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Archives: March 2009

March
31st

Military families should keep driving past new hospital

Service members and their families who live on the west side of the Narrows bridges no doubt would prefer to use the brand-new St. Anthony Hospital, in the event they need a hospital at all.


Unfortunately, they’d be ill advised to go the Gig Harbor hospital right now, except in case of an emergency.


St. Anthony is the newest member of the Franciscan Health System. The system’s other facilities are in the military’s TRICARE health-care network. But St. Anthony is not a member and probably will not be until the end of April, at least, according

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March
30th

How will the stimulus bill help Washington’s military?

Everyone seems to be getting a piece of federal stimulus money. And Washington’s military installations are a big recipient of the dough.


The Department of Defense released a rundown of where your federal dollars will be going. Click here to check it out.


Washington is in line for $20.1 million in construction and another $129.8 million in “sustainment, restoration and modernization” projects.


A few of the projects include new emergency generator fuel tanks at Fort Lewis ($4.2 million), repairs to the air handling unit in the radiology clinic at Madigan Army Medical Center ($514,000) and repairs

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March
26th

Brothers at War

From Craig Sailor, The News Tribune’s arts and entertainment editor:


A documentary about two brothers serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq opens Friday at the Lakewood Towne Center.


What makes “Brothers at War” unique is that the film was made by a third brother, Jake Rademacher.


Shot both stateside and in Iraq the film covers dramatic action and portrays the effects of the brothers’ service on their family and the friends they left behind.


The two Army brothers, Cpt. Isaac Rademacher and Sgt. Joseph Rademacher were both with

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March
25th

Fallen soldier’s name lives on in Iraq

A measure of soldiers’ devotion to a fallen comrade is that, long after the memorial ceremonies have ended, they don’t forget the sacrifice. In fact they look for permanent ways to preserve their comrade’s memory.



Take, for example, a company of soldiers from the 555th Engineer Brigade, well known around Fort Lewis as the Triple Nickel. The 571st Sapper Company had just moved to the Balad Ruz area of southern Diyala province in Iraq last month when word came down that one of the 14th Engineer Battalion’s noncommissioned officers had been killed

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March
24th

Return from the Middle East

I’m back from Iraq. Thanks for all who helped me along the way during my seven weeks with the guys from the 81st Brigade Combat Team.


This blog will be a bit quieter the next few weeks; I’m taking some time off (I’m sure my wife will appreciate that more than anyone else). But keep looking in the paper for more stories — a few are queued up and should run soon.

March
23rd

In Kuwait, possible clues to Iraq’s future

KUWAIT CITY – BMWs and Mercedes sped down Gulf Road past the Kuwait Towers, three spikes rising from the sand adorned with enormous, blue-tiled spheres. On the viewing deck, young men in white dishdashas and women in black burkas on a date looked through the dusty windows at Kuwait’s boomtown skyline, all sleek skyscrapers and cranes. An American family of four, the father wearing a hat emblazoned with the logo of a local telecom company, sat at the snack bar. The workers, immigrants from South Asia, switched seamlessly between Arabic and English.

But even here, a tourist trap 403 feet above the ground, it was difficult to escape the troubles to the north. Frames held faded photos of destroyed rooms and buildings pock-marked with bullet holes. “The Iraqi invaders destroyed all Kuwait Towers utilities,” read one. Another, in halting English: “Tanks and light missiles fired the towers by invaders because they want it to destroy Kuwait symbol.”

There were more: “The barbaric destruction of Horizon restaurant by the Iraqi invaders in 1990.” “Even the air-conditioning control center was harmed by the barbaric invaders.”

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March
21st

Now that’s a sense of humor

BAGHDAD – Sometimes the acronym many people use for The News Tribune can elicit a strange response.


Take, for instance, a conversation I had a few days ago while following Col. Larry Saunders at the Baghdad Police College. He introduced me to one of the instructors.


"This is Scott Fontaine," he said. "He’s a reporter for the newspaper from my hometown, the Tacoma News Tribune."


The instructor thought for a second and smiled.


The interpreter let out a giggle before translating: "He said, ‘If you can have a paper called the TNT, I will start

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March
20th

I Corps’ fancy new digs

BAGHDAD – The American military needed buildings in a hurry, and it shows six years after the invasion of Iraq. Desks are often made of unfinished plywood. The walls are corrugated iron. The closest thing to plumbing is the portable toilet outside.


And then there’s the al Faw palace. I Corps’ new home is stunningly ornate. The walls, ceilings and floors are marble. An enormous chandelier hangs from the roof. The bathrooms boast gold-plated fixtures. One of Saddam’s thrones is still there.


I met Brig. Gen. Peter Bayer for an interview on

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