OPERATION:MOM NEWSLETTER 3.1.04 WWW.OPERATIONMOM.ORG 4061 East Castro Valley Blvd. #411 Castro Valley, Ca 94552 Phone/Fax (925) 706-1736 ~BOARD CONTACTS~ President: Gloria Godchaux firstname.lastname@example.org Executive Vice-President: Dotty Selmeczki email@example.com Vice-President ( A Little Touch of Home): Louise Tamayo firstname.lastname@example.org, President (Community Relations): Margaret Paredes email@example.com Vice-President (Technology): Terry Godchaux firstname.lastname@example.org Secretary: Pam Junkans email@example.com Treasurer: Kathy Martins firstname.lastname@example.org President's Message-Gloria Godchaux Operation:MOM continues to be busy with our support groups and our A Little Touch of Home care package program. On Wed. Feb. 18, Operation:MOM had an opportunity to tour Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, CA. It was a delightful day of seeing behind the scenes and boarding a cargo airplane. The Air Force gave us a glimpse of the many duties that they have in serving our Country. We were also treated to a wonderful lunch in their award winning mess hall. The highlight of the day for Operation:MOM was receiving a certificate and flag from the 5th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron presented by Major Robert Redding. Here is what the certificate said: This is to certify that this American flag, a symbol of the freedom and resolve of the United States of America, was flown from Al Mubarak Air Base, Kuwait into Baghdad, Iraq on the 5th day of January, 2004, on a C-130 Hercules by members of the 440th Airlift Wing. Aircraft: 86-00414 Call Sign: Chrome 23 This flag is presented to Operation:MOM In recognition of the outstanding support provided to the men and women deployed to the 5th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Major Redding described to us the conditions of Baghdad and the job they had to perform. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. I would like to commend V.P. Louise Tamayo and her hard working crew in ensuring that our troops receive A Little Touch of Home on behalf of Operation:MOM. I am proud to know that Operation:MOM embraces the word TEAM-Together Everyone Accomplishes More. Let's also remember, that we still have troops being deployed and families left behind. The support groups are essential in providing a safe place for our families to come and share their feelings, worries, and heartaches. Most of know what it is like to send a child off to war not fully knowing the final outcome. We can only pray that our loved ones will all return home safely. Our support groups also provide ovations when we have a loved one return home safely, even if it is only for a short time. And occasionally, we are called upon to support a grieving family who has lost a loved one. Please continue to support each other in your groups. Finally, on April 6, 2004, Operation:MOM will be featured in Woman's World magazine. We are thankful for the opportunity to tell our story so military families know there is a place for them to find support and that we are an thriving organization who supports our men and women in uniform. Louise Tamayo Shares Gosh, another month has zipped by, and we were pretty busy too. We had a packing in January and Evening Magazine hung out with us for awhile. We made up close to 500 packages and got the ships set Vice- up too. What a day, we were packing for three different units in Afghanistan that needed a little lift. A boy scout group here in the bay area, collected fun stuff like puzzles, wooden airplanes, groucho glasses and games to send along with a posted that celebrated all the Holidays during a year, including Anniversary and Birthday. (very cool) We also had a girls scout troop that made a banner that we were all able to sign and they were sent off with the packages. Thanks kids, it really means a lot not only to the troops but all of us here with Operation:Mom. Evening Magazine did a fine job encompassing all aspects of Operation:mom. Hope you all got to view and maybe we can get Terry to put it on the website???? How about it Terry? Maggie, Gloria and I had a road trip up to Auburn to give our support to a family of a fallen comrade. What a sad thing to have happen and we keep thinking that "It could be us" and are very thankful that it is not. The family is very strong and our prayers will be with them during this most difficult time. On the brighter side we got to visit with Bobbi Park, group leader in Auburn, and had the best time. I love the small community and saw first hand how they support each other. It's a good feel all over. We had a lot of laughs and giggles and shared some tears too. Can't wait to go back. On this Wednesday we will take another road trip with some of the Moms to Travis Air Force Base to see what really goes on at a Military Base. Will report on that in the next newsletter. Take care and be strong. Auburn Group Shares Part 1 On Friday, January 09, 2004, we received word an Auburn soldier was killed in Iraq. His name was Pfc. Jesse Mizener and he was 23. He last saw home in November 2003 and was due for an April 2004 release. One of our own, a former Auburn resident was killed while on active duty in Iraq, but was able to return to the foothills and his wife, Nicole, in November to witness the birth of his son, Jesse Alexander Mizener Jr. Word of our soldier‟s death and the accompanying grief spread through Auburn as community members prepared to rally around the small family. Cindee DeGolia, owner of It Figures! gym in downtown Auburn, began trying to set up a memorial fund for Mizener immediately after hearing from his wife — a client of the gym since May — early Thursday morning. Since the war‟s official end May 1, more than 400 American soldiers have died in Iraq — more than twice the number killed during the conflict. In the November interview with the Journal, Mizener commented that mortar attacks were both unsettling and all too common in Iraq, as well as a sign that U.S. troops were not appreciated in that country. “You miss home the most when you get mortared,” he said then. “It gets scary, especially when you see it land and see how close it is. That‟s when you really think about home a lot.” After hearing the news of Mizener‟s death, local residents sprang into action, DeGolia said. Within hours of visiting Placer Sierra Bank to set up a memorial fund, several community members handed her personal checks for the family. A local preschool owner offered free schooling for Gia and Eve when the girls were able to attend. “Somebody said told me today, „We knew the war was out there and we know how horrendous it is, but until it hits home and we know the person or we meet the family, it doesn‟t sink in,” DeGolia said. “Those are the kinds of comments I‟m getting.” Other local military support groups also helped the Mizeners and Dee Rein of Operation Mom Placer County group contacted DeGolia. Dee stated “on behalf of Operation Mom, we want to do what we can to support the family.” Fred Murphy, Placer County Veteran‟s Services officer, said Nicole Mizener and her children will be initially supported by the military, but will eventually be eligible for more than $1,000 per month and educational benefits through the Veteran‟s Services office. “They‟re not left alone, but they‟ve had a hell of a loss,” he said. Residents interested in making donations to the Mizeners were asked can contact Cindee DeGolia at It Figures! by calling (530) 889-0498 or visiting 985 Lincoln Way, Suite 105 in the State Theatre building. Monetary donations and prepared meals were welcomed, as were prayers for the family and continue to date. Part B Love in soldier‟s final words Jesse Mizener called wife from Iraq just minutes before death By Stephanie Swanburg Journal Staff Writer The conversation fallen Auburn soldier Jesse Mizener had literally moments before his death in Iraq is still bringing comfort to his young widow, his words offering a final goodbye to his family. “He told me that he loved me so much and couldn‟t wait to come home to me,” said Auburn resident Nicole Mizener. “Then he said, „Nicole, you sit those babies down and you tell them that their daddy loves them.‟ He said, „You promise me you‟ll do that?‟ I said, „Of course, I do all the time. They know.‟” The call came at 6:14 a.m. Wednesday, less than two minutes before the mortar attack that took Mizener‟s life, Nicole Mizener estimated. The couple spoke regularly on the phone during the soldier‟s deployment about their children — Gia, 2, Eve, 1 and Jesse Alexander Jr., less than two months old. “It was the best conversation I‟ve ever had,” Mizener said. “It was the kind of conversation where you just had an opportunity to say everything that you‟ve ever wanted to say and take back anything you had said that you regretted.” According to Department of Defense reports, Mizener, 23, was killed in a mortar attack on a military base near Baghdad. The soldier with the Army‟s 542nd Maintenance Company. The mortar attack that killed Pfc. Mizener also wounded 33 other troops and a civilian west of Baghdad. Mizener described her husband as a charmer with a positive outlook who never complained and loved to spend time with his family. He also drove friends to distraction by constantly playing his favorite songs, “Jack and Diane” by John Mellencamp and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” by country singer Toby Keith. However, when his children look back on their all-too-brief time with their father, they should remember something else, Nicole Mizener said. “He just lived to love them,” she said. "He was so grateful that he had them. He was so proud that he had them. He always talked about one special thing about all of them. That Gia was his first. That Alex was his only boy. That Eve was named after his uncle who passed away.” Despite the overwhelming grief she feels for her husband, Mizener said she does not regret the life he chose. “Yes, I‟m upset that he‟s gone. Yes, I‟m upset the way that he died was violent, but my husband was very proud to be a soldier and he was honored to be able to defend his country,” she said. “I support him, I still support my troops, I support my country and I support my president. That will never change.” “Jesse had told me once, „Nicole, I‟m not scared of dying, I know where I‟m going. The only question is, will you be joining me?‟” Mizener said. “Honestly, that‟s the only thing that has gotten me through this. I can still hear those words going through my head.” Part C Community rallies to aid war widow Meals, money, even a house help Jesse Mizener‟s wife, three kids By Stephanie Swanburg Journal Staff Writer Thursday, January 29, 2004 A new house. $20,000. A brand-new freezer unit. These items may sound like game-show giveaways, but for Nicole Mizener, widow of fallen Auburn soldier Pfc. Jesse Mizener, they came at a high price: They are part of the myriad of donations that have continued to pour in three weeks after he was killed in a mortar attack near Baghdad. At Placer Sierra Bank, home of the Jesse Mizener Memorial Fund, employees have expressed their shock at the monetary support of the community, said Cindee DeGolia, who spearheaded local assistance efforts for the Mizeners. “There‟s about $20,000 in there now,” DeGolia said Wednesday. “(A bank employee) said that they were really surprised. They‟ve never had this type of fund grow so fast.” The still-growing memorial fund is just a sign of things to come, DeGolia said. She has been in touch with Auburn Mayor Cheryl Maki about finding donors and volunteers to build Mizener and her children — Gia, 3, Eve, 2 and Jesse Jr., two months — a house. The Placer County Group of Operation: MOM, a support group for the mothers and families of deployed soldiers, has organized meal donations for the Mizeners. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, frozen meals will be dropped off at the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce, said Dee Rein, Operation: MOM member and Chamber of Commerce employee. “The idea is people can bring frozen meals to the Chamber by 4 p.m. on those days,” Rein said. “I would prefer if meals were frozen when they came to me. I can‟t really have fresh food, because if she‟s not going to be home, it‟s just not going to get used.” Potential donors should call before preparing dishes, Rein said. She will also accept any donations of clothing or supplies for the children. Other local residents are feeling an obligation to help the young widow. Joyce Chelonis of Auburn organized a community tribute to Jesse Mizener. The soldier‟s story reminded the former Bay Area resident of a friend killed flying helicopters in Vietnam. “He went into training, left his wife and on his first outing in the helicopter, he was killed,” Chelonis said. “Even now I could cry about it. I thought even now this could be sort of in memory of Don. I know how hard (his widow) had it, and being that this community is so caring, I though it would be nice to do something a little extra for Nicole.” For more information on donating meals for the Mizeners, call Dee Rein at (530) 885-5616, Ext. 227. Donations to the Jesse Mizener Memorial Fund can be made at Placer Sierra Bank, attn. Melissa Erickson, 949 Lincoln Way in Auburn. Article 2. Thursday, January 29, 2004 - Auburn Journal Board backs employees called to military duty By Ryan McCarthy Gold Country News Service The Placer County Board of Supervisors took a new step Tuesday to support county employees who are called to active military duty in the war against terrorism. In 2002, supervisors amended county military-leave rules, so full-time employees could receive full pay and benefits for up to a year if they are involuntarily called to active duty in the worldwide war against terrorism. Under that policy, the county paid the difference between an employee's regular county paycheck and military pay for up to 26 two-week periods. The policy serves two key purposes: showing support for employees on active duty and minimizing financial impacts on employees and their families. It was made retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, the date of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, supervisors voted unanimously to amend the policy so employees can receive this benefit for up to two years and can exceed the normal ceiling on how many vacation hours employees can accumulate. The latter action ensures that employees aren't penalized for not using vacation hours while on active duty. "This is a great thing," Supervisor Bill Santucci said of Tuesday's board actions. "It's the least we can do for employees who are risking their lives in the war against terrorism." Tuesday's actions were necessary because a few county employees may receive orders extending their active-duty service beyond one year. Supervisor Ted Gaines noted the use of National Guard and reserve troops as active-duty forces has expanded dramatically since the Sept. 11 attacks, pointing out that some soldiers have endured serious financial hardships after being called up. "Our forces shouldn't suffer financially when they're putting their lives on the line for our country," he said. "In Placer County, we need to do what we can to support employees on active duty and their families." Board Chairman Harriet White adjourned the meeting in memory of Army PFC Jesse Mizener of Auburn and other soldiers who have died in the war against terrorism. Mizener died in Iraq Jan. 7. "Jesse died protecting the freedoms we all cherish. We certainly appreciate the sacrifices he and other soldiers have made on behalf of our country," she said. Personnel Director Nancy Nittler noted in a memo to the board that the cost of the new two-year policy will be modest because Placer County has received fewer than 15 military-leave requests since the Sept. 11 attacks and only three employees currently are in a position where their leaves may be extended beyond one year. Article 3. January 31, 2004 Very special insight on war in Iraq Sean Metroka at his slide presentation on his tour at Iraq, January 14, 2004 at the Grass Valley Elks building on South School Street, Grass Valley. The Union photo/John Hart Zoom The Union staff What started as a simple letter from a soldier in Iraq culminated in something very special, thanks to a community that cares. Over two nights at the Grass Valley Elks Lodge, Marine Col. Sean Metroka shared some of his thousands of images from his tour of duty in Kuwait and Iraq, providing a perspective from one of the thousands of soldiers we've sent to do our nation's bidding. Local pediatrician Mike Curtis was also on hand to share his thoughts on his own service as a Navy doctor in Kuwait and Iraq. That's why we called it "Iraq: Through a Soldier's Eyes." We believed Col. Metroka, who is a reservist currently performing his civilian duties as court executive officer for Nevada County Superior Court, had the skills, presence, and sensitivity to deliver a pretty good message to anyone interested in hearing directly from someone intimately involved in that struggle. We were right. More than 700 people showed up for the two shows and brought with them hundreds of pounds of supplies - and the hundreds of dollars needed to ship those supplies to the troops still serving in that war-torn country. The response to Metroka's presentation was overwhelmingly appreciative. Most recognized that he was in Iraq as a soldier, not a politician. He made that very clear at the start of each presentation. When asked, he offered his own personal views on our involvement in Iraq, suggesting that our mission there is righteous and that the media has failed to paint a true picture of the successes we are having in our efforts to rescue that nation's people from years of oppression by a murderous dictator. While some did not share his views, they respected Col. Metroka's service and dedication to his country, just as most respect and pray for our men and women still in harm's way. The event also brought us together with a group from Placer County called Operation: MOM. When we needed a way to get the goods that were donated to our troops in Iraq, those women stepped forward and delivered. We encourage you to support them with money and time as they continue to provide much-appreciated "care packages" to those young men and women so far from home today. You can contact Operation: MOM at P.O. Box 1262, Alta, CA 95701, or by phone through Bobbi Park at 530-9064112. Thanks for all of your support, and a special thanks to Col. Metroka and Capt. Mike Curtis for their willingness to share a soldier's perspective that has not often been heard amid the partisan shouting we all must endure between now and Election Day. A baby asked God "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?" " Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you."The child further inquired"But tell me,here in heaven I don't have to do anything but sing smile and be happy"God said,"Your angle will sing for you and will also smile for you.And you will feel your angels love and be very happy."Again the child asked,And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the the language?"God said,"Your angle will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear,and with much patience and care,your angle will teach you how to speak." And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?"God said ,"Your angle will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray." Who will protect me? " God said Your angle will defend you even if it means risking its life. But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore." God said," Your angle will always talk to you about me and will teach you the way to come back to me,even though I will always be next to you."At that moment there was much peace in heaven, but voices from earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked,God,if I am to leave now please tell me my angel's name. "You will simply call her Mom."
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