Saturday, December 27, 2008

Troops Spend Christmas Eve Donating Supplies to Afghan Village School

While people around the world made their final Christmas preparations, members of the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team, and Chaparhar Police Mentor Team, visited a school in the Terelay Village, of the Chaparhar district, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 2008, to distribute clothes and school supplies.

The teams first met with several elders from the village allowing the elders to discuss the current conditions in Terelay, the surrounding villages and the district.

"One of the PRT's goals is to bolster education and healthcare within the Nangarhar province," said Army Maj. Gary Knoer, Nangarhar PRT, Civil Affairs team leader. "Our visit today helped us assess the village, school and the needs of the students. By building a school facility that can accommodate the students indoors instead of their current outdoor classrooms, children will be able to attend regardless of weather."

Knoer said improving the conditions in which Afghan children receive a quality education is vital to the long-term stability of the area.

"The education of this generation is very important for the future of the country," he said. "The elders in every village I have visited have expressed this need."

If the project is approved for funding, the PRT hopes to build more classroom facilities and a security wall for the existing school.

Following the meeting, the teams donated several boxes of school supplies, clothes and radios to the elders and school's administrators. The troops also visited a few of the outdoor classes in session to personally hand out some of the supplies.

"These missions have a profound impact on the overall operation here," Knoer said. "The people here are like parents anywhere in the world; they have one priority and that is the needs of their children. When we show them that we care for their children, the same as we would our own, it means more to them than any other thing we could give them."

Knoer said that conducting this mission during the holiday season made it that much more special for the teams.

"There is an extra special feeling doing things this time of year, because it's the time of year we are supposed to be giving," said Knoer, who spent last Christmas serving in Iraq. "I am sure that all of us here would rather be home with our families on Christmas. However, when we look back at our lives in 20-30 years, this will probably be the Christmas that will come to mind before all others."

The Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team is responsible for assisting the provincial, district and local governments in Nangarhar Province with their governance, security and reconstruction efforts. The team is currently working on approximately 60 projects worth more than $75.3 million in the province.

(Author Air Force Capt. Dustin Hart serves with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division PAO, Nangarhar PRT)
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Soldier's Memory Lives on With Well That Benefits Hundreds of Children and Families in Afghan Village

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Forrest Ewens -- a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army -- had a knack for putting a smile on a child's face in Afghanistan, often sneaking treats to them.

"Forrest had a real heart for the children in Afghanistan," Ewens' mother, Carol, said. "When he wrote home, he would write more about the help he was able to provide to the local people rather than his military adventures."

Forrest was 25 when he was killed in the line of duty in 2006. But his mission to help the Afghan people lives on in the form of a well that brings clean water to 500 families in the remote Samady Village in Badakhshan Province in northeast Afghanistan.

Thanks to Forrest's parents, Michael and Carol Ewens of Gig Harbor, Wash., the well means the community now has clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Before the well was built in the village, children -- especially girls -- had to walk to nearby villages to get water. They often waited several hours in long lines to take home only a few gallons of water. If water was not available, children and their families would rely on river water, only to become ill from water-borne diseases.

The Ewens, who have been active contributors to Christian Children's Fund (CCF) since 1992, wanted to provide funding for a well near the area where Forrest was killed.

"Being a soldier is a hard occupation and Forrest walked that path with honor," Michael Ewens said. "He got to build relationships with the locals, and his captain said when elders would come to the base Forrest was one of three soldiers they asked for by name."

The well was completed in September with Forrest's name stenciled on it.

Forrest's three brothers are also in the Army -- Oaken, 27, Elisha, 25, and Stephen 23. Oaken, Forrest's twin, was deployed this month to serve in Afghanistan and Elisha will deploy there in January.

"We pray for peace to finally come to these people (in Afghanistan)," said Carol Ewens. "We hope to have the privilege of visiting there one day."

CCF has worked in northern Afghanistan since 2001 under the name of ChildFund Afghanistan. ChildFund Afghanistan currently assists approximately 533,000 children and family members through community development improvements including renovation and construction of schools; teacher and health worker training; and construction of health posts. ChildFund Afghanistan facilitates programs to create a protective environment for children and families through community-based approaches.

"Afghanistan is still considered one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child," said Anne Edgerton, CCF's director of Child Protection/Emergency Response.

"However, ChildFund Afghanistan is well-positioned to address widespread threats to children's well-being and in a way that strengthens communities and helps the Afghan government transition to long-term development."

The Badakhshan Province is one of the poorest and most remote areas of Afghanistan. More than 80 percent of the children do not have access to clean water, something that is changing with the construction of wells.

"We wanted to pursue Forrest's mission of stability for the Afghan people," Michael Ewens said of their donation.

"It is especially encouraging to us to see that our decision to be involved in CCF long ago has been so worthwhile," Carol Ewens said.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hooters of Savannah and Operation Homefront Georgia Hosts Christmas Party for the Troops

/PRNewswire/ -- On December 25, Hooters of Savannah is partnering with Operation Homefront Georgia to host an exclusive Christmas party for the service personnel returning home to Ft. Stewart after being deployed for 15 months in Iraq. Hooters of Savannah is expecting about 200 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division to enjoy free food and presents from the Hooters Girls. Hooters of Savannah is located at 4 Gateway Blvd.

"Many of these young soldiers have no family in the area and are not permitted to travel any distance from the base for 30 days, so Operation Homefront Georgia asked Hooters to help put something together for these single soldiers," stated Leenie Ruben, Development Director for Operation Homefront Georgia. "They will be the honored guests of the Savannah Hooters on Christmas Day."

From 1:00 - 4:00 PM the Savannah Hooters will be open only to the soldiers during the private party. Homefront Georgia Volunteers along with HOPE (Animal-Assisted Crisis Response) dogs and handlers will be on hand to assist the Hooters Girls, all of whom volunteered to work on their holiday.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Patriotic Light Display in Fayette County

A special thank you to all of our men and women who proudly serve our country.

Editor's Note:

This light display is part of the Gaddy gift to Fayette County, Georgia, each year. For a number of years, the Gaddy family gears up in October to decorate their yard with lights galore. Tis their gift to the county. Their light show is much loved by young and old alike. It's a great way to get into the spirit of the holidays.

Thank you.

Photo by Fayette Front Page Staff
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Infantry Museum Offers Pavers as Unique Holiday Gifts

(ARA) - The holiday season brings with it one of the toughest decisions of the year: What to buy loved ones for Christmas. But this year, consider precious stones -- though not the ones you think.

The new National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, scheduled to open March 2009 in Columbus, Ga., will honor the contributions of infantrymen and those who fight alongside them. Among the many magnificent attractions of this facility will be Heritage Walk, paved with stones honoring those living and dead who have made the ultimate sacrifice: infantrymen and their loved ones.

In the Footsteps of Heroes is a program developed by the National Infantry Foundation to give permanent recognition to heroes from all walks of life. The commemorative pavers, engraved with personal messages of gratitude, will line a 1,000-foot long, 20-foot wide walkway connecting the new museum and the parade field in Patriot Park. A kiosk will allow visitors to look up the exact location of their paver.

The National Infantry Foundation is selling the 4 inch by 8 inch granite pavers to support the mission of the National Infantry Museum and the Foundation. Each paver holds three lines of text; each line has room for 20 characters. The $250 cost is tax deductible and includes one free 2 inch by 4 inch replica paver that purchasers or honorees can keep on a desktop. Orders can be placed online or with a downloadable order form at and brochures are available for mailing. Proceeds will be used to complete construction of the museum.

Pavers that have been purchased by Dec. 18, 2008, will be placed along Heritage Walk in time for the National Infantry Museum's grand opening on March 20, 2009.

"In the Footsteps of Heroes will honor everyone --active duty soldiers and retired veterans; Infantry, Armor, Airborne, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard -- everyone who has fought for and protected our beloved nation," says Major General Jerry A. White of the National Infantry Museum. "This project will also pay tribute to the wives, parents and children who have supported, loved and sometimes lost their loved ones in the fight for democracy; they, too, have made brave sacrifices for the freedoms we hold dear."

The 200-acre new National Infantry Museum site is adjacent to historic Fort Benning, known as the "Home of the Infantry." The famed United States Army Infantry School was established at Fort Benning and, through the years, this institution emerged as the most influential infantry center in the modern world. The museum's galleries will be chock full of engaging exhibits with themes highlighting infantry experiences in military training, Medal of Honor recipients, the Officer Candidate School training experience, the contributions of Rangers and more. In addition, the museum's 300-seat IMAX Theater will bring giant screen movies to the Columbus region for the first time.

Supporters of the National Infantry Museum include corporations such as Chrysler, AT&T, Synovus, Aflac, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Colt and Samsung as well as foundations, government grants and over 900 individuals who have made donations or contributed to the commemorative paver program. More information about the National Infantry Museum and In the Footsteps of Heroes is available at

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dave Niebes Participates in The Wreaths Across America Program

The Wreaths Across America program is sponsored annually by the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine involving thousands of Christmas wreaths that are donated for placement at Arlington National Cemetery and other military cemeteries across America.

Dave Niebes represented Fayette County (Georgia) Post 105 of The American Legion at Arlington National Cemetery again this year.

He is shown at the grave of Seaman First Class William E. Harris, a World War I Navy veteran from Georgia

During a special ceremony, Christmas wreaths were also placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Note: Wreaths Across America was featured on Fox News Sunday 12/14/08. During the program the owner of the Worcester Wreath Company stated he would like to expand the program to include the placement of wreaths on veterans graves across the country.

This video tells more about the current project. We invite you to find out more and join in the effort:

Each year Worcester Wreath Company donates 5000 wreaths to be placed on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery to honor our Veterans during the holidays. This video was put together by the folks at Worcester Wreath, and President Morrill Worcester - to show why they do it. With images of Arlington, family and friends - this is one visual way of saying thank you - to those who serve, to those we've lost, and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms of this Country.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Coalition to Salute America's Heroes(TM) Hosts Record Turnout of Wounded Veterans, Families for 2008 'Road to Recovery Conference & Tribute'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week, the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, a not-for-profit dedicated to helping severely wounded veterans of the War on Terror, brought more than 150 severely wounded veterans, their families and their caregivers to the 5th Annual Road to Recovery Conference & Tribute, Sunday Dec. 7 through Thursday, Dec. 11 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, FL.

The all-expense-paid event featured medical and career counseling, an adaptive sports clinic, motivational speakers, musical entertainment, and an opportunity to share inspirational success stories and form a lasting network of support.

"Tens of thousands of American troops have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan severely wounded, struggling to heal from physical and mental wounds, pay for medical and other bills, and re-enter civilian life," said Dan Vargas, director of the CSAH Family Support Network.

Donny Daughenbaugh, CSAH National Spokesman and Grassroots Events Director, described every Road to Recovery attendee as a "true American hero."

"It's great to see my fellow wounded veterans and their families come together, share experiences and learn that there is a community of support that they can rely on to help them on their road to recovery," he said.

Highlights of the Road to Recovery Conference included:

Adaptive Sports Clinic - The clinic, which included adaptive skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and mountain biking, was adapted for use by amputees, the blind, and those with traumatic brain injury, not only served as a form of physical, but also psychological therapy.

Career Fair - Helping attendees transition from a military to a civilian lifestyle, the conference featured a job fair, resume writing and interviewing skills classes, and an employment panel, which led to successful job placements for veterans.

Entertainment - Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, the Vandel-Snook Band, and artist Dan Dunn wowed the crowd, while up-and-coming country music star, wounded veteran and conference attendee Stephen Cochran surprised his fellow veterans and their families with a performance at the closing ceremony. Veterans were also given tickets to Walt Disney World, where they were able to share much needed quality time with their families.

Counseling Sessions - CSAH and a team of counselors from the Department of Veterans Affairs provided counseling sessions for the veterans, their spouses, caregivers and children to enable interactive conversation and facilitate the creation of a lasting support network to aid in the recovery process.

"There's nothing the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes won't do for a disabled vet," said Ssgt. Matthew Keil, a disabled Army veteran who attended the conference with his wife Tracy. "This is the only place where we have been able to meet others who understand what we're going through and find the right kind of support that we need. I'm with 150 families here that understand me and get it."

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