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Welcome to the Army, Mom
A Glimpse into the Personal Journey of an Army Mom During the First Year of Her Son’s Career
By Kelly Hutchinson
I’ve read or heard somewhere that “letting go” begins the day your child is born. You want to hold him close to you forever and yet are so very proud of all the “firsts” of letting go – the first baby steps, the first words, the first lost tooth, the first day of school. And so, as a loving parent, you come to terms fairly early with the fact that life is a process. Besides, letting go is healthy. It’s a GOOD thing, as Martha Stewart would say (and no, I’m not a fan). You realize, on some level, that when you’ve done your job as a parent, it is gratifying to watch your child become independent and capable of taking care of himself in this mad, scary world. Notice I did not say it is “easy”, but that it is gratifying.
And so it is that the years fly by. You survive the first scraped knee, the first fight on the playground, the first broken bone, the first trip to the ER for stitches, the first girlfriend, and the first car. So much letting go. Too much to bear at times. But with each “letting go” there is a sense of joy as you watch this young person, your son coming into his own. You savor that sense of joy. Read full story >
Our First Deployment
by: Josie Thompson
My husband and I met when I was a junior in high school and he was a sophomore in college. We dated for less than a year when he came to me with information on the Army National Guard. At first I was very hesitant and told him I didn’t want him to enlist. He went ahead and did it anyway. Soon after swearing in he left for basic with a pact we made together. If we could get through basic and AIT we would get engaged. After 5 long months of him being away, and countless hours of college studies, he was home. We made it! Less than a month later, on St. Patrick’s Day, he proposed! We decided to wait for either orders to deploy or until I graduated from college. August rolled around and the orders finally came. He was to leave after the first of the year. We hustled to get everything finalized, changed our wedding date three times, and became adults faster than we had planned. I was a mere 19 years old planning the rest of my life. Finally January 8, 2011 was here and we had the most beautiful wedding ceremony we could have ever imagined. I married Spc Jesse Thompson with only our immediate family present. Read full story >
In today’s Army it is almost a guarantee that a soldier will deploy at some point in their career to a war zone. But what if you have in your family more than one soldier who will deploy? My husband and both my sons are in the army. We like to joke and say that my daughter rebelled and married a marine. I am very proud of my husband and everything he has done for our country. Military life is not easy, and it takes a lot of heart and commitment and faith in God. My sons are marching in their father’s footsteps and I have great pride in their selflessness and of the thousands of men and women who currently serve and who have served in the US Military. My husband and both my sons as well as my son in law will be serving overseas. I’m very proud of them. To keep moving I must rely on God and my family. I have a quote I keep close to my heart to help me through the tough times when I don’t hear from the men in my life. The quote is from Eleanor Roosevelt; You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. Read full story >
My American Hero, My Love
I met the love of my life, Cpl Patrick Sheiffele, while in nursing school in Washington, DC. Patrick was stationed at 8th & I Marine Corps Barracks, Washington for two and a half years there. We met one night after he marched in the Friday Night Marine Corps parade, and it was love at first sight. Needless to say, from the moment our eyes met, we were inseperable. On 4th of July weekend last year, we spent the holiday in Annapolis, Maryland on the waterfront. We decided to walk around town after lunch, when a beautiful blue dress in the window of a boutique caught my eye. Patrick saw me looking at the dress and brought me into the boutique to try it on. I fell in love with the dress, but not the price tag! Patrick encouraged me to buy the dress, but I could never have afforded it. Later on that week, after getting out of a long and tiring 12 hour shift in the hospital, Patrick picked me up from work (as he always did). He held my hand as we walked up the steps leading to our apartment door. As soon as I opened to door, the blue dress was hanging in the window overlooking our terrace. Read full story >
Our son, brother and uncle Harley Emery is scheduled to be sent off to Kuwait ( he has left for his training 6/2/2011), this is his 2nd deployment since becoming a member of the Army National Guard…his 1st tour was in Scania, Iraq 4 years ago. Harley is my brother and our family couldn’t be more proud of him! On May 22, our mother was brought to the hospital and we learned she was having a heart attack, she was to be taken to Rochester Mayo for surgery. Her words to the Dr. “please….not this week, my son is being sent to Kuwait”. It broke my heart. At that time, my brother was up at Camp Ripley for his two weeks and was scheduled to come home the following week for a few days before being sent to Kuwait, so Momma was pretty stern when she said “please don’t tell Harley”, she didn’t want to worry him unnecessarily. So we didn’t. We got to the Rochester hospital and the surgery went well and she was so excited to be able to get out in 3-4 days…just in time to be home to see Harley off. Then things took a horrible turn, she didn’t take well to the medication and slipped into a coma about 3 hours after her surgery. The doctors told us she wasn’t able to breathe on her own and she would have to be taken off life support as soon as all our family members were there. We had to make the calls to family and try to get a hold of Harley, his SGT drove him all the way to the hospital from Camp Ripley. Read full story >
In Memory: Major Philip Ambard
Maj. Philip Ambard inspired achievement in everyone around him. But he never pushed anyone harder than he drove himself. Ambard, of Colorado Springs, died Wednesday in Kabul, Afghanistan, in a mass shooting that left eight airmen and one civilian dead. He was four months into a yearlong tour overseas and was set to resume his teaching duties at the Air Force Academy when he came home. A Venezuelan immigrant who came to America when he was 12, Ambard started as an enlisted airman and zoomed through the ranks during a 25-year career.
Upon hearing the news of this tragedy, Grantham University arranged to have a custom Gold Star Flag made for the Ambard family to honor his service. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time. Read full story .
I have twin sons who joined the Army in 2007. Both left a week apart from each other in July for BT – Sean to Ft Benning, GA and Steven to Ft Jackson, SC (same place I did my basic training). They have both been deployed to Iraq and within 13-15 months of being home both deployed to Afghanistan. I currently serve in the NJ Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2009 where I met up with Steven before he returned to Ft Hood, TX. All 3 of us are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in 2013. (Heaven help the family!) Read full story
Blue Star Mother’s Day
On April 19th, we received an email from SPC Justin Reed who is currently serving with the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division in Baghdad, Iraq. He comes from a solid military family as his brother PVT Jeremy Reed is serving with the Old Guard in Washington, D.C.
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, he could not think of a better way to show his appreciation and love for his mother than getting her a two-star flag. He reached out to us and we were honored to arrange the making of this beautiful flag for the Reed brothers. Read full story
You Won’t Believe This
by: Stephanie Gilmore
My 2nd LT army son is stationed in Alaska. He has been there for four months and today he left for Afghanistan. We are like every family who has a loved one being deployed – we’re proud, sad, scared, interested, confident, apprehensive and patriotic. We talked for a while last night – that last time hug over the phone. There is a four hour time difference between where I live and where he is stationed, so when I got another call from him around midnight I was surprised. He told me something that will forever make me feel strong enough to handle his deployment. My maiden name is Crane, my son’s middle name is Crane, and my father is a retired Army Lt Colonel, John Crane. He passed away a year ago during last Christmas. Read full story
I am a Proud Army Wife
by Lanina Baladez
First of all I would like to say Thank You for your contribution to our service members and their families. I have just ordered my flag. When I do receive it, I plan on displaying it proudly in the biggest window of my house, my living room window for all to see. My husband is PFC Martin Baladez Jr. This is his 2nd year in the U.S.Army. He is currently deployed in Iraq fighting for our great country. We have 4 beautiful children 3 girls and 1 boy. This is our first deployment and is very tough on all of us, but especially our children. At times they cry their lil eyes out and can’t understand why daddy can’t come home from work, or why we cant talk to him or see him everyday like we used to. These are the times where I have to put my feelings aside and put on my brave mommy face and comfort them and explain things to them in a way that they can understand. There are times when I myself just want to break down and cry. It is not easy being a Mom & a Dad for our children. Read full story
One Family, a Century of Service
by James H. Newman, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)I retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Colonel with 24 years, 8 months of service. In 1970, I served in Vietnam at the same time as my father, Colonel James W. Newman, US Army, (deceased) and my younger brother, Commander Michael S. Newman, US Navy, (retired). Both Mike and I were pilots. Now my youngest brother, Lt. Colonel John R. Newman, US Air Force, is serving in Afghanistan. Together, the four of us have a total of 102 years of military service spanning 66 years with combat service in WWII, Vietnam, Desert Storm and now, Afghanistan. Read full story >
Proud and Dedicated
by Cathy Webb
My name is Cathy Webb and I am the wife of a deployed soldier. We have 4 wonderful kids who are going through a real hard time. They are ages 5, 4, 2 and 9 months. Being so little, they do not understand why daddy has to keep going so far away. I try my best to keep them comforted and reassure them it will all be ok, and daddy will be home soon. This is our second deployment and it is incredibly hard on our family, however, there has to be sacrifices made in order to keep our country safe. Read full story >
by Mickey Smith
I work for The Mirazon Group in Louisville, KY. We are a small IT consulting firm with about 25 employees. Myself and a co-worker both have sons in the U.S. Marine Corps recently deployed to Afghanistan. During our last company meeting they presented the 2 of us with 3’x5′ Blue Star Flags for our home and have hung a 3’x5′ Blue Star Flag by the main entrance at the office in support of our sons. They have also placed collection boxes in the office for employees to donate items for care packages.
This type of support is just a small example of the type of people I work with, it makes the experience much easier to handle when you have this type of support from the people you work with on a daily basis. Read full story >
My Sons, My Heroes
by Gina Brown
My name is Gina Brown. I am a mother to 5 wonderful children. Two daughters and three sons. Two of my boys are currently serving in the United States Army. Justin is currently deployed to Afghanistan and Anthony is currently deployed to Iraq.
My boys are very giving of themselves to go and serve right now especially at a time when we are at war. My boys realized that there were costs involved and sacrifices they would be making. Justin would leave being unable to see his children and be the father he so enjoys being. Justin has two daughters Karley and Casidey; who was born after he deployed. I know it is very hard on Justin to not be here but he calls and tries to be strong and wants to do his duty. Read full story >
Long Distance Support
–by E John Carlson
We have two (2) Blue Star flags hanging in our front window in honor of our 2 Master Sargent sons who serve in the Air National Guard on Predator unmanned aircraft crews, flying missions “over there” in support of our ground troops. They live the war every day and carry the associated stresses of helping the guys on the ground as much as possible to lighten their load. They work a tough regimen of revolving 24/7 shifts that make getting good rest and “normal” family lives an impossibility. Read full story
First, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for what our soldiers do everyday for our freedom and safety, as well as what their loved one’s sacrifice and struggle through back home.
I met my fiance a few weeks before he was due to return on leave and immediately fell in love with him. After only a few phone conversations, we began dating and shortly after became engaged. We will be married in March when he returns on leave. I have always tried to show my support for our troops but I feel it is more important now than ever.
The reason I say this is because his family does not support our relationship and has made that very well known, including some rather demeaning comments, before they stopped talking to both of us all together. They do not believe that he can fall in love at the age of 20. He is now serving in Afghanistan and feels as though he has no one back home but me. He doesn’t even have a best man for our wedding. Read full story >
My Brother, the Hero
Let me start how this all started, my dad belongs to the National Guard. My brothers both joined 2 different branches of the service one in the navy and the other one Army/National Guard. The brother who joined the Navy is no longer in the Navy, however he does have a civiallian job at Cherry Point Naval base and is able to provide for his family enough to allow his wife to be a stay at home mom for their 5 children. My other brother is who this story is really about. He was diagnosed when he was 7 years old with Leukemia. He was not expected to live, however the good Lord took care of us and he survived. As time went on he grew up and joined the Army/National Guard. Read full story >
Seeing a Dream Become Reality
By Bob Thibodeau, proud father
When my son was about 8 years old I took him to see an airshow featuring the Blue Angels. As with many kids after this type of experience, he came home and wanted to be a pilot. Neither his mother or I thought much about it at the time.
As the years ticked by, his desire to be a pilot did not diminish; however, his eyesight did. By the time he was in high school he needed glasses and was heartbroken to learn that he needed uncorrected 20/20 vision to fly in the Air Force or Navy.
He resigned himself to his fate but never gave up completely on his dream. When he learned the Army would take him if he had lasik surgery and 1 year later his eyes showed no further deterioration, we were at the eye doctor the next day. His surgery was a success and the following year his eyes were still better than 20/20. He couldn’t wait to sign up! Fast forward to today.. Read full story
Thinking of You
By Merilyn Franz
Granddaughter, daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, cousin and friend of military men and women serving/has served America.
My grandson, Josh, a graduate of VA Tech, serves as a first LT. and currently serves in Afghanistan. My son and Josh’s dad, Mark, retired a couple of years ago after four of his young men died in Afghanistan in the line of duty. Mark served in the capacity of a Navy Seal Commander. When Mark called me in the middle of the night and sobbed for several minutes over the loss of these fine young men, I felt so helpless.. Read full story
By J. Bryan Wasson
I am a U.S. Air Veteran and a retired U.S. Army Major. My grandson, Brandon Wasson, had a lifelong dream of a military career. In preparation for that career, he was a member of the Air Force Junior ROTC.
He received an Appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD on the recommendation of Congressman Mac Thornberry. Brandon graduated from Chico High School in 2003. His dreams of a military career were shattered, however when he did not pass the military physical examination required before entrance into any one of the U.S. military academies. Read full story
All in the Family
by: Donna Cronenworth
This is such a great service you are doing. I would be so proud to show this flag in my window. My son has just returned from his first tour in Iraq. He is the third generation of Cronenworth’s that has served our country. His grandfather was in WWII and was shot in the stomach during his tour. He passed away before he ever got to meet his grandson. Charlie’s dad served three tours in Iraq. He is so proud of what his dad did. His dad was awarded the Silver Star and CIB for what he did in Iraq. Now Charlie is following in his dad’s and grandfathers foot steps. This was a difficult tour for my son as it is for all people who are serving their country. Charlie was awarded his CIB like his dad during his tour. I am so proud of all of the guys and women who are currently serving their country. Read full story >
Who Gets the Flag?
I didn’t know who to begin with – for a flag to be sent to, here is why…
Dad, Robert Allen = AF 20 yrs, retiring as a MSgt, served in Vietnam.
Son, Krisjand Rothweiler = Army Capt 7 years, 2 tours Iraq and now in AF. His wife, Patricia, of 2 years (Jul08, no military background) has spent more time apart than with him and continues to support him enthusiatically. While on TDY, visited her in Germany, where they are stationed, and watched her as she filled box after box (never one not sitting on the table to be stuffed) and send them away. Couldn’t ask for a better daughter (in-law) , she has assimilated herself totally into our military life, and I am extremely proud of her. Read full story>
On April 7, 2010, MyBlueStarFlag.com received a request for a Blue Star Flag from Maj. John L. Gardner (USMC). His story touched all of us – we knew we needed to find a way to get a flag from our office in Kansas City to his family in Virgnia. Our very own Christine Shelly, executive vice president of marketing & communications at Grantham University, paid a visit to the Gardner home and personally delivered the flag, making it well worth the trip. Read full story>
Still Hanging Strong
Actually, my story is not a very inspiring one and the event that happened to my wife makes me believe she is not the only spouse it’s ever happened to.
The Blue Star Flag or Banner displays the honor of having a loved one in the household sacrificing his or her life to protect all who sees it being displayed in a window or flying in the breeze on the front porch. It also displays sadly to say a sign to others that the man of the house is away.
I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and my wife was a very proud recipient of the Blue Star Banner and displayed it proudly in our front living room window. Half way through my deployment my wife decided that having the extra money coming in was an excellent opportunity to put a new roof on the house. Read full story>
In Loving Memory: LCPL Eric Levi Ward
My son became a fallen Marine on Feb 21, 2010. While we were at Dover Air Force for the dignified transfer, the local media went to our home and focused in on the Blue Star Flag hanging in our window. Read full story and submit comments >
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Grantham University Teams Up with C.O.R.P.S. and Donates Fifty Blue Star Flags To Military Personnel and Families
(September 24, 2009) In recent news, Grantham University, which manages the Blue Star Flag Program and MyBlueStarFlag.com site recently donated fifty (50) Blue Star Flags to Chaplains Organized Response to PTSD affecting Service Personnel (C.O.R.P.S.). C.O.R.P.S. is an inter faith-based initiative of care givers dedicated to helping soldiers and their families through its Blue Star Flag banner outreach program. They provide assistance to service men and women with counseling, employment, spirtual guidance and other needs and services. Read full article >
A Mother’s Story
I am a proud Mother of an Army National Guard Soldier. My story begins on Sept. 11, 2008 when I recieved a phone call from my then 19 yr old son to tell me he joined the service. My reply I think shocked him as I said “what a noble, unselfish thing to do, I am very proud of you” while shear terror ran through my veins. Read full story >
A Letter to Remember
Our daughter has been deployed to Iraq for 15 months with the National Guard San Antonio, Texas. We now raising our 15 month old granddaughter. She truly misses her mom very much and we try to let her talk to her via internet as much as the time difference will allow. We are very proud of her and all the men and women who are over there defending our freedom. Read full story >
A Father’s Story: The Dynamic Duo
My story may not be all that interesting. I recently retired from the Colorado Air National Guard after 25+ years of service. I started later in age with my military career; however, I convinced my son to join our Wing, before graduating high school, to utilize the GI Bill and Tuition Assistance for college, which he did. He served ten years as enlisted Crew Chief on F-16s after Desert Storm, and after college graduation, received a officer’s commission as a Navigator for active-duty Air Force. Although my career was mostly as a monthly Traditional Guard member, it picked up substantially after 9-11, and I subsequently volunteered for three deployments, each to different countries in the Middle East, for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Read full story
In the Family
If I had to sum up my family in one word I might have to choose “Army” because it is what defines us. Since 27 June 1996 we have had a minimum of two family members on active duty and will continue to for a minimum of three more years. Between me, my Dad, my sister and brother we have seven combat deployments, one tour in Vietnam, one in Desert Storm and five in Iraq. Next year I hope to be able to add Afghanistan to the list, Lord willing. Read full story
The Waiting Game
Submitted by: Cynthia M Yarde-Kiernan
Deployment from an Army Wife’s Perspective
The Army calls again, and we sit alone, waiting…for a phone call, IM, email, letter…the last 20 years have seen a great jump in the communication availability for soldiers and their families, but we here at home still wait…for something, anything, from our loved one. I remember the days when a phone call was maybe once in three months, and mail was so slow, I got a handful even after my soldier returned. Nothing like the way we have it today…and I am grateful for the upgrades.
While we wait for communication, there are a number of other waiting games we play…waiting for the day that just began to end, and for the night to finally be over, and for sleep to come…so we can start waiting all over again when we wake up (if we even found the comfort of sleep to begin with).
We wait for the news to tell us what is going on, and we wait for them to let us know there have been no casualties…even though those of us who have done this before know we will know before the news knows…it is still a waiting game that occurs in our minds, whether we like to admit it or not. Read full story
Father & Son
Submitted by: Rachelle Crumbaker
My husband served in the Army from ’85-’93. Fifteen years later he decided to go talk to a recruiter. They were so excited to have a prior service member want back in. Our eldest son had spoken to me and was trying to decide whether to go Marines or Army. Read full story
Words from a Proud Mother
By Kaci Ayres, proud mother
Christmas of 2008 my son, who had just turned 17 at that time, decided that after break, he was going to talk to a recruiter. Knowing my son and how often he changes his mind, I thought nothing of it. January 5th, he went to the Army recruiter here in town, talked with Sgt. Tabor for a few hours, came home and told me what he had decided to do. It was a mad flurry of activity getting paperwork and documents together, so really, I wasn’t really thinking about what was actually taking place. Only when I was putting him on the bus 5 days later to head to Little Rock to the MEPS station did I realize what had just happened. I signed my baby boy up for a man’s military!!!
February 5th, less than a month later, he was at Fort. Benning, GA. Still hadn’t sunk in yet that my son was now in the US Army. He was stationed at Fort Campbell (HOOAH!!), where my husband was stationed years ago. He is now in Afghanistan, about to turn 19, and I still can’t believe that I signed my baby boy up for the military. Clearly it has done wonders for him..he needed the structure and discipline, and I am so proud I could nearly burst, but in the same breath, I’m terrified and anxious all the time. Read full story
by: Mary Joseph
I was putting together Bankers Boxes for our year end in the file room. Paul poked his head in. “Mary, follow me.”
“What did I do now?” I quipped back. We filed through the office, out the front door and across the front lawn to the flag poles. Paul pulled a small rectangle box out from under his arm and handed it to me. My eyes watched solemnly as his fingers unwound the rope then wandered up the pole to watch the Blue Star Flag slowly lower. I caught before it touched the ground and draped it over my left arm. It was 4 pm.
Harry was to get the new one being raised today in 30 days. His son, Jason, deployed to Iraq six months after mine. In another 30 days another employee who has two sons alternately rotating into war zones will get that one.
Ceremoniously, we stepped over to the pole that flew the American Flag. Once again Paul’s fingers unwound the rope and lowered the flag completely. He then raised it to half mast. Read full story>
by Barbara Sheiffele
I would be truly humbled and honored to display the Blue Star Flag in my dining room window for all to see. This is especially true as I am watching my son CPL Patrick C. Sheiffele’s (USMC) Yellow Lab, Buddy, who sits at the window all day waiting for Dad to come home from Afghanistan. What a sight that will be for Patrick upon his return after a seven-month deployment. Read full story >