Afghanistan

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

People often call Todd Nicely a hero, but the 30-year-old Marine combat veteran would prefer that they didn’t.

Nicely, who lost his arms and legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan four years ago, says the heroes of the 13-year war on terror are the 6,841 U.S. service members who have died while serving their country since Sept. 11.

“If they want to call me an inspiration because of the things I have to do on a daily basis, fine. I’ll take that,’’ says Nicely. “But hero? No. I have friends who are heroes. The guys who aren’t coming home -- those are the heroes.”

Governor's Office

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to return to Jefferson City on Monday after an undercover, whirlwind trip to Afghanistan over the weekend.

It was Nixon’s fourth trip to the war zone, where U.S. troops have been present for more than a decade.

According to the governor’s office, he “arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday as part of a delegation of four U.S. governors that included Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Tennessee Gov. William Haslam.”

Deborah Copaken Kogan / Courtesy Simon & Schuster

American involvement in the war in Afghanistan is winding down with no real victory in sight. In the midst of the war a new program called the Human Terrain System was introduced, intended to aid soldiers on the ground by helping them understand the cultural nuances of the Afghan and Iraqi people. The program  had good intentions but fatal flaws, said journalist and author Vanessa Gezari.

(Scott Air Force Base)

The U.S. Department of Defense says one of four Air Force members killed in a weekend plane crash in Afghanistan was a pilot who had been stationed at Scott Air Force Base in southwestern Illinois.

The department says 28-year-old Capt. Brandon Cyr of Woodbridge, Va., died in Saturday's crash of an Air Force MC-12 aircraft.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The Pentagon says there were no reports of enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.

Courtesy: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Military men and women who serve overseas encounter dangerous situations and often struggle with separation from family and friends.

The same is true of journalists who embed themselves with soldiers.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch chief photographer J.B. Forbes, who has worked at the newspaper since 1975, and reporter Jesse Bogan recently returned from Afghanistan.  They were embedded with about 100 members of the Missouri National Guard’s 1138th Engineer Company, covering and sharing the stories of soldiers who have temporarily left their civilian jobs.  

U.S. Dept. of Defense

Governor Jay Nixon (D) is in Afghanistan visiting members of the Missouri National Guard who won’t be home for the holidays.

The governor arrived in Kuwait Tuesday afternoon and visited guardsmen and women from Springfield and Sedalia before moving on to Afghanistan.  Once there, he visited an engineer company from Farmington and the surrounding area.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A paralyzed Afghan War veteran from central Missouri received a special gift for Veterans Day -- a “smart home” which was custom-built for him and designed to help him live as independently as possible.

Tyler Huffman, 24, is a native of Fulton who joined the Marines in 2007.  He was paralyzed in Afghanistan in 2010 after being shot twice by an enemy sniper.  Huffman initially sought to buy an existing home in the Fulton area that could be adapted to his needs, but a group of volunteers in Jefferson City banded together to build him the state-of-the-art home.

Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Three years ago this week, a roadside bomb killed Lt. Roslyn Schulte.

The St. Louis native was the first female graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy to be killed in combat. Now, a new memorial honors her life and death - a plaque under the flagpole at the Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur.

Schulte was traveling from a refugee camp to Bagram Air Force Base when the bomb hit on May 20, 2009. She was one of 461 American soldiers killed in action that year.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

County parks audit finds spending on vehicles during budget crisis

An internal audit of the St. Louis County Parks Department has found the department spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on new vehicles, even as county executive Charlie Dooley was threatening to close parks and lay off employees.

(via White House photographer Pete Souza)

Thank you for joining us this evening for this previously scheduled event.

See NPR's The Two-Way for a live blog of the address.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Mo. National Guardsmen safe after insurgent attack

All 55 members of a Missouri National Guard agriculture team are safe following an insurgent attack on the forward operating base where they are stationed in Afghanistan.

(via Flickr/The U.S. Army)

The body of an eastern Missouri soldier killed in Afghanistan is coming home.

The Washington Missourian reports that the body of 21-year-old specialist Jeffrey White Jr. of Catawissa is scheduled to arrive at Lambert Airport in St. Louis at 11 a.m. Saturday. White died on April 3.

A procession will take the body from the airport to Bell Funeral Home in Pacific. Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Villa Ridge, and the church will host the funeral at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

(via Flickr/Senator McCaskill)

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. has proposed shifting money from development in Afghanistan to roads and bridges in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Defense pays for projects through the Commanders' Emergency Response Program and the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Missouri students outpace nation on ACT scores

Missouri students scored slightly higher than the national average this year on the ACT college readiness exam.

The ACT consists of four tests in English, math, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale from 1 to 36, with scores averaged to create a composite score.

This year's average composite score in Missouri was 21.6, half a point higher than the national average of 21.1.

An Alton, Ill. soldier was awarded the Army's Silver Star, the third-highest military award for valor while on his fourth tour of duty.

Army Sgt. 1st Class John P. Fleming, 32, received the honor after tending to wounded soldiers and directing aircraft fending off enemy gunfire so the injured could be evacuated, the News Democrat reports. The incident is described in more detail: 

An Illinois Marine has died from wounds he received while fighting in Afghanistan, the Associated Press reports.

The Department of Defense said Monday that 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Kenneth Corzine of Bethalto died on Friday, or Christmas Eve, from wounds he suffered Dec. 5 during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Corzine was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Bethalto is about 25 miles northeast of St. Louis, Mo.