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http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?S=2683096
More than a dozen Air Force Reserve airmen in the 403rd Wing from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi are headed to Southwest Asia to support operations in the war in Iraq.

Unit spokesman, Lt. Col. Mike Odom, said the crew, which is part of the 815th Airlift Squadron, known as the Flying Jennies, is being deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

The C-130-J Hercules aircraft, crew and maintenance team will provide airlift of personnel and material during a routine operational rotation.

In February of 2003, some of the 14-hundred reservists in the unit were activated and later deployed to the U.S. Central Command Area Operations in Southwest Asia.

The 403rd, known as the Hurricane Hunters, is the largest flying group at Keesler and is the only reserve command wing in Mississippi.
http://www.illinoisleader.com/news/newsview.asp?c=21493
LEADER FEATURE: News & Notes from Operation Iraqi Freedom

Monday, December 13, 2004

- Phil Collins, American Serviceman
OPINION - The battalion that was on this base March-Sept. captured about 95 prisoners.


Within the past two months, my battalion captured about 350 prisoners, including about 70 last weekend. Within the past two months, eight marines in my battalion were killed, and the battalion killed at least 100 Iraqis. We can't obtain an exact number of killed insurgents.


My battalion will stay on this base until the end of March, and we'll be replaced by an army unit. Some of the soldiers moved onto the base in Dec.
http://www.leesvilledailyleader.com/articles/2004/12/08/news/news4.txt
FORT POLK -- Being deployed once in 2004 would be hard enough, but for the 488th Quartermaster Company, 585th Movement Control Team and 603rd Transportation Company, the upcoming deployment is the troops' second deployment to Iraq this year.

Lt. Col. Michael G. Morrow, commander of troops, spoke at a Tuesday deployment ceremony about the readiness of the three companies.

"I am absolutely confident in the combat readiness of these soldiers," Morrow said.

In addition to giving thanks to troops, commanders and family members of the men and women being deployed, Morrow asked the soldiers to remember three things while they are in Iraq again.

"Remember to always take care of your buddies," he said. "Second, always be safe in everything you do and third ... make momma proud."

The 603rd Transportation Company (TC) Commander, Capt. Caprissa S. Brown-Slade is also confident in actions of the family members who will stay back home during her upcoming deployment.

Brown-Slade has a one year old daughter, Serenity, who will be taken care of by her mother and husband.

"It's hard to leave her, but I'm doing what I need to do," Brown-Slade said.

Her husband, Nikholas Slade, also active duty military, just recently returned home from deployment in July and now it's his turn to play father and mother to their daughter.
http://www.morningsentinel.com/news/2004/1208/Front_Page/004.html
MT. VERNON — The work for members of Jefferson County Operation Iraqi Freedom isn’t over yet — the group has decided to continue collecting donations for approximately 40 Illinois Army National Guard members scheduled to leave Jan. 4 for Iraq.

“We’re gearing back up and hoping people will continue to make deposits,” said Joyce Poorman, who organized the group in September. Poorman said the members hope to collect enough money to buy gift cards for the soldiers before they are deployed.

The organization collected $6,000 from mid-September through November and recently traveled to Scott Air Force Base to purchase 30 gift cards for Jefferson County men and women serving overseas. The cards, issued by the Armed Forces Federal Exchange Service, can be used at any of the 34 exchange areas in Iraq.

An account for deposits will remain open at First National Bank, and collection boxes will still be at local businesses around town. Poorman said that people have already donated additional funds since the cards were purchased.

Poorman, of Woodlawn, has a son, Troy, who is serving in southern Iraq. Troy is a captain with the Illinois Air National Guard, and was deployed in September. He is scheduled to come home in February, but Poorman expects his return may be delayed.

Guardsmen from Mt. Vernon, Salem, Marion and West Frankfort were tapped in early October to support the Second Battalion, 123rd Artillery Unit of the guard, according to Major Tim Franklin with the Springfield office of the Guard.

David Keen, a retired master sergeant from the Guard, estimated in October that there are anywhere from 75 to 100 soldiers from Jefferson County already serving in Iraq.

Also in the works for the departing guard is a community-wide ceremony, scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 2, at Mount Vernon Township High School, according to Maj. Robert Thacker in Marion. Thacker said that plans are still underway and that some local politicians will speak and that he expects the high school students to be involved as well.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-12-13-soldiers-tribute-cover_x.htm
Divisions over Iraq war delay a soldier's tribute
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The young soldier tried to sound brave, but his mother could hear the fear in his voice all the way from Iraq. Before the satellite phone cut out, he made a request — the prayer of every soldier in peril: "Just don't forget me."
Those were the last words Regina Gilbert ever heard spoken by her only child. Three weeks later, Pfc. Kyle Gilbert was killed in Baghdad, leaving his parents and community the sad but seemingly simple task of granting his final wish.

In a town divided by the war, there was a symbolic solution: Name a bridge — a span between opposite sides — for Kyle Charles Gilbert (1983-2003).

It seemed an idea everyone could embrace. But not, as it turned out, if Kyle's marker bore the likeness of an American eagle. Or the slogan "Freedom isn't free." Or the name "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

In the end, it took a year to honor Kyle Gilbert. "We just wanted to remember Kyle," his mother says. "But things got politicized."

Brattleboro's struggle to remember its fallen son illustrates how the Iraq war can divide people, even when they're merely trying to honor the dead, even when they try to do so without offending anyone.
http://www.sacunion.com/pages/state_capitol/articles/1028
In Honor of the Fallen
By Ryan Rose
Published: December 13, 2004
s directed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Capitol flags flew half-staff Monday, in honor of Cpl. In C. Kim, 23, of Warren, Mich., who died Dec. 7 while serving in Iraq. Kim was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

“Today, we honor Cpl. Kim for his contribution and service to our country. Our nation is stronger because of brave Marines like Cpl. Kim and we honor the sacrifice they make everyday,” Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. “Maria and I would like to offer our condolences to Cpl. Kim’s family at home in Michigan and to his fellow Marines at Camp Pendleton and in Iraq.”

Kim was a motor transportation operator with the 9th Communications Battalion, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Kim’s death was the result of a non-hostile vehicle incident in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. This was his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Having deployed more than 28,000 Marines to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, Camp Pendleton has suffered more than 270 deaths, or one-fifth of the total American losses.
http://www.news-register.net/news/story/1213202004_new01.asp
MOUNDSVILLE - Families of local Marines got a chance Sunday to meet with their commanding officers and ask questions about their upcoming deployment to Iraq.

About 150 members of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and their families met at the U.S. ARMY National Guard Armory for a pre-deployment family day. The event was an opportunity for family and loved ones to meet the Marines and the officers their young men will serve with once they are deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in early January.
Family Readiness Officer 1st Sgt. Scott Seese said he will remain stationed in Moundsville after the unit leaves to assist the Marines' families with obtaining important information and resources. During the deployment, Seese and commanding officer Maj. Christopher Douglas will keep families up to date through the Key Volunteer Network. This support system will consist of 30 families who will each be responsible for eight Marines. Douglas and his wife will be first to receive official information concerning each Marine and distribute the information to the 30 volunteers, who in turn will contact the families to whom the information pertains. Douglas encouraged everyone to provide the volunteers with contact information and told them they would get more specific details from the Key Volunteer Network than they would by following cable news networks.

Douglas was previously deployed in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and spoke to the families about their obvious concerns. He emphasized the importance of keeping the line of information open between Marines and their families so they can concentrate on completing their mission effectively. He also expressed his confidence in the unit's abilities.

"This is a cohesive group with a great knowledge base that will enable us to succeed in the next phase of this mission," Douglas said.
http://www.dailypress.com/news/specials/dp-du3,0,4750505.story?coll=dp-breaking-news
The United States began developing depleted uranium weapons in the 1950s. But the first one wasn't fired in combat until the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

It didn't take long for the weapons to show that the wait was worth it.

Soldiers on the battlefield were so impressed, they quickly began calling depleted uranium "The Silver Bullet," in recognition of its seemingly magical capabilities and exterior metallic color. They also began calling it "DU."

Although the U.S. tank gunners firing the weapons had never used them before - even in training - they were immediately able to hit and destroy heavy Soviet-made Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles from two miles away, military officials crowed in congressional hearings afterward.

The weapon that it replaced, made from tungsten, wasn't effective from more than a mile and a half, they said. That's the equivalent of two boxers squaring off, one with 4-foot-long arms, the other with 3-foot-long arms.

"What we want to be able to do is strike the target from farther away than we can be hit back, and we want the target to be destroyed when we shoot at it," Col. Jim Naughton, then-head of munitions for the Army Materiel Command, said just days before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year. "And we don't want to fight even. Nobody goes into a war and wants to be even with the enemy. We want to be ahead, and DU gives us that advantage."

This battlefield benefit might be in danger, though. A growing number of medical researchers are finding evidence that the residue of depleted uranium weapons might be deadly to our own troops.
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2004/n12132004_2004121303.html
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2004 – He may be best known as Forrest Gump's "Lt. Dan" and the name follows him wherever he goes, especially when he's in the company of servicemembers.

"Wherever I go for the military, they always call me Lt. Dan. They just can't help it," actor Gary Sinise said with a chuckle.

Lt. Dan may be one of Sinise's best-known roles, but the one he plays in supporting the troops and the Iraqi children is just as big, if not so well known. He and Laura Hillenbrand, author of the book "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," co-founded Operation Iraqi Children, a grassroots organization to collect and distribute badly needed school supplies to Iraqi children.

OIC came about when Sinise started touring with the United Service Organizations. A longtime supporter of U.S. troops, Sinise's USO affiliation began in June 2003 with his first tour to the Middle East. "I've been involved with veterans groups for many years, but never did the USO until we went to war in Afghanistan," he said. "Then I volunteered."

It was during his second trip to Iraq with the USO in November 2003, Sinise said, that provided the motivation behind OIC. While he was in Iraq, he saw how much the troops appreciated being with the Iraqi school children.
http://www.athensnews.com/issue/article.php3?story_id=19179
There are thousands of Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers across the country like Joshua Peterson. They are coming home with minds twisted by what they've seen and done in Iraq.

A December 2003 Army study -- published in The New England Journal of Medicine -- found that approximately 16 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychologically debilitating condition causing intense nightmares, paranoia and anxiety. But that study is already out of date.

Now, after a particularly bloody summer and fall, many military and mental-health experts predict the rate of PTSD will actually run nearly twice what the Army study found, approximately the same level suffered by Vietnam veterans. Others think it could spike even higher and note that rarely before has such a dramatic rate of PTSD manifested so early.

At the same time, concerns are mounting over the system designed to help: The federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Numerous reports show the VA does not have many of the essential services veterans desperately need.

"I don't know how many people are going to be seeking treatment, or whether the demand is going to be met by available resources," acknowledges Matthew Friedman, executive director of the VA's National Center for PTSD. "What I am confident is that people who come for treatment will get good treatment."

Yet the VA chronically has under-funded mental-health programs and currently projects a $1.65 billion shortfall in those programs by the end of 2007.

"If we don't give the VA what it needs immediately, the consequences will be lifelong and devastating," says Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center.

The emerging scenario is that of a generation of new veterans whose psyche is in tatters, their families scarred by the strangers their loved ones have become -- and of an exhausted health-care system holding its breath.

"WHEN YOU KILL SOMEONE IN combat, two things can happen," says Sgt. Walter Padilla, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Division. "The crazy ones go crazier. Or nothing happens."
http://www.bushcountry.org/news/columnists/jbowden/c_121304_jbowden_battle_fallujah.htm
“We feel right now that we have, as I mentioned, broken the back of the insurgency," Lieutenant General John F. Sattler, Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force comment on the Battle of Fallujah.

Nonsense. But, a prime example why Marines command tactical engagements and don’t run wars (according to a USMC Command and Staff College graduate). The insurgency is alive and well, just about 1,200 insurgents shorter. The valor of Marines and Soldiers in the battle was significant, but the enemy isn’t near their culminating point – the real beginning of the end.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) isn’t about how many insurgents are killed. The center of gravity for OIF is how many people are willing to be insurgents. The fighting, truly, is politics by another means. The election in ’05 is a symbolic exercise. This fighting is the real election.
This election with guns and bombs is about who has the power to rule. It’s different from the Rule of Law. It’s the way of the world. The exception to the rule of ruthless power is the bubble in time called the Great Experiment (Democracy in America), parliamentary rule among English-speaking peoples and in Western Europe – on and off, and flattering imitators elsewhere. History mocks President Bush’s Wilsonian rhetoric of democracy fast flowering in the Islamic desert.
Islamic civilization, once triumphantly ascendant, has declined since the 1200s. Today, Islamic civilization, except for Egypt, Iran (Persia) and Turkey, is a tribal culture stuck in the 13th Century. Islam is as far behind the West – no Renaissance, no Reformation, no Enlightenment - as the Barbarians were behind Rome in the 5th Century. There is a 600-800 year gap. Islam produces Islamists and is the identity of Iraq’s culture.