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.

Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 Memorial Day Edition

"We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that a nation might live...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

On this Memorial Day we honor those who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this greatest of nations.

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example"...Disraeli

"The brave die never. The sleep in dust. Their courage nerves a thousand living men."...Minot Savage

"For glory lights the soldier's tomb, and beauty weeps the brave."...Joseph Drake

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."...John 15:13

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 2014: National Military Appreciation Month; RIP: The Heroism Of Army Nurse Captain Jennifer Moreno

"When  our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?"...George Canning

In 1999, Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month. It's purpose is to ensure the nation demonstrates its appreciation for the sacrifices and successes made by our military service members. The following are some ideas to show our appreciation for our men, women and their families for their service to our country:

  • A Simple "Thank you" is greatly appreciated. In other words, give gratitude not sympathy.
  • Lend an ear, a hand and your time especially to military families. The stress of deployment can take a toll on families. For example, a simple way to offer assistance to a military spouse is ask him/her if they need help with baby-sitting or watching their children for a few hours. Send the family a small gift, e.g. fruit basket, spa essentials, a gift certificate to a local restaurant, etc.
  • If you have a business, offer specials and discounts to military personnel. If you plan on hiring additional staff, consider veterans too. Many possess the skills that can enrich your business or company.
  • Drop by a VA medical center. A lot of veterans appreciate just talking with someone who appreciates their service.
  • Attend many of the National Military Appreciation Month events taking place around the country. Pay a visit to the National Military Appreciation Month's website for a list of events around the country. For example, today I had the unique opportunity of attending the "Walk For The Wounded: Warriors 5K Run" in Media, PA. Attendance was awesome. Below is one photo of the event.
  • If you are a teacher have your students sign a poster and deliver it to your nearest VA center.
  • Ask an active military member and/or a veteran to speak to your classroom.
  • Take a field trip to a military museum or other military point of interest.
  • Display an American flag and POW/MIA flag on your front lawn or porch.
  • Consider making a donation to organizations like the USO, The Wounded Warrior Project, The Fisher House. You can navigate this blog for information on more of these organizations.
  • In your local church bulletin list the name, rank and organization of any parishioners serving.
  • If you live close to a national cemetery, pay a visit., NMAM

Army Nurse Capt. Jennifer Moreno Died Trying To Save Others

On October 5, 2013, Army Nurse Captain Jennifer Moreno, 25,  spent the last moments of her life trying to save other wounded warriors.

Capt. Moreno was assigned to a special operations task force in Afghanistan. During a night raid, an explosion killed several soldiers and wounded others.  Hearing a call to help the wounded soldiers, Moreno moved to help "disregarding her own well being." In the course of the action, Capt. Moreno was killed in another explosion.  Upon her death, other soldiers followed her example to help retrieve the dead and wounded. Some of those soldiers also received fatal wounds. A total of 12 bombs exploded that night taking the lives of four other soldiers and wounding 25.

For her bravery and heroism, Capt. Moreno was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Meritorious Service Medal, and NATO Medal.