Friday, October 10, 2014

Malala Yousafzay: A Portrait In Courage

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go...T.S. Eliot

Malala Yousafzay, 17, Youngest To Win Nobel Prize

Those who read my blog on a regular basis know I focus almost entirely on the courage and heroism of our military personnel and first responders. Today, I'm making an exception. Heroes, after all, come in all sizes.

Malala Yousafzay was 15 years of age when Taliban thugs boarded her bus and shot her in the head. 

A few years earlier, when she was just 11 years of age, she made a speech in the Swat region of Pakistan. Earlier, the Taliban had gained control of the region and closed several hundred schools. Malala was angry. So angry she gave this speech at a  press conference. It was entitled, "How Dare The Taliban Take Away My Basic Right To Education?"

Shortly thereafter, she began writing a blog under an anonymous name describing what life was like living under Taliban rule. A few days later, all girls schools were closed. In 2009, she had been outed as the author of the blog. Perhaps she didn't realize at the time but she became a target of Taliban thugs. On October 12, 2009, she was shot on the bus. She survived after several operations in England. 

Little did this courageous young girl know then she would become a symbol of conspicuous courage and a global advocate for the education of women. In 2013, she gave a speech to the UN. She also created the Malala Fund to help empower young women around the world.

In that UN speech, she declared, "They thought that the bullets would silence us...But they failed." She continued, "And then out of the silence came thousands of voices...Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born."
Time, CNN, ABC News

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Three To Receive Medals Of Honor; Hire A Hero

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you---ask what you can do for your country...Pres. John F. Kennedy

Three To Receive Medals of Honor Including A Civil War Soldier

In two weeks, Pres. Obama will award the Medal of Honor to three soldiers. Two served in Vietnam and one during the Civil War.

The two Vietnam veterans include Army Command Sgt. Major Bennie G. Adkins and Army Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat. First Lt. Alonzo Cushing served in the Civil War.

Adkins was deployed to Vietnam three times. The Special Forces soldier displayed "extraordinary bravery" during a sustained attack by the Vietcong from March 9 to March 12, 1966. During the battle, Sgt. Major Adkins sustained injuries while dragging several wounded soldiers to safety during a mortar attack. Akins remained in the Army and retired after 22 years of service. He will be attending the ceremony.

Sloat was a machine gunner. In 1970, his squad was on patrol near Hawk Hill Fire Base. One of the soldiers in the squad triggered a grenade booby-trap in their path. Sloat picked up the grenade but realized it would explode before he could toss it aside. Instead he used his body to shield the grenade from the other soldiers. He was killed in the blast.

Cushing, serving in the Army of the Potomac, was shot multiple times on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. First Lt. Cushing was killed but his heroic actions made it possible for the Union Army to hold back the Confederate assault.
Stars & Stripes

Hire A Hero

Note to all military veterans. Go to the website. Click on "Veteran Jobs" and you will find a comprehensive listing of all veteran and military job fairs coming up in the next several months. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Staff Sgt. Ryan M. Pitts: Nation's Newest Medal of Honor Recipient; Army Opens 33,000 Positions To Women

"Valor was everywhere that day."...Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts: Medal of Honor Recipient

In 2003, Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts joined the Army at age 17. He entered the Army's Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA. As part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Sgt. Pitts was deployed to Afghanistan twice.

In the pre-dawn hours of July 13, 2008, Sgt. Pitts was engaged in a fierce battle in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Wounded in one arm and both legs, he fired his machine gun at the enemy as well as lobbying several grenades. To prevent the enemy from gaining any ground, he directed other soldiers to fire at his position. His fellow soldiers finally reached Sgt. Pitts who was already bleeding profusely from his wounds and near death. Nine other soldiers died in battle that day and 27 others were wounded.

Despite life threatening injuries---injuries that merited retreat {from his observation post}---he continued to fight said Capt. Mathew Myer, Company Commander.
U.S. Army, CNN

Army Opens 33,000 Positions To Women

This week the Secretary of the Army announced the authorization in the opening of 33,000 positions formerly closed to women.

This change in policy means there are no more units in the Army closed to women. With this change, women can now serve anywhere in the Army---even in combat units.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hero FDNY Firefighter Lt. Gordon Ambelas Mourned; Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago Ambushed + Killed; Resources For Veterans

"Our police officers and firefighters are everyday heroes. They run toward trouble when the rest of us run away. It's what they do because that's who they are."  NY Post 

FDNY Lt. Gordon "Matt" Ambelas Mourned

FDNY Lt. Gordon Ambelas, a 14-year veteran,  died while searching for victims in the dense smoke in a Brooklyn high-rise on July 5, 2014. Ambelas had just been promoted to lieutenant in the last year. He left behind his wife Nanette and two daughters Gina, 5, and Gabby, 7. Lt. Ambelas also took part in 9/11 operations as well as Hurricane Sandy.
NY Post + NY Daily News

Jersey City Police Officer, Melvin Santiago, Slain By Killer Who Wanted Fame

On July 13, 2014, Police Officer Melvin Santiago of the Jersey City, N.J. Police Department was shot and killed when he and his partner responded to a robbery call at a pharmacy.

Prior to the police arriving, the subject assaulted the private security guard and stole his weapon before robbing the store. As the subject was leaving the store, Officer Santiago and his partner had just pulled into the parking lot of the store. The subject opened fire on the police officers. Officer Santiago was struck in the head. He didn't even have time to defend himself. Responding police officers returned fire and killed the subject. 

Earlier the subject was alleged to have told a bystander to watch the news tonight, "I'm going to be famous." (Hence, we are not printing his name).

Officer Santiago had just graduated from the police academy six months ago.

Resources For Veterans

Fisher House
The Gary Sinese Foundation
Hire Our Heroes
Wounded Warrior Project
National Center on Homelessness: 1.877.424.3838
Veterans Crisis Line: 1.800.272.8255

Thursday, June 19, 2014

There Are Heroes And Then There Are Heroes Like Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter: Medal Of Honor Recipient

"No guts, no glory."...Major Gen. Frederick Blesse

Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter: Medal of Honor Recipient

Cpl. Kyle Carpenter was awarded our nation's highest honor today---The Medal Of Honor.

On the morning of Nov. 21, 2010, Cpl. Carpenter, an automatic rifleman with the 1st Marine Division, was standing guard on a rooftop in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. He pounced on an enemy grenade to shield a fellow Marine who was standing watch with him. The blast seat of the grenade was found under Carpenter indicating he had indeed jumped on a live grenade.

The blast left him wounded from the top of his head to his feet. His helmet was riddled with holes and his gear had melted from the blast. While being treated for his injuries, he went into cardiac arrest three times. The doctors brought him back to life each time.

Subsequently, Cpl. Carpenter was in a coma for five weeks. That was followed by 40 surgeries over more than two years. He suffered a brain injury including a collapsed lung, a right arm broken in 30 places and fractured fingers. In addition to multiple skin crafts, he received a prosthetic eye, a new jaw and new teeth.

"The enemy killed me. I came back, ran a marathon, completed a mud run and jumped from a plane. I won't ever quit. I'm just getting started," said Carpenter.

He is now retired from the Marine Corps and is a student at the University of South Carolina.

After receiving the Medal of Honor today, he said he accepted the Medal for his fellow Marines who died in combat.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Officers Down: Igor Soldo + Alyn Beck; Military Friendly Employers

Two Las Vegas Nevada Police Officers Ambushed

Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were ambushed and killed while eating lunch on June 8, 2014.

A male and female subjects approached both officers at their lunch table and shot both officers execution style without warning.  Despite being wounded, one of the officers was able to return fire.

After shooting the police officers, both subjects took the officers' weapons and ammunition and ran to a nearby Walmart where they also shot and killed a civilian. Both subjects were later killed by responding officers at the Walmart. It is believed the female subject committed suicide.

Officer Beck was a Las Vegas Officer for 14 years. Officer Soldo was an 8 year veteran of the department. Beck left behind a wife and three children. Soldo is survived by a wife and an 11th month old son.
ODMP; LA Times, USA Today

2014 Fallen Officers Statistics

To date, there have been 56 line of duty deaths an increase of 14% over last year at this time. Gunfire deaths are up by 31% (21). Auto related deaths are up 37% (26). May was the highest month for line of duty deaths at 18 followed by March with 13.  

California led the nation with 8 line of duty deaths followed by four federal officers. Fifty three deaths were male officers and three were women. Average age was 41 years. Average tour of duty was 12 years, 8 months.

Military Friendly Employers

The following employers are considered to be military friendly and many are hiring veterans:

  • Novo Nordisk
  • Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing is hiring
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • ADT
  • Allstate Insurance
  • APEX Systems
  • Boeing
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • NYC Dept. Of Corrections
  • NYPD
  • SAM's Club
  • Sunrise Senior Living
  • U.S. Capitol Police
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Tyson Foods
  • Sunoco

Thursday, June 5, 2014

D-Day 70 Years Ago This Week

"Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach that day was a hero." Gen. Omar Bradley

This week marks 70 years since the D-Day Invasion in Normandy . We honor those heroes here today:

The invasion involved approximately 160,000 Allied troops, 75,000 of those were Americans.

There are 27 cemeteries that hold the remains of 110,000 from both sides, over 9,400 Americans.

"The remains of 9,386 American soldiers and airmen rest in the military cemeteries of Normandy---silent testimony to the courage and determination a great nation once brought to an existential struggle with boundless evil." Bob McManus

"It takes nothing from their men who liberated Normandy to note their sons and grandsons{may I add daughters and granddaughters} have shown the same courage, from Chosin Reservoir and Hue to Helmand and Anbar provinces...So on this day we give thanks for all those who fought on D-Day, for those who did not live to make the return trip home---and for the new generation of Americans, inspired by their example, who have made the free decision to take their place." NY Post editorial

Thank you to the Greatest Generation.