September 13, 2007

How to Help Talking with Heroes

Commenter "Dayngr" of Email Our Military asked awhile back how people could help Talking With Heroes. Bob replies...

One way that everybody can help is by becoming a sponsor. Levels of sponsorship begin as low as five dollars. Since I no longer have any personal funds of personal income everything I do is dependent now on sponsors. Sponsorship can include visibility on our talk show site and mention of the Sponsor on the radio show. It's a win-win situation for everybody.

To everybody who is interested in supporting our troops and in getting these stories out: we can all work together! It's not about me or any one person but about our country.

By the way, in about two weeks I am hoping to be able to announce a 10 state tour in the states, in which Altitude Sports and Entertainment will be airing the 30 minute edited programs from this last trip to Iraq on their cable network.

Welcoming Heroes in Dallas

First, I want to thank everybody who have posted condolences about my Dad passing away shortly after I returned from Iraq. Thank you, also, to those who have sent emails. Dad had a proper Military Funeral. Navy personnel came out on short notice and MSGT Colton (my radio co-host) was there. Our country is fast losing our WWII Veterans, and I will continue to try to interview them on Talking with Heroes.

I wanted to share with everybody about our experience in Dallas, Texas after we returned from Kuwait...

Major Patrick McAfee of the U.S. Army with the Dallas-Fort Worth Personnel Assistance Point was at the plane to escort us, so that Jim and I could set up our camera quickly and be ready to fill the welcoming events.

Family members and USO and local Dallas Citizens were at the first gate to welcome the almost 100 Military personnel who came off the plane (we have this all on film; Major McAfee and I narrated for those who will be listening on the internet). Next Major McAfee rushed us to the main area where the troops come through. Here there are 75 to 250 or more Dallas citizens lined up every day to welcome our troops home. You have to hear it and see it to appreciate what these great citizens do every day.

Major McAfee again narrated, and Jim was filming so people watching on Cable and on the DVD can see not only the troops and the citizens but also the signs all along the walls. We gave many of the citizens a chance to say why they were there. We talked with children who were there too, and with a lady who was waiting for her fiance to return (later we recorded comments from the reunited couple). We also spoke with family members who were waiting for their loved ones, and received permission to talk briefly with a soldier and his wife. He was holding his brand new baby--seeing her for the first time. It reminded me of when my son-in-law came back on leave and saw his first child, Hayden, for the first time.

We also interviewed Bert Brady, one of the leaders of the daily welcoming activities that Dallas citizens conduct. He has received many awards from the Military and has been interviewed many times. It was a privilege to meet him and all the other supporters personally (he also narrated some descriptions of events for those who will be listening on the Internet).

Later, we interviewed members of the USO staff and volunteers. They do a great job with their Reading Room in which military personnel can be recorded reading a book for their children. They also have a USO Internet Cafe for the troops, offering food, TV, a lounge and more. We also had the opportunity to interview a particular lady at the USO (if my memory is working, her name is Linda) who volunteered to go to Balad, Iraq to open up the first USO facility there.

Keep checking here and or on the Talking with Heroes broadcast pages to find out when these interviews will be broacast!


Thank You to Patti Bader and Soldiers' Angels, our Main Sponsors for this trip!

Thank you to our Colorado Sponsors who organized and participated in the recent Wine Tasting/Fundraising event! And thank you to all of our Sponsors across America and around the world who make the Talking with Heroes program possible!

And thank you also to FbL, a well-known blogger and Soldiers' Angel, who posted my text messages from Iraq along with pictures on this blog.

To see an overview of our travels and the interviews we conducted, please check out the Talking with Heroes broadcast site. We will soon be assembling the interviews into broadcast segments and onto DVDs; we'll make an announcement here when they are ready. You can also check out the archives or upcoming online broadcasts on the main site.

September 4, 2007

Welcome, Blogspotters!

[This post is "sticky" for awhile. Please scroll down for new posts.]

FbL, here...

Thanks to for highlighting this blog as a "Blog of Note."

As it says in the sidebar, this blog is an outlet for the Talking with Heroes radio program. Host Bob Calvert is in Iraq right now, interviewing soldiers and locals about the good aspects of what is happening (re-development and reconstruction, etc.). This is a work of the heart for him, and he has nearly bankrupted himself to cover his two previous trips to Iraq as an "independent embed." Bob is an Army Dad and doesn't pretend for a moment to be "objective" or analytical. Rather, his work is an attempt to bring out the positive things that are happening in Iraq that aren't getting major airtime in the big media.

Bob is more of a documentarian who lets his subjects speak for themselves, but those who find this blog interesting might enjoy reading the following people who are currently operating as independent journalists and blogger-analysts in Iraq:

Michael Yon - Former Special Forces soldier
Wesley Morgan - Student at Princeton University
Matt Sanchez - Former Marine
Bill Roggio - His non-profit, PMI, supports several embeds)
Michael J. Totten - Civilian analyst
Laughing Wolf - Civilian, and career independent journalist (preparing to go)

[There's at least one more good one, but I but I can't think of his name at the moment.]

And if you're looking for broad military coverage/analysis from an informed perspective that is supportive of servicemembers, check out the Big Daddy of milblogs, Blackfive.

Sad News

FbL here, again...

Bob is safely back from Iraq, but his father passed away today. As he'd mentioned in this post, Bob was anxious to go see his father, who had been hospitalized in Intensive Care. Fortunately they were able to see each other, but I received the following this evening from a friend who is taking care of email for Bob:
Bob's father died today. He must have been holding on, waiting for Bob; they were able to talk before he passed away.

I think Bob will be busy with his family for the rest of this week,'s going to be at least a couple of days before he gets back online.
Bob's father was a veteran of WWII, a member of the "Greatest Generation," a brother of those who are on the front lines today.

If you wish to send Bob and his family your condolences, please feel free to use the comment link below. I will make sure he gets them.

September 3, 2007

Last Day in Camp Taqaddam: the good and the bad

This morning we were up at 4am to go out on a convoy with 1/11 Charley Company, 2nd Platoon. We headed out on foot from our quarters to their headquarters with our body armor, kevlar, camera bag, etc.

We discovered out that among other operations they would be conducting on this convoy, they were also going into Tourist Town--the town I visited in Oct 2006, where I interviewed the school principal and more. I encourage you to follow that link to hear the old interview, then listen to this one when it airs.

The last thing we want to do is make it sound like everything is all rosy here in Iraq. It is not. Many of our military interviewees mentioned that fact. But we felt--and others do, too--that it is important to also hear the positives. Our day at Camp Taqaddum was another day that illustrates the progress over the past year.

The drive to Tourist Town was over two hours, including an operations stop along the way. As the day progressed, we could feel the heat more and more in the humvee. Added to the heat is that we all had body armor on, and the soldiers had their ammo and more. Again, I have nothing but the highest respect for all of our military for working in the conditions they face.

At our first stop in Tourist Town, the woman who was our interpreter during our October 2006 trip spotted me--we isntantly recognized each other. Last time she did not feel safe having her picture in the film, but this time she told me that it would be okay. She talked about progress in the area since I was here, and about some of the challenges--mainly in Baghdad and with the Iraqi government. It has been eye-opening to talk with Iraqis and hear what they think.

After awhile, some of the Marines came over and suggested that we walk with them through a residential area. The first family we met on our walk included the dad of a little boy whom our military is helping go to India for urgent heart surgery. This effort started with the Minnesota National Guard, and the Marines are working on completing it for this little boy. You will love hearing this on the Internet broadcast, and especially watching this on cable and dvd. The kids here just capture your heart.

We walked some more and met more Iraqis, including refugees. [Only some of this is on tape and film.] One refugee had been kidnapped by a militia group and then left for dead. Fortunately for him and his family, he was found and survived. He then left his home in Baghdad and moved his family here to Tourist Town, as have other refugees. He now wants to go back home to get his furniture so that he can sell it and use the money to feed his kids.

Another Iraqi talked about his home on a busy roadway in Baghdad, a roadway that coalition members, Iraqis, insurgents and others drive across every day. He saw many IED's go off there, and the coalition started searching his house very frequently. Finally, he decided it was too dangerous to stay there with his family and moved them to Tourist Town. Both he and the other Iraqi man we spoke to hope to go back to their homes someday.

Another Iraqi served Chai (tea), as is the custom of Iraqis when they have guests. He introduced his brother, who had a business that makes safes. A militia group confiscated his business, so he and his family also left.

The sad part is that this is a common occurrence for many Iraqis across Iraq, but mainly now in Baghdad. Hopefully al Sadr's announcement today that all his militias are to stand down for six months will allow all the progress we have seen in Baghdad to happen even faster now. But we will have to see...

All the Iraqis told us similar things. One thing they told us is that they do not want America to leave until they are capable of defending themselves against the militias, the insurgents, and Al Qaeda. The second thing they mentioned is their belief that peace will come to Iraq; they see us as helping them get there. One of the Iraqis apologized to us because in the beginning he was against us being there, there but now he realizes we are his friends.

Yes, we have brought all kinds of positive progress reports back, but it is important to not forget that there are still kidnappings, suicide bombers, etc--bad stuff is still happening. Our troops are still under attack in some areas; injuries and, sadly, deaths still occur. But the good news is that there is progress... there is hope.

After we left the Iraqis, we were brought over to Tourist Town School--or as the Iraqis call it, Al-Absaar Primary School. Principal Emad Jasim Hussien recognized me immediately. One of the last things I had told him through the same interpreter was that I would do my best to come back. Even though I had to depend on sponsors 100% this time, less than a year later Emad and I were talking!

He was excited to see me, and to share with all of America the progress that has happened in the past year at his school and in Habbbaniyu Tourist Village (the Iraqi name for their town). In October 2006, Emad had talked about his fears for himself and his family after allowing himself to be filmed. But this time he said this time he does not feel that fear. Last time there were no Iraqi Police in their town, now they have not IP's (Iraqi Police), but local people who patrol their community, man checkpoints and more. We met some of them, and you will seem them on film.

Emad also gave us a tour of his school. First we saw the desks that he was so happy to have received. The desks reminded me of desks I have seen in schools in America from about 50 years ago, but they have desks. He now has chalkboards, but needs more. He is using lesson books from last year, and he has to have more than one child use each book (share them). He
wants to get the newer books, and he would like to have one for each child. He needs pretty much what all schools in America take for granted: he needs school supplies, although he thanked our troops and the American people for the school supplies already sent to them. School opens here in a few weeks.

I would love to see some American schools team up and work it out with the civil affairs people to get them desks. They also need chalkboards, pencils, paper, back packs, and English readers. Yes, English; they are all learning English.

After we got back to Camp TQ, we were getting ready to walk back to our quarters when we were introduced to the Battery C 1st Battalion Commander, Cpt Butler, and also to 1stLt Peter McGrath. We went to eat with them, then came back and they shared a great overview and summary of what has been happening in their area and all the progress. They also talked about the school and their community.

I can hardly wait to let millions of Americans hear it!

We are now out of Iraq and in Kuwait. We hope to be able to leave for the U.S. tomorrow (we will fly into Dallas). We have talked with a major back there about doing another program on how Dallas welcomes home our troops--it is great. After Dallas, I have two days before my plane to go back to Colorado Springs. I am working on last-minute fundraising so that I can rent a car and go see my WWII Veteran Dad, who is in the ICU at a hospital there.

There is so much I want to write about, but you will all have an opportunity to listen on the Internet, and later to watch it with all the other interviews and stories we covered on Altitude Sports and Entertainment or on the DVD's. When I get back to Colorado Springs, I will post a summary of our trip. There are also many, many pictures and we will get some of them online as
quickly as possible.

America... let's set politics aside and make sure that millions of Americans hear these stories. Again, there is still bad stuff going on in Iraq and Afghanistan; people are dying and being injured. But there is progress.

Our troops were very glad to hear that we were bringing these progress stories back to the American people. Watching some of the major news media is very frustrating to them--even Iraqis talked about it! Bad news is news, no doubt about it. But good news needs to be news too. So between all of us, let's get this blog out to people. And when the interviews and stories are ready to air, let's all join together in a grassroots movement to get the word out to millions.

My next post may not be for four or five days... definitely after the Dallas talk show this Sunday.

Thank you again to FbL for taking care of this blog for us. Thank you to Patti Bader and Soldiers' Angels for making it possible at the last minute for me to make this third trip to Iraq. Thank you to the wonderful folks in Colorado Springs who put the wine-tasting fundraiser together, and to those who participated. Thank you to all of our sponsors and to all you selflessly help with this project.

To all of our troops: be safe, stay alert, and keep doing the great job you are doing.


Bob Calvert

September 2, 2007

Pictures from FOB Loyalty

These pictures were taken during and after the high-level Iraqi and Coalition meeting on FOB Loyalty that Bob and Jim attended (click for larger versions).*

Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi Major General Riyadh the Rusafa, the Iraq District Commander in the FOB Loyalty area of operations:

COL Swinford, MITT (Military Transition Teams) leader, speaking to Iraqi soldiers and Major General Riyadh. MITTs function as trainers/mentors for the Iraqi military, moving into backup roles as the Iraqi units become more capable.

Attending the meeting (seated from left to right below) are American Brigadier General Campbell, Iraqi military officers Lieutenant General Kareem, Major General Abdullah and Major General Riyadh, and British Major General Berragan:

Bob Calvert, host of Talking with Heroes, and Jim Martin, CEO of Altitude Sports and Entertainment, with members of the Iraqi Forces caravan who brought their leaders to the meeting:

An Iraqi soldier on guard in his vehicle:

*Pictures by Major Sean Ryan, Public Affairs Officer, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team