day to remember those who are serving our country. Especially those who have left us.
Â Sgt. 1st Class Kevin A. Dupont, 52, of Templeton, Mass., died June 17 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, of wounds suffered March 8 in Kandau, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.Â He was assigned to the 79th Troop Command, Rehoboth, Mass. WAKE:Â Thursday June 25, 2009 1p-8p Chicopee High School Auditorium 820 Front St. Chicopee, Ma FUNERAL SERVICE:Â Friday June 26, 2009 Holy Name of Jesus Church, Chicopee, Ma. 10:00 AM
INTERNMENT:Â Bourne National Cemetery, Bourne, Ma.Â 2:50 PM
Staff Sgt. Edmond L. Lo, 23, of Salem, N.H., died June 13 in Samarra City, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device that his explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team was acting to neutralize detonated.Â He was assigned to the 797th Ordnance Company, 79th Ordnance Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas.
Wake: Friday,Â June 26, 2009: Calling hours from 4-8PM at Douglas-Johnson Funeral Home in Salem, NH.
Funeral: Saturday,Â June 27, 2009: 10:30am service at Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Salem, NH followed by internment in Pine Grove Cemetery, Salem, NH.
In Memory of SSG Edmond Lo
I just watched this on NECN, I thought they did a great job making this!They stayed away from the debate over the war, and just told the stories of these four wounded Soldiers and Marines. Just in case you missed it...Click here to see when it's going to re-air.Also, here are the links that were discussed on the show...
HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS
Sgt. Pete Damon's Art Gallery:The Middleborough Art Gallery
Was there ever a doubt? Well, to be honest...When I first heard about the Maersk Alabama being attacked by Somali pirates... I thought that the ship had been taken over! But, with their balls OUT, the crew of the Alabama kept control of their ship, and the brave Captain was taken hostage. This is where I thought the story would end badly! I didn't expect the pirates to kill Capt. Phillips right away, but I figured one ofÂ two things was going to happen...One, that the company would meet the ransom demands, thus furthering the success of these idiots! They wouldn't be the first company to do it, and not the last either!OR,I thought,Â since the U.S. doesn't negotiate with terrorists (pirates included) Â that they would kill the Capt. after a long, drawn out standoff and try to make us look weakÂ on the world stage! After all... they claim they didn't even know it was a U.S. ship in the first place... They must have thought the 'Stars and Stripes' were something else... :)With the world watching the drama unfold on CNN, and hours turning into days... I started to get PISSED! "Where are the SEALS" I kept saying...Well, the answer...? Â The SEALS were waiting for an OK to 'get it done'They parachuted onto the USS Bainbridge, and were just waiting for the 'GO'Many people didn't think that President Obama would OK any act of aggression, I'll let you argue amoungst yourselves as to why...Well, with the world watching, and the Presidents 'Go ahead' the SEALS showed everyone why they are 'Badass Motherf*ckers'! They made a 75' shot, in the dark, off the deck of a US warship, and into the window of a rocking life boat! 3 shots, 3 kills! BADASS! You almost have to feel sorry for the forth pirate that was taken into custody! Nothing like being arrested by the US Navy with your pants full of poo! HA! The crew of the AlabamaÂ credits Capt. Phillips, Capt Phillips credits the military, and the military says... "We were just doing our jobs"How about this... You guys are ALLÂ amazing! You made the U.S look good in the eyes of the world...Â You showed bravery, self control, patriotism and class, and you should all be proud of yourselves, because WE are all proud of you! Â
There has been an ongoing debate over whether the press should have access to the covered caskets of those troops who have been killed in action, when they return home.It's a privacy issue for the families, and a need to know, for Americans who want to see with their own eyes the price of war.The pictures, would be anonymous, but who decides who has the right?Over the weekend,Â I watched a movie on HBO called Taking Chance starring Kevin Bacon.I cried almost the entire time. It was so touching. To see a grown man,Â a decorated Marine, and a veteran, feel guilty that he is not in Iraq... is something only people who have been there would understand. I got the privilege of going for 2 weeks, and from that, I feel that guilt... I can't imagine what it is like for our service members.This movie is something everyone should see. The loyalty, respect, and dedication shown to a fallen brother, is something every American should witness. I think this is why Americans want to see the caskets, not to make a political statement, but to witness something that only someone who has served would understand.If you have someone in your family that is, has or will serve overseas... This movie should give you comfort, that if the unimaginable should happen, your loved one will return home with dignity. I was so happy to see the trouble that is taken, to ensure the honor and dignity of this fallen Marine, and all others who return home after paying the ultimate price for their country.Take my advice, TIVO this movie, and watch it. I'm so happy that I did.Here is the info, if you want to watch.Taking Chance
If you're looking for something fun to do this Thursday...Here you go. This is going to be a blast to watch!
Â 13th Annual Fire Fighter Ski Muster
February 26, 2009
Wachusett Mountain will once again host the 13th Annual Fire Fighters Ski Muster to benefit the MDA from 9:00am - 2:00pm.
Firefighters turn up the heat in a fierce competition of speed and stamina.Â Teams of 5 firefighters each will hit the slopes in full turn out gear to participate in the events listed below:The Midnight Alarm - Teams start with their helmets, coats, gloves, poles & skis on the ground in front of them.Â At the signal, teams must throw on their gear and race down the slalom course individually.Â
The Modified Slalom - While holding a 50ft fire hose, teams will race against the clock to see who can "muster" up the fastest time.Â All team members must remain holding the hose for the entire length of the course.Â *Teams must bring their own hose*
Individual Timed Slalom Race - At the conclusion of the team races, an individual timed race will be held for interested firefighters.Â Participants must be members of a participating team.Â What's at stake?Â The crown of "King / Queen of the Mountain"
Prizes will be awarded for the Top Fundraising Team, The Top Fundraising Individual, & 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Place Teams!!Regisration begins at 9:00am with the Muster to immediately followEntry Requirements:
$500 per team (minimum)
$100 per individual (minimum)
*Individuals & Teams are encouraged to raise more funds!!
**Entry includes: Lift Tickets, Event T-Shirts, a Discount Guest Coupon, Racing Bibs, & Two Gate TimesFor more information or to sign up call: 508-898-3375Or Click Here
I watched David Letterman last night, because he's funny as hell...But, also, because he had the flight crew from Flight 1549 who landed in the Hudson River.As a skydiver, and someone who has done some serious traveling on my own and with the military...I've been on a lot of planes!What this crew did is amazing. It's basically impossible to land in the water, and they pulled it off. They all have so much experience, and they are all really funny. You'd think it would be hard to laugh at this situation, but they are finding a way to do it.They've done a ton of press recently, but Dave asked the questions that all of us would want to know the answers to... Like "Could you do it again"?Check out the video...We should all hope the crew on our next flight is as competant as they are!You should probably read the safety card in the seatback, the next time you fly, just in case...I bet you're not laughing that your seat can be used as a floatation device anymore, are you?Watch the video here
I hate having to write things like this...Because when I do, it means that another family is suffering, another community is grieving and another unit is missing one of their own.
Massachusetts has lost 2 more of our bravest citizens to the wars in Iraq & Afganistan.
LCpl Kevin T. Preach USMC,Â of Bridgewater, died on Saturday 2/8 at the Brook Army Medical Center, as a result of wounds that he suffered in an IED attack while serving with the 8th Marines in Afganistan. LCpl Preach was a 2007 graduate of Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School.
And my hometown of Leominster has lost a soldier, in action, Â for the first time since 1970.
Pvt. Jonathan Roberge, 21, was one of four American Soldiers killed yesterday in Mosul, Iraq, when a suicide car bomb hit their patrol. Pvt Roberge was a 2005 graduate of the Center for Technical Education at Leominster High School.
My heart goes out to the families, friends, and fellow SoldiersÂ & Marines of LCpl Preach and Pvt Roberge.
Your sacrifices have not gone unnoticed.
By David Filipov, Globe StaffAn Army National Guardsman from Rockland has died in Iraq, town officials said today. Private First Class Matthew M. Pollini, 21, was a member of the 772nd Military Police Company, a National Guard unit based in Taunton, which was deployed to Iraq in December. Matthew Polliniâs parents, Frederick and Carolyn Pollini, were notified of his death Thursday night, the town selectmenâs office said.A man who answered the phone at the Pollini home in Rockland referred a reporter to the Massachusetts National Guard. "It's been a nightmare all day," said the man.A Defense Department spokesman declined to comment, citing the rule that requires the military to wait 24 hours after the last next-of-kin is notified before releasing the name of a casualty.With everything going on in the country this week, it's important that we remember all of those American's that are not at home.My heart aches for the family of PFC Pollini.There are several videos online from some great bands that pay tribute to our troops...I thought I would share some of them with you.
Thank you Private First Class Pollini for your service.
Ok, sit back... This is going to take a minute!Here goes...It's Sunday Night. Sorry I couldn't write this yesterday, after the flight...I was WAY to hyper to type, and then I passed out!Let's start from where I left off in the last blog...I woke up yesterday at 3:15am. I was still tired, but I didn't care.I was going to live out a dream of mine, check something off of my 'bucket list'.I was going to fly in an F15 Eagle... a 30 million (approx) dollar fighter jet. And I was going to fly with WOD! How did this all happen? Well, thanks to Smitty... That's what I call him... MSGT E. Smith is his 'real name'. He's a recruiter with the Mass Air National Guard. He nominated me for a 'Media Orientation Flight'. Basically, a way to show people what the military can do, through the eyes of a member of the media... Someone like you. A 'regular person'. I guess I'm regular, HA! I still don't know who my 'guy' at the Pentagon is, but someone in Washington is letting me do some REALLY cool stuff! I mean the General approved it, but someone in DC could always say HELL NO!!! and they never do! Humvee's, Basic training, being embedded in Iraq, and NOW A FIGHTER JET? Whoever is looking out for me in DC, thank you. For someone who medically cannot join the military (damn talon) I'm living out every dream I've ever had. That's why I sprang out of bed at 3:15 am with only a few hours rest.I showered (have to smell good in the cockpit), got some stuff together, including a tooth brush for AFTER I puke, and my adult diaper! Yes, I went to the supermarket on a Friday night and bought Serenity adult diapers! I was paranoid that I would pee my pants in the jet! I've never done it before, pee my pants that is... But, I've also never been in a jet! I was off by 4:15 am, and headed to Boston. I needed to meet Lindsey from our Promotions Dept. at the radio station. I was told that I may not be able to drive after the flight... Plus I needed someone to video and take pics! Lindsey and I hit the Pike and we were off!I opted for a dry bagel for breakfast and a glass of OJ. They told me to only eat, what I was prepared to see again in the jet! Ahhh, that pilot humor! We arrived in Westfield ON TIME!!! I am NEVER on time... Today I was!It was time to meet WOD!WOD was my pilot. I learned that a pilot gets his call sign in an 'informal' (drunk) ceremony, from other pilots, once they have completed their training. Your call sign usually represents something you did wrong during your training, or something they make fun of you for. Roscoe, if you were a cop, (like Roscoe P. Coletrain). Rooster if you were cocky, Howdy if you look like Howdy Doody. A recent 'grad' Sniper got his name and the guys were making fun of him, because now he has to live with a 'Top Gun' kinda name... I still don't know what WOD means. Maybe it's better that I don't.WOD seemed REALLY serious. Very 'squared away'. At first, I didn't think he liked me. I was told originally that I would be flying with Roscoe. So, that's what I said on the air. Well, WOD (who knew I would be flying with him) just happened to be listening that day. Let's just say the ball busting started as soon as I walked into the pilots office.He was rushing around with maps, and filling out forms. I had to sign a bunch of stuff, and give them my SS. I hope WOD doesn't buy a new car on my credit! ;) Some of the other pilots were running around too. 4 other jets were going up to train, and do a fly over at a WWII Ace's funeral. I had to ask, how do you become and 'ACE'. "5 confirmed kills" I was told. The Colonel, who was being buried that day was an ACE, and to show honor and respect to a man who served his country in WWII and Korea, they were going to fly over his services. The guys were filled with pride to do this, you could tell.The F15 I learned, is a jet that fights other jets. It doesn't drop bombs. I have a few ex boyfriends that should be VERY THANKFUL of that! F15 pilots have the job of 'plowing the road' for the bombers to complete their mission. Basically like Top Gun, except that was the Navy. These guys walk with a swagger. They are the best of the best... and they know it. Don't get me wrong, they're not jerks about it. Like a Doctor... they put in their time, and they deserve the praise. They earned it. Besides, the jumpsuits are HOT! There's a reason why everyone else is jealous of the pilots, they get the chicks!It was time for our briefing. Basically a meeting with WOD, complete with Powerpoint and maps telling me about the jet and 'our mission'.He showed me some footage of the F15 in action. How it was designed around it's radar system and built to be fast and mean. Even though this jet is 20 + years old, it still kicks ass. They're making modern improvements every day, but the basics of it remain the same. 9 G's of badass muther f*cker! Our mission? Fly from Westfield to Martha's Vineyard around The Cape, see the sights of Boston and then head up north to Mt. Washington to do some aerobatics, and then back to Barnes. It sounded like a lot... But I wasn't going to complain! WOD went over, and over, and over the safety steps... and said that we would do it again once we were in the jet.Time to get my gear on!I went to get my flight suit, G suit, helmet, gloves, earplugs etc. I went into the bathroom and had a conversation with myself. Diaper? No Diaper...?I chose NO DIAPER! I figured... What the hell, if I pee, I'll know where my call sign comes from! I bet I'm the only one flying around in an F15 wearing a thong today! WOD, You got a thong on? Probably not! I had to remove all of my jewelry... You wouldn't want an earring to bring down a 30 million dollar jet, would you. It was now time to catch a ride to the jet for our pre-flight inspection! Just as we're getting into the van, the General came over to 'visit the side show' ME! I probably should have warned WOD sooner, that I am a 'walking brass magnet'. That means, that if there's an officer or someone 'in charge'... They will most likely come over to me. The guys in Iraq got really tired of 'behaving' because there was Brass around me all the time! But, WOD is a Major, so he's Brass himself. The General thanked me for my support and told me that he had done some research on me. He even looked at the WAAF site and my MySpace page... I have learned that the military is thorough! We pulled up to the jet. The grounds crew was working VERY hard getting it ready for us. Before we got to work, it was time for a photo op in front of the F15.Normally, an F15 is a single seat aircraft. But they do have 2 seaters... This one was brought in for my flight. It works the same way, it just has 2 sets of everything... YES, I had a set of controls back there! I was in the back seat, with MY OWN STICK!!!WOD showed me how to inspect a jet. What 'issues' you would see, we saw NONE! At one point we were standing behind the jet, looking into the engines. he said 30' flames would come out of there when we took off! NICE! I felt the pressure mounting by this point. I was starting to get nervous. Before I knew it, I was climbing a ladder, and WOD was buckling me into my seat. he started going over the ejection scenarios that I had learned the day before. I paid attention, he wasn't kidding around right now... This is SERIOUS SHT! "Keep your visor down, just in case of a bird strike' he said... No problem WOD, whatever you say! One of the grounds crew guys had just spent the last 20 minutes trying to find a place to mount my video camera inside the cock pit. I needed evidence that I was in there! But, because I had a full set of controls there wasn't any place to mount it safely. Safety is EVERYTHING to these guys! There was a small compartment, you store your helmet bag in there during the flight. They said I could take the camera, as long as I stored it before any maneuvers, and that I DID NOT video the control panel... That is TOP SECRET STUFF! I agreed.One final wave to Lindsey on the ground, and it was 'mask on'... Time to fly!A jet taking off brings everyone out of the hangers, and Smitty told me to wave at the guys on the ground as we taxied away and took off! Most people in the Air Force will never fly in the jets that they work on everyday. I feel bad for them... They are missing out! But, just like Radio, there are 100 people making it possible for 1 DJ to be on the air... There are 1000 people working for that pilot and jet.I was plugged into the COMM, so WOD and I could talk, and I could hear air traffic control. Havoc 1 was our missions call sign. We taxied down the side of the runway, and stopped for one last pre flight inspection. WOD said this is the worst part. If the guys on the ground see anything wrong... MISSION OVER! All dressed up and no place to go! It's happened to WOD before and he said it sucks. I mean, you'd be thankful to the guys for finding a problem before you take off, but what a let down! It was a VERY LONG minute!We got the ALL CLEAR, and went to the end of the runway. WOD said "we'll need every inch of this runway to get off the ground' and we did. The G suit is the 'inflatable chaps' that I talked about in the training blog. Every time the jet senses 'serious G force changes' they inflate to push the blood back up into your chest and head. Lets just say, my pants are puffy as we're taking off. I waved like an idiot to the guys on the ground. WOD could see me in his rearview mirror. He must think I'm an idiot!We took off like a shot, and climbed to 10,000' in a matter of seconds!He said he's made it to the Vineyard in 5 minutes from Westfield, but we were going to take our time and go over some safety stuff again. It took us 8 minutes to get to Martha's Vineyard! 8 Minutes!!! In those 8 minutes, WOD taught me how to fly the jet. How the stick moved, how the throttle worked. I had back up radio, radar and ejection systems. We went over... 'worst case scenario' what happens if something happens to WOD? If a bird hits the canopy and knocks him out? I'm in a jet going 550 mph over your house... and the pilot is unresponsive. He said, and I'm NOT KIDDING! "Call my call sign on the COMM, if I don't answer you... Take the controls, you know how to use them. Fly us over the water and slow down, descend and eject us." EJECT US? Can you imagine a trained pilot having to teach a DJ how to save his life and the lives of the people on the ground? This kind of thing must be very weird for a guy that is used to flying alone.Like I said, it took 8 minutes to fly to the islands... They were so pretty! It's really too bad that you have to be rich to live there! But you don't have to be rich to fly over them in a JET! :) We requested a low altitude pass over the Vineyard, but were denied because of the number of small planes flying around that day! I was learning how to use the radar to see where they were. WOD used to be stationed down at Otis, on the Cape... so he knows this airspace well. We went around P-Town, I waved to Mike Hsu, he was on vacation on the Cape. Once WOD was convinced that I knew how everything worked, we headed to Boston. The city looks awesome from a jet... Well, everything looks awesome from a jet actually. Logan Airport air traffic control radioed to ask us 'what our intentions were'? WOD said 'Some sightseeing" I laughed... They couldn't hear me though. They cleared us to fly around and had to move some commercial traffic out of our way. If you were sitting on the runway Saturday, waiting to take off, I'm sorry... That was Me & WOD! ;> We flew over the Harbor, and Fenway, and I showed WOD where the studio is. I looked in to make sure Bob Hannah was awake in there! Air traffic control calling... "How long are you going to be in our airspace?" they asked. They sounded mad... HA! WOD said... "let's go have some fun" I thought we were already! It took us 30 seconds, and we were over Manchester airport... That's right Boston to Manchester in 30 seconds! I go to get me one of these!!!My commute would be great! I took the camera out long enough to wave at it. I had my visor down and my mask on... But, it's me!We flew over Lake Winnipesaukee, I was going to be there the next day hosting a bikini contest. I asked WOD if he would 'drop me off' the next day... It would save a bunch of driving. There's Mt. Washington!This was the best part!We're at 18,000' over the Mt. Washington and WOD wants to have some fun!He showed me how to do a barrel roll, and then I did one. He said do 3, so I did. 'Try it the other way'... So I did. I was flying an F15 and doing tricks! Next was the full loop! Like the Black Widow that Riverside Park used to have! He did it, and then I tried...Perfect, he said!Then he started showing me 'flight school' maneuvers. Something called a Shondell, and a Split S. I thought he said Split ASS... He said 'NO S, not ASS!" HA! A funny conversation to be having while you are upside down, going 550 mph over Mt. Washington. I still haven't thrown up, so he asked if i wanted to try and 'dogfight'? I said... YES, I wasn't going to say NO to anything! 'This is going to be rough, get ready' he said.This is where I passed out.7.4 G's, I made it to 7.3 of them. He didn't realize that I was out... I was only gone for 5 seconds or so. I had to tell him that he 'got me'. I think it made him happy! I was quiet for 5 whole seconds!He asked if I knew why I passed out, and I did. I messed up on my grunting and I didn't squeeze my butt cheeks hard enough. 'You gonna let it happen again' he asked? HELL NO, and off we were again! Grunt, Grunt and I'm squeezing my butt as hard as I could. Didn't need that diaper, didn't puke and I didn't pass out again! I am a BADASS!We're running out of gas, fun is over.Time to head back to Barnes.We flew over Orange and I got to see Jumptown, where I learned to skydive. Air traffic control warned us that jumpers were in the air... If they only knew who was flying in that jet over them!Havoc 1, requests a flyby!!!WOD taught me how to radio the base, and tell them we were coming home safe.He also told me to tell them 'He was the best fighter pilot ever', but he already knows that. They're not going to let 'just anyone' fly a civilian over Boston in an F15. He's the balls!We did 4 low passes aka flyby's over Barnes and the pattern was 'never full'HA!You'll have to see the video to believe it.It was time to land, we had burned 18,000 lbs of fuel in 1 hour 7 minutes. Not very good on gas when you're doing 'Mach 2 with your hair on fire'We landed, and my dream ride was over.I was still a bit loopy and I had earned Narco as my call sign... I fell asleep, even though it was only for 5 seconds!But, all of my vomit bags were EMPTY!I waved one of them to everyone waiting for us on the jet way!NO VOMIT!I disconnected my 'puffy pants' and climbed out of the jet.I don't think I have ever been that high! It was like the best drug EVER!If I wasn't too old and and medically ineligible, I would have quit WAAF and joined the Air Force right there! I missed my calling in life! I should have been a fighter pilot. Who knows, maybe I was an ACE from WWII reincarnated, but whatever it is... I loved every second of it! I have never felt anything that amazing, EVER! and WOD gets to do it every week! Bastard! No wonder pilots swagger... I would too, if I could do that every week. They are 'the sh*t'!They gave me a framed picture of me in the cock pit and a poster of my take off. They move fast over there! It's SO COOL! Me and WOD's little heads sticking out of that HUGE JET! It's already on my wall!I went back to change and I was so sweaty... YUCK! My face hurt from the mask, and I couldn't stop smiling. I had a great buzz! The other pilots came in upon returning from the fly over, to see if I puked... They were proud that I didn't! But, I had to tell them about my little nap! I'm not that cool after all! WOD left with them for some kind of 'super secret pilot briefing', I wasn't invited. I hit the chow hall, I could eat now with no fear of seeing my lunch again.Then, I saw the General again, and he 'coined me'.Off to the hanger, to thank the maintenance guys for doing a great job!The jet flew great, and it's because of them!It was time to go, I was sad.A final thank you to Smitty for making it all happen, and it was back to Boston for me...It took us almost 2 hours to drive what I had done in 6 minutes earlier! Driving sucks!By the time I got home, my buzz turned to exhaustion! I fell asleep early.I woke up today, sore... really sore.I hurt all over. and I have some very strange bruises...Most of all, I'm sad. I know, I should be happy that I got to do something that most people never will. But, now that I have done THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER, I have to deal with the fact that I will never do it again. At least I don't think I will. You never know I guess, but it's not likely. Unless WOD is looking for a partner? But, I think he'd rather fly alone. They give him missiles when he flies alone! Roller coasters, motorcycles even skydiving... BORING! I'm hooked to a drug I can never have again! I'm actually depressed about it. I'll never look at the sky the same way again!I'm not sure what I can do to top this, but if 'my guy' at the Pentagon has any ideas... I'd love to hear 'em!Oh Yeah...WOD IS THE GREATEST FIGHTER PILOT, EVER!'You can be my wing man anytime!'Dammit, I cannot stop quoting movies!F15 fighter Jet = 30 millionTraining WOD = 10 million18,000 lbs of jet fuel = $30,000Serenity adult diapers = $9.99Best day of my life? Priceless!Thank you to all of the members of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Mass. Air National Guard!My advice?Become a pilot, they get chicks for a reason!Audio: