Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts

Monday, February 1, 2016

Louisiana Veterans Affairs Secretary Blasted After Investigation

Investigation blasts former veterans affairs secretary
The New Star
Greg Hilburn
February 1, 2016
Former Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary was fired by former Gov. Bobby Jindal Oct. 8.
Former Louisiana Veterans Affairs Secretary Dave LaCerte is accused of improperly funneling funds to a company owned by former law school classmates, lying about his military service record and inflating travel expenses in a joint report released today by the state's legislative auditor and inspector general.

LaCerte's attorney, Jarrett Ambeau of Baton Rouge, denied all of the investigation's findings in a letter to Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera.

"The Joint Investigation Report's findings are patently false, blatant character assassination and appear to be a calculated attack on the integrity and credibility for (LaCerte)," Ambeau wrote.

But former Interim Veterans Affairs Secretary Thomas Enright and newly-appointed Veterans Affairs Secretary Joey Strickland concurred with the findings in written responses.

"I am disturbed to learn that the previous LDVA secretary deviated from a veteran-focused mind-set and that this contributed to many of the problems cited in your report," Strickland wrote. "... I firmly believe that once the reforms I put in place are fully implemented, LDVA will be back on track and again focused on its mission of supporting Louisiana veterans and their families."
read more here

Monday, January 4, 2016

Camp Pendleton Marine Family’s Tragic Crash

‘Please God, Don’t Let It Be Them’: Camp Pendleton Marine Family’s Tragic Crash
NBC San Diego
By Bridget Naso and Samantha Tatro
January 3, 2016

It wasn’t long ago that Staff Sergeant Evaan Ball and his wife Ashley attended the Marine Corps Ball in San Diego, but today it feels like a world away as Ashley fights for her life in a New Mexico hospital after a deadly crash that killed her brother.

“I thought I’d be the one in the hospital one day, not her,” SSgt. Ball told NBC 7 San Diego in a phone interview this week.

Ashley’s brother, Steven Marrow, was helping the couple move from Camp Pendleton to SSgt. Ball’s new post in Louisiana on Dec. 23. Ball drove one car, with the couple’s two children in the back. Marrow drove the second car with Ashley sitting in the passenger seat.

As the group drove down State Route 550 in Farmington, New Mexico, Marrow lost control of the car while passing a truck and crossed over the divide, crashing into an oncoming tractor-trailer, Ball told NBC7. Ball was driving ahead of his wife and her brother and had successfully passed the truck.
read more here

Friday, December 11, 2015

Louisiana Army National Guard Gets New "Molly Pitcher"

La. National Guard enlists first female field artillery soldier
Shreveport Times
Spc. Megan V. Zander
241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
December 10, 2015
Pvt. Journae Q. King takes the Oath of Enlistment as the first female automated tactical data systems specialist in the Louisiana National Guard at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Belle Chasse, Nov. 30. (Photo: (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Megan V. Zander/Released))
NEW ORLEANS – Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced last week that all military jobs will be open to women.

For the first time in U.S. military history, gender will no longer be a deciding factor or disqualification.

The Army had already begun the process of integrating some jobs, including many field artillery positions that were opened to women in October.

On Nov. 30, Pvt. Journae Q. King made history for the Louisiana Army National Guard as the first female to enlist as a field artillery automated tactical data systems specialist.

After completing training, King will operate communication systems, assist in the preparation of computer centers, prepare field artillery tactical data systems, and determine target locations using computers or manual calculations.

King, 21, of Laplace, graduated from East Saint John High School. She was attending college at Southern University when the military caught her eye.
read more here

Molly Pitcher was a patriot who carried pitchers of water to soldiers and helped with cannon duty during the American Revolution's Battle of Monmouth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Homeless Veteran "Riddled with Gunshot Wounds"

Police: Investigation into homeless vet's death continuing
Houma Today
By Maki Somosot Staff Writer
November 30, 2015

“He was truly a kind soul. It’s hard to read the path his life had taken him.” James Inman
Police are continuing to make headway in their investigation of the Nov. 13 shooting that killed a homeless veteran, Houma Police Chief Dana Coleman said.

The body of Edward Crowley, of Kirkglen Loop, was found riddled with gunshot wounds in a field near the 2600 block of Truman Street.

“We’re making progress, interviewing witnesses and analyzing our evidence, but we haven’t identified a suspect yet,” Coleman said.

Crowley's death marks the fourth shooting death in Terrebonne Parish over the past two months, preceded by Ernest Simms, 38, Corey Butler, 18, and Robert Swan, 24. Suspects have been arrested in connection with these three deaths.

Tri-Parish Veterans Shelter director and local Disabled Americans Veteran chapter president Roger Songe said that Crowley became homeless since filing for veterans benefits late last year. He did not notice any signs of drug or alcohol use on the Vietnam Era vet.
read more here

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Navy Vietnam Veteran Still Serving His Country

Vietnam Navy vet Joe Hill still serving his country
By John Bridges
Posted: Nov 27, 2015

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A Vietnam veteran of the Navy, Joe Hill continued his military career helping other veterans. After graduating OCS, Joe Hill went on to the Navy JAG school to become a Navy legal officer. He later found himself doing 2 tours of duty in Vietnam on board the U.S.S. Pyro.

"We had people ashore and at that time it was top secret," said Hill. "The second one was a shooting war. Our job was to keep the combatants: the destroyers, the cruisers, the aircraft carriers... full of bullets."

After the war, Hill got involved in Navy intelligence.

"I felt very privileged for Operation Homecoming in which we interviewed all of the prisoners of war from the Vietnam War and heard their stories and helped shoe spoon them back into a country that they didn't even recognize."
read more here
KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Soldier from Florida Among Dead After Blackhawk Crash

Fort Hood releases names of soldiers killed in Blackhawk crash
November 27, 2015
FORT HOOD — The names of the four Soldiers killed in a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter crash on Nov. 23 have been released after next-of-kin notification. The crash occurred sometime after 5:49 p.m. in the northeast portion of the Fort Hood training area. All four crew members were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, First Army Division West. The aircraft, assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment was on a routine training mission.

The Fallen Warriors are: 
Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers, 40, a Hays, Kansas native
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley, 40, a Cantonment, Florida native
Sgt.1st Class Jason M. Smith, 35, a Destrehan, Louisiana native
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael F. Tharp, 40, a Katy, Texas native.
read more here

UPDATE report on each soldier. Fort Hood Crash Victims Were Veterans Of Wars In Afghanistan, Iraq
Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers
(Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley
(Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

Sgt. 1st Class Jason M. Smith and his wife, Trisha M. Smith
(Photo courtesy of the Smith family)

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael F. Tharp
(Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Report Claims Black Hawk Pilots Disobeyed Orders

4 minutes ago
Report: Pilots in deadly Black Hawk crash disobeyed orders
Associated Press
Published: October 23, 2015

NEW ORLEANS — An investigation of a Black Hawk helicopter crash in March that killed all 11 service members on board — including seven Marines — shows the Louisiana National Guard pilots in the training mission disobeyed direct orders by flying into worsening weather.

The military said in June that the crash was caused when the pilots became disoriented off the Florida coast.
read more here

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Navy Upgrades Silver Star to Navy Cross for Vietnam Veteran

Navy awards Vietnam veteran with highest honor thanks to secret recording
WADB 9 News
By Rick Portier
Updated: Oct 12, 2015

"Ken picked those two Marines up," said Donovan. "One by the web belt in his left hand, and he had the other Marine over his shoulder. And he was struggling to get back."

That's the way it was recorded by both the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps for nearly 50 years. For his bravery, Altazan was awarded the Silver Star in 1970.
The Silver Star is the third-highest honor the Pentagon can bestow on a Marine, just below the Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor. A mysterious letter and a secret recording of a medical evacuation mission in A Shau Valley, Vietnam almost 50 years ago has the Navy reconsidering a local veteran's medal.

The recording, which was made by a fighter pilot circling high above the firefight outside the village of Me Hiep, tracks the radio conversations between medevac helicopters, fire support aircraft, and ground troops calling for evacuation from the area on May 9, 1969. Marines on the battlefield were severely outnumbered by the Viet Cong. The job of getting them out fell to helicopter pilot Major Pat Donovan and his crew chief Sgt. Ken Altazan in a mission that became 5-Mike.

"The Marines were mixed up with the enemy. They're all in the same area. We can't come in and the Hueys cannot provide air cover. What are we gonna do, and we decided to go we're going in," said Donovan.

"When we landed, we took no fire. It seemed like everything was gonna go," remembered Altazan, who was halfway through his second tour. It was his job as crew chief to help co-ordinate the rescue, which was no easy feat with a dozen injured Marines scattered across nearly three acres of rice paddys.

"The bad guys knew they were there, and they were being shot at," Altazan said. "Quite a few were hit coming to the aircraft."
A couple of weeks ago, 48 years after he completed Mission 5-Mike, Altazan received a phone call from a major at the Pentagon. "He said 'I assume you got our letter by now.' I said, 'No sir, I hadn't gotten a letter.'" That's when Altazan learned his Silver Star would be upgraded to the Navy Cross.
read more here

WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Friday, October 9, 2015

Louisiana Veterans Affairs Secretary Resigns

Louisiana Veterans Affairs Secretary Resigns amid Investigation 
Associated Press
Oct 08, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Gov. Bobby Jindal's veterans affairs secretary abruptly resigned Thursday, amid an investigation from the inspector general's office.

Former Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte

Without explanation, Jindal's office announced that David LaCerte had left the position he's held since June 2014, effective immediately.

Robin Keller, a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, confirmed that the agency had been contacted by the inspector general's office. She said she doesn't know what was being investigated.

"I know it's ongoing, and I know we're going to cooperate. Meanwhile, we're just going to continue focusing on the care of our veterans," she said.

The inspector general's office didn't immediately return a call for comment.

Keller said LaCerte offered no explanation to her, simply saying he was resigning immediately.
read more here

Monday, August 24, 2015

Louisiana State Police Officer Killed, Witnesses Took Down Gunman

Louisiana trooper dies after being shot in head, police say
Published August 24, 2015
This undated photo shows Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent
(Louisiana State Police)

A Louisiana state trooper died Monday from injuries he suffered when he was shot in the head Sunday afternoon by a man whose pickup truck had run into a ditch, and who got out of the truck with a sawed-off shotgun.

"As an organization, we are heartbroken over this senseless and tragic death," the police department wrote in a Facebook post.

Police video showed 43-year-old Senior Trooper Steven Vincent, a 13-year state police veteran in southwest Louisiana and member of a law enforcement family, trying to talk a man out of the vehicle stuck sideways in a ditch, Col. Mike Edmonson said Sunday night.
He said two or three drivers stopped immediately, one of them making a quick turnaround on the two-lane highway.

That driver wrestled the shotgun away from Daigle, and, with the others, got him to the ground, and snapped Vincent's handcuffs on his wrists, Edmonson said. As far as he knew, he said, the good Samaritans were unhurt.
read more here

Friday, July 24, 2015

School Teacher Jumped Into Action During "Trainwreck" Shooting

Police: 3 Dead in Movie Theater Shooting, Including Gunman
Associated Press
Jul 24, 2015

Stories of heroism immediately began to emerge with presidential hopeful Gov. Bobby Jindal, who traveled to the scene within hours of the shooting, telling reporters that a teacher who was in the theater jumped in front of a second teacher, saving her life. The second teacher then managed to pull a fire alarm to alert other moviegoers, he said.

A lone gunman sitting in a packed movie theater stood up about 20 minutes into the showing of "Trainwreck" and began firing into the crowd, killing two and wounding at least nine others Thursday night before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.

The gunman initially tried escaping by blending into the fleeing crowd, but turned back when he saw police heading inside from the parking lot, authorities said. Officers tailing him back into the theater then heard a single gunshot and found him dead inside, police said.

They described the shooter as a 58-year-old "lone white male" with a criminal history but did not immediately disclose his name. Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the gunman was by himself and started the rampage by shooting the two people sitting in front of him.

At least one theatergoer described the attack, saying an older man stood up about 20 minutes into the 7:10 p.m. showing of the movie "Trainwreck" at the Grand 16 theater in Lafayette and began shooting.
read more here

Hero Teacher Jumped in Front of Coworker During Lafayette, Louisiana Movie Theater Shooting, Gov. Says
ABC News
Jul 24, 2015
Lafayette Police Department and Louisiana State Police units block an entrance road following a shooting at The Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. Paul Kieu/The Daily Advertiser/Associated Press

A school teacher heroically jumped in front of a colleague to shield her during a deadly shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana Thursday night, and one of the teachers was able to pull the fire alarm to alert authorities despite being wounded, according to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

"Her friend literally jumped over her, and in her account actually saved her life," Jindal said at a press conference, after he visited with victims at a hospital. "If she hadn't done that ... that bullet, she believed it would have hit her in the head."
read more here

Monday, June 29, 2015

Veterans Angry After Contractor Claimed To Be One Of Them

Veterans want apology from Sheriff's candidate 
The Advertiser
Claire Taylor
June 28, 2015
Mark Garber appears in military garb on campaign material used in his race for Lafayette Parish Sheriff.
(Photo: Claire Taylor, Daily Advertiser)

Mark Garber, a candidate for Lafayette Parish Sheriff who was awarded the Bronze Star for his work as a civilian interrogator with the Air Force in Iraq, has angered a couple of local military veterans who say he is pretending to be one of them.

The Southwest Louisiana Veterans Coalition board wants an apology, while one Lafayette veteran said Garber should withdraw from the Sheriff's race.

Garber is pictured in campaign material dressed in military gear with a gun; his Bronze Star medal also is shown. To make it worse, local veterans said, Garber stood up at a banquet recently when military veterans were recognized.

"He slapped the face of every veteran in Lafayette by portraying himself as a veteran," said Daniel J. Bentley, commander of American Legion Post 69 of Lafayette. "He is not a veteran."

Garber told The Daily Advertiser , "I have never, ever claimed to be a military veteran."

But the website for his private legal practice with attorney C. Ray Murry recently stated: "Mr. Garber and Mr. Murry are military veterans."

The statement was changed Thursday after The Daily Advertiser brought it to Garber's attention. He said the statement was written long ago and was worded improperly because his law partner is a veteran of the military.

While in Iraq, Garber wore a uniform and carried weapons like military personnel, and was deployed on missions with soldiers. He considers himself a veteran of Iraq, but not a military veteran, he said.
read more here

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Vietnam Veteran Pilot Discovers Jet At Museum

Vietnam pilot finds his former plane in museum
Posted: Jun 12, 2015
The fighter jet Nathan "Sonny" Kifer last flew in 1971 ended up in a

military aviation museum in Monroe, LA.
(Source: KNOE/Nathan Kifer/Chennault Aviation and Military Museum/CBS)

MONROE, LA (KNOE/CBS) - In a chance reunion, a Vietnam veteran found a piece of his military history on display at Chennault Aviation and Military Museum.

Nathan "Sonny" Kifer used to stand on top of his roof watching crop dusters fly by when he was in grade school.

"I've just always loved flying," Kifer said.

Knowing one day he'd be a pilot, the Newellton, LA, native joined the Navy reserves and spent two years serving in the Vietnam War.
Museum staff happened to have a picture of the plane in the air.

"I pulled down here and talked to the guy, told him I flew A-7s in the Navy," Kifer said. "I got cold chills just thinking about it."

He checked flight logs and found it was his plane. He had flown it 18 times and logged 36 total hours in it.
read more here

Saturday, May 30, 2015

National Guard Family Told Son Can't Be Buried at Arlington?

Army sec. approves Arlington burial for La. guardsman killed in helicopter crash

Dad: soldier son killed in training crash deserves Arlington Cemetery burial
FOX News
Published May 30, 2015

A soldier from the Louisiana National Guard who died alongside Marines in a training accident deserves to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, his father said Saturday.

Former Green Beret Stephen Florich told Fox and Friends it is a “travesty” his son has been denied that honor because he was not on active duty at the time of his death.

Most active duty or retired military members of military service are eligible for in-ground interment at Arlington. Members of the reserves or National Guard are not eligible unless they have been on active duty.

“I think my son was very active on that aircraft,” Florich said. “My son was in uniform. My son was serving in the capacity as a crew chief and a door gunner. And in adverse weather conditions, he accepted a mission to train people for combat in the future. And in that, he gave all and lost his life.”

The March 11 crash in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida killed Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, 26, of Baton Rouge, La., three other guardsmen and seven Marines. The Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter went down in heavy fog.
One of the Marines involved in the crash, Sgt. Andrew Seif, who had recently been awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor, was buried at Arlington in April.

The seven U.S. Marines aboard the helicopter were all active duty service members and part of Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC).
read more here

National Cemetery Administration
Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

(1) Reservists and National Guard members who, at time of death, were entitled to retired pay under Chapter 1223, title 10, United States Code, or would have been entitled, but for being under the age of 60. Specific categories of individuals eligible for retired pay are delineated in section 12731 of Chapter 1223, title 10, United States Code.

(2) Members of reserve components, and members of the Army National Guard or the Air National Guard, who die while hospitalized or undergoing treatment at the expense of the United States for injury or disease contracted or incurred under honorable conditions while performing active duty for training or inactive duty training, or undergoing such hospitalization or treatment.

(3) Members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps of the Army, Navy, or Air Force who die under honorable conditions while attending an authorized training camp or on an authorized cruise, while performing authorized travel to or from that camp or cruise, or while hospitalized or undergoing treatment at the expense of the United States for injury or disease contracted or incurred under honorable conditions while engaged in one of those activities.

(4)Members of reserve components who, during a period of active duty for training, were disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty or, during a period of inactive duty training, were disabled or died from an injury or certain cardiovascular disorders incurred or aggravated in line of duty.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Louisiana National Guard aviators killed in Black Hawk crash called 'heroes'
The Times-Picayune
By Paul Purpura
March 16, 2015

They piloted helicopters into harm's way in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, delivering infantry and special operations troops to battle and pulling out the injured. At home, they helped rescue thousands of people who were trapped in flooded neighborhoods after Hurricane Katrina.
They were:
Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Wayne Griffin Jr., 37, a Delhi native who lived in Hammond

Chief Warrant Officer 4 George David Strother, 44, of Alexandria

Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron, 40, of Thibodaux, the crew chief

Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, 26, of Baton Rouge, the flight mechanic.

read more here

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Updates for Florida Black Hawk Crash

Salvage Crew at Fla. Site of Helicopter Crash That Killed 11
Associated Press
Mar 14, 2015, 4:02 AM ET

A salvage barge moved off the Florida Panhandle coast to lift the wreckage of a shattered Black Hawk helicopter from the waters, days after seven Marines and four soldiers were killed when the aircraft crashed in dense fog on a nighttime training mission.

Air Force spokeswoman Sara Vidoni said the barge arrived about midday Friday to pluck the debris from about 25 feet of water. The salvage operation opened on a day a military leader in North Carolina disclosed that those aboard the aircraft had tried to abort their mission when they decided it was too risky.

Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman — commander of Marine Corps special operations forces — said the Marines had been flying offshore before early Tuesday's crash to practice rappelling down ropes into the water and then making for land. He didn't know whether the Marines had been planning to reach shore by swimming or in small rubber boats, but the same drill had been practiced in daylight.

"They literally had done it hours before in daylight as part of the rehearsal for being able to do the nighttime operations, which inherently are more difficult," Osterman said at a news conference at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The teams of Marines and Army-piloted choppers made a judgment call on whether conditions were sufficient for the training mission to go ahead, he noted. Then when they were heading out to start the mission, they tried to abort after deciding it was too risky, Osterman said.
read more here

Florida Military Helicopter Crash: Decorated Marine Among Those Killed in Training Accident
ABC News
Mar 13, 2015, 10:01 PM ET

Among the men killed in a military training accident this week was the 2013 Marine of the Year, who just last week was awarded the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest decoration for valor.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif, 26, was one of 11 veteran Marines and soldiers conducting a training mission off the Florida coast when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed, killing all on board during a nighttime operation in foggy conditions.
read more here

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Black Hawk Found in Florida Panhandle


Five soldiers of Black Hawk crash identified
Pensacola News Journal
Kevin Robinson
March 12, 2015
• Marine Marcus Bawol, 27, of Warren, Mich.

• Marine Trevor Blaylock of Orion Township, Mich.

• Marine Kerry Kemp of Port Washington, Wis.

• Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif of Holland, Mich.

• Pilot David Strother of Pineville, La.
Military helicopter crash in Florida: No survivors expected 
By Ed Payne, Greg Botelho and Jason Hanna,
Updated 2:05 PM ET, Thu March 12, 2015

Story highlights
Heavy fog is complicating efforts; the search is expected to resume Thursday
Four Army aircrew members and seven Marines were on board the helicopter
(CNN)[Breaking news update, published at 2:05 p.m. ET] The bodies of two Louisiana National Guard soldiers who were in Tuesday night's crash of a Black Hawk helicopter in waters off the Florida Panhandle were recovered Thursday, the Guard said.

None of the 11 troops aboard -- four Louisiana Army National Guard members and seven Marines -- are believed to have survived, Air Force Col. Monte Cannon said earlier Thursday.

The bodies of the other two National Guard members are believed to be inside the downed aircraft at the bottom of the Santa Rosa Sound, said Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard.

The military is now focused on recovering more bodies and the helicopter, the bulk of which was found Wednesday at a depth of 25 feet, said Mark Giuliano, chief of the Eglin Air Force Base's fire department. read more here

Black Hawk Loss Hard on Navarre Community

Black Hawk helicopter crash rocks Florida community built on military, faith
By Carol McPhail
March 11, 2015

In the Navarre community, where the military and faith reign supreme, residents gathered at candlelight ceremonies Wednesday night to pray and pay homage to the 11 personnel missing and presumed dead in a Black Hawk helicopter crash Tuesday.

The missing soldiers and Marines were from Louisiana and North Carolina, but that mattered little to residents of the unincorporated community in Santa Rosa County, a short drive from three military installations: Pensacola Naval Air Station, Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base.

"There are children missing their fathers, wives missing their husbands," said Rev. Jon Skipper, pastor of Navarre First Assembly of God, during a candlelight service Wednesday night. "Although we don't know them, they're part of one family."

"These men were patriots of the highest order," said Skipper.

Outside the church on U.S. 98 near the beach, a flag stood at half-staff. Inside worshippers stood at attention as a Hurlburt color guard did the honors. They prayed, raised their hands and lit candles from a row of 12 laid out on the communion table. Eleven of the candles represented the four U.S. Army National Guard soldiers and the seven Marine Corps members missing. The 12th was for "the 12th man" - who is Jesus, said Skipper.
read more here

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

National Guardsman Iraq Veteran Didn't Want to Be Here

Part one: Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD
By Akeam Ashford
February 23, 2015
"I just felt as if it would be better because the struggles wouldn't continue," Thomas said. "I felt like if I was gone it would be better for my family."

Returning home from war is often when a veteran's real fight begins, and for one U.S. Army National Guardsman, the fight never really ended.

Between 10 percent and 18 percent of servicemen and women from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom are likely to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after they return, according to research cited by the federal Veterans Affairs Office.

Estimates of depression in returning troops range from three percent to 25 percent. Veterans with PTSD are three times more likely to report hopelessness or suicidal ideation than those without PTSD, according to the VA.

Iraq war veteran Spc. Lance Thomas is one of those returning soldiers suffering from PTSD.
read more here

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fort Hood Soldier Found Dead Back From Liberia

UODATE April 16, 2015
Soldier Death Feared Ebola-Related Blamed On Synthetic Pot
Jan. 13, 3 p.m. UPDATE: Fort Hood officials have released the name of the soldier who was found dead Tuesday in his off-post residence in Killeen. Officials say Spc. Kendrick Vernell Sneed, 24, whose home of record is listed as Bossier City, Louisiana, entered active-duty service in June 2009 as automated logistics specialist.

He was assigned to 62nd Engineer Company, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, since June 2012. Officials say he had helped construct an Ebola treatment camp in Liberia and came back last week, but he was not exposed to patients. Tests had shown he didn't have Ebola. The incident remains under investigation by the Killeen Police Department.
Fort Hood soldier’s death prompts HAZMAT response
By Patrick Tolbert
Published: January 13, 2015

KILLEEN, Texas (KXAN) – HAZMAT crews have been called to a Killeen home after the body of a soldier who was deployed to West Africa was found Tuesday morning in Killeen.

According to KXXV-TV, the soldier’s body was found in the 3300 block of Cantabrian Drive and Fort Hood officials confirm the soldier just returned from West Africa.

Killeen Police told KXXV the cause of death is unknown and that the soldier’s body has been sent to Dallas for an autopsy.

The soldier returned from Liberia in early January. Soldiers returning from West Africa are supposed to be in quarantine for 21 days after returning to the U.S. However, Fort Hood Officials said this soldier was home on emergency leave and was “self-monitoring himself twice-a-day and report his status to medical officials.”
read more here