Friday, June 28, 2013
If you read the Parkdale column on a regular basis you know that our oldest son, Camden Ball, has been deployed to Afghanistan with the United States Army since last November.
On Father’s Day he returned to Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma, along with 249 fellow soldiers. Our family traveled to base to see him return and we were rewarded with the best Father’s Day present ever: our son and sibling home in the United States, safe and sound.
When Camden followed us home to Parkdale for a few days he spent some time talking with us about his experiences. He told us, “We were lucky; we had several close calls.”
He lost a buddy he’d known since boot camp when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle drove through their guard of a 25-year-old diplomat delivering schoolbooks to children in Qalat, Afghanistan. His friend was 25 years old, married, with a son and daughter.
Little did our son realize that we were home watching the nightly news and when we saw that big red dot on the city of Qalat, our hearts stopped briefly, knowing he was stationed there and that security detail was the kind of job he was doing while deployed.
When this kind of tragedy strikes, the military shuts down all forms of outside communication for three days while families are notified. It was a tough time for us until he got word to us he was OK.
He told us that after the bombing he helped donate blood and load injured onto helicopters for transport.
At the time we thought that was a horrific war experience for him, but just three days later the Boston Marathon bombings happened and Americans experienced that same horror here at home.
This war has been an educational and humbling experience for our family as in spite of our personal beliefs our son joined the Army to serve his country and we became involved with supporting him.
Our son has learned how to fly the Raven drone, speak Pashtu, the language of southern Afghanistan, and last fall made the rank of sergeant just two years and one month with the Army.
We are very proud of everything he has accomplished and of him serving our country, and extremely thankful he is home safely.
It’s our hope that all of our soldiers in this war return home to their loved ones the same way as ours has.
Tamara Emler Ball is Parkdale News correspondent for the Hood River News.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge