Merry Christmas To Our Troop and Veterans

Military Christmas Poem
(by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt)

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,
He Lived All Alone,
In A One Bedroom House
Made Of Plaster And Stone.  

I Had Come Down The Chimney
With Presents To Give,
And To See Just Who
In This Home Did Live.

I Looked All About,
A Strange Sight I Did See,
No Tinsel, No Presents,
Not Even A Tree.

No Stocking By Mantle,
Just Boots Filled With Sand,
On The Wall Hung Pictures
Of Far Distant Lands.

With Medals And Badges,
Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sober Thought
Came Through My Mind.

For This House Was Different,
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping,
Silent, Alone,
Curled Up On The Floor
In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle,
The Room In Such Disorder,
Not How I Pictured
A United States Soldier.

Was This The Hero
Of Whom I’d Just Read?
Curled Up On A Poncho,
The Floor For A Bed?

I Realized The Families
That I Saw This Night,
Owed Their Lives To These Soldiers
Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon Round The World,
The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate
A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom
Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers,
Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn’t Help Wonder
How Many Lay Alone,
On A Cold Christmas Eve
In A Land Far From Home.

The Very Thought
Brought A Tear To My Eye,
I Dropped To My Knees
And Started To Cry.

The Soldier Awakened
And I Heard A Rough Voice,
“Santa Don’t Cry,
This Life Is My Choice;

I Fight For Freedom,
I Don’t Ask For More,
My Life Is My God,
My Country, My Corps.”

The Soldier Rolled Over
And Drifted To Sleep,
I Couldn’t Control It,
I Continued To Weep.

I Kept Watch For Hours,
So Silent And Still
And We Both Shivered
From The Cold Night’s Chill.

I Didn’t Want To Leave
On That Cold, Dark, Night,
This Guardian Of Honor
So Willing To Fight.

Then The Soldier Rolled Over,
With A Voice Soft And Pure,
Whispered, “Carry On Santa,
It’s Christmas Day, All Is Secure.”

One Look At My Watch,
And I Knew He Was Right.
Merry Christmas My Friend,
And To All A Good Night.”

*****************************************************************************************

A Soldiers Christmas Poem

(Gold Star Mother of Cpl. Steven R. Koch, US Army, killed in action in the
Sabari District of Afghanistan on March 3, 2008. )

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”

“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam ‘,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

steven-koch-wreaths-across-america-december-2009-004

Happy Thanksgiving From firebase116.org

We here at firebase116.org would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving especially our POW/MIAs who are remembered and in our prayers.

I am thankful that:

  • I have a wonderful family.
  • I live in America.
  • I am an American.
  • There were Veteran’s before me that paved the way.
  • That there are Veteran’s with me, making sure the way remains clear.
  • America’s Men and Women still fight for what is right and just.  (It’s a crappy job but one that must be done.)
  • I am home and FREE!

Happy Thanksgiving from firebase116.org!

New Bedford Veterans Charity Gives Most Money To Telemarketer

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — More than 200 non-profit organizations are registered with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.

Team 5 Investigates’ questions to one local veterans charity and the telemarketer it hired to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars were met with angry responses and few answers.

Gerald Anacleto, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, tried to hide his face from Team 5 Investigates’ cameras rather than talk about the nearly half-a-million dollars he’s raised since 2009 as founder and president of Massachusetts Veterans Emergency Fund.

“Get away. Get away from me,” Anacleto said when NewsCenter 5’s Sean Kelly asked to “talk about your non-profit.”

The New Bedford-based group is registered to a vacant home owned by Anacleto. After he did not respond to multiple interview requests, Team 5 went to the address, where Anacleto again declined to talk with us. Moments later our cameras captured him running away.

Kelly asked, “Can you tell us about your non-profit? Where’s all the money going?”

Team 5 Investigates uncovered documents filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office that show in 2011, the non-profit received $317,461 in donations from the public.

In 2010, documents show it collected $151,736.

But just 9 percent of all that money — $40,257 – actually went to the Massachusetts Veterans Emergency Fund.

Kelly asked Anacleto, “Who’s getting the money? The veterans aren’t getting the money, are they?”

“Yes, they are of course they are,” said Anacleto.

He declined to name specific organizations that benefitted.

Kelly: “Who’s getting all the money?
Anacleto: “The veterans!”
Kelly: “Which veterans? You tell me who they are.”
Anacleto: “You go to my website.”

His charity’s website claims several groups have received checks since 2009. Team 5 Investigates attempted to contact all of them listed online as well as those listed on a form filed with the attorney general.

The most any organization said they received in three years was $500.

Two groups – the Old Soldiers Home in Holyoke and the Nam Vets Association of the Cape and the Islands — said they did not receive a penny from the Massachusetts Veterans Emergency Fund in 2011.

In 1989, Anacleto pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap and served time in federal prison. Court documents state the crimes were connected to drug smuggling.

For a list of charities AND how much goes to The Veteran  <-click

please see: Charity Navigator   <- click

Tax forms filed in connection with Anacleto’s non-profit do not list what, if any, salary he was paid.  Where did the bulk of the money donated to the charity go?

Team 5 Investigates discovered that in the last two years, more than 85 percent of donations given to the Massachusetts Veterans Emergency Fund did not, in fact, go to veterans, but rather to State Wide Marketing, the Fall River-based telemarketer contracted by the charity.

When Team 5 Investigates visited State Wide’s offices, its manager and employee swore at and yelled threats and racial slurs at our crew.

They eventually told Team 5 Investigates, “We’re licensed and bonded with the state. Please leave.”

That is true. Anacleto’s charity and State Wide are both legally registered with the state.

They report directly to the attorney general’s office exactly how much of the donations they keep.

But when Natasha Bellow got a call from State Wide asking to donate money to the Massachusetts Veterans Emergency Fund, Bellow said the person on the other end of the phone lied to her about how much of her donation would go to veterans.

“When I asked them directly how much goes to the group and they said 100 percent,” Bellow said.

She also said her complaint to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office was ignored. Coakley declined Team 5 Investigates’ request for an interview.

Michael Cunningham, the veterans’ services officer for Milton and Randolph, said the attorney general’s office should “absolutely” be doing more to warn the public.

At least two local police departments have issued warnings about the Massachusetts Veterans Emergency Fund.

Cunningham and other veterans’ services officers said they have told Anacleto to stop fundraising this way.

“The last thing I said to him was, ‘How do you sleep at night?’ and he said, ‘I sleep very well, sir, thank you,’ and he hung up on me.”

State Wide’s manager called the Fall River police when Team 5 Investigates showed up to ask questions.

Finally, he showed NewsCenter 5 a letter from Anacleto’s accountant which stated the non-profit and telemarketer would sever ties after complaints from several veterans’ services officers and questions from Team 5 Investigates.

It’s not illegal for telemarketers to keep such a large percentage of donations.

According to a recent report from the attorney general, telemarketers keep an average of 55 percent of money collected.

Coakley declined to tell NewsCenter 5 if she will investigate allegations that State Wide Marketing misled potential donors over the phone.

Read more:

http://www.wcvb.com/news/investigative/New-Bedford-veterans-charity-gives-most-money-to-telemarketer/-/12520878/17361576/-/10n12g2/-/index.html#ixzz2CzSUs200

For more information see:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/14/massachusetts-charity-founded-by-navy-vet-reportedly-receives-just-percent/

http://www.statmyweb.com/s/veterans-charities

For a list of charities AND how much goes to The Veteran please see: Charity Navigator