Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This is what is right about America

Massachusetts National Guardsmen (L-R) Staff Sgt. Edward Cole, headquarters Company, 25th Maneuver Enhanced Brigade, Spc. William Vargas, 379th Engineer Company and Staff Sgt. Dominic Whitamore, 101st Engineer Battalion, help pass in some lumber for the carpenters to frame in walls for Staff Sgt. Michael Downing’s new home, Dec 11, 2009. Homes for our Troops and more than 240 volunteers are building the house for Downing who was severely wounded in Afghanistan in 2008. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Don Veitch, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs)

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Don Veitch, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs
MIDDLEBORO, Mass. – Nearly 100 Massachusetts National Guard members braved freezing temperatures to help one of their own at the construction site of his future home here, Dec. 11, 2009.
Staff Sgt. Michael Downing, who lost both his legs in an improvised explosive device attack in Afghanistan in 2008, was on hand to see the more than 240 volunteers as they helped out on the Homes for our Troops project.
Homes for our Troops is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to helping out service members who have returned home with severe injuries or disabilities since Sept 11, 2001, by providing no-cost housing to veterans.
The goal for the weekend build was to have the framing, roofing and weather sealing completed to protect the house before the harsh winter weather set in. Backed by the help of the numerous volunteers the goal was met in just a few days.
The overwhelming response to assist Downing had John Gonsalves, Homes for our Troops president and founder, amazed at one of the company’s most successful turnouts.
“Incredible,” said Gonsalves. “We normally get 100 to 300 volunteers in a weekend; we’ve reached that average in one day.”
Gonsalves confirmed this is one of the largest numbers of volunteers the organization has had.
The nearly 100 Guardsmen, dressed in their army combat uniforms and ‘Build Brigade’ T-shirts, were largely responsible for the sizable turnout. The Guard members responded in great numbers to a simple call for assistance for a fellow Massachusetts service member and the promise that everyone would be gainfully employed. The jobs on-site ranged from simple labor to framing and carpentry for those with construction experience.
“Anything we can do to help out,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Sargent, platoon sergeant, Bravo Troop, 182nd Cavalry Regiment. “He [Downing] is in my unit.”
For those who don’t know the feeling of camaraderie and fellowship gained from military service, one only needs to observe this build site to see the powerful response those feelings can evoke.
Not everyone that came to help knows Downing; most only know of him or only knew of a Soldier in need of help. 
Downing was amazed and humbled at the turnout on his behalf.
“This is incredible,” said Downing. “I don’t even know this many people.”
Downing said what made this special is the whole project is an all volunteer endeavor and everything is donated.
“We always hear about what’s wrong with America,” said Vicki Thomas, media relations for Homes for our Troops. “This is what is right about America.”
Homes for our Troops has 33 projects, in various stages, underway and expects to hand over the keys to its 50th completed home on Dec. 21, 2009, said Thomas.
The Downing house will have a physical training room to help him recover from his wounds, a roll in shower, wheelchair accessible counters and amenities, and a large secluded yard, said Doreen Lewis-Hout, project facilitator, Homes for our Troops.
The Downing family expects to move into their new 2,550-square-foot home at the end of March 2010.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vigilant Guard: Task Force Massachusetts

Members of the Massachusetts National Guard’s CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package remove a casualty with a flexible litter from the ‘rubble pile’ training site in Tonawanda N.Y., Nov. 3, 2009. The CERFP provided casualty search and rescue, casualty decontamination and medical support on site. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Don Veitch, 65th Press Camp Headquarters)

By Army Staff Sgt. Don Veitch, 65th Press Camp Headquarters
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – More than 230 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers and Airmen traveled to Western New York to participate in Operation Vigilant Guard on Nov. 2, 2009.
Vigilant Guard is a national exercise providing an opportunity for National Guard units to train in emergency response situations and work with local, state and federal agencies. National Guard Bureau and United States Northern Command sponsor the quarterly Vigilant Guard exercises.
The five-day military/civilian disaster response exercise simulated a 5.9 magnitude earthquake striking the Niagara Falls region. The scenario called for catastrophic damage throughout the area and multiple training sites to simulate an overwhelmed local response force, requiring outside assistance.
The size of the exercise provided training for individuals and units as well as command and control elements managing the logistics involved in moving housing and feeding the troops from multiple states.
“This is the first time we’ve scene any thing of this magnitude,” said Warren DeTemple, technological hazard program specialist, Federal Emergency Management Agency. Exercises like this strengthen the interoperability between the National Guard and civilian teams, he said.
Massachusetts Guardsmen role-played assisting the local response teams as different states rotated through the exercise. The 1st Civil Support Team loaded their equipment and personnel onto a Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 and flew out of Hanscom Air Force Base and setup at an abandoned building in Lockport, N.Y.
The building represented a PVC pipe factory that had been damaged during the quake and now posed a hazard to the community and environment. CST members donned protective gear and searched for toxins. During the search team members discovered evidence of drugs and documented their findings.
The main training area, ‘the rubble pile,’ was more than 20 miles northeast in Tonawanda, N.Y. The rubble pile is filled with debris that simulates a multi-story building leveled by the earthquake with mass casualties and obstacles.
The casualties were a combination of medical dummies and live role-players with various applications of trauma makeup. The pile’s obstacles included uneven terrain, collapsed concrete and crushed cars.
The site provided room for the hundreds of military and civilian workers to spread out their personnel and equipment for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or high yield Explosive training exercise.
“You need to have something like this,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Cooper, weapons of mass destruction branch chief, Joint Force Headquarters-N.Y. “Look at the number of people being trained, you can’t replace that.”  He said the rubble pile here is important because it is a live pile that isn’t strapped down and provides more realistic training.
The Massachusetts CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package provided casualty search and rescue, casualty decontamination and medical support on site. Search and rescue personnel scoured the debris looking for casualties and carefully moved them out to either medical decontamination or treatment areas.
“This is the biggest exercise I’ve been involved in,” said Staff Sgt. Edward M. Cole, ropes squad leader, Massachusetts CERFP.
Cole said his team was responsible for evaluating and extracting casualties and was excited to be out training to save lives. Disaster response training is a break from the regular drill, he said.
“The site was very realistic,” said Sgt. Charles Rozier, a medic team leader with the 79th Troop Command, Massachusetts National Guard. “The most rewarding part of the exercise was getting everyone together and building some cohesion,” he said.
The injured moved off to the rubble pile were moved through the decontamination stations, when necessary. The decontamination teams would then sanitize the casualty so they could receive proper medical treatment.
“We can treat anything from advanced cardiac life support, intubation, stabilization through fractures,” said Air Force Capt. Christina Sampsonis, physicians assistant, 102nd Medical Group, Massachusetts National Guard. During the training day the medical personnel treated 18 critical patients, said Sampsonis.
Sampsonis said the CERFP’s mission was to replace the local counterpart without disruption. “Our medical group is outstanding,” said Sampsonis. “Everyone does a great job.” Their success is a result of the quality of the personnel assigned, she said.
The Massachusetts Guardsmen left New York better prepared to handle the real-world situations the exercise simulated and with invaluable experience on the rubble pile.
DeTemple said the event was beyond expectations and felt that each state should host a Vigilant Guard exercise.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boston Bruins and the USO come up big!!!

The Boston Bruins and the USO teamed up to provide seats to veterans at the Bruins/Panthers game, Nov. 12, 2009. Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart donated $5000 dollars to purchase an entire section. The B’s played a great game but fell to the Panthers in the shoot out.

Shout out from Iraq

The family of a deployed Massachusetts Guardsmen get a surprise at the game.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Flying home in a C-17

This video is a little long, about 4 minutes, but gives a good idea of what it’s like to be in the cockpit.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Found this little street during my travels yesterday

Not the most common name in the world so it's nice to see it whenever I can.

Ok, this is cool. Everyone should have a street named after them.  It’s Right outside Ft. Meyer in Arlington, Va. The Street is named after a Gen. Veitch. I’m still trying to find out some information on him.

Pretty easy to spot from where I parked. The White house is allot bigger than I thought.

I went to the D.C area yesterday and had a great time taking photos with the new Nikon D70. I visited the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, The White House, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
I’m very impressed at how close everything is to each other.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Cup Skates Tonight!!!

It’s the pivotal game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Not sure who I want to win. I’m a Bruins fan and generally favor the “Original Six,” but I’s also like to see former Bruin and Massachusetts born Hal Gill win the cup.

Lets just hope for a great game.
END of period 3  — Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 1
Exciting finish to the game.

Congratulations Pittsburgh!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

It came from out of nowhere

Here is the alien in progress. It started out as a stoney cliff and kind
of just transformed with some suggestions from the kids.

One day while I was sitting in the studio, I was messing around with some brushes. My son came in and said that’s cool, maybe you could make that an alien in space.
No Sketch, no plan, just for fun.
They like their SciFi, so I said sure let me make something to hang in your room.
It’s not done yet, but here is the piece in progress.
Here is the work I had completed when my son cam in and suggested it should be an alien.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Follow the path, Vectors guide your way!

An Illustration of a company's manufacturing, distribution, repair and return process.
Here is an illustration to depict the companys services and the process in which their product is shipped, sold, delivered, repaired or returned.
The illustration was completed in Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand.
Detail of above illustration

Friday, May 22, 2009

Military Police Take to the Skies

1st Lt. Justin Prophet, 747th Military Police Co., conducts a pre-flight inspection of the RQ-11 Raven unmanned aerial vehicle during a flight demonstration at Devens, Mass., May 6, 2009. (U.S. Army photo: Staff Sgt. Don Veitch)

DEVENS, Mass. – Six kilometers Northeast of Mosul, Iraq, Soldiers of the 747th Military Police Company, Massachusetts National Guard, speed towards their objective; the village of Olmush. The daily activities of the village unfold before the eyes of 747th, despite being 2 kilometers away. Shopkeepers hawking wares, sheppards tending flocks and insurgents placing improvised explosive devices are all clearly visible on 1st Lt. Justin Prophet’s laptop screen.
Prophet marks the location on his screen, radios in to report the suspicious activity and continues scanning the screen for additional danger. Moments after calling in the threat, Prophet maintains watch on the insurgents as the Quick Reaction Force moves in and neutralizes the IED and apprehends the suspects.