Monday, October 12, 2009

The fallen

Today in Michigan, flags are flown at half-staff:

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today ordered United States flags throughout the state of Michigan and on Michigan waters lowered for one day Monday, October 12, 2009, in honor of Army Specialist Paul E. Andersen of Dowagiac who died in Baghdad, Iraq, while on active duty supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Flags should be returned to full-staff Tuesday, October 13.
Spc. Andersen, age 49, died October 1 from injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his camp using indirect fire. He was assigned to the 855th Quartermaster Company, South Bend, Indiana.
Funeral services will be held October 12, with burial in Highland Cemetery, South Bend.
Under Section 7 of Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code, 4 USC 7, Governor Granholm, in December 2003, issued a proclamation requiring United States flags lowered to half-staff throughout the state of Michigan and on Michigan waters to honor Michigan servicemen and servicewomen killed in the line of duty. Procedures for flag lowering were detailed by Governor Granholm in Executive Order 2006-10 and included in federal law under the Army Specialist Joseph P. Micks Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-41).
When flown at half-staff or half-mast, the United States flag should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff or half-mast position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
When a member of the armed services from Michigan is killed in action, the governor will issue a press release with information about the individual(s) and the day that has been designated for flags to be lowered in his or her honor. The information will also be posted on Governor Granholm's Website at in the section titled "Spotlight."

Paul E. Andersen was the first US service member to die in Iraq this month. DoD announced last Monday: "Spc. Paul E. Andersen, 49, of Dowagiac, Mich., died Oct. 1 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his camp using indirect fire. He was assigned to the 855th Quartermaster Company, South Bend, Ind." DoD's identify the fallen whose death was announced by MNF last week (for that announcement, see the October 2nd snapshot). He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Last week, Gabrielle Russon (Kalamazoo Gazette) noted his survivors include his wife Linda Andersen, "three daughters and three stepchildren" and Russon reported:

Paul Andersen wanted to give his grown stepdaughter his riding lawn mower, but it wouldn’t fit in the back of the car.
A spunky man of original ideas and childlike exuberance, Andersen decided to ride the mower several miles on the side of the road in South Bend, Ind., to deliver it to her house.
Whenever a police car drove by, Andersen pretended to be just a regular neighbor out mowing the grass.
"It was so funny, the look on his face," said his wife, Linda Andersen. "He was pleased and proud as can be, especially because he got away with it."
Such funny stories are what Linda Andersen holds on to after her husband was killed last week in Iraq, about a month before he was supposed to return home.

Erin Blasko (South Bend Tribune) reported that Linda Andersen and her husband had spoken online (using Skype) hours before he died. Linda Andersen was very clear about dealing with her grief in the aftermath of the devastating news to Blasko as, "Hell. Tiring. Unbelievable. There are no words to describe how I feel. I take a deep breath and sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn't." And Blasko noted that his survivors also include nine grandchildren.

Andersen is part of Connie Schultz' "Praying for soldiers and families" (Capital Times) column:

Donna is a retired hairdresser and office clerk in Mansfield, Ohio, where she raised three kids with her husband, Jim, who works full time delivering fuel oil in central Ohio. Their middle boy, 30-year-old Ben, joined the Army Reserve when he was 18. He left for Iraq last November.
Donna and I started out as small-town girls who grew into big opinions, which we enjoy sharing. Since Ben was deployed, many of her e-mails and Facebook posts have been updates letting everyone know he's OK.
[. . .]
Andersen's hometown paper, the Kalamazoo Gazette, answered some of the questions that always hover after these DOD announcements.
He gave nearly 25 years of his life to the Army Reserve and was on his second tour in Iraq.
He had three daughters, three stepchildren and a wife, name Linda, who made him repeat the question three times after he asked her to marry him, in 2004. They lived in South Bend, Ind., and shared a love for country music, old movies and strawberry milk shakes. Known for his childlike enthusiasm, Andersen went overboard with the Christmas lights every year.
As I write this, Donna believes her Ben is on his way home. She's not sure when he'll arrive. What she does know - with the certainty of a mother who knows her boy - is what his first home-cooked meal will be: fried chicken with Stove Top dressing, made just the way he likes it.

Read the column in full, it's worth reading. I've done the cutting above to try to note Andersen which may lead to dislocation if you haven't read the full column.

Keiffer Wilhelm is a US soldier who died in August, apparently taking his own life after being harassed and abused non-stop. August 21st, the US military announced that Staff Sgt Enoch Chatman, Staff Sgt Bob Clements, Sgt Jarrett Taylor and Spc Daniel Weber are all "charged with cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates . . . The four Soliders are alleged to have treated Soldiers within their platoon inappropriately." Chris Roberts (El Paso Times) has reported that Keiffer Wilhelm "was abused by his 'first-line supervisors,' Sgt. Brandon LeFlor wrote in an e-mail. He is a spokesman for Multi-National Division-South in Basra, Iraq."

Aamer Madhani (USA Today) reports that Sgt Bob Clements and Sgt Enoch Chatman were the subject of an Article 32 hearing "over the weekend" in which 10 soldiers gave testimony on how the two had also "punished them with verbal abuse and grueling excercise." Whether or not to move to a court-martial is a decision that's expected in approximately two weeks.

Buffy Sainte-Marie is on Democracy Now! today and she's a talented artist and good on social issues but lousy on political ones. So if you can't get past the groans over her crap about Barack ('he respects the Constitution!') and can grasp that she's not only ill informed she really doesn't pay attention to the domestic issues -- only someone completely ignorant of domestic issues would issue such b.s. statements -- you can enjoy the broadcast.

Kat's been debating whether or not to review Buffy's new album because of the fact that Buffy's so damn disappointing as a Barack cheerleader. If any of this seems harsh, too damn bad. I've known Buffy for years and I like her but she's always had a tendency to get fooled by personalities and, in this case, by Barack's lying half-sister.

It's too bad because if she wasn't such a Barack freak, Kat would review her album and I'd give her a link and we'd get the word out. But we're not interested in liars and fools. Listen or watch only to hear her speak of the past. She's no use to the present. Again, that's a shame and she's a very sweet person. But she's an apologist for Barack and, trust me, in 1967, she would have screamed at an apologist for LBJ (and in fact did). Come back, Buffy Sainte, wherever you are.

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