Army vet and youth mentor slain after returning to Chicago:
Abner Garcia, center, with blue YMCA polo and hat, poses with kids he mentors as part of an at-risk youth program. Garcia was fatally shot Saturday in West Elsdon. [Photo from Garcia family]
Abner Garcia (c.) was shot dead Saturday in West Elsdon. The photo shows Garcia being honored for his work with the YMCA at a recent bulls game. He is pictured with Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and Bulls center Cristiano Felicio
By Joe Ward | August 15, 2016 10:14am | Updated on August 15, 2016 10:32am
WEST ELSDON — Abner Garcia’s family held back its fears and concerns when the young man decided that he wanted to join the Army, thinking it would at least keep him away from Chicago’s violence.
They were proud of him when he returned from service last year and decided to mentor at-risk kids through a YMCA anti-gang initiative.
Now, after the 23-year-old was fatally shot in West Elsdon Saturday, they’re trying to fathom how a promising, young life fell victim to the gun violence he worked to escape.
“How can he go through the Army, come home … it’s supposed to be a safe place, you know? And this happens,” his cousin Da’Maris Garcia said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
At 1:40 a.m. Saturday morning, Abner was driving with two people in the 5200 block of South Pulaski Road when a van pulled beside them and people inside the van flashed gang signs at his car. The people in the cars began to argue and someone in the van opened a door and shot at Abner’s car.
He was hit in his head and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition. He was pronounced dead at 5:45 a.m. Saturday morning, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Family said Abner was out to dinner and drinks with his dad and some friends before he was shot. They said they weren’t sure if the attackers followed them from the restaurant or if there was some kind of prior confrontation.
Itzel Garcia, Abner’s cousin, said when the men began throwing gang sings, Abner tried to tell the men to leave, but that they instead drew a gun and shot at him from close range. No one else in the car with Abner was hurt.
“He had no chance,” Itzel said. “These guys just started shooting. It’s shocking.”
Abner, of the 5400 block of South Luna Avenue, was attending University of Illinois at Chicago with the hopes of becoming a Chicago Police officer, family said.
His desire to be a police officer was an extension of his work helping at-risk kids and serving the county: He liked to help, and he particularly wanted to help stop Chicago’s growing problems with crime, they said.
“He always wanted to give back,” Da’Maris said. “We were all scared [when he joined the Army] to leave and let him go, but the family always 100 percent supported him.”
While working towards a degree in criminal justice, Abner volunteered with “Urban Warriors,” a YMCA-based program that works with kids in danger of joining gangs.
Like Abner, any of the kids he mentored were Hispanic, and they looked up to him as proof that a better life is possible for South Side kids, Itzel said.
“He was driven. He wanted to continue to help and save people,” she said. “He wasn’t done living his life.”
He had been honored for his work by the Chicago Bulls, even getting his photo taken with NBA star Damian Lillard before a game at the United Center.
Garcia appeared in a DNAinfo story in May about the murder of one of his uncles, Jesus Juarez.
“We were really close to each other,” Garcia said then of his uncle, who was shot in a drive-by shooting in Pilsen as he stood at the take-out window of a grill on Halsted Street along with several other customers.
The uncle was described as a hardworking family man with three children who owned a heating and air conditioning company.
Pokemon Go is sweeping the nation. With over 26 million daily users you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t at least know someone who doesn’t play the massively popular game. For those who are unfamiliar with the game, Pokemon Go is a GPS-based hide and seek style smartphone game. Players use their GPS signal to locate hidden Pokemon that appear at various locations throughout the US. National landmarks and monuments have been turned into “Pokestops” where players can load up on gear and in-game items. Unfortunately, the game has become so popular that the hordes of players are becoming a nuisance for businesses and locations where chasing imaginary creatures simply isn’t appropriate. One such location is Arlington National Cemetery. The United States military ceremony was forced to issue an official “Pokemon Go” and cell phone gaming policy in response to the heaps of disrespectful gamers roaming the cemetery in search of elusive digital creatures.
Being laid to rest at Arlington is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a fallen service member. After a lifetime of military service and sacrifice, service members and their families are due a certain level of respect. Unfortunately, some gamers have trampled on this honor by engaging in caucus “Pokemon hunts” while funeral services are taking place. The following note was posted on Arlington National Cemetery’s official Facebook page on July 12, informing gamers that the hallowed grounds of Arlington are no place for digital gaming. American Military News
Photo copied from americanmilitarynews.com
Folks, the Bad News About the VA Just Got Worse…
Allen B. West–There is a saying that “bad news only gets worse over time.” That maxim is very appropriate when it combines the situation with our own Veterans Administration. It’s a situation that has devolved into a deplorable and embarrassing incidence of dismissal and neglect of our men and women who were willing to make the “last full measure of devotion.”
As reported by Fox News:
The Veterans Affairs administration spent $20 million on expensive artwork and sculptures amidst the healthcare scandal, where veterans died waiting to see doctors.
The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind.
“In the now infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor,” wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. “Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.”
“Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings, the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years–with $16 million spent during the Obama years.” Andrzejewski said.
The VA spent $21,000 for a 27 foot fake Christms tree; $32,000 for ‘local image’ pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for ‘art consultants’ for the Palo Alto, CA facility.
A ‘rock sculpture’ cost taxpayers $482,960 and more than half a million dollars was spent for sculptures for veterans that could not see them.
How many more stories do we have to read or hear about when it comes to our failing Veterans Administration? Where is the national outrage?
“K” for German Commander Kesselring, then overseeing the occupation of Rome. (AP)
Photo of WWII Doctors
“Syndrome K,” the Fake Diseased Invented to Save Jews
In the fall of 1943, German Soldiers in Italy began rounding up Italian Jews and deporting them–10,000 people were sent to concentration camps during the nearly two-year Nazi occupation. Most never returned. But in Rome, a group of doctors saved at least 20 Jews from a similar fate, by diagnosing them with Syndrome K, a deadly, disfiguring, and contagiosissima disease.
The 450-year-old Fatebenefratelli Hospital is nestled on a tiny island in the middle of Rome’s Tiber River, just across from the Jewish Ghetto. When Nazis raided the area on October 16, 1943, a handful of Jews fled to the Catholic hospital, where they were quickly given case files reading “Syndrome K.”
The disease did not exist in any medical textbook of physician’s chart. In fact, it didn’t exist at all. It was a codename invented by doctor and anti-racist activist Adriano Ossicini, to help distinguish between real patients and healthy hideaways. (Political dissidents and a revolutionary underground radio station were also sheltered there from Italy’s fascist regime.)
The fake illness was vividly imagined: Rooms holding “Syndrome K” sufferers were designated as dangerously infectious–dissuading Nazi inspectors from entering–and Jewish children were instructed to cough, in imitation of tuberculosis, when soldiers passed through the hospital.
“The Nazis thought it was cancer or tuberculosis, and they fled like rabbits,” Vittorio Sacerdoti, a Jewish doctor working at the hospital under a false name, told the BBC in 2004.
Italy’s Jewish community is one of the oldest in Europe, and Syndrome K is one of many WWII-era anecdotes of ordinary Italians taking extraordinary action to save the lives of fellow citizens. Nearly 9,000 Roman Jews of a community of 10,000 ultimately managed to evade arrest, a feat sadly dwarfed by the Third Reich’s genocidal mania in the last years of the war.
They may look long in the face, but these vets have a lot to look forward to.
Kennedy and Quincy went through quite different experiences during their military service. Kennedy was ejected for kicking soldiers, and Quincy, while a shining example of pride, found his service shortened by a debilitating foot disease. Now retired, the two former service members are enjoying civilian life, although Kennedy still doesn’t shy away from a little horseplay.
The two served as caisson horses at Arlington National Cemetery, where they took part in countless military funerals, sometimes as many as eight times a day. They were responsible for pulling coffins into the new cemetery with the bearing and poise expected of the military’s finest. In a procession as solemn as a military funeral, there is no room for error, and Kennedy and Quincy performed their roles well.
“These guys did their service,” Staff Sgt. David Smith told the Washington Post. “It’s their time to be a horse.”
A herd manager from the Army facilitated the adoption process for the two Old Guard horses. He flew to each home that was considered, and the applicants visited the horses at Fort Myer, near Arlington.
Quincy is off to Whit Acres Farm in Massachusetts. He’ll be living in a heated barn of the property of Sean Sutton, also a veteran, and Kristen Whittaker.
Kennedy took a little more care to home properly. His disposition restricted possible owners to those who knew how to work with such horses. Former caisson soldier Carroll Urzendowski is proving to have what it takes, though. Kennedy now lives on an 85-acre ranch in Texas. Matthew Russell/theveteranssite.com
The purpose of SMF is to memorialize PFC Scott Vallely and his service to our country – to carry on his name by individuals making contributions and donations to Veterans, Members of the Armed Forces and their families. We are a 501 (c)(3) tax deductible organization.
Montana Graduate Receives Soldiers Memorial Fund Scholarship
Russel Gaedon is presented with Soldiers Memorial Fund Scholarship and Certificate by Muffin Vallely
BIGFORK, MT— Russel Gaedon, a Bigfork, Montana High School graduate received a check and certificate from the Soldiers Memorial Fund on June 2, 2016. “Gaedon is a 3.87 GPA student who shows excellent leadership qualities. He was surprised and thrilled when I called his name,” said Muffin Vallely who presented the award. Gaedon will enter the Coast Guard.
Layla Oglesby was only two years old when her father, 1st Lt. Daniel Oglesby, was deployed to Kuwait. Her mother, Karis, and her father were afraid she may not remember her father’s face when he returned to Fort Carson, CO. Their doubts were put to rest…