Sunday, May 02, 2010

USNS Mercy Sets Sail for Pacific Partnership 2010

By Lt. Marissa Myatt, Pacific Partnership 2010 Deputy Public Affairs

May 2, 2010 - SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Pacific Partnership 2010 commenced as the Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed its homeport in San Diego on May 1.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host and partner nations in Southeast Asia and Oceania. The mission is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Pacific nations as well as non-governmental organizations and military personnel.

Pacific Partnership 2010 will visit six nations during the five-month deployment. USNS Mercy is the lead ship and will visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste, while two additional Navy ships will visit Palau and Papua New Guinea. At each of the visits, military and civilian personnel will participate in civic action projects and community service engagements, all part of the goodwill the ships will bring to the nations.

"This is going to be an outstanding opportunity to do good throughout the world," said U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Richard W. Hunt, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, who was on hand to bid the crew farewell. "This is clearly a mission that develops partner nation capabilities, operating with host nations and our allies to provide assistance in developing the ability to respond during a time of crisis."

USNS Mercy was originally built and used as an oil supertanker but was subsequently delivered to the Navy's Military Sealift Command in Dec. 1986. It has since been outfitted as a fully functional hospital ship. More recently, Mercy came out of the shipyard in San Francisco in March, where it was refurbished and updated to best serve the mission this year. The ship has a full spectrum of surgical and medical services, is capable of maintaining up to 5,000 units of blood, and has a total patient capacity of 1,000 beds.

At each visit the ship makes, teams of military and civilian specialists will deliver valuable medical, dental, biomedical repair, engineering, and veterinary services based on the needs, as identified by the host nations. A majority of these services are done at sites in the country, however some services, such as surgery, are done on board the Mercy.

Equally important are subject matter expert exchanges, where those deploying with Mercy will work closely with personnel from the host and partner nations to learn from one another. This will greatly serve all parties involved, as they are preparing and practicing in a time of calm should a natural disaster occur.

The partnerships developed during Pacific Partnership missions help ensure first responders have had the opportunity to collaborate in an environment that would come as close to resembling a real-world natural disaster. The U.S. Navy is no stranger to the region as it has been the first responder during past natural disasters.

Mercy has participated in past disaster relief missions. Mercy responded to the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia as part of Operation Unified Assistance. Then in 2006, Mercy provided humanitarian assistance to the Republic of Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Timor-Leste by leading Mercy Deployment. Most recently, Mercy led Pacific Partnership 2008, which visited the Republic of the Philippines, Vietnam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.

CNO Makes Fleet Week Appearance on Iwo Jima

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Hunt

May 2, 2010 - PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. Gary Roughead visited USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) for a reception celebrating the 20th anniversary of Fleet Week Port Everglades April 30.

The reception, which also included Battle of Iwo Jima veterans, was a show of appreciation from both the local community and visiting maritime services.

"This port, whether it is for Fleet Week or a single ship that comes to visit, it doesn't make any difference because this community, the Navy League, the men and women of this county, and the towns that surround them treat every Sailor the same; as if they are the most special person around," said Roughead.

The CNO went on to say that Fleet Week isn't just about hospitality; it's about highlighting our ever-impressive military and our partnerships with our allies.

"Today and throughout this week, you've seen our Navy. You've seen it in Iwo Jima, Porter and Newport News. You've seen a glimpse of our future in Independence, and you see the strength of our partnerships with our German allies who are here as well," said Roughead.

After the CNO's remarks, he received a key to the city from Fort Lauderdale Mayor, John Seiler.

"It is such an honor to have the Navy here for Fleet Week," said Seiler. "When you leave here you don't realize how much you touch this community. The men, women and children of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., are better because of your visit. You have helped make this community a better place to live, and you have been for the last 20 years."

And it is because of that relationship, military members and local communities are able to partner together on different projects and make a positive difference.

"The men and women of our military don't do what they do for money. They do what they do because they know the American people care about them and they have their support," said Roughead.

This is the 20th Fleet Week Port Everglades, South Florida's annual celebration of the Maritime Services. More than 2,500 American and German Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in a number of community outreach activities and enjoy the hospitality and tourism of South Florida.

Iraq War Veteran

On May 14, 2010, Conversations with American Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a conversation with former United States Army Special Forces soldier and Iraq War Veteran David Johnson, the founder of

Program Date: May 14, 2010
Program Time: 2100 hours Pacific
Topic: Iraq War Veteran
Listen Live:

About the Guest
David Johnson, USA “was born in Saudi Arabia because of his father’s work with the State Department. Having learned Arabic while growing up, Johnson decided to take his skill and utilize it in the United States Army. In August of 2000, soon after he graduated from high school, he enlisted under the Army’s language program in Phoenix, AZ. Johnson ultimately spent 6 years in the Army. He was involved in a Special Operations Unit and was deployed three times to Iraq engaged in combat operations. After spending three birthdays in Iraq, Johnson departed the service in late 2005.

Upon his honorable discharge from the Military, Johnson returned to his hometown of Phoenix to pursue a degree from Arizona State University. After being separated from the military for only one full day, he immediately realized how much he missed the Army, his buddies, and just how little he belonged to the place that used to be called “home.”

It took several months, but Johnson realized that in most of his classes there were “Veterans”. Men and Women just like him who faithfully served, departed the service, and were now going to school. After the realization that there were fellow “brothers in Arms” in the same classes and instantly forming that bond, stronger friendships emerged than those he ever had with his friends from high school. In 2009 Johnson was told that there were 600,000 plus veterans in the Phoenix area. He thought to himself, “Why do I only know about 30 of them?” And a light bulb suddenly came on, and he thought “There has to be a better way for veterans to connect!” To fill the gap, David Johnson formed

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is Police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. American Heroes Radio brings you to the watering hole, where it is Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in Law Enforcement, public policy, Public Safety Technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in Law Enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Ramstein youth wins Air Force video competition

by Capt. Tony Wickman
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

May 2, 2010 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- A U.S. Air Forces in Europe youth was named the Air Force-level winner for his submission to the Year of the Air Force Family video competition April 21.  Gen. Roger Brady, the USAFE commander, presented Hunter Koltes, 13, a $2,000 gift check toward the purchase of a new computer and video camera and a commander's coin for his tribute video called, "Life of a Military Brat."

Hunter is the son of Lt. Col. Jason Koltes, the USAFE vice commander executive officer, and Heather Koltes.

The video was seen at the April commander's conference and all who saw it liked it, General Brady said.

"We appreciate the spirit of your family and capturing it for us," the general said. "Your video showed there are a whole lot of positive things to being an Air Force family. I appreciate and say thank you for making a really cool video."

The Ramstein American Middle School eighth grader said he wanted to make a video that showed what it was like to be a child of an Air Force member.

"I'm excited to win, it's amazing," he said. "I know people have different lives and I wanted to show people not related to the military how our families live. I liked the experience of showing my life to people. I put it together to see where it would go. It was a great experience...awesome."

When he grows up he wants to be an Air Force pilot like his dad, Hunter said.

After posting his video, it was sent around the world to family and friends and went viral from there, ringing true to people past and present who lived the life Hunter showed.

"Once it was out there, I heard from everyone," Hunter said.

His mother echoed those sentiments.

"We shared it with family and friends and put it on Facebook. What was amazing is we heard from people we didn't even know, and it spiraled off Facebook. It went all the way around the world," Mrs. Koltes said.

Mrs. Koltes said the entire family was extremely proud and overwhelmed by Hunter's achievement.

"It was all Hunter's idea," she said. "He saw an ad for it and wanted to do it. He is into computers and designing web sites and things like that, so the competition was right up his alley. We didn't help him at all. He knew he wanted to do a slide show and came up with all the words, all I did was help him find some of the pictures and he got it done quickly."

Colonel Koltes said the competition demonstrates the support for the Air Force and Air Force families.

"Within minutes of him posting it went nationwide and worldwide." he said. "There is a lot of support for the military. I guess you can say the technology revolution is definitely upon us."

The Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force named July 2009 to July 2010 as the Year of the Air Force Family to recognize and celebrate the many members of the Air Force Family, while providing education and awareness on how Air Force programs and community partners support them.

The Koltes video can be seen at

Mullen Urges Graduates to Consider Ways to Serve

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

May 1, 2010 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff evoked civil rights leader Martin Luther King's contention that "everybody can be great, because anyone can serve" in commencement remarks to the Class of 2010 at Florida A&M University here today. "Service in uniform is not exactly what I am driving at," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told graduates, faculty and staff, families and friends gathered in the Alfred L. Lawson Gymnasium. "Although if the Marching 100 seniors feel like taking all that energy and precision to another level," he joked, "I have some recruiting applications available in the back."

The Marching 100, Florida A&M's marching band, has performed at five Super Bowls and has been credited with creating more than 30 techniques that have become standard for high school and college marching bands around the country.

Mullen told the graduates that military life has been good for him.

"I was raised a Hollywood, Calif., kid," he said, "but I really grew up at sea. Ships have been my home, and many sailors have been as close to me as family. I would not have dedicated my life to it otherwise."

But, he said, that service doesn't necessarily require wearing a military uniform.

"I also believe there are many ways to serve something bigger than yourself – many ways to make a difference," Mullen said. "Whether it's serving others through teaching, through volunteer work, in the Peace Corps, or in other parts of our government at the federal or local level, the need for service is huge, and yours is a generation that has signaled you want to serve.

"And that need is going to continue to grow," he continued. "Overseas and at home, the world needs young, bright people to serve the common cause of humanity."

King's message is great, the admiral said, because it means anybody can serve, and service will make everybody great.

Service and citizenship have changed since he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, the year King was assassinated, Mullen said, but the face of America also has changed.

"The faces of those who influence have become more diverse – more representative of the breadth and the depth of our country," he said, "and I believe that change represents the best of what's possible in any democracy.

"It's our differences [and] our ability to adapt that make America great," he continued. "Diversity of thought, gender, ethnicity, faith or language truly bring us to 'E Pluribus Unum' – 'Out of Many, One.'"

Mullen recalled going to a diversity conference in New Orleans in 2005, when he was serving as chief of naval operations.

"I walked in with my immediate staff, which was all white males," he said. "A young officer from the Coast Guard sent me a note after that that said, 'You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.' He wasn't happy with what my staff looked like.

"About 18 months later in my home," he continued, "I was having a farewell party for my immediate staff of about 15 to 20 officers, and I stood back and looked at that immediate staff, and I think I was the only white male in the group."

What struck him, the admiral said, is the missed opportunities of the past and how long it took him to figure it out.

"In fact, all I did was create opportunities for them, and they excelled," he said. "They made me better, they made our Navy better, and I stood there looking at what I could have done had I figured this out earlier. And I would urge you to think that way, because you are young – to reach out and make sure you grasp and take advantage of the diversity that we have as a country. It will become more and more critical in the future."

Since the 1960s, Mullen said, the world also has become more open and collaborative.

"And I give you '20-somethings' a lot of credit," the chairman said. "You are eager to be on the edge of our technologically advanced, global marketplace. You aren't afraid to try new things [and] you're not afraid to make mistakes, whereas my generation is just trying to hang on and figure it out."

Mullen told the Class of 2010's engineering science and technology graduates that their research on sensors and imaging systems will save lives and limbs by helping the military detect and defeat the most lethal threats it faces: roadside bombs and nuclear, chemical and biological attacks.

Business graduates can contribute to national security, the admiral said, because America's security depends largely on its economy.

"Now, more than ever, in our complex global marketplace, economic engines drive a nation's stability," he said. "Where economies fail, violence usually flourishes. Entrepreneurship can help create growth. Growth creates jobs. Jobs yield productivity. Productivity leads to prosperity."

In turn, he added, prosperous people have hopes and dreams for their children and grandchildren, and "tend to resist the brand of extremism that plagues so many parts of the world."

Mullen praised agriculture, education and health sciences graduates for their commitment to "the most fundamental aspects of global security."

"In all my travels in countries around the world, and particularly in Afghanistan right now," he said, "these things – schools and farms and hospitals – are literally the cornerstones around which a secure foundation is built. We can have all the security in the world, but if we cannot educate our youth, feed them and care for them, and help them pursue productive lives, we cannot hope to advance beyond mere survival."

The admiral gave the graduating class some advice that he said will help them turn challenges into opportunities in whatever careers they pursue.

"Speak truth to power," he said. "Listen to your juniors. See problems through other people's eyes, and never be afraid to admit your mistakes."

Noting that success in a life of service is a product of guidance, grace and love from leaders and mentors, the chairman cited Dorothy Height, hailed by President Barack Obama as the godmother of the civil rights movement and a hero to all Americans in marking her death last week.

"[Height] reminded us that 'Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It's important to the person who serves, as well as to the recipient. It's the way in which we ourselves grow and develop,'" Mullen said.

He reminded the graduating class that they stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before them.

"Those who preceded us gave their best so we could have the opportunity to be our best," he said. "Times are changing, and your nation needs nothing less than your best."

Before the commencement ceremony, the chairman met with Florida A&M's Army ROTC cadets and Navy ROTC midshipmen, and with James Ammons, president of the university.

At the ceremony Mullen administered the oath of office to 12 ROTC graduates who will serve in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

He noted that Florida A&M's ROTC programs have turned out more than 1,500 military officers, including Army 1st Lt. Randolph Powell from the Class of 2008, who is finishing a year-long tour in Iraq, where he has helped to build structures and security stations that will help the Iraqi army provide for their own country's defense.

Ammons conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters on Mullen.

USS George H.W. Bush Hosts 7,000 for Friends and Family Day

May 2, 2010 - By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Tackitt, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The crew of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier welcomed aboard more than 7,000 of their friends and loved ones for first ever USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Friends and Family Day Cruise, May 1.

After being welcomed aboard by the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Chip Miller, the guests got to feel what it was like to be on a Navy ship in open waters after the ship weighed anchor at 9 a.m., and headed out to sea.

The crew's guests were able to see firsthand what their loved ones do for a living, as well as what goes into making a $6.2 billon aircraft carrier come to life.

Included in the day's events was an air power demonstration, which included catapult-assisted takeoffs by F/A-18 Hornet squadrons, based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.

"My favorite part of the day was watching the aircraft launch off the catapult," said Michael Trent, whose wife serves aboard the ship. "That's not something you can see in person every day. Some people never see it in a lifetime."

Doro Bush Koch, the daughter of former president George H.W. Bush and the ship's sponsor, hosted a special event titled, "A Celebration of Reading at Sea." The event featured authors James Bradley, who wrote "Flags of Our Fathers," and Antwone Fisher, a former Navy Sailor whose screenplay "Fish" became the basis for his self-titled movie, directed by and starring Denzel Washington.

The rest of the hangar bay was transformed into a carnival-type atmosphere, with an inflatable rock wall and moon bounce, face painting and tattoo artists on hand for the kids, as well as a static display of an F/A-18 Hornet.

The event required months of planning and extensive coordination from nearly every department on the ship, working together to bring the Friends and Family Day Cruise from the drawing board to execution.

"It's a thousand moving pieces," said USS George H.W. Bush Friends and Family Day Cruise coordinator, Lt. Shawn T. Rumbley. "Each goal we accomplish is a huge undertaking."

USS George H.W. Bush is scheduled for its first deployment in 2011.

Navy SEALs Help Fulfill Young Boy's Dream

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Parker, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs

May 2, 2010 - NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Make-A-Wish foundation teamed up with U.S. Navy SEALs to help make a young boy's dream to be a Navy SEAL come true during his visit to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 at Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek, Va., April 28 and 29.

Eleven-year-old, Colton Seybert from the Orlando area, has battled leukemia into submission and has now conquered an equally tough challenge of becoming an honorary frogman (Navy SEAL).

His morning started early with his uniform issue, a brand new pair of BDU's (battle dress uniform) and boots. Colton was then briefed on what it takes to be a SEAL and asked if he was up to the challenge.

"I'm ready to try," said Colton.

He then took a quick tour of the parachute lockers, learning all about the different types of parachutes he'll have to use (in later training). Afterwards he joined some of the SEALs for a quick morning workout and a run around the obstacle course.

The next big hurdle was a jump from the 10-meter dive platform and some water performance work. Later in the afternoon he directed fast roping from a helicopter, his first ride ever.

After a quick trip in a decked out combat hummer to the close-quarter combat house, he gained insight on weapons systems and how to take on bad guys in a small space. Then like a true leader he helped take out some tough looking paper targets.

"The experience we have had here is just indescribable, it's been every bit if not above and beyond fulfilling Colton's dream," said Connie Seybert, Colton's mother.

"I've gone from the crying mom in the corner to the smiling mom watching Colton and his brother, Nick, interact with the SEALs."

"It was fun and exciting but mostly tiring. I will hopefully be bigger the next time I go through training like this," said Colton.

A sand-covered exhausted little man stood stiffly with a smile creeping across his face when his uniform was finally completed. The empty spot next to his heart filled with the coveted trident pin, as it was planted firmly on his chest. The world is safer now with the toughest warrior one could imagine, Honorary U.S. Navy SEAL, Colton Seybert.

Americans, Australians Commemorate the Battle of the Coral Sea

By Lt. Cmdr. Denver Applehans, Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

SURFER'S PARADISE, Australia (NNS) -- Americans and Australians commemorated the World War II Battle of the Coral Sea in Surfer's Paradise, Australia May 1.

The event marked the 68th anniversary of the battle which occurred May 4-8, 1942 and is known by many in Australia as the battle that saved Australia. An allied naval task group composed of U.S. and Australian ships fought an Imperial Japanese Fleet that was pressing to invade Port Moresby in New Guinea.

The battle was the first naval battle in which the fleets did not come within naval gun range but instead fought the entire battle with aircraft launched from their respective aircraft carriers.

The battle itself ended in a stalemate, but stopped the Japanese advance, kept the supply and communication lines between the U.S. and Australia open and led to a strategic victory for the allies by reducing the number of Imperial aircraft carriers and aircraft available for the Japanese invasion of Midway Island.

The ceremony in Surfer's Paradise honored those lost in the battle as well as the close relationship between the United States and Australia that was forged in part from this battle.

Speakers included Mr. Chris Corkey of the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Mr. Brett Raguse, a member of the Australian Parliament, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, commander, Amphibious Forces U.S. 7th Fleet and veterans of the Battle of Coral Sea.

"Let us today remember the heroes of the Battle of the Coral Sea, let us celebrate our enduring friendship and continue our mutual commitment to supporting peace and stability in the region and around the globe," said Landolt.

The ceremony ended with the laying of 24 wreaths on the monument from various Australian and American groups in honor of those who died at that pivotal battle. Many of the wreaths included sashes that echoed the words written on the monument, "Lest we forget."

Many of the veterans and their family members who attended the ceremony commented that holding ceremonies such as this one help to remind both Americans and Australians of the sacrifices made and the cost of freedom.