My name is Kelly. I lost my brother, Lance Corporal Jeffrey D. Walker, May 14, 2007, the day after Mother's Day. He called to tell our Mom, Happy Mother's Day on the 13th at 12 pm our time. That was the last time she spoke to her son. Jeffrey was killed by a sniper while on a convoy. He leaves us his son, Conner Wesley Walker, who is our everything. He just turned a year old and looks and acts just like his father. Jeffrey got to see Conner only a couple of times before his deployment. He did have pictures made with him, pictures that Jeffrey insisted going and have made by himself. His one and only time alone with his son. The date of his death is nearing and I don't even know what to say to my mom! This is her first Mother's Day without her son and her pain is undescribable.
Thank you for your sacrifice little brother. You are our Hero!
Kelly Lynn Otto
Jeffrey's Older Sister
I served in Afghanistan in a Tactical Human Intelligence Mission. I enjoyed my service and feel grateful and humbled by the experiences I had. I came home with a testimony that Freedom is an inherent, deep seated longing in each of us. The Afghan people have always been at war or under a tyrannical rule. Even though they are not well educated and have little or no understanding of Democracy, as soon as they were liberated, I noticed an actual change in their demeanor. I was there for the election and saw a changed people. This tells me that Freedom is truly is a God-given right that is connected to our souls. But alas' I am just a Soldier, what do I know?
By Gary Clark, Veteran
Dear Soldier…yes, you who is missing your Mother and Father and everything that you have ever known in your young life. Were the flag is waving in the warm but changing Autumn breeze over the fields your family has worked as long as anyone in your small town can remember. Where all still gather for the hometown game on Friday nights to cheer for heroes on the football field as they wonder silently how you are doing. Thank you. Thank you for being, THERE. Thank you for your selflessness and your patriotic pride that motivates you past the unbelievables that you have seen and drives you to do a job that not just anyone could do. You may just be one body in a military of many, but without those bodies we are a military of none. A military of none cannot help ANYONE! I thank you…and the people you were born to…and the ones who you love. For your sacrifices, for myself… for the people I was born to…and for the ones that I love, are great and endearing to say the least. Thank you…
Dear Soldier…you, you’re the one I am speaking to. The one who left the city that you used to dabble about, to become a savior in the dark. The one who paints his face for cover in the night to maneuver about his post to keep enemy minds still, instead of shooting hoops with the boys you grew up with down the block. The one who hasn’t slept a safe night in quite some time now in a warm bed with a fluffy down comforter, like I do every night that I make it off of my couch when I fall asleep watching the television at the end of my long, hard, work day. Thank you. For your time and effort. For living through the tormented adventure and keeping your aim. Thank you for not grimacing at pain and being strong, for me and my family, and my world. So I can walk my dog, and turn out my lights, and say prayers with my children at night, and doze off safely, and unknowingly if you will make it through this night. Thank you, and to your Grandmother who worries everyday and prays to the same God I do to keep you safe. Thank you…
Dear Soldier…I know your time THERE has changed your way of life. I know your mind is no longer innocent to the ways of war and the tragedy that takes place within those three little letters. I know your body is not the same body that you went there with. Thank you. To know that you gave so much of yourself for a freedoms that I inherit makes my heart full and proud. Thank you from the culture that you have protected. Soldiers such as yourself, part with so much, to shield my little girls from the unfortunate powers that be. Thank you for protecting them from beings on Earth that want to change their ways of life. Thank you for your gifts and know that they are not taken for granted. Know that we all are waiting for the day to touch your heart as much as you have touched ours. Thank you, and rest easy tonight knowing that you have given all that you had to give. Sleep peacefully tonight my hero.
Dear Soldier…the one who gets up slowly nowadays, and sometimes cannot remember quite how everything once was. Thank you, even though time has taken some of your pain away, I know there are still remains. Thank you for your youth when it was, and your honor of the red, white, and blue. For being apart of history, that we read in books, and immortalize in Hollywood movies. Thank you for teaching us how to be patriots in unsure times. Thanks for keeping our American Spirit alive as you put flags on our fallen friends’ graves every Veterans Day rain or shine, as you still talk to your brothers all these years later. For the VFW’s and the American Legion’s that hold artifacts and post war treasures for us to learn of the times we had behind us, as we try to get through our times now and the hard times ahead of us. Thank you…
Dear Soldier…I know that you cannot hear me as people on earth can any longer. Still I fold my hands, bow my head, and let tears roll down my face and say Thank You. To the woman you left behind who struggles with the memories of her last times with you and still sleeps with your pillow to smell your scent, no matter how faded it has become. Thank you to the mother in her, who picks up the picture of you everyday, and holds it up to the little one, so they will never forget the Father they will know no longer. Thank you to the child that sits at the dinner table and waits a lifetime for you to come back and sit in your chair, and teach them how to count by tens and ride that bike. I hold you and your family in my countless prayers, as I get to drive my children to dance class, and complain of a headache as I pack their lunch before school, when the morning has come too soon. I thank you and promise to try and be a good person, to deserve what you have given of yourself to me. You have, for now, helped in preserving freedoms that do not come cheap. Thank you, and I will teach my children who, hopefully, will grow up having a Mother and a Father beside them through their lives, about what you have given and what your family has sacrificed. And they too, will one day know the pride in thanking you as well. For this, is the greatest of all gratitude that any family, citizen, and American can give to you now. Thank you...my hero.
As a parent, a spouse, a patriotic working tax payer, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and above all else…an American. THANK YOU DEAR SOLDIERS WHO KEEP MY FREEDOMS AND MY WORLD IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AS PEACEFUL AS IT IS. GOD BLESS YOU…THE ONES YOU WERE BORN TO…AND THE ONES YOU LOVE! I WILL CONTINUE TO WAVE OUR FLAG EVERYDAY FOR US ALL!
T.L. Cooke Wife, Mother, Proud American
Cecil County, Maryland
My wife and I want to thank the "Freedom is Not Free" organization for helping us during this difficult time. We are truly blessed for this grant and the help that it will provide us as I continue my treatment. Thank you, thank you so much.
While on patrol in Fallujah, the vehicle Sgt Cobb was riding in took the full blast from a roadside bomb. He was awarded the Purple Heart and is receiving treatment for his brain injury.
Thank you so very much for your generosity, you have made our July! I along with all of my wounded brethren and the families of our fallen are so blessed to have people like you that love your country, are so patriotic and truly understand at what great cost it takes to have our freedom today. We did not become this GREAT NATION by signing peace treaties (I know you can pick up what I'm putting down)!
Semper Fidelis and God Bless,
Cpl. Jacob P. Schick USMC(Ret.)
Cpl Shick spent two years in the hospital, losing his right leg and part of his left arm and hand, and undergoing 46 operations and 23 blood transfusions after the humvee he was riding in struck a triple-stack tank mine.
Thank you so much! This will take such a load off of us you have no idea. I wish I could express how grateful my family and I are for you help.
From SGT Patrick Shannon, who was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service in Iraq, where he was injured during a small arms and indirect fire attack. He moved his squad out of the kill zone and carried two wounded off the battlefield but suffered shrapnel in the left leg, a split retina and TBI in the process.
Your help is so appreciated as it brought hope to my situation. We were close to losing everything and your help made it possible to survive. Thank you.
From SGT Susan Barclay, who was wounded in Iraq in January, 2007 when shrapnel entered her right leg and severed a major artery. Multiple transfusions saved her from bleeding to death but she will also need surgery to remove shrapnel from her right arm and torso. Her husband of six years abandoned her and their two babies, clearing out their savings and leaving bills unpaid for several months. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE helped SGT Barclay catch up with a number of bills, as well as childcare.
From all of us here in Baghdad, thank you for your prayers and support... After it is all said and done, right or wrong, we are all proud to help our country, our fellow servicemembers, and those without the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.
SSgt James Strandberg
Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for helping Shane and his family. With your help, Cindy, Shane's mother, can concentrate on Shane’s recovery, instead of her expenses and obligations. This family was lucky to have Freedom is NOT FREE on the Parsons team. Thank you for all that you do for all the soldiers in our country, these brave American Heroes need help from people like you. God Bless you and take care. We will never forget your helping hand.
(Letter of thanks from a Parson’s family friend.)
Shane Parsons was wounded in Iraq in September when his humvee rolled over a road side bomb. He died twice before reaching the Combat Support Hospital. He was treated and transferred to Germany for more surgery, and then transferred to Walter Reed Hospital for additional treatment. Cpl. Shane Parsons has lost both legs, 60% of his vision and suffered severe head trauma. He is one amazing man and he has been fighting hard everyday. Because his family has been by his side since he arrived at Walter Reed, it has been very hard on them financially. Shane will be released into his parent’s care, once he leaves the Hospital, and with his parent’s home not being handicap accessible, there is still much work to do for Shane to be able to start his new life at home.
Due to the tremendous outpouring of support Freedom Is Not Free enjoyed as a direct result of the America’s Heroes Calendar project, we were able to assist this incredible patriot and his family in their most trying time of need.
Hello I am a spouse of a soldier in Afghanistan…Here is a note from a soldier in my husband’s brigade:
Those of you who know me and know me well know that leaving blogs, or forwards or anything of that nature is not my style. But over the past week I’ve seen some things that can not go untold. I am a squad leader, currently serving in Afghanistan. Been here for 6 months now, but this is by no means my first combat tour. In a span of 3 days, I saw 4 soldiers fight, and loose their lives in combat. A lot of people like to say that they were fighting for their country. While I agree with that, there is also more to it than that. People always seem to overlook the rest of that statement. These soldiers died so that their brothers next to them could live. At the time of their deaths they were not thinking that they are helping a nation fight terrorism, rather they died knowing that they were protecting the rest of us who fought beside them.
One man died reloading one of our heavy weapon systems. He knew that the operation of that weapon was vital to the safety of the rest of the platoon. At that moment, self sacrifice was what protected the other 4 soldiers within his vehicle. His actions and the other soldiers who died as well will never be forgotten.
A brother is not someone who shares a father with you because we all share the same father anyways, rather its someone who is always there for you in your times of need, as well as your times of joy. The quote is from one of our fallen comrades. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that he could be there in OUR time of need.
The reason I am telling you all this, is because I am angry. If I were to go home to the United States and pick one random person and say that I just returned home from fighting a war in Afghanistan, what do you think his reaction would be? I am willing to bet his reaction would be this. That he would ask, We still have soldiers in Afghanistan? We are still fighting the terrorist who inhabit this poor region. Afghanistan seems to be the forgotten war.
The people of the United States don’t understand that people are still fighting and dieing in the mountains, roads, streets and cities of Afghanistan. I don’t know when this transition happened, but people need to be reminded of our actions over here. Iraq seems to be all that fill the minds of our citizens. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I am not trying to take away from the good that our soldiers in Iraq are doing. I just believe that our forgotten soldiers in the mountains of Afghanistan, and the soldiers who die along with them deserve some respect as well.
While the casualties in Afghanistan are lower then Iraq, consider this fact: The number of troops in Iraq number roughly around 125,000 while the number of troops in Afghanistan number only around 20, 000. That’s why the death toll between the two war zones seems so drastically different. I have fought the enemy in both countries, been shot at and blown up more times then I can count. And I can tell you this. The enemy we face in Afghanistan is a much greater and more determined enemy. They are better trained and know how to fight. They have been doing it for hundreds of years.
In closing, over the past few weeks, we have encountered some very serious resistance. My platoon alone has lost two of their brothers and had 7 wounded, all of whom were evacuated to echelons of medical care far away from our current position. While I weep for the ones who have lost their lives, I am also concerned for those who are trying to heal. Some may never walk again, others will be permanently disfigured, and all have some trying times ahead of them. Those are the people I am asking you all to pray for, that they have a speedy and healthy recovery. I can say this though, I am happy that they are at least out of harms way.
This is my charge to all of you. We need to spread the word of the soldiers who are still fighting in Afghanistan. Our soldiers here depend on the support of our loved ones back home. Tell everyone you know of the trying times our brothers are facing. Tell everyone of the heroism of the soldiers who lost their lives and of the soldiers who are fighting to recover what they have lost.
This man is not in my husbands company but he is in the same brigade...The men in my husbands company have been dealing with 7 losses total. Four men of theirs were killed when a CH-47 Chinook (helicopter) crashed into the mountains, and the other 3 men were killed when they encountered enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades during combat operations. Aside with dealing with the losses they are sleeping on cots and eating 1 hot meal a day, the other 2 meals are MRE's (meals ready to eat). They don’t get cold drinking water and they are lucky if they get to shower on a daily bases. Upon the 500+ men and women on their FOB they share approx. 3 computers and 2 phones to communicate with family and friends back home. I’m not trying to have a competition of who has it worse overseas but I was curious if there is any way that you can think of bringing a smile to their faces or do anything at all to support them, they would love to get responses from people stateside. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
I would to thank my family, friends and the rest of the people who support what we are over here in Iraq trying to accomplish. Times get trying and morale sometimes is low, but with supporters like you all...we find the strength to press on. You may think we are heroes for doing this, but we think it takes great people to show love and support as well. So I will keep on doing my part for our country and I hope you all do the same by continuing to support. Thank You and God Bless America.
SGT Sharia Torrence, US Army, Detroit, Michigan
I would like to know what the people back home think of this. Please forward/send this to family, friends, coworkers, or anyone so that the true story of Iraq is told by someone that has seen the truth first hand.
My name is Thomas Nelson, a 2005 graduate of Auburn High School of Auburn, Alabama. I joined the Army when I was 17 and I'm currently a Specialist serving in Iraq. As I sit down and watch and read the news from back home I tend to wonder if anyone actually knows what goes on over here in Iraq. I have been stationed in Baghdad for the last eight months and what I see is completely different then what the news says is going on. All you hear from the media these days is how the insurgents are attacking and the deaths of soldiers. The news seems to be encouraging the negative aspects of the war and nothing positive of what the coalition forces are doing here. It seems to me that the news is fueling the fire for a withdrawal of forces but doing that will just make matters worse for the country. Even though the death toll may seem high to some, but you must really consider how low it actually is and see the difference from previous wars.
You don't hear about how we are changing and touching the lives of many Iraqis that work and do common jobs around the bases that free up soldiers to do other things. You don't see the Iraqis trying hard to learn just a little bit of our language so that they can understand and speak to us. The Iraqis are just like American's in many ways but you don't see that. They are working hard for their families to be able to have a better future for their children and help them move up in the world. The family values are the same they go on living their lives like any other person in the world, but they just have to deal with a few things that most people wouldn't understand. The people are very friendly and they very social and intelligent, but you would have to be in the country to understand what I have see. The government will have some problems at first just like our government had troubles when the US became a country. As I continue to serve over here I see how other people in the world live and how great their culture is. My final note is if we pull out now you are saying the people that have given their lives over here are for nothing. We must not give on Iraq and we must continue the war that is going on. I'm serving a great cause in history that will change the course of history over time, but it will take time for change to happen, but change does not happen over night.
Specialist Thomas Nelson
I want to thank everyone in Colorado and elsewhere throughout the country who continue to support the troops. As I am about to embark on my second tour of Iraq I am reminded how fortunate I am to wake up every morning and wear this uniform. Thank you for giving me that chance, I am truly blessed.
SSgt Shean Leigon, USAF, Colorado Springs, CO
Thank you for the support! Knowing Americans are behind its Armed Forces gives great hope for the future of our country and its children. While being a citizen soldier here in Iraq having a family I look forward to seeing again gives me great pleasure to know they are being cared for and supported at home as well. America, Thank You, for being the land of the free! SGT Steven Bauer
SGT, Army National Guard, Maple Grove, MN
Thank you all for your support if it were not for the support of the US it would make are job just that much harder on us. Thank you again, God bless.
PFC Derek Turner, US Army, Gresham, OR
To all of you Marines, who willingly joined our beloved corps, thank you! It is hard to express the feelings of knowing that my Leather Neck brothers are fighting at a foreign land, far away from your family and friends. I would like to know if I can be of help. All of America is at war; unfortunately, not every American sees it that way.
A thank you is not nearly enough to give to you for all you have given up and are fighting for. Marines are pure examples of truth, honor and justice; they define what American stands for. Every one of you are my hero, you inspire me to achieve great things because you did it. I use to (And am still getting) Failing grades in my high school because I did not care at all for anything, I am selfish and rude and I want to change that. I want to become a Marine so I can show everyone what I am made of and how proud I can be. I just can not explain in words how grateful I am to you all for giving me a purpose to continue. The feeling I get whenever I meet a Marine or even talk to one is absolutely over powering. I feel humbled and honored to even have the chance.
I hope one day I can become a Marine and have someone say that about me, I want to give back to you for keeping me safe, but give to the future and keep them safe.
I am a poet, but no words could describe how incredibly honored I feel to have you guys fighting for me and fighting for peace. War is a terrible thing indeed but something has to be done. Thank you all so much, for everything, everything.
I know this is not enough but it is all I can offer until I am 18. I hope I can be honored enough to join you one day, I will fight for that honor in everyway I can.
Thank you all very much for your support. Mostly I want to thank the spouses for their support too. I am married and I love my wife more than anything. I know this has been hard on us, but no matter how bad it's getting she is still there. I know the husbands and wives and children are under a lot of stress when we are gone so thank you. As for all the other people, thank you too just as much I just think that the families should get some recognition because without their support, we wouldn't be able to do this. So thank you all.
Spc Daniel Tate, US Army, Carlinville, IL
I have seen you on the news, and you are all just an amazing group of people...though you may be quite weary, you keep on chugging along...You are really some of my heroes and heroines! I like what you all do...and I like how you treat the men and women that come to your tents...You are really great people!
Keep up the absolutely wondrous job of caring for people...and making sure that they come thru okay!
I KNOW that all of you work really, really hard...and I just have to say, thank you for being there, when I and millions of others in this world could not....you really are pretty great people....just know, that nobody forgets you all. I hear people mentioning their family members or friends, or neighbors, or ex-coworkers who have signed up to be in the army...and whom have been sent off to God knows where to serve...we aren't gonna be forgetting any of you, at all!
You are very much in our thoughts, our minds, our soul, and our hearts....
Just remember that....if you ever feel down and out!...We the people may not know what you are doing all of the time or what it may be like where you all are at...but, we ARE thinkin' A LOT about all of you!
Wishing you good thoughts and good health!
Just wanted to say Thank You to all the Army people out there....and to all medics...thank you so kindly for stitching up all of the people that have come to you for emergencies and more...you all are really somethin', ya know that? Just really amazingly kind, and truly caring individuals that go all out to help the soldiers everywhere!
Hey, I'm Jessica and I'm 13. I just wanted to tell all the men and women in the army that I love them so much. You mean so much to me you couldn’t imagine. Even though I have no one in my family in the army doesn’t mean I don't support you or love you I do. I hope that you guys and girls are doing all right. I pray for the USA army every night. I also pray for the ones we lost. Don’t ever give up. You’re my superhero.
Dear Troops: You are bold and brave to protect our country. We know how hard it is to leave your families and go to war to protect the United States of America. We hope you come home soon and safely. We appreciate all that you are doing!
Cole, age 11 and brother Wyatt, Age 6
I wanted to take the time to thank you all so much for what you do for our country. It's the least I could do to show my respect and appreciation for all of you who proudly serve. Words cannot even describe the thankfulness and respect I feel for all that are in the military. You inspire me every day to be the person I want to be because when I'm just sitting in my classroom wishing I could be somewhere else, I think of all the sacrifices you make for me to even be able to sit in that class room and I thank God for all you brave men and women that put your lives out there on the line for our freedom. God Bless.