As thousands of American soldiers return to the civilian workforce after service in Iraq or Afghanistan, many are finding jobs on the nation’s rail lines.
More than 25 percent of all U.S. railroad workers have served in the military.
Veterans have a long history of railroad work. Civil War veterans, for example, helped complete the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. Railroad opportunities are especially welcome now because the unemployment rate for recent veterans remains higher than for the rest of the nation.
Mark Major once led soldiers in Iraq. Now he helps manage intermodal freight trains in Oakland, Calif. He sought out a rail job because of the challenges and independence it offered and because he had known other soldiers who went to work for a railroad and liked it.
The widow of a Navy SEAL gunned down at a rifle range by a Marine reservist in February says her husband’s death – and other recent gun-related tragedies – is no excuse to curtail the right to bear arms.
Speaking at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston, Texas, Taya Kyle reportedly told a packed auditorium of gun enthusiasts to continue their defense of the Second Amendment in the face of those who would legislatively curtail it.
“I challenge anyone to tell me there isn’t evil in this world,” Kyle said, according to The Los Angeles Times.
“From the days of Cain and Abel, we know all too well there will always be evil, but that evil shouldn’t take away our freedoms. In fact, the only way to take away evil is by taking advantage of those freedoms. America needs people like you who are willing to stand up and fight.”
Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, the author of “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.”
The book recounts Chris Kyle’s experiences during four tours in Iraq, where he reportedly said he killed at least 160 insurgents.
Kyle, 38, and friend Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot to death by a fellow Iraq veteran – 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh — on Feb. 2, according to The Times. The duo had squired Routh to a gun range after Routh had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Routh turned his weapon on them.
“Thank you for understanding the difference between the use of guns in terrorizing innocent people in our country and abroad and the use of guns in fighting an evil that will not be reasoned with,” Taya Kyle, 38, reportedly said at the NRA’s convention.
Wearing her late husband’s dogtags, Taya Kyle added that Chris Kyle, with whom she has two children, was at work at the time of his death on a book called “American Gun.” The tome, which she has finished in his honor and will publish next month, tells the story of 10 historic guns and the people who used them, according to The Times.
The FBI has identified two suspects in Monday’s the Boston Marathon bombing, releasing photos and video showing them and asking the public to help locate them.
The suspects, one of whom wore a a dark baseball-style cap and the other who wore backwards white baseball-style cap, appear to be in their twenties and were captured on footage near where one of two explosions killed three and injured 176. In video that appears to be from a surveillance camera and which was shown by the FBI, both suspects are walking west on Boylston Street, near the finish line and where the explosions occurred.
“We consider them to be extremely dangerous and armed,” said FBI Special Agent Rick DesLauriers. “With the media’s help, we know the public will create a critical role in locating these suspects.
“The nation is counting on those with information to come forward,” he added, urging anyone who recognizes the men to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or go to the bureau’s website for online tips.
DesLauriers said investigators first focused on one man, then realized he appeared to be working with another man.
“Through the last day or so, we developed a single person of interest,” DesLauriers said. “Indeed, though that process we have identified a second suspect. We believe they are associated.”
The second suspect was seen dropping a backpack as both walked single file on Boylston Street, where both of the bombs exploded, DesLauriers said. It is believed that was the second bomb, which went off 12 seconds after the first one, at about 2:50 p.m.
It could not be determined from the photos whether the suspect terrorists were homegrown of foreign, but DesLauriers said the pictures will be distributed internationally.
“Someobody out there knows them as friends, coworkers,” DesLauriers said. “Although it may be difficult, we are counting on those [people] to come forward.”
Authorities believe at least one of the bombs was a sealed pressure cooker laden with explosives and shrapnel, and may have been concealed in a backpack. Before the release of the images, amateur sleuths around the world have been examining widely circulated photos from the crowd, isolating on people with backpacks, but officials have warned against such speculation.
A mangled pressure cooker lid found atop a nearby building is believed to have been part of one bomb, and it and other pieces were being analyzed at an FBI lab. A battery and several pieces of shrapnel were also recovered and undergoing analysis. Fox News learned that the circuit board suspected of being used to detonate at least one of the bombs has been recovered, and that FBI investigators were also analyzing cellphone tower records to identify positive hits for signs of calls that may have been placed to trigger both explosions remotely.
Authorities are also interested in a battery believed to be used in one of the bombs, telling Fox News it was likely purchased with a remote control toy and then extracted the battery to use in the bomb. That could potentially make it easier to zero in on a suspect.
According to a FBI and Department of Homeland Security bulletin, the deadly shrapnel that caused the deaths — including of an 8-year-old boy, and critical injuries to 17 — included nails, BBs and ball bearings. The other device “was also housed in a metal container, but investigators could not say if that was also a pressure cooker.
An investigative source also told Fox News that there is a “significant social media footprint” on the bombings that is providing new leads to investigators. More than 30,000 social media messages were collected within a one-mile radius of the finish line in the 48-hour period surrounding the explosions – with “Twitter and Facebook lighting up” after the attack. The social media generated what are called link analysis charts – which showed “the relationships between social media messages that met investigative criteria.” Investigators are especially interested in messages that seemed “out of place or coded,” sources told Fox News.
Monday’s horror unfolded just before 3 p.m., shattering a festive atmosphere several hours after the legendary race began on the city’s 238th annual Patriots’ Day. In the aftermath, officials found bomb remnants, shrapnel and shredded backpacks believed to have concealed the deadly payloads.
Investigators are also examining if the bombs could have been assembled near the scene of the explosions, The Wall Street Journal reports, quoting a law enforcement official. The official says this possibility is being considered because transporting improvised devices over a significant distance could trigger a premature detonation.
Scores of victims remained in hospitals, but the death toll has not risen since Monday. The doctors from Boston Medical Center credited some recent advances to dealing with trauma from techniques used in Iraq and Afghanistan. For one, doctors and first responders used component therapy instead of a lot of IV fluids. Component therapy can be used to promote blood clotting.
Fox News’ Rick Leventhal, Jana Winter, Catherine Herridge and Mike Levine contributed to this report.
Nothing says spring like a good love story — and nothing says love like the life shared by Ian Ralston and Nicole Sanders.
This June marks one year since the couple wed in an outdoor ceremony in Waterloo, Iowa — a celebration that would have seemed impossible back when Ralston, a 27-year-old U.S. Army soldier, was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq, leaving him a quadriplegic.
Sanders, wearing a vintage-looking gown, walked down the aisle to Frank Sinatra’s, “The Way You Look Tonight,” meeting her groom, wheelchair-bound and hooked up to a breathing tube, at an altar adorned with blue and cream hydrangeas.
“It was euphoric … watching her come down the aisle,” said Ralston, a former combat medic whose neck was struck by a ball bearing when an IED exploded underneath an over pass in Iraq in 2009.
“We went through a lot to get there,” he said. “It was very special.”
The June 23 ceremony, held at the Sunnyside Country Club, was officiated by Eric Lewis, an Army chaplain whom Ralston had befriended while in service.
Ralston, an Iowa native, met Sanders at an Irish pub in Tacoma, Wash., in January 2009 when he was stationed at Fort Lewis. The couple spoke about marriage before Ralston set off on his second deployment in Iraq eight months later.
Within three days of Ralston’s injury, Sanders was a constant presence at his bed at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington.
“She was there the whole time,” Ralston said. “And we just kept growing closer and closer.”
A wedding proposal came at an unlikely moment, recalled Sanders. The 25-year-old was packing the couple’s suitcase for a trip in March 2010 to Minneapolis VA Health Care System, a hospital that provides special care for U.S. veterans wounded in combat. Within one of the locked pockets of the large suitcase was a diamond engagement ring, which took Sanders four hours to find after she was tipped off by Ralston’s father, Stephen.
“She pretty much hit the floor when she found it and I asked if she would marry me,” Ian Ralston told FoxNews.com.
Last month, the Ralstons sent more than 100 “thank you” notes to friends and family members – including a few strangers – who bought out the couple’s entire registry at Crate & Barrel and Target.
Stephen Ralston, a groomsman in his son’s wedding, said despite the extraordinary challenge faced by the couple, their story of love is one that others would be lucky to find.
“She never wavered once,” he said of his daughter-in-law. “It was amazing to see such a young woman like that totally commit herself and do whatever was needed to help Ian – putting her own life aside.”
“You only do that if you love somebody with all your heart,” he said.
A U.S. Marine has been ordered by local officials to remove an American flag and flagpole that he installed outside his Florida home after returning home from serving in Iraq.
Gregory Schaffer told WPTV.com that he received a citation from the town of Hypoluxo, Fla., listing the flagpole as a violation of the town’s permitting code.
“It’s sad. It’s sad that we have to go through that just to fly a flag,” Schaffer told the station.
The 24-year-old Marine said a neighbor filed a complaint with the town within days after he installed the flagpole in his yard.
“It’s disgusting that anybody should have to go through that. I fought for the flag, now I’m paying for the flag,” Schaffer told the station.
A town building department official told WPTV.com that the flagpole is considered a structure and must be removed since Schaffer does not have a permit.
Schaffer told the station that because he is renting his property, he would have to hire a third party contractor to apply for the permit, which could cost up to $1,000.
The building department official said the town will try to work with the veteran to help him with the permitting process.
LZ Granderson says that in 2003, a member of a wildly popular group made a comment on the Iraq war that is unjustifiably still not forgiven by many — as though the mistake of the war were theirs.
Forty-eight Syrians — most of them soldiers — and nine Iraqi soldiers are killed inside Iraq, an official says, raising fears that Syria’s civil war could spread there.
A former Marine lied about having war injuries so he could get free golfing lessons, endorsements, cash, a trip to Iraq and to fulfill his dream of playing golf on the PGA tour, court documents show,
Court documents filed in Dallas on Tuesday show that Michael Duye Campbell has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud. The plea agreement does not recommend a sentence but outlines that Campbell faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and payment of restitution to those he deceived. A judge must still approve the plea deal.
Campbell defrauded charities out of at least $40,000 by claiming he was wounded in 2003 while on foot patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, according to court documents. He told people that members of his unit were killed by a bomb blast and that he woke up months later at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He claimed he could not speak, had partially lost his memory and was left with a stutter as a result of his injuries that included broken bones and a traumatic brain injury, an outline of his case filed in court Tuesday says.
Campbell, 30, lived in the Dallas area as recently as 2010. Military records show he served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2004, but the records do not support his claim that he was a combat veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Campbell’s public defender, Douglas Morris, declined to comment on the case
Prosecutors say Campbell set up a website to promote his cause and that he approached celebrities in the golf world to ask for support. He would persuade them to write stories about him, give him access to expensive golf schools and exclusive courses.
He eventually learned about the Troops First Foundation, a charity led by former professional golfer and TV golf commentator David Feherty.
Feherty wrote an article for golf.com about meeting Campbell at a golf tournament in 2010. “When he told me he was a Marine, I was instantly fine with it. He didn’t look injured, but I didn’t care. Any member of the military can walk with me, anytime, anywhere,” Feherty wrote.
In December 2010, the Troops First Foundation flew Campbell to Dubai, where he took a military transport to Fallujah, as part of a program in which wounded veterans are taken to the site where they were injured, according to court documents.
Documents show he also lied to other charities, obtaining money for a car and car insurance, living expenses and golf tournament entry fees. He also received golf gear from sporting goods companies, the documents say.
The charities did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.
Bruised and battered, Chuck Hagel emerged from his grueling confirmation hearing with solid Democratic support for his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s next defense secretary and relentless opposition from Republicans who repeatedly challenged their former GOP colleague.
Mathematically, Hagel has the edge as he looks to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as the nation’s 24th Pentagon chief. Democrats hold a 14-12 advantage on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the panel could vote as early as next Thursday, contingent on Hagel’s prompt response on some lingering questions.
Levin expressed optimism about Hagel’s prospects and praised his performance in nearly eight hours of testimony Thursday.
“I think his answers were honest and forthright and he did very well,” Levin told reporters. “I hope that there will be some, who maybe were skeptical but who are undecided before this hearing, will maybe now look at him in a more favorable light. But I think there are a whole lot of folks who basically decided before the hearing that they were going to vote against him.”
Unclear is whether Republicans will try to block the nomination of a Cabinet choice, especially when they have argued — when a Republican occupied the White House — that presidents should have their nominees.
Hagel struggled at times as GOP senators challenged him on issues ranging from Israel and Iran to his support for a group that advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons, repeatedly pressing him on past statements, votes and even letters he declined to sign. Refusing to show any frustration or anger, Hagel defended his record.
The former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska described his views as mainstream and closely aligned with those of Obama, the Democrat who nominated him. But several GOP members of the committee sought to portray him as radical and unsteady. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., called his ideas “extreme” and “far to the left” of Obama.
Hagel said he believes America “must engage — not retreat — in the world” and insisted that his record is consistent on that point.
He pointed to Iran and its nuclear ambitions as an example of an urgent national security threat that should be addressed first by attempting to establish dialogue with Iranian rulers, although he said he would not rule out using military force.
“I think we’re always on higher ground in every way — international law, domestic law, people of the world, people of the region to be with us on this — if we have … gone through every possibility to resolve this in a responsible, peaceful way, rather than going to war,” he said.
He pushed back on the notion — first raised by one of his harshest Republican critics, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma — that he favors a policy of appeasement.
“I think engagement is clearly in our interest,” Hagel told Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who denounced the idea of negotiating with a “terrorist state.”
“That’s not negotiation,” Hagel said. “Engagement is not appeasement. Engagement is not surrender.”
The nominee’s fiercest exchange came with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a fellow Vietnam veteran and onetime close friend. Politics and Hagel’s evolving opposition to the Iraq war caused a split between the two men that was on full display.
McCain suggested that Hagel and his critics were not quibbling over small matters.
“They are not reasonable people disagreeing; they are fundamental disagreements. Our concerns pertain to the quality of your professional judgment and your worldview on critical areas of national security,” he said.
McCain pressed Hagel on whether he was right or wrong about his opposition to President George W. Bush’s decision to send an extra 30,000 troops to Iraq in 2007 at a point when the war seemed in danger of being lost. Hagel, who voted to authorize military force in Iraq, later opposed the conflict, comparing it to Vietnam and arguing that it shifted the focus from Afghanistan.
“Were you right? Were you correct in your assessment?” McCain asked.
“I would defer to the judgment of history to sort that out,” Hagel said as the two men talked over each other.
“The committee deserves your judgment as to whether you were right or wrong about the surge,” McCain insisted.
Unable to elicit a simple response, McCain said the record should show that Hagel refused to answer. And he made it clear that he would have the final word — with his vote, which he said would be influenced by Hagel’s refusal to answer yes or no.
“I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you’re on the wrong side of it,” he said.
Responding to criticism from outside GOP-leaning groups, Hagel repeated his regrets about using the term “Jewish lobby” to refer to pro-Israel groups. He said he should have used another term and should not have said those groups have intimidated members of the Senate into favoring actions contrary to U.S. interests.
“I’m sorry and I regret it,” Hagel said. “On the use of ‘intimidation,’ I should have used ‘influence,’ I think would have been more appropriate.”
At one point, Hagel mistakenly said the Obama policy toward Iran is “containment” even though the former senator has said all options, including military force, should be on the table. He was handed a note and corrected himself.
Hagel, 66, would be the lone Republican in Obama’s Cabinet, the first Vietnam veteran to be defense secretary and the first enlisted man to take the post.
A 22-year-old ex-soldier has pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges for his involvement with a group of Army soldiers who authorities say planned acts of domestic terrorism.
Prosecutor Isabel Pauley says Timothy Joiner pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary, theft, violations of the street gang terrorism and prevention act and financial transaction card thefts among other offenses.
Officials say Joiner stole various items to provide bond for a jailed leader of FEAR. It is a self-described anarchist group led by soldiers who authorities say plotted to bomb a Savannah park fountain, poison apple orchards in Washington state and assassinate the president. Joiner served in Iraq.
Pauley says Joiner pleaded guilty as a first offender and is sentenced to five years in prison and 10 years of probation.