Service & Sacrifice: In the Crosshairs

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

Russian military SU-34 and SU-35 aircraft employ flares in the flight path of a U.S. MQ-9 aircraft on July 6, 2023, over Syria.

By Tom Sileo Published on July 21, 2023

Middle East

American military forces in Syria are beefing up their airpower amid increasingly dangerous behavior by Iran and Russia.

The Pentagon recently announced that F-35 fifth generation and F-16 fighter jets are deploying to the Middle East to protect ships in the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman that have recently been subjected to harassment and attempted seizures by Iran vessels.

“An additional guided missile destroyer” is also headed to the region to protect oil tankers and other ships, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine.

The magazine also reports that U.S. officials are now accusing Russia of putting American lives at risk when one of its fighter jets “harassed a U.S. manned surveillance aircraft over Syria on July 16” during an American-led mission against ISIS.

“The Russian Su-35 flew in the flight path of the MC-12, a small turboprop plane based on the civilian Beechcraft King Air 350, forcing the U.S. plane to fly through the fighter’s wake turbulence,” the Air & Space Forces Magazine article added.

Thankfully, none of the four American crewmembers involved in the incident were injured. With Syria and the surrounding region clearly in the crosshairs of our enemies, however, we should all join together in praying for the thousands of U.S. military personnel still serving in the Middle East.

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An American soldier who ran over the North Korean border this week is now presumably being held by the communist regime.

The Associated Press reports that as of Thursday morning, North Korea had not responded to U.S. attempts to discuss the status of Pvt. Travis King, “who was supposed to be on his way to Fort Bliss, Texas, after finishing a prison sentence in South Korea for assault.”

“The motive for King’s border crossing is unknown,” said the AP report, while adding that the soldier’s family said Pvt. King “may have felt overwhelmed” by his legal troubles.

Regardless of the circumstances, we pray for this soldier’s safe return from North Korea to the United States.

A Hero in Hawaii

A soldier stationed in Hawaii received the U.S. Army’s highest non-combat award this week for risking his life to save a woman who was being attacked.

According to the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, Spc. Rene Rodriguez was “heading to the North Shore to enjoy the weekend, when he noticed a group of bystanders outside of a coffee shop in Wahiawa, surrounding a woman being violently assaulted. With a bias for action and complete disregard for his own safety, Rodriguez made the split-second decision to intervene.”

“Putting himself between the attacker and the woman, Rodriguez took the brunt of the attack allowing the woman to seek safety in his vehicle. Rodriguez was successfully able to protect the woman and get her to safety until law enforcement and emergency services arrived,” the 25th Infantry Division article added.

Specialist Rodriguez, who hails from El Paso, Texas, embodies everything that the U.S. military stands for. We thank him for his courage and congratulate this American hero on his well-deserved award.

Coming Home

There are few images more inspiring than a returning military warrior meeting his newborn child for the first time. That’s exactly what happened last Friday in Norfolk, Virginia, when the USS James E. Williams came home from a deployment in support of NATO.

Military Family

A U.S. Navy sailor meets his child from the first time upon the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams‘ return to Naval Station Norfolk after a seven-month NATO deployment on July 14, 2023.

Welcome home, hero! Congratulations to you and your wife on your new baby and thank you for your service to our country.


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

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