RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo,” named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military.
This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop.
Amazing and tastefully done documentary film. I saw this in the theater and can’t wait to get my DVD. I highly recommend seeing Restrepo.
Available on December 7, 2010. Pre-orders online until then.
Using these Blackberry applications helps me communicate with my son at any time that he happens to be on the Internet. I don’t have to be at my computer which is a big relief. For example, one day I was out for a walk and had a chat with my son via my Blackberry while walking.
Without these Blackberry applications, I would miss out on chats like that. I never know when he will be online – all kinds of strange hours of the day and night so I like to be prepared!
- Facebook - If you and your Soldier have a Facebook account, you can subscribe via SMS to your Soldier’s status updates. This is cool because the moment my deployed son updates his Facebook status, I get a text message to my phone. From the text message, I can reply with “Like” to “Like” the status, or leave a comment. The advantage of “Like” is that I also get any subsequent comments that he or others make on his status. In order to receive any comments that follow, you must have the Facebook application on your Blackberry.
To set up Facebook SMS subscriptions, log into your Facebook account and go to Account >Account Settings. Click the Mobile tab. Once you have that set up correctly, go to your Soldier’s Facebook profile page. Under the profile picture, click “Subscribe via SMS”.If you set it up correctly, the next time your Soldier’s updates their Facebook status, you will get a text message to your smartphone!
- Email - There are many email applications you can use your Blackberry. I use both Yahoo and Gmail. You can download either to your smartphone. When my son sends me an email, I can read and reply to the email on my phone. It’s been a great convenience. Sometimes our Soldiers are busy so I like to reply right away in case he can’t get back to the computer for awhile. Following are links for more information:
- Google Talk - this is my favorite instant messenger! You can use this if you both have a Google mail account. Just log on from your phone and the “green dot’ tells you that your contacts are available and online. This is how I have chats in real time with my son when I am out and about.
- Yahoo Messenger – works like most instant messenger applications. You can use this if you both have Yahoo mail account. I use this one too. It’s nice to have a back up.
- Skype - if you have a Skype account, you can download it your Blackberry and use Skype mobile. This is new for Blackberry so I have not used it yet. Only the chat feature is available on your smart phone.
I hope this is helpful to you in some way. What other ways have you found to communicate with your Soldier via smart phone? Please share your ideas!
I had my R & R moment recently with my Soldier son. I got the call on a Sunday at 0600 after he landed at the airport. He had been traveling for 4 days. From that moment, this burden of worry and concern that was with me for months, just disappeared. I was so happy that my son was out of the war zone (if only for awhile) and reunited with his family.
A few days and thousands of miles later, I stepped off a plane and was greeted at the airport by my son and 4 year old grandson. My grandson ran to me and I picked him up and hugged him like crazy! Then we went to my son and did a group hug. I thought I would never let go of him. There are some moments in life that you never forget and this was surely one of them.
During my 5-day visit, we had the best time ever; me, my son and his young family (wife, 2 kiddos). It was truly a special time for me.
When it was time for me to go, I hugged my son tight and told him I loved him. I did not want to let go. I cried in the airport. After pulling myself together, I broke down sobbing again on the plane sitting inbetween 2 strangers for over 4 hours. Luckily, the woman to my left asked what was wrong and tried to comfort me.
My son still had another week before he had to return to the war zone. The morning he left, I woke up early to call him due to the 3-hour time difference. At 0530, I called to say “see ya later”. I tried hard not to cry but I was so broken up, I couldn’t stop it. He understood.
My son’s R & R is over now and he is back in the war zone. We are now on our second countdown after deployment. I already sent 2 care packages. I pray daily.
“Lord, as he makes his way through his days and through his nights, please let his guardian angel protect his flight.”
Wake up, say a prayer for my son, check the online news to see what happened in Afghanistan while I was sleeping, read an inpirational Biblical verse, get ready for my day. That’s just the start of the day.
As the day wears on, I say a prayer every chance I get, I look for messages online from my son so I know he is OK, and I try my hardest to be a responsible professional career woman, family member, and friend; as well as lead an active life.
Before I lay down to sleep at night, I read the news, say a prayer, read a biblical verse, and pray myself to sleep. Sometimes I cry, I can’t help it.
The next day, I wake up and do it all again. As time goes on, being the Mom of a son deployed to a war zone has not gotten any easier.
I am a Proud Army Mom. I cry and pray for fallen soldiers and their families. I celebrate for soldiers that come home safe. I feel sad for soldiers that come home injured.
I stay Army Mom Strong, taking it day by day, supporting my son 100% while he serves in a war zone.
Located in southern Afghanistan (South East of Qandahar City) , Kandahar Air Field (KAF) is part of Regional Command South (RC South). With a population of over 20,000 NATO troops and contractors, Kandahar is one of the largest Military installations in Afghanistan. KAF is the main base in southern Afghanistan, from which all southern operations are commanded.
Accomodations range from tents and”B-huts” to the new brick-and-reinforced concrete barracks which are modern with blast protection (it is a combat zone). At KAF, there is lots of traffic and hot, dusty conditions.
KAF has a centrally located boardwalk where there are stores, places to eat, and team games like hockey taking place. The boardwalk is covered by a wooden awning for shade. Shops and eaterys on the boardwalk include Tim Horton’s Coffee, Green Bean Coffee, The Igloo, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway and a French Café and the new Kabob House*.
*Most of these amenities were supposed to be shut down this year.
There is also a decent gym where Soldiers can exercise. KAF gets a lot of rocket and mortar fire so there are many shelters just in case. As with most bases, KAF has a Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command building (MWR) – or tent – where Soldiers can use the computer and phone lab.
Kandahar is inhabited by multinational troops from a host of countries.
Kandahar Air Field handles the flow of personnel, equipment and supplies destined for operations in southern Afghanistan. It is the home of the aircraft that provide close air support to troops in contact with the enemy, and the helicopters that airlift injured personnel.
KAF is a unique and interesting place that is critical to the conduct of operations in southern Afghanistan.
Chinook helicopters play an important part in supporting ground troops. The Boeing-Vertol CH-47 Chinook helicopter is a twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter. The CH-47D is widely used in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
The Chinook is used in air assault missions, inserting troops into fire bases and later bringing supplies like food, water, and ammunition. It is also used as medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drop, search and rescue, disaster relief, fire-fighting and heavy construction.
Chinooks are typically escorted by attack helicopters such as the AH-64 Apache for protection. The CH-47D is particularly useful in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan where high altitudes and temperatures limits the use of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
When resupplying ground troops in remote mountain areas of Afghanistan, the Chinooks deliver via sling load, dropping off food and water and ammunition. on pallets.
Over 1,179 Chinooks are operational worldwide.
The cockpit accommodates two pilots and an observer. An advanced digital cockpit has been developed by Boeing and Honeywell. The cockpit is equipped with multifunction liquid crystal displays and electronic flight instruments. The crew is equipped with ANVIS-7 night-vision goggles from Elbit and the cockpit is night-vision-goggle (NVG) compatible.
Three machine guns can be mounted on the helicopter: two in the crew door on the starboard side and one window-mounted on the port side.
The Chinook has a triple-hook system, which provides stability to large external loads or the capacity for multiple external loads. Large external loads such as 155mm howitzers can be transported at speeds up to 260km/h using the triple-hook load configuration.
The main cabin can hold from 33 fully equipped troops to 50 troops, according to the seating arrangements and equipment being carried. For medical evacuation, the cabin can accommodate 24 litters (stretchers). Ramp operations can be carried out on water using an optional power-down ramp and water dam configuration.
The following video was taken during the summer of 2006, where troops spent 18 days on a ridge line to the north of Musa Qah’leh (also spelled Musa Qala) in central Afghanistan. This was Operation Mountain Thrust, where troops performed as a blocking force while other larger elements pushed the enemy toward our position.
Chinooks resupplied us via sling load a half dozen times, dropping off food and water and ammunition. The pallets and extraneous supplies were later used for constructing needed items .
I have come upon many Military families since my son was deployed last year. Although we are strangers to each other, we are also kindred spirits with something in common. These two stories stand out in my mind.
One day I saw a man in a parking lot. His truck was covered with Army stickers and he wore an Army jacket. I knew I had to speak to this man, a stranger that I never saw before. I introduced myself and asked him who his soldier was. His son, a Kiowa Warrior pilot (like my son) was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
What are the chances that I would meet someone whose son flies the same helicopter as my son? As we talked about our sons, we were kindred spirits – two parents who love their sons more than life itself. I looked in his eyes and could feel how much love and care he had for his son, and his concern for sending him off to a war zone. It was so emotional that I had to excuse myself for a few moments and compose myself or I would have been a flood of tears!
I returned to continue a conversation with this Army Dad that was heartfelt, deep, and with complete understanding. Sometimes there are no words needed – our eyes said it all. Before leaving, he gave me a picture of his son, told me his name, and expressed amazing pride as a Father.
Another day, I saw a woman in the parking lot with Army Mom stickers all over her car. When she got out of the car I approached her and introduced myself. I asked who her soldier was. We held hands together in that moment with tears in our eyes as we spoke of our soldiers. She was a complete stranger to me but yet we understood each other completely in a heartfelt and emotional moment in time. We offered God’s blessings to each other and went our separate ways.
I don’t know these people but it doesn’t matter. We are all in this together, supporting our children, our soldiers. We share the greatest pride, the greatest fear, and the greatest faith – and we do this together.
I thank you all for being in this together with me and with each other.
When a parent is deployed to a war zone, it can be difficult on the children left behind at home. The United Through Reading Military Program provides parents a way to make connections with their children by having deployed parents read childrens books aloud via DVD for their child to watch at home.
How does it work?
- The service member reads a book while being recorded and sends the DVD to the child.
- The child at home watches the DVD and follows along with a book (if available).
- The parent at home captures the child’s reaction in a photo or email and sends back to the service member.
- The service member’s morale is boosted!
Where is the program available?
National Program Managers from United Through Reading are working directly with over 200 Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard commands, including more than 60 select USO locations that are hosting United Through Reading Military Program. In 2006 United Through Reading invited USO to make the program accessible to Service members who visit participating centers.
You can check to see if your soldier’s unit is listed as participating in the program and contact the email address for that area. The program is available at many locations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.
Sandstorms occur mainly in the regions of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Northern China. Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, or Kuwait will likely get hit with a sandstorm during their time there. Sand Storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena.
When a sandstorm occurs, it is like a wall of sand approaching . When engulfed, visibility is poor to none and high winds blow sand everywhere – there is no escape. To stay safe during a sandstorm, a person should wear goggles and cover their mouth and nose with cloth.
That’s where sand scarfs come in handy! They keep sand from nostrils and mouth, and when tucked into the shirt, prevent sand from getting inside clothing.
The Scarves Team over at Soldiers’ Angels makes Sand Scarves for our troops deployed to the “Sandbox.” These scarves protect the wearer from the elements, increasing their comfort level, safety and ability to focus on their work. Sand Scarves are available for purchase!
Learn more about the Soldiers’ Angels Scarves project and how you can help! Many soldiers have already received these scarves in care packages and love them! They put them to good use right away!
The Soldiers’ Angels Sand Scarf is made of 100% cotton for comfort and is used to protect our brave soldiers from the elements of the deserts of the middle east.
- Protects face, neck and ears from dust, sand, mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, etc.
- Fabric is good for all weather climates
- great for sand, desert and wooded environments
- blends well with camouflage military attire
- assists with breathing in blowing wind and protects from sand and other debris
- Great item to place in care-packages.
Head over to the Soldiers’ Angels store and buy one or two or more! Our soldiers will appreciate it! You can send sand scarves to yourself (to pack in a care package), to your soldier, or any HERO.
Visit Soldiers’ Angels. Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) non-profit with over 225,000 members providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, veterans and their families
Developed by the American Red Cross, the Coping With Deployments course addresses the stresses and strains that deployments place on the families of service members. This course was created for military family members (spouses, parents, siblings, and significant others) from all lines of service.
The Coping with Deployment course helps with information on how to strengthen your ability to cope with the challenges that military families deal with during the deployment cycle. Also included is information on how to provide psychological first aid to others experiencing stressful feelings or events.
if you live around Fairfield County, Ohio, the American Red Cross in Fairfield County is sponsoring their “Coping with Deployment” course on March 20 from 9 am – 3 pm. Lunch is provided and the course is free. Just register by calling 740-687-5585. Click here to find out more.
To find out if there is a Coping with Deployments course in your area, contact your local Red
Cross chapter by visiting RedCross.org.
Have you taken this course? Please leave a comment and let us know how you liked it