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Soldier reunited with dog she rescued during Iraq tour

It was a match made in a war zone that now has a happy ending with a long-awaited reunion.

Sgt. Tracy McKithern found a small stray dog hanging around camp when she was deployed to Iraq last year. But it wasn’t uncommon to see dogs roaming the streets in Iraq. The dog and her mom were abused, kicked and hit with rocks. They were also starving, the Army said.

>> Read more trending news  

But the daily abuse didn’t stop the dog from greeting McKithern when she held out her hand.

“She loved everyone,” McKithern said. “She is the sweetest little soul. She came up to me immediately, probably hungry, but gentle. I think she was looking for love more than anything else.”

And it was love that she found. 

McKithern, and soldiers from Italy and Germany who were attached to her unit, named the dog Erby Kaisma. Erby came from the city Erbil, while Kaisma is the Arabic name for “beauty and elegance,” according to the Army.

Over the following days and weeks, Erby started sleeping outside McKithern’s quarters.

But soon McKithern would have to return home. She posted to Facebook saying she wished she could take Erby with her. The next morning, with the help of friends and family, they got the ball rolling to get the thousands of dollars needed to bring the dog to America.

Complete strangers started donating too, with the help of Puppy Rescue Mission.

Then the work began. McKithern started making arrangements to get Erby the vaccinations, documentations and travel plans to get the dog shipped home. When it got overwhelming, Kurdish and German officers whom McKithern worked with helped get Erby’s paperwork submitted, according to Army reports.

McKithern returned to the United States without her beloved pup. But Erby was scheduled to follow a few weeks later. 

After all that work, McKithern got orders for a 67-day mission in Wisconsin, forcing her to leave her Tampa home on March 11, the same day that Erby was supposed to land stateside.

Luckily McKithern’s husband was able to get Erby to Florida and have her waiting for McKithern when her two-month mission ended.

The long-awaited reunion happened this week, as McKithern returned home to the love of her canine companion, Erby, WFTS reported.

Erby’s mother is still back in Iraq and is being taken care of by the soldiers left behind. McKithern hopes that she can be adopted also, despite the high financial cost, WFTS reported.

For more information on the Puppy Rescue Mission, a nonprofit that helps reunite soldiers with the animals they find when deployed, click here.

Soldier watches birth of daughter on FaceTime when flight home is delayed

This was one time a passenger was grateful his flight was delayed.

>> Read more trending news

Video of Brooks Lindsey, a soldier watching the birth of his daughter on FaceTime, has gone viral. Lindsey was in El Paso preparing to deploy to Kuwait for a nine-month tour and booked a flight home to Mississippi, when his wife, Haley Lindsey, was induced two weeks early.

In an essay on Love What Matters, Haley Lindsey told the story of the birth and her husband’s reactions.

Brooks Lindsey had flown into Dallas from El Paso, but his flight to Jackson, Mississippi, was delayed. 

“He was scheduled to take off at 3:55 but luckily his flight was delayed to 5:45,” Haley Lindsey wrote.

Haley said that as she began to give birth, her mother-in-law “secretly FaceTimed Brooks” and shoved the phone in front of her shirt.

“When I began to push, the doctor asked what she (mother-in-law) was doing,” Haley wrote. The woman showed the doctor Brooks Lindsey’s face on the screen and the doctor understood immediately what was going on.

Just as the baby was crowning, Brooks Lindsey said he was being urged to board his flight to Mississippi.

The doctor was having none of that.

“All I remember was my doctor screaming, ‘Don’t let him board the flight! She’s here! She’s here!” Haley Lindsey wrote. “So, the airport personnel let him sit there and watch till it was over!”

Millie was born at 5:23 p.m. and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Brooks arrived in Jackson at 7 p.m. and made it to the hospital 20 minutes later, Haley wrote.

“He picked (Millie) up and held her for five minutes and kept saying ‘wow I can’t believe we just had a baby,’” she wrote. 

Tracy Dover, who was traveling with Brooks Lindsey, said the soldier cried as he saw Millie being born.

"When we heard the baby cry, we all rejoiced for him," Dover said in a Facebook post. “I wanted to share this because I never want us to forget about our soldiers who serve us everyday and the sacrifices they make.”

National Guardsman fatally stabbed in apparent road rage incident

A family is pleading for help in locating the killer of Cody M. Harter, a member of the Missouri Air National Guard who was fatally stabbed Saturday night in an apparent road rage incident, The Kansas City Star reported.

>> Read more trending news

Harter, 23, of St. Joseph, had done tours of duty in Iraq and Qatar. As a loadmaster with the National Guard, he assisted in hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico, the Star reported. He was killed Saturday night in Lee’s Summit near I-470.

“It was senseless,” Harter's mother, Kerrie Harter, told the Star. “He's been to war and back. And to die because someone was angry.”

According to police, witnesses said they saw another vehicle stopped in front of Harter's truck and saw Harter arguing with someone outside the vehicles, CNN reported. Police said they believe Harter suffered a single stab wound to the chest, then collapsed in the road’s inner median. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the Star reported.

Kerrie Harter said her son never drove faster than 65 mph because he was frugal with his gas money.

"I can only imagine that someone was upset because he wasn't going fast enough," she told the Star. "Is that a reason to take his life?"

Cody Harter was engaged and was one semester shy of receiving a degree in technical engineering from Missouri Western State University.

He also ran his own lawn care business, the Star reported.

Harter was in Lee's Summit to replace a mower that had blown up Friday. The mower was on the bed of his truck before the incident and was found on the shoulder of the highway by police, the Star reported.

"He called me at 7:18 and we had a six-minute conversation," his girlfriend, Shelby Berkemeier told the Star. "Shortly thereafter is when they reported him stabbed."

The man Harter argued with fled north on I-470, according to Sgt. Chris Depue, a spokesman for the Lee's Summit Police Department.

"We think it's truly just one of those stupid incidents of road rage where someone lost their temper and did something really stupid," Depue said.

Viral photo of veteran sitting in rain outside Pennsylvania Walmart sparks outrage

A viral Facebook post of a veteran sitting by himself in the rain outside a Walmart in northeastern Pennsylvania had people questioning store policy.

>> Watch the news report here

>> Cemetery worker carries World War II vet to wife’s Arlington grave

According to WPXI, thousands on Facebook shared the picture of the veteran, who had been told to sit out in the rain and not in the covered area of the store when he was collecting donations for service members.

>> See the post here

The store said it had a safety policy that those collecting money had to be 15 feet from the doorway.

>> Read more trending news 

One day later, Manuel Griffin, 69, was out there again – this time in the sun, collecting donations for service members.

The store manager was able to come to an agreement that would give veterans a cover in inclement weather.

Cemetery worker carries World War II vet to wife’s Arlington grave

Walking around Arlington National Cemetery can be an emotional and daunting task for those in the best of health, but a 96-year-old veteran from World War II needed help to make what could be his last visit to his wife’s grave at the hallowed ground.

George Boone was at Arlington Saturday as part of an Honor Flight, an event where volunteers make sure that our nation’s veterans can see the Washington, D.C. monuments dedicated to their service.

Normally members of Honor Flights only can see the Tomb of the Unknown SoldierWTTG reported.

But Boone, who is from North Carolina, had one last request before leaving the cemetery. He wanted to visit his wife’s grave. Alma, Boone’s bride, died in 2007 and is buried in Arlington as a military spouse. One day Boone will join her for their eternal rest together. 

>> Read more trending news 

“I just sort of gave up on the whole thing and thought I would have to visit her from that distance,” Boone told WTTG.

Boone would have used a wheelchair to get from the vehicle that took him to the section of the cemetery, and closer to his wife’s grave, but it was forgotten.

But a worker, who has not been identified and wants to remain anonymous, carried Boone on his back for the veteran to say goodbye.

“I thought -- carry me at my age, size and weight?,” Boon told WTTG.

Boone’s son Jon was there and photographed the selfless moment. 

For more information on Honor Flights, including how to donate and volunteer, click here.

Utah VA clinic launches probe after vet's dad tweets about 'unsanitary' room

After the father of a U.S. Army veteran tweeted photographs of what he called “an unsanitary and disrespectful” exam room at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Utah, an administrator said the facility is conducting an investigation, KSL reported.

>> Read more trending news

Stephen Wilson, whose son Christopher Wilson was being treated for an ankle injury he suffered in Iraq, took photographs at the clinic in Salt Lake City on April 5 and posted them Friday on Twitter.

The tweeted photos show a counter cluttered with medical supplies, an overflowing garbage can and dirty bowls in a sink.

“I figured they would say, 'Oh, this room's not clean' and take me somewhere else, but they just kind of blew past it, didn't acknowledge it,” Christopher Wilson, who spent six years in the Army and was deployed to Iraq twice, told KSL. “They're doctors, right? So I figure one of them was going to say ‘Let's go somewhere else’ or ‘Give us a minute to clean it,’ but nothing.”

Stephen Wilson’s Twitter post has been retweeted more than 16,000 times and there are more than 2,300 comments.

Dr. Karen Gribbin, chief of staff at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, said she “was taken aback by the condition of the room” when she saw the photographs on Twitter.

“Mr. Wilson should not have been placed in the room in that condition,” Gribbin told KSL. “The room should be cleaned, supplies and trash removed, before the next patient is placed in there. We are beginning our investigation into seeing exactly how this happened."

Christopher Wilson said he was in the room to get 18 injections in his ankle and surrounding area. He said the room “felt unsanitary.”

“When you think medical (office), you think sanitary,” Christopher Wilson told KSL. “I've never experienced anything like that.”

Gribbin said the photos of the room indicate "it might have been taken in one of our clinics that does casting procedures for patients." 

"My understanding was that strictly these casts are applied in this room but there (are) not other types of debridement or surgical removal of tissue or anything like that that occurs (in the room), so I do not believe Mr. Wilson was exposed to any dangerous body fluids or blood,” Gribbin told KSL. “But regardless, the room should have been cleaned before he was placed in it.”

Watch: Sub breaks through Arctic ice

Amazing video is captured from a U.S. submarine of a British sub breaking through a field of solid ice.

The U.S. Navy and Royal Navy are taking part in an Ice Exercise, known as ICEX, in the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

>> Read more trending news 

ICEX is a five-week training that gives sub crews experience working in the Arctic.

The Department of Defense says events like ICEX allow crews to “continue to develop relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations.”

Airstrikes in Syria: Breaking down the firepower

Saturday morning, the Pentagon provided details about the military weapons that were employed in the airstrike late Friday night against Syria.

>> Read more trending news

Missiles were launched from three different areas: the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the North Arabian Gulf. Lt Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said 105 missiles were fired by the U.S.-led coalition. 

>> Trump tweets ‘Mission accomplished’

Here is a breakdown:

Eastern Mediterranean Sea: Six Tomahawk missiles were fired from the USS John Warner, and three missiles were fired from a French frigate.

Red Sea: The USS Monterey fired 30 Tomahawk missiles, while the USS Laboon launched seven Tomahawk missiles.

North Arabian Gulf: The USS Higgins fired 23 Tomahawk missiles.

From the air: Two American B-1 Lancer bombers fired 19 joint air-to-surface missile. British Tornado and Typhoon jets combined to shoot eight storm shadow missiles, while the French launched nine SCALP missiles from a combination of Mirages and Dassault Rafales jets.

>> Syrian civil war: Why are they fighting?

Russia responds to Syria airstrike, warns of 'consequences' 

Russia warned of “consequences” in the aftermath of the airstrikes launched by the United States and its allies on Syria, CNN reported Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

The U.S., United Kingdom and France launched strikes aimed at three locations in Syria -- a scientific research facility in Damascus and a production facility and storage facility in Homs, said Gen. Joseph Dunford, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the attacks as an "act of aggression against a sovereign state," CNN reported. On Twitter, the Russian embassy in the United States criticized the missile strikes, with Ambassador Anatoly Antonov tweeting that “The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard."

>> Trump announces strike on Syria

"A pre-designed scenario is being implemented," Antonov said. "Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences."

Syria's Foreign Ministry called the attacks a "flagrant violation of the international law," CNN reported.

The Syrian Armed Forces said in a statement Saturday that 110 missiles were fired on Syrian targets and that the country's defense systems "intercepted most of the missiles, but some hit targets including the Research Center in Barzeh."

Russia's news agency TASS reported that none of the missiles fired by the three western nations struck areas near its naval and air bases in Syria. Those bases come under the protection of Russian air defense units.

What is a Tomahawk cruise missile and what does it do?

Tomahawk missiles are highly accurate weapons. The modern version was first used by the United States in the 1991 Gulf War.

>> Read more trending news

Here’s what you need to know about Tomahawk missiles:

What are they?

Tomahawk missiles are subsonic, jet engine-powered missiles. They fly low, about 100 feet off the ground.

Where are they launched from?

Tomahawks can be launched from many surfaces, but the U.S. generally uses ships or submarines to launch the missiles. 

How much do they cost?

Each missile cost $1.41 million.

Who makes them?

Raytheon Systems Company makes the Tomahawk Block IV.

How fast can they fly?

The missiles travel at 550 miles per hour.

How big are they?

The Tomahawk is a 20-foot-long missile, and weighs 2,900 pounds. It has a wingspan of eight feet,  nine inches. It carries a 1,000-pound-class warhead.

How accurate are they?

According to the Navy, they hit their target about 85 percent of the time. How do they find their target?

The missile uses a system called "Terrain Contour Matching." An altimeter along with an inertia detector direct the Tomahawk along a flight path against a pre-loaded map of the terrain. They are unlike drones as they are not guided by pilots on the ground. According to Raytheon, “The latest variant (Tomahawk Block IV) includes a two-way satellite data-link that enables the missile to be retargeted in flight to preprogrammed, alternate targets. The Block IV design was initiated as both a cost savings and a capability improvement effort.”

Is the United States the only country with cruise missiles?

No. More than 70 nations have cruise missiles.

Sources: The U.S. Navy; Popular Science; Raytheon

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