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Speaking the Dead
A personal face on public grief.
To all military supporters in / from Massachusetts.....

This holiday season, please help support the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund. This is a brand new charity that has been set up to help aid the children of fallen soldiers from Massachusetts. This is a state-wide fund to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of military families. Help support our military heroes. Visit our website at:


Happy holidays..... SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!!!
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[qowf asked me to cross-post this Remembrance Day entry from my LiveJournal here.]

Spc. Cody Wentz
November 4, 2004
"He wanted to play in the NFL. That was his most important (goal) in his whole life," said Wentz's mother, Joyce. "If he didn't make it in the NFL, he was going to be an RN (nurse) and eventually be an anesthesiologist."
He was promoted the day before he was killed. His best friend from the same hometown was wounded in the same attack.

Sgt. Stuart Gray
Pte. Paul Lowe
Pte. Scott McArdle
unnamed Iraqi translator
November 4, 2004

All three of the Black Watch soldiers were from the same town: Fife, Scotland. The translator was killed on the day his wedding was to take place.

Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer
April 18, 2002

He was a stubborn man, the kind of person who completes an endurance race with two stress fractures in his leg. He was killed in Afghanistan by "friendly fire."

His mother, Agatha Dyer, was this year's Silver Cross Mother. On November 11 she laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on behalf of all mothers who have lost children in the service of Canada.
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A Wickes woman learned her son was killed in Iraq on Wednesday when another son, also stationed in Baghdad, called her. Bobby Miranda said her son, Staff Sgt. Troy Leon Miranda, 44, was killed in a grenade explosion.

Troy Miranda of Little Rock was a member of the Arkansas-based 39th Infantry Brigade of the National Guard. Phillip Miranda, stationed at the same location in Baghdad as his
brother, called before military officials could bring his parents the news.

"He said he wanted to tell me before some stranger would come and tell me," Bobby Miranda said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.

Troy Miranda, called Leon by family members and friends, served in the National Guard about 20 years, his mother said. Both brothers were deployed to Iraq earlier this spring.

His mother said Miranda was on a nighttime patrol when his group came under attack and he was hit by a grenade. A military statement described a grenade attack that killed a solider and wounded three others in central Baghdad.

Bobby Miranda described her son as a good person who "did what his country told him to do."

He is survived by his mother and father, Carlos, and five siblings. Two brothers, twins, were killed in separate accidents in the late 1980s, Bobby Miranda said.

"Every time it's worse," she said. "You think, 'How could it happen to you over and over again?' "

An Arkansas State Police spokesman said Thursday that Troy
Miranda worked out of the state police Office of Investigative Support for 10 years. He was employed through the National Guard's counter-drug program.

The Miranda brothers were assigned to Charlie Company, in the 1st Battalion of the 153rd Infantry. He was based in DeQueen. The unit was assigned directly to the 1st Calvary Division on duty in Baghdad.

On Thursday, the American flag at the high school in the small Polk County community flew at half-staff, said Wickes school secretary Bonita Flint. The school also had a moment of silence in honor of the 1977 Wickes High School graduate.

"It's been a really sad day around here," Flint said.

Funeral arrangements will be made when the body is returned to Arkansas, which should be in about a week, Bobby Miranda said.Phillip Miranda will come back for the funeral, his mother said. She will not try to prevent him from returning to combat.

"It's got to be his decision," she said. "You can't wrap them up and keep them and pocket them. They have to do what they think is right."

Miranda is the 12th Arkansan to die in action since the start of the war in March 2003 and the ninth member of the 39th Infantry Brigade to be killed in Iraq. At the start of May, Arkansas National Guard spokeswoman Capt. Kristine Munn said the 39th, known as the Arkansas Brigade, had had the largest number of losses of any guard unit serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the time, seven members of the 39th had died.


Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 27 2004 @ 10:36 AM

The condolences, prayers, and thanks of a grateful nation go out to your family.

Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 27 2004 @ 03:19 PM EST
I did not know Troy, but I learned of his death through an e-mail from a person that was stationed with Troy in Iraq. He seemed to be a person who was well liked and will never be forgotten by his fellow troops. Troy is a true hero to me and my family, and we are truly sorry about your loss. Our prayers will be with you.

Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 30 2004 @ 10:42 PM EST
I graduated from High School with Leon Miranda and remember him as such a gentle and kind person. I was saddened to hear of his death. I feel proud to have known him and will be forever touched by his courage and sacrifice. He was remembered 27 years ago in our High School year book as the "Unsung Hero". The honor was an insight then just as it is now of his character and courage. God bless you Leon and your family!

Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 06 2004 @ 12:26 AM EST
I went to school with Leon's younger brothers Alfred and Richard. I remember Leon from school and when I use to go over to their house to play. I am sad to here of his death and I will miss him as I do his brothers. Condolences, prayers, and thanks for what you did for our nation go out to your family. God Bless kgw


Speaking the Dead in love and with honor,

Pearl Took

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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A Rockford native and distant cousin of former Rockford Mayor Charles Box was killed last week in Baghdad when a car bomb detonated near his guide post.

Staff Sgt. Hesley Box Jr. was born Jan. 29, 1980, in Rockford. He and his parents, Barbara and Hesley Box Sr., lived in the 400 block of Horace Avenue in Rockford until Hesley Jr. was 6. The 24-year-old hailed from Nashville, Ark.

Box's death on May 6 is listed on a Department of Defense Web site, www.defenselink. mil/releases/2004/nr20040507-0746.html.

He joined the National Guard as a junior in Camden Fairview High School. He joined the Army after graduating from high school in 1998. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry, 39th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Arkansas National Guard, Texarkana, Ark.

Hesley Box Sr., contacted Monday in his Chidester, Ark., home, said his son liked the military.

"He just wanted to be a soldier. We never tried to persuade him not to join."

Box Sr. said the last time he spoke to his son was May 3.

"He was in very good spirits," he said. "He asked me when was the last time I went fishing."

Box Sr. described his son as an avid fisherman and a "dedicated family man who loved the Lord."

Box Jr. and his wife of three years, Alexia, have a 21-month-old son. Box's older brother, Tarcus K. Box, 30, spent a year of duty in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom before being reassigned.

According to the May 7 edition of the Camden News newspaper in Arkansas, one other U.S. soldier was seriously injured in the bombing. He suffered burns to his face and hands, and shrapnel wounds to his leg before being flown to Germany for treatment.

The bombing remains under investigation.

Box Sr. said, "We hope this thing will be resolved soon. We don't want anybody else to go through what we are going through at this time."


Sgt. Hesley Box, Jr., or "Tanky" as his family calls him, was just 24 years old when he left for Iraq in March with the 39th Infantry Brigade.

His mother, Barbie, gripping a box of tissue, says, "We didn't know he wouldn't be coming back home."

Tanky was known as a dedicated husband and father of two young sons. He had served in Saudi Arabia and Bosnia, but in Iraq his father, Hesley Box Sr., knew it would be much more dangerous.

He says, with tears streaming down his face, "I talked to my son earlier this week. I asked him, I said 'Tanky are you trusting in the Lord?' He said, 'Yea, Dad. I'm trusting in the Lord - I'm trusting in the Lord.' I said you gotta trust in the Lord because you're in hostile territory." That proved to be the last words Box ever had with his youngest son before he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Hensley says he'll miss the most, "The way he answered me when I called - in his deep voice - I'd say, 'Hey Tanky'. He'd say, [dropping several octaves], 'Hey Dad'. I won't be hearing that any more. I'm gonna miss it."

The family isn’t only struggling with Tanky's death but their oldest son, Tarcus, is also serving in the Army overseas. "It was awful having to tell him," says Barbie.

Tarcus will be allowed to come home to be at his brother's funeral. Barbie and Hesley, say they are proud of Tanky and will look to the Lord to make it through this difficult time.

"He gave his life serving his country. I'll just be glad when this war is over. I don't want any other parents to have to go through what we've gone through," says Barbie.

Hensley explains, "With the Lord's help and our family - we'll make it. It won't be like it was yesterday, but we'll make it."

The family says they do not know all the circumstances surrounding their son's death. They were told two other soldiers were injured when the roadside bomb exploded- one critically. The names of those soldiers have not been released.

They say they'll make funeral arrangements for "Tanky" when his body is returned to the U.S. They were told that could take up to eight days. Box is the 7th Arkansas soldier with the 39th to be killed in action.


Authored by: Jacqueline Tappin on Friday, May 14 2004 @ 08:29 AM EST
Tanky you sure will be missed. I like to think of it as you are in a better place. A place of no worries, a place where you can be free, a place of peace, a place of love, happiness, and a sense of relaxation. You served your country and you did it well. Words cant explain the pain of loosing a relative but as time goes on, we will accept the notion that you are gone in body but here in soul.

Until we meet again
Love Cousin
Jacqueline Tappin

Speaking the Dead in love and with honor,

Pearl Took

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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Spc. Kenneth A. Melton 30 Arkansas Army National Guard,
Company B, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Brigade Combat Team Westplains, Missouri Killed when an improvised explosive device and small arms fire struck his vehicle while traveling in a convoy from Baghdad, Iraq, on April 25, 2004

The Department of Defense confirms the death of Spc. Kenneth A.Melton, 30, who listed a hometown of West Plains, Missouri. Melton died Sunday, April 25 in Iraq, when his vehicle was hit by a homemade bomb and small arms fire. Melton was traveling in a convoy at the time of the attack.

The Department of Defense said Melton was assigned to the
Arkansas Army National Guard, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 153rd
Infantry Regiment, 39th Brigade Combat Team based in Fordyce,

Melton`s death was one of five deaths of members of the 39th last weekend. Melton graduated in 1992 from Thayer High School. Many family members live in the Thayer, West Plains and Batesville, Arkansas area.

The Ozarks Medical center in West Plains, where Ken`s father -David - works, has established a trust fund for Ken`s children. Donations are being accepted at any area Bank of America branch, in care of the Kenneth Melton Children`s Continuing Education Fund.

Or you can mail donations to:
Bank of America
PO Box 409
West Plains, MO 65775

THAYER, Mo. -- A citizen-soldier who grew up in this small town near the Arkansas line died in Iraq on Sunday. Spc. Kenneth A. Melton, 30, of Batesville, Ark., still has family and friends in this area.

The Department of Defense says a homemade bomb on the side of a road hit the Humvee military vehicle in which Melton was riding. Melton was traveling as part of a protection team with battalion leaders. They were near Sadr City near Baghdad. Small arms fire also struck the vehicle.

Melton graduated from Thayer High School in 1992. His father and stepmother, David and Addie Melton, live near Thayer. Even though the Army called him Kenneth, everyone here who knew him calls him simply Kenny. They say he had a smile that you wouldn't soon forget.

"He was just a fine young man," said Marge Shipp, a teacher. "He just grew up the way a good American boy should grow up, doing the right things." Shipp had Melton in science classes in 7th, 8th and 9th grades.

"I can remember him from over in the grade school when he was running around the playground over there," she said.
Shipp says, among her students, Melton stood out.

"I think it was that very special smile he had and that very positive attitude he had that just set him apart and made him special," she said.

One of the last times Shipp saw him at the high school, he was leaving for military training soon after he graduated.

"Before he left for boot camp, he came back and said good-bye to all of us, a pleasant good-bye, and let us know he was going into the Army like his family," said Shipp. "We were proud of him and we are still very proud of him."

The school flag was at half-staff in Melton's honor on Thursday.

"It's been hard for us that he's gone but, we know that he did it for his country," she said, choking back the tears, "and we know that he would have that smile on his face, right wherever he is."

Family and friends will honor Melton at a funeral service on Sunday at 2 at Clary Funeral Home in Mammoth Spring, Ark., just south of Thayer. Melton was in the Arkansas Army National Guard, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Brigade Combat Team, based in Fordyce, in southern Arkansas. He'd been on active duty for about a month, leaving behind his job as a long-distance truck driver. He'd been in the 39th Brigade for about five years after leaving active duty. He spent duty time in Egypt after the terrorists' attacks of 2001.

Melton's mother lives in Texas. Three stepchildren lived at home in Batesville with him and his wife, Carol.

Speaking the dead in love and with honor,
Pearl Took

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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Second Lieutenant Leonard M. Cowherd, 22, of Culpeper, Virginia, died May 16, 2004, in Karbala, Iraq, when he received sniper and rocket propelled grenade fire while securing a building near the Mukhayam Mosque. Cowherd was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany.

Leonard Cowherd grew up in Culpeper, Virginia, a Piedmont town rich in the Civil War history he loved. He attended West Point while his twin brother, Charles, attended Virginia Military Institute. It was Charles who first met Sarah Cerri and introduced her to his brother. Sarah called her mom that night and told her she had met the man she was going to marry.

Time Stood Still for Sarah

While in Iraq, Leonard wrote a series of columns for his home-town newspaper, The Culpeper Star-Exponent, describing his experiences:

Leonard Cowherd Writes Home

Leonard Cowherd was Culpeper County’s first wartime fatality since Vietnam. He has been memorialized by such diverse groups as the Delaney Athletic Conference, in recognition of his athletic activities while a student at Wakefield School; the Governor of Virginia, who ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff in his honor; and Our Little Roses Home for Girls in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where youth groups from St. Stephen’s and other parishes participated in mission work this summer.

Speaking his name with love and honor, I give you Leonard Cowherd, dead these 83 days.
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On April 6, 2004, HM 3rd Class Fernando Mendez-Aceves was serving with the 3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. After completing a patrol, the platoon was returning to their base when they were ambushed and their small convoy of Humvees was split up by heavy small-arms fire. Mendez' Humvee came under particularly deadly fire, and by the time the remaining Marines had beaten back the ambush, it was too late for all but one Marine from that vehicle. HM3 Mendez' body was found alongside that of the 3rd Platoon's platoon sergeant. By all accounts, it appeared Fernando died trying to treat the mortally wounded staff sergeant.

The HM is the Hospital Corpsman. He is the enlisted man usually called "Doc" by the Marines he is assigned to. Doc is the person who holds the wounded together in the middle of firefights and bombardments. Doc runs around with his ALICE pack, dodging bullets and flames to get to the wounded and keep them alive until they cam be evacuated from the front lines. Doc is every Marine’s hero. Fernando died a hero. Fernando lived a life loved and loving.

He was born in Mexico and later moved to Puerto Rico. He leaves his mother Sandra and his three brothers, Wilfredo, Rodrigo, and Kenneth. He was a dual citizen of Mexico and The United States and proud of his heritage in both countries, said his mother Sandra.

Growing up, Fernando talked about becoming a doctor, his mother said. But recently, he had trained to be a Navy SEAL. He suffered hypothermia while training, but wanted to try again in the summer.

Of his life, what can I write? Fernando’s life is already written in the hearts of those he touched; in the memories he gave them. They draw a portrait of a man so kind, so giving and loving, who cherished all life:

read their wordsCollapse )

My impression? Saint Michael, Saint Francis, healer on the battlefield, a swirl of color, a bright affirming flame, too soon gone, lionheart, lamb-soul, warrior, drinking buddy, son, brother, friend, soldier, no greater love, tears for our loss, a smile, dedication, family, honor.

See the smile of Fernando Mendez-Aceves here

Speak the names of the dead
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Wednesday, April 28 2004 @ 08:15 AM EST
Contributed by: tomw

PBCommercial.COM -- One of four Arkansas soldiers killed in a mortar fire attack in Taji, Iraq, on Saturday was a former Kingsland resident, according to his uncle.

Staff Sgt. Stacey C. Brandon, 35, of Hazen, died in the mortar attack on Camp Cooke, north of Baghdad.

Three others were also killed in the Army National Guard's 39th Support Battalion, 39th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, according to a list released by the U.S. Department of Defense on Monday.

"His body is already back in the U.S.," said Brandon's uncle, Glen Brandon of Kingsland. "It's been very, very hard on the family, but war is war."

The Army notified the family of Brandon's death Saturday, Glen Brandon said.

Brandon was born in Texas and graduated from Kingsland High School. He attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello, according to his aunt, Shelby Brandon.

He lived in the Dollarway area of Pine Bluff in 1994-95, she said.

Glen Brandon said he had just returned from visiting Brandon's wife, April, at Hazen on Monday afternoon.

He said Brandon's remains could possibly be returned to Arkansas by Wednesday or Thursday, but the family still doesn't know when the funeral will be held.

Stacey Brandon was a former guard at the Federal Correctional Institution at Forrest City, his uncle said.

April Brandon is a teacher at Brinkley, he said.

"They took it hard because he already lost a son in 1995," he said about Brandon's father, George Brandon, and the rest of the immediate family. "You don't have one kid left."

Brandon had been in the Army National Guard since 1986, his uncle said.

"The 39th left here, I think the first of April," Glen Brandon said. "They hadn't been there that long."

Stacey and April Brandon have two children, a 4-year-old son and a 17-month-old daughter, Glen Brandon said.

"This Wednesday, he would've been 36," Glen Brandon said of Stacey.

Camp Cooke is home to the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division, which is served by 3,000 members from the 47 Arkansas units of the 39th.

The U.S. military released the names of four Arkansans killed in an early-morning rocket attack Saturday. Brandon; Chief Warrant Officer Patrick W. Kordsmeier, 49, of North Little Rock; Capt. Arthur "Bo" Felder, 36, of Lewisville; and Staff Sgt. Billy Joe Orton, 41, of Humnoke were killed in a series of explosions.

A fifth member of the Arkansas-based brigade was also killed while on patrol Sunday, but the Department of Defense had not released the soldier's name by Monday afternoon.

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 28 2004 @ 12:39


Although I didn't know Stacey personally, I am a dear friend of his brother Jeff and am saddened beyond words. I prayed for Stacey every day since his departure, and now I will pray for his families peace, and for them to know Stacey did not die in vain.
God Bless America and our troops fighting to preserve our Freedom.

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 12:07 PM

I worked with Stacey from the day he came to work at the Federal Prison in Forrest City. I am proud to have known him. He loved his family and was proud of them. He is in a better place now and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Authored by: Lissa Kellum Hauser on Thursday, May 06 2004 @

07:24 PM EST
Stacey was a very good friend of mine in high school, but we had lost touch a few years ago. I hate it that he is now gone and I won't be able to get back in touch with him but I am very honored that he gave his life for this great country of ours. He will be greatly missed, I know, by his family and friends. I just wish I could see him again and we could share all that has happened over the last few years that we have been out of touch. My sympathy goes out to Stacey's family and all his friends.

May God bless you, give you great strenght that you might endure what you have to over the coming days. Lissa Kellum Hauser, Shreveport, LA

Speaking the dead in love and with honor,
Pearl Took

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:17 AM EST
Contributed by: tomw
CarlisleIndependent -- A candlelight vigil brought together the people of Carlisle Monday night as they searched for a way to show their respect, love and support to the family of Staff Sgt. Billy Joe Orton, 41, who was killed in action in Taji, Iraq on April 24, 2004.

Orton was one of four members of the 39th Infantry Brigade who died after rockets slammed into the base at 5:30 a.m. As the men tried to get into the bunkers after the shelling at Camp Cooke began, helping each other along the way, not all were able to reach shelter.

“Another shell hit about three feet away from some of the soldiers, and Brad was knocked into the bunker,” said Dennis Mayher, father of Brad Mayher, who sustained injuries in the attack, “He took some shrapnel in the back. Others were not as lucky.”

Mayher also spoke of James Carter of Carlisle, who was seriously injured, and Staff Sgt. Stacey Brandon, 35, of Hazen and Chief Warrant Officer Patrick W. Kordsmeier, 49, of North Little Rock, who also lost their lives during the attack. Another soldier killed in the attack was Capt. Arthur “Bo” Felder, 36, of Lewisville. Carter is the son of Pat Carter of Hazen, a dispatcher for the Carlisle Police Department, and J.W. Carter.

“We need to get behind our president, no matter who it is, and ask God to help him make the right decision.” Mayher said.

More than 150 people were gathered outside the Orton home, where he had lived with his wife, Margarita, and their three children, Manaser, David and Benjamin.
Candle flames shone in the darkness as the crowd gathered round for the ceremony and sharing of grief.

American Legion members, W.H. Kittler and Lester Turner, presented the American and Arkansas flags, as James Gosney played Amazing Grace and the Star Spangled Banner on his trumpet. Rev. Tommy Walls offered a prayer for Orton and his family and others affected by this tragedy.

The crowd joined in singing several patriotic songs including God Bless America, America the Beautiful, God Bless the U.S.A. and Hero.

There may have been a few dry eyes as the candles were extinguished and the sound of Taps was heard in the distance.

“Billy Joe was a good, honest, everyday kid,” said W.H. Kittler, a retired CHS teacher, who said he was the sponsor for Orton’s class. “When we were doing class projects, I could send him to the lumberyard and he wouldn’t get lost.”
Kittler also said Orton took things seriously.

“He felt an obligation to his country and family,” Kittler said. “He took it upon himself to protect his country and he gave his life for it.”

After the ceremony, Dennis Mayher told reporters that the whole thing is wrentching.
“I’ve got an open prayer,” he said. “I started it a while back and I won’t say amen until he [Brad] comes home.”

A memorial fund to assist the Orton family has been set up at BancorpSouth in Carlisle.

Speaking the Dead in love and with honor,
Pearl Took

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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Thursday, April 29 2004 @ 07:59 AM EST
Contributed by: tomw KTHV.COM -- Sunday the family of Chief

Warrant Officer Patrick Kordsmeier confirmed the 49-year-old Army soldier had been killed during an attack on the 39th Infantry Brigade's camp in Taji, Iraq.

Kordsmeier was from Little Rock and served in the Army National Guard for more than 30 years. His family says he passed up retirement to serve in the war in Iraq.

His son and daughter spoke with us on Sunday and told us how much their father meant to them and how much our country meant to their father. Jason and Jennifer Kordsmeier now say they are trying to deal with his loss by helping their mother cope.

Jennifer said those whose loved ones come home should hold them and thank them for all they've done.

The details of Kordsmeier's death have not been released. His family says funeral arrangements will be made once Kordsmeier's body is returned to the U.S.

Authored: Monday, May 10 2004 @ 12:55 AM

Today, 11 May 04, I received a letter from my brother Pat, dated 13 Arp 04. His life, and 3 of his fellow soldiers were taken on 24 Apr 04, by mortor shells fired into Camp Cook in Taji Iraq. He acknowledged with extreme emotion receipt of a crucifix that I sent to him. A symbol of his passion and devotion to his Catholic faith. God Bless you Brother... "WO". I love you too Bro! Always and forever.

Tom Kordsmeier

Speaking the dead in love and with honor,
Pearl Took

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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