Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Maybe this group of citizens would be kind enough to send a sympathy card to all the families whose loved just arrived home this week in a flag draped casket. Perhaps this group can explain to them why they have elected to hire an attorney to fight this instead of giving testing at this sight an honest try. Be sure to tell them you don't want it because you don't want the inconvenience.
Inconvenience. Gee. Our wonderful men and women serving this great country don't complain while protecting our county and our freedom. They deserve to have the finest of equipment and I expect MY county to do ALL it can to ensure they are protected.
Not only is Hardwire LLC working so desparately to give America's military that but also opening doors so more people may gain employment. Surely this group
that has named itself Seashore NOT C-4 knows that.
Newark and South Point-area residents are organizing to fight the board. They have formed a group called Seashore NOT C-4 to oppose any testing of military-grade armor near their homes. They already have a Facebook page and are building a website.
Simpson also said the Sept. 8 board meeting came as a surprise to her and many of her neighbors.
“We did not have time to prepare. We had no expert witnesses, no legal testimony. Most of us in the meeting were just folks, just neighbors, with a lot of unanswered questions.”
“What the county may or may not have allowed on this site is simply irrelevant to what a private, non-governmental entity, such as Hardwire, may be allowed to undertake by special exception,” he wrote.
However, the residents argue there is no permitted use for a gun club in a natural resource area, meaning a firing range would be a special exception in itself, and so testing explosives would require a special exception twice removed.
Wechsler said the Seashore NOT C-4 group will appeal within the allotted 30 days if the case isn’t continued.
Wechsler said his clients fully support Hardwire as a local business that is working to help troops overseas. “This is a question about the legality of the decision,” he said. “We don’t want this to be perceived as, ‘We don’t want Hardwire down here.’ ”
“There are a lot of men and women in harm’s way that we are working on protecting,” he said. “We will always make responsible decisions for all the residents, and that includes all the residents of the United States.”
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
"This is not in response to any particular threat but is a prudent and precautionary measure," said Pentagon spokesman George Little. The Pentagon said the move takes effect on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.
Security officials are being especially vigilant as the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches.
The State Department issued a "Worldwide Travel Alert," saying Americans traveling and living abroad should be aware of the continued threat posed by al Qaeda and its affiliates.
"As you all have seen, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was mentioned in the documents seized at the Abbottabad compound," Little said.
"Now this does not suggest in any way, shape or form that we know about a specific or credible threat to the United States homeland surrounding the 10th anniversary."
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The 21-year-old rap star isn't doing himself any favors with America's Armed Forces after putting out a video in which he appears to slam the troops along with the FBI.
Needless to say, that didn't go over well with the military.
The hip-hopster added that he was speaking out of frustration growing up in the "post-9/11" era where he's seen his country fight two seemingly endless wars while failing to take care of the homefront.
"In no way do I want to hurt any of our honorable soldiers who put their lives at risk, regardless of how they feel about the two wars we fight in," he said. "I am just frustrated that we haven't been able to bring you all home quick enough and my frustration got the best of me. I am deeply sorry."
Friday, July 8, 2011
In the era of shrinking defense budgets, the Navy is now looking to axe about 1 percent of its workforce, all from mid-level enlisted ranks, and even some close to retirement.
"I think it's a shame. Anybody with that much time obligated that they have already done, that they would have to go out," said Gunnar Godjonsson.
"It just shows anybody interested in military service that, hey, it's not 100%t that you are going to be able to do good and stay in for 20 years," he says.
16,000 Sailors will be on the chopping block, from 31 different jobs that the Navy has deemed overstaffed.
At the VFW, we met two current Sailors. They didn't want to be identified, but both have been selected for possible dismissal.
They tell us 75% of enlisted sailors in aviation groups at both NAS Oceana and Naval Station Norfolk are in danger of being cut.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Frank Buckles, who celebrated his 110th birthday on February 1, lied about his age in order to join the army at age 16. He became one of nearly 5 million Americans who enrolled and served in the war from 1917 to 1918.
In 1941, while working as a civilian in the Phillippines, he was captured by Japanese forces and held prisoner for 38 months during World War II before being rescued by a military raid.
With Buckles' death, only a 109-year-old Australian man and a 110-year-old British woman are believed to still be alive from the estimated 65 million people who served in the war.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
But then, he is turning 110.
You read that right: 110 .
For those who may not know, here is perhaps an even more stunning fact about Buckles: He's the last known American veteran from World War I, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and one of only three survivors worldwide recognized for direct service during the war. The others, as British subjects, served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
"He's an unbelievable person," said David DeJonge, a Michigan photographer and president of the World War I Memorial Foundation who is making a documentary of Buckles' life and has become his spokesman.
Buckles lives on his West Virginia farm, near Charles Town, with his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, and round-the-clock caregivers. As you might expect, he is at almost 110 not in a condition to do cartwheels or make long speeches, but DeJonge reports that Buckles "continues to have great daily discussions with his daughter and caregivers." He occasionally wrestles with illness but is "a fighter and continues to pull through," DeJonge said.
"His daughter reports he's in great spirits and looking forward to his 115th," DeJonge said with a laugh.
I visited Buckles last year at his farm. We chatted about one of his favorite people, Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. How many people can you talk to who actually knew Pershing when he was leader of the U.S. forces in Europe in World War I?
When they met, Buckles was still a kid; he'd grown up on a farm in Missouri and fibbed about his age so he could enlist in the Army at 16 and head off to war. Pershing noted Buckles' Missouri dialect and asked where he was born. Buckles told him. Pershing's reply: "Thirty-three miles, as the crow flies, from where I was born."
"I had great respect for Pershing," Buckles said. "He was real tough. He didn't have a smile on his face, but that was all right with me."
Seeking the quickest route to the western front, Buckles joined the ambulance service and shipped to England in late 1917. He arrived in France a few months before the shooting stopped in November 1918. After the war, he escorted prisoners of war back to Germany.
World War II was a more painful experience, though he was no longer in the military. He was working as a civilian in the steamship business in the Philippines when he was captured by the Japanese and held as a prisoner at Los Baños for more than three years.
Through fate and good health, Buckles has become the modern face of The Great War, and he has lent his voice to the call to restore and rededicate the World War I Memorial in Washington.
DeJonge met Buckles four years ago as he began work on a documentary about the last U.S. survivors of the war. Within a matter of months, Buckles was the last one, and DeJonge began spending considerable time with him, conducting interviews on camera "to get every ounce of memory out of him," DeJonge said.
DeJonge has several hundred hours of interviews and other footage he hopes to transform into a documentary, "Pershing's Last Patriot." Actor Richard Thomas, of "The Waltons" and "All Quiet on the Western Front," has agreed to provide the narration, said DeJonge, who is trying to piece together the funding for the documentary, as well as a proposed larger-than-life bronze statue that has been designed by Pennsylvania sculptor Gregory Marra. The planned statue depicts Buckles with Pershing's riderless horse, and, depending on available financing, could be placed near Buckles' home in West Virginia.
DeJonge has had the privilege of accompanying Buckles to such places as Pershing's home in Missouri, the Pentagon and the White House for a visit with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office.
"Being corrected on history when we were in the West Wing," DeJonge said with a laugh.
"I saw that very famous painting of George Washington crossing the river, and I said, 'Mr. Buckles, look, there's George Washington crossing the Potomac.' He said, 'I believe that's the Delaware.'"
Friday, January 7, 2011
The details of Gates' plan, announced Thursday, raised red flags among some area leaders and regional advocates, who argued that Gates didn't offer enough specifics about how the cutbacks would save money or improve national defense.
Gates said he plans to decommission the Navy's Norfolk-based Second Fleet, turning over control of its ships and operations to Fleet Forces Command. Both are headquartered at Norfolk Naval Station. President Barack Obama on Thursday night also approved an earlier plan to shut down the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk and Suffolk.
None of the more than 120 ships would leave Norfolk, Gates said during a Pentagon news conference, but about 160 military positions could be eliminated.
"During the Cold War, this command had distinct and significant operational responsibilities," he said. "Today, its primary responsibility is training and mission preparation."The Second Fleet was established in 1950 in Norfolk and has participated in several historic military operations, including a 1962 naval blockade during the Cuban missile crisis. It also trained more than half the Navy's ships that were deployed during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991.
Under the new arrangement, the Second Fleet ships would be under the direct command of Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., the four-star head of Fleet Forces Command.
In a memo from the White House, the president said he accepted Gates' plan to shut down JFCOM - a move he announced in August - on a date to be determined by Gates.
Pentagon officials have said they expect that some parts of the command could remain in the region but have not specified how many of JFCOM's 3,760 jobs in the region might remain.
Gates said that officials are "still refining the details but expect that roughly 50 percent of the capabilities under JFCOM will be kept and assigned to other organizations."
The statement doesn't shed light on how many jobs might be lost and what kinds of positions might remain, said Craig Quigley, who heads the taxpayer-funded Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, which lobbies to protect the region's military assets.
Local members of Congress said they don't have enough information to judge whether the cuts proposed by Gates are defensible.
U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, whose district includes the Second Fleet and JFCOM headquarters, said Gates' decision about Second Fleet is troubling because he didn't provide any data to justify the change.
U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, was more emphatic, saying he believes Gates' efforts are part of a larger effort by the Obama administration to restrict military spending so that the funds can be spent elsewhere.
"You have no analysis, no documentation," Forbes said. "You simply have the cut, and then you back fill the analysis."
Forbes, who has become chairman of the readiness subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, has said he wants Congress to have a more direct role in setting defense priorities.
"We're going to be demanding audits of the Department of Defense," he said.
Gates also said the Navy will cut costs by reducing land-based staffs for submarines, patrol aircraft, destroyer squadrons and an aircraft carrier strike group.
The Navy was careful to point out that no ships, subs or aircraft will depart Norfolk or any other homeport as a result of the changes.
"We're going to streamline shore-based infrastructure by consolidating," said Lt. Courtney Hillson, a Navy spokeswoman. "But we're not moving any ships or planes - just people."
Gates said the Navy will use the savings to develop a new generation of electronic jammers and unmanned aircraft, and to buy more F/A-18 fighter jets, a new destroyer, a littoral combat ship, an ocean surveillance vessel and fleet oilers.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
As a stray on the war-ravaged streets of Afghanistan, she had been shot by the Taliban and blasted by explosives. In fact, the plucky German Shepherd cheated death so often that U.S. soldiers named her Target.
She had even become a life-saving hero by sniffing out a suicide bomber on a military base. But, sadly, these dangers paled against the threat from a clerical error at a U.S. dog pound. An employee at the Pinal County facility was today on administrative leave after euthanizing the shepherd mix by mistake.
'When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,' said Ruth Stalter, director of the Animal Care And Control centre.
'Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.'
Sgt. Terry Young, the owner of the dog, told The Arizona Republic, 'I just can't believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog.'Target and two other dogs, Rufus and Sasha, were mutts who befriended soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, who began to feed them and treated the canines as pets on the military base.
One night in February a suicide bomber came to the base in the middle of the night, wearing 25 pounds of explosives and intent on killing Americans.
The three dogs frightened, barked at and bit the bomber, scaring him and waking the sleeping soldiers in the process. Deterred, the terrorist detonated himself outside instead of coming in.
The lives of 50 soldiers were potentially spared because of the dogs' actions.
Sasha was killed, but Target and Rufus lived. Medics treated the injured dogs like soldiers and the two were saved.Only five soldiers were injured in the bombing and all recovered
Sgt Young said the dogs was treated like royalty from then on at the base at Dand Patan, near the Pakistan border. With the help of aid groups, Sgt Young brought Target to the San Tan Valley area south-east of Phoenix in August, when he returned home from his tour of duty. Rufus went to live with another soldier in Georgia.
Target was featured on 'Oprah' in September in a show about amazing animals.
On Friday of last week the dog escaped from the family's backyard. Sgt Young then put out notices and contacted TV stations that did reports on the missing dog.
A neighbour found Target wandering later that day and put her in his backyard and called the shelter. The dog did not have a microchip or tag.
On Friday night, Sgt Young found Target's picture on a website used by Pinal County's dog catchers to help owners track lost pets. He thought the shelter was closed for the night and weekend.
He showed up at the shelter in Casa Grande to claim his dog on Monday, only to find out she was dead. County officials say the employee mistakenly took the dog out of its pen Monday morning and euthanized it.
'My four-year-old son just can't understand what is going on with Target and keeps asking me to get the poison out of her and bring her home. They don't want her to go be with God yet,' a teary Sgt Young told the local CBS TV station.
The Arizona Republic said Sgt Young and his family will get the dog's cremated remains.
Monday, November 15, 2010
But the corporation disputes the allegation, saying it was all a big misunderstanding.
Charyl Effle's son, Sgt. Aaron Nelson was a Marine deployed in Iraq for more than a year. During that time, Effle worked where she still does, a Walmart in Mount Pleasant.
"He would call me at work. I told everybody, Iraq calls, I'm there. Haha," she said of her son while laughing.
Effle, an employee of 12 years, said what happened to her on Veterans Day at the store is no laughing matter.
The assistant manager, Terry, came up to me and said you are not in work apparel -- you need to go home (sniff)," Effle explained.
Fighting back tears and clasping a picture of Aaron the entire time, Effle said she was sent home five hours into her shift for wearing a black Marine T-shirt under her blue uniform. "They really took me by surprise and I just, I'm in shock."
In a statement, a corporate Walmart spokesman said the associate manager simply approached Effle about a dress code violation.
In a statement, Walmart said: "Our management never asked our associate to leave their shift, we were merely attempting to engage in a conversation that apparently led to some miscommunication."
Another Walmart employee wouldn't go on camera but backed up the spokesman's version of events.
Effle sticks to her story that she was told to leave and said this isn't about her, it's about her Marine. "To be able to honor him is what I should be able to do as an American; he stood up for me I should be able to stand up for him," she said.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
On Thursday, Applebee's locations nationwide will offer veterans free meals from a special menu, which will feature a sirloin steak, among other items.
Many local restaurants are also participating.
Zia's Italian Grill in Salisbury will give out a free lunch on Thursday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to anyone who's ever served in the military, said owner Alex Bubas.
Bubas served in the U.S. Army infantry during the Vietnam War from 1967-70. He saw action in the Tet Offensive, he said.
"Who said there's no free lunch? There is at Zia's on this special day," Bubas said.
Larry Layton, the owner of Layton's Restaurant in Ocean City, said vets should have an easy time finding his restaurant -- it's the one flying nine American flags. Layton serves in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and plans on giving all veterans a 20 percent discount Thursday.
"I think we all know that too many people forget why we're all here and how we have this beautiful beach here and why we haven't had five more 9/11s. People think it's all free, but it's not," Layton said.
Golden Corral restaurant will hold its free Military Appreciation dinner for all veterans Monday night.
BJ's on the Water in Ocean City will give veterans a free meal during the restaurant's traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day.
Stewart Davis, the president of the Local Owners Restaurant Association, said his restaurant, Chef Stewart of Flannery's in Fruitland, will give veterans Thursday the special of buy one pit sandwich, get one free.
Davis said he realizes that a free sandwich is a small token of respect for the sacrifices made by America's military men and women.
"A lot of the time, they're really underappreciated. Anybody that comes up here, I'm always shaking their hand and thanking them, saying 'thank you' for my freedom," Davis said.
Carol Nicholson, the club manager for the American Legion Post 64, said her father served in the U.S. Navy for several decades and would have appreciated the growing support from American businesses during Veteran's Day.
"It's a good feeling, being a child of a veteran, seeing this more and more. I wish my dad was still alive to see it," Nicholson said.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Video posted on the CBS News website shows an object flying through the evening sky Monday that left a large contrail, or vapor trail. A news helicopter owned by KCBS, a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, shot the video.
Pentagon officials were stumped by the event. "Nobody within the Department of Defense that we've reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is, where it came from," Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said.
While the vapor cloud captured on video resembled that created by a rocket in flight, military officials said they didn't know of any launches in the area.
One expert called it an optical illusion. "It's an airplane that is heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun," said John Pike, director of the U.S.-based security analyst group globalsecurity.org.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, issued a statement jointly with the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, saying no Department of Defense entities reported a missile launch — scheduled or inadvertent — at the time of the contrail, and no foreign military missile launch was detected.
NORAD said it determined there was no threat to the U.S. homeland.
The Federal Aviation Administration ran radar replays from Monday afternoon and they "did not reveal any fast-moving, unidentified targets," the statement said. No pilots reported unusual sightings to the FAA.
NORTHCOM is the U.S. defense command and NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian organization charged with protecting the U.S. from the threat of missiles or hostile aircraft.
Pike said the object could not have been a rocket because it appeared to alter its course.
"The local station chopped up the video and so it's hard to watch it continuously," Pike said. "But at one place you can see it has changed course — rockets don't do that."
Pike said he didn't understand why the military had not recognized the contrail of an aircraft. "The Air Force must ... understand how contrails are formed," he said. "Why they can't get some major out to belabor the obvious, I don't know."
Monday, November 8, 2010
Mover Moms, a Bethesda-based community services group, packaged extra Halloween candy to send to members of the military stationed overseas in their annual "Treats for Troops" drive.
"I really want to put a smile on soldiers faces," says 8-year-old Amanda, whose mother, Rebecca Kahlenberg, put out the call for extra Halloween candy again this year to send to troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.
This year is the biggest, involving thousands of people, she says. The group managed to fill up a 16-foot truck with candy.
"This one is about to bust," Kahlenberg says, adding her group will need an 18-wheeler next year.
Along with the candy, the group also collected notes to the soldiers from children in the D.C. area.
"Some of them say, 'My dad serves in the Navy, and I was so worried about him. And I am so happy to share my candy with you," says Kahlenberg.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Operation We Care will pack boxes on Nov. 14, the Sunday following Veterans Day, to be distributed to our military personnel deployed in harm's way. Boxes will be delivered before the holidays. The donation list is available online at www.easternshorehog-com. Cash donations will be used for postage, as each box costs $12.50 to ship to the troops. The Ocean City Post Office delivers most of the boxes to Iraq and Afghanistan in about a week to 10 days.
If you know a local member of our military who is deployed or is soon to be deployed, please contact Jeff Merritt, coordinator of Operation We Care, at 410-713-8940 or jemerritt314@-yahoo.com.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The body of a Coast Guardsman who fell overboard during an anti-terrorism training exercise was found this afternoon.
Crews discovered the body near the Monitor-Merimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel about 5 p.m., a Coast Guard news release said.
The Coast Guardsman's identity was being withheld pending notification of his next of kin. He was an enlisted man from New York, said Capt. Mark Ogle, commander of the service’s Hampton Roads sector.
The accident occurred between the Monitor-Merrimac and Hampton Roads bridge-tunnels at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday as high tide began.
Ogle said the guardsman was part of a team being trained in how to recapture ships that are taken over by terrorists. The crewman was boarding a buoy tender via a ladder as part of an exercise with the cutter Frank Drew when he fell in the water.
The guardsman was wearing a personal flotation device, but it’s not known whether it inflated properly when he fell in the water, said Lt. j.g. Scott McBride.
“We know he had on the same kind that’s a standard part of our tactical gear, but that’s all we can say right now,” McBride said.
A search for the man continued through the day. Ogle said participants in the search included the Coast Guard, police and fire departments from Chesapeake, Newport News, Virginia Beach, Hampton and Norfolk, the Virginia Marine Police, the state police and the Navy. A helicopter and airplanes were also used.
“It is a difficult task to conduct any search and rescue operation, even more so, when it is one of your own that needs help,” Ogle said.
The missing crew member was part of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security Team New York, which is based in New York. The unit is in Hampton Roads working with local Coast Guard crews.
Monday, October 4, 2010
And the son of the late soldier, who fought in the South Pacific and lost his tag while serving at Guadalcanal, couldn't be more grateful.
"It's a good feeling to have it back home," said George Carter Jr., a former Fredericksburg policeman who lives in Stafford County. "I have very little that belonged to my father, fishing poles and tools and so forth. This is the top of the list."
How the dog tag found its way back to the Fredericksburg area is another example of what a small world it is, Carter said.
The story starts with Clinton Kempnich, a deputy director of education in Queensland, Australia.
He enjoys studying World War II history and recently received a box of items, including a brass dog tag, from a friend who had been a diver in the South Pacific.
Kempnich knew brass tags were issued early in the war, and that the owner probably enlisted about 1942.
Inscribed on the tag was "George B. Carter, 312 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va.," along with his blood type, serial number and next of kin.
Kempnich did a Google Earth search. His hopes sank when he saw the address on the dog tag is now a parking lot--or a "car park," as he called it. He also noticed the Free Lance-Star building nearby, and contacted Hilary Kanter, the letters editor at the newspaper.
She found a listing for George B. Carter Jr. in the phone book and called him, asking if the dog tag might have belonged to a relative. She also passed along each man's e-mail address to the other.
Carter had heard lots of war stories about his father's time in Burma and the South Pacific, where he worked in military transport. He often heard tales of caring for mules that were used to carry goods to hard-to-reach places. The elder Carter also talked about working with a man who was a veterinarian back in Fredericksburg.
But Carter hadn't heard anything about a missing dog tag. He told Kempnich he'd check with relatives.
"Regardless, thank you for taking the time to research this matter," Carter wrote Kempnich in an e-mail. "If this is my father's dog tag, I would be humbled and forever in your debt to have it returned."
Carter talked with his sister, who cared for their father for several years until his death in 2001. Carter learned that his father and mother, Blanche, had lived at the Amelia Street address when he entered the Army.
The blood type matched, and his father had lost his dog tag overseas.
In fact, the lack of identification was a problem when his father applied for veterans benefits. The brass tag was tangible proof of service at a time when the military "didn't keep the greatest records," Carter said.
Kempnich and Carter e-mailed each other several times. Kempnich mentioned he would be visiting friends in Philadelphia in September.
"It would be special if I could hand it to you instead of just posting it," Kempnich wrote.
Carter drove to Philadelphia last Sunday to get the tag. The meeting was emotional for both men.
Kempnich told Carter that his own father is 92 and served in the Royal Australian Air Force during Word War II. As much as he enjoys memorabilia from that era--and he and his son have a 1940s tank they drive in local parades--he believes personal items should always be returned to family members.
"I have a great appreciation of these guys and what they achieved," Kempnich said. "Alas, there are not many left now."
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Their message, however, was nearly lost in a sea of American flags held by the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle club and the more than 100 people who gathered at the right-of-way to support the family and friends of the 26-year-old soldier who died in combat in Afghanistan.
For more than an hour the counter protesters waved signs and flags, screamed pro-America chants and sang patriotic tunes in hopes of shielding the church's signs and drowning out the Westboro trio's anti-America songs.
Among the family supporters was Williamsburg resident Megan Moore who held a sign that read, "Son, friend, husband, father, hero…what you done" to honor the memory of her former Bruton High School classmate.
"I want his family to know there are a lot more people out here for him than against him," Moore said.
Watching one the Westboro picketers step on the American flag upset Jerry McCardle, but it made him wave his small one even harder.
"This really makes my blood boil, she's making a mockery of the flag and the country that's giving her the right to be out here and say these things," he said.
Vehicles traveling down John Tyler Highway honked horns and gave thumbs-up signs to the crowd at the intersection, many in it wearing "God is Love" T-shirts. Smaller flags dotted the island at the entrance to the chapel. White signs proclaiming "Support our Troops" lined Eagle Way across from Jamestown High School.
The small Kansas-based Westboro congregation announced its intention on Sept. 23 to picket Weaver's service. The group is known for using protests at soldiers' funerals to claim God hates America. The news of the congregation's plans to be in James City spread quickly around the community and many people began mobilizing groups to counter protest.
The crowd at the intersection was the largest group in support of Weaver, but several other gatherings formed along John Tyler Highway.
College of William and Mary Law School student Roxy Logan stood along the road with a "God Bless our Troops" sign.
"It's disgraceful what they're doing," Logan said of the Westboro group. "This family should be allowed to bury their family member in peace."
For the most part, the church members and the counter protesters demonstrated peacefully. However, there were times when the two groups battled each other in heated exchanges.
"Go to Iraq or Iran then," shouted one woman as the church members sang one of their songs.
Another person in the crowd quickly urged the woman to keep her composure, telling her "God will judge them in the end."
"I know," the woman said.
Several officers from James City County Police Department were on hand to help with crowd control and make sure the protest remained peaceful, said Chief Emmett Harmon.
Around 2 p.m., the Westboro members packed up their signs, loaded them into a minivan and drove away.
The members departure was met with cheers and song.
"Na na na na na na na. Hey, hey goodbye," the crowd sang as the protestors drove away.