Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another short article with pictures.

Original Link: (Pictures included)

Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, part of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Afghanistan's aviation combat element, begin rebuilding a partially dismantled CH-53D Sea Stallion minutes after its arrival on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, April 16. The unit's mechanics worked around the clock to ensure their birds were transported from Iraq and were ready for combat operations in Afghanistan. SPMAGTF-A's mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations, with a focus on training and mentoring the Afghan National Police.

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 Takes the Fight From Iraq to Afghanistan

The original link:

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – On April 15, 1962, a squadron of Marines launched from the USS Princeton to Soc Trang, Vietnam, becoming the first Marine helicopter squadron in-country. Those Marines began a proud tradition of combat deployments that day. Today the same unit continues their combat tradition in Afghanistan.

Unlike the majority of units serving in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, part of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan's aviation combat element, didn't deploy from its home station at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii – it deployed to Afghanistan from Al Asad, Iraq.

Originally deployed to Iraq, Jan. 23, to conduct assault support, logistics and movement of personnel missions, the unit was given a new mission shortly after arriving: pack up and go to Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan is where the fight is now," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey A. Hagan, HMH-362's commander. "There was a planned drawdown in Iraq and an increasing need for medium lift capabilities in Afghanistan. So we begin making arrangements to move from Al Asad to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan."

Though the unit was motivated and prepared for their new mission, environmental differences between the two theaters coupled with operational requirements called for major modifications to the Ugly Angels' CH-53D Sea Stallions.

The unit's maintenance Marines began working around the clock to exchange the T64-GE-413 engines, typically found in CH-53Ds, to hotter burning T64-GE-416 engines used in CH-53E Super Stallions, according to Master Sgt. Robert Webb, the maintenance section chief.

In addition to the modifications, the Marines had to partially dismantle their aircraft for transportation to Afghanistan; each bird was sent one at a time. But despite their daunting task, the Marines pulled together, rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

"Our maintenance Marines are the best in the Marine Corps," said Maj. Gary W. Thomason, HMH-362's aircraft maintenance officer. "On their backs is how we made this happen. I think I speak for everyone involved when I say, fantastic job."

After more than two months of backbreaking work, the Ugly Angels are in Afghanistan, eager to take the fight to the enemy.

"This deployment has been a great experience," said Cpl. Jorge Toledo, a crew chief and flight line mechanic with HMH-362. "We've been able to operate in both areas of operation and it's been a good training opportunity with the demanding terrain and climate differences. Since arriving in Afghanistan, I personally was able to be a part of testing seven aircraft in twelve days. I have gained more experience on this one deployment than my whole time in the Marine Corps."

Today, the Marines and their Sea Stallions are ready to tackle whatever the insurgency and Afghanistan's terrain throw at them.

"We expect the mission set to remain relatively the same," Hagan said. "Given the more kinetic nature of this theater, I would expect to see more raid and quick reaction force support than was executed during our time in Iraq. But the Marines are excited and eager to do what Marines do. This deployment has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Marines can, are eager and willing to accomplish any task thrown at them."

On April 15, the 47-year anniversary of the unit's Vietnam deployment, The Ugly Angels arrived in Afghanistan. HMH-362 began combat operations, April 22.

Photos on KJJY Country Radio Website

My cousin heard on the radio back in central Iowa about some "Exclusive Toby Keith photos from Afghanistan" they had on their website...

Turns out, they are the photos of Nick's squadron flying him around! They are the same photos that are on a previous post on my blog that Nick had sent me, but go check out the site!

Every Day is Mother's Day

I started out my day by seeing McKenzie off to school, and dropping Trevor off at preschool. Then Addison and I headed to the doctor for my 26 week checkup.

Everything went great... well, besides Addison making a poo poo in her diaper while we waited in the room. Of course today being the day I didn't bring in diapers or wipes. Ugh! So when the doctor finally made it in the room, I immediately apologized for the aroma she walked into. She has 4 boys of her own, and just laughed it off!

ANYWAYS... she did a quick measurement and we listened to the heart rate (150's) and we were on our way! I have to go back in 2 weeks to do the glucose test. And then back for a checkup one week after that!

Next on our list of things to do was to hit the commissary. Addison and I were rounding the produce section when a commissary employee approached me holding a HUGE gift basket and asked if I would like a free fruit basket. "uh...sure!" It was for their "Every Day Is Mothers' Day" Promotion they were running these past couple months. So I just had to sign a photo release so they could take my picture and put it in the commissary newsletter (or something) and then he loaded up my cart with the ginormous basket o' oranges and apples. It also had a nice card and a $20 Jamba Juice Gift Card included! How awesome is that?!?!
By the time we finished at the commissary (it was hard to get all my list of items in my cart with the huge fruit basket....but I'm not complaining) it was time to go pick up Trevor.

What an eventful morning!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Am I Crazy???

The Trammells' are packing out today and tomorrow, so I offered to come pick up the kids for a while to keep them out of the packers' way. So this afternoon when McKenzie got home from school, we headed over there, loaded up the van with car seats and kids, and headed out!

Our first stop was this little beach out the back gate where turtles sometimes frequent. Not today though. But it was still fun to go check!

The boys had a good time throwing rocks and coral into the water.

Then we headed back to the base to the super playground. It was funny to see the expressions of some of the other moms there when I unloaded my van with 5 kids, and having one on the way! Oh the looks I got! I had an 11 year old, a set of 4 year old twins, a set of 18 month twins and one on the way! HA HA

The girls did pretty good in the swings for a little while. It was easy to keep track of them all when half of them are strapped down! But that didn't last long!

The boys were pretty much on their own while McKenzie ran after Hannah, and I ran after Addison.

Little Miss Independant climbing all over the playground... McKenzie was off following Little Miss Independant #2 (Hannah)

Scary to think that this is what my van will look like in a few months anyways... (well, minus one carseat) But still. It's still going to be a full van with 3 carseats!

Afghanistan Mission

Nick sent a couple pictures from a recent mission he went on. He said, and I quote "I am the really good looking one in the middle!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Cup of Tea

Julie Svatek, Lesley Rashman, Sherree Trammell & Me!

A few of us took Sherree out for 'tea' today at the tea room in Kailua called "A Cup of Tea". Sherree is moving to Pensacola very soon, so it was an opportunity to have one last outingwith her. Her husband is going to be a flight school instructor, and we will all miss them VERY MUCH!

Julie had been to the tea room a few times before but it was a first for the rest of us! We started out by choosing our own flavor of tea.... had scones, and then indulged ourselves with tea sandwiches and a variety of desserts. To end the day, they served us a dish of ice cream! It was delicious, and so much fun! It was a great girls day out!

And we even got to gawk at the Red Hat Society ladies behind us!

Bible Olympics

Trevor's pre-school had their annual Bible Olympics yesterday. Addison and I were able to go and attend/participate! They started us off in the chapel with their monthly bible verse the kids memorized and a welcome song followed by instructions on the events:

Then they set us free to wonder the area to participate in all the activities. We started off with a couple tattoos...
Addison played in the sandbox while Trevor got his tattoos

And then it was off to conker the Wall of Jericho. (which I think was the kids' favorite event... you may want to mute your computer for this video) They stacked up a bunch of empty cardboard boxes in a row to make a wall...then they marched around it blowing the most annoying sounding whistles ever made until the teacher rang her bell and they lunged at the wall and knocked it down.....and then had to rebuild it!!!

Then we went to God's Snack Shack for fruit and water. Before we knew it we were off to the potato sack races, which was Trevor's favorite event. (Addison's too)

Addison just chased the kids back and forth and screamed and laughed. She thought they must have looked pretty ridiculous hopping around in a bunch of sacks.

We made it back to the chapel for some hula hoop fun...

And then it was time for the closing ceremony where the kids sang one more song before receiving their GOLD MEDALS!

Toby Keith flies with the Uglies

Toby Keith (the "other" love of my life) was in Afghanistan on a USO tour and was the honorable guest of the Ugly Angels a few days ago. They got to fly him around and enjoy a little concert in the desert, as well as grill out with "Big Daddy".

Here, the pilots are fighting over who gets to fly Toby...
Kelly Attwood won because he was the section leader.
Attwood on left, Nick on the right

Toby under the shade hanging with the Uglies

Prepping for a picture with the flag

Toby signing the flag box (that is being shipped to me!) as Nick tells him: "You know my wife said she'd leave me for you"....Toby's response: "Aw shucks man, you gotta take better care of your woman!" I'm all giddy typing this out because Nick and Toby talked about me....EEEEEeeeeee!!!
Align Center
Posing for a pic with Toby, the flag and the helo. Nick is just to the right of Toby.

On stage getting ready to sing.

Attwood and Nick enjoying a post concert smoke.
Nick flying 'home'

(the green fields are either poppy or wheat)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Toy Room

The past couple days my friend Julie has been coming over to help me finish painting the toy room. I had our 'handyman' come over last week to get the room ready to paint. He finished mudding and sanding the room for me since I absolutely DESPISE doing that kind of work. Plus... I've been sick of looking at a partially mudded toy room for way too long!
So today, we finished up and Trevor helped me unload all the shelves and move them back to the toy room....and then load them back up again. Don't worry, I didn't lift anything that was too heavy!

A QUICK ADDISON UPDATE: She woke up with NO fever today! Yay....BUT! We have two new molars on the top! So... I now know the cause of the fever.... teeth!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

3 Months Down

So we've hit the 3 month mark! We are almost halfway there!

Nick has gotten settled in Afghanistan and has been flying quite a bit. He still isn't liking his sleeping arrangements of sharing a tent with 12 guys, or his uncomfortable cot, but other than that he seems to be doing fine. He is able to email nearly everyday (on their single computer) just to check in (mostly quick one liners) and calls every few days. Now that he doesn't have his own internet access we aren't able to Skype.

He has taken a liking to Welch's Fruit Snacks if anyone is looking for something to add to his care packages!!!!

Other than that, I don't have any other information to report from him. Continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers!

A Fabulous Weekend

We had a GORGEOUS weekend! Saturday was so nice! Meridith and I and the kids packed up and went to the beach in Kailua and met my friend Julie there.

Addi & Mommy

Addi making her funny face for Julie

Addison was quick to jump in our open chairs when we would get up for something. She thought that was pretty funny.

We spent the whole afternoon chasing after the kids along the water....

and building sand butterflies (thanks Grandma "Bob")!!!

In case you were wondering, McKenzie was at her friends house after an overnighter and they both opted out on coming to the beach...I KNOW! She's crazy!

Sunday was just as nice, and HOT! But I had Julie come over to help me get some painting done in the toy room and kitchen. The last few places in the house I haven't painted yet! I am determined to get some more things done on the house during this deployment before baby comes and Daddy makes it back. Don't worry mom....I know my limitations!

Don't worry, that is just the first coat, and the color is darker in person, the picture makes it appear pretty bright red! I love how it looks though!

Today pretty much looked like this all day long.

Trevor took the camera and ran around the house taking pictures of everyone and EVERYTHING...

Meridith and McKenzie took off after school and went to see the Hannah Montana movie, which.... they both LOVED!

And....Addison woke up with a fever of 101.5

We snuggled most of the day and struggled to get her temp down, despite around the clock Tylenol. I don't know if she's coming down with something or just getting more teeth.

Here's hoping for a better tomorrow!
For health and weather!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!!

The Easter Bunny brought some goodies for the kids this morning!

Trevor was very excited about his giant chocolate bunny, and enormous M&M!

OMG!!!! McKenzie was so excited about her Green Converse Shoes, she had to IMMEDIATELY text her BFF Tiani and tell her about it....and THEN she could pose for a picture. LOL!

I made reservations at the O'Club on base for their Easter Brunch. However, the only time they had available when I called last week was 8:30AM, so I guess it was more of an Easter Breakfast. Here we are all ready to go! Thank you Grandma and Grandpa "Bob" for the easter package we got the other day. The kids were all able to wear the clothes you sent!!! Yes, McKenzie is wearing a dress. She was upset her green converse shoes didn't quite match....oh well!

After we filled out bellies, the kids grabbed Addi's hands and assisted her up the steps... she thought that was pretty silly! And the girls posing outside for a quick pic! It was a beautiful morning!
After arriving home with full bellies from breakfast, the kids were BEGGING for the Easter Egg Hunt. Please, please, please! So, here they are, buckets and egg carton in hand, receiving instructions on who has what color of eggs and how many they need to find...

And then they were OFF...

Trevor at the halfway mark... 6 down, 6 to go!

Addison did pretty good, except each time she would bend over to grab an egg, her basket would dump out...
*Alaina, notice the 2 cute little baby banana trees growing behind Addi in the first pic. The original tree has passed on, but not before sprouting a couple offspring! Yay!

Just a few more.....and then it was inside to inspect the contents!

Now it's quiet time before deciding what to do the rest of the day besides sneaking pieces of Easter candy...