Category Archives: Military

First Lady Michelle Obama Launches New Lodging For Families Of Ailing Vets

Posted by: Audiegrl

AP~First Lady Michelle Obama has helped open three new residences for families of ailing U.S. soldiers and veterans in Maryland.

Mrs. Obama cut the red ribbon Thursday for the Fisher Houses at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. She was flanked by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Ken Fisher of the Fisher House Foundation.

Obama says the homes provide a comfortable place for families who have made a sacrifice for their country.

The residences will provide free lodging for the families of as many as 60 sick and injured service members.

The Rockville-based foundation has built dozens of Fisher Houses at military facilities since 1991.

The new residences are part of the planned move of Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Washington to Bethesda next year.

Remarks by the First Lady at Fisher House Tour and Ribbon Cutting

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Medal of Honor for Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Jesse Lee

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta and his wife Jennifer Mueller in the Oval Office, Nov. 16, 2010. Later, the President presented the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Giunta for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, in October 2007. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon in the East Room of the White House, the President presented the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry to Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, U.S. Army — the first living service member from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to receive it.  “Now, I’m going to go off-script here for a second and just say I really like this guy,” said the President to laughter and applause.  “I think anybody — we all just get a sense of people and who they are, and when you meet Sal and you meet his family, you are just absolutely convinced that this is what America is all about.”


As the President always does, he recounted the story of the events that earned  this honor, and as always it needs no editorial embellishment:

During the first of his two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Giunta was forced early on to come to terms with the loss of comrades and friends.  His team leader at the time gave him a piece of advice:  “You just try — you just got to try to do everything you can when it’s your time to do it.”  You’ve just got to try to do everything you can when it’s your time to do it.

Salvatore Giunta’s time came on October 25, 2007.  He was a Specialist then, just 22 years old.

Sal and his platoon were several days into a mission in the Korengal Valley — the most dangerous valley in northeast Afghanistan.  The moon was full.  The light it cast was enough to travel by without using their night-vision goggles.  With heavy gear on their backs, and air support overhead, they made their way single file down a rocky ridge crest, along terrain so steep that sliding was sometimes easier than walking.

They hadn’t traveled a quarter mile before the silence was shattered.  It was an ambush, so close that the cracks of the guns and the whizz of the bullets were simultaneous.  Tracer fire hammered the ridge at hundreds of rounds per minute — “more,” Sal said later, “than the stars in the sky.”

The Apache gunships above saw it all, but couldn’t engage with the enemy so close to our soldiers.  The next platoon heard the shooting, but were too far away to join the fight in time.

And the two lead men were hit by enemy fire and knocked down instantly.  When the third was struck in the helmet and fell to the ground, Sal charged headlong into the wall of bullets to pull him to safety behind what little cover there was.  As he did, Sal was hit twice — one round slamming into his body armor, the other shattering a weapon slung across his back.

They were pinned down, and two wounded Americans still lay up ahead.  So Sal and his comrades regrouped and counterattacked.  They threw grenades, using the explosions as cover to run forward, shooting at the muzzle flashes still erupting from the trees.  Then they did it again.  And again.  Throwing grenades, charging ahead.  Finally, they reached one of their men.  He’d been shot twice in the leg, but he had kept returning fire until his gun jammed.

As another soldier tended to his wounds, Sal sprinted ahead, at every step meeting relentless enemy fire with his own.  He crested a hill alone, with no cover but the dust kicked up by the storm of bullets still biting into the ground.  There, he saw a chilling sight:  the silhouettes of two insurgents carrying the other wounded American away — who happened to be one of Sal’s best friends.  Sal never broke stride.  He leapt forward.  He took aim.  He killed one of the insurgents and wounded the other, who ran off.

Sal found his friend alive, but badly wounded.  Sal had saved him from the enemy — now he had to try to save his life.  Even as bullets impacted all around him, Sal grabbed his friend by the vest and dragged him to cover.  For nearly half an hour, Sal worked to stop the bleeding and help his friend breathe until the MEDEVAC arrived to lift the wounded from the ridge.  American gunships worked to clear the enemy from the hills.  And with the battle over, First Platoon picked up their gear and resumed their march through the valley.  They continued their mission.

It had been as intense and violent a firefight as any soldier will experience.  By the time it was finished, every member of First Platoon had shrapnel or a bullet hole in their gear.  Five were wounded.  And two gave their lives:  Sal’s friend, Sergeant Joshua C. Brennan, and the platoon medic, Specialist Hugo V. Mendoza.

Now, the parents of Joshua and Hugo are here today.  And I know that there are no words that, even three years later, can ease the ache in your hearts or repay the debt that America owes to you.  But on behalf of a grateful nation, let me express profound thanks to your sons’ service and their sacrifice.  And could the parents of Joshua and Hugo please stand briefly?  (Applause.)

Now, I already mentioned I like this guy, Sal.  And as I found out myself when I first spoke with him on the phone and when we met in the Oval Office today, he is a low-key guy, a humble guy, and he doesn’t seek the limelight.  And he’ll tell you that he didn’t do anything special; that he was just doing his job; that any of his brothers in the unit would do the same thing.  In fact, he just lived up to what his team leader instructed him to do years before:  “You do everything you can.”

Staff Sergeant Giunta, repeatedly and without hesitation, you charged forward through extreme enemy fire, embodying the warrior ethos that says, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”  Your actions disrupted a devastating ambush before it could claim more lives.  Your courage prevented the capture of an American soldier and brought that soldier back to his family.  You may believe that you don’t deserve this honor, but it was your fellow soldiers who recommended you for it.  In fact, your commander specifically said in his recommendation that you lived up to the standards of the most decorated American soldier of World War II, Audie Murphy, who famously repelled an overwhelming enemy attack by himself for one simple reason:  “They were killing my friends.”

That’s why Salvatore Giunta risked his life for his fellow soldiers — because they would risk their lives for him.  That’s what fueled his bravery — not just the urgent impulse to have their backs, but the absolute confidence that they had his.  One of them, Sal has said — of these young men that he was with, he said, “They are just as much of me as I am.”  They are just as much of me as I am.

So I would ask Sal’s team, all of Battle Company who were with him that day, to please stand and be recognized as well.  (Applause.)  Gentlemen, thank you for your service.  We’re all in your debt.  And I’m proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.

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A Veterans Day Message from First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Dr. Jill Biden


On the eve of Veteran’s Day, I wanted to write today with a simple message to our nation’s veterans: thank you. Over the past two years, I have joined with our First Lady to explore the issues faced by our service members and their families – while they are deployed and once they return home. In my work and travels, I am always inspired by the commitment of our military service members and truly grateful for all they do for our country. This Administration is working hard to care for our service members and veterans – making historic investments in health, family support, education, and economic opportunity for our veterans – but there is a role for every one of us in showing support.

The First Lady and I recently taped the following public service announcement together to honor our Veterans on November 11, 2010 and encourage you to visit Veterans.com and Serve.gov. On Veteran’s Day and every day, it’s our sacred duty to honor the service of those who sacrifice for our country – and we all can play a role. Through groups like MissionServe and opportunities at www.Serve.gov, Americans can find a way to help in their own communities. Please join me in this effort.

Thanks,
Jill

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Awarding Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller the Medal of Honor

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by by Jesse Lee

President Barack Obama speaks to the team members of late Army Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller during an East Room presentation ceremony of a Medal of Honor October 6, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. Staff Sergeant Miller, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native who was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was presented with the medal posthumously for his heroic actions to save the lives of his fellow soldiers and 15 Afghan National Army soldiers in Afghanistan on January 25, 2008. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

The Vice President and the First Lady were also present as the President awarded Robert J. Miller, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Staff Sergeant Miller received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions in combat on January 25, 2008 in Afghanistan.  As is always the case, his story — recounted by the President — truly makes one proud to be An American:

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Lynne Silosky, a niece of Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller, curtsies with First Lady Michelle Obama during a meeting with Miller’s family in the Oval Office, Oct. 6, 2010.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Shares Her Message of Thanks to the Troops and their Families

Posted by: Audiegrl

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Filed under Army, Families, First Lady Michelle Obama, Marines, Military, Navy, Reserve, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women in the Military

Welcoming our Troops Coming Home from Iraq

Posted by: Audiegrl

U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division race toward the border from Iraq into Kuwait Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. The soldiers are part of the last combat brigade to leave Iraq as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

Good afternoon,

Shortly after taking office, I put forward a plan to end the war in Iraq responsibly. Today, I’m pleased to report that — thanks to the extraordinary service of our troops and civilians in Iraq — our combat mission will end this month, and we will complete a substantial drawdown of our troops.

Over the last 18 months, over 90,000 U.S. troops have left Iraq. By the end of this month, 50,000 troops will be serving in Iraq. As Iraqi Security Forces take responsibility for securing their country, our troops will move to an advise-and-assist  role. And, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all of our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year. Meanwhile, we will continue to build a strong partnership with the Iraqi people with an increased civilian commitment and diplomatic effort.

A few weeks ago, men and women from one of the most deployed brigades in the U.S. Army, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, returned home from Iraq. The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden were at Fort Drum to welcome the veterans home and spoke about their personal experiences as a military family:

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Our commitment to our troops doesn’t end once they come home — it’s only the beginning.  Part of ending a war responsibly is meeting our responsibility to the men and women who have fought it. Our troops and their families have made tremendous sacrifices to keep our nation safe and secure, and as a nation we have a moral obligation to serve our veterans as well as they have served us.

That’s why we’re building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs.  We’ve made one of the largest percentage increase in the VA’s budget in 30 years, and we’re dramatically increasing funding for veterans’ health across the board. In particular, we’re delivering unprecedented resources to treat signature wounds of today’s wars—Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Our sacred trust to take care of our veterans goes beyond simply healing the wounds incurred in battle. We must ensure that when our veterans leave the Armed Forces, they have the opportunities they need to further their education and support their families.  Through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, some 300,000 veterans and families members have pursued a college degree.  Others are taking advantage of job training and placement programs.

My Administration will continue to do our part to support the brave men and women in uniform that have sacrificed so much.  But supporting our troops and their families is not just the job of the Federal Government; it’s the responsibility of all Americans.

As we mark this milestone in the Iraq war and our troops continue to move out of Iraq, I hope you’ll join me in thanking them, and all of our troops and military families, for their service.

Sincerely,
President Barack Obama

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Filed under Dr. Jill Biden, Iraq, Military, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized, Vice-President Joe Biden

Two-Legged Dog to Inspire British Troops Wounded in Afghanistan

A dog named Faith inspires others simply by being able to walk with just her two hind legs.

Special Services Bowman with Faith

Tonic/Marc Hertz~There are some things you have to see to believe, and Faith is one of those. She’s a labrador-chow mix born without one front leg and another that was severely deformed, only to be removed when Faith was seven months old due to atrophy. What’s truly amazing about Faith is that, despite having only her two hind legs, she can still walk on them, as you can see in the video below.

Faith is something of a celebrity, having appeared on Oprah a few years ago, and according to The Sun, she’s actually an honorary sergeant. The US Army gave her that title because she’s helped disabled veterans trying to overcome injuries they sustained in war zones, even donning a military jacket when she visits bases or hospitals. As her owner, Jude Stringfellow, was quoted, “Faith seems to inspire these young men. It’s very emotional watching them respond to her. She shows what can be achieved against great odds.”

Now, she’s planning to go international. Stringfellow wants to bring Faith to the UK, so she can bring her own brand of inspiration to those troops wounded in Afghanistan. Before she can do so, though, quarantine rules will have to be met. For the sake of those wounded soldiers, let’s hope they have the chance to see Faith “marching” their way.

Please learn more about Faith on her website

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