Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Wild Iris, Eklunta Lake, AK July 2006Sonnet
by Jane White Chamberlain

I need not visit galleries to look for
Paintings framed in gilt.
I see my paintings through the trees
That God Himself has built.
He hangs them all before my eyes
And no two are the same.
A bit of sky with fleecy clouds
Beyond a country lane,
That flashes of red and olive green,
A pair of birds in flight,
The scarlet tanager and mate,
A rare and wondrous sight.
There’s one I see of a sparkling pond
With shining ripples there.
Near forest aisles so quite-like,
One sees pink orchids clustered rare.
At night God shows me different scenes,
Long shaft of silver rays
Send shadows casing in and out
The hills with mist arrayed.
I like the galleries of God
Where paintings hung for me
Are all proof that I shall need
Of one Great Diety.

Sam's Great Grandmother

Go Forth to Life

Go Forth To Life
by Samuel Longfellow

Go forth to life, oh! child of Earth.
Still mindful of the heavenly birth;
Thou art not here for ease or sin,
But manhood's noble crown to win.

Though passion's fires are in thy soul
Thy spirit can their flames control;
Though tempers strong beset thy way,
Thy spirit is more strong than they.

Go on from innocence of youth
To manly pureness, manly truth;
God's angels are still near to save
And God himself doth help the brave.

Go forth to life, oh! child of earth,
Be worthy of thy heavenly birth,
For noble service thou art here;
Thy brothers help, thy God revere!

A Chaplain's Testimony

I wanted to share this link.


It is from the Sam's regimental Chaplain.


Kevin Shon & Sam, Denali State Park, Denali in background A Mile With Me
by Henry van Dyke

O who will walk a mile with me
Along life's merry way?
A comrade blithe and full of glee,
Who dares to laugh out loud and free
And let his frolic fancy play,
Like a happy child, through the flowers gay
That fill the field and fringe the way
Where he walks a mile with me.

And who will walk a mile with me
Along life's weary way
A friend whose heart has eyes to see
The stars shine out o'er the darkening lea,
And the quiet rest at the end o' the day--
A friend who knows, and dares to say,
The brave sweet words that cheer the way
Where he walks a mile with me.

With such a comrade, such a friend,
I fain would walk till journey's end,
Through summer sunshine, winter rain,
And then? Farewell, we shall meet again!

The Road Not Taken

Nelson Rocks Preserve, WV, Via Ferrata
Coopers Rock State Park, WVThe Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

"Couarge does not follow rutted pathways."
William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues

Monday, January 29, 2007

Doors of Daring

Sam on Woodland Walls, near Morgantown, WV Doors of Daring
by Henry van Dyke

The mountains that inclose the vale
With walls of granite, steep and high,
Invite the feerless foot to scale
Their stairway toward the sky.

The restless, deep, dividing sea
That flows and foams from shore to shore,
Calls to its sunburned chivalry,
"Push out, set sail, explore!"

The bars of life at which we fret,
That seem to prison and control,
Are but the doors of daring, set
Ajar before the sole.

Say not, "Too poor," but freely give;
Sign not, "Too weak," but boldly try;
You never can begin to live
Until you dare to die.

"Barriers are invitations to courage"
William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues

Iraqi Dust Storm

FOB Iskan Soviet built power plant BEFORE store
The same view from the same DURING the storm
Today was my first experience with Iraq's sand/dust storms. I awoke to a bright orange sky. You could barely see the Mussayib Power plant smoke stacks only a few hundred meters away. I was hard to see where the sky and ground met, they were so similar in color. A lot of people walked around with bandannas and scarves wrapped around there faces to keep the dust out. Some of the windows were broken out of our offices from past mortar/rocket attacks, the dust blew in through them until we taped garbage bags over the windows. I've attached two photographs, one taken weeks ago with blue skies (and the usual power plant exhaust) the other taken this morning (Monday 1/29) at the peak of the storm. Supposedly these storms hang around for days, this one is supposed to clear tomorrow...
Your friend in Iraq,

If --

Nelson Rocks Preserve, WV, Via Ferrata If --
by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!

"Brave men and women (as well as cowardly men and women) are not born that way; they become that way through their acts. Here (above) are the acts that make us not just grow up, but grow up well."
William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues

Great Men

Great Men
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not Gold, but only man can make
A people great and strong;
Men who, for truth and honor's sake,
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly --
They build a nation's pillar deep
And lift them to the sky.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Goodnight Moon

"In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of--
The cow jumping over the moon
And there were three
little bears sitting on chairs
And two little kittens
And a pairs of mittens
And a little toyhouse
And a young mouse
And a comb and a brush
And a bowl full of mush
And a quite old lady who was
whispering "hush"
Goodnight room
Goodnight moon
Goodnight cow jumping
over the moon
Goodnight light
And the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens
Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house
And goodnight mouse
Goodnight comb
And goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush
And goodnight to the old lady
whispering "hush"
Goodnight stars
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere"

Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd

Goodnight Sam

Can't Really Call It Home

Care package corner
Reminds me of home
Where I Sleep
My kit, ready by the door
Positive propaganda

Friday, January 26, 2007

Press On - Life is Messy for a Rough Rider

Sam, somewhere in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a multi-pitch climb (click for full screen image)
"It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt

The Future of Iraq

Dear Friends and Family,

As I'm sure you can tell from all the recent news back home, things have gotten a bit "crazy" over here. I've attached a photograph of what the future of Iraq looks like. You can see it on the faces of these little children. Growing up here can't be easy. You don't see many photos like these on the front pages of the New York Times, about all they show is blown up Humvees...



The Soldier, Above All Other Men...

J. Forrest Cain circa 1919 France WWI
"The soldier, above all other men,
is required to practice the greatest act
of religious training -- sacrifice.
In battle and in the face of danger and death,
he discloses those devine attributes which his
Maker gave when He created man in His own image.
No physical courage and no brute instinct
can take the place of the devine help
which alone can sustain him."

General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)
In his famous "Duty, Honor, Country"
speech at West Point, 1962

J. Forrest Cain
Sam's Great Grandfather
U.S. Army WW I

Thursday, January 25, 2007

O Day of Peace That Dimly Shines

"O Day of peace, that dimly shines,
through all our hopes and prayers and dreams,
guide us to justice, truth and love,
delivered from our selfish schemes.
May swords of hate fall from our hands,
our hearts from envy find release,
Till by God's grace our warring world shall see
Christ's promised reign of peace.
Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb,
never shall the fierce devour the small.
As beasts and cattle calmly graze,
a little child shall lead them all.
Then enemies shall learn to love,
all creatures find their true accord,
The hope of peace shall be fulfilled
and all the earth shall know the Lord."
Thank you Pastor Laura
Lutheran WOV Hymnal

Young Winston, the Soldier

"After escaping from a prisoner of war camp during the Boer War in South Africa, Churchill quickly discovered that the fashionable atheism he had adopted before the war now failed him. Alone and in constant danger as he escaped through Boer territory, he turned to the faith of his youth and found himself singing the songs and saying the prayers his Christian nanny had taught him years before.
It was a permanent turning point in his life. In a matter of hours he renewed his grip on the faith of his fathers and never let go."
("The Faith of the American Soldier", Stephen Mansfield)

I found no comfort in any of the philosophical
ideas which some men parade in their hours
of ease and strength and safety. They seemed
only fair-weather friends. I realized with awful
force that no exercise of my own feeble wit and
strength could save me from my enemies, and
that without the assistance of that High Power
which interferes in the eternal sequence of causes
and effects more often then we always prone
to admit, I could never succeed. I prayed
long and earnestly for help and guidance.
My prayer, as it seems to me, was swiftly
and wonderfully answered.
("My Early Life", Winston Churchill)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


IED damage to a M1114 Humvee
"She was right that reality can be harsh and that you shut your eyes to it only at your peril because if you do not face up to the enemy in all his dark power, then the enemy will come up from behind some dark day and destroy you while you are facing the other way."

Frederick Buechner

..Like Men of Courage

"If we would endeavor, like men of courage, to stand in the battle,
surely we would feel the favorable assistance of God from Heaven.
For he who giveth us occasion to fight, to the end we may get the victory,
is ready to succor those that fight manfully, and do trust in his grace."

Thomas A. Kempis

State of The Union, Excerpts

"... For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. Five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that the terrorists can cause. We've had time to take stock of our situation. We've added many critical protections to guard the homeland. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us -- unless we stop them.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terror cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them......

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: "We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse." Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us." ......

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people......

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory......

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you've made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way....."
George W. Bush
President of the United States of America

Freedom To Excercise Stupidity

Dear Sam,
Did Molly or Mom tell you about the drunk, passed-out guy they found on the door step of the Luther House last week? I think it was Thursday or Friday morning Molly woke up to sirens outside her window. One of the roommates came down about 7 - 7:30 a.m. and found a guy in a pool of blood lying on the sidewalk. Sometime after the bars closed the night before (2 a.m.) he was taking the shortcut down the hill, between the Chapel and the house and somehow fell or hit is head on the building then fell. Molly hasn't heard if he made it or not. He had to have been hypothermic if he was laying there since 2 or 3 a.m. Pastor Reigal had to bring his power washer to get the blood off the sidewalk.

That’s crazy about the drunk guy. I sure hope he is ok? Have you heard yet? Gosh, what a waste, you know. To get that drunk, fall down, and possibly die from a concussion or hypothermia of all things. I mean, my friends here are getting blown up and shot to death, meanwhile dumbasses back home drink themselves into oblivion. I think people like that should spend some time in a combat zone, and learn how precious life really is. I’ve seen puddles of blood spilled all over the ground, but it wasn’t from some moron passing out because he was intoxicated, it was because some ***** decided to bury an IED there. God, that just sucks to hear.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On The Banks of the Euphrates

Test driving Army Bridge Erection Boats (BEBs) Take away the ballistic vest, kevlar helmet, Cobra gunship escorts and the M-16 and it sure looks like a nice December day for a boat ride on the Euphrates River.

Monday, January 22, 2007

6 Months Difference

July 2, 2006

November 24, 2006

What a difference 6 months makes at Eklutna Lake, AK

Readings for Christians in Times of War

Excerpts from the ELCA supplied by Gretchen C.

Matthew 5:43-45
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
"Who am I? They often tell me I would step from my cell's confinement calmly, cheerfully, firmly, like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me I would talk to my warders freely, and friendly, and clearly, as though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me I would bear the days of misfortune equably, smilingly, proudly, like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which others tell of? Or am I only what I know of myself, restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage, struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat, yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds, thirsting for words of kind ness, for flowers, for the voices of birds, thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness, trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation, tossing in expectation of great events, powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance, weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making, faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?Who am I? This or the other? Am I one person today, and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine."
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Letters and Papers from Prison)

Ann Weems:
On the edge of war, one foot already in,
I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.
I pray that stone hearts will turn
to tenderheartedness,
and evil intentions will turn
to mercifulness,
and all the soldiers already deployed
will be snatched out of harm's way,
and the whole world will be
astounded onto its knees.
I pray that all the "God talk"
will take bones,
and stand up and shed
its cloak of faithlessness,
and walk again in its powerful truth.
I pray that the whole world might
sit down together and share
its bread and its wine.
Some say there is no hope,
but then I've always applauded the holy fools
who never seem to give up on
the scandalousness of our faith:
that we are loved by God......
that we can truly love one another.
I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.
Ash Wednesday, March 5,2003
Copyright 2003 by Ann Weems.
Ann Weems has given permission to share this poem with others

Deuteronomy 9:4-7
When the LORD your God thrusts them out before you, do not say to yourself, "It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to occupy this land"; it is rather because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to occupy their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is dispossessing them before you, in order to fulfill the promise that the LORD made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Know, then, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to occupy because of your righteousness; for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; you have been rebellious against the LORD from the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place.
Mark R. Peterson

If You But Trust in God to Guide You
If you but trust in God to guide you
And place your confidence in him,
You'll find him always there beside you,
To give you hope and strength within.
For those who trust God's changeless love
Build on the rock that will not move.
Lutheran Book of Worship, 453

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Martin Luther
For at the very outset I want to say, before saying anything else, that he who starts a war is wrong and that it is just for him who draws the sword first to be defeated or at least to be punished in the end.

Treatise on the Morality of Going to War

Grant peace, we pray, in mercy, Lord;
Peace in our time, oh, send us!
For there is none on earth but you,
None other to defend us.
You only, Lord, can fight for us. Amen.
Lutheran Book of Worship, #471

Prayer for the United States of America
Almighty God, ruler of all the peoples of the earth,
forgive, we pray, our shortcomings as a nation;
purify our hearts to see and love truth;
give wisdom to our counselors and steadfastness to our people;
and bring us at last to the fair city of peace,
whose foundations are mercy, justice, and goodwill,
and whose builder and marker you are.
Woodrow Wilson

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dogs of Iraq

Photo by SCC 14 Dec, 2006 on the shores of the Euphrates, Patrol Base Dragon

Saturday, February 12, 2005
Dogs in Iraq
Iraqis certainly present an ugly spectacle to the casual observer. Iraqis' attitude to dogs exemplifies this rather well!
Dogs are regarded as filthy animals. Many of the older people would be gravely offended if they touch a dog. They would have a bath and change cloths as soon as they can. The common string of cuss words is to call someone Kalb (or sometimes Chalib in slang!), ibn il kalb or worse kalb ibn il kalb! [Respectively: dog, son-of-a-dog and dog-son-of-a-dog] to express extreme anger.
Yet, as elsewhere, dogs are regarded as a symbol of loyalty.
Traditionally, the praise of poets was always sought by fame seekers. One notorious unfortunate character was praised by a mean-spirited poet in a famous poem:
You are like a dog in your loyalty to friends……
and like a billy-goat in ramming hardships.
There was nothing he could do about it! He was made a laughing stock for 12 centuries!
Very few people keep pet dogs. Some people in the city do. Yet, they are rarely allowed into the living quarters. Their pens are usually allocated in the roof or garden.
When Alexander the Great died in Iraq, his vast empire was carved up between his generals. Iraq was the share of one Selucius who initially built his capital south of present Baghdad on the right bank of river Tigris in a place now known as “Tel Omar”. For some reason, a hunting dog is known as a “Selugi” in Iraq.
In the countryside, dogs are only used as guards, to replace “alarm bells” or as “early warning systems”! When someone approaches the farmer’s house, his several dogs start barking. Whoever present would rush out to see who’s coming. The dogs immediately quiet down. If you are unattended to and are met by barking dogs, don’t run away. You are then liable to be attacked. These dogs are not trained to attack people. The best course of action is to bend down and pretend to pick a stone. They always back down!
If you hit a farmer’s dog, you’re in trouble. They don’t take that act lightly. It is considered as an insult and an act of aggression! You may be even in for a fine.
In their own way of passing their wisdom through fables, an ancient story that you may hear frequently in the countryside goes like this: A very old man is told that someone had killed his dog. He instructed his sons to seek and kill the dog’s killer. They did not. Some time later, one of his sons was anonymously killed. When told, he immediately barked: “Didn’t I tell you to kill the dog’s killer? Now go and seek the dog’s killer”. Most people of course know this story. So when someone is grieved by someone else you sometimes hear only the words “dog’s killer” coming from “hawkish” councilors – roughly meaning: “Don’t let it go unpunished”.
During the British occupation of Iraq during and after WWI, some British officers took their pet dogs to meetings! Those dogs would sometimes jump and sit in the lap of their masters or next to them on settees. Tribal chiefs and local dignitaries present, being generally quite particular about status and seating hierarchy, could not have been insulted more! Those well-meaning British boys had no idea what damage they were doing.
One such character that comes to my mind is called Bertram Thomas who served as a political officer in a few towns in the south of Iraq in the 1920’s. Thomas had actually written his memoirs about that period. Reading them, you would see a sensible and a well-behaved person. Reading about him from Iraqi literature written about that period, he is usually described as monster. Many writers do not fail to mention his contempt to local dignitaries displayed by seating his dog with them or patting it before shaking hands with them.
Dogs are not given human names. They are referred to by their distinguishing traits: red, loud-mouth, naughty, thief, impatient, etc. Sometimes names are coined up for them. When they are given human names, it is usually done in mockery.
Tribesmen, being particular about their bloodline, find it hilariously unbelievable that dogs in some countries in the west are given the owner’s family name in their license and documents. It never fails to amuse them!
And yet, no family would go to sleep before making sure that their dogs have been fed. It is also noticeable how the little ones in the family take tender care of them, particularly the poppies. They are frequently scolded when caught playing with them, but more in mock than in earnest.
posted by Abu Khaleel @ 12:34 PM From "A glimpse of Iraq, in Little Doses"

My Prayers For Today

Prayers 21 Jan 2007 8:15 Service
Christ Lutheran Church

Gracious Lord, we want to thank you this morning for making our Christ Lutheran Church one body, working together for the common good of our ministry and this community. We thank you for our Pastors, Richard and Laura who guide us and teach us and for each and every one of the talents and abilities you have given us as individuals. Together we form one body, made up of many hands, many eyes and many voices who are joined into the ministries of Christ Lutheran. We thank thee oh Lord for this, your blessings.

Lord, remind us daily that even when life seems to be on the verge of crumbling around or is becoming an uphill battle, that you are the strength and fortress against evil and hard times. Help us to turn to you in prayer, to drink from your never-ending fountain of love and caring. You created the earth and the stars yet you bend down to listen to our worries. Guide us and mold us to pray, “Thy will be done”.

Dear Lord, we ask that you forgive us. We thought we could fix our problems on our own, do it by ourselves, not depend on you or the ones we love. It is so easy to hid within, yet we long to be in your presence. Help us to confess our weakness and release our burdens to you. We pray your gentle mercies and Holy Spirit is with us all, to lift the burdens of fear and worry.

Almighty God, we pray for all the leaders of this great country, in the federal, state and local governments, in our military here and over-seas, and in our diplomatic corps, that they will turn to you in their decision making. We pray that they will be full of integrity, honor, strength, faith in God and a righteous focus on the good of our nation. We pray your strength and protection be with our military men and women serving and protecting our rights as free Americans.

Band of Brothers - 5k Jingle Jog

FOB Iskan 1-501st Christmas Day 2005, 5k Jingle Jog Christmas Day 2006

Henry V at the battle of Agincourt in northern France
25 October 1415 The Hundred Years War.

His army as been reduced to a small band of tired and weary men; many of them are wounded. They are out numbered five to one. But Henry rallies his troops to his side when he reminds them that they are not mercenaries, but a "band of brothers.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother...
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here;
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speak
That fought with us.

Obey God..

Obey God in the thing he shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. God will never reveal more truth about himself until you have obeyed what you know already ...
This chapter brings out the delight of real friendship with God.

Oswald Chambers

Friday, January 19, 2007

"Sappers" - Rudyard Kipling

By Rudyard Kipling Born 1865

When the Waters were dried an' the Earth did appear,
("It's all one," says the Sapper),
The Lord He created the Engineer,
Her Majesty's Royal Engineer,
With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

When the Flood come along for an extra monsoon,
'Twas Noah constructed the first pontoon
To the plans of Her Majesty's, etc.

But after fatigue in the wet an' the sun,
Old Noah got drunk, which he wouldn't ha' done
If he'd trained with, etc.

When the Tower o' Babel had mixed up men's bat,
Some clever civilian was managing that,
An' none of, etc.

When the Jews had a fight at the foot of a hill,
Young Joshua ordered the sun to stand still,
For he was a Captain of Engineers, etc.

When the Children of Israel made bricks without straw,
They were learnin' the regular work of our Corps,
The work of, etc.

For ever since then, if a war they would wage,
Behold us a-shinin' on history's page --
First page for, etc.

We lay down their sidings an' help 'em entrain,
An' we sweep up their mess through the bloomin' campaign,
In the style of, etc.

They send us in front with a fuse an' a mine
To blow up the gates that are rushed by the Line,
But bent by, etc.

They send us behind with a pick an' a spade,
To dig for the guns of a bullock-brigade
Which has asked for, etc.

We work under escort in trousers and shirt,
An' the heathen they plug us tail-up in the dirt,
Annoying, etc.

We blast out the rock an' we shovel the mud,
We make 'em good roads an' -- they roll down the khud,
Reporting, etc.

We make 'em their bridges, their wells, an' their huts,
An' the telegraph-wire the enemy cuts,
An' it's blamed on, etc.

An' when we return, an' from war we would cease,
They grudge us adornin' the billets of peace,
Which are kept for, etc.

We build 'em nice barracks -- they swear they are bad,
That our Colonels are Methodist, married or mad,
Insultin', etc.

They haven't no manners nor gratitude too,
For the more that we help 'em, the less will they do,
But mock at, etc.

Now the Line's but a man with a gun in his hand,
An' Cavalry's only what horses can stand,
When helped by, etc.

Artillery moves by the leave o' the ground,
But we are the men that do something all round,
For we are, etc.

I have stated it plain, an' my argument's thus
("It's all one," says the Sapper),
There's only one Corps which is perfect -- that's us;
An' they call us Her Majesty's Engineers,
Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

Google Eye View, FOB Iskan

Google is truly amazing.
Click on the thumbnails for full size images.
Sam's Foward Operating Base (FOB Iskan) is 35 miles South of Baghdad along the Euphrates River. The "Green Fields" North of the FOB are actually fish farms. The FOB is contiguous to a power plant that supplies about 60% of Baghdad's Electricity. The 1-501st has a patrol area that extends West, across the river, past Jurf (Jurf as Sakhr).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In The Potter's Hand

Romans 9:21

“Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (NIV)

Author: H. Beecher Hicks

Look closely here! Paul said that the potter has the power over the clay… God molds us and makes us and holds us in his hand. It’s no news to you that every potter has the job of molding, making and holding.

The reason that God is involved in the pottery process is that God needs instruments and not objects. Any potter can make an object to sit on the shelf. Any potter can make an artifact that is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Any potter can make an item of retail sale that men can purchase or leave alone. But God does not need objects. God needs instruments. Far too many who are engaged in the Christian enterprise are objects, but they’re not instruments.

An instrument says I’m good for something …
An instrument says I have a purpose …
An instrument says I have value …
An instrument says I can be used …

Always remember that the potter does have the power over the clay. The potter has the creative power. He brings into being that which was not …

The potter has creative power. He can stoop down in the dust of the earth and pick up lumps of clay and breathe the breath of life into it until it walks and talks like a natural man. The potter has creative power.

But more, the potter has re-creative power. Jeremiah says that sometimes the pot is marred in the potter’s hands (Jeremiah 18:1-4). Sometimes the pot does not do what it was designed to do. But the potter just takes it and breaks it and molds it and makes it what he would have it to be. I’m glad to know that when I’m marred and broken, the Lord is not through with me yet. I want him to re-create me ...

We end where we began: God molds us and makes us and holds us in his hands. No matter what happens in this life, I’m in his hand. What a mighty God we serve! Right or wrong, up or down, poverty or wealth, sickness or health, come what may, I am in his hand.

Hallelujah, I am in his hand.

I pray, Thy will be done. Make me an instrument!

A Letter From Boot Camp, Nov 1970

USCG Training Center
Cape May, NJ
16 Nov 1970

Dear Valerie,

Well I got the heading of the letter done a couple of days ago (Sat. 14 Nov 1970) but didn’t get around to the letter until today (Mon. 16 Nov 1970). This whole weekend I have been so nervous. Just waiting to find out where I will be going. All day Sat. and Sun. there were rumors about where everyone was going. Sunday, several times, the Yeoman tried to get the list of what Districts we were assigned, but couldn’t get them until just before evening chow. I don’t think I ate two spoons full of dinner. My mind was a million miles away thinking about what would happen, if I got stationed far away from you. It kept running through my mind.

Well I ran back from chow as fast as I could. The Yeoman arrived about 15 minutes later and most of the guys had gotten back from chow. We were all sitting around in front of the barracks. Then he walked in and read the list of who got what Districts. Boston came first, that’s where Terry got, then came the 3rd district, HQ, N.Y.C. and Governors Island, NY. 4 names were read off, then mine and a few others. I had to ask the Yeoman to read it over again. I don’t think I believed what I heard the first time. I couldn’t believe it. I got my first choice, District 3 and then to get assigned to N.Y.C. I almost flipped my lid. It was unbelievable. One thing was unsure. On the list, it said Governors Island, NYC, unit to be assigned. That means I will find out what my assignment is for sure tomorrow (Tuesday).

I haven’t found out yet, but I went over and talked to the Photographer Mates and he is going to talk to the Photographer Mate in Governors Island to see if they need a man to strike, to help out. I went this morning and I hope to hear something tomorrow. I am really setting on the edge of my seat. I talked to the Seaman who is striking here and almost cried. He said he had 5 or 6 years of experience before he came into the C.G. He said he had shot some pictures with a friend for Life Magazine.

I’ll tell you chick, I am sacred. I am really scared about going into this deal. I just hope the Photographer Mate in G.I. will want to put up with a dumb bunny like me. Val, I want to learn the field of photography so bad I can almost taste it. The Seaman here said the officer in charge at G.I. is a real professional and expects perfection. He will ship anyone out who doesn’t measure up to par. So you can see why I am scared.

Do you realize that I might be with you even before you get this letter? Wow, only 4 more days of boot camp. To be exact, 94 hours left until we graduate.
Well I must get running. I have got to get down to the phone to call this very special girl I happen to know in N.Y.C. I sure hope I can get a phone. I must run.
I’m getting awful excited.

Soon Baby,


A Lot Longer Ago!!

Semper Paratus
"Always Ready"
1972 Summer Dress Whites
United States Coast Guard
ETN3 Electronics Technician - Communications
Ouch! What a difference 35 years makes!

Long Ago, Far Away

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work I Go

20 December 2006
Mix a few UXOs, (unexploded ordinance, artillery and mortar shells) and an ample amount of Army C4 and det. cord and you have fulfilled the Major's wishes of removing an old Iraqi barracks building.
Oh, yes, and put a smile on a young man's face.
Little boys never grow up.

How Big Is Iraq?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Letter Home, 1918

Camp Merritt, NJ
3:45 am Fri Oct 18, 1918

Dear Mother,

Only a few lines as we are on our way. I got into Merritt at midnight Oct. 16 and we leave at 4 am tomorrow morning for France. We have a 65 pound pack and we have to hike about 5 miles tomorrow to take the train. Some little jaunt. You aught to see me. We had to have our head shaved. I have the whole outfit now, even the tin derby. It only weighs four pounds. We leave pier 95 Hoboken, NJ at 9:30 am Oct 19 on the Hoboken Tie Line, and expect to be about two weeks on the water. This will be a bum letter but you won't mind when I tell you I haven't had a wink of sleep since I left Holabird and there isn't any chance till I get aboard ship. I have been helping to strighten out the company personell. It's an awful job to get all the records ready for overseas service.
This will be my last letter from this side but I will keep up to my old record when I once get settled on then other side. I want to drop Ceace a little note before it's to late.
Lots and lots of love from your little soldier.

Pvt. J. Forrest Cain
307th Repair Unit
Motor Transportation Corp, M.T.C.
American Expeditionary Force
Hdqts Co. Via New York

Great Grandfather of 1LT Samuel Cain Chamberlain
Grandfather of Jay Forrest Chamberlain

Monday, January 15, 2007

My Son

My Son
by Jane White Chamberlain

"My son," she says, as they meet for a minute,
"Is fighting now in the South Pacific."
"My son," the other says,
"Is stationed somewhere near Suez"

"My son -- my son -- my son" one hears
As buses stop with shift of gears,
While 'cross the counter of the stores
Brief bits of news as cannons roar.

"My son -- my son -- my son," they say,
Who carry the cross -- 'tis they who pray.

Jane White Chamberlain
with two sons serving in the Army Air Corp during WW II,
my father John and his brother Curt.

Psalm 147:4-6 Limits

Psalm 147:4-6

4: The Lord determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.
5: Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limits.
6: The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

Jimmy Houston
"Catch of the Day"

".... Whether we like it or acknowledge it, God has placed limits on each of us....
God does have the potential to stretch our limits far beyond what we can do alone. And the great thing is He wants to. When you feel you have reached your limit in whatever you are trying to accomplish, ask God to move the boundaries, stretch them out a bit....."


The Sapper Leader Course trains selected combat engineer unit leaders in leadership skills, combat engineer and infantry battle drills, and the specialized engineer and infantry techniques required to perform as members of a Sapper Battalion. The course is also designed to build cohesion and esprit de corps by training soldiers in troop leading procedures, demolitions (conventional and expedient), mountaineering operations, aerial operations, airborne operations, foreign weapons, land navigation, waterborne operations and contingency threat.


"Let Us Try"

501st PIR Geronimo

The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (501 PIR) lineage can be traced back to the 29th Infantry Regiment which spawned a vounteer group known as the Parachute Test Platoon on June 26, 1940. Eventually, these parachute-trained volunteers would comprise the Army's first regular all-parachute tactical outfit, the 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion under the command of Major William M. Miley who later commanded the 17th Airborne Division. The nucleus of this unit provided part of the cadre, the unit number, the genealogical lineage and the heraldic background of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment which was activated in Toccoa, GA on 15 November 1942 under the command of Colonel Howard R Johnson.

James 5:16

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Author Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop

Torn Between Two….

In order to meet the basic psychological needs to know and be known, to love and be loved by others, men need deep caring relationships with other men. It’s to this level that James instructed Christians, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). A man who doesn’t have at lease one other man to whom he can be accountable regarding his failures, hurts, and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger.
The angry man in our society is caught between mythical masculinity on one side and true masculinity on the other. He feels the pressure to achieve, to earn, to conquer, to win – and to do all these things on his own. But he also feels the need to love and to nurture those he loves, and to be loved and nurtured by those who love him. He futilely attempts to reconcile the two in his own life. He is torn between being invincible and vulnerable, aloof and involved, self-serving and succoring . . . The roots of the conflict send up numerous shoots of anger-producing tendencies in his life.

Sam’s response
That verse and conversation has a whole different meaning when you live on a FOB with 700 men all carrying loaded weapons who daily go out and hunt other men. Thanks to rank we don't need to worry too much about the whole alpha male thing, but yeah, there's a couple dudes here that think they're masculine, luckily we have no females to show off for...

Romans 12:17-21

17: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody
18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19: Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath,
for it is written:
"It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
20: On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head."
21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


by Jane White Chamberlain

Just as a chip, tossed into a stream,
Finds there a current or hides unseen
‘Neath some jutting rock or driftwood caught aside,
So do some lives find rest,
While others ride the tide,
Some high, some low.
Help me, dear Lord, to steer an even course, just so.
Hold fast my hand
Nor let me once drift on
‘Mid rushing waters and to distant harm.
Give me the faith to skirt the hidden shoals of life
And so to live that I may come at last
Into the quite harbor of Thy love.

So Do We Pray

So Do We Pray
by Jane White Chamberlain

We thank thee, Lord, for blessing given,
For fruitful years that we have striven
To use the lessons Thou didst give
To humans all, to help us live.

Grant that we walk in humble ways
To meet the challenge of these days
Help us to act that wars may cease
And nations turn to ways of peace.

Let homes be started, children born,
Nor let them evermore be torn
From mother, father, sister, wife
To fight another bitter strife.

So do we pray as twilight falls
And ask Thy blessing on us all.

Prayer For A New Day

Prayer For a New Day
by Jane White Chamberlain

When the dawn is in the making
And the world lies all dew-pearled
By the rays of the sun that is breaking
Upon a waking world –
With faith and hope in our hearts
To make this day the best
In all things do our part
That night shall bring us rest.
Thus do we pray at waking
For faith holding strong and true,
For courage to have for the taking,
Courage for tasks we must do.

Jane White Chamberlain Circa 1940
Sam's Great Grandmother