Tuesday, November 27, 2012

World Vision Giveaway Event- Ends 12/9

Another great giveaway for you guys! This one will have EIGHT winners AND features a great charitable cause, so your chances of winning are high! Good luck!

Whether it’s for the tax deduction or the warm fuzzy feeling giving to others generates, most Americans plan to make a charitable donation over the holiday season. In fact, nearly 60 percent of Americans say they’ll donate between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to a survey reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

With so many worthy causes, it is difficult to know where the gift can best be used. Gifts to the WorldVision Gift Catalog Maximum Impact Fund are used where resources are most desperately needed, to help children and families in struggling communities around the world. With a financial contribution, the gift giver can select one of 36 Maximum Impact items (a few are listed below) that can be given to a loved one and at the same time help a person in need.

Please consider the unique, life-changing items from World Vision’s Gift Catalog as you start, continue or even complete of your holiday shopping. Here are a few suggestions we would like to offer you:

  • Artisan Beaded Necklace: This glass-bead necklace is handmade in Thailand and can be worn several different ways — even as a multi-strand bracelet.
  • Eco Cold Cup: This popular 16 oz. BPA-free tumbler comes in handy when on the run. Every sip is a reminder of those who’ve been helped.
  • Veggie Tales "Incredible Vegetables" DVD: Heroic adventures and veggie fun for the family movie night! This newest Veggie Tale DVD is an action adventure that teaches kids how to conquer fear through a faith-based message.
  • Plush toys - Gertie Goat, Chuma Chick and Pallu Pig: Gertie, Chuma and Pallu are available exclusively through World Vision and represent farm animals that are donated to children and families around the world and provide a steady supply of nutritious food and the surplus can be sold for extra income.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
They serve close to 100 million people in nearly 100 countries around the world. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

Eight lucky readers will receive one of the following: Artisan Beaded Necklace, Eco Cold Cups, Veggie Tales Incredible Vegetables DVD or a set of plush toys (Gertie Goat, Chuma Chick and Pallu Pig)!

Giveaway ends December 9th at 11:59pm, open to US residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

Special thank you to Mom Powered Media bloggers for putting this event together.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Soda Stream Giveaway

Is a Soda Stream Soda Maker on your Christmas list this year?? Its what we're getting my in-laws! Really, its the perfect gift for anyone! Good luck to all my readers!
Soda Stream Soda Maker Giveaway!! 11/26-12/10
With the holiday season upon us, wouldn't it be a fun family event to make your own soda?  Or maybe a family taste test with all the variety of flavors it has to offer?  Whatever you choose, I guarantee it will be fun and a great conversation starter!

It also makes a very unique gift, especially for that certain person who is always difficult to buy for.  I am sure they would love it!  Check out the full review on using the Soda Stream soda maker. 

Well, you are in luck!  A group of fabulous bloggers (make sure to check them out!) has gotten together to bring you a Soda Stream giveaway just in time for Christmas!  That is right, one lucky winner will receive:

It includes:
-          Fountain Jet – winner’s choice of color (black/silver, red/silver or white)
-          1 carbonating bottle, reusable for up to 3 years
-          Reusable carbonator to fizz up to 60L of soda
-          Variety 6-pack of popular sample-size flavors
-          3 full-sized flavors of the winner’s choice 

Giveaway Details:
-          Giveaway runs from November 26th 2012 to December 10th 2012
-          US residents only
-          Must be 18+ years of age
-          Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

LEGO KidsFest Pittsburgh Giveaway

Are you a LEGO household? We certainly are! Most recently my son has gotten into LEGO Ninjago. I am thrilled to be helping to promote this event. And I'm even more excited to announce that one of my lucky fans will be winning two tickets to the opening night of LEGO KidsFest Pittsburgh!

The LEGO KidsFest is a giant traveling LEGO expo coming to Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center November 30 – December 2, 2012. This hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza features millions of LEGO bricks not to mention lots of construction zones, dozens of life-sized LEGO models and displays, LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Games, group builds such as Creation Nation, live LEGO Master Builders, and so much more covering three acres of space.

Five identical sessions are available. Tickets are $18 for kids and $20 for adults.

For more information and to purchase tickets, log on to

However, like I mentioned, one of my lucky readers will win two tickets to the opening night of Lego KidsFest Pittsburgh! First please follow Lego KidsFest on Twitter and Facebook, the, Go HERE To Enter Today! Please share this post with any friends you may have in the Pittsburgh area!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Keurig A Week Giveaway: Week 3

Welcome to the third week of Keurig giveaways! Yes- another great opportunity to win a Keurig! Good luck to all of my readers!

Have A Keurig Holiday Event

Hosted by Mom Powered Media

Special thank you to our lovely co-hosts: Spend With Pennies and My Vegan Gluten-Free Life

The Keurig Platinum Brewing System brews a perfect cup of coffee, tea, hot cocoa or iced beverage at the touch of a button. With an award-winning design, this brewer features a blue, backlit LCD display that allows you to program water temperature, set the digital clock, Auto On/Off and your favorite cup size. With the choice of five cup sizes, the Platinum brewer offers a removable drip tray to accommodate travel mugs.


  • Keurig Platinum B70 brewer
  • My K-Cup filter
  • Removable drip tray
  • Water filter kit
  • Five brew sizes: 4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz, 12 oz
  • 72-oz water reservoir
  • Measures 13-1/2"L x 9-3/4"W x 12-1/2"H
  • 48 K-Cups to get you started

One lucky reader will receive a Keurig Platinum B70 Brewer with 48 K-Cups!

Giveaway ends November 23rd at 11:59pm, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Nature Bag Review & Giveaway

These past two weeks I've had the opportunity to review the Nature Bag. Nature Bags are hand crafted by some of the poorest residents in Laos with a material called JungleVine. The Nature Bag/ Lao Poverty Reduction Project is a privately- financed social enterprise linking the ancient Khmu tribe with its green-living global neighbors. has an 'About Us' section that includes interviews with the people who craft Nature Bags, definitely check these out, their stories are absolutely heartwarming!

I recieved the Pahk Style to test out. When I first opened the package I thought, "There is no way this can possibly hold many items!" Well, I was proven wrong. I brought it with me to my favorite "bag-free" store and started packing it up. I was extremely surprised with how many things I got into it! The natural shape makes it so that you can't just place items inside neatly, you have to kind of just toss them in. This not only creates more space, but makes the bag much easier to carry. The items automatically shift so that the weight is in just the perfect place!

After I returned I got to thinking. These bags would make great gift bags for Christmas presents! A nice artisan pasta with homemade sauce? A bundle of home-canned jellies and jams? They would present perfectly in this bag! You'd be giving a wonderful gift to someone you know, and giving an irreplacable gift to the women in Southeast Asia who craft these amazing bags!

To Buy: Please go to the Nature Bag website and support these amazing artists this holiday season!

To Win: One of my lucky readers will win 2 Pahk Style Nature Bags! All I request is that you give one as a gift to pass on the word of this amazing product! =) Enter on the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chirstmas In Branson Giveaway!

Christmas in Branson Getaway Giveaway
Brought to you by Saving In Branson and Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog
Christmas is just around the corner and we want to give you a chance to relax. Branson, Missouri is a wonderful place to visit, full of entertainment. In Branson Christmas is the 4th season. The sights, the sounds, and the lights are breath taking. The view is certain to relieve some of the stress I am sure you are feeling with Christmas coming up so soon.
Being from the area I know how expensive it can be to visit and keep entertained in Branson. To help out and get you that vacation you need, Saving In Branson and Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog have put together an awesome getaway package.
We would also like to thank our Co-hosts A little bit of Everything At Home Take 2 & Plum Crazy About Coupons!!! Without them, this giveaway might not have been possible.
How sweet would it be to win this giveaway just in time for winter!? Good luck to all of my readers!
1 lucky winner will receive:
2 day stay from December 14th – 15th
2 Tickets to Dixie Stampede
1 Gift Certificate for a Manicure and Pedicure
1 Gift basket full of all the goodies you need to stay fresh during your stay
The 2 day stay is provided by Best Western Branson Inn & Conference Center. Best Western is a well known hotel chain dedicated to quality and comfort. This one is even more special as it sets within sight/sound of Silver Dollar City and the customer service is phenomenal. When staying at Best Western Branson Inn & Conference, visitors have the ability to take a free shuttle to Silver Dollar City and purchase discounted tickets at the Inn. Best Western Branson Inn & Conference features an indoor pool with hot tub and an arcade room. The lucky winner of this giveaway will be receiving 2 free days in one of the most popular rooms at the Inn, a Double Queen Non-smoking Room. This giveaway is tailored to 2 people, but you can always bring more and have plenty of room (at no extra charge)! 
The 2 tickets to Dixie Stampede have been generously purchased by participating bloggers. Dixie Stampede is a wonderful dinner and show here in Branson. The show is filled with live entertainment that even the wait staff gets into. The meal is sure to fill you up and features ‘hand’ foods so silverware is not necessary. I have not been this year, but I can tell you last year’s show was awesome and everyone says it just keeps getting better every year.
My favorite part of the giveaway, the gift certificate for a free manicure and pedicure, is brought to you by En Vogue Nail & Spa. En Vogue is the BEST nail salon in Branson and I am not just saying that because they are participating in the giveaway, I use them exclusively for my nails & feet.  The prices are low & you will walk away feeling pretty and relaxed! Even their manicures come with massages, you will love this place guaranteed!
The Gift Basket will contain:
1)    Full size Pantene Shampoo & Conditioner
2)   Full size Man’s Body Wash
3)   Full size Woman’s Body Wash 4) Woman and Man's Razors
5)  And a few extra surprises (Think Coupons) :)
6)   Show tickets & salon gift certificate will also be in the basket
Now for the Rules:
1)    This given away will run from 11/15 – 12/01
2)   Winner must be a resident of the USA
3)   All dates are set and final, changes are not possible
4)  Winning entry will be confirmed before email is sent
5)   Winner has 24 hours to respond to email notification or an alternate winner will be chosen (add to your contact list to make sure you get your email)
Now enter in the Rafflecopter below! Good luck to everyone!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Little Tikes Cook N Grow Kitchen Giveaway

Little Tikes Cook 'n Grow Kitchen Giveaway
Sponsored by Little Tikes

You will have an inspiring little chef with this realistic kid's kitchen playset that grows with your child.  When this Little Tikes kitchen is opened it is the perfect height for toddlers.  When the kitchen is compacted it is now the perfect size for your preschooler to cook your dinner.  There are 50+ accessories included!


• Kitchen has 2 age grade configurations
     1) Kitchen is expanded and the height is just right for toddlers
     2) Compacting the kitchen makes it just right for preschoolers
  • Electronic cooking sounds
  • Hooks for hanging cups
  • Molded in slots to hold plates
  • Oven, refrigerator and microwave doors all open and close
  • Shape-sorting lid for pot helps develop fine motor skills
  • 50+ accessories included
  • Requires 2 "AA" batteries (not included)

Read Coupon Gator Mommy's Little Tikes Cook 'n Grow Kitchen Review.

Want to enter more Giveaways including an iTikes Piano and other toys, click HERE

One lucky winner will receive a 
Little Tikes Cook 'n Grow Kitchen. 
This giveaway ends Dec. 3, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. 
Open to US residents.
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A special thanks to all the amazing bloggers who are participating in this giveaway!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Piggy Bank Savers is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Original Christmas Classics BluRay DVD Set Giveaway

A few years ago, I remember wishing that I still had a VCR so that my children could watch the classic Christmas videos that I enjoyed as a child! Well, now they can! Enter below to win this great Bluray set today! Good luck!                     All About the Mommies and a great team of bloggers are so excited to offer our readers a chance to win The Original Christmas Classics BluRay DVD Box Set!

The cute and family-friendly box set contains four of the most beloved holiday TV specials of all time, including the Rankin/Bass classics “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Frosty Returns.” Watching these iconic TV specials are part of the American holiday tradition, just like baking cookies or trimming the Christmas tree! The holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without them… This box set is valued at $44.95 MSRP.

The giveaway will run from November 13th at 12:01 am EST until November 27th at 11:59 pm EST. The giveaway is open to residents of the United States only, ages 18+. a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: YOUR BLOG NAME HERE was not compensated for this post or giveaway. Sponsor is responsible for prize shipment. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or ReclipIt. Void where prohibited by law.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Freezer Meals Series: Spicy Stuffed Banana Peppers

Its Monday (blah!), its chilly (blah!), and the Steeler play tonight (yay!) is the perfect day for an easy meal right from my freezer! A few weeks ago my huband and I made 8 batches of spicy stuffed banana peppers- that's about 60 peppers! Of course, this recipe can be made as small or as large as you prefer, I'll provide you with the ingredients I use for 2 meals worth.

-14-16 medium banana peppers
-1.5-2 lbs bulk spicy italian sausage (if the links are on sale, just remove the casings!)
-1 8oz brick provolone cheese (or 2 cups of pre-shredded)
-Your favorite pasta sauce

That's it! Just 4 ingredients! I know a lot of people who put all kinds of stuff in their peppers, but I like mine simple and HOT! If you don't like things as hot, you can substitute sweet italian sausage.

1. Cut the tops off of your banana peppers, de-seed and de-vein, and wash
2. Place sausage in a mixing bowl, grate about half of your brick on top, and mix
3. Go to town stuffing! I use my hands, its easiest, but I don't like gloves- so DON'T touch your face if you're not going to use gloves. And if you never handled hot peppers before, please wear gloves so you don't have an allergic reaction!
4. Place 7-8 of the peppers in a gallon freezer bag and pop into the freezer
Now for the batch that you will cook right away:
5. Place a little bit of sauce in the bottom of your crockpot and set the peppers on top. Cover with the remaining sauce.
6. Cook on low for 5 hours
7. Slice remaining cheese and cook on high until cheese is melted

Easy Peasy!!! Enjoy =)

**Pin this recipe to Pinterest so you can save it for later!**

The Muppet Christmas Carol: 50% Off!

Right now you can score The Muppet The Muppet Christmas Carol for only $9.99, 50% off the regular price of $19.99!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lowe's Black Friday Throwdown!!


Enter now at Lowes for your chance to win 16 products or one of 500 $50 gift cards! They did this game last year too, except they also gave away $100 gift cards and I actually won one! Definitely get in on this one!


Toys R Us Black Friday 2012 Ad Scan

Have you seen the Toys R Us Black Friday ad yet? Lots of great stuff, but it does seem as though prices aren't as low as they have been in past years :( Check it out HERE!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Master Moves Mickey Giveaway- Ends 11/24

This is one of the coolest Mickeys that they have every made- and it is definitely on my daughter's Christmas list! Good luck to all! Kmart recently released a Fab 15 holiday toy list with hot new toys like the Furby and the Holiday 2012 Barbie Doll. Included on the list is Master Moves Mickey from Mattel Disney. This brother to Dance Star Mickey, one of the hottest toys released just a couple years ago, takes dancing to a new level. With a simple squeeze of his nose, Mickey breaks out into 15 different dance moves within his own unique combinations. During Mickey's funky dance moves like "The Windmill" and "The Mouska Mix", you will hear original music tracks. This toy is a sure pleaser for your little ones. It makes a great addition to family room dance parties. Watch Mickey go from a handstand into a 360 turn. Included with Mickey are 6 AA batteries. Purchase this Fab15 toy at Kmart stores this holiday season! Read Kara's full review here.
Giveaway: One lucky winner will receive their own Master Moves Mickey! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will end on November 24th at 11:59 p.m. ET. Please enter on the Rafflecopter below. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway Kara's Deals and Steals received a free Mattel Disney Master Moves Mickey from Kmart in exchange for a review. Piggy Bank Savers is not responsible for prize shipment or delivery.

A Keurig A Week Giveaway: Week 2

Welcome to week 2 of the Keurig giveaway! That's right, we're giving 4 away- 1 each week! Enter below for your chance to win! Good luck!

Have A Keurig Holiday Event

Hosted by Mom Powered Media

Special thank you to our lovely co-hosts: Spend With Pennies and My Vegan Gluten-Free Life

The Keurig Platinum Brewing System brews a perfect cup of coffee, tea, hot cocoa or iced beverage at the touch of a button. With an award-winning design, this brewer features a blue, backlit LCD display that allows you to program water temperature, set the digital clock, Auto On/Off and your favorite cup size. With the choice of five cup sizes, the Platinum brewer offers a removable drip tray to accommodate travel mugs.


  • Keurig Platinum B70 brewer
  • My K-Cup filter
  • Removable drip tray
  • Water filter kit
  • Five brew sizes: 4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz, 12 oz
  • 72-oz water reservoir
  • Measures 13-1/2"L x 9-3/4"W x 12-1/2"H
  • 48 K-Cups to get you started

One lucky reader will receive a Keurig Platinum B70 Brewer with 48 K-Cups!

Giveaway ends November 16th at 11:59pm, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

Friday, November 9, 2012

In Honor Of Veterans Day: My Hero's Story

I have sat down to write this post so many times. And each of those times I just couldn't find the right words and I'd give up. I decided it was best to use my husband's words directly. This is long, so bear with me! This is the chapter he wrote for the book Heroes Among Us, which can be found on Amazon.

     My dad was with the navy for twenty years. He met my mom at Subic Bay in the Philippines. My brother and sister and I were all born in the Philippines. We moved to the States when I was a year old. My dad was stationed all up and down the East Coast, so every four years he'd reenlist and we'd move. I've lived everywhere from Georgia to Canada. I must have gone to seven different schools, maybe more. His last duty station was the Naval Air Station in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Then he retired and we moved to Maine. I finished high school in Winslow.
I kind of got scared before graduation. The guidance counselor was getting together information for a flyer with every graduate's name and what they were planning to do next. I didn't know. I remmeber one buddy of mine, his name was Maxwell, said, "Man, if I could, I'd go right into the Marines." I looked at him and said, "Yeah, you know, Max, that's not a bad idea." Most people going into the Marines jump right into it. Other people sit around and think about it. I'm one of those who jumped right into it.
     Basic training was in Parris Island, South Carolina. I really didn't know what to expect. We were finally introduced to our four drill instructors, and our senior drill instructor said, "You're on my time now." Pretty much all hell broke loose. Basic training was real hard physically, and mentally, too. The yelling was constant. These were kids, teens taking it to heart, and they were crying a lot. I told them, "You know, these guys don't know you. Just have a thick skin. If the drill instructor says, 'Hey, are you and idiot?' just tell them what they want to hear and they'll leave you alone." Really, any Joe on the street could complete it, no problem, as long as he could stick it out mentally.
After I left basic training, I had ten days on leave before reporting to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for all my infantry training. This was going to be my job for four years. When I was talking to my buddy, I said, "If I'm going to be in the Marines, I'm not going into anything else but the infantry." I wanted to do the hardest job. I wanted to be on the front line.
     I reported to California for a six- or seven-month training cycle. We started hearing rumors about making our way to the Middle East. I said to myself, well this is what we get paid to do.
I'd say I was 90 percent scared and 10 percent excited. Or it may have been 90 percent excited and 10 percent scared. By that time I'd been in the Marines for barely over a year, but I felt I was trained and ready to go. I was over in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom twice.
     The first time we pushed through from Kuwait to Iraq we were riding in assault vehicles. There were a bunch of reporters with us. Most of the time the Iraqi forces really didn't put up a fight. We would point a weapon at them; they'd throw down their weapons and throw up their hands. They had been out of food and water for a couple of weeks. We captured quite a few, well over four hundred prisoners, on the first day. We treated them fine. We kept pushing forward to the city of An Nasiriyah, and believe it or not, I still hadn't fired my weapon once. The enemy didn't want to fight.
     We were the reaction force. Wherever the military wanted us, that was where we went. We didn't get a whole lot of resistance. I think the Iraqi soldiers were happy to surrender because they knew we were going to give them food and water if we captured them.
     My best memory from that tour was of this elderly man walking with his son over to us. The son was translating what his father was saying: "Thank you. i've been waiting for seventy years to be free and now I'm free."
     We got the order that they didn't need us anymore so we hopped on a C-130 cargo plane. We were back in the States for eight months and then we were called back overseas again.
     We got our orders to go to Fallujah next. I did  my research, and it was described as hell on earth. The soldiers in the 101st Airborne were saying that it wasn't a matter of if you'd get a Purple Heart, it was a matter of when. I'd torn the ACL in my right leg and had reconstructive surgery, so I didn't have to go to Fallujah. In fact, the doctor on the transport ship recommended that I not go. On my own wishes, I went back into battle. The doctor made me sign a waiver. That pretty much set the tone for everybody else: I hurt my leg and I'm fighting. The message was: you guys need to suck it up.
     We had a tight-knit unit, a bunch of comedians. We were like brothers. If I've got five bucks in my pocket, you've got five bucks in your pocket. I'd give you the shirt off my back and you'd do the same for me. Carlos Gomez- Perez was a rifleman in our group. He was originally from Mexico City, Mexico, and now he's from El Cajon, California. He's a natural born leader. He's an animal. He's so smart and he knows so much and then he puts it to use.
     We were all sitting around in Kuwait for a week and then we started to convoy up. It took us about thirteen hours to get from the border of Kuwait to Fallujah. We were lucky because we didn't see one roadside bomb the whole way. Then we reached Camp Fallujah. I remember the guys from the 101st Airborne telling us that if we did foot patrols in Fallujah, we were crazy. It was something that had always been done on mounted patrol. When we finally took over for them, we didn't know what to expect. I remember hearing these, thud, thud, thuds, and I thought, What the hell is that? We were getting mortared and rocketed every single day. For the first three days, we were running around, grabbing our helmets and body armor, but the army guys were doing nothing. They told us, "Don't worry, you'll get used to it."
     We started out doing mounted patrols in Fallujah, just getting situated. The next thing we knew, a roadside bomb blew up and Marines died. Colonel Olsen said that we weren't going to have that, and that we should get ourselves ready to go into the city. This was the first foot patrol ever done by the military in Fallujah. At the time we got our orders, we were watching the story of the three American contractors who were captured inside the city and were burned and hanged from the bridge.
     The first day we patrolled for eight hours and we ran out of water by the end of the day. We were all dehydrated because the temperature was pushing ninety-five degrees. We recived a couple of pot-shots, RPGs, and there was a car bomb detonated near one of the other platoons. We returned to the observation post and let the people who lived in Fallujah know that we were coming into the city and that they should leave. We got our orders to push into the city. You could see this fairly intense firefight going on. We were driving in our Humvee getting shot at by snipers, and mortar rounds were impacting next to us. I was thinking, this ain't good.
     We had orders to link up with the rest of the company. Our first mission was to take this old schoolhouse, a big two-story building with an open courtyard. We took a lot of casualties, mean I've known since I checked into the unit. I thought, Wow, this is war.
     We didn't want to keep our platoon there so we ended up changing places with the Third Platoon on the ring, the outskirts of the city. We were in a house near a cemetery and the mosque. We were receiving potshots and mortar rounds, but nothing too intense. We stood on the roof and could see the insurgents running around the streets, darting from house to house and hugging eight-foot walls that surrounded every home.
     I remember being on watch with Lance Corporal Sanchez from Inglewood, California. I said, "Hey, I got a bad feeling." Everybody else had that same feeling. About four thirty a.m., it was still dark out and we really couldn't see, so we were all wearing night-vision goggles. We got tapped to go to a house on the north side of a T intersection. We patrolled the nearby cemetery and then scaled the wall with a makeshift ladder. We moved through so quietly you couldn't tell we were there. There was no activity whatsoever.
     I was on the downstairs floor just waiting, watching for anything going on. Our mission was to locate the enemy and take them out. At eight a.m. one of the other teams took a mortar round to the house they were in. No one was hurt, but the enemy knew we were there. We got orders to leave half our squad inside the house and the other half would go and clear out this big mosque. It was eight stories, straight up in the air. We cleared it out and didn't find anything. We pushed back to our friendly lines and rested for twenty minutes.
     Then we heard six or seven loud explosions on top of our roof. We had been so worried about looking down the street and trying to find sniper positions that we forgot about the houses right next to us. There were insurgents on the roof of the house next door launching grenades. The next thing I knew, Lance Corporal Fincannon ran down the stairs missing half his left arm. The insurgents had thrown a grenade and Fincannon was trying to use his body to protect his machine gun. He's a machine gunner and he didn't want anything to happen to his weapon.
Corporal Gomez ran upstairs to help bring the wounded down. We got on the handset and told them we needed medevacs. Instantly, we ran outside. I was shooting my M16 through a window right across from where I was standing. About the closest target was fifteen meters away. I was shooting fast and burned through two magazines like they were nothing. I saw insurgents with turbans, beards, and AK-47s running back and forth. I was just amazed; they were in the building right next to us. If I had wanted to, I could have jumped from one rooftop to the next where they were. We fought and fought, and then I went back in to reload a magazine into my M16. A grenade went off in the courtyard. Lance Corporal Valencia took shrapnel to the left leg. Our assault gunner fell to the ground too. A machine-gun crew picked up his machine gun, I went out there shooting my M16. We had some impressive fire going on. While this was happening in the courtyard, there was still this crazy battle going on upstairs on the roof.
     Gomez was readying to go back up on the rooftop because we had to retrieve Buchanan's M240G machine gun. Gomez looked at me and said, "Hey, you got grenades?" I took out my two grenades and gave them to Gomez, one of which he then gave to Austin. They went to the third-floor roof for the machine gun, a radio, and a sniper rifle. As soon as they got up there, they were just blasting away from the rooftop. Austin took his grenade out, pulled the pin, and threw. As he did, he got hit. The shot spun him around 360 degrees. The bullet came right inside his body armor where there is no plate and came out his back. Gomez threw his grenade onto the enemy's rooftop and grabbed Austin. As he was pulling him to safety his body armor got caught. Gomez got shot in the lft shoulder. If he had been a normal person, like myself, the bullet would have ripped his arm clear off. But Gomez, he's a beast. The exit wound was the size of my fist, but Gomez kept going, doing CPR on Austin, beating on his chest, trying to get a heartbeat out of him. They took him downstairs, where the medic, Dan, gave him a tracheotomy to get him breathing again.
     I was trying to provide suppressive fire with my M16, which wasn't working at all. I picked up the machine gun and ran outside and started blasting away. When I first got the machine gun, my adrenaline was pumping. For some reason the gun wasn't firing, so I grabbed the barrel, which red hot, just glowing and melting. I burnt my hand instantly, third- degree burns before I had evens started shooting. I emptied a whole drum of two hundred rounds. I went back in for more ammo. The only way I could effectively engage the enemy was from a totally exposed area. Lance Corporal Bell did the same thing. Bell had an M203, a rifle with a grenade launcher underneath it. He fired a grenade right through the window, and when he did, this face popped up, an insurgent. We were ten to fifteen meters away from this house. All I remember was Bell hitting the trigger and then hearing this little blink sound as the grenade launched and then the explosion when it hit. The grenade armed itself and blew up in the guy's face. We said, "Whoa, yea!" Everyone was getting pumped up.
     I was firing from an exposed position in the courtyard. I was shooting so much that the barrel seized up on me. I got that barrel off and threw another one on. A Humvee pulled up with Sergeant Major Skiles, who was trying to assess the situation and get the wounded out. They were going to need cover fire. I said, "I got it." I was out there shooting away into these windows. Insurgents were running by the house shooting back at us. Cruz was out there with the machine gun and he saw this object get thrown over his left shoulder. I remember because it was like slow motion: I looked at the object and then back at Cruz, and we looked at each other at the same time and yelled, "Grenade!" I was like an old World War II pineapple grenade with red striping on it, sitting right there on the ground. We tried to run back into the house where everybody else was, but it was just a regular sized doorway. Cruz and I managed to barge in and we heard the grenade go off. Lance Corporal Bell was the only one hit because he couldn't manage to get through the door fast enough. He got a dime-sized fragment in his hip. He walked in the house and saw that there were some hurt worse than he was, so he said, "Well, I'd better go back."
     The whole time I was shooting, I noticed this tree sticking out. I remmeber thinking as I was firing, Why are all these leaves falling to the ground? They were just falling and falling. little did I know that we were taking sniper fire from the mosque that we had cleared out. I fired and fired. It felt wrong not to pull the trigger. If I didn't pull the trigger, the insurgents were going to overwhelm us. The after-action report said that they had 360 degrees on us. We were being attacked by fifty insurgents who were being reinforced by 150 more. These guys were coming up the street in a regular public transportation bus, just like they were going to work. It was crazy. Their reinforcements were never-ending.
     At one point I remember seeing this petty officer running along a wall near me. I could see the impact of the bullets chasing him. It looked like every bullet was getting closer and closer. Every step was just a little bit faster than the bullet impacts. He slid into the house. I was providing cover fire for everybody. I had tunnel vision. My adrenaline was pumping. I didn't think twice about getting hit by a bullet. I thought, I'm not going to die in this country.
     I was the only cover for the people getting the wounded out of there. It was me. Otherwise they had no cover whatsoever. They were all saying thank you, even the wounded. I didn't realize how many people were going past to get to the Humvee. I think we had eight major casualties that day. There might have been ten minor ones. Just my hands were hurt. I started to blister up from burning them. I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
     I remember saying, "We gotta get out of here, there's an air strike coming." We were the last to go, myselft and Corporal Gomez. This kid was so hard-core he was trying to change magazines with one hand. I told him his arm wound was huge and he said, "Really?" We were the last ones to leave. I said, "Gomez, I'll pop out and shoot and you go," and he said, "No way." We were arguing back and forth about who was going to go first. Finally, I said, "Shut up and go," and he did. We made it back to safety. We got there and they called in an air strike on our two buildings. That ended the firefight. The first sergeant told me afterward that the enemy had been so close there was an empty magazine from an AK on top of the hood of our Humvee.
     A couple of days afterward, I picked up a machine gun like the one I used. It had a full drum of ammo on it and I put it to my shoulder. I thought, There's no way, this thing is way too heavy to be firing from my shoulder. The gun weighs something like twenty-three pounds. I had been shooting a twenty-three-pound machine gun from my shoulder and hip. Everybody was cheering me on and calling me a crazy man. I was going completely nuts. The adrenaline was kicking in so much that it didn't even faze me. Sometimes I look back and think that there's no way I could've done it. No way it's true. When it was all happening, it was like a bad nightmare.
     People tell me, "Wow, that's impressive what you've done." I was just doing my job The United States asked us to be there and to help the Iraqi people. That's what we're there to do. I don't think we're going to leave until the job is done. Maybe there are a lot of sacrifices that people have to make so other people can have a better life. I know that when a soldier, a sailor, and airman, or a marine goes overseas, they're going to do the best job they can to help those people. And they're going to get it done.
     When I first got my Silver Star, I gave it to my parents. I figured it was more for them than for me.
-Thomas Adametz