December 31, 2007
Hillary Clinton continues on her campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Although Clinton talks a good game, I can’t find any expanations of any of her promises and plans. She has continued to fill each of her speechs with plenty of metaphors and flashy gimicks, but nothing of substance.
On national security: “Keeping our nation strong and our people safe requires that we employ the best and smartest strategies available.”
On returning soldiers: “When the injured soldiers return home, they should be greeted with open arms, not a wall of bureaucratic red tape. Our soldiers are facing some very difficult challenges.” Clinton vowed to “put in place a system to get everybody to the front of the line.”
Yes, Mrs. Clinton, I agree that keeping our nation strong requires us to employ the best and smartest strategies. I’m sorry, but what were those strategies again? As usual the Democrats continue to critize our current strategies, without providing any alternatives.
Excellent point Mrs. Clinton, I completely agree that soldiers should be greeted with open arms. I’m not sure what the bureaucratic red tape is, but I’m sure it is annoying. I see a huge flaw in your vow though, there is a front and back of every line. Somehow it doesn’t seem possible for everyone to be at the front. I’d love to see maybe a diagram on how this new line formation works.
And finally, Mrs. Clinton continues to take flack for completely ignoring her previous support for the Iraq war. Clinton says she wouldn’t have voted to authorize the war if she knew then what she knows now. Holy crap, what a revelation. I probably wouldn’t have driven 80 MPH in a 55 MPH zone had I known a cop was around the corner. But, rather then running from the problem, I pulled over. I sat there as I was given my ticket, taking responsibility for my actions. Rather then argue that my accelerator was broken, I paid the fine. I would love to see the Democrats accept the problems we are facing in Iraq, it is a difficult situation. How about we offer up a few ideas, other than running from the “ticket”.
December 31, 2007
It’s often been said at many MilBlogs that one of the things that must be done in Iraq, in order for the country’s young democracy to survive, is to create jobs for Iraq’s people. With each new job created, the country grows closer to becoming self-sustaining. Numerous times, we’ve highlighted some of the jobs that have been created in the country.
Last week, some Iraqis were able to start work in the Defense Reutilization Material Office, which exists to reduce damaged and unusable vehicles into scrap metal. Eventually, the scrap metal will be sold to another business and eventually moved to an Iraqi foundry. This is good news for the Iraqi economy, as not only are jobs created at the Metal Salvage Yard, but also at the foundry. That allows for more work for Iraqis who may have lost their jobs due to the War.
Since they arrived in Iraq, the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment’s Regimental Support Squadron “Muleskinners” have worked closely with the Iraqi Business and Industrial Zone and the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMO) to help create this job opportunity for the Iraqi people in the region. In October, the DRMO received tools, hired employees and established facilities for the opening of the facility on December 21st.
On December 21st, the first day of operations, recently trained Iraqis met with members of the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. The Troops will provide the Iraqi workers with technical oversight, security and transportation support.
“This is getting the Iraqis one step closer to standing on their own,” said Army Spc Robert Edsel. Edsel is the inspector of the demilitarized vehicles and also serves as escort for the Iraqis.
The Soldiers in this detail have attended training that was taught by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service reps, as well as training on security and escort. They have also been trained on cultural awareness and learned about the customs of their Iraqi counterparts.
“The Iraqi people want to succeed and they are looking to us for help,” said Capt. Derek Hoffman, the Regimental Support Squadronâ€™s maintenance troop commander. â€œBy understanding this and their needs, we can provide the most effective assistanceâ€.
By creating solid and stable Iraqi businesses, stable jobs are created for the Iraqi people, thus removing the temptation to join the insurgency in order to support their families. According to Army Lt. Col. Danny Tilzey, the Regimental Support Squadron commander, as the scrap metal salvage reaches full capacity, several quarter ton or equivilant vehicles should be able to be processed through the plant daily. This is a growing trend in Iraq; US Soldiers doing what is necessary to ensure the future stability of Iraq.
December 30, 2007
This news yesterday, caused my blood to boil. To think that a parent would condone and perhaps even suggest that their child do what this child did, says a whole lot to me about our society and the fact that to some people, integrity and honesty don’t mean a damn thing, but instead, it’s all about winning by whatever means necessary.
I was outraged when I read about the 6 year old girl who won 4 tickets to a Hannah Montana concert by writing an essay, in which she claimed that her father died in Iraq. The contest was sponsored by a retail chain called Club Libby Lu. Friday officials at a mall in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Texas suprised the little girl, providing her with a makeover, that included a blonde Hannah Montana wig and airfare and four tickets to see Hannah Montana perform in Albany, N.Y. on January 9th; a concert which had been sold out.
“With this decision, we hope to revive the intended spirit of the contest, which was designed to make a little girl’s holidays extra special,” Club Libby Lu chief executive Mary Drolet said on Saturday.
Thankfully the store checked and found out that what the little girl claimed in the essay was a complete hoax, according to a company spokeswoman Robin Caulfield. On Saturday, the prize was withdrawn and it was awarded to another contestant, whom store officials did not name. They found out that not only did the store find out that the little girl’s father was not killed in Iraq, but that NO US Soldiers deaths were reported that day in Iraq. Apparently, the mother of the child, Pricilla Ceballos admitted later that day that the essay and the military information that was provided about the child’s father were untrue.
“We did the essay and that’s what we did to win. We did whatever we could do to win,” Ceballos said in an interview with KDFW-TV in Dallas. “But when Caulfield asked me if this essay is true, I said ‘No, this essay is not true.”
After this story broke yesterday, Marty and I discussed this at length. For ourselves, we try to stress the importance of honesty and integrity to our children. Had Marty’s daughter, or any of our children, made up a similar lie to win a contest, we’d have made them sit down and write a letter of apology to each and every family of fallen US Soldiers. I think what angers me the most about this, is that the childs mother condoned what her child did and most likely helped to write the essay. It’s sad…. no downright disgusting that this parents value system is so skewed that they’d resort to having their child lie, just to win.
December 29, 2007
Soldiers from the Laredo, Texas based 436th Chemical Company, 36th Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard had been scheduled to train this past week at Fort Bragg, NC, prior to deploying to Afghanistan. Because of the training, none of them would have been able to spend time with their families for Christmas. Due to a delay in their deployment date at the last minute, the Soldiers found out that they would still be in the United States during the holidays.
Thanks to the generosity of Southwest Airlines, who donated 200 tickets to the National Guard this past week, all 171 Soldiers were able to be at home with their families for Christmas. “Operation Home for Christmas” a program through Southwest Airlines siad that because most of the Soldiers in the unit resided in Texas, they donated round-trip tickets from North Carolina to Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.
“We’re in the business of bringing people together, said Butch Cope, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines. “So, we decided to bring the Texas heroes home.”
Dora Cortez, who is four months pregnant, waited anxiously, along with other military families and friends on the Sunday before Christmas, for the plane to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, that carried her Christmas wish home. Cortez’s husband is currently getting ready for his second deployment, the first one being to Iraq.
“Southwest saved our Christmas,” she said.
Now that her husband was able to be home, she and her husband can see the ultrasound of their first child together, before he leaves again for North Carolina.
“I just hope he sleeps, eats and smiles as much as possible,” she said.
“This is great,” said Vince Cortez, smiling.
It’s great to see our airlines taking the time to ensure that our Soldiers are able to spend these important times with their families. My hats off to Southwest Airlines for this wonderful gift to our Troops.
December 28, 2007
Recently an officer with 3rd Infantry Division, was the target of a scam artist, one of many who are targeting military members and their families. In early December, 1Lt David Cowan said that his elderly grandmother received a phone call from a man who said that his name was J.D. Taylor. The caller claimed that 1Lt Cowan was on his way home on leave from Iraq and had lost his wallet and military ID. The caller went on to ask Cowan’s grandmother to wire $800 on Cowan’s behalf, in order for Cowan to be able to get back home and surprise his family for Christmas. The call was a scam. Luckily Cowan’s grandmother knew enough to be suspicious of strangers asking for money and didn’t wire anything to the caller.
“I told her to write down everything she could remember from the conversation and to immediately contact the authorities,” Cowan recently wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. “My grandmother is 84, and still a very sharp woman. Thankfully, she immediately saw through his scam and decided to contact me directly.”
Cowan said that he thinks the scam artist will attempt to try a similar ruse on other military families and wants to get the word out, so that others don’t fall prey to the scam. Federal investigators think that he’s probably right.
In the past few years, the FBI has tracked an increasing number of scams that target military families, or that make false claims to prey on the publics feelings of good will towards the Troops. The FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center which has tracked numerous scams, including emails which claim to be from supposed Soldiers, claiming to have either found or stolen millions of dollars in Iraq and asking for help in bringing the money back to the US. These scams are similar to the “Nigerian email scams,” like the ones that CJ at A Soldier’s Perspective has archived here. Those of you who’ve followed CJ’s posting of Nigerian Scammers emails, know that CJ has a tendency to completely lead them to believe he’s falling for their scam and then frustrating them so much that they quit emailing him. Some of his posts on this subject have been quite entertaining.
“The scam e-mails vary in content; however the general theme of each is to request personal information and/or funds from the individual receiving the email,” according to an FBI primer on the subject.
Despite numerous warnings about these scams, some people still fall for them and end up losing money to these people, who want nothing more than to clean out a person’s bank account. According to investigators, Cowan and his grandmother handled the situation in the proper manner. Law Enforcement officials reemphasize to people that they should never provide any personal or financial information to anyone over the phone and they should never send money to a stranger on a relative’s behalf. Officials further suggest that if you are contacted by a suspicious sounding person, you should reconrd the details of the conversation and immediately contact local and federal law enforcement authorities.
This is very sound advice and bears repeating again and again. About 15 years ago, my grandmother fell prey to a similar ruse, except she was approached by strangers in a Walmart parking lot. Unfortunately, my grandmother was a very trusting person, who believed that everyone was as honest as she was, and she ended up giving the people who took advantage of her, the money she had saved to pay her property taxes on her home. These people look for elderly people and those who they feel will be easily be convinced that they’re being honest. Please make sure your family members are aware of these scams and alerted not to fall prey to them. Sometimes, being a bit suspicious about a situation, can save you or your loved one from having to deal with the loss of their hard earned money.
December 27, 2007
Too often, Soldiers survive the war in Iraq or Afghanistan and return home to their families, only to become involved in a vehicle accident or other kind of accident, and be seriously injured or even killed. The Army, recognizing that there is a problem, has developed a new program aimed at increasing safety and decreasing serious injury or death after a Soldier returns home from a deployment.
A new Army-wide program has been implemented with the intention of helping family members keep Soldiers from making mistakes, after returning home from deployment, that could be fatal. The program, which is called the Family Engagement kit, has the goal of lowering the number of injuries and deaths among Soldiers returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to CSM Tod L. Gildwell, who’s a member of the Army’s Combat Readiness Center.
“Families can help,” Gildwell said. “Families have a powerful influence on Soldiers’ lives.”
According to Gildwell, last year, 186 Soldiers died within 12 months of returning home from deployments. Approximately two-thirds of those deaths occurred within the first 6 months home. Most of the incidents were involving motor vehicle accidents and occurred when the Soldier was off duty.
“As a Soldier comes back to life in garrison, it’s a very turbulent time,” Gildwell said.
When a Soldier is deployed in a combat zone, their days are often filled with adrenalin, but there are also things that restrict their behavior, such as not being allowed to drink. Once they return home, their unit leadership might change, so a new commander might be less likely to notice changes in the Soldier’s behavior. Also training schedules and reintegration trainings change the normal routine. At the same time, the Soldier’s are now able to have more freedom and some may fall prey to temptations that may lead to making risky decisions.
The Family Engagement Kit includes 6 tools meant to assist Soldiers and their families in thinking through decisions, in regards to long-distance trips, riding motorcycles or ATV’s and the consumption of alcohol. The kit also includes reminders to the families to look out for over-exertion during exercise and signs of PTSD, all things that can contribute to risky decision making and possibly lethal mistakes. The kits are available to the families through the Family Readiness Groups, at all Army bases worldwide.
December 26, 2007
Once again, our Troops show us why they’re so extraordinary, why they’re the best of the best. They conduct their jobs everyday, without complaint, yet when rewarded, they modestly comment that they were just doing their job. They perform acts of bravery, in situations that many of their fellow Americans would run from. Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of those Soldiers, Sgt. Gregory Williams.
A Stryker Sgt, with HHC 1/5 Infantry, 1st SBCT, 25th Infantry Division, Sgt. Gregory Williams,
was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor from Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey Jr. in a ceremony at Fort Wainwright on December 12. His actions during an ambush in Iraq and the battle that took place after the ambush, saved the life of his lieutenant from burning to death in a smoldering Stryker. Sgt. Williams was injured himself, but had the presence of mind to provide suppressive fire with a 50 calibre weapon.
“When I want to talk about the quality of the force, I talk about Sgt. Williams,” said General Casey. “Soldiers like Sgt. Williams are the heart and soul of the Army.”
The incident, which Williams’ actions earned him this award, took place on October 30, 2006, in the Huriyah neighborhood of Baghdad. The Stryker, that Williams was an occupant in, was struck by shaped charges. Those charges sent molten fire through the hull of the vehicle. As the Stryker and it’s occupants caught fire, the enemy attacked with fury, unleashing an ambush of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and AK-47 rounds. While the vehicle was still moving, Soldiers began dismounting from the back ramp, taking cover and returning fire.
“It was like someone took a can opener and peeled it (the Stryker) open,” Sgt. Williams said.
Immediately after the blast, Sgt. Williams was unconscious for a few seconds. As he regained consciousness, he began putting the flames out that were licking at his and other Soldiers clothings as well as in the surroundings, prior to grabbing a first aid bag and beginning to treat his wounded comrades. As enemy fire continued to whiz around them, he realized that the Soldiers needed suppressive fire. He returned fire with his M4 carbine, expending 120 rounds or 4 magazines of ammunition.
As he was providing suppressive fire, he saw that his platoon leader, 1Lt Aaron Willard was still inside the smoldering Stryker. His legs were burned, as well as lacerated from the shrapnel. 1Lt Willard had expended his third magazine from his weapon, when he began to pass out, from loss of blood.
“My ears started ringing and I started to see a white light in front of my eyes,” 1Lt Willard said. “Sgt Williams grabbed me and threw me towards the back of the vehicle.”
The next thing that Willard remembers is waking up on the ramp of the Stryker as the medic was treating his wounds. Spc Matthew Driscoll, a gunner in HHC, 1/5, who was one of the Soldiers who were trapped by the enemy fire, remembers that Sgt. Williams established fire superiority.
“We didn’t have any cover because we were taking fire from our 12 o’clock,” Spc. Driscoll said. “So Sgt. Williams jumped into the .50 caliber M2 machine gun spot and started unloading.”
Sgt. Williams observed the enemy’s position when a rifle rounds went past his head, slamming into the hatch. He then unleashed around 100 rounds into the enemy’s position. As two more rounds struck nearby, he fired another 200 rounds into enemy positions before the .50 caliber jammed. It was at that point that B Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 172nd SBCT arrived to provide security.
“That (gt. Williams’)supressive fire was the turning point of the firefight,” Lt. Willard said.
Sgt. Williams didn’t stop providing supressive fire, until a medic pulled him down to assess his injuries. It was then that he realized he couldn’t hear anything and that he felt as if everything around him was spinning. Sgt. Williams also sustained minor burns. He had two punctured eardrums that would require surgery.
1Lt Willard is now a captain at the Warrior Transition unit, credits Sgt. Williams as the person, who in the confusion of the moment, had enough of his wits about him to realize he needed to get on the .50 Caliber and provide suppressive fire.
“I think it was a great honor to receive this award. I’m very proud to receive it,” Sgt. Williams said. “But I was just doing my job and what I was trained to do.”
December 25, 2007
As you enjoy the company of your family and friends today, please keep in mind that there are many of our fellow Americans, who won’t be able to celebrate Christmas with their families. Take a moment to think about our Troops and the job that they’re doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the World, so that we might have the luxury of celebrating this holiday with those that we love. Take some time to read the following poems and to think about the courageous men and women, serving our Country, who’ve made it possible for all of us to enjoy Christmas.
A Soldier’s Christmas
By Michael Marks
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 eye 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 “It’s 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 sisters and brothers
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To insure 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.”
December 7th, 2000
Merry Christmas to all of our Troops. Know that you’re in our thoughts and prayers today, as always. Also know how thankful I am each day, that you’re willing to make the sacrifices you make for myself and my fellow Americans.
A Soldier’s Christmas
‘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.
Happy Holidays And Peace To All
December 24, 2007
I just wanted to wish everybody a great Holiday Season. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Also, to thank everyone who comes to this blog and reads the stuff Terri, Anthony, and Me post. I hope you stop by more often in the future, and enjoy yourselves with those who love you. Take care.
NORAD Set To Track Santa Claus
December 23, 2007
This year, as you prepare for celebrating Christmas with your families, the staff at NORAD are busily tracking Santa’s progress, as he makes his way around the world, bringing joy to many little girls and boys. Santa Tracking at NORAD is a yearly occurrance, which began quite by accident in 1955, when a Colorado Springs based Sears & Roebuck store ran an advertisement encouraging children to call Santa Claus on a special telephone hotline. There was a printing error in the advertisement, and the number that was printed was the phone number for the Director of Operations at the Continental Air Defense (CONAD) which, three years later became the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Col. Harry Shoup was the commander who took the first call on Christmas Eve in 1955 from a 6 year old little boy who began reading his Christmas list. Initially, Shoup was a bit concerned and didn’t find the call humerous at all. After the 2nd call that evening, he asked the mother of the second child what was happening. Once she told him about the advertisement, he realized that a mistake had occurred, and instructed his staff to give Santa’s position to any child who called the number.
After the US and Canada combined the national domestic air defenses into NORAD, the tradition continued. Today, major media outlets around the world, as well as children, call to ask about Santa’s location. NORAD’s Santa tracking is operated by volunteers. Many of the employees at Peterson Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain, volunteer to spend part of their Christmas Eve with their families and friends at NORAD’s Santa Tracking Operations Center, answering phones and providing updates on Santa’s whereabouts. On any given year, about 800 service members and their families volunteer to answer phones and provide the information, in shifts running from 2am MST on December 24th to 2am Christmas morning.
In 1997, Canadian Major Jamie Robertson took over the operations and expanded it to the internet, where corporation-donated services have enable the tradition to obtain global accessibility. In 2004, NORAD received over 35,000 emails, 55,000 calls and 912 million hits on the Santa-tracking website. Those visits came from 181 countries. Now the site receives over 1 billion hits.
This year marks yet another new change to NORAD’s Santa tracking operations, with the addition of Google Earth to aid in tracking Santa Claus in 3-D. This will enable NORAD to instantly provide a visitor with Santa’s position. To find out more about the history of NORAD’s Santa Tracking and to check on his progress, please visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website, where you can also visit a link to download Google Earth.
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