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  1. #1
    FIREMAN 1st GRADE E40FDNYL35's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Hay, Please remember our troops. Their firefighters also...

    He doesn't say very much on the telephone. When he calls every week or 10 days from his base in Iraq, Spc. Joe Wills keeps his wife, Patricia, talking about what he wants to hear her talk about. That is: the kids, Stephanie, 5, and Joey, 3; their Seaford home and its upkeep; the kids' grandparents; the guys from his ladder company in the Bronx who help out shoveling snow and mowing grass while a brother firefighter fights a war. They've helped out now through three seasons of his absence.
    By the time Patricia gets a chance to ask Joe what he has been up to, how he feels, what he thinks, it is time to hang up. There are always others waiting for the phones, he says. "I'm OK," he says. "I gotta go."
    He is a military policeman. He drives around in a Humvee with a machine gun mounted on top, escorting convoys. He passes wreckage everywhere: burned-up vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, people. Sometimes he sees a haunting sunset. Once, the sun appeared at the horizon like the point of a funnel cloud, draining the light from the sky.
    Patricia knows this much from the rolls of film he sends her every once in awhile. She has it developed at the local drugstore. He seems to do almost all his talking this way. "Here's a picture of Joe on his vehicle," she says, handing a glossy 4-by-6 print across her kitchen table. In it, Joe and a buddy stand on the roof of their Humvee in front of a bullet-pocked portrait of Saddam Hussein.
    "This is a picture of his tent," she said. It is a tent in a sea of flesh-colored sand under blue sky.
    "Here's one of his self-portraits," she says. It is the face of an unsmiling 33-year-old man who looks very tired.
    His wife thinks he's lost 20 or 30 pounds since his overseas deployment in March, though he assures her he feels fine. His mother, Carol Wills of Wantagh, thinks he's depressed by the ever-receding horizon of his discharge.
    "First they told us six months, then it was 'by September,' then it was 'Thanksgiving, or for sure by Christmas,' now it's 'March at the earliest,'" says Patricia.
    The Army has extended the tours of an estimated 20,000 reservists and National Guardsmen to a full year "in country," which for Spc. Joe Wills would mean March. Joe tells his family not to worry, he'll be fine. He'll be fine.
    He became a member of the Army Reserve's 310th military police battalion in Uniondale when he was about 20, before he got married, before he joined the New York City Fire Department. He was never called upon for more than weekend duty and drilling until January, when he went to Fort Dix, N.J., for three months of training. Then he was shipped to Kuwait, then to an airstrip outside Baghdad.
    As a firefighter, Wills spent December of 2001 at Ground Zero, helping retrieve remains and belongings of the dead, some of whom he had known personally. A year later, he was shipped to a war linked in the public mind to those attacks.
    He was a supporter of the war. His mother never supported it. His father, Bill, did and still does. But it doesn't matter who does or doesn't anymore.
    It doesn't matter that most Americans have been asked to sacrifice nothing while a very few are asked to sacrifice so much. All that matters to the Wills family is that Joe is there, and that they are holding their breath until he gets out.
    It is a fact of life in families under certain kinds of stress that nobody wants anybody to worry. So Joe tells his wife and mother nothing when he calls on the phone. His wife and mother, two women who jump at the same words on the TV news, the same words in the newspaper headlines -- you can imagine what the words are -- confide in each other almost not at all. For the same reason, Joe's mother never talks to her husband, Bill, about their son's deployment.
    "I try to put on a strong appearance for Trisha," says her mother-in-law, who turns to her friends for comfort, not Trisha -- who puts on a strong appearance and turns for comfort to her friends, Nellie, Tricia and Allison.
    Everyone tries to keep the kids busy, though it is hard to know, too, what is going through their minds. At least Stephanie talks about her father. Little Joey doesn't and that worries everybody. He has trouble sleeping.
    The kids had just returned from the 7-Eleven at the corner with their grandmother. Each came in with a roll of chewing gum -- Stephanie's was watermelon green, Joey's was electric blue. They showed their mother. She showed admiration for each one's excellent choice.
    "Here's a picture Joe must have took from behind the wheel, I guess," says Patricia, flipping through her thick stack of photos from her husband's life in Iraq. It is a picture taken from behind the wheel of the Humvee. It shows a long, empty road stretching to the horizon. Smoke drifts up from something burning there.
    ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
    NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
    343
    CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
    LT. John Ginley Engine 40
    FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
    FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
    FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
    FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
    FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
    FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
    FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40

    Charleston 9
    "If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
    *******************CLICK HERE*****************


  2. #2
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    All I can say is WOW. That's all I can ever say when I read these accounts.

    I am so grateful for what our soldiers do. Grateful for what so many American soldiers are doing on "our" behalf.

    Thanks Ray.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  3. #3
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    I can sympathize with SPC. Wills and the strain he feels. Immediately following 9-11 I also was called to active duty with my USAF Security Police Squadron. I too was in the Gulf, I too was gone for over a year. Since then I know others from my Department have gone, some have returned safely..others are still there indefinately. Like E40FDNYL35 posted, not too much matters when your in that situation, not who's for the war...not who's against it. All that matters is taking care of your buddies there with you and knowing your Brothers at home are looking out for your family. God Bless our Brothers at war, return home safe and with honor.

  4. #4
    FIREMAN 1st GRADE E40FDNYL35's Avatar
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    46Truck what can we do to help out our troops so they know we care?
    ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
    NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
    343
    CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
    LT. John Ginley Engine 40
    FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
    FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
    FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
    FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
    FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
    FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
    FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40

    Charleston 9
    "If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
    *******************CLICK HERE*****************

  5. #5
    Forum Member fieryred943's Avatar
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    46Truck - Is there an address that we can send Thankyou cards or cards of encouragement? What do you think E40FDNYL35?

    Cheers

    Fieryred943

  6. #6
    HNFC FF/President mdoddsjffhnfc's Avatar
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    chip in and buy them phone cards so that they can keep intouch with family and friends. My school is doing it for a 2nd time. Last school year, we raised over $600 to buy phone cards for our troops. That one way of doing it.

    To the soldiers and sailors of the United States Armed Forces...Thank you
    Firefighter, Volunteering since Oct 2001

    CCFA 05-04, best overall class for 2005
    "GOOD GAME!"

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber E229Lt's Avatar
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    Remember the troops, they remember us.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  8. #8
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    Default You ain't alone

    Your not alone...Out there with you guys is one of the best in the world.... The British Army....doing it as well..............


    My own flesh and blood fights.....

    We may not be as vocally patriotic.....but history tells the story

    Marts
    Go In Together - Stay Together -Come Out Together.

  9. #9
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    One of the firefighters on my group returned from active duty in July after spending 6 months in the United Arab Emirates in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is a Master Sargeant in the Air National Guard and is a firefighter in the ANG. We still have another one of our firefighters on active duty in the Air Force Reserves.

    We will not forget the sacrifices that our Brothers and Sisters are making in defense of our great nation.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  10. #10
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    Lightbulb How to support the good guys

    E40FDNYL35 and FieryRed and anyone else interested in supporting our troops. If someone from your Department has been activated then I would check with your Local, they may have an email or snail mail address where you can contact the troops wherever they may be. Our Local has a section dedicated on their website where well wishers can express their feelings of gratitude and support on a message board. Many troops have access to the internet at some point during their tour(even if only on a short R&R) and would love to hear ANYTHING from the "real world". If your Union can't help then I would suggest getting in touch with your local Red Cross chapter, they handle most of this sort of thing and I'm sure they'd be happy to help. Believe me a tour in hostile territory separates you from everything else you know and care about, words of encouragement from home help break through the feelings of isolation. I really hope some of you look into this further, you'll be happy you did and so will those you contact. Good luck and stay safe. -46T

  11. #11
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    There is a pretty good chance I will be headed somewhere for a year or better within the next few months, it is juts a wait and see thing right now. But one thing that will make it easier is knowing thta without a doubt my brothers back here will take care of my family.

    Just yesterday we had a ceremony to welcome back the soldiers we sent out on a partial deployment to bring another combat engineer battalion up to full strength. Before they left, the Ground Zero foundation presented them with a flag that was flown over ground zero and the recovery effort. They took it with them, and in defiance of orders (no US flags were to be flown so we did no appear as an "occupying" force) it was flown over a bridge checkpoint on the Euphrades river and then on the back oin an APC from there to Talil air base. Yesterday we presented it back. If we go again, it will accompany us. If another attack upon this country suceeds, it will fly over that recovery as well.

    With Gods blessing, those colors will never be unfurled again.

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