This just makes me angry. This group has been protesting military funerals for a long time, but I just came across their website again. I was following links on my Site Meter from a search on the funeral information of Walt Moss and found their plans to picket his funeral in Houston. I hope nobody ever thinks that any of us have the same twisted views as Westboro Baptist Church. They make my blood pressure go up.
They are also cheering the deaths of those killed by tornadoes in Tennessee. How they can call themselves Christian, I just don’t know.
I don’t mean to post the whole newspaper today, but after I read the other article I posted, I found this one. This one literally made my stomach feel sick. Yeah, I’ll probably always feel that way thinking about E. going back over there. Sorry E…..can’t help it. I do know that what you do is important.
Bomb-disposal specialists play big role
Air Force and Navy sending their experts to help Army in Iraq
<!– commented out ad Associated Press
BALAD RUZ, IRAQ – Fingertips fiddling with a joystick, boyish face glued to a screen, Kyle Churchill could have been a kid deep into a video game. But this was a dangerous business, in a deadly place, and the U.S. Army was depending on him.
A hundred yards away, at the end of a fiber-optic tether, Churchill’s robot was examining a roadside bomb, sending video close-ups back to his armored Humvee. With the robot’s “hand” poised, and Churchill at the control console’s dials, he would soon begin the delicate job of disabling the device.
The 23-year-old explosive ordnance disposal specialist had been in Iraq for only a few weeks, but he was already an indispensable U.S. team member — an Air Force “blaster” on the Army front lines, a bomb-disposal expert in a country with plenty of bombs and too few experts.
‘Principal threat’Attacks by Iraqi insurgents using improvised explosive devices, IEDs, almost doubled last year, to 29 a day, leading President Bush last month to describe the remotely detonated bombs — buried on roadsides, disguised as rocks, hidden in debris — as “the principal threat to our troops.”
But as the threat has escalated, the number of specialists dealing with it hasn’t kept up.
The Army doesn’t publicize such numbers, citing security concerns, but soldiers everywhere tell stories of “waiting for EOD,” sitting exposed on Iraqi roads while overstretched teams scramble from place to place to disarm unexploded devices, either at a distance with robots, or by hand, dangerously close up, in more difficult cases.
“We had to wait 24 hours at one IED site for EOD to show up,” Sgt. Robert Lewis of the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade told a reporter visiting his base in insurgent-filled western Iraq.
“It’s been recognized that we need more EOD personnel, and they are inbound to Iraq,” Lt. Col. Bill Adamson, operations chief for a Defense Department anti-roadside-bomb task force, said in a Pentagon interview.
Both short-term and longer-term help is planned.
The Army last year made bomb disposal its No. 1 recruiting priority, doubling the bonus, to $40,000, paid to a recruit signing up for “blaster” training.
But basic bomb disposal training takes at least six months, and the need is immediate, particularly for more experienced, higher-skilled specialists.
To help fill the gap, Air Force and Navy disposal teams are being flown in to back up Army ground operations.
From Balad Air Base, a huge installation the Army calls Anaconda, Air Force Capt. Peter Weld’s 34-member bomb disposal unit covers a large chunk of central Iraq, including five outlying bases where 20 of his airmen are assigned.
Weld estimates about 100 Air Force “blasters” are in Iraq. “We do have more to offer, and I think we’re sending more,” he said. “But it’s a contentious thing. People don’t want to leave their families.”
Senior Airman Churchill’s family in Red Bank, S.C., may be among the more understanding. His stepfather was an Army bomb disposal man in the 1991 Gulf War, and Churchill met his wife, Amber, at bomb disposal school. She has since left the Air Force to rear their 7-month-old girl, but “she understands enough to get nervous,” Churchill said.
His tight, two-man team is led by Tech. Sgt. Jake Smith, 34, of Manassas, Va., with whom Churchill works at northern California’s Beale Air Force Base, where he said they do mostly civilian “bomb squad type work.”
Artillery shellOn this day in Iraq, they confronted a 155mm artillery shell buried beside a road running through grape and cotton country two miles northwest of Balad Air Base. For some reason it had not been detonated as a 9th Cavalry Regiment motorized patrol approached, spotted it and called for bomb disposal.
As Smith and Churchill went to work, the 9th Cavalry’s Staff Sgt. Brandon Fitzgerald watched in admiration. “These guys are really on their stuff,” he said.
Two hours after they got the first call, Smith bellowed the traditional alert, “Fire in the hole!”, and detonated the would-be bomb in a thunderous blast.
It isn’t always so smooth. Days earlier, another Talon robot piloted by Churchill rolled over a pressure-plate detonator beside two 155 mm shells. It was wrecked in the explosion.