Military News

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Soldier Missing In Action From Korean War Is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Pfc. David Woodruff, U.S. Army, of Poplar Bluff, Mo. He will be buried on April 22 in St. Louis, Mo.

Representatives from the Army's Mortuary Office met with Woodruff's next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.

Woodruff was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. In early 1951, the 2nd ID was augmented by Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) forces and was occupying positions near Hoengsong, South Korea. On Feb. 11, the Chinese Army launched a massive attack on the U.S. line, overwhelming R.O.K. forces and exposing the American flank. The 2nd ID was forced to withdraw to the south and Woodruff was captured by enemy forces. He died in, or near, one of the North Korean prison camps in Suan County, North Hwanghae Province.

Between 1991-94, North Korea turned over to the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen. One box turned over in 1991 contained Woodruff's military identification tag, and a box turned over in 1992 contained remains recovered from Suan County.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of the remains turned over in 1992.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

Humanitarian Volunteers Help to Fuel Continuing Promise Partnership

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - Several dozen pallets stretched across a docking area here yesterday – a fraction of those waiting to be loaded onto trucks for distribution throughout Haiti -- providing a tangible symbol of evolving partnerships officials call key to Continuing Promise 2009's success. Navy Capt. Robert G. Lineberry Jr., commodore and tactical commander of the hospital ship USNS Comfort, presided at a ceremonial handover of more than 350 pallets of humanitarian support donated by international aid groups.

Comfort, making the first stop of its four-month humanitarian assistance mission through the region, transported the pallets of 1.4 million meals, medical supplies, blankets, baby wipes and hygiene supplies to Haiti from the United States.

After anchoring about three miles offshore in Port au Prince harbor April 9, Navy aircrews began ferrying the supplies ashore, sling-loading them from MH-60 Seahawks.

"It was a lot of work," conceded Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Basham, a Navy civil affairs practitioner who helped stage the pallets aboard ship, then offloaded them ashore. "But the feeling I have about this is really good. I met a lot of good people who I know they will do great things with it.

"After all," he said, "this is all part of enhancing the partnership of the Continuing Promise mission."

Lineberry praised the partnerships that not only made the deliveries possible, but also are bringing critical skills and support to the Continuing Promise mission.

"Over the last two days, the team onboard Comfort has moved over 350 pallets here into Haiti," he told a group assembled under a tent to shade them from the hot mid-day sun. "Today, we take time to recognize our great partners who helped us all along the way to make this mission so valuable."

The first Continuing Promise mission, in 2007, included just "a handful" of nongovernmental organization representatives, Lineberry told American Forces Press Service.

"We've learned a lot in this mission and expanded our number of partners," he said. "We learned very quickly of the capability, the willingness and the resources that our partners have – and that they want to be out here with us."

So this Continuing Promise mission, the fourth through Latin America and the Caribbean during the past three years, includes representatives of nearly a dozen humanitarian groups.

They're people like Rob Voynow, a licensed practical nurse who said he jumped at the chance to participate, along with 13 other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "This is something that just doesn't come along every day," Voynow said. "It's a way to make an important contribution, bringing different types of expertise."

David Eddey, special projects manager for Project Hope, got his first exposure to the military when he served aboard USNS Mercy, Comfort's sister ship, providing disaster response and humanitarian relief following the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. "Since then, Project Hope has developed a wonderful working relationship with the military," he said.

Project Hope has 20 volunteers aboard Comfort, and will contribute a total of 97 volunteers before Continuing Promise wraps up in late July.

Eddey expressed pride in the mission's evolution during the past two years, particularly the increasing role of host-country nongovernmental organizations. "We're breaking down barriers and showing synergistically what it's possible for us to do together," he said. "We're working together to bring hope to people in need."

Together, these and other participating nongovernmental organizations have quadrupled donations to the mission since Continuing Promise 2007, noted Capt. Thomas J. Finger, a civilian Military Sealift Command boat captain and Comfort's master.

"What we're hoping is that these food and hygiene and medical supplies will, over time, improve the quality of life of the neediest Haitians," Finger said.

In addition, many of the humanitarian volunteers bring medical and dental skills to the mission, working alongside military and U.S. Public Health Service medical professionals aboard Comfort and at clinics ashore.

The partnership makes the most of strengths each participating entity brings to the effort, Lineberry said. This includes the military's extensive planning capabilities -- "an enormous resource" on USNS Comfort, he said.

The 250-bed floating hospital is equipped and staffed to provide just about any kind of medical treatment except open-heart surgery or organ transplants.

Nearly halfway into its 10-day visit to Haiti, its crew of medical professionals from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, international partners, U.S. Public Health Service and nongovernmental organizations is conducting 15 to 25 surgeries a day, according to Navy Capt. James J. Ware, who overseas Comfort medical operations.

Meanwhile, the staff is seeing about 500 patients a day at onshore medical sites set up through coordination with Haiti's health ministry, he said.

"We know we can't do everything today," Ware said at yesterday's ceremony. "But we will be back with our partners. We hope to bring additional international doctors and nurses, and all work together for the benefit of the people of Haiti."

Teamwork Brings Blend of Skills, Mutual Commitment to Continuing Promise

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - From a distance, the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Continuing Promise humanitarian assistance effort underway here looks every bit like a military mission. It's based around the massive hospital ship USNS Comfort, a supertanker-turned-Military Sealift Command hospital ship initially outfitted in the late 1980s to treat mass casualties. Three-quarters of its crew is military, mostly medical personnel.

But Navy Capt. Robert G. Lineberry Jr., Comfort's commodore and tactical commander, is quick to note that Continuing Promise is far more than a military mission.

"This is a combined team," he said of the vessel's 850-member crew. "It's joint. It's international. It's coalition. It's U.S. Public Health Service.

"In addition," Lineberry said, "we've teamed up with many international organizations to help one another do the things that we all want and need to do in the Americas."

This mix brings more capabilities to the four-month mission through Latin America and the Caribbean, participants say, than any of their groups could accomplish alone.

Meanwhile, Lineberry said, they're learning from one another so they're better prepared to work together if needed to respond to a natural disaster or other humanitarian crisis.

"One thing an operation like this does – because it's joint, multinational and interagency – is make you appreciate what other people are doing or trying to do," said Navy Capt. Tim Hardy, who oversees the medical clinic set up in Port au Prince's Cite Soleil district.
"It helps you realize that there is more than one way to do something."

"This is fabulous," said Dutch air force reserve Maj. Tom Visser, a doctor who volunteered for the mission. "We all do the same things, but in slightly different ways. But for all of us, it's about taking care of patients the best we can."

Canadian army Sgt. Robert Roy said he, too, welcomed the chance to apply his skills as a physician's assistant to help needy Haitians. "I volunteer for everything – especially the chance to participate in a humanitarian mission as big as this one," he said.

With 31 years in the Canadian army under his belt, Roy is no stranger to combined operations. He said he's seen steady improvement in how they're conducted after participating in combined missions in Bosnia, Africa and, most recently, Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Here during Continuing Promise 2009, Roy said, those lessons are being reinforced as joint, international, interagency and nongovernmental partners work together to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support for the Haitian people.

"This is a really great partnership," Roy said. "We're learning different techniques, combining them, and learning together as we work toward a common goal. And when we go home, we will take all this experience with us."

The learning process extends beyond the medical clinics and the USNS Comfort hospital ship. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Danny Nocon, for example, works alongside the Haitian police to provide crowd control at onshore medical sites.

"The Haitian local police do things a little differently," Nocon said. "The cultural exchange is the real value. What we are really learning is that we are different – but not really different. We all share common values."

French army Warrant Officer Galmaidie David, a nurse stationed in Martinique, called working side by side with partner nations' militaries particularly fulfilling, knowing that they are delivering care to people in the region who desperately need it.

Few aid groups have the organizational and logistical capabilities that the military can bring to carry out a mission of this scope, he said.

"It's wonderful to have this," he said of Continuing Promise. "The most important thing is that so many nations all want to work together and do something for these countries."

Mivoyel Jean Paul, a policy program analyst with the U.S. Public Health Service, said he's seen the same cooperative spirit both aboard ship and at medical clinics ashore. "What I notice is a willingness of everyone to help," he said. "We all have a common goal."

A native of Haiti, Jean Paul said he's been pleased – perhaps even a bit surprised – at the willingness of the Continuing Comfort leadership to listen to his suggestions, and often act on them.

"It impresses me," he said. "And it's a great thing, because with good leadership and cooperation, we can do anything."

Navy Snipers


Not Much to Add

Face of Defense: Marine Inspires Youth Through Football

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - While growing up in the inner city of St. Louis, Marine Corps Sgt. Timothy Craig had two choices: turn to sports or the streets. For Craig, football was the answer. He started playing at age 7, was very successful and pursued it throughout his youth.

During high school, Craig grew into a leader on the field, which kept him on the right path even while school presented its challenges.

"I struggled with school work," he admitted. "The only reason I went to high school was because of football."

Craig continued to struggle with school work throughout high school and beyond. After a year at Joplin Junior College in Joplin, Mo., his grades were not holding up, and Craig had to abandon his dream of playing college football. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004.

While serving in California with the Corps, Craig continued to play an active role in the football community, coaching a youth league at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and playing on the all-Marine team at Camp Pendleton. After arriving on Okinawa in 2007, he became a coach in the Kadena Youth Tackle Football League. After two seasons, the league was disbanded because there wasn't enough interest.

But Craig saw things differently.

"A lot of the kids were heartbroken," Craig said. "I thought it was upsetting that these kids had no outlet, and I thought something had to be done. These kids sacrifice enough being part of the military community, and I didn't think they should have to sacrifice football as well."

Seeing a need for a youth tackle football league, Craig decided to start up the Okinawa Youth Football League.

The league is straightforward. There are no contracts, trade deadlines, advertisements or concession stands. It is just 15 teams dedicated to football, pure and simple.
The entire league is funded by contributions from the players' parents, Craig said.

The league does not single out individual effort or award most valuable player trophies. Instead, coaches stress the importance of teamwork and how each player's contribution is important to the overall team. The players give their all, not for money, but only for the love of the game. They play through fatigue not for fame, but simply to learn the game of football, Craig said.

"The league teaches humility," he said. "Players learn the difference between winning and losing, they learn the definition of teamwork, and they learn about their individual character. But, as coaches, we remind them that it's not about winning and losing, it's about learning fundamentals and having fun."

Craig said the most important thing about the league is the academic performance a player must maintain to remain eligible to play. Coaches monitor grades, and players must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and proper attendance records.

"The league is built on the very principle that kept me from pursuing my dreams," Craig said. "I want these kids to realize that although sports are significant, the most important aspect is education"

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough serves with Marine Corps Bases Japan.)

Group Joins Branson, Mo., in Saluting Purple Heart Veterans

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - The Military Order of the Purple Heart, a Virginia-based troop-support group, will join the city of Branson, Mo., April 24 and 25 in a special "Hand in Hand" weekend honoring Purple Heart veterans across the country. The weekend will feature a wide variety of entertainment and sporting events designed specifically for wounded combat veterans, with free admission to all events.

"I want the general public, youth and all veterans to have the opportunity to learn more about the sacrifices that our veterans have made," Marlyce Stockinger, director of advertising and public relations for Branson.com, said. "They still continue to be a very vital part of our communities. I think this is a very important event. I am hoping that as they gather together, they will be able to chat and grow with each other's help."

The event, sponsored by Branson.com and the Branson Tourism Center, is expected to draw a huge gathering of wounded warriors from across the country.

"Our 45,000 members are all aware of this wonderful tribute," John E. Bircher III, director of public relations for Military Order of the Purple Heart, said. "We appreciate any event that honors the patriotic service of wounded warriors. In this case, the city of Branson has planned a wonderful weekend of free entertainment and events for not only Purple Heart recipients, but for all veterans."

Registration for this "Hand in Hand" weekend will be held the morning of April 24. Registration is required for the April 25 fishing tournament, admission to all planned events and discounts at local merchants.

After registration, the opening ceremony will take place, including music and comedy entertainment. Army Col. (Dr.) Hemant Thakur, an expert on post-traumatic stress disorder, will participate as a guest speaker. Military Order of the Purple Heart Vice Commander Clayton Jones and Missouri officials also will take part in the opening ceremonies.

On April 25, a drawing will be held for participation in the fishing tournament. Also, Purple Heart recipients and a guest may attend the Missouri Wine Festival and watch Purple Heart parachutist Dallas Wittgenfeld free fall and land using the world's largest American flag parachute at Chateau on the Lake.

Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Tony Rose, a 9/11 Pentagon survivor, will conclude events with remarks at the Purple Mountain Majesty Twilight Ceremony.

Events for the "Hand in Hand" weekend were planned by Branson.com, with the help of several local Purple Heart veterans.

"They wanted substance, as well as fun, so that is how I choose the programming," Stockinger said. "I knew PTSD was a major issue, and I have great respect for the National Military Order of Purple Heart and how they reach out to veterans. The fishing trip was because of the healing that I kept hearing about that occurs when veterans have the opportunity to fish or be on the water. The entertainment shows are for fun and laughter."