Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gunfighter Update

Family and Friends of HMLA-369,

Happy Holidays to all!

December has been a busy month for the Gunfighters. The main body of the Squadron has re-deployed from Al Taqqadum (TQ) to Al Asad (AA), Iraq. In just over two weeks from when we received the order to move, the Squadron accomplished the movement flawlessly all the while continuing to provide attack and utility helicopter support to the Ground Combat Element. The move resembled our deployment from Camp Pendleton to Iraq but more complicated. The Squadron had to maintain 100% mission capability throughout the duration of the move. The Operations Department put together a robust plan that ensured zero degradation of operational capability while the Logistics and Maintenance Departments put in long hours to ensure an efficient and safe move. Despite our new location within Iraq, our unit mailing address remains the same. All mail that was enroute to our old “home” is now with us at Al Asad.

The spirits and morale are high and all of the Marines and sailors remain highly motivated at accomplishing the mission from three different locations in Iraq. Gunfighter pilots and aircrew continue to fly like pros in professionally maintained helicopters. Our S-shop Marines are working hard at keeping the administrative side of the house on track. On Christmas, we plan to have all the Field Grade Officers and SNCOs serve food to the Gunfighters in our own expeditionary chow hall. This is a time honored tradition within the Marine Corps that allows the leadership to show their thanks and appreciation for the hard work of the Marines and sailors.

Mail is flowing and we are getting lots of packages from home. Mail and care packages are an instant morale boost for all those who receive them, particularly during the holiday season. Many companies and sponsored organizations have also sent care packages. With all this support from home, we have set up a “Walmart” as a central collection point for these packages. With the “Walmart” established, the Marines can come by as they please and stock up on toiletries, socks, hand warmers, etc… Thank you for all the care packages and keep the mail coming. Take care and have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

If there are immediate questions or concerns please feel free to call or e-mail Mrs. Barbara Greenbush who is our Remain Behind Family Readiness Officer. Her MAG-39 office phone number is (760) 725-8681. Her cell phone number is (760) 936-2994. And her e-mail is barbara.greenbush.ctr@usmc.mil.

Thank you for your support of the Gunfighters!
LtCol Zamagni
Commanding Officer

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Peterman turned 2 on December 15th. 

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

Patrick made me promise to put up our tree and decorate the house....I really didn't feel like it especially with Alex being sick but it looks great and helped me get in the spirit of the holidays.  

Snow cap Mountains

Sick babies are no fun!

When we got home from VA two weeks ago Alex came down with a tummy bug.  After a few days I took him to the ER (in the military thats what you have to do on the weekends)  and they gave him a popsicle. This of course, did not answer my question of what is wrong with him.  Everything that touched his mouth came right back out of both ends.  He was starving and I felt terrible for him.  He would not smile or laugh, this was driving me crazy because he is normally so silly. He started to get better around day 6 but on day 7 he got really sick again.  We luckily got an appt with our doctor and she said to stop giving him milk and try the only carbs. With my luck he was much better as soon as we got to the doctors office but I felt better having him looked at. I noticed about day 8 that he was getting two new teeth (he has 3 on top and 3 on the bottom) so that probably didn't help with the mood either. It was a long 10 days but Alex is back and super silly again (see the dancing video).  He is not doing so good at the sleeping thing now but he eats his snacks ALL day long.  Good to have you back Busters.  

Dancing Fool

Alex loves to dance!  He even dances when there is no music.  He is sooo funny.  His best buddy Joey started walked about two weeks ago and Alex has no desire to take any steps, which is fine by me because I am not ready to chase him.  Even if Alex can reach where he wants to go he will sit down, scoot over and stand back up...we all joke, Safety first =)  Enjoy the dance machine video. 

Friday, December 5, 2008



We love you and miss you soooo much.  Even though you forgot about your birthday no one here did!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Alex loved Santa

Mom, Heather and I took Alex to see Santa at the Manassas Mall and he loved him. Enjoy the pictures

Thanksgiving message from the CO

Family and Friends of HMLA-369,

Greetings again to the family and friends of HMLA-369. Happy Thanksgiving from the Gunfighters. Thanksgiving is like most other Thursdays here in Iraq except for some better food in the chow halls and more importantly connecting with our loved ones back home. The Gunfighters have been executing our mission now for 2 weeks and we are currently working out of three locations throughout western Iraq. The spirits and morale are high and all of the Marines and sailors remain highly motivated at accomplishing the mission. Our Maintenance Marines continue to fix our helicopters in a timey and professional manner and our S-shop Marines, are working hard at keeping the administrative side of the house on track. We will take time out Thursday to have some turkey and watch some football while completing our missions in support of the ground combat element. Mail is flowing and we are getting a lot of packages from home. Mail and care packages are an instant morale boost for all those who receive them, particularly during the holiday season. Support your Gunfighter. Keep the mail and care packages coming. Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thank you

LtCol Zamagni

Commanding Officer


Thanksgiving in Virginia

Alex and I spent 10 awesome days in Virginia for Thanksgiving. Our flight to Dulles was great, Alex slept for 3.5 of the 4.5 hours of the flight and of course was starving when he woke up so I fed him and as the wheels touched down I had my first public embarrassing mom moment when 3 days worth of food came pouring out of Alex's mouth all over me and the plane. Luckily there were lots of women around me throwing tissues and rags at me to get cleaned up. But once I got in the car with my family I was able to relax. I didn't realize that I am as stressed as I am being alone in Cali so I loved all the help. Alex loved Heathers dog Dylan and they kept Grandma busy the whole time we were there.

Alex and I left for Hillsville on Wednesday picking India and Candice up in Richmond on the way. Its a much nicer drive when you have company.  It was a fast trip but we got a lot of pictures in those 48 hours.  It was very important to me to have Alex spend time with Brandon because he will be leaving for Iraq in March for 12 months (when did we become a military family?) Lucky for us this was the best hunting season since I met the Richardsons (yes I know I have turned into a redneck). I say its because Stu gave Patrick his (not so) good luck charm, soon as he got rid of it he killed the biggest deer of his life.  So Grandpa, Brandon, Stu and Bradley all killed deer this year then Brandon got another HUGE one Thanksgiving night!  

Its funny because last Thanksgiving we were talking about how crazy Thanksgiving 2008 will be with two babies running around...and boy were they.  Lillie and Alex are so cute together but Lillie did teach my sweet boy two bad habits.  SCREAMING and OPENING Cabinets.  We all got to talk to Patrick the night before Thanksgiving which was a great surprise.  Thanksgiving just wasn't the same without him.  

Alex had his share of mashed potatos and turkey but didn't seem as excited for his First Thanksgiving as me =)

Saturday morning I made it back to Manassas just in time to head to Osbourn (my high school) to watch them play Varina (Patrick's high school) in the state tournament.  I didn't have high hopes for OHS but we came out and crushed them in the second half and it was awesome....I can't wait to see the Richardsons and do my old OHS cheers. =) It was the perfect game to take Alex to for his first sporting event ever!!!! Go EAGLES!

The rest of the trip was spent shopping, eating, spending time with my family, taking Alex to see Santa (more in the next blog), and celebrating Heathers 28th birthday.  What an awesome trip....

When I got home I went to get Peterman from camp and he was so happy to see us.  Karen said that she is going to have to buy her husband a foot warmer for the bed because he loved having Pete there.  19 days home then we go back for Christmas!

We have so much to be thankful for at this time in our life.  To my Family and Friends words can not express how much you mean to me. 

 To the love of my life....your my hero, be safe & come home soon.     

One month down....six to go!

Well we made it to the one month mark of Patrick being gone.  It is very bittersweet because I am so excited it went by so "fast" but also devastated that it hasn't gone by faster.  But....so far so good.  I just can't say how thankful I am for the wonderful friends I have out here in California as well as our amazing families back home that support us from far away,  Alex and I are very lucky.  We are so proud of you Patrick and can't wait until you are home with us soon.  

So far in the first month I have fixed the garbage disposal all by myself, figured our the gas problem on the stove, and cooked my first turkey.  I am very proud that I have been as strong and resourceful as I have been because I was terrified to be alone.  

We have two trips to VA planned for the holidays and that should speed up the next two months of the deployment!  

Gobble Gobble

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Still Tall and Skinny

Today was Alex's 9 month appointment and he is still a Tall, Skinny boy! 
Weight - 19lbs 10.5 oz (25-50%)  
Height - 29.9 inches long (90%) 
Head - 47cm (75-90%) Gonna have his Daddy's head. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

New News!

Patrick has finally started flying over there and sent me some new pics. We are so proud of you Patrick!
Hover Taxi at sunrise
Patrick on the flight line
One of the offices
Patrick's room
Patrick flying in IraqThere is a website for the squadron that should be updated on a regular basis.
On that website there is a phone number that you can call for a message from the CO. (I am still looking for it)

Greetings From
The Commanding Officer
(from the newsletter)

Gunfighter Friends and Families,

Greetings from Iraq! Your Gunfighter has successfully made the transition from Camp Pendleton to Iraq. Getting over here was a rather painless evolution despite the multiple flights and bus rides. We have completed our turnover with our sister Squadron and as of today, November 15th, we now have the mission of providing attack and utility helicopter support to Marines and Coalition Forces in western Iraq.

Leading up to the turnover we celebrated the Marine Corps’ 233rd Birthday. Despite being forward deployed, we took the time to acknowledge our spirit de corps and legacy that has been and will continue to be what makes us proud to be called “Marine”.

The Gunfighter effort in the transfer was up to its professional reputation. The Marines and sailors in the Squadron are motivated to carry out their mission from various forward operating bases. Your Gunfighters are well trained for this mission and are ready to execute any assigned task. Extraordinary accomplishments will match their extraordinary efforts. The Gunfighters, regardless of whether they fly helicopters, fix helicopters or support those who do fly or fix, are a strong, professional, and cohesive Squadron. When you put all the parts together, the Gunfighter team is impressive to watch.

I also want to thank you for your support and efforts on the home front. We all know how important and difficult the task is that you have at home while your Marine or sailor is deployed. Your Gunfighter is able to focus on the mission at hand, when all is well at home. The (KVN) Key Volunteer Network and (FRO) Family Readiness Officer Barbara Greenbush are available to assist if you run into problems or need information and referral. Remember that we will be using the new form of communication the (MCT) Mass Communication Tool during this deployment. If you are on the MCT list, you will receive messages from me regarding the Squadron.

I am privileged and proud to be the Gunfighter Commanding Officer and to work alongside each and every Marine and sailor in this Squadron. Trust me when I say, “There are none better.”

Gunfighters Rule!

W.E. Zamagni Jr.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update of Patrick

This is the email we received from Patrick's CO (commanding officer):

Family and Friends of HMLA369,
Hello to the family and friends of HMLA-369. The squadron has finally arrived at our destination. After an 18 hour flight, with stops in Maine, Germany, and Kuwait, all is well and we are settling in here in Iraq. The Gunfighters are beginning their turnover with HMLA-367, so that they may return home to California.

Patrick hasn't started flying yet because they have to learn the ropes from the HMLA 367 pilots.  I am thankful that I have gotten to talk to Patrick everyday and also gotten emails as well.  I know that it will not be that way the whole time he is gone but I am thankful for the 3-10 mins that I get each day.  Once the 367 guys move out our guys will get to move in and get settled.  Patrick is on the night shift in Iraq which means he is working from noon to midnight my time.  The only Patrick has said about it so far is that its "weird."  When I talk to some of the other wives that's the same thing their husbands say too.  Once he starts flying he will have much more to talk about I am sure.  

Alex and I are doing good, we had a great first weekend with the girls =)  As you can see from the other posts.  Next we are excited to head to VA for Thanksgiving!  

Thanks again for everyone that has been writing, calling and thinking of our family during this time.  

Wifey Weekend

When I got home from the ball Annie was already here...ready for our wifey weekend. We went to the Wilson Creek Winery on Saturday and had a great time. Brianna asked me to be her Matron of Honor a few weeks ago and I can't wait. We looked at the winery wedding site and it was stunning.
Brianna and Chrissy 
Annie and I
us girls

Annie, Chrissy, Me & Brianna

 After the winery we went to the mall to shop because its what we do best!  After that we went to Hooters (haha we were craving hot wings) and had a sleepover at my house.  Brianna, Joey, Alex, Pete and I all slept in our bed it was surprisingly comfortable.    

Alex <3>

Sunday we did nothing all day, and then just like that we were 1 week down on this deployment.   Only 27 to go!


My Handsome Date in his Dress Blues

Even though the guys are gone friday was the USMC Birthday ball for the whole MAG-39 (Marine Air Group - Camp Pendleton) Officers. About 16 of us Gunfighter wives decided to go and have a blast and a blast we had. I truly feel blessed to have these girls here with me during this deployment.  
Brianna, Me & Chrissy
Kristi, Brianna, Me, Chrissy & Robin
We got our hair done at the school of beauty in Oceanside and they did an awesome job...$20 including tip.  AWESOME!  We got down to The San Diego Sheridan just in time for cocktail hour.  Once we met up with the rest of the Gunfighter gals we had an awesome dinner, watched the ceremony and danced the night away. 

Gunfighter Gals
After Dinner
My best friends
Chuck wives 

This years ball was much more fun than last year but that probably because I am not 8 months pregnant and because none of the guys dance when they are there. We sure missed them a lot but it was nice to get out of the house and get dressed up.  I am looking forward to next years ball!
Gunfighter Salute