To Our Veterans: Thank You

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“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.”
Jeff Miller

We are proud of those who serve our nation, past and present. We are proud of those sons and daughters that we know by name and those we know by heart.They are all our children. Words are never enough to explain the depth of gratitude we owe these brave men and women.

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I am proud to say that my son, Sgt. Joe Reinart is a veteran. My Dad, Joseph Christophe Vayo was a veteran. Thank you to all who have served and for your many sacrifices. We are so proud of your commitment to us. We love you more than you know.

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is Coming Home

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Join me in celebrating the release and homecoming of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after being held for five years of captivity by the Taliban. His parents said they could hardly wait to wrap their arms around their only son.

Here is a time line of what has happened in the five years Bowe has been missing. Bowe was promoted twice during his captivity. Bowe was traded for five detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

In an article by Matt Smith and Barbara Starr, driving the current effort, according to the U.S. official, is Bergdahl’s poor health and concern a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan at year’s end would essentially close the door an any rescue attempt.

Please pray for Bowe and his family. May they have courage, faith, and strength on his road to recovery.

Roses, Love, and Valentine’s Day

roseThree things will last forever–faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.This veteran shows us that love lasts forever. Happy Valentine’s Day.

The day after the funeral for Mr. Vernon, his daughter went to the cemetery and admired the flowers on her dad’s grave.  Flowers are usually left at the grave site for a week. Mr. Vernon is buried next to his beloved wife, Josephine. He was placed on the right side and his wife is next to him on the left.

The next day, his daughter was restless and went back to the cemetery to once again visit her father’s grave. The weather was dreary. It had been raining all day. The wind and rain swirled around her in that deserted place.

Many things had blown around in the cemetery. To her surprise, all the flowers that had been on her father’s side were now perfectly placed on Josephine’s side of the plot. As his daughter moved flowers back to Mr. Vernon’s side, roses fell from the funeral flowers onto her mom’s grave. And his daughter remembered how her Dad had always brought her mom roses. Even in death, Mr. Vernon reminds us how to love.

Remembering Our Fallen

Pat, we morn the loss of your beloved grandson, Gregory. Our hearts cry with you. God bless our Gold Star families.

Children's Books Heal

Greg solo_Final_Page_05Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  For one day each year, our entire nation remembers our fallen soldiers.  This post is in memory of our grandson Army PFC Gregory Tilton,  a casualty of war in November 2009.  Our 20-year-old grandson was a boy soldier.   This is my way of honoring and remembering Greg’s loving and gentle spirit.

On this day I like to share information about very important organizations like the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and all the wonderful programs they have for the survivors — the children, siblings, spouses, parents, grandparents and family members — to help them move through the grief process.  When we first learned of our grandson’s death, TAPS was  available to our family.

This Memorial Day weekend, the families of America’s fallen heroes descend upon Washington D.C., to participate in National Military Survivor Seminar & Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors.  They gather in love, to celebrate the lives of their…

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A Brave Combat Marine,Cpl. Matthew Wojtecki Tells His Story


Stand up and give a warm round of applause for my special guest today. Matt thank you for your service and for sharing your book. Cpl. Matthew Wojtecki of the US Marine Corps,Weapons Company 3/25 wrote a detailed journal titled Every Other Four. His reservist battalion mobilized in January of 2005 to support the fight against terrorism in Operation Iraqi Freedom III. Matt’s book gives us an eye opening look at the every day routine of a combat Marine and the bonding with friends that only combat veterans know.

From the beginning of my deployment, I consistently kept records of my experiences both in training and serving in Al-Anbar Provence the “Sunni Triangle”.

I write often about my fiancée, Angela Seigman, the girl I leave behind during my deployment in Iraq. I sent letters home and spent the long nights writing by military flashlight, the Iraqi moon, and by the light of the stars half way across the world.

That deep seeded feeling in the pit of your stomach, the urge to get home and live happily with loved ones; that never goes away. Love is so powerful; even war cannot separate you from that love. (Angela and I are now married.)

Shortly before July of 2005, I was driving a Humvee with three other Marines: Sgt. David Carr, Cpl. Timothy Gurgol, and LCpl Steven Perry. We hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) just outside a nearby Iraqi train station on a bumpy road they called “Route Uranium”.

A million thoughts rushed through my mind when the explosion hit the right side of the Humvee that morning. My journal contains vivid descriptions of what happened, of my recovery at the Al-Asad Airbase and the phone calls I had to make to my family from the Battalion Aid Station that night.

You can read stories about my friend and team leader, Cpl. Michael Lindemuth, who was killed in a mortar attack near Hit city. Cpl. Lindemuth would always talk about history and always had a way of lightening up the mood with a cheesy joke or a sarcastic comment.

There are more than forty gray scale photographs in Every Other Four. One photo even includes 3/25’s pet dog, Beans. We traded two quarters and some Easter Jelly beans for our mascot from an Iraqi kid no more than ten years old.

Another struggle I had during deployment was when my Dad was placed in intensive care for a terminal illness. I was sent home to see him. My Dad’s words are included in the book’s epilogue.

What does Every Other Four mean? 

 One of my Team Leaders, Cpl. Travis Stocker (“Night Stocker”) told me a story about his grandpa and how he was drafted during the Vietnam War. Stocker said, “They would take the draftees and line them up. They would each count off – 1-2-3-4. The first person would be in the Army, the second Air Force, three Navy and every other fourth person was a Marine. My grandpa shipped off to war that day” said Night Stocker.

The meaning of “every other four” stuck, as most of us were called up unexpectedly and deployed to Iraq. 

The term takes on new meaning throughout my book: Four Marines assigned to a Humvee, Four steps before looking behind you on patrol, Four Marines received a Purple Heart for being injured during the tour. After reading the book, I hope the term Every Other Four may have a special meaning for you too.

A Marine Gives His Life

Last October, I was in Minnesota helping my daughter with the triplets. I went to my daughter’s hair stylist, Megan Scheffler. Megan was in her sister’s wedding to Marine Lance Cpl. Dale W. Means. Dale was deployed to Afghanistan soon after the wedding.

This past week I saw that Megan had posted on Facebook, that another Marine In Dale’s unit had been killed. I messaged her to see how Dale was doing. I cried when she wrote back that Dale had been killed the week before. He and his wife had just been married one year. Dale was laid to rest on Wednesday.

Please hold Megan, her sister, and their families and friends in prayer. Please pray for the Marine’s in Dale’s unit and all of our troops. Rest in peace, Lance Cpl. Dale W. Means.


Welcome to the Ohio Blog Association Swap:Being a Tourist in Your Own Town

Follow my Blog Tour November 11-19, 2012. Click here to enter free giveaways  (November 11-25) of eBook copies of Love You More Than You Know Mothers’ Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War.

Welcome my blog swap partner, Jen stopping by from the Ohio Blogging Association‘s All State Blog Swap. Thanks to Alicia for organizing today’s swap. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma.

Being a Tourist in Your Own Town

Hi! I’m Jen and I write a blog called Why CLE?. Each post on my blog is meant to give you another reason why Cleveland is a great place to live, work, eat, and play. Today I’m here to talk to you about being a tourist in your own town.

So often, we get busy and we forget to take the time to appreciate what’s right around us. Cleveland has so many great landmarks and tourist attractions. When was the last time you went to any of them? Probably when someone was visiting from out-of-town, right? Hopefully this list reminds you of all the cool “touristy” spots Cleveland has to offer that you should take advantage of, even when someone isn’t visiting:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum 

Probably Cleveland’s best known and most talked about tourist attraction, the Rock Hall boasts an impressive collection of memorabilia from the 1950’s to present celebrating rock ‘n roll music.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument 

This monument, located in Public Square, commemorates the bravery of soldiers and sailors from the Cleveland area. There are programs and tours throughout the year, including a holiday lighting ceremony and Santa at the Monument on November 24.

University Circle

There is something for everyone in University Circle, from the Cleveland Museum of Art to Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, to the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Learn more about this Cleveland-area resident President and tour his home and grounds. There is a museum and planned activities throughout the year.

Great Lakes Science Center 

Fun for kids of all ages, the Great Lakes Science Center offers hands-on exhibits, an Omnimax theater, and the NASA Glenn Visitor Center.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo 

From the African Elephant Crossing to the Rainforest and all the exhibits in between, the Zoo will amaze and delight you as if it were your first visit.

Lolly the Trolley Tours

This is a fun way to see the city and learn more about Cleveland’s history. Lolly the Trolley has regularly-scheduled individual tours and is also available for group events.

This is just a sample of some of the wonderful “tourist” attractions in Cleveland that we’re lucky to have so close to home. So, grab your camera, adopt a leisurely pace, and be a tourist in your own town!

Thanks to Janie for sharing her blog space with me today!

What a Difference a Day Makes

Ben and his Mum, Suzie Tullett

Give a warm welcome to a very special guest, Suzie Tullett! Suzie, thank you and your husband for raising such a brave and caring son. It’s people like Ben and your family, who make this world a better place. Holding Ben, members of the Royal Air Force, and their families in prayer.

Suzie is the mother of two gorgeous sons, the wife of a serving Police Officer and a full time writer, lucky enough to live between the UK and Greece. And when she’s not tapping away on the computer creating her own literary masterpieces, she usually has her head in someone else’s.

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I remember my youngest son joining the British Royal Air Force like it was yesterday.  He’d just turned 16 and was barely out of school – way too young to be leaving home in my book; yet there his Dad and I were, driving him down to Halton regardless, getting ready to hand our little boy over to the base where he was to begin his basic training…  Honestly, it was awful.  I mean I’m the kind of mum who’d keep my children well and truly wrapped in cotton wool if I could get away with it, so why on earth I brought them up to be so independent beats me to this day!

Still, I played my role well, making sure to match his enthusiasm, smile in all the right places, encourage where possible and talk about what a fantastic career he had ahead of him – when all I really wanted to do was turn the car around and take him back home again.  But that’s what we as parents do when it comes to supporting some of our children’s life decisions, isn’t it?  We put on a brave face….  Although in instances like this we also keep our fingers crossed in the hope that a fallen tree somewhere along the road will prevent our journey from going any further – however, in my case there was no such luck and yes, we arrived at our destination without incident.

I had expected to be able to spend a little time with our son before we left, but, alas, that wasn’t to be the case either…  So despite the RAF putting on a ‘Family Day’, it very quickly transpired, it was more a ‘Family Of’ event – our son immediately being taken off in one direction, whilst we, his parents, were led off in the another. Naturally, I very quickly found myself close to tears as a result, leaving Benjamin’s Dad no choice but to intervene on my behalf… and after a quiet word with Ben’s superiors he was thankfully brought back to us so we could each say our proper goodbyes; however, imagine my horror upon seeing he’d already had the obligatory head shave!

Now I don’t know if it was the circumstances we were in, my nerves, or, indeed, his – but it was like staring into the eyes of a six foot, five year old.  Then to make matters worse, from the way the other parents were talking it was obvious his peers were all going to be so much older – most of them already in their early to mid-twenties by the sounds of things.  A reality further brought home when later that day, it became apparent that Benjamin was now the youngest serving member of the RAF.

Then came the time to watch him swear his Oath of Allegiance, which was when his age really impacted.  There he was, choosing to serve and defend his Queen and Country, with such heartfelt meaning and at such a tender age, when the nearest most other 16 year olds get to a war zone is through a play station game alone.  Suddenly, Benjamin was no longer a child, he was a man and I felt so proud you couldn’t believe…

Ben Tullett

Of course, five years on I’m still worrying.  Only now it’s less to do with his age and more about him coming home safely from Afghanistan and such places…  But that’s the price we Forces Mums have to pay for bringing up such brave, caring and thoughtful children in the first place.