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My Soldiers!

Okay, so they're not really "mine," but while under my adopted care during their deployments...I consider them my soldiers!

As a Soldiers' Angel, I often adopt soldiers to help care for them during their deployment. Also, as a member of the Soldiers' Angels Letter Writing Team, I get the names of several soldiers a week to whom I write to let them know how much we care about them, thank them for their service and chat a bit in the hopes that my letters brighten their day. Sometimes they write back and we get to be friends and I send them stuff, too.

Plus, a few years ago I joined up with US War Dogs. Through their Facebook page, I often connect up with active K9 teams (now called MWD teams = Military Working Dog Teams). Sometimes they request things, like Kongs, Doggle and other human and canine supplies, which I try to help send to them when I can afford to do so.

My Adopted Soldiers/K9s who are currently deployed...STAY SAFE!!

Ryan & Sony (MWD Team)

My Adoptees Who Have Returned...Mission Accomplished!...Bravo and THANK YOU!

John Kevin Gabriale
Michael Chester Christopher
Kelly Eddie John

Please DO visit the Soldiers' Angels soldier adoption site to learn how to adopt your own soldier(s)...DO IT! Adopt a soldier! Hundreds of brave men/women are hoping to be adopted. It takes very little effort on your part, but the heartfelt rewards are more than you can imagine! And if you can't commit to adopt,


Meet Ryan & Sony, Navy MWD (Military Working Dog) Team

Adopted July, 2011

Through the US War Dog Facebook page, I've met a lot of wonderful people...both relatives of beloved soldiers/K9s, as well as the soldiers/K9s themselves. One of these wonderful people is Diane, the very proud mom of Ryan and his MWD, Sony. Ryan and Sony are in the Navy and are currently deployed in the 'sandbox.' Recently they were also responsible for capturing a potential bomber along with a pile of explosives! (See photos below.) After the bust, Sony was just happy to have his 'Kong' (dog toy) to play with. But being a gladiator dog, he can make sort work of chewing on these super tough rubber dog chews, so we need to keep Sony, and his K9 pals, supplied with more goodies to help them pass their down time.

If you'd like to help, pls toss a few $$$ into the donation kitty (PayPal link above) and I'll be sure to let them know you helped supply them with things they could use.

STAY SAFE Ryan and Sony and THANK YOU for doing such a great job for our country!

  

Sony, guarding Ryan's gun.

Ryan and Sony in the sandbox.

Ryan & Sony captured a potential bomber and his explosives (note the pile of explosives on the table!)...saving the lives of untold people/soldiers!

Sony...just happy to be allowed to do his job and get his 'kong' reward!

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Meet Matt & Bosco, MWD (Military Working Dog) Team


Adopted February, 2011
- No Longer Deployed - May, 2011

Well, I never heard from Matt & Bosco, but with luck all my mailing/pkgs made it to their destination.

Ever since my wonderful experience adopting K9 Units through Military Mascots, several years ago, I wanted to get involved with K9 teams again. Bonnie (who ran Military Mascots) had to curtail her efforts due to contracting Lyme Disease. Soldiers' Angels (SA) originally did have a K9 adoption program, but you needed to have two successful soldier adoptions completed and have been a Soldiers' Angel for a specific period of time.

Sadly, by the time I qualified, which I was anxious to do, SA stopped their K9 program for some reason (never got a reply to my email asking about it). So I was in search of another way to adopt/help out MWD (Military Working Dog) teams.

In the meantime, I was supporting US War Dogs and the efforts to get a National MWD Monument funded. See my K9 page for more info: http://www.mousetrax.com/angels/OperationK9Care.html

Finally, though my acquaintance with Ron at War Dogs...and my whining<g>...Ron relented and, knowing I was a sincere & trusted K9 advocate, he set me up with a MWD K9 team to directly help ...Matt & Bosco, who are currently deployed in the sandbox. I immediately sent them an intro letter with pictures and one care pkg so far, with more almost ready to ship. I hope to hear from them in the near future!

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Sgt Sandra

Adopted June, 2010 - Mission Accomplished - May, 2011

Well, I never heard from Sgt Sandra, but with luck all my mailing/pkgs made it to their destination.

I recently got the email confirmation that Sgt John has been released from under my Wings, as he's heading home. So I had one slot open on my max three and adopted another soldier. Sgt Sandra is my 10th official adopted soldier. Hoping I hear from him during his deployment. Yes, his data says he's male. But, of course, I'll be sure to confirm that info in my first letter to him. Although, being of French canaDIAN (SEE where I got MY name!<g>) heritage, some of my male friends have been named Valerie, Laurie and Michelle. Off to send him a welcome pkg from the Soldiers' Angels' store and write him my first letter.

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Staff Sgt Gabriale

Adopted April, 2010 - Mission Accomplished - February, 2011

Update!

Just got the word from Soldiers' Angels that Gabriale is on his way home...Mission Accomplished. Sad that I never heard from him, but hopefully he got and appreciated the letters and packages I sent him

Adopted April, 2010.

I recently got the confirmation that Christopher has been released from under my Wings, as he's heading home. So I had one slot open on my max three adopted soldier list. I was waiting because I was trying to figure out how to adopt a K9 Unit, which Soldiers' Angels is apparently no longer involved in. But I hated having an open slot when so many soldiers are waiting for someone to watch over them...so I've just adopted my ninth soldier...Gabriale. Since he included his email address, I'm hoping he'll keep in touch. Just sent him off a quick Deployment pkg from the Soldiers' Angels store to welcome him and will be writing him an intro letter about me, shortly.

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Specialist Kevin

Adopted March, 2010 - Mission Accomplished - December, 2010

Update!

Just got the word from Soldiers' Angels that Kevin is on his way home...Mission Accomplished. Sad that I never heard from him, but hopefully he got and appreciated the letters and packages I sent him.

*************

I got the word that Captain Mike was heading home and has now been released from under my wings. So it was time to add another adopted soldier to my list. I applied and received Specialist Kevin who is in Afghanistan. I've only just notified him that he's been adopted, by sending him an Easter/Spring care package through the Soldiers' Angels store, as well as written him an intro letter, so I haven't heard anything from him yet. Hope I eventually do!

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Sgt John

Adopted January, 2010 - Mission Accomplished - June, 2010

Update!

Just got the word from Soldiers' Angels that John is on his way home...Mission Accomplished. Sad that I never heard from him, but hopefully he got and appreciated the letters and packages I sent him.

*************

Sgt Chester recently emailed me to let me know that he'll be heading home, soon. So it was time to adopt another soldier. I only just wrote John an intro letter and will soon send him a Welcome pkg from Soldiers' Angels. Here's hoping he's a soldier who likes to keep in touch.

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Specialist Christopher

Adopted September, 2009 - Mission Accomplished* March, 2010

Update!

April...it's now official that Spc Christopher is heading home...Mission Accomplished. Mail to him was return, so I was hoping he was okay and paperwork has finally made it my way that he's now been released from under my wing. At this time I can't afford to fill that third adoption slot, but I hope to do so soon...when things are a bit more stable at home. (Family health issues, as well as some of my own, means I need to slow down just a bit for the moment.)

*************

* Well, I never did hear from Christopher. That happens...but Angels still stay faithful and keep sending letters/packages per our promise to our adoptees. I sent him a Hero blanket in March, but it was returns. So I assumed his unit had returned home. A check with the MailStop dept of Soldiers' Angels confirms that he's now home. THANK YOU Christopher for your service!

After Specialist John returned home, I was allowed, by Soldiers' Angels, to adopt a new soldier if I wished...and I certainly did! It's an incredible feeling when you're able to connect with a soldier watching out for our country! I haven't yet heard from SPC Christopher, who is my first soldier deployed in Afghanistan. With luck, someday I will.

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Captain Mike

Adopted April, 2009 - Mission Accomplished - March, 2010

Update!

March 13, 2010...just got the email that Captain Mike is heading home. I checked his Facebook page and sure enough...he's wrapping things up and heading home! THANK YOU Captain Mike for your service...I know your lovely family will be thrilled to have you back home with them.

******

In Nov, 09, I finished the two mini afghans for Capt Mike's twins and sent them off to his wife, just in time for Christmas.

She emailed me when they arrived, saying: "They are absolutely gorgeous!! My kiddos LOVE them so much! The first thing [her son] said was; "Wow! An Army blanket!" They have kept them with them all day! Thank you so much Dian. It is so special for them to have them. They told my mom and dad that they were from Daddy's angel! :-) So sweet!"

See photos of the mini afghans I made on my Activities link, HERE.

******

I recently linked up with Capt Mike's amazing and beautiful wife and, with her permission, I'm working on a couple of mini crocheted afghans for their two little children...who are SO CUTE!

This family is truly blessed. And although I'm no longer very religious, just learning more and more about this family makes me want to pray that they will all soon, safely be reunited!

******

One of my adopted soldiers is Captain Michael (pictured here on patrol near Baghdad). He and his unit are also receiving blankets and care packages while under my care. His words are great reminders why we MUST all work hard to support our troops!

"I don't think that most people realize how much it means to Soldiers to have a person stateside that has a real concern for them.  It's people like you that make it easier for us to realize why we do what we do.  It reminds us that the America that we defend still has great Americans with good values and hospitality. So, thank you."

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Sgt Chester

Adopted August, 2009 - Mission Accomplished March, 2010

Updates!

[March 2010] "My dear soldier angel- I am still in Wisconsin State. I will keep you posted and I will send you pictures soon.  Feet on US ground it's a great feeling."

******

[February 2010] "Thanks for all your hard work and your spirit of  reaching to the soldiers in the war zone.  You will not easily be forgotten.  I appreciate you.  I am glad you got the CD and see me in almost person.  That's me and will be always like that.   Thank you again for the care-pkgs, hand written letters and your company while in the sandbox.  Will miss you. Take good care my Soldiers Angel Angel [Dian], Sgt. Chester"

******

Sgt Chester informed me in 2010 that he'll soon be heading home as his mission is nearly completed. Glad to see him getting back to his family, but will miss being in regular touch with this terrific man! I'll update with pictures, which I'm sure he'll send, once he arrives home.

October, 2009...I got this great picture of Sgt Chester, literally wrapping himself in the American Flag, to let me know that he received the blanket I recently sent him. (Special thanks to Naylene for sewing on all the stars!)

As of August 7, 2008, Sgt Chester (pictured here in Iraq with VP Biden...shortly after Sgt Chester's naturalization ceremony) is now also under my care. When Sgt Kelly (my first adopted soldier) left the sandbox to come home (summer/09), as his mission was accomplished, he asked me if we would watch over and become Angels to his buddy, Sgt Chester, who reupped for another tour of duty with a different unit. Now that Sgt Kelly is home, he's passed along Sgt Chester's contact info. I emailed him to ensure that he would accept the invite to have us be his angels and he replied with a wonderful email of acceptance and gratitude!

"Dear Dian, I address you with your first name because it seems as though I have known you for a long time, since Kelly always impressed us with the wonderful packages you sent him from time to time. "

He goes on to say some incredibly meaningful words that should ring loudly in the ears of all Americans...especially those who may take "being an American" for granted!

"On July 4th, 2009, I took an oath and became an American Citizen, a dream of mine for so long. I just can't expressed the exciting feeling rushing through my body. Now, I am an American! WoW! One of the High Light of my life. I know from History that American way of life is the best, but is not free. Therefore, before I could claim my share of the benefits from the Land of Opportunity, I have to do my part. Serving in the Army now gave me a proud feeling that I am doing something worth exchanging my citizenship. I love America and I will defend it at all cost."

I am VERY proud and honored to add Sgt Chester to my list of adopted soldiers!

Chester (front/center) and his buds. Now aren't you glad these guys are on our side! <smile>

Comment from Chester: "All pure American boys @ your service-Angel Lady"

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Specialist John

Adopted June, 2009 - Mission Accomplished September, 2009

John was my third adopted soldier. Thankfully, I was notified in September 2009 that he was sent home. I never did hear from him, but made sure to write him and sent him his care packages. I HOPE he made it home safely with his unit. I may never know for sure...so I'll assume he did and hope I never hear differently! It was my HONOR to be your Angel, SPC John!

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Staff Sgt Eddie

Adopted February, 2009 - Mission Accomplished October, 2009!

Update!

I received an email from Soldiers' Angels in mid October, 2009, letting me know that the 9th Infantry is heading home, so SSG Eddie is no longer in my charge. I was my honor being your Angel during your deployment SSG Eddie! Enjoy your time home with your wife and kids and I hope you won't be called up again anytime soon! THANK YOU for your service!

*********

Although I haven't yet heard from him, I did find a video greeting of him from his location in Iraq. It's a honor to finally "meet" another of my soldiers and with luck, someday he'll be able to write.

Until you're home, Eddie...please STAY SAFE and thanks for all you're doing on our behalf! It is my honor to be your Angel!

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Sgt Kelly

Adopted January, 2009 - Mission Accomplished July, 2009!

Update!

"Kelly's Heroes" Unit returned home from the Sandbox...Mission Accomplished!

I'm THRILLED that my first adopted hero, Sgt. Kelly (soldiers' last names/details are NOT mentioned here for privacy/security reasons) has returned from his deployment in Iraq, along with his unit...several of whom have also received one of my Hero blankets during their deployment...and some we've come to know, i.e., Robert, Kevin, Mathew and Sandy.

Their unit arrived at Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin on Monday, July 27th, 2009...after a couple years serving at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. Big thanks to fellow Patriot Guard Riders who were there in his state to welcome the guys home!

Sgt Kelly's wife, Patty, passed Dian the news: "They're at Ft. McCoy. Got in this morning. And again, thank you and the others for all you have done for them! Should be back home in a week. I'm so happy."

But just because Sgt. Kelly's unit made it safely home after their service to our country in these wars, doesn't mean we can stand idly by. We still have deployed soldiers and their units to watch over!

Update!
Sgt Kelly and his Unit finished their mission in Iraq and returned home to Ft. McCoy on July 27. They will be returning to their homes/families after a week at Ft. McCoy!

Sgt Kelly, my first adopted soldier, made the experience so rewarding, I had to adopt more soldiers!

Comments from Sgt Kelly in Iraq* (pictured at the right). I've sent some blankets his way for him and some of the soldiers in his unit. As you can see from his comments below, these blankets are not only appreciated, but greatly desired!

"As you may have received by now an email from the last person who received your blanket over here. And I have people asking for theirs! I said that I don't control those, I only get them when your group wishes to send them to us. So again, thank you for the blankets."

Kelly's Heroes

Here are some of my currently deployed heroes, serving in Iraq. Army Specialists (r-l) Mathew, Kevin (who will be receiving our first blanket), Robert and my first adopted soldier...Sgt Kelly (owner of the crocheted American Flag blanket they're holding, which Dian made and sent to him. More blankets were later sent to Kelly to share with his unit.

Update!

Two blankets were sent in two directions. One went to Staff Sgt Eddie. The second one went to Sgt Kelly's unit. Kelly shares the blankets with other soldiers in his unit. This time he passed a blanket along to the only woman in their until...Specialist Sandy!

Here she is in one of the photos Kelly sent us:

And here's a slightly blurry photo of Sandy receiving her Hero blanket as she holds/displays a card thanking her for her service.

The PPSA's first blanket was sent to Iraq to Specialist Kevin, who didn't have an angel sending him things. Now he does!

Kevin sends his thanks to our group...he will treasure it!

Update!

Sgt Kelly is a great lover of country music and said he wished he had a guitar in Iraq to pass the down times of boredom. Greg Chapman, a luthier (a maker of stringed instruments), sent him one of his guitars...an $800 Fender Acoustic guitar that he rarely played these days. He felt it would be better appreciated by Kelly, a soldier serving overseas, who wished for a guitar!

It arrived fine! Yeah! Here is Greg's former guitar, now in Sgt Kelly's hands on his bunk...HA, along with the fun BAD DOG calendar I sent him earlier.

We look forward to hearing Kelly play!

Comments from Sgt Kelly... "Dian, I wish to thank you and Greg for the guitar. It arrived today in one piece, now I can begin to learn to play it. Here is a picture of the guitar on my bunk in Iraq the day it came in."

Note! Kelly notified me later that the guitar made it safely home with him while he was on leave. Although now his wife also wants to learn to play...so there may be a fight over who really gets it. <smile>

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Unofficial Adopted Solders

These are some of my unofficial soldiers who have connected with me through the Letter Writing Team or friends.

Kevin

December 2010!
Kevin is a soldier whose name ended up on my Soldiers' Angels Letter Writing Team list back in May, 2010. He is one of a few who has written me back. He sent me a nice, long letter telling me about himself, his job, his life and his kids...who he clearly loves very much and missed. We kept in touch via letters and later via Facebook. He finally made it home just before Christmas, 2010.

Welcome Home, Kevin, and thank you so much for your service to our country, your sacrifices and your courage...as well as for writing me back! I love getting letters from "my soldiers" and learning about who's out there protecting us!

Kevin...working in the sandbox (Afghanistan).

Kevin...front/center in Afghanistan, 2010.

Welcome Home! (Waiting to be released to his kids!)

Daddy's home!

A HERO blanket I made for him. Thank you for your service and welcome home.

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Robert

August 2010, Update!
Rob made it safely home...to his loving wife, Sandy, and daughter, who were SO happy to have him back with them!

Update!
Rob sent me an email in June letting me know that he'd soon be on Mail Stop as he will be heading home in the not too distant future. So I whipped off one more package of freeze pops and wished them well getting home to their loved ones. I still keep in touch with him a bit via Facebook as he winds down his deployment and his wife, Sandy, has promised me photos of his welcome home...something I know his family is anxiously awaiting!

Dian/Ms. Smith,

Let me start by thanking you both for the care packages and correspondence you have both sent during my tour here in Iraq. It's always nice to know we're thought of from back home. The organizations you both support/are a part of are very awesome and even though I know some troops don't express it directly, the things you all do is very much appreciated.

I also wanted to let you all know, I will be re-deploying back home soon (not soon enough though) so we have been asked to not have any mail sent to us after [***date removed***], so as not to bog down mail, or mainly so it mail doesn't have to get re-sent. Again, I wanted to personally thank you both for the support over the past few months and will be sure to e-mail y'all once I get back on good 'ole USA soil sometime in [***date removed***].

Sincerely, Rob **********

Rob's wife, Sandy, also posted a nice thank you to my Facebook page.

Sandy ********** [wrote]: I would like to Thank You for everything you have sent to Rob and the guys over there. I know it has helped make this deployment a lot better for them. My parents and I put a couple boxes together for them as well...I did send him a lot that I know he shared with the guys too. Again, thank you for all you have done for them.

**********

Rob is a police officer who is serving as an MP with the Air Force. He wrote me a nice thank you email thanking me for taking the time to write him and we've since become friends via emails and Facebook. I've sent him care packages and when he mentioned how hot it was there, I asked if they had a freezer. They did...so I sent a case of freeze pops for them to enjoy something a little different to help beat the heat. Fun seeing them enjoying these treats!

Here's Rob thanking me for the pops...

And "Doc" saying Freeze pops are just what the doctor ordered for relief.<g>

And a great shot of the whole unit enjoying their freeze pops! How fun. So happy they enjoyed them...gotta send more.

Hey Dian,

Wanted to let you know we got the ICE Pops today. Thank you soooooo much. Everyone was excited when they saw them in the freezer. Thanks again for everything you've done for us guys/gals over here. Your group is so very awesome! Have a good one.

Rob

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Marty

Marty is the Marine nephew of a friend of mine. When I learned Ruth had a nephew being deployed, I sent him one of my Hero blankets, as well as a care package from a neighbor who wanted to help out some soldiers during the holidays. He is married with triplets! I can't imagine how his young wife endured his time away with three little ones. But I know she did have lots of help from her family. Thankfully, Marty has returned home as of June, 2010.

Here's a couple pics his wife sent me thanking me for the Hero blanket I sent him (front & back of the blanket):

And here he is during his welcome home...with his obviously happy wife and kids. SO glad you made it home safely!!

Semper Fi

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Randy

Randy was one of the first soldiers I wrote to when I started on the letter writing team. And he was one of the first to email me a thank you for my letter. He loves to cook and wants to open his own little restaurant when he gets home. I sent him a Soldiers Angel camo bear from the Soldiers' Angels store to wish him luck...a mascot to give him luck with getting home safely and for luck with his restaurant. (Randy is front/center.)

Randy & his wife, Chasity.

 

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