Watch a Quadruple Amputee Use His Two New Arms

Brendan Morrocco at a news conference Jan. 29, 2013 with the surgeons who transplanted his new arms. Photo Credit PBS.org

Brendan Marrocco at a news conference Jan. 29, 2013 with the surgeons who transplanted his new arms. Photo Credit PBS.org

His goal is to hand-cycle a marathon. That is just one aspiration of a young soldier who lost his four limbs to a roadside bomb more than three years ago. He now has two arms, thanks to surgeons and medical staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

It’s one thing to read about the young soldier receiving his transplanted arms – it’s a whole other thrill to watch him as he brushes back his hair with his newly attached hand as shared by MilitaryTimes.

He can move the elbow on his left arm that was not taken in the blast. And now, he can now rotate his left hand slightly on the transplanted arm. His right arm does not much motion yet, but the 26-year-old is hopeful.

“I used to love to drive and it’s, it was a lot of fun for me. So, I’m really looking forward to getting back to that and just becoming an athlete again,” Brendan Marrocco told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

The retired infantry man lost all four of his limbs in a roadside bomb attack in 2009 in Iraq.

You can view a clip of his press conference at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore carried by the Telegraph here.

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Children’s Contest to Design “Pictures for Patriots” Card

An assortment of colored pencils

An assortment of colored pencils (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crayons! Paints! Magic markers! Colored pencils! Do you know a child who loves to create pictures no matter the medium?

Operation Gratitude is holding a competition for youngsters from kindergarten through 12th grade to create original artwork for “Pictures for Patriots.”

Children may enter as often as they like. The more the better because all appropriate artwork submitted will be sent in Operation Gratitude care packages.

Operation Gratitude will soon ship out more than 40,000 boxes to deployed service members and wounded warriors recovering in military hospitals or transition units.

Contest artwork may be submitted starting February 1, 2013.

There are a few rules:

  • The artwork should have a “Thank you, Troops!” theme.
  • The artwork must be horizontal.
  • Submission size: Minimum: 4″ x 6″ up to a maximum size of 4.75″ x 6.5″
  • Entries must be postmarked by February 22, 2013.
  • Attach the name of entrant, plus age, grade and full mailing address and contact email address with a paper clip or sticky note to the back of each entry.

A panel of veterans will select the winning entry. A Grand Prize winner will be selected and their artwork will be featured on the 2013 Patriotic Drive Card. Mail entries to:

2013 P4P Greeting Card Contest
c/o 2468 Tapo Canyon
Simi Valley, CA 93063
ATTN: Operation Gratitude

Additional details and the official contest rules are available here.

Photo credit: Operation Gratitude

Photo credit: Operation Gratitude

Celebrating One Year of Military Working Dogs in Photos

Here’s a shout out to fellow blogger Kevin Hanrahan. His blog is one year old this week and to help him mark the occasion, he shared some of his readers’ favorite photographs published during his first year.

Three military working dogs ready for action.From Kevin Hanrahan's Military Working Dogs best photos of the year.

Three military working dogs ready for action.
From Kevin Hanrahan’s Military Working Dogs best photos of the year.

There’s possibly no closer companion for dog handlers than their work companions. And possibly no better motivation than sharing some “loving” after a job well done.

A Marine kissing his military working dog. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

A Marine kissing his military working dog. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

A long day of work means there a well earned time to rest. Who better to bed down with at night than your military working dog?

Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

One thing for certain, while others rest there is always someone on watch.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Mann, a dog handler with Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and native of Arlington, Texas, sights in with his infantry automatic rifle while providing security with Ty, an improvised explosive device detection dog, during a patrol here, Feb. 16. Marines and sailors with 1st LAR and India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, conducted clearing and disrupting operations in and around the villages of Sre Kala and Paygel during Operation Highland Thunder. Marines with 1st LAR led the operation on foot, sweeping for enemy weapons and drug caches through 324 square kilometers of rough, previously unoccupied desert and marshland terrain. Mobile units with1st LAR set up blocking positions and vehicle check points while India Company, 3/3 conducted helicopter inserts to disrupt insurgent freedom of movement.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Mann, a dog handler with Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and native of Arlington, Texas, sights in with his infantry automatic rifle while providing security with Ty, an improvised explosive device detection dog, during a patrol here, Feb. 16. Marines and sailors with 1st LAR and India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, conducted clearing and disrupting operations in and around the villages of Sre Kala and Paygel during Operation Highland Thunder. Marines with 1st LAR led the operation on foot, sweeping for enemy weapons and drug caches through 324 square kilometers of rough, previously unoccupied desert and marshland terrain. Mobile units with1st LAR set up blocking positions and vehicle check points while India Company, 3/3 conducted helicopter inserts to disrupt insurgent freedom of movement.

Congratulations Kevin for raising awareness for the Military Working Dogs and sharing their stories and those of their handlers.

 

Five Myths About Women in Combat by a Marine Major

Maj. Jane Blair Photo credit JaneBlair.com

Maj. Jane Blair Photo credit JaneBlair.com

The old myths started swirling as soon as word got out that women would be allowed to serve in combat roles. You’ve heard the fears – the questions:

  • “I just hope they don’t lower the standards to let women in.”
  • “Will women HAVE TO serve in combat?”

“The answers are no and no.

But, those fears and comments will only come faster and with more fervor as the Pentagon makes it formal announcement today, Jan. 24, 2013.

So, I want to share an opinion piece published in 2011 in the Washington Post, Five Myths About Women in Combat. I found it enlightening.

It’s written by Maj. Jane Blair, a Marine Corps reservist, the author of “Hesitation Kills: A Female Marine Officer’s Combat Experience in Iraq.”

Blair takes on the top assumptions on why women should not serve in combat in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post:

1. Women are too emotionally fragile for combat.

This myth is based on cultural stereotypes and Hollywood hype. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that women are any more susceptible to combat stress than their male counterparts…

2. Women are too physically weak for the battlefield.

While it is indisputable that the average man has more upper-body strength than the average woman, women have different physical abilities that enable them to offer unique capabilities in combat…

3. The presence of women causes sexual tension in training and battle.

 This notion insults men as much as women. For nearly 10 years, the U.S. military has been fighting two wars with a majority of units that include both men and women. Why hasn’t supposed “sexual tension” undermined the stellar performance of gender-integrated units? …

4. Male troops will become distracted from their missions in order to protect female comrades.

This myth conjures an image of a heroic soldier, attacking the enemy and about to win, until catastrophe strikes: He spots a wounded woman on the battlefield and abandons his assault to save her life, costing his side the battle. It’s the “women and children first” argument translated to the battlefield…

5. Women can’t lead men in combat effectively.

Why not? Across the planet, women have proven their worth as leaders as diplomats, heads of state and corporate titans. This is no less true in the military and in combat. In history as well as ancient mythology, women have often emerged as heroic leaders of men and women in battle, with Joan of Arc and the Assyrian queen Semiramisjust two of the most notable examples. In the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been countless women who, often unrecognized, have served as leaders of military men and women…

You can read the full opinion piece by  Marine Maj. Jane Blair here.

Author Maj. Jane Blair in Iraq. Photo credit JaneBlair.com

Author Maj. Jane Blair in Iraq. Photo credit JaneBlair.com

AP: Secretary Panetta Lifts the Ban on Women in Combat

Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta

Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta

The Associated Press is reporting that Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat. The move opens hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs to women in the military

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units.

Panetta’s decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.

The Defense Secretary was sued last year by four women in the military and the American Civil Liberties Union who claimed the exclusion of women from combat positions was unconstitutional.

NPR reports that the ACLU website  published a post from one of the plaintiffs, Major Mary Jennings Hegar, who has been deployed twice to Afghanistan.

She tells the story of being shot at in a helicopter while trying to rescue a fellow soldier and concludes:

“If there is one thing I’ve learned about the differences between us all throughout my years of service, it’s this: putting the right person in the right job has very little to do with one’s gender, race, religion, or other demographic descriptor. It has everything to do with one’s heart, character, ability, determination and dedication.

“That’s the problem with the military’s combat exclusion policy. It makes it that much harder for people to see someone’s abilities, and instead reinforces stereotypes about gender.

Emailer Who Exposed Petraeus Affair Calls for Privacy Laws

Credit Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times. Gen. David Petraeus, left, Scott and Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus watch the 2010 Gasparilla parade from the Kelleys’ front lawn.

Credit Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times. Gen. David Petraeus, left, Scott and Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus watch the 2010 Gasparilla parade from the Kelleys’ front lawn.

The Tampa socialite, who exposed the affair of CIA Director David Petraeus forcing him to resign, is calling upon Congress to restrict access to private email accounts.

Jill Kelley and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post calling for Congress to safeguard privacy as they consider Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The Kelley’s wrote in their op-ed:

Our family committed no crime and sought no publicity. We simply appealed for help after receiving anonymous e-mails with threats of blackmail and extortion … Unfortunately, reaching out to an FBI agent whose acquaintance we had made resulted in slanderous allegations.

Jill Kelley initially asked the government for help when she received threatening anonymous emails. The FBI investigated. It found the anonymous emails came from Petraeus’ official biographer, Paula Broadwell.

But, the FBI did not stop there. They examined Kelley’s correspondence with Marine Gen. John Allen, currently the top commander in Afghanistan. The emails were reported to number in the thousands, but those numbers have since been refuted.

No criminal wrongdoing was found, but the FBI handed over its investigation of Allen to the Department of Defense Inspector General.

On Tuesday, the IG cleared Gen. Allen of any inappropriate conduct or emails. However, his promotion to commander of NATO forces and the European Command was put on hold and there’s no word if his nomination hearings will be rescheduled.

Marine Gen. John Allen Cleared in Email Investigation

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

The top commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, has been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with sending emails to  Tampa socialite Jill Kelley.

Allen was investigated by the Department of Defense Inspector General for sending a reportedly large number of emails to Kelley who was a “friend of MacDill Air Force Base where Allen had served with Central Command.

The emails came to light after Kelley complained to the FBI about threatening emails from the official biographer of former CIA director David Petraeus.

Petraeus admitted to an affair with his biographer and resigned his post.

Allen appeared to be a collateral casualty as his emails to the Tampa socialite were scrutinized for months and his promotion to command NATO forces and the European Command was put on hold.

But in a news release late Tuesday night, Defense Press Secretary George Little wrote that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “was pleased to learn that allegations of professional misconduct were not substantiated by the investigation.”

The release continued, “The secretary has complete confidence in the continued leadership of Gen. Allen, who is serving with distinction in Afghanistan.”

There’s no word yet if the Marine Corps general’s nomination hearing which was postpone will be rescheduled.

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