Thursday, December 30, 2010


It's been amazing the number of times that I'm uncertain what to blog about next, that low and behold, something crops up right in front of my face.  Frankly, there haven't been many days that I can't think of something to write about.  There are times, though, I need something to connect the dots.  Here's an example.

For some time now, I've wanted to address the patriotism of singing and placing your hand over your heart when the Star Spangled Banner is played.  As a youngster, I always stood and showed reverence when the anthem was sung.  Rarely did I sing (I'm probably tone-deaf anyway) and placing my hand over my heart was the furthest thing from my mind.

A Visual For Francis Scott Key
When our two boys, Kristopher and Jonathan, joined the military that all changed.  I became much more aware of the surroundings that I was in when we attended their various events.  I started placing my hand over my heart and I sang, albeit, just loud enough to make myself heard, but soft enough to not draw attention to my lacking musical quality.  I guess you could say I've become more patriotic.  At least I hope I have. I have a keener sense of what our country's past, present and future is all about.  You could say I'm into the whole anthem experience now, but just don't ask me to sing it before an athletic event.

So, as I said, the idea sat there on my to-do list waiting for something that could enhance the story.  Today, of all days, it happened.  Jerry Hansen, of Le Mars, Iowa , sent out a Facebook message about the Star Spangled Banner. Hansen, is a member of the 113rd Calvary Facebook group that I recently joined.  I thank him for this message pass along.

You probably know something about the Star Bangled Banner. But there's alot to it.  I'm going to share with you a video from Dudley Retherford, senior pastor from the Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, California.  Retherford helps us understand what Francis Scott Key observed when he penned the song.  Here, is the rest of the story......

The next time you attend an event where the Star Spangled Banner is played, I hope you think a little longer and a little deeper about the significance of the words of the song.  Perhaps, you'll be moved to raise your hand and place it over your heart and sing.....even if it is off-key.




Monday, December 27, 2010


How far back can you remember?  Think about that for a minute and conjure up a memory of your age at the time.  Where you 2, maybe 3 or perhaps even a little bit older?

My memory banks take me back to an age around 4 years old.  I can recall some wallpaper in our house in Goldfield, Iowa with cowboys and horses and ropes, a real good Western theme.  There's not a whole lot more I remember about the house or life in the town while we lived there.  I can remember some of the people, but mostly because my folks kept in contact with some of them.  We moved to the big city of Clarion just before I started kindergarten.

So again, I ask you.  How far can you go back in your memory?  Was it some traumatic experience that you recall, some miracle happening or just a run of the mill remembrance?  Isn't it amazing how our minds work?  Some things seem like they happened yesterday and others are completely wiped from our thoughts.  What's up with that?

Anyway, the reason I bring this subject up is that I think alot about how children are affected by the deployment of our 3,500 troops.  I think of the army husband who watched his wife deploy and who is left with three teenage daughters to raise.  Gosh, that must be difficult, trying to be a mother and a father at the same time and having to deal with his children's emotions and everyday struggles.  I think of the father who has gone and left a young son in the care of his mother...knowing that he missed some important part of his youngsters growing years.  I wonder how these children channel their emotions and feelings knowing they have a big security blanket gone.

Memories That Last A Lifetime
I attended a seminar this past summer that spoke to the resources available for families and educators.  I was amazed to find out, that the military can't  let the school systems know who deploys from their communities.  I guess it makes sense, but I was still surprised.  So, in many cases, children go undetected within their schools....and guidance counselors often time find out when a student's grades suffer or they become a behavioral problem.  I do know in one case where the parent went and met with the guidance counselor up front to let them know a deployment would be happening in their family. Kudos to them for taking the initiative to think ahead.

It's not that parents are unconcerned about the wealfare of their children.  Most are not even thinking that far down the road until issues begin to appear.  If you know of someone that is struggling with family concerns, let them know that help is available.  There is a DVD titled, "Military Youth Coping with Seperation...When Family Members Deploy"  It's a great help in walking through recipes of help.  You can find this and other resources at the Military Youth Deployment Support Website.

Most of all, remember the memories you help make during a deployment period will be important to your child's growth. Make the hugs and kisses when their soldier returns home the focal point when they look back on this period in their life. Make a memory.....a lasting one...a healthy one......and a happy one!!!




Saturday, December 25, 2010


If you've never seen the movie, "Pay it Forward" you ought to because it's a MUST see.  It has some very inspirational challenges within its two-hour body of work.  One of the main characters is a young child by the name of Trevor who comes up with a grand idea for an elementary school class project.  Trevor's plan is a charitable pyramid scheme based on good deeds rather than profit. He calls his plan "Pay it Forward", which means the recipient of a favor does a favor for a third party rather than paying the favor back. Trevor does a favor for three people, asking each of those people to do a favor for three others and so on....

Yesterday our family went to Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines to partake in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  It was indeed a great day with beautiful music, connection with friends and a beautiful candlelight conclusion.  But it was the message in between it all, that connected most with me.

See the Light, Can You find the Dove?

Pastor Housholder's central theme was being the "light in the darkness".  Look around you and there are plenty of reasons to be sarcastic, angry, hurt, afraid....anything negative you want to think about.  Sure you probably have every right to feel the way you do...for just one second.  Let's just get straight to the point.  Look around you again.  Look for the light that shines around you.  If you've lost a family member, your job, your house, your might be hard to see that light.  Just keep looking.  In that search you'll find the good that exists, the people who love you and just maybe the reason you were put on this earth.  Soak that in.  Keep doing that, soaking all the light you can.  Now, take that good that you've realized and be the "light" for someone else.  Pay it forward, again, and again and again....go way past that 3 person thing.

Several years ago, there was an elderly lady that went by the name of Granny Dot.  She was the "light" to thousands upon thousands of military men and women.  Not just at Christmas time, but the whole year round.  Her story came to light, no pun intended, to a bigger degree this past Veterans Day.  I thought I'd keep it in my back pocket until today and share it with you.  The interview is a little long, but to me, it epitomizes the message from Trevor and Pastor Housholder.  Enjoy the interview.....Merry Christmas to all and BE A LIGHT FOR AND TO SOMEONE.           




Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.

Dear Sonpo:

What can I say that will help you get through the lonely times this Christmas?  How can I make you feel like you're part of the family right next to the tree opening gifts, but knowing that you're not?  Where can I reach you in your heart that I haven't before to let you know how much your loved?  When can I imagine what you are going through and have it make more sense to me?  Why have these last five months seemed like 5 years?

Those are just some of the questions I'm thinking about this Christmas time, son.  I know our situation is not unique.....there are thousands upon thousands of other military families feeling many of the same things.  That in itself is some relief, but not nearly enough.  You know, when you decided to enlist, I knew there would be things that we'd have altered in our lives.  Some for the good...and some not so good.  I'm sure you've thought that too.

I had someone ask me the other day what I remember most about you.  Wow, if that's not a question that would bring the tears, huh? is what I said.  I think of the great big hands you had when you were born.  They were such big they didn't even belong to you, you know.  And as I think more about that question, I have come to a revelation of sorts.  God equipped you with those big hands for a reason.  He knew you'd one day be placed in situation that you'd have to know how to "handle" yourself.  Hands and handle, get it.  Yup, I think those big mitts are there for all that you are experiencing this year and the need for you to have the tools to do that.  With that being said, I also hope that those same hands are being used for other things while in Afghanistan.  Things like helping your other soldiers in the unit, giving a helping hand to an Afghan civilian but just being there, handy in so many ways.

Merry Christmas to Kris and all of our Soldiers

So, I'm going to pray for you son, that God would use you these last seven months to make a difference.  Not just serve your time, but to make a difference and do things right.  I'm going to also ask that you come to some definites in your life that you'd like to tackle once you get back to the states.  Those are some big prayers I know....but I think it's time.  This year will have been a great educator for you and for us.  We will all be changed.  The questions that I asked earlier will have more meaning when this deployment is completed.  I'm excited to see where this takes us all.  I hope you are too.

You know, this journaling thing is great.  It gives a person an opportunity to dream and hope and wish and share. Almost like a bucket list, or at least a little bit like one.  Let's try something together shall we?  Let's you and me, together, like in giving me a "hand", wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season.   And that someday, our holidays will be spent with our soldiers at home, safe, secure and loved.
Merry Christmas Sonpo....

223 days or 32 weeks to go however you look at it!  Praying for your safety, son.  Praying for you daily......

Love, Dadpo


Monday, December 20, 2010


I'd like to pass along a tale to you, one that is fitting for this Holiday season and for any other season, for that matter. It's not my message, it's the Washington Post's.  I'm hoping this has an impact, providing you stop and look and listen to what is going on in the world.  That begins with being a little more aware, a little more open and a little more receptive to our daily functions.  The story takes place at a Metro Station in Washington, D.C. on a cold, January morning in 2007......

 "A man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.  During that time, approximately, 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.  After about 3 minutes, a middle-age man noticed that there was a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.  

ABOUT FOUR MINUTES LATER: The violinist received his first dollar.  A woman threw money in the hat and without stopping, continued to walk. 
AT SIX MINUTES:  A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
AT 10 MINUTES:  A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.  The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time.  This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent-with exception-forced their children to move on quickly. 
AT 45 MINUTES:  The musician played continuously.  Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while.  About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32. 
AFTER 1 HOUR:  He finished playing and silence took over.  No one noticed and no one applauded.  There was no recognition at all.  No one knew this, but the violinist was JOSHUA BELL, one of the greatest musicians in the world.  He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.  Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story!!  Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception and awareness".

I would like to think I would've seen and heard something here.  That I would have stopped and appreciated the beauty of the musician and the piece, not to mention the violin ($3.5 million!!).  How often do we pass by art, music and images every day without a thought to their importance?  Do you see the big picture....are you "open" to the messages, the circumstances and the people that God is placing in your life?  

In Chuck Larson's book, "Heroes Among Us", there are 29 short stories detailing some of our nation's highest decorated soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.  Each of  these soldiers displayed courage, honor, loyalty and sacrifice in earning our nation's highest military honors. When you read their words, there is no mention of heroism.....and there is no mention of being the "one" to do it all.  

First Sergeant Kasal being helped out of house where his bravery took place 

First Sergeant Brad Kasal, of Afton, Iowa is one Larson's favorite stories in the book.  Kasal, who has spent over  half of his forty years of life in the military was awarded the Navy Cross for saving the life of a fellow marine in Operation Phantom Fury.  His actions led to his citing for bravery...yet in his words, "I did what I had to do, because it was the right thing to do".  Kasal was wounded that day yet that didn't halt his willingness to serve.  In recent years, Kasal was promoted to Sergeant Major and  became a recruiter at a Marine recruiting station in Iowa.  Would you know, could you tell what Sergeant Major Kasal had done for us if you were to meet him?  He is living among us...and he is a treasure to say the least.  

Larson confided that most of the soldiers interviewed for this book came from a deep walk of faith. Most were able to use the moment they were ln to make a difference yet most were able to evolve and move forward from that day.  And most are still serving you and I in some shape or manner, moving among us, continuing to help keep us safe and secure.

 I'm not going to detail the book for you, I think you'd be better served to pick up a copy and read it yourself.  I will tell you that a book of this nature, can and will help open your eyes to what's around you.  It might just cause you to stop and look and wonder if that military person that walked past you, that opened the door for you, that is saying goodbye to family at the airport as he redeploys is something out of the ordinary.  More than likely, he is, because more than likely, he did the right thing....and he is proof that there are indeed "Heroes Among Us".   

There are fewer than 500 servicemen that have received the Silver Star, the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Medal of Honor since 2002.  There are many, many more that haven't received any of these awards for their actions.  They are humble in their work, proud in their dedication...and they are living among us.  Now can you see them?         



Wednesday, December 15, 2010


We're about five months into the deployment of the 3,500 Iowa National Guardsmen to Afghanistan which is a great time to assess what has taken place from a personal view and from feedback from other deployed military families and you the reader.  Not necessarily a good and bad, but a time to vent and a time to reflect. Let's hit on the vent part first, followed by reflection.


Why do some people/companies/and churches get it when it comes to support of deployed families, while others stand on the sideline?......Where oh where are our community leaders/media when it comes to heightening awareness of our deployed troops and needs of the families, not the soldiers, the families.....Family readiness groups are available for every deployed family, how many families truly understand the role of the FRG and use them?.......One person "can" make a difference, but how much more effective would they be if others came alongside?.....When was the last time you called a deployed family friend to check up on him/her?......Did you check on the family next to you that might need help with snow shoveling this winter, or some other need they might have?......Did you reach out to help the husband who has a wife deployed and has three daughters that he is trying to navigate life with? ......Got all your Christmas plans in line or how about doing something different and adopting a military family? In fact, why not adopt that family for the remainder of the deployment period?....Where were you when the Christmas lights went out?..........The Taliban is 1-0 versus Superpowers, did we not learn anything from the Soviets?  Remind me why we are in Afghanistan again, would you?......Our troops are the best equipped and trained military in the world, why are we fighting from a defensive mode?..... Alot of people think crying is a sign of weakness, how could it be, when it shows you care passionately about something?.....When was the last time you prayed for our troops and what they sacrifice?....How many people know who Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta is?............I wonder if people think military families take care of each other, do you?.....I wonder how many more times our family will have to go through a deployment......Why are some people so ignorant when it comes to feelings?......Why do some people want to do things with their own agendas, rather than letting God offer the direction?........I wonder if War is_______?  You fill in the blank on that one, okay?....I'm waiting on you God to direct me to my next assignment (not really venting here, just sayin',  I'm ready).


We are a proud family of two young military men and another who watches with curiosity........I'm in awe of the courage and sacrifice of our troops each and every day....Support can come in so many different ways, not always money, maybe time, maybe prayer, maybe love, maybe ears to listen, maybe just being a friend.....We all say we need more time, find it!!! ....The Christmas lights never go out at our house....Compassion is a trait that can help change the world......Prioritize your day, but be ready to juggle things up when called upon......Faith is the foundation of our families hope, our dreams and our existence......I can't wait to place a Christmas wreath in the front yard of a military family I know.....I'm looking forward to going to the Des Moines Skywalk on Christmas Eve and helping clothe the homeless, might just be a Vet there that needs some love.....I'm going to keep moving forward in drawing attention to our troops deployment and their families......There is always another door if one gets shut.....Thank God I live in the United States of America.....I was bowled over in some support that I've gotten recently, thank you, thank you, thank you.....The writing of this blog has been inspiring, but the people I've met and the stories I've heard, have been even more inspirational.......When you least expect it, expect it......It is better to give than receive, trust me. .....Merry Christmas, yes Merry Christmas!  I hope you're not offended  by me saying that, because if you are, then I'm offended that you're offended.....and most importantly, thank you for being an Awesome God!!



Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Medal of Honor Recipient
 Part 2 of the Rosemary Giunta podcast.  In this part of the interview, you will hear about the second deployment of Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and the White House ceremony honoring him as the first living Medal Of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. 

It will be interesting, to say the least, as to where the Staff Sgt. and Rosemary feel led to share their stories.  Faith will play a big part in both of their decisions, you can be sure of that.  Click on the link and enjoy Rosemary Giunta-Part 2.



Thursday, December 9, 2010


Several weeks ago, my youngest son, Jordan,  and I made the short jaunt from Johnston to the Iowa State Capital for Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta Day.  Tremendous day....hundreds of people showed up to hear Governor Chet Culver offer the proclamation for the Medal of Honor recipient.

Afterwards I asked Jordan to venture over so I could introduce myself to his parents, Steve and Rosemary.  "Why", asked Jordan.  "What do you want to do that for".  "Just never mind", I replied.  "Come on".  So we ambled over to the area his parents were receiving well wishers and I offered a handshake to his mother. "Congratulations", I said.  "You must be very proud.  We have two sons in the military, one just deployed to Afghanistan".  "That's nice", Rose responded.  "I'm a believer and so is Sal.  We'll pray for them".  I'm not sure what expression crossed my face, but words escaped me, I will tell you that.  This was  not what I expected...yet I had felt there was some inexplicable reason that I needed to speak with the Giuntas, and Rose in particular.  Needless to say, the comment about her faith "opened" the door for further  conversation and an inquiry of a future interview for the blog.  The nudge to speak with Mrs. Giunta will be obvious to you when you hear her words.  That day will be forever etched in my memory. 

Steve and Rosemary Giunta Receiving Congratulations (photo by Dave Miller) 

Since then, Rosemary Giunta and I have had several conversations ranging from faith to children to military and the like.  She is a salt of the earth woman who loves talking about her faith walk.  Amazingly, most of our talks haven't focused on her Medal of Honor son, although her experiences in Staff Sgt.'s deployments have been a great help to me and my family.  Last week I spoke to Rosemary for about an hour.  Attached you will find the link to the audio...a podcast of sorts.  Here you'll find out about the early years of faith in the Giunta family and details of Salvatore's first deployment.  Part 2 will consist of the ambush and the Medal of Honor reception at the White House.    



Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I can't say that I wasn't ready for this, because I kind of was......kinda.  When I checked my email last night, there was a note from our son, Kris, via Facebook.  Here is the sum of the text:

Dad:  "That mission i went on 2 days ago yeah that turned into an overnight mission.. we got ambushed and took rpg, ak47, and pkm fire from all around us and i called in 27 mortar rounds on the taliban that were in a village, in a valley, and on a ridge. I took gunfire and rpg fire 3 different times and we had fighter jets on site to drop bombs on those guys. It ended up being a 7 hr long gun fight and we ended up staying the night out there and i got no sleep what so ever but i am fine. This is the first time since then i've been able to tell you guys but i thought i'd let you know. I love you guys."
- kris

So I read it, re-read it and tried to fully comprehend the situation, but I couldn't.  Moments later I saw that Kris was on Skype so I sent him a message.  His FOB does not have webcams so we can't see each other, only text.  Our conversation lasted roughly 5 minutes.  I started asking questions then I remembered what Rosemary Giunta had told me last week......."don't ask questions about what's going on, unless your soldier  wants to talk. More often than not, they want to forget what's taking place and hear what's going on back home".  So I said, "I won't pry anymore Kris, tell me what you want".  He proceeded to tell me in more graphic detail what took place, then  our line went dead.  We've had no communication from him since which is somewhat confusing.  No email text, no Facebook chat, no Skype communication.  Nothing.  Again, I recalled Mrs. Giunta  telling me they once went 28 days after their son, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, called home and spoke about an ambush before their line went dead.  What she and her husband, Steve, hung onto was faith in God to provide protection for their son.  That's where I'm at today. (UPDATE: We did Facebook chat some 18 hours later with Kris and all is well.)

Troops In React Mode

I said earlier I was kind of prepared for this.  Here is how.  Let's go back to a paragraph in my "letter to the editor" from the Des Moines Register that began this travel:

"What does deploy mean?  I had to look it up to make sure.  Google had a short definition which stated, “to move into a position of readiness or availability.”   Okay…that makes sense.  Yet, I feel there is one important word that was  left out.  REAL.  There will be Real bullets and a Real enemy for REAL.  And it’s all for Real life and Real death in a region that I‘m still trying to get my mind wrapped around.  Is Afghanistan all that important?   Are we fighting on level terms"?

Battle lines are almost nonexistent in Afghanistan.  More often than not, our troops encounter the enemy as they are patrolling their particular provinces.  And that usually happens in the form of an ambush.  Frankly it is amazing to me that we don't suffer more casualties.

Sunday morning I finished reading Chuck Larson's book, "Heroes Among Us".  As I set the book down, little did I know that Kris and his mission buddies were waging a gunfight with the Taliban.  Larson's book depicts 29 Heroes who were cited for bravery and valor during Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is amazing to me how many of those 29 stories dealt with soldiers who were ambushed and the heroism they exhibited that day.  How weird is that, reading about ambush after ambush and then my son is involved in one?  I'll be profiling Chuck Larson in the coming days about his book.  This experience of ours, will no doubt help in talking over the backyard fence about the duties and acts of our serviceman. 

As I said, I was kind of preparing for this.  Probably not this soon but I know I have been for a reason.  Part of that reason is to share this with you and the other is uncertain, for now.  I've felt all along this mission, this journey has been God-directed.  I'm in no hurry to find out the why's, because I know at the proper time the real reason will be revealed.   Until then, God keep our troops safe each and every day and keep my thoughts and my families thoughts in line with you.



Friday, December 3, 2010


People reach places of influence in a number of ways.  Some are fortunate enough to be born into it... some work tooth and nail to reach a goal and then there are the others who have it "find" them.

Several years ago, 14-year old, Kelly Kilbride of Sac City, Iowa attended the funeral of her grandfather, Eugene Kilbride, an Air Force Veteran of the Korean War.  As part of the ceremony, taps were played via a taped recording, which signaled the final call to the funeral.  Both Kelly and her mother, Sandy, were bothered by this.  If only they had known a live bugle was not going to be used,  perhaps they could have arranged for someone to play taps.

Weeks later, Sandy was watching television and saw a feature about a bugler who played taps at military funerals. At the end of the video piece, there was information listed about an organization called, Buglers Across America, that was actively looking for future horn players.  Mother and Daughter quickly seized the moment, contacted the organization, filled out the paperwork, read the handbook and waited for Kelly's first call of duty.  A short time later, the opportunity came.

Kelly Kilbride Performing Taps For A Deserving Veteran

Looking back, the first experience Kelly had was incomparable.  "I think when the family saw me, they thought I was too young and probably wouldn't sound that good.  But when I started  playing, they were all impressed.  But gosh, I was nervous. I wanted to make sure that I honored their soldier in the right way", exclaimed Kelly. 

Kelly's story has some other interesting sidebars.  As a student at Carroll Kuemper, her school emphasizes service to the community.  I'd say she is well on her way to knowing and reflecting that characteristic.  In addition, when stories began circulating around the community to her bugling, one of the co-directors of the Carroll Area Symphony, Jackie Montgomery, informed her that she too was a Bugler Across America.  Small world.

Kelly plays mostly in her hometown area.  She has though, had requests from the Sioux City and South Dakota area, but schoolwork has made those travels impossible thus far.  However, the demand for this young bugler's services are spreading.  Tom Day, the founder of Bugles Across America, likens Kelly to a rising star.  "If you would ever make this bugling story into a movie or television show, the guts and determination in her work, makes her the highlight of the show",  he said .

This might be a good place to tell you a little bit more about Ms. Kelly Kilbride.  She suffers from rickets.  Yet that has not deterred her one iota.  She has weathered numerous surgeries and the use of crutches, walkers and wheel chairs to where she can now walk on her own.   The spirit she exudes has not gone unnoticed.  Peggy Dettman of Carroll nominated her for a  Red Cross Award in 2009 as a Hero of the Heartland.  Her story, her determination, her willingness to give back......won her the Youth Good Samaritan which Kilbride said, "anything is possible.   And I always have a great feeling afterward".

Fate found Kelly Kilbride two years ago.  She is experiencing moments in her life few teenagers realize at such an early age.  Bugle Organizers would like to see her come to an event in 2012, Taps 150 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, where she and scores of other buglers will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the bugle call.  I have a feeling this is just the beginning of something BIG....just wait and see if you don't hear more about Kelly Kilbride.   A true find.

Below you'll find a video produced by Screenscape Studios in West Des Moines that precluded Kelly's award from the Red Cross

Today, Bugles Across America has over 7,500 buglers in 50 states.  Recent figures from the Department of Human Affairs estimates that there will be one-half million veterans passing away every year in the next 7 years.  These buglers will no doubt be busy!!



Monday, November 29, 2010


The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.


Well we made it through Thanksgiving without having you here for the second year in a row.  Gosh that's been difficult.  It was nice having relatives around but there was a big "hole" missing.  YOU.

Thank God for phones and the U.S. Military providing free calIs home over the holiday.  It was great to have you speak with your grandma and grandpa and aunts.  I know it was special for them to hear your voice....and it is for us too, just to know you are safe.

Your brother made it home from AIT in Maryland on Thanksgiving Day.  Ten men from the family and your cousin's wife surprised him at the airport while everyone else was preparing for the feast.  He was speechless...and you know that doesn't happen often.  He stayed until Sunday morning when we put him back on the plane headed east.  He remarked that it was tough for him to go back to his training and that he couldn't imagine how hard it would be for you when you come home on leave.  I guess we'll deal with that when the time comes.

I've talked with a whole lot of families in recent weeks about the phone conversations they have with their soldier.  All have mentioned the "flatness" in your voices.  Many have also said they don't know what to say since your answers are pretty short and to the point.  Perhaps we can all work on that together.  It might even make for a good blog post, "How to Talk to Your Deployed Soldier."

I will say that your call on Friday about buying a motorcycle had you sounding the perkiest in weeks.  This should be fun helping you make the transaction and putting it in storage until your leave comes around....your saying May now?  Wow, that's a long ways off.  Maybe dad will have to take it for a spin once the weather warms up.  Nothing like an old fart on a crotch rocket!!

Your New Crotch Rocket Will Be Waiting for You....

I've heard quite a few stories about other soldiers buying things while they're deployed or when on leave. I imagine much of that has to do with money burning a hole in the pocket.  Whatever, you men and women deserve to treat yourselves, that's for sure..

I thought about the Afghan elections you told me about this past week,  You mentioned all the shooting going on in town after the results came in.  Guns going off all the time.  I thought it funny at first.  I thought of the Wild, Wild West and the shoot 'em up mentality that was present....then I remembered this was far too real.

Can't wait for our next talk and hope to have the bike in our possession.  VROOOOOOOMMMMMM....

244 days or 36 weeks to go however you look at it!  Praying for your safety, son.  Praying for you daily......

Love, Dadpo



Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Growing up I could always count on the Sunday paper to offer some words of wisdom or humor through the comic section and one cartoon in particular, "The Family Circus".  "The Family Circus" was created by cartoonist Bil Keane and debuted on February 29, 1960.  Originally dubbed "The Family Circle",  the Circus faced objections to the name from the magazine of the same name.  Through it all, the Circus name stuck as a portrayal of Keane's family life and their exploits.  Today, "The Family Circus" is the most widely syndicated cartoon panel in the world, appearing in 1,500 newspapers.

I'm going to have the Keane family help me as we get ready for another holiday.  Here comes Turkey Day...and as we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving, I wonder what you are thankful for?  Do you really embrace the day for all its intended purpose?  Or do you somehow find a way to deal with difficult relatives by gorging yourself on turkey and the trimmings and then head for the couch or easy chair?  We all have much to be thankful for.  If you question that comment, then put pen to paper and see if you have more on the plus side than the negative.  Far too often we are mistaken with the material things in life rather than the blessings of life, family, health and home.  I could continue to ask question upon question regarding your thankful thoughts, but instead I'm going to turn to little Jeffy asking a very simple yet insightful question to his mother, Thelma.  See if it hits home with you......  

What are you doing today?  Hiding or seeking?  Little Jeffy's question has so many implications in our lives.  Let your mind take you to all the different variables....from a kids game, to determining life's goals.... to relationships..... to war......and to God.  Each of these situations offer the question, are we hiding or seeking?

AND now for some help from a little angel.  Several friends of mine shared a video with me of a young girl who further illustrated hide and seek.  Her story is about a man who tried to do it his way.  I caution you that this piece will require you to listen to her words, watch her expressions and be in awe of her delivery.  No teleprompter...few looks at her notes......spoken straight from the heart.

Can you see any of yourself in Jonah?  It's not an easy question to ask.  And have you been hiding more than seeking?  This Thanksgiving take the time to reflect on your blessings and pray for our troops all over the World.  Pray for their safety and that they are directed in the right ways of war.....and then take the time to pray for your own road to travel.  You'll hear the right words....and it won't be "Not It".



Monday, November 22, 2010


The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.


I figured I'd write you another journal entry since I have some time on my hands tonight seeing as how I'm working in the TOC until 6:30 a.m.  It kinda blows because I've been awake all day...

Nothing new has really happened in the last few days besides getting moved back in with my old room-mate, back to the last unit I was assigned to.  It looks like I'll be working in the TOC and going out on missions so I'll have to juggle both of those somehow.  I'm also really hoping to train for another job, which I've heard might happen.  If I do, I will to go to another country for about two weeks.

I found out I probably won't be getting leave until May sometime. They weren't tracking  that I was even here! They thought I arrived a week ago and I've been here almost a month now. This is just another reason why I wish I never would have gotten switched from one unit to another in the first place.  I don't have the guys with me that I've known since Day One of the deployment. I really don't have any chain of command telling me what I need to do, which really sucks. I have to find everything out on my own and do everything myself.  There is still eight months left of this deployment and who knows what could happen in that time or what could  happen tomorrow for that matter..

Another Day.....Another ?????

The scenery here is getting old really quick.. I look out at the same city, the same mountains, the same everything everyday. And each day is about the same anymore. I wake up, shave, shower, put on a clean uniform, and go about my day like usual. The same routine over and over again.. Man I can't wait to come home and change things up, back to normal life.  It's not that bad here it just gets old really quick. Everyday is just another day.... at least it goes by pretty fast. I hope things back home are good as they can be.

I pray you all are doing well! 
               Love, Your Son




Thursday, November 18, 2010


On Tuesday, November 16th, Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta became the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the United State's highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor. He was honored for saving members of his squad during the War in Afghanistan in October of 2007.  As an American, I was proud to see him receive such an award.  As an Iowan, it took the feeling one step deeper in appreciation for what he did that day.  His actions were heroic.

I'll have to admit right up front I don't know Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.  I hope to meet him someday because I have a ton of questions I'd like to ask him.  You probably would too.  But here is where we might differ.  Perhaps you might ask those famous 4 W's and H.  Who, When, Where, Why and How.  I'm sure there are some great questions you could ask. On the other hand,  I'm more intrigued by "Now Where?"

In the days leading up to his honor there were numerous sound bytes and newspaper articles detailing Salvatore Giunta's life.  There was one from his mother, Rosemary, that I found most insightful.  Mrs. Giunta explained that when Sal decided to join the military he told her that he wanted to make a difference.  He had this overwhelming feeling to do something for his country and he wanted to do it, right.  Let me say that one more time, he wanted to do it  R....I....G....H....T

Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta

Giunta himself is uneasy with all the accolades being thrown his way. "I'm not at peace with that at all," Giunta said. "In this job, I am only mediocre. I’m average....And coming and talking about it and people wanting to shake my hand because of it, it hurts me, because it's not what I want. And to be with so many people doing so much stuff and then to be singled out—and put forward. I mean, everyone did something."

The definition of hero has several interpretations.  The meaning that led to his being recognized with the Medal of Honor most likely falls in the area of  "a person, who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal".  If you look at that definition it's not hard to understand where Giunta's conflct bubbles to the surface.  He doesn't feel that he has heroic qualities....he says he is "mediocre...I'm average".  He did though perform a heroic act.  No doubt.  He did it right. 

I'm reminded of the HBO miniseries, "The Pacific" and a certain Sgt. John Basilone who received  the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. He was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.  After receiving the Medal of Honor Sgt. Basilone stayed stateside and promoted war bonds for his country.  But that wasn't enough, it wasn't fulfilling, even for a Hero.  What Sgt. Basilone found most rewarding was being with a company of men working toward a goal.  After several requests, Sgt. Basilone was granted a return to action.  Seven months later while serving as a machine gun section leader with Charlie Company, Sgt. Basilone was killed in action at Iwo Jima.     

I've been trying for several days now to understand Staff Sgt. Giunta and Sgt. Basilone and what makes them unique.  Maybe a word that really describes them best.  Actually, I'm going to borrow the "word" from a friend of mine who made me see it in a different light and enabled me to see its significance.  The word is.....dauntless.

To be dauntless is to be incapable of being intimidated or discouraged, fearless.  DAUNTLESS.  Dauntless to serve, dauntless in country and dauntless in life.  So, now where Staff Sgt. Giunta?  Once the wild ride ebbs and your life returns to some sort of normalcy, then,  now where?  I have no problem visualizing you taking on the next task put in front of you and doing it right.  It's that type of "right" that we should all strive to achieve in our lives.  I wish you the best, Staff Sgt. Giunta.  Continue to be DAUNTLESS in all that you do.  Because that's what you are to me.    



Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Perhaps you remember my dog, Mason.  The one who earlier in MFV blog history told of his affections for one his four-legged friends, Rocket Bubba.  Mason related the story about RB and the road he traveled before being adopted by a Soldier buddy and brought to the United States.  It was a feel good story.  It had all the traits of humankind.  Mostly good traits.

Now let me tell you another.  I mention that I'm going to be the one delivering the message because Mason is too choked up to speak. He appears beside himself and little wonder why.  I was watching "CNN's American Morning" and a crawl came across the bottom of the screen.  "Afghanistan Dog Hero Accidentally Euthanized".  Somehow I muttered the words over in my head, "accidentally"?  I turned to my wife and said, "how could that happen", still not believing what I'd seen.  And about that same time, Mason let out a BIG sigh.  The type of sigh that echoes pain.

Target.....a Saviour of Soldiers

I had to find out what happened, not only for my own curiosity, but for Mason's as well.  How could this of happened?  I've attached a link to the story.  Read on........

I'm shocked.....I'm angry......I'm disgusted.....I'm hurt.  I have all sorts of emotions as I write this, but I wonder most how Mason must feel.  No wonder he had the BIG sigh.  It all seems so unrealistic to think that an accident of this sort could happen.  A little hero wonder dog put down....accidentally.

 Where is the Hope in this story?  I'm trying to see something here.  I'm holding on to the fact that Target had a litter of puppies while in Afghanistan and they all found their way to the states. Where they're at, I'm not sure.  I'm not even going to speculate on some potentials here.  Yes, it would only seem deserving that one puppy finds its way to Target's home.  That would be a gift, wouldn't it?.  For me and Mason and Target's family, it would be the "Ultimate Gift".  Then I could share a SIGH with my four-legged buddy.  Yes, a GOOD sigh.  "Did I say that right, Mason"? 



Sunday, November 14, 2010


The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.

Safe and Secure.......Hopefully A Routine Day Running Recon


Hey Dadpo:

 Well we had another mission today. It wasn't as exciting as yesterday's but it wasn't too bad! Before every mission we go out to these hills and test fire our weapons.  On our way there the ANA (Afghan National Army) that's working with us on joint patrol's vehicle caught on fire.  So we had to wait on that and then escort them back to the FOB and wait for them to get another vehicle then finally we left. I was gunner today on our patrol!!! Nothing exciting happened though... we just drove on a road and did route recon.
Yesterday's mission was way better granted we weren't supposed to break a vehicle and get stuck in a village for 3 hours but it was really neat seeing all the people and all the little kids and trying to communicate with them. It's really hard because they don't understand us and we don't understand them but it was still really cool.  The kids wanted pens and water, that's words they seem to know in English. 
I'm trying to take alot of pictures so I can show you guys when I come home on leave. I'm not sure when that'll be yet, but hopefully in December! Love you all!

- Your Son




Friday, November 12, 2010


The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.


"I'm sure I speak for all Moms when I say that there is no way that pen and paper can hold what's in her heart.   It's hard to even find a place to start when it comes to trying to put into words what she carries with her every second of every day.  When it comes to our soldiers we walk tall and proud to be their Mom, but we may crumble at any moment.  Our hearts are so full that the slightest movement in there causes it to spill over.

I miss my son like the desert misses rain.  Even to pen that starts my tears.  And with my tears right behind them are my fears.  Our sons and daughters will never be the same after being at War, that is the one thing for sure.  Even they fear how it will change them.  I'm sure their thoughts go to, "what might I have to see for the rest of my life in my mind's eye?"  The thought of how my soldier might be changed when he returns home is too much to my advice to myself is, "don't go there, just stay in today". 

Our soldiers try and do the same.  They are there to do their job so every day they get up and go to work.  I'm sure that thought helps to keep the lid on a soul that's full to the brim.  But again, the slightest movement can cause it to spillover.  And what about when they come home?  When their soul could be so filled that there's no way to stop it from pouring out.  How will they numb that pain?

Well, so much for staying in today with my thoughts.....I love you son.  My heart is right there with you every minute of every day.  Time to put the lid back on it and go to work."




Thursday, November 11, 2010


The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.


"Thought I'd tell you that I have alot less hair than I did the last time you saw me.  Mom buzzed my head not once, but twice.  After the first time, I looked like a sticking out everywhere.  After the second "shave" I look like I'm now ready for Basic.  Hoooooha!  My hair hasn't been this short since I was 17.  My dad always made me get my hair cut short.  I hated that.  Now I can wash my hair and not worry about the drying.  Wow!

Your Mom and I went to hear Charles Larson speak at the Des Moines Public Library.  He wrote a book, "Heroes Among Us".  The book is about 29 exceptional soldiers that displayed heroism.  It was a great talk and question/answer period.  Larson served for a year with the U.S. Army in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He was awarded the Bronze Star.  We bought his book signed for both you and your brother.. We sent it your way.  Hope you enjoy.

Special day today for you, your brother and us.  Veterans Day.  I can't begin to tell you how proud of you we both are providing safety for us and our country.  Do not let anything dissuade you from knowing what your commitment means.

I think of one of your favorite songs. The tune sung by Josh Thompson, "Way Out Here".  I'm mentioning this because I want your mind to take you there.  Listen to the lyrics and see the images.  Let the words be of greater importance to you today than ever before and for hereafter.  Praying for your safety, son.  Praying for you daily......

262 days or 38 weeks to go, however you look at it.




Wednesday, November 10, 2010



Your Mom has mentioned journaling to you for several weeks now.  She says she thinks its important to keep a daily log of your experiences in Afghanistan.  I know you think....."ah, Mom, come on, lighten up."  But she has a point.  Most Moms do.  And most times they're correct.  I know this is going to be hard for you to get started so I thought I'd show you my first entry and you can see what I'm journaling about.  I hope this gives you a rhythm where you can jot down what happened each day.  Some day you'll be glad you did and you'll look back on these notes and think how far you've come.

Let's get caught up.  It been 3 weeks since you left the States.  Tough time when you said "goodbye".  Your brother was graduating from Basic the same day you were flying across the country enroute to Bulgaria, then on to Kyrgyzstan.  I figured we'd heard the last of you for weeks until you got to your FOB (Forward Operating Base).

Two days later we see you on Facebook and I'm speechless.  How the heck, what the heck?  That was quick.  Social Media, thank you very much!!  Two days later we "Skype" and see you.  Unbelievable.  You made it safe and sound.  Two more weeks go by and you arrive at your FOB.  More serious now, much more serious.  This is where I'm going to start.  November 10th is the first entry.  One day before Veterans Day.

"I think of what other families are going through as their soldiers deploy and I wonder what their thoughts are.  Alot of us in the same boat.  All trying to make it through this safely.  I don't think so much about what will happen to your flesh in Afghanistan, but rather what will happen to your Soul.  I know there will be things you can't or won't talk about. Just tell me what you think you can.  I know you're bored now.  Take bored.  Much better than being shot at.  In fact, if you're bored...journal.

I think about the last time we talked or chatted and when the next time will be. Will it be in the next 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days?   My phone, my computer is always ready to hear from know that you're alright. Most of my day, if not all, has you and your brother as the central theme.  Mom too.

On the good side, the dog misses you like crazy.  He knows something is different with you not being here.  He lays around alot more and sleeps alot more, waiting, waiting, waiting.  Patient, boy he is.  Your car is in okay hands.  We started it today and it sounded great.  I took it on a spin and laid rubber half-way around the block.  Boy, did it move.  Okay.....PN  (the new generation language for probably not).  Just seeing if you were following along.

263 days left.  Or roughly 38 weeks if you look at it that way.  Sounds better by saying 38.  And that's until you're home for good....through this deployment.  You won't be here for Thanksgiving this year.  Weren't here last year either, don't make this a habit, okay, missing Turkey Day.  Christmas is coming.  I'll think about that later.  Praying for your safety, son.  Praying daily....."




Monday, November 8, 2010


Slogans have become a big part of the advertising identity for companies, causes, and political stances.  Some are quite creative.  Some are stupid.  And some only tell half of the story.  Let me throw out some of the best slogans of all-time and see if they strike a chord of remembrance.

Not in any particular order....

"Don't Leave Home Without It". (American Express)

 Hey Mikey... He Likes It.  (Life Cereal) 

"Best Part of Waking Up is Folgers In Your Cup".  (Folgers Coffee)

"We Try Harder".  (Avis)

"Be All You Can Be".  (a goal embraced by Joe Batten of Des Moines, once a  top motivational speaker)

"Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux"  (Wow, don't remember that one, do you?  And that was effective?)

"Tippecanoe and Tyler Too"  (the first known slogan, arguably)

"I Like Ike"  (President Dwight  Eisenhower election theme)

and  of course Nike's big one.........."Just Do It".

"Just Do It" was a great message.....but it could have been  better.  It's like it only conveyed half  the message.  Why not, "Just Do It, Right".  Don't just do something, do it with passion....or thought or knowledge.  Perhaps the slogan was supposed to be a takeoff of doing what "feels good".  Regardless of the outcome, just do it?  Well, in my thinking it Could of, Should of, Would of have been better by adding, "Right".

Do you have a favorite slogan that you remember, now that I've stimulated your memory banks?   Mine is an old-timer.  It's one I used to see in the U.S. Post Offices for years and years.  It was effective both in words and picture and it said much more if you thought about it.  And it certainly was a challenge that struck a chord with the masses.  "I Want You".  Not only was the slogan effectively thought out....the image of Uncle Sam with his finger pointed in a direct line to the viewer was added delivery. 

" I Want You" is recognized as the most famous poster in the world.  Hands down, hands raised, any way possible, the most famous, ever.   The Uncle Sam character was designed in 1916 by James Montgomery Flagg as a patriotic theme.  The words were added later during World War II to help with enlistment of the troops. The challenge in the message was "to tell all of America to wake up and do their part for the war effort".  It hit home and the American people responded to the call.

Some slogans wither and die with time and change.  And it shouldn't have happened here.  I couldn't find any real definites why the Army quit using the "I Want You" promotion.  Some critics assert the message was full of propaganda and others offer the Army's desire to try another theme, "Be All You Can Be".  I liked that campaign too, but I'm not sure why you would ever stop the former for the latter.  Not only are enlistment candidates moved by the image, it also conjures up other themes in the brain.  Our troops face danger every day.  More than we can ever imagine.  When given time to think and reflect their thoughts often go to these:

"I want you to think about your Country.  I want you to remember the Sacrifices I've that are made for you.  I want you to think about how my day is going.  I want you to know what my family has given up.  I want you  to know how I long for home.  I want you to feel what I feel and know what I know.  I want to hug my wife and kids again. I want you to appreciate what I did for you.   I to CARE".  And I want you to care the right way.

Veterans Day is right around the corner.  Thursday to be exact.  November 11th.  Fourteen months ago it had very little significance to me.  Some, just not alot.  If I saw a video piece I might take the time to stop and think.....a radio report might catch my ear, but I didn't embrace the significance of the day.  Veterans Day.  Since September of last year I've had two sons join the military.  It's changed their lives.....and it's changed mine.

As I look interestingly at the "famous" poster I know the message has a different meaning to me today.  Different than the one I first saw in the post office, yet the one that is still challenging me.  "I Want You" is tops in my book as the best slogan.  Country, patriotism, God, family,'s all there to take with you.   And most importantly,  "don't leave home without it".           



Friday, November 5, 2010


I love my dog, we'll actually he's our dog.  He's a Golden Retriever, a boy by the name of Mason. He is the second Golden our family has been gifted with......both adopted.  It's hard for me to think of anyone letting either one of them go.  They have been great dogs, a big part of our family.  I don't get it when people dump a pet.  Both of our guys have been incredible and loving......and loyal.  Maybe being a rescue dog has given them a deeper appreciation for having a home, I'm not sure, but it's like they know something other dogs don't.  Maybe how fortunate they are.

Mason is a talker.  He likes to take toys in his mouth and growl and speak to whichever of his "buddies" he's chosen to connect with that particular day.  I, on the other hand, like to play a game with him, where I growl back and get him to communicate with me.  If you heard us you'd probably think we were least one of us anyway.

Mason, the Compassionate One

Yesterday, I was telling my wife, Joanne,  about dogs in Afghanistan and how some of the troops stationed there adopt dogs into their units.  They become the mascot, so to speak.  And the reason they become such a buddy and become such a part of the soldier's everyday lives, is that it's a connection to home.  The Afghan people look at dogs much like we do rats.  Boy, they don't know what their missing out on.

So anyway, my wife Joanne,  goes to the computer and "Googles" dog stories from Afghanistan.  And several come in particular.  She says, you got to come see this.

This is where I need to make a hand-off, because it's not my story, it's Mason's.  He talked like he never had that day.  He put some "highs" and "lows" in his speak that I'd never heard him say before.  He even threw in an occasional whine for extra effect.  He had something he wanted to share that here he is.  Our Mason.

Thanks Dad.  You made my day.  Just like the day you and Mom came and rescued me.  I'll never forget that day.  Just like I won't forget this one.  I didn't know if Dad would understand what I was trying to tell him. I heard you guys talking about my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and my heart went out to them.  I thought, "Mason what can you do to make a difference."  I came to the quick realization that my ruff edges would come in handy.  I talked, you listened and you acted.  Hmmmmmmmmm, so that's how obedience school worked, huh?

Now, on to the story, or the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say.  This is where it gets good.  Check out the video below.  It's about a unique little "soldier", named Rocket Bubba.  Watch the story and then come back to hear the rest of the rest of the story.  

Kind of leave you hanging, did it?  What happened?  Did Rocket Bubba get put down?  Well, as the story continues, Rocket Bubba was in a pretty dire situation.  It did look like he was going to be put to sleep....that is until Eduardo Choate, a member of the International Police, came to his aid.  Through love and affection, Choate led a "company" of men and women in raising the $3500 needed to bring RB to the states.  He's in a great home now, Choate's home.  Spoiled as all get out from what I hear.  My Mom always likes to correct my Dad when he says I'm spoiled.  She says," no I'm loved."  Actually, between you and me, I'm both. Life is goooooooooooood. And so is RB's.  Man's Best Friend? forgot our side of the story,  Dog's Best Friend, too!!!!  

P.S. For further information on Rocket Bubba I have provided a link to his story.  He's got his own Facebook page too.  The guy is a star.  Back to you dad.

Thanks Mason.  You made a Mom and Dad proud.  There are a great number of ways to be moved through people, places, circumstances and yes, Dogs. helped put a different spin on the face of  War.  Now that you've gotten through to me, I'm wondering what else you have to say.  Speak Mason.  SPEAK.




Wednesday, November 3, 2010


In war, I'd have to think one of the worst things that could happen to you other than being wounded or killed, is having to surrender.  In saying that, I'm not so sure most soldiers wouldn't take the wounded part before giving up or giving in.

Surrendering.  Couldn't even imagine that.  It would have to be surreal.  The thought of being totally exposed and naked to someone who has control over you.  Dependent on them for everything that you know in life.  When you eat, what you eat, when you go to the bathroom....just about total control.  Just about.

The wartime surrender is what we think of most when the word surrender is mentioned.  Probably the most ultimate of surrenders. And if you're captured, wouldn't your thoughts be, how soon before I get rescued?

Then days turn into weeks, weeks into months and so on.  Where is the life-line?  Why can't someone save me?  Let's imagine some of the emotions surfacing during confinement.  Let's start with Hope and  optimism because you'd be hopeful, right?  Someone is coming.  Then, uncertainty, pessimism, anger, bitterness and hopelessness.  That might just be the order of the thought process that follows when it appears no one is coming.

There have been prisoners of war that have chronicled their experiences.  The ones that I'm amazed most  with is the ones that talk of the faith journey throughout the ordeal.  They talk about surrendering to God and remaining faithful that they will be saved.  And they hang onto that faithful fact.  Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.  They have to.

In life, we all have ordeals that "capture" us.  We become stuck in the quagmire of everyday life and refuse to surrender.  The "I can do it myself" attitude, most certainly reigns.  That is, until we get taken to our knees and we surrender. 

In recent weeks, I've had the privilege to witness several individuals surrender.  It has been awesome to see the changes taking place in their lives.  Collectively, they've embraced "giving it up" and enabled God to be in control.  A transformation is taking place without a doubt.  This could be you that I'm blogging about today.  At that point in your life where you've just about given up.  Don't.  Don't give in to anyone or anything, except God.  Ask him for understanding of your situation, whatever it is.  Ask him for just a sliver of what he's up to.  He'll show you.  He'll let you in....and you won't be sorry.

Here are my prayers for today.

Prayer #1.  Lord, I ask for your protection so that none of our soldiers has to face capture.  Keep them safe and keep their hearts open to you throughout their deployment.

Prayer #2.  I pray for the children of all deployed soldiers. Enable them to navigate through the day and learn to lean on you for direction.

Prayer #3.  Surrender.  Surrender to God what you don't need anymore and strength to travel the new road ahead.


"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord".  I say, "You are my God."  My times are in Your hand..." (Psalm 31:14)



Sunday, October 31, 2010


I have a new job, one that excites the stuffing out of me.  It doesn't come with an office, doesn't have any big title and the money is lousy.  But that's alright.  You see, I'm the new Seed Planter in town.

 I've been so many other things over the years.  Doing this to get that.  But always in ways that could benefit me,  my family or our future. And that's come with mixed results.  I've done some neat things (taken each of my children to a sporting event and gotten them on the sidelines)......met some interesting people (Paul Harvey, Gerald Ford, Shawn Johnson, Mike Ditka and Ed Thomas).....and traveled to some nice places (Jamaica and Soviet Union).  In every instance, it was about me.  Soaking up the moment, somewhat prideful me.  But I've changed.  I've changed because it's time to.

Let me tell you a story about a little boy named Jake. That's what he's remembered by, Jake.  No last name is needed.  Jake, contracted encephalitis and died several years ago, tragically .  He started feeling punky one day, lethargic, then began running a fever.  No one knew what was happening. Doctors were stumped.  His parents became frantic.  He got sicker and sicker...until he passed away in his mother's arms.  In a span of 72 hours, Jake went from a healthy, bouncing, fun-loving the end of life. 

His mother, wrote a letter several days after he passed and thanked everyone for their support.  The letter was written so eloquently.  It described so much in a short amount of space, but it hit home.  It told of their families knowledge that Jake was their "gift" and that even though they selfishly wanted him longer, they knew God had a plan.  I'm sure Jake's mother had help in writing that letter. How could she not?  And I don't mean the help came from anyone here on earth.  I couldn't imagine losing a child, let alone putting my thoughts down on paper so soon after burying him.

I tell you about Jake because his name lives on.  Each Holy Spirit Retreat at Lutheran Church of Hope's Alpha class, this story is told.  You couldn't hear a feather drop during Jake's Story.  That's the effect little Jake has.  Yes, his name lives on, and on, and on.  He is impacting lives because of his death.

Several months ago, over 3,500 Iowa soldiers began their deployment to Afghanistan.  The send-offs were magnificent.  They captured the essence of the day.  The pride, the dedication and the duty. Every location defined patriotism.  It was a feel good moment, at least up until the time the busses left the parking lot.  Then the worries set in.  The next nine months are going to be difficult times. Where will the strength come from to endure?  How will family and friends cope? 

Yes, this important time dictates some important measures. I certainly feel that prayer is at the head of that list.  Anything else comes in a distant second.  We need to pray for these 3,500.  Pray for anything you can for them.  For their families, their strength....and foremost, their safety.  Pray, pray, pray. Because "Prayer Changes Everything".  Our state could use some direction and prayer too.  Perhaps the way we support our troops and conduct ourselves will be a carbon copy other states adopt.

A road sign on the outskirts of Des Moines says it all.

 If, and I said, if,...... not when, one of the 3,500 Iowa Soldiers is killed in action, how will they be remembered?  Will it be through a series of features on the TV or article in the newspaper?   How will that person, the one fighting for your "freedom" be recollected?

 I am not underscoring all of the the memorials that honor our troops who have served before.  They say ALOT.  Their mere presence renders strong men speechless, who become caught in the moment of their days of service.  What am I suggesting?  I just think something in addition to those tributes is called for.  Any person that lays down their life needs to be remembered just like little Jake. We have a duty and a responsibility in prolonging the legacy of those that serve.  I DO know that if one soldier from our state is killed in action that I will be at their funeral.  I have to.  Will you?  Then what next?  I'm praying for an answer.  I keep seeing BOLD, BE BOLD.  Some of you will be able to see more to this story.  Read it again, and again, if you must.  You'll see much more....and that will prompt you to do more.  Here is a prayer taken from Daily Guideposts, "the Daily Inspiration for Our Military Families" for November 1st.   It says BOLD.

 "Faithful Lord, send me a Saint today to shine your light on my path.  And let me be a Saint where another needs it."

 I hope this moves you to think about our Soldiers, especially with Veterans Day coming upon us.  I hope it hits you upside the head.  Yes, I'm seed planting here.  That's my new job and I love it.  God help it grow.