Thursday, January 21, 2010

USNS Comfort Arrives in Haiti

On Saturday, January 16, 2010 as part of Operation Unified Response, the USNS Comfort left Baltimore and arrived in Haiti on Wednesday morning. The 900-foot floating hospital with 550 medical personnel and 60 civilians is anchored off the coast of Port-au-Prince.

A 6.1 aftershock Wednesday morning demolished a pier that the Navy had set up to run people by boat to the ship. Patients are now being transported via helicopter.

As early as Tuesday, quake victims aboard a nearby aircraft carrier were flown to the Comfort. The patients were a 20-year-old man suffering from a spinal fracture and bleeding in the brain and a 6-year-old boy who suffered a fractured pelvis after bricks fell on him.

On Wednesday as the USNS Comfort entered Port-au-Prince and before she dropped anchor, additional patients from land arrived via helicopter. One man had burns to 30 percent of his body, most of which were on his face.

The USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) is the third United States Navy ship to bear the name Comfort, and the second Mercy Class Hospital Ship to join the navy fleet. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, the USNS Comfort and her crew do not carry ordnance and firing upon the Comfort is considered a war crime.

On Thursday, January 21, 2010, medical personnel from Haiti and aboard the USNS Comfort were transported to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) to activate that ship's walking blood bank.

Volunteer Sailors make up the walking blood bank. The Sailors are willing to provide blood in the event of a mass casualty or other medical emergency. The medical team put the call out over the ship's announcing system for A-negative and O- negative blood types.

The USNS Comfort and USS Carl Vinson are participating in Operation Unified Response and are providing military support capabilities to civil authorities to help stabilize and improve the situation in Haiti in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12.

U.S. Navy ships that have embarked helicopters, landing craft and robust medical capabilities, will comprise a "sea base" around the island from which further relief operations can be staged.

"I'm pleased with the tremendous response by both the Navy and Marine Corps in the flow of forces to Haiti," said Rear Adm. Victory Guillory, Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet.

On January 15, U.S. Navy helicopters operating from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson rescued two American citizens in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

A Sea Hawk helicopter, from the "Tridents" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9 responded to a MEDEVAC call from the Air Force 23rd Special Tactics Squadron.

Air Force rescue personnel just freed a man from the rubble of the Hotel Montana, but his legs below the knee were lost. The man was airlifted to the USS Carl Vinson for emergency medical care.

The USS Carl Vinson responded to a second distress call a couple of hours later, sending an MH-60 Knighthawk to evacuate an American woman. A wall collapsed on top of her when the earthquake struck. She is undergoing evaluation by Navy doctors aboard the carrier.

"It looks as though our aircrews may have saved lives," said Rear. Adm. Ted Branch, Commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and Task Force 41, the U.S. Navy's sea-based humanitarian support mission of Haiti.

There are countless stories to be told of the devastation in Haiti and the exemplary work being done by our Military and government. The US despite her critics is out performing the rest of the world in providing aid to the folks of Haiti. There is still plenty of work to be done.

The article, Another Earthquake in Haiti Brings Focus to Haitian Orphans, Adoptions by Jan Corn illustrates the pressing need for the State Department to step-up efforts to unite Haitian orphans with their respective adoptive parents. The situation is exasperated by new orphans created by the earthquake.

Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Lenzini of the U.S. Southern Command said another 225 medical staff and 125 support staff will join the USNS Comfort in Haiti.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scott Brown Wins US Senate Seat in Massachusetts

Is Massachusetts Obama's Waterloo?

twitpic image

Scott Brown is the Republican Senator-elect from Massachusetts. On January 19, 2010, he defeated Democrat Martha Coakley with a 52% to 47% victory.

Barack Obama personally campaigned for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in New Jersey and Virginia; the people rejected the uber-liberal agenda and both states went red; the folks followed suit in MA. Scott Brown took back the Peoples' Seat!

President Barack Obama ran to Massachusetts to campaign for Martha Coakley in a desperate effort to secure votes for the US Senate seat once occupied by Ted Kennedy. Obama's evangelical dialect on that campaign trail did not find enough choir members and Martha Coakley delivered her concession speech in light of a Scott Brown Victory.

Scott Brown said his campaign began with him, his truck, and a very few amount of dedicated volunteers; however, it ended with Air Force One making an emergency run to Logan. The crowd erupted in cheers.

When Scott Brown stepped up to the podium to deliver his Victory speech he was greeted with chants of "Gas up the truck, Gas up the truck!" That was in response to Obama's derisive comments regarding Brown campaigning around town in his GMC truck.

Brown acknowledged his honor of winning, but reminded us that the Senate seat does not belong to one person, not one political Party and he said it before and he said it again, "This is the Peoples Seat." Scott Brown stated he hopes Washington is paying attention because the independent voice in Massachusetts has spoken. Can you hear me now?

He recounted the times during the campaign trail when he shook hands with Americans. Party affiliation was not cared about it was simply a shared conviction that brought us all together. Brown continued saying one thing was very, very clear as he traveled throughout the state; the people did not want the trillion-dollar health care plan that is being forced upon the American people.

Scott Brown had the courage to acknowledge that the health care bill is not being debated openly or fairly, it is not in the interest of the state or the country and that we can do better. That bold claim was met with chants of, "Yes We Can, Yes We Can!"

Scott Brown also reminded us that the special election was held because we lost someone very dear to Massachusetts and to America. Ted Kennedy was a tireless worker and a big-hearted public servant and most of his lifetime he was a force like no other in the MA.

Scott Brown continued to exude class when the first call he made was to Vicki Kennedy and reminded her that her husband's name will always command the affection and respect from the people of Massachusetts and that she is thought of in the same manner.

The 60 Plus Association has an online petition demanding that Senator Brown is seated. The Association is alerting us that some Washington politicians are threatening to play political games to keep Senator Brown from voting on the health care bill. When the people speak, their voice should not be ignored.

Senator Ted Kennedy was seated one day after his special election on November 6, 1962. Senator Brown should be seated immediately. Now is not the time for politicians to play games and cut back room deals. Listen to the voters of Massachusetts and Seat Senator Brown.

To sign the petition visit here:

Brown will become the 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate, which could allow the GOP to block the president's health care legislation and the rest of Obama's agenda. Democrats needed Coakley to win for a 60th vote to thwart Republican filibusters.


Scott Brown's Victory speech, 01/19/2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Miracle on the Hudson: One-Year Anniversary

Today, January 15, 2010 marks the one-year anniversary of US Airways flight 1549 landing in NYC's Hudson River. 3,000 feet in the air, a flock of geese struck the plane causing it to lose all power. Captain Chelsea B. "Sully" Sullenberger and crew managed to land the plane in the frigid waters, saving all 155 passengers.

Visit here for the article describing the events one-year ago, A Miracle Near 34th Street

During times of crisis, character is defined. The character of the pilot is not in question; in fact, it is aptly defined as heroic. Captain Sullenberger, a former US Air Force Fighter Pilot guided the belly of the jet with the nose upward into the New Jersey side of the Hudson, which allowed the plane to stay afloat as designed.

Not only did the captain go down with the ship, Captain Sullenberger also walked the plane twice ensuring no one was left behind. A year ago, it was noted that a common trend among the passengers were audible prayers. Also during times of crisis atheists are converted.

Captain Sullenberger told CBS, "I think, in many ways, as it turned out, my entire life up to that moment had been a preparation to handle that particular moment." The passengers, crew and first responders came together again one year later.

As for reuniting a year later, Sully said, "It's like the best high school reunion you could imagine. We were just talking about that, who has come the farthest, who has changed the most. We have so much to be grateful for, and it's absolutely wonderful to once again have a chance to celebrate such a wonderful outcome with this great group of people."

Watch CBS News Videos Online

To complete the story of miracles and survival is the fairytale love story of passengers Ben Bostic, seat 20A, and Laura Zych, 17D.

Zych says her outlook on fate has changed, "I don't know what to call it. We were there for a reason. I have no idea why we survived, or why we found each other. But I believe it had to happen for a reason."

The couple's formal introduction had to wait for a March gathering in Charlotte, one of the monthly get-togethers the passengers nicknamed "celebration of life" reunions. The couple hit it off and talked long into the night that first evening. Nearly a year later, they are together and happily in love.

Visit here for the FAA Air Traffic Control communications for US Airways flight 1549, be advised the flight is referred to as "Cactus 1549."


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Col. Robert Howard, Nation's Most Decorated Soldier, Falls to Cancer

July 11, 1939- December 23, 2009

"Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure"- Abraham Lincoln

Two days before Christmas the nation lost a hero. Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard succumbed to pancreatic cancer and died in a hospice located in Waco, Texas. He is survived by three children and four grandchildren.

Wounded 14 times in 54 months of combat duty in Vietnam, Robert Howard was awarded 8 Purple Hearts, a pair of Distinguished Service Crosses (the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army), a Silver Star, Multiple Bronze Stars, the list marches on and Bob Howard is described as the nation’s most decorated soldier.

It's not often you'll find me quoting Brian Williams of NBC, but there is no argument with his description of Col. Bob Howard, “the toughest American alive when he was among us.

Brian William's Tribute to Col. Bob Howard:

Robert L. Howard grew up in Opelika, Alabama and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1956 at age seventeen. He went on to rise above and beyond the call of duty in a manner that movies and video games are modeled after. There is no better inspiration than true-life heroes and Col. Howard fits that bill.

Col. Howard served 5-tours of duty in Vietnam and is the only soldier in our nation’s history to be nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor three times for three separate actions. The act of July 9, 1918, however, stipulates that no person could receive more than one MoH. In 1971, President Nixon awarded Col. Robert L. Howard the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam.
The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion.
1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader.
As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition.
1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area.
Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy.
For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely.
1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
On March 25, 2009, in commemoration of National Medal Day, Col. Bob Howard wrote an article for the guest column in Stars and Stripes. Click here to read the full article by Col. Howard.

"Today, we're fighting terrorism and the spread of tyranny. We're challenged by market upheaval, joblessness and perhaps hunger. But the human spirit is resilient and can withstand more than sometimes we are able to immediately comprehend."- Col. Robert L. Howard