CENTCOM Twitter and Facebook Accounts Hacked

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial "Passing of the Colors."

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial “Passing of the Colors.”

Either a group or an individual claiming to be a part of the Islamic State (ISIS), hacked two social media accounts belonging to US Central Command, which oversees Department of Defense operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, according to Politico.

The first tweet following the hack read, “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS,” and linked to a longer statement threatening American soldiers and their families. The hackers also targeted Centcom’s YouTube page, posting ISIS propaganda videos.

The attacks happened earlier in the day as President Barack Obama was emphasizing the importance of cyber security to keep citizens safe from identity theft. As of 1:15 p.m., Politico reports that Twitter has suspended the CENTCOM account. The YouTube account also is suspended.

Thank You U.S. Air Force Band for Your Flash Mob Concert

The cellist kicks off the concert by the U.S. Air Force Band Holiday Flash Mob at the National Air and Space Museum.

The cellist kicks off the concert by the U.S. Air Force Band Holiday Flash Mob at the National Air and Space Museum.

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit the “Bah! Humbug!” came out in me when I saw my first Christmas decorations at a retail store two weeks before Halloween. It’s kind of hard to “get in the spirit” when that “holidays” are commercially “in your face” for months at a time.

But, my joy of the season is restored thanks to the U.S. Air Force Band.

I wasn’t there for their Holiday Flash Mob concert at the National Air and Space Museum. Luckily, someone shot a video and put it on You Tube.

It’s worth the six minutes to watch. especially if you’re a little jaded by all the “holiday shopping” messages over the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

I can’t think of a better present to share than the joy of music. And I will admit, the fact that the Flash Mob started with a cello (my favorite instrument) certainly added to my new found happiness. Yet, what is truly mesmerizing are the photos of the children’s faces and even the adults as they watch the concert unfold. Give it a watch.

A Video Tribute to Tampa’s 2013 Run for the Fallen

Many thanks to the president of the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association, Cyd Deathe, for passing along this Youtube presentation of the 2013 Run for the Fallen produced by Kim Smith of Faithful Joy Photos.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out to honor the men and women killed during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Student Vet Begins her Ride with Dip in Pacific for Luck

Kiersten Downs prepares to dip her rear wheel into the Pacific - a tradition for cross-country cyclists.

Kiersten Downs prepares to dip her rear wheel into the Pacific – a tradition for cross-country cyclists.

There are apparently all sorts of traditions and tips when cycling coast to coast across the USA.

One tradition is to dip your rear wheel in the ocean at your starting point and your front tire in the other ocean when you complete your cross-country journey.

This past weekend, Kiersten Downs carried her bicycle to a San Francisco beach and dipped the rear wheel into the Pacific Ocean. You can watch the ceremony on the first video about her ride filed by Annie Pace on YouTube.

Kiersten Downs crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the first leg of her journey across America.

Kiersten Downs crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the first leg of her journey across America.

Downs also delayed her official start of the ride one day – to June 2 – so she could team up with Army veteran Dan Horndasch who works with Ride 2 Recovery. Horndasch and a few others rode with Downs for the first two days, shared some handy bike maintenance tips and some better roadways for the journey through Napa Valley.

Downs’ goal to cycle across the country over the next two months arriving in Washington D.C. on August 5 at the headquarters of Student Veterans of America. The University of South Florida doctoral student and Air Force veteran is riding to raise awareness and money for the SVA organization. Downs is the former president of the USF Student Veterans Association.

Her journey also is being documented by her friend Pace and will be the focus of a three-part series for MTVU, the college channel for MTV.

You can follow Downs on her website Bike America and check out her trip map.

 

A Homecoming That Brings a Father-in-Law to Tears

I’ve posted some really heartwarming videos of military homecomings – dogs and children provide some of the most touching moments.

Yet, this quick recording of a father-in-law’s reaction tells the much broader story. Every family member is effected when someone is deployed. Thanks to the Welcome Home Blog.

A Soldier’s Homecoming with His Dog Chuck

A boxer named Chuck welcomes home his soldier after an 8 month deployment. This YouTube video has already gone viral with more than 2 million views. Watch it and you’ll understand. However the second video below, from the soldier’s previous deployment, has had fewer views.

Chuck, just like many military families, has gone through more than one deployment. Here he is from 2011 (the video was posted in February) when his friend and “daddy” returned from another deployment.

Do you have a video to share from a homecoming? Send me the YouTube link bobrien@wusf.org and I’ll share it.

Military Family Caregivers Video Contest to find Hero at Home

Photo courtesy of the PenFed Foundation

What better way to honor those family and friends who care for wounded service members than by noting their efforts in a one to two-minute video? Then, submit that video to a contest “hero at home” sponsored by the non-profit organization, the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation .

The video submissions will be used to select a caregiver of a wounded service member or veteran to be honored at the foundation’s 8th Annual Night of Heroes Gala on May 24.

It includes caregivers of those recuperating at the hospital and after they’ve returned home.

To enter, contestants must upload on YouTube a one- to two-minute video about a “hero at home” who went above and beyond to care for an injured service member or veteran, then complete the entry form with the video’s URL. Contestants also must “like” the PenFed Foundation’s official fan page.

Photo courtesy of PenFed Foundation

Service members and veterans, their caregivers or a third-party can submit a nomination. All submitted videos will be featured on the PenFed Foundation’s YouTube contest page.

Officials will accept entries through April 12, and will announce the five finalists April 16. They’ll then invite the public to help choose the winner on the PenFed Foundation’s YouTube finalists’ page through April 22, and announce the winner April 23.

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