Flat Stanley Goes to War and Back With a Soldier

Apr 08 2014

flatstanley2For civilians who have never experienced a life in the military, and the many things that come with that life, it can be hard to explain or comprehend. But when Brian Owens received a “Flat Stanley” from an eight year old boy named Alan Orduna while stationed in Baghdad, he tucked Flat Stanley into his wallet and left him there…for the next ten years.

Over those ten years, Flat Stanley built up an impressive resume:

He helped carry out dozens of combat patrols through Baghdad. He held steady through firefights and mortar attacks.

He saw car bombs, the banks of the Tigris River and the palace of Uday Hussein, the eldest son of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

He was there on the day of Iraq’s first democratic elections.

He was there when Owens, standing guard on a tower, dodged a sniper’s bullet by about 6 inches, and when his patrol hit an improvised explosive device. He saw the fate of some colleagues who weren’t so lucky.

After Brian Owens returned home he struggled to reintegrate into his civilian life and to find a job. That’s where Flat Stanley’s story picks up again – as Owens worked to rebuild his life with his family, hold a steady job and eventually excel at it! He put his life back together piece by piece after hitting bottom and seeing a counselor at the VA.

He wrote a letter to the teacher of Alan Orduna, now 18, and organized the triumphant return of Flat Stanley to the boy who sent him abroad in search of adventures. With the full letter recounting the adventures of Flat Stanley in the military, Owens included some final words of advice:

“Pick up your adventures with Stanley where ours ended. Put him in your wallet,” he wrote. “You will undoubtedly face hard times. You will experience lows and uncertainty. But, whenever you feel despair or emptiness setting in, remember a saying I learned in the Army — ‘If you ever get to the point where it’s hopeless and nothing more can be done, you’ve overlooked something.’

Grab your tissues and read the full story of Flat Stanley and his 10 years in the military on USAToday.com.



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Wisconsin MOAA Chapter Supports Homeless Vets, Local Fisher House

Apr 08 2014

FisherHouse_WISService to one’s country doesn’t always stop after you leave the military. In fact, with MOAA chapter members, it continues for a lifetime!

Members of the Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of MOAA recently collected donations from chapter members to help support Fisher House Wisconsin. Their donation, combined with many others, helped to raise the last of the funds needed to break ground on the new building which is scheduled for June 3, 2014!

The Southeast Wisconsin Chapter also support the Veterans StandDown in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which happens twice every year. Members of the chapter staffed the registration and processing tables at the event this past February, as homeless veterans from around the area came in for dental and vision services, and to get clothing and hot meals.

The StandDown event also offers federal and state veterans resources, dug and alcohol treatment information, and employment information.

For MOAA members, helping their fellow veterans get their lives back on track, or get through a rough period, is just another part of their promise to serve.

Find and join a local MOAA chapter near you, and start making a difference in your community!


Staff members from Naval Medical Center, San Diego provide medical care to homeless veterans during the 22nd annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Berenguer/Released. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.)

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“Restrepo” Sequel Coming Soon

Apr 07 2014

Sebastian Junger, one part of the team that created the award-winning film Restrepo, will be self-releasing a sequel to the movie this year – Korengal.

According to an exclusive from Real Screen:

Korengal, like Restrepo, is largely comprised of footage shot by Junger and [the late Tim] Hetherington while embedded with American troops during the Afghanistan war. Junger had originally planned to create a 3 x 60-minutes series called Battle Company, as previously reported, but instead has whittled the material down to a single film.

“It sort of picks up where Restrepo left off,” Junger explains. “Restrepo, in my mind, was completely experiential; the point of it was to give civilians something like the experience of combat so they could understand what those soldiers were going through.

Following the method that comedian Louis C.K. used to release his last comedy special, Junger, along with Goldcrest Films, will be selling an option to stream the movie once it’s live, and is selling television and theater rights to the film directly instead of through a distribution company. This is the third documentary Junger has created, the first since his movie about the life of Tim Hetherington, fellow Restrepo filmmaker and journalist.


Director Sebastian Junger discusses his film after screening the 77-minute documentary, Which Way is the Front Line From Here?, which debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and will make its HBO premiere on April 18. Photo by Lauren Gerson via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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Mil Tech — Northrop Grumman Develops Electronic Attack Payload for Small UAV Bat

Apr 03 2014

Published by under Technology

Northrup Grumman's Bat UAV

Northrup Grumman’s Bat UAV

Bat, a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for medium altitude, multi-mission work, developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. of Redondo Beach, Calif., recently got an added mission when the company demonstrated an internal miniature electronic attack payload for the UAV.

The demonstration was carried out during the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) event held at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in Ridgecrest, Calif. The Bat demonstration involved the jamming of radars, and the Bat flew a number of missions with manned fixed-wing aircraft and other unmanned platforms.

George Vardoulakis, the company’s vice president of medium-range tactical systems, says, “Bat continues to demonstrate capabilities that can normally only be achieved by larger, more expensive unmanned aircraft.”

The Bat can be configured with differently sized fuel tanks and sensor payloads to meet varied missions — intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), tactical, communications relay, or target acquisition. Its design allows payloads to be changed quickly for rapid, expeditionary, deployment.

The UAV has both 10-foot and 12-foot wingspan variants, and Northrop Grumman notes it has a 20-foot wingspan design under development. Because of its blended body design, the Bat is able to carry a payload volume of 3.2 cubic feet and up to 30 pounds.

An additional advantage to the Bat is it is launched from a pneumatic-hydraulic rail system so it doesn’t need a runway, meaning it can be launched from land or at sea.

Bat incorporates both a Hirth electronic fuel injection engine and a heavy fuel variant, which runs on a JP-8 variant, the most widely used fuel variant in the U.S. military. It has a 15 hour flight duration and a ceiling of 15,000 feet and can travel up to 70 mph.

Northrop Grumman reports  Bat has been deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Special Operations Command for ISR work, as well as to perform IED detection for troops.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.

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MOAA Transitions Video Series

Apr 02 2014

Published by under Transition

shutterstock_51877474MOAA is dedicated to helping servicemembers and their families during their transition from military to civilian life.

The new MOAA Transitions video series looks at five different servicemembers, all dealing with their transition in very different ways.

August 1, 2013 marked the retirement date of Lt. Cmdr. Ohene Gyapong, USN (Ret). Ohene talks about the looming deadline, the stresses of transitioning, and what it means to leave the Navy:

Learn from peers going through the process of transitioning to the civilian world, or from those who have already done so in the MOAA Transitions video series.

MOAA also provides additional resources to help aid in career transition, including:

Visit www.moaa.org/career to see what else MOAA has to offer!

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