Thursday, July 19, 2012


to blog or not to blog........... that is the question.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2 1/2 months

that's how long it's been since these guys have hugged their dad. we miss him so much. we have been busy, so that makes the time go fast. i am so impressed with these 3 angels. they have been wonderful without their daddy. we do have our moments, but all in all they have been troopers. we are lucky enough to talk or skype with him almost daily. as i said, we've been busy. crazy granny came for a visit and spoiled us, as always. we spent 4 days down in san antonio. we stayed along the riverwalk. beautiful! i'd do that again in a heartbeat. we took the girls to sea world, and in their true fashion, were more interested in the gift shops. during the trip i was feeling a little under the weather, nothing big. however, by the time we got back i was headed to the hospital. i felt really bad and had the fever and chills. i had strep and got a single dose needle with 3 weeks worth of meds. within 24 hrs, i felt better. but it doesn't stop there. about 10 days later i thought i got a mosquito bite right around the injection site. weird right? well it got bigger, and bigger. seriously about the size of a child's dinner plate. so, back to the hospital. plus, my throat was sore again. everyone was stumped. no clue! i tested positive for strep, again. what?!? then i needed to get an ultrasound on my "mosquito bite" to make sure it wasn't a puss pocket, gross. if it was, we would need to operate asap. what?!? and i had breonna with me the whole time. well, it wasn't a puss pocket, gross but good. so what was it? well the dr believes it was some of the meds that didn't make it into my muscle and it was just sitting there in my fat. gross. so back on antibiotics, steroids and zyrtec. wow!! so after that cleared up, things seemed back to normal. until last friday. i opened a letter for our landlord because i saw the word "FORECLOSURE". what?!? so it looks like he's not paying his mortgage and willing to leave us high and dry. nice. so it's still being looked into, but it's looking like we need to pack up and head home. the girls are really excited about it. what?!? i thought they liked our house. so things are up in the air and seem a little overwhelming, but we'll make it work. i have ah-mazing friends here that are willing to do whatever to help. awesome. i can't get better than that. they really have made brad's absence doable. i love them all so much, and we are friends for life!! brad is doing well. his faith is incredible and keeps me going knowing his testimony is getting stronger over there. even though he's a million miles away, and the length of time is huge and we all miss him, i can feel our family getting closer everyday. i am so grateful for everything he's done and will continue to do for us, and i truly can't imagine my life without him. thank you to all my friends and family. we love you all so very much, and can't wait to see most of you soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

another update!!

here's an update from brad. we love and miss him so much, but are so thankful for him and all the wonderful blessings he has brought our family. we love you daddy!!!

Some call this place the land of futility. No matter how many meetings, or agreements you have with these people they will continue to push a square peg through a circle hole. Some of you may wonder, what exactly am I doing in Iraq. I sometimes wonder this as well….What AM I doing here? As you know I have been trained as a steely eyed killer who is proficient at closing with and destroying the enemy. Leading soldiers in destroying our Nation's enemies, and their stuff, is what the Army taught me to do. However, that is definitely NOT what we are doing in Iraq….anymore…:(

As you know, last summer all of America's "combat troops" left Iraq. This is political semantics at its best. Instead of the media and the politicians just saying our mission is changing from a combat focused mission to a advising mission. They had to say "all combat troops are out of Iraq. So is that true? Yes and No…mostly No. Most troops in Iraq right now come from Heavy Brigade Combat Teams. They call us right now: "Advise and Assist Brigades". Its like declawing a Lion and calling it a kitty. It will still mangle you if you mess with it. It will just take a little longer. So the only thing really changed is our name, and our mission. Soldiers trained and proficient in combat are still in Iraq….we just have to call them "teachers".

Anyhow, currently my mission is to secure high ranking officers and escort them to various locations in our AO. Its a simple mission, and its not hard. The hardest part is dealing with….difficult personalities with-in the field grade officer club. Each time we roll out we link up with our ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) counter-parts and then proceed to our location. What our VIPs do at these locations falls under the Advise Train and Assist (or ATA) category. The bottom line is American forces right now are training the Iraqis to solve their own problems.

Just the other day an Iraqi General asked our BN Commander what he was going to do about "XYZ". Our Commander replied by asking him what he was going to do about it. Then reminded him we will only really be available for their support for another few months.

My interaction with the IA (Iraqi Army) and IP (Iraqi Police) as been mostly positive, other than being offered some questionable produce (which I had to eat so as not to offend). The soldiers and police seem to be very friendly and mostly pro America. They are grateful for the Iraq that they have now, and say they are ready to operate on their own. I don't know how ready they are when our ISF escorts frequently break down because of lack of maintenance or when they constantly run out of gas on the way to a location. I mean…seriously…."Dude…you ran out of gas?! Look bro…NO over there….yeah that's oil bubbling out of your crappy country!" The problem here isn't refineries, its the bureaucracy they've created over the distribution of their gas. For a country so ripe in oil, its hard for me to fathom how they could be so tight with their gas. This has been an issue for the last 5 years plus (I'm told)…thus the land of futility.

However, this place is a lot different than even a couple years ago (I'm told). We still have IEDs, and IDF (Indirect Fire) from rockets on occasion, but we have had no small arms fire or anything like a fire fight in a very long time. Not to say that we don't constantly stay vigilant, but its almost like driving downtown Detroit, versus a third world country. Speaking of which, perhaps Detroit could use some ATA brigades to help them with their issues...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

a new update from brad!!

February 18, 2011

Time seemed to slow. I adjusted my grip on my M9 Baretta. In the chaos of men shouting and shooting, I grabbed a 15 round magazine and rammed it into the receiver of the weapon. I quickly switched the weapon from safe to fire, and pulled back the hammer with my right thumb. While I picked up the enemy target, I could hear the violent percussion of weapons discharging all around me as I had my left hand support my right. The principles of marksmanship are applied to every weapon: Proper grip, sight picture, breathing, and trigger squeeze. With the hammer all ready back all it takes is slight pressure applied to the index finger and …POP. The shot should surprise you a bit. In this case, the pop didn't surprise me, as I unloaded all 15 rounds into my target, and quickly hit the magazine release with my right thumb, dropping the mag, while quickly loading another. In the Army this is known as expending as much ammo as you can because no one wants to turn it in. It's a technical term, but I think you can wrap your mind around it. Those paper targets didn't stand a chance as approximately 100 soldiers let loose with 249's (machine gun) M-4s (Rifle) and M-9s (Pistol) in a musical cacophony.

In Camp Buehring along with our mandatory classes we had mandatory ranges. Everyone needed to zero and qualify their weapon, even though all of us had already done so back home. I really didn't mind, because shooting things and loud noises are some of the many reasons I joined the Army. Following the ranges the Company as a whole began their training prior to entering Kuwait. As I mentioned in my previous news letter I had already completed the classes so my job mainly consisted of reporting numbers trained to the Battalion leadership. Another one of my main jobs consisted of bringing the new XO for Charlie Company up to speed.

Prior to Charlie getting on the ground our BN XO pulled me aside and showed me a memo with the names of different officers moving to different positions with-in the Battalion. My name was on this list and it stated that I was moving to HHC (Higher Headquarters Company) as the 'Scout' Platoon Leader. I was ecstatic. However, he tempered my joy by whispering the words: "…be careful what you wish for…" I looked at him with a puzzled face and asked, "why? Whats up? Sir, are you mad I wanted this?" He replied that he wasn't, but informed me that my platoon would be split between two major jobs that aren't very glamorous…or fun as we would be going outside the gate nearly every day. F

I didn't care, I would be a PL again, and all was right in the world. I had mentioned a few times to my higher ups that I had been 'screwed' (another technical term a bit softer than the official Army term) by loosing my platoon six months into my PL time. I mentioned that the PL from the Scout Platoon was moving on and that I would be a good fit. I guess someone finally saw it my way. My power of persuasion can be so strong as to almost render the person being persuaded of no free will…just ask Bethany. Its my superpower.

Anyway, my main task was to square away Charlie and my replacement. My replacement and I hit it off right away. For the next two weeks we would do almost everything together. He would pick my brain, and I would give him the advice I wish I had before I took on such a big job. I also informed him on the personalities in the BN and in our company. A big part of any organization is working with people and knowing how to get what you want and need from anyone who can influence your life.

Soon we, along with some other advance party soldiers, found ourselves in Ali Asleem Airbase Kuwait. This is where all flights going into and out of Iraq converge. It is much like Camp Buehring, with a USO, MWR, and various fast food restaurants. After we arrived my group and I unloaded our body armor, dropped our bags and surfed the wifi. After a few hours it was time to bus to our C-130 and board for our flight into Basrah. Our buses took us then to the airfield while we waited, and waited some more. In fact, we waited so long the bus driver put on the movie 'Red' for our viewing displeasure….(is it me or has Hollywood had an inordinate amount of way over the top action movies?). Eventually we are told that our bird has some mechanical problems and we are to head back to Ali Asleem.

We wouldn't fly out until the next day, however my replacement and I enjoyed some great MWR action, where we watched the very enjoyable movie, 'Grown Ups'. Many of you may have found this movie stupid, but I on the other hand think that 4 year olds still breastfeeding is cinematic comedy at its best.

The flight to Basrah was all of 30 minutes, and we arrived by mid afternoon. The very first thing that hits you is the smell. There is a lot of stagnate water all over the FOB, plus we live in a place in the world where people don't care where they poop. Next, your hit with the vast amount of garbage everywhere. The FOB isn't nearly as bad as when you go outside of the gate on patrols. Garbage….everywhere. Lastly, and probably the worst for me, is the amount of flies and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes…whatever…yes annoying, but whatever. Flies…they breed on human feces, then land on you. This is the equivalent of a stranger touching you with a stick that has poo on it. However, rest assured I have been told that I can look forward to the summer heat of 130-140 degrees because it kills off some of the flies.

Well, other than that this is a wonderful place and I am so glad I am here…. Seriously though, it's no wonder these people are so willing to blow themselves up. I think if I lived here I would be game too. Its not all bad though, I have a room with ac, and I don't have to share it. Naked Tuesdays here we go.

More to follow...

Friday, February 25, 2011

a letter from brad's lieutenant colonel

Dear Friends and Family,
The Charger Battalion (minus B Co) is finally on the ground in vicinity of Basra, Iraq. Bonecrusher is a
few hours north of us working with 2‐82. We are currently going through the Relief in Place/Transfer of
Authority Process (RIP/TOA) which consists of unpacking our gear, signing for theater provided
equipment (vehicles, radios, etc.), orientation briefings, meeting key personnel in the area, and
orientation patrols. Although the trip from Kuwait took a bit longer than expected, 1‐68 Armor was
more than prepared to give us a thorough and professional transition period. Although it has been
almost 4 weeks since most of the battalion left Fort Hood, I think most of the Soldiers are happy to
finally be in Iraq so they can get settled in and finally start working towards accomplishing our mission.
Although most of the Soldiers and leaders would probably say that the amount of time spent in Kuwait
was too long, it was time well spent. The Soldiers conducted final training there to ensure they are
prepared for our mission in Iraq. Training included day and night firing with personal weapons to ensure
all weapon systems worked and were properly zeroed, IED awareness, anti‐fratricide, HMMWV and
MRAP extraction training in case of a roll‐over, close quarters marksmanship, drivers’ training, and some
medical training. Some of the Soldiers even got to see the band Smashmouth perform. While the
Soldiers and junior leaders were conducting that training, the company commanders, battalion
operations officer, and I attended the Stability Academy on Victory Base Compound in Baghdad.
The Stability Academy allowed the leadership and Stability Transition Teams (STTs) the opportunity to
not only receive operational environment briefs from the current brigade, but also allowed the senior
leaders in Iraq the opportunity to see us and give us their guidance personally. The Academy also
provided time for the battalion leadership to form working and personal relationship with the STTs who
will be working with the Charger Battalion. Following the week long Academy, we headed to Basra to
begin the process of conducting the RIP/TOA.
Our Battalion TOA date is currently scheduled for the first week in March, and although all US Forces are
to be out of Iraq by 31 December 2011, I fully expect that our deployment will be at least 12 months
long, at least that is the truth as I know it today.
We are deployed for more than a few reasons, but I want to share a few of them with you. First, we are
here to build an enduring Iraqi alliance with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the Iraqi Government, and
the Iraqi People (we are mainly focused on the Security Forces) that will last well into the future.
Second, we are here to facilitate the training of the Iraqi Security Forces through advising and assisting
them while helping them to use and improve their systems for sustaining their force. This is important
because this will allow the ISF to not only secure the Iraqi people, but will also allow them to defend
their borders against foreign attacks. The third reason is to allow us to reposition and reposture our
forces from Iraq with dignity and pride. The fourth, and probably the most important, is to ensure those
who were killed or seriously injured in support of operations in Iraq did not sacrifice in vain. Our mission
here will be much different from any of the previous deployments. We are here as part of an Advise and
Assist Brigade conducting stability operations to complete the transition to Iraqi self reliance. In other
words, we are here to help the Iraqis find Iraqi long term solutions to Iraqi problems. We will NOT be
conducting combat operations. We will be conducting training with Iraqi junior leaders through the
Stability Transition Teams, conducting Key Leader Engagements to build relationships and to better
learn how we can advise and assist, and supporting the Provincial Reconstruction Teams with movement
and security so they can facilitate further Government of Iraq development. We will also do whatever is
possible to facilitate the standing up of a US Consulate in Basra.
I would like to offer a few things for those of you who are newly married or experiencing your first
military deployment. A year is a long time, but you and your relationship can be stronger when the
deployment is done. Communication is the key, so I encourage you to stay connected with your loved
one. Whether that be via email, snail mail, Facebook, Twitter, or phone, come up with a plan or
schedule to keep the lines of communication open. Second, find a deployment buddy – someone you
can talk to, vent with, or share the hardship with. Third, get involved with the community, the FRG, the
local schools, etc. If you have a problem or issue that you can’t resolve, contact the FRG, FRSA or Rear
Detachment and they can point you in the right direction and/or assist.
I am proud to be associated with this great unit, and truly honored to be in command. I am proud of all
our Soldiers, leaders, and families and I couldn’t be happier with their performance thus far.

Always Ready! First Team’s First String!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

another year passes without her

isabelle chloe
as i moved away from my family 10 years ago, i was so twitterpated i never thought of what i'd miss. my sister gillian got married 2 months after i did, and i didn't have the documents to go across the border. so i missed her wedding. then the following feb she had a baby girl. isabelle chloe. missed that too. so the following june my sister leah got married and i had recieved my visa so i was able to go and be a bridesmaid at her wedding. that week i was up was the first time i'd get to hold, kiss and cuddle my new little niece. sadly it was the last as well. isabelle died peacefully in her sleep the following month. what heartbreak for my sister. i dropped everything to be by her side through this trial.
yesteday was her birthday, and she would be 10. i can honestly say not a day goes by when i don't think of her and her mother. i am so grateful for the plan of salvation that allows us to be together forever. i am also grateful for gillian and her strength, and example of carrying on even on the toughest days.
i know she is watching over her mom, dad and brother, and in some ways, all of us. i think of the saying "Because someone we love is in heaven, we feel a little bit of heaven in our home." and the comfort it can bring.
we love and miss you dearly isabelle.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

an update

from the LT!!! he's been gone not even a week, and we miss him terribly. glas to hear things are going well for him. we love you!!!