Military News

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Naval Historian Highlights Significance of World War II Battle

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - The U.S. Navy learned significant lessons during a pivotal World War II engagement, an award-winning historian told online journalists and bloggers last week during a conference call commemorating the battle's 67th anniversary. ”Operationally, ... the lesson was we needed more carriers," Robert J. Cressman said. "We were literally fighting a catch-up war, because the Japanese had more carriers than we did."

Also among the lessons learned, Cressman said, was the need to provide more protection for strike groups.

"Tactically, I think one of the things we learned at Midway was the whole business of defending our various strike groups," he said, "because we had just too few fighters. And so not only did we need more aircraft carriers, but we needed more fighters on those decks to [protect] our attack groups."

Regarded as the turning point in the Pacific during World War II, the Battle of Midway took place June 4-7, 1942. An important marker in the nation's naval heritage, the battle changed the course of the war in the Pacific within just a few days. It came a month after the Battle of Coral Sea, the war's first engagement between carrier forces.

"In terms of employing carrier air groups, the U.S. Navy was much more flexible than the Japanese," Cressman said. "Had the Japanese had that flexibility after Coral Sea, they might have taken the air group off of the Shokaku and parked it on the Zuikaku for the operations, giving them one more carrier."

However, he added, the Japanese didn't practice that tactic. "Whereas the Americans were able to put together an air group, literally at the last minute, to put on board Yorktown, that enabled her to participate in the Battle of Midway."

Though the U.S. Navy was able to put together an air group, coordination and communication were the two biggest lessons learned from the battle, Cressman said. The U.S. aircraft carriers Hornet, Enterprise and Yorktown all were supposed to have coordinated cover, he explained, but only Yorktown's group had fighter cover that worked by trying to keep the Japanese fighters off the torpedo planes.

"The way things worked out, the Hornet fighters ended up getting lost and flying to nowhere," he said. "The Enterprise fighters ended up following the Hornet torpedo planes. There was a great need shown at Midway for much better communication in terms of letting people know where they were and what they needed to do. That was one of the big lessons."

Cressman said fate played a hand for Navy Lt. Cmdr. C. Wade McClusky to spot the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Arashi. At that time, he said, a U.S. submarine, the Nautilus -- the slowest, least maneuverable, noisiest boat in the Pacific Fleet -- had intercepted the Japanese fleet.

"They ... popped up right in the middle of it," he said. "And they caused all kinds of consternation because, you know, a submarine periscope in the middle of a force of carriers is not something you want to see. And so the Japanese were really busy trying to drive off this sub."

At the time of the interception, Arashi was detached from the Japanese fleet to either sink or drive off Nautilus.

"And once they figured they'd done the job -- which of course, they hadn't, because Nautilus was still very much alive -- they set course to return to the Kido Butai, the carrier task force, at top speed," Cressman said. "And of course, when a ship is moving across the ocean at top speed, it tends to leave a pretty good wake behind her. And that was what McClusky spotted, was the wake from the Arashi."

Cressman added that the training, the courage and the dedication to duty of the men who fought on both sides in the Battle of Midway made it a battle worth commemorating.

"I think it's a triumph of training, of courage on our side, and you know, there was certainly an equal amount of courage and bravery on the other side as well," he said. "I mean, when you're flying a torpedo plane, you have to fly basically low and on a steady course so you don't deviate to miss your target. And both the Japanese and the American torpedo pilots were extremely brave and courageous in carrying out their jobs."

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Gates Travels to Europe for NATO Discussions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will depart for NATO meetings in the Netherlands and Belgium this evening. Operations in Afghanistan will top the discussions in Maastricht, while the focus in Brussels will include other issues of interest to NATO, such as Russia, missile defense, Kosovo and Georgia, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

"They will discuss a range of organizational and security issues confronting the alliance," he said during a news conference. "But as you might expect, the NATO operations in Afghanistan will likely dominate their discussions."

The secretary will first visit Maastricht, where Dutch leaders will host a meeting of defense ministers with troops in Afghanistan's Regional Command South. The secretary will then move to the quarterly NATO defense ministers conference at the alliance headquarters in Brussels.

About 56,000 U.S. servicemembers are in Afghanistan, with the number projected to grow to 68,000 by the end of the year. The 33,000 NATO and allied troops in the nation is to grow to 35,000.

Most of the U.S. forces going into the country are moving in to Regional Command South. Marine units already have started operations in the region, even as more flow in – a thousand Marines are arriving this week, Pentagon officials said. The 2nd Infantry Division's 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Regional Command South in July. Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team are to arrive in Afghanistan by the end of August to serve as trainers for the Afghan army and police.

Most of the fighting in Afghanistan is in regional commands South and East. Some 80 percent of the attacks are in 15 percent of the districts. Some of the increase is because coalition and Afghan forces are operating in areas where they had never been before, especially in Regional Command South, Defense Department officials said.

Deaths of noncombatants are a particular sore point in Afghanistan. But in 2009, civilian deaths are down 27 percent from this time last year. At the same time, deaths of U.S. and NATO International Security Assistance Force personnel are up 27 percent, and deaths of Afghan security forces are up a third over last year.

NORAD Flight Exercises Planned for Washington Area

American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - The Defense Department will conduct two training exercises involving aircraft here tomorrow. The first exercise by the North American Aerospace Defense Command and its regional component will occur between midnight and 6 a.m. EDT, followed by another exercise between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The exercises comprise a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Command Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and CONR's Northeast Air Defense Sector.

Both the early morning exercise Falcon Virgo and the daytime Amalgam Arrow are designed to hone NORAD's intercept and identification operations, as well as procedural tests of the NCR Visual Warning System, officials said.

Exercise Falcon Virgo will include two Civil Air Patrol Cessna aircraft, two Air Force F-16s and a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter. Residents may see these aircraft approaching and flying in the vicinity during the late-night and early morning hours.

Aircraft participating in Exercise Amalgam Arrow include a C-21 Lear 35, a C-172 Cessna and an Air Force F-16. Residents may also see these aircraft approaching and flying in the vicinity of the nation's capital.

Gates, Mullen: Proposed Budget Balances Current, Future Requirements

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - The fiscal 2010 defense budget request is a "reform budget" that builds on lessons learned on the battlefield to shape the military to confront other potential threats around the world, now and in the future, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told Congress today. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee the proposed budget focuses on three basic priorities:

-- Reaffirming support to the all-volunteer force, which Gates called "America's greatest strategic asset";

-- Rebalancing defense programs to fight and win the current and future engagements while providing a hedge against other contingencies; and

-- Overhauling procurement, acquisition and contracting systems to reform how and what the department buys.

"This budget is less about numbers than it is about how the military thinks about the nature of war and prepares for the future, about how we take care of our people and institutionalize support for the warfighter in the long term," Gates said.

It's also, he said, "about the role of the services and how we can buy weapons as jointly as we fight, [and] about reforming our requirements and acquisition processes."

Gates told the committee he took what he heard from troops on the ground to heart in hammering out the request. He called the straightforward reports he got from these troops "the greatest single source for ideas" on what the department needs to do operationally, as well as institutionally.

"As I told a group of soldiers in Afghanistan, they have done their job. Now it is time for us in Washington to do ours," he said. "In many respects, this budget builds on all the meetings I have had with troops and commanders, and everything that I have learned over the past two and a half years, all underpinning this budget's three principal objectives."

Mullen noted that more than one-third of the budget is devoted to what he called "the people account" that addresses the needs of "our top strategic priority."

"The best way to guarantee our future security is to support our troops and their families," he said. He lauded provisions of the request that support health care, housing, advanced education and other measures that will enhance recruiting and retention.
Meanwhile, Gates said the budget aims to ensure the sustainability of defense programs – eliminating waste and "requirements creep" while terminating some programs and bringing costs down in others. It also helps to posture the military for the wars it's most likely to fight in the future, he added, while funding modernization programs to sustain advances for those potential future conflicts.

"Decisions to curtail or eliminate a program were based solely on its relevance and on its execution," Mullen said. "The same can be said for those we decided to keep. If we are what we buy, I believe the force we are asking you to help us buy today is the right one, both for the world we are living in and the world we may find ourselves living in 20 to 30 years down the road."

Mullen said the request provides the proper balance between conventional and unconventional capabilities.

"The work of defending this nation does not fit nicely into any one bucket. It spans the entire spectrum of conflict," he told the committee. "We must be ready to deter and win all wars, big and small, near and far. With this budget submission, the nation is getting the military it needs for that challenge. It's getting a strategy for the future."

In the meantime, the admiral said, the budget applies lessons learned on the battlefield, and institutionally at the Pentagon, to win the current conflicts.

"The responsibility of this department first and foremost is to fight and win the nation's wars, not just prepare for them," he said. "We have to do better."

Gates urged the committee to look at the budget as a whole rather than zeroing in on individual line items that don't reflect the big-picture objectives they support. He cautioned the panel against padding the budget in the wrong areas.

"A dollar spent for capabilities excess to our real needs is a dollar taken from capability we do need – often to sustain our men and women in combat and bring them home safely," he said.

Gates Expresses Confidence in U.S. Missile Defenses

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - Amid speculation that North Korea could be preparing for another missile test, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told Congress today he's confident the United States has the missile defenses in place to defend itself, if necessary. "I have confidence that if North Korea launched a long-range missile in the direction of the United States, that we would have a high probability of being able to fend ourselves against it," he told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

Gates told the panel about his visit last week to Fort Greely, Alaska, one of two U.S. sites where ground-based interceptors are based.

"The judgment and the advice that I got was that the 30 silos that we have now, or are under construction, are fully adequate to protect us against a North Korean threat for a number of years," he said. It would be easy to resume the program and expand the number of silos in the event that the threat evolves to the point that those defenses seem insufficient, he added.

"If the circumstances should change in a way that leads people to believe that we need more interceptors than the 30, then there's plenty of room at Fort Greely to expand," the secretary said.

Gates called the Fort Greely system "immensely capable," but emphasized that it remains a developmental system.
The proposed fiscal 2010 budget provides robust funding to further develop and test the interceptors at Fort Greely and at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., he noted.

"As new interceptors with new capabilities that are more sophisticated are developed, we will put those into the silos and take the old interceptors out," he said. "This is not a static system," he said, "but something that is undergoing continuing improvement."


ITT Corp., Fort Wayne, Ind., was awarded on Jun. 4, 2009 a $363,120,648 24-month-base-firm-fixed-price contract for a single channel ground Airborne Radio System Baseline Systems Control, system enhancements and logistics support to ITT. The base year quantities are 58,000 receiver transmitters, 34,800 VAA/INCs and 34,800 radio frequency amps. Work is to be performed in Fort Wayne, Ind., with an estimated completion date of Jun. 04, 2011. Bids were solicited on IBOP with two bids received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-09-C-J002).

Raytheon Missile System Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded on Jun. 5, 2009 a $14,489,999 firm-fixed-price with cost-plus-fixed-fee line items contract for Griffin A & B munitions and engineering services. Work is to be performed in Tucson, Ariz., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2010. One bid solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation and Missile Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-09-C-0517).

The Osborne Co., Inc.., Eden, N.C., was awarded on Jun. 5, 2009 a $ 9,435,634 firm-fixed-price contract that includes the design site preparation and construction of a training support center and a covered storage shed. Supporting facilities include, but are not limited to, utilities, electrical service, exterior and security lighting, fire protection and alarm systems, security fencing and gates, water, gas, sewer, oil water separates, storm drainage and site improvements. Accessibility for individuals with disabilities will be provided. Antiterrorism/Force Protection measures shall also be included in the facility design in accordance with applicable criteria. Air Conditioning (estimated 90 Tons). Work is to be performed in Fort Bragg, N.C., with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2010. Six proposals solicited with five proposals received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Savannah, Ga., is the contracting activity (W912HN-09-D-0015).

Argon ST, Inc., Mountain View, Calif., was awarded on Jun. 4, 2009 a $ 8,287,604 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the research and development services, supplies and material for thirty-six (36) months to perform the technical on-site inspection/Wildcat Technology Enabler Phase 3.4 effort. Work is to be performed in Mountain View, Calif., with an estimated completion date of June 04, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with two bids received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-09-C-P010).

Rohn Products International, LC, Atlas Financial Holdings, Inc., Maitland, Fla., was awarded on Jun. 04, 2009 a $ 6,243,280 firm-fixed-price contract for 10M quick erect towers- 20 each, 20M quick erect towers-20 each, 45M self tower-25 each and 75M self tower support tower-15 each. Work is to be performed in Maitland, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Apr. 20, 2010. One sole source bid was solicited with one bid received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-09-C-D250).

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $56,368,520 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-5401) for the production of 90 Block 1 MK-44 Mod 2 rolling airframe missile (RAM) guided missile round pack (GMRP) all-up-rounds (AURs), and 40 ordnance alteration kits. The RAM guided missile weapon system is co-developed and co-produced under a NATO cooperative program between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. RAM is a missile system designed to provide anti-ship missile defense for multiple ship platforms. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this modification to $118,045,720. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., (49.7 percent); Ottobrunn, Germany, (42.7 percent); Rocket City, W.Va., (4.5 percent); and Andover, Mass., (3.1 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2011. Contract modification funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea System Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Alion Science and Technology Corp., Washington, D.C., is being awarded an $8,622,204 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-F-B008) for support to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program office. The support areas relevant to the LCS for this effort include program planning and management, business and financial management planning and execution, systems engineering, test and evaluation engineering, life cycle engineering and support, logistics and operation support, configuration and data management engineering, and combat systems development. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

The Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price contract with Lockheed Martin Corp., of Marietta, Ga., for $38,365,541. The contract modification is to definitized several Undefinitized Contract Actions, recognize offsets costs, and add additional requirements pertaining to the Norway Foreign Military Sales program for aircraft support. At this time, $44,012,920 has been obligated. USAF/AFMC, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8625-06-C-6456, P00078).

The Air Force is modigying a cost-plus fixed/award fee contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., of Sunnyvale, Calif., for $10,022,512. This contract action will provide sustainment support for the Mission Control Segment hardware maintenance, Mission Control Segment software and database maintencance, systems engineering integration and test and Mission Control Segment technical manual services. At this time, $9,036,221 has been obligated. SMC SLG/PKM, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., is the contracting activity (FA8823-06-C-0002, P00043).

Wounded Recruiting Office Shooting Victim Praises Army for Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - A soldier wounded last week during an attack at a recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark., that claimed a fellow soldier's life expressed no bitterness today at his attacker, and said the incident has done nothing to dampen his desire to serve in the Army. Army Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, spoke publicly about the incident for the first time since he was gunned down outside an Army recruiting office June 1. He is recovering from gunshot wounds to his neck, back and buttocks.

Army Pvt. William Long, 23, was killed in the attack. He was buried yesterday at Camp Robinson, Ark.

Abdulhakim Muhammad, the alleged shooter, was arrested shortly after the attack. He faces charges of capital murder and committing a terroristic act.

President Barack Obama released a statement shortly after the incident. "I am deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence against two brave young soldiers who were doing their part to strengthen our armed forces and keep our country safe," he said. "I would like to wish Quinton Ezeagwula a speedy recovery, and to offer my condolences and prayers to William Long's family as they mourn the loss of their son."

Asked by a reporter today about his recovery, the understated Ezeagwula stated simply, "I'm doing fine, sir."
Ezeaguwula said he joined the military because he "wanted to be able to help my family out," and thought the Army sounded like a good way to do so.

"I actually learned to love the Army," he told reporters today.

Ezeaguwula expressed thanks about the Army's support since the incident. "I really appreciate what they have done for my family and for Private Long's family," he said.

His mother, who joined him at the news conference, echoed her son's thanks and said the experience reaffirmed her confidence that the Army will look out for him.

"I really would like to commend the Army for everything they have done for us," said his mother, who was not identified by name. She said the support Army caregivers have provided her son makes her feel "very secure about my son being in their care."

"I couldn't ask for a better person than God himself," she said. The soldier's mother added that she's happy her son wants to continue his Army service.

"I feel very good about him staying in the Army and wanting to represent the United States," she said. "I think that's a wonderful thing."

She said she hopes the incident sends a message that the United States "is going to step up to the plate and take whatever necessary steps need to be taken to protect Americans."

"You just can't [launch an attack] like that and think it's OK," she said.

Still, she said, she harbors "no ill feelings" toward her son's attacker.

"I just pray that justice be served," she said, adding that she hopes the outcome will "be fair."

Ezeagwula and Long recently completed basic training and infantry training and were serving a temporary recruiting assignment before moving on to their first assignments. Once he recovers, Ezeagwula will continue to his assignment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Mullen Covers Range of Issues in Latest Podcast

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and military health care are among the topics the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff talks about in his latest podcast. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen's podcasts are available on the Pentagon Channel's Web site,

In a podcast recorded today, Mullen said North Korea's nuclear weapon ambitions could lead to instability. He called the country's alleged test of a nuclear weapon two weeks ago "another example of the belligerence and the ability of North Korea to destabilize the region."

"From the military perspective, certainly we've got a significant capability in the region," he said, "and our readiness levels are such that it is balanced against the overall requirements there as we watch North Korea." But he added that diplomacy is the right approach for now. "And that path is the one that everyone's on," he said, referring to the United States, the United Nations and a host of American allies.

On Afghanistan, Mullen said Afghan civilians are the "center of gravity" in the counterinsurgency mission there, adding that each civilian casualty "sets us back." Asked if the United States is planning to change its procedures in response to civilian casualties, Mulled warned against constraining military forces.

"I think we can't tie our men and women's hands behind their backs," he said. "But we've got to, from a leadership standpoint, continue to focus on this, make sure we understand the circumstances we're getting into in the fight, ... and absolutely minimize the potential that action could result in civilian casualties."

Mullen cited a rise in insurgent violence levels in Afghanistan over the past three years, saying that enemy fighters have grown more effective with the aid of safe havens.

"Equally important is the Taliban's growing allegiance, growing connection to al-Qaida," he added. "That combination ... is a very dangerous one. I am increasingly concerned with the trends."

The additional U.S. forces deploying to the country are critical to reversing enemy gains, the chairman said.

"Over the next 12 to 18 months, we've got to turn the tide to the point where the violence level starts to be reduced and we achieve better security for the Afghan people," he said.

Mullen remarked on the importance of linking U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan under President Barack Obama's new strategy.

"They are two very distinct sovereign countries, but they really are linked together, and the strategy focuses on defeating al-Qaida, whose headquarters and many members reside in the safe haven in Pakistan," he said. "So our engagement with Pakistan remains critical."

Mullen added that steps taken by the Pakistani army in recent weeks to clear out insurgents in the Northwest Province has had significant impact. The clashing has taken enemy fighters off the battlefield and improved Pakistan and, in turn, Afghanistan, he said.

Speaking about the health of the U.S. armed forces, Mullen described the current American military as the best he's ever served with. He added that multiple and lengthy deployments likely factor into the post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries manifesting in many troops returning home.

"They have sacrificed greatly, they've done what we've asked them to do as a country, and the American people have been exceptional in supporting them," Mullen said.

"I believe that in this country there is a sea of good that would reach out and touch and take care of these members and their families, and do it in a way that ensures they have a great life in front of them," he said. "With what we've asked them to do and their sacrifices, I think it's a debt that we as a country have to pay."

The chairman emphasized the need for the Defense Department, the Veterans Affairs Department and local communities to work together to coordinate support.

Face of Defense: Father of Seven Returns to Active Duty

By Army Pfc. Charles Wolfe
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2009 - Army Spc. Jonathan Goodwin is a lot of different things: husband, father of seven children, jokester, and the kind of person who can light up a room with his sense of humor. But before he was any of these things, he became a soldier, signing up for his first enlistment in May 1992. The decision to serve wasn't a hard one for Goodwin. At the time, he was an aspiring chemical engineering major, studying in his native state at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University. He had a small apartment, three roommates and a full-time job. However, the costs of education and housing outstretched Goodwin's meager salary, and eventually hunger began to set in.

"I looked in the refrigerator one day, and we didn't have anything but ice and eggs. I didn't know how we were going to make it," Goodwin said.

Then, fate made a timely intervention. An Army recruiter was visiting residents of Goodwin's apartment complex. When he saw the young student sitting outside his door, he made an offer Goodwin couldn't refuse.

"He said he would take me out to eat if I just listened to him about joining the military," Goodwin said. "Everything he said to me seemed to make sense."

One dinner later, Goodwin joined the Army's ranks as a supply specialist. The decision to serve wasn't made on the hope of one meal; Goodwin recently had welcomed his first child, and he knew the military could help to provide stability for his new family.

"I knew it was going to be a struggle to work, go to school and raise my child," Goodwin said. "It made sense to help my family."

As the years passed, Goodwin's family grew, and with time was able to sustain itself without his military paycheck. Goodwin ended his first tenure with the Army to return to life as a private citizen.

However, six children and 13 years after being sworn in, fate found Goodwin again, calling him back to duty a second time.

"My brother, a Marine colonel, died in Iraq in 2005," Goodwin said. "That was my main motivation for ending my break in service and returning to the Army."

That same year, Goodwin served his first deployment in the same country where his brother died. In Afghanistan now on his second combat tour, Goodwin has a large responsibility. As the supply specialist for his battalion, Goodwin is in charge of maintaining accountability for a large amount of crucial and sensitive equipment.

With seven children and a wife back home, Goodwin has much to account for, both on and off the battlefield.

"I have a large family," he said.

With seven children between the ages of 6 and 15, the Goodwins are more than double the size of most families.

"They love me and I love them," Goodwin said. "I'm the king of my castle, and everyone loves the king."

Spending a second year away from his wife and children would seem difficult, he said, but his family makes for a very large, encouraging support group.

"The kids are all very proud to have a dad in the Army," Goodwin said. "They're proud of me, and I'm proud of them. I'm really happy with the way they handle things back at home while I'm gone."

All seven of Goodwin's children made their schools' honor rolls this year. Their efforts in the classroom seem to inspire Goodwin to return to his schooling as well.

"I still really want to get that degree," he said.

(Army Pfc. Charles Wolfe serves in the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

Balding Boomers, Eat your Hearts Out

The deification in recent years of the World War Two generation has been an interesting phenomenon. One supposes it began in the late 90's, with the twin vehicles of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation, and the release of Saving Private Ryan.

I was born in 1973. When I was a kid every one's grandfather had been in 'the war'. My mother's father fought in Europe with an anti-aircraft unit, while my father's father spent most of the war in Louisiana, where he met my grandmother. In the spring of 1945, he joined a medical unit that would have gone ashore with the first wave in the invasion of Japan. My grandmother's brother was an old horse soldier, teaching riding to generals daughters at Ft. Knox. For some reason (feel free to speculate) he ended up in the 5307th, better known as Merrill's Marauders.

You could learn the history of World War Two just by watching movies on the local channel's, we've all seen 'em a hundred times. That war seemed close, and intimate. The fact that you knew people who fought in the war seemed unremarkable.

If some one's father had been in Vietnam, wow that was something. Though there were a few here and there.

Of course, growing up in the 70's and 80's also meant you were subjected to what, for some of us, became known as the Dreaded Nine Words, 'Did I ever tell you kids about the 60's?' In fact, so prevalent was the boomer nostalgia movement that one almost got the sense that you were actually growing up in the 50's. A yearly feature of my high school was 50's and 60's day.

Generation X, raised on guaranteed nuclear annihilation, the AIDS crises, environmental doom, child abductions, poisoned Halloween candy, date rape, and the drug war looked back at the 50's and saw a utopia. You could walk down the street at night, by yourself even.

The music was alright, and tye dye t-shirts sure do look nice across coed busts, but was the country really so bad off that it required everything the Vietnam generation put us through? Anyone thinking the 60's did the nation much good ought to compare and contrast the 1965 New York blackout with the 1977 version, and then again with the 2003 event.

In his book about the 1970's David Frum writes, 'The millions of Americans born since 1970 seem to have collectively decided that the Boomers are absolutely the most boring generation of old fogies ever to have inflicted their reminiscences on the young.' he later concludes, 'Who would not be prouder of having fought through the mud of Guadalcanal than having fornicated in the mid at Woodstock?'
This is exactly right. Young people actually do like hearing about when their parents and grandparents were kids, just not all the time, they have to ask first. The information should never be volunteered. 'Grandma, did girl's where short skirts to dances?' is a far better way to connect than an unsolicited, 'Why, back in my day...'

When describing the young soldiers of Operation Desert Storm, PJ O'Rourke, himself a product of the 60's wrote, 'These are the Reagan kids. This generation took one look at the 60's and said give me a haircut and a job.'

For more about Will, visit His novel, 'A Line Through the Desert' can be purchased here.