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Army Staff Sgt. Tom Bourke – Saber Strike 2013 Multinational Exercise in Latvia

Soldiers from Company C. 1-110 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade, scope out the battlefield in search of opposition forces on the Establish Defense lane at Adazi Training Area, Latvia on June 4 during Saber Strike 2013. The Pennsylvania National Guard infantry platoon partnered with a Lithuanian Army company to form a multinational defensive position. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Tom Bourke)

Pennsylvania Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig administers the Army reenlistment oath to Staff Sgt. Justin Bakow, 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment at Adazi Training Area, Latvia on June 7. The ceremony took place immediately after Bakow and his squad captured a bunker defended by Latvian infantrymen during Saber Strike 2013. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Tom Bourke)

Marching in tandem to their next training event, U.S. Army platoon leader 2nd Lt. Joseph Dillon and his multinational company commander Lithuanian Army Capt. Linas Rakickas discuss how they will cooperate to accomplish the mission June 4 at Adazi Training Area, Latvia. During Saber Strike 2013, soldiers from five nations including the U.S., Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia participated in a series of exercises that mimiced events on a modern-day battlefield.

Immediately following the Establish Defense exercise, Pennsylvania National Guard platoon leader 2nd Lt. Joseph Dillon discusses the recent action with the Lithuanian company commander June 4 at Adazi Training Area, Latvia. As part of Saber Strike 2013, the Guardsmen are partnered with a Lithuanian Army company in a series of infantry training exercises.

Yanking out the ammunition belt to clear his jammed M240-B during the Movement to Contact exercise, Pennsylvania National Guardsman Spc. Daniel Gress gets his gun back into the fight at Adazi Training Area, Latvia, June 5. As part of Saber Strike 2013, a platoon from Company C. 1-110 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 28th Infantry Division have partnered with a Lithuanian Army company to undertake various field exercises. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Tom Bourke)

Peering through an early morning mist at Adazi Training Area, Latvia, June 5, Spc. Kyle Buchko prepares to fire on opposition forces during Saber Strike 2013. Buchko is one of 54 Pennsylvanian National Guardsman participating in the Latvian phase of the multinational exercise.
Cpl Michael Sebastian’s wedding

Capt. Tom Rieck serving in Iraq

Paul M. Falb serving in Korea

Battalion Chaplain Patton serving in Iraq

SSG Shawn Hamil serving in Iraq

Navy Petty Officer Mike MonsoorPO2 (EOD2)(Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Mike Monsoor, a Navy EOD Technician, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for jumping on a grenade in Iraq, giving his life to save his fellow Seals.During Mike Monsoor’s funeral in San Diego, as his coffin was being moved from the hearse to the grave site at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, SEAL’s were lined up on both sides of the pallbearer’s route forming a column of two’s, with the coffin moving up the center. As Mike’s coffin passed, each SEAL, having removed his gold Trident from their uniform, slapped it down embedding the Trident in the wooden coffin.The slaps were audible from across the cemetery; by the time the coffin arrived grave side, it looked as though it had a gold inlay from all the Tridents pinned to it. This was a fitting send-off for a warrior hero.This should be front-page news instead of the crap we see every day.Since the media won’t make this news, I choose to make it news by forwarding it onto you guys. I am damn proud of our military. If you are proud too, please pass this on. If not then rest assured that these fine men and women of our military will continue to serve and protect.
Dear Rose and JimA friend of mine is in need of some help. Ken Kocher is an active reservist in the 339th Combat Support Hospital. He has served two tours, one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan,and was scheduled for a third deployment in the spring.Tragically, on Aug.24 he was involved in a single car accident on his way home from work to celebrate his Two Month wedding anniversary. He suffered severe injuries, including the loss of both legs, the loss of his spleen, two broken arms, and multiple internal injuries.

I was hoping you could ask your listeners to say a prayer for him to give him the strength and courage to keep fighting.


Ken was married on June 24, 2007. He and his wife Kelly were to celebrate their wedding reception on Aug. 25, the day after the accident. Needless to say they did not get the chance.


Any help would be greatly appreciated. I worked with Ken before he went into the service and he is a good kid. I am attaching a flyer that his family is posting. There is a recovery fund set up at PNC bank to help him and his wife with their needs.


Thanks a Bunch,
Rick Burns
Millvale, PA


SPC Vinsick and SPC Piper with Quinn and Rose at Dean Diamonds, 11 Feb 2006
Attached is my wife’s latest newsletter. I thought you might like to read some of the articles. Bobbie is the Directorate of Support Operations and we hope she will be home in July.



“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”–John Stuart Mill
I was looking at your home of the brave pageThought you might be interested in adding my neighbors sonPFC Matthew Bowe of Moon Township


OUR Two Sons!This is the only pic of Will and Mike together in uniform … the day they both went to their former high school with their Army Recruiter. Look close, and you can see Mike’s Airborne Wings… and his not so obvious maroon beret!Will (left) is now a PFC (E-3) and Mike gets Specialist (E-4) early February. While driving from Ft. Benning to Ft. Carson, CO, Mike managed to get interviewed at Vanderbilt Univ (Nashville, TN) by the Dean of Admissions, and a Colonel in charge of the ROTC program there. He’s planning on doing the Army’s “Green-to-Gold” program and has a daggone good shot at it.Yeah, both are wearing Army uniforms … Will the new ACUs (Army Combat Uniform) and Mike the older BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform). I think Mike thinks the BDUs makes him look like an “old salt,” LOL. They make him look bigger than he is as he is as slender as his older brother Will. Bill
2LT Mark Daily was killed in an IED attackHe was named the ROTC’s outstanding cadet for 2005 and also a Distinguished Military Graduate, the highest ROTC award.This was his MySpace post

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Current mood: optimistic

Why I Joined:

This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam’s government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba’ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq’s neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this.

Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America’s intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as “oil” or “terrorism,” favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day “humanists” who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow “global citizens” to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn’t confront the Ba’ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America’s intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow “humanists” and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America’s historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America’s initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America’s moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America’s commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children’s lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don’t forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don’t overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don’t cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include “Good Luck”

Mark Daily

On his MySpace front page, he featured this quote:

“Patience demolishes mountains” -Arab proverb

He wanted to be a journalist.

These are the kind and caliber of men who fight for us. Twenty-three years young. God rest his soul. And never, never forget.

Dear Family and Friends,Merry Christmas from Baghdad! I hope you are all enjoying this holiday season with family and friends. Celebrating the birth of Christ, no matter where you are, is always a joyous occasion. Here in Iraq, it is painfully obvious that we miss our families. But an unmistakable atmosphere exists here acknowledging the idea that we are all in this situation together. It has made for a very unique experience, certainly one that I will never forget.Last night I attended chapel followed by a candlelight service in the palace rotunda. Even though I would have easily traded that experience for a Christmas at home, our celebration last night really offered everyone involved the opportunity to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We all live in an area removed from the distractions associated with Christmas in America. No one was focused on last minute gifts or getting the house ready for a big dinner. Christmas as Camp Victory was about the worship of Christ the King.

I doubt Saddam Hussein ever envisioned a Christmas candlelight service taking place in his grand palace. I have not witnessed a clearer picture of the power and glory of God. It was awesome to see our military leaders, charged with finding solutions to this brutally complex situation, acknowledge Christ as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. This place desperately needs the peace, hope, love and joy that is Christ Jesus. My prayer is that we harness the power from that wonderful experience last night and allow it to resonate throughout this country, and for that matter, throughout the world.

I am rapidly approaching my first 30 days in Iraq, and I have learned more about the situation here than I ever thought possible. This is a complex situation and no easy answers exist, however I believe 2007 will be the decisive year in Iraq. Many changes have occurred worldwide across the military-political spectrum in the last 60 days. I believe we are going to see the results of those changes playing out in the near future. I am convinced that what happens here over the next six-to-eight months will determine the outcome of the war. Believe me when I say this is not only a fight for a free and democratic Iraq, but also a fight for the security of America.

Finally, thank you for your support. It takes a lot of motivation to keep everyone going here. Knowing we are appreciated gives us the energy we need to be successful. I hope this short letter gave you a little glimpse of life on Christmas Day in Baghdad. I continue to welcome your thoughts, prayers, letters, and emails. I miss you all very much and look forward to the day when I see you again.



FUOPS – Targeting/Engagements


III (U.S.) Corps JFEC

Camp Victory, Iraq



Dear Rose,

If I remember correctly you have a “Wall of Heroes” that you put pictures on of our incredible military personnel. I was wondering if it was not too much trouble if you could put a copy of our family hero up there? He is my brother-in-law, (by marriage), and he was injured this morning in Baghdad when his vehicle hit an IED. As I write this he is in a hospital in north Baghdad somewhere and the doctors are trying to determine whether to send him to Germany or Walter Reed. He has a severe concussion, extremely blurred vision, (that may or may not be temporary), severe wounds on his upper left shoulder and lower left back with nerve damage, and he has no feeling in his arm or hand. This was his third trip to the battlefront and he was due to get out next year. I had a choice of many pictures to pick from and I chose this one because it shows the unscrupulous discipline of duty our soldiers live by, but if you look closely, then close your eyes and imagine him with a big smile, you will know a carefree fun-loving guy with exceptional qualities that brings pride and joy to everyone in the family. Chris is our hero and we will honor him for his sacrifice for the rest of our lives. May God bless him, and all of us!

Ronnie Tatum


Everyone is doing all right over here or as well as you can in the middle of nowhere as you can see from the photos. The people in the first one are: Brook Watson (crew chief),Tim Smith (pilot),Andrew Price (pilot), JP Kerns (crew chief) and as you can see from the load in the Polaris it takes a lot just get off the ground. As you can see there isn’t much to see aroud here but somehow these people manage to farm a large part of this country with rice,wheat,and sheep. Thank you all for all the letters,food,pictures and music especially the last two but all of it helps to keep me and everyone elses spirits up.

Hope everyone is doing all right.


Hello Steeler Fans,It was not only a great Sunday for our Steelers but also the men of Task Force Panther. On our 20 hour mission in the western sector of our AO we found numerous weapons caches. They were some the largest finds in this area. Many mortar rounds, artillery rounds, C-4 and other IED components were found, along with other weapons. Removing these elements will help make this area safer for all in this sector and we thank God for that blessing,By now most of you know I was home on leave a few weeks ago. If I missed you, I’m sorry but it happened so fast and there were many things that I had to do while back in the states. Robin did not even know I was coming home. The look on her face and the tears in her eyes when she opened the door is a memory I will never forget!I flew back from Iraq with Major Etter, our Chaplin. Unfortunately, his homecoming was not just to see his family. He was coming home to perform the Memorial-funeral service for his very good friend Lt. Colonel McLaughlin who was killed by a suicide bomber in Ramadi on Jan 5th. He was a great leader and died doing just that, leading from the front. One of his jobs was rebuilding the Iraq Police in the area. The recruitment drive that he was in charge of was a huge success. Please keep his wife and daughters in your prayers. Robin and I drove to Mercer, Pa. to attend his memorial service and I can tell that the “Battle Chaplin” honored his friend greatly with his words.

We then flew to San Antonio, TX to see my brothers from 3rd RPB who were wounded in the IED attack on Nov 21st. They continue to surprise even the hospital staff with their grit, strength and great courage. SGT Matt Weber is known as “The Miracle Man”. Praise God for this miracle of life. Matt has a long, long way to go but he told his dad, Vince he knows God has a plan for him. SPC Josh Youmans was more severely wounded than originally thought but has made great strides in his recovery too. Duane “Big D” Dreasky tried to stand and salute our Commander and Chief, President George W. Bush when he entered his intensive care room on a visit over the holidays. Even in his severally injured condition, the nurse and his wife had to hold the big man down. SGT Dreasky never kept it a secret that President Bush was one of his heroes. Robin and I had a chance to meet with the families and go out to dinner with Matt’s Mother and Josh and Duane’s wives. They are without a doubt some of the strongest, most incredible women I have ever had the pleasure to meet in my life. They are women of faith in God and continue to place their trust in him during this very difficult test. Please continue to pray for them all.

After returning to PA, Robin and I grabbed the kids and headed to Wisp ski resort in Maryland for several days. It was one the best vacations we have ever had together. Thank God it snowed the night we arrived. I could not be more proud of my son, Mark and my daughter, Lauren for the way that they have held themselves in my absence, remaining strong and supportive of my wife Robin. What can I say about my Robby, except that she is my greatest gift from God. She is my rock and my anchor, I love her dearly. Many of you probably never realized that my beautiful, sweet, petite little woman was such a tuff, dedicated Patriot. Together, we Russak’s will see this mission threw to completion, placing our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We bow our heads and give thanks to God for all that he has done for us and for the blessings of support that all of you have given. Thank you very much. I’ll see you all in July and that is when the celebration begins!

Weapons cache.JPG (27543 bytes)

I can’t show you pictures of every thing we found but here is a very small part of a much bigger cache.

Hajji hates helicopter gun ships but even though we had a few in the air, he managed to get off some mortar rounds at us.

Digging out a large cache on the banks of the Euphrates,

Super bowl Champs.JPG (18455 bytes)

What a game! After the mission I only slept about 3 hours and then got up to watch the Steelers win. Putting this message up in our operations area was probably more dangerous for me then the mission. Remember, I’m attached to an Infantry company from Michigan and they still remember the ass kicking we gave their Lions in the final game of the season. No one likes the Steelers except the people of western Pennsylvania and that’s a fact!


Dear Jim,

I am stationed in Kosovo, originally from Ligonier PA, long time listener. I have attempted to sign up for the overseas troop deal without success. Miss listening on my way to work every morning, I’ve been gone since July 05 and will be here for the next 11 months. I am an Army Attack Helicopter Instructor Pilot, looking forward to watching the Steelers win the Super Bowl (hope I’m not on duty) and the words “Supreme Court Justice Alito Confirmed, Liberal Dems suicide attempts run ramped”.in a ticker tape on Fox News in the near future. I’m sending a short video clip taken from my perspective during a recent training flight, if you like it I have more. Keep doing what only you can do so well Jimmy.

Your Loyal Listener,
CWO Ronald Menoher Click here to view his video


Hi Rose,

A friend of mine, Robert Foster made the front page of the Tribune-Democrat in Johnsotwn on Christmas Day with the following story: Feel free to post his picture on the Home of the Brave. If you need his permission to do so I will have him email you.

Since you are Italian, I knew for sure this story was RIGHT UP YOUR ALLEY…or bocce court as the case may be!

Keep up the amazing work on and off the airwaves! My husband and I listen every morning!

God Bless you and Quinn too!

Sincerley…Another ROSE!

Rosemary Darr


Quinn and Rose,

My Name is Cpl. Darrin Silliman. I am from Akron Ohio, but currently stationed in Baghdad Iraq as a member of the Ohio Army National Guard. My wife Landre and I listen to you on 640am WHLO. Due to my deployment I have not been able to listen to your show for a little over a year now. My wife Landre sent me a signed picture of you two that she received when you both were in Akron sometime late last year. I really appreciated the kind words of thanks from the both of you for serving our country. I will be returning to Ohio shortly after the first of the year. I will defiantly be listening to your radio show as soon as I can when I get back to the civilian world.

I am sending a picture that was taken on Veterans Day here in Iraq.It was a very special day for allot of us. That was the first Veterans Day that we were veterans. We are all very proud to have the chance to serve our country. In this picture I have what I believe to be one of the biggest US flags I know of over here. I flew this on Veterans Day, and I will put it in a display case when I get home.

I miss listening to your show over here. Back home I am a UPS driver and I listen to your show in the morning Monday through Friday. My wife got me hooked on conservative talk radio. I am excited to get home and listen again. Thanks for what you do and keep spreading the word. Your radio show was always one of the high points of the day (Next to being with my wife).

Take care.
Cpl. Darrin M. Silliman


Good morning Rose,

Thank you and Quinn for all of the support you provide to the troops and the families that stay behind. My wife and I have four wonderful children and two of them recently served in Iraq. Sean Paul is our Marine and I have attached a photo that his Lt. sent us. Sean was in Iraq twice so far. He was part of the First Marine Expeditionary Div (Camp Pendelton, CA) that took back the country and gave it back to the people. This first tour lasted 7 months and it was the hardest because once the invasion started communications was lost for about a month. They were busy. His second tour was also lasted 7 months and this time he spent most of the tour outside of Falllujah. This is where the photo was taken. He is the one in front with the water bottle in his helmet.

My youngest son Rick is part of the Army National Guard 28th Signal Battalion out of Wexford PA. His unit was activated and they spent about 14 months in Iraq. Every soldier in his unit arrived back home safe. His unit was stationed in Taji but they went to Mosul, Bagdad, and Fallujah whenever they were needed. He doesn’t talk much about the tour except that taking back Fallujah was the toughest part. Rick is now in California University taking advantage of the GI Bill. He has earned every penny. I found a photo with him and Sean that was taken when they were both home for Christmas in 2002.

I am a very proud and thankful father. God blessed me and my wife with great children. Keep up the good work Russ Metzger LCpl Metzger asked me to send you this picture.

It was taken a few days ago in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. LCpl Metzger is one of the platoon’s medium machine gunners. He is an outstanding Marine and an asset to his Platoon, Country, and The Marine Corps.

Semper Fidelis
Paul (Kru) Out.

1st Lt P.A. Krumenacker (Kru)

Platoon Commander, A Co, CSSB-1
Camp Fallujah, Iraq
Tac Phone: (302) 3640-836

Mailing Address in Iraq:
Lt Krumenacker, Paul, USMC
UIC 42201
FPO AP 96426-2201





My dad sent me an e-mail saying that you wanted pictures of Afghanistan. Our internet is really slow so I can only send 2 at a time. Im in Chaghcharan (the exact middle of nowhere) Afghanistan. Its a very small camp with not much but a bunch of tents and a gravel runway. My brother-in-law and I have been in country about 7 months and its been interesting. Well, I have work to do so Id better go. Enjoy the pictures.


James A. Davenport
Generator General Foreman
Chaghcharan PRT, Afghanistan
APO-AE 09354