Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Brother Abroad

The latest update on the captured solider: A video has surfaced...

The American soldier who went missing June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan and was later confirmed captured, appeared on a video posted Saturday to a Web site by the Taliban, two U.S. defense officials confirmed.

The soldier is shown in the 28-minute video with his head shaved and the start of a beard. He is sitting and dressed in a nondescript, gray outfit. Early in the video one of his captors holds the soldier's dog tag up to the camera. His name and ID number are clearly visible. He is shown eating at one point and sitting on a bed.

The soldier, whose identity has not yet been released by the Pentagon pending notification of members of Congress and the soldier's family, says his name, age and hometown on the video, which was released Saturday on a Web site pointed out by the Taliban. Two U.S. defense officials confirmed to The Associated Press that the man in the video is the captured soldier.

The soldier said the date is July 14. He says he was captured when he lagged behind on a patrol.
He is interviewed in English by his captors, and he is asked his views on the war, which he calls extremely hard, his desire to learn more about Islam and the morale of American soldiers, which he said was low.

Asked how he was doing, the soldier said on the video:
"Well I'm scared, scared I won't be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner."

He begins to answer questions in a matter-of-fact and sober voice, occasionally facing the camera, looking down and sometimes looking to the questioner on his left.
He later chokes up when discussing his family and his hope to marry his girlfriend.

"I have my girlfriend, who is hoping to marry," he said. "I have a very very good family that I love back home in America. And I miss them every day when I'm gone. I miss them and I'm afraid that I might not ever see them again and that I'll never be able to tell them that I love them again and I'll never be able to hug them."

He is also prompted his interrogators to give a message to the American people.

"To my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it's like to miss them, you have the power to make our government bring them home," he said. "Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country. Please bring us home. It is America and American people who have that power."

The video is not a continuous recording — it appears to stop and start during the questioning.
It is unclear from the video whether the July 14 date is authentic. The soldier says that he heard that a Chinook helicopter carrying 37 NATO troops had been shot down over Helmand. A helicopter was shot down in southern Afghanistan on July 14, but it was carrying civilians on a reported humanitarian mission for NATO forces. All six Ukrainian passengers died in the crash, and a child on the ground was killed.

On July 2, the U.S. military said an American soldier had disappeared after walking off his base in eastern Afghanistan with three Afghan counterparts and was believed to have been taken prisoner.

This is Day 170.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Brother Abroad

After much bargaining, John and I just finished watching He's Just Not That Into You, a movie I've been wanting to see despite his better judgement. It was cute, a few good laughs, and some really thankful moments that neither one of us is subjected to dating in the Information Age.

As the movie finished up, we started to discussing the various couples, which led to a discussion on what you really need in a spouse. When it comes to being a great husband, I told him it really just comes down to three essential things:

1) Most importantly, doting on your wife; for me that means making me feel safe, secure, and loved (while others may also think that means lots of romantic gestures and presents, but I wouldn't agree).

2) Being a tremendous father. There isn't anything much more important in life than your children, and so putting them first is a principle priority.

3) Honoring her parents. I think this is something to me that has become more significant with age, but I love it when John does anything that shows he values my parents. I don't know that everyone else would agree with this one, but it's important to me.

So, as I wish Paul and Julie a belated (by one day) anniversary, I wonder what else should be on the list; though, I really don't think much else matters.


This is Day 169.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Brother Abroad

As I previously posted two weeks ago, local Taliban commanders threatened Thursday to kill a captured American soldier unless the U.S. military stops operations in two districts of southeastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed last week to be holding the American soldier, whom the U.S. military earlier described as possibly being in enemy hands.

Abdullah Jalali, a spokesman for Taliban commander Mawlavi Sangin, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday that the soldier was healthy.

He said the soldier would be killed unless the U.S. stops airstrikes in Ghazni province's Giro district and Paktika province's Khoshamand district. Jalali did not explain why the Taliban chose those areas, noting only that Giro has been heavily bombed.

Spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias declined to comment on the demands but did say recent operations in Giro district this month did not involve bombings.

Neither district is in Helmand province, where Marines are conducting the largest U.S. military operation in Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled from power in 2001.

Jalali said the final decision about the soldier's fate will be made by Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
The U.S. military has said the soldier was noticed missing during a routine check of the unit on June 30 and was "believed captured."

The soldier's body armor and weapon were found on the base, and U.S. defense sources say he "just walked off" post with three Afghans after work. They say they have no explanation for why he left the base.

The military has not identified the soldier but say his family has been notified that he is missing. He is serving in an Army infantry unit assigned to a combat outpost, one of a number of smaller bases set up by foreign forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. commanders had been expecting higher casualties since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan this year to curb a resurgent Taliban that threatens not only the U.S.-backed Kabul government but also Afghanistan's nuclear-armed neighbor, Pakistan.

About 57,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, and the number is expected to rise to at least 68,000 by the end of 2009.

This is Day 168.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Lately my son Joseph's preference for my husband over me has become more and more obvious. Though he loves me more than anyone else in the early morning hours, it's his Daddy he wants every hour after.

They're playing catch now, having "guy talks", and enjoying some jokes that the women of the house aren't privy too, which is as cute as it is heartbreaking.

I'm supposed to be the favored parent!!!

Did I just say that out loud? Yes, well, I don't care how it makes me sound. I spend all day with them, attending to their every need. I put forth 80% of the effort and want to enjoy 80% of the return. John's just some fun guy who comes in at the eleventh hour with some new energy and displays of goofiness that could be considered an art form. It's not fair!

Actually, if I'm being honest, he's a really great dad... a lot more than "some guy".

And I would never wish for anything else. Besides, O is a miniature me and there's a part of John that wishes she would occasionally prefer him to me. I guess it just comes down to different relationships, all of which are so wonderful.

When I was complaining to my mother about Joesph's increasing attachment to his father, she just laughed knowingly, so natural is the bond. She then told me that when my nephew Paul was about Joseph's age, he used to cry and completely meltdown every time my brother Paul (his dad) would leave for work. It didn't matter that his mom and sister Abbie were home too, he just wanted his dad.

I can't imagine how hard it is for him now, now that he's entering the waters of early manhood. Did he cry when Paul went back to Iraq? Console his little brother who's probably just as heartbroken during the too long deployment?

Or maybe, instead, the bond has gotten just strong enough that he is better than you'd expect, knowing full well that even if miles are dividing, a father's love doesn't come down to distance or space. It just comes down to knowing.

I happen to think both my brothers' sons know that...and Joseph will too soon enough.

This is Day 167.

Adventures in Anatomy

Never ones to shy away from science, my husband and I have always taught our children the anatomically accurate words for every part of the body, even the ones that usually enjoy fun euphemisms for the sake of the adults.

After an impromptu excursion to The Christmas Tree Shop, during which my little man spent ten minutes shouting the very specific name of his favorite anatomical part, I'm kind of second guessing that approach, despite what the doctors say.

I think the unmentionables are better left unmentioned, even if all the cashiers in the checkout line think its pretty freakin' hilarious.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quote of the Night

"When you give the President of the United States macadamia nuts, good things happen." -Joe Buck, on Shane Victorino

There is a huge rock near a gravel pit on Hwy.25 in rural Iowa . For generations, kids have painted slogans, names, and obscenities on this rock, changing its character many times. A few months back, the rock received its latest paint job, and since then it has been left completely undisturbed.
Upon first view, the flag seems to be draped over the rock as opposed to being painted on.

The rock was painted by Bubba Sorenstein, a teenager (pictured above).

This is Day 166.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Fortnight Later....

After a fantastic week on the NC beaches with his extended family, followed by a week of fun and time together with his favorite five people, Paul is Iraq bound once again.

This stinks.

This is Day 165.

200 days to go.....