Women on the Front Line


The Congress wants to protect women from combat. Remove us from harms way. Keep us out of danger. I imagine if there were no Congressional Elections upcoming, these same considerate members of Congress would be happy to ignore the issue in hopes it will go away on someone’s elses watch.

I don’t think our elected officials get it yet. I am amazed that they cannot grasp the concept that we “are at war!” Our enemy is a formidable enemy. They don’t care if you are a man, woman or child. As the time elapses from the events of 9/11, it seems to me that Congress and Americans in general, or at least quite a few Americans, forget that this war was declared by our enemy well over 17 years ago.

So far only one administration seems to be aware of the real threat. Only one administration understands that time is no factor to our enemy. They are quite content to wait many years between major attacks. Mostly they prefer to chip away little by little at our infrastructure and morale.

Their preferred method of attack is terrorism. They are indescriminate. They are cruel and viscious. They use bombs in buildings, cars, busses, trains, kids, anyone or anything. They are cowards who do not fight you out in the open like “real” men or soldiers.

Before we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, our guard and reserve units for the most part were untried and some severely lacking in skills, equipment, and discipline. Not anymore. They can change places with any active duty unit we have and perform with equal skill. Before 9/11 each branch had to bring it’s own equipment. There were no means in place for inter service cooperation. Thanks to the visionary skills of Mr. Rumsfeld that is no longer true.

What we now have is a military force made up of active duty, guard, and reserve units that can do whatever is necessary to protect our country and help keep peace throughout the world. But that isn’t enough.

When the fighting comes to our door steps, and it will, Congress and America will be glad that we have the forces we have with their skills and determination But if you think these brave men did it all alone, you have tunnel vision. Our women troops, though fewer in number, have also performed with their own skills and excellance. When necessary, they have even conducted themselves in combat. They didn’t run, they weren’t too scared or timid to fight, they simply did their jobs. Were they scared? Hell yes! They would be fools not to be scared. But they controled their fear and they did whatever jobs they were asked to perform.

We no longer live in a time where our women can afford to be defenseless. And, less you doubt their ability to do their job with honor, courage and dignity, let me give you some examples of their contribution to the war on terror and the defense of our country.

1] Sgt. Jeannette L. Winters 25 Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Chicago, Illinois Killed when a KC-130/R Hercules refueling aircraft crashed into a mountain as it approached a military airfield in southwestern Pakistan on January 9, 2002

2] Staff Sgt. Anissa A. Shero 31 15th Special Operations Squadron, 16th Special Operations Wing Grafton, West Virginia Killed when an Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II transport plane crashed on takeoff in eastern Afghanistan on June 12, 2002

3] Capt. Tamara L. Archuleta 23 41st Rescue Squadron, 347th Rescue Wing Los Lunas, New Mexico Killed along with five other Air Force rescue team members when their HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed while on the way to help two injured Afghan children on March 23, 2003

4] Spc. Julie R. Hickey 20 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve Galloway, Ohio Hickey was evacuated from Bagram, Afghanistan, on June 30, 2004, and died in Landstuhl, Germany, on July 4 from a non-combat related illness.

5] Spc. Chrystal G. Stout 23 Headquarters Company, 228th Signal Brigade, South Carolina Army National Guard Travelers Rest, South Carolina Killed when a CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter crashed in bad weather near Ghazni, Afghanistan, as it was flying back to Bagram Air Base near Kabul on April 6, 2005

6] Pfc. Lori Piestewa 22 507th Maintenance Company Tuba City, Arizona Killed when her convoy was ambushed near Nasiriya, Iraq, on March 23, 2003

7] Piper Christopher Muzvuru 21 1st Battalion, Irish Guards Gweru, Zimbabwe Killed in action in Basra on April 6, 2003

8] Sgt. Melissa Valles 26 Company B, 64th Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Eagle Pass, Texas Died of a non-combat gunshot wound in Balad, Iraq, on July 9, 2003

9] Spc. Alyssa R. Peterson 27 Company C, 311th Military Intelligence Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Flagstaff, Arizona Died of wounds received from a non-combat weapons discharge on September 15, 2003, in Telafar, Iraq

10] Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld 19 527th Military Police Company, V Corps Waupun, Wisconsin Killed during a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib Police Station in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 26, 2003

11] Pfc. Analaura Esparza-Gutierrez 21 Company A, 4th Forward Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Division Houston, Texas Killed when the convoy she was in was attacked with an improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenades in Tikrit, Iraq, on October 1, 2003

12] Staff Sgt. Linda C. Jimenez 39 2nd Squadron Combat Support Aviation (Maintenance), 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment Brooklyn, New York Jimenez fell and was injured on Oct. 31, 2003 in Iraq and was taken to the 28th Combat Support Hospital. Evacuated to Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center in Germany, she later moved to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where she died on November 8, 2003.

13] Chief Warrant Officer Sharon T. Swartworth 43 Judge Advocate General Office, Headquarters Department of the Army, Pentagon Fairfax, Virginia Killed when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was in was shot down in Tikrit, Iraq, on November 7, 2003

14] Pfc. Karina S. Lau 20 Company B, 16th Signal Battalion Livingston, California Lau was onboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter when it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile near Falluja, Iraq, on November 2, 2003

15] Spc. Frances M. Vega 20 151st Adjutant General Postal Company, 3rd Personnel Group Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico Vega was onboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter when it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile near Falluja, Iraq, on November 2, 2003

16] Staff Sgt. Kimberly A. Voelz 27 703rd Explosive Ordnance Detachment Carlisle, Pennsylvania Killed when an improvised explosive device detonated as she was responding to an explosive ordnance disposal call in Iskandariyah, Iraq, on December 14, 2003

17] Pfc. Holly J. McGeogh 19 Company A, 4th Forward Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Division Taylor, Michigan Killed when her vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during convoy operations in Kirkuk, Iraq, on on January 31, 2004

18] Sgt. Keicia M. Hines 27 108th Military Police Company, 503rd Military Police Battalion (Airborne) Citrus Heights, California Died when she was struck by a vehicle on Mosul Airfield in Mosul, Iraq, on January 14, 2004

19] Capt. Kimberly N. Hampton 27 1st Squadron, 17th Aviation Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division Easley, South Carolina Killed when the OH-58 Kiowa observation helicopter she was piloting was shot down by enemy ground fire in Falluja, Iraq on January 2, 2004

20] Pfc. Nichole M. Frye 19 Company A, 415th Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve Lena, Wisconsin Killed when an improvised explosive device struck her convoy in Baquba, Iraq, on February 16, 2004

21] Fern L. Holland 33 Department of the Army civilian assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority Miami, Oklahoma Holland, a lawyer, was killed when gunmen posing as Iraqi police officers stopped her vehicle at a makeshift checkpoint near Hilla, Iraq, on March 9, 2004.

22] Capt. Gussie M. Jones 41 31st Combat Support Hospital Shreveport, Louisiana A combat surgical nurse, Jones died of a non-combat cause in Baghdad, Iraq, on March 7, 2004

23] Spc. Michelle M. Witmer 20 32nd Military Police Company, Wisconsin Army National Guard New Berlin, Wisconsin Killed when she became involved in an improvised explosive device and small arms attack in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 9, 2004

24] Spc. Tyanna S. Felder 22 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Bridgeport, Connecticut Died in Balad, Iraq, on April 7, 2004, of injuries sustained on April 4 when her convoy vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device in Mosul, Iraq

25] Pfc. Leslie D. Jackson 18 A Company, 115th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Richmond, Virginia Killed when her military vehicle hit an improvised explosive device as it was returning to Camp Eagle in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 20, 2004

26] Spc. Isela Rubalcava 25 296th Combat Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division El Paso, Texas Killed when a mortar round exploded near her in Mosul, Iraq, on May 8, 2004

27] Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart 22 Company E, 215th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Ladson, South Carolina Died after collapsing while on guard duty in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 6, 2004

28]. Sgt. 1st Class Linda Ann Tarango- Griess 33 267th Ordnance Company, Nebraska Army National Guard Sutton, Nebraska Killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near her convoy vehicle in Samarra, Iraq, on July 11, 2004

29]. Sgt. Shawna M. Morrison 26 1544th Transportation Company, Illinois Army National Guard Champaign, Illinois Killed in a mortar attack in Baghdad, Iraq, on September 5, 2004

30] Staff Sgt. Denise Michelle Rose 34 Special Investigation Branch, Royal Military Police Liverpool, England Branch was found dead from a gunshot wound at the British Army base in the Shatt-al-Arab Hotel in Basra, Iraq, on October 31, 2004. The incident is being investigated but is not thought to have been the result of hostile action.

31]. Sgt. Pamela G. Osbourne 38 Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division Hollywood, Florida Killed when two rockets struck her camp in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 11, 2004

32] Spc. Jessica L. Cawvey 21 1544th Transportation Company, Illinois Army National Guard Normal, Illinois Killed when a roadside bomb detonated near her convoy vehicle in Falluja, Iraq, on October 6, 2004

33] Pfc. Wilfredo F. Urbina 29 Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, New York Army National Guard Baldwin, New York Died when his military vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 29, 2004

34] Sgt. Cari A. Gasiewicz 28 Company B, 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade Depew, New York Killed when two improvised explosive devices detonated near her convoy in Baquba, Iraq, on December 4, 2004

35] Barbara Heald 60 Department of the Army civilian employee asigned to the Project and Contracting Office – Finance Stanford, Connecticut Killed when the Republic National Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, was hit by a mortar round on January 29, 2005

36] Spc. Katrina L. Bell-Johnson 32 418th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion Orangeburg, South Carolina Died when she was involved in a vehicle accident in Baquba, Iraq, on February 16, 2005

37] Sgt. Jessica M. Housby 23 1644th Transportation Company, Illinois Army National Guard Rock Island, Illinois Killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near her convoy on Route Golden, Iraq, on February 9, 2005

38] Spc. Adriana N. Salem 21 Company A, 3rd Forward Support Battalion, Division Support Command, 3rd Infantry Division Elk Grove Village, Illinois Died when her military vehicle rolled over near Tikrit, Iraq, on March 4, 2005

39] Spc. Lizbeth Robles 31 360th Transportation Company, 68th Corps Support Battalion, 43rd Area Support Group Vega Baja, Puerto Rico Died at the 228th Command Support Hospital in Tikirt, Iraq, on March 1, 2005, of injuries sustained in a military vehicle accident that occurred February 28, 2005, in Bayji, Iraq

40]. Spc. Aleina Ramirez-Gonzalez 33 Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Hormigueros, Puerto Rico Killed when a mortar round struck her forward operating base in Tikrit, Iraq, on April 15, 2005.

Congress needs to leave our military forces alone. Don’t change the way our women troops contribute their efforts and disrupt a force that has been finely tuned like a violin into a cohesive, well trained, and successful fighting force. We havwe too much. at stake. I’ll be the first to admit I am terrified that my daughter might wind up in combat. But I am more terrified that she would be unable to properly defend herself or our country if the need arises. We didn’t make the rules of this war. But we must make sure we can fight it and win.

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~ by devildog6771 on May 22, 2005.

6 Responses to “Women on the Front Line”

  1. […] in the Military I just had a comment posted on a prior post I made back in May. That post, Women on the Front Line, was my thoughts on the current effort by Congress to prevent women from serving in combat […]

  2. Mr. Degenkolb, I applaud you for your love and support of your daughter. I too am faced with a very similar situation. My daughter wants to be a Marine pilot. She graduates from college this spring with a degree in Criminal Justice. She has worked full time and gone to college full time to make this all happen. She gives blood every time she is allowed by the blood bank. She participates in walks for cancer and other such causes. She works out at a gym every chance she can. She is growing her hair to the length she needs it to be to donate hair for cancer victims. She has spent her time in the summer working with at risk kids as a volunteer. She certainly has the character and determination it takes. She also has 15/20 vision. She goes shooting with a veteran friend and her brother to hone those skills.

    She is fearless to many I know who know her. But, inside she feels fear like anyone else. She just channels her fears into action and refuses to let fear rule her life. She is not impulsive and irresponsible by any means. But,she sets goals for herself and works hard to achieve them. She is also adaptive when her goals prove misdirected. Due to her hard work, her personality, sense of responsibility, and ability to lead, she is already being sought as executive management material.

    My greatest fears are that she will succeed and become a pilot and wind up captured by the enemy. The enemy’s treatment of women is well documented for prisoners. I am a four year USMC Vietnam Era veteran. I understand what motivates her to serve. So as it makes me very ashamed that deep inside me as much as I want her to succeed, I pray for failure.

    But, my greatest reason for this silent prayer is not all the reasons I just mentioned. My greatest reason is seeing our Congress and that element of our society that wants to cause our troops failure in action again as they were during Vietnam. The idea of my beautiful daughter dying senselessly like so many others in this war if these people succeed again to force our nation to cut and run sickens me.

    My family has already lost one loved one. We struggle five years later, all of us, with his loss. I am sure all the loved ones of the lost likewise anguish over their loss. But, to have that loss be marginalized by a nation with no spine or backbone is the real tragedy of this war or any war!

  3. I find myself in an interesting position. My oldest daughter is in the Navy as an NFO in the E2 community. She is currently in training, but within 18 months, I expect her to be deployed. She wanted to be in FA18s, but staffing did not work out that way. Despite completing as the top Navy student in her class(s), CNATRA decided that they should put 2 men in the FA18 program, and send her to E2s. So, she is unhappy. She has decided to challenge the established rules and ask to be transferred to SEALs. Sound ridiculous? When she went through boot camp, she expressed an interest in SEALs. Her instructors explained to her that this was not an option, and that women were simply incapable of performing up to the standards necessary to be a SEAL. When she graduated, four separate instructors approached my wife and I while our daughter was talking to friends. All four of them commented that they had believed what they told her when she entered boot camp. However, they considered her in the top one percent of the candidates being considered for SEALs. At the time, the only things stopping her from going into SEALs was the ban on women in the front line positions, and the fact that she was going nuclear, and they needed her there. Since then , she has changed track, becoming an officer subsequent to completing her Bachelors’ Degree in Nuclear Engineering (cum laude).

    So now, she wants to be a SEAL. She feels the track she has been shoved into does not give her the challenge she needs to perform at her best. If she gets her wish, she will be in harms way to a much greater degree than as an NFO on an E2. However, she used to BASE jump (the NAVY does not approve, so she does not do that anymore), she skydives, she speaks fluent Russian, and some Chinese. She represents the Navy as a triathlete. Honestly, I think she would love it. She does not ask for different standards, she wants to compete to the same standards as all other candidates. The only reason she will not get a chance (hopefully, she will find a way) is rules against women in front line military positions, which I would submit has already been found unconstitutional. So as a father, the ban helps to protect my daughter. However, that protection comes at a hideous price: The elimination of many highly qualified candidates to a program that has proven critical to the safety of our country. I can be afraid for my daughter, but I believe she is right is seeking this appointment, and that if the Navy refuses her application based on her sex, that it is Congress and the Navy that are ultimately betraying our country.

  4. SMART BLACK STUDENTS ARE JOINING THE MILITARY

    Nancy Carroll, an African American grandmother, is raising her three grandchildren. She is unhappy that Army recruiters are trying to contact her granddaughter. She is convinced that (her words) “People of color who go into the military are put in the front lines.” I taught Air Force Junior ROTC at a high school in Mississippi. 95 percent of the students were minorities. 80 percent of my cadets were black females. So I have heard this complaint before. First off, by way of explanation, Junior ROTC is not a recruiting tool, it is a citizenship program. Only approximately five percent of former JROTC cadets ever join the military. But yes I did try to steer my cadets into the military if they were interested. The biggest concern for my cadets was so few of them were preparing themselves for military employment. Many of my cadets both male and female were single parents. Many of them were not academically up to the minimum standards of the military and then there were the litany of medical issues that would prevent them from every passing a military physical. Now do not get me wrong, white kids had these same issues. I just had very few in my JROTC program. What I found were my cadets whom came from a two parent households tended to show more real interest in joining the military. These parents would come in and talk to me about the training and education opportunities their child might acquire in the military. After doing some research it appears that most young black adults who join the Army come from a two parent home. Also they are just a bright as their white counterparts. White enlistees having an average IQ of 100 and black enlistees have an IQ of 99. Some of my cadets were just marking time in both my class and in high school. I remember one day asking one of my cadets after she had been extremely disruptive in class what she thought she was going to do in life after the State of Mississippi no longer had an obligation to educate her. Her response was she was going to join the Army,”they would take anyone.” Well my young cadet was very wrong. Our modern military does not need uneducated people, we are just to high-tech now-a-days. As for the grandmother who thinks black soldiers all get pushed into the mouth of a canon as soon as they join, she is wrong also. It would appear that young white males who may have been watching one too many Rambo movies are the ones who are signing up to join the Infantry. Black enlistees are going for the training that equates to marketable skills out in the civilian world. They are going into administration, medical & dental technician, and maintance jobs. It is a lot harder to find employment as a flame-thrower operator in the civilian job market then it is to work on jet engines. Another reason for the move by black enlistees to non-combat jobs is the large numbers of black females who are joining the Army (women, black or white, can not be in the infantry). The Army has the highest percentage of black service men and women in their branch and the Air Force has the lowest percent. I used to tell my female cadets that when they saw a black female officer or career NCO that you are looking at a professional black business women. I know they are not wearing the latest fashions to work and camouflage uniforms are not the most flattering for military women but never doubt these women are professional leaders. This country has made major strides to improve the work place for our black citizens however the military has done more and done it better. But do blacks die in the military? Yes they do, at a rate of 12 to 13 percent on average (war time). As for my big Air Force our minimum entry test scores are 25 percent higher than the other branches of the Department of Defense. When you see black Airmen those future leaders have some brain power. They tested well and they learned their Air Force job-skills proficiently. If your personal politics tell you, you do not what your kids in the military that is your own decision. But I would suggest you not use incorrect information to make that decision. Black students continue to be successful Airmen and mature into outstanding military leaders. Aim high – think purple.

    20 June 2005
    Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
    vanharl@aol.com

  5. THEY ARE HERE TO STAY

    I was reading an article by a female columnist who had met two young women in an airport restroom. Both of these young females were applying large amounts of cosmetic items to their bodies. They explained they had spent the last three months in Army basic training and had both been discharged early because of medical reasons. They were excited to be able to once again use feminine beauty products that had been denied them by their Army drill sergeant. They were young and probably a little immature and the columnist was not impressed with the quality of these former female Army recruits. She then went on to debate the issue with herself about the ever growing presence of women in the US military. This is not up for discussion, it is a done deal and they are here to stay. No, they are not in the infantry, and as a former Army trained infantry officer, I would suggest they should not be. However just look at the role of the Army Military Police (MP) in Iraq and tell me women are not in direct combat. They are, and they are fighting and dying alongside of their male fellow “cops.” Army National Guard and Reserve units are converting from other career fields to MPs. This means more women patrolling the streets of Baghdad. I have a friend whose granddaughter joined an Illinois Army Guard MP company. Like many, she joined the National Guard for the educational benefits. She should be a graduating college senior this spring but the Gulf War got in the way. She spent sixteen months in Iraq as a machine gun operator, riding in an exposed turret of a Humvee, patrolling the streets of Baghdad. During this young veteran’s deployment to the Gulf, my daughter and I sent her care packages. She came to visit our family after she got back from the war and brought another female MP with her. I met her for the first time as she arrived at the gate of Altus Air Force Base. They both had dresses on and looked like very attractive college students. The next morning when they got up they put on blue jeans and tops that I am sure I would not allow my daughter to wear. They now looked like high school girls (really good looking high school girls.) They were working extremely hard not to look like a couple of GIs just home from the war. I took them to the Altus Club for us to have lunch with my wife and there were more than a number stares at my guests. They really stuck out in a crowd of camouflaged uniforms and flight suits. I am sure there were a number of people in the club that day, who had deployed to the Gulf, but I would suggest there was nobody in that dining room who had been in as much close combat as my two lunch partners. These two young women, who looked like they had just got back from the “mall”, were seasoned combat veterans. They had been in numerous firefights and had inflicted more than their share of death and destruction on the enemy. Our nation needed those two young veterans (regardless of their gender) and we need to keep them in our military. I know they are smaller in stature then their male counterparts and, yes, this does create some problems. If I am laying on the battlefield wounded and two 110 pound female Medics show up to carry me to safety on a stretcher, I would have some severe reservations about them getting me back alive. On the other hand, if one of them were to radio for a medical evacuation helicopter and a female pilot shows up to extract my injured body, put me on that aircraft. I know that female pilot has the same training her male co-pilot has, maybe more depending on her rank (thank you Captain Tammy). Young college bound white boys are not flocking to the recruiters, even before the latest Gulf war. But there is something women and minorities have learned about the Department of Defense; in the job world, it is the military that is the most level playing field of employment in our country. It does not matter if you are a black female with a Spanish surname. You get the same money and benefits as the males. And if you are the senior ranking military member you get to be in charge regardless of your gender or ethnic background. That is what my wife the Colonel tells me.

    12 April 2005
    Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
    vanharl@aol.com

  6. SHE WILL NEVER BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

    In the Jemez Mountains of the Santa Fe National Forest, about three hours drive out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 8000 feet is a wonderful place called Rancho del Chaparral. It is the summer camp for the Chaparral Girl Scout Council of Albuquerque. When the Colonel was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque our daughter attended many Girl Scout functions at that camp. I came to like it so much that for three years I would spend weeks at a time volunteering my labor, helping the camp Ranger do needed maintenance. In return for my free labor I got to hike in the forest and watch elk walk past me in the evening, when all was quiet. Prior to moving to New Mexico my daughter and I had done Civil War re-enacting and I had built a wooden handcart. I used the handcart to simulate removing the wounded and dead from a re-enacting battlefield. On Kirtland AFB I kept it out in my front yard with a US flag posted on it. On the flag in small print were the names of veterans who I knew were deployed. One day while working in my front yard an Air Force rescue helicopter flew low over my home. I looked at it and my handcart at the same time and realized that the rescue helicopter was the modern day version of the venerable old handcart. I went into the house to write a poem titled “The Handcart Boys.” It was about the men and women who risked their lives in helicopters to bring our injured and dead troops out of harms way. Days after I wrote that poem the Air Force lost a Pave Hawk rescue helicopter in Afghanistan. The co-pilot was from Belen, New Mexico (a few miles south of Albuquerque) and she had been a very active Girl Scout in her youth. She had spent many happy days camping at Rancho. I sent a copy of the poem to her minister who conducted the funeral. To my surprise it was used in the eulogy. I never knew Captain Tamara Long-Archuleta, USAF, but I have come to know her family. One day while working at the camp an Air Force rescue aircraft flew over. It could have been Captain Tammy on a training flight, but it wasn’t, she was gone. There is a large rock sticking out of the ground in a clearing at the camp. This is a landmark used by flight-for-life helicopter pilots to navigate on to, if someone were seriously injured during camp. I named it Rescue Rock and started working with the Girl Scouts to develop a memorial for Captain Tammy. This got me assigned to a year long planning committee and lots of hours of manual labor. The camp Ranger and I dug large boulders out of the side of the mountain to establish a thirty foot stone ring around Rescue Rock. A local LDS church group provided most of the back breaking labor and technical support. The council had a memorial stone carved and it was placed in front of Rescue Rock. During the year long planning I got to know the parents of Captain Tammy, Richard and Cindy Long. Everybody thinks their child is special–but Captain Tammy was. She was a world class Karate champion. Distinguish college graduate, an Air Force officer & rescue pilot and a mother. She was supposed to be leaving Afghanistan in a few weeks and come home to be married. She had wanted to be a rescue pilot since she was a little girl. She even developed a board game in school called “Rescue Princess.” But this game was different, the Princess went out and risked her life to save, not be saved. This was what she was doing on her last mission, trying to rescue two injured Afghan children. She wanted to be a career Air Force officer and most likely would not be home in New Mexico for Christmas this year if she was still on active duty. But now, Captain Tammy will never been home for Christmas. No Christmas Eve service at the little Methodist Church in Belen. No seeing the folks, no new husband and no young son to hold. She was a hero for her country, for her Air Force, for her family and most important for her son, but Captain Tammy will not be home for Christmas. Remember your veterans, but whenever you can, hold tight your active duty family members—they may not ever be home for Christmas again, make the time count. Thank you Captain Tammy and to your family, I am so sorry.

    5 December 2006
    Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
    vanharl@aol.com

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