Friday, March 30, 2007

Mountain Madness

Going up the Buck Hollow trail, Shenandoah NP
On the way back down the Buck Ridge trail.
A VERY steep and rocky last 1/2 mile of the Buck Ridge trail

We spent a wonderful day hiking in Shenandoah NP near Sperryville, VA. It was in the mid 60s and not a cloud in the sky. It was a tough 6 mile loop trail with about 1400 feet of elevation gain from bottom to top. And Molly stepped off a rock into the muck only once.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Little and Big Jasper

I know what you're thinking, we're dorks, no kids, just taking pictures of our dog all the time, but thats ok for now, right?
Look how much he's grown already......

Only In Alaska IV

 Larry Mathis clears a path through a snow berm in front of his 1958 Cessna 180 that is parked along Lakeshore Drive at Lake Hood, Mar. 24, 2007. Mathis has been flying in Alaska for nearly 40 years and said
Zanlan Williams of Anchorage rides along the Seward Highway next to Turnagain Arm during a training ride for the Mother's Day Clean Air Challenge. Williams works on the Slope, so he is getting in his rides early. Early registration for the bike ride is open until, Mar. 30, 2007, at The American Lung Association fundraiser has a 60-mile ride from Houston to Talkeetna and a 120-mile round-trip ride. BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Winter overstays its welcome.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Only The Best

The best ski instructor in Alaska.
The best ski student in Alaska.

I have the best cross country ski instructor in Alaska, she only takes me on the hardest hills because its the best way to learn, then takes off fast and makes me catch up. I only got lost for a couple hours today on trails I have never been on...... But hey, I'm learning fast.

We also went for an awesome nature hike out Eagle River with Jasper....



Three wild and beautiful animals.
Three laid back animals.
Kiss a frog and make a wish.
The wish came true.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday Snowboarding & Skiing

First Shad of the Season

This was the second one of the season.
Looking upstream to the Falmouth Rt. 1 bridge
Picked up 3 on my first outing. Had 2 more on and saw color.
Sorry Dave, I'll take the 6wt and new sinking line when they get a little thicker.

AK Reunion and 10 Mile Run

Here are a few photos from Sam and Gretchen. The first couple are self explanatory.
The others are from a 10 mile training run Saturday that Sam stated, "I was chasing Gretchen. Gretchen was chasing Jasper. I am not sure what Jasper was chasing" Sam said he lucked out catching the end of winter sales. He picked up a set of classic X country skis. "Everyone up here is ready for spring. I am getting my first of dose of winter."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

WVU Army ROTC Comes To Life

I am just now getting the hang of capturing and editing video with the Adobe software I bought for Christmas. Enjoy this 2003 ROTC Ranger Challenge clip from Ft. A.P. Hill.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Blackbear, M-town

Spring break started early for Molly as I made a marathon run to Morgantown and back last night. I left work and hit the road at 2:30 pm, rolling into M-town at 7:00. We hit one of Sam's and now Molly's favorite places for dinner, Blackbear. It was their 4th anniversary so as you might make out in the fuzzy camera phone images, the place was packed. We rolled out of town at 9pm and were home by 1:05am. Molly had a great mix assembled on her iPod so the trip homeward bound was full of wonderful tunes.

No minus wind chill factrors or snow drifts on this lower 48 spring break trip. And then again we weren't heading for the mall either.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

He Gave Us Boys

U.S. Army Pfc. Pedro Rangel provides security with an M240B machine gun from a rooftop while fellow soldiers begin work on building the new combat out post in Ghazaliya, Iraq, Jan. 14, 2007. Rangel is with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Martin K. Newton.
Throughout history, long before the marines, God has been looking for a few good men:
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9a)
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30a).
God, give us men. Give us Noahs, to whom you can trust your mighty plans; give us Abrahams, who are willing to leave home and homeland to follow your call; give us Josephs, who would rather endure prison then violate one of your commands; give us Moseses, who are willing to stand as your mouthpiece against the most powerful leaders in all the world; give us Daniels, who would rather face a lions’ den then compromise their faith; God give us Men. However, the reality is that God does not give us men - he gives us boys. To us, as parents, he gives the task of forging these boys into men. To help equip us for the task, God has provided the book of Proverbs, which is largely the advice of a father to a son … Our children are our legacy. As a parent, are you taking that thought seriously?
Charles Swindoll, “Men’s Devotional Bible”

Proverbs 6:20-22
“My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you, when you awake, they will speak to you.”


Give us Sams, who serves and protects their county against all enemies both foreign and domestic.

A father and mother could not be more proud to have a son who serves his nation, his family and his friends, willingly, with honor and integrity. The boy by their side is no longer; but rather a man who lives his life with Christ in his heart. A man on his own, who has taken a wife, making his way in this evil world but with Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and Daniel, Christ’s army by his side, to watch his back.

Fuel Stop in Ireland

Gretchen called at 2300 EDT last night. Sam had travelled from Kuwait to a fuel stop in Ireland. She didn't know when he was leaving but was expecting to be in DFW sometime around 0900 this morning (Thursday). She thought his flight to Chicago departed about 1600. He should be getting into Anchorage about 2300 local. Imagine what Sam's body must feel like after 4-5 days of travel.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Only in Alaska III - Spring Break Adventure

Wrong turn could have been the end for mall-bound pair
STUCK: A young duo erred in taking the Denali Highway on a trip to Canada.

By KATIE PESZNECKERAnchorage Daily News
Published: March 21, 2007

Donetta Thurman and James Newborn just had to get to the mall -- even if it meant a 2,000-mile drive through Alaska's winter wilderness.

But they took a dangerous turn on the road to West Edmonton Mall -- a shopping shrine in Canada -- and got stuck in deep snow on the Denali Highway, some 160 miles off course in Interior Alaska, on a road where stranded travelers have died in the past.

They got lucky. The Alaska State Troopers rescued them....

Homeward Bound

The call came at 1:50 am EDT.

His appointment was at 0800 local. It only took 45 minutes for Sam to get his roundtrip itinerary and he was on the phone with Gretchen.

Departing Kuwait at 2330 Wednesday night his time, he'll be home in 36 hours - the 11 hour time difference. So I think he gets in Thursday night at about 2300. Still have to do the time zone math.
Kuwait, Germany, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Anchorage. Straight through with very little time to spare. Military flights to DFW then commercial.

He has his return travel intinary, but 2 am was not the time to try and decipher it.

So meeting him on the way to AK is not going to happen. Maybe on the way back. He is safe and out of Iraq, that is what is important.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sam Arrives Kuwait

Gretchen confirmed that Sam caught a flight from BIAP to Kuwait City last night. Fortunately they had tents for the soldiers to sleep in. Sam hadn't slept in 24 hours since leaving the FOB. They had him waiting on the tarmac Monday night in hopes of getting on the next flight. He ended up hanging around the airport all day Tuesday.
He has an appointment with the travel office at 8 am (1 am EDT) Wednesday morning and we should know something more after that.

Not Kripsy Kreme - Gretchen!!

Snow doughnuts, like these found in the North Cascades, form when snow conditions are just right. A rare treat from nature: Perfect snow doughnuts
By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter
No, it's not a promotion for Winchell's or Krispy Kreme.
"This is no joke. We did not build it," said Mike Stanford, an avalanche-control expert with the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT). "They are a natural occurrence in nature."
Stanford found frozen doughnuts of snow on the top of Washington Pass in the North Cascades this week when he was doing avalanche-control work.
At first he couldn't believe his eyes: Perfectly shaped doughnuts had rolled down the mountainside and frozen in place.
He said it's only the second time in his 30 years of working in the snow that he's seen anything like it.
The larger of the snow rollers, as they are commonly called, was about 24 inches tall, he said, large enough for him to put his head through the hole.
Stanford said snow rollers form when there is a hard layer on the snow, covered by several more inches of dense snow. "Then you add a steep slope and a trigger such as a clump of snow falling out of a tree or off of a rock face."
As gravity pulls a clump down, it usually rolls down the hill and collapses, creating what the WSDOT calls a pinwheel. Or it will not roll at all, and come down in an avalanche of snow. But if the snow is the perfect density and temperature, it rolls down leaving a hole in the center, Stanford said.
Strong, gusty winds also can be a factor, according to NOAA's National Weather Service office in central Illinois, where snow rollers have occurred.
As soon as the sun comes out and it warms up, the doughnuts would be gone, Stanford said Friday.

Don't think you can drive up to see them. They sit on Washington Pass, 14 miles east of where the highway is closed for the winter.
"No, there are not many of them," Stanford said of his discovery. "The temperature and snow conditions have to be just right."
Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

WVU Women Lose In 2nd Round

LSU center Sylvia Fowles (34) grabs the rebound from West Virginia forward Chakhia Cole (22) in the first half of their second round basketball game at the NCAA women's Division I tournament in Austin, Texas, Monday, March 19, 2007

WVU Lady Mountaineers 43
LSU Lady Tigers 49

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sam Arrives BIAP

Gretchen called this afternoon at 3:45 EDT to confirm that Sam caught a flight from FOB Iskan to BIAP Monday evening (Not Sunday). He arrived around 9:30 local (2:30 EDT) and was hoping to turn around and catch the next flight to Kuwait Tuesday morning. As I type it is 0232 local Baghdad time Tuesday.

Paratroopers Find Large Weapon Cache

The 509th is one of Sam's sister regiments.
Monday, 19 March 2007
Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory

ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq – Paratroopers from Company D, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division discovered a weapons cache March 18 south of Baghdad.

While on patrol, the Paratroopers discovered the cache which consisted of 400 tank rounds, 50 130mm mortars and three 60 mm mortars.

The cache was secured, the site was marked and an explosive ordnance disposal team was notified for the demolition of the cache.

Valerie Overcomes Fear of Large Dogs

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mountaineer Women Advance

# 11 WVU 65
#6 Xavier 52
WVU plays LSU in the next round.
GO EERS!!!!!!!

Bummer - Blue Hens out in 1st Round

Greensboro, NC


Is Sam now sitting in the Baghdad International Airport??
Every indication from Sam this past week was he was going to be departing the FOB Sunday evening after dark by Blackhawk helicopter.
After that it is wait and see when the flight for Kuwait leaves.
We are taking it day by day.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Endurance - Hebrews 10:36

Sam finishing, Thanksgiving Day 5k Turkey Trot, 2004
Molly and Maggi finishing, Thanksgiving Day 5k Turkey Trot, 2004"You have need of endurance,
so that after you have done the will of God,
you may receive the promise."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Proof - Sam Really Is A Buffalo Bills Fan

Samuel Cain Chamberlain
J. Forrest Cain
Jay Forrest Chamberlain

Have A Seat U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Pearce sits next to an Iraqi boy during a visit to Sheik Burhan Al Asee's house during a patrol in Riyahd village, Iraq, March 8, 2007. Pearce is assigned to Delta Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force.

Delaware (Women) Earns Trip to the NCAA Tournament EAST LANSING, MI -- The University of Delaware women’s basketball team will make its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament Sunday, March 18 as the Blue Hens will face host and No. 23 Michigan State at the Breslin Student Events Center.

Delaware (26-5), which tied a school-record with 26 wins this season, earned a No. 12 seed in the Greensboro Region and will battle the No. 5 seed Spartans at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 Television. The Blue Hens made their last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001 when they travelled to North Carolina State and fell to the Wolfpack 76-57.

The winning team will advance to face the winner of the No. 4 Rutgers (22-8) vs. No. 13 East Carolina (19-13) contest in the second round on Tuesday, March 20. Rutgers, the Big East Tournament champion, is ranked No. 15 nationally by the Associated Press.

Other matchups taking place in East Lansing include No. 2 seed and seventh ranked Vanderbilt (27-5) battling No. 15 Delaware State (20-12) at 12 noon and No. 7 seed and 20th-ranked Bowling Green (29-3) taking on No. 10 Oklahoma State (20-10) at 2:30 p.m.

For tickets contact Michigan State’s ticket office at 517-355-1610 or visit the Michigan State athletic tickets website at

"Being selected for the NCAA Tournament justifies where we are as a program," said Delaware head coach Tina Martin. "We are going to go out and play as hard as we possibly can."

The Blue Hens finished tied for second in the Colonial Athletic Association this season with a 16-2 mark and fell in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament to James Madison.

Old Dominion, which earned the league’s automatic bid earned a No. 7 seed and will take on No. 10 seed Florida State. James Madison also earned an at-large bid as a No. 9 seed. The Dukes will take on No. 8 Pittsburgh. This is the first time the league has placed three teams into the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan State (23-8), which finished third in the Big 10 with a 13-3 conference record, has made the NCAA tournament each of the last five seasons. Among the Spartan losses this season was a 57-53 loss at home to Hofstra Nov. 22. Delaware swept Hofstra 59-56 and 67-59 this season.

The Spartans, who feature four double figure scorers, are led by Victoria Lucas-Perry, who is averaging 13.5 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game, and Allyssa DeHaan, who averages 12.6 ppg and a team-high 7.5 rpg. The Spartans are coached by Joanne McCallie, who previously served at Delaware rival Maine when both were members of the America East conference.

Delaware, led by 11th-year head coach Tina Martin, are paced by All-American candidate, first team All-CAA guard, and CAA leading scorer Tyresa Smith (19.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), third team All-CAA forward Chrissy Fisher ( 13.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg), and senior point guard Alena Koshansky (at right; 7.3 ppg, 103 assists).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

501st Hooah Video~All Along The Watchtower

It is about a one minute video that was filmed by the 501st during some of their missions in and around Jurf as Sakhr, Iraq.
"Jurf" is across the Euphrates River and west of FOB Iskan.
Sam 's 1 sec scene is at second 12.
Turn up your speaker and enjoy.

Zorro Didn't Finish, But He Left His Mark

Lance Mackey and Zorro BOB HALLINEN/Anchorage Daily News This is such a great story that I had to add it to my Blog. All dog lovers will understand the tears.
Zorro didn't finish, but he left his mark
STUD: Mackey's faithful canine friend is sick with pneumonia but is improving.

Anchorage Daily News
Published: March 15, 2007

NOME -- Tears of joy rolled down Lance Mackey's leathery cheeks when he crossed the Burled Arch here Tuesday night to celebrate a historic finish in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

But earlier in the day, 77 miles up the trail, an emotional Mackey shed tears of sadness when he dropped the always-faithful Zorro in White Mountain.

The 8-year-old team dog, father of seven of the eight dogs in this extraordinary team and the main stud in Mackey's Comeback Kennel, couldn't make the final push to Nome. Veterinarians thought Zorro had pneumonia; blood tests confirmed it.

"He's all I thought about," Mackey said. "Pretty hard to accept the fact that I might not see him alive again. It might sound silly, but I'd give up that new truck to keep Zorro alive. That's how important he is to me."

Mile after mile, the 36-year-old Fairbanks musher kept telling some higher being in doggie heaven, "Please, just keep my dog alive, man. He's the reason I'm here," Mackey said. "My main boy, no doubt about it."

After crossing the Burled Arch in Nome, one of the first questions Mackey asked Iditarod officials was, "How's Zorro?" Iditarod head veterinarian Stu Nelson said his health is improving, but Mackey won't put Zorro in the clear for another few days.

"It's not over," Mackey said. "This is the kind of situation that in four days from now he could still pass."

On Wednesday, Zorro was sleeping comfortably on a bed of straw inside a tent and away from his teammates. When Mackey entered, however, Zorro's eyes popped open and his tail started wagging fast.

"You'll be just fine, buddy," Mackey said. "He seems to be doing a lot better."

Much better than early Tuesday morning when Mackey checked into White Mountain -- the second-to-last checkpoint -- at 1:38 a.m. Mackey said Zorro seemed fine that day. But Mike Gascoigne, a volunteer veterinarian from Brisbane, Australia, noticed Zorro's belly bulging under the straw.

"That wasn't right," Mackey said of Zorro's hard breathing. "He was the only dog doing it."
So Gascoigne took Zorro into the warm checkpoint, checked his vitals and watched him until Mackey left for Nome at 9:38 a.m.

"To me, that guy deserves an award," Mackey said. "He sat on that chair all night, falling asleep sometimes. He never left (Zorro). It made me feel good that these guys are very adamant about saving dogs' lives."

When Mackey finished his first Iditarod in 2001, Zorro was his strongest dog. The only yearling (less than 2 years old) finisher, Mackey predicted Zorro would provide the bloodline for an eventual championship team.

"He ain't a leader, but he's the main reason this team is what they are," Mackey said. "Without him, I'm nothing. In 2001 ... I told my brother (Rick Mackey), 'He ate, he had a good attitude, his feet were perfect -- he's just an all-around dog.' "

With Zorro, Mackey built his kennel. The hard part was training the dogs to buy into his "eat more, rest less," philosophy. "I demand perfection," he said. "I think they read off me a bit."

Mackey reads their mannerisms, too. He said Zorro has a couple of sons in the dog yard trying to take his spot as the kennel's main stud.

"The whole kennel watches (Zorro) as soon as a bitch comes in heat," Mackey said. "He's the man. But his boy Molson wants that spot. He wants a taste of that action."
He can't run Zorro and Molson together. They fight like cats and dogs, he said, because he wants daddy's spot.
"I think it's comical," he said. "I can tell what they're thinking. One ready to brawl; one telling the other to (back) off."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Happy Pi Day - 3.14

March 14, 2005
The mathematical constant π is an irrational real number, approximately equal to 3.14159265358979323846, which is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter in Euclidean geometry, and has many uses in mathematics, physics, and engineering.
There are about a dozen pies in the office today to celebrate this engineering and geek holiday. I just had a slice of Peach Pi.

James 1:12

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

Hooah, Geronimos!!

Iraqi Police, Army Protect Pilgrims

U.S. Army Soldiers from A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), along with Iraqi Army Soldiers, conduct a foot patrol through an area that has been frequented with attacks on Coalition forces, March 4. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jacob H. Smith.
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
Wednesday, 14 March 2007

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Army and police forces worked together to provide security for more than six million pilgrims traveling to Karbala to observe the Shiite ritual of Arbaeen, officials in Baghdad said Monday.

Anti-Iraqi forces targeted the pilgrims killing more than 100 pilgrims on March 6. Iraqi Brig. Gen. Kassim Atta al-Moussawi said during a news conference in Baghdad Monday.

Arbaeen marks the end of 40 days of mourning for the Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. He was assassinated in 680 A.D. by fellow Muslims who sought to prevent him from becoming the caliph, or Muslim leader. The caliphate became the foundation of Sunni Muslim rule, and the killing of Hussein was the start of the Sunni-Shiite split. Karbala is the home of the imam’s tomb and has been a site of pilgrimage since his death.

Shiite Muslims from Iraq, Iran, the Gulf States and other areas travel to Karbala and engage in ritual flagellation in remembrance of the imam. During Saddam Hussein’s regime, Shiite Muslims could not mark the celebration because Saddam was a Sunni Muslim. Iraqi and Coalition officials say this year has seen the largest Arbaeen celebration in decades.

Kassim, speaking through an interpreter, said the volume of threats in Iraq and the volume of pilgrims made Arbaeen a potentially dangerous situation. “The enemy targets the innocent people - children, students,” he said. “This is clear evidence of the terror of these groups.”

Despite Iraqi security forces’ limited capabilities, they did well against the security threats, Kassim said. Iraqi forces also discovered a number of caches of arms and munitions and foiled a number of attacks.

They cooperated well with each other and the Coalition, as they built trust with the Shiite majority in Iraq, the general said.

The operation to protect Karbala involved the office of the minister of national security, the governor of Karbala governate, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior. “There was daily cooperation between forces in Karbala and Baghdad,” Kassim said. “The great efforts … exerted achieved good results in this plan.”

Halibut Fillets $17.95 / Pound

Halibut here, but this flatfish will flatten your pocketbook

Anchorage Daily News
Published: March 14, 2007

One thing is clear. There will be halibut for sale in Anchorage today. How much is another matter. And the price is kind of iffy.
Steve Fortier, general manager at the Sagaya stores wholesale facility, said Tuesday morning he will have halibut on hand but couldn't hazard a guess at what those stores might be selling the flatfish for this morning.
"I've heard $5-plus (at the docks) and as high as $6, but I have no actual proof," which likely would make a halibut fillet at the store among the most expensive ever.
Some of that price will be dictated by demand.

Fortier said he heard 100,000 pounds had been harvested during the first run at the fish that started Saturday. But, he said, most of that had already been shipped south to Seattle. So he didn't know how much he will have and wasn't sure of the demand here because, he said, the town isn't bustling with business right now.

"The market is so volatile, I have to be careful I don't get stuck with some expensive fish."
Over at 10th & M Seafoods, Dannon Southall said he will also have fresh halibut this morning.
"We'll get it in late tonight (Tuesday) and cut it tonight."
Just before noon Tuesday, he got word from his buyer that he had 2,000 pounds coming in.
"A short shot to make sure we had some on hand."

The price for fillets is $17.95 per pound through the weekend.

He wouldn't hazard a guess as to how long that price might hold up.
The total harvest this year for the season that continues through Nov. 15 is 65.2 million pounds for the United States and Canada. This year's total catch is 6.7 percent less than last year's -- 69.9 million pounds -- and that was down 5.37 percent from 2005's 73.8 million pounds.
So while demand for the mild-tasting fish continues to grow, the supply continues to shrink. Consumers will undoubtedly bear the brunt of that until the market stabilizes.

Alaska's portion of the haul is 52.4 million pounds, down from last year's allowable harvest of 55.3 million pounds.

Those allowable catch numbers are set annually by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, which monitors the harvest that stretches from California to the end of the Aleutians.

Those looking for fresh fish for a little less money can turn to cod fillets for $6.95 per pound and $7.95 for rockfish and Dover sole fillets.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two from Sam

Sunday 3/11/2007 12:48 PM
What’s up?

One more week and I’m OUT!!!!!!! Looks like my flight leaves for BIAP on the evening of the 18th, then it will be sitting time, for a few days until I get out of country, but I don’t care, as long as I’m out of Iskan homeward bound!

Anyway, talk to you later.
Monday 3/12/2007 8:12 AM
Isn’t it daylight savings time in the states now? We don’t do that here until April I think.

No idea yet what day I leave for sure. One guy told me 18th, another said no not until 22nd, will let you know what I know. Basically fly to Baghdad the evening of the 18th, sit in BIAP until the evening of the 19th or 20th. (we fly at night only until we get to Kuwait for safety) Sit in Kuwait until probably the 21st or 22nd, then board a military contracted civilian plane. Fly from there to 1 of 3-4 possible places, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, or Amsterdam (that’s 5) re-fuel and fly to either Dallas or Atlanta. I then de-plane, go to a military travel office in the airport. They stamp my leave form as in a port of entry, then get my ticket for Alaska. It could be minutes/hours/hopefully not days before I leave Atlanta or Dallas for Anchorage....


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sled Dogs Like To Run; Trick Is Stopping Them

Before I retired I was involved, (technical support) in several investigations involving PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The above article hits this whole PETA view of the world right on the head. They need to get a life!!

Iraqi Tip Leads to Large IED Find

Capt. Clayton Combs, C company commander, 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division displays one of 150 metallic disks that were part of a weapons cache that was discovered Feb. 24 in the Baqubah area. The disks are key in the construction of explosively formed projectiles (EFP).Wednesday, 28 February 2007

BAGHDAD – A large cache of improvised explosive devices was discovered Monday by Iraqi police and Coalition forces near the Baqubah area in the Diyala province. Iraqi Police from Judidah and Soldiers from the 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division teamed up together and found the deadly arsenal.

Thanks to a tip received from a concerned Iraqi citizen, the team found the IED-making material in an open palm grove stashed under tarps and palms, said Capt. Clayton Combs, C company commander, 1-12 Cav. “Crazy Horse."

Combs, who commands the company that found the cache, said the significance in this particular find was the presence of explosively formed projectiles (EFP).

There is a deadly effectiveness with these types of IED’s, Combs said. “If put together properly, these are a very dangerous form of IED.”

The lethal component of an EFP is the metallic disk, which takes on a cone shape once triggered. The piece of metal blasts through intended targets causing large scale damage to personnel and equipment.

“The IED emplacers and manufacturers have become very efficient,” said Combs.

“I have lost Soldiers to EFP’s not far from where this cache was found,” Combs said.

The discovery of 150 metallic disks at the cache site, each representing a possible EFP, lessens the risk to his men, which pleases Combs.

“My Soldiers are sleeping better at night with the fact that these EFP’s have been removed,” Combs said.

This was the first time Combs’s unit has found an EFP manufacturing plant.

“I think we took a big dent out of the (insurgents) resources and finances,” said Combs.

Combined efforts by the Iraqi Police, Coalition forces and the Iraqi citizen who provided the information leading to the cache discovery, have taken deadly weapons out of the hands of the insurgents.

“Countless lives have been saved,” Combs said. “Not just Americans but Iraqis and others.”

Also found in the cache were mines, mortar rounds, rockets, anti-aircraft rounds, rocket propelled grenade (RPG) warheads and plastic and steel containers in different stages of fabrication.

(Story and photo by Sgt. Sky M. Laron, Combined Press Information Center)

1-501st Commander's March Comments

Sgt. Joseph S. Singleton plays with an Iraqi boy in Al Angur, Iraq. Al Angur, a town that American forces starting patrolling in October 2006, has opened its arms to the Coalition Forces. Soldiers from the 1st Iraqi Army Division patrolled alongside the soldiers and Marines assigned to the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Wayne Edmiston.
Geronimo Newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 3 MARCH 2007
LTC Robert Balcavage
Commander 1-501st PIR

GERONIMO Families and Friends,

Well, one thing for sure, in February the Adopt-A-Platoon / Platoon Partner packages came rolling in. To all those helping us with that effort, thanks! We have so much from home that we are able to spread it around the battalion and to the neighborhoods and schools we frequent as well. We truly appreciate your efforts. I would like to give a special thanks to Tom Morgan of Anchorage AUSA and Eric Balcavage from Glen Mills Rotary for organizing the support. No matter who you are, it makes a huge difference to come back in and find mail waiting for you. The magazines have been great. The soccer balls go a long way and so far no insurgents have found a way to turn them into Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs – roadside bombs), so that’s a good thing.

Well this month I thought I’d let you in on a little bit of Governance in Iraq. As I watch a society come to grips with governing itself after a history of tyranny, oppression, and to complicate matters, a tribal system, I can’t help but ask myself if we struggled similarly with this concept of self-governance when we got started. Yesterday I sat in a ‘town hall’ meeting (see picture) that consisted of the ‘town elders’ (sheiks) and the Nahiya (town) council. There was a lot of flailing and gnashing of teeth – but there were some high points too. The meeting had an agenda, it had press, key leaders were present (to include the governor, the area Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police Commanders). I almost wept (okay, not really) when I saw one man actually stand up and proclaim that, “we must take responsibility for our tribes and our lands, we must report the violence”. The fact is, this country is trying to adapt to a system that’s different from what they experienced for years and years. They are not going to become ‘America’ overnight.

Sheiks and tribes are an entirely other matter. I am not sure I have the whole concept down right, but here goes. In the tribe, the guy with the most ‘wasta’ [influence] is the senior Sheik. There’s a lot of difference and power in being a sheik (I think there is a romantic tie to the notion of being a Bedouin). There’s ‘fake’ sheiks (sheiks that act like they are in charge but really are not) and there’s major and minor sheiks. But there’s no sheik ‘by-laws’ that I
know of, so you ask a lot of questions and try to sort out the truth from the perceived truth. Overall, sheiks try to make things happen for their tribes. The more a sheik makes things happen, the more ‘wasta’ he has.

Usually, any sheik meeting includes the totaling of some chai (super hot tea with LOTS of sugar poured into the bottom of the cup for you to make the decision to stir in or not). Most meetings with ANYBODY include chai. The
British were here in the 1920s, but the Iraqis I have met claim that chai was part of their culture long before the British came. Many sheik meetings include a meal at the end since it seems nearly everything in Iraq starts at 1000 and lasts for two hours, whether or not you solve anything. Lunch is usually a lamb, goat, or fish on a large bed of rice. The rice here is exceptionally good for some reason. There always seems to be a bowl of red bean soup and a yellow broth soup. Everyone puts their hands into the meat or fish, pulls it apart (with their right hand only – there’s a very good reason for that) and then puts it into a pita with some rice and vegetables. You wash down all of that with the cold refreshing taste of Karbala Cola (think Pepsi knockoff).

Enough culture…Your GERONIMOs are performing exceptionally well. We’ve had several outside sets of eyes come in and tell us that. You are always looking for ways to improve, so you are skeptical when someone says, “…this is the best unit I have seen in three years here,” but I also know that we have some exceptional Paratroopers. We have had some great ‘scores’ lately with minimal Paratrooper injury and we are learning more and more about our environment every day. Paratroopers are finding more and more innovative ways to fix problems. While we struggled to find the legal way to tear down a building, LT Spade and SFC Ralston’s platoon told the locals they could have keys to a new shop only after they tore down every brick of the old one. As Staples would say, “that was easy” – the buildings came down almost overnight.

Every Paratrooper has a rough day or two. If you know yours is down for a while and you are concerned, contact the Rear D commander and he’ll let us know. We’ll get him/her someone to talk to. We have some great ‘counselors’ here in the form of our Chaplain and our attached Combat Stress Advisor and if we know there’s a problem we’ll get the Paratrooper to help so that we can get him/her back into the fight.

Thanks again for all of your support to our GERONIMO Paratroopers. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We can’t wait to finish our mission and get home to see you.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Who Do You Trust?

March Spartan (4th Brigade/25 ID) Newsletter
Faith’s Fold

Who Do You Trust?
Capt. Dan Hardin
Chaplain, 1st Battalion, 501st PIR

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD…” –Psalm 37:3-5a

When I am separated from my family, I quickly realize how much I take for granted. This is often revealed in my prayers. I think of my family and pray for them when we are together. However, when separation comes I marvel at how much more time I spend praying for them.

That is probably because I miss them and they are on my mind more often than normal. But for me, it also reveals that perhaps I put too much faith in myself. It is obvious how much I need God to watch over them when I am not there, but do I trust him as much when we are together? Do I rely on him just as much when there is no deployment? If prayer is the measure, then perhaps I could stand to grow in this area.

I have discovered this holds true in other areas of my life. The more training, the more school, the more practice, the more skill I acquire, it seems the more I am tempted to trust in myself. Yet it is God who is the source of everything- my experiences, my abilities, my gifts, and my talents. All that I am comes from him. So why is it so hard to really trust him?

I was working with a Soldier today who was wrestling with issues concerning his job. We both quickly realized his frustration came from trying hard and getting nowhere. For him, the real problem was trusting God with his job. I spoke these words, “When you’ve done all you could do and it still seems like the world is against you- resign to God’s providence and simply trust that he is truly in control.” His demeanor changed; anger and bitterness melted. A peace that passed all natural understanding (for his problems were real) flooded in to his being. It was beautiful.

Maybe it is difficult to really trust God when we are trying to steer the ship. I could think, “With all my experience, skill, and talent I could manage well enough.” However, with my control comes a lot of worry. When I trust his leadership and allow him to navigate and direct my life, then the peace comes.

All the goals and all the things I want that are right and good, these things I can have as I trust God. There are tasks I need to do, but first I must learn to trust God. There is more peace and less worry in my life as I put my faith in him. I encourage you to join me in this journey.

Include God in your life and trust him with your heart’s desire, your treasures, and your loved ones. I believe it is a much better way to live. Trust God during deployment. But trust him at home as well. Trust him with your job, your family, your finances, and your future. Put your trust in the only one who can make an eternal difference in all the dimensions of your life.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Only in Alaska II

Photo from the Anchorage Daily News
Coffee in Alaska
A Perfect Blend

Click on this link to a wonderful 1:38 long slide show from the Anchorage Daily News.

The Ripple Effect of God's Grace

The ripple effect of the Lord’s love and grace in my life is truly amazing. Every step and turn of this earthly journey is filled with dangers, temptations, worries, illness, "baggage" and trials. I am only now recognizing, through God’s grace, that the more I focus on Him and pray on giving up those trials, worries and "the baggage" to Him, the more help and relief He gives me. More sign posts come into view.

His grace is everywhere. All I have to do is pray for His guidance and His will be done in my life. No longer is my journey a lonely inward drive on a dry, desert road with no navigation points in sight. It has become a road of beautiful vistas, rivers, snow capped mountain views and blooming flowers. The further I journey down that road of faith with Him the more signs He reveals.

The stone of good news dropped in the desert forms a dust cloud that dissipates in the wind. Or that same dust cloud can soon build into a storm that will obscure and obliterate everything in its path. That same stone of Christ dropped into a pond forms a ripple that spread the good news outward, endlessly intersecting other objects along the way forming new ripples.

He does not let me journey alone. The outward ripples of faith in Christ from the love of my life Valerie and my children are always close and multiplied. If only I could constantly let those ripples wash over me and flow within me instead of pulling my head below the surface to avoid them. God’s will be done, I can.

How could I know, by extending a hand of support to Scott and Tanya in their time of trial with Ethan's cancer, that their ripples would wash back over me? Their faith, love of Christ, scriptures, comments, and posts on the hospital Care Pages for Ethan, is helping me cope with Sam being in danger in Iraq.

The more I travel with Him, the more ripples are revealed. More road signs, waypoints and believers come into view to make my journey easier. The more hands I extend, the more hands are extended to me.

Like the lyrics of one our favorite Christian songs…

Our God is an awesome God….
Scott and Tanya’s post on CarePages,
March 09, 2007 at 07:41 AM EST

1 John 5:14 (NIV)
"This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we have asked of him."

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Tour of Anchorage

Photo by George Stransky, ADV, Anchorage, AK
Gretchen Russell Chamberlain
You are one, truly amazing...GIRL!!!!!!

40k Women's Freestyle (24.8 miles)
Cross-country Ski Race
March 4, 2007

Place #174 Gretchen Chamberlain 5:26:09.8

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will ski and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

"God is Our Refuge and Strength.."

Aleyeska, photo by G. Chamberlain Feb 2007
Psalm 46 (NIV)

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Army Hummer

Richmond Coliseum, CAA men's basketball first round game. Friday March 2, 2007
Saturday, March 3, 2007 1:24 PM

Mom, Dad,

Sounds like you both had a great weekend together.

Work is busy. I've gotten into a routine, and hopefully the next 17 days will fly by. I've been getting up early the last two days and working out before coming into work, that really really helps my day, then I don't feel guilty when I miss an afternoon workout, and evening workout. I ride the stationary bike for 20 min, then run on the treadmill 20 min, and finish lifting weights for 30 min or so. I was just getting real burned out running laps around the FOB everyday, even though the tread mill never was my favorite.

Wish I was at home now to watch the Iditarod, but maybe next year...

I love the picture of Mom with the Army Truck. That truck looks a lot nicer then the hummers we drive around Iraq, with a lot less armor, and guns...

Love, Sam

Sapper Platoon Leader

Subject: Sapper PL in April
Sunday, March 04, 2007 2:10 PM

So tonight, LTC Balcavage, my current Battalion commander, talked with LTC Roth, the BSTB (Brigade Special Troops Battalion) Battalion commander, and I guess they're planning on moving me to BSTB in April, to be a platoon leader finally. I will take over for Lt Hintz, as 1st Platoon Leader, A Co, BSTB. That platoon is stationed at FOB Falcon, just south of Baghdad, near the "green zone", and they work solely for 1-40th CAV, 4-25th, so I would be in the same brigade, but assigned to one battalion, and task organized to work for another.

I'm sure that sounds confusing, but its actually a good thing, the other two platoons in the A Company (Sapper Company) work for the Brigade, meaning they go all over the battle space and have several "bosses". Being solely attached to 1-40th CAV means I work for just one battalion commander and his infantry/cavalry, battalion.

Not sure yet what the date is, he just said April, that could be the begining of April, or whenever I get back from leave...

Talk to you later,
Love, Sam

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

“Be still and know that I am God…”

CPT Dan Hardin
Chaplain 1-501st PIR

FOB Iskan, Iraq
March Geronimo Newsletter

“Be still and know that I am God…”
When I get in to situations that are difficult, God often recalls scripture to my mind or brings someone across my path carrying His word. The words, “Be still and know that I am God” are found in the Psalms and in the prophets. They bring me great comfort in times of trouble.

We all know Iraq is a dangerous place. But danger is everywhere. Trouble is everywhere. Sickness, disease, problems with children, betrayal, the temptations of this world, and challenges exist in everywhere. When times of trouble come, I get nervous. Sometimes in my naiveté and immaturity I wonder what I did to get God upset. I don’t like it. And I confess, I get fidgety- full of nervous energy. It is almost like I need to do something in my apparent helpless state. So I rush around looking for answers. I cry out to everyone and God in panic. It is about that time when I hear that still small voice inside of me saying, “my son, be still- let me handle it.”

One of the greatest things about being in relationship with God, besides being forgiven and accepted, is to know He is in control and He has a plan and purpose for our life. I love to hear those words, “Be still and know I am God.” In that moment, I find peace and strength to endure. The problem does not always go away in the way I would like or in my timing. However, I find the resources to manage and thrive in the stress.

I encourage you to respond to the voice of God in your moment of need and troubled hour. Relax. Give it to Him. When you have fulfilled your obligations and did all you can do, trust him. He cares for you and watches over you. He is a present help in times of trouble. Give him your stress and worry. Lay your burdens down at the feet of the Lord and allow his grace, love, and mercy to flow into your life situation.

The Geronimos and I really appreciate your love and support. Keep the prayers going up- they are working miracles over here. Keep the emails, letters, and care packages coming over- they are life to us. May God bless you richly and keep you until we are reunited.

Iditarod Start, a Fur Piece Away From Iraq

(Click photos to enlarge)
Check out the handheld radio and ear piece. I am guessing he is one of the local hams who were helping with communications for the race.

Alaska Troops Destroy Bomb Factory

IRAQ: Materials including chlorine tanks used to build IEDs filled the complex.
By Don Hunter

Anchorage Daily News
March 2, 2007

Monday, March 5, 2007

Only In Alaska

Both lose when cow moose collides with helicopter
EUTHANIZED: Darted animal from the Gustavus herd bumps rear rotor of a tagging aircraft

Anchorage Daily News
March 5, 2007

"We" Continue To Help

Al-Rashid farmers’ union, cavalry paratroopers distribute fertilizer

Sunday, 04 March 2007
FOB FALCON — The al-Rashid Nahia Farmers’ Union and paratroopers from 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division worked together to sell 3,100 bags of a fertilizer to union members at a discounted price in the southern Baghdad al-Rashid district Feb. 27.
A civil affairs team, attached to 1-40th Cavalry, advised the council and arranged to provide security for the union distribution sites and council members as they move the union’s profits from al-Rashid to a local bank.

The farmers’ union is managed by an eight member council, representing the eight tribes in the local area. The farmers’ union has 3,000 registered members.

Members are entitled to use one of the nine union tractors and purchase discounted seed, fertilizer, and plastic for greenhouses. Recently, the farmers’ union has assumed a greater role as membership and profits increase.

Three units from 1-40 Cavalry participated in the fertilizer distribution.

The squadron forward support company, Company D, 725th Brigade Support Battalion, provided a distribution platoon to transport the 3,100 uriyah fertilizer bags.

Troop B, 1-40th Cavalry provided security at the distribution and dealt with one incident at the event. They identified unexploded ordnance near the distribution site which was secured, while an explosive ordnance disposal team was called in to retrieve it.

A civil affairs team and the squadron executive officer, Maj. Tim Davis, a native of Norfolk, Va., oversaw the effort and met with local tribal leaders.

“Supporting the local economy by working with the farmers’ union is a fulfilling part of our job in this area,” Davis said.

“The interaction between us, the local community, local tribal leaders and the Nahia government is what makes a positive impact here,” added Capt. Ray Buenteo, civil affairs team leader and Salem Keizer, Ore. native. “Supporting the farmers’ union improves the local economy and fosters a sense of cooperation between U.S. forces and the local population which helps to create a safe and secure Iraq.”

(By 1st Lt. Hayden Scardina, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment)
Fort Richardson, Anchorage, AK

In The Weeds

U.S. Army Pvt. Craig Plaisante carries the radio as Capt. Jason Good, C Troop, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment (C-1/40th CAV) commander calls in a situation report to squadron headquarters from an insurgent fighting position found during a cache search in Al Jabor, Iraq, Dec. 19, 2006. C-1/40th CAV is conducting a search for weapons caches in the area after receiving a tip from human intelligence sources.
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sean A.
This photo looks like it could have been taken at Fort A. P. Hill instead of Iraq.
1/40th CAV is from Fort Richardson, Anchorage, AK.