Saturday, February 17, 2007

Is That You?

Wow. Real Internet service. The land-line and their $100. mo bill is out the door and the $60. mo. Sprint broadband is plugged into the USB port and I almost feel strange.

So I'll think of something to post. Just had to try it out. Nice.

Well, I trust you've all been reviewing for the test since I've been gone.

Dad is at home from the hospital. Thanks so much for all your prayers.

Back in a bit,

Here It Is ... I know you've all been waiting on this!

Yippeee! It's that time again.

Review for Test Three is posted as of 2:44 AM February 16, 2007.

Check out the prize at the end! Let's have a lot of testers!

Test will be posted by COB Monday, February 19, 2007. Test should be emailed to NLT COB Sunday,February 25, 2007.

Good luck and feel free to email me if you have any questions, using this in the subject area: TEST 3 Question.

The Teach

Virgie Bell's View: HYPE-ocrites

No matter what, I still believe that the American People will support the troops. As usual the liberal loonies in Washington have a hard time separating fact from fiction. Probably because they are just so much fiction. Al Gore is tooling around the world in his own private jet doing his utmost the sell his book on global warming, and at the same time doing more than most small countries do to contribute to the very problem that he warns us about. As usual it is the old "everyone but me," mentality. It is not just true of the liberals; I saw Dennis Hassert drive away in one of those little things that runs on pabulum and mother’s milk and he went about two blocks, jumped into that old dinosaur guzzling SUV and tooled on home. It is do as I say and not as I do. But hey, they are the brains and we need their superior wisdom to make it through this nuclear minefield. If anyone is still asleep at the wheel, please wake up. Bush is up a little in the polls and I can't help but think it is our usual vote against someone that causes this. I think our troops know that the same people who believe in them and the military leaders who guide them are still upper most in our love and respect. They are daily in our prayers. Pay no attention to the idiots in Washington. Just be glad they are in DC and not out on the battlefield with you. At least we get to vote them out as well as in, while as far as our bold and our brave warriors are concerned...well, we will always SUPPORT THE TROOPS!
Sorry for the lack of posting. Our Internet service again. We're going to see what we can do different in order to stay connected.

Thanks for your patience.

Back soon, I hope!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Never Ruffled

February 16

EVEN were I never to speak to you, you would be well rewarded for setting apart this time, if you only sat still and longed for Me, if you just drew hungering breaths for Me, as you do for the fresh pure air of the open.

Be still, be calm. Wait before Me. Learn of Me, patience, humility, peace. When will you be absolutely unruffled whatever happens? You are slow to lean your lesson. In the rush and work and worry, the very seeking a silence must help.

In bustle so little is accomplished. You must learn to take the calm with you in the most hurried days.

Russell, A. J., ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.

Test Review for Test Three: Part One

Test Review will of course be a little different from the test itself, but if you know the info on the review, you won't have any problem with the test itself. Photos are not shown here.

Multiple Choice= 4 pts. each for a total of 20 pts.

1. This poster depicts:

a.) USN Ensign George Gay Torpedo Sqd. 8 dropping his torpedo at the Battle of Midway. After clearing carrier deck he is shot down, rear gunner was already dead and the rest of Torpedo Squadron 8 have all been shot down. Ensign George Gay would be forever known from this day on as "Sole Survivor".

b. The Capture of U-505 by USS Guadalcanal on June 4, 1944

c. The Japanese tried again the next day, this time with 27 "Betty" bombers fitted with aerial torpedoes and an escort of 15 "Zeros".

d. none of the above


2. Ensign Gay

a. is the Artist of Fallen Heroes Project

b. was the sole survivor of the Torpedo Squadron 8

c. De’on’s First Sergeant in Panama

d. both a & b


3. General MacArthur

a. "General MacArthur" was prize fleece buck at a 1942 Goat Show and Sale at Rocksprings, Texas. He sold at auction for $530.

b. served as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Southwest Pacific theater during World War Two.

c. ran in the primaries for the highest office in our nation in 2004

d. both a & b


4. “a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by an external force.” is a statement of:

a. Ensign Gay’s to Life Magazine’s editor after he was the Sole Survivor of the Torpedo Squadron 8.

b. Newton’s 1st Law

c. thought of Benjamin Franklin’s expressed in the 1868 publication of “Bright Ideas”

d. was never posted on Gunz Up.


5. The Bicentennial Inaugural involves which 2 dates?

a. 1786-1886
b. 1789-1999
c. 1789-1989
d. none of the above

5. This photo

a. is an example of a literary cartoon
b. is from an episode of I Love Lucy
c. was drawn by the editor of Gunz Up
d. none of the above

Test Review for Test Three: Part Two

True or False = 2 points each for a total of 20 pts.

REMEMBER: True or False can ruin your life. The WHOLE STATEMENT MUST BE TRUE FOR IT TO BE SO.

6. “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you” is a quote from C. S. Lewis.

7. “…My son joined because of 9/11. He wanted to protect his country. My son turned down 3 scholarships to college to join the Marines. I think it is a calling to serve.” This statement was made by a parent of Lubbock Marine Reserve Unit 787.

8. The Skipper of Torpedo Squadron 8 was Lieut. Commander John Charles Waldron of USARSO.

9. The Skipper and his boys fought in Panama.

10. Specialist Austin finished a 13 month tour at Panama.

11. When Vandegrift returned to Guadalcanal, Holcomb moved on to Pearl Harbor to meet with Nimitz, carrying Halsey's recommendation that, in the future, landing force commanders once established ashore, would have equal command status with Navy amphibious force commanders. At Pearl, Nimitz approved Halsey's recommendation—which Holcomb had drafted—and in Washington so did King. In effect the, the command status of all future Pacific amphibious operations was determined by the events of Guadalcanal. Another piece of news Vandegrift received from Holcomb also boded well for the future of the Marine Corps. Holcomb indicated that if President Roosevelt did not reappoint him, unlikely in view of his age and two terms in office, he would recommend that Vandegrift be appointed the next Commandant.

12. Sergeant John Basilone of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, and Platoon Sergeant Mitchell Paige of the 2d Battalion, both machine gun section heads, were recognized as having performed "above and beyond the call of duty" in the inspiring words of their Army Commendation Medal citations.

13. The Reising gun was designed and developed by noted gun inventor Eugene Reising.

14. Ensign Ulbert M. Moore, called “Whitey” because of the silk down he had for hair, was a cherubic half-pint who became the virtual mascot of the outfit. It was said of Whitey that he could sleep on a picket fence. When he wasn’t sleeping he wore a perpetual smile and enjoyed hugely the razzing he got for his love of slumber.

15. E.L. Fayle transferred into Torpedo Squadron 8 and was KIA next to The Skipper in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Test Review for Test Three: Part Three

Fill in the blanks = 2 pts. each for a total of 20 pts.

16. When the _______spoke of severe difficulties in his last message to them, the boys knew what he meant. He meant red tape, delays, insufficient equipment, lack of ammunition and even torpedoes to practice with. He meant the farmers of the Norfolk countryside who, thoughtless of what the boys were being trained for, complained that their low flying on practice torpedo run-ins was causing their cows to give sour milk, as though the sweet state of their milk had to be preserved along with democracy.

17. Specialist Austin arrived in Panama __________ and Operation Just Cause kicked off on ___________.

18. Charles Gene Abrell (Aug. 31, 1931 - June 10, 1951) was a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps who served with Company ___, ___d Battalion ___st Marines, 1st Division during the _______ War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions and sacrifice of life on June 10, 1951, near Hangnyong, Korea, while advancing his platoon against enemy fire. He hurled himself into an enemy bunker with a live grenade, killing the enemy gun crew and himself in the explosion.

19. Momma Smurf was a nickname given to Private Austin by her drill sergeant at Ft. _______

20. The USS _____ was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center. It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft. Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, _____, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. "It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."

Test Review for Test Three: Part Four

Match the letter with the number = 2 pts. each for a total of 10 pts.

21. Adm Chester W. Nimitz
22. M1918 155mm howitzer
23. Xerox
24. Jews of Jesus’ day
25. Guadalcanal

a. Disease was beginning to fell men in numbers that equalled the battle casualties. In addition to gastroenteritis, which greatly weakened those who suffered its crippling stomach cramps, there were all kinds of tropical fungus infections, collectively known as "jungle rot," which produced uncomfortable rashes on men's feet, armpits, elbows, and crotches, a product of seldom being dry, If it didn't rain, sweat provided the moisture. On top of this came hundreds of cases of malaria.

b. CinCPac

c. artillery crewmen of the 11th Marines

d. Thanx

e. Their day was from sunset to sunset, in eight equal parts. The first watch is from sunset to 9:00 P.M. and moves along accordingly through the fourth watch, which is from 3:00 A.M. to sunrise. Then begins the first hour, from sunrise to 9:00 A.M. and moves along through the fourth hour, 3:00 P.M. to sunset before the first watch begins again.

THE TEST PRIZE and final portion of Test 3: Remember this?

50 cents = 1 pair of sandals

$1.00 = 1 pair of rain boots

Michael T. Larkin


Camp Phoenix, AF

APO, AE 09320

Make Checks Payable to:

Michael Larkin or

The Afghan Children’s Fund

Thanks for your help and please remember you don’t only help out these kids but you are also helping save soldiers lives.


ESSAY: 30 pts.

Choose between Peter Hurd or Michael Reagan (both are artists) and write an essay of approx. 300 words (use your word count on WORD or write a full page (single-space) of text.

As before, don’t worry about spellings or mechanics. I can fix those for publishing. It’s the thought and detail I’m looking for. They are artists. Make me feel their art.

Cumulative points earned on EACH test entered will earn 10 cents for each point. This money will be donated to The Afghan Children’s Fund in the name of the contestant.

Essay winner gets published on Gunz Up and writes up and administers "Test Four," which I will be required to take.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Virgie Bell's View: What?

John Murtha is truly trying to cut funding for the troops in order to stop President Bush sending a surge of troops. What is wrong with this slime ball and what is his problem? He does not deserve to be in on any part of the funding for the troops and yet he is the head of it. Is this what the Democratic Party calls supporting the troops? Is this how the Democratic Party plans to defend our nation? By stopping the funds for them? I am just sick and tired of all the low rotten antics of this new majority. It is truly a disgrace. Is there nothing that we as a nation can do about this or do we just have to stand by and watch? It is a disgrace. SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

FEMALE ON THE FLOOR! Informational

Operational Forces

As the U.S. Army began the last decade of the twentieth century, it faced uncertain times and substantial downsizing, even though on two occasions during FY 90 and 91 it engaged in major military operations. The first was Operation JUST CAUSE, the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989 that resulted in the ouster of dictator Manuel Noriega and the restoration of a popularly elected government. The second was Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, a U.S.-led international coalition assembled to turn back Iraq's blatant aggression against neighboring Ku wait. On both occasions the U.S. Army rose to the task, employing a force made up of the best trained personnel and most modern equipment ever assembled. These operations confirmed the trend enunciated in President George Bush's August 1990 speech at Aspen, Colorado. He spoke of the need to plan for regional conflicts, rather than emphasize a global strategy based on preparation for a Soviet attack in Western Europe. Coupled with this change was the need to reduce the number and complexity of operational plans by calling on each theater to refocus on the increasing threat from regional powers, such as Iraq. Only the operational plans in the Pacific theater remained unchanged during FY 90 and 91.

Despite these new challenges, the public mood continued to call for a smaller military establishment. The end of the Cold War heralded the beginning of a historical process that has traditionally resulted in the drastic downsizing of the military force structure, regardless of long-term policies. Rapidly changing foreign developments and new fiscal realities within the United States, however, have not altered the fact that the world remains a dangerous place. In the words of Secretary of the Army Michael P. W. Stone, "Our nation faces a significantly more complex and varied security environment than at any time in our history. The question we now face is whether our Army is properly structured and equipped to meet the emerging strategic requirements of the 1990s and beyond." The Army continued to maintain a presence throughout the world, although 1990 and 1991 saw the United States turn over more defense responsibilities to other nations.

copied from Source

FEMALE ON THE FLOOR! Western Hemisphere

U.S. Army forces in the western hemisphere are divided into two commands, U.S. Forces Command (FORSCOM), a specified command, and U.S. Army South (USARSO), the Army component of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), a unified command. Based in Panama, USARSO consists of the 193d Infantry Brigade, the 228th Aviation Brigade, the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, the 106th Signal Brigade, the 41st Area Support Group, the 3d Special Operations Support Command, the Military Police Command, the 536th Engineer Battalion, and the U.S. Army Garrison, Panama. The remainder of Army forces in the western hemisphere are part of FORSCOM, which encompasses all combat, combat support, and combat service support units — active and reserve — in CONUS, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In FY 90 FORSCOM had an authorized strength of 1,008,692 and an operating strength of 984,216. In FY 91 the authorized total dropped to 995,138, with an actual operating strength of 966,064.

FORSCOM commanded five armies within CONUS, the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth; the Third U.S. Army (TUSA), a field army which served as U.S. Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT) during Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM; three corps — I Corps, III Corps, and XVIII Airborne Corps; 11 divisions; plus hundreds of attached units of battalion and company size. In FY 91 FORSCOM lost two divisions, the 2d Armored and the 9th (Motorized), although the 199th Infantry Brigade was taken from the 9th Division and restored as an independent unit. The FORSCOM mission included planning and conducting joint exercises, defending the land mass of the United States, planning for the common defense with Canadian authorities, and supporting civil defense. As a major Army command (MACOM), FORSCOM provided trained Army forces ready for combat; commanded its assigned active and reserve components forces located in the United States; supplied training and readiness guidance for Army National Guard (ARNG) units; provided the Army headquarters element for the U.S. Atlantic Command (LANTCOM); and planned for the mobilization and deployment of Army forces in times of crisis or war.

continued in post below

FEMALE ON THE FLOOR: Western Hemisphere (Cont'd)

The invasion of Panama was the first major U.S. armed intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean since Operation URGENT FURY, the 1983 invasion of Grenada. Since May 1988 the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had considered military intervention as a means of thwarting Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega's increasing involvement in drug trafficking. After the May 1989 elections, which Noriega illegally nullified, the United States planned Operation NIMROD DANCER as a means of inserting reinforcements into Panama during a crisis. SOUTHCOM was not satisfied with NIMROD DANCER because it took one to two additional weeks to get supplies to the incoming troops. By that time, reasoned SOUTHCOM commander General Maxwell Thurman, the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) would be ready. Lt. Gen. Carl W. Stiner, commander of XVIII Airborne Corps, noted that NIMROD DANCER would "not produce the desired results. We were not satisfied with the existing plan because it just didn't fit the situation."

U.S. forces had a distinct advantage because more than half of the troops used in Operation JUST CAUSE were based in Panama. Of 25,750 men and women from all services who participated in Operation JUST CAUSE, 13,000 were part of the usual garrison. Yet only 3,027 personnel were on the ground in Panama. Army units already in Panama were the 193d Infantry Brigade and Company C, 3d Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group. The rest of the force deployed from four bases inside CONUS. These included the XVIII Airborne Corps Command Group and the 1st Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina; one infantry brigade and one infantry battalion of the 7th Infantry Division from Fort Ord, California; one battalion from the 5th Infantry Division out of Fort Polk, Louisiana; and the 75th Ranger Regiment from Fort Lewis, Washington, and Forts Stewart and Benning, Georgia. At no time during the deployment did Fort Bragg, home of the XVIII Airborne Corps, lose its Division Ready Brigade (DRB), the rapid reaction force used to respond to crises on a moment's notice. Opposing the Americans was the PDF, made up of 3,500 army troops, 11,000 police and national guardsmen, plus another 1,000 men in the air force and navy.

Operation JUST CAUSE was launched shortly after midnight on 20 December 1989. During the first phase of the attack, 3,360 airborne troops, plus the 193d Infantry Brigade, closed in on Noriega 's stronghold in the center of Panama City. Within sixty hours after President Bush's decision to commit troops, 12,000 reinforcements from CONUS had arrived in Panama. On 3 January 1990 General Noriega, who had take n refuge in the Vatican consulate, surrendered to U.S. troops. After a mopping-up period, President Bush declared Operation JUST CAUSE finished on 31 January, and most of FORSCOM's troops began going home. Casualty figures were 23 American dead (18 Army casualties) and 330 wounded (262 Army casualties). An estimated 314 Panamanian soldiers died and 129 were wounded. Two U.S. Army Rangers were reported killed by friendly fire, and another 15 soldiers were wounded.

Following Operation JUST CAUSE, FORSCOM units supported SOUTHCOM's Operation PROMOTE LIBERTY, a nation-building exercise designed to bolster the newly elected leadership in Panama. The missions of these units included protecting U.S. lives, property, and interests; defending the Panama Canal; and promoting Panamanian confidence in its popularly elected government. The FORSCOM contingent included a light infantry battalion from the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), an aviation team of fourteen UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 7th Infantry Division (Light), an aviation battalion headquarters, and four military police companies. By mid-1990 the deployed strength was 1,185 personnel, though that number was reduced steadily throughout the remainder of the year.

In addition to operations in Panama, FORSCOM units participated in a number of civic actions and drug interdiction operations. In the spring of 1990, personnel from the Second Army aided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in disaster relief following severe flooding in Alabama. In June aviation units from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, helped relieve citizens left homeless by tornados in southern Indiana. In northern California and eastern Oregon, Army personnel from Fort Ord, California , and Fort Lewis, Washington, supported firefighting efforts. Early in FY 90 FORSCOM supported 35 counternarcotic operations; in FY91 the figure jumped to 164. Two FORSCOM operations in support of LANTCOM, Operation BAHAMAS and TURKS CAICOS and Operation BLUEWATER, ran through 1991 and continued into the next fiscal year.

FORSCOM units had no sooner completed Operation JUST CAUSE and various civic action projects than they were alerted to bolster Operation DESERT SHIELD, the U.S. response to Iraqi aggression in Kuwait. Beginning 6 August 1990, FORSCOM formed a battle staff with 24-hour support to monitor deployment to the Persian Gulf. The battle staff remained in place throughout FY 90. According to FORSCOM commander General Edwin H. Burba, Jr., FORSCOM provided oversight for most of the Army's mobilization and deployment effort. General Burba further said that "CONUS Armies were clearly the workhorses of the operation." In excess of 140,000 active component soldiers from more than 5 divisions, along with their affiliated combat support and combat service support units, were sent from CONUS to the Persian Gulf. FORSCOM also called up more than 145,000 National Guardsmen and Army reservists who served either in CONUS, the Persian Gulf, or Europe.

On 1 October 1990, Army Chief of Staff General Carl E. Vuono directed the FORSCOM commander to establish the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) as a major subordinate command. On 31 January 1991, FORSCOM provided a USARC Concept Plan (CONPLAN) that HQDA approved on 14 March. The CONPLAN called for transition of operational functions from FORSCOM and Fourth U.S. Army to USARC from April through September 1991 that would culminate in assumption of command and control of the Fourth Army Reserve units by USARC on 1 October 1991. In addition, First and Second Armies would gradually transfer Reserve functions to USARC during the period of October 1991 through June 1992. Fifth and Sixth Armies would follow by 1 October 1992.

copied from Source Department of the Army Historical Summary: FYs 1990 & 1991

FEMALE ON THE FLOOR! Operation Just Cause

American units involved in the operation

5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)

  • 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment

7th Infantry Division (Light)

  • 27th Infantry Regiment
  • 6/8 Field Artillery Battalion
  • B btry. 2/62 ADA
  • 1st Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment
  • 9th Infantry Regiment

XVIII Airborne Corps

  • 82nd Airborne Division
  • 1st and 2nd Battalions, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
  • 4th battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment

United States Marine Corps

  • Marine Security Forces Battalion Panama
  • 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment
  • FAST Platoon
  • Delta Company, 2nd Light Armored Infantry Battlion
  • Det (G), 2nd BSSG, 2nd FSSG

United States Navy

  • USS Vreeland (FF-1068)

Military Police

  • 511th MP Company (Fort Drum, New York)
  • 988th MP Company (Fort Benning, Georgia)
  • 534th MP Company (Fort Clayton, Panama)
  • HHD, 92nd MP Batallion (Fort Clayton, Panama)
  • 549th MP Company (Fort Davis, Panama)
  • 401st MP Company (Fort Hood, Texas)
  • 16th MP Brigade (Fort Bragg, North Carolina)

1st Special Operations Command

  • 7th Special Forces Group (A)
  • 160th SOAR (A) Night Stalkers
  • SEAL Team 4
  • SEAL Team 6
  • 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta
  • 75th Ranger Regiment

U.S. Southern Command

  • U.S. Army South (USARSO)
  • 193rd Infantry Brigade
  • 154th Signal Battalion
  • 324th Support Group
  • 470th Military Intelligence Brigade
  • Armed Forces Radio and Television Services (AFRTS)
  • 40th Tactical Airlift Squadron (317th Tactical Airlift Wing)
  • 50th Tactical Airlift Squadron (314th Tactical Airlift Wing)
  • 437th Military Airlift Wing
  • 512th Military Airlift Wing
  • 107th Military Intelligence BN

from Wikipedia

Virgie Bell's View: Stuff

I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock in the wee hours this morning. Happiness to me is books to read and as I mentioned before, I have three new ones by Herman Wouk. I had another one started by another author and spent the last two nights finishing it. It was a mystery and also a continuation of a book I had read before. The title of the one I finished is Sliver of Truth by Lisa Unger. She is really pretty good and has a unique style quite different from other mystery writers. Her first book was Beautiful Lies and one really needs to read her work in sequence. I think it would be hard to really catch on otherwise. I was aware of what I’d be reading in my new books by Mr. Wouk and could hardly wait to get started on those. However, having read one novel by Ms. Unger and after much time invested in this novel, I knew it would be hard to pick up again and still hold the thread of the story. At any rate, when I looked at the clock, it was nearly three in the morning.

Anna Nicole Smith, Anna Nicole Smith. Can you believe it? It is as if some really big world leader that affects the War on Terror has died. My heart is sad for her in the fact that somewhere along the way she did not find a greater goal than being a sex symbol. I worry that she passed from this life without finding something more. God alone knows what shaped her life. Of course, anyone can say just about anything about her at this point, and who is around to dispute it? I wonder if no one could have made her choose something more than such a pitiful life style. Then again, you think about a female astronaut that pulled what ours did and an Air Force sergeant that had more or less risen to the top of her chosen profession, and then acted out such deplorable conduct, so one can't keep from wondering what is wrong with us as a society. The sergeant posed nude for Playboy Magazine. Shades of Anna Nicole all over again. What a shame. The female space cadet turned out to be just another jealous woman in lust for another man. Pity. To achieve so much and toss it aside. Guess we never learn. I really have a problem with the Anna Nicole hype though. It is just too much for someone that contributed so little and came to a tragic end. May God have mercy on her and I know He will.

When I look at the entertainment industry today I see how low we set our standards for those we admire. Our politics have become not much more and the entertainment industry is running with the ball. It confirms my opinion about my lack of confidence in Al Gore. He really looked good to me back in the 80's when he was one of the contenders for president. He has fallen continually since that time. I don’t really remember what I liked about him at the time.

At any rate I always spent convention night at Mom’s and got my first look at Bill Clinton as one of the principal speakers. Mother grew very impatient with his lengthy speech and had a dim view of him. If she only had of known then that he’d eventually run for President, she would have started right then finding plus signs for him. She was party vote all the way. I really think she and Daddy were Democrats because of the Great Depression and World War II. Hoover and Roosevelt. But my parents were always military all the way no matter the party. Commander-in-Chief was a big thing to them, as was freedom, so I know that they would SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Bush Seeks to Increase U.S. Forces In Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Thursday announced a surge in U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and asked Congress for an additional $11.8 billion to pump up the Afghan army and help rebuild the country.

Currently, 27,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan — the highest number since the October 2001 invasion. The additional deployment follows a request made last month by Defense Secretary Robert Gates while he was visiting the top U.S. commander in that country.

About 3,200 forces from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, located in Vicenza, Italy, will deploy to Afghanistan beginning in spring 2007, according to the Department of Defense. The brigade was previously scheduled to deploy to Iraq, but will be going to replace the U.S. Army's 3rd Brigade from the 10th Mountain division, which was recently kept beyond its normal rotation to help beef up the number of forces on the ground.

"We cannot allow terrorists to gain sanctuary anywhere," Bush said at the American Enterprise Institute. "Our goal in Afghanistan is to help the people of that country defeat the terrorists and establish a stable, moderate, democratic state that respects the rights of its citizens, governs its territory effectively and is a reliable ally in this war against extremists and terrorists. I know to some it seems like an impossible task."

Bush said the government of Afghanistan, led by President Hamid Karzai, has made great strides in improving the lives of citizens — much to the dismay of the terrorists, who have increased their activities there.

"They watch our actions, they adjust their tactics, and in 2006, this enemy struck back with a vengeance as freedom began to spread," the president said.

Roadside bombs doubled, direct fire attacks tripled and suicide bombings nearly quintupled, he said. "These escalated attacks were part of a Taliban offensive that made 2006 the most violent year in Afghanistan since the liberation of the country."

NATO, which is leading military operations in Afghanistan, is 35,500-troops strong. It plans to go after the Taliban in the mountains of that country this spring, once the snow melts in the passes.

"The snow is going to melt in the Hindu Kush mountains and when it does we can expect fierce fighting to continue," the president said.

Bush also chided NATO nations that have hesitated to send additional troops or allow soldiers in Afghanistan to fight in the violent south and under other dangerous circumstances.

"When our commanders on the ground say to our respective countries 'We need additional help,' our NATO countries must provide it," Bush said. "As well, allies must lift restrictions on the forces they do provide so NATO commanders have the flexibility they need to defeat the enemy wherever the enemy may make its stand."

In addition to international military operations, Bush pledged to help increase the Afghan police to 80,000 officers, from 61,000, and the army to 70,000 soldiers, from 30,000, in 2008. The president said another goal would be to expand the amount of human intelligence to root out terrorists.

The buildup is likely to be better received on Capitol Hill than the new strategy in Iraq.

In his first news conference since before Christmas, Bush defended the Iraq buildup now under fire by most Democrats and some Republicans. He said lawmakers have a right to criticize the plan and noted the resolution the House is debating is nonbinding. He said there's no sign it has hurt troop morale but warned that others are listening.

FOX News' Wendell Goler and Nick Simeone contributed to this report.

Another Mother

Keep Your Friends Close...Humane Society workers marveling at mother cat that adopted 6-day-old Rottweiler puppy rejected by its mother.

AP Photo
Headline on

Does anybody want to read

a fictional story I wrote a few years ago "in the style of a favorite author"??

It has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

Hubby's undoing electricity for a while. Back soon I hope!


Virgie Bell's View: For Allie

Allie’s visits with me at my apartment were rather sporadic at the very best. She was just a baby when De'on and I lived in Littlefield, and Bennie could not seem to go to Lubbock that he did not somehow have her stashed to bring back to our hometown. One of the last visits she had with me was when I lived in the apartments that belong to Linda Dale and her family. I had moved there after I lost Otto, and I was faring pretty well. Just had the place fixed up gorgeous: a female place to the max. It was one of the places that I lived where I was happiest. Just right for a bachelorette, which I was for at least a year. I never went out with any men from there. I kept my home and my family very private from any of my dating; In fact, I really didn't do much of anything except work at my little business. It was just a small one woman affair, but I was successful with it. I know most of it was because I was in the home territory where I grew up with my family.

I didn't have to do more than make it from one month to the next, but I find that to be true, no matter what the money situation is. I had more than many people did and less than some others, but I was from one of those towns that support their own. This one particular time that I kept Allie, she was just about two or three and she spent that day playing with Otto’s dog, Bright Eyes, an Australian Heeler.

Bright Eyes was the faithful Mama Dog that Otto loved. She was a dog that lived on a ranch that was a haven for Otto and his horses. Bright Eyes came to be the defining reason that Otto’s estate is still in limbo years later. But that is another story. For years there was just Otto and Bright Eyes at the end of the day, and then for a couple of years it was just me and Bright Eyes.

I used to feel so sorry for Bright Eyes. She never understood about her master leaving one day and never coming back. Bright Eyes had never played with a little girl in her life. Not a little human girl. Allie played like Bright Eyes was her baby. She brushed and combed that dog’s hair. Bright Eyes looked up at me with the saddest eyes you ever saw, as if to say, “Papa’s Baby, do I really have to do this?” And Papa’s Baby (me) would just smile and say, “Yes, Bright Eyes you do. Today you are a baby. You are Allie’s baby and she is the granddaughter of the finest man that ever lived.” We spent the day in a peace that I will always treasure. Just Allie, Bright Eyes, and me.


Editor’s Note: The man VB speaks of as “the finest man that ever lived” is her brother, Mickey Pickrell, who lost his battle to cancer while I was in Panama.

Hello ...

Good Morning America and my favorite people in the world: those who protect it!

I didn't post too much yesterday and I'm sorry. I'm usually not so weakened by circumstances or special days, but yesterday kicked my keister. I fell asleep crying at about 10:30 PM.

Today, the tears still roll, but they're much sweeter. I know they're sweeter because of all of you and your precious prayers for all of us.

My husband is knocking out a wall about 5 feet from me; my dogs are startled but lay near me, and Sarah, always true to herself, is well hidden.

I'm working on a couple of posts VB sent me and I'm working on Panama and I'm working on the test review.

And I'm good.

Semper Fi,

Virgie Bell's View: The Faith of a Mustard Seed

Went to the book store yesterday while in Lubbock and got to purchase three, yes three books by Herman Wouk. I now just lack about three more to having read all of his when I finish with these. One is Don't Stop the Carnival. This author really excites me. Anyone who reads my posts knows that my greatest passion is reading. Mr. Wouk is now one of my favorite authors. I also purchased The Hope and The Winds of War. So my life is good. I really am such a dull person I suppose. Give me a good book and some alone time and I am a happy camper. One of these books is about the returning Jews to their homeland after they were nearly wiped out by Adolph Hitler during World War II. Such insanity and such cruelty to grip an entire nation is hard to imagine, and yet it happened. The rest of the world stood by while this was happening, while millions of innocent people were slaughtered.

Monsters do rule in high places and if the United States is not careful we will become the victims of just such a slaughter. Why did Hitler hate the Jews and want to do away with them completely? Because the Jewish race is a smart and talented race. But even more, their record keeping of the history of mankind has withstood the test of time over and over. If we give the Taliban and Radical Islam a chance, we of the Christian faith will be wiped out. In truth we will be anyway. The mad man Fidel Castro used his country Cuba to let Russia install an atomic missile sight with weapons aimed at the USA. We came within two minutes of the world as we know it, having ended forever. We are setting the page of our history to do so again. Do you feel helpless about it at times? I do. I know that God will have his way in the storm of our life. That should be enough for everyone. The Bible says "In all ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths.” Sometimes it seems hopeless. I have to remind myself that I am finite and that God is infinite.

The last few years I have wanted more and more to have reason to ask that my faith be increased. Yet day by day the trials come that diminish that faith until lately all I have to offer is that mustard seed of faith. Knowing that it is impossible to please God without faith is the constant challenge we face everyday. That we have people that are power hungry and have no faith even equal to that of a mustard seed as a ruler of this world is hard to understand. What is the amount of faith that is contained within this little round seed? In fact what is a seed? A seed has the ability to lie dormant for years but when dropped to the ground and the right conditions prevail, it has the uncanny ability to become a live and growing thing that will produce the process of regeneration all over again. What is the faith of a mustard seed? It is that core within to spring into life and give birth to life. What is faith? It is the ability to see the disarray of a world gone mad around us and still believe in spite of it all. “When I heard, my belly trembled and rottenness entered my bones that I might rest in the day of trouble. Although the fig tree will not blossom; neither the fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive tree shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stall.”

It is no small thing that this president can stand in face of these odds. That he can profess the success of a mission that was thrust upon him by an enemy we didn't even know about. But he is a praying man, a man of faith and one who knows that he is dependent upon God to carry out his mission. That God will remember the faith of a mustard seed and that with the mustard seed of our president’s faith, to the one carried within my heart, I will believe this though all odds are against it. I dare to believe that God will always be there just in time. That is faith times two. It is enough. Please pray for and do SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Inspiration--Not Aspiration

February 15

YOU shall be used. The Divine Force is never less. It is sufficient for all the work in the world. I only need the instruments for Me to use. To know that would remake the world.

The world does not need super-men, but super-natural men. Men who will persistently turn the self out of their lives and let Divine Power work through them. England could be saved tomorrow if only her politicians just let Me use them.

Let inspiration take the place of aspiration. All unemployment would cease. I have always plenty of work to be done and always pay My work-people well as you will see, as more and more you get the right attitude of thought about the work being Mine only.

Russell, A.J. ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Photo of the Day: It's About Heart

Happy Valentine's Day
to some of the
best hearts I know of!

In My Presence

February 14

YOU do not realize that you would have broken down under the weight of your cares but for the renewing time with Me. It is not what I say, it is I, Myself. It is not the hearing Me so much as the being in my Presence. The strengthening and curative powers of this you cannot know. Such knowledge is beyond your human reckoning.

This would cure the poor sick world, if every day, each soul, or group of souls, waited before Me. Remember, that you must never fail to keep this time apart with Me. Gradually you will be transformed, physically, mentally, spiritually, into My likeness. All who see you, or contact with you will be, by this intercourse with you, brought near to Me, and gradually the influence will spread.

You are making one spot of earth a Holy Place, and though you must work and spend yourself ceaselessly because that is for the present your appointed task, yet the greatest work either of you can do, and are doing, is done in this time apart with Me. Are you understanding that?

Do you know that every thought, every activity, every prayer, every longing of the day is gathered up and offered to Me, now. Oh! Joy that I am with you. For this I came to earth, to lead man back to spirit-converse with his God.

Russell, A. J, ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.

What's the Title?

Shadows ...?
The Glow ...?

A History of Sorts

Valentine Day History

There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine". Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honour St. Valentine.

Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. There was often a social gathering or a ball.

In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now the date is very commercialised. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14. The spirit of good continues as valentines are sent out with sentimental verses and children exchange valentine cards at school.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"To give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition ... to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

Nice Bag Aaron, but it doesn't match your shoes!

Allie & Aaron
Canyon, TX
February 15, 2004

Marine Quotes

"I can never again see a United States Marine without experiencing a feeling of reverence." Gen. Johnson, U.S. Army

"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and those who have met them in battle. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion." Unknown

"Uncommon valor was a common virtue." Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

"Panic sweeps my men when they are facing the American Marines." Captured North Korean Major

"The MARINES have landed and have the situation well in hand!" Richard Harding Davis

"If I had one more division like this First Marine Division I could win this war." General of the Armies Douglas McArthur in Korea, overheard and reported by Marine Staff Sergeant Bill Houghton, Weapons/2/5

"Do not attack the First Marine Division. Leave the yellowlegs alone. Strike the American Army." Orders given to Communist troops in the Korean War; shortly afterward, the Marines were ordered not to wear their khaki leggings.

"The Marine Corps is the Navy's police force and as long as I am president that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's." Harry S. Truman

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!"Gen. Pershing, U.S. Army

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell

"A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons." Adm. David Porter, USN.

"The more Marines I have around, the better I like it." General Clark, U.S. Army

"No one can say that the Marines have failed to do their work in handsome fashion." Major General Hagood, U.S. Army

"There is no military body in our country of higher efficiency than the Marine Corps. They take great pride in their profession. They never let things slack a bit." Rear Admiral C.M. Wilslow, U.S. Navy

"They're on our right, they're on our left, they're in front of us, they're behind us; they can't get away from us this time." Chesty Puller, USMC, Chosin Reservoir, Korean War

"Old breed? New breed? There's not a damn bit of difference so long as it's the Marine breed." Chesty Puller, USMC

"Marine Corps integrity is doing that thing which is right, when no one is looking" Col. Colin Lampard, USMC

"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary." General A. M. Gray, USMC

"Ensure that no Marine who honorably wore the eagle, globe and anchor is lost to the Marine Corps family." General James L. Jones Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps

"They (Marines) have given us our only real fight." Commanding Officer of the British, War 0f 1812

"The American Marines are terribly reckless fellows ... they would make very good storm troopers." Unidentified German officer at Belleau Wood

The US Air Force Chief of Staff would never be called Airman. The Chief of Naval Operations would never be called Sailor. The Commanding General of The U.S. Army would never be called Soldier. BUT the Commandant of the Marine Corps would be proud to be called a United States Marine.

"Marines know how to use their bayonets. Army bayonets may as well be paperweights." Navy Times; November 1994

"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!" Eleanor Roosevelt

"We are United States Marines, and for two and a quarter centuries we have defined the standards of courage, esprit, and military prowess." Gen. James L. Jones, USMC

"My only answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far more guts, courage, and better officers ... These boys out here have a pride in the Marine Corps and will fight to the end no matter what the cost." 2nd Lt. Richard C. Kennard, Peleliu, World War II

"It's a funny thing, but, as years go by, I think you appreciate more and more what a great thing it was to be a United States Marine. People will tell me what a shame it was I had to go back into the service a second time, but I'm kinda glad I did. Besides, I am a U.S. Marine and I'll be one till I die." Ted Williams

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Guadalcanal-November and the Continuing Buildup

FIRST OFFENSIVE: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal

by Henry I. Shaw, Jr.

While the soldiers and Marines were battling the Japanese ashore, a patrol plane sighted a large Japanese fleet near the Santa Cruz Islands to the east of the Solomons. The enemy force was formidable, 4 carriers and 4 battleships, 8 cruisers and 28 destroyers, all poised for a victorious attack when Maruyama's capture of Henderson Field was signalled. Admiral Halsey's reaction to the inviting targets was characteristic, he signaled Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, with the Hornet and Enterprise carrier groups located north of the New Hebrides: "Attack Repeat Attack."

Early on 26 October, American SBDs located the Japanese carriers at about the same time Japanese scout planes spotted the American carriers. The Japanese Zuiho's flight deck was holed by the scout bombers, cancelling flight operations, but the other three enemy carriers launched strikes. The two air armadas tangled as each strove to reach the other's carriers. The Hornet was hit repeatedly by bombs and torpedoes; two Japanese pilots also crashed their planes on board. The damage to the ship was so extensive, the Hornet was abandoned and sunk. The Enterprise, the battleship South Dakota, the light cruiser San Juan (CL-54), and the destroyer Porter (DD-356) were sunk. On the Japanese side, no ships were sunk, but three carriers and two destroyers were damaged. One hundred Japanese planes were lost; 74 U.S. planes went down. Taken together, the results of the Battle of Santa Cruz were a standoff. The Japanese naval leaders might have continued their attacks, but instead, disheartened by the defeat of their ground forces on Guadalcanal, withdrew to attack another day.

cont'd in lower post

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Photo 1

Heavy tropical downpours at Guadalcanal all but flood out a Marine camp near Henderson Field, and the field as well. Marines' damp clothing and bedding contributed to the heavy incidence of tormenting skin infections and fungal disorders. Department of Defense (USMC) Photo

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Guadalcanal-November and the Continuing Buildup *2

The departure of the enemy naval force marked a period in which substantial reinforcements reached the island. The headquarters of the 2d Marines had finally found transport space to come up from Espiritu Santo and on 29 and 30 October, Colonel Arthur moved his regiment from Tulagi to Guadalcanal, exchanging his 1st and 2d Battalions for the well-blooded 3d, which took up the Tulagi duties. The 2d Marines' battalions at Tulagi had performed the very necessary task of scouting and securing all the small islands of the Florida group while they had camped, frustrated, watching the battles across Sealark Channel. The men now would no longer be spectators at the big show.

On 2 November, planes from VMSB-132 and VMF-211 flew into the Cactus fields from New Caledonia. MAG-11 squadrons moved forward from New Caledonia to Espiritu Santo to be closer to the battle scene; the flight echelons now could operate forward to Guadalcanal and with relative ease. On the ground side, two batteries of 155mm guns, one Army and one Marine, landed on 2 November, providing Vandegrift with his first artillery units capable of matching the enemy's long-range 150mm guns. On the 4th and 5th, the 8th Marines (Colonel Richard H.J. Jeschke) arrived from American Samoa. The full-strength regiment, reinforced by the 75mm howitzers of the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, added another 4,000 men to the defending forces. All the fresh troops reflected a renewed emphasis at all levels of command on making sure Guadalcanal would be held. The reinforcement-replacement pipeline was being filled. In the offing as part of the Guadalcanal defending force were the rest of the Americal Division, the remainder of the 2d Marine Division, and the Army's 25th Infantry Division, then in Hawaii. More planes of every type and from Allied as well as American sources were slated to reinforce and replace the battered and battle-weary Cactus veterans.

continued in lower post

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Photo 2

Marine engineers repair a flood-damaged Lunga River bridge washed out during a period when 8 inches of rain fell in 24 hours and the river rose 7 feet above normal. Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 74093

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Guadalcanal-November and the Continuing Buildup 3

The impetus for the heightened pace of reinforcement had been provided by President Roosevelt. Cutting through the myriad demands for American forces worldwide, he had told each of the Joint Chiefs on 24 October that Guadalcanal must be reinforced, and without delay.

On the island, the pace of operations did not slacken after the Maruyama offensive was beaten back. General Vandegrift wanted to clear the area immediately west of the Matanikau of all Japanese troops, forestalling, if he could, another buildup of attacking forces. Admiral Tanaka's Tokyo Express was still operating and despite punishing attacks by Cactus aircraft and new and deadly opponents, American motor torpedo boats, now based at Tulagi.

On 1 November, the 5th Marines, backed up by the newly arrived 2d Marines, attacked across bridges engineers had laid over the Matanikau during the previous night. Inland, Colonel Whaling led his scout-snipers and the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, in a screening movement to protect the flank of the main attack. Opposition was fierce in the shore area where the 1st Battalion, 5th, drove forward toward Point Cruz, but inland the 2d Battalion and Whaling's group encountered slight opposition. By nightfall, when the Marines dug in, it was clear that the only sizable enemy force was in the Point Cruz area. In the day's bitter fighting, Corporal Anthony Casamento, a badly wounded machine gun squad leader in Edson's 1st Battalion, had so distinguished himself that he was recommended for a Navy Cross; many years later, in August 1980, President Jimmy Carter approved the award of the Medal of Honor in its stead.

to be cont'd.


Near the Goal

IN a race it is not the start that hurts, not the even pace of the long stretch. It is when the goal is in sight that heart and nerves and courage and muscles are strained almost beyond human endurance, almost to breaking point.

So with you now the goal is in sight, you need your final cry to Me. Can you not see by the nerve and heart rack of the past few days that your race is nearly run. Courage, courage. Heed My voice of encouragement. Remember that I am by your side, spurring you on to victory.

In the annals of heaven, the saddest records are those that tell of the many who ran well, with brave stout hearts, until in sight of the goal, of victory, and then their courage failed. The whole host of heaven longed to cry out how near the end was, to implore the last spurt, but they fell out, never to know until the last day of revealing, how near they were to victory.

Would that they had listened to Me in the silence as you two meet with Me. They would have known. There must be the listening ear, as well as the still small voice.

Russell, A. J., ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.

Worth Clicking

"The Passing of a Generation" through the eyes of an emergency room doctor in San Antonio, TX.

Thanks again to Jay Porter!

Marine Moms Online

Why Does My Son Want to be A Marine?

The reasons why some young Americans have chosen to become
United States Marines
As told by their mothers, fathers, wives, and other loved ones
…I wondered the same thing. I'm not really sure I know that answer other than some are born warriors. "Somebody has to do it....." I'm so very grateful for those who do, but I've always questioned why it has to be my son. When we asked him, one of the answers was, "I just have to know I can do it." Of course, we received the "I want to serve my country" answer as well. I guess we are just supposed to turn them over to God, the One who created them to be what He wanted them to be, and allow our sons the space to become whatever that is.

…I felt exactly the same way when my son announced his plans. He had a baseball scholarship at a nearby college and wanted to turn Pro and play ball every day. Then he crashed his dreams and signed up. I think part of him wanted to prove he could do something by himself. His dad divorcing me at the same time didn't help. First year in college, and his parents split up. Just stand by him...he will question his decision a million times while he is in boot camp and when he is posted on a base he will occasionally question himself again...once he goes over there, he will question himself again! He is a young man who you have raised beautifully. Trust your good parenting...and keep the is only 8 years of his long life! Write lots of encouraging letters and don't expect a lot back, they have very little precious time alone to sit and write a letter, but when it comes, so will the tears! Be ready!
…My son was determined to become a Marine from the time he was 11 years old. Yes, I think it is a "calling" of sorts. My son has always wanted to push himself physically and mentally. He wants to know how good he can committed. He is also intensely patriotic. He wants to serve his country. Entering the Marines was the only choice that fulfilled all those desires. He is now intensely proud of what he has accomplished and so proud to be a Marine. We are so proud of him we could bust!

…I told my son, “No don’t join the Marines… Air Force, Navy, Army, any branch of the service but the Marines”. I think it was his rebellious spirit that made him do it. And now, I am very proud of him and stand by his decision completely.

…I ask myself this very same question almost on a daily basis. The only answer that I can come up with is that we raised some pretty special young people! I look around at some of the kids today and find myself thinking, "They don't have a clue as to what life is all about."

…When I asked him why, he told me, "Mom, I've thought about this a lot. We take and take all our lives; I want to do something to give back to someone."

…Be very proud of your son. You did a great job raising him. Not every mother can say, "My son is a United States Marine"!!!!!!

…I replayed the scene of US Marshals pulling in my drive in a highly tinted windowed black Crown Vic or Lincoln Town Car many nights and every time I thought "What would I say" or How would I feel IF that really happened and I think I would just have to find peace in the fact that he was doing what he LOVED, what HE CHOSE to do, what many others did not have the "ka-hoonas" to do...what was GOOD and HONORABLE and what made and still makes this country the best in the world. My son LOVES being a Marine....he may not like all the other Marines but by golly let them get somewhere and someone say something to one of those guys and you better believe that every Marine in ear shot will be is a brotherhood like you would not believe....and it will always be like that.....I find peace in that he has thousands ready willing and able to "get his back" and to fight for him just as they do for us.
Thanks, Diane!

Another Reminder

This is chilling. I wonder when the world will wake up and listen?

The Terrorism Awareness Project

Thanks again to Jay Porter.

Virgie Bell's View: Just Tacky

I see on the net where the Dixie Chicks won five Grammy's. This should surprise no one who watches what goes on in Hollywood as entertainment. I didn't even know the Grammys were on but would not have wasted my time with them anyway. I am certain that so far as I'm concerned that the day of beautiful music is gone forever. In fact, I can't understand how anyone can get into the present day form of music. I didn't catch on to Prince's phallic symbolism with his guitar during half time entertainment of the Super Bowl. I had to see it pointed out later by the newspaper. When the giant sheet of material was blowing and it showed his shadow with his guitar through it was indeed made to look as if it was this penis organ and was truly disgusting. If this then is what is considered half-time entertainment then color me out.

I also did not get to bed in time to do much reading for I flipped the channel to the westerns channel and enjoyed Robert Mitchem, Kirk Douglas, and Richard Widmark in The Way West. I saw this years ago when it was a mini-series. I enjoyed it just as much last night. They were fabulous actors. Nothing like what passes for our heroes in today's movies. Before that one came on I saw just the tail-end of a western featuring Joel McCray. He was another hero to me. All of these will be forever ideals. It took no tricks with guitars and lighting to spell macho. They were macho. I had the biggest crush on Robert Mitchem as a young girl. I must ask Kayla who is the hunk for today. I haven't a clue. George Clooney seems to be right up there, but he seems to be another Rock Hudson. He runs around with the girls but his heart is not in it. He is also a loud mouth who is forever voicing his opinions and his completely liberal view in politics.

I will wager that we are in for a rough season in politics without those numbskulls spouting off. I never knew what party the three in The Way West belonged to. At one time they were just all patriots behind our military and they left the stage of life with none of us any wiser. Now we have someone like George Clooney who makes fun of Charlton Hesston because he has Alzheimer’s. So how cool is that? Have we really gotten to the point that our dreamboats can make fun of another actor because he is a victim of a dread disease—and on national television? How absolutely tacky. I can hardly wait until he becomes old news just like Tom Cruise. These idiots get it into their heads that we equate talent with wisdom, which really is not so.

The Dixie Chicks are back in as far as their musician pals are concerned. I really believe that this is just another political statement from that vast array of talent and that it has about as much to do with knowledge as Princes' guitar have to do with his masculinity...Nothing. SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Love and Sacrifice

Thanks to Jay Porter for this link. It's worth mentioning also that Jay Porter and family made Doug's Texas Marine Quilt for him. She lost her brother in Vietnan and is an avid supporter of our troops. I appreciate her so much.

Click here for the link she sent. Re: A Heart-Wrenching Wartime Valentine

How can llamas help defeat biological weapons?

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
A llama chewing hay
in Pennsylvania in 2006

by Julia Layton

As most of us know, llamas are our friends. They're soft, good-natured and amusing to view, and their name has the distinction of being one of only 12 words in the English language starting with a double-L (according Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged). But little did we know that these fuzzy, camel-like creatures might save us all should the End come in the form of a biological attack.

For many years, scientists have been developing devices called biosensors that can detect the first signs of biological warfare. These sensors are made up of antibodies, usually cloned human antibodies called Immunoglobin G (IgG). IgGs are one of the tools that the human immune system uses to detect, target and destroy viruses like cholera and smallpox, which have been cited as potential biological weapons. Specific antibodies bind only to specific virus antigens, so different types of sensors detect different types of diseases (see How Your Immune System Works to learn more). The idea is that when these antibody-based sensors start reacting -- that is, binding to particles in the air -- we instantly know that a biological threat is present and which biological threat it is.

The problem with antibodies like IgG is that they're delicate. Antibodies are protein chains, and IgG is made up of both heavy and light chains. This means they are complex in structure, with complex binding methods, which makes them expensive and time-consuming to produce. The light protein chains in particular make them very susceptible to environmental changes. IgG has a short shelf life, requires refrigeration, and if it's exposed to high temperatures -- anything above about 150 F (~65 C) -- it completely breaks down, making the sensor useless. Enter the llama antibody.

Llamas, camels and sharks all produce an antibody that is incredibly sturdy. It has no light protein chains, only heavy ones, making it not only hardy but also simple, with a tiny binding site (about one-tenth the size of the binding site on a human antibody). Scientists can create these single-domain antibodies (sdAbs) quickly, as researchers have done at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. Using small amounts of blood drawn from llamas, scientists have built a library of more than a billion sdAbs engineered to bind to different antigens. Because the binding site is so small, they're far easier and less expensive to engineer than other kinds of antibodies. And their simplicity makes them strong: They have a much longer shelf life than IgG, require no refrigeration and remain perfectly intact at temperatures up to 200 F (~90 C).

Using these tough, simple antibodies, scientists could develop a library of sensors to detect every bio-weapon imaginable -- and then very quickly develop antibodies that bind to new threats as they come up. Placed in portable containers, soldiers could carry these llama-based biosensors into the field to detect a bio-threat as soon as it becomes viable. Temperature and time constraints would no longer prevent the extensive use of biosensors in rugged terrain.

What if people had exoskeletons?

Human beings are like reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish in the fact that we all have internal skeletons. Muscles connect to the skeleton to provide motion, and we have soft skin on the outside. However, a huge percentage of the life on this planet does it the other way around. They put their skeletons on the outside, in the form of exoskeletons. Insects are the most common example, and then there are crustaceans like lobsters.

Why might humans want to have exoskeletons? Anyone who has ever tried to crack open a crab leg knows that exoskeletons are strong. An exoskeleton would certainly cut down on cuts and bruises, and it would also eliminate the need for all those pads that professional football players have to wear!

So why don't people have exoskeletons? Probably the biggest reason we don’t have exoskeletons is that, physiologically speaking, it is highly impractical and could actually be pretty dangerous. Many creatures that have exoskeletons experience a process known as molting -- they lose their entire outside shell. Unfortunately, the new exoskeleton is not completely intact or finished when they shed their previous one. The time it takes the new encasement to harden is directly related to the size of the creature. The larger the animal, the longer it takes. During this time it is extremely vulnerable, exposed to the elements, predators and even disease.

Although having real exoskeletons wouldn't be prudent for humans, some folks believe there are reasons for fashioning a wearable variety. Humans aren't the swiftest creatures on Earth, and most of us are limited in the amount of weight that we can pick up and carry. These weaknesses can be fatal on the battlefield, and that's why the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investing $50 million to develop an exoskeleton suit for ground troops. This wearable robotic system could give soldiers the ability to run faster, carry heavier weapons and leap over large obstacles. These exoskeletal machines could be equipped with sensors and global positioning system (GPS) receivers. Soldiers could use this technology to obtain information about the terrain they are crossing and how to navigate their way to specific locations. DARPA is also developing computerized fabrics that could be used with the exoskeletons to monitor heart and breathing rates.

Basically, these wearable machines would give humans enhanced abilities. Imagine a battalion of super soldiers who can lift hundreds of pounds as easily as lifting 10 pounds and who can run twice their normal speed. The potential of non-military applications is also phenomenal.

If the U.S. military has its way, it will have throngs of super soldiers who can jump higher, run faster and lift enormous weight by strapping these exoskeletons on themselves. However, developing these devices is expected to take years, if not decades.
Again, our wonderful Internet provider has been on the blink all day. I'm going to try again.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Photo of the Day

Canyon, TX
February 15, 2004

Virgie Bell's View: The Senator--A Disgrace!

I would suggest that everyone check out what John Edwards Bloggers have posted. It is the most disgraceful kind of talk that I have ever heard in my life. It is also something the editor of this blog would block and rightly so. Senator Edwards is quoted as saying it is not something he would say or even agree with but they were entitled to their opinion. The Catholic Church has called upon the Senator to rectify the situation, but I feel it is not just members of the Catholic faith that should be deeply offended, but it should offend people of all faith. It is despicable and should outrage people everywhere. I will promise you that my Mother who cherished the Democratic Party would leave the Democratic Party ranks in a New York second. She never put her party above her faith in Jesus Christ. For shame John Edwards, for shame. You are a disgrace to us all. Again I say for shame. SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Speaking of Favorite Books!

When Aaron was 2 and 3, this was his favorite book. He'd have me read it over and over, then he'd read to me: "Cindewewah, Cindewewah, kwean da house, kwean da dwapes," he'd read.

The Way He Knew Her

Little Pretty
March 2004

When Kayla was in the 3rd or 4th grade she was reading this book one night. Aaron walked by, gently took the book out of her hands and read the title out loud. He looked down at her, his full eyebrows fully-knitted, and said in a low and serious voice, "Little Pretty, don't you think you oughta be reading Jesus books?" :)

Aaron was very protective of everyone he loved, and especially the girls in his life ... Kayla, Allie ... they've both battled his over-protectiveness.

For Virgie Bell

Mickey "bless his heart" Lavonne Pickrell

Virgie Bell Pickrell Grigsby

1955 or 56, I think

William Harvey Grigsby, Jr.

Uncle Mickey and Dad were best friends all through high school. It was a friendship that continued for many years. I think it was a little tough on Uncle Mickey that his sister was dating his best friend!

"Chewing Boy"

February 13th, 14th, or 15th? 2004
Greg always called Aaron the "Chewing Boy" because he chewed on everything: straws, pencils, keys, dogtags, whatever ... we have a few reminders here that are very precious to us now, though it drove us crazy at one time.
A ninth grade teacher tried to break him of the habit and made him come in at lunch and sand desks, but to no avail.


Aaron's cousin. Some of you know her!
February 15, 2004

Valentine's Weekend 2004

Aaron & Eric checking out the tube tied to the back of Eric's truck

Aaron on the tube, Eric driving. Aaron doesn't show up very well this small!

Aaron driving & Eric riding

Hello everybody,

I'm going to type real fast in case everything goes kaplowee again. Blogger last night and Valor today ... so heavy withdrawals from being away so long, but I feel the pain and trembling begin to cease as I type and still have connection!!!

Yea! Oh yea!

So, back soon, if connections continue!!!


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pending Photos

I'm home and going to go through the photos, so it will still take a bit.

Dad had a rough go with his oxygen this morning but is back on track now. Thank you for your prayers.

Back soon, just wanted you to know.


Photo of the Day

A Quick Note

This has started off to be a great Sunday! I've enjoyed all of us sharing our stories, memories and ourselves. It makes me think I will do Aaron's photos of the last time we saw him over the next day or so. Today, Sunday, is the last day I touched him. Of course, the dates were different because Valentine's Day was on Saturday in 2004 and it's on Wednesday this year (help me to remember to renew my driver's license as they expire on that day.)

But I won't hold off sharing those memories until leap year. I think we all know what a year can bring! And they are fun pictures. He had them with him in Iraq. Tonya, my cousin, was always faithful to make sure Aaron had a copy of all the pictures. She's a lovebug and adored Aaron.

However, I will have to wait until I have time to get them out of the chest and scan them. I will also scan a photo of my Uncle Mickey from the time Mom wrote about in her post. He was so handsome!

But anyway, Dad did not have a good morning it seems and Lisa and I will be going to the hospital to check out the situation. He's disoriented (because he also has congestive heart problems) and we will be gone for a while. Please keep Dad (Harvey Grigsby) in your prayers.

My love and thanks to all.

Semper Fi,

Virgie Bell's View: Memory LAINE

"Virgie Bell get up now,” is how my mornings used to start off for me. Then climbing out of that nice warm bed and dragging myself into the living room to set in front of the flaming Dearborn Heater. My two brothers and me. Linda Gay was just a little thing and got to sleep on. I’m certain my pajama set was reminiscent of a forties pin-up. In my room where Linda slept was this little closet which held mine and Linda’s clothes. It couldn't have been over two or three feet wide. Closets just weren't back then. Finally, it’d be my turn to go into the nice warm bathroom and brush my hair and wash my face, then I’d use my lipstick and eyebrow pencil, plus a little red plastic Maybelline eyelash color in black or brown. That was it. None of us high school girls used anymore than that. I’d put on my Pink Chenille bathrobe, and then it was Bennie's turn at the bathroom. My older brother, ole handsome Mickey “bless his heart” would have his bath towel wrapped around his waist and combing his raven hair back into that pompadour. He’d turn to me and say, "Don’t you wish I wasn’t your brother?" He was incredible. No movie star was even close to him in looks but one of the joys of my life was that he was my brother. He opened doors for me that I could have only dreamed of. Finally Linda Gay would drag in and lay down in front of the fire to doze again. All this time Daddy would have been at his end of the table drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes as mother cooked bacon, eggs, and biscuits. And so the day began, and always with that radio going, playing the music we all loved. Goodbye Frankie Laine and thank you for being part of my happiest times. SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

I'm Here

Although I'm here everyday, I haven't posted in awhile. I have a lot of "splaining" to do, as Ricky Ricardo would say. I'm working on that.

In the meantime, I have a piece about the old Amarillo Air Force Base that I want to get on here. The base, which contributed significantly to Amarillo's economy closed during President Johnson's administration. There has always been talk that Johnson closed the base in retaliation after the Texas Panhandle voted for his Republican opponent. The Panhandle is a bastion of conservatism, and I guess the folks here didn't care much for Johnson, even though he was a Texan.

The base is now owned and used by Amarillo College. The housing that was once homes to thousands of airmen is now rented to students and others. I used to go out there, feeling the energy that once surged through the base and is still palpable, if only to someone like me who once lived on Air Force bases.

I need to go out there and take pictures of the buildings that remain to illustrate the story, and I hope to get that done in the next couple of days.

Also, I'm fortunate to possess several diaries written by my ancestors that date from the late 1700s. They were ranchers in South Texas, and the diaries give us a glimpse into the warfare that was a part of their lives. They had to build a fort for protection, which still stands, and there's a replica of the fort at Texas Tech. You have to understand that the early Spanish ranches were small towns, employing and housing hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. The ranches were pretty much self-supporting. San Antonio was 110 miles to the north, and Monterry (now in Mexico) was 100 miles to the south. That was a significant distance in those days. Laredo, today an important Texas city, was just another ranch at that time, no bigger than the others. It was owned by another of my ancestors, Tomas Sanchez.

The earliest war narratives detail what my family went through during Mexico's war for independence from Spain. Keep in mind that Texas and all the Southwest was Spain. My family supported the movement for independence, and they paid for it. Spanish soldiers raided the ranches, including ours. They pillaged the ranch and arrested all the men. One of my ancestors, Leonor, detailed the battle.

Later diaries contain information about the Civil War and my family's contributions to the Confederacy. My great-great-great uncle was the highest ranking Hispanic in the Confederate army. The ranches along the Rio Grande River were important to Texas' role in the war. Confederate cotton was smuggled across the river to Monterrey, Mexico, and the increased war trade turned Monterrey into an important city. Today, it is Mexico's leading industrial city.

The last war diaries contain information about the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The ranches along the river were frequently raided, and my great-grandfather kept a good account of those troubles. My grandmother remembered those battles, and she remembers using the fort for protection. The same fort that had sheltered her ancestors through numerous battles with Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans and bandits.

My family didn't support the war for Texas' independence. They were the descendants of the Spanish conquerors, so their alliance wasn't with the movement that was determined to yank Texas from Mexico and push its entry into the Union as a slave state. Funny thing is that my Spanish ancestors decimated the native population of Mexico, destroying their culture as much as they could. Even with that history of what is really genocide, they objected to the introduction of slavery into Texas by southerners who were moving in. Crazy, huh?

So, I'm translating those diaries which are written, of course, in Spanish. They're valuable to me. Texas Tech wanted me to donate them to their Ranching Heritage Center, and I probably will someday. They contain valuable information about the early establishment of the ranching industry in Texas.

I'm just grateful that our ranch was on the north side of the Rio Grande River. That important fact of geography put us on the American side when Texas became a state. A blessing for which I've always been grateful.

FEMALE ON THE FLOOR! Panama begins

Arriving in my green wool Class A’s, I immediately felt the heat wave hit me as soon as I stepped off the military aircraft. Perspiration poured off me as I tugged at the two bulky and over-packed duffle bags. Looking up, I thought had spotted help, only to watch as the young and pimpled soldier pointedly ignored me.

One hundred percent wool and eighty percent humidity are not a good mix. But such were my first few hours in Panama after I flew into Howard Air Force Base. From there I was loaded onto one of the various transportation vehicles provided by our great Uncle Sam and hauled to the Replacement Center at Ft. Clayton. I stayed there only a short time, in fact, I hadn’t even finished in-processing, had not received my TA-50 when we twenty to thirty new replacements were packed-off to our gaining units ahead of schedule. Things were getting hotter and rapidly advancing toward war; undoubtedly the stage was set with a date in place. The actors were called in.

My gaining unit was 536th Engineer Battalion Combat Heavy. The unit had been “light” at one time. The difference between heavy and light being the difference between blowing up bridges and building them. At that time, females were not allowed into a combat light unit and it must have been a fairly new concept to allow us into the heavy units as far as I could see. I was one of five females in a battalion of five hundred soldiers. One might consider this as “special” but the truth was that the males by and large, were not impressed with our species in their unit, and especially perturbed were the NCOs who had to give up their “upgraded” rooms with private latrines to accommodate so few females.

Ft. Kobbe and Howard Air Force Base was a beautiful place located on the Pacific side of Panama. Had I arrived as a tourist, I might’ve been happier, but I had left our nation’s capital only a month earlier. The culture shock was overwhelming. It would test me more than the war, and for much longer.

It may have even been my first night there that HSC had a party of sorts. Quite different than our “functions” at D. C., at this one I was put on K. P. and soon enough my starched BDU’s were starched by the hundreds of potatoes I must have peeled and sliced for French fries that night. The attitude I’d been fighting arrived sometime during the peeling. I’m sure.

Maybe I should’ve handled it a little better, that honeymoon night, after all, in only a few days, we were locked-down and on full alert.

Personnel Movement Limitation levels, or PML, is the code for which movement is allowed by military personnel with Alpha being the most lenient and Echo being all-out war. When I first arrived in Panama, the PML was Charley, but within a short time moved into Delta. Delta detox is what our First Sergeant announced it as. No alcohol. PML Delta also meant we were locked down to the base and must sign out when leaving the barracks for any reason. With the Class VI store closed down (the Army’s package store) there weren’t too many places left to go besides the movie theatre or small PX. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a nearly regular movie theater when suddenly the reel is interrupted and on a square side-screen is an important message for soldiers from our brigade to return to their sections.

The war didn’t start the night we were called out of the movie. But shortly, after much guard duty, cussing, and constantly being pulled out of bed, sent to our sections and put on alert, the evening of Echo arrived. I think we were nearly relieved; we were so sick of the alerts in the middle of the night.

We were ordered to the armory to draw our Basic Load of ammo, and then each loaded seven banana clips with thirty rounds each. I was relieved there was an instructional icon on the magazine. By this time; I’d nearly forgotten how to load an M-16. After we finished, a company formation was called and there the company commander, with tears in his eyes called out: “This is not an exercise. This is the real thing. You are about to go out and earn your paychecks. I hope you all come back. Some of you may not. I pray to God that you all come back.”

All communication from the outside world was cut-off. We were at war. I was told to borrow another female’s TA-50. She was pregnant and would be locked down to the section too, but wouldn’t have to wear the full gear of 210 rounds, two heavy canteens of water, flak jacket and a pistol belt loaded with numerous other trinkets of olive drab green.

I know I looked comical with all the gear on. I must’ve resembled a toddler with too many winter clothes on. But nothing about the situation was funny to me. I wasn’t upset about the war as much as the heat, the sand fleas, and all the rude people.

I volunteered for the first shift of guard duty outside our section door. It was kind of neat to watch as it kicked off, well on schedule. Only minutes from Balboa, and a few minutes more to Panama City, I watched as the sky lit up over and over again. It reminded me of the fourth of July. Instead, the date was December 20, 1989. The invasion of Panama, or Operation Just Cause, kicked off before my eyes.