Memorial Day Weekend in DC

Some events in DC to Honor the Fallen.

  • Friday, 7 pm: Ride from Fairfax Post 177 to Candlelight Vigil at the Vietnam Memorial
  • Saturday, 4 pm: Madison Rising in concert at Post 177, and dinner courtesy of Concerned Veterans for America
  • Sunday, 7am: Patriotic Ceremony at Post 177, depart for Rolling Thunder

More events, directions and information: ALR Run to the Thunder 2014

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Madison Rising Star Spangled Banner:

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Caisson Platoon and Carhartt Jackets

During a recent Patriot Guard Rider Mission at Arlington National Cemetery there was a bit of a mix up and our staging area ended up being the same as the caisson. Horses and motorcycles generally don’t mix well and we usually are not nearby. This chance encounter gave us a chance to meet the horsemen, which was totally unexpected and an honor. These soldiers really are the best of the best and impeccably conduct thousands of missions regardless of the conditions. They shared some stories of their horses, care, white horse teams, black horse teams and the number of cemetery ready horses in the barns and training.

PGR and Caisson Platoon:
ARL_12_13 Unrelated to the PGR mission, an article in the American Legion magazine shared that due to budget cuts, the soldiers could use new stable gear and received some from Carhartt: “the horse caretakers’ cold weather jackets were getting a bit threadbare and (Leta Carruth) appealed to the Michigan-based Carhartt company, which “happily agreed” to replace the troops’ worn gear with new articles, including jackets, shirts and undershirts.” Also of note is Carhartt offers a 10% military discount through Troop Swap. Kudoes to the American Legion, Leta Carruth and Carhartt for making this happen.

If you’re looking for warm weather clothes or uniforms, Carhartt has decent gear and they’re a family owned business. Please give them consideration.

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DOD’s secret cost saving ideas

Balancing the budget on the backs of soldiers and veterans, again. But it’s a secret.

DOD has hinted at closing commissaries as a part of the FY 15 budget, but there is more in the article: Retirement healthcare, basic allowance for housing, cost-of-living adjustments, civilian pensions and pay increases may all be on the chopping block. Everything is under wraps until February.

To wit, Congressman Walter Jones, who has been speaking against potential commissary closures, said during a phone interview with The Daily News on Tuesday, that commissaries are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cuts:

    - Retirees will be urged forced to use private-sector insurance when available as opposed to Tricare health insurance.
    - Basic Allowance for Housing may also be affected with individuals having to pay more of their own housing costs
    - For retired military who are working in civilian government service, pensions may be eliminated.
    - Military and civilian pay increases would be limited.

So, budget balancing on service members and veterans continues while Congress critters protect unwanted weapon systems, bases that should be closed, and other pork barrel social entitlement programs. Great, just great.

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Tuition assistance cuts

Thought about naming this article ‘Balancing the Budget on the Backs of the Military’ but it’d be a never ending series…

Beginning next year the Army will enact several restrictions to TA. This isn’t the first time the program’s been cut, and I get it, there is only so much money to go around. During my time in the Army we faced 75% caps and FYs where funds ran out. Got it.

Still, senior leadership recently made statements that show how unaware they are of the benefit process, and how little it actually pays. SMA Chandler recently stated: “Another area that creates tension is that we provide enough tuition assistance in the Army that a person technically can be a full-time student.”

Brig. Gen. MacEwen, adjutant general of the Army’s Human Resources Command later stated “We just kind of lost control over it in the last few years … so we are really trying to get some discipline into the program,” MacEwen said. “What we found was we had some soldiers who were using it as almost a full-time thing.”

Um, no. TA is capped at 18 credits, and full time enrollment is at least 24 credits, and in most cases 30 credits per year. The benefit generally pays for about 50% of the cost of education. In other words, soldiers understand the importance of education and are paying substantial amounts themselves. TA is only offsetting a portion of the cost, and NEVER pays for full time school.

So, feel free to scale back the benefit, Big Army. But please take care to understand how little the benefit pays, and stop showing your ignorance by parroting sound bite quotes from others.

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Worst Pearl Harbor Article – Ever

Donnie Johnston decided to exercise his right to free speech and spewed forth a pitifully written article on remembering Pearl Harbor. I suspect Donnie was previously inconvenienced by a funeral procession since his article was basically a rant against bikers.

He alludes that escorts only occur in fair weather, sarcastically stating: “I would assume there will be thousands of bikers on the road Saturday.” But of course escorts and events occur year round, as examples on Saturday 6,000 wreathes were laid at Quantico National Cemetery, and Patriot Guard stood a Flag Line at Ft Belvoir.

He asked “I’ve often wondered how this biker honor guard custom got started.” Two seconds of internet searching would have led him to the origin, protestors disrupting military funerals: 24 July 2005 when American Legion Rider Terry Houck’s wife, Carol, learned that a group of protesters disrupted a Newkirk, Oklahoma soldier’s funeral.

He solidifies his lack of research and ignorance by stating: “I recently spoke to someone who participates in funerals at the National Cemetery, and she complained that often no one can hear the service because guys on motorcycles go roaring past.” Anyone who has attended a service at Arlington or other National Cemetery knows bikes don’t roar during services. This is likely why this person is unnamed, they don’t exist outside the imagination of Donnie Johnston.

So Donnie Johnston, please stop by Dulles or Reagan when an Honor Flight arrives, perhaps attend a funeral or visitation, check out what the Legacy Scholarship is about or help out with the Snowball Express, maybe escort a Veteran to their new Home For Our Troops.

Until then, feel free to utilize your right to free speech, but try not to sound so much like a moron. It’s unbecoming.

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Pics of Washington DC #1mvetmarch

Went to the Million Vet March in DC today. It was a well attended event and despite short notice, the crowd was well organized and our message was heard. I arrived a little late due to some difficulties finding parking; some of my favorite spots were closed off due to the shutdown. By the time I arrived at the WWII Memorial the marches were underway, a small contingent headed directly to the White House, while most went to the Lincoln Memorial. All of the pictures below are mine, with the exception of the last one that was downloaded from Twitter.

Lincoln Memorial, chants of USA USA, taking down the barricades:

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Law enforcement looking on as barricades were dismantled:

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If you look close, here are the barricades being transported from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House, along Constitution Avenue:

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The barricades final resting place, the White House:

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Fisher House, Army Ten Miler fundraising

As the government fails us, Fisher House steps up and pays death benefits for families of the Fallen. Fisher House is my charity of choice for Combined Virginia campaign, and I raised money during last year’s Army Ten Miler.

I’m raising funds again this year, and the Army Ten Miler is October 20. If you have a spare buck or two or three and want to give to a great cause, please consider my Army Ten Miler Fundraising page.

Edited to add

The government has reinstated the death benefits, so Fisher House no longer has to fill that gap. Regardless, Fisher House will give $25,000 today to each of the 20+ families who lost servicemembers during the shutdown. Thank you for the outpouring of support for FH and TFH!

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MIAP- Vets no longer forgotten

I had the honor of attending a Missing in America Project (MIAP) service at Quantico National Cemetery for 18 unclaimed veterans. The veterans, service and war they fought in (if applicable) were as follows:

* Clarence Oden Jones, 1895-1987, U.S. Navy, World War I
* Harry Rhinesmith Pope Jr., 1920-1961, U.S. Navy, World War II
* Reid Beard, 1892-1986, U.S. Army, World War I
* Jollie Scott Crawford, 1945-2006, U.S. Army, Vietnam
* Loyd B. Harrison, 1922-1988, U.S. Army, World War II
* Joseph Thomas Reece, 1922-1980, U.S. Army, World War II
* Robert Kay Koskinen, 1927-1994, U.S. Army, World War II and Korea
* John Pols, 1910-1974, U.S. Army, World War II
* Harry Carlisle Woodson, 1920-1980, U.S. Army Air Force, World War II
* Frank Carper, 1909-1986, U.S. Army Air Corps, World War II
* Bruce Carlton Davis Sr., 1913-1969, U.S. Army, World War II
* Jesse Arthur Keith, 1935-1996, U.S. Army
* Robert Dale Morrison, 1948-1999, U.S. Navy, Vietnam
* Carroll Everett Pelkey, 1939-1999, U.S. Navy
* Richard L. Rose, 1935-2002, U.S. Air Force, Korea
* Daniel D. Bazemore, 1914-1974, U.S. Army, World War II
* Michael A. MacMillian, 1964-2002, U.S. Navy
* Robert J. Buist, 1929-1986, U.S. Army

MIAP locates, identifies and inters unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans, to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes. They have visited over 1.200 Funeral Homes and interred 1,500 veterans. It was a moving ceremony, to say the least.

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American Legion Nat’l Cdr Visits Virginia

American Legion National Commander Jim Koutz made a whirlwind tour through Virgina this week, escorted by Legion Riders. Post 177′s ‘leg’ was from Fairfax to Manassas to Front Royal. A beautiful day for a ride until a cold front moved through with wind and showers. The same message was shared at each stop, a key point was the benefits offered through Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW). Donations to OCW are used 100% for the benefit of wounded warriors – no admin, salaries or advertising expense is taken out (Unlike some other charities). Turnout was great, it was good to ride with other Legion Riders, and the hospitality at each stop awesome.

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Rest in Peace, SGT Andres A. Droguett

Stood a Patriot Guard Rider Flag Line in Alexandria yesterday. I would much rather go to a Welcome Home mission. Sad event, tough to see a Soldier deploy three times and then pass away back home stateside. His son met us, and the family took pictures of the kid on the bikes.

Sgt. Andres Droguett was awarded the following Medals, Badges and Awards:
- Bronze Star Medal w/ Valor Device (Army)
- Commendation Medal (2nd Award) (Army)
- Achievement Medal (Army)
- Good Conduct Medal (2nd Award) (Army)
- National Defense Service Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- Iraq Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star
- Overseas Service Ribbon
- Combat Infantryman Badge
- Expert Infantryman Badge
- Driver and Mechanic Badge with Driver Wheeled Vehicle(s)

The Guest Book for condolences is –> HERE

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