Monday, April 21, 2008

Dell Diamond to host concert benefiting service members and their families (updated)

Update 5/7/08:

I found out today that the concert has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Since the proceeds (meaning profits) of this endeavor were to go to Operation Homefront, and there weren't going to be any proceeds, I guess it was decided to cancel the event completely instead of putting on the "benefit" concert at a loss... I'm disappointed the concert wasn't able to go on and do a lot of good for our military and their families.

When I got home from work this evening, since I couldn't pick up the radio station carrying tonight's Express game, I went to the website to at least get the score (they won over Memphis tonight, 7-5). One of the headline stories caught my eye: " Concert Series" and "Mark Chesnutt Headlines May 10 Concert". From the Express story:

Charity Concerts is proud to announce a new concert series beginning May 10, 2008, with a “kick off” concert at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. This event will be followed by nine other concerts across the nation. These fundraising concerts will directly benefit active and reserve military troops and their families, veterans, wounded warriors and the families of our fallen heroes.

The headlining act for the May 10, 2008 show is Texas Favorite, Mark Chesnutt. He is joined by Micky and the Motorcars, Jarrod Birmingham, Tommy Alverson, Haley Scarnato, The Pear Ratz, Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros, and Sgt. Tony Hill & Whitehorse, all jammed into an eight-hour show. Also added to the Round Rock show are two up and coming country artists, Britni Hoover and Curtis Grimes. The national tour kicks off in July with many country music superstars.

Partnering with Charity Concerts in this endeavor is Budweiser/Brown Distributing, which salutes those who proudly serve and invites you to support the cause by attending this event. All tickets are General Admission; $39 for premium infield and $29 for seated.

You can buy tickets here. However, if you can afford to be more generous than simply buying a ticket or two to attend, they are still open to someone stepping up to help sponsor the event:

Sponsorship packages are also available and offer great exposure to businesses, with proceeds going to military families in Texas, specifically Williamson, Travis and surrounding counties.
To be a part of this great benefit series, join as a sponsor, volunteer, or just send kind words of inspiration, please contact the Austin manager of Charity Concert Events LLC, Kelly Sue Nedrow at or (512) 673-7514.

From looking at the website, the proceeds from this concert series will go to Operation Homefront. I'll be checking my schedule to see if there is any way I can help.

One thing I will say: this concert is on a Saturday afternoon. There will not be any real shade either in the seats ($29) or on the field ($39) when it starts at 1pm. WEAR SUNSCREEN! I was out there on April 13 for a 2:05 game and got sunburned sitting on the left field berm, even though it wasn't all that hot. Also, from the ticket purchase site: NO CHAIRS OR SEATS ON THE FIELD. I'm sure that is not only saying there will not be chairs set up, but that you ARE NOT allowed to bring chairs out there. There is brand new turf on the entire field (the first time the turf has been replaced since the inaugural season in 2000), and the Express won't want it messed up. I'm going to guess that blankets are more than welcome, though. Even if it has been rainy prior to the concert, the field shouldn't be too bad: there is a very expensive drainage system under the field - the Express never had to cancel a game because of rain until last summer, and that was an usually wet one. 5/4/08 - I was able to get a little bit more information from someone who works out at the ballpark. The stage will be erected out at second base, and the infield will be covered and there will be folding chairs.

I will offer this bit of advice, though: since this is an 8-hour concert, if you go, and get the $29 tickets to have a seat, find a spot anywhere from section 119 (directly behind home plate) on down the third base line to in front of the "Hot Corner Grill" concession stand: these sections get the shade first. Just some helpful hints from someone who is at the ballpark a lot ;-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Merlin's Miracle

I received an email earlier today from Haole Wahine about Marine Sergeant Merlin German. He was serving in Iraq in February 2005 when he was burned over 97% of his body when he did not have time to warn the driver of the Humvee of the IED he had spotted. He had been standing in the gun turret and was blown out of the Humvee. Doctors in Landstuhl said he would not survive. Somehow, he beat the odds, and became "The Miracle Man" to the staff at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Merlin passed away unexpectedly on April 11th while recovering from his most recent surgery.

Merlin seems to have touched many people with his spirit and courage. He will be greatly missed by those who knew him.

Prior to his death, Merlin had decided he wanted to help children who were burn victims and their families. He wanted to call the foundation "Merlins' Miracles". Merlin's family has asked that , in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Merlin's Miracles. The website is still under construction, but donations can be made either through the PayPal "Donate" button on the main page, or by mail to:

Merlin's Miracles
4319 Medical Dr., Ste 131 - 352
San Antonio, TX 78229-3325


Merlin's Miracles
San Antonio Express-News: Cary Clack: Marine had class galore (4/14/08)
San Antonio Express-News: BAMC's 'Miracle Man' didn't let injuries hurt his spirit (4/16/08)
San Antonio Express-News video report: Wounded warrior memorial

Update 5/3/08, 3:44am:

For all of you visiting this site because you saw Merlin's story on the news (CNN? I've not watched TV for a few days...), thank you for taking an interest in Merlin's story. I did not know him, but I think my life would have been richer for it if I had. If you feel so moved, and are able, please consider making a donation to Merlin's Miracles to help make Merlin's dream of helping child burn victims come true. As noted above, his family had asked for those donations in lieu of flowers at the time of his funeral.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Baghdad Angler's Club & School of Fly Fishing

From UK Times reporter Deborah Haynes:

Standing by a blown up bridge with Blackhawk helicopters buzzing overhead, the American soldier casts his fishing line into the lake surrounding a former palace of Saddam Hussein just outside Baghdad and waits for something to bite.

Warrant Officer Leslie “Scott” Henry is part of a unique group of fishermen and women that meets every Sunday and on odd days of the week to take a break from the toils of war with their rod and an array of bait.

“It’s a chance to relax and get away from everything else that’s going on out here,” said the 45-year-old, who deals with aviation safety for US military aircraft in Iraq when he is not trying to hook an asp or a bass.

“You’ve got to stay ahead of the fish. You’ve got to be innovative,” Warrant Officer Henry told The Times as he tried out a new form of bait – strips of scrunched up bacon from the canteen, stuffed with cream cheese.

Situated on a sprawling military base next to Baghdad airport, the al-Faw Palace is one of several grand, marble buildings ringed by man-made lakes that have been occupied by American troops since the invasion five years ago.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of fish live in these expanses of water, inspiring several soldiers to drop their guns and pick up a rod.

They formed the Baghdad Angler’s Club and School of Fly Fishing, which has its own Web site – – displaying shots of men and at least one woman posing with fish of various sizes and shapes.

Last February, the group even helped to organise a tournament, dubbed Operation: Catch Fish, which attracted some 300 anglers. Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Carter grabbed top honours, reeling in a 14-pound carp.

"It's a great feeling," the amateur fisherman, who had competed in smaller contests back in the United States, said at the time. "I can't win one back home, but now I can say I came to Iraq and won a fishing tournament."

It's a good story about how our troops find ways to relax a bit so far from home. Go read the rest.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Express to honor America's Armed Forces

Tomorrow night marks the 2008 home opener for the Round Rock Express. I've been listening to the road games online when I can (better "reception" than the actual local station), and I'd caught bits about something being live from Iraq for that game. Well, I just stopped by the Express website and found this:
“What better way to welcome America’s game back to Round Rock than to honor America’s Armed Forces,” said Round Rock president Jay Miller. “We’re proud to host current and former soldiers and their families alongside the best fans in baseball.”

Gates for Friday’s game open at 5:30 p.m. and a procession of more than 1,500 military personnel and families from Ft. Hood’s 4th Infantry Division will ring the inside of the field before both the Express and the [New Orleans] Zephyrs are introduced.

Major General Jeffery Hammond, Commander of the 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division in Baghdad will then address the crowd live from his post in Iraq before the Ft. Hood Honor Guard presents the colors on field and the Ft. Hood Band plays the National Anthem live from Iraq.

"Round Rock Express and the local community have my heartfelt appreciation for their generous support of our Soldiers and their Families," said Major General Hammond. "It makes our jobs easier here in Iraq knowing the community supports their Soldiers and loved ones."

A special honorary first pitch will then take place, paying homage to the soldiers overseas.

“The start of baseball season is always a great time of year and this is a great way for us to give back,” said Round Rock founder C.E.O. Reid Ryan. “For all that the 4th Infantry Division and all of the Armed Forces do for us, this is a small way for us and for fans to say thank you.”
I'm so very glad I'm going to get to be there. If you're in the area, come on out to take part.

Update 4/12/08:

Last night was pretty cool. They had the entire right field berm reserved for the soldiers and their families, with the edge along the concourse planted with little American flags. The soldiers and their families were given the opportunity to go down onto the field (well, along the warning track, since the grounds crew was still getting the field ready for the game). About 6:30 or so, they started up the live feed from Baghdad. MG Hammond appeared on the screen with some soldiers (who turned out to be members of the band) behind him, with an American flag mounted behind them. Hammond was even wearing an Express home jersey, complete with the dark blue long-sleeve UnderArmour underneath (the jerseys are sleeveless). He gave a nice speech about the hard work our soldiers are doing over there, and also thanked Ryan-Sanders Baseball (including Nolan Ryan, CEO Reid Ryan and others in management) as well as Mayor Maxwell of Round Rock for all the support they give to the troops. There were a couple of times the audio cut out, and once both audio & video went out, but what can you really expect for something like this. The ceremonial First Pitch was thrown out by the son of a deployed soldier: he threw to home plate after his dad came on the video board and proclaimed "Play ball!". The Presentation of the Colors was done by a contingent of Fort Hood soldiers and the band played the National Anthem, accompanied by a soldier singing it. Once the pre-game ceremonies were concluded, everyone left the playing field. Before the game actually started, but after the Express starters were announced and on the field, there was a memorial first pitch, which is thrown from the pitcher to the catcher, then to the third baseman, shortstop, second baseman, first baseman, then on to the right fielder, center fielder, and finally to the left fielder who threw the ball up out of the field of play. From where I was, I couldn't tell if the cleared the Home Run Porch (the only elevated "regular" [e.g. - not a suite] seating which sits above the Express Clubhouse) or not - someone up in those sections may have been able to catch it.
[4-13-08: I was able to confirm last night that Reggie Abercrombie did, in fact, throw the ball over the Home Run Porch. From field level, I'm guessing it's at least 40 feet up, never mind the distance on it, too.] Then, the game started. I'm pleased to say the Express won, after the game had remained scoreless until the top of the ninth, with a final score of 2-1. During the game, there was a family walking by on the concourse and one of the soldiers who was in uniform walked by the other way. The little boy, probably 3 or 4 years old, pointed out to his daddy "Look, a soldier!". How cute is that?

Monday, April 7, 2008

On hold...

When I recently finished reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, I went to B&N and bought Watership Down by Richard Adams, as several of the bloggers/commenters I read had highly recommended the book, especially its illustrations of leadership. I'm still early into that, but today, this arrived in the mail:

So, Watership Down will be placed on hold while I read Michael Yon's Moment of Truth in Iraq: How a New 'Greatest Generation' of American Soldiers Is Turning Defeat and Disaster into Victory and Hope. I expect it won't take long to get back to Watership Down and the writing will be just as edge-of-your-seat as his dispatches from the frontlines...

Update 4/9/08, 11:34pm:

Well, that didn't take too long - I finished it maybe 30-45 minutes ago... An excellent read, and I think the timing of the release of this book couldn't have been better. The message Yon leaves off with at the end just reinforces, in my opinion, what we heard from General Petraeus yesterday (I've not been able to follow up with today's testimony yet). I cannot more highly recommend this book. I've passed the book along to my father to read. It's baseball season, so in between grading papers, holding practice and being at games, I hope he gets to it soon!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Daily Texan: Young vets recount deployments

Haole Wahine sent out an email with a link to an article in The Daily Texan, the student newspaper at The University of Texas at Austin, in which Knox Nunnally and Hunter "Doc" Hayes, both members of Vets for Freedom, were interviewed about their experiences in Iraq.

The stories law student Knox Nunnally and history and premed junior Hunter "Doc" Hayes tell about their deployment to Iraq are the stuff of this generation's history books.

Having just graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Nunnally was in basic training on Sept. 11, 2001. Hayes had enlisted in the U.S. Navy just days before.

"When 9/11 occurred, a switch got flipped and all of us and our instructors realized that instead of just training for maybe going on a cruise to South America or whatever, we were training for the war," Nunnally said.

Go read the whole thing.

This is also apparently "the second part in a series of stories on students who are serving or have served in Iraq." The first, Student recalls stint in Iraq definitely has a different flavor than the one I've highlighted.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More talk of violence from the RoP

The more I hear, the more I believe Magdi Allam is right.


A question-and-answer session with Imam Abdul Makin in an East London mosque asks why Allah would tell Muslims to kill and rape innocent non-Muslims, including their wives and daughters, according to Islam Watch.

"Because non-Muslims are never innocent, they are guilty of denying Allah and his prophet," the Imam says, according to the report. "If you don't believe me, here is the legal authority, the top Muslim lawyer of Britain."

The lawyer, Anjem Choudary, backs up the Imam's position, saying that all Muslims are innocent.