Military News

Monday, May 31, 2010

Live Lives Worthy of Fallen Warriors' Sacrifices

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2010 - President Barack Obama called on the nation during a Memorial Day address at Joint Base Andrews, Md., to honor the legacy of its fallen warriors and to live lives worthy of their sacrifices.

"At its core, the nobility and majesty of Memorial Day can be found in the story of ordinary Americans who became extraordinary for the most simple of reasons: they loved their country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their very lives to keep it safe and free," Obama told an assembly of several dozen servicemembers today after landing in Washington from a weekend in Chicago.

He initially had been slated to deliver his address at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois, but torrential rains and lightning cancelled that event. Instead, he visited wounded veterans and their families receiving care at the Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital near Chicago.

Obama noted during his address at Andrews tonight the fallen warriors' shared belief in their country throughout its history, and willingness to sacrifice lives of comfort, and ultimately, life itself, to protect its ideals.

"They answered their country's call. They stepped forward. They raised their hand. They took an oath," he said.

As they served their country in uniform throughout its history, they left their loved ones when duty called. In doing so, they liberated countries, ended the Holocaust, rid towns of insurgents and saved villages from the terror of violent extremists, he noted.

They fought for freedom and the flag, the president said. But they also fought for each other, to bring their buddies home and keep their families safe. "And that is what they did, to their last breath," he said.

"This is what we honor today — the lives they led, the service they rendered, the sacrifice they made -- for us," he said.

"In this time of war, we pay special tribute to the thousands of Americans who have given their lives during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and who have earned their place among the greatest of generations," he said. "And though our hearts ache in their absence, we find comfort in knowing that their legacy shines bright in the people they loved: America's Gold Star families."

The legacy of America's fallen lives on, the president said.

It lives through their parents who instilled the values and virtues that led them to service. It lives through their spouses who gave the nation the person they cherished most. It lives through their children, whose parents gave their lives so they could live theirs. And it lives through those who fought alongside them – veterans and troops still serving in harm's way.

"Just as you keep alive the memory of your fallen friends, America must keep its commitments to you," Obama told the servicemembers. "That means providing the support our troops and families need, and the health care and benefits our veterans deserve. This is our sacred trust to all who serve, and upholding that trust is our moral obligation."

Obama called on all Americans to live lives worthy of the sacrifices its fallen heroes have made, and that the country's men and women in uniform continue to make every day.

"The legacy of these fallen heroes lives on in each of us," he said. "The security that lets us live in peace, the prosperity that allows us to pursue our dreams, the freedoms that we cherish — these were earned by the blood and sacrifice of patriots who went before.

"Now it falls to us to preserve this inheritance for all who follow."

Memorial Day Observed at NMCP Cemetery

By Rebecca A. Perron, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Medical Center Portsmouth held its 24th annual Memorial Day observance May 31 in the historic Captain Theodore H. Conaway Memorial Naval Cemetery, where more than 850 Soldiers, Sailors and Marines are interred. A light breeze fluttered the flags that Boy Scouts had placed at each grave site, identifying the home nation of the person laid to rest.

The ceremony was conducted and co-sponsored by the Tidewater Area Council of the Fleet Reserve Association and Ladies Auxiliary.

Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks, NMCP commander, welcomed the guests to the ceremony and officially unveiled a new grave marker for a Medal of Honor recipient. In late 2009, the Medal of Honor Society determined that Seaman Hendrick Sharp, who died in 1892, had received the MOH for his participation in the Battle of Mobile Bay on board USS Richmond in 1864. The MOHS commissioned a new grave marker that was installed recently to recognize Sharp for his actions.

Stocks read from Sharp's MOH certificate, saying that he "fought his gun with skill and courage throughout a furious two-hour battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of the batteries at Fort Morgan." Not much else is known about Sharp, other than that he was born in Spain in 1815, claimed New York as his home and died in 1892.

In addition to the four known MOH recipients, the MOHS believes that as many as 13 others buried in the cemetery received the award, and the society is searching naval records to confirm.

The ceremony's featured speaker was Capt. Sean Mahoney, Incident Management branch chief for the Coast Guard's 5th District. Mahoney recognized the sacrifice of service members across the generations who paid the ultimate price and told the stories of three Coast Guard members killed in action during three different wars.

"When I speak about these three heroes," Mahoney said, "I hope you will reflect on all of the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen from all of the services who didn't make it home."

Mahoney told about the heroic actions of Petty Officer Douglas Munro, who served as a landing craft operator on Guadalcanal during World War II, helicopter pilot Lt. Jack Rittichier, who flew rescue missions in Vietnam, and Petty Officer Nathan Bruckenthal, who served with one of the Coast Guard's Tactical Law Enforcement Teams in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As he concluded his remarks, Mahoney said, "The nature of the threats to liberty and our nation have changed throughout our history, but our service members across the generations have always risen to the challenge of defending our nation."

At the end of the ceremony, William and Carolyn Combs of the Fleet Reserve Association and the Ladies Auxiliary placed a wreath on the cairn surmounted by a stone pillar and urn honoring the men lost during the Hampton Roads' battle between USS Cumberland, USS Congress and the ironclad CSS Virginia's maiden voyage.

The cemetery is the final resting place of those who served bravely during our nation's major conflicts and wars, including more than 850 fallen Soldiers, Sailors and Marines from seven countries, as well as Union and Confederate service members. Also laid to rest are victims of the yellow fever epidemic that swept Hampton Roads in 1855.

Obama Visits Troops at New Fisher House

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2010 - President Barack Obama visited gravestones at the Lincoln Cemetery near Chicago today, but when torrential rains cancelled his prepared Memorial Day remarks, paid a stop at a newly opened Fisher House.

The president laid a wreath and bowed his head in silence at the historic cemetery, and had just stepped to the podium to deliver his speech as driving rain turned to lightning and officials called off the event.

The president had planned to present a speech calling veterans and servicemembers "living memorials" to their fallen comrades, and pledging that a grateful nation will provide them and their families the support they deserve, according to a transcript of the speech provided to reporters in advance.

He had planned to pay special tribute to those killed in the current wars, including 17 buried at the historic cemetery near Chicago. Their legacy, he had planned to say, lives on through their loved ones, their comrades and a nation that enjoys the freedoms for which they sacrificed.

Obama traveled from the cemetery to the newly dedicated Fisher House in Hines, Ill., where he met with servicemembers and veterans receiving medical care at the Edward Hines, Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital, as well as their families.

The Hines Fisher House is the first in Illinois and was officially dedicated May 28. It was donated to the VA by the Fisher House Foundation as a home away from home for families of veterans and military members receiving treatment at the VA hospital.

Obama donated $250,000 of the Nobel Peace Prize award he received in March to the Fisher House Foundation.

Leaders Salute Fallen Troops at Arlington National Cemetery

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2010 - Vice President Joe Biden today hailed the unselfish service and sacrifices of past and present generations of U.S. servicemembers during the annual Memorial Day observance held at Arlington National Cemetery.

"Collectively, the generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have served and sacrificed for us are the heart and soul, and I would say, spine, of this nation," Biden said. "And as a nation, we pause today to remember them; they gave their lives fulfilling their oath to this nation and to us.

"And in doing so," he continued, "they imparted a responsibility on us to recognize, to respect, to honor and to care for those who risked their lives so that we can live our lives."

Biden, the keynote speaker at the observance held in the cemetery's Memorial Amphitheater, was joined by Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The vice president previously laid a ceremonial wreath at the cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns, which contains the remains of unidentified soldiers from World War I, World War II and the Korean War. More than 300,000 people rest in peace at Arlington, including veterans from all of the nation's wars – from the American Revolution through Iraq and Afghanistan.

Biden said he'd met with a group of Gold Star Mothers at the White House earlier today. Gold Star Mothers is an organization of mothers who've lost a son or a daughter in military service to the country.

The Gold Star families "know all too well the price of their loved ones' patriotism," Biden said.

"None," he said, "should be asked to sacrifice that much."

Biden observed that many people in the amphitheater possibly were awaiting the return of loved ones deployed overseas in harm's way. Others, he added, may have waited in vain.

"To those who have lost a loved one in the service of our nation, I recall a famous headstone in Ireland," Biden said. "And the headstone reads as follows: 'Death Leaves a Heartache No One Can Heal; Love Leaves a Memory No One Can Steal.'

"No one can steal the memory from you," Biden continued. And the pain and heartache now felt by the survivors of departed military members, he said, eventually will "be replaced by the joyful memory of the son or daughter, husband, wife, father, mother that you loved so dearly, and lost."

Memorial Day "is a day in which sorrow mixes with incredible pride," Biden said. "We mourn those we've lost and we hold fast to their memories and we take pride – great pride – in the lives they've lived and the service they've provided."

American servicemembers who serve and sacrifice on far-flung battlefields are motivated by love – not hate, Biden said.

"Love is why we're here today," he said, "to show our love for the men and women who died showing their love for this great country and [to] honor their families who share that love even more deeply."

Biden wondered aloud what previous generations of U.S. servicemembers might think of today's world that's been made smaller - and sometimes more turbulent - by globalization.

"And as the world around us shrinks it means trouble halfway around the world can – and will – visit us, no matter how high our walls or how wide our oceans," Biden said. "Our men and women in uniform know full well that the promise and the peril of this time have never been greater; the threats to American security are more widespread, geographically, than ever before."

Current threats to America, Biden said, include the spread of weapons of mass destruction and dangerous disease, economic dislocations, a growing gap between the rich and poor, ethnic animosities in failed states and radical fundamentalism.

Today's generation of U.S. servicemen and women now "stands watch, protecting America's interests against all of these new threats," Biden said, "and it will take - and it has taken - equally great sacrifice as those who have gone before them."

America has lost 4,391 servicemembers in Operation Iraqi Freedom and during follow-on operations in Iraq, Biden said, and 1,074 troops have died in Operation Enduring Freedom and follow-on operations in Afghanistan.

These departed servicemembers "were the best of us; they were our blood ... and treasure," Biden said. American force of arms, he said, has protected America's freedoms and way of life since the nation was established. That will not change, he said.

And, as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, the U.S. government, Biden said, has "a sacred obligation to provide these warriors with everything they need to complete their mission, and everything they need – and I might add, deserve – when they come home."

Today's servicemembers, as were their predecessors, are "bright, educated and committed," Biden said. And the source of America's ultimate strength, he said, emanates from its values.

"In upholding our values, we're made stronger," Biden said, noting radical fundamentalists want "to change what we value, to change how we live our lives, to change what it means to be an American."

However, America is defended by "the finest military the world has ever produced - period," Biden said. And, America's servicemembers at rest at Arlington and elsewhere, he said, have fought and sacrificed for their fellow countrymen.

"They lived with integrity; they served nobly; they gave everything," Biden said. "They fought for what they believed in and maybe most importantly, they believed in something bigger than themselves.

"They believed in all of you, they believed in all of us and they believed in America," the vice president said. "So on this day, this solemn day, let us strive once again to be individuals in a nation worthy of that belief."

Lynn's and Mullen's remarks preceded Biden's.

"We gather today to honor our fallen in a sacred place," Lynn said. "Arlington Cemetery stands as one of our nation's greatest symbols of the sacrifices made for our freedom and our way of life. We have carried our fallen heroes to these fields for 146 years."

Arlington's "rows of marble headstones," Lynn continued, "are a testament to how one generation defends the next; to how our nation is built upon unimaginable heroism and sacrifice; and to how these sacrifices stretch from our forefathers to the present day."

Less visible at Arlington, he said, are the sacrifices made by the surviving loved ones of departed servicemembers.

"For every fallen hero laid to rest there is a mother and father who will not see their child through life's milestones," Lynn said. "For most, there is a spouse who must live without the spouse they chose. And for many there is a child who will not have a parent to guide them."

The sacrifices of war, Lynn said, ripple outward like water splashed by a stone. "So today we honor not only those who made the ultimate sacrifice; we honor all those who have shared the loss," he said.

Servicemembers who've fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan are laid to rest at Arlington in Section 60. The people buried there represent every race and creed, Lynn observed, noting the headstones bear symbols of several religions.

"Their graves are topped by the cross, the crescent moon and star, [and] the Star of David," he said.

Arlington's fallen servicemembers "reflect the more perfect union they died to defend," Lynn said. "In Arlington – like nowhere else – we can see freedom blossom and know its price."

Mullen echoed Lynn's sentiments.

"Every year since Civil War reconstruction Americans have set aside this day to pay tribute to service and to sacrifice," Mullen said. "No place, more than Arlington, reminds me of what we owe them and their families for what they have given to us."

Around the globe -- on the land, on the sea and in the sky -- generations of young Americans "have fought for each other, fought for their families and fought for us," the admiral said. "Now they peacefully rest in cemeteries, unmarked battlefield graves and in the deepest oceans around the world."

Each servicemember's gravesite "enshrines a unique story and we remember the sacrifice, the humanity and the service each name represents," the admiral said.

Mullen recalled that the famous World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle would often come upon letters from home, blank writing paper, photographs and other personal items belonging to servicemembers that were killed in action.

"I believe each story, each letter, each item they'd carried sends a powerful message," Mullen said. "It's not about how they died, but how they lived and what they cared for."

Times have changed, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are different than past conflicts, the admiral said, noting today's troops may carry fewer physical keepsakes than their forebears did.

"But they will always carry and cherish the love of their family, the respect of their fellow citizens and an abiding hope for a safe return," he said.

The admiral recalled what an Army corporal had written to his family in his final letter before he was killed in Afghanistan.

Mullen said the corporal wrote: "'Know that you all are the reason that I am here and to give my life for that is nothing to me.'"

At Arlington, "centuries guard the stories of those who gave their lives; those who willingly sacrificed all that they carry," Mullen said. "And such stories of courage, love and hope will be our continuous renewal, as grass comes through the freshly turned soil of Section 60.

"Our treasured keepsakes will be the lives we celebrate, every Memorial Day and every day of the year," the admiral said.

Mullen: Military Will Continue to Support Spill Effort

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2010 - The military will continue to support the effort to cap and mitigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but it does not have the technical expertise to take over the operation, the nation's top military officer said on the morning news shows today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also used the opportunity to ask Americans to remember the sacrifices of servicemembers throughout history and today in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to note the progress made in the two wars.

Mullen spoke the day after BP announced the latest effort to stop the leak – "Top Kill" – had failed. The Pentagon has looked at the capabilities the military can provide to the oil companies as they battle the spill, he said.

"There are some limits to the skills that we have to do this," Mullen said on CNN. "We've looked at the technical side of this enormously difficult challenge. The oil industry really has the technical expertise to go after this."

More than 1,000 National Guardsmen already have been called up to help with the spill. The military has provided booms to contain the oil, as well as some aircraft to spray dispersants and some communications capabilities. The Defense Department is clearly in support of the lead agency, the chairman said.

"This is a very difficult problem, and from all I've been able to discern having industry be the technical lead is important," he said on "Good Morning America." "The military doesn't have the capability that could immediately get to eliminating or stopping this leak."

The oil companies have the kind of technology that potentially could get at this leak. The failures speak to the difficulties of the process, Mullen noted.

The Defense Department may provide more personnel for the effort, if called upon, the chairman said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has authorized several thousand more National Guard troops who would be called up by state governors.

"From my understanding there is a great deal of civilian manpower available," Mullen said. "If we are called on we will continue to contribute [personnel]."

Turning to Iraq and Afghanistan, Mullen said American servicemembers have made significant progress in the two wars.

In Iraq, the number of troops is due to fall to about 50,000 by the end of August.

"There are certainly challenges politically in Iraq to stand up this new government, but from all I can see we're on track to do that," he said. Even with the spikes in violence in the country the political process continues to move forward, he added.

Mullen said the last of the 30,000 more U.S. troops President Barack Obama authorized in December will be in Afghanistan this fall. The operations there are centering in Regional Command South with actions in and around Marja in Helmand province and Kandahar.

"The operation started in February and it will take a few more months before the progress in Marja is irreversible," he said. "We are now focused on Kandahar."

Those servicemembers are always on his mind, he said.

"This is a day of remembrance. We've lost in these two wars over 5,400," Mullen said on NBC's "Today Show." "We've had tens of thousands visibly wounded and hundreds of thousands invisibly wounded in these wars. This is the best military I've been associated in more than 40 years. They continue to make the sacrifices.

"I'd like the American people to reach out to them, to remember them on this special day of remembrance," he continued. "But also they need to reach out to them every day of the year."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Review Process Vital, Mullen Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 30, 2010 - It's of vital importance that the Pentagon gain input from servicemembers and military families on their views about the repeal of the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" law, the top U.S. military officer said today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed the proposed repeal of the law, upcoming operations in Afghanistan and the military's support role in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico during CNN's "State of the Union" news program.

The House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill May 27 that would allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly. The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a similar amendment that same night.

Mullen noted that he has said he thinks the law and the policy should change. He also said that both he and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates believe it is "critical to understand the points of view of those it will affect the most as we look at the implementation challenges should the law change."

The current "don't ask, don't tell" law, enacted in 1993, provides only partial protection for gay and lesbian servicemembers, in that commanders may not question military members about their sexual orientation. Under current law, servicemembers may be discharged from the service, if by their actions they're determined to be gay or lesbian.

Gates has directed a military-wide review of the impact of the repeal, including town hall meetings with servicemembers and their families. The review is to be completed by the end of December.

Recent congressional activity to change the law, if completed, would be "legislation involved in a deferred repeal," Gates said in a May 28 message to military members.

"In other words," Gates continued, "it would repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' but only after - I repeat after - the ongoing Department of Defense high-level review is completed, and only after the president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and I all can certify that we are ready to make this change without hurting unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness and recruiting and retention."

Mullen said today on "State of the Union" that he would have "preferred that legislation not be brought forward in terms of the change until we are completed with that review." Meanwhile, he said, the review is progressing.

"So we will complete that review and certainly incorporate what we learned from that into implementation when that time comes," Mullen said.

The admiral also addressed Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on the CNN news program.

Iraq trends "are moving in the right direction," Mullen said. The U.S. military in Iraq is on track to drawdown to 50,000 troops by the end of August. The Iraqi election recount has "come out very well," he added, while a recent spate of insurgent-inspired violence hasn't produced sectarian bloodshed.

Meanwhile, it's expected that 100,000 U.S. troops will be deployed in Afghanistan by the fall, Mullen said. Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban, will be a focus of the coming campaign.

"So, what we're doing in Kandahar, what we will do with our Afghan partners and in many cases with them in the lead and our coalition partners over the next several months will really be critical," Mullen said. "And I think by the end of the year, we'll certainly from a trend standpoint know whether this thing is headed in the right direction, or not."

Meanwhile, Mullen said, the U.S. military continues in a support role as part of the response to the ruptured BP oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico. About 1,400 National Guard members have been deployed to the Gulf to assist in the effort, he noted.

Also, "we have brought thousands of feet of booms in terms of being able to try to contain this," Mullen said. The U.S. military, however, isn't the proper organization to take charge of the oil spill response "because of the technical challenges, quite frankly," the admiral said.

"And, as best as I've been able to understand, the technical lead for this in our country really is the industry," Mullen said. "You can see, obviously, the challenges that they are going through to try to figure out how to stop this."

Obama: Memorial Day Honors Troop, Family Sacrifices

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 30, 2010 - Memorial Day is a time for Americans to remember and honor the ultimate sacrifices made by past and present generations of U.S. servicemembers, President Barack Obama said yesterday during his weekly address to the nation.

Each year on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, America honors all of its citizens who've worn a military uniform, Obama said. Yet, Memorial Day is something different, he said.

"On this day," Obama said, "we honor not just those who've worn this country's uniform, but the men and women who've died in its service; who've laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens; who've given their last full measure of devotion to protect the United States of America.

"These are the men and women I will be honoring this weekend, and I know many of you are doing the same," said the president, who tomorrow will provide Memorial Day remarks at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.

From the Revolutionary War to the present day, generations of Americans have been willing to take up arms - and die, if necessary - in order to preserve the nation's freedoms, Obama said.

"That commitment – that willingness to lay down their lives so we might inherit the blessings of this nation – is what we honor today," Obama said. "But on this Memorial Day, as on every day, we are called to honor their ultimate sacrifice with more than words. We are called to honor them with deeds."

America also honors its fallen warriors, he said, by supporting the surviving family members who must carry on after their loved ones have passed.

"We are called to honor them by doing our part for the loved ones our fallen heroes have left behind and looking after our military families," Obama said. "By making sure the men and women serving this country around the world have the support they need to achieve their missions and come home safely. By making sure veterans have the care and assistance they need.

"In short," he continued, "by serving all those who have ever worn the uniform of this country – and their families – as well as they have served us."

Obama recalled a post-Civil War incident that occurred April 25, 1866, when a group of women in Columbus, Miss., visited a local cemetery to place flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers who had died during the Battle of Shiloh.

As the women placed the flowers, he said, they noticed that a nearby group of Union soldier graves was bare of flowers.

"But no one had come to visit those [Union] graves, or place a flower there," Obama said. The women, he said, then "decided to lay a few stems for those men, too, in recognition not of a fallen Confederate or a fallen Union soldier, but a fallen American."

A few years later, he said, a group of Civil War veterans established what eventually became Memorial Day, picking a date when the spring flowers are in bloom.

"So this weekend, as we commemorate Memorial Day, I ask you to hold all our fallen heroes in your hearts, and if you can, to lay a flower where they have come to rest," Obama said.

Carthage Cemetery Honors World War II Fallen

By Vince Crawley
U.S. Africa Command

May 30, 2010 - Less than a mile from the 2,000-year-old ruins of ancient Carthage, Tunisian groundskeepers worked under a bright Mediterranean sun to prepare for Memorial Day observances to honor the 2,841 Americans buried here, as well as the thousands more who gave their lives in the North Africa campaigns of World War II that laid the bloody groundwork for the Allied liberation of Europe. The North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial lies in a quiet open space surrounded by fig, cypress and eucalyptus trees on Roosevelt Road, between the Tunis airport and the tourist beaches, art boutiques and historic ruins of the Tunisian coast.

The grounds total about 27 acres, with a burial area about the size of four football or soccer fields, bounded on one side by the Wall of the Missing that includes 3,724 names. Bells from the cemetery's chapel play patriotic anthems, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "America the Beautiful," while calls to prayer from nearby mosques echo among the graves. The cemetery is easy to spot on Internet satellite maps -- due east of Tunis airport, it is the rectangle of bright green kikuyu grass that stands out against the darker olive-colored vegetation -- zooming in shows the orderly rows of crosses and Stars of David, all facing to the southeast.

Abdallah Lagahre, a stone mason whose job is to tend the grave markers, quietly spent several hours in the afternoon heat earlier this weekend refreshing the gold leaf on the headstone of Army Pvt. Nicholas Minue, the single Medal of Honor recipient buried in Carthage.

Born in Sedden, Poland, Minue has a "typical American story" of an immigrant who serves his adopted country, explained Carlos Castello, superintendant of the North Africa American Cemetery. Castello himself is another variation of the American story -- son of Cuban and Mexican parents, born in the United States, living overseas with a French stepfather, then serving 14 years in the U.S. Army, much of that time in Germany, with wartime service in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, though he stresses his military duties were largely administrative.

Minue was with an armored infantry unit assigned to 1st Armored Division on April 28, 1943, when a group of soldiers came under fire from an enemy machine gun nest. For reasons that were never recorded, he ran forward with a bayonet and killed 10 enemy machine gunners and riflemen, then continued attacking other enemy riflemen dug into the hillsides until he was fatally injured. His aggressiveness "was unquestionably the factor that gave his company the offensive spirit that was necessary for advancing and driving the enemy from the entire sector," according to Minue's Medal of Honor citation. The chapel bells happen to be playing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" while Castello retells Minue's story.

"We know a few of the stories," he adds. "It's a shame that we don't know them all."

For instance, there's Foy Draper, who Castello said "began fighting Germans in 1936" as part of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Those were the Olympic games where Germany's fascist leadership hoped to showcase their physical superiority, only to be bested by upstart Americans, led by African-American Jesse Owens.

The presence of an Olympic gold medalist among the gravesites is evidence that "America really gave her best in the pursuit of freedom," Castello said at Draper's gravesite.

Draper, from California, won gold as one of four members of the U.S. 400-meter relay team, and the cemetery has a photograph of Draper alongside teammates Owens, Ralph Metcalfe and Frank Wykoff. When the war started, Draper became a combat pilot. He and his crew were killed Jan. 4, 1943, after taking off from an airfield in Thelepte, Tunisia, near the Algerian border.

Not everyone honored at the cemetery is an Olympian or Medal of Honor recipient. The burials include 240 unknown Americans, including one headstone that marks the resting place of seven unknowns. Two adjacent headstones and a brass plaque mark the gravesite of four men whose names are known but whose remains could not be separately identified.

Michael Coonce, the cemetery's assistant superintendant, told the story of Alice P. McKinney of Michigan, a private first class in the Women's Army Corps. Her brother had died fighting in Europe, and she was being transferred from West Africa to Europe in the weeks after the war ended, in part to help with his burial arrangements. She is among 18 women soldiers aboard a transport plane that crashed off the African coast whose names are on the cemetery's Wall of the Missing. Her brother is buried at Henri-Chapelle Cemetery in Belgium.

All of those honored at the cemetery died during World War II, in campaigns that began with the Operation Torch landings in North Africa in November 1942, with the fiercest fighting taking place in Tunisia in early 1943. At a time when Germany and Italy occupied much of the European continent and North Africa, the United States and United Kingdom were under intense pressure from their Soviet ally to begin offensive operations against the Axis powers. An attack into Europe was deemed too risky, so the Allies sent a military force into North Africa, where the British were having success against German and Italian tank forces in desert fighting, and where it was unclear how the neutral French Vichy forces occupying the region would respond.

The French forces in North Africa soon sided with the Allies, but Germany and Italy were able to pour reinforcements into Tunisia, led by famed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The Battle of Kasserine Pass in early 1943 cost thousands of American lives and resulted in major changes in U.S. tactics and leadership. The Allied forces were able to reverse their setbacks, reorganized and defeated the German-Italian force by May 1943. Tunisia then became a launching point for invading Sicily and southern Italy, followed a year later by the D-Day invasion of Normandy in northern France.

"Without Operation Torch, there probably never would have been a D-Day," said Castello, summing up the historic significance of the North Africa campaign.

The nature of the fighting in Tunisia was described by wartime correspondent Ernie Pyle.

"For four days and nights they have fought hard, eaten little, washed none, and slept hardly at all," Pyle wrote in May 1943, traveling among American infantrymen. "Their nights have been violent with attack, fright, butchery, and their days sleepless and miserable with the crash of artillery. ... They are young men, but the grime and whiskers and exhaustion make them look middle-aged. There is an agony in your heart and you almost feel ashamed to look at them. They are just guys from Broadway and Main Street, but you wouldn't remember them. They are too far away now. They are too tired. Their world can never be known to you, but if you could see them just once, just for an instant, you would know that no matter how hard people work back home they are not keeping pace with these infantrymen in Tunisia."

Today, the people of Tunisia are respectful of the American cemetery, as well as British burial grounds, and a Tunisian military honor guard participates in annual U.S. Memorial Day observances. As the groundskeepers prepared for Memorial Day weekend, small groups of visitors kept stopping by the "Cimetière américain?," often young Tunisian couples who walked in silence among the graves.

"Like other people's, the Tunisian people lived through poignant tragedy of war and through dark hours under the occupation of Axis troops," Tunisia's founder and first president, Habib Bouguiba, said in a message posted on the wall of the cemetery's visitor's center. "Please accept, dear visitor ... the expression of my deep sympathy for the relatives of those who have sacrificed so much for the sake of freedom."

The North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, Tunisia, is one of 24 permanent American military burial grounds on foreign soil administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Memorial Day weekend observances in Carthage are expected to include delegations from the government and military of Tunisia, and the U.S. government, including representatives from U.S. Africa Command.

City of Coupeville Honor Veterans

May 30, 2010 - By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardel Gervacio, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardel Gervacio, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island (NNS) -- Hundreds of local residents from Coupeville and Whidbey Island paid their respects for all service members, past and present, during the Coupeville Memorial Day Parade, May 29.

Memorial Day was established shortly after the Civil War as Decoration Day. It is now a day set aside to remember the service members who have given their lives in the service of their country.

Despite a slight drizzle, the parade started at Coupeville's Middle and High school and proceeded down South Main Street with observers waving U.S. flags all along the way and ended at Coupeville Town Park.

With the participants and attendees present at the park after the parade, the Mayor of Coupeville, Nancy Conard spoke a few words, giving the audience a brief history of Memorial Day and what it means to the country and then thanked the crowd for attending regardless of "rain or shine."

After the parading of the colors, Capt. Gerral David, commanding officer of Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, in his last Memorial Day parade while assigned to the installation, addressed the crowd by remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice; describing them as being, "Good strong, capable and patriotic men and women who model what is best in all of us, who measure the value of life by the sacrifices they made and their dedication to the labors of their nation."

"Their lives inspire us, and it is our duty to remember them and not let the memory of their sacrifice fade," said David.

The 56th Army Band, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, played patriotic music throughout the ceremony.

Active-duty service members who participated in the parade said they felt a great sense of appreciation for the support the community gives to its military citizens.

"Today is the day to remember our veterans; it's a day of pride, and it's a great day for our nation," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW) Michael Arebalo, from Fort Worth, Texas, a member of the Fleet Readiness Center Northwest color guard who marched in the parade. "I like to show my pride for our veterans and our active-duty personnel. I feel very honored to be a part of Coupeville Memorial Day Parade."

Despite the wet weather, the parade was a success according to Lynda Eccles, executive director of Central Whidbey Chambers of Commerce, the parade's sponsor.

"We had over 80 entries, and there were a lot of people along the parade route. Rain or shine, they all come out for this parade and they come from everywhere, off island as well, as every part of Whidbey to celebrate," said Eccles.

Arkansas Lighthouse for The Blind Hosts Admiral's Visit During Little Rock Navy Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Pat Migliaccio, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

May 30, 2010 - LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (NNS) -- The Navy enjoyed a warm enthusiastic response during a recent visit to the Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind, a non-profit agency employing Arkansans who are blind and visually impaired.

Employees of the plant proudly lined up and stood at attention during the arrival of Rear Adm. Wendi B. Carpenter, commander, Navy Warfare Development Command, Norfolk, while one of their own visually impaired workers, Earl McClure played a rousing rendition of the Navy's theme song 'Anchors Aweigh' on his trombone.

"We're extremely pleased to have the Navy and admiral here," said Curtis Chase, director of Industries at Lighthouse. I'm sure it will be a humbling eye-opener to both sides. We appreciate all the Navy does to protect us and by coming here, you help to dispel myths and misconceptions about the blind and impaired. People are blown away when they learn what these individuals can actually do."

The Navy's visit to Arkansas Lighthouse of the Blind coincided with Little Rock Navy Week 2010, one of only 20 Navy Weeks being held across America this year, designed to educate Americans on the importance of naval service, understand the investment they make in their Navy, and to increase awareness of the Navy in cities which might not otherwise see Sailors at work on a regular basis.

Lighthouse employees manufacture diverse products for government clients and the United States Navy. Products of note used specifically by the Navy include T-shirts, notebooks and phone message pads.

During a tour of Little Rock production facilities, Carpenter observed numerous impaired and blind workers manufacturing various paper and clothing products throughout the plant. One of the individuals hard at work in the paper department was McClure, who moments earlier had entertained Carpenter by playing the Navy service song.

McClure, a punch press operator at the agency the past 35 years, caught the Carpenter's attention and was personally presented with her command coin after a friendly chat.

"I never met an admiral before," McClure said. "I'll keep this coin with me and will always cherish it."

The tour concluded with Carpenter giving a short speech to Lighthouse employees, thanking them for what they do for deployed troops. She ended her visit by leading them in the calling of the Hogs, the Arkansas Razorback school cheer.

"This visit was profoundly inspirational," Carpenter said. "It's so important to recognize everyone's contribution to our mission. We often take simple things like T-shirts and note pads for granted. But everything is important and needed to complete the mission. What they create makes our life better and gives us the tools to do my job."

Earl McClure summed it all up best: "Just because we don't have sight doesn't mean we don't have vision or ability."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Navy Band Rocks Times Square During Fleet Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dominique Watts, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- Road Island Sound, a division of Navy Band Northeast, based out of Newport, R.I., performed a live rock concert in Times Square, May 28, during the celebration of Fleet Week New York 2010.

"This is my second time performing in Times Square during Fleet Week and each year has been amazing," said Musician 3rd Class Rebecca Gonzalez, vocalist for Road Island Sound.

As thousands of New Yorkers and vacationers descended upon Times Square for the event, they were met with a variety of pop and rock hits.

"The show was amazing," said Maria Cranston, who was visiting the city with her family. "I had no idea that Sailors performed concerts like this."

The variety of songs appealed to every demographic of the audience.

"Every part of the show was really great," said Tina Grohowski, who was helping her mother celebrate her birthday during Fleet Week. "They played a little bit of everything and that made it really good."

The impact of performing in New York was not lost on the band.

"To have the opportunity to play in New York is phenomenal," said Gonzalez. "This city, with all it has been through, has embraced our troops and been an inspiration to all of us."

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York.

"The crowd was amazing," explained Musician 3rd Class Tommy Stanley, guitarist and vocalist for Road Island Sound. "They had so much energy. It was inspiring to play for such an amazing crowd."

USS Iwo Jima Embraces New York with Open Arms

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mavis Tillman, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) welcomed aboard the local New York community to visit and learn about the ship's mission and capabilities while observing displays and demonstrations from Sailors and embarked Marines May 28.

A number of visitors, including residents from the New York area, tourists, retired veterans and members of the American Legion Post 471 of New Jersey, came aboard to interact with service members in their environment.

Ron Cuff of Queens, N.Y., a 48-year-old veteran, was impressed with how far the military has come with technology and the type of equipment housed on board.

"I have been on a few ships, but not one this big. It seems endless," said Cuff.

Some of the featured items were Marine armored vehicles and weapons and Navy shipboard and air operations fire fighting equipment.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 6 displayed equipment used for air, surface and underwater missions, to include the Talon robot used in retrieving improvised explosive devices.

"This type of interaction allows us to show the general public our gear up close, so they can better understand what we do, how we do it and why we do it," said Explosive Ordinance Disposal 3rd Class (DV) Matt Heber of Cincinnati. "When people think of the Navy, they think of water, but our capabilities are on land, air and sea, so this opportunity puts everything into perspective."

Seabees from Under Water Construction Team One also displayed their underwater gear.

"This is an awesome educational experience because we get to display our gear, talk about it and let the viewing public try on our gear as well," said Utilitiesman 1st Class (SCW/DV/SW) Paul Sarniak of Warren, Mich. "It's important for the general public to see just some of the other capabilities the Navy has to offer."

Yumiko Nishikawa, visiting his family in Queens N.Y., was just one of many visitors who skillfully planned his vacation to visit Iwo Jima and see the diving display.

"I have read about them and seen them in movies, but trying the diving gear on is by far the highlight of my vacation," said Nishikawa.

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 26 - June 2. Fleet Week has been New York City's celebration of the sea services since 1984. It is an unparalleled opportunity for citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Iwo Jima Hosts Fleet Week New York Blood Drive

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Travis J. Kuykendall, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- The New York Blood Center conducted its 6th Annual Fleet Week New York Blood Drive aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) May 28.

Sailors, Marines and the general public were given a unique opportunity to donate blood in the hangar bay while the ship was open for tours.

"To be able to donate blood on a Navy ship is a cool thing most people often wouldn't get the chance to do," said Alex Brown, assistant director of corporate public relations for New York Blood Center.

Each donor donated one pint of blood, which can now be used to save up to three lives. For most donors, it was the most rewarding 30-minute break in a chair they've ever taken.

"I like the cause and I want to help people, so for me this is a good way of doing just that," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW) Cory R. Clark.

"This is my seventeenth time and I plan to keep donating until I'm no longer able to do so."

This year, New York Blood Center partnered with the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society pledging to donate $10 for every donor, giving back to the Sailors and Marines for their help.

New York Blood Center processes approximately 570,000 donors a year and produces over 1 million blood-and-blood products. For a blood center that serves more than 150 hospitals in the New York Metro-area which includes Upstate, New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.

"We are constantly collecting, processing and distributing blood and there are certain times we may fall into shortage and need people to come in and donate more often," said Brown. "It's a constant need and sometimes it's a little more difficult but we get by with the help of organizations such as the military."

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 26 - June 2. Fleet Week has been New York City's celebration of the sea services since 1984. It is an unparalleled opportunity for citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Chairman's Corner: Honoring the Nation's Fallen Warriors

By Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

May 28, 2010 - Not long after the Civil War, Americans pledged to honor those who, as Abraham Lincoln put it, gave the last full measure of devotion.

Be they from Lexington and Concord; Gettysburg and Antietam; the Argonne Forest or the beaches of Normandy; Chosin and Inchon; Saigon and the Mekong Delta; Baghdad or Kandahar, we have kept that pledge every Memorial Day, and rightfully so.

Today, a new generation of American heroes is fighting for freedom all across the globe. Some of them have given that last full measure, losing their lives to make a better life for all of us. It is the hardest currency of all, once spent never to be recouped, a debt we can never truly, fully repay.

This weekend is marked by events, large and small, across our nation to honor their memory and recognize the sacrifices of those family members and children they left behind. Please join me this Memorial Day in remembering, on behalf of present and coming generations, the deep and abiding debt we owe to our fallen and to their loved ones.

Nippon Zenkokai Association Honors Sailors, DoD Civilians in Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mike Mulcare, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan

May 29, 2010 - TOKYO (NNS) -- The Nippon Zenkokai Association honored U.S. Sailors and DoD civilians for outstanding public service in the Japanese community at the Meiji-Jingu Shrine in Tokyo May 22.

The ceremony recognized nine Sailors, a DoD civilian and five groups from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi and NAF Misawa.

"These types of ceremonies are good for the relationship between America and Japan," said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW) Derrick Williams, an award winner assigned to CFAY port operations. "We often hear about the negative aspects of U.S. forces, but this really shines the spotlight on all the positives."

The Nippon Zenkokai Association, a non-profit organization under the control of the cabinet office of the Japanese government, was founded in 1951. In 1955, award nominations opened up to foreigners, including U.S. service members and civilians.

"President Kawamura Kohsho [of the Zenkokai Awards Association] and I are very grateful for the contributions of the United States forces," said Tsutomu Kojima, administrative director of the Zenkokai Awards Association. "The president is always telling me how thankful he is from the bottom of his heart for everything the United States forces do for the Japanese community."

This year's award recipients were recognized for volunteer work with homeless and handicapped citizens, foster childcare, preserving the environment, community service projects and other deeds that stood out in the public eye.

"I was put in for this award for saving a lady in Yamato," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Michael Nixon, assigned to security at NAF Atsugi. "She collapsed of a seizure and went into cardiac arrest, and I conducted CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and successfully resuscitated her."

The award is broken down into four categories including juvenile, emergency and international contributions, as well as a special foreigner's category.

"Ten individuals and five groups have received the award today, and I've been told that this is the largest number to receive the award," said Capt. Peter B. Rush, chief of staff of U.S. Naval Forces Japan. "It may not be widely known to the public, but there are quite a few Americans who spend many hours engaging in community relations efforts, including supporting orphanages, clean-up efforts and caring for the elderly."

Winners from this year's awards ceremony include Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Derrick L. Williams, Electronics Technician 2nd Class Randy L. Brown, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Gilberto Escobar, Culinary Specialist 1st Class Dennis V. Adams, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Leah Bongbonga, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael E. Nixon, Legalman 1st Class John McBroom, Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Tanya A. Lovejoy, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class William Warren Peoples and Mr. William Driscoll. "I am very proud and honored to have been awarded by the Japanese nation as a whole for the simple act of helping out one of my neighbors," said Nixon.

U.S., Japan Agree to Relocate Air Base on Okinawa

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2010 - The United States and Japan agreed yesterday to relocate a controversial U.S. air base to a less densely populated area on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

The future of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma had been a subject of intense political debate in Japan that led to the possibility of the base being moved off the island entirely, despite a 2006 agreement to relocate it on Okinawa.

Talks between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the United States and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa for Japan addressed a range of security concerns and yielded substantial agreement, officials said.

For years, Okinawans have said they carry the majority of the burden of hosting American forces in Japan, and the agreement vows "to reduce the impact on local communities, including in Okinawa, thereby preserving a sustainable U.S. military presence in Japan," according to a joint statement issued by the security and consultative committee.

"The [committee] members expressed their shared commitments to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and return the base to Japan as part of the alliance transformation and realignment process," the statement said.

Other realignment initiatives -- including the relocation of about 8,000 Marines and 9,000 family members from Okinawa to Guam -- depend on completion of the Futenma replacement facility. The relocation to Guam will return of most of the U.S. facilities south of Kadena Air Base to Japan.

"Bearing this in mind, the two sides intend to verify and validate that this Futenma relocation plan appropriately considers factors such as safety, operational requirements, noise impact, environmental concerns and effects on the local community," according to the statement.

The agreement confirms that the replacement facility will be at the Camp Schwab Henoko-saki area and adjacent waters. The ministers put an end-of-August deadline for completion of a study of the replacement facility's location, configuration and construction method. Verification and validation will be completed by the time of the next security consultative conference, officials said.

The committee also looked at ways to mitigate the burden that Okinawans bear. The two sides committed to expand the relocation of U.S. forces training activities off the island. Japanese military facilities and areas in mainland Japan may also be used. "Both sides also committed to examine the relocation of training outside of Japan, such as to Guam," the statement said.

The committee's statement recognizes that the alliance remains indispensable not only to the defense of Japan, but also to the peace, security, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. The talks were conducted in the shadow of North Korea sinking a South Korean warship in March. The tensions in the region have increased, officials noted, and also reaffirmed the need for the Mutual Security and Cooperation Treaty between the United States and Japan.

In light of the uncertainty of the situation in Korea, the talks reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Japan's security.

"Japan reconfirmed its commitment to playing a positive role in contributing to the peace and stability of the region," the statement said. "Furthermore, the [committee] members recognized that a robust forward presence of U.S. military forces in Japan, including in Okinawa, provides the deterrence and capabilities necessary for the defense of Japan and for the maintenance of regional stability."

The ministers also pledged a "Green Alliance" between the nations on bases, and said both nations would be good environmental stewards. The two sides intend to study opportunities to expand the shared use of facilities between U.S. and Japanese forces, which would contribute to closer bilateral operational coordination, improved interoperability and stronger relations with local communities, officials said.

The ministers also affirmed their intention "to intensify communication with communities in Okinawa on issues of concern related to the presence of U.S. forces." The two sides committed to explore cooperation in such areas as information technology initiatives, cultural exchanges, education programs and research partnerships.

The ministers agreed to intensify their ongoing bilateral security dialogue. "This security dialogue will address traditional security threats, as well as focus on new areas for cooperation," the statement said.

AFPC officials seek public service award nominations

Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas - Awards and decorations officials at the Air Force Personnel Center are seeking nominations for the 2010

Government Employees Insurance Company's Public Service Awards.

The GEICO Public Service Awards were established in 1980 to recognize the contributions of hard working and talented government employees.

This year, GEICO added additional categories to include all young federal employees and retired civilian federal employees. In all, six awards are presented to federal employees based on four categories:substance abuse prevention and treatment; fire prevention and safety; physical rehabilitation; and traffic safety and accident prevention.

Nominees are judged principally on the impact of their work- and non-work related contributions and the extent they have served as an inspiration to others and brought credit to the federal service.

Organizations and base-level personnel must contact their major command, field operating agency, direct reporting unit or MAJCOM equivalent for applicable suspense dates and additional information regarding nomination procedures.

Each MAJCOM, FOA or DRU may submit one individual in each of the four categories. Completed nomination packages must be sent to AFPC by Oct. 31, 2010.

For more information about the GEICO Military Service Awards, visit the AFPC personnel services website or call the Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.

USS Iwo Jima Hosts United Nations Reception

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Hunt, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) welcomed aboard foreign military officers and foreign officials for a reception during Fleet Week New York 2010 May 27.

The event was a prelude to International Peacekeeper's Day celebrated May 29.

Before the reception, Iwo Jima Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Amick showed a few officials a portion of the ship that has a mural of more than 45 flags from different countries, representing the ethnicity of each Sailor who has served aboard Iwo Jima.

"On board this ship we have Sailors who are from different countries throughout the world. We are very proud of that diversity because it breeds strength for us and the entire U.S. Navy," said Amick.

As Susan Rice, U.S. representative to the United Nations, spoke, she highlighted President Barack Obama's new security strategy, which uses the effort of each country to help create a more just and secure world.

"All nations have their rights and responsibilities, and no nation can meet those challenges alone. We'll work together to tackle the challenges of our inter-connected age. We will strengthen old alliances, build up mutually beneficial relationships with emerging powers in every region and support institutions such as the United Nations and its peace keeping forces," said Rice.

The partnership among services was also underlined.

"I appreciate the great partnership we enjoyed throughout our time in response to Haiti, and in the time we have planned for how we will respond if there is another situation," said Commander, U.S. Southern Command Gen. Douglas Fraser.

The ceremony ended with Rice reminding those in attendance about the main goal of United Nations peacekeepers.

"Let us remember again that peacekeeping is a noble undertaking, and it can succeed only if we all work together," said Rice.

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 26 to June 2. Fleet Week has been New York City's celebration of the sea services since 1984. It is an unparalleled opportunity for citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Navy Revises Exercise Instruction for Civilian Employees

By Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) is promoting the modified Navy instruction that promotes civilian staff to schedule exercise into their working hours.

Navy instruction 12700.1B was revised April 21 and no longer requires civilian staff to obtain permission from a physician before they can schedule exercise into their work hours.

"We found it was making it more difficult for people if they had to call their doctor, make an appointment and find out if they were healthy enough to exercise," said Lauren Thomas, department head of Health Promotions at NNMC.

The instruction's wording was also somewhat confusing, she said. Therefore, it was rephrased to help clarify how often and when staff can work out during the day. Per the instruction, staff can exercise up to three hours each week; however, they are still required to first check in and out for the day with their supervisor.

Staff members can spread out their exercise time to best fit their schedule, she added, be it an hour, three days a week or 45 minutes four times a week.

"We are trying to promote the instruction, helping staff members see that they can go on a walk or go to the gym on a regular basis as a way of reducing stress," said Thomas.

NNMC's is focused on raising awareness about the revised instruction to help meet the command's readiness goals and reduce stress in the workplace, said Thomas, who is also a co-chairperson for the team. The team, established as part of the Annual Plan for Fiscal Year 2010, will discuss the instruction at board meetings and make sure department heads pass the information on to their staff members.

NNMC's Health Promotions displayed a booth near Main Street for National Employee Health and Fitness Day May 19. Thomas handed out copies of the revised instruction along with pedometers and information about healthy eating and the benefits of working out.

Studies have shown that exercise reduces stress and improves job productivity, said Lt. Cmdr. Mary Parker, Objective 2.2 Goal Team chairperson and NNMC's surgical nursing department head. It can also help raise an individual's metabolic rate.

Parker added that health care providers need to make sure they take care of themselves in order to better care for others.

"It's an opportunity to walk the talk," Parker said. "It's our opportunity to demonstrate the importance and the emphasis on exercise for our patients and beneficiaries."

Ellen Lyons, who works in Immunizations at NNMC, is one of many staff members who has reaped the benefits of exercise. In the last two years, she lost nearly 90 pounds, a success she attributes largely to walking for an hour each day.

Lyons has seen family members struggle with diabetes and other health issues because of their weight. She did not want the same fate.

"I was determined not to be like that," Lyons said. "My main goal was to become healthy."

She believes the Navy's revised instruction is a great way to help people get the exercise they need. She said that once she started walking, it made her feel so enthused and empowered to keep at it.

"You can really energize yourself just by getting out there … it gives you a whole lot of energy, vigor. You can just breeze through the day," Lyons said. "Thanks to my walking, it has made such a difference. I know it pays off."

Health Promotions offers a walking group that meets in the lobby of Building 10 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. for a 30-minute walk.

"You get to meet other people, you talk and have a good time, and you get your exercise in," Thomas said. "Try to take advantage of the opportunity that you have at work … It's a great benefit, it really is."

Thomas added that exercise can also help with weight management, lowering blood pressure, managing diabetes, maintaining good cholesterol levels and getting a good night's sleep.

NNMC's Health Promotions also offers a stress reduction class and a weight management class. For more information, call Health Promotions at 301-295-6649.

Yokosuka Safety Fair Prepares Community for Safe Summer

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan

May 29, 2010 - YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) and Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan's Safety offices worked together to host a Safety, Health and Environmental Fair in front of the base Commissary May 27.

"The whole purpose of the fair was to let people know what things they should keep in mind when doing anything," said Kordeen Kor, the base director of safety. "People can come out in a casual environment and get information on how to be safe while at work and when they're off duty."

Of the subjects covered at the event, both car and motorcycle safety received the most attention. The car safety booth had an airbag simulator, showing patrons what it was like to be seated at the wheel when an airbag deploys. Kor explained that there is no exception to safety when driving, especially when overseas.

"Automobile and motorcycle safety are very important because we live in a different country," said Kor. "Not only do the Japanese drive on the left side of the road, but Japan has different laws when it comes to traffic, so it's important that people learn what these differences are before they hit the road."

The event also highlighted industrial safety. According to Kor, Sailors need to keep proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and situational awareness in mind with industrial hazards being commonplace on ships and in the shipyard environment.

"A big thing for Sailors is making sure they have the proper PPE and knowing what's going on around them when at work," said Hull Technician 2nd Class Christopher Lovrien, a Dallas native. "I've learned that a lot of accidents that can happen on ships or even on shore can prevented by wearing PPE. Other accidents can be avoided just by knowing what's around you, whether it be a low overhead, sharp object, or accidentally exposed wire. If people can remember the proper equipment and what's going on around them, they avoid almost any accident."

With the summer season just around the corner, more people will be enjoying the warmer weather and doing more outdoor recreational activities.

"Summer is a great time for Sailors to take advantage of living in Japan," said Capt. Daniel Weed, CFAY commanding officer. "They need to keep in mind that when they are out taking in the sights or having fun, that they need to think about what kind of effect this activity can have and if there is any hazard in taking part. This is even more important if they decide to consume alcohol before or during the activity. If every Sailor can keep that in mind they should be able to enjoy their summer safe and sound."

Enterprise Completes 1,000th Trap

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristin Baker, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- During flight operations the crew of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) briefly celebrated as the 1,000th landing or "trap" since the ship got underway for flight deck certification and carrier qualifications was successfully completed May 27.

The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous places on earth. Safety is paramount, and the key to safe operations is training.

The crew of Enterprise executed the precision ballet that is orchestrated daily on the busy flight deck, proving that their training is effective when it counts.

As Knighthawk 310, an F/A-18F, piloted by Lt. j.g. Chris Salliotte, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136, came down the glide slope towards the pitching deck, the training of hundreds of people was a vital part of the precision that marked the 1,000 trap. The trap was completed just weeks since the 48-year-old carrier departed from the shipyard and commenced at-sea operations for the first time in more than two years.

"Safety is paramount on the flight deck," said Lt. Cmdr. Larry R. Spradlin, the ship's aircraft handling officer. "One misstep can mean disaster, so everyone has to stay focused."

The 1,000th trap marks another milestone in an underway full of them. In every successful event completed during this underway period, safety has played a vital role.

From proper protective equipment to operational risk management, the crew of Enterprise has done it right, and done it safely.

Enterprise has rapidly stretched her sea legs which became stiff in the shipyards, and has emerged as the mighty, combat-ready warship that she has been for the last five decades.

"Rest assured, Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing One are back and ready for action," said Spradlin.

Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing 1 are currently underway conducting operations and training for the ship's 21st deployment.

Gates Addresses Troops on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told troops worldwide today that any repeal of the so-called "don't ask don't tell" law will be delayed until the ongoing Defense Department high-level review is completed, and only after he, the president and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all can certify that the department is ready to make the change without hurting unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness, and recruiting and retention.

Gates recorded a special message that will be broadcast on the American Forces Radio and Television Service and the Pentagon Channel to speak directly to servicemembers and their families about the moves toward repeal of the law that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

"There's been a lot of political posturing and maneuvering on this issue this week, and the secretary wanted to communicate directly to the troops about what this all means to them," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. "He wanted to make it clear that the department's review of how to smartly implement a change in the law is more important than ever, and their participation in it is absolutely critical to its success."

The House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill yesterday that would allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly. The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a similar amendment last night.

President Barack Obama said he is pleased with the congressional actions. He has long favored repealing the law, in which has been in effect since 1994.

"Key to successful repeal will be the ongoing Defense Department review, and as such, I am grateful that the amendments ... will ensure that the Department of Defense can complete that comprehensive review that will allow our military and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process," he said in a written statement released by the White House last night.

Obama said being the commander in chief is his greatest honor. "This legislation will help make our armed forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity," he said.

Any change in the law will take time, Gates said in his recorded message. "The legislative process is long and complex," he said. "While it appears likely that Congress will eventually change the 'don't ask, don't tell' law, we do not expect the legislation that would do this to be presented to the president for months – perhaps not until the end of the year."

The amendment is the result of a compromise worked out between the administration and Congress. It allows the military to revoke the "don't ask, don't tell" provisions 60 days after a military study group chaired by Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department's general counsel, and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, presents its report in December.

The legislation is a deferred repeal, Gates stressed. "It would repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' but only after -- I repeat, after -- the ongoing Department of Defense high-level review is completed, and only after the president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I all can certify that we are ready to make this change without hurting unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness, and recruiting and retention," Gates said.

As the legislative process continues, nothing will change in current policies and practices, the secretary said. "Current law, policies and regulations remain in place, and we are obligated to abide by them as before," he said.

The vote in the House and at the Senate committee makes the results of the Defense Department study even more important, Gates said. The panel will conduct a thorough and fact-based assessment of the impact of the potential law change and will develop "an implementation plan that minimizes any possible disruption to the department's mission and on-going operations," he added.

Gates urged servicemembers to participate in the review. "We need to hear from you, and your families, so that we can make these judgments in the most informed and effective manner," the secretary said. "So please let us know how to do this right."

He asked all servicemembers to stay informed on this issue, but to not let it distract them from the "critical mission to defend our country and our duty to uphold the values represented by the uniform you wear," he said.

The message will play on AFRTS broadcast outlets overseas and on the Pentagon Channel in the United States.

Far East CPOs Conduct 117 Hour Treadmill Marathon for Millington Flood Victims

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Ryan Smith, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det Japan

May 29, 2010 - YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- At the stroke of noon May 26, Senior Chief Navy Counselor (SW/AW) Johannes Gonzalez took the first steps in a 117 consecutive hour treadmill marathon aimed at raising money for the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.

"This benefits both promoting a culture of fitness as well as raising money for the Navy Marine Corps relief society to help the victims of the Millington flood," said Chief Personnel Specialist (AW) Louis Saldana, an organizer of the event.

Johannes is not doing this by himself either. He and over 100 other members of the Far East Chief Petty Officer's (CPO) association at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) are sharing in the aches, pains, blisters and sweat that accompany this marathon, which will continue over the Memorial Day weekend. The marathon is being conducted on two treadmills, and each hour as one chief completes his or her race against the clock, another "relieves the watch" for the next hour. The 117 time-frame of the event represents the number of years U.S. navy chief petty officers have been walking the deckplates and leading Sailors.

Holding this event over the Memorial Day weekend was by design. Besides showcasing ideals such as the Culture of Fitness, CPO Pride and charity, the run is also a way to honor those who served and gave their lives in defense of the United States

"It starts with us; it's good for the junior Sailors to see their chief petty officers leading the way and promoting the Navy's culture of fitness," said Gonzalez. "I have gotten e-mails from chief's currently underway saying they will run underway and wishing they were here to joins us."

The fundraising event is being held at CFAY's main taxi stand near the base gates. Gonzales says this location allows the entire community so see the pride of the Far East CPOA in action from dusk to dawn.

Proceeds are based on "per mile" pledges, but passers by can also support the runners by donating on the spot. Area commands were encouraged to pledge based on the assumption that runners will average of five miles an hour.

"Every Chief's Mess in the Yokosuka area was involved. If you look at our list of participants, we have representatives from every command on base from shore commands to ships in port." said Saldana. "The response to this event was quick; as soon as we announced this event a number of chiefs came forward and volunteered to fill slots."

Once the run is complete at 10:00 a.m. on Memorial Day, participants will assemble and run in formation to the site of CFAY's Memorial Day services. The Far East CPOA will present NMCRS with the donation in a presentation ceremony on June 2.

Marine Corps Tests New Fighting Vehicle

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

May 28, 2010 - The Marine Corps is conducting reliability tests on its latest expeditionary fighting vehicle prototypes, the service's program manager for the effort said yesterday during a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable.

"[For] the last couple of years, we've been going through a redesign for reliability for the basic system," Marine Corps Col. Keith Moore said.

The EFV, as it's known, is meant to serve as a vehicle bridge for Marines, carrying them from Navy ships through the surf and sand and miles deep into enemy terrain. It will replace the assault amphibious vehicle that was procured in 1972 and will be more than 40 years old when the EFV is fielded.

The new vehicle can launch far from shore, beyond the range of most guns and missiles, and can skim across the water at high speed, allowing Marines to achieve surprise, avoid enemy strengths, and "generate never-before-realized operational tempo across warfighting functions," Moore said.

The first prototype made its debut at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on May 4, on its way to the Marine Corps Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Three EFVs are at Camp Pendleton, and one is at the Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. The prototypes will undergo more than 500 hours of rigorous testing to ensure that the vehicles are on an expected reliability growth path, Moore explained.

The vehicle at Aberdeen is undergoing testing for safety, human factors, basic automotive functions and firepower, Moore said. Only one of the three vehicles at Camp Pendleton is currently undergoing testing, but in the next few weeks all three will undergo water- and land-performance tests, he added.

Moore said his team has a set of older prototypes at Camp Pendleton that were outfitted with design changes in the electronics and firepower systems. They'll participate in a combined developmental environmental test this summer to see how they function in hot weather.

"This is the most capable infantry fighting vehicle that will exist in the U.S. inventory at the time it will get fielded," Moore said. "It is a very robust, survivable infantry fighting vehicle that has to meet the Marines' unique requirements."

Looking back and finding mistakes in the process was a key part of the prototypes' development, the colonel said.

"At some point, we didn't have a process in place that would have given us early indicators that we were on the wrong track or going awry," he said. Coming up with an orderly process after reviewing the previous design, manufacturing processes and initial component and subsystem testing allowed the team to create a better set of prototypes, he added.

"We are starting to see the fruit now of having put those good processes into place," he said.

New security strategy touts partnership efforts

by Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau

5/28/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Military-to-military contacts are a "critical component" of global engagement and support the nation's security, according to the new National Security Strategy presented to Congress May 27.

"Our ability to sustain these alliances, and to build coalitions of support toward common objectives, depends in part on the capabilities of America's armed forces," the strategy states.

The National Guard's State Partnership Program facilitates many of these military-to-military activities. Currently, there are 62 partnerships around the world with the most recent being added in Africa.

"We have to have the vision to engage those countries that can, or may be, influenced by those looking to exert control over them," Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau told SPP workshop participants earlier this year. "Through state partnerships we can reach out and assist those nations in averting that influence."

President Barack Obama's national security advisor, James L. Jones Jr., said May 27 during a news conference at the Foreign Press Center here that engaging with allies is key to the strategy.

He added that President Obama has stressed that no one nation can solve the problems of the world.

"We will pursue comprehensive engagement around the world," Mr. Jones said. "We will strengthen old alliances, we will build new partnerships with emerging centers of influence in every region and we will push for institutions that are more capable of responding to the challenges of our time."

To prevent attacks on the homeland, the strategy calls for the combined efforts of intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security capabilities.

"We will continue to integrate and leverage state and major urban area fusion centers that have the capability to share classified information, establish a nationwide framework for reporting suspicious activity and implement an integrated approach to our counterterrorism information systems," the strategy states.

This approach, according to the strategy will "ensure that the analysts, agents and officers who protect us have access to all relevant intelligence throughout the government."

The strategy also suggests that information sharing is improving across local, state and federal channels.

Coordination is also improving with the help of foreign partners "to identify, track, limit access to funding and prevent terrorist travel," the strategy states.

To keep Americans safe and secure at home, the U.S. government wants to reduce vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and at the borders, ports and airports and to enhance transportation and space and cyber security.

"Building on this foundation, we recognize that the global systems that carry people, goods and data around the globe also facilitate the movement of dangerous people, goods, and data," the strategy states.

The U.S. government also is building on its capability to prepare for disasters.

"To improve our preparedness, we are integrating domestic all hazards planning at all levels of government and building key capabilities to respond to emergencies," the strategy states adding that communication systems must be improved for first responders.

The strategy also calls for more "realistic" exercises that will continually test and improve disaster plans.

Finally, President Obama said in his foreword, the strategy is based on American beliefs and values.

"Our long-term security will come not from our ability to instill fear in other peoples, but through our capacity to speak to their hopes," he said. "And that work will best be done through the power of the decency and dignity of the American people -- our troops and diplomats, but also our private sector, nongovernmental organizations and citizens. All of us have a role to play."

(Jim Garamone of Army Forces Press Service contributed to this report.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Strategy Pillars Will Ensure America's Security

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2010 - The new U.S. National Security Strategy, unveiled yesterday, recognizes that America's strength is based on all elements of national power, and the power of its example to the world, Vice President Joe Biden said today at the U.S. Naval Academy here.

Speaking to the 2010 graduating class, Biden said the four pillars of the new strategy are designed to "guarantee America's continued ascendency in the 21st century [and] to guarantee our security."

Biden outlined these four basic principles: strengthening the U.S. economy; marshalling non-military as well as military capabilities; building and strengthening U.S. alliances and partnerships around the world; and remaining true to America's foundational values.

"A strong economy is the only foundation on which we can build a guarantee for our national security," he said, citing broad economic initiatives under way. "Our strength and influence all depends on our economic prosperity and elevation."

Biden reiterated President Barack Obama's recognition during his graduation address last week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.: "At no time in human history has a nation of diminished economic vitality maintained its military or political primacy."

The new security strategy also recognizes the importance of using "all the arrows in the quiver" – applying all instruments of U.S. national power -- to maintain security, he noted.

"Our military capacity is absolutely necessary, but not in and of itself sufficient to guarantee our security," he told the graduates.

Diplomacy, development, education, and economic, intelligence and law enforcement initiatives also are key in addressing challenges before they escalate, he explained.

"Although we reserve the right to act preemptively," he said, "we will strive to stop crises before they start, to avoid whenever we can the choice of last resort of the danger in action."

The strategy seeks to build on a long history of establishing strong military alliances and effective international organizations that Biden called critical to dealing with global challenges.

"The threats we face, from pandemic disease to terrorism, ... have no respect for borders," he said. "To defeat them requires responsible nations to set down rules of conduct for the 21st century... [and to] insist that other nations, along with us, enforce those rules of conduct."

In its pursuit of national security, the United States can't lose sight of its values that have sustained it since its founding, Biden emphasized.

"Our own strength lies not in the example of our power, but the power of our example," he told the graduating class.

Biden rejected the notion that the United States has to choose between its safety and its ideals in the face of those who seek to threaten its way of life. "If we yield on our ideals, they will have already won," he said.

The vice president noted that the vast majority of the world looks to the United States for inspiration. "That is why we cannot undermine our strength by compromising those values in the name of security," he said. "They ultimately are our security.

"In the broad struggle against extremism, upholding our values makes us stronger," he continued. "Compromising them is what makes us weaker and yielding."

Biden recognized the values instilled at the Naval Academy – honor, courage and commitment – and said they're the same ideals that define America.

"Our ideals are what make us the greatest nation in the history of mankind," he said. "And ultimately, they are a powerful incentive for the world to respond."

Mullen Pledges Ongoing Support for Families of Fallen

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2010 - Just days before the nation pauses to pay tribute to fallen servicemembers, America's senior military officer took time out today to stress the importance of their sacrifice and pledge his ongoing support for their families.

"We are blessed ... to have a military that's the best it's ever been, in the best country that's ever been, because of the service of those who raised their right hand and went off to do their nation's bidding," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. "Those whom we lost epitomize the absolute best of the best."

The chairman spoke to hundreds of families of fallen servicemembers at the 16th Annual Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors National Military Survivor Seminar here. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support to people grieving the loss of a servicemember.

People from across the nation are attending the seminar this weekend to share stories, find comfort and to learn coping strategies for dealing with loss. In conjunction with the seminar, about 350 children are attending the TAPS Good Grief Camp, where they are discovering ways to deal with loss through educational activities and the development of a peer support network.

Few people understand the level of loss these families have experienced, Mullen noted.

"The only way we can approach understanding is to stay engaged, and to do as much as we possibly can to make sure that sacrifice is honored in every possible way," he said. "We ensure, we in ways become the guarantor that we as a country will never forget the sacrifice that your loved ones have made."

Mullen praised TAPS for its care for families of the fallen, noting that it's more than just an organization; it's a family of people who share a common bond.

"You and your member -- your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your mom, your dad -- you are the face of these two very difficult conflicts," he said. "We as a country can never, ever forget that."

Mullen recalled a recent trip he and his wife, Deborah, took to Dover Air Force Base, Del., where servicemembers killed in combat first return to U.S. soil. He visited with some families who recently had lost a servicemember in a bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, and took particular note of a 9-year-old boy whose "hero had died."

"To look into his eyes and see the need that was there, the lack of understanding that was there -- I'll never forget the look, I'll never forget the hug, and the need he transmitted in those few seconds that he will have the rest of his life and that we all work so very hard to fill," the chairman said.

"There are hundreds here today just like [that boy]," he continued. "I can't say enough about the ability to meet that need or to fill up some of that gap."

The chairman vowed his continued support toward that effort.

"Those losses penetrate spaces that are very hard to understand, but they are not hard to remember, they are not hard to recognize," he said. "I believe you, I believe those who sacrifice so much in these wars, deserve to be taken care of, to have your needs met, to be supported for the rest of your lives."

The chairman encouraged TAPS members to continue their work to touch families of the fallen, and to support those who will be affected by future sacrifices. "And sadly, they will continue to come," he said.