Sunday, October 25, 2009

thanks from the soldiers!

I got an e-mail from Mark a couple of days ago saying...
"...we got 21 of the packages yesterday and everyone loves them. so I would like to say thanks and everyone here says thanks..."

I talked to him again today and he said they got 42 boxes, so there are still a couple more out there and hopefully on their way! He said that everyone loved them, and were very grateful that we would do that for them. They were really appreciative that they were supported by complete strangers back home.

In the last post, Mark was safe from days, but he has since moved to working days. One good thing about him, is that he is easygoing and will just go with the flow when he has to. He did promise me that he won't volunteer for any missions though which is good. He doesn't have much of a say if he goes out on missions, but they can volunteer to go, which will put them ahead of others. People are chosen from a list of soldiers, where they get rotated, so everyone has an equal chance at going. (By mission I mean leaving the base and going to "recover" vehicles).

Mark is doing good, but missing home a lot. Home is missing him too. I am kind of thankful that I am so busy during the days because it makes them go a lot faster. He told me the other day that he does something every night before he climbs into his sleeping bag. It is really crazy to think about what these guys are going through. Sleeping in a sleeping bag for a year? No thanks. It makes me love my big warm bed a lot more. Less than 50 days until he is home for leave. We have a lot planned for his time home (in terms of trips, holidays etc), but i'll get him to post something here at least once :)

I have become a lot more appreciative of him since he has been gone (not that I wasn't before). They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. It's true. I don't like the situation we are in, but it's reality and there is no way around it. I am thankful for any contact we are able to have, even short two sentence e-mails ensuring me that he is OK really puts my mind at ease. I haven't been hearing from him much lately because of the day shift and because of poor internet service on their end. He has been keeping me updated via e-mail and minimal contact on Skype to let me know that he is OK. He knows i'm a worry wart.

I was sitting in church this morning, and watching a couple in front of me rub each others back, hold hands, and smile at each other. I wondered if they knew how lucky they were. They were cute- made me smile. Just a random thought.

I have several pictures to follow, and will get more from Mark soon as well. I also have some from Sarah from the party that I will put up later. Thanks again for everyone who contributed to the care packages. He is very lucky to have all of you!

If your wondering where mark is, look directly in the center, about 5th row back. He doesn't have his helmet on. I love this picture.

A home passed on their convoy to Camp Leatherneck. Thankful for your warm and cozy house?
Gotta get sleep where ever/whenever you can (They are on the back of some sort of truck).
Sand storm that they see every couple of days.

Btw, Mark and I have been married for 6 months today! Crazy!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall in Afghanistan

Who knows if Afghanistan has seasons. I'm guessing not. When I talked to Mark though tonight, he was bundled up. He said it was 46 degrees (it was also the middle of the night). At least he isn't missing out on anything going on in MN- he gets to experience it too. During the day he said it is about 90 right now, but he isn't awake to enjoy any of that heat.

I'm thankful that he can get on Skype as much as he can. Someone in their troop bought cell phones when they were in Kandahar. They cost $300 per phone and $20/month for service. The neat thing is though, somehow they can be connected to a computer- ideally a laptop i'm guessing, and serve as a modem so that they can get internet through the phone, but on their computer. Make sense? Anywoo, Mark might try that if for some reason Skype isn't an option anymore. He was going to be moved to day shift, but isn't anymore. I'd be a much happier camper if he didn't do day shift, but when there is no choice, you just gotta do what they tell you to. He said before anything is final, they will probably change it a dozen more times.

We (Lyle and I) mailed out 23 boxes from the care package party on Tuesday, so they should be there in 10 days from Tuesday! Thanks again for those who contributed money as well. It is VERY helpful to have that to be able to mail the packages. The rest of the packages will go out Friday. I will for sure let you know when they get them.

In other news, I have a cheese conference to go to for work tomorrow. Yes, CHEESE. More professionally, it is NCCIA - North Central Cheese Industries Association. Should be interesting. Our company deals mostly with whey proteins, so we will learn more about microfiltration of dairy products and more about milk proteins. Who have I become? haha. (A cheese head perhaps)

I should have been sleeping a long time ago.


Monday, October 12, 2009

update of sorts

Mark asked me to post about this...

Many of you know that I was expecting Mark to come online to chat with the people who were over for the packaging. He told me exactly when he was going to come online, so I expected him around that time, if not sometime that day. He didn't end up coming on at all Saturday, and then did not come online again Sunday. I knew something was up on Saturday, because it was not like him to not show up on Skype, call or e-mail me about what happened.

I heard from him today, and he told me that they had a "communications blackout," which means that they shut down any and all outside communication for the soldiers. They do that when a soldier dies because they do not want their family to find out via internet that their child/ spouse etc. has passed. The guy who died was in a truck with another soldier when they drove over an IED. One of the soldiers lived and was minimally hurt, and Mark said that they were told it was likely because he was buckled in. Their truck did not explode, but was definitely shaken enough that the soldier who wasn't buckled flew around in the truck, ending up breaking his back and having severe internal bleeding. He lived for two or so days after the incident, but died in transit to a base where he could have been taken care of better. The guy was in Mark's unit and was stationed out of Chisholm with Mark. For those who don't know, Mark is in a transportation unit that transports ammunition and vehicles I think. Anyways, really really sad. Pray for their family, I can't and don't want to ever imagine what they must be feeling.

Here is an article that Lyle found...
2 Minnesotans killed in Afghanistan
A Marine and Army National Guard member died as a result of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
VINCE TUSS, Star Tribune
Last update: October 13, 2009 - 7:27 AM
Two military men from northern Minnesota -- a Marine and a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard -- have been killed in Afghanistan, military officials and family members said Monday.
Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Taylor, 27, died Friday, said his father, Clifford, of Two Harbors. The death has not yet been announced by the Defense Department.
Army National Guard Specialist George W. Cauley, 24, of Walker, died Saturday, according to the Pentagon.
Taylor was killed by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in Helmand Province, his father said. He specialized in explosive ordnance disposal, an extremely dangerous duty that concerned his family, but motivated him.
"He was the type of guy who when he found what he wanted to do, he dove right in and learned everything about it," his father said.
He was based at Camp Pendleton in California and also had completed a tour in Iraq. He had been in Afghanistan for six weeks.
"He knew that we were concerned and he was trying to reassure us that he was doing good work with a good group of people," said Clifford Taylor, who last spoke to his son about a week ago. "He was confident that he'd be fine."
Aaron Taylor was born in Duluth, grew up in Bovey and graduated from Greenway High School in Coleraine in 2000. There, he played in the jazz and pep bands, wrestled and managed the hockey team.
"He was just a likable, personable guy. Everyone who knew him just loved him," his father said. "If the Taliban had met him, I'm sure they would have liked him."
Funeral services were pending. Taylor's body is in Dover, Del., and is expected to be returned to Minnesota in the next few days.
Cauley was hurt Wednesday in Helmand Province when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device, the Defense Department said. He died of his wounds three days later in Bagram.
He was a 2003 graduate of Northland High School in Remer, according to his Facebook page. Calls to family members were not returned.
Cauley was a member of the Guard's 114th Truck Company, based in Duluth. The company had 187 soldiers mobilized in June, said Maj. Patricia Baker, a public affairs officer for the Minnesota Guard. The one-year deployment included training in Indiana before leaving for Afghanistan, Baker said.
The mission was moving supplies by ground throughout Afghanistan and providing convoy security, according to a statement from the Guard in April, when the deployment was announced. The company uses a Palletized Load System, a kind of heavy truck, to move large amounts of cargo, Baker said.
The investigation into Cauley's death continues in Afghanistan, Baker said.
It comes a week after the death of a Guardsman in Iraq from noncombat injuries. Maj. Tad Hervas, 48, of Coon Rapids, died in Basra. He was assigned to the 34th Infantry Division, based in Rosemount.
In July, three state Guard members were killed by rocket attack on their base near Basra, Iraq. Specialist Daniel Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury; Specialist James Wertish, 20, of rural Olivia, and Specialist Carlos Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove were members of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, based in Stillwater.

I thought this link was interesting. It is the demographics of their unit


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thank you!

We had a great turnout today! Everyone was super helpful and we actually had to go back to the post office twice to get more boxes and customs forms. We ran out of customs forms again, so I have about 15 more to write out. We filled about 6 boxes for Mark and 40 boxes for everyone else! Thank you to everyone who donated cash, everyone who brought goodies to eat, and everyone who brought things to stuff the box. There was a great variety of things, and new ideas to add to the list!

My mom's friend Sue from Century College had the Dental Hygiene students gat
her up some things for the troops, as well as some of her co-workers and other students also donated to the cause. That was awesome. They donated about 4 huge boxes and even more bags of goodies. Other people included a bunch of our friends (Mark and mine), people from Salem, some of Mark's family, my family, friends of my mom and more. It was a great cause, and I think they will really appreciate everything! I'll update everyone on their reaction to the boxes when they get them.

For those who weren't able to make it, we are having one more care package par
ty at the end of January, so i'll let everyone know when I come up with a date for that. We might even be able to have the community center donate a room to us for the cause, so we can be more efficient with space. It worked perfect at our house, but would be better with a little more elbow room.

I have a bunch of pictures to put up, so enjoy!

Alicia, Laura and Nick taping up boxes

Can't have a party without food!

Boxes waiting for customs forms

Alicia, Jody and Laura

Jess writing out customs forms

Katie, Kate and Allison

Sarah and I

Half the peeps

Katie shopping in Mark's things (ok, maybe packing boxes!)

Mark had a stash of his own.

Some of the finished boxes!


Nick and Katie rocked the bruchetta!

Food pile

Jess, me and Katie and Alicia doing customs forms
Filling boxes- it was an assembly line process

Woop woop

Mama bear, Cindy and Gary

Pat, Dana, Sara, Sarah, and James

This little fella helped keep all the ladies entertained haha

More box stuffage

That is all for now! I know others took pictures too, so if I get some of those, i'll post them as well.
Thanks again!!! We really appreciate everyone and everything you did for the troops!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Package Party Details

I'm excited.


What: Care package party + talk to Heather party :)
Where: My place.
When: Sat Oct 10th 12-4pm
Why: Because the troops deserve our love and support, and I feel the need to catch up with everyone!

*For a list of what to bring, look at previous entries- one has a long list. If you are feeling creative though, bring something completely different! I know some baked goods are coming over on Sat (just make sure they can travel well and be packaged appropriately) that the guys/gals will like!

Come for the whole shin-dig, or just stop by for a little conversation and appetizers.

I've gotten a couple of things from people who aren't able to come (THANK YOU btw for being so generous!!!), and it looks like we have quite a variety of things so far! I'm really excited to see everyone, and to do this for all of our troops. Their unit has about 200 people in it, so Mark has more than enough people to share with!

I've got lots of boxes, and customs forms to fill out as we pack boxes (remind me to do that!) Each box needs a customs form and each customs form needs to have written on it, what is in each box. Therefore it will be easier to write it as we package them up.

FYI: The next/last one during the deployment will be in late January sometime. I'll update when I come up with a date.

So, how 'bout those Twins?


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well, Hello There!

Mark says hi! I told him I was taking a picture for the blog, and to wave! haha. That was from this evening- about 10 minutes ago. The first picture is of him from last week showing me his gun, after I was surprised that they really do carry it with them everywhere. Isn't it cool that there is such a technology to be able to talk to someone a world away, talk for FREE, and be able to see one another? Sweet deal! We have been able to talk almost every night lately, which almost makes it seem like we're together, but not. Good enough for now though! Someone asked me what Skype is today. Skype is a instant messenger program where you can just type to one another, but it also lets you call people from one computer to another, as well as activate video, chat and take snapshots!