Service & Sacrifice: Devastation in Maui

A snapshot of the burdens being shouldered by brave U.S. troops and military families around the world.

U.S. military service members conduct search operations of areas damaged by wildfires in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, on August 18, 2023.

By Tom Sileo Published on August 25, 2023

Maui

The brave men and women of the U.S. military are continuing to step forward amid the devastation caused by wildfires in Maui.

As The Stream reported last week, the National Guard and other military personnel around the Hawaiian islands immediately mobilized when fires began to raze Maui. This week, according a Wednesday news release by the Department of Defense, “nearly 700 Defense Department personnel and 157 Coast Guardsmen” are participating in rescue and recovery efforts.

With approximately 1,000 people still missing as of Thursday, according to ABC News, the military’s mission in Maui could not be more critical. Tragically, it could also not be any more painful, particularly in the once beautiful town of Lahaina.

“Two thousand people on 9/11 were not recovered,” said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier, as quoted by ABC. “We have an entire town that was destroyed.”

https://twitter.com/USArmy/status/1694104169924218917?s=20

The stories coming out of Maui, including this Washington Post article about a 14-year-old boy who was killed in the Lahaina blaze, are harrowing and heartbreaking. As Military.com reported this week, one important job the military is performing is helping to identify remains. The suffering these service members are witnessing in this fire-ravaged tropical paradise is almost impossible to imagine.

Please pray for all the selfless service members and first responders helping Maui. Most of all, please join The Stream in asking the Lord to comfort the victims, their families and the people of Hawaii.

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Europe

More than 100,000 U.S. troops are stationed on a continent that could – at any moment – become engulfed by a massive ground or nuclear conflict.

As I recently argued in a column I wrote after seeing the blockbuster film Oppenheimer, our country is not paying enough attention to the very real threat of the Russia-Ukraine war spilling into Europe or even our own backyard. Just this week, former Russian prime minister and current deputy security council chair Dmitry Medvedev warned on X that “one of these next ‘good days’ might well become Europe’s last.”

Imagine being a military family with a husband, wife, brother, sister, son or daughter deployed to Germany, Poland or one of the many other European countries where American boots are on the ground. Russia’s increasingly frequent military and nuclear threats are not only chilling, but dangerous.

This week in Belarus, the State Department told all U.S. citizens there to “leave immediately” amid their government’s support of Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as Lithuania starting to close border crossings with the country. There were also fears “about the Russian mercenary group Wagner that has established operations in” Belarus, according to Fox News. These concerns arose before Wednesday’s highly suspicious plane crash in Russia that killed Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Late Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. military will start training Ukrainian fighter pilots this fall at an Air National Guard base in Arizona. “The training is part of a U.S. and European effort to get the advanced fighter jets to Ukraine for its defense against invading Russian forces,” the AP article said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade is set to deploy to Europe early next year, according to the Army Times. “The aviators from Fort Riley, Kansas, are heading to Europe,” the newspaper reported.

Please say a prayer for the tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel serving in Europe, as well as their worried families here at home. We ask God to shield them from danger during this troubling time of increasing instability.

Coming Home

After spending the past year serving in and around the Middle East, hundreds of National Guard soldiers returned home to Idaho earlier this month.

Military Homecoming Idaho

National Guard soldiers return from a yearlong deployment to Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, on August 8, 2023.

Welcome home, heroes! Thanks to you and your families for the tremendous sacrifices you’ve made to keep us safe.

 

Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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