On this Day, 68 years ago and only 4 days after the initial invasion of Iwo Jima, 5 Marines and one Corpsman raised the Stars and Stripes on top of Mount Surabachi. The battle for the island took almost a month and had the Marines taking on 18,000 Japanese soldiers. Three of these flag raisers would later be killed during the fighting on Iwo Jima. The island was officially declared conquered on 14 March 1945. Semper Fi

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Great interview with Aaron Negherbon founder of Take a minute to watch the interview, stop by their FB page, and share this with your friends that support our troops. Truly incredible what he has accomplished. I salute you Aaron, and we are proud to call you our friend. Semper Fi!

Video on The nonprofit Troops Direct is bypassing bureaucracy to help soldiers get the supplies they need in a timely manner. So far, 15-tons of much-needed items have already been shipped with much more on the way. NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports.

Army Fun Facts: The green beret came from a British commando school.
During World War II, select U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. Office of Strategic Services personnel volunteered for an intense commando course in Scotland. The pace was relentless and the physical requirements were demanding. Exercises were conducted with live ammunition and real explosives. The soldiers were trained in field survival, mountaineering, snow warfare, small boat operations and river crossings. British Commandos wearing distinctive green berets conducted the school, and those American soldiers who successfully made it through the course were awarded the same beret. The U.S. Army didn’t authorize it for wear, but the hardened American commandos didn’t worry too much about that. They secretly wore it while out in the field and away from conventional forces.

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Air Force Fun Fact: The U.S. Air Force has two presidents to its credit.
In 1937, Ronald Reagan enlisted as a reservist in the Army, and soon earned a commission as a second lieutenant. In 1942, he transferred to the 18th Army Air Force Base Unit of the Army Air Forces. (This unit is better known as the First Motion Picture Unit.) He left active duty at the rank of captain on December 9, 1945. In 1968, George W. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard of the U.S. Air Force and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He trained as a fighter pilot, and flew Convair F-102 Delta Daggers with the 147th Reconnaissance Wing. In 1973 he transferred to the Air Force Reserve, and was honorably discharged at the rank of first lieutenant the following year.

Military Fun Fact: The Pentagon has no marble because it was built during World War II, and Italy, the source of marble, was an enemy country.

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Help Support Toys for Tots this holiday season: The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

The Official Website for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation © Copyright 2012. Toys for Tots Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Navy Fun Fact: The Navy SEAL Trident is sometimes called the “Budweiser.” The trident worn on the uniforms of Navy SEALs is officially designated as the “Special Warfare Insignia,” but is sometimes called the “Budweiser,” named in part for the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) course, the grueling twenty-five week special warfare school. The trident also has an uncanny resemblance to the Anheuser-Busch logo.

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Golds Gym partners with Veterans Fitness Career College to assist veterans getting out of the service transition into a careers in the fitness industry.

Gold’s Gym announced that it will officially partner with Veterans Fitness Career College (VFCC), an organization that provides fitness education, certification, job placement, career guidance, advocacy and support to veterans, and their dependents, looking to launch a career in the fitness industry...

Charity Spot Light - Socks for Heroes is an organization founded by a Gold Star family and is dedicated to supporting our service members serving in harms way. Since June of 2011 they have sent more than 143,000 pairs of socks to our service members deployed overseas. Please take a moment to visit their page and share their story.

Navy Fun Fact: All submariners are volunteers. Most attack submarines in the U.S. Navy are 33-feet wide, and about the length of a football field. Ballistic missile submarines are the length of the Washington Monument. Submarines stay submerged for months at a time. There are no windows, there is no night and day, you have fifteen square feet of living space and no privacy—and there’s a nuclear reactor right behind you. (They don’t just let anyone in a submarine. All submariners are volunteers, and have passed rigorous psychological and physical tests. Claustrophobics need not apply.) Those serving on submarines are among the most highly trained personnel in the military.

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If you have a little extra to give this holiday season our troops serving overseas could use our help with some clean socks. Please help us spread the word. #SOT

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Socks for Heroes

We are in our final push for the year. We are trying to get another 20,000 pair off to our Marines and Soldiers in Afghanistan. This year, why don't you make ...a donation to make sure that these brave men and women have dry feet for Christmas?

It doesn't take a lot. $20 will buy a Marine or Soldier a month supply of dry socks.

Go to and make a donation today!!!

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Charity Spot Light - is an organization dedicated to supporting our service members serving in harms way. They support our troops with everything from chalk to mark IED's to stretchers and K9 supplies. Please take a moment to visit their page and share their story.

On Point Energy updated their cover photo.
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Socks for Heroes added 19 new photos from November 25, 2012 to the album: LCPL Donald Hogan Portrait Dedication — with Carla Hogan and 2 others at Camp San Mateo.

The dedication of LCPL Donald J Hogans "American Fallen Soldiers Project" Portrait by Artist Phil Robert Taylor

Did you know that 60% of combat amputations are multiple limb procedures with the majority stemming from IED explosions?? TroopsDirect is committed to supplying... the items requested by our forces to minimize/prevent such occurrences: chalk, metal detectors, ballistic eye protection, and LOTS more.

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Marine Corps Fun Fact: …To the shores of Tripoli. In 1801, the United States decided to do something about piracy in the Mediterranean, and President Jefferson sent in the Navy. In 1805, the Marines finished the job. The Battle of Derne, on the shores of Tripoli during the First Barbary War, was the decisive action of the war, and the first overseas land battle fought by the United States military. In 2011, the U.S. Marine Corps returned to Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

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Socks for Heroes

Today marks what would have been Donald’s 24th birthday. It will be the fourth birthday we’ve observed since his death. As I’m sure you can imagine, It not a great day for Carla and I. It’s one of those days where we are pretty much forced to stare our loss in the face. There is no way around it.

Donald, along with his brother and sister, came to live with us during the summer of 1994. Donald was 5 years old. On the first of his birthdays that we spent together we went and spent the Thanksgiving Holiday at a small beach resort in Carlsbad, CA. His birthday that year fell on Thanksgiving, so we all went out to a restaurant across the street for our Thanksgiving dinner.

During the meal, Donald turned to his mother and said “Are all these people here for my Birthday?” We assured him that they were. I can still remember the smile on his face to this day.

Most families have Birthday traditions. At our house, the Birthday person is able to choose whatever they want for dinner, and the dessert of their choice. And while for a long time, for Donald, the dessert was Birthday cake, at some point it switched to Apple Pie. The kid just lived for the stuff. And it didn’t change as he grew older. Food was something that he was not particular about. Like most teenagers, if it didn’t move when you stuck a fork in it, it was his favorite!

When Donald was 16, I was traveling a great deal, and Carla determined that he and I needed to spend a little quality time together and signed us up for, what was his passion at the time, a Rock Climbing class. I was a little disturbed by this. Not that I am afraid of heights, but candidly, I don’t really like climbing on ladders, so the thought of climbing up rock walls didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling. But the die was cast and our adventure was on.

We went to a place called Joshua Tree, where dining facilities, are at best, limited. So we went to the Safeway and got frozen enchiladas and an Apple Pie and cooked them in the Hotel room we were staying at. We ate, watched TV and then climbed into bed.

The next morning, I went to get coffee and some breakfast. When I got back, Donald was wide awake, with a big smile on his face. The pie was gone. Considering the amount of sugar in that thing, I was amazed that Donald didn’t run up the side of the rock faces that we climbed that day.

During that trip, I don’t know what Donald learned, but I learned a great deal, not only about rock climbing, but about life itself. Rock climbing is about as counter-intuitive a sport as I know (I mean other than why anybody would want to climb up a rock face to begin with). While it would appear that you would use your arms, the primary driving muscles are your legs. You wear shoes that have soles that resemble racing slicks, so instead of leaning into the rock face, you need to lean away for the rock.

I learned that when scaling a wall, the passage is defined by a series of “moves”, and that every move will determine the ease, or the difficulty of the next. I also found out that you best trust the person that is holding your safety line, or “Rope”, because if you don’t, you better find someone else.

I also found out that you don’t really learn to trust the system, until you fall.

That day, as I was moving up one of the “courses” over the day, I put my 270lbs on a rock and pushed up and the rock came off the wall, with me along with it. That second when you are hanging in the air is an eternity, where the adrenaline runs through you regardless of your knowledge that you are protected, until you feel the jerk of the rope stopping your fall.

I looked down and Donald was holding my rope and smiling.

I believe that Donald is holding my rope still.

A little over a year ago, we received a gift from American Airlines commemorating Donald’s service. It was a portrait of Donald, painted by Phil Taylor, as part of the American Fallen Soldiers project. The American Fallen Soldiers project was created by Phil and his wife, Lisa, on the premise when a loved one is lost that it creates a space in the lives of the grieving family. Phil’s mission has been to try to fill that space, hopefully to help to ease their grief and their loss.

It is a beautiful portrait, but it has never hung in our home. It is a Texas Sized portrait, and we live in a California sized home. I have a small version of it in my office. But we have never been able to put the big one up. And while we have used the excuse that size is the reason that we don’t hang the portrait, the truth is that it is close enough to our son that it just amplifies our loss.

Some spaces are too large to fill.

And some things are too large to be contained.

Donald, like the picture, was too big to remain in our house. His life could not be contained by the safe, unremarkable existence that we tried to guide him towards. He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. He wanted to prove himself and to be a man. And to do so, he ran to the Marines.

It was in the Marines that Donald found himself. Though not easily at first, Donald found himself in a family of his peers. His identity became that of the Marines and their ethos. He loved everything about being a Marine, and was never happier than when he served.

While I wish that it had turned out differently, I am grateful that he had the chance to live his dream.

This year, we approached the Marine Corps to see if we might donate the portrait to them to hang in the Barracks that bear his name. They have graciously accepted. Donald will be going home to his family. We are grateful for their kindness.

Since my son’s death, the lessons from our rock climbing adventure continue to guide me as I try to continue moving forward. The counter-intuitiveness of my life continually strikes me.

Instead of moving away and blaming the Marines for our son’s death, we have moved towards them in an effort to repay them for allowing our son to live his dreams.

And instead of isolating ourselves from the world, we have tried to build a community of support to help them, and we are grateful that you are with us to let those who are still fighting know that they have not been forgotten.

And while we have made many moves in the past year for the benefit of those who stand between us and those who would harm us, it seems that we are at a cross roads, and we are not sure where to go next. We need to take another “leap of faith” and we are nervous in doing so, we aren’t worried. We know that we are protected.

We’re grateful to all of you for holding our rope.

We are back at it again tomorrow. We’ve determined that, with what we have in house today, we’ll be able to get a couple of more shipments out. If some donations that have been committed to us, come through, we may be able to squeeze out one more before we go dark on the 15th.

And as always, we can use your help.

It’s the end of the year, and we’ve done great things together. We’d like to finish it up on an uptic. If you haven’t made a donation recently, we hope that you will do so today by going to or dropping us a check at SCMCSG, 2171 Via Teca, San Clemente, CA 92673

Or please help us to get our message out by forwarding our website and our facebook page to anyone and everyone who supports our Marines, Sailors and Soldiers forward.

Thanks again for joining us in our position in this fight!

Jim Hogan

In honor of our son, Lance Corporal Donald Hogan
Posthumously awarded the Navy Cross
KIA 8/26/2009
We honor his memory by caring for his Marine Brothers wherever they serve in harms way

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