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February 9, 2015 at 3:37pm

Skanska USA, BCRA partner with JBLM nonprofit for new 2-2 SBCT memorial

A sketch of the proposed Lancer Brigade Memorial. Courtesy illustration

In just a few short months, the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team will finally have a memorial on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The monument will join several other unit memorials in the installation's Memorial Park, which is located on Lewis Main near the Cascade Community Center.

Groundbreaking is set to begin soon, and a dedication ceremony is planned for the end of May.

"We are currently the only Stryker brigade on the installation without a memorial for its fallen soldiers," said Danielle L'Heureux, a 2/2 spouse and chairwoman of the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund, a nonprofit 501c3 organization. "It's an important thing to make happen."

The project has been in the works since 2013 and is a joint effort between construction company Skanska, design and engineering firm BRCA, their subcontractors and the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund.

Angela Crabtree, a spouse in the brigade at the time, initially approached members of Skanska to ask if they would be willing to help with the project.

"As with each Skanska project, we look for opportunities to give back to the communities that we work in," said Brian Urban, a senior project manager with Skanska who is leading the JBLM memorial effort, "whether it's donating toys to the toy drive, sponsoring and building a gingerbread house to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, and donating services to build a memorial. On top of that, it is an honor to help pay tribute to fallen soldiers."

Skanska, BRCA and their subcontractors have donated thousands of dollars in manpower and materials toward the 2/2 memorial project, and the Lancer Fund is working to raise the roughly $23,000 needed to pay for the granite pillars. Fundraising was slow to start, but monies are now starting to add up. Efforts have included a ride with Northwest Harley Davidson in Lacey last year that raised thousands of dollars; a similar fundraising event is planned for April 24.

"We are amazed and thrilled that Skanska has been able to pull together all the materials and labor at no cost to us," L'Heureux said. "To have it all donated is awesome."

Work on the project will begin soon. "We are in the process of obtaining a dig permit through JBLM, and once that is in hand, the project will be completed within 30 days," Urban said.

The memorial design features a central bench with boot prints leading away from it with two large granite pillars on each side. The names of the brigade's 51 fallen soldiers will be etched on those pillars, and the back of the bench will read "Seize the High Ground."

When it stood up in 2007, the brigade was known as 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. It was reflagged as 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division three years later after returning from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan. Current units include infantry and field artillery battalions, a cavalry squadron and a support battalion.

L'Heureux said she hopes the memorial will bring closure for the families of the fallen. "There isn't one place on this installation [for all of the brigade's fallen soldiers]," she said. "Some battalions have a memorial, but it's in their building and not really for everyone."

The group is also looking to raise money to help defray the cost of bringing in as many Gold Star families from the brigade as possible for the memorial's unveiling and dedication in May.

For more information or to donate, visit the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund on Facebook.

November 26, 2014 at 11:41am

Words & Photos: Operation: Turkey Drop at JBLM and Camp Murray

Participants of Operation: Turkey Drop unload a dozen birds in front of the 446th Airlift Wing on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Nov. 25. Photo credit: Gary Lott

The Operation: Turkey Drop program, now in its eighth year, helps check off meals from servicemembers' holiday checklists.

Servicemembers from a variety of active and National Guard units began receiving turkeys from the program Nov. 25 across Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Camp Murray, offering relief from the financial burdens of holiday expenses.

"Last year, one brigade had the recipient families' onsite to collect their turkeys," said Carlene Joseph, president of the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter for the Association of the United States Army. "It was very heartwarming to meet these families and to see how appreciative they were."

These types of heartwarming memories will only continue to grow.

"This year, we plan to distribute about 745 turkeys, compared to last year's 400," Joseph said. "Due to our fundraising efforts, for the first time, we'll be able to expand our outreach to the Air Force and National Guard in Eastern Washington.

"It's very rewarding to show JBLM and Camp Murray just how appreciative our community is of their work," she added. "Operation: Turkey Drop gives some of our local businesses the opportunity to visit and spread good cheer during the holiday season." 

>>> Once again, the Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse truck was the command center for Operation: Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Camp Murray Nov. 25. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Operation: Turkey Drop delivered more than 700 turkeys to servicemembers this year compared to the 400 that were dropped last year. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Operation: Turkey Drop sponsors pose with 446th Airlift Wing staff on JBLM Nov. 25. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Master Sgt. Todd Wivell smiles as he fends of the rain and waits for the 62nd Airlift Wing commander, Col David Kumashiro, to arrive and assist with collecting turkeys for their unit. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> The 62nd Airlift Wing Commander Col. David Kumashiro and Chief Master Sgt. Gordon Drake show off their birds, after receiving more than a dozen holiday meal turkeys for the 62nd AW. Photo credit: Gary Lott

This program continues to grow with the help of its many sponsors. For example, DaVita has sponsored the program for several years now, and this year it more than doubled its contribution. Also, Northwest Harley-Davidson and Brothers in Arms have hosted a Freedom Ride for five consecutive years.  The amount raised from this year's event was twice what was raised in previous years. Lastly, the Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse has purchased 100 turkeys each year of the program and has provided a "now infamous" box truck that can be seen transporting and delivering the turkeys across JBLM and Camp Murray to various units.  

"The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse recently won a statewide community service award, and one of the deciding factors included their role in Operation: Turkey Drop," Joseph said.

>>> The staff of the Joint Services Support Directorate of the Washington National Guard prepared accompanying holiday meals for the turkeys that were provided by Operation: Turkey Drop. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Deborah Discolo, Washington National Guard's Family Assistance Center coordinator, gives candy to the daughter of Sgt. Phillips during Operation: Turkey Drop on Camp Murray, Nov. 25. Photo credit: Gary Lott

Along with the listed sponsors and dozens more listed below, the various business partners of the Pierce Military and Business Alliance have been incredibly generous by purchasing turkeys for the Washington National Guard and their families.  

This year, Operation: Turkey Drop will also deliver more than 250 turkeys to Fairchild Air Force Base outside of Spokane for the first time in the program's history.

"The AUSA Minuteman subchapter will be coordinating those efforts and will be working with the Washington National Guard's Family Programs Directorate to identify the families," Joseph said. 

Joseph, who volunteers for the program, also works for Harborstone Credit Union, which has been a strong supporter of Operation: Turkey Drop since day one. It also strongly supports both the Air Force Association and the Association of the United States Army.

"Harborstone Credit Union has been with us since day one and has allowed me to coordinate the program since its inception," said Joseph. "Again, with all of these generous supporters, we were able to nearly double our turkey purchases compared to last year."

The program's success has relied upon recurring sponsors, but continues to evolve.

"We have been fortunate enough to have recurring sponsors who seek us out before we can begin the planning process," Joseph said.

If you miss out on the Thanksgiving campaign, the program also conducts Operation: Ham Grenade for the Christmastime season. That holiday meal program is scheduled for Dec. 18.

"It truly is an honor to have you all here doing such a wonderful thing for our service members," said 62nd Airlift Wing Commander Col. David Kumashiro. "This is a good thing, and we are lucky to have all your support throughout the year, and especially during the holidays."

>>> Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Barnes, former CSM for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, smiles in front of 700-plus turkeys. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> This little soldier, dressed like his dad, picked up their complimentary holiday turkey as part of the ongoing program, Operation: Turkey Drop. Photo credit: Gary Lott

SPONSORS FOR OPERATION: TURKEY DROP & OPERATION: HAM GRENADE

DaVita; Northwest Harley-Davidson; Harborstone Credit Union; Brothers in Arms; Caliber Home Loans (formerly known as Cobalt Mortgage); AUSA-Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter; SGT Audie Murphy Club; Navy Federal Credit Union; Auburn Volkswagen; Fixit Auto Body of Gig Harbor; Support America's Armed Forces; and the Hawks Prairie Rotary Club. 

PIERCE MILITARY AND BUSINESS ALLIANCE DONORS

Harborstone Credit Union; The Boeing Company C-17 Program; Support America's Armed Forces; GEICO Local Office; Tactical Tailor; American Lake Credit Union; Cargill and Associates; Lakewood Chamber of Commerce; Pet Brigade; Northwest Airlifter/The Ranger; Lemay-Pierce County Refuse; Patriot's Landing; Cannon Construction Inc.; Saint Martin's University; Northwest Harley-Davidson; Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel; Caliber Home Loans (formerly known as Cobalt Mortgage); RE/MAX; Auburn Volkswagen; Little Caesar's Pizza; American Red Cross-Mount Rainier Chapter; US Family Health Plan; Sumner RV; The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse; Olympic Eagle Distributing; Best Western Premier Plaza Hotel & Conference Center.

November 11, 2014 at 2:27pm

Tacoma honors veterans at War Memorial Park

Members of the Washington Army National Guard’s Honor Guard prepare for the Day of Remembrance Service held at the War Memorial Park in Tacoma. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Remembrance is a simple experience.

At exactly 11 a.m. at the War Memorial Park in Tacoma, several hundred veterans, family members, friends and a handful of elected officials met on a cold and windy morning overlooking the Narrows Bridges to remember all veterans.

"We are here to pay honor to those who have served," said Bill Baarsma, a former mayor of Tacoma.

The Tacoma Historical Society and the Edward B. Rhodes/Parkland, Post 2 American Legion presented the eighth annual Day of Remembrance Service.

>>> Cadet Senior Chief Petty Officer Chris Godfrey stood at attention during the service. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"This is becoming a wonderful tradition," comment Col. Andy Leneweaver, USA (Ret). "It's also interesting to note that this ceremony is the only one being done within Tacoma."

Washington Army National Guard soldiers and Stadium High School Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps carried the colors.

>>> Approximately 250 veterans, family members, friends and elected officials attended the eighth Day of Remembrance Ceremony. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The Brass Unlimited played one patriotic song after another, the notes sometimes becoming lost in the high winds.

Speakers were short and to the point as they thanked veterans for their service.

For one veteran, the ceremony by the Narrows brought a wistful smile.

"It is good to be remembered," said Charles Johnson, a 94-year old World War II veteran of Omaha Beach.

>>> Charles Johnson, a 94-year old Army veteran of World War II and Omaha Beach, smiled broadly during the ceremony. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

September 23, 2014 at 9:43am

Never Forget: Vietnam and POW/MIA Recognition Day event in Olympia

Dan Swisher, a Vietnam War veteran, is recognized for service during the POW and MIA Recognition Event Sept. 19, 2014 at the Capitol Plaza in Olympia.

Realizing the impact of Prisoner of War and Missing in Action soldiers may be a little difficult for those not directly affected. That is, until watching a family member fight back tears during a Vietnam and POW/MIA Recognition Day event held Friday in front of the Capitol building in Olympia.

"It's an honor. It was a hard time and difficult time for the nation, as well as those of us that were serving," said Vietnam veteran and Washington Military Department Chief State Finance officer Daniel Swisher. "It's a lot of pride of nation for us. These people have given so much of their own lives to make this country what it is, and to forget that or not to honor that is just a tragedy."

Swisher was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969, and during Friday's ceremony he shared the impact of returning from Vietnam without a close friend with whom he had deployed as well as the sacrifices and risks of every deployed service member.

"It's important that we pass these stories on to our children, and they pass them on to their children, so we don't forget," Swisher said.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1986, and more than 80,000 service members from the U.S. are still considered to be "missing in action."

>>> Minute Man Riders conducted a joint motorcycle ride as part of the POW and MIA Recognition Event at the Capitol Plaza in Olympia.  The ride started outside of Camp Murray and ended at the Capitol in Olympia. Photo credit: Gary Lott

That's more than 80,000 family members and friends who were never able to thank their service members for their combat service or feel that euphoria of embrace when welcoming them back home into their arms.

"The 50th Vietnam Commemoration is to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war (POW), or listed as missing in action (MIA), for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans," said Brig. Gen. John Tuohy of the Washington National Guard during the ceremony.

>>> Col. Gregory Allen, the event's master of ceremonies, expresses his gratitude to the family members of POW and MIA servicemembers during a POW/MIA Recognition Event. Photo credit: Gary Lott

Events such as this highlight the special partnership between the Washington National Guard, the Washington Department of Veterans' Affairs and National Guard Association of Washington that take place throughout the year.

Brig. Gen. Wallace Turner, commander of the Washington National Guard and the 6,200 citizen-soldiers that serve the United States of America and the state of Washington, was also on hand to read the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

"In recognition of a chapter in our nation's history that must never be forgotten, let us renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country's call in Vietnam and those who awaited their safe return," said Turner, reading from President Obama's Vietnam Commemoration. "While no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifice, let us remember that it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor."

Since Memorial Day 2012, the Federal Government has partnered with local governments, private organizations and communities across America to honor and show thanks to the generation of service members who embarked upon one of the most challenging missions in U.S. history.

Along with the Washington Military Department and National Guard, which conducted the Sept. 19 ceremony at the Winged Victory Memorial at the Capitol, the Washington National Guard Military Funeral Honors performed the Honor Guard ceremony; the National Guard Association of Washington (NGAW) provided the traditional wreath; and the 133rd Army National Guard Band performed the event's music.

"The Washington Military Department, Washington Department of Veterans Affairs and Washington National Guard do a great job of honoring all these vets," said Swisher. "No one's forgetting, and that's truly special in itself."

Filed under: Veterans, Ceremony, Olympia, Memorial,

September 16, 2014 at 2:55pm

Remembering Our POWs and MIAs: JBLM hosts commemorative ride

Thirty-three bikers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord took part in a ride honoring the 2014 POW/MIA Remembrance Week. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The bikers showed up.

Some rode in individually; others rode in groups of two or three.

All represented Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"It's one team, one fight, right?" commented Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Morain as we stood in a parking lot next to Memorial Grove at McChord Field and watched as the riders gathered.

Morain welcomed the airmen and soldiers as they climbed off their Harleys and Hondas.

"I wanted to do something here at JBLM in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day, and the opportunity to do so just presented itself," he added.

Traditionally observed across the country on the third Friday of September, it is a time for Americans to remember those who were prisoners of war (POWs) or are still missing in action (MIA) and their family members.

The symbol of the day is the POW/MIA Flag.

Designed in 1971 during the Vietnam War by Newt Heisley to honor POWs and MIAs, he created a simply black and white flag featuring a guard tower, barbed wire and the visage of a gaunt young man.

Other than the American flag, the POW/MIA flag is the only one to ever fly over the White House.

More than 78,000 Americans are unaccounted for from World War II; more than 8,100 are unaccounted for from the Korean War, and over 2,500 are unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

"We gather here today to remember our POWs and MIA individuals," said Senior Master Sgt. Sean Judkins.

"They have displayed the core values of our Armed Forces - loyalty, duty respect selfless service, honor courage, integrity commitment, excellence and devotion to duty."

After a short safety briefing by Judkins, the riders headed out to share hot dogs and stories with veterans at the Washington State Soldiers Home in Orting.

>>> Spc. Benjamin Thibodeau, 551st Medical Logistics Company, prepares for a Remembrance Ride to the Washington State Soldiers home in Orting. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"We ride in their name and honor," said Spc. Benjamin Thibodeau, 551st Medical Logistics Company.

For a schedule of events for POW/MIA Remembrance Week, visit www.lewis-mcchord.army.mil/calendar.html.

September 10, 2014 at 7:37am

Wednesday Morning Joe: Obama's three points tonight, ISIS vs al Qaeda, rocket dodging vehicle, Pixar supercut ...

99th Ground Combat Training Squadron participate in a fragmentation coffee pot training class at Silver Flag Alpha, Nev. This is the last time the course will take place at Silver Flag. Original photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen

GRAB A COFFEE POT AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 9.10.14 >>>

Tonight, President Barack Obama will outline his plan for combating the ISIS terror group. A senior administration official says he'll focus on three major themes: the threat posed by ISIS, his strategy to address that threat and proposals on how to fight and destroy the militant group.

Obama is reportedly open to ordering airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria targets in Syria in what would be a significant escalation of the military mission against the terror group.

Obama told leaders of Congress that he did not need for them to authorize his strategy to fight Islamic State, before he addresses Americans on the matter.  

The Long War: No end in sight for America in the Middle East.

ISIS vs. al Qaeda: Terror groups battle for hearts of young jihadists.

House members on Tuesday voted to condemn Obama for failing to notify Congress about plans to exchange five Taliban detainees for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Russia carried out a successful test of its new Bulava intercontinental nuclear missile today and will perform two more test launches in October and November.

Ukraine's president said today Russia had removed the bulk of its forces from his country, raising hopes for a peace drive now underway after five months of conflict in which more than 3,000 people have been killed.

Russia said emphatically on Tuesday it did not want Ukraine to become a NATO member, describing such a possibility as an "unprecedented challenge to European security."

Ukraine isn't the only place where Russia is stirring up trouble. Since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Moscow has routinely supported secessionists in bordering states, to coerce those states into accepting its dictates. Its latest such effort is unfolding in the South Caucasus.

The first veteran provided an exoskeleton that enables him to walk will be in California as part of a veteran's health summit.

The military wants a vehicle that can dodge rockets by itself.

Future Army grenade could kill enemies hiding behind walls.

The Air Force awaits a legal opinion whether an atheist can opt out of the phrase "so help me God" in his re-enlistment oath.

In one of the most ambitious product launches in its history, Apple unveiled two new iPhones, a smartwatch and a mobile payments platform yesterday.

Apple Inc's embrace of wireless charging for its new Watch may be a defining moment for a technology that's languished for years amid competing standards and consumer confusion.

Watch: Frances McDormand and Bill Murray stare at rural things.

Frozen food critic realizes what he's done, quits show mid-episode.

John Oliver gives Russia's horny space geckos a proper musical sendoff.

Trippy toonrific ...

ROYGBIV: A Pixar Supercut from Rishi Kaneria on Vimeo.

LINK: Original photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen

August 16, 2014 at 9:11am

Museum of Glass sets up Hot Shop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion

Spc. Jans Ruiz and Staff Sgt. Jose Munoz work on a piece of glass art as part of the Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program put on by the Museum of Glass. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Working with 4,500 degrees of blue flame can be therapeutic.

"This is a great program," explained Lt. Col. Jeff Mosso, commander, Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB). "We are the only WTB in the country to have this type of therapy, and this program continues to grow along with our partnership with the Museum of Glass."

Welcome to the Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program presented by the Museum of Glass.

Last week, the Tacoma-based museum brought for the first time its Mobile Hot Shop to Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion and set up a portable shop in the unit's courtyard.

Soldiers and their families had the opportunity to watch demonstrations and work with flame and glass in the pursuit of art and healing.

>>> The Museum of Glass' glassblowing program offers JBLM's Wounded Warriors an opportunity for hands-on glassblowing and life skills for transitioning to civilian life. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"Who would've thought glass is so malleable," said Sgt. 1st Class James Wolfe as he shaped a glass bead. "I'm looking forward to more classes!"

Unique to the event, several children will be selected to take part in the Museum's Kids Design Glass and watch their drawings be transformed into three dimensional glass sculptures.

The Museum's affiliation with JBLM began about a year ago when artist Dale Chihuly initiated contact through his sponsorship of Military Day at the Museum.

Since then, more than 1,500 soldiers and their families have enjoyed hands-on activities, glassblowing demonstrations and gallery experiences.

"These soldiers are the fastest learning students we've met," said Greg Owen, Hot Shop Heroes program coordinator. "Their focus and direction is very impressive."

The glassblowing program offers soldiers a number of benefits to include improved dexterity, fine motor coordination and core strength.

"The activity here is one of mindfulness and teamwork," explained Erin Carpenter, a recreational therapist with the WTB.

"The soldiers have to focus on one thing at a time, as they work together, much like they do in the military, to create something. They also leave with a sense of accomplishment."

As Carpenter talked, Spc. Jans Ruiz and Staff Sgt. Jose Munoz worked together to shape a piece of molten glass into a Popsicle.

As they turned and sniped away at the glass, they received encouragement from one of the museum's instructors.

"You guys are doing a great job," commented Rich Langley. "This is starting to look really good."

Nearby on a table, Ja'Dirah and Jo'Siah Howard drew pictures with the hope of seeing their drawings becoming pieces of art.

"This is a wonderful program for them and for me," commented their father, Master Sgt. Marvin Howard, a wounded warrior. "Just great."

>>> As Master Sgt. Marvin Howard watches, his children Ja'Dirah and Jo'Siah Howard draw pictures that may be created into glass art as part of the Museum of Glass' Hot Shop Heroes: Healing With Fire program. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

July 18, 2014 at 4:20pm

Gold Star Wives, Gold Star Service: Organization holds national convention in Western Washington

A Gold Star Wife pauses for a moment of reflection during a memorial ceremony at the Tahoma National Cemetery. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Suzanne Gerstner summed up neatly the reason for standing in front of the flagpole at the heart of the Tahoma National Cemetery.

"We're here to pay tribute to our fallen spouses," said the Gold Star Wife from Florida. 

The gold star on her lapel is representative of having lost a spouse serving in the military.

"We will not forget them."

The Gold Star Wives of America, a non-profit, was founded before the end of World War II.

Its purpose remains to provide support for the spouses and children of those who lost their lives while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

>>> Incorporated on Dec. 15, 1945 the Cold Star Wives have 10,000 members nationwide with more than 60 active chapters. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Eighty-six wives from around the country are meeting this week in Seattle for its 69th National Convention.

The Tahoma Chapter hosted the three-day convention, which held a short ceremony this morning at the Tahoma National Cemetery.

"What a beautiful day," enthused chaplain Andrena Taylor.  "And this is a beautiful place to lay our loved ones."

>>> Eighty-six Gold Star Wives from around the country attended the 69th Gold Star Wives National Convention this past week.Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

On April 5, 1945, four widows - who did not even receive a flag or letter from the government for their sacrifice - met in Marie Jordan's apartment in New York City and began the organization.

Not long after, Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Franklin Roosevelt, joined the group and became one of the original signers when the organization was chartered as a non-profit.

Today, the organization holds a Congressional Charter under title 36 of the United States Code under public law 96-497.

Over the years, Gold Star Wives of America have worked quietly to support each other and their survivors. 

They have also worked for and received greater recognition.

On April 5 of this year, Congress designated the day as "Gold Star Wives Day."  The intent is to publically recognize the sacrifice made by service members and their spouses in support of the nation.

"This day provides an opportunity to honor the members of Gold Star Wives of America, a volunteer organization that has assisted widows and survivors of fallen service members," said Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina).

"By designating April 5, 2014 as ‘Gold Star Wives Day,' this resolution promotes awareness of the dedication and sacrifice of the families of America's fallen soldiers and veterans."

>>> Gold Star Wife and National Chaplain Andrena Taylor thanked the Tahoma Chapter for its hospitality and hard work. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The organization has a strong local connection.

"You have here today the spouses of service members who gave their lives in all of this country's war since the organization was founded," said Arlene Murray, president of the Tahoma Chapter.

"We are honored to be able to serve and remember those who have served."

The local chapter meets every third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. at the AmVets Post #1 in Tacoma.

For more information about the Gold Star Wives of America, visit www.goldstarwives.org.

For more information about the Tahoma Chapter, email Murray at a.murray2293@gmail.com.

Filed under: Veterans, Memorial, Military,

July 1, 2014 at 7:02am

Tuesday Morning Joe: More US troops to Iraq, ceasefire over, ISIS > al Qaeda, best albums of 2014 ...

C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Fires Brigade, Arkansas Army National Guard, throw coffee during the urban operations portion of the Army National Guard's National Best Warrior Competition at Fort Benning, Ga. Original photo by Sgt. Jerry Boffen

GRAB A CUP AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 7.1.14 >>>

President Obama told Congress that he is deploying about 200 more troops to Iraq to bolster security at the U.S. Embassy and airport in Baghdad.

Violence in Iraq could delay the delivery of American F-16 fighter jets to the Baghdad government after contractors had to be evacuated from a key air base.

Sunnis and Kurds abandoned the first meeting of Iraq's new parliament on Tuesday after Shi'ites failed to name a prime minister to replace Nuri al-Maliki.

Secretary of State John Kerry stressed late Monday that time is running out to strike a final nuclear deal with Iran.

How ISIS is overshadowing al Qaeda.

U.S. senators are readying a measure that would for the first time revise the legal underpinning for America's fight against violent Islamic groups.

Ukrainian forces struck at pro-Russian separatist bases in eastern regions with air and artillery strikes today after President Petro Poroshenko announced he would not renew a ceasefire but go on the offensive to rid Ukraine of "parasites".

The general in charge of U.S. and allied forces in Europe recommended more troops be sent to the region.

The four biggest challenges the next VA secretary faces.

For the first time in the Navy's 236-year history, a woman will be pinned with a fourth star.

The Pentagon wants to partner with allies to counter weapons of mass destruction.

Japan's government approves larger military role.

This dude is lucky.

Too Much Free Time: This guy has a hands-free technique for putting on his pants that is as ridiculous as it is effective.

NPR lists the best albums and songs of 2014.

Community has been renewed ... by Yahoo.

Denis Leary is returning to FX with a rock 'n' roll comedy.

See the trailer for The Skeleton Twins, a new movie starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig.

Kevin Smith visited J.J. Abrams' Star Wars set.

Wheeeeeee!

LINK: Original photo by Sgt. Jerry Boffen

June 22, 2014 at 1:49pm

Words & Photos: 64th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration in Olympia

Col. Paul Bontrager, deputy commanding general, 7th Infantry Division, helps a member of the Korean delegation lay a wreath. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill captured the mood of the moment when he said, "Old soldiers may fade away, but we haven't done that."

He made the remark during the 64th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration held on the campus of the State Capitol in Olympia June 21.

Often referred to as the Forgotten War, approximately 400 veterans, family members and friends attended the event.

The Washington Korean War Meritorious Veterans League, the Washington-Tacoma Korean American Association and the Seattle Chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council sponsored the event.

The Korean War was a war between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). 

The war began in June 1950 when communist forces from North Korea invaded South Korea. The United States intervened in support of South Korea. Fighting ended in July 1953.

>>> Honor Guard soldiers assigned to 17th Field Artillery Brigade don ascots just prior to the beginning of the 64th Korean War Commemoration in Olympia. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"Sixty-four years ago the attack marked one of the first actions of the Cold War," said Col. Paul Bontrager, deputy commanding general, 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"We have a heritage of respect; we have forged an alliance that continues today."

Reminiscences amongst Korean War veterans, speeches of remembrance and renewed friendship and numerous wreath layings characterized the hour-long ceremony.

>>> Retired Col. Don Roberts, who served two tours of duty in Korea and 26 years in the Army.  Note the two stars on his Combat Infantry Badge. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"It's really good to be here," commented Col. Don Roberts, a 26-year Army veteran who served two tours during the Korean War.

Above his ribbons was a rare Combat Infantry Badge with two stars.  He said only 400 have been awarded and that only 100 awardees are still alive.

Korean War veterans will fade away, but they will not be forgotten for the bravery and sacrifice they demonstrated that created today's free South Korea.

>>> Korean War veterans placed white chrysanthemums and saluted at the Korean War Memorial during the 64th  Korean War Commemoration. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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