Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Purple fingers give hope, symbolic as ‘I Voted’ stickers

Purple finger

The purple-stained finger is the Afghanistan equivalent to Americans’ “I Voted” stickers on election day with a huge difference: Afghans take their lives in their hands as they defy the Taliban’s threats of election day violence.

Melissa Charbonneau wrote at the George W. Bush Presidential Center blog:

Millions of Afghans witnessed a colorful display of democracy in action as voters flocked to the polls to vote in historic presidential elections. Twitter and Facebook are brimming with images of Afghan women emerging from polling centers cloaked in blue burqas, some wearing headscarves, others carrying  toddlers – but all holding up fingers stained with purple election ink, a gesture of defiance against Taliban intimidation and a return to past oppression.

In a country where women are trying to find their place and are outnumbered 2-to-1 by male voters, a determined lot braved Taliban threats to not only vote in Saturday’s elections but also to proudly show off their purple ink-stained fingers:

Millions of Afghans witnessed a colorful display of democracy in action Saturday as voters flocked to the polls to vote in historic presidential elections. Twitter and Facebook are brimming with images of Afghan women emerging from polling centers cloaked in blue burqas, some wearing headscarves, others carrying toddlers – but all holding up fingers stained with purple election ink, a gesture of defiance against Taliban intimidation and a return to past oppression.

Read more about the women who have been oppressed under Taliban rule but who bravely stepped out to vote for the future of Afghanistan and young women in that country.

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One American soldier killed, 2 injured in Afghanistan

American flag Marine 1By Lynn R. Mitchell

U.S. military command in Kabul: 1 U.S. troop killed, 2 soldiers wounded in fighting in southern Afghanistan.

An American soldier was killed during Operation Enduring Freedom, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The fighting Tuesday against the Taliban was near the city of Marja in Helmand province, where the Taliban has made recent gains.

Details on the battle and the number wounded or killed is sketchy and the situation is fluid.

One U.S. official says a U.S. helicopter was sent to the scene to evacuate casualties but did not immediately take off because a mortar landed nearby. It was not clear whether the mortar has damaged the helicopter.

Prayers go out to the families with gratitude for their sacrifices. Freedom is not free.

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‘I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day’ … remembering our U.S. troops around the world

By Lynn R. Mitchell

My dad, who passed away in 1975, was a U.S. Navy veteran who served on the USS Wisconsin during World War II. He was 19 years old when he went to war. Later in his life, while I was growing up, he was a Sunday School teacher for 12-year-old boys in our church.

Dad’s favorite Christmas hymn was, “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” because his service during the war had made the words even more meaningful to him. I think of him every year when this song is played.

For Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the words of the song came from personal tragedy, as heard in the narrative by actor Ed Herman with music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This year, in the wake of the loss of six American military members in Afghanistan in recent days, the words are even more poignant to a mourning nation.

Our military men and women are working this Christmas, many far from home and away from their families. Let us remember those currently deployed to Afghanistan and other places around the world as well as here on the homeland who protect our freedoms and keep us safe.

This is in memory of my Dad, and for all our military members, past and present.

I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1863)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Originally posted in 2006

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U.S. soldier, 22, killed by Afghan traitor

US soldier

Army Specialist John M. Dawson

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Army Specialist John M. Dawson was killed in Afghanistan when an Afghan National Army soldier turned traitor and opened fire, injuring several and fatally wounding Dawson (see Mass. soldier killed in Afghanistan recalled as ‘great kid’):

Dawson, a combat medic, was assigned to First Squadron, 33d Cavalry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, according to the Department of Defense. He trained for service at Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio; and Fort Campbell, Ky., the Defense Department said.

He is the first U.S. service member killed as part of the advise-and-assist mission begun by the U.S. military on Jan. 1 as the Afghan military takes over security of the country, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Prayers to his family and friends. Freedom is not free….

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Special Forces soldier dies in Afghanistan

Matthew Ammemeran soldier diedPress release from U.S. Army….

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Dec. 5, 2014) – Staff Sgt. Matthew Ammerman, a native of Noblesville, Ind., was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) when he died Dec. 3, 2014, as a result of wounds received in combat.

“Staff Sgt. Matthew Ammerman was an exceptional Soldier in all regards.  He showed himself to be a standout shortly after arrival in the unit and his efforts have made an impact on his unit and our mission.  We, as a nation, are fortunate to have men like Matt,” said Lt. Col. Tommy Stoner, commander of the 7th SFG (A)’s 3rd Battalion.  “He not only represented what we should all aspire to be, but he lived it.  His loss is a great blow and he will be missed and mourned by this unit.  Our focus will be supporting his family in any way possible and ensuring that they are taken care of during this difficult process.”

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American soldier killed in Afghanistan

Soldier Joseph RileyBy Lynn R. Mitchell

An American soldier was killed in action this week in Afghanistan.

Specialist Joseph “Joey” W. Riley, a 27-year-old Paratrooper from Grove City, Ohio, was killed when his unit was ambushed during a patrol by an improvised explosive device (IED). Riley was an infantryman with the Scout Platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

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Thoughts about current happenings

Pumpkins 1By Lynn R. Mitchell

Scotland’s vote for independence: I didn’t wade into the Scotland-separating-from-Britain issue but saw many who got very caught up in the hype surrounding Thursday’s vote. A neighbor even changed his Facebook profile to a picture of Mel Gibson in Braveheart. However, from what I read, many Scots had viable concerns about the military and financial future of their country if they went on their own. The phrase I heard most often reading the final results was “sanity prevailed.” Again, it affected me not one way or the other — it’s their country — but I’m sure there was much soul-searching and serious consideration when the 85 percent of voters went to the polls. All should be respected for voting their convictions. (See In decisive vote, Scotland rejects independence, sticks with the U.K. by Griff Witte and Karla Adam in the Washington Post.)

Missing UVa student: The search for Hannah Graham continues in Charlottesville with officials asking for volunteers to help with the search this Saturday and Sunday (see Volunteers needed to search for missing UVa student, $50,000 reward for information). This one hits close to home because Hannah is a friend of SWAC Niece who is a first-year student at UVa. She and Hannah became friends two years ago when they and others now at UVa attended French Academy at Washington and Lee, a three-week immersion experience the bonded a group of high school teens who have remained friends (see 2012 Governor’s School French Academy leaves positive impression on students). Thursday night’s prayer vigil brought out thousands of students to UVa’s amphitheater, and students at Harrisonburg’s James Madison University (SWAC Son’s alma mater) also held a candlelight vigil in support of the UVa community. Hope is fading for a happy ending but many still pray they find her safe. #BringHannahHome

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U.S. Marine from Va. killed in Afghanistan, wife expecting baby in December

Sgt. Charles StrongBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Sgt. Charles C. Strong, 28, of Suffolk, Virginia, died Sept. 15, in Herat province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations. He leaves behind his wife Taylor who is expecting a little girl in December.

He was assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (see Officials: Apparent insider attack killed U.S. Marine):

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2 Americans killed by suicide/homicide bomber in Iraq

Maj-Michael-J-Donahue-jpg

Maj. Michael Donahue

By Lynn R. Mitchell

A Taliban suicide/homicide bomber detonated a bomb outside an American military base in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, killing two Americans and a Polish soldier. The attack took place near the American Embassy during rush hour.

American Paratrooper Major Michael J. Donahue, 41, of Ohio, and Stephen Byus, 39, of Ohio were killed (see Fort Bragg soldier killed in suicide bomber attack):

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A military mom reflects on the anniversary of 9/11

Vonda LaceyBy Vonda Lacey

Blue, clouded skies today. September 11, 2001, was clear, blue skies and the eerie thing was the lack of airplane contrails. This day changed my world, as it did your’s! But little did I know or realize the impact of that change.

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82nd Airborne paratrooper killed in Afghanistan

Afghanistan airman

Spc. Brian K. Arsenault

By Lynn R. Mitchell

An 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper died Sept. 4, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

A press release from Fort Bragg, NC, revealed the sad news:

Spc. Brian K. Arsenault, a 28-year-old Paratrooper from Northborough, Massachusetts, was a grenadier with B Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div.

“We have suffered a great loss in the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and express our deepest condolences.  Spc. Arsenault was an exceptional Paratrooper and a valued member of our team,” said Lt. Col. Chris Hockenberry, Arsenault’s battalion commander.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Arsenault enlisted in the Army in November 2011. Upon completion of one-station unit training, he completed the basic airborne course at Fort Benning, Georgia. He arrived at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2012, and was assigned to 1st BCT in November of 2013.

Arsenault’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal (one oak-leaf cluster), Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge.

America mourns at the latest loss in the war on terrorism with eternal gratitude for Spc. Arsenault’s supreme sacrifice, and prayers to his family and friends. Freedom is not free.

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5 NATO troops killed in Afghanistan … reports are saying all were Americans

By Lynn R. Mitchell

News outlets Tuesday morning were reporting that friendly fire may be responsible for the death of five NATO troops in Afghanistan (see USA Today’s “Friendly fire kills 5 NATO troops”). Sadly, some news outlets are reporting the five were all Americans who are still deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom. Stay tuned for more on this developing story….

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Operation Enduring Freedom: American POW freed

By Lynn R. Mitchell

He is reportedly the only American prison of war from Operation Enduring Freedom, and after five years of imprisonment in Afghanistan, he was released Saturday to American forces. The New York Times reported:

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Profiles in courage … purple fingers indicate voting in Taliban-intimidating Afghanistan

Purple fingerBy Lynn R. Mitchell

The purple-stained finger is the Afghanistan equivalent to Americans’ “I Voted” stickers on election day with a huge difference: Afghans take their lives in their hands as they defy the Taliban’s threats of election day violence.

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