Tag Archives: OIF

From Eric H. (Veteran of the USMC, Vice President of Investor Relations for an Oil and Gas company)

Dear Warriors,

I would like to express my pride and appreciation to all who have served our country in the Armed Forces. It’s an honor to be a part of such a distinguished group that promotes the values that made the USA great. I think back fondly on my time as a Marine and realize I will probably never experience that same kind of camaraderie and teamwork. The experience made me a much better person and is something I try to live up to a on a daily basis.

I send a special thanks to those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your sacrifices have made us all safer. I’m certain you will continue to achieve great things whether you decide to stay in or to join me in the civilian world.

Semper Fi,

Eric Hagen

Vice President, Investor Relations, Oil and Gas Company

USMC, Captain, Infantry (1992-1997), 2d Battalion, 3d Marines

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Eric H.

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From S. King (U.S. Army Veteran, 8 years)

To my Brothers and Sisters in arms,

I want you to know that I genuinely care about you and think of you daily. We as a nation have been at war for over a decade, and many, if not most of you have pulled combat tours. It is a brave and respectful profession, and I know you don’t always get the individual praise and acknowledgement that you deserve.

The best advice that I can share with you, is that if things are getting mentally hard to handle and you need some of the weight lifted from your shoulders, reach out and talk to someone rather than trying to carry the entire burden alone. This may be hard to do at first, but I promise it will be worth it. The most important thing that I learned is that you cannot take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself first.

I am happy and grateful to be alive today, living a more peaceful life than I ever imagined possible. It has surely been a struggle living with my anger and service injuries, but in recent years, I have quit smoking, am educating myself on healthy food choices, am exercising as much as my body will let me, and have finally learned that happiness is a choice. How I react to situations is a choice. It is a new concept for me, but I am beginning to see things in a whole new light.

The only reason that I am sharing this is that I want you to know that when things feel like they are so broken, so out of alignment, and you think they will never be “right” again, hang in there and reach out and talk to someone. Know that you have choices and that YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. You are not expendable, you truly do matter, and you are not alone.

In my eyes, we are all brothers and sisters…we are family, regardless of branch of service or rank. Every day I think of our country’s veterans, the brothers lost by my side, and those of you who are currently serving, including my nephew and my two boys. I cannot look at Old Glory flying in the wind without thinking of you.

I am grateful and thankful for every one of you.

This We’ll Defend,

S. King

S. King

S. King

 

From Andrea H. (Dental Hygienist)

My father in-law was a veteran of WWII where he served in the Asiatic/Pacific Theater. He enlisted after Pearl Harbor while a senior in high school. I was very proud of him and really enjoyed spending time listening to his stories. Even with macular degeneration, he managed to type up his memories and his service record. I made it my mission to help him get his medals as he had never received them. And we accomplished that. He truly was a man from the Greatest Generation. He never knew a stranger and was always there to help anyone who needed it.

My son served for eight years in the USMC, and did a tour of Iraq. I’m very proud of my son’s service to his country, but I also know that the son we sent over there is not the one who came home. Although this is not all negative, as a mother you never want your child to have war experiences. But at the same time, I know he was well trained to do his job, and he was supported by his fellow Marines.

I am very proud of both of these men in my family. Some of the hardships they endured, like 48 hours straight of being shelled while in a foxhole on a beach in the South Pacific, or being in 116 degrees in the desert while wearing full combat gear, Kevlar vest, and ammo vest in blowing desert sand and living with such creatures as the camel spider, we can’t even relate to.

What these men, Our men, and their families went through for us, it seems we could never repay. What I try to do is to always walk up to anyone in a uniform and thank them for their service. Even if all they are wearing to identify them as military is one of those hats.

God Bless our veterans for all they gave to our country. No matter the politics of the time, these men and women didn’t even think twice about putting their lives on the line for all of us. And God bless the families at home. Not only do I want to give them my gratitude, but I also want us as a country to make sure to give them all the benefits and pay that they deserve.

Support our Troops,

Andy (Andrea) H.

This is me with my son Brandon.  I'm holding a photograph of my father-in-law.
This is me with my son Brandon. I’m holding a photograph of my father-in-law.
My son with one of his sons.
My son with one of his sons.

 

From Robert K. (Professional Photographer)

Pin-Ups have been a part of American history especially throughout the military. It’s most iconic period was during WWII. Those images reminded those that were fighting what they were fighting for and gave them the strength to continue fighting on. In honor of that history I love creating pin-ups and think they are still just as important today. These pin-ups represent how thankful I am for the sacrifices those in the military make to protect our country and our freedom!

Robert K. MsBombshell-1 MsBombshell-3

From Ernie M. (Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Retired Pilot)

At the tender age of nineteen, I got my first “real” job. Sure I had newspaper routes, hardware store clerk and gas station attendant duties prior to this job, but this was “real.” I was hired as a Fleet Service Helper, a cleaner for Trans World Airlines, a premier airline in that day. Within 3 months, I was transferred to a Ground Service Helper position, a “gas man.” That involved a 10 cent an hour pay raise and liberation from “honey bucket” duties!

Up on the wings, fueling aircraft, I would occasionally visit with the Flight Engineer. I soon recognized that airline operations were good, but working as a cockpit crew member was more desirable than any ground job. I joined the U. S. Air Force and enlisted as an Aviation Cadet. After a seven year career in the USAF piloting KC-97 and KC-135 aircraft, I returned to TWA as a Flight Crew member and retired 28 years later as a B-747 Captain.

My work experience taught me many things. Don’t be afraid to start a career on the bottom. A good work ethic will give opportunities for promotion. The military gives lots of responsibilities and authority to young and somewhat inexperienced personnel. That doesn’t happen in the civilian world. Feel proud in what you do. You should feel as good about doing an excellent job as a Captain as you did as a Cleaner. Remember, “A chain has many links; all links must be strong or the job will not be done with success.”

Welcome home to the United States. Hopefully your future will feed on good events you may have experienced.

(My 22 year old grandson is visiting on leave with his bomb sniffing dog, “Issi” after their tour in Afghanistan. He will soon be experiencing a civilian transition when his tour is up next year.)

 

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From Hunter R. (Student – Age 16)

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

Opening my eyes this morning, the first thing I saw was my room, as humble and unchanged as ever. I heard the cliché bird chirping of my alarm going off and I groaned as I forced myself out of bed. There is nothing to be afraid of in my morning. The monotony is satisfying and something that I know will stay consistent.

As a protector of this country, there is not that satisfying monotony. Waking up in a different area constantly, to new sounds and strange people, is normal. During times of fighting, fear is evident from the time your eyes open to the time your eyes close.

Fighting for something you consider worthwhile is the most courageous endeavor you can face. Anyone can become accustomed to routines, but it takes a true hero to be willing to face the unknown. As warriors, fear is not a wall, but an obstacle that can be taken over with willpower. There is nothing more valiant than to fight for what you believe in. Thank you for putting yourselves into the unknown, and being the epitome of strength.

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From Rob A. (Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Pilot, Writer)

Wendell was a Flight Instructor in the B-17 during WWII. Twenty-five years ago he saw something that few others saw from a long-haired, want-to-be metal head, social reject. His kind words helped steer me onto a path towards becoming an Air Force pilot. His widow told me she framed three letters written to Wendell. One writer stated that he would follow Wendell “To hell and back.” The second writer simply told Wendell “to go to hell” and my letter that I sent to his family after he passed away. If Wendell taught me anything, it is to “Not be afraid to live your dreams.”

Bert was a Marine in the South Pacific assigned as a Crew Chief to Pappy Boyington’s outfit. Bert’s simple stories of life and death drive home the reality of those desperate times. Bert has just celebrated his ninety-seventh birthday and the one constant in life other than his faith a Higher Power is the oath he made to himself as a starving Marine. Never pass up chow.

Danny was drafted to fight in Vietnam. He served his tour and returned home to a land divided. He was one of those who directly suffered the taunts and spit of fellow Americans. The shaming nearly ended his life. In the months after he returned, Danny threw all of his medals into the river. I pray that no one ever has to relive the days when one felt shame to wear the uniform in public. After Vietnam, Danny discovered that the key to life is love.

I served for thirteen years as an Air Force C-130 pilot deploying to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. We all join for different reasons. Some want adventure while others do it for the benefits. Many didn’t have a choice because of a draft or it was their only way out of a bad place in life. The reasons are as numerous as the stars. We learn tradition, honor, and sacrifice in basic training, our Training Instructors teach us that the only way to survive is to rely on those in the fight.

When the chips are on the line, the odds are stacked against us and it is time to “Go Downtown” we all realize that we don’t fight for nation, glory, fortune or fame. We fight for the person next to us; we move mountains for someone who is in a bad way just because we know they would do it for us. We live by the code of “No One Left Behind” and dare the enemy to try to stop us.

I love the phrase used by Vietnam Veterans, “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.” When a person takes the oath and wears the uniform, they stand on the path started by our forefathers at Valley Forge. Like Wendell, Bert, Danny and all those who served, you are an American Hero. I salute you, encourage you and pray for you. Give Em Hell!

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Iraq

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From Koji K. (Amateur Historian)

The day after we moved into my Long Beach neighborhood in 2001, an elderly man hobbled across the street to help my very pregnant wife wheel the trash bins out to curbside. “The old man” living across the street was a World War II combat veteran. When I learned he had fought against the Japanese in the SW Pacific, I feared the worst because of our Japanese ancestry.

Twelve years later, I was honored to have been asked to be a pallbearer at his funeral…to carry him on his last journey on this Earth. I was ashamed to have even thought he would show hatred towards me twelve years earlier after having fought for our country.

His handshake was always firm and warm and he loved me as his own son. He taught me forgiveness as even he had learned to forgive in spite of having given his all on “those stinking islands”, referring to Guadalcanal, Rabaul and Okinawa.

Now he is gone. But then and now, I and my two young kids – whom he treated so lovingly – thank him for all we have today. I prized his friendship, wisdom and most of all, his sacrifices for his country so long ago – so much so that I named the child my wife was carrying that day twelve years ago after him. It was an honor to name my son Jack.

None of what we have today would be possible if not for not for the unselfish sacrifices of our men and women in uniform…such as you. Because of our armed forces, we have food on our tables, freedom and are free of tyranny in our daily lives. While not perfect, we live in the greatest country in the world because of you. Let no one tell you any different.

We welcome you back home and thank you.

Gratefully,

Koji K.

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From Terri J. (Stained Glass Designer)

To those who have served:

I am proud to be an American in every sense of the word. I still get chills when I sing the Star- Spangled Banner and I have been singing it for many years. An acknowledgement of “Thanks” to both you and your families. To our soldiers for risking your lives and to your families for not having you around. I have always loved an old Trace Adkins song called “Til the Last Shot’s Fired.” I have shared a small bit for those who are not familiar.

“Say a prayer for peace
For every fallen son
Set our spirits free
Let us lay down our guns
Sweet mother Mary we’re so tired
But we can’t come home ’til
the last shot’s fired.“
-Trace Adkins

Thank you.

To all the men and women still serving this country, I hope you return home safe and soon.

Peace and blessings,

Terri J

Terri

From Ryan W. (Engineer – Age 36)

 

We take for granted each day what an amazing place we live in, and more importantly, why this place is so great.  it is so because of our service men and women  I’d like to thank each of those who helped create such a great country and those who are still serving to keep us safe and free.  What each of you is doing matters and is appreciated.  Thanks for your service.

Sincerely,

Ryan W.

 

 

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From Josh S. (USMC Veteran, Athlete, Gold Medal Olympian)

To all the veterans out there that are just sitting on the couch maybe not doing what they need to be doing, that are not really getting out there because they’re thinking about things that they could be doing at this point in life but can’t because of their injuries,

Find something you used to do in the past.  Try it again.  See if it works out for you and if not…try something new.

Josh S. (veteran of the United States Marine Corps, athlete, served as alternate Captain for the U.S. Paralympic Team that won the gold medal at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.  Scored the game winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Russia in the gold medal game)

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The game winning goal that won the Olympic gold medal!
The game winning goal that won the Olympic gold medal!

From Ken B. (Fitness Enthusiast)

To the men and women who fight and serve our country,

I wanted to take the time the first let you know how appreciative I am for your service and your dedication to our country and our liberty.

Your hard work and effort has not gone unnoticed. Countless people around the country not only support you but are praying for you. I am one of the many.

I do make it a point to smile, wave or even say thank you to military personnel when I see them here in the states.

There is a sense of pride when I see you. Knowing that we have the best men and women protecting our liberty and laying their lives on the line daily.

Please know that we love you, we are praying for you and we support you and all that you do. Thank you very much for all that you do.  Stay strong.

Sincerely, Ken

Ken B.