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Alaskan military advocate to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON — The White House announced plans Monday to grant a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bonnie Carroll, founder of an organization that provides support to grieving military families — and the star of a true Alaska love story. Carroll was working in the White House in 1988 when three California gray whales trapped in Arctic ice garnered international attention. President Ronald Reagan s interest in the plight led the West Wing staffer to meet her future husband, Alaska Army National Guard Col.Tom Carroll. Their love story was later featured in the 2012 film Big Miracle[1].


In 1992, after he and Bonnie were married, then-commander of the Alaska Army National Guard and lifelong Alaskan Tom Carroll died in an Army C-12 plane crash in the Chilkat Mountains — along with seven other top Guard leaders — en route to Juneau. Tom Carroll’s father, Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Carroll, had died 28 years earlier in a plane crash at Valdez while providing relief work after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, Bonnie Carroll said. Carroll channeled her grief into action, and following her husband’s burial at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Anchorage, she founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides support for those impacted by the death of a member of the U.S. military.

Bonnie Carroll will be honored with the nation’s highest civilian honor next week for her work after her husband’s death. In an interview Monday, Carroll said that at the time of the crash, there was no organization to help those left grieving after the death of someone in the military.

So, with support from many Alaskans, TAPS was created, founded right there in Anchorage, she said. The military quickly adopted the program, and it has since been replicated across the globe, in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Israel and Germany, among others, Carroll said.

Whenever a service member makes the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country, his family is … connected with TAPS. So out of an Alaska tragedy came hope and healing for tens of thousands of military families, she said.

TAPS includes peer-based support, a help line, seminars and retreats.

Twice a year we bring widows and parents from around the country to Alaska to participate in healing activities, Carroll said. The organization remains headquartered in Anchorage.

It’s really kind of nice that this is coming full circle, Carroll said, noting that she will return to the West Wing of the White House — where she was working when she first met her husband — to receive the award.

Bonnie Carroll is a life-long public servant who has devoted her life to caring for our military and veterans, the White House said in announcing the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. TAPS brings healing comfort and compassionate care to the living legacies of our nation’s service and sacrifice, the White House said in its description of Carroll, noting that she is also a retired major in the Air Force Reserve, serves on the Defense Health Board and previously chaired a task force focused on preventing military suicide. Carroll will be one of 17 granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a Nov. 24 ceremony, an honor given to those who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors, according to the White House.

Others receiving the award include NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, baseball hall-of-famer Willie Mays, retiring Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, conductor Itzhak Perlman, composer Stephen Sondheim and movie director Steven Spielberg. Posthumous recipients include Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Native rights advocate Billy Frank Jr., and human rights leader Minoru Yasui.


  1. ^ Big Miracle (http)

Robert H. Judd Sr. – Bristol Press

Robert H. Judd Sr., of Pleasant Valley, died after a long illness on Nov. 12, 2015. Born in New Britain, on Aug. 16, 1927, he was the son of Harold and Ann Judd and was raised by his grandparents Harry and Ruth Judd in Bristol.

He graduated from Bristol High School on June 19, 1945, and was sworn into the United States Navy on that same day. He attended pilot s training in the V-5 unit of the University of Pennsylvania, transferring to inactive duty in 1947. While working full time at New Departure in Bristol he attended and graduated from the University of Hartford with a B.S. in Education. He taught biology in the Meriden Public Schools and then taught science for many years at the Talcott Mountain Science Center, Avon, CT. He remained active in the Naval Reserve and was eventually promoted to Chief Warrant Officer, returning to active duty in 1980 as a CWO-4. He served aboard the USS Shenandoah, where he had the honor of hoisting the colors as the oldest sailor in the crew upon her commissioning. While on the Shenandoah he served as nuclear security officer, nuclear safety officer and nuclear courier. He retired as CWO-4 in 1987. After his retirement from the Navy, he served the town of Barkhamsted as part-time zoning officer as well as part-time Inland Wetlands Officer.

Bob is survived by his wife of 63 years, Alice Green Judd, of Pleasant Valley, as well as his son, Robert H. Judd Jr.; his daughter-in-law, Rania; and grandson, Harrison; and granddaughter, Erica of Marion, Mass. He also leaves his daughter, Barbara Rau; his son-in-law, Frederick J. Rau; his grandson, Dylan; his granddaughter, Alison, and her husband, Mark Villani; and a great-grandson, Calvin Villani Rau. Bob came from a long line of sportsmen he was an avid fly fisherman, a hunter of pheasant and quail, a master of field and stream. Over his lifetime he shot over a string of sub-par Irish Setters but in his retirement he was lucky to own a Springer Spaniel, Topper, who could find birds and retrieve them even if no shot was fired. Bob loved all animals, especially wildlife the bear, deer and bald eagles that shared his home on the Farmington River. Bob was captivated by babies and loved to charm children with his silly songs and games. Christmas Eve will never be quite the same without Bob s HOHO s.

Contributions in his memory can be sent to the Hartford Obedience Training Club (HOTC), 25 Randal Ave., West Hartford, CT 06110 or to the First Congregational Church of Barkhamsted, P.O. Box 211, Pleasant Valley, CT 06063.

Memorial service to be held Saturday, Nov. 21, at 11 a.m., at the First Congregational Church of Barkhamsted, 6 Old Town Road, Barkhamsted 06063.

Jihadist militancy in Canada lower level than in France, western Europe …

OTTAWA The level of jihadist militancy simmering in France and other parts of western Europe simply doesn t exist in Canada, making the sort of attack that devastated Paris less likely, security experts say.

In France and Belgium there are tens of thousands of people who, while not terrorists[1], sympathize with the ideology espoused by radical elements like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, said Phil Gurski, a former Canadian Security Intelligence Service analyst who specializes in counter-radicalization efforts.

We don t have that here not to the best of our knowledge, Gurski said in an interview. I think we have to acknowledge that there are some significant differences.

Last year Michael Zehaf Bibeau shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, an honour guard at the National War Memorial, before rushing into Parliament s Centre Block. Zehaf Bibeau was shot dead by security forces.

Two days earlier, Martin Couture-Rouleau had fatally rammed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent with a car in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. After a chase, police shot and killed the knife-wielding assailant.

While Canada has been hit by jihadi-inspired lone-wolf attacks, there has been nothing like the co-ordinated assaults on multiple targets in Paris that claimed 129 lives and injured hundreds of others, said Jez Littlewood of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.

That s not something we ve seen Canadian terrorists actually being able to carry out.

Canada is pursuing a significantly smaller proportion of counter-terrorism investigations than some European nations, and a relatively low number of Canadians between 45 and 60 have headed to Iraq and Syria as foreign fighters, experts say.

At the same time, Canada has generally been perceived as less of a target of interest than some allies for jihadi-motivated extremists.

Things are better here. I can t imagine a scenario where Canada gets like that, Gurski said. I really can t. And I m not sure I know why, but whatever it is we re doing here, we re doing it right for the most part.

Littlewood points to a more civil political discourse in Canada that has avoided openly hostile messages to immigrants and refugees of the kind spouted by the far right in France.

No western democracy is perfect in this realm I don t think any of us would say that, Littlewood said.

But he quickly adds that Canada seems to be faring better than France in terms of ensuring a sense of identity and belonging for newcomers.

Gurski spent almost 13 years at CSIS before moving to Public Safety Canada and now works as a private threat and risk consultant. He has been openly critical of the previous Conservative government s harsh tone toward the Muslim community something he believes strained delicate bonds of trust.

He applauds as a welcome shift the Liberal government s promise to create an office of community outreach and counter-radicalization.

This is your early intervention, he said. You can work with communities, you can work with local law enforcement.

In addition, it is much less intimidating and expensive than a CSIS or police investigation.

Security experts say that despite such efforts no one can promise all violent plots will be averted.

You re going to have attacks periodically, you re going to have arrests periodically, Gurski said. This is what life is in 2015 and unfortunately it s going to be this way for the next couple decades.


  1. ^ terrorists (