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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Check out New Years at Camp Taji, Iraq

LIVE webcast of Soldiers at Camp Taji, Iraq counting down on #NYE starts at 3:30 PM ET on DVIDS:
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Alabama Guard has new helicopter

The Alabama Army National Guard will unveil the newest addition to its aircraft inventory at a ceremony 10 a.m., Jan. 9 at the Army Aviation Support Facility #2, 5701 East Lake Boulevard in Birmingham.

The new Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), the UH-72A Lakota, is a lightweight helicopter that is specifically tailored to support homeland security missions. The aircraft will be used for counterdrug operations and law enforcement support missions. The new UH-72 will help replace the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter on many Alabama National Guard counterdrug missions in support of law enforcement.

The Lakota is the first new aircraft to come directly to the Alabama National Guard in years. National Guard aircraft are normally former regular Army aircraft that have been replaced.

The UH-72, produced in Columbus, Miss, is a state of the art aircraft with twin engine reliability, modern navigation and communication systems and a proven record of commercial Aviation service.

UH-72s will be on display at the ceremony and senior Alabama National Guard members will be on-hand to welcome the new aircraft.

More Alabama Guardsmen headed to Iraq

The Alabama Army National Guard’s 2101st Transportation Company out of Demopolis, Aliceville and Butler has been called to active duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A departure ceremony for the unit will be held at Demopolis High School, 701 U.S. Highway 80 West, at 10 a.m. on Jan. 9.

The 2101st, formerly the 440th Ordnance Company, was deployed to the Middle East in the 1990s. The company also deployed to provide transportation support for Operation Iraq freedom during 2004-2005.

The approximately 170 members of the 2101st will head to Fort Dix, N.J. for final training before departing for Iraq.

The unit has been training for its mission over the past months, undergoing extensive training both at home station and at Camp Shelby, Miss. Some unit members - part of Detachment 1 out of Aliceville - were able to put that training to use earlier this year. In July, as they traveled home from training at Camp Shelby, they witnessed a church bus from Louisiana blow a tire and overturn directly in front of the unit bus. The unit bus stopped and 47 members of the 2101st assisted accident victims. Many involved believe their actions saved lives. Gov. Bob Riley later recognized these Soldiers in an awards ceremony at the Capitol.

The general public is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony to show their support for the 2101st soldiers and their families.
Monday, December 28, 2009

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Miltec Corp. of Huntsville, is being awarded a sole-source modification to continue performing work under its competitively awarded, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract.

Miltec will continue the planning and preparation of flight test payloads for the Missile Defense Agency Producibility and Manufacturing Directorate's Flight Experiment #2.

The work will be performed in Huntsville.

The performance period is being extended to March 21, 2012.

The contract amount is being raised to $9,809,673 from the previous contract amount of $4,809,673.

Obligations will be made using fiscal year 2010 research, development, test and evaluation funds.

The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.
Friday, December 18, 2009

Birmingham company awarded defense contract

Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC, Birmingham, is being awarded an $8,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of hospital alterations at Naval Station Jacksonville.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, Fla., and is expected to be completed by August 2011.

Funds for this project are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website with eight proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.
Thursday, December 17, 2009

OIF/OEF memorial project raising funds

From the USS Alabama folks:

On Dec. 17, 2009, members of the Gear Jammers Car Club and the Alabama State Defense Force made a check presentation to the Operation Iraqi/Enduring Freedom Memorial Fund for $1,600. The funds will go to build a Fallen Heroes memorial that will be erected at Battleship Memorial park to remember those who have given all in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This memorial project was started by Nathan Cox, a former Marine Infantry Officer and Iraqi veteran, who has, all too painfully, had to deal with the loss of Marines and friends. He has also witnessed firsthand the toll it takes on their families and loved ones as they have to deal with the fact they’ll never see them again. Nathan has made the commitment to make sure our fallen warriors have their names etched into eternity as a reminder what makes our country what it is and who has sacrificed to keep it that way.

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11th, Gear Jammers Car Club, in partnership with members of the Alabama State Defense Force 302nd Battalion Fairhope, AL, raised $1600, to go towards the memorial fund. That day, Chick-fil-A of Daphne and Bob Baumhower’s Wings of Daphne donated a percentage of their total sales, along with having donation boxes in their restaurants. COL Phillip Tipp, Corporal James Johnson, and Major Tom Morrow, all members of the 302nd, were at the Chick-fil-A in Daphne asking for donations and Linda Tipp with Gear Jammers was present at Wings in Daphne.

Efforts such as these will help Cox reach his ultimate goal of $125,000 and build an Operation Iraqi/Enduring Freedom Memorial at USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park.

The Gear Jammers Car Club of Baldwin County has been hosting fundraising events in support of this memorial over the past year. To date they have raised just over $11,000. Frankie Kucera, President of the Gear Jammers said, “We have a number of veterans in our club and wanted to support and give back to a very worthy cause. It’s so important to show our respect and honor those who have served and/or are serving.”

Photo from left to right: Linda Tipp, Gear Jammers; Dale Elks, Baumhower’s Wings of Daphne; COL Phillip Tipp, 302nd Battalion Fairhope; Nathan Cox; James Waldon, Gear Jammers; Bill Tunnell, Battleship Park; Frankie Kucera, Gear Jammers; and Steve Long, Gear Jammers

Fundraiser for Cooper Bradshaw

Family and friends of Cooper Bradshaw are hosting a spaghetti dinner on Dec. 19 to raise funds in Cooper’s memory.

Cooper was born Aug. 16, 2007 and was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called neurocutaneous melanosis. He died on March 29, 2009 at 19 months old.

His parents, Sandy and Brent Bradshaw formed the Cooper Bradshaw Foundation in his memory and are raising funds to buy gifts for patients at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. They’re also putting together parent bags that include items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, hand sanitizer and other useful items for spending time away from home at the hospital.

The dinner will be hosted at the American Legion Post 133 in Millbrook. A poker run begins at 10:30 a.m. from the post and the spaghetti dinner begins at 4 p.m. The cost is $8 per plate, dine in or carry out.

Donations can also be made to Cooper Bradshaw Foundation c/o American Legion Post 133, P.O. Box 264, Millbrook, AL 36054 or at any First Community Bank of Central Alabama location.

Here's the story I wrote about the Bradshaws in January:

Two words are written on a piece of paper taped to Sandy Bradshaw's computer monitor: Neurocutaneous melanosis.

It's the cancer her 16-month-old son Cooper is living with.

When he was born Aug. 16, 2007, at slightly more than 9 pounds, he appeared completely healthy except for several large moles.

"They brought him out to me and I said, 'What's on him?'" Sandy's husband, Brent, said. "We didn't like it."

And they didn't want to take any chances, so they took Cooper to a specialist in Birmingham.

A few months later, after an MRI, doctors found a spinal tumor.

And when he was almost 6 months old, Cooper spent seven hours in surgery at the Children's Hospital in Birmingham. Although he ended up with 38 stitches down his back, doctors said the tumor was a benign mass.

The Bradshaws had planned to do another MRI six months later. But before that, Sandy noticed something wasn't right.

In August 2008, Cooper became lethargic. He had been crawling, "but he stopped doing the things he'd been doing," Sandy said.

She packed a bag and was ready to take Cooper to the emergency room. Initially her husband wanted to wait until Monday, believing that Cooper would be better off seeing his regular doctor than an ER doctor on a Friday night.

But something happened to change his mind.

"He fell over and didn't push himself back up," he said.

The Bradshaws learned that Cooper had spinal fluid on his brain, and a few days later Cooper had another surgery to have a shunt put in.

"The shunt diverts the fluid out of there," said Dr. Alyssa Reddy, Cooper's doctor at Children's Hospital. "But it doesn't treat the underlying problem."

A week later, Cooper celebrated his first birthday. About that time, doctors identified his condition as neurocutaneous melanosis.

The couple wanted to learn all they could about the disease. As soon as they got home, they did a Google search and started reading the 12,200 Web sites they found.

The condition is characterized by abnormal cells that attach to the lining of the brain and can affect the nervous system. If the cells grow too much, they can shut down the nervous system, he said.

Reddy said it's a rare disorder with no known cause. The condition often behaves like a cancer or a tumor and tends to grow and cause more problems that can be fatal to young children, Reddy said.

She's currently treating Cooper and another child with the condition, although there's no proven treatment to correct it.

"But we also know that if it's untreated, it gets worse," she said. In Cooper's case, the cells have been non-malignant so far, but he's started chemotherapy in hopes of preventing the spread of the abnormal cells.

"Even when they don't look malignant, they act aggressively," Reddy said.

The first round of treatment was in November and made Cooper sick. But the second round in December didn't bother him as much. He had his third round of chemo Tuesday. Later this month or in early February, Cooper will have another MRI.

If it shows his condition has stayed the same or improved, Reddy said they would likely give Cooper a dose of chemo every month for a year. If his condition has worsened, they'll re-evaluate his treatment, Sandy said.

For the most part, Cooper is functioning like most other children his age. He hasn't been walking much, but he scoots at rapid speeds, his parents joked. His 3-year-old sister, Kennedy, didn't start walking until she was about 14 months old.

While the Bradshaws said it is breaking their hearts seeing him have to battle the disease, they said the ordeal is bringing them closer.

"I used to have a place where I had a camper set up, and I'd go for two weeks at a time, but now I want to go to work and come home and be with them," Brent said.

And Cooper's close to big sister Kennedy.

"He loves her to the point of no return," Sandy said.

Sandy said she and her husband usually buy Christmas gifts for each other, but this year it was all about the kids.

"We absolutely have no idea," Sandy said, before her voice trailed off. Her husband finished her thought for her, "We have no idea what we'll be facing this year."

Saturday, the American Legion Post 133 in Millbrook is holding a spaghetti dinner to benefit Cooper.

"It seems like everybody wants to help," Brent said. "It's heartwarming to know that the community will pull together like that."

Sandy's father is a member at the post and someone had approached him about organizing an event to support Cooper and the Bradshaw family.

More and more people in the community are finding out about Cooper's condition and ask the couple about him when they're out, or call the house to check on him.

But it still surprises the Bradshaws that people know and care about their young son.

"At first we didn't tell a lot of people, we just were so shocked," Sandy said. "We weren't ready to face it. It hadn't sunk in. It wasn't reality yet."

They'll be home from the third round of chemotherapy late today to attend the American Legion benefit on Saturday.

Tim Smith, first vice commander of the Millbrook post, said many of the Legion members don't personally know the Bradshaw family, but "the Legion is about helping veterans and helping people in the community that need assistance."

Post 133 set up a Web site about Cooper for online donations and so far they've collected more than $1,500, Smith said.

And despite an uncertain future and looming challenges, the family is digging in.

"We've got to fight. We can't give up," Brent said.

Sandy came up with a new family motto too: It's 2009 -- Cooper's year to shine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Alabamians in the military

Army National Guard Pfc. James D. Brantley has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

He is the son of Andrea Jones of Princeton Road, Montgomery.

Brantley is a 2009 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery.


Army Pfc. Gilbert T. Mcclamroch has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.

He is the son of Charles and Kathy McClamroch of Jasmine Hill Trail, Wetumpka.

McClamroch is a 2007 graduate of Trinity Presbyterian School, Montgomery.
Monday, December 14, 2009

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Wyle Laboratories, Inc., Huntsville, is being awarded a $30,605,633 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award contract (N00421-03-D-0015) to execute an award term for continued E-2C/E-2D/C-2 planning, program and financial services in support of the Navy and the governments of Egypt, France, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and Canada under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Work will be performed in Patuxent River, Md., and is expected to be completed in December 2010.

Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.
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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 

As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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