Category Archives: Military

Irving’s Unite for Troops honors veterans, provides for active military during Veteran’s Day event

Unite for Troops, a grassroots non-profit organization, held its 8th Annual Veteran’s Day Celebration on Saturday November 9 in Porter’s Army Navy store parking lot in Irving.

Unite for Troops was founded two days after 9/11 by Cindy Porter, who felt moved to do something to show support for our troops, domestic and abroad.

Volunteers were present to pack donated supplies into boxes to ship around the world. The boxes are decorated on the inside by helpers and kids for an extra morale booster.

“We are shipping supplies to our troops worldwide,” Porter said. “They are asking for more help because, right after 9/11, everyone was supporting them, but very few supplies go over there now. These supplies are going to the most desolate and desperate areas. We are free to do things like this and to live our lives because of our troops.”

The most popularly requested supplies are toiletries, various snacks, socks, batteries, puzzle books, flip flops and over the counter pain relievers, such as Advil and Tylenol.

Four colors of ribbons were available at no charge to pin on attendees’ shirts: Red signified an active soldier, Blue represented a retired member of the military, White indicated a family member or a friend of someone who is or had served, and Golden was a special ribbon for veterans of WWII.

There were plenty of things to do for people of all ages. Musical entertainment included singers and bands on the big stage playing songs that were supportive of all military. BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade ice cream were offered.

Kids enjoyed their own area, which featured a petting zoo, crafts, face painting, a bounce house, games and even a reptile exhibit. A bull ride machine was available for all ages who were brave enough to take it on. Canine Companions and the DFW Humane Society also brought both service dogs and dogs available for adoption.

Santa Claus even made a special trip to the event to show his support.

“Santa usually doesn’t come out this early in the year, but he wanted to come out and support the troops. When he heard about it, he said he wanted to stop by in his camos [camouflage] in order to take the love and good wishes back to the troops as he heads back to the North Pole,” Porter said.

Irving Police Department brought vehicles out for kids of all ages to take a look at, including an official city car, as well as a Citizens on Patrol car, a half-track MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle and a drone.

Veterans were encouraged to bring  flags they had that needed a proper retirement, and a ceremony was held to do so in the afternoon.

The Troops of St. George had several fun offerings.

“We are a Catholic scouting organization here in the North Texas area,” said volunteer Paul Thies. “We represent a number of different Catholic parishes in this region. We are out here today to help support our troops in the field and to participate in the [Unite for Troops] Veteran’s Day event.

“With this tent, we are doing a number of things. We have a flag retirement booth, so when people bring their flags in, we will make sure they are properly disposed of [based on rules outlined in the Constitution]. They will be disposed of in the ceremony this afternoon. One of our leaders is raffling off a ride in a M*A*S*H Vietnam/Korean War era Bell 47 helicopter out at the Cavanaugh Air Museum in Addison. The lucky winner will get a 30-minute ride. We’re doing paintball as well. All of these things are to generate donations and 100% of everything collect will go to our troops via Unite for Troops,” Thies explained.

The helicopter was true to the TV show M*A*S*H down to its 4077 tail number.

Vietnam Veteran John Rose had his own booth, as he took over for Santa Claus when Santa had to go back to the North Pole. He said that he enlisted into the Army at age 26 and got sent to Vietnam for a year as part of a reconnaissance effort. Rose and four of his platoon mates lost their radios, so they hunkered down and learned Morse Code as a last-ditch attempt at communication because no one knew where they were. They were stranded for ten days. They finally received directions to a fire base and made it there on foot, where their commanding officers arranged transport home.

“What we started doing after we lost our receiver was to start going to Charlie’s [the enemy’s] supply depots and we started re-supplying ourselves with weapons, ammunition and a lot of rice. When we were done, we left a message for Charlie: We blew it [the supply depot] up,” Rose recalled with a grin.

“We made it to the fire base and we had long beards and nasty hair and we had hardly any sleep. I’m sure we were the sight. But they were happy to see us and we were sure happy to see them!

“After we made it to the fire base, we were all laying on the floor. One of the guys said, ‘Lieutenant, are those guys asleep? They aren’t paying attention.’ The Lt said, ‘They’re asleep, but make sure you don’t make any loud noises because they’ll wake up real fast and be ready to fight!” said Rose.

Fortunately, Rose does not suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) like so many of veterans do. There were several booths at the event collecting donations for programs to help with the transition to “normal” life as well as to fund programs to provide mental health services to veterans who need it.

For more information, visit UniteForTroops.com.

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Aboard the USS John C. Stennis

The Grapevine Source thanks all of our military men and women for their service! The Houston Chronicle recently featured this young Navy Recruit from Pearland, Texas, which is just 15 miles south of Houston. Thank you for all you do, Alixandra!

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jarrod A. Schad, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) / U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy Seaman Recruit Alixandra Garcia, from Houston, fakes down line on the fantail aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) while pulling out of Manama, Bahrain on March 28, 2019.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

The Oscars forgot R. Lee Ermey in this years Memoriam

By James Barber/Military.com
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R. Lee Ermey

Marine Corps veteran and beloved character actor R. Lee Ermey was missing from the “In Memoriam” segment of the 2019 Academy Awards telecast.

Ermey, who passed away in April 2018, is best remembered for his role as Gunny Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie “Full Metal Jacket,” a legendary performance that should have made him a lock to be included in the video segment.

Ermey also played memorable roles in “Se7en,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The X-Files,” “Toy Story 2” and that 2003 remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He also hosted the TV shows “Mail Call” and “Lock ‘N Load With R. Lee Ermey.”

Read more from WeAreTheMighty…

‘Eternally missed’: Marines identify 5 KC-130J crew members killed in midair collision off Japanese coast

Military officials have identified the five KC-130J crew members killed in a midair collision off the coast of Japan on Dec. 6.

Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann, 38, Maj. James M. Brophy, 36, Staff Sgt. Maximo Alexander Flores, 27, Cpl. William C. Ross, 21, and Cpl. Daniel E. Baker, 21, were killed when their KC-130J collided with an F/A-18.

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From left: Staff Sgt. Maximo Alexander Flores, 27, Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann, 38, Cpl. Daniel E. Baker, 21, Cpl. William C. Ross, 21, and Maj. James M. Brophy, 36, were killed when their KC-130J collided with an F/A-18 on Dec. 6.

The two pilots, Herrmann and Brody, and aircrew members Flores, Ross, and Baker were assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, out of the Marine air station in Iwakuni, Japan.

Read more from Marine Corps Times…

Bulldog retires from Marine Corps

WATCH: Sgt. Chesty XIV, the bulldog, retires as the Marine Corps mascot.

Source: Facebook

Pearl Harbor Commemoration ceremony set for Dec. 5

HCN NEWS SERVICES

55e883ab95977.imageTo remember the thousands of Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and Civilians that died AND survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, the Texas Commandery of the Naval Order of the U.S. will hold its 30th annual commemoration ceremony on the deck of the Battleship USS Texas (BB-35) berthed at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site at 11:00 AM, December 5, 2015. The ceremony will last approximately one hour.

The ceremony is open to the public and access to the USS Texas is free for the ceremony. The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is located at 3523 Independence Parkway South, La Porte, 77571.

The keynote speaker will be Jill Allen. On December 7, 1941, Jill was 3 years old, and her father, Army Captain Loyd Jost, was a dentist at Tripler Hospital on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Captain Jost and other doctors, dentists, and nurses cared for hundreds of wounded men from the attack damaged ships at Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, none of her family was injured during the attack.

In addition to Texas Commandery Companions, other ceremony participants will be representatives from the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors who will read the names of survivors who have passed in the last two years and will assist in throwing a lei into the water as a memorial to the survivors and those who lost their lives; the Naval Sea Cadets; Sea Scouts; Civil Air Patrol Cadets; the South East Texas Patriot Guard Riders; the Invincible Eagle Band of Liberty, Texas; a Commemorative Air Force flyby (weather permitting); and, a U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard for a gun salute.

The Naval Order of the United States is the oldest American hereditary exclusively naval society. The mission of the Naval Order is to preserve, promote, celebrate, and enjoy our Nation’s sea service history and heritage through commemorating important historical events, supporting the study of naval history, and the preservation of sea service historical artifacts, documents, and monuments.

The early Sunday morning surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy served as the catalyst for the United States entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. Over 2,300 Americans were killed, and more than 1,200 were wounded when over 350 Japanese planes struck U.S. soil. A quote that is often attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, but never verified that he either said it or wrote it down, encapsulated the feelings and mood of the American people following the attack: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

This ceremony pays tribute to both those who perished and those who survived the horrendous attack on Pearl Harbor 74 years ago on December 7, 1941.

Clear Lake Alum Shoots for the Stars

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Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense

Many kids in the Clear Lake area dream of a future in outer space, but for 30 year-old Christin Mastracchio, that childhood dream may become a reality very soon.

A Clear Lake native and Clear Lake High School alumna, Mastracchio knew she wanted to shoot for the stars at a young age. When she was 17 years old, her father asked her what she would pay to do for a living instead of being paid.

“I knew I loved science, math and physics. I was a cheerleader and a gymnast and grew up in awe of the space program. We moved back to Clear Lake from California specifically for the school system,” Mastracchio said.

It seemed only natural to pursue a career in the space program.

“I had read so many astronaut biographies,” she said. “I found out there were several ways to get into the Astronaut Program.”

The summer before her senior year in high school, Mastracchio was accepted into the NASA Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program (SHARP) and was also a Lunar Rendezvous Princess at the Clear Lake Lunar Rendezvous Festival, which is dedicated to providing community based support, including scholarships for higher education, youth development and educational programs, funding for the arts and historical preservation in the Bay Area Houston/NASA area.

After high school, Mastracchio took the military path, going into the Astronautical Engineering Program at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“My time at the Air Force Academy literally was rocket science,” Mastracchio said. “We had to control satellites that were launched into orbit. They spin, so we had to stop the spinning and make sure the cameras or antennas were pointed where they needed to be pointed,” she said.

She then pursued and received her Masters degree in the same major from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Mastracchio also got trained as a pilot, and currently flies B-52s during nuclear deterrent exercises out of Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. She was the first female B-52 pilot in the United States when she started. “That really got me motivated!” she said.

Her practice for Test Pilot School paid off, when, as of last week, she received her letter of acceptance. Mastracchio will begin her yearlong training at Edwards Air Force Base beginning in July 2016. “I was so excited and surprised,” she said. “They had me fly a T-38, a C-12 and an ASK-21 glider. I was familiar with the T-38 because that’s an astronaut-training plane, and a C-12 is a six-seater, two-engine plane. But I had never flown a glider before! It was strange to think of a plane with NO engines!”

Apparently, everything Mastracchio did to prepare paid off. But pursuing her dream of becoming an astronaut is not the only thing Mastracchio is doing.

She was featured in “Futures Magazine,” which is a military recruiting magazine for high school aged kids. She has also been a keynote speaker for the Society of Women Engineers.

“There’s this misconception about math,” Mastracchio said. “It’s actually a universal language. We’re getting better at encouraging girls in STEM subjects. If someone is having problems in math, I tell her to go back and relearn the last thing she felt comfortable with and go from there. Math builds on itself. A lot of times, it’s just a mental block.”

Mastracchio’s dream is, “17 years in the making. I want to encourage girls to get into STEM at a young age. Start out college with a technical major,” she said.

Whether or not Mastracchio becomes an astronaut is undetermined, but her accomplishments so far speak the most to her encouragement of future science, technology, engineering and math students.

Pearland Resident Receives Special Veteran’s Day Surprise

Gary Moore (L) and Phil Olvera.

Gary Moore (L) and Phil Olvera.

It was a special Veteran’s Day for Pearland City Councilman Gary Moore and his family. After three years, son Phil Olvera was home from the Army.

Olvera did tours in Afghanistan during his active service; he will now be one of the front-runners if troops are called up again until he completes his obligations (assuming he doesn’t re-enlist!).

Moore and his family rented the Pearland Lion’s Club building for a small surprise party.

The party soon took on a life of its own once the community caught wind of Olvera’s homecoming. “We are so grateful and overwhelmed,” said Moore of Pearland. “I didn’t pay for anything but the hall rental. People came out of the woodwork to take care of things I hadn’t even thought of. We live in a wonderful city that we can call HOME, even though we have lived in many places.”

A military man himself, Moore and his wife, Christina, daughter Cheyenne and Olvera have had addresses in several cities in Texas and other states. “It wasn’t until we moved to Pearland that both Christina and myself said to each other, ‘We have found our hometown,'”said Moore.

You Got Me! Olvera said to friends and family.

You Got Me! Olvera said to friends and family.

Olvera was completely surprised when he walked into the hall, expecting to address Pearland Lions about serving in the military and commenting on Veteran’s Day. “You totally got me!” Olvera said.

“Cody Rogers is another vet I would like to be recognized for his outstanding service,” Olvera added. “He is a great soldier and was a fellow classmate at Pearland High.”

The Color Guard from the Pearland Police Department came to provide the colors, and Bella Hill, daughter of Greg and Amy Hill, sang the National Anthem, leaving hardly a dry eye in the hall.

Moore would like to extend a hearty THANKS to:

  • The Pearland Police Dept. Honor Guard
  • Bottomless Pit Cook Team
  • Sam’s Club Marketing Manager Jennifer Tinsely
  • Sam’s Club Store Manager Eva
  • Silver Creek Dental: Dr. Hugh Patton
  • Joe’s BBQ
  • Councilman Keith & Gabby Ordeneaux
  • Ryden Cohen
  • James McKendree
  • Sasha Costa
  • Lisa & Keith Ciaccio
  • ADDI
  • Stacey with E Glaesmann
  • Fotorny Photography
  • And everyone that attended to make the night special!

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Roger Clemens, Willie Robertson, Jennie Finch, Taylor Kitsch and more join Marcus Luttrell at PX3 Patriots Celebrity Softball National Series game

PRESS RELEASE

PX3PatriotsHOUSTON Celebrities from across the country come together for the PX3 Patriots Celebrity Softball National Series Game on October 21 at Rice University in Houston.

Willie and Korie Robertson from A&E’s hit TV series “Duck Dynasty” are scheduled to join the Lone Survivor Foundation Warriors, a team of celebrities, and play against the PX3 Patriots, a team of military veterans, including US Navy Seals, US Green Berets, honor recipients, amputee veterans, and wounded warriors.

Willie and Korie will be joining softball Olympic medalist Jennie Finch and seven time Cy Young Award winner, baseball icon Roger Clemens. Lauren Sesselmann, professional soccer player for the Houston Dash and co-producer and host of Fitness Program ‘Fit As A Pro’ will also be playing.

Taylor Kitsch, Lone Survivor actor and costar in Friday Night Lights, will also be on the field, playing alongside Mark “Oz” Geist and John “Tig” Tiegen, co-authors of 13 hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, the book that inspired the upcoming Paramount Pictures film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

Founder and Chairman of the Lone Survivor Foundation, Marcus Luttrell, U.S. Navy SEAL (Ret.) and Navy Cross recipient, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.

The event will kick off with a homerun derby at 7:00 p.m. followed by the celebrity softball game at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $10 and reserved field seats are available for $15-30. Tickets can be purchased online through Ticketmaster – www.ticketmaster.com.

This will be the inaugural game of a national celebrity softball series hosted by the PX3 Research Foundation to raise funds and awareness of its mission and other military-focused non-profits. Additional event information, including the full team rosters, can be found on the PX3 Patriots webpage, www.px3patriots.org.

For information about the PX3 Foundation, visit www.px3foundation.org.

To learn more about The Lone Survivor Foundation, visit www.lonesurvivorfoundation.org.

Astros Host On-Field Official Army Deployment Ceremony Saturday, July 18

astros-300x250This Saturday, July 18, the Houston Astros and the Astros Foundation are hosting over 300 military members and their families, as they conduct an on-field official deployment ceremony for Texas National Guard 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion prior to the 6:10 p.m. contest vs. the Texas Rangers.  This marks the first deployment ceremony in Texas to ever take place at a major sporting event.

This deployment will be the first for the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. The soldiers will depart for Fort Hood for another round of training, and then on to Kuwait and six other countries. The Houston-based signal battalion’s mission will be to provide communications capabilities to other deployed units across seven countries, including Kuwait, Jordan, The United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

In addition to the Casing of the Colors on-field ceremony, the soldiers will take part in a mobilization ceremony in Union Station Lobby beginning at 3:00 p.m. The soldiers and their families will also receive tickets to that night’s Astros vs. Rangers game free of charge. This night will mark the last one these soldiers will have with their families before they are deployed for approximately nine months.

Both the Astros vs. Rangers pregame ceremony and 6:10 p.m. contest will be broadcast overseas for our troops on the Armed Forces Network (AFN) with support from ROOT SPORTS and MLB. Fans will not only enjoy another great matchup in the chase for the Silver Boot, but will also be a part of creating a special memory for these soldiers and their families.  For ticket information, please visit astros.com/tickets or call 1-877-9ASTROS.

Saturday’s deployment ceremony is part of the Astros continuing effort to support and honor our nation’s military.