My interview is posted on KOLN's web site. Our filter doesn't let us view any streaming video so I haven't seen it yet, but the word on the street is that it turned out well. The only correction was that at one time they mentioned my wife and daughter. Benjamin didn't take offense though, he is confident in his masculinity. Thanks again KOLN! They obviously don't have to do this, and my understanding is that they pick up a significant portion of the cost to do the satellite feed, so that is outstanding as we like to say in the military.
Here is the first line of the dumbest story I've seen in some time: NEW YORK - ABC news anchor Chris Cuomo was unhurt Tuesday after the convoy of military police he was riding with in Iraq was struck by a roadside bomb. And this is news why? Any idea how many of our Humvees get hit by IEDs every day and soldiers Charlie Mike (aka continue mission)? You can rest assured it is a lot. I think if we put out a news story each time this happened we'd run out of room on the internet. I'm sure that Chris didn't write the story and I imagine he is probably embarrassed that it got published, but who knows. I will say this though, the new uparmor kits on the Humvees are saving lives. You should see the new doors, I'll see if it is okay to post some pictures of them on here. The armor level of the trucks our guys rely on to stay alive has drastically improved in the 10 months we've been here. When you hear or BDE commander say that we are the best equipped, best trained force in history I don't think he is exaggerating. For a National Guard Brigade Combat Team, I can't imagine there is much stuff out there that we don't already have.
This is the most moving story I've read in quite a while. If you can read this without something getting in your eye, well, there may be something wrong with you. It is about a Minnesota soldier that lost both of his legs and 2 buddies in an IED blast. Here are some quotes:
"President Bush told me I was a hero," said Kriesel, a 2000 graduate of White Bear Lake High School. "Can you imagine that? He put his arm around my wife. Laura Bush was there. It was surreal. I don't think of myself as a hero. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's all.
"So this is my life right now. My wife is here all the time, and that's great. And I have my TV schedule down. My favorite time is when Seinfeld is on. Then I relax. Actually, any day I don't have surgeries, I just relax.
"Three-quarters of my days are good days, if not great days. I'm here. God put me here. He was looking out for me."
Wow. And, to top it all off, SGT Kriesel's wife has a story of her own. Her employer went well beyond any requirement or policy to support her during this time. I got the following press release in my inbox tonight, and I can't find it anywhere on the Web so I'm going to post the whole thing. The highlights are that her boss worked to get her a passport in 2 days, arranged for her to fly to Germany and back, and then members of her company donated over 7 months of paid vacation time so she could be home with her husband. They've raised thousands of dollars through donations and are now working on getting enough money to buy them a new house to accommodate SGT Kriesel's injuries. Unbelievable. I know it is long, but it is worth your time.
America Supports You: 'Eagle' Flies to Military Family's Aid
By Samantha L. Quigley - American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2007 – Injured in Iraq, Katie Kriesel's husband is facing a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. But her employer, Eagle Global Logistics, is making sure she'll get to stay by his side.
On Dec. 3, Katie, of Cottage Grove, Minn., got the call deployed servicemembers' spouses dread. Her husband, Minnesota Army National Guardsman Sgt. John Kriesel, had been seriously injured by a roadside bomb south of Fallujah the day before. "He lost both of his legs -- one above the knee and one below," Katie said. "He had a shattered pelvis and sacrum (a bone at the base of the spine) that they've had to fuse to his lower back, and then he had both bones in his left forearm broken in several places, (a) fractured right wrist and then some internal injuries to his abdomen." He arrived at Walter Reed on Dec. 8, and though he's only a third of the way through 12 weeks of mandatory bed rest after back surgery, Katie said he's doing very well.
Thanks to her employer, Katie is doing well, too. When she received that fateful call, she turned to her friend, Nancy Matthews, for moral support. Matthews also happens to be Katie's supervisor and knew Katie would need more than moral support. "I went over to her house that afternoon and just started doing stuff and playing with the kids until we could get some more news," Matthews said. Soon, John's condition stabilized and he was moved from Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. With two challenges confronting Katie - she had no passport and needed a flight to Germany - Matthews sprung into action. "I started pulling stuff off the Web on applications for passports, and then put in motion some of my colleagues in Chicago," Matthews said.
Eagle Global Logistics is in the cargo business. "As soon as I got in on Monday morning, I started talking to the (vice presidents) at Northwest Airlines that I know that work with cargo ... asking them if there was any way that they could get Katie and her mother over to Germany as quickly as possible." Soon, a Chicago colleague was walking Katie's application through the regional passport office. She was able to pick it up at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a couple of hours before her 9:30 p.m. flight departed Dec. 4.
The flight, compliments of Matthews' efforts and airline industry connections, found Katie and her mother flying first class. "My employer actually got me Northwest vouchers to go to Germany, and all I had to pay was the tax on them," Katie said. She was to return to the states with her husband via military medical transport, but was bumped at the last minute when additional wounded servicemembers making the flight back required that more medical personnel be aboard. Distressed that she wouldn't be arriving at Walter Reed with her husband, Katie again turned to her boss for moral support. Again, she got much more than that.
Matthews arranged return transportation with Northwest for Katie, her mother and a military escort who had traveled to Germany with them. The support didn't stop with coordinating travel, though. Matthews knew this wasn't going to be a short-lived ordeal, so she turned to her 150 employees. "We're all a family here, even though we aren't related, and they knew John was over there," she said. "We told them that Katie was going over there and that we were going to try and do everything we could to help." In the first four hours, $2,200 was collected, Matthew said.
Perhaps more valuable than the funds, which Katie said grew to tens of thousands of dollars, is time to spend with her husband while he recuperates. John had been home for two weeks of leave in October, and Katie used two of her three weeks of vacation at the same time. "They set up a way for people all over the company, worldwide, to be able to donate vacation time to me," Katie said. "I have seven months of paid vacation time that people have donated, and it just keeps coming in."
So does the support from Eagle Global Logistics offices worldwide. They have given both financial support and paid vacation time, and the Chicago office took care of Christmas for the Kriesels' boys, Brody, 4, and Elijah, 5, so the family could celebrate the holiday in John's room. "They're in it for the long haul, and that's just so amazing to me," Katie said. "The support just continues and doesn't lessen. If anything, it grows, and that, to me, is just completely overwhelming."
Indeed, the support does continue to grow. Matthews said the company is planning a fundraiser for the Kriesel family in late spring. The hope is John will be able to take convalescent leave and attend so he can thank everyone for their support. Though John is very positive, he does have bad days, his wife said. To help both John and Katie battle the occasional blues, the company has created a distraction. "We are desperately trying to get enough money that we can build them a new house that can accommodate John's injuries," she said. "When John has had his really bad days and he's cried about having to sell their house, ... (we say), 'OK John, I'm sending you a plan book. I want you to pick out your perfect house.'"
Though Eagle Global Logistics has never had another employee encounter such catastrophic circumstances, Katie and John's situation was a wake-up call, Matthews said. The company now has created a corporate fund to assist other employees who encounter a similar situation. "If a corporation, for instance, wants to donate tax-free funds, they can donate it through this account that Eagle is creating," she said. "They can designate it just for John and Katie, and then if someone else has a tragedy of this magnitude ... other people can apply for aid."
While the level of support coming from Eagle Global Logistics and its employees seems phenomenal, Matthews said she isn't a bit surprised. "We all just told John we would take care of Katie while he was gone - Katie and the kids - and we did," she said. Katie, overwhelmed by the outpouring, said the value of the support is much greater than its monetary value. "I will never look for another job, ever in my whole life. I mean that very honestly," she said. "I will be with that company forever, because how would you ever replace that? "You can't put a dollar value on that," she said.
Individual donations to benefit the couple should be made out to the John and/or Katie Kriesel Benefit Fund, and mailed to EGS, Attn: Nancy Matthews, 3169 Dodd Road, Eagan, MN 55121.