Military News

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three Soldiers Sentenced for Stealing Computers

Two Current Army Reserve Sergeants, One Former Army Reserve Sergeant Sold the Goods on Open Markets

March 25, 2010 - ATLANTA, GA—EARL LAMONT SMITH, 38, of Douglasville, Georgia; HAROLD GRADY, 43, of West Moreland, Tennessee; and GREGORY MURRAY, 48, of Harrison, Tennessee, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Orinda D. Evans on charges of theft of government property, stealing thousands of government computers, and selling them for their own profit.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This case reminds us that even those we trust to protect us are capable of criminal conduct. These defendants were soldiers who abused the trust and betrayed the honor due members of our military services when they manipulated the system for their own private benefit.”

FBI Atlanta Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Ken Moore said, “The FBI is dismayed at the actions of these soldiers who were driven by greed to steal and then sell government equipment. The vast inventory of various equipment maintained by the military and other government entities must be protected from such thefts in order for the government to carry out its mission and the resources that we dedicate to investigate these thefts takes us away from our other many and varied investigative responsibilities that we have at the FBI.”

“Today's sentencing demonstrates that when individuals, including members of the armed forces, choose to break the law and corrupt the system to line their own pockets, we will work relentlessly to bring those individuals to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Region. “From Medicare fraud to theft of government property, we will not tolerate crimes against federal programs.”

SMITH was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $163,000 in restitution. GRADY was sentenced to six months of home confinement, three years of probation, ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $10,187 in restitution. MURRAY was sentenced to two months of home confinement, two years of probation, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $12,124 in restitution.

GRADY and SMITH pleaded guilty to the charges on January 7, 2010. MURRAY pleaded guilty to the charges on January 14, 2010.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and the evidence and documents presented in court: Between 2003 and 2007, the three defendants, who were stationed at Army Reserve centers in Tennessee, discovered that they could request surplus computers and other equipment through a federal program that makes this equipment available to other federal agencies that have a need for the equipment. This program requires, however, that the surplus equipment remain government property and the requesting agency must use it for official federal government purposes.

As part of the scheme, the soldiers all filed false paperwork stating that the computers and equipment they obtained would be used for Army purposes. In particular, SMITH filed phony letters on official Army letterhead and other documentation stating that the computers would be sent to soldiers in Iraq in support of “Operation Enduring Freedom.” SMITH then sold the computers to various computer stores in Georgia and Tennessee. GRADY and MURRAY sold the stolen computers via private sales and through listings in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet auction service eBay.

During the six-year period, SMITH obtained computers and other equipment in this fashion from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”); the U.S. Air Force; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); the Department of Transportation; the Department of Veterans Affairs; and the U.S. Army. MURRAY and GRADY both obtained the equipment solely from the CDC.

This case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division and Military Intelligence Division; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; General Services Administration-Office of the Inspector General; the Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General; the NASA Office of Inspector General; the Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General; and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Horn.

Commander, Troops Support Korea Tour Plan


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 25, 2010 - Troops stationed in South Korea -- from the top general officer to the newest privates -- call the new tour normalization policy a huge boost for military families, particularly when they're so often separated during combat deployments. Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp took command of U.S. Forces Korea last year advocating longer tours to benefit U.S. military families, cut down on moves and reduce disruption within the command.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved the proposal in December, and it's being phased in as facilities are built to accommodate more command-sponsored families.

With tour normalization, assignments to South Korea will be more like assignments to Germany, Japan or other overseas installations. Single servicemembers typically will serve two-year tours, and married troops who bring their families will stay for three years.

The new policy will usher in big changes. The vast majority of the 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea currently serve one-year, unaccompanied tours. But that's already starting to change.

"Since June of 2008, the number of families on the peninsula has increased from about 1,600 to ... about 3,900 families," Sharp said today in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C.

Over the next year, that number will increase to almost 5,000, Sharp said later on today during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. Ultimately, Sharp said, the number of command-sponsored tours in South Korea is expected to reach about 14,000, based on the fact that about half of U.S. servicemembers assigned there are married.

Sharp cited the personal and operational benefits of tour normalization during his congressional testimony.

"By keeping trained military people in Korea for normal tour lengths, we retain institutional knowledge and create a more capable force, and are better able to support the alliance and deter aggression and also demonstrate our commitment to Northeast Asia," he said. "At the same time, we are eliminating unneeded unaccompanied tours and building the strong families that are key to retention and effectiveness in this time of ongoing conflict."

In the interview after his testimony, Sharp noted that eight years of war have kept servicemembers away from their families in large numbers. "We have enough unaccompanied tours in the world today, with Iraq and Afghanistan," he said, adding that aside from the need for infrastructure to accommodate more families, unaccompanied tours in South Korea no longer are necessary.

"The only reason we [have unaccompanied tours] today is that we haven't built the infrastructure yet in order to have the schools, the medical facilities and the housing to bring the families." he said

Most of the arriving families will be based here, where a massive construction project is under way to provide the infrastructure needed to support them.

Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Helm, who has served three combat deployments, said he welcomes knowing that troops will be stabilized in South Korea for tours of two or three years. Helm arrived at Camp Humphreys as a single soldier, and remembers living in an old barracks building until he got married and moved with his wife, Maria, into family housing. Three years later, as he prepares to leave, he's impressed by the changes he has watched take place around him.

"I like what I see. They're tearing down a lot," he said. "I'd like to come back when it's all complete to see what it looks like."

Army Staff Sgt. Brian Nagle, an air traffic controller at the Humphreys airfield, has a bird's-eye view of the transformation taking place.

"It's in full swing," he said, looking out at the construction from the air traffic control tower. "At any given time, you can see in excess of 100 trucks that are moving on and off the construction area."

Among the most impressive developments he has watched was seeing a high-rise barracks building go up from its foundation.

"It's really kind of cool to know that that's the beginning of what is going to be in three or four years," Nagle said. "When it's complete, it is going to be amazing. It is going to rival anything that any other Army base has, worldwide."

But even better, Nagle said, is knowing that troops assigned to South Korea will serve longer tours without having to leave their families behind. "With the hardships of deployments going in so many other facets of the world, it's nice to know that you can come here and not have that," he said.

"But it's also a benefit on the Army side, because you get to keep people here for a greater amount of time," he added. "That's especially important in lines of work like ours, where you go through an eight-month training program, then have only three or four months to use it before you leave."

Families already in South Korea rave about tour normalization, knowing that along with new infrastructure, it will bring more families and more services and family-friendly amenities to support them.

"I think it's a great idea," said Kiya Reid, a former Navy sailor who arrived at Humphreys five months ago with her husband, Army 2nd Lt. Jonathan Reid. "It's really good that servicemembers can bring their spouse and kids, because that's one less duty station where they have to be away from their families."

Reid said there's an added benefit of longer, accompanied tours. "It's an opportunity for [families] to spend some time here, get out to see things and learn more about the culture," she said.

"There's so much going on here, if people will just take advantage of it," said Billy Black, whose husband has been the civilian assistant fire chief at Humphreys for the past two years. She said she's excited about growth in family programs at the post, especially those geared for children. The post Girl Scout troop has quadrupled in size during the past year, and more sports teams have come on line as more families arrive.

Black said she's delighted at the wealth of additional services to become available as the new, larger U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys takes shape. "I hope I'm here, or get to come back and see it when it's all finished," she said. "It's going to be fantastic."

But as they look forward to the changes to come, troops and family members at Humphreys warned those headed their way not to expect too much too quickly.

"People are very excited about bringing their families over here to Korea, and all the new things that are coming here," said Nagle, whose wife joined him after he arrived here. "And when it's complete, it is going to be amazing. It is going to rival anything that any other Army base has, worldwide. But at the same time, people need to realize that this is work in progress. And as it develops, it is only going to get better."

Clinton, Gates Urge Supplemental Budget's Passage

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 25, 2010 - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged senators today to quickly approve a $37.5 billion supplemental budget request to fund ongoing operations. The two Cabinet members testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

Clinton and Gates appearing together on Capitol Hill mirrored actions on the ground in the combat theater, where State Department and Defense Department personnel work side by side.

"Our joint testimony today reflects the close cooperation of our two departments and the importance of a properly funded and integrated civil-military approach to the challenges we face in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world," Gates said. "I would like to offer my strong support for the programs funded in the State portion of the supplemental request, without which our military efforts will not be successful."

The Defense Department needs an additional $33 billion this year and State is asking for another $4.5 billion in 2010. "Our request addresses urgent demands that will advance our efforts to bring stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and ensure a smooth transition to a civilian-led effort in Iraq," Clinton told the senators.

Gates noted he recently returned from Afghanistan, and he gave the panel a read-out of his visit. "Overall, I think there are grounds for guarded optimism as our campaign to roll back the Taliban gains momentum and the Afghan government shows an increasing willingness to take on responsibilities," the defense secretary said.

But the process will take time, and there will be many painful and tough days ahead, he added. "It may take several months to produce visible results, as most of the additional forces ordered by the president have not yet arrived in theater and begun operations," Gates said. U.S. force levels in Afghanistan are on track to hit 98,000 by the end of fiscal 2010.

Gates also tried to manage expectations about what security and stability will look like in Afghanistan – a country that has known nothing but war for more than 30 years. "For most Afghans, a roof over their heads, the opportunity for their children – both boys and girls – to attend school and the ability to provide for the basic needs of their families free from violence would be considered a pretty good life," he said. "The scale of the coalition's efforts and ambitions should reflect that reality."

The supplemental request includes $1 billion for conventional and all-terrain versions of mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles. The request also budgets $2.6 billion to strengthen the Afghan national security forces. Gates said that Afghans taking responsibility for their country's security is the exit strategy for the coalition, and that Afghan security forces are taking on greater roles.

The request asks for $1 billion to strengthen Iraqi security forces. Funds will be used this year to ensure the Iraqis are fully prepared to assume full responsibilities, Gates said.

In Haiti, the Defense Department continues to provide support in wake of a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. The urgency of the situation required the department to take funds from existing accounts with the understanding that the accounts would be replenished via supplemental funding. This totals $650 million.

Gates and Clinton asked the senators to approve the request quickly so no disruptions in funding will happen later in the fiscal year.

Disabled Veteran Trains for Inaugural Warrior Games


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

March 25, 2010 - Doctors once told Matthew Bilancia that playing sports and competing in athletic competition would be difficult, if not nearly impossible. But the Air Force veteran is defying those odds with a demanding workout regimen and by being selected to participate in the inaugural Warrior Games slated May 10-14 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Bilancia is among 25 wounded airmen and disabled veterans expected to represent the Air Force at the games.

The competition is open to military members and veterans with bodily injuries as well as mental wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The Defense Department announced in January that about 200 disabled servicemembers and veterans are expected to participate. An official announcement to inform the selected athletes is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

Typical adaptive sports competitions hosted by the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs are open to anyone. The Warrior Games, however, are expected to be highly competitive because of the selection process. Independent panels have been reviewing applications since January to determine who will represent each of the military services.

"The Warrior Games are going to be successful simply because of its selection process," Bilancia told American Forces Press Service. "I think it's going to raise the bar."

Still, just being able to compete and participate in athletics at all after suffering life-changing injuries is a great accomplishment, he added.

Bilancia, a New Jersey native, shattered his right knee in July 2002 when his motorcycle was rear-ended by a car. He was stationed with the Air Force in Tucson, Ariz. Every ligament in his knee was damaged, and he was medically separated from the service in 2004. He sought treatment to repair his leg through the VA health system. After eight surgeries, his entire leg eventually became septic, and doctors told him he might never play sports again.

"The doctors told me I'd basically have a hard time walking, [and] that I'd never be able to run or jog," he said.

Bilancia now is an avid snowboarder, and he plays wheelchair basketball and tennis. He also has a weekly workout routine that would make most people think twice about going to the gym with him. In fact, since moving here recently, Bilancia said he has had nine different workout partners, with most not bothering to show up for Day 2.

Working out and staying fit helps to control depression and cope with physical pain better than anything his doctors could ever prescribe, Bilanca said. For the past three years, an intense combination of cardiovascular and weight-lifting sessions five and six days a week has been his medicine of choice.

"I started using strength and endurance training and athletics about three years ago to manage my depression and post-traumatic stress, and as a substitute for narcotics," he said. "I found that I'd rather have the endorphin release and adrenaline rush from working out than numbing my pain with medications."

Bilancia said he'll take that message to Colorado. While there, he wants "to identify to myself that I'm able to compete, and to be an inspiration to others who think that they can't compete."

Bilancia said he hopes the games will be another long-term and continuing conduit for disabled veterans and wounded warriors to discover their true abilities. Often, people with disabilities shy away from athletics and are fearful of failing, he noted.

The military mentality instilled in him during his service made it extremely difficult to admit weaknesses and a need for help, he acknowledged. But he said he eventually learned that opening up helped him become more optimistic and confident.

"Success in this whole program is not about winning events," he said. "It's more about participating, enjoying it and actually learning that you can do something you couldn't do before, or that you thought you couldn't do."

The U.S. Olympic Committee will host the games, and events will include shooting, swimming, archery and wheelchair basketball, to name a few. Since 2003, the U.S. Paralympics Committee has worked in partnership with VA, providing adaptive sports therapy to veterans. The Warrior Games is not a Paralympics qualifying event.

Guard Should Remain an Operational Reserve

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

March 25, 2010 - National Guard leaders went to Capitol Hill yesterday with a message to Congress from Guardsmen: "We want to remain an operational reserve."

"The National Guard has repeatedly proven itself to be a ready, accessible force," Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "We have validated the total force concept by showing that the men and women in our formations are ready to answer the call to be mobilized to deploy overseas, return home and then become prepared to do it again and again."

The total force concept includes a seamless integration of the active force, the National Guard and the services' reserves.

"The citizen-soldiers and -airmen of your National Guard are adding value to America every day," McKinley said. "Today's men and women volunteer ... fully expecting to be deployed."

That expectation is a central aspect of the National Guard's shift to being a fully operational force and no longer merely a strategic reserve, McKinley said. "Indeed," he added, "the soldiers and airmen of your National Guard now serve with that expectation and are proud of it. They want to remain central players in the nation's defense and would indeed be resistant to any move to return to a role limited to strictly strategic reserve."

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III said the Air National Guard's priorities for 2011 are modernization, securing the home front, and defending the nation and developing airmen.

"Our nation's Air National Guard provides a trained, equipped and ready force, accessible and available, that comprises about one-third of the total [Air Force] capabilities for less than 7 percent of the total force spending," he said. "Many of our folks continue to volunteer at unprecedented rates for worldwide contingencies and to protect our domestic security through air sovereignty alert missions and in responding to natural and manmade disasters."

Describing the operational National Guard as "a national treasure," Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, said "the National Guard today is a far cry from the force I joined."

Facilities and infrastructure are among the Army Guard priorities Carpenter cited to the committee. "[They] are especially important in the homeland mission and supporting readiness for the overseas fight," he said.

"We have 1,400 readiness centers armories that are over 50 years old. The president's budget includes $873 million for construction for the Army National Guard," Carpenter told the panel. "It is a high-water mark ... and something we'd like to see sustained in order for us to do the modernization of armories."

The aging air fleet accounted for most of the Guard leadership's testimony. Guard leaders said a looming aircraft shortfall could diminish the Air National Guard's homeland defense air sovereignty mission.

Eighty percent of the National Guard's F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role jet fighters – the backbone of the air sovereignty alert force – will begin reaching the end of their service lives in seven years, according to the 2011 National Guard Posture Statement released yesterday. Of 18 air sovereignty alert sites nationwide, the Air National Guard operates 16 flying aging F-16s that often were built before their National Guard pilots were born.

The Air Force is scheduled to field a new F-35 Lightning II stealth multi-role fighter, but a gap exists between the anticipated end of the Fighting Falcons' service life and when the Air Guard could expect to start receiving any allotment of F-35s.

"It is a primary concern of mine to make sure that we address a plan to make sure that we have the capability in the near term as we wait for the fielding of the F-35," Wyatt told the subcommittee.

The Air National Guard has 88 flying units. "We have three units that – without any kind of intervention – probably will not have equipment by the end of [fiscal 2012], which is a big concern," McKinley said.

But no legacy aircraft are in the pipeline to fill this gap.

One solution to alleviate the pressure: The Air Force has said the Air National Guard can re-evaluate the amount of flying time left on its aging F-15 Eagle tactical fighter and F-16 fleet, McKinley said. That would mean some aircraft potentially could see longer service lives than previously expected.

The National Guard is known for squeezing the most from aging equipment, as it did from the 59-year-old M35 "deuce-and-a-half" cargo trucks, that Carpenter told the subcommittee, are finally being phased out this year, and from the 40-year-old UH-1 Huey helicopters the Guard flew until 2009.

The Air Force also foresees ramping up F-35 production from 48 to 80 per year. "That's a significant change," McKinley said.

Failing longer service lives or faster F-35 fielding, units could receive alternative missions. "The last thing that I want to see is a wing of aircraft leave, and leave 1,200 people at a location with nothing to do," McKinley said. "That's just not in the interests of the American citizen."

Former Judge Advocate General of the Navy to Oversee Military Commission Process

March 25, 2010 Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates today appointed retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce E. MacDonald to the position of convening authority for military commissions. During his 23 year judge advocate general career, MacDonald served on the staffs of U.N. Command, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Naval Forces, Korea. He also was the Seventh Fleet judge advocate in Japan, commander of Naval Legal Service Command and special counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations.

MacDonald expects to take office immediately. A noted expert on military law, the depth and breadth of his experiences for more than two decades was taken into consideration for this appointment.

The position of convening authority was created by Congress in the Military Commissions Act. The convening authority is responsible for overseeing many aspects of the military commission process and the administration of the Office of Military Commissions. Among other things, the convening authority reviews and approves charges against persons determined to be unprivileged belligerents as defined in the Military Commissions Act, appoints military commissions members, and reviews military commissions' verdicts and sentences.

His military biography is available at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=187.

Pentagon Changes 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Enforcement

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

March 25, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today announced changes to the Pentagon's regulation on homosexuals serving in the military that he said make the Defense Department's enforcement of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law "fairer and more appropriate." On Feb. 2, Gates announced he'd ordered a review to understand the implications of a possible repeal of the 17-year-old law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. President Barack Obama has called on Congress to repeal the law.

The initial 45 days of that review, he said, produced findings that "would enforce the existing law in a fairer and more appropriate manner" and are supported by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Vice Chairman Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright and the service chiefs.

"Today, I have approved a series of changes to the implementation of the current statute," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. "They were developed with full participation of the department's senior civilian and military leadership, and the changes are unanimously supported by Chairman Mullen, Vice Chairman Cartwright and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff."

The changes include:

-- Only a general or flag officer may separate an enlisted member believed at the conclusion of an investigation to have engaged in homosexual conduct. Under previous policy, a colonel -- or for a captain in the Navy and Coast Guard could order separation.

-- A revision in what's needed to begin an inquiry or a separation proceeding. Information provided by a third party now must be given under oath, "discouraging the use of overheard statements and hearsay," Gates said.

-- Certain categories of confidential information -- such as information provided to lawyers, clergy and psychotherapists -- no longer will be used in support of discharges. Information provided to medical personnel in furtherance of treatment, or to a public-health official in the course of seeing professional assistance for domestic or physical abuse also is excluded, as well as information obtained in the process of security-clearance investigations, in accordance with existing Pentagon policies.

"These changes reflect some of the insights we have gained over 17 years of implementing the current law, including the need for consistency, oversight and clear standards," the secretary said. "I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice -- above all, by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved."

The military services have 30 days to conform their regulations to the changes. The new policies, however, took effect immediately upon Gates' announcement, meaning that they apply to all open cases, he said.

"All separations from this point forward will take place under the revised regulations," he said. "As of my signature, every case that is currently still open will be dealt with under these new regulations. So, they will be reinitiated by a flag-rank officer."

The intent for open, ongoing investigations is not to restart the proceedings, but to carry them forward with regard to the types of information allowed in the new policy, he said.

"As far as the services are concerned, every case that is open as of this morning will be reinitiated and evaluated under the new regulations that I've just set forth," Gates said.

The secretary also stressed that the policy changes are not an attempt to change the law, but rather to be prepared to offer Congress reliable information should the law be repealed.

The Pentagon's top lawyer, Jeh Johnson, and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, head Gates' working group charged with studying the potential implications of the law's repeal. The panel will report its findings by Dec. 1. The group will spend the next several months traveling to military installations to learn how servicemembers and families will react to a potential repeal.

"There is a great deal we don't know about this [potential repeal of the law] in terms of the views of our servicemembers, in terms of the views of their families and influencers," Gates said. "There is a lot we have to address in terms of what would be required in the way of changed regulations. There are a lot of unanswered questions in terms of the implementation of this proposed change.

"We need to do this thoroughly and professionally," he continued. "We need to do this right, and I think doing it hastily is very risky and does not address some of the concerns that have been expressed by the chiefs of staff of the services, and a number of questions that have been raised."

Citizen Service Above Self Announced and Honored 2010 Recipients

One of the Highest Civilian Honors Given to Three Unsung Heroes by Medal of Honor Recipients

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2010 – The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation today on Medal of Honor Day announced and nationally honored the Citizen Service Above Self Honors recipients for 2010. After a nationwide search and selection process, three Americans have been selected for their selflessness and indomitable courage. The three unsung heroes are:

Dylan Nelson of Madison, S.D. who sacrificed his own life while saving two others in Lake Madison on Aug. 8, 2009;

Jeffrey Michael Ross of Roseville, Calif. who rescued a semiconscious woman from her sinking vehicle in the Folsom South Canal on July 12, 2009; and,

Dr. Jordy Cox of Phoenix, Ariz. who selflessly volunteered and offered his medical skills to perform surgeries that have saved many lives in Haiti, the Congo, and the Ivory Coast.

The 2010 Citizen Service Above Self Honors recipients were recognized by our nation’s most honored heroes, the fewer than 100 living Medal of Honor recipients, in the shadow of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The Tomb of the Unknowns represents the epitome of courage, sacrifice and selflessness in service to our nation.

The Citizen Service Above Self Honors ceremony was held at 2:45 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 25, 2010, following a Medal of Honor Day wreath laying ceremony. Lt. Gen. James B. Peake (Ret.), M.D., Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Leo Thorsness, the President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society; and, David J. McIntyre, Jr., Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation board member and TriWest Healthcare Alliance President and CEO made formal remarks. More than thirty Medal of Honor recipients were in attendance.

"I, along with all of the living Medal of Honor recipients, salute Dylan Nelson, Jeffrey Michael Ross, and Dr. Jordy Cox, for their selfless acts," said Leo Thorsness, President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and a Foundation board member. “As true heroes among us, these three remarkable recipients epitomize the Citizen Service Above Self Honors concept of ‘service above self’ and are truly deserving of this award. Their actions are an inspiration to Americans everywhere.”

After considering all nominations, a panel including Medal of Honor recipient representation, selected 20 national finalists. From among the finalists, a second panel of Medal of Honor recipients selected three individuals to receive the prestigious civilian honors, Citizen Service Above Self Honors. Complete profiles for each of the three recipients are listed on the Web site, www.CitizenServiceAboveSelfHonors.org.

Sponsors of the 2010 Citizen Service Above Self Honors initiative are TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and the T. Boone Pickens Foundation.

ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR SOCIETY
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is chartered by Congress, and regarded as the most exclusive organization in our country, as its membership is solely made up of living Medal of Honor recipients. Today there are fewer than 100 members, who come from all social classes, race and economic levels. They range in age from 59 to more than 100, and live in all areas of our country. No amount of money, power or influence can buy one’s rite of passage to this exclusive circle, and unlike almost any other organization, this group’s members hope that there will be no more inductees. For more information, visit www.cmohs.org.

ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR FOUNDATION
The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to perpetuate the Medal of Honor’s legacy of courage, sacrifice and patriotism. The Foundation supports the objectives, activities and programs of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and raises funds for initiatives such as Citizen Service Above Self Honors, that promote awareness of what the Medal of Honor represents. For more information, visit www.cmohfoundation.org.

Commander Discusses Brigade's Role in Haiti

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

March 25, 2010 - Hundreds of Army paratroopers continue to provide humanitarian aid to earthquake survivors in Haiti, even as they prepare to return home. "We represent one small piece of [the Defense Department's] contribution to the operation here," Army Col. Tim McAteer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade, said during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable yesterday.

The brigade deployed to Haiti in mid-January. McAteer said the team was prepared for deployment within five hours of the initial call. McAteer became the brigade's commander Feb. 9.

"When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of calm throughout the city," he said.

The brigade's soldiers have been working in phased operations with Joint Task Force Haiti, initially providing immediate assistance and disaster relief, along with security and humanitarian aid. They transitioned to helping the World Food Program's surge, providing security and assistance to nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations as they provided food and water to displaced Haitians.

"This had a huge effect on the population," McAteer said.

Immediately after the Jan. 12 earthquake, he explained, the government and security in Haiti experienced major setbacks. "We were able to fill that void and serve as a supporting element," the colonel said.

McAteer added that the brigade's paratroopers broke down many barriers and changed misconceptions about the U.S. military as they quickly ascertained the needs of the Haitian people.

For example, he said, a university hospital in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince was inundated with patients, and help from the brigade's soldiers allowed the hospital staff to turn things around.

The airport and naval ports now are operating at pre-earthquake capacity, McAteer said, and the security environment is vastly improved. "When you look at the trends in security, it has been very calm throughout our stay here," he said. "There have been no acts of violence against American soldiers."

The brigade continues to provide relief while preparing to redeploy. "We have about 900 paratroopers left," the colonel said. But if conditions warrant, he added, the paratroopers always will be prepared to return.

"I think you can be justifiably proud of the work done," he said. "We had a game-changing impact in the opening stages and things were heading on a dangerous path, but we were able to turn the tide.

"It was a very successful operation," he continued. "There is still a ton of work to be done down here, and I do believe the conditions are right to have long-term success."