About Me

I have lived in south Dakota, all of my life. My family is here, my roots are here. While I don't spend alot of time with "family", we always manage to bond together, when times get tough. Gunnar's death is more proof, of that.I also have a huge family of friends, and this "family"also pulls together, in a heart beat,when necessary. My parents live about 70 miles away, my husbands parents live about 7 miles from our house.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christmas letter

I recieved yesterday, is outstanding. I am going to post a few passages from it......
It comes from a highschool classmate of Gunnar's....Kristen K.
the poem below was written by Kristen, in Jan 2005, upon her being informed of Gunnar's death. She read the poem, durring a speech, in Brookings SD, on Vetrans Day, 11November 2007.
The momorial she speaks of is the Brookings County Veteran's Memorial. The Memorial is shaped like arches.
In Honor of Gunnar

I walked up to this memorial
on a cold January night
a soldier passed away recently
and I know God holds him tight.

I didn't even notice
the cold, the wind, or snow
because I was filled with pain
from this soldier, you may not know.

His name was Gunnar Becker
and he was quite the guy
crazy, wild and funny
made you laugh until you'd cry

He didn't graduate with merit
or make the honor roll
but I sure look up to him
because he paid the ultimate toll

Freedom and democracy
are the gifts we lavishly spend
paid for by the soldiers
who live their lives to the end

Freedom is not free
I'm sure you all have heard
The proof is Gunnar Becker
who has spoken his last word

It is painfully difficult
to even go a day
without thinking about his life
which was quickly swept away

Maybe you would have talked to him more
or even given a hug
Maybe you would have listened more
or showed more love

As I stood before this memorial
right here, that freezing night
I wondered what his last moments were
I bet he put up a fight

It is so hard to have a man die
who is only ninetten years
Dear God please be with Gunnar
and console the earthly tears

As I walked away crying
it meant so much more to me
Because ever KIA soldier
contributes to make us free

Ever soldier is someone's friend
all are daughters and sons
many are only teenagers
matured behind helmets and guns

Please thank the Veterans
maybe shake their hand
Be glad they came back alive
to the American land

But please do not forget
the ones who have sacrificed all
for that is the reason this memorial stands
timeless bold and tall.

Kristen Klinkner

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Worldwide Candle Lighting

The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting®, held annually the second Sunday in December, this year December 14, unites family and friends around the globe as they light candles for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause. As candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, creating a virtual wave of light, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memories of children in a way that transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious, and political boundaries. Now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the Worldwide Candle Lighting, a gift from TCF to the bereavement community, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten. The Worldwide Candle Lighting started in the United States in 1997 as a small Internet observance but has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of the remembrance. more info, here...... http://www.compassionatefriends.org/..._Lighting.aspx

please join me, this year.........

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


While everyone is in a hurry, doing the last minute prep. for Thanksgiving Day, and making the lists, for "Black Friday" shopping, I hope they pause and actually give some thought, about all the things we have, to be thankful for........above all, I am thankful, to have been born, An American.......

What it means,
To be an American

To believe in the promise
Of a better tomorrow,
And stand united in our efforts
To give a peaceful nation
To our children….

To honor
Each other’s differences,
And cherish the richness of our history,
Even as it continues to unfold
From sea, to shining sea…

To love deeply
Our friends
And Family, day by day,
And never take for granted
The privilege of calling ourselves
Copyrite AGCInc

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The mornings after......

A holiday. In all honesty, yesterday had some rough patches.....
I wandered around the 'net.............a huge Thank you, to Sarah, for her post!! I am so proud & grateful, to know Sarah, and Heidi, and Erin.
Thank you, also, to those who remembered us, with a phone call or email. Your kindness willl not be forgotten......

I reread these messages amd then spent some time, reading the family message board @ Fallen Heroes Memorial, where I found a message I would like to share............

"The soldiers do not speak. Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them? They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts. They say: We are young. We have died. Remember us. They say: We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done. They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave. They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours they will mean what you make them. They say: Weather our lives and our deaths are for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: it is you who must say this. They say: We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning. We were young. they say. We have died. Remember us:"
William Taylor of Bonita Springs, Fl.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veteran's Day Thank you..............

A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor..........Thank you!, to all of you, who have Defended the united States, of America. God Bless you all!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mara's Mom

This week, we needed to say good~bye, to a special friend, and family member.....
I am sure, God & Gunnar welcomed Gunnar's "Aunt Val" (aka Mara's mom,) to heaven.

Valerie Stroud,
age 41, died at Avera McKennan Hospital on September 22, 2008 She was born on February 14, 1967 at Madison to Glen and Sharyn (Kohlwey) Stroud. She grew up in Madison graduating from Madison High School in 1986. She attended Dakota State University and was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, VFW Auxiliary and Tuesday Ladies Bridge Club. Funeral Services will held at 2:00 PM on Thursday, September 25, 2008 at Trinity Lutheran Church with Rev Jeff Sorenson officiating. Burial will be in Pleasant View Cemetery in Carthage. She is survived by one daughter - Mara of Madison. One brother - Charles (Kim) Stroud of Sioux Falls. Three sisters - Dawn (Dan) Sherban and Gwen Stroud both of Madison and Sandra (Ali) Jendi of Houston, Texas. Special Friend _ Darwin Senska of Artesian, SD. She was preceded in death by her parents. The family will be present at 7:30 PM on Wednesday at the Weiland Funeral Chapel which is in charge of the arrangements.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


below is a copy of the email I sent to the MCQ group, this morning. I thought I would share it, here.......

On my mind, first, & foremost, this morning, is to drop MCQ a quick note.....today is the 3rd year anniversary, of the day I recieved the quilt, from all of you, in honor of my son, PFC Gunnar D. Becker. I want to thank you all, again, for your committment, to this project....my quilt is truely a comfort gift. It brought much comfort, the day I recieved it(exactly 9 months after Gunnar's death), and it continues to comfort us, as time goes by. I would not let the Fed Ex guy leave my house, that day, until I had opened that box.....so I told him, ''we were in this, together'', so to speak..............a few months later, I recieved a note, in the mail, from the same delivery man, telling me that he had retired, and that my quilt delivery was the delivery that ''stands out'' in his memory, because he vividly remembered meeting Gunnar.........Because of the quilt, I have also made a very special friend, Marlene Larson, from North Dakota, and have the honor, of meeting her, in person, recently. She made one of the squares in the quilt.....to the other women, I called, on 13sept, 2005.....Peggy & Laura, I see your names, that you are still involved with this project, also. Thank you, for listening to me, that day!Again, Thank you, to Jan & Sue, and everyone of you, for your committment.....
Debey Senska
Proud Army(Gold Star) Mom
of PFC Gunnar D. Becker (aka) FoReStBuRg_TaNkEr
(please visit!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why MCQ was started............

from todays email.............I feel compelled to share this..................

I found this story on "The Final Roll Call" it is about the 18 Marines in my son's unit that were killed at the start of the war and the reason Marine Comfort Quilts was started. My son Alex was part of this battle. For those of you who are new to the group, my son was listed as missing. For 24 hours we did not know if he was among those killed in this fight, we were only informed that his name was on a list of 12 Marine unaccounted for. Of this list only 3 were found alive and well, my son was 1 of those 3.
Jan (Lang)

CHARLIE COMPANY The Marine unit was supposed to have backup as it entered battle in Iraq. But it was alone, and then chaos exploded. --------------------------------------------------------------------PRELUDE:The convoy rumbled north, through the heart of the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. It was the fourth day of the war, and the men of Charlie Company had orders to capture the Saddam Canal Bridge on the city's northern edge.The Marines were taking heavy fire. Then there was an ear- splitting blast. A rocket-propelled grenade ripped open one of the amphibious assault vehicles, lifting it off the ground. A thick, dark cloud filled the vehicle's interior. Some of the Marines donned gas masks, fearing a chemical attack. Screams pierced the smoke: We got a man down! We got a man down! The Marines' light armor had been pierced, and with it any illusion that this would be easy. They would take the bridge, but at a cost. Eighteen men from a single company were killed that day and 15 wounded, making it the deadliest battle of the war for U.S. forces. The Times reconstructed the battle from interviews with 11 Marines who fought that day. Their accounts paint a gory and chaotic picture of ground combat that contrasts with the many images of U.S. forces using precision bombs and long-distance weaponry against an enemy that quickly abandoned the fight. In Nasiriyah, Iraqis stood their ground and threw all they could muster at the leading edge of the American forces. By day's end, the price of controlling the road to Baghdad had become gruesomely clear to both sides. --------------------------------------------------------------------Nasiriyah: 23 March, 2003Charlie Company had reached Nasiriyah after pushing up 85 miles from Kuwait. Another Marine unit had seized a bridge leading into the city over the Euphrates River.Charlie Company's mission on March 23 was to take a second bridge three miles north. Controlling both spans was crucial to moving a massive Marine Expeditionary Force to Baghdad. Had things gone as planned, the 200 Marines in their lightly armored vehicles would have avoided the densely populated heart of Nasiriyah, a city of 500,000. They were supposed to take a roundabout route to the north bridge, swinging east of the city behind a dozen M1-A1 Abrams tanks and a second Marine unit, Bravo Company. But Bravo Company's vehicles sank several feet deep in mud flats east of Nasiriyah. Its 200 men could not help take the bridge. The tanks were also out of the fight, diverted on a rescue mission. The Army's 507th Maintenance Company had taken a wrong turn that morning and been ambushed near the city. Eleven soldiers were killed and seven captured. The Marines' tanks rushed to retrieve survivors, burning their fuel in the process. When they returned, they were sent to the rear to refuel just as Charlie Company was preparing to push north. "Where the hell are the tanks going?" Cpl. Randy Glass recalled thinking. "Why the hell aren't the tanks in front of us?" Despite the lack of armor and the stranding of Bravo's men, Charlie Company was ordered to take the north bridge and to get there by the most direct route -- a three-mile stretch of highway lined by buildings and alleyways. Some intelligence reports called it "Ambush Alley." Lt. Col. Rick Grabowski, the battalion commander, said that going ahead made sense at the time. Though concerned about Ambush Alley, commanders did not anticipate a tough fight for the bridge, he said: "None of us really knew what was on the northern side of the city." And time was of the essence. If they waited for the tanks to return or for troop reinforcements, the Marines risked fighting for the bridge in darkness, Grabowski said. There was another factor driving the Marines forward that day. It reflected a state of mind as much as the state of the battlefield. "Keep moving" was the motto of Charlie Company's battle regiment. "Once we were in the city and we made contact," Grabowski said, "there wasn't going to be any backing down." When he got the order to move into the city, Sgt. William Schaefer thought he'd heard wrong. "Say again," he called into his radio. Schaefer was a commander at the head of Charlie Company's 11 amphibious assault vehicles. The men inside were from the beach towns of Southern California, the hamlets of upstate New York and many places in between. One planned to enroll at Rutgers University in New Jersey when he got home. Another wanted to be a Reno cop. Some were immigrants. Others were from proud military families. They were part of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and had shipped out in January from their base at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Their tub-shaped assault vehicles, called "tracks," are a 30- year-old design made for taking and holding beachheads. They are 26 feet long, carry up to 20 Marines each, and are armed with .50- caliber machine guns and grenade launchers. Their reinforced-aluminum skin is vulnerable to artillery and rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs - - unlike the heavy armor on tanks. Thick steel plating can be attached to the tracks, but none was available to outfit Charlie Company's vehicles when they reached the war zone, the Marines said. "Eight Ball, Oscar Mike," Schaefer barked into the radio, and with that signal the company was on the move. The tracks crossed the Euphrates on the bridge captured earlier and moved single file up Ambush Alley. It was a little before noon. On both sides, a dense warren of mud-colored buildings pressed up against the road. At first, the Iraqis seemed to welcome the Marines. A few waved white flags. Then, in a breath, the convoy was under attack from all directions. Iraqis were firing from rooftops, from around corners, from machine-gun nests hidden in side streets. "We saw women shoot at us with RPGs.... We saw children shoot at us," recalled the company commander, Capt. Daniel J. Wittnam. "We never saw one person in uniform." Returning the fire, Schaefer alternated between his machine gun and grenade launcher, working a foot pedal that spun his turret right, then left. Schaefer, 25, of Columbia, S.C., said the Marines tried to distinguish between Iraqi fighters and noncombatants. "But at that point, it was hard." The enemy, the Marines learned later, was a combination of Iraqi army soldiers, Fedayeen Saddam militiamen and Baath Party loyalists. One man knelt and aimed an RPG at Schaefer's track. A burst of .50-caliber fire cut off the top half of the Iraqi's body. "Pieces of people were all over the street," said Lance Cpl. Edward Castleberry, 21, who was at the wheel of Schaefer's vehicle. Near the rear of the convoy, Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, 31, of Ventura was driving a track crowded with more than 20 Marines. Bitz and his crew had picked up extra men when the company's 12th track broke down outside town. Men were crammed on bench seats amid boxes of ammunition. Several were riding atop the vehicle. In the middle of the column, Marines on another track shouted for more firepower to answer the torrent of incoming rounds. Lance Cpl. Eric Killeen, 22, a weightlifter from Florida's Gulf Coast, popped out of the hatch with his 15-pound squad automatic weapon, a machine gun that can spray 1,000 rounds per minute. Killeen poured fire down side streets, into doorways, at second- story windows. "My adrenaline was pumping so high," Killeen said. "Every emotion you can imagine was running through your body." Castleberry, a Seattle snowboarder who'd joined the Marines the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, steered the lead vehicle with one hand and fired his M-16 rifle with the other. "I figured one more gun couldn't hurt," he said. The convoy pushed north, the tracks pausing and pivoting at times to allow gunners a better view. They were almost through the gantlet of Ambush Alley. Their objective, the Saddam Canal Bridge, was a few hundred yards away. Inside Bitz's overcrowded track, it was dark and noisy. The air reeked of diesel fumes. Marines were on top of one another. Some stood on the shoulders of their comrades, firing M-16s from a hatch near the rear. Glass, a 20-year-old from Pennsylvania who had joined the Marines hoping to see combat, was sharing a menthol cigarette with Sgt. Jose Torres when an explosion lifted the 28-ton vehicle into the air. "Immediately, I went deaf," Glass recalled. An RPG had punctured the track's aluminum body -- and with it the Marines' faith in their technological edge. Their tubs were not meant for this kind of fight -- especially without the bolt-on armor plating. "My eyes! My eyes!" shouted Torres, temporarily blinded. "Glass is dead!" someone screamed in the chaos. Glass wasn't dead, but his left leg was a bleeding mass. Up top, the explosion had torched rucksacks tied to the track, turning them into balls of fire. Bitz drove the burning vehicle forward. This was no place to stop. "Keep it tight! Keep it tight!" Schaefer shouted into the radio, not wanting any stragglers left behind. The tracks finally crossed the Saddam Canal Bridge, a nondescript concrete span over an irrigation channel. Though it seemed an eternity, the trip had taken only a few minutes. On each side were swampy irrigation ditches and brush. Beyond was open flatland. The road was raised, and Charlie Company was an easy target. The tracks fanned out over a quarter-mile-wide area. Marines in charcoal-lined chemical suits and Kevlar flak vests poured out of the vehicles and sought cover on both sides of the road. They had taken the bridge. Holding it was another matter. Small- arms fire exploded from the fields to the east and west and from the city to the rear. Marines scrambled out of Bitz's burning track. A release on the rear loading ramp didn't work, so the men piled out through a small hatch, climbing over the wounded. Schaefer helped carry out Glass, whose left leg had been tied with a tourniquet. Bitz was carrying injured Marines to cover when a shell exploded, spraying him with shrapnel. Blood streamed from his face and back as he continued hauling the wounded to safety. "He was acting like nothing was wrong," Schaefer said. A plume of black smoke rose from Bitz's track. Mortar shells landed on each side. The Iraqis quickly adjusted their aim and slammed the vehicle. Burning ammunition began punching out the track's sides. Cpl. William Bachmann, 22, a New Jersey skateboarder, was wedging his lanky frame into a nearby depression when he saw a flash of light from the vehicle. A large-caliber round flew past him. "If I was standing up," he said, "I would have been hit." Cpl. Randal Rosacker of San Diego set up his machine gun, providing cover for other Marines. His is a military family; his father is chief of boat on a Navy submarine. Rosacker, 21, was cut down by an Iraqi artillery round or mortar shell, said Wittnam, the company commander. He was one of the first Marines to die that day. The company's 15-man mortar squad set up a row of launchers on the east side of the road. The squad had no time to dig foxholes. The Marines worked three launchers furiously, knocking out Iraqi mortar positions across the canal. They fired so many rounds so quickly that their mortar tubes were glowing, almost translucent. "They were pretty much melting their tubes," said Castleberry. Outnumbered by the Iraqis' mortar positions, the squad was a prime target. Incoming shells were landing closer and closer. Finally, the Iraqi mortars found their mark. Nine members of the squad would die before the battle was over. Second Lt. Frederick Pokorney Jr., a 6-foot-7-inch former basketball player, tried to call in artillery strikes on the Iraqis. A 31-year-old father from Nevada, he was the company's forward artillery observer. He had trouble getting through on his field radio and moved to higher ground for better reception. An RPG hit him in the chest, fatally wounding him. As the casualties mounted, Wittnam wanted helicopters to evacuate the wounded. But there was "no way in hell" they could land, he said. "It was too hot." Navy Corpsman Luis Fonseca, 22, was giving morphine to Glass and another wounded Marine in one of the tracks. With a black marker, he scrawled "1327" on Glass' head, indicating the time the painkiller was administered. The medic ran up and down the road looking for wounded when he saw Wittnam. "We're starting to win this battle," Fonseca recalled the captain saying. Fonseca wasn't convinced. "I know there's a bullet with my name on it," he recalled thinking. "I'm gonna do my job until I get hit." Machine gunners needed more ammunition. Sgt. Brendon C. Reiss, 23, a squad leader, and Cpl. Kemaphoom Chanawongse, 22, a Thai immigrant from Connecticut, ran to get more ammo boxes from one of the vehicles. An artillery round exploded, killing Chanawongse and fatally wounding Reiss. Around 1:30 p.m., Schaefer decided to evacuate the wounded, even though it meant going back through Ambush Alley. All 11 tracks had made it across the bridge. Schaefer lined up six of them in a column to head south. "I was willing to take a chance because we had guys bleeding to death," he said. "I was tired of seeing people getting killed." Bachmann and Lance Cpl. Donald Cline, 21, a former surfer raised in La Crescenta, were firing from behind a mound of earth. Word came that volunteers were needed to load the wounded onto the vehicles. "I'm going to go help," Cline said, running toward the tracks spread out north of the bridge. It was the last time Bachmann saw his friend alive. The Marines heard the plane before they saw it. The Air Force A- 10 Thunderbolt, known as the Warthog, flies ground-support missions, using its heavy gun. Cpl. Jared Martin, 29, a former high school wrestler from Phoenix, was outside Schaefer's track when he heard the growl of the jet fighter's twin engines. Its 30-millimeter cannon, which can shoot 3,900 rounds per minute, whipped up dense clouds of sand. "He was low," Martin said. "He was coming right toward us. The next thing I know I'm feeling a lot of heat in my back." Blood streamed from his right knee and left hand. A piece of shrapnel lodged below his eye. "My fingers, they were pretty much dangling," Martin said. Lance Cpl. David Fribley, 26, of Florida, was just steps from the cover of Schaefer's vehicle when rounds from the A-10 tore into his chest. "I wore what was inside of his body on my gear for a couple of days," Martin said. To ward off the friendly fire, the Marines shot flares, which streaked the sky with green smoke. The Marines said the A-10 made several strafing runs before it broke away. Schaefer hoisted a U.S. flag on his turret. He hoped the Warthog pilot would see it and hold his fire. He also wanted the tracks behind to be able to keep him in sight. "Watch for the flag," he radioed to the convoy of six vehicles heading south with the wounded. As the column started back toward Ambush Alley, one of the tracks exploded. Inside another track, Marines heard bullets bouncing off the aluminum skin. Glass, who had already been in one track that broke down, turned to Cpl. Mike Meade, whose leg was also injured. "If this track stalls and we're getting out," Glass said. "It's a death trap." A minute later, the vehicle stopped. Glass and Meade struggled out. Fonseca, the medic, heard the whistle of incoming shells and shoved a sergeant on top of Glass and another injured Marine. Then he piled on top to give added protection. Three RPGs flew by and exploded about 100 feet away. "I need to save these boys," he recalled thinking. "I need to take them back home." Glass saw an A-10 fire on one of the tracks. It's unclear whether it was the same jet that had flown over earlier. Two of the aircraft appeared to be operating in the area, Marines said. "The A-10 came down hard and lit the track up," Glass said. "There's no mistake about it." Torres was lying nearby when he saw the jet bearing down on him. "It was slow motion," he said. "I turned at the last moment to avoid a direct hit." Still, the Warthog's rounds tore through his left side. "When he pulls the trigger," Martin said of the pilot, "it's just a wall of blood." Grabowski, the battalion commander, said that as many as six Marines may have been killed by A-10 fire. Wittnam believes it was one. Schaefer's convoy, now down to five vehicles, was crossing the bridge. In front, a track that normally carried the mortar squad had several Marines inside. As the track came off the bridge, an Iraqi shell dropped down the left-side cargo hatch, ripping the vehicle in half. "A hand and arm bounced across the front of my vehicle," said Schaefer. The remaining vehicles raced around the burning track. The rear of one track was crushed by an Iraqi shell, killing the wounded Bitz. The driver kept going. The four surviving tracks made it to Ambush Alley. They were met by gunfire from all sides. Bullets ripped through Schaefer's transmission fluid tank, and Castleberry felt the steering wheel freeze. "Hold on!" he shouted over the intercom as the track careened toward a light pole. Castleberry gunned the 525-horsepower diesel engine, hoping to knock down the pole. But the track slammed to a halt, swinging to the left toward a two-story concrete house. An RPG blew away the track's front hatch, six inches above Castleberry's head. Stunned, his face and hair singed, he jumped into the street. Schaefer radioed to the three surviving tracks: "Don't stop. Keep going." Inside the disabled track, a dozen Marines grabbed ammunition containers and the wounded and headed for the house. Schaefer and two other Marines, one injured, were pinned down outside the track. "Then all hell broke loose," Schaeffer said. "They just started coming out of nowhere, hundreds of them. "Iraqis were charging the Marines. Schaefer aimed his M-16 and quickly used up two 29-round clips as he killed some of the attackers and forced others to take cover. "When you're scared," he said, "you pull your finger pretty fast." Two of the other Marines, meanwhile, scaled an 8-foot wall and went into the house. An Iraqi man and woman ran out the back door. The Marines hoisted the wounded over the wall and put them inside. The windows of the house were hidden by piles of sandbags and sacks of flour. In one room were pictures of Saddam Hussein and a man who looked like Jesus. Out on the street, Schaefer and the two other Marines were holding off the advancing Iraqis. Then the driver and a crewman from the track that had been ripped in half at the bridge appeared in the street. One was blind. The other was limping. "We're laying cover fire for them," Schaefer said, "and they hobbled inside." Schaefer was on his last magazine clip. This is it, he recalled thinking: They're going to overrun me. Then he heard the roar of a track driven by Cpl. Michael Brown. He had disregarded Schaefer's instructions to continue and had turned around. Scooping up the three Marines, Brown took off in a rain of enemy fire. "He saved my life," Schaefer said. About seven Marines took up positions on the roof of the house. Martin, his wounds patched up, spotted two men peeking around a corner with an RPG. He fired and they fell. Martin looked at his watch. It was about 3 p.m. "We have about two hours before the sun goes down," he thought. "Then we're gonna be real screwed." The man who lived in the house burst through the back door yelling. He entered the room where the wounded were being guarded, Castleberry said, and was shot dead. A lance corporal with the only operable radio called other units at the south end of the city for help. But the battery was low, and he couldn't tell whether the message was getting through. With Iraqis now 20 yards from the building, the Marines on the roof were going through hundreds of rounds. Castleberry had fired so many grenades from his M-16 that the plastic hand grip on his launcher was melting. Two Iraqis sped by on a motorcycle, the passenger firing an AK- 47. On a second pass, one Marine hit the driver, spilling the bike. As the gunman tried to escape on the motorcycle, Castleberry unleashed another grenade. He saw a flash and the man's body blew apart. The ammunition was running low. Castleberry and another Marine dashed to the disabled track, grabbing antitank missiles and crates of bullets as they dodged enemy rounds. On the roof, Martin and other Marines were trying to use shards of broken glass to reflect sunlight and get the attention of U.S. Cobra helicopter gunships overhead. Below, Iraqi fighters were trying to reach the abandoned track, with its load of weapons and ammunition. "We're hitting them," Martin recalled, "watching them drop." He remembers a strange sensation. "Your body and brain ain't working like a normal person's would. Some people will snap. Some people will go off the edge. Everyone reacts differently," Martin said. "I was having fun." Marines at the south bridge had picked up the radioed pleas for help and organized a rescue party. The first vehicle to arrive was a Humvee carrying a grizzled gunnery sergeant from another company. He was firing a pump-action shotgun out the passenger window as Marines on the roof sprayed cover fire. "What do you need?" he shouted. Water and radio batteries, the Marines answered. "I'll be back," the sergeant said. An M1-A1 tank arrived soon after and took away the wounded. The gunnery sergeant returned with Humvees to rescue the remaining Marines. As the vehicles unleashed heavy fire in several directions, forcing the Iraqi fighters to take cover, the sergeant stepped onto the street and lit a cigarette."God, I hate this ... place," he said. "Let's get the hell out of here." Part of Charlie Company was still pinned down at the north bridge. Lance Cpl. Killeen, the Florida weightlifter, and his platoon were in the swamp near the span. He could hear enemy soldiers nearby. "I thought they were going to sandwich us," Killeen said. "I figured my life was all over." It was nearing 4 p.m. and the sun was getting low. The ground rumbled and Killeen climbed toward the bridge. If Iraqi tanks were coming, then the company was almost certainly lost, he recalled thinking. As the tanks neared the canal, he saw they were American. These were the tanks that had spent their fuel retrieving members of the Army maintenance company that had been ambushed. Refueling had taken longer than expected because the pumps malfunctioned; it had to done by hand. When they learned that Charlie Company was taking a pounding, the tank crews cut short the refueling and rushed back to Nasiriyah. Now they were firing their 120-millimeter guns at Iraqi positions. "It was the best feeling in the world," Killeen recalled. --------------------------------------------------------------------On March 23, the fourth day of the Iraq war, 18 Marines died fighting to take a bridge in Nasiriyah. Nine served in a mortar squad that came under intense Iraqi bombardment. Memorial Service held at Camp Lejeune, N.C.26 Aug. 2003

Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, 31, of Ventura drove an amphibious assault vehicle, or track. He was wounded helping injured Marines and was killed by an Iraqi shell.
Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Blair, 24, of Broken Arrow, Okla., was part of an air-defense team. He disappeared in the fighting and was later confirmed as killed in action.
Lance Cpl. Brian R. Buesing, 20, of Cedar Key, Fla., was in the mortar squad. His grandfather served in the same squad in the Korean War and won a Silver Star.
Pfc. Tamario D. Burkett, 21, of Buffalo, N.Y., was a poet, an artist and the oldest of seven children. He was with the mortar squad.
Cpl. Kemaphoom A. Chanawongse, 22, of Waterford, Conn., a Thai immigrant, was a crew commander. He was hit by artillery fire while trying to retrieve ammunition.
Lance Cpl. Donald J. Cline Jr., 21, of Sparks, Nev., was a rifleman. He said he was going to help wounded Marines and was not seen again. He was later confirmed dead.
Lance Cpl. David K. Fribley, 26, of Fort Myers, Fla., joined the service after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was killed by friendly fire from an Air Force A-10 fighter.
Cpl. Jose A. Garibay, 21, of Costa Mesa, a Mexican immigrant, was part of the mortar squad. A shell destroyed a vehicle evacuating him and other wounded Marines.
Pvt. Jonathan L. Gifford, 30, of Decatur, Ill., an outdoorsman, was a member of the mortar squad.
Cpl. Jorge A. Gonzalez, 20, of El Monte wanted to become a police officer. He was with the mortar squad.
Pvt. Nolen R. Hutchings, 19, of Boiling Springs, S.C., enlisted in the Marines after high school. He was with the mortar squad.
Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Jordan, 42, of Enfield, Conn., had served 15 years in the Marines. He was with the mortar squad.
2nd Lt. Frederick E. Pokorney Jr., 31, of Tonopah, Nev., was a forward artillery observer. He died trying to call in artillery strikes on Iraqi positions.
Lance Cpl. Patrick R. Nixon, 21, of Gallatin, Tenn., came from a family whose members had served in every major conflict since World War I. He was with the mortar squad.
Sgt. Brendon C. Reiss, 23, of Casper, Wyo., was a squad leader who had recently reenlisted. He was running to get more ammunition when he was hit.
Cpl. Randal K. Rosacker, 21, of San Diego was a machine gunner who was providing cover fire after the Marines crossed the bridge. He was one of the first Americans killed.
Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Slocum, 22, of Thornton, Colo., was in the hatch of a vehicle taking wounded Marines to the rear when he was hit.
Lance Cpl. Michael J. Williams, 31, of Phoenix gave up a flooring business to join the Marines. He was with the mortar squad.--------------------------------------------------------------------
Rest in Peace, Soldiers..................
gunnar's mom.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marine Comfort Quilts

Marine Comfort Quilt Group is a not for profit ministry whose objective is to provide a memorial quilt of comfort to the next of kin of our fallen military. Our quilts are made from thirty quilt squares, each containing an inspirational message from it's donor or another serviceman. Our quilts are stitches of love from those who want so badly to bring comfort, but don't know how to help.
Our Marine Comfort Quilt Group has now decided to take on a greater project. With the War on Iraq, we have lost many Marines. Our initial project was to make one quilt for each family of a fallen Marine, but we have since expanded this project to include all members of our Armed Forces that gave their life in this war. We are praying that soon these quilts will no longer be needed, but until then, we will not stop stitching until each family has been provided a small gift of comfort.
As of 8/6/08 of the above numbers we have completed or out being sewn,
988 Marine,
2857 Army,
27 Air Force,
53 Navy and
1 Coast Guard quilts,
this number equates to 117,780 squares that were used to make these 3918 quilts, 3917 are complete.
Visit our Gallery at http://www.marinecomfortquilts.us/ to see the completed quilts.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Monday was Memorial Day......
As Memorial Day was ending, I found myself, driving back to the cemetary...but not sure why I felt the strong urge, to go...however, it was quite an Honor, when I got there, because.......I helped a WWII Vet take the flags off the Vet's graves at the cemetary......I learned the Military History, of the Cemetary, [that was cool] and had a nice talk....some of the ''most healing'' conversations, I've ever had, are with Army ppl/Vets.....

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

Missing my ''baby boy''

but, Gunnar, ...you know... these are'' tears of pride''

Stand Proud, Son!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

oh, give me a home

where memories include the best years of our life!...''the farm''

Monday, May 12, 2008

What we did, on Mother's Day

well, we tried fishing.....and playing in the park, and flying grandma's kite....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Treasures~~from 1st grade

how special artwork becomes![thank you, Mrs. Moe!]

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

ps 9april

Gunnar, ''fresh'' outta basics...this is the only pictures we have, of him, inClass A's'...other than fatigures/camo....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

a quote

Every morning is a fresh beginning.
Every day is the world made new.
Today is a new day.
Today is my world made new.
I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day.
This moment--
this day--
is as good as any moment in all eternity.
I shall make of this day--
each moment of this day--
a heaven on earth.
This is my day of opportunity.--
Dan Custer

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

pet peeves

y'all know my biggest pet peeve, in life, is(are?) war protesters using Gunnar's name...like when this happened.........
so, according to this article, they haven't really cleaned up their act
there's my rant...


Becca, Gunnar & Jo.....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

count down!

To my surogate son, in Iraq....
I love you, always know that!
you forgot to tell me what kinda beer to buy...cuz we ain't drinkin busch heavy!

Friday, February 29, 2008



I’ve got major issues w/ my ‘puter…..hopefully going to Sioux Falls, Mon or Tues. to get a replacement.Until then, I’m using the onscreen keyboard, so please bear with me. Any computer advice is welcome, I’ve never bought a brand new computer, before……….
Here's that extra day we always wish for!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Another damned confession......mine...

well, sorta.....I owe the kids this one......it was witnessed...........

ok...so those of you who know that I quit drinking, Sept05.........don't have a coranary.
Tonight I went to Dorens Bar....I wish i would have counted the hugs, and the number of kids, that claimed me, as Mom............
to each of you
thank you.....................to those of you, I didn't get to talk to, please know that after the 2nd half, 0f the second beer,
I am DONE....makin the sign, i'm going home, DONE.................. I love you all.
Thanks, Hadley Moody, (&friends!), for the tunes..........
and Brean & several others, for the conversations....
to my surrogate children,
those of you, who've called me MoM.....
u no who u R.......
I love you

Monday, January 21, 2008


Gunnar's 3rd birthday....with Mom & Jo,
20 years ago......
Happy Birthday, Baby Boy.
I love you, with every beat of my heart,
always & forever,

Friday, January 18, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008


short & sweet

THANK YOU, to Christopher Rodregious, for sending this via email, awhile back. clip posted below. here's the pic that came with video....

Friends....Reason, Season or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled , their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relatio nships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


today marks the 3rd annivsary, of Gunnar's death..
I'd like to introduce you, to my son,.........
and to todays blogging posts.......
All of you are considered family...I'm expecting no words. I know we all miss Gunnar, and some days, finding the words to express how much, is impossible. A couple of ''Army Wives'' stepped up to the plate...go read their blogs...I share ther links, because I know that today, we are all hurting a little more...........

Thank you, to those of you, that have called, or stopped in to visit....not just yesterday, or last week or anytime durring the last 3 years.....but for helping me tomorrow, next week, or 10 years from now....I am truely blessed, for your friendships.
And then there's Soldier's Angels..to Mary Ann, in Germany. I will never forget your phone call! or the Eagle that swoped thru my back yard, as I hung up the phone....or, your post....
my love, to all of you,

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Was the last day I ‘’talked’’(Messenger) to Gunnar. We were online, together, for almost an hour. He was giving me a really bad time, about buying Doug a PINK leather motorcycle jacket, for Doug’s birthday. We talked about other things, too. Family friends, that have decided to divorce…….we talked about Jo and Cheeseburger, and baby Luke. We talked about his grandparents…..And we talked about how close he was to being done, with deployment, and how much beer we could/would drink, when he got home for leave.
We talked about muzzleloader rifles, and the camero, and his sister's wedding. And he told me to find a computer class, sign up, and write the check, on his account, because he couldn’t keep teaching me, from Iraq. We told each other I love you, and he’d talk to me tomorrow. And I filed the only messenger conversation I’d ever filed. (didn’t know how, but decided to click on file………and I remember sitting in front of the computer, laughing about a pink motorcycle jacket, and suddenly crying……

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mark Dakota

has an exellent CD. Hear part of it, here
My favorite song? Well, here are the lyrics.....
I got a letter from my mom
Says half the country thinks it's wrong
But either way
We'll be right here when you come home
She said my family's doing fine
We miss you so much all the time
And all we do
Is count the days 'till you come home
Between the lines
I know she's scared
I wrote her back with what needs to be said
I'm alright
It's my fight
For my life
So back home
Tell 'em not
To leave us out
Here alone
I'm alright
It's my fight
For my life
I'm not sure who's right or wrong
Doesn't matter when your best friend is gone
I watched him die
Tell me why
Cause I don't know
We put our faith in what our leaders say
It's the reason that I'm here today
We vote em' in
Now we need to win
So I'll come home
I can't change a country's views
But we all win
Or we all lose
(Repeat Chorus)
You wanna tell me what I should do
Oh yeah
They wanna tell me what I should do
I just want to be able to say
I did the best I could
Just want a greater good
Oh yea
Say I did the best I could
Just want the greater good
Mmm yeah
I'm alrightI
t's my fight
For my life
So back home
Tell 'em not
To leave us out
Here alone
I'm alright
It's my fight
So say a prayer
for me tonight
Back home.

And, when I DIE, and if there's a funeral(I hate funerals, so) play Mark's song, FALLOUT, for me.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Year 2008

I'm working on a very special post. It's been weighing heavy, on my heart, since new Year's Eve. I'm trying to put together some emails, to help tell the story, and finally went to Grandma Senska's, yesterday, and found the one i've been searching my computers and email accounts to find. My MIL is REALLY GRAT, ABOUT ''HANGING ON'' TO EMAILS, and I found a few I'd forgotten about, while browsing thru her "Gunnar" files.
Luke spent alot of time, with us, over Christmas, and it helps, keeping me focused, not allowing me to slip, to deep, into the depression pit, that seems to follow me like a shadow, this time of year. Winter has always been a depressing season, for me, I crave the spring, and sunshine, already..................................