WHEELING — The West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation and Main Street Bank of Wheeling are urging local residents to remember those who serve their country this Memorial Day by donating money to provide items for soldiers healing in overseas hospitals.
The “We Remember” campaign was announced Friday by both the organizations in conjunction with the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project of Stafford, Va.
“What this campaign is about is recalling what is the true meaning of Memorial Day,” WVHTC Foundation Vice President and General Manager Joseph Allen said. “We are going to show that this Memorial Day, we remember those soldiers. … We are going to remember our fighting men and women.”
The funds raised will be used to purchase “comfort items” for patients at U.S. military hospitals and medical units in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
“As time goes by, we sometimes desensitize ourselves to the ongoing war,” Main Street Bank Senior Vice President Cheri DeBlasis said, adding that it is important to think about what wounded soldiers go through as they work to heal. “These men and women sometimes require weeks and months of treatment.”
Karen Grimord, president of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, spoke at the announcement of the campaign, which was held at West Virginia Independence Hall, and she described her experiences helping soldiers in the hospital in Germany.
“Many times all they have is their hospital gowns and sheets,” Grimord said. “Sometimes their belongings are thrown together, but they might not even be on the same flight.”
The four military hospitals inform Grimord of their patients’ needs and she, in turn, relays the information to the various fund-raising campaigns throughout the United States. Allen said the locally raised funds will be used to purchase the needed items to be shipped overseas. Grimord commented on how much the soldiers appreciate all they are given.
“It is such a wonderful feeling to know that some people really do care,” Grimord read from a thank-you note she had received from a soldier. “It brings tears to my eyes knowing that you want to help. God bless America and people like you.”
While there have been a wide variety of items needed, several of those typically requested include jersey shorts, non-logo colored T-shirts, sneakers, pajamas, blankets, pillows, sweat pants and foot powder.
“Regardless of your position on the war, we have young men and women who are severely wounded and need our help. As Memorial Day approaches, what a great time to remember these individuals with our donations to purchase items they need to ease their emotional and physical pain,” said Allen.
Area residents can drop off or mail a donation to Main Street Bank, 2001 Main St., Wheeling, W.Va. 26003. Checks are to be made payable to: We Remember/Main Street Bank.
In addition to direct donations to Main Street Bank, a bake sale will be held in the bank’s lobby beginning at 11 a.m. June 2.
The WVHTC Foundation, headquartered in Fairmont, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization functioning as an engine of economic change for growing a regional and statewide high tech business sector. The foundation has established a multi-faceted approach to maximize economic development, commercialization and work force development. In addition to its Fairmont headquarters, it has offices in Wheeling, Moundsville and Glenville.
U.S. Military Personnel Asks Local Residents to Support Local Campaign to Aid the Wounded
WHEELING, W.Va. – May 24, 2006 – Representatives from the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps today called upon Upper Ohio Valley residents to consider making a financial donation to the “We Remember” campaign, which benefits severely wounded military personnel recovering in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany.
The campaign, announced last week, will raise funds to purchase “comfort items” for the wounded, including socks, T-shirts, sweat pants, jersey shorts, shoes, pillows and other items either not provided or difficult to obtain. The campaign is sponsored by the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation and Main Street Bank, Wheeling.
Local residents can drop off or mail their contribution to Main Street Bank, 2001 Main St., Wheeling, WV 26003. Checks should be payable to: We Remember/Main Street Bank. The campaign is being held in conjunction with the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project (LHCP), Stafford, Va., which purchase the items for the military personnel.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin Floridia and U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Justin O’Shaughnessy, both veterans of combat, issued their plea for public support of the campaign during a news conference held at Main Street Bank. The two men currently are assigned to the Armed Forces recruiting office in Wheeling.
Floridia, who served several tours overseas, said that during combat he saw comrades wounded, and waited with them until medical personnel arrive. He said the ordeal, from the initial injury to being treated and evacuated to a field medical operation then to a regular hospital, is extremely traumatic.
“Can you imagine how it makes a wounded solider feel when he or she receives letters or packages? They’re in a hospital far from their military family and their real family back home. It can get lonely and they’re usually spending most of their time in their hospital room. Receiving a letter or package from home is something they will never forget,” explained Floridia, a native of Cranberry, Pa.
“It touches them deeply knowing that they have not been forgotten by the folks back home. The ‘We Remember’ campaign provides a great opportunity for local residents to show them that they still care.”
Floridia, a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, currently is serving as a recruiter in the Wheeling office.
O’Shaughnessy, who participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, said serving his nation is a great personal pleasure and receiving support from “back home” makes it all worthwhile.
“When you’re overseas, anything received reminds us that everyone cares. It’s not so much what they receive, but more that someone took the time to send it that really counts. That’s such a morale booster,” noted O’Shaughnessy.
“Please, any opportunity local residents have, such as this campaign, will have earth-shattering significance to the patients.”
Joseph Allen, WVHTC Foundation vice president and general manager, said the campaign has received a favorable response from the community.
“Shortly after we announced the campaign last Friday, Main Street Bank began receiving donations. Very often these young men and women only have hospital garb and little in the way of other clothing. The campaign will help boost their morale and make them feel more comfortable as they continue their long recovery process,” commented Allen.
Rich Lucas, Main Street Bank president, explained that all donations will be forwarded to the LHCP, which, in turn, will purchase the items needed by the hospitals. He said stickers will be placed on each item purchased signifying it was sent on behalf of the residents of the Upper Ohio Valley.
“It’s such a simple process to stop by our bank and leave a donation or to mail a check to the bank. Regardless of your position on the war, the fact remains that these wounded men and women could really use our support, “ said Lucas.
The LHCP is headed by its president, Karen Grimord, who visited Wheeling last week to help announce the local fund drive. She periodically receives lists of items needed by the wounded from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and the field medical units in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The WVHTC Foundation, headquartered in Fairmont, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization functioning as an engine of economic change for growing a regional and statewide high tech business sector. The foundation has established a multi-
faceted approach to maximize economic development, commercialization and workforce development. In addition to its Fairmont headquarters, it has offices in Wheeling, Moundsville and Glenville.
In addition to its Wheeling location, the Main Street Bank has a branch office in Wellsburg.
Army 1st Lt., 24, of Texas; assigned to the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 555th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (Provisional), Fort Lewis, Wash.; killed Aug. 18, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath her Humvee during ground assault convoy operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Also killed was Sgt. Robert G. Davis.
Laura Margaret Walker was born into a military family on June 16, 1981. Her education included ten different schools, living in 18 different cities, and three different countries, culminating with her graduation in 1999 from SHAPE American High School in Belgium. Laura was active in Club Beyond, Model United Nations, and earned varsity letters in soccer, basketball, and volleyball. She belonged to the National Honor Society and was selected to the “All Europe” soccer team her senior year. Laura attended the United States Military Academy at West Point where she excelled in leadership positions such as Cadet 1SG and CSM and was elected as class secretary for the class of 2003. While a cadet, she graduated from Air Assault School at Fort Polk in June 2001, served as a summer intern with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, played for the United States Junior Women’s Handball Team in the Pan American Games, and was team captain of the West Point Women’s Handball Team, leading them to a national collegiate championship. Although she was offered the opportunity to pursue a position with the Olympic handball team, Laura chose to serve with soldiers. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Systems Engineering on May 31, 2003 and was commissioned a 2LT in the Corps of Engineers.
2LT Walker arrived at Fort Lewis in January of 2004, was assigned to the 555th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and deployed to Iraq in support of the 4th Infantry Division until April 2004. Laura was reassigned as a vertical construction platoon leader in the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) upon returning to Fort Lewis. She re-deployed with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 864th ECB (H) to Afghanistan in March of 2005. 1LT Walker’s platoon expertly constructed force protection, mobility, and life support facilities, and performed quality assurance for local national contracts at Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Guyan. In July 2005, 1LT Walker was selected to be the Executive officer of the 864th battalion Headquarters’ Company. En route to her new position, she was assigned to a two-month tour as the Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Officer. She wrote several news articles for the Task Force that appeared in several newspapers, to include The Afghanistan Freedom Watch, Defend America, and The Northwest Guardian. Laura was the editor of the Task Force newsletter, The Pacemaker, which is distributed to all of the Soldiers in the Task Force, as well as their family members and Pacemaker’s higher echelons.
Laura was killed in action on 18 August 2005 in Delak, Afghanistan. She proudly wore the 4th Infantry Division combat patch on her right shoulder, a distinction she shared with both of her grandfathers from their service with the Division in both World War II and Vietnam. Her awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (1OLC), Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, and Air Assault Badge
Although Laura was an exemplary officer and loved West Point and the soldiers she led, these were but a part of her huge capacity for life. She was a strong person, spiritually, physically and mentally. These qualities inspired others to “play up” in all areas. Laura valued family and friends, and fostered a sense of community wherever she found herself. Loyalty — Laura was all about loyalty and traditions. She loved music and had a gifted voice. She was an accomplished and prolific writer. She treasured time spent with her sister and brothers. She loved learning to cook with her mother, and shared her skill with others. She enjoyed talking to her father on long, slow runs. She was a certified aerobics and yoga instructor. Her continued interest in soccer was reflected in her play with the local club in Tacoma. She shared a deep love for all the holidays, especially Christmas (which starts in July) with her family. Passion — Laura was all about passion and dedication. She and Ed Peskie were to be engaged this summer after several years of sharing life together. She loved God and was growing in Christ daily. 1LT Laura Walker was a good friend and inspiration to all who knew her; we miss her terribly. Laura is survived by her mother, Valerie Walker, her father COL Keith Walker, her sister, Audrey, her brothers, Duncan, Brian Walker. Sorrow knows no bounds for Ed, the family, and the countless lives she touched. We ask that just as we all benefited from the goodness of her life, let there be continued goodness long past this transient painful visitation by death. Continue to hold her in your hearts and minds, and honor her by living life to its fullest.
LAURA’S FAMILY ASKS THAT ALL THOSE WHO HAVE PICTURES, WRITINGS, NOTES, RECOLLECTIONS, AND OTHER MEMORIES OF LAURA, SEND COPIES TO KEITH AND VALERIE WALKER AT EITHER 301 Sheridan Road, Fort Bliss, TX 79906, OR MITWOCENTS@AOL.COM.
The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Laura during the month of April with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Laura’s family and friends today and in the years to come.
WOODBRIDGE, Va., April 10, 2006 – The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project added $4,400 to its coffers April 7 to buy items needed by wounded, injured and sick servicemembers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, and hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Karen Grimord, the project’s coordinator.
The money was raised during the “Hook & C’s Karaoke” 2nd annual benefit, held here this year at American Legion Post 364. American Legion Auxiliary Unit 176 and American Legion Post 176, both in nearby Springfield, Va., donated $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7916 of Occoquan, Va., also presented a $300 check to the project.
“Last year, I was asked by Karen Grimord and Karen Monk (former president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 364) to do a karaoke to help raise money for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project,” said Ed “Hook” Hudgins, an electric tower crane operator and member of the Sons of the American Legion. “I suggested having a cookout and karaoke and we had a good turnout at American Legion Post 162 in Lorton (Va.). We raised more than $1,000.”
In keeping with Hook’s cookout idea, this year’s benefit featured t-bone steaks grilled outdoors and assorted seafood dinners. There were also raffles and drawings for door prizes to raise money. The rest of the money came from personal checks from benefit attendees.
The “C” in Hook & C’s Karaoke is Claude Burns, a retiree from the Washington Post security division.
This marked the fourth benefit held by the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project since Grimord and her husband Brian founded it in November 2004. “We try to provide mostly clothing items, but we’ve also extended to hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan that need supplies, including bed sheets,” Grimord said. “The project started supporting three hospitals In Iraq in 2005 and one in Afghanistan this year.”
Pointing out that the project is an item-specific organization, Grimord said, “We don’t just send whatever we can get our hands on. We send the items that they specifically want.”
For example, the hospital in Afghanistan asked for bed sheets and pillows to use on litters. When patients arrive at hospitals, their clothes are ruined, stained or cut off in the treatment process. The project helps out by taking monthly orders from Landstuhl’s Pastoral Services Department.
The April order includes sweatpants and -shirts, long-sleeve t-shirts, men’s pajamas, ankle socks and slippers, pillows, quilts, blankets and travel-size mouthwash and toothpaste, among other items.
In addition to holding fund-raising benefits, the project pays for items with donations from American Legions, Veterans of Foreign Wars, churches and other organizations.
Grimord began seeking donations for hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan after learning of the need from people who escort seriously wounded servicemembers from theater to Landstuhl.
She said she’s always amazed when seriously wounded patients arrive at Landstuhl don’t want to take any of the donated items. “Those whom we almost have to force to take something feel that their biggest responsibility is to get back to the field,” she said. “They want to get back to their guys. They have a responsibility, a job that needs to be done, so they want to get back to the field. So they don’t want to take any items.
“Then you have patients who know they’re going to come back to the states because they injury are so badly,” Grimord said.” They don’t want to take anything because they want to leave it for the next patient coming in behind them. They don’t feel that they deserve to take the sweat pants, underwear, and t-shirt or winter jacket.”
Grimord said she was puzzled when a wounded helicopter pilot asked her if all the items were donated, and when told, yes, he said, “These guys deserve it.”
“I told him he didn’t include himself, and he said, ‘No,'” Grimord noted. “He said he was a ‘fly boy’ and that the guys and gals on the ground deserve it all. I told him that we’d lost 14 ‘fly boys’ in two weeks and that he had the back of the ground pounders and asked him who has his back. I asked him, ‘So what makes you less deserving?’
“They always think someone else is more deserving,” she noted.
Grimord returned to Landstuhl Jan. 17 to spend another 45 days volunteering. While there, she passed out 235 pink, red and white Valentine apes with little Xs, Os and messages of “I Love You,” or, “I’m Ape for You,” on them.
She also mailed 20 pillows to a hospital in Iraq en route to the airport. To her surprise, as she was waiting to pay the postage, the postmaster took out a debit card out of his wallet and paid the $21 shipping cost himself. “He thanked us for everything we do,” Grimord said.
One day, while waiting for a busload of patients that were flown from Iraq to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the doctors, nurses, chaplains and technicians saw the bags full of little apes. When they started commenting about the apes, Grimord started passing them out.
“They stuck them in their breast pockets so the little arms were hanging out,” Grimord chuckled. “When the patients got off the buses, they were greeted by all these doctors, nurses, chaplains and technicians with little apes hanging out of their pockets…..Of course, we gave apes to the patients, too.”
Grimord said that during her fall visit to Landstuhl, a wounded Marine told her about his battalion needing sweats because of the cold. She got information about their sizes and arranged to send sweats for all 300 Marines, by size.
When she returned to Landstuhl in January, the Marine sent her an e-mail message asking for her mailing address because he had something to send her.
“When I opened the box, there was an American flag with a note saying that it they had flown it over their camp headquarters in Iraq in my honor on Jan. 5 for the support I’d given them,” Grimord said. “You don’t expect that kind of thing. You don’t expect anything because they’re the ones doing all the work.
“Every time I look at that flag,” Grimord said, with tears welling up in her eyes, “it brings tears to your eyes. That’s for all the guys we’ve lost, all the guys that have sacrificed themselves and their families. That just tells you how much this support means to them.”
Among donors for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were Loretta Smith, left, who presented a check for $2,000 from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 176 in Springfield, Va.; her husband, Leon Smith, who presented a $1,000 check from American Legion Post 176; Karen Grimord, the care project’s coordinator; and B. J. Richardson, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7916 of Occoquan, Va., who presented a $300 check to the project. Photo by Rudi Williams
Karen Grimord, founder and coordinator of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, poses with Ed “Hook” Hidgins – the “Hook” in Hook & C’s Karaoke, during a benefit at American Legion Post 364 to raise money to purchase items for wounded servicemembers at Landstuhl and hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Rudi Williams
Ed “Hook” Hudgins, right, an electric crane operator, and Claude “C” Burns, a retired Washington Post employee, volunteered their “Hook & C’s Karaoke” to raise money to help wounded servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Rudi Williams
Claire Veneziano performs a karaoke song during the Hook & C’s Karaoke 2nd annual benefit for wounded, injured and ill servicemembers at the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The event was sponsored by American Legion Post 365 and the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Photo by Rudi Williams
Karen A. Monk, former president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 364 in Woodbridge, Va., reads a copy of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project pamphlet during a fund-raising benefit at Legion Post 364. The pamphlet was part of the display at the benefit. Photo by Rudi Williams
Among donors for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were Loretta Smith, left, who presented a check for $2,000 from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 176 in Springfield, Va.; her husband, Leon Smith, who presented a $1,000 check from American Legion Post 176; Karen Grimord, the care project’s coordinator; and B. J. Richardson, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7916 of Occoquan, Va., who presented a $300 check to the project. Photo by Rudi Williams
Army Cpl.,18, of Partridge, Kan. ; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Jan. 23, 2006 of wounds sustained that day when an improvised explosive device detonated near his M1A2 Abrams tank during patrol operations in Baghdad. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Lance M. Chase.
Family mourns slain soldier from Kansas
Source: Suzanne Perez Tobias, The Wichita Eagle
Peter Wagler was 7 when his father, David, made him a plaque with the meaning of his name –“rock” — and a Bible verse, Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage,” it said. “Do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The Lord was with Wagler when he joined the Army a year ago, his father said. And family members said they felt the Lord’s presence Thursday when they gathered to grieve his death.
Cpl. Wagler, a native of Partridge, died Monday in Iraq. According to a Department of Defense report, Wagler and another U.S. soldier were killed and two others were injured when a bomb exploded near their M1A2 Abrams tank while they were conducting patrols in Baghdad.
Wagler, fifth of David and Trish Wagler’s eight children, was 18. Older brother Vanya, a medical student at Oklahoma State University, remembers his mischievous side. “He was full of energy, carefree,” Vanya Wagler said. “I remember him using fireworks, doing different things just to have a good time.”
From the age of 5, Peter Wagler talked about joining the military, his father said. Posters of jet fighters decorated his bedroom wall. He craved speed and excitement. Like his siblings, he was home-schooled and active in the family’s church, Berean Baptist in Hutchinson. At 16, he got a job at a local storage company but was frustrated when managers didn’t let him operate the heavy machines. “He’d been operating power equipment since he was 10 around here,” his father said. The family lives on a farm just outside Partridge, in rural Reno County, though David Wagler works as a financial adviser.
So it was little surprise when Peter Wagler told his parents in late 2004 that he planned to enlist in the Army. Still, they struggled with letting him go. “We had many discussions,” David Wagler said. “It wasn’t our preference. But he had such a good attitude, and it was clear that this wasn’t just a whim…. We thought it was the right thing to do, to give him our blessing, and we did.” He completed basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and then served at Fort Hood, Texas. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team — the “Iron Horse.” His tank crew was deployed to Iraq in December.
Before leaving, Wagler wrote a letter and gave it to his parents to put in the family’s safe. It was to be opened only if he didn’t make it back. They opened the letter Tuesday. “He said he had no regrets,” David Wagler said. “He said, ‘I would rather live my life fully and die young, than live a long and boring life.’ ”
The family was together for the last time at Thanksgiving. Peter Wagler’s two older sisters — Maria, a missionary who is helping people with AIDS in South Africa, and Rochelle, a mother of two in Missouri — had traveled back to the farm for the holiday. Most of the family gathered in the same dining room Thursday morning, but the table had been moved to make room for television cameras. David and Trish Wagler sat on the couch, flanked by their children. After David Wagler read a prepared statement and answered a few questions, a reporter asked Trish Wagler to comment: What went through her mind when she got the news? What about her son’s life makes her most proud? Trish Wagler paused, gripping the microphone, but said nothing. She turned to her husband and with tears in her eyes, shook her head. “It’s a good question,” David Wagler said. “But she’s not able to answer.”
Fifteen-year-old Esther Wagler, sitting on the arm of the sofa, later remarked that Peter Wagler would probably shake his head and laugh at the dining room-turned-pressroom. “He would like all the attention we’re getting,” she said. “He would get a real kick out of it.” Family members haven’t made funeral arrangements yet because they’re waiting to learn when Wagler’s body will arrive back in the U.S.
David Wagler said they have been overwhelmed with phone calls and other shows of support. Wednesday was David Wagler’s birthday, and he had to renew his driver’s license. “The driver’s license lady could hardly fill it out, she was crying so much,” he said. “It’s just had that kind of effect on everybody.”
The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Peter during the month of March 2006 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Peter’s family and friends today and in the years to come.
The other day making rounds on the ward I meet a relative of one of the 3 Stooges. When I asked him how he got to Germany the answer was simple; I’m a free spirit. Now I’m NOT a 3 Stooges fan by any means but I sure wish that I was then. He was quite the funny guy and showed me a hand trick that I have yet to figure out.
I know that I have been distant the last 2 weeks. I had a complaint against me supposedly from a patient. It has been investigated and it was not from the patient but a member of the staff who it seems was jealous over the support I was giving, compliments that I was receiving from patients and the concern she had since she belongs to another group like this one and felt I was invading her area. The last bit of it was cleared up just yesterday from an Army member who actually is stateside. However, the stress that this added to my stay was more than I thought I could handle at times. I want everyone to know that we all support the same person. It is the person that wears the uniform for the U.S. Military and those that support the U.S. Military. This is the second time that I have been attacked due to people feeling there is territory when it comes to supporting. There is no territory; America supports our Troops, one person can not do it all and I hope everyone in this group knows I can’t do it without your help. This group is not mine it is ours and it is only as good as WE make it.
I want to thank each of you that helped out while I was here. I want to especially thank Jennifer for going to the post office and carrying the boxes back and forth and back and forth.
Army Pvt., 22, of Evansville, Ind.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Dec. 30, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during patrol operations in Bayji, Iraq.
Soldier who died in Iraq sought change
Source: Associated Press and Courier-Journal.com
An Indiana soldier killed in Iraq joined the Army because he wanted to take his life in a new direction, his mother said. Pvt. Jonathan R. Pfender, who was based at Fort Campbell, Ky., had thought about joining the military since seventh grade, said his mother, Peggy Jo Hammond.
Last spring, he quit his job at Pizza Hut and joined the Army. Pfender, 22, believed he had gotten “lazy” and wanted to do more with his life, Hammond said Sunday. “I asked him about the National Guard or Reserves, and he said, ‘I’m going all out,’ ” she said. ” ‘I’m going in the Army … I want to go to Iraq.’ ”
Pfender, of Evansville, was killed by an improvised explosive device during a patrol Friday in Bayji, Iraq, the Army said. Pfender was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. He was the 52nd military service member from Indiana to die in the war.
Family members mourned his loss Sunday, but said they were proud of him. Hammond said she knew her son, a 2001 graduate of North Posey High School, likely would be sent to Iraq but backed his decision “250 percent.” She showed her support by getting her son’s picture tattooed on her arm. The tattoo depicts her son in uniform standing in front of a U.S. flag. Pfender was impressed when he saw the tattoo during a visit home before his deployment Sept. 16, family members said.
“Jonathan is still a part of my heart that I could not ever explain to anybody if I ever tried. That’s why this is on my arm,” Hammond said. “It’s a pride I can’t explain.” Pfender wanted to be an Army Ranger, but high blood pressure kept him out of the unit, his mother said.
Pfender’s father and stepmother, Randy and Jackie Pfender of Ohio, were in the Evansville area when they learned of Jonathan’s death. Hammond said Army officials told her that her son’s body is in Kuwait and an autopsy will be conducted in Dover, Del., before his body is returned home.
He had been scheduled to return to the United States for two weeks in June. Hammond said she last spoke with her son by phone Christmas Day. “I got a half-hour,” she said. “It was the longest I ever got to talk to him.” She said she ended the conversation the same way she had told her son good night since he was little: “Night night, sweet dreams, I love you.”
Other web sites about Jonathan are:
The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Jonathan during the month of February 2006 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Jonathan’s family and friends today and in the years to come.
I just wanted to pass on to everyone that I have been able to see the work Karen is doing here in Germany at the Chaplain’s Clothing Closet for our soldiers. I stopped by to just say hello and she had a few come in. She sure does know how to work her magic with them. The ones I saw today were so appreciative of the help and thoughtfulness she gave them. One gentleman was in just to tell her thank you again for helping him at another time. Didn’t need anything, just wanted to say hello. So seeing it close up now I have to say this is a great program even though I had no doubt before, but seeing it in action is amazing. Also, she only has a week left here in Germany so I am sure will be busy making sure the clothing closet has what it needs and getting ready for the trip back to the States. I am glad I was able to meet her while she was here and will miss her. She is a super lady, 🙂 Ok I will hush just had to share with everyone.
Sometimes checking my email just sucks. I was getting ready to post an item of interest to you guys tonight and checked my email first and got a very short note from the mom of the patient that gave me the angel that I told you about. Justin was doing good and she had just come home after spending a week with him at the hospital stateside. It looked like smooth sailing for him other than rehab. The email states that he has had a stroke due to a blood clot. His condition is unknown. She flies in the morning back to the hospital. I had to reread the email several times to make sure I had it right. It could not be XXXXXX that she was talking about.
OK been busy the last couple of days. I have the boxes that have come in sorted and the boxes that had to be mailed out finally finished and Jennifer mailed them all this morning. We mailed 4 boxes total. The tampons and pillows are on the way to the 1st hospital. Some phone cards and blankets are on their way to the hospital in Afghanistan. One large box is on its way to the 2nd hospital in Iraq full of woman’s clothing. I have more women’s clothing that I picked up today to mail to this hospital that I have to find a large box for shipping. I also got the phone cards from Kathy and the church members at Riverchase and if they don’t mind I think will mail some of these to Afghanistan also. I’m still waiting on our sweats to arrive here and hope to see them early next week before I leave. I have the cereal for our AF guy coming soon to also mail.
I have a reputation in the closet for finding something that these patients need even when they say they need nothing. Today I thought I was going to lose that rep though. There was a young Army troop in the WWMC for a good hour just talking and every time someone would say “Oh I don’t really need anything” I would say “Oh do you have a hat” or “Do you need gloves,” “What about dental floss”, “Chap stick.” Each time the patient would say “Sure I could use those” or “Yeah, I could use some of that”. This kid would laugh every time the patient would leave. The other volunteer told him that I always find something that they need and no one leaves without getting something. Well, this group of 4 walked in and I said how can I help you? The last guy said “Oh I don’t need anything”. The kid that had been in there for the hour started laughing. He said you will walk out of here with something; she will make sure of that.The 4th young man again said you will not find anything I need. I asked the other volunteer if she could help the other guys and I turned to the 4th guy and said lets have a talk. Everyone started laughing. He was half in the door and half out of the door and he started to leave and said we can talk out here. I said what are you scared of “ME?” He looked at me and said “OH I was going to play that card.” He came into the closet and I started with my normal list that always gets everyone. He was not going to take anything just because he knew I was working so hard at it. So we played this game back and forth for a while and then I noticed he did not have a pen in his arm pocket. I said you need a pen for writing. His buddies all chimed in and said “YES HE DOES” he always has to ask for ours. Before I could just turn around and grab one he was out the door. So of course I had to purposely walk out the door and give it to him as his buddies were all chiming in “SHE GOT YOU.”
We got everyone to sign out and he gave me a hand shake and hug before he left. Had to work had for that one, but my record still holds!!! LOL The young man in the closet was laughing when those guys left. He could not believe that I got another one.
I need everyone to keep all these patients in their prayers. I meet a man Monday that was not doing well. He was crashing right in front of me and there was nothing I could do to help him except get the doctor in the hallway.
This is from the nurse that was the escort that I told you about that I meet last fall while I was at the hospital.
Karen, I was laughing when I read this email because it is soooo you! You are a Mom/Sister/Buddy for anyone who walks in there…it is too bad you only get to be at “the closet” for a few weeks at a time…those guys need that kind of support everyday!
I pray for all my fellow soldiers over there- and please let the guys know that there are lots of us great nurses here stateside who will take great care of them OK?
I got 3 emails from Don today for the box that we sent. He was so excited I guess he could not put it all in one. LOL
Wow….Thanks for the box Karen
Today was like my B-day
I have a new stuffed friend on top of my PC
I really like these shoes….they are so Cool.
Thanks for helping to bring me up to date on fashions
Karen, you are a very nice lady to do this for me.
Many thanks to you and yours.
I’m truly sorry about this and I did look at the name on the quilt, but that was many hours ago and I guess I’m old because I don’t remember now, but it was a solid powder blue quilt. The 20-year old female that took it said to say THANKS. She came back from the down range, had surgery and found out she has cancer and is heading back to the States. But she said to tell whoever’s name was on that quilt thank you so much that she really liked it.
If anyone is interested in more pillows, we could use 10 full pillows. 20 of the half size pillows.
Kathy, a National Guard member from the 167th said to say “HI.”
We need jersey shorts in 3 hospitals, including here at LRMC.
Ginger, your Burger King lunches are done. One Navy, three Marines, and one Army.
Sharon, got your box and got the shoes for Don and they were mailed with the sweats and socks today.
The Marine I sat with for surgery is now on his way home for recovery and physical therapy. As I was walking to his pre-surgery room, I saw another troop that I knew who was also having surgery that morning, so I stopped in to say hi and I would see him after surgery. The morning of surgery, this young man found out that his mom was also having surgery, so his mind was more on his mom than his own surgery. We did talk for a while about his little brother joining the military and how he felt about that and now he knew how concerned his parents were about his safety, because he felt the same way about his little brother. I sat until we found out that his surgery was not going to be for quite a while longer and he said that he was going to try to sleep. I left and went to try to find the chaplain for him. By the time I got back, they were ready to take him, so it was perfect timing. After they gave the meds to relax him, he took my hand, I said I would see him in his room and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I went to check on the other patient and he was not out of surgery yet, so I went to the WWMC to work for about an hour. I then went back to the ward to see if he was coming back soon. He was just leaving post op, so I waited in the hallway for him. He was awake and doing well. He told me he was hungry and I told him we would have to wait and see what they allowed him to eat. I told him I would see him after they got him settled in. I went to go check on the other patient and he was already in his room. He just wanted to eat also and was allowed to eat, so BK chicken fingers it was. His roommate asked if I could bring him a Mountain Dew. So……first to the Shoppette then to BK then back to the room. There was another patient that was also in a wheelchair, but was very mobile. He was a character and loved the apes. He gave his first one away to his roommate who did not have one and was leaving that morning on the flight back to the States. So, I gave him another before he went down for the casting on his legs.
It was time for the cart to go around the wards, so I went and did that and saw the first patient again. He just kept saying how hungry he was and I was joking with him that he only had 2 ½ more hours left. I told him at 1630 I would be back with his BK. Then his liaison came in and handed him a huge subway sandwich. I just looked at him and he grabbed the sandwich and hid it under his sheets. He had 3 other roommates and they were laughing. I walked up to the bed and said, “Son, turn it over.” He gave me that look like, “PLEASE.” I just stood there with my hand out and told him that there was a reason that the nurses did not want him to eat yet and we did not want to make him sick. He gave me the sandwich and I gave it to his roommate on the other side of the room, with instructions he had to wait until 1630. As we were getting ready to leave the room with the cart I told him where the sandwich was and was it safe to stay there and he said probably not. So I took the sandwich and told him it would be safe with the nurses. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is very true with a 26 year old Marine.
After rounds I visited the other set of guys and they wanted to go outside for fresh air. So, we got all three of them in wheelchairs and away we went. Going outside was not that difficult, but coming back in was a chore. The hospital is not level and there is an incline to the floors. We were going up hill now and I’m trying to push two wheelchairs at the same time. (leg and arm injuries on both patients). It was a site to see, I’m sure. We took up every inch of the hallway and good thing we had not been drinking, because they could have gotten us for swerving, reckless driving, crossing center line, hitting park anything and I’m sure numerous other infractions. Got everyone back in bed, 2 in one room and 1 in another and the one young man kept thanking me and said that he wished he could give me something for helping him so much that day. They just don’t get it!!! It is me that they are helping. I went back to make sure the guy in the room by himself did not need anything and he was on the phone with his mom already telling her about me. He wanted me to send a picture to his mom which I was glad to do. The next day one of them gave me a little gold angel that was on a quilt that he had. They have all been discharged back to the States now.
I had an Army Sgt come in the other day that has half his face paralyzed. He said that the IEDs first just made him deaf in one ear. Slowly, the hearing started to come back and then one morning while he was brushing his teeth he saw one side of his lips just drop and then also that side of his face. He was waiting for MRI results and I told him that I would be thinking about him and if he needed anything just to let me know. He just stood there a minute with his head down, so I gave him a hug. This guy was big but even the big guys like little hugs.
There was a young man that came in Tuesday that was just in the hospital gown, hospital pants, and flip flops. He was shaking so bad due to the cold weather, the first thing I did was grab a zip up hoody and put it on him. The other volunteer went to go get sneakers and I grabbed a pair of socks and sweat pants. We put the sweat pants right over the hospital pants and then the socks. We then did the normal boxers, more socks, house slippers, hat, gloves, etc and he wore the winter jacket out the door. I saw him again tonight at the bus stop. He was talking with another troop about how cold he was and that he got dressed right there in the WWMC. The guy he was talking to said you were that cold and he said, “Hey, I’m from Texas.” I spoke up and said, “Yes, he was that cold.” He looked at me a minute and said, “Oh yeah that was you.” He did not care who dressed him––he just wanted warm clothes.
Two day ago doing rounds with the cart, we had a gentleman that just wanted aftershave with alcohol in it. That’s it!! Three days before we had some Old Spice that had come in and I was “HA” I have this covered. I told him that I thought we might have some Old Spice and was that o.k. He said he liked Old Spice but if we didn’t have it, anything with alcohol would do. I told him I liked Old Spice also. That the younger guys were saying it was an old scent, but they didn’t know what they were missing because it was one of those scents that just causes woman to get closer and closer. He said shhhhh we can’t give them all of our secrets. When I went down to the WWMC, it was gone. The one thing he wanted and we had. Now this is not a usual request and “no” we will not ship it, but just the same I felt bad. The next day we had some Musk aftershave that came in a box. Now this came from the dollar store and I was not sure if I should take it up to him, but it was aftershave with alcohol. I took it to him since there is usually another volunteer in the mornings, but not afternoons. When I walked into his room, I smiled and asked how he was feeling. He said much better since they had just given him morphine. I said well I had something that might make him feel better yet, but that it was not Old Spice. I sat it on his bed side stand since he looked like he was still in pain. I thought he was going to shake my hand to say thanks but he gave it a kiss, for a bottle of $1.50 Musk aftershave, MUST HAVE BEEN THE DRUGS!!! LOL
We were also visited by a 1 Star this week and several Full Birds.
Today I worked just inside the Chaplain’s office and not in the WWMC. There were a lot of boxes that needed to be sorted and distributed. After doing this all day, I’m just going to say one thing. DO NOT MIX LIQUID WITH FOOD ITEMS or ANYTHING ELSE IN YOUR BOXES. Nasty mess box after box!!!! Powder does not do well either. Even with our post to the web page for no more toiletries we are still getting them. The chaplains were sending them to hospitals and units down range but got emails to stop that. I guess they are still over flowing there also.
I have the last 3 dozen apes to give out next week on Valentine’s Day. We have received hundreds of cards from schools, churches, civic groups, and other individuals with Valentine wishes. If you or someone you know sends these kinds of items to our troops, please keep something in mind. Glitter is not friendly to patients or our troops. It sticks to bandages, cast, tubing, uniforms, and everything else it comes in contact with. I also wonder about in the field and how/if it would interfere with night time/covert operations as it may be seen since it is shiny. Have you ever got one speck of glitter on your self and just keep chasing it to get it off?
Our large and x-large long sleeve shirts are gone!!! We need more and we need sweats of all sizes. A couple days ago we got hit with 3 buses of patients. I think that is probably one of the largest groups at once I’ve seen.
We have the sweats that Kathy has sent due in here soon and that is it for shipping items here. Anything else you want to ship, please do so to my stateside address. I would like to ship more sweats and XL-L long sleeve t-shirts as soon as possible.
I can’t go into details about what happened this week to make my week suck, just remember that what comes around goes around and usually 10 fold. So be careful, someone upstairs is watching!!!
I don’t want you to think that our U.S. military does not have those that whine, we do. Anyone that has been around the military long enough knows that. I’ve even listened to a hand full from down range, but I think the majority follows in this kid’s boots.
He refused two medivac flights until his replacement could come into the field. He was finally ordered by two COLs to leave the AOR and get on a MEDFLIGHT. When the liaison brought him in, he did not want anything. He said he would be going back down range ASAP. Now, this late 20 to early 30’s man had an injury that is life altering. The liaison had been trying to explain to him that he would be there for a while and he would need clothing other than the uniform he had on. She told me, “I need your help!” This is where the “MOM,” not “mommy” hat comes out. I put hands on hips and say, “OK, Why are you here?” He tells me. I just give him the “MOM” look. The one he has obviously seen before because he starts in about he is the only one that does his particular job for his unit. His buddies needed him. They depend on him 24-7. His is the one on call. So I listen intently to his babble about his injury was not so bad that he could not do his job. I waited for him to totally finish.
Then it’s my turn. I told him, “I understand your concern for your buddies. However, if you do not get this fixed, you never know when it will get to the point that you can’t do your job. It may be during a period that is quiet, but it may be during a time that your buddies need you more than they have ever needed you before and you’re not able to be there for them because you waited too long to get this fixed.”
This soldier just stared at me for a couple seconds and then asked me if I knew COL Xxxxxxxx. I said, “No, why?” He said, “That is the exact same thing he said.” I said, “GREAT, now if I think like the COL, how about helping me, help you put this bag together.” He looked at me, we stood quietly for a little bit and he said, “I would like medium boxers.”
Another point for all the MOMs out there; we won another one. Hoorah!!!
Short and sweet tonight as it is late, I’m tired as I’m still waking up at 0430 and not able to go back to sleep.
Today was slow, but Sharon B., I wish I could have seen the expression on your APE recipient’s face today. I was walking to the clothing closet this morning and there were 2 guys sitting waiting for appointments. There are usually some of our guys waiting in this one area, but this morning one of them was sleeping. I smiled and nodded my head at the other one and then that light bulb went off. The bright idea one of course, but more the one like I can get away with some thing here. So I put my finger up to my lips like to say shhhhhh. I took one of the APES out of the bag, looked to see who the sponsor was, and VERRRY gently placed it on this kid’s lap. The older soldier smiled as I walked away. I LOVE IT when I get away with something good. I just wish I could have seen his face when he woke up.
Kathy has ordered our sweats; they are being sponsored by the Lorton American Legion.
That is it for the night, told you short and sweet.
It is so cold here. It never got above 21 degrees today. I’m freeezzzzzing. All the trees are covered in ice. It is supposed to warm up slightly this weekend (2 or 3 degrees) and the temperature is to get even colder the next two weeks.
I met Xxxxxx the other day. Very nice young man. You know they are either in pain or really just need to talk when they ask if they can sit. I had been busy all day, but everything just stopped when he came in and needed time to vent. I gave him one of the apes and he asked if he could have one for his wife who was coming in the next day. As he sat there and talked, he played with those apes. He was wrapping their arms around each other as to give each other a hug and back and forth. When he started talking, he seemed to be on the verge of losing it, but those little apes and talking calmed him. We talked for about 30 minutes before I had a patient come in for help. Xxxxxx hung around until I finished with the patient and said he had to catch the bus, but he just wanted to thank me for the apes. You know that was not the reason, so Dianne, for you baby, I gave him a hug, and he squeezed so tight I was not sure he was going to let go. I just held on until he did. I walked him to the bus stop and said goodbye again. (24 and missing everyone he loves and everything he knows as being normal.)
This morning I carried in another dozen apes. Each time I passed a military member in uniform, doctors, nurses, patients, etc, I would say, “I have a gift for you,” hand them the ape and keep on walking. The response after they looked at it was, “OH Thanks, how cute.” After getting the keys to open the closet, I turned around and two officers were standing there. I gave them each an ape and kept walking. I was about 20 steps in front of them. I heard one of them say she must be Sandy from FL, and then the other one said no mine says NY. The response was then, “we won’t ever know who that pink ape woman was,” I had to laugh out loud, but kept right on walking. I’m so glad we did the apes.
I made rounds yesterday with our quilts and blankets that came in. What a hit!!! Especially the deer, beers, wolf, and woodland colored ones.
Today we finally got 3/4 of our long sleeve t-shirts in. All the rest of the shipment – pj’s, gold bond powder, winter jackets are in. I was starting to worry. The shelves look great now that they are all filled with the right items on them. We should all be proud to know that we put them there.
The 3 winter jackets donated from Stafford, VA came in and went out today. The guys loved them.
The Gold Bond powder was only on the shelf about 5 minutes when 2 containers went. Thanks Bernie.
The men’s lounge pants from MN, WOW are they going too. They were put out first, but the guys were dealing on them. I will switch this color for that color. We can always use more of them and in the small sizes too.
I want to thank all those that were stateside to pack for this shipment. It was so nice to not have to fold today, but straight out of the box to the shelf. LOVED IT!!!
Heads up, Monday will be a long day starting at 0530 and I do not expect to post Monday night. I will be with XXX before and after his surgery. This young man has a tumor. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
Ginger, your Burger King lunches will start with this young man and when he is able to have his first regular meal after surgery.
I was going to write an update tonigh,t but after reading this email I can’t.
I am LCPL XXXXXX’ mother. I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being so kind to my son! I also want you to know that you are an answer to my prayers. I’m sure that you understand how difficult it is to have XXXXXXX so far away from home, possible hurting, and not be able to be with him. It is like torture to know that he has been going through all of those tests and not being able to be there to talk to the doctors and make sure that he is being taken care of. I have prayed for God to put someone there with him who would care for him as a person. Not just another Marine who needs to get back out into the field, but someone’s son; you are that person. You’ve proven it by taking your time to send this picture. My prayer will be that God blesses you abundantly and just as you have provided for my son that there will always be someone to care for you and your children. Thank you!
XXXXXXX Executive Assistant
My name is Sgt XXXXX. I recently had surgery in Landstuhl hospital in Germany. I was a soldier that was hurt in Iraq. I would like to thank you for all the support for the troops. It is such a warm feeling, knowing that some people really care. When I received clothes and hygiene products from you at the store I was amazed. I had no clue nothing like that existed. It brings tears to my eyes knowing you want to help. I will be heading back down range here soon. I will never forget the care I received from your organization. Tell everyone I said thanks. May we never forget freedom isn’t free! GOD BLESS AMERICA AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU!!!
FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM!!! SGT XXXXXXX UNITED STATES ARMY 1071ST MAINT CO. GRAYLING MICH.
You know that little voice inside of you that talks to you. It speaks of hope, love and sharing. Some days it seems like it is too much. Today this young kid came in and he just looked scared. When I looked at him you just knew he needed a hug. (Of course he got one.) I asked him if he was ok. He said he was just a little scared. I asked him why. He said that the last thing he remembers was being in Iraq. Now he is here and he is not sure what is next. He received a blow to the head that was so severe that he had a concussion and woke up in Germany. The fear was so evident in this young man. I got everything he needed and sent him out the door but not before making sure he knew where he was going and how to get there. (He just was not sure.) So I followed up with making sure the second man in the closet followed him to the bus stop and introduced himself.
I spent about half an hour cutting clothing for a man who needed both wrist bands cut from sweat shirts and a zip up hoody so that he could get them over two bad arms. He also needed break-away pants for the long brace on his leg. Do you think that they know when I pack their bags or when we ship our boxes that they overflow with wishes, prayers, respect, honor and gratitude?
Tomorrow is Lawrence’s birthday. He will be 25. Say Happy Birthday to him when you get up and I will let him know if I see him tomorrow that all of you wished him a Happy Birthday. He arrived from down range today.
We have no med. sweats again and about 8 small left. I have asked Kathy to purchase about $300 worth of small and med sweat pants for here. We also need white med. t-shirts if I have not posted that already.
Every morning on the bus I hope that my actions here show these troops that our hearts shine for them and ache for them in their period of pain. I also hope that though some may be crying silently, they know they are not alone. I want to thank all of you that support this project while I’m here.
I also received a VERY special gift from the field today in the mail. It is an American flag from a Marine Detachment that we supported. It was flown in honor of our unwavering support. The letter says
This Flag has stood watch over America’s Sons and Daughters who are in harms way in the country of Iraq. It has stood watch through the joys of the Holidays and sorrow of Marines giving the ultimate sacrifice that can be asked of them. It was flying when the Iraqi people voted in the first free election in over 50 years. It has been a beacon showing us the way home and an inspiration of things to come for the People of Iraq. It has flown high and protected us from harm. I’m sure after being packed in a box and shipped halfway around the world it will be a little wrinkled and still have sand in its folds, but it is our most prized possession. It was flown for you, for the uncompromising support you have shown us. May it always protect you and those you love as it has protected us.
The papers with the Hadji script are actual voting ballets used during the election. Hopefully they have started a chain of events that keep us from ever having to return here again.
Xxxx xxxx GySgt USMC
This flag represents the heroism and sacrifice of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Many service men and women have paid the ultimate price by giving their lives in defense of the Iraqi people during their fight for freedom.
Whenever and wherever this flag is displayed, it will always carry with it, the memory of those who were lost while bringing freedom to those who have never known it.
This morning leaving Ramstein we followed a bus with wounded on board and then passed it. The bus pulled into the ER entrance shortly after I entered. It is heart wrenching to see the buses come in and deliver patient after patient. At the same time heart warming to see nurses’ techs, chaplains and assistants throughout the hospital be standing ready for them when they arrive. One of the COL, I love him dearly, was standing there waiting for the second bus of patients. I was carrying the Valentine apes in this morning and gave him one. He stuck it in his jacket pocket with the arms sticking out. Everyone was awwww, then the second chaplain looked at me and so I gave him one. Same reaction from everyone again. Now there must be 20-25 people standing there saying awww. A little female tech was looking at them so I walked over and gave her a different color one. Day in and day out these troops serve our wounded with such care and dignity. I could not help but give out about 18 apes this morning waiting there at the door for our wounded to arrive. I spoke with a very young man that works in L&D. He worked in ICU for one day and commented that he was not sure he could do it. The stress and pace at times can be overwhelming, so let us remember not only the troops, but the staff of nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, and all those that support in the back ground. (By the way, the COL took the pink one.)
I spoke with one of the liaisons and he has a family arriving today from the states, that means that their family member is in ICU and not good. I asked him to give an ape to the family for their son. The flight is long here and I can not imagine the pain of knowing my son, daughter, or husband is in ICU and counting the minutes until I landed to get to their side. Not knowing what is wrong. How bad is it really? What will happen when I get at the hospital and will I have support? I can tell you the first couple questions would drive me crazy no matter what I was told and could be there myself. However, the last question I can answer. The support these families receive is awesome. They are cared for in every way possible. The only need that the hospital can not fill is the desire to have their military child/spouse back to before the incident, which put their child in ICU or this hospital.
We got snow last night and more this morning, about one inch. I stood outside last night thinking how beautiful, but then realized it would make it more difficult for those on crutches and wheel chairs to get to me. I will keep a close eye out on the long side walk to assist the next couple days until it is gone.
Today we have a woman in the hospital from the field. Her brother also happened to be serving down range and is now here to be by her side after an IED explosion. After he left the clothing closet, I was unpacking more bags thinking what a close relationship they should have after this.
I met a young man last year who told me he would have no family when he returned back to the States with both hands and part of his face burned. His family did not support the efforts of our troops or HIM. How sad!!! I feel they are all my family. We all have been given gifts over the years and these visits to LRMC to serve our wounded military is one of my most precious.
This afternoon I made the rounds to the wards with the apes. I think the guys might have liked them more than the women. We have enough to make rounds once a week through Valentine’s Day. I put sponsor labels on them and when the patient receives one I would tell them where it was from. Some of the apes were from Ballston Spa, NY. I had two patients that were surprised and thrilled because they were also from NY. That small little connection made faces smile. What an honor to be able to make that happen.
Well, it is 7:40 and the last meal I had was breakfast, so I must go. Oh, if anyone wants to pick up some MED t-shirts, we are out.
Here is an email from a troop that came in yesterday or the day before.
I received the items from your store/shop the other day just prior to boarding my bus back to XXXX. Besides the items, the people who worked there were very supportive and just real friendly. For the 2 minutes I was there, I felt somewhat normal again and not as if I was in a uniform and had been in a combat environment for past 6 months. I thanked all who were there and I in turn was thanked for what I did. I didn’t leave without a hug either.
I also found that one of your staff was there on a volunteer basis. She said that she was to be there for 6 weeks and I thought how great is that that someone volunteered to help me in some way shape or form. It was really good to hear.
Know that your service is a great one to provide to our injured service members. I cc’ed my wife because I want her to know as well that there are people here besides the MD’s who go the extra mile.
Sorry I have not posted in two days, but I have been busy with some behind the scene things. Dianne S., you are a true life saver and I know that this family feels blessed for having your help.
For those of you new to the project, please read the Blog on the web page from my last visit. For those of you that have been around since last fall, I was known as the “Name on my briefs lady,” this trip it is the “Toe Lady.” The young man I told you about with the hat on his foot with the tassels is making quite the rounds. I have had several people coming in asking if I’m the toe lady. I have to laugh, because, can you imagine the look on my face the first time I was asked that? The second guy said yea this guy had this hat on his foot to keep his toes warm and said that this “very nice, rock on, cute woman” gave it to him from the clothing closet. (The nice and cute I understand the meaning of, but the “rock on” I just have to hope is also good. LOL) The problem is that XXXX does not remember names and could not remember mine so he calls me the “Toe Lady.” So 3 patients later and I’m the Toe Lady. I have been known for lots of different things, but this is a new one to add to the book. LOL.
Last fall it was the name on the boxers, yesterday we were a little busy and this man says, “Hey this couple in Stafford, VA by the name of GRIMORD sent these socks here.” I turned around and asked if it said Mr. and Mrs. Brian Grimord. He said “rock on.” (Someone has to tell me what the means.) Everyone looked at me like, how did you know that. So I told them I was Karen Grimord and what we did and why I was there. I was told to let each of you know how much this means to each of them. Dianne, you have two more pairs of ankle socks before yours are gone from the shelf.
I waited on a young man yesterday who had surgery two days ago. Very nice and very polite! We had our small chit chat and said our good bye. Today, I found out that he worked for one of the Generals and I got coined for the support this young man was provided. It is a very nice coin from the Third Infantry Division, Outstanding Soldier, “Rock of the Marine” General. I wish I could “coin” all of you for the great work that you do to keep our shipments coming in here and down range.
Four nights ago a young man, XXX, came down from the mental health ward. (some of them get 1 hour passes). I waited on him and he was very nice and quite the joker. He told me that he has been diagnosed as being bi-polar. The next night he came back with someone new to the ward. Now remember this kid has been “SHOPPING” already once, as I’m helping his new friend he looks around and picks out some CD’s, sun glasses, and a sweater. The next night XXX comes down with the friend from the night before and another new member of the ward. Again the same thing, I help the new patient and XXX goes checking out everything, keeping everyone laughing the entire time, but picking up this little thing here that thing there. XXX asked if he could exchange his small black bag for one of the larger ones (they are only allowed one bag). I told him sure bring the small one back down the next day. Yesterday afternoon XXX came down and tried to tell me, in a very round the bush way, that he had so much wonderful stuff that he could not fit it all in the bag. I laughed and said of course you do, you are worse than any woman I’ve ever met about shopping. I told him to keep both the bags, but his shopping was shut off, no more, done, finished. Everyone started to laugh and he looked at me and smiled and said well can I still come down here and talk with you? I gave him a big hug and said of course you can, any time. So tonight, he brought back all the friends from the nights before and another new member of the ward. He started to go shopping, he had his back to me and I looked at him and his friends were, “OHHHH” XXX look at Karen.” He turned around really slow and had this smile on his face that he thought would melt me. I told him I have a son that used to try that and it just would not work. Everyone was laughing and told him he had met his match. He leaves here in a couple days and I will miss my 4-4:15 appointment with this very wonderful young man.
Tomorrow is my 25th anniversary. I will deliver some of our Valentine apes early. Patient load is light compared to last fall and we have enough to go around the hospital now and then also on Valentine’s Day. This will give the guys going home a small gift for Valentine’s Day also. One of the chaplains’ assistants told me today that the apes were very appropriate because she did consider me ape for our soldiers. My 25th may not be spent with my husband, but I guarantee you it will be spreading love to the wounded military personnel here at LRMC.
I promised a young man today that I would ask all of you to say a special prayer or take a moment and think about his friend who has all four limbs broken and is in bad shape. I will not post the name, but I’m sure the man upstairs will listen anyways.
I worked on Saturday and we had about 20 patients come through. We got a lot unpacked and put in the closet or in the storage room. I also met a nurse from down range at one of the largest hospitals in the field. She told me that we can support them by sending shorts, pillows, and pants (NO SHIRTS). She also told me that they DO NOT NEED TOILETRIES OF ANY KIND.
I sat here all day today and got all the labels on our apes for Valentine’s Day. I have some pictures I will send Ray to put on Jonathan’s page as soon as I get them out of the camera.
This group [the Yahoo Group] got quiet when I came over here. Do I have back up in the States?
Today was a very cold day. We had several ghost flights come in, so it was busy also. I had one patient that came back in for a hat for his foot. One of the other volunteers helped him Saturday and I saw him about half an hour after he left and his cast leg and foot were uncovered, so I told him to come back and see me today and we would put a hat on that foot. Well, we chose two hats one black one for while he was in his uniform and the other had two tassels on top and was multi-colored for his civvies. We talked for almost 45 minutes about everything; he was a preschool teacher before joining the Army. Anyway, a very nice young man, has a great personality and his foot has two hats now, in uniform and out.
I also meet a young man who is from Huntsville, AL, where my folks are living. I may be posting more about him later but it is always interesting to meet someone from some where you know.
Dianne S., your socks are going out the door like crazy. I have seen your labels all day today. Ginger, please let the legion know that their sweats are on the shelf and also being used. The last of the auxiliary quilts are on the shelf now. They don’t last long when they get put out.
I’m going to take a shower, as I have changed many a combat boot today.