Military

2 REASONS

April 22nd, 2014 at 11:01 am by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, Military, News, Personalities

Two reasons why I’ve been smiling while I walked the scenic NOLAND TRAIL in Newport News over the past week. I’ll be smiling again as I hit “trails” all over Hampton Roads in the next five days. ELIAS, my oldest daughter’s February blessing is on the left. And “LIL ROSCOE” (aka- LIAM) is my partner KATIE’s handsome boy, born last July. BABY Elias and mommy 16627_10152272982082930_123902686_n

These healthy infants have a great opportunity to grow to a ripe old age, and physically do whatever they want, thanks to the MARCH OF DIMES.  Wednesday through Sunday, I’ll be thinking of the boys as I pound the pavement with JIMMY RAY of “97-3 THE EAGLE.”  We start at the Country Club of Williamsburg, 7am, with the goal of reaching Patrick Henry Mall by about 11. And each day, we’ll take a bite out of the 80+ mile route, inching closer to the goal of the oceanfront. Check the link for each day’s effort.
During that first FOUR HOUR trek with JIMMY RAY, we’ll each have plenty of time to talk (I’ll do a lot of LISTENING) about how to solve every problem in the universe. But when we’re not flapping our gums, the quiet moments will be great for counting our blessings- two of which you see, here.

Liam - Lil Roscoe -2 1238940_4845738956387_724864554_n

Their moms knew what to do to help insure their successful births- thanks in large part to the work of the MARCH OF DIMES. In their words:   “We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. If something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten our babies and work on preventing them.”
You may know someone who’s waiting for their little blessing right now. You can help them by supporting me and my walking buddy, Jimmy Ray. Better yet, just go right to the source, the March of Dimes. Send them a check -and on the memo line, just write in that name that’s your reason to smile.
Each day, our MARCH FOR BABIES will shine a spotlight on the MARCH OF DIMES and it’s support of research to prevent premature births and defects. Check out the link to the map of our daily route, follow our progress, cheer us on when you see us on the street AND PUH-LEEZE support the MARCH OF DIMES.  And to top it all off, join our MARCH FOR BABIES and WALK WITH US this SUNDAY, April 27, 2014, 830am at the VB oceanfront!


Veterans: Good and Plenty

November 7th, 2013 at 3:29 pm by under Military, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports

6 was good enough for Matthew Plenty. That’s how many children this AIR FORCE veteran had between wives’ one, and two. And he also loved his COWBOYS! That always made for some good conversation during the few times I visited his Newport News home. Mr. Plenty could talk some “smack” about WASHINGTON. After retiring from the AIR FORCE and settling into a civil service job at FORT EUSTIS, the PLENTYs’ welcomed my wife’s family by their East End homestead all the time. I recall first meeting him at our wedding in 1982! And although my wife stayed in touch with the kids, we hadn’t seen him much over the years- one of those friends you kinda knew was always there. Always. Until Monday. I vividly recall my wife’s reaction when she learned Mr. Plenty had died. She knew he was sick, in home hospice care. We planned to visit, tomorrow.. but LIFE got in the way. I hear he had some fascinating stories to tell about his military service. But now he’s takes those stories with him. TOMORROW now becomes TODAY. I’m finalizing plans, along with a colleague over at SUNTRUST BANK in downtown Norfolk, to talk to- actually, HONOR, some other VETERANS, who have some stories to tell. I personally know two of them. Mr JULIUS GREEN is the husband of my wife’s best friend, Rosalyn. Every now and then, “Roz” would drop a dime about Mr Green’s ARMY years, duty in Korea, Germany, Fort Eustis. Only after pressing for details did I learn that he was the Army’s first African American MASTER DIVER; or in other words, the Army’s version of CARL BRASHEAR.

He was the Army's CARL BRASHEAR

Army Master Diver

Poking around a little more, I learned Mr. Green attended Warrant Officer School with his neighbor, and another friend of mine, JOHN E. GRAGG… That’s Army Chief Warrant Officer 3, John Gragg. He went on to become the ARMY’s first African American BOAT CAPTAIN.

The Army's first African American boat captain

The Army’s first African American boat captain

Gragg says he was the captain of the big tug that helped pull this ARMY VESSEL OFF a sand bar in the James River in March of 1972. And, boy, does he have more stories to tell.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

Both plan to share them with us at a reception in their honor, 10 AM, FRIDAY, 09NOV13, at SUNTRUST BANK, 150 West Main Street, downtown Norfolk, 12th floor. Also being honored this day, a “young man” who earned 3 PURPLE HEARTS, the hard way. Retired Army Ranger William “Joey” Pocan. TOMORROW is TODAY…The time is now to say THANK YOU to these, and all outstanding veterans. I hope they’ll take a moment to tell us a story.


Hot Coffee in Hampton Roads

September 11th, 2013 at 2:16 pm by under Military, News, Personalities, Uncategorized
Hot Coffee bringing a smile to our faces

Don, Lucinda and Robert celebrating “Hot Coffee!

One of the benefits of my working at WAVY TV/FOX43 is the opportunity to meet all kinds of people -AND- travel to “exotic locations.” Now, I haven’t had the chance to travel lately but the “exotic location” has come to Me (in a manner of speaking).

Meet Lucinda McDonald and her brother Robert Crosby. Luncinda joined the WAVY staff a couple of months ago. She’s the lovely lady behind the “voice” you hear when you call us. Her brother just happened to be in town, enjoying some down time from his job in the Navy. I met him in the green room after a recent MIDDAY news. I kinda knew he was in the military because he was so friendly. Come to find out, he’s a former navy cook who rose through the ranks and is now a Lieutenant Commander on a submarine. Robert’s on assignment now with a Congressman in DC. Well, we got to talking about hometowns. Mine, Baltimore. His, HOT COFFEE, MISSISSIPPI. “You’re kidding?” I said. “Nope. It’s a real town, Hot Coffee, Mississippi.” I almost fell out laughing, especially when he told me, “Yes, Hot Coffee does have *a* traffic light.” Hey, if YOU are from, or have visited, a “unique” town, tell me about it here or on my Facebook page.


Hampton Roads Through the Lens: Freedom’s Fort Monroe

January 26th, 2012 at 9:25 am by under Military, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

It’s beginnings date to the very genesis of America itself.  Defensive fortifications were built in Hampton starting in 1609.  Fast forward two centuries and a more substantial imprint of our nation’s emerging power was completed in 1834.  Fort Monroe was named after Amercia’s 5th president, and during the Civil War,  it was one of the few areas of the Old Dominion which remained in Union hands, and thus became a beacon of freedom for runaway slaves.   It was the last active Army Fort when it was decommissioned in September 2011, and thus has a mysterious feel when one strolls the grounds on a cold morning as I did recently.  Here are a few impressions from my camera– many of them recording a stark black and white look of a proud but time-worn edifice that is Freedom’s Fortress.  A title that led President Obama to declare Ft. Monroe a National Monument and forever be preserved as part of the American fabric.

 

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

 


On the Run- An Epic Week!

April 19th, 2011 at 2:35 pm by under Health, Military, Sports

All the Running News in Hampton Roads from your Sportswrap Running Reporter, Jon “Flex Leiding

An Amazing Seven Days!

Great efforts were all over the “757″ over that last few days. When we go “On The Run”, we go everywhere! Where to start? Chesapeake, Hampton, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Kentucky or Boston? Let’s start first with the ongoing story of John Price, who’s been “On the Run” since Valentines Day, running back from California. His latest efforts had him in Kentucky, primed for a big return to Hampton Roads very soon. You can follow his blog, with some great pictures of this beautiful land we call home at http://runvb2vb.com/blog/.

In Norfolk, the Lion’s Journey for Sight 5K & One Mile Run Saturday had a new venue in Norview High School, but speed was on display. Drew Midland won the 5K in 16:47, followed by Masters great, John Lomogda in 17:33. Inessa Corney, 13, from Australia, was the fastest female in 21:23 and she was the First Female in the Mile at 6:25. Liam Arocho blazed the One mile for the Overall victory in 4:35.

Williamsburg was also the setting for sub 16′s at the Duke of Gloucester 5K. Williamsburg’s Ed Moran sizzled thru the 3.1 mile course in 14:38, with the next three finishers all breaking 16:00! Jennifer Quarles led the Ladies in 19:19.

Since we’re on the Peninsula, a huge “THANK YOU” to all who participated in the 24 hour Run for Cancer at Sandy Bottom Nature Park. Among the fundraisers, Virginia Beach’s Tommy Neeson logged 86 miles. Running for a charity is a wonderful thing to embrace, at least once. To all of you, a hearty “Congratulations!”

The TS Gates 5K in Poquoson Saturday with Brandon MacPherson as the Overall Winner and Meghan Foley was the Ladies champ.

All this and Still, Not Done!

Kale Running brought the big guns for the Dismal Swamp Half Marathon Saturday and were not disappointed. The out and back course along the Dismal Swamp was the perfect setting for Virginia Beach’s George Towett, who was First to the line in 1:05:32 . New York’s Salome Kosgei was the Ladies Winner in 1:15:56. The Field also featured Fourth overall and Masters Champion, Dennis Simonaitus. The 48 year old from Utah ran an amazing 1:10:56. He is also the only Masters Runner (40 years old and above) to run a 5K in under 15 minutes. Hampton Roads had two other friends in the Top Ten; Chesapeake’s David Hryvniak and big friend of the blog, John Piggott, of Williamsburg. Congratulations to all finishers!

Boston!

It’s the oldest and most famous Marathon in America. 27,000 people toed the line Monday and great efforts were aplenty. If you didn’t see the highlights, Course records were set by winner, Geoffrey Mutai in 2:03:02, while American, Ryan Hall set an American course record in 2:04:58, finishing Fourth. In 2010, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot set a Boston course record of 2:05:52. That would have landed him in Fifth this year. For the Ladies, two seconds was all that kept Desiree Davilla from being the first American Woman to win the race since 1985. With less than a quarter mile to go, Kenya’s Caroline Kilel outkicked Davilla to win in 2:22:36.

While those are amazing results, Hampton Roads also was treated to some real “Dragon Slayers” on this course. Virginia Beach’s Steve Speirs, 44, bested his previous Boston efforts, turning in an epic 2:45:22, running “negative splits” for the second half. Suffolk’s Billy Chorey, 30, was not far behind with another stellar effort, 2:46:05. Williamsburg’s Christopher Gutridge, 26, crossed the line in 2:49:27, followed by Matthew Lynch of Norfolk, in 2:51:55, while 20 year old, Thomas Gounley, from Newport News, rounded out the Hampton Roads connection for Runners under three hours! In a word…”AMAZING!”


Back to the Future!

No Delorean or Time Machine needed as this weekend offers several races. Saturday, the Suffolk YMCA 5K & One Miler, the One Life Fitness Bunny Hop 5K and One Mile Thumper Run in Chesapeake. At Oyster Point Park in Newport News, the Race for Teal 5K takes off on Saturday morning, while in Williamsburg, the New Quarter Park 5K and One Mile race get going as well. You can always get registered or find out more at kalerunning.com, tidewaterstriders.com, peninsulatrackclub.com, or colonialroadrunners.org.

What’s New With the Blog?

Saw some old friends of the Blog over the weekend. It’s wonderful how many people read our Running Blog and have some ideas we are working on. Some interviews are in the works as well. If you have an idea for a story or suggestion, please feel free to email me at astrovp@yahoo.com. You can always catch up with my archived Blogposts at ontherunwithflex.wordpress.com, or weekly here at WAVY.com.

Be on the lookout for me this weekend, whether you’re out for an easy run, or racing with the pack. I might just catch you… “On The Run!”

On the Run with Sportswrap Running Reporter, Jon “Flex” Leiding

See You "On the Run!"


100 PUSH-UPS!

November 26th, 2010 at 9:43 am by under 10 On Your Side, Military, Personalities, Sports

That’s how we celebrated  THANKSGIVING at the Roberts’ compound -  watching one of America’s finest soldiers burn off Mrs. Roberts’ world famous turkey – by doing 100 PUSH UPS! And PFC John Hanne did them all in less than 2 minutes! In-freakin’-credible. I can do 100 push ups -  TODAY!  Actually, truth be told, Hanne HAD to do the pushups because he lost a bet. He talked a little smack to his fellow soldiers ’bout dem COWBOYS- thought they were going to kick a little Louisiana tail. In Baltimore we call that – “Selling Wolf Tickets!”  Don’t ask.   Hanne was one of four Ft. Eustis soldiers to join my family and friends for dinner, Thursday. But THEY were the treat.  It all started around 930 as I joined a crowd of about 100 other families at the Hampton Coliseum. 

About 200 military members were matched with families like these from around Hampton Roads. The matching went off without a hitch, thanks to the great efforts and coordination of the USO. So, what did we do all day? Just chilled! My son is the age of the guys and Kevin had the latest video game hook-ups. They were in hog heaven ’til it was time for football.  CLICK! Hello Patriots/Lions, Cowboys/Saints!  But the fellas didn’t hide behind the goal posts all day. They kept popping in the kitchen to check on me and my wife (and the turkeys) – offering to help out with dinner preps. We talked everything – from football, military, what to do ’round the Peninsula, and simply – livin’ life in general – here and back in their hometowns. We found plenty of common ground. Two of the soldiers are parents. All are athletic. None liked the REDSKINS (for the record, we do!) One soldier thought a couple of South Carolina high school football teams were better than Phoebus and Hampton. I asked him what was he smokin’.  One soldier is about to be stationed in KOREA, (my brother and uncle were there) another headed to GERMANY. The others may eventually do time in Afghanistan -keeping our choppers flying or delivering supplies to the frontliners. Their enthusiasm for serving our country was wonderful to hear. 

We fortified them with a home cooked meal and a lot of confidence in knowing that we are thankful for their service and support them 100%.  So, again, John P., Chandler V., Kyle K., and John H., thank YOU for a great Thanksgiving.


More Than Words

October 11th, 2010 at 9:31 am by under 10 On Your Side, Military, Personalities

Saying “thank you” costs you nothing, but to those on the receiving end of those kind words, it’s priceless.  This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to meet a family who is taking “thank you” a step further.  Rather than saying it, they’re showing the phrase.

This month, the Bryant family is focusing their thanks on the men and women who lost their lives or were hurt when terrorists blew a hole in the side of USS Cole while it was refueling in Yemen.  That attack happened 10 years ago, Tuesday.

The Bryant’s front yard is now a shrine to the Cole sailors.

On every handmade tombstone is the name of each sailor who died on USS Cole in that attack on October 12, 2000.

On their front porch, banners of thanks and remembrance proudly hang.

Remembrance Banner

Remembrance Banner

While they honor the 17 sailors who lost their lives and the dozens who were hurt on that tragic day, the Bryants also took the time to honor those in all branches of the military, past and present.

My job allows me to meet extraordinary people every day.  I was lucky to meet the Bryants…a family who wants to do more than just say thank you.


10 On Your Side CG ride-along

August 31st, 2009 at 6:25 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Military

Friday morning started a little different than most of my Friday mornings. I was up and at the station early to pick up my camera and head down to Elizabeth City. I was tasked with completing a ride-along with the Elizabeth City Coast Guard and shooting video of the flight.  The Coast Guard crew were heading up and down the East Coast to issue a marine warning about Tropical Storm Danny. (I have to admit that I, not being a seasoned photographer, was so worried about getting enough video, that prior to the flight, I didn’t even think twice about what the day had in store for me.)

I arrived at the Coast Guard base about 7:45a and was immediately asked if anyone told me to pack my lunch (of course they didn’t!) and informed that it was going to be a ”long day”. After a quick stop at the exchange where I purchased enough snacks to get me through the day, I met the Commander (CDR Bruyere) and Co-pilot (Lt. Davis) of my flight. We boarded the HC-130J Hercules aircraft, and after a few routine checks, we were on our way. The flight began about 9am and we started heading south towards Wilmington, NC. 

Our "ride" for the day!

Our "ride" for the day!

Once we arrived in the Wilmington area and positioned ourselves about 100 miles of the coast, AMT2 Brandon Kelly began transmitting the Urgent Marine Information Broadcast every 15 minutes on VHF-FM channel 16, the marine band radio emergency channel.  The warning stated that Tropical Storm Danny was about 24 hours away from the East Coast of the United States and included wind speeds, direction and speed at which TS Danny was traveling.     

My view from the flight deck/cockpit!

My view from the flight deck/cockpit!

From Wilmington we headed straight up the East Coast to New York. When we arrived in New York, I thought to myself that this flight was a “piece of cake.” Little did I know that we were only HALFWAY through our SEVEN (yes 7!) hour flight and that we still had to go all the way back down to Wilmington. Now, one would think that being in a plane that big, motion sickness, dizziness and headaches wouldn’t be a problem… well think again! After 5 hours of being in flight(and flying through numerous thunderstorms), motion sickness got the best of me (no I didn’t get sick [THANK GOODNESS], but I did have a MASSIVE headache). When I told the crew members what was wrong, they assured me that if I put on the oxygen mask then it would solve most, if not all, of my problems, boy were they right! (I guess these guys haven’t been in the Coast Guard this long without learning a few “tricks of the trade”!)

Nice mask, huh?!?!?

Nice mask, huh?!?!?

In all, we didn’t see many boats on the water (only about 15 along the East Coast). The Coast Guard feels like their mission was a success. Commander Bruyere stated that he was happy that most of the mariners took the precautions necessary for the upcoming storm and stayed off the water for the day.

We landed back at the Elizabeth City Coast Guard base around 4pm on Friday afternoon. During my 45 minute drive back to the station, I couldn’t help but think that a 7 hour flight would have me halfway to Europe or already on the West Coast of the United States (and laying on the beach) or almost in Hawaii.  BUT I figured I can’t complain too much, but home wasn’t such a bad place to land!  (Let’s be honest, by that time, I was just happy to be on the ground!)

The crew of flight 2001 was wonderful. CDR Bruyere and Lt. Davis, were very hospitable and great in answering all of my questions. The guys in the crew made sure that I understood what was going on and took time to explain everything to me! I can’t thank them enough for their warm welcome… they even let me check out the view from the co-pilot’s chair (actually I snuck in while he was “stretching his legs”!!!!)

I got to sit in Lt. Davis' seat!

I got to sit in Lt. Davis' seat!

Thanks guys!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hats For Troops

March 19th, 2009 at 11:24 pm by under Military, Personalities

Students at Kings Fork Middle School in Suffolk are showing support for our troops overseas.  They made these colorful hats for the soldiers.

hpim3359

The Suffolk Education Foundation awarded a grant for the materials to make the knit caps.

hpim3360

The Kings Fork Middle schoolers are going to mail them on Friday, March 20.  What a great way to say thank you to the men and women in the Armed Forces working so hard to keep us all safe!

hpim3362

Thank you Ms. Addair, Ms. English, and “Mommy” (Ms. Livas) for sending us this story!

http://www.spsk12.net/schools/kfms/index.htm


Introducing the queen

February 24th, 2009 at 12:32 am by under Military, Personalities, Uncategorized

Norfolk’s International Azalea Festival is gearing up for a week long schedule of events from April 27 to May 3.  This will be the 56th International NATO Azalea Festival. This year celebrates the Czech Republic and  Representing her country and serving as queen of the festival is Captain Magdalena Dvorakova.

Magdalena Dvorakova

Magdalena Dvorakova

Magda is a resident of Prague, Czech Republic, and currently works in the Military Office of Mr. Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic. Her military career also has taken her abroad to Kosovo, and to Texas, Michigan, Missouri and Maryland for training.

At age 17, Magda left home for a year to be a  foreign exchange student in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. She later graduated from the Military University of Ground Forces in Vyskov, Czech Republic.

Captain Dvorakova is the second active duty Queen in the history of the Festival, following in the steps of Captain Mariola Kasemier, a Royal Netherlands army officer, who served as Queen in 2008. A film about Captain Kasemier, produced for the 2008 Azalea Festival, later won the International Military Film Festival in Barriciano, Italy.

While on her first visit to Norfolk last week, Captain Dvorakova visited St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children and met with all of the Historic Norfolk Unit Troops from the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.

I had the pleasure of meeting her at a special reception at the Chrysler Museum.

Join us April 27 – May 3 when Captain Magdalena Dvorakova, Queen Azalea LVI, returns to Norfolk for Festival Week.

Visit http://azaleafestival.org/events.asp for a complete list of events.