Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What One RANGER Did On Block Leave

Communed with aliens

Practiced for his try out as Maria in a reprisal of "The Sound of Music"

Forced his little brother (the one on the left looking so mean and tough) to take him to Chuck E Cheese

Played with his food

And....drum roll please.......

Called his counselor while posing in a towel with PINK starfish and other pastel sea creatures AFTER applying NAIR to his body and creating major burns.  Yeah....Rangers Lead The Way! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

DeSoto Co, MS Schools and Rolling Thunder MS Chapter #2 Team Up To Send Some Love To Deployed Troops

In December Nancy Rouse approached me about sending Valentine's Day cards to deployed troops.  You may remember Nancy from a couple of years ago when she was the Principal of Lakeland, TN elementary school and they selected the 173rd, 2-503 as their "Be a Hero For a Hero" project that year.  If you haven't read that story or the follow up when one of the Sky Soldiers visited the school to thank the children and staff I urge you to take the time to do so. 

Nancy and her husband Frank, who served with the 2-503 in Vietnam, are members of the newest Rolling Thunder chapter recently formed in Mississippi.  They got the chapter members involved as well.  Nancy contacted several of the schools in DeSoto County, MS asking that they have their students make cards.  Meanwhile I contacted a few people asking if they would donate hot chocolate mix and candy.

Jim Rorie and Bob Chapman, of First Tennessee Bank Investment department donated cases of hot chocolate mix.  Jim has completed the green route of the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands, NM in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.  That's quite a feat to accomplish.

I picked up the hot chocolate mix and dropped it as well as FRBs and mostly filled out customs forms at Nancy's house.  The members of Rolling Thunder MS Chapter #2 drove all over DeSoto County, MS to pick up home made cards from 17 schools in the district and deliver them to the designated drop of location, Southern Thunder Harley Davidson   Nancy later told me that several schools got the information late and regretted not being able to participate. 

Rusty, President of Rolling Thunder MS Chapter #2, holding one of the Valentine's day cards after it was delivered to the drop off location

Frank with a box of the Valentine's Day cards that were dropped off

I love it when students make cards for our troops.  While they are all so touching and special there's generally one or two that grab my attention more than some of the others.  This time was no exception.  My absolute FAVORITE is........

Yes, bless this little one's heart.  He/she is thanking the troops for saving our "cuchey".  I have to think that card will bring many laughs and fun in Afghanstan.

Many, many thank yous to the DeSoto County schools, students and staff, to Frank and Nancy Rouse, Rolling Thunder MS Chapter #2 and Jim Rorie for making this project a huge success.  Hundreds of cards, packets of hot chocolate mix and candy and lots of love are on the way to Soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Here are pics of some of the other cards:

Well done everyone.  Well done!

Friday, February 12, 2010

I "heart" and "bullet" Ranger Grif

The other day I received a package from one of my Soldiers who recently returned from his second deployment to Afghanistan.  Normally I wouldn't share something like this publically but this is an exception.

I opened the package and found two items.  This gorgeous heart pendant (sorry the photo quality isn't so good).

It really is much more beautiful than the photo indicates.  Lapis is thought to only be mined in one province of Afghanistan and has been for thousands of years.  There are several grades of lapis.  The most highly sought after is the grade that is bright blue with flects of a gold colored material in it called pyrite.  The heart shown above has the gold flecks of pyrite in it but they are showing in the photo as much darker.

AND THEN.....I saw the second object and I laughed so hard.  Absolutely LOVE IT
Yep.  A bullet carved from lapis.  Now how darn thoughtful of a Ranger is that?  Just can't get any better.

Guess which one has been hanging around my neck since I got them?

Thank you Ranger Grif.  I absolutely "heart" and "bullet" you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Results Are In - Sky Soldiers Declare Me A Loser

A few weeks ago Angela Nestell, wife of 173rd, 2-503 Soldier SFC Michael Nestell, learned that I was sending baked goods, including brownies, to several of the Sky Soldiers currently deployed to Afghanistan.  Angela has been sending cookies to her husband and his men.  When she learned I was sending brownies, banana nut bread and other assorted loaf cakes such as blueberry, apple struesel, cinnamon struesel, cranberry orange, etc. she wanted a piece of the action.   I honestly don't recall who challenged who first but none-the-less we both sent our brownies to "the judge", Destined Company's 1SG Mark Patterson.  From that the brownie competition was born.

As I stood in my kitchen making my brownies from SCRATCH I knew she would most likely be opening a box mix.  I added the full POUND of BUTTER to my mix, the eggs, cocoa, flour, etc all the while smiling and knowing that she had no chance in hell.  I hadn't even air sealed or shipped my brownies and I was already feeling sorry for her.

For the past 10 days or so there has been non stop trash talking between the two of us.  Hell, I even bought and laundered new sheets and sealed them up with a fabric softener sheet and shipped them to the 1SG - not that I was attempting to sway his vote or anything.

I cannnot  begin to tell you the sting I felt when I woke up this morning and saw this on Angela's Nestell's Facebook page:

Angela Nestell HAS BEEN CROWNED THE BROWNIE COMPETITION CHAMPION!!!!!! Please if you have Leta Carruth as a friend on your page I ask that you offer her all the kind words you can give her during this trying time, because...SHE"S GONNA NEED IT! Wooohoo *happy dance happy dance*

So I checked my Facebook message inbox and found this message titled "Taste Test Results":

Mark Patterson February 9 at 4:42am

Well this is all that you have been waiting for, the results for the Brownie Cook off.  I will have to say that the competition was close and good. I had to go back for thirds just to let you all know; and a couple of extra miles on the tread mill.

Leta, I don't know how to say this, but you are not the winner. According to the company and the votes it was Angela's brownies that won hands down.

Sorry to break the news like this over e-mail but that is how it goes. I will be here for moral support and comfort, and Angela CONGRATS

Which was followed by:

Angela Nestell February 9 at 4:57am

WOOOOHOOOOOO! Happy dance happy dance, muuwwhahahahaaa.

Dear Leta,

I am so sorry for your loss. I won't tell you where I really got the recipe as it may piss you off...yes I lied to you the other day :0) lol If there is anything I can do to help you out during this terrible time please let me know. Again, my condolences are with you at this sad time. xoxo will be getting more once my new vacuum sealer gets here along with some more cookies and whatever else I decide to send. I'm going to try to make Banana bread but we'll see how it turns out (never made it before). If its crap...then you'll have to sweet talk to Leta and let her make you some because I hear hers is really awesome. And if she won't make you any because she lost this competition, then well, I guess I could give her my browniiieeee...WHATEVER i'm not giving up this title!!! LMAO

Again, sorry for your loss Leta. And Mark, make sure you tell all the boys thanks and more will be on its way soon. :0) xo

Photos of my "friends"

The Nestell family.  Kirsten, SFC Nestell, Angela (in red) Raegan and Noah (on dad's lap)

1SG Mark Patterson (2nd from Left) and some of the other evil taste testers on a recent patrol in eastern Afghanistan.

While I am fairly certain the high altitude affected the taste buds and brain cells of those involved in the taste test it would be wrong of me not to congratulate Angela on her victory.  So:


Even though 1SG Patterson was kind enough (whatever) to offer moral support and comfort from Afghanistan I think I need a scotch or two.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Helping kev Reintegrate After Deployment - A Photo Essay Part 2 seems kev and I may have overdone it a wee bit last night.  Napped most of today.  (I'm fairly certain someone won't be happy with me for this picture).

kev played a little, ok, a LOT, of World of War

Finally decided to head out around 22:00 to see what we could get into tonight.  kev had one beer and one shot and I had one scotch.  Yep...still in recovery from a fabulous time last night.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Helping kev Reintegrate After Deployment - A Photo Essay Part 1

I arrived at Fort Knox to pick kev up.  Stopped by 6-4 CAV first to say hello to SFC Domingues, MAJ Nelson and others from 6-4 CAV.  Great to see them and meet some new folks who have joined the Squadron since they returned from Afghanistan.
We drove to Louisville and checked into our hotel.  Poor kev...I forgot about how being a passenger with a civlian so soon after a deployment can be a LOT stressful for a Soldier.  He survived and only yelled at me a few times.  Called Uncle Jimbo who was INSANELY jealous he's not here with us.  Yep, he actually admitted that.  Off to dinner, wine, scotch and the traditional Irish Car Bomb.  kev, of course finished his first
Then off to Fourth Street Live
Decided to use the "2 free cover charge" for Howlin' at the Moon.  Good choice!
FINALLY!  That awesome kev smile.  He was starting to relax and was playing "stump the piano guys".  But he didn't!
After "enough" (is there really an "enough" point for liquor when a great friend redeployes?) wine, beer, scotch and shots the jello shots.  Yeah, that's me, scotch in hand taking the jello shot.  Ugh!
Jello shots with whipped cream and scotch...well, my reaction....ewwwwwwwwwwww
kev made friends with one of the piano players who announced "Welcome back from Iraq kev" which precipitated a flourish of free drinks and shots on our table. 
The kev bought Red Headed Sluts shots for everyone who had bought drinks for us.  This picture kev, girlfriend of Sailor and Sailor.  Think kev was toasted yet?  :)
Local businessman, kev and business man's girlfriend.  REALLY nice guy.  Thanked kev over and over and bought kev way too many drinks. :)
Drinking the Red Headed Slut shots
Driving back to Fort Knox so kev can sign in and we can back track to Louisville for Part II.  NOT gonna go into that foolishness.
As we were walking from the car to the visitor's center to get a pass on to Post I heard a female voice call, "Leta."  Huh?  Not many people know I'm here.  I turned around and it was my friend Dbie.  Holy Smokes!  What are the changes of that?  So good to see her.

Got kev signed in and are back at the hotel.  kev is snoring away in preparation for tonight's festivities.  I'm gonna do the same thing.

WELCOME HOME kev.  I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad you are back safely.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Meet Josh - Madison, WI PD's Newest K-9 Recruit - Definitely More To This Story

SGT Joshua Brennan was a well respected NCO in the Army.  He served with the 173rd, 2-503 based in Vicenza, Italy.  Josh was awarded NCO of the year by the Vietnam era Bravo Bulls of the 2-503.  He earned many medals of valor, purple hearts and other awards during his service in the Army.  He was a great son, brother, leader, Soldier and friend.  Josh had many plans for his life after the Army.  One of those plans was to serve alongside his father, Mike Brennan, on the Madison, Wisconsin police department.  Sadly Josh died 26 October 2007 of wounds sustained during an ambush in eastern Afghanistan on 25 October 2007. 

Mike Brennan, Josh's father, has been a member of the police department since leaving the Army himself.  When news came of Josh's death in Afghanistan the department rallied around Mike and his family. To this day they continue to remember Josh, to support Mike and the Brennan family and to participate in various events to remember and honor fallen military personnel. 

Yesterday Mike Brennan sent me an email with the photos below and this text:

"Yes this is the newest mpd (Madison Police Department) k-9 and he was named after Josh. Josh always wanted to work with me on the PD and now he will have a chance.  The handler is in South Carolina picking him up and will be back in March after training. He was born in Dec of 2008 and she says he is full of energy"

I'm not going to lie.  I couldn't stop the tears.  Mike has become a very dear and special friend.  We talk about Josh often and have through the past two years.  I know how much Mike thinks about the "what if".  What if Josh hadn't been killed in Afghanistan?  What would it be like to have him on the force with me?  Mike Brennan has every reason to be bitter and angry but he's not.  He misses Josh EVERY DAY but he draws on his faith, family and friends when he needs a little extra strength.

Mike invited me on a ride along one night when I was visiting in Madison.  I actually witnessed him making an arrest.  I won't go into the details but I was truly in awe of how he handled the situation.  There was a young child at the home.  One of the first things Mike did was ask another family member to remove the child from the room.  He didn't want the child to see him as he handcuffed the mother.  He didn't have to do that but that is an example of the kind of man Mike is.  He was definitely firm and in control of the situation at all times but always cognizant of the young child.  At one point the mother and a friend of hers attempted to escalate the situation with yelling.  Mike calmly, but firmly, talked them down in short order always reminding them that the child should not be traumatized by the situation.  Before we took the mother out to the squad car Mike gave her the opportunity to talk with her child for a few moments.  The he spoke with the young child and assured him everything would be OK.

I am so grateful to the Madison Police Department for naming their newest K-9 after Josh.  I have no doubts Mike is going to need a little training, too.  I fear Josh could weigh 500 lbs if Mike is allowed to give him treats.  I look forward to the day when I get to meet Josh.  He's quite a handsome young man isn't he?

Links to stories about SGT Brennan:

Remembering SGT Josh Brennan - link has a very moving video

SGT Brennan's mom's facebook page

SGT Josh Brennan's family invited to the White House by President Bush