Archive for March 2018

Happy Easter!

March 31, 2018


History of Easter

Easter, which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s most important holiday. It has been called a moveable feast because it doesn’t fall on a set date every year, as most holidays do. Instead, Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate the holiday a week or two after the Western churches, which follow the Gregorian calendar.

The exact origins of this religious feast day’s name are unknown. Some sources claim the word Easter is derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time. Through a translation error, the term later appeared as esostarum in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English. In Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua; in French, Paques. These words are derived from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), the Jewish festival commemorating the ancient Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. Pascha eventually came to mean Easter.

Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.

In addition to Easter’s religious significance, it also has a commercial side, as evidenced by the mounds of jelly beans and marshmallow chicks that appear in stores each spring. As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions, including Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy, have become a standard part of this holy holiday.


American Grit And Determination Is Alive And Well Today!

March 27, 2018
Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise
A American Soldier prepares to “move out” under the cover of smoke during exercise Arctic Edge 2018 at Fort Greely, Alaska, March 15, 2018.
U.S. Air Force phot by Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez

WW II, P.O.W. Survivor Smile!

March 27, 2018



Retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, a 100-year-old Bataan Death March survivor, crosses the 8.5-mile finish line of the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 25, 2018.
COL Skardon also is a beloved Clemson University alumnus and professor emeritus. U.S. Army photo by Ken Scar

On This Day In American History

March 19, 2018


March 19, 2003, War in Iraq begins

On this day in 2003, the United States, along with coalition forces primarily from the United Kingdom, initiates war on Iraq. Just after explosions began to rock Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, U.S. President George W. Bush announced in a televised address, “At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” President Bush and his advisors built much of their case for war on the idea that Iraq, under dictator Saddam Hussein, possessed or was in the process of building weapons of mass destruction.

Hostilities began about 90 minutes after the U.S.-imposed deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face war passed. The first targets, which Bush said were “of military importance,” were hit with Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. fighter-bombers and warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. In response to the attacks, Republic of Iraq radio in Baghdad announced, “the evil ones, the enemies of God, the homeland and humanity, have committed the stupidity of aggression against our homeland and people.”

Though Saddam Hussein had declared in early March 2003 that, “it is without doubt that the faithful will be victorious against aggression,” he went into hiding soon after the American invasion, speaking to his people only through an occasional audiotape. Coalition forces were able to topple his regime and capture Iraq’s major cities in just three weeks, sustaining few casualties. President Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003. Despite the defeat of conventional military forces in Iraq, an insurgency has continued an intense guerrilla war in the nation in the years since military victory was announced, resulting in thousands of coalition military, insurgent and civilian deaths.

After an intense manhunt, U.S. soldiers found Saddam Hussein hiding in a six-to-eight-foot deep hole, nine miles outside his hometown of Tikrit. He did not resist and was uninjured during the arrest. A soldier at the scene described him as “a man resigned to his fate.” Hussein was arrested and began trial for crimes against his people, including mass killings, in October 2005.

In June 2004, the provisional government in place since soon after Saddam’s ouster transferred power to the Iraqi Interim Government. In January 2005, the Iraqi people elected a 275-member Iraqi National Assembly. A new constitution for the country was ratified that October. On November 6, 2006, Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging. After an unsuccessful appeal, he was executed on December 30, 2006.

Yellow Ribbon America was founded in February 2003 as a non-partisan, grassroots effort to unite all Americans to directly help our Nation’s military members and their families in their local community. Our approach is simple – locals helping locals – local businesses, residents, churches and community groups focus their resources on helping military members and their families in their individual communities.

U.S. Navy Chaplain Risks Life, Limb to Save Shipmates!

March 19, 2018


 By Yolanda R. Arrington, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the nearly 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the honor of wearing the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.

Born in 1904, Joseph T. O’Callahan was a Jesuit priest and a professor of math and physics before answering the call to serve his country during World War II. O’Callahan served as a lieutenant commander in the Chaplain Corps. His life would forever be changed one morning in 1945.

Lt. Cmdr. O’Callahan served as chaplain of the Navy vessel USS Franklin. On the morning of March 19, the ship was attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft near Kobe, Japan. The bomb attack occurred just 17 days after O’Callahan reported to duty aboard the ship.

O’Callahan faced flames and damaged metal to help his shipmates as the enemy attacked. Wounded himself, O’Callahan made his way through smoky hallways to the flight deck, all while bombs were exploding around him. As debris and fragments rained down and fires raged on, O’Callahan ministered to his wounded and dying shipmates.

He provided In the midst of his duties as chaplain, O’Callahan also managed to organize and lead firefighting crews to the blaze on the flight deck. His efforts helped crewmen push hot bombs and shells off the ship. He gathered a crew to hose down an ammunition magazine so it would not explode on the vessel, causing further damage.

Facing suffocating conditions, O’Callahan served with courage, inspiring fellow service members to continue their fight against the enemy and, ultimately, return their stricken ship to port.
O’Callahan would go on to pen his account of what happened aboard the Franklin. “I Was Chaplain on the Franklin” details his leadership on that fateful day.

Shortly after the attack, O’Callahan rose to the rank of commander in July 1945. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. He was the first naval chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor.

The Navy named a Garcia-class destroyer escort vessel after O’Callahan. USS O’Callahan was commissioned July 13, 1968, in O’Callahan’s hometown of Boston. The vessel departed for its homeport in San Diego the following month. In 1975, USS O’Callahan was reclassified as a frigate. It served the Navy until its decommissioning in 1989.

O’Callahan’s heroism continues to inspire a generation of chaplains.

“Anybody who has ever been through combat knows the importance of having somebody by your side, to your right, on your left and behind you,” said Navy Chaplain (Rear Adm.) Mark L. Tidd, former chief of Navy chaplains, in 2014. “Those relationships that are forged in the crucible of battle are relationships that last long beyond the event itself and on into later life.”

When Navy Capt. Jerome Hinson took on the role of chaplain of USS Harry S. Truman, he noted that reading O’Callahan’s book changed his life.

“What struck me the most about the story was the way he provided ministry to his people and the way he supported the service members in their daily lives,” said Hinson in 2009.
After reading the book, Hinson said, he hoped to serve on an aircraft carrier.

Picture: U.S. Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Joseph T. O’Callahan gives last rites to an injured crewman aboard USS Franklin after the ship was set afire by a Japanese air attack during World War II in March 1945. The crewman is reportedly Robert C. Blanchard, who survived his injuries.
U.S. Navy photo/National Archives

Wisconsin Army National Guard Aviators leave for Afghanistan Mission

March 13, 2018



Photo: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Billy Dart, a pilot with Detachment 5, 641st Aviation, Operational Support Airlift, holds his daughter at a sendoff ceremony in Madison, Wis., Mar. 9. Dart and two other C-26 pilots will complete pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and join members of the Hawaii National Guard before deploying to Afghanistan. They will fly a C-26 airplane to transport critical personnel throughout the Afghanistan theater of operations and the surrounding region in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Sgt. Katie Eggers

Wisconsin Army National Guard Aviators leave for Afghanistan Mission

by Sgt. Katie Eggers

MADISON, Wis. — Three Wisconsin Army National Guard pilots bid farewell to their families Mar. 9 at a small sendoff ceremony before leaving for Fort Bliss, Texas, where they will complete pre-deployment training prior to heading to Afghanistan.

The Soldiers of Detachment 5, 641st Aviation, Operational Support Airlift, based out of Army Aviation Support Facility 2 in Madison, Wisconsin, will join up with Hawaii National Guard C-26 aviators to transport critical personnel throughout Afghanistan and the surrounding region in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel.

“It’s a hard day saying goodbye to your Soldiers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader, to the families in attendance. “Certainly they are well trained. They are very professional. They’re ready to do their mission, but it’s always tough for the families seeing them go.”

Maj. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general, echoed Conde’s sentiments, and agreed that these Soldiers are ready for their mission.

“I’ve had the pleasure, and the honor, and the privilege to ride with these gentlemen multiple trips around the country,” Anderson said. “Their professionalism, their capabilities, their competence as pilots is second to none.”

Anderson mentioned that the deploying Soldiers have more than 29,000 flying hours logged between them.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, said it was extraordinary to have that level of experience.

“I can tell you that there is nobody better prepared to go overseas than these three soldiers right here,” he added.

“We do this mission every day of the week,” said, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Billy Dart, one of the deploying pilots. “We fly a lot. We fly all over the country, so this’ll really be no different except for we’ll be in a combat zone.”

This will be Dart’s second deployment. He deployed in 2011 to Iraq doing a similar mission flying UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters instead of the C-26 airplane he will be flying in Afghanistan.

This is also the second deployment for Chief Warrant Officer 5 Arthur Hebblewhite, who was in Afghanistan in 2014 performing the same mission. While he felt ready to go, he also said it was a bittersweet day having to say goodbye to his family.

Dunbar took time to talk to each of the families before the sendoff ceremony began, personally thanking each of them for their sacrifice.

“I see the pride you all feel in these Soldiers and what they do for our country,” Dunbar said during the ceremony.

Hebblewhite’s wife, Rebecca, said it is hard to say goodbye even when you’ve been through it before. Still, she is proud of her husband and his unit.

“Their unit does a phenomenal job, and they always do everything that’s necessary to go above and beyond,” she said.

The Wisconsin National Guard remains heavily engaged fulfilling its mission as a key component of the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force. Three other Wisconsin Army National Guard aviators from Detachment 5 deployed to Afghanistan in November, and Soldiers from the 248th Aviation Support Battalion deployed to the Middle East in September. Approximately 85 Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in January, and approximately 35 Soldiers from West Bend’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in November.

Also in November, approximately 270 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing returned to Madison from a deployment to Korea. Approximately 70 Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee are in the midst of deployments worldwide, and other Airmen from the 128th deployed earlier in the fall as well. Last spring, approximately 120 Soldiers from the 32nd Military Police Company returned from a deployment to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin National Guard has been busy fulfilling its other mission as the state’s first military responder in times of emergency. Last fall, the Wisconsin National Guard deployed Soldiers and Airmen to Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with hurricane recovery efforts, and Soldiers responded on multiple occasions to flooding over the summer in Monroe County and Burlington, Wisconsin.

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