Tag Archives: veteran

Honoring The Brave

by Kimberly A. Cook                    (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

This weekend we head into Memorial Day and last Saturday was U.S. Armed Forces Day. With all the crazy going on in the world, we can always rely on the men and women in our military doing their jobs day in and day out to keep us safe.


Tomb Sentinels from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) conduct a changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, Va., May 5, 2017. Members of The Old Guard have guarded the Tomb every second, of every day regardless of weather conditions since April 6, 1948. (U.S. Army photos by Pfc. Gabriel Silva)



A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter arrives at the pickup zone at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 6. The aviators were taking part in a joint-training exercise with Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, in anticipation of working together during future Atlantic Resolve missions. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs)


I wanted to recognize all service members in the National Guard, Reserve, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force and our military animals. This Sunday on Memorial Day is a time to remember all those who gave the greatest sacrifice for our country.

Laboon is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region

 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (May 11, 2017) Yeoman Seaman Theresa Porcellini mans the ship’s wheel from the aft steering station during a simulated toxic gas drill aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). The ship is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. R. DiNiro/Released)


A picture speaks a thousand words, so these photos are courtesy of the Department of Defense amazing photographers.



Pfc. Heaven Southard, an Army military working dog handler with the Directorate of Emergency Services, Area Support Group – Kuwait, releases her military working dog “Jerry” during a demonstration of MWD capabilities at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Mar. 7, 2017. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)


Give a prayer of thanks for those who serve and take a moment of silence to honor those who gave their lives in defense of our country. Freedom isn’t free.


GULF OF OMAN (March 2, 2017) Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) disembark a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) after returning to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) following exercise Sea Soldier 17. The annual, bilateral exercise is conducted with the Royal Army of Oman and is designed to demonstrate the cooperative skill and will of U.S. and partner nations to work together in maintaining regional stability and security. Somerset, with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce and enhance regional stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Chavez/Released)




USCG Motor Lifeboat 47213 conducting surf operations near the treacherous Columbia River Bar, Washington. The 47-foot Motor Life Boat is primarily designed as a fast-response rescue vessel for high-seas, surf, and heavy weather environments. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jamie Thielen)


Angel Thunder 17

Angel Thunder 17
Air Force pararescuemen with the 58th Rescue Squadron prepare for aerial transport during a personnel recovery scenario at Pond Landing Zone during Angel Thunder 17 in Tucson, Ariz., May 11, 2017. Angel Thunder is a two-week, Air Combat Command-sponsored, joint certified and accredited personnel recovery exercise focused on search and rescue. The exercise is designed to provide training for personnel recovery assets using a variety of scenarios to simulate deployment conditions and contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)


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Filed under Support The Troops

Have A Safe And Thoughtful Memorial Day Weekend

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@    WarriorTales)

This Friday I wanted to let you know about an amazing place called Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. While most folks know the iconic images of this hallowed ground, to me it’s the honor and reverence by The Old Guard (3d US Infantry Regiment) and the cemetery staff that most folks don’t see that is truly respectful.

The first video shows The Old Guard performing the “Flags In” they do every year for Memorial Day, putting flags on every grave site on the more than 600-acre cemetery to remember and honor those at Arlington. The second is an hour-long National Geographic television special about Arlington National Cemetery and The Old Guard.

Have a wonderful long weekend for those of us not working this weekend. A thank you to those military and law enforcement personnel on duty across the globe so we can honor the sacrifice of our fallen this weekend. Be happy, be safe and hug somebody and your pets this weekend. Freedom isn’t free.

Here is the link to the National Geographic Special “Arlington: Field of Honor.”




Filed under Veteran Stories

Take A Moment To Remember On Memorial Day

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Next Monday is Memorial Day and many of us will be off work. In this age of Memorial Day sales and the rush out-of-town for a long weekend, take a few moments to reflect on what Memorial Day is really all about.

The Vietnam Wall at night on November 5, 2005, in Washington, D.C. The blue folder contains the War Stories I left there from my veteran writing students.

The Vietnam Wall at night on November 5, 2005, in Washington, D.C. The blue folder contains the War Stories I left there from my veteran writing students.

This national holiday was put into law to remember and honor the sacrifices of the men and women who died while in military service. It is also a time we can remember those who have served and passed on after war and peace. It’s also a time to honor and never forget those who never came home and are still Missing In Action or Prisoners of War, their fate never to be known.

Thumbing through the back newspapers from my vacation on Sunday, I came across an article that one of my former veteran writing students, Phillip Leveque, had passed at the age of 92. Phillip was a character in every sense of the word and never failed to entertain us all with his stories and brought tears to our eyes when telling the truth about his service during World War II.

He served with the 89th Infantry Battalion as a Battalion Scout and earned the Combat Infantry Badge. As he told it, “he walked from Luxembourg to near Dresden mostly under fire.”

In Oregon he is better known as the “Pot Doc,” a name he preferred to be remembered by as he introduced medical marijuana to Oregon and later lost his license issuing cards for users. In a news story in February of this year while he was on hospice he stated he was “very proud” that medical marijuana would be legal in Oregon this July, especially for veterans with level five and above PTSD.

It was an honor to coach Phillip for three years in my class and read his stories. Later he published his own book of war stories and I wish I had a copy. Life goes by quickly enough, so on this Memorial Day take a few moments to remember the men, women and military animals who gave their all to keep this country free.

Then go have a great picnic and celebrate the day in honor of those who are no longer with us. I know they are with us in spirit and would want us to play and have fun with family and friends, because those are the most important things in life after all. So raise a hot dog, beer or s’more in toast to them all on Memorial Day.

Those we’ve lost are watching from the true high ground and will be cheering us on. Land of the free, because of the brave.

Special Note: For all those now riding across the country on Run For The Wall to participate in Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C. the day before Memorial Day, God Speed and ride safe.


Filed under Veteran Stories

Coping? With The Holidaze?

by Kimberly A. Cook         (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

On Saturday, November 1st, I dashed into our local Freddie’s store to pick up some items I forgot the day before. Stopped short in my loafers – Christmas had exploded in the store. Looked around and did a mental double-take. I was eating Halloween candy YESTERDAY, right? The orange and black decorations were all gone and it was full press holiday overload. Like the elves and a thousand minions re-did the entire store overnight. Must have been some good spiked eggnog.

For the wild children out there, try this no fail scratch pie crust recipe. It's a friend's high school home economics recipe. Pretty sure that makes it vintage!

For the wild children out there, try this no fail scratch pie crust. It’s a friend’s high school home economics recipe. Pretty sure that makes it vintage! (Click on the photo to enlarge)

In the military when something expanded or moved up we called that mission creep. Now we’ve got Christmas creep or Kwanza Creep or Holiday hustle. Pick your personal celebration. It’s enough to make my frazzled brain ask for a holiday time out. Seems buying bathing suits in January isn’t bad enough, now we lose out on the discount Halloween candy! Is there no justice?

Each year I surrender earlier to the holidays. Really reduces my stress level. Lower your expectations, it’s a great thing. We’ve even decided to have pizza for Christmas and friends are cooking for us on turkey day. A first. Fabulous!

I used to slave over making the pie crusts from scratch for turkey day until my brother-in-law’s mother confessed she used Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts. The family was stunned and shocked. I had no idea her amazing pies were not scratch crusts, so I decided to do the same thing. (I think mixing up the Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe and pouring it in the pie pans counts as cooking, don’t you? I add evaporated milk, eggs AND spices. )

In this season of “everybody looks happy on tv” (it’s fantasy) and “everybody has tons of fun festivities to attend” (who has time for all those parties? Fake tv people!) it can become a bit overpowering if we’re not in the same mind-set or personal situation.

So besides lowering my expectations and surrendering to the holidays, here are a few things we can all do to make the holidays easier to cope with, besides chugging hot buttered rum.

Do one fun thing for yourself each day. Take time to blink. Or breathe. Give yourself a foot rub with lotion or Crisco – whatever works for ya. Watch a favorite movie. Smell a holiday tree. Sniff cloves or cinnamon – sniff not snort, safety first here. Cuddle with a pet or person – either/or need to give their permission first. Wear those comfy raggedy lounge clothes at home while watching football. (Just because my 300-year-old sweatshirt has blue paint on it does not mean it’s worn out.)

Do one nice thing for someone else each day. Smile at people; a nice smile not a vampire on steroids scary smile. Comb your cat or dog or parakeet, if they’re okay with it. Open a door for a fellow human. Give someone a compliment. Donate some canned food to the food bank if you’re able. Take your friend, pet, spouse or kidlet for a nice long winter walk. Send someone a snail mail card for the fun of it.

One of the driver training videos by our Sheriff’s Department talks about how you will drive where your eyes look; so if you focus on the holiday crazies that’s where your brain is going to go too. Try evasive maneuvers if you start to get the holiday blues. For me this is a time to cuddle up at home, write, read and bake in the warm comfort of my toasty house and comfy LaZBoy. Especially since our Oregon weather temperatures are rising again; I am SO SORRY for the rest of the country on Arctic Cold Outbreakageddon- the sequel.

Feel free to bake cookies or cupcakes or pie crusts. Go online and listen to my current fave radio station www.island985.com on iheartradio for some Hawaiian reggae music. Or eat baked goods – just not ALL of them. The holiday season is still young – pace yourselves!

Got any holiday coping tips?


Filed under Food

Is A Lazy Weekend Good For Your Creative Muse?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Interesting weather weekend. Heat, humidity, thunderstorms, rain, lightning, wind, clouds. Sometimes all at the same time. Sunday morning I realized I had the heating pad on for a sore muscle, the air conditioning going and it was raining outside. Welcome to wacky weather.

Before planting, all but four of these guys got in the ground. Yes, I'm a yard art slut and that is Gnomeo and Juliet.

Before planting, all but four of these guys got in the ground. Yes, I’m a yard art slut and that is Gnomeo and Juliet.

Part of what did not happen this past weekend was me cleaning up more of my office. Seems I wanted to play and working on de-cluttering didn’t feel like fun.

The tune “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer,” kept running through my mind.

By Sunday I had the lazy part down pat while I watched men run around at the World Cup with a lot more energy than I had.

Sometimes we need to park ourselves and sit. Just sit. Take time to think and dream and imagine. Daydreaming is an official requirement for writers, especially fiction writers. It also gives me time to scan the stack of magazines I buy and then barely have time to read.

Perfect Sunday. Weird weather means staying home is not only allowed, but recommended. Spec Ops Cat also requires a certain amount of lap time and he felt his quota was abysmal this past week. He got caught up.

There were two petunia and two fuchsia plants leftover from my garden planting weekend to go into the ground. I knew I should get them in the dirt but the rain and lightning convinced me they were on their own for another couple of days.

Sometimes the best thing to do on a summer Sunday is to putter, rest and snuggle with magazines and a cat. The office is not going to clean itself,  the clean up elves have a better union and don’t work on Sundays. It will all wait. September sounds good.

Taking time to refresh ourselves is important. Because even our creative muse mind needs a lazy summer day. Plus you don’t want to deal with a cranky pet, spouse, kids or friends. Enjoy some lazy summer days!


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Filed under Writing Muse

What Is The Real State Of Our Union?

by Kimberly A. Cook             (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Last Thursday I ran errands to several places I was not excited to visit; usually I’m a little more logistically together to avoid the pharmacy, grocery store, post office and gas station the day before a major holiday weekend. But life happens and I ended up at those busy spots.

Walking into the pharmacy waiting room it was packed with folks. They were serving number 298 and I was number 316. The digital message on the wall let me know I should expect to be served in 22 minutes.

Captured this while waiting for a left hand turn signal light in May. Fabulous.

Captured this while waiting for a left hand turn signal light in May. Fabulous.

Sitting down on a cushy bench, I decided to do what writers do best: observe. People watching is fascinating. Learned several things. Everybody was pretty orderly. The pharmacy folks slammed at the windows were being pleasant and taking time to chat with people, but getting the job done. The noise level was quiet.

Friends, relatives and hired drivers were helping each other out. It was pretty low-key. It struck me how with all the craziness in the news on our nation’s birthday eve, we may not be the most fashion forward folks all the time but, the majority of Americans are kind.

The experience made me keep my eyes open on the rest of my stops. A man held the door open for a lady with a large package. USPS counter workers told people to have a Happy Fourth.

The woman who pumped my gas, yes we do not pump our own gas in Oregon, was perky and friendly and had on a bright red shirt for the occasion. At the grocery store walking out I saw another shopper helping an elderly gentleman locate the employee who had checked him out earlier. Stranger helping stranger.

Heard on the news the Boston Pops even moved up their concert one day to be able to party and keep everyone safe too. Is this a great country or what? Got bad weather coming? Party first!

Perhaps those of us who have served in the military realize the special meaning of our national birthday since many times we have not been on U.S. soil to celebrate, and we know others serve as the nation plays.

It’s always a good idea to open our eyes, look around, see the bigger picture in the small everyday details and tell the stories. That’s what writers do.

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

Erma Bombeck



Filed under Writing Muse

Remembering Our Heroic Military Animal Warriors

by Kimberly A. Cook                (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Monday is Memorial Day to honor and remember all who have given their lives defending our nation. Along with the brave women and men who have given the ultimate sacrifice during war and peace, during and after service, we also honor the heroic military animals who stand beside our warriors and pay the price of freedom.

This Monday remember the sacrifices of all our warriors and veterans. Military animals and especially military dogs have shown their love and duty by giving their lives to protect their country and fellow troops.

Remember; Freedom isn’t Free.

(You have to watch this video on YouTube, but here is the link)




Filed under Veteran Stories