Wednesday, January 07, 2009

'Flag Ladies' Embroider Symbols of Presidential Pomp, Power

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 7, 2009 - Some dedicated ladies in Philadelphia are using their embroidery skills to construct dozens of colorful ceremonial flags for President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden. The 15 embroiderers, known as "the flag ladies," labor at the Defense Logistics Agency's supply center in Philadelphia, where they are busy making 90 new presidential and vice-presidential banners, flag workshop supervisor Diane J. Harris said. Embroidery is the creation of decorative designs through hand or machine needlework.

"It's just rewarding seeing that the president gets what he needs – his flags," said Harris, a 40-year employee of the workshop. Incoming chief executives and vice presidents, she said, get new flags.

The mostly handmade flags are constructed of either blue or white rayon; a blue field for the president and a white one for the vice president, Harris said.

The ceremonial banners use silk thread for fashioning the white stars and red, white, blue, silver, yellow and gold thread for embroidering the presidential coat of arms.

The president's flag, Harris continued, features gold and silver hand-knotted fringe edging, while the vice president's banner gets regular fringe.

It takes two embroiderers 45 days to complete one flag, Harris said.

Several of the new flags, Harris said, will make their debut during Jan. 20 inauguration activities.

The president's and vice president's ceremonial flags likely are the finest of their type in the world, Harris said, due to the amount of hand work involved and the top-notch materials used. The workshop, she added, also makes ceremonial flags for the armed forces.

The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia is the troop-support component of the Defense Logistics Agency, based at Fort Belvoir, Va. The Philadelphia facility provides U.S. troops with food, clothing, textiles, medicines, medical equipment, and construction supplies and equipment. The center also supports United States' humanitarian and disaster relief missions.



American Science and Engineering, Inc., Billerica, Mass., is being awarded a $67,391,360 firm fixed priced contract for the manufacturing and production of 66 AS&E Z-Backscatter (ZBV) Military Trailers. Work will be performed within the Continental United States, and work is expected to be completed by the end of January 2010. Contract fund will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was sole sourced procured. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-09-C-5017).

Lockheed Martin MS2 Division, Syracuse, N.Y., is being awarded a $25,795,680 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5201) to exercise an option for upgrade kits for the Navy's AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 Undersea Warfare System. The AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 is a surface ship combat system with the capabilities to search, detect, classify, localize and track undersea contacts; and to engage and evade submarines, mine-like small objects, and torpedo threats. Work will be performed in Lemont Furnace, Pa. (50 percent); Syracuse, N.Y. (25 percent) and Eagan, Minn. (25 percent) and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

CCI, Inc.*, Anchorage, Alaska, is being awarded $6,518,549 for firm fixed price task order #0133 under the previously awarded Facilities Maintenance Job Order Contract (N62472-05-D-7510) for the construction of Dry Dock #3 Propulsor Work Enclosure with a high bay fixed roof and service platform at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Work will be performed in Kittery, Maine, and is expected to be completed by November 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One (1) proposal was received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Progeny Systems Corp.,*, Manassas, Va., is being awarded a $9,911,963 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-6297) to provide system development, integration, test and operator training for the Acoustic AN/WSQ-9 System, Intercept and Ranging (AI&R) Systems, Archival Media Center (AMC) kits and Swinger Kits systems and spares. The contractor will continue to develop innovative techniques for Combat System (SIM/STIM) Simulation/Stimulation software to allow the interface with new types of targets. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $21,834,293. Work will be performed in Manassas, Va., and is expected to be completed by October 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.


Sparta Inc., Lakeforest, Calif., is being awarded a $8,603,617 cost plus fixed fee contract for the first phase of the National Cyber Range program. A total of seven awards are planned for the National Cyber Range program. Work will be performed in Columbia, Md. (31 percent), Bethesda, Md. (21 percent), Marina del Ray, Calif. (9 percent), Johnstown, Pa. (7 percent), Landover, Md. (6 percent), Los Altos, Calif. (5 percent), Huntsville, Ala. (4 percent), Philadelphia, Pa. (3 percent), La Jolla, Calif. (2 percent), Salt Lake City, Utah (2 percent), North Chelmsford, Mass. (2 percent), Hunt Valley, Md. (2 percent), Berkeley, Calif. (2 percent), Washington, D.C. (1 percent), Herndon, Va. (1 percent), University Park, Pa. (1 percent), and Lawrence, Kansas (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2009. Funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. DARPA issued a solicitation in Federal Business Opportunities on May 5, 2008, and 12 proposals were received. The contracting activity is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va. (HR0011-09-C-0039).

Johns Hopkins University Advanced Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., is being awarded a $7,336,805 cost plus fixed fee contract for the first phase of the National Cyber Range program. A total of seven awards are planned for the National Cyber Range program. Work will be performed in Laurel, Md. (41 percent), Cambridge, Mass. (33 percent), Albuquerque, N.M. (7 percent), Columbia, Md. (5 percent), Idaho Falls, Idaho (5 percent), Salt Lake City, Utah (1 percent), Bethesda, Md. (3 percent), North Chelmsford, Mass. (3 percent), and Northport, N.Y. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2009. Funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. DARPA issued a solicitation in Federal Business Opportunities on May 5, 2008, and 12 proposals were received. The contracting activity is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va. (HR0011-09-C-0038).

Soldiers Bolster U.S. Bobsled Team for World Championships

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 7, 2009 - Several soldiers have bolstered the U.S. Bobsled Team for the 2009 World Championships, scheduled for Feb. 20 through March 1 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Army Pfc. John Napier, a bobsledder in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, teamed with Cory Butner of Yucaipa, Calif., to win the two-man title in the 2009 U.S. Bobsled National Championships Jan. 3 and 4 at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid.

Napier, 22, of Lake Placid, drove the sled to a four-heat cumulative time of 3 minutes, 45.87 seconds over two days to win the national two-man crown by .30 of a second. He will also compete for the four-man national title Jan. 10 and 11 on his hometown track.

"I was racing against a fierce field of competitors," Napier said. "I only had a tenth-of-a-second lead yesterday, and anything can happen in this sport. I don't take anything for granted, and I knew I had to put down my best runs today to stay in the lead."

Sgt. Mike Kohn, 36, a former WCAP bobsledder who is now a member of the National Guard Outstanding Athlete Program, finished second in the two-man national championships with a time of 3:46.17.

Former WCAP bobsledder Steven Holcomb, winner of the 2007 Two-man World Cup title, teamed with Curt Tomasevicz to finish third in 3:46.57 in Lake Placid with borrowed equipment. Holcomb was awaiting delivery of his sled from Europe, where he positioned himself third in the early-season World Cup standings.

"It's tough not having your own equipment," Holcomb said. "The runners I'm borrowing are nicknamed 'warms,' and they aren't intended for cold ice. On a day like today, where temperatures are flirting with the negative numbers, it's hard to keep the sled straight."

Holcomb, 28, a native of Park City, Utah, who served seven years in the
Army National Guard, received joined the World Championships by virtue of his third-place finish in the combined world rankings last season.

Kohn and Holcomb will compete in different sleds from Napier's in the four-man national championships.

"It would have been nice to have had my own helmet and sled, but it's another day of racing," Holcomb said. "I can't take anything away from these guys, because they're sliding well. I'm top three in the world, and these guys are right there with me today, which is testament to the U.S. program."

"It's exciting to see a tight competition like this," said Darrin Steele, chief executive officer of the U.S. Bobsled Federation. "For us to see American-made sleds that are the best in the world out here competing in the national championships is great. We'll be entering six competitive sleds this February."

Former WCAP bobsledder Shauna Rohbock, 31, a member of the Utah
Army National Guard from Park City, pilots the Team USA 1 women's sled on the World Cup circuit and is scheduled to compete in the upcoming World Championships as well.

Rohbock teamed with Valerie Fleming to win a silver medal in the two-woman bobsled event at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. She also won bronze medals at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships.

(Tim Hipps works in the public affairs office of the
Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.)

Air Force Band Prepares for Historic Inaugural Parade Mission

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 7, 2009 - "Welcome to one of the greatest moments of your career." With those words, Air Force Col. Dennis M. Layendecker, commander, music director and conductor for the U.S. Air Force Band, impressed on his airmen the importance of their upcoming mission supporting the presidential inauguration.

"This is a historic moment for our country," Layendecker told the musicians, assembled nine across and 11 deep in the 459th Air Refueling Wing's Hangar 11 for a 6 a.m. rehearsal session.

"It's a great example to the world of what it means to have a peaceful transition of power," he said.

The Air Force Band will join the other military service bands to march from the U.S. Capitol to the White House during President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural parade Jan. 20, said Air Force Capt. Christopher Moore of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee.

The U.S. Army Band, known as "Pershing's Own," will go first along the 1.5-mile parade route as part of the presidential escort formation. The Army Field Band also will march in what organizers refer to as the first "division," or segment, of the parade.

"The President's Own" U.S. Marine Corps Band will be on stage at the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony, then march down Pennsylvania Avenue as part of the second parade division. The U.S. Navy Band will follow in the third division.

As the youngest of the premier military bands, with a heritage dating to 1941, the U.S. Air Force Band will march in the fourth division.

"The way we see it, they're saving the best for last," Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Elizabeth Schouten, the band's superintendent, said with a smile.

Each service band will have 99 musicians, a number reserved only for inaugural parades and state funeral processions. "That's a b-i-i-i-g band," two to four times the usual size, Layendecker said. "Directing it is kind of like steering an aircraft carrier."

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Edward Teleky, the band's drum major, will wave his huge, ceremonial baton, or 'mace,' high as he leads the Air Force Band down Pennsylvania Avenue. Layendecker and his command element will go next, followed by the trombones, French horns, trumpets, percussions and wind players. The tubas will hold up the rear.

They'll march at 100 steps a minute, a bit slower than their typical 120-step march tempo.

Schouten estimated that, at that pace, the band will go through eight or nine iterations of the three songs it will play: John Philip Sousa's "The Washington Post" march, "In Place Soundoff: Into Trombones Triumphant," and "The Air Force Song."

As they approach the review stand, the band will burst into a rendition of "Hail to the Chief."

Schouten expressed hope that they'll reach the stand before night settles over the Washington skyline. She has a good sense of what to expect on Jan. 20. She's marched in six inaugural parades -- through rain, snow, slush, below-zero temperatures and blustery wind gusts – since following her childhood dream and joining the Air Force Band.

During President Bill Clinton's second inauguration, she and her fellow band members marched behind miniature ponies and elephants, which left unexpected "debris" in their wake along the parade route.

"You have to stay in formation, whatever happens," Schouten said with a laugh. "Some of the band members had to get rid of their shoes after that parade."

Formation "is everything" when marching in the Air Force Band, Schouten explained.

After all, Layendecker said, "the whole world will be watching as we render our first salute to our commander in chief."

Teleky, preparing for his sixth inaugural parade, appeared undaunted by the prospect of millions of spectators in Washington and billions more via TV.

"We're going to come in, do our mission and complete our mission, regardless of how many people there are," he said. "And when we do, we will be representing our U.S. military. It's an honor to be able to do that to billions of people around the globe."

With that in mind, the band's command group moved through the formation during today's rehearsal to ensure no detail went overlooked. They followed along as the group moved outside into the pouring rain to march in formation across the tarmac.

"We try to be as perfect as humanly possible," Schouter said. "After all, the public hears with their eyes. When they see us, we want to be sure that we are representing the excellence of the men and women of the Air Force."

Air Force Tech Sgt. Benjamin Bowers, a clarinetist looking forward to his first inaugural parade, said Jan. 20 will be a high point in a three-year Air Force career already punctuated with many high points.

"We play for a lot of important functions, but this is as important as it gets," he said. "It's amazing to be part of such a historical event. I feel lucky to represent the Air Force and airmen around the world."

Despite her vast inaugural experience, Schouten said, she's looking forward to the upcoming inauguration with the same enthusiasm she felt during her first, President Ronald Reagan's first inauguration in 1981.

"What a wonderful opportunity this is to be a part of our nation's celebration and to celebrate our way of life," she said. "This will be a grand demonstration of support for our newest commander in chief. I'm so glad to be part of this historic moment, and of this band."

Louisiana Begins Reconstruction of National Guard Landmark

By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens and Army Sgt. Beyonka D. Joseph
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 7, 2009 - A massive reconstruction of the historic Louisiana National Guard headquarters is under way and inching closer to its projected completion date of January 2010. Jackson Barracks, built in the mid-1830s, was heavily damaged by flood waters after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area three years ago.

Army Lt. Col. Danny P. Bordelon, commander of the 527th Engineer Battalion, is in charge of all of the state Guard's construction projects south of Baton Rouge. He explained that having 16 buildings under six different contracts for the $200 million project will speed construction.

Once the project is complete, about 700 Guard members will work here during the week and an additional 3,500 soldiers and airmen will drill here on weekends, Army Maj. Gen. Hunt B. Downer, Louisiana's assistant adjutant general, said. "The increase in personnel will have almost a $110 million impact on the economy in this area," he noted.

Some of the buildings will serve as new offices for the Joint Forces Headquarters and the historic 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment.

Most of the units that will relocate to Jackson Barracks currently work in other armories around the state.

"With the progress that we are making, I am confident that this project will be completed on time or maybe ahead of our deadline," said Ronald P. Dufore, a project superintendent for Gibbs Construction.

Though most of the buildings are standing tall, tasks such as the installation of sod, concrete walks and the buildings' interiors are being finalized.

"Since New Orleans is my hometown, it will be awesome to be closer to my family," said Army 1st Lt. Lance T. Cagnolatti, whose job was relocated to Carville, La., after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. "I cannot wait to see the impact that Jackson Barracks will have on the economy and the creation of new jobs."

Jackson Barracks is located in the Lower 9th Ward at the Orleans and St. Bernard Parish line and is the headquarters for Louisiana National Guard and the Louisiana Military Department.

The installation, which will include up-to-date multi-purpose readiness centers, has the largest collection of pre-Civil War buildings in the United States and was originally a supply and medical point for troops after the War of 1812.

Originally known as New Orleans Barracks, it was renamed in 1866 in honor of Andrew Jackson, who first advocated a U.S. military base in the area.

(Sgt. Michael L. Owens and Sgt. Beyonka D. Joseph serve in the Louisiana Army National Guard public affairs office.)

Disney, Army Resort Make Vacations More Affordable for Troops

By William Bradner
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 7, 2009 - A Disney vacation just got more affordable. With the "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" offer, active and retired U.S. military personnel, including active members of the United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reserves, can enjoy complimentary, multi-day admission into Disney's U.S. theme parks, and additional special ticket offers for family members and friends.

"For so many of the men and women who serve in our U.S. military, time together with their families is cause enough for celebration," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are grateful for their service and hope 'Disney's Armed Forces Salute' will allow our troops to create wonderful, magical memories with their family and friends."

Shades of Green, a resort hotel on Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., is open exclusively to servicemembers, retirees, defense civilians, and their families. It is a safe haven for military families whether they're reintegrating after an overseas deployment, having one last "family fling" before mom or dad deploys, or simply getting away for a weekend.

"If I suddenly break down and cry in a Holiday Inn, everyone's going to be looking at me funny," one guest recently explained. "Here, if it suddenly dawns on me he's leaving in a week and I start to cry, I've got 10 people asking how they can help and offering support."

The resort manager, Brian Japak, is a retired soldier, and his son has survived two roadside-bomb attacks while serving in Iraq.

"I have great empathy for the families that we serve here," he said.

Japak said the staff makes every effort to ensure the guests are pampered Disney style -- with just a touch of "home" through the tax-free Army and Air Force Exchange Service shoppette and a Mickey Mouse statue decked out in red, white and blue. Security at the hotel complies with standard base force protection regulations, ensuring the soldiers and families can sleep soundly and not worry about their personal safety.

Shades of Green is an Armed Forces Recreation Center hotel run by the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command based in Alexandria, Va. The command's mission is to provide soldiers and their families with the same quality of life they are sworn to protect. Rates are set on a sliding scale, based on rank, and with no shareholders to answer to or profits to be made, the rates are kept remarkably low.

At the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, from Jan. 4 to Dec. 23, each active or retired member of the U.S. military may obtain one free five-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" ticket with "Park Hopper" and water park options. The ticket is valid for five days of admission into the four Walt Disney World theme parks, plus a total of five visits to a choice of a Disney water park, DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park or certain other attractions.

During this offer period, active or retired U.S. military personnel also may make a one-time purchase up to five "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets – good for five days -- for $99 each, plus tax, for family members or friends. Although this ticket for family members and friends does not include either the Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More options, it can be upgraded to add either such option, or both, for an additional $25, plus tax, per option. All tickets and options are nontransferable and must be used by Dec. 23.

A similar offer is in place at Walt Disney Land in California. More information is available at installation ITT/ITR offices.

AFRCs offer four other world-class destinations for families, including Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany; Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, South Korea; the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu, and the Cape Henry Inn and Beach Club at Fort Storey, Va.

(William Bradner works at the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command's public affairs office.)