Montgomery gets deployed
Sgt. Daniel Montgomery of the
980th Engineer Battalion in Seagoville was recently activated and
attached to the 808th Engineering Pipeline Unit out of Houston. He
trained at Fort Hood for 30 days, before shipping out to participate
in Operation Enduring Freedom. He is stationed in Camp Udari,
Kuwait, 20 miles from the Iraq border.
Montgomery enlisted in February
1999, just days after his 17th birthday. He then attended basic
training in Fort Benning Ga. He graduated with honors from Rice High
2000, and then attended AIT in Gulfport Miss. He began
classes at Navarro in 2001 and was finishing up his associate's in
accounting before starting UTA in the fall to earn his bachelor and
master's in accounting. He is also a member of First Baptist Church
in Rice and was working nights at Sterilite Corporation in Ennis
while attending Navarro.
Montgomery's wife and family are
extremely proud of him and all prayers for his safe return are
Fogg called to active duty
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James
B. Fogg, grandson of retired Army Col. and Mrs. Joe B. Fogg of
Corsicana, was recently called to active duty in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom while assigned to Marine Air Logistics
Squadron 49, 4th Marine Air Wing, home based in Newburgh, N.Y.
The 4th Marine Air Wing's mission
is to organize, train and equip individual Marines and combat ready
groups, squadrons and air defense units to augment and reinforce the
active component when required.
He is a
1987 graduate of
Corsicana High School, and joined the Marine Corps in July 1987.
Area soldiers serving in War With Iraq
Private Timothy Balenzuela; Army;
Corsicana; Grandson of Erma Gray and the late L. E. Gray
Sgt. M. E. Belcher; Marines;
Frost; Son of Charlie and Pat Belcher
Sgt. James Allen Dupree; Marines;
Vernon; Son of Jim and Dorothy Dupree of Frost
Electricians Mate Kenneth Lee
Burch; Navy; Houston; Grandson of Millie and Truman Howell of
Sgt. Jeff Glidewell; Marines;
Corsicana; Son of Keith and Alice Tacker; Grandson of Johnny and
Sgt. Matthew Woeller; Army;
Kerens; Son of Don and Joyce Hagens
Spc. Jarrod Woeller; Army;
Kerens; Son of Don and Joyce Hagens
Cpl. Robert Shane Keele; Marines;
Mildred; Son of Delores Farris; Grandson of Francis Banks and Joyce
Spc. Montray Andrews; Army;
Corsicana; Son of Frances Andrews
Lt. Casey Batchelor; Navy;
Corsicana; Son of Pat and Carolyn Batchelor; Grandsons of Margaret
Batchelor of Corsicana and Lois Ellen Reynolds of Hamlin
Seaman Apprentice Scott David
Lamb; Navy; Corsicana; Son of Steve and Luan Lamb
Lance Cpl. Zach Marshall;
Marines; Corsicana; Son of Don and Jill Marshall; Grandson of
Johnnie and Sue Thompson
Chief Warrant Officer Andy
McDougald; Army; Corsicana; Son of Gene McDougald
Seaman Jason Daniel Drain; Navy;
Emhouse; Son of Danny Drain
S.N. Billy Williams; Navy;
Kerens; Son of Larry and Henrietta Williams
Class Petty Officer Gerry
Armstrong; Navy; Gurley, Ala.; Grandson of Gerald and Nanci
Cpt. J.B. Worley III; Army;
Corsicana; Son of J.B. and Janis Worley
Sgt. Dale E. Campbell II; Air
Force; Caribou, Maine; Son-in-law of David and Patty Whitehead
Cpl. Michael P. Atkins; Marines;
Houston; Grandson of Estelle Speed
Cpl. Shane Keele of Mildred has been in the
Middle East since February. This week, he phoned home and was
interviewed on MSNBC. Courtesy photo
4/13/2003 Sight for Sore Eyes: Local soldier calls home, interviewed
by MSNBC reporter
By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun
Cpl. Shane Keele of the United
States Marines phoned home from Baghdad Wednesday morning.
Then, in an added blessing, he
was spotted on MSNBC that evening. Keele's family had not laid eyes
on him since Christmas.
"It was such a treat to get to
talk to him and see him on television," said mother, Delores Farris.
"He sounded real good -- he's over there doing his job -- the
Marines have trained him really well. He was cutting up and
Keele is a 0331 machine gunner on
a Hummer with the 3rd battalion, fifth Marines based out of Camp
Pendleton near San Diego, Calif. In a letter to his mother dated
March 6, Keele said that they were "still in Kuwait, waiting on the
word to go."
The day after the phone call and
the TV spot, Farris got word that Shane's battalion was entering
their checkpoint, and noticed several Marines face down on the
ground. One Marine sprang to his knees, and warned them that there
was a suicide bomber who had wandered up like he was going to
surrender. At that point, the bomber blew himself up, injuring four
"That really shook me up," Farris
said. "But I haven't heard anything yet, and if Shane were hurt,
they would have found me."
Keele also said in the letter,
"Well, keep praying for me and tell the church that the warring
angels are with us and they are the 30-foot walls which guard us. In
a dream God showed me the huge Angels so I truly believe they are
That is great comfort to a mother
who has sent her son three care packages with scriptures, one of
which he actually received. Farris includes scripture with all her
letters to Shane. She has sent him beef jerky, Koolaid, and his
favorite Oreos and Butterfingers. When Farris talked to Shane on
Wednesday, he told her that they "tore that beef jerky up!"
Farris and her husband, Rob, had
been watching CNN constantly since before the war began. Shane then
informed them through a letter that Chip Reid of NBC was traveling
with their battalion.
"We just watched NBC after that.
The Today Show on NBC aired an interview with Shane's Hummer crew,"
He also expressed horror about
his hair. Angie Valentine, who is married to Shane's brother Brian,
printed his picture off the MSNBC Web site. As someone who wore his
hair extremely short, even before entering the Marines, the sight of
Shane with two to three inch long hair was strange.
"He even looked dirty -- when I
blew up the picture, you could see the dirt on his neck," Angie
Haircuts and showers are few and
far between in Iraq.
Shane has two brothers who are
former Marines. Lee Keele of Midlothian and Brian Valentine each
served four years in the Marines. Currently, Shane's nephew Bryan
Elliott is believed to be in Iraq, too. Shane and Elliott are nine
months apart in age, and both joined the Marines at about the same
time. Elliott is the son of Shane's sister, Cindy, and is a cook in
the 15th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit).
"Shane has been talking about the
Marines since he was 12 years old," Farris said. "He would bring
books home from the school library about military stuff."
Growing up, Shane played baseball
and football. He and his step-father, Rob, got into karate and dirt
bikes together. After attending Mildred High School as an A-B
student, Shane graduated in 2000 and went straight to Camp
Pendleton. He had already enlisted at the age of 17, and signed up
for "delayed entry," meaning that he would go as soon as he
Shane's father is Robert Keele of
"I let him know when I hear from
Shane," Farris said.
His grandmothers are Frances
Banks and Joyce Lewis.
"In June Shane will have been in
the Marines for three years," Farris said. "He has one more year
after that to serve, then he will get out.
"He is a well-rounded young man,
with a lot of options. He's smart, and he's got a good head on his
shoulders. We're just ready for him to come home."
Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted
via e-mail at [email protected]
Navy Airman A. R. Naik, a 1996
graduate of Corsicana High School, is currently in the Arabian Gulf
supporting the global war on terrorism while assigned to the
aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, forward deployed to Yokosuka,
Aircraft carriers are deployed
around the world to maintain U.S. presence and provide rapid
response in times of crisis. They serve as a highly visible
deterrent to would-be aggressors, and are equipped with the most
versatile and powerful weapons and aircraft available.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class
Travaras E. Tutt, son of Thelma J. Stewart of Corsicana and Richard
E. Tutt of Fort Worth, is currently participating in Operation Iraqi
Freedom in the Arabian Gulf while assigned to Fighter Squadron 22,
based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va. The squadron
is onboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, homeported in
Tutt is a 1995 graduate of Dunbar
High School of Fort Worth and joined the Navy in August 1995.
5/1/20031 LOCAL SAILOR COMES HOME: Melton returns after carrier
stint in Persian Gulf
By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun
The last time 2nd Class
Electronics Tech-Nuclear Michael Todd Melton tried to head for home
aboard the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln, they were re-routed to the Persian
Gulf to assist with the Iraqi War.
This time, he made it.
Todd Melton, who is a U.S. Naval
Nuclear Engineer aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, came
home to Corsicana this week for a two-week visit with his family.
"I knew how ready he was to get
off that boat," said Mike Melton, Todd's father. "I kept waiting,
and he was late getting off the ship. Finally, he emailed me to say
that he would be a few days later than he had said, because he
offered to take another guy's watch so that he could get home to his
wife and kids.
"Todd is a good kid."
Todd Melton was born and raised
in Corsicana, attending Corsicana High School. After graduation, he
spent four and a half years at Texas Tech, majoring in English, with
a minor in journalism.
"I was really close to finishing,
but my dad had been supporting me for a while at that point, and I
was ready to do something on my own -- so I joined the Navy," Melton
Melton was placed in the
intensive nuclear training program through Thomas Edison State
College in New Jersey. The program, which was set up by MIT,
requires a 45 hour school week, with an extra 30 hours for studying.
"It was very challenging -- math
and science were not my strongest areas. They basically cram a four
year college degree into two to two and a half years," Melton said.
Melton was then sent to Saratoga
Springs, N.Y. where the Navy has a nuclear reactor prototype. He
spent six months there, learning hands-on with the land based
prototype, which looks like an above-ground submarine.
The U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, which
is dry-docked near Seattle, was his next destination. Melton is a
nuclear reactor operator, as well as a work center supervisor,
supervising 20 men. There are two reactors per carrier which are
completely independent, but work together to power the ship. The
carriers typically weigh about 99,000 tons, unloaded.
"We control reactor safety, make
sure the reactor works properly, and are always testing and doing
maintenance," Melton said. "Everyone in the government always wants
to see our paperwork -- it's sensitive, because it's nuclear -- and
it always has to be perfect."
Melton said that he got plenty of
training on safety, learning about every nuclear accident, and what
not to do.
"The Navy has had submarines
running on nuclear power since the 1950's, and never had one single
accident," Melton said.
Melton, who has been in the Navy
about four years, said that they were in Perth, Australia ready to
head for home when they got the word about their six month
deployment to the Persian Gulf. The role of their carrier was to
launch the planes, then hang around and pick them up again.
"The catapults that launch the
planes run off steam, which comes from the reactor. We make sure
everything is working right. It is the most important thing we do,"
Melton said that the Lincoln was
in transit back to the states, and was between Hawaii and San Diego
when President Bush made his recent visit aboard the carrier.
"Some of us got to go down and
eat dinner with President Bush," Melton said.
Melton loves what he does, but
admits that he has gone an entire month without seeing the sun. His
work is very detailed, and keeps them very busy, and about 40
percent of their time is spent cleaning.
Following his leave, Melton and
the carrier will return to dry dock near Seattle, where they will
spend the next 11 months. They use this time to integrate new
technology into the system, then test it repeatedly.
"The big shutdown maintenance all
gets done while we're in dry dock, and it takes a long time," Melton
Melton reenlisted during the
recent deployment. He will get off the ship a year early, then spend
three years as a nuclear theory instructor in Charleston or New
York. The Navy provides many incentives to the reactor guys to keep
them in, and keep them happy -- because the work is so difficult and
"I reenlisted partly out of a
sense of duly, and partly because it's a very good deal," Melton
said. "I really want to teach nuclear theory -- you have to have
Melton is quick to point out that
the Navy is not for everyone. While he loves the camaraderie, it is
hard to be away from home and loved ones for long periods of time.
Melton's father, Mike, resides in
Corsicana, along with brothers Aaron and Nick, and sister, Alex. His
mother, Paula, passed away in 1995. Todd is proud of his brothers
and the choices they have made for themselves. Aaron is a police
officer, and Nick will graduate from CHS this month, and will play
golf for McClennan County Junior College in the fall. Sister Alex is
7 years old, and in the second grade. Maternal grandfather, Hale
Wright, who Todd named "Papa Gee" as a child, has also been a great
"I'm very proud of all of them,"
Mike Melton said. "I am very blessed in that regard."
Todd Melton feels like the navy
has been a blessing for him, as well.
"The discipline and challenge was
exactly what I needed, " Todd said. "It changed my whole outlook,
and made me a more productive human being."
Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted
via e-mail at [email protected]
7/26/2003 BACK FROM IRAQ:
Rice grad returns after 4 months in Middle East
By LOYD COOK/Daily Sun Staff
Wendy Montgomery celebrate his return from the Middle East at
a family party held Friday. DAILY SUN photo/KIRK SIDES
Food is spread across the counter
of the adjoining kitchen. Friends and family are gathered in the
large living room area of the Hickory Hollow home. In the corner, a
computer keeps cycling an automated picture show of a soldier in a
Sgt. Daniel Montgomery of the
808th Engineering Company is home from the Middle East.
The 21-year-old Rice High School
graduate is home after spending four months in the world's
most-often troubled region, time split between Kuwait and Iraq.
Montgomery was a reservist,
called to duty for a month at Fort Hood, then shipped overseas
before the hostilities started with Iraq. He got his taste of heat
and sand ... lots of sand.
And he can't really explain
exactly where he was during those Iraqi days.
"I couldn't tell you," said
Montgomery, his hair closely shaven in true military style. "It
wasn't a city. It was just there."
His company was stationed in
Kuwait for about a month before following the U.S. Army's infantry
into Iraq. He said he and his fellow soldiers went in about two days
behind the leading elements.
Their goal? To erect a pipeline
across the barren wasteland to an air base not yet captured. The
pipeline was, and likely still is, for the transport of fuel. It
helped keep tanks and helicopters and all manners of machine full
and ready to keep rolling on.
He ended up just south of the
Tillil Air Base, a location mapped out on CNN and all the major
networks as one of the U.S. military's chief strategic targets.
His work was not unlike
construction work, but definitely different in other ways. How many
construction workers keep M-17 assault rifles near to hand while a
heavy machine gun mounted on a tripod and placed on top of a nearby
truck is manned to provide covering fire if it's needed?
The entire experience was
understandably a trying one for Sgt. Montgomery. It was for his wife
Wendy. The couple had been married but 10 months when he was called
to Fort Hood, then shipped completely away for more than four
"I was glued to the TV the whole
time," Wendy said of her fears. "But our families were real
"I kept writing him letters
telling him to get in front of the cameras. I wrote him letters
every single day."
The letters were welcomed by her
husband, although they took some time to make it down the military's
logistical process to the field.
"In fact, I got one dated March
14th (just) today," he said Friday. "It had to have come back from
Sgt. Montgomery has been back for
a couple of weeks, but the newlywed couple almost immediately took a
delayed honeymoon to Cancun before coming home to his Welcome Home
party Friday night.
He had a job with Sterolite in
Ennis before he left, a job the company kept for him until he got
back, but the young reserve sergeant said he's quit. The couple will
move to Arlington soon. He plans to study accounting at the
University of Texas at Arlington.
What are his feelings about the
time in the Middle East?
"Helicopters all the time ...
hot," he said with a grin. "They had us working in our gear
(including chemical) all the time."
There'll be no more of that for
He's back from Iraq
Patriots, Johnson make it final
From Staff Reports
Former Corsicana High School and
Texas A&M wide receiver Bethel Johnson was one of eight players
signed by the New England Patriots earlier this week.
According to ESPN.com, the
Patriots signed Johnson to a five-year contract. Johnson received a
signing bonus of $1.75 million and base salaries of $274,000 (2003),
$342,000 (2004), $410,000 (2005), $478,000 (2006) and $546,000
(2007). There is also an escalator clause that could increase the
base salary for 2007 if Johnson reaches some prescribed playing time
Johnson, 24, was selected by the
Patriots with their second selection in the second round, the 45th
selection overall. The 5-foot-11-inch, 201-pound wide out set school
records with 117 receptions for 1,740 yards while starting 22 of 35
games played at Texas A&M. He also scored 11 touchdowns, tied for
fourth in school history. He averaged 13.0 yards on 15 punt returns
and 20.0 yards on 22 kickoff returns during his career. Last year,
he started all 12 games for the Aggies and led the team with 40
receptions for 718 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Johnson is the all-time leading
receiver (since 1970) in the history of CHS with 65 catches for
1,408 yards and 17 touchdowns. Johnson averaged 21.7 yards a catch
as a Tiger.
The Patriots started training
camp on Wednesday and Johnson couldn't be reached for comment.
8/31/2003 Love Waits: Jaspers
spend mere hours apart while on duty
By MICAH CHAPLIN/Daily Sun
Cheryl (Bower) Jasper was given orders to go to Kuwait April 7, her
role in the war was not as much on her mind as was the possibility
of seeing her husband again.
Cheryl, a Corsicana High School
graduate, met her husband Doug while living in Killeen after high
school. After about six months of marriage, the two moved to
Georgia, where Cheryl decided she would join the Army.
"Financially, it was a good move,
and I wanted to be able to say I could do it," Cheryl said. "It as a
lot of fun, and if I could restart it, I would."
With Doug and Cheryl both on
active duty, they knew deployment to the Middle East was inevitable.
In October 2002, Doug was sent to Kuwait. On their second wedding
anniversary, Cheryl, too, was on a plane headed for Iraq.
During the flight, Cheryl was
looking forward to being near her husband again. The two had not
seen each other since his deployment, and had not spoken for more
than a month. This is nothing new for the Jaspers, however, as the
two have been apart for more of their marriage than they've been
"We've been married for just over
two years, but we've only been together for about 11 months," Cheryl
Doug recalls vividly the last
time they spoke on the phone.
"It was March 18," Doug said. "It
was two days before we went over the border."
Doug was in the first wave of
troops to cross over into the Iraqi border. His duties included
mobility and countermobility.
"I made sure the task force went
where they needed to go and stopped the enemy from getting where
they needed to go," Doug said.
He was also among those who
checked out buildings as they were taken over, to ensure they were
adequate for their operations, and performed basic police actions in
Iraq, such as destroying weapons.
Cheryl's job was to keep the
electricity going by maintaining and repairing generators. During
that time, she lived in a tent, walking to makeshift restrooms and
showers, while facing hot, dry and windy conditions.
"It was 90 at night, and that
felt good," Cheryl said. "Doug had it better though."
Doug also lived in tents
occasionally and even out of his vehicle for two and a half weeks.
When they took over buildings in Baghdad and Fallujah, he was able
to take shelter there.
Even though Doug and Cheryl were
just hours apart, at one point less than three, the two still were
unable to get together during their tenure in Iraq. They couldn't
even talk on the phone.
"We had a map that told us where
all the other units were," Doug said. "We just didn't have phone
numbers for them."
"At one point, he was ready to
take a Hum-V to go looking for my unit," Cheryl said.
"I just couldn't get a pass out
of the gate," Doug said.
The Jaspers were the only couple
within their units who were unable to reunite.
"The others were able to make
arrangements, but our chain of command basically told us the right
time hadn't arisen for us to see each other," Doug said.
It wasn't until Doug got off a
bus in the U.S. on Aug. 10 that Cheryl finally saw him again. The
two made a three-day stop in Corsicana last weekend to visit
Cheryl's parents, Butch and Terry Bower, before returning to their
home in Fort Stewart, Ga.
Doug and Cheryl were both left
unimpressed with the country of Iraq.
"It's like the garbage can of the
planet. The cities were very dirty. They smelled like rotten food
and dead fish," Doug said. "Some of their lower class live in tents
and adobe houses. In the cities, there are all apartments and a few
houses, all of which are for upper class."
"Everywhere you drove, there was
trash along the side of the road," Cheryl said. "I've never seen
anything like it."
Doug, who interacted with the
Iraqi people more than Cheryl, said, in general, they were nice
"Most of them wanted us there,
except for a few who are still brainwashed," Doug said. "Like anyone
else, they don't like guns pointed at them or people telling them
what to do. But as long as we were polite, they were polite."
Doug and Cheryl, among other
troops, were also well-aware of the anti-war sentiment spreading
through the U.S.
"They're not thinking straight,"
Cheryl said. "It's called patriotism."
"It's no fun being over there,
but we do what we have to do," Doug said. "I just hope we never have
to go back."
Andy McDougald was close to the action when U.S. forces captured
12/31/2003 THERE'S NO
PLACE LIKE HOME: 1st Lt. John Anderson enjoying short leave
before Iraq return
1st Lt. John Anderson is an executive officer in an infantry
company serving in Iraq. He is home on a short leave, but is
scheduled to return to the Middle East on Jan. 11. Courtesy
By MICAH CHAPLIN/Daily Sun
1st Lt. John Anderson always
knew he wanted to be in the military.
Upon graduating from Corsicana
High School in
1996, Anderson went to Texas A&M, where he majored in biomedical
science. His interest in the military was further developed as a
member of the Corps of Cadets during his time at A&M.
Less than a month after the
Iraq war began, Anderson was deployed. He left on April 11 and
started out his duties as a platoon leader for the infantry. Very
quickly, he was moved to an executive officer position.
"Basically, I just run the
company," he said.
But that doesn't mean he sat
in an air conditioned office and slept in a suite. Anderson's
reality was far from it.
"For the first few months, I
slept in the sand," he said. "Now, we're in buildings that are
Those buildings, he says, even
without air conditioning, were better than being out in the heat.
"The summer was absolutely
brutal," he said. "The temperatures were easily in the 140s. We were
drinking two gallons of water per day per soldier."
Anderson says the capture of
Saddam Hussein was a great morale booster, but that the troops knew
better than to get too optimistic.
"We would watch the news, and
the way the capture was presented, it seemed people thought
everything would instantly get better," he said. "But we knew. We
knew security would have to be heightened and that we'd have to put
more people on the border."
While away, Anderson was
allowed one 10-minute phone call every three weeks, and for the
first six months, there was no Internet access. Needless to say, it
was hard for him to stay in touch with his parents, Jim and Judy,
and sister Jackie, 23.
"That was really hard," he
said. "Because I couldn't talk to my family and let them know what
was going on, and I knew they were back here worrying."
The worst part, he said,
however, was missing his sister's wedding day.
"She got married in September,
and I had to miss that," he said. "That was pretty rough."'
Anderson is making up for that
lost time. Home for a few weeks, he has been eager to catch up with
family and friends. He's also managed to play a little golf, and eat
a whole lot.
"I've eaten so much," he said.
"We have the best food in the world here."
Good food and a bed are the
two primary comforts Anderson says he misses while in Iraq. After
the first few months of sleeping in the sand, Anderson's sleeping
conditions were upgraded to a cot, but he said there's nothing like
Other than eating and
relaxing, Anderson has no formal plans for his break.
"I just want to take it easy,"
Anderson returns to Iraq on
Jan. 11, but looks forward to returning permanently sometime in
"After that, I don't know what
I'm going to do," he said. "Part of me really wants to go back to
grad school, but I'm still undecided."
Micah Chaplin may be contacted
via e-mail at
Sgt. Steve Melton of Kerens
left for his tour in Iraq March 5. Melton is with the HHC 1st
Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood. He also served in Desert Storm.
He is the son of Shirley Daniels of Corsicana
After a year in Iraq, Calen Bullard
has a renewed ... Love of Country