Military News

Tuesday, January 12, 2010



Johns Hopkins University Advanced Physics laboratory, Laurel, Md., was awarded on Jan. 8, 2010, a $24,777,235 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is to build Phase II on the preliminary design created in Phase I, culminating in the completion of a working prototype that demonstrates the capabilities of the National Cyber Range (NCR). Upon completion of all phases, it is anticipated that the NCR will enable a revolution in the nation's ability to conduct cyber operations by providing a persistent cyber range. Work is to be performed in Laurel, Md. (43.8 percent); Cambridge, Mass. (24.8 percent); Albuquerque, N.M. (6.2 percent); North Chelmsford, Mass. (5.6 percent); Northport, N.Y. (4.4 percent); Los Angeles, Calif. (4.1 percent); Bethesda, Md. (2.7 percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (2.5 percent); Idaho Falls, Idaho (2.4 percent); Columbia, Md. (2.0 percent); Columbia, Md. (1.3 percent); and Camden, N.J.(0.2 percent), with an estimated completion date of April 14, 2011. Bids were solicited via broad agency announcement with seven bids received. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-10-C-0039).

Bristol Construction Services, LLC, Anchorage, Alaska, was awarded on Jan. 7, 2010, a $17,450,531 construction contract. This contract is to provide labor, materials and equipment to repair/upgrade the access rail line and on-post rail system, increasing turning radiuses and track gauges, at the Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, Southport, N.C. Work is to be performed in Southport, N.C., with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Savannah, Ga., is the contracting activity (W912HN-08-C-0072).

Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training and Support, Orlando, Fla., was awarded on Jan. 8, 2010, an $8,121,044 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is for Phase II, which will build on the preliminary design created in Phase I, culminating in the completion of a working prototype that demonstrates the capabilities of the National Cyber Range (NCR). Upon completion of all phases, it is anticipated that the NCR will enable a revolution in the nation's ability to conduct cyber operations by providing a persistent cyber range. Work is to be performed in Orlando, Fla. (22.83 percent); Cherry Hill, N.J. (30.82 percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (1.54 percent); Minneapolis, Minn. (2.43 percent); Hanover, Md. (8.98 percent); Piscataway, N.J. (10.71 percent); Princeton, N.J. (8.53 percent); Columbia, Md., (3.17 percent); Golden Valley, Minn. (2.62 percent); Albuquerque, N.M. (3 percent); San Antonio, Texas (2.90 percent); and Washington, D.C. (1.99 percent), with an estimated completion date of April 14, 2011. Bids were solicited via broad agency announcement with seven bids received. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-10-C-0042).

ITT Corp., Night Vision Division., Roanoke, Va., was awarded on Jan. 7, 2010, a $7,392,497 firm-fixed-price contract for various night vision equipments for the country of Canada. Work is to be performed in Roanoke, Va., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One sole source bid was solicited with one bid received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-10-C-D214).

Cox Construction Co., Vista, Calif., was awarded on Jan. 8, 2010, a $6,754,600 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is to design and construct non-standard military operations urban training facility. This Phase IV of a four-phase program is to construct permanent urban operations training facilities to conduct force on force urban operations training at the battalion and brigade collective training level. Primary facilities for Phase IV include additional military operations terrain collective training facilities. Supporting facilities include site preparations, electric power and lighting, and paving and storm drainage. Work is to be performed in Fort Irwin, Calif., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities and Army Single Face to Industry Web sites, with seven bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Los Angeles, Calif., is the contracting activity (W912PL-10-C-0006).


Systems Planning and Analysis, Inc., Alexandria, Va., is being awarded a $13,459,708 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for ongoing support for the nuclear weapons security program and nuclear weapons surety, and the SSBN Transit Protection Program (TPS). The contractor will provide program planning, systems engineering services, support of surety inspections and monitoring, and analytical support. The contractor will also provide management support required in the implementation, improvement and execution of the TPS program. This contract contains options which, if exercised, will bring the value of the contract to $25,798,773. Work will be performed in Alexandria, Va. (94 percent); Kings Bay, Ga. (3.5 percent); and Silverdale, Wash. (2.5 percent). Work is expected to be completed by Nov. 26, 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $13,459,708 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. Strategic Systems Program, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (N00030-10-C-0016).

Wyle Laboratories, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., is being awarded a $10,803,500 cost-plus fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide airborne electronic attack engineering support for the EA-6B, EA-18G, and other advanced electronic attack derivatives at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), Point Mugu, Calif. Work will be performed at NAWCWD, Point Mugu, Calif. (85 percent); NAWCWD, China Lake, Calif. (5 percent); Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md. (5 percent); and Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Wash. (5 percent). Work is expected to be completed in January 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR. NAWCWD, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-10-D-0014).

Orbital Sciences Corp., Launch Systems Group, Chandler, Ariz., is being awarded a $10,446,921 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for GQM-163A aerial target operations and maintenance services in support of the Naval Air Station (NAS), Point Mugu, Calif., and the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, Hawaii. Work will be performed at NAS Point Mugu, Calif. (40 percent); Chandler, Ariz. (40 percent); and PMRF Barking Sands, Hawaii (20 percent). Work is expected to be completed in December 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-10-D-0012).

Black Construction Corp./MACE International, JV, GMF Barrigada, Guam, is being awarded a $9,137,800 firm-fixed price contract for wharf utilities upgrade at Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia. Work will be performed in Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, and is expected to be completed by October 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site with two proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Far East, Yokosuka, Japan, is the contracting activity (N40084-10-C-0004).


EOSPACE, Inc., Redmond, Wash., was awarded a $11,842,411 contract which will provide a program to develop and demonstrate revolutionary advances in photonic links for radio frequency antenna transmit and receive applications. At this time, $567,000 has been obligated. Det 1 AFRL/PKDB, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-10-C-7002).

Veteran Gives Insight on Suicide Prevention

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 12, 2010 - When retired Army Maj. Ed Pulido was medically evacuated from Iraq in August 2004, he knew tough challenges were ahead, as he'd have to learn to live without his left leg. But as he sat in his hospital bed at Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he began to realize that recovering from his physical disability was only a small part of that challenge.

"When my leg was taken away ... I sat in the hospital bed not knowing what was happening to me mentally," said Pulido, who medically retired after a 19-year Army career. "I remember those three weeks at Brooke where I thought about the fact that as positive as I am, I hit that dark place, and those hidden wounds were the ones that would cripple me at times when I just didn't understand."

Post-traumatic stress had taken form, and depression and anxiety began to take their toll. Suddenly, suicidal thoughts began to surface, the Oklahoma native said.

Pulido shared the story of his struggles yesterday with an audience of more than 1,000 military and other government agency health-care workers and officials gathered here for the 2nd Annual Suicide Prevention Conference sponsored by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.

The weeklong conference began yesterday and goes through Jan. 14 to give department health-care professionals insight to each organization's programs and best practices in suicide prevention. Nearly 100 veterans who've experienced suicidal thoughts, such as Pulido, are expected to share their stories of survival.

During his initial weeks of recovery from his Oct. 1, 2004, amputation surgery, Pulido had plenty of time to think, he said. He often thought about the day his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb, the soldiers who saved his life and how his Army career abruptly came to an end. Also, he said, he found joy in his wife and young daughter, but was troubled with how he would support them.

"I didn't know how I was going to provide for my family, and that was the hardest thing for me to struggle with as I began this journey," he said. "When they took my leg, they took so much away."

Still, the darker days of combat in Iraq were behind him. However, the images of death and destruction, as he described it, lingered in his mind, and he soon realized they always would, he said.

Other reminders came to him during his rehabilitation, but not because he was learning to walk with a prosthetic leg. He was surrounded by other servicemembers learning to deal with their injuries, and as he watched them struggle, he worried that their sacrifice and service to the nation would be forgotten, he said.

"We have to care for them when they come back from war and make sure they are not forgotten," he said of his fellow wounded warriors.

Pulido stressed that his is just one of many stories. He reminded the audience of the importance of their support in making veterans' lives successful after returning from war. And although their lives have changed, he said, chaplains, counselors and health-care providers do well to show veterans that there's still much to live for.

Because of the care of his providers, family and with spiritual faith, Pulido began his journey of "challenge, triumph and change," he said.

"Challenge is sitting on the battlefield almost losing my life," he said. "Triumph is taking the first step after amputation, and change is living with the dark wounds of war and learning that with the right support systems in place, I can truly have a great life.

"This conference is what it's all about. ... Together, we can come together to bring change to how we take care of our servicemen and women," he said.

Pulido now spends much of his time advocating for wounded veterans, specifically in the areas of mental health and ortho-prosthetic technology.

The intervention he experienced helped to put him on the path to recovery and became his building block for understanding the mental wounds of war, he said. Through his work, he added, Pulido hopes to ensure mental health advocacy leaves no one behind on the battlefield.

Army Reserve Prepares for Post-Conflict Requirements

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 12, 2010 - After World War I, a hit single begged the question, "How do you keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" With the drawdown of U.S. forces under way in Iraq and plans announced to begin reducing forces in Afghanistan after July 2011, Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, the Army Reserve chief, is facing a similar quandary.

His big question is: "How do you keep the Army Reserve relevant, and its soldiers motivated, if it's allowed to revert from an operational reserve to its pre-war strategic-reserve status?

Stultz told an assembly of reserve soldiers today that he wants the Army Reserve to continue supporting the total force and to keep its combat-hardened capabilities sharp after the current conflicts end.

With proven battlefield successes and an Army force-generation process instilling predictability into training and deployment cycles, an operational Army Reserve can continue to fulfill critical military missions, he said.

"There are a lot of requirements out there today from all the [combatant commands] that are going unmet because of the demand in Iraq and Afghanistan," Stultz said. "And I think, long-term, if we put them in the global requirements system, there will be plenty of opportunities for reserve-component soldiers to go do things in the future, even with a drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan."

With a heavy concentration on combat-support and combat-service-support capabilities, the Army Reserve has a lot to contribute toward combatant commanders' security cooperation engagements, he said.

Stultz pointed to medical and engineering exercises in which the Army Reserve regularly engages within U.S. Southern Command's area of responsibility.

Navy Adm. James Stavridis, U.S. European Command and NATO commander who previously served as Southcom commander, said these medical engagements "do more than anything else we do to enhance relationships with the United States, and the way people in those countries view us," Stultz said.

Rather than limiting these missions to the current two to three weeks, Army reservists could serve longer tours, Stultz said, all within their regularly scheduled force-generation cycles.

The Army introduced the force-generation training and deployment cycle concept in 2006 to ensure there's always a pool of trained, equipped and deployment-ready troops. For the Army Reserve, the plan means reservists can expect to deploy for up to a year once every five years.

"What I would like to be able to say in the future is, plan a 12-month engagement," Stultz said, with Army Reserve medical units pulling longer tours – potentially 90 to 120 days longer -- to support it. "We could really do a first-class support mission," he said, possibly rotating various reserve units through for its full duration.

Citing potential missions within U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Pacific Command, the general noted "a huge potential to really leverage a lot of capabilities – from logistics to engineers to civil affairs to medical to you name it – to have a huge impact out there."

The plan would enable Army reservists to maintain their skills, Stultz said, while giving them the predictability of knowing they would be on tap for deployments only one in every five years.

Stultz said his most recent Thanksgiving and Christmas visits to Iraq and Afghanistan reaffirmed how far the Army Reserve has come as an operational force.

"When you get out there in Iraq and Afghanistan and see U.S. Army Reserve units in action, they can hold their own with anybody on the battlefield," he said. "And commanders across the force say 'I can't tell any difference.'... In terms of performance of the unit, they are as good as anybody else."

The key after the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts will be to maintain those capabilities on a sustained basis, he said.

While the leadership has a big interest in maximizing Army Reserve capabilities, Stultz said, the soldiers themselves want to ensure they remain relevant.

"The soldiers we have signing up today for the Army Reserve are signing up to go do something. They are not signing up for a one-weekend-a-month, two-weeks-in-the summertime Army," he said. "If we go back to a strategic reserve, with tiered readiness, I think we will have a heck of a time retaining those soldiers, because that is not what they want."

Air Force Pilot Missing In Action From Vietnam War Is Identified

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

Air Force Maj. Russell C. Goodman of Salt Lake City, Utah, will be honored this week at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., home of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird demonstration team. At the time of his loss, Goodman was assigned to the Thunderbirds and was flying with the U.S. Navy on an exchange program. He will be buried in Alaska at a date determined by his family.

On Feb. 20, 1967, Goodman and Navy Lt. Gary L. Thornton took off in their F-4B Phantom from the USS Enterprise for a bombing mission against a railroad yard in Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam. They were struck by enemy antiaircraft fire and their plane exploded. Thornton was able to eject at just 250 feet altitude, but Goodman did not escape. Thornton survived and was held captive until his release in 1973.

Search and rescue attempts were curtailed because of heavy anti-aircraft and automatic weapons fire in the area of the crash.

Between October 1993 and March 2008, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) investigated the crash site twice and conducted two excavations, recovering human remains and pilot equipment. The aircraft debris recovered correlates with the type of aircraft the men were flying.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA – which matched two of his maternal relatives -- in the identification of Goodman's remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Website at or call (703) 699-1169.

Six Nations Gear Up for Cobra Gold 2010

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 12, 2010 - Cobra Gold, the largest multinational military exercise in the world, begins its 29th year of joint training and cooperation among six countries in the Asia-Pacific theater in Thailand on Feb.1.

Cobra Gold 2010 marks the first time South Korea will participate in the exercise.

"Thailand is one of our closest friends and partners in Asia, as well as being our oldest ally in Asia," said Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander, U.S. Army Pacific. "The Cobra Gold exercise is the largest multilateral joint military exercise in the world."

Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and the Royal Thai Supreme Command, the three-week exercise includes a command-post exercise, a series of medical and engineering civic-action projects and joint and combined field training. The exercise continues to serve as a venue to build interoperability between the United States and its Asia-Pacific regional partners.

The command-post exercise focuses on training a Thai, U.S., Singaporean, Indonesian, and South Korean coalition task force. The exercise also includes Japan participating within a United Nations Force staff. A team composed of representatives from Brunei, Chile, China, Germany, Laos, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam will observe the command-post exercise at the invitation of the Thai government.

Among Cobra Gold 2010's objectives is Pacom's rapid deployment of a joint task force and subsequent coordination with U.N. forces, with the aim of improving Pacom's ability to conduct multinational operations and increase interoperability with partner nations, officials said.

In addition, officials noted, the military-to-military relationships developed during Cobra Gold exercises underscore a combined capability to face myriad issues in the Asia-Pacific theater, including terrorism, transnational threats, and humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief efforts.

(From a U.S. Army Pacific news release.)

Joint Basing Moves Forward at Charleston

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 12, 2010 - The latest step toward the scheduled stand-up of Joint Base Charleston took place here Jan. 8, as 18th Air Force officials activated the 628th Air Base Wing.

The joint base stand-up will begin the next phase in an ongoing process to merge Charleston Air Force Base with Naval Weapons Station Charleston as part of the base realignment and closure process.

When the last one stands up, 12 joint bases will have been established across the Defense Department.

The activation ceremony for the 628th Air Base Wing was accompanied by the inactivation of two groups under the 437th Airlift Wing and their immediate activation as the 628th Mission Support Group and 628th Medical Group under the new wing.

The 437th Airlift Wing had served as the base's host unit since 1991.

The 437th Aerial Port Squadron was realigned under the 437th Maintenance Group, and many wing staff agencies previously assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing now will operate under the 628th Air Base Wing. The organizational structure of tenant units on Charleston Air Force Base will remain unchanged. The 437th Airlift Wing and its airlift and support units will continue their mission of airlifting troops, passengers and military equipment; flying aeromedical airlift missions; and airdropping troops, equipment and supplies.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander, formally introduced Air Force Col. Martha Meeker as the first commander of the 628th Air Base Wing, citing the depth of her intellect, her warrior spirit and her capacity for leadership.

"For the complexities of this great merger that we have -- pulling together the best of what the Navy has to offer and the best of what the Air Force has to offer -- we in the Air Force chose one of our great leaders, Col. Martha Meeker, to come down to Charleston," he said.

Meeker will direct host-unit duties for Charleston Air Force Base's tenant units, and after the Jan. 31 merger, for Naval Weapons Station Charleston's tenant units as well.

The air base wing's primary duties will be to provide base support for about 80,000 personnel, including active-duty and reserve military members, civilian government employees and contractors, military family members and retirees.

"On this day in 1790, George Washington gave the nation's first State of the Union address," Meeker noted in her remarks at the ceremony. "A fledging institution itself, the United States had fought hard for its freedom, and President Washington began his remarks by reaffirming his belief in the common defense that made that freedom happen. For as in his words, preparing for war is the most effectual means to preserving the peace.

"When we look at his words today," she continued, "all our airmen, our sailors, our soldiers and Marines, and everyone here who makes up Joint Team Charleston, are taking their place today in our common defense."

Allardice noted the impact the Charleston military community has had dating back to the Revolutionary War, and its current role in supporting military and humanitarian operations anywhere in the world. Joint Base Charleston, he said, will continue that impact with greater efficiency.

"Nothing happens in the world without Charleston from a military perspective," he said. "This is a national treasure here at Charleston. ... I know you are focused on preserving that, on building that and on establishing more and more of this great power projection platform that you represent here at Charleston."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles serves in the 628th Air Base Wing public affairs office.)

Soldier Grabs Guinness Record

By Roger Teel
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 12, 2010 - Army 2nd Lt. Sophie Hilaire does not particularly fit the general image of an explosive ordnance disposal warrior. At 120 pounds, one wonders how she possibly could be strong enough to function in an 85-pound bomb suit, handling the physical and mental demands of defusing improvised explosive devices. But Hilaire is strong enough to run a marathon in full battle armor. In fact, she holds a world record for it.

After graduating from an all-girls Catholic school in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Hilaire was accepted at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. She graduated last spring with degrees in management and environmental engineering, making her parents, Vincent and Sung-Suk Hilaire, of Longmont, Colo., proud. She was a member of the Army women's fencing team at West Point.

"My dad's uncle was in the Army, a warrant officer, but we really didn't have anyone particularly pushing us to go to West Point," Hilaire said. She used the collective "we" because her younger sister and brother both attend the U.S. Military Academy. Her sister Nicole is in her junior year, and her brother Philip is a freshman.

"We all had to work for it," Hilaire said. "We all had the same values. My mom is Korean and really stressed values in our family, and a sense of service -- you know, of giving something back."

Hilaire said she started a running regimen out of necessity during her junior year.

"After a summer of not running, I was worried about an Army physical fitness test I had coming up," she said. "I ended up performing better than I expected, and was motivated to continue running afterwards. I started running with a friend who helped me develop a training plan. My idea at that time was to train for a half marathon."

Her running "just took off" from there, she said.

Hilaire ran her first marathon in Virginia Beach, Va., in 2008, followed by the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., later that year. In May 2009, she ran the New Jersey Marathon in 3 hours and 37 minutes, qualifying by three minutes for the 2010 Boston Marathon.

By the time she was in training for her fourth marathon in Philadelphia in November, she was looking for additional motivation.

"I was just killing time until Boston next April, so I started looking for a cause," she said. "After a Google search, I chose to run for the American Veterans with Brain Injuries."

Hilaire said she read about the founder's son, Army Pfc. Chris Lynch, a runner who suffered a brain injury that caused a lack of coordination to the point that he no longer could run. Since his injury, he has relentlessly trained and has competed in marathons on a hand cycle.

"After reading about courageous servicemen like Chris," Hilaire said, "I felt humbled and inspired to do something for this organization. I was also looking for ways to increase my fund-raising. I ran the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon for charity. My goal was to raise $1,000, and I raised more than $1,500."

Her decision to shoot for the world record she now holds was a stroke of luck, she said.

"I just happened to look at the Guinness Book of World Records for marathons," she explained, "and saw an entry for the fastest time with 'full battle rattle' - Army combat uniform, boots, Army combat helmet and the protective vest with full body armor. A British soldier owned the record with a time of 5 hours, 11 minutes."

That was the goal she originally intended to beat, but Guinness officials opened a separate women's category for her, she said. "And before I ran the Philly marathon, the Brit's record was beaten," she added. "I think the current men's record is three hours and change."

Weighing down her slight frame with 30 pounds of additional gear, she focused on her goal.

"It made sense to me to raise funds for [American Veterans with Brain Injuries] while embracing the challenge of running in combat gear to generate awareness of this noteworthy cause," she said.

As she trained, she also engaged social media, notifying her friends by e-mail what she was doing and establishing a Facebook group to collect donations for her cause. She raised more than $4,000 for the organization, exceeding her goal of $2,000.

American Veterans with Brain Injuries officials were overwhelmed, Hilaire said. "They were down to their last $200 when they received my sponsors' donation," she explained, "so they were just elated."

She also established the Guinness record, finishing the marathon -- 26.2 miles -- in 4 hours and 54 minutes, though she's not yet listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. "I haven't received the certificate," she said. "I'm waiting for them to process it."

The lieutenant explained her strategy and noted that once she passed the 20-mile mark, she dedicated the rest of the race to others.

"I joined a five-hour pace group and stayed with them until I pulled away at the end," she said. "I ran the final 6.2 miles for seven different individuals. The first few I texted during the race to let them know; the final few I was too exhausted. I ran for veterans like Pfc. Lynch and Capt. Sam Brown, a personal hero and friend, who was severely burned by an IED."

Hilaire trained with a friend, Army 2nd Lt. Courtney Miller. "She ran with me for the first half of the marathon, despite an injury," Hilaire said. "She carried my Gatorade and took pictures to document the venture for Guinness."

It's hard to put into words what running a marathon does for her, the lieutenant said.

"At heart, I'm a long-distance runner. It gives me a reason to work out and train, but I had never pushed myself before," she said. "The feeling of being just a couple miles out from the finish line, knowing that you won't hit the wall and are about to meet this goal or time that you've dedicated every day of the last six months to, is incredibly emotional. Crossing the finish line is even better."

Running has helped every aspect of her life, Hilaire said.

"Everything became easier after I started running," she said. "Basic Army requirements, like the semiannual physical fitness test, became so much easier after I started training for marathons."

But, she added, she's not a natural runner.

"I've got flat feet, knock-knees and one leg is shorter than the other," she said, laughing. "It's just fun to set and meet goals along the way."

Asked if she'd run in battle-rattle again, the lieutenant replied, "Only if someone beats my record."

In mid-December, while Hilaire attended the Ordnance Branch Officer Basic Course at Fort Lee, Va., she was assessed as part of her request to become an EOD technician. The assessment included two 30-minute sessions of mental and physical tests in an EOD bomb suit and in hazardous materials and chemical suits. The bomb suit weighs about 85 pounds. During the evaluation, candidates are required to carry a 100-pound, 155 mm projectile 100 meters.

"For the typical soldier, this is a challenge," said Army Capt. Rob Busseau, an EOD officer from 20th Support Command, who conducted the assessment. "For a 120-pound second lieutenant, it required a massive amount of determination, motivation and intestinal fortitude."

Hilaire also completed multiple sets of push-ups, side-straddle hops and other demanding exercises. During both suit tests, she maintained a positive attitude and support for her classmates, Busseau said.

"She's an exceptional soldier with tremendous potential," he said. "After the evaluation, I interviewed Hilaire to determine her suitability to serve in the EOD field. She is a modest, yet confident, officer with a true passion for serving in the U.S. Army."

Hilaire was one of four candidates accepted into the Army EOD program following the assessment.

"I talked to a lot of mentors, specifically 1st Lt. Danielle Peek, a 2008 West Point grad who is now an EOD officer," she said, explaining how she came to her career choice. "Everything about EOD appeals to me - small teams, tight-knit working environments, technical skill sets, and most importantly, saving lives. It just fits my personality well, and I decided to give it a shot."

Her immediate plans include finishing officer basic on Jan. 20, then reporting Feb. 1 to Phase 1 of EOD training at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. After Phase 1, Hilaire will report to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to finish EOD training at the U.S. Navy-run Kaufmann EOD Training Complex.

"It's a funny coincidence, but the family who started [American Veterans with Brain Injuries] resides in both Huntsville and just a few minutes from Eglin. So EOD school will soon bring us together, and we will finally get to meet," Hilaire said.

She also has a date to run the Boston Marathon in April.

"Many of my peers may deploy soon after graduation," Hilaire said. "And it bothers me a little that I will be in a year-long training program. But I believe the benefits of the training will be worth the effort."

(Roger Teel works in the 20th Support Command.)