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2 Jan 2012
Exiting Iraq
A great article about a great American: SGT Jeremy Mixon.
Positive stories like this don't draw the headlines nearly as much as the negative ones. One reason? There are a LOT more positive stories than the negative ones.
I've often said that the news isn't interested in how many schools we built, wells we've dug, or new businesses started in Iraq (yes, the US Army helped numerous small businesses get underway). But to stabilize a nation, that's what it takes. Plus the firepower to keep civilians safe while they plug into the global economy.
Great job, Virginia National Guard!
Army Deployment , General
posted by  henry at  12:03 | permalink | trackbacks [7216]

14 Dec 2009
Wrapping up the military experience
Looking back on the deployment as we wrap this up and move on with our lives in Christiansburg, we went through an incredible amount of positive change:
I helped transition Basra from British to US command, relocating a Division headquarters, transitioning first to 10th Mountain Division, then the 34th Infantry Division, all the while growing the Basra military infrastructure by about threefold. I left much better than I found it! In the course of this...
I was promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel.
Lisa was recognized as Cub Scouter of the Year
Henry was awarded a bronze star for work from 5 October to 15 September. The Overseas Service Bar for serving in the Centcom area of operations, the Iraqi Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” device indicating I mobilized from the Army Reserve to deploy, the Overseas Service Ribbon (2nd award, since I previously served in Europe as a Lieutenant).
Lisa completed new landscaping, reshingled & repaired roof, and painted 3 rooms
Lisa and Henry became band parents: Eric is really sticking with the baritone!
Ethan advanced in Kempo and joined a Lego team that didn’t require Henry & Lisa-- winning regional tournement champion and competing at state level!
Henry got his weight down to 204 lbs.
Renewed my DoD credentials.
Certified Systems Engineering preparation (Passed the INCOSE CSEP exam this November)
Henry went from 3 pullups to 8 pullups.
Took our family to Germany
Henry participated regularly in a 4-month bible study
Lisa, Eric and Ethan attend church regularly. Ethan is an acolyte.
Eric has his first teenage girlfriend.
MatWeb was published as a successful case study in a Marketing book.
Laureen’s team built and fielded NextThreeDays.com
Eric and Ethan both are doing well in school, scouts and church.
Ethan competed at the 2008 State Lego tournament.
Both boys are frequently praised by outsiders for their excellent manors & behavior.
Successfully rehired Jim Wyers at ACI
Successfully found/hired Lisa Thompson for ACI

Certainly these are all great things, but this was an extremely challenging year. It was much harder than Lisa or I ever thought it would be, and has made a big change on both of our world-views and personal philosophies. God Bless those still deployed.
ACI , Army Deployment , Family , General
posted by  henry at  16:28 | permalink | trackbacks [54497]

30 Sep 2009
Honoring Lisa- and many thanks to all!
The Roanoke Times did a fantastic two-part spread on my deployment and this blog in the New River Current! What a great reminder of all the people who helped me through this deployment: I may have been just one soldier, but I had an Army of support back in the New River Valley, Virginia, Texas, and nation-wide! First and foremost was Lisa- twenty wonderful years of marriage and truly a hero in this deployment! She ran Cub Pack 145, coached a Lego Team, guided Eric and Ethan through another very successful year in school and their extracurriculars. She continued her multiple part-time jobs at the Christiansburg Recreation center, the Blacksburg Aquatic Center, and volunteer work at Christiansburg Elementary and Middle schools, including the Just Run club and the Reflections art contest. Plus she sent me numerous care packages, each with supplies for 20 or more soldiers, kept me informed on local news, and spearheaded an awesome inspirational banner project: Lisa sent nine vinyl banners specially created by the fantastic folks at Sign A Rama in Christiansburg. These are now on display in one of the main hallways of the Division Headquarters in Basra, seen at least a thousand times a day by passing soldiers.

Thanks to the many gifts and prayers from St Paul United Methodist Church in Christiansburg:

Thanks to the Cub Scouts of Pack 145, with the most well-traveled banner (see my blog post on 14 January, A Banner Year.)

Thanks to the developers, designers, engineers and managers of Automation Creations, Inc. with lots of magnets and keeping in touch as best we could with spotty Internet and phones

Thanks to the Boy Scouts of Troop 42, Eric’s troop under Mr. Gary Brumfield, a veteran and outstanding role model for our youth.

Thanks to the students of Christiansburg Elementary School, for their magnets, picture frames and All-American flag design on their banner!

Thanks to the students of Christiansburg Middle School, for an awesome banner with well-researched inspirational quotes!

Thanks to businesses and employees working at the VT Corporate Research Center, for a great banner and frequent emails

Thanks to the church members and citizens in Little Rock, Arkansas for their banner, where my Aunt, Uncle, Niece, Nephew and families live.

And a big Texas Thanks to my mother, grandmother and the citizens of Abilene Texas for their banner, a huge collection of magnets (with metal surfaces everywhere, decorated magnets were great for hanging photos or just on their own!), and other care packages.

I can never say enough great things about how much Lisa contributed to this effort. I know the Army has awards for soldiers, so I decided to create an award for Lisa! Using a piece of Iraqi marble, I designed the state of Virgina, with a “heart” over Christiansburg, and superimposed this on an outline of Iraq, with a Star (symbol of the US Army) in Basra. Dave Cunningham of Magnificent Woodworkings has a large, powerful engraving laser and engraved my PowerPoint design onto the marble. He has a truly awesome shop! The inscription reads, “For Your Outstanding Support and Tremendous Sacrifices” – there’s definitely only one of these awards, and there’s only one of Lisa!
ACI , Army Deployment , Family , General
posted by  henry at  23:04 | permalink | comments [22] | trackbacks [719]

27 Sep 2009
Arriving home!
The Army booked me on a 7am flight, but with 3 transfers I arrived in Roanoke at 4:30 pm. There’s no finer site than my family greating me, and I had the camera ready as I sped toward the terminal!

Army Deployment , General
posted by  henry at  20:27 | permalink | trackbacks [1269]

26 Sep 2009
Roller Coaster, part 2
The process of moving from Kuwait to the US was grueling- moving all our gear from spot to spot, and then taking everything apart for a thorough customs inspection. We moved on to a lock-down: confined to a small area of camp, waiting 12 hours for our flight. I’ll never complain about arriving at the airport an hour before departure again!

Standing at the intersection of Blackstone Road with Richmond Road: Camp Virginia, Kuwait.

We flew 6.5 hours to Ireland, changed crew and refueled, then flew 7 more hours to Banglor, Maine. The veterans there welcomed us at something like 2am and were amazingly enthusiastic for such an hour! From Maine, we flew a few more hours right outside of Ft McCoy, Wisconsin. We shuttled from station to station, filling out forms, getting medical checks, reviewing our records, and finally were released to fly home, at 3:30 in the morning!

Army Deployment , General
posted by  henry at  20:23 | permalink | trackbacks [4734]

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