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The  Blue Star Blog – by Chris Hardwick

Chris Hardwick 1972

Ben Hardwick 2004

 

March 26th, 2008

From Guest Blogger James Wood - Last year I wrote regarding the war in Iraq and the fact that my son was on his second tour in Iraq.  Ryan was killed in action on June 21st, 2007 along with 4 other Blood Brothers in arms. 

Although the war was not going well at all, I felt like the necessity to win the war was the only option.  Even after my family's loss I want you to know that my family still feels the same.  We must win this war!  In fact, I feel stronger now than ever that we must prevail in this costly conflict. 

   

I wanted you to know that Ryan served with Charlie Company, 1-26th.  Charlie Company was station in the Adhamiya province (Northwest Baghdad).  The surge was too little to late to help Charlie Company as the 120 men patrolled the streets of Adhamiya and they suffered 14 deaths including my son over their 15 month deployment.  Once Charlie Company was rotated out of Adhamiya the area was reinforced with over 1000 men.  That is why I say the surge was too little too late. 

I am asking you to take the time out of your busy schedules to read two articles that have been published.  One is a 4 part series run in the Army Times.  It is entitled Blood Brothers, beginning on December 3rd and ending on December 24th, 2007.  The other article was published in the New York Times.  My son's picture is on the front page. 

I feel the media reports on the war in a passing segment.  We don't pay nearly enough attention to our heroes, both fallen and those that are still with us.  A casual mention of troops that were killed in a less than 30-second segment does not do justice to the men and women that are fighting for our country.  Brittany Spears gets more attention than do our hero's. It is a sad state of affairs.  The average American views the war as an inconvience.  It has little affect on their lives.  It does not disturb their starbucks coffee breaks or the time spent at a movie or out to eat. Politically, the war is little more than a jousting tool between the Democrats and Republicans to see who can one up each other by trying to win the uninformed American who has lost nothing in this war.  The uninformed American blows whichever direction he or she thinks is the popular view held by Americans.  It matters not that their opinion is being paid for by lives of Americans in far-off places...that it has been paid for in lives for over 200 years.  That the most involvement they have in the entire issue is that it is an inconvience to hear of the war when other, more important things like Brittany Spears is in the headlines and on our television. 

I hope for our nation that one day, the loss of only one American life will be as important and receive as much attention as Brittany Spears did.  But I fear that day will never come. 

My son gave his life fighting and dying for his brothers, his family, his God and his country--for our way of life.  It matters not what got us into Iraq.  What matters is that we win and we get our loved ones home safe and sound.  For me personally, it is important to win this war for all the reasons we had prior to my son's Death. A commitment was made to the Iraqi people the moment we set foot on their soil and destroyed their previous government.  It cannot be undone by walking away from the problem.  We do have to finish the job.

James B. Wood
Proud Father of SGT. Ryan Mitchell Wood

Gold Star Father

Oklahoma

Note: Sergeant Ryan M. Wood died in Adhamiya, Iraq on June 21st, 2007. 

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January 27th, 2008

I'm not sure how many letters or articles you've ever read from the genre of 'News from the Front,' but this is one of the best I've ever read, including all of America's wars.  As I was reading this, I forgot that it was my son who had written it.  My emotions range from great pride to great sorrow,knowing that my little boy (22 years old) has become this man. He is my hero.

God bless.

David Jeffers

Gold Star Father

Alabama

Note: Edmund J. 'Eddie' Jeffers died in Taqqadum, Iraq on September 19th, 2007.  Here is a letter shared by his father circulating on the web.  I have posted it here as a powerful message to all of us on why we must win this war.  Steve Russell

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SGT Eddie Jeffers, 1st Battalion 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, Ramadi, Iraq

 

I stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of  their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives  of others.  I sweat, and I am tired.  My back aches from the loads I carry. 

Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again. And yet, I too, am just a boy. My age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead.  I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid...  because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and........ it is always there. There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own... but that are necessary for survival.  I've made compromises with my humanity,  and I am not alone in this.

Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets...who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not. And to think, I volunteered for this... And I am ignorant to the rest of the world...or so I thought.  But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi , Iraq , the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me.
 
In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn't fit your average man.  And then, I will be alone.  And then, I will walk down the streets of America, and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.   I will watch the television and watch the Cindy Sheehans, and the Al  Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about.

It is their right, however, and it is a right that is defended by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls scattered across the world, far from home.
I use the word boys and  girls, because that's what they are. In the Army, the average age of the  infantryman is nineteen years old. The average rank of soldiers killed in  action is Private First Class.

People like Cindy Sheehan are ignorant. Not just to this war, but to the results of their idiotic ramblings, or, at least I hope they are.  They  don't  realize its effects on this war.  In this war, there are no Geneva Conventions, no cease fires. Medics and Chaplains are not spared from the enemy's brutality because it's against the rules.   I can only imagine the horrors a military Chaplain would experience at the hands of the enemy. 
 
The  enemy slinks in the shadows and fights a coward's war against us. It is effective though, as many men and women have died since the start of this  war.  And the memory of their service to America is tainted by the inconsiderate remarks on our nation's news outlets.

And every day, the  enemy  changes...only now, the enemy is becoming something new.  The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it. But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society... and they  are  becoming our enemy. 

The Senate Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word "quagmire" around and compare this war to Vietnam.  In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam.   Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and  military.

America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or  third times; some even
for their fourth and so on. Americans are so  concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war. Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the Internet...and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even  jailed...for doing their job.

It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this.  Why  are we so obsessed with the bad news?   Why will people stop at nothing to  be  against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we've done is  thrown in their face?

When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported  the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed?
It's all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of Bush. They will ignore the good news, because it just  might show people that Bush was right.

America has lost its will to fight.  It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the  American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing.  It's not like World War Two, where people rationed food, and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice  anything.

Unless you are in the military or the family member of a service  member, its life as usual... the war doesn't affect you.  But it affects us.  And when it is over, and the troops come home, and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service... where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and  talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives,  most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends?

They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can  complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things  that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their  shoulders.

 We are the hope of the Iraqi people.

They want what everyone else wants in  life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that  is safe to raise their children in.   Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped, and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause, and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...  we cannot place the burden on our military alone.

We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not.

And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars.  It's supporting our President, our troops and our  cause.  Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers.   Right now, hope  rides alone.

But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.  Let's stop all the political nonsense, let's stop all the bickering,  let's  stop all the bad news, and let's stand and fight!

 

(Note: you can send comments to Chris and your stories by clicking the 'Speaking and Contact' section.  In the contact form, just put a note 'For Chris Hardwick.')

 

 

January 21st, 2008 - We can make a difference.  Yes, this election year we can make a difference in who the next President and Commander in Chief will be; a Commander in Chief who will continue to lead your soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world against terrorism.  And one who will lead our brave Coast Guard, the silent defense of the United States, men and women to protect our coastline.  Thanks to guest blogger JM for reminding us of the Coast Guard.

We need Senators and Congressmen and women who are going to work together to win.  Some political leaders are playing games with our Armed Forces and the War on Terrorism.  Why?  My belief is they are trying to do everything they can to discredit President Bush.  They seem to have little regard to how the sting of their voices of retreat affects our troops or the families of our troops.  Check out how your senator voted in 2002 and your representatives here.  The defeatists like to say, “But there weren’t any WMDs and we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq.”  Well in 1998, during President Clinton’s Administration, guess what:  “August 14, 1998, Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security…”. You can also read Steve Russell's article here about what soldiers found.

We can make a difference when we vote and it is your duty and mine to hold our elected officials accountable.  They must be reminded that their actions affect soldiers’ families.  Are they upholding the oath they took when they were sworn into office?  Are they representing the voter?  You tell me.

The Oath of the Senate and House of Representatives:

"I, Senator/Representative, solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.  So help me God.”

Best regards,

Chris Hardwick

Vets for Victory Blue and Gold Star Family Coordinator

--and Former Blue Star Dad

(Note: you can contact Chris with your comments and stories by clicking the 'Speaking and Contact' section.  In the contact form, just put a note 'For Chris Hardwick.')

 

 

January 11th, 2008 - From Guest Blogger JM - In October 2007, we again hung our blue star flag on the front door.  We first displayed it when our middle son was in the U.S. Coast Guard.  He served six years and was honorably discharged in 2006.  During that same time, our flag also honored my brother who was serving in Tikrit, Iraq, as commander of an Army battalion.  Our middle son’s Coast Guard service was eventful and sometimes dangerous but we didn’t worry about him.  The bad guys were usually easy to identify.  We worried more about my brother.  His enemies (plus their explosives) where much harder to spot.  There was constant danger but, thank God, my brother returned home safely and was highly decorated for his service.

Now, our youngest son will be deployed to southern Iraq in a couple of weeks with the 45th Infantry Brigade of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.  In late October, they were sent to Texas for additional training.  We knew he would be home for Christmas for 10 days but it was still hard to see him go for those 2 months.  His first baby was born just 2 weeks earlier and he was not only leaving us but his wife and new son.  Our daughter-in-law and grandson moved in with her parents.  Their whole lives were turned upside down.  It was hard for us but even harder on them.  The time we had at Christmas was great but days flew by too quickly.

On January 2, we said goodbye again knowing we would not see him until he returned from Iraq.  This goodbye was very surreal.  There were tears, hugs, more tears, and more hugs (not just ours but lots of families).  Then our son walked away to go to his appointed group on the other side of the large freezing cold building.  We all stood behind the low wall of the family area and tried to spot him again.  Fortunately, he is tall and we saw him amid the sea of camouflage.  His wife called him on his cell phone 2 more times just to say she loved him and she would talk to him soon.  She finally left with her parents and our sleeping grandson who had blissfully slept through the whole thing.  As my daughter-in-law left, I told her we were staying just a bit more.  I had to see our son for a little while longer even if it was just the top of his head.  Finally, I called his phone and said a final goodbye, be safe and we loved him.  Then a final wave from across the building.  We left, walked to our car and drove away.

I cannot explain how it feels to watch your child go off to war even though right now he is still in Texas.  As a mother, I still carry those feelings of wanting to comfort, protect and make all things better even though my son is grown.  I guess those feelings never go away, he is still my 6-foot baby.  I am sad that he, his wife, and son have to go through this separation.  It will be hard on the in-laws too; they are watching the effects daily.  But most of all, I am so very proud and honored he is serving his country.   We have a long line of military service in our family.  Our son chose to enlist knowing he would probably go to Iraq and he is proud to go.  I’m sure more feelings will come when we actually know he has left for Iraq.  However, we will get through this and we pray, have faith and believe our soldier will come back safely.  We are not sorry, we are proud!  Pray for our military and their families and thank them for their service.  They sacrafice so much for the rest of us.

JM

A Proud Blue Star Mom

Oklahoma City, OK

(Note: you can contact Chris with your comments and stories by clicking the 'Speaking and Contact' section.  In the contact form, just put a note 'For Chris Hardwick.')

 

 

January 7th, 2008 - One particular work day shortly after my son had gotten back from his deployment in Iraq, I was walking from the parking lot to my office when I saw about five women on the corner carrying anti-war signs.  Now I was caddy-corner from the office building where I worked, so I thought if the traffic lights were kind to me I could go one way and not have to pass by them; the other way would put me on the same corner.  Okay, the traffic lights were not going to be so kind and I got a green light that was going to take me past them.  Yes I could have waited for the light to change but I thought “just go ahead and keep your mouth shut.”  I was crossing the street looking down, trying not to look at them but as I got closer I looked up.  I couldn’t help it!  One of the signs said “Honk if you’re against the war.”  So there I was standing there by them on the same corner waiting for the light to change.  But I was staring at them and before the light changed a pickup truck with three or four guys in it honked!  Oh, that made me mad.  So I went to the lady who seemed to be the leader of the small group and I told her that my son had just gotten back from Iraq and I thought she was wrong (not those exact words).  All she said was she was sorry he had to go.  The light changed and I could go on to my office but when I got across the street I realized, she didn’t even know my son, how could she be sorry?  She wasn’t sorry.

And that’s the way I see the congressional leadership.  They don’t know your sons, daughters, husbands, wives, moms and dads who are in the fight of our lives, our freedom.  They do not know your loved ones.  They have one thing in mind and that is to cause President Bush to fail.  And it’s at the expense of your loved ones. These politicians are the enemy at home and we have to defeat them at the voting booths.  We have to get them out of office.  We cannot let them return.  They have taken an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic” and dishonored it.

Gold Star Families, how can we ever give back to you but to remember your loved ones who gave the ultimate price, their lives?  I can’t relate to your loss but I know the sting of the anti-war statements, especially by the politicians, when my son was in harm’s way.

I want to encourage you to send us your stories and pictures of your loved ones.

God Bless,

Chris Hardwick

Vets for Victory Blue and Gold Star Family Coordinator

--and Former Blue Star Dad

 

(Note: you can contact Chris with your comments and stories by clicking the 'Speaking and Contact' section.  In the contact form, just put a note 'For Chris Hardwick.')

 

 

January 2nd, 2008 - Our son, Ben, was with the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne and was deployed to Iraq in August 2003.  My wife and I listened to every minute of news so we could learn what was going on with the war in Iraq.  We read whatever we could get our hands on.  About the only thing in the news at that time was the same thing you hear today from the media; it was all about IEDs and the losses of our fighting soldiers, “if it bleeds it leads.”  And don’t get me wrong, our fallen soldiers deserve all the respect and honor we can give them, and to their families, the Gold Star Families; they gave the ultimate price for you and me.  We soon learned we were not going to hear the accomplishments being achieved so we quit watching the news except for just the headlines.  Thankfully, we were getting emails from the commanders telling us of their successful missions.  Of course they couldn’t tell us much but it was enough that we families were getting the right story.

When Ben returned from his deployment, it was going to be about three weeks before he could come home on leave, so my wife and I went to Ft. Bragg to see him over a long weekend.  He told us about a couple of times when he came close to loosing his life, and he told us in detail.  If we had not gone so soon after he got back, we would not have heard those stories because he would hardly talk about it afterwards.

He called me pretty late one night, after having a little too much to drink, and told me of one time when he was in a guardhouse with one of his buddies.  They started receiving mortar fire; the enemy was “walking” (finding their range) their way toward his guardhouse with the mortars.  He told me his only thought was “I can’t die, it would kill mom.”

He had some adjusting to do when he got back from Iraq and some of that got him into a little trouble with his commander but he’s out of the Army now, very proud of his service and doing quite well.  And mom and I?  We are very proud of his service too.

So I asked myself, what can I do?  Well, when war opponents took over the House and Senate in January 2007 and started demanding retreat, I thought “our men and women in the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force were taking the fight to the enemy abroad; I need to fight for them over here, fight the defeatist politicians, the media and others."  That's why I support Vets for Victory.  So join me in this fight.  Blue Star and Former Star Families of veterans of this war, send us your stories and pictures.  Recently, I heard a radio announcer on a local sports program say “those are kids over there” as if they are a bunch of children toting guns around and getting shot up.  I emailed them and told them that “those kids” are well trained men and women and to stick to what they know, sports.  I never heard back from them.

Best Regards and God bless Blue Star and Former Blue Star and our nation's Gold Star Family members.

 

Chris Hardwick

Vets for Victory Blue and Gold Star Family Coordinator

--and Former Blue Star Dad

 

(Note: you can contact Chris with your comments and stories by clicking the 'Speaking and Contact' section.  In the contact form, just put a note 'For Chris Hardwick.')

 




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