Military News

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wisconsin Air Guard may see slight boost in 2011

May 14, 2010 - The Wisconsin Air National Guard would see a modest increase in civilian and military personnel as well as aircraft in the next fiscal next year, under a proposed force structure realignment announced May 11 by the Air Force.

This Force Structure Announcement addresses the Air Force's Fiscal Year 2011 force structure, realignment and management actions supporting President Barack Obama's 2011 budget submission. The document specifies the force structure changes experienced by the active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.

All the Wisconsin Air Guard gains in the 2011 proposal are slated for the 128th Air Refueling Wing, based at Gen. Mitchell Field in Milwaukee. The unit stands to gain 12 full-time National Guard positions, 41 part-time or drill status positions, and 32 civilian technician positions. However, decreased maintenance requirements at the Air Guard base associated with a drop in programmed flying hours will result in the loss of three civilian technician jobs, leaving a net gain of 29 civilian technicians.

The overall strength increase is due to the proposed addition of three KC-135R stratotankers, or air refuelers, which would bring the total at Mitchell Field to 12.

Brig. Gen. John McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, said the 128th Air Refueling Wing has already started hiring personnel and anticipate receipt of the first additional aircraft later this year. The increase is the result of actions associated with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

"The Air Force continues to support new and emerging missions while making every effort to remedy the stress experienced by critically manned career fields," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff. "This realignment emphasizes the strength and synergy of the total force - active duty, National Guard and Reserve - putting the right skills in the right place."

Schwartz said these initiatives would continue to make more efficient use of Air Force resources and savings to the U.S. taxpayer over the long term.

Warrior Games Closing Marks New Beginning

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

May 15, 2010 - The 2010 Warrior Games may have ended yesterday, but for the wounded warriors who competed here this week, their work is just beginning, officials hope.

"You've just completed a rigorous test of your physical and mental skills, your strength and endurance," chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the athletes in a video message aired during the closing ceremony here last night. "But now is no time to rest. I'd like you to take what you've done here, what you've learned here and continue to serve as role models for others striving to find the independence they need."

The competition formally ended last night at the U.S. Air Force Academy in a ceremony honoring the nearly 200 wounded warriors and disabled veterans who represented their services in the inaugural Warrior Games.

The troops competed in a week-long series of Paralympic-type events at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and academy. They were challenged as individuals and in teams in shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, wheelchair basketball and track and field events.

Each athlete was selected by their service to compete because of the progress they've made using adaptive sports as a method of rehabilitation. Their willingness to participate in the games and ability to overcome adversity can inspire others to do the same, Mullen said.

"You've demonstrated how physical fitness can help heal the mind, body and soul," the admiral added. "That's a message worth sharing, and yours is a story worth telling."

Mullen lauded the troops for their accomplishments, but reminded them that other wounded warriors need their help.

That means helping wounded troops understand how to properly heal themselves and find closure in their injuries, Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the troops. Renuart, who has led the commands for three years from their headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. , is retiring from the position next week.

Overcoming adversity is more than simply healing physical wounds. It involves accepting new challenges and taking risks, pushing the limits of your disabilities, Renuart said.

"Healing is an interesting situation that a person goes through," the general said. "Certainly, healing is about recovering from an injury or recovering from an illness, but healing is also about finding how much you can push yourself.

"There was a lot of healing going on this week, and a little bit of fun, too," he added.

Renuart recalled some of the action he watched during the week. The competitions were hard fought and filled with all the spirit and aggressiveness officials had hoped for in the games, he said.

Troops taunted each other throughout the week, trading insults and trash talk about whose service is better and how bad the other team was going to get beat. However, sportsmanship was never a concern. The games were all in good fun.

"Certainly, there were teams out there fighting for their colors, but I notice in every circumstance, when the competition ended, there were arms around each other," Renuart said. "It was about how we competed as a team."

Renuart presented the Chairman's Cup to the Marine Corps team on behalf of Mullen. The honor is bestowed on the team with the most points at the end of the week based of medal count. The Marines won gold in both sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

Retired Marine Lance Cpl. Chuck Sketch accepted the award for his team. The Marines elected him as their captain before the competition.

Sketch lost his sight in August 1997 from a brain tumor, and then had to be amputated from the waist down in January 1998 due to complications from the same tumor.

He competed in swimming events during the competition, and had the time of his life, he said.

"Winning the Chairman's Cup is great," Sketch said. "I cannot wait until next year."

However, Sketch admitted that there is one thing he hopes will be different by next year's games. "More wounded warriors should take part," he explained.

"I wish all of the wounded warriors were here," Sketch said. "They missed out on the best time, and I wish they were here to experience this. As more and more people find out about it, hopefully there will be far more people next year."

The games' top individual honor – the Ultimate Champion award -- went to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hathorn, a naval special warfare boat operator who was hit by a truck driven by a local national during an overseas deployment last year. He nudged out Army Pfc. Robert Nuss by a single point.

Hathorn won gold in the 50-meter freestyle and the 1,500-meter track. He also won a bronze as part of the Navy's 200-meter relay swim. It was an experience he said he won't soon forget.

"This is incredible," Hathorn said of his award. "There are so many great athletes in this room who've performed on a number of different levels, and to be holding this is an honor."

Hathorn reflected on the past year since his injury. It's almost unbelievable, he said, to be performing in such a way after suffering several broken bones on the left side of his body. He also had two collapsed lungs. He doesn't have the use of his left arm and hand, either, he said.

Adaptive sports deserve all the credit for his recovery, he added.

"Rehab was very tough," Hathorn explained. "I have to say, though, that the Warrior Games is the culmination of my recovery. Coming this far is phenomenal. To have these medals and to compete with the Navy and for Naval Special Warfare is awesome."

Army Sgt. Cayle Foidel, a forward observer who permanently injured his leg in a training accident in January, shares Sketch and Hathorn's enthusiasm. He won three gold medals, all in swimming. When he returns to Fort Lewis , Wash. , next week, he's going to do just what Mullen asked – share his positive experiences with other wounded warriors, he said.

"After these games, I'm going back to [Fort] Lewis and try to get other people to do this," Foidel said. "I'm going to go there with my three gold medals, and say, 'If I can do it, you can do it."

The games are a joint venture of the Defense Department, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the USO to promote resilience and the healing power of sports. Last night's closing ceremony featured country music recording artists John Rich and Cowboy Troy.

Officials hope to make the games an annual event and possibly expand participation and future venues.

Air Show Highlights Jointness

By Marine Corps Sgt. Judith Willis
16th Air Wing

May 15, 2010 - Joint operations were underscored here this weekend as thousands of civilians gathered at the 2010 Joint Service Open House to get a closer look at the military's best aircraft and vehicles and the servicemembers who operate and maintain them. Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove, deputy chief of staff for Air Force operations, plans and requirements, was the guest speaker for the opening ceremony this morning. "Hopefully, I am here today welcoming future soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who will be inspired by what they see out here," he said.

The open house theme of "United in Strength" was fitting, Breedlove said. "Look around you this morning," he said. "We're hosted by an Air Force wing with Navy F-18s in the background and we watched the 82nd Airborne jump out of a Marine KC-130. No one service can do what we require of our military alone, and each must contribute to today's fight."

Col. Steven Shepro, commander of the 316th Wing which hosted the event, noted that it is the Defense Department's largest Joint Service Open House, and was distinguished this year by the 100th anniversary of military aviation.

The annual open house provides the public an opportunity to meet and interact with the men and women of the armed forces. Active duty, reserve, veterans and civilian employees come together to make the three-day air show a success.

"It's definitely something I'm proud to do," said Marine Corps Maj. David Persons, who came from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., with a CH-53E Sea Stallion. "It's a rare opportunity to broaden your perspective on our aviation ability across the services and it lets the public know what we do. Just to see the smile on the children's faces makes it worth coming here."

Highlights of the air show included performances from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Army Golden Knights. Static displays from every service, including the Navy's MH-53 Sea Dragon, the Marine Corps AH-IW Super Cobra and the Air Force F-15, as well as vintage war planes, covered the flightline for tours and photo opportunities.

Enterprise Completes Flight Deck Certification

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

ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) successfully completed flight deck certification May 14 pushing itself one step closer to its 21st deployment.

Flight deck certification is a requirement that every aircraft carrier must achieve prior to deploying with fixed-wing aircraft.

The certification proves that the crew of the ship is capable of safely launching and recovering aircraft and is prepared to prevent or combat flight deck mishaps.

The last time Enterprise conducted flight deck certification was prior to her last deployment in 2007.

"Air department Sailors eagerly awaited the arrival of aircraft during a long shipyard period, and to have aircraft back aboard is the culmination of the crew's two years of hard work," said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (AW/SW) Michael E. Mappin, leading chief petty officer for Air department's V-1 division. "Every step of flight deck operations requires members of Air department, the air wing and the crew to be successful."

To safely recover a jet, many personnel are required. From the below-decks crew, to the culinary specialists, to the Bridge watchstanders, to the plane captain, it's a team effort.

Launching aircraft is no different.

The pilot of the aircraft must rely on many Sailors from the squadron and ship in order to complete a successful launch.

The flight deck is one of the most dangerous places in the world to work.

"So many things can go wrong and one misstep can bring catastrophic results," said Mappin. "Everyone is shaking the rust off, and with the limited time the air wing has had to practice with the ship, it's basically been a team project of training and learning," said Mappin. "Commander Naval Air Forces commended us on our job, and that we are clearly ready to operate."

Flight deck certification requires a step-by-step completion process. Enterprise and CVW-1 finished with flying colors.

"Enterprise has proven she is back in the fight," said Mappin.

Enterprise is underway for carrier qualifications in preparation for her work-up phase and 21st deployment.

Pearl Harbor Submarines Get Head Start on Smoking Ban

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge, COMSUBPAC Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- USS Olympia (SSN 717), USS Greeneville (SSN 772), USS Pasadena (SSN 752), and USS La Jolla (SSN 701), attached to Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam are getting a head start on the upcoming smoking ban below decks on submarines scheduled to become effective no later than Dec. 31, 2010.

In conjunction with the policy change, smoking cessation assistance training programs are being implemented on all COMSUBPAC submarines. The programs will incorporate education techniques and nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum, to assist in kicking the smoking habit.

These four submarines are getting a head start on this policy by already implementing the training programs well ahead of the effective date for the new policy. Each submarine has two Tobacco Cessation training facilitators who are qualified to help participants stop smoking by providing them with all of the essential information and strategies needed to direct their own efforts at stopping.

USS Olympia facilitators are working closely with their soon to be former smokers to ensure they have both the physical and psychological support they need to make this program successful.

"Our overall team approach was that the permanent ban is the right answer to a healthier and longer life, so why wait six months to start," said Cmdr. Michael Coughlin, Olympia commanding officer. "The first phase of our plan took place during our last underway period where we reduced the allowed amount of smoking which went smoothly. However, the next phase, further nicotine amount reduction, leading to the final cessation step of being smoke-free prior to our departure for deployment this summer, will undoubtedly be the real test."

The crew of USS Greeneville is taking a strong approach to the new policy by participating in the smoking cessation programs while in port.

"Our cessation training program consists of four one-hour group sessions that take place twice a week," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SS) Edward Johnson, Greeneville Tobacco Cessation Coordinator. "Along with this training and the distribution of the patches and gum, I think our submarine will have no problem meeting our goal of being smoke free by May 21, 2010."

With all the risk factors associated with smoking, this policy not only promotes cleaner air on submarines, it protects the non-smoker from nicotine byproducts and promotes a healthier lifestyle which in turn increases overall military readiness.

"We want our submariners to understand that this policy is not intended to punish smokers, it is to protect the non-smokers from the hazards of secondhand smoke," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Dave Mathews, COMSUBPAC tobacco cessation training program coordinator.

USS La Jolla crew member Machinist's Mate 3rd Class (SS) Theodore Bennett is currently enrolled in the smoking cessation assistance training program.

"I have been a smoker for five years and have tried to quit numerous times," said Bennett. "With this program and the support of my shipmates, I now have the confidence that I can kick this habit not only while we are underway, but for good."

Non-smokers are also looking forward to this new policy.

"Being a junior submariner and a nonsmoker, it gives me a great sense of well-being knowing that my future in the submarine force will not be compromised by the dangers of secondhand smoke," said Electronics Technician Seaman Dennis Crist, USS Pasadena crew member.

As COMSUBPAC continues to support global maritime security and take on whatever challenges the mission brings, the smoking ban below decks is destined to ensure a healthier lifestyle for all submariners while they continue their silent service legacy as the world's greatest submarine force.

Seabees Receive Philippine Humanitarian Award for Efforts in Southern Philippines

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Scott, Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines Public Affairs

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (NNS) -- Armed with hammers and hard-hats, a group of U.S. Sailors have been working with the Philippine military and local communities to help battle terrorism by fostering peace and economic development.

Honoring their work over the past 10 months, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, commander, Western Mindanao Command, presented the Philippine Military Civic Action Medal to the Sailors of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 detachment Philippines during an award ceremony May 13.

Dolorfino believes the military has more than a combat role, and that the military can be a key factor in the peace process in Mindanao.

"Today's soldier should be someone who is not only a warrior but a peace builder; conflict manager; an environmentalist; diplomat; information and economic development expert, rolled into one," he said.

The award highlights the combined humanitarian projects conducted by the Sailors, through a partnership with the AFP and skilled local workers. These projects improve the lives of hundreds of Filipinos, helping to reduce support for lawless groups and their safe havens in the southern Philippines.

"These Sailors have worked hard for 10 months," said Capt. Nathan Knowles, NMCB 1 officer-in-charge. "Helping to accomplish the JSOTF-P mission of reducing strongholds, by improving the local communities through civil military operations and humanitarian assistance construction projects increase the opportunities and the livelihoods of the local community."

Their projects, ranging from the construction of elementary schools and colleges, to the building of water distribution systems throughout Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao, have received a universally positive response from the communities they've helped.

"Everywhere we worked, the locals were very appreciative and would always offer us fresh fruit and something to drink." said Utilitiesman 1st Class Luis Alarcon, Jr.

One of the highlights during this time was the construction of the Lanao Agricultural College in Lumbatan barangay, Lanao Del Sur. The project turned a previously condemned area into a place that can provide a college education to more than 800 students. During the six months of construction, the Seabees lived on site, working extensively with locals and the AFP to make the project a success.

"It was a little more difficult living at the work site," said Builder Constructionman John Mariano, one of the Seabee's who received a medal at the event. "But it was well worth it."

Another aspect of the Seabees role is providing training for local communities. During multiple projects, the Sailors of NMCB 1 had the opportunity to train local workers on advanced construction methods, while working alongside them on civil action projects. Training classes were also conducted for the Philippine Seabees of the 3rd General Construction Company of the 1st Naval Construction Brigade. These classes helped increase their capacity and capabilities in performing their job.

"Training the Philippine Seabees was one of the more rewarding experiences we had," said Knowles. "We were able to introduce them to equipment and some simplified techniques to increase their ability to do general construction."

By facilitating joint construction projects to build and improve roads, schools, wells, bridges and medical assistance projects, the Philippine and U.S. military provide tangible actions that help assist the local population and lead toward a more peaceful Mindanao.

"I feel very honored," said Mariano. "It was a complete surprise, and I am still in amazement."

Marines Earn Gold in Sitting Volleyball

By Marine Corps Cpl. Scott Schmidt
Defense Media Activity – Marine Corps

May 14, 2010 - A rivalry that had been brewing since the start of the inaugural Warrior Games was decided here yesterday when the Marine Corps team topped the Army in sitting volleyball competition. The Marines secured the gold medal in a best-of-three championship match, with the Army team emerging as silver medalists.

"These Marines have been my most coachable athletes," said Brent Petersen, one of the team's coaches. "Not only have they fought for life, but they have fought to overcome the adversities that may have beaten lesser men."

Army Sgt. Juan Alcivar, who competed against the Marines in the final game, gave credit to the victors.

"I told them right off the bat, 'We'll see you in the finals,'" he said. "Well, we got there, but obviously we didn't win the gold. I think the right team won. They came here knowing what they were doing, and it showed."

The Marine and Army teams first met during the second preliminary match. The Marines won that first matchup, and the rivalry fueled the largest audience turnout of the games.

"The crowd really set the pace for the game," said retired Sgt. Brad Walker of the Marine Corps team. "The atmosphere was so charged-full of energy, and we could just feed off of it during the game."

As the two teams battled at the net, every point sparked a crowd eruption, which seemed to enhance the players' competitive spirit. Marines dove, soldiers spiked, and both teams gave it their all, but in the end it was Gunnery Sgt. Marcus Wilson who scored the game-winning point to secure the 15-9 victory in the championship match's decisive game.

The ball had barely bounced twice before a mass of red poured from the bleachers and descended upon the champions. The Marines did not soon forget their competitors, however.

"I really have to give it up for the soldiers," Petersen said. "The Army team has improved so much since our first match. This game was not an easy win for us."

The Marines arrived here two weeks early to acclimatize themselves to the altitude, and Petersen said it seemed to pay off.

"I promised these guys that we'd train together, we'd win together, and if it so worked out [that way], we would lose together," he said.

The Air Force took the sitting volleyball bronze medal, beating out another Army team.

Air Force Spikers Take Warrior Games Bronze

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

May 14, 2010 - The Air Force team bounced back from a loss to Army in sitting volleyball competition at the inaugural Warrior Games here yesterday, ultimately earning the bronze medal. The Marine Corps team earned the gold medal, and Army took the silver.

The Air Force team went 3-0 in preliminary play and matched up against an Army squad in the semifinals. The match went to three games, with the Army taking the first, 25-13.

The Air Force took the second game 25-22, and the Army came back to win the final game and the match, 15-12.

With a loss in the semifinal game, the Air Force team lost the chance to battle for gold or silver, but faced another Army team for the bronze.

The bronze medal was decided by a one-game match to 15 points. With the bronze in their sights, the pressure was on for the Air Force team to pick up its game.

"We had a rough first match, but we came back and pretended we were starting all over, and that's what kept us focused," 2nd Lt. Ryan McGuire said.

The Air Force team took an early 4-1 lead with help from key serves by Jennifer Stone. Key blocks by Matt Sanders and members of the "iron curtain" front line, as well as critical digs by McGuire in the backcourt, kept the Army team from gaining momentum.

"We were working together, but some of us had to get those back corners," McGuire said. "They were definitely playing on our weaknesses, and we just had to fight back and get it back."

Air Force continued its strong play and held Army to only five points in the bronze medal game.

"I am absolutely stoked about where we are," said Tech. Sgt. Elisha Abercrombie, the Air Force assistant volleyball coach. "In the beginning, it was hard to tell, because a lot of our players had never touched a volleyball before. They came out here and dominated, and when I say that, I mean I would stand up and get light-headed because [I was] so excited. Every single game, whether we win or lose, everyone is proud."

Marines Roll Away With Wheelchair Basketball Gold

By Army Master Sgt. Doug Sample
Army News Service

May 14, 2010 - Marine Corps athletes used teamwork and skill to win gold in the inaugural Warrior Games wheelchair basketball tournament here yesterday, but Lance Cpl. Justin Martin's performance could lead people to believe he could have won the game all by himself. Martin scored a game-high 14 points, including 10 in the first half, as the Corps rolled over Army 44-15 to finish the wheelchair basketball tournament undefeated, giving its medal-crazed fans another moment to remember.

As the frenzied crowd stormed the floor at the final buzzer, the U.S. Olympic Training Center gymnasium floor was covered in red and gold.

Marine head coach Billy Williams, who watched his players receive their gold medals from Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., said the dominating win shows the strength of his squad. "They are willing to do whatever it is to get to the next level," he said.

"It feels amazing, but we could not have done it without our fans and coaches, said Pfc. Jesse Schag, who had nine points in the gold medal game.

The Marine team shut down Army's offense, holding Spc. Chris Smith, Army's leading scorer, to just nine points for the night. Army Sgt. Michael Ortiz, who emerged as an offensive threat by scoring 12 on May 12 against Navy, went scoreless.

Meanwhile, the Marines were hitting on all cylinders, running off 14 unanswered points and holding Army scoreless for 14 minutes. Smith finally put Army on the board with consecutive baskets that, for a brief moment, resuscitated the team's offense. A Smith free throw cut the margin to 14-5.

But as quickly Army's offense had come to life, the Marines applied the defensive pressure that shut down the soldiers' momentum.

The Marines would score on their first nine possessions of the second half to take a commanding 35-5 lead, while the Army's shots either bounced off the rim or fell short. Smith, who at times appeared frustrated, added four more points late into the second half, but by then the game, and the gold, was in the Marine Corps' hands.

Even with his team up by 30, Marine coach Billy Williams, a retired Army Vietnam veteran who is a double amputee, was pacing the sidelines and barking instructions. Williams said he was not happy with the lead, and called his team's play "atrocious."

"Their passing is off, they're not pushing, and it's probably because they are tired," Williams said of his players, many of whom had just finished winning the gold medal for sitting volleyball. "So I'm trying to push them even harder. We are winning, and I'm thankful for that, but it's time to push up."

Despite the fierce competition between the two services, there were handshakes and hugs all around after the game, with promises of "We'll meet again next year." As a show of solidarity, the two teams joined together at center court and began shouting, "USA! USA!" as if to say that this tournament is not about gold medals, but about country.

But don't tell that to Smith.

"We only had three days to come together as a team, so to get second place was pretty good this year," he said.

"But next year," Smith added. "We're getting the gold."

Army Chief Presents Medals at Warrior Games

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

May 14, 2010 - Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. made a surprise visit to the inaugural Warrior Games here yesterday, capping a pivotal night in medal game play. Unfortunately for the Army's top military officer, he had to hang gold medals around Marine Corps teams' necks, as they topped the Army teams in both the sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball competitions.

Following some adrenaline-filled action and before a packed auditorium, the Army landed silver in both categories, but when asked if he minded awarding the top prize to the Marines, Casey replied, "Not at all, not at all."

Casey, who has spearheaded wounded warrior care reform in the Army, received a rock-star's welcome, with troops from all services lining up for photos. He even autographed a few Warrior Games posters, and he presented the medals after the final basketball game.

Casey bypassed the designated VIP section and walked onto the gym floor just after the Army-Marine volleyball matchup, shaking hands and patting shoulders. "How are you feeling?" he asked one soldier.

"I'm feeling good, sir. I'm feeling real good," was the response.

Casey asked some servicemembers which competitions they were entering.

"I'll see you at the finish line," said one soldier in a reference to the track and field competitions scheduled today.

The general stopped frequently to allow troops and spouses to have their photo taken with him.

"Sir, I'd like to have a picture with you," one soldier asked.

"I'd be honored," Casey replied.

"That'll be on Facebook tomorrow," the Army chief joked afterward.

After the medals presentation for the volleyball competition, Casey took in the basketball finals. After the game, he said he saw pride in each servicemember's face on both teams.

"Why these [games] are so important is they're bringing these young men and women [together], and they're allowing them to compete and allowing them to get those competitive juices going again," Casey said.

Casey said that he thinks these inaugural Warrior Games will spawn future regional competitions to better prepare the athletes for competition in the games.

"I think it's going to be great," he said. "I think it's going to have a huge trickle-down effect all across our warrior transition units."

Because Casey has traveled around visiting troops in military hospitals, he recognized many of the athletes. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jacque Keeslar said he first met Casey while in physical rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"It was a real honor to receive the medal from the chief of staff of the Army," he said. "It was an awesome experience."

Keeslar said Casey told him, "Good job, old man."

At 40, Keeslar is the oldest member of his team. He was competing on the court against troops nearly half his age.

Keeslar said he believes the Army leadership is doing everything it can for wounded warriors. "Sometimes it may seem like it falls short," he said, "but they're doing everything that they can. When you're in a situation like this, you can't [ever] get what you need fast enough. Our leadership is working the best they can for us."

Keeslar will retire with 20 years of service this year. He has continued to serve in the Army as a double-leg amputee for the past five years as a platoon sergeant for the Army's warrior transition command at the Navy medical center in San Diego.

The Warrior Games wrap up here today with track and field competitions and the swimming finals. The event will end with an awards presentation, where the ultimate champion and the Chairman's Cup awards will be presented.

NAVFAC Southeast CERT Participates in HURREX Citadel Gale 2010

From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Contingency Engineering Response Team (CERT) of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast participated in HURREX Citadel Gale 2010 May 11 on board Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla. as part of a disaster preparedness drill.

NAVFAC CERTs are part of the key tools in recovery, consisting of one or more Disaster Assessment Teams (DATs). DATs are made up of personnel who enable installation recovery efforts, including other agency representatives. The teams consist of active duty civil engineer corps officers, civilian engineers, architects, public affairs officers, project managers, facilities managers and contract specialists.

"As we enter the 2010 hurricane season, it is imperative to exercise our ability to respond to natural disasters throughout the NAVFAC Southeast area of responsibility," said Lt. Cmdr. Jose Deliz, staff officer, NAVFAC Contingency office-in-charge of construction.

This was the first year the Mobile Command Vehicle (MCV) was used in this exercise. The MCV, a large recreational vehicle, is specifically equipped with a full communications suite, video conferencing, workspaces, weather gauges and other equipment. In the event of a disaster, the MCV would provide critical support to the CERT through maintaining effective communications and data collection and processing.

During the HURREX, NAVFAC Southeast flexed its CERT capabilities by simulating a personnel deployment as would be done in a real-word scenario. As part of the simulation, the base requested damage assessment support from the Region and the CERT team was put in to action. The basic concept was to run through the motion as it if were real. This involved recall of CERT personnel, processing orders, immunization checks, issuance of gear, deployment of the MCV and other rental vehicles, onsite arrival/staging. Once the team arrives on site, damage assessments are conducted with subsequent reporting and cost estimating.

For this exercise, several facilities were identified for assessment. DATs proceeded to each facility and assessed structural damage, recording findings both electronically as well as through hard copies. Proper placards were placed at each facility indicating status for occupancy. Props were installed to depict notional damage to be discovered via inspection. Appropriate site information was obtained through the use of GPS and digital photography. Once all buildings were assessed, the team reconvened at the MCV for a quick debrief, gear retrograde, and vehicle turn-in.

Communications were continuous during convoy and field activities. Several means of communications were employed during this evolution, including satellite phones, cellular phones, NMCI computer access, and Enterprise Land Mobile Radios. The CERT maintained communications with the NAVFAC Southeast Emergency Operations Center, established communications with base personnel, and communicated as needed with NAVFAC personnel for reach back support.

"As we implement improvements to our equipment or processes, it is prudent to test them in a simulated environment so that any problems are identified and corrected before a real-life event," said Deliz.

SECNAV Visits USS New Mexico

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Kevin S. O'Brien, Office of the Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Sailors aboard the Navy's newest Virginia-class submarine, USS New Mexico (SSN 779), during his first submarine embark as secretary May 11.

Mabus experienced the ship's movement during angles and dangles, high speed turns, and standing on the bridge in the ship's sail while the submarine was surfaced.

"This has been such an informative day. I am amazed at the level of skill and the level of expertise of our Sailors," Mabus said. "The ability to fully operate a Virginia-class submarine and all of its complex systems is truly remarkable. Our Sailors continually show that they are the best trained and the best skilled force our nation has seen."

Mabus also took part in a submarine warfare qualification pinning known as the Dolphin Ceremony. It recognizes enlisted and officers' completion of a yearlong qualification process that familiarizes them with virtually all of the submarine's systems. Mabus pinned the newly acquired submarine warfare insignia on Lt.j.g. Vincent Bove and Sonar Technician Seaman Kyle Hassler.

"This has been an extraordinary experience for me. The reason I'm here today is to thank you for you service," Mabus said. "Your expertise is so crucial to the Navy's mission. Because of your vital role, you spend more time away from home and your families. I want you to know that I appreciate you and your families' service and sacrifice."

New Mexico is the sixth submarine of the Virginia class. It has improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements to meet the challenges of the 21st century and the Navy's multimission requirements.

Oklahoma City Displays "Right Spirit" While Undergoing Overhaul

By Jeremy Lambert, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Public Affairs

May 15, 2010 - KITTERY, Maine (NNS) -- The third pennant in Submarine Group 2's "Right Spirit" pennant program was presented to USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) May 13.

Submarine Group 2 representative, Capt. Michael Martin, awarded the "Right Spirit" pennant to Oklahoma City commanding officer Cmdr. Aaron Thieme for the crew going 400 days without a driving under the influence (DUI) related incident.

"Oklahoma City is the first boat to earn this recognition while at a shipyard," said Martin. Martin then expounded on the unique challenges faced by a crew undergoing an extended overhaul vice a deployment.

"More than 400 days is no small accomplishment," said Thieme. "This can only be accomplished by taking responsibility for yourselves and your fellow Sailors."

As their commanding officer spoke, the crew displayed their "Safe Ride" cards. The Safe Ride program is sponsored by the chiefs and first class petty officers assigned to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the submarines in overhaul. The cards are available to all Sailors and have names and numbers to call when a designated driver is not available. "If you choose to have a drink," said Thieme. "Make the smart choice to call for a safe ride."

"This pennant will serve as a constant reminder of your accomplishments as individuals and as a team," said Martin. "The goal is to have an Alcohol Incident free Navy—that begins with a DUI free Navy and crews like that on Oklahoma City."

The first pennant was awarded to the crew of USS Hartford (SSN 768) in October 2009 after they passed their 1,000th DUI-free day. The second pennant was awarded to USS North Carolina (SSN 777) in December 2009 after they completed 2,000 days without a DUI incident.

The pennant is Navy blue with gold lettering and includes a gold star for each year the command is DUI free. A pennant with a single silver star represents five-consecutive years without a DUI incident. Commands are authorized to fly the pennant as long as they are DUI free.

The Right Spirit Campaign, initiated by the secretary of the Navy in 1995, was designed to enhance fleet readiness by the reduction of alcohol abuse and related incidents, to provide a safe and productive working environment and to ensure quality of life while de-glamorizing alcohol use. This pennant was the brainchild of waterfront leadership. Submarine Group 2's Navy Alcohol and Drug Control officer designed and implemented the idea.

Oklahoma City arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) in September 2008 for an Engineered Overhaul. PNSY, a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command, provides the U.S. Navy's submarine fleet with quality overhaul work in a safe, timely and affordable manner. This includes a full spectrum of in-house support—from engineering services and production shops, to unique capabilities and facilities, to off-site support—all of which serves the multifaceted assortment of fleet requirements.

NAVFAC Southeast CERT Participates in HURREX Citadel Gale 2010

From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Affairs

May 15, 2010 - JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Contingency Engineering Response Team (CERT) of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast participated in HURREX Citadel Gale 2010 May 11 on board Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla. as part of a disaster preparedness drill.

NAVFAC CERTs are part of the key tools in recovery, consisting of one or more Disaster Assessment Teams (DATs). DATs are made up of personnel who enable installation recovery efforts, including other agency representatives. The teams consist of active duty civil engineer corps officers, civilian engineers, architects, public affairs officers, project managers, facilities managers and contract specialists.

"As we enter the 2010 hurricane season, it is imperative to exercise our ability to respond to natural disasters throughout the NAVFAC Southeast area of responsibility," said Lt. Cmdr. Jose Deliz, staff officer, NAVFAC Contingency office-in-charge of construction.

This was the first year the Mobile Command Vehicle (MCV) was used in this exercise. The MCV, a large recreational vehicle, is specifically equipped with a full communications suite, video conferencing, workspaces, weather gauges and other equipment. In the event of a disaster, the MCV would provide critical support to the CERT through maintaining effective communications and data collection and processing.

During the HURREX, NAVFAC Southeast flexed its CERT capabilities by simulating a personnel deployment as would be done in a real-word scenario. As part of the simulation, the base requested damage assessment support from the Region and the CERT team was put in to action. The basic concept was to run through the motion as it if were real. This involved recall of CERT personnel, processing orders, immunization checks, issuance of gear, deployment of the MCV and other rental vehicles, onsite arrival/staging. Once the team arrives on site, damage assessments are conducted with subsequent reporting and cost estimating.

For this exercise, several facilities were identified for assessment. DATs proceeded to each facility and assessed structural damage, recording findings both electronically as well as through hard copies. Proper placards were placed at each facility indicating status for occupancy. Props were installed to depict notional damage to be discovered via inspection. Appropriate site information was obtained through the use of GPS and digital photography. Once all buildings were assessed, the team reconvened at the MCV for a quick debrief, gear retrograde, and vehicle turn-in.

Communications were continuous during convoy and field activities. Several means of communications were employed during this evolution, including satellite phones, cellular phones, NMCI computer access, and Enterprise Land Mobile Radios. The CERT maintained communications with the NAVFAC Southeast Emergency Operations Center, established communications with base personnel, and communicated as needed with NAVFAC personnel for reach back support.

"As we implement improvements to our equipment or processes, it is prudent to test them in a simulated environment so that any problems are identified and corrected before a real-life event," said Deliz.

Guard Can Aid Budget Challenges, General Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

May 14, 2010 - The National Guard is uniquely poised to be part of the solution to many of the Defense Department's future budget woes, the National Guard's top officer told an audience at the Joint Warfighting Conference here yesterday.

Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, noted that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has strongly asserted that the defense budget is going to have to come down, maybe considerably, over the next several years.

"We in the Department of Defense are going to have to look very seriously at what we can afford to do and how we meet the commitments of our combatant commanders in the future," the general said.

McKinley said difficult decisions will have to be made, and that he believes the National Guard is going to be part of the solution, even while taking its share of the cuts and maintaining an effective force that can continue for years to come.

The Guard's strength, he said, is that it's a mostly part-time force with full-time capabilities.

"We do have an advantage, that in the days when a [National Guard] soldier or airman is not mobilized or not volunteering for duty, those are days when you don't pay that soldier," McKinley said. "You have the advantage of having that soldier or airman who can integrate as needed, and it's not costing the nation for that service. We get paid for the service that we perform."

Despite its cost-effectiveness, the Guard will continue to see changes, such as integrating with active-duty components to share equipment and resources, the general said. An example of this construct exists at Langley Air Force Base, Va., where airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard have integrated with the 1st Fighter Squadron to fly the F-22 Raptor.

"We know that we are not going to replace aircraft one for one," McKinley said. "We know we are going to have to come up with new models, so that we can share the equipment so we can all remain trained on that equipment. Those are new paradigms that we in leadership are going to have to pursue."

McKinley said the Guard will continue to be at the forefront of operational needs, rather than reverting to the often underfunded and underequipped strategic reserve that existed before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks put the nation on wartime footing.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III said the National Guard must maintain its role as a full-spectrum force, McKinley said. "I think that is an acknowledgement that ... the last eight and a half, almost nine, years of kinetic operations overseas has given the National Guard a fighting spirit and a capability that, quite possibly, they haven't had since Korea."

That fighting spirit can be seen in some of the niche missions the Guard has filled overseas, such as the agribusiness development teams that draw on civilian agriculture experience that Guard members may possess, McKinley said.

"These agribusiness experts come in and try and turn the Afghan countryside back into what it was at one time, which was a breadbasket," he said. "It has potential beyond belief, but because of decades of war, [many Afghan farmers] have lost the skill sets to grow their own crops. Trading in poppies for grapes is a tough choice, and it doesn't happen overnight."

McKinley said that as operations continue to shift to Afghanistan, the Guard will again fill the niche missions as well as more traditional operational roles there.

But being able to provide that capability as a full-spectrum force has had associated costs, the general acknowledged. "Full-spectrum doesn't come easy," he said. "With full-spectrum, there is a burden and cost, and we shed blood alongside our active component counterparts. We've paid in blood ... to become a National Guard that is deemed today by others to be a full-spectrum force."

In the next five years, the Guard will see an indefinite commitment to those operational needs, but with a greater sense of stability, McKinley said.

"We believe that we can have 55,000 to 60,000 Army Guard soldiers in the Army force-generation cycle indefinitely if we build in rotation times and mobility times, much like our United States Air Force has done with our aircraft," McKinley said. "That is giving families and employers predictability and stability and lead time to those citizen-soldiers and airmen, so they can continue to contribute at the national level."

It also will allow the Guard to be able to continue its role of responding to natural disasters and other missions at home.

"Governors can call out the National Guard in state active duty status and can use those National Guard airmen and soldiers for augmentation of their security forces to help during crisis like we've seen recently in the Oklahoma tornados, the Nashville floods and we're even putting Guard members on orders to help with the Gulf oil [spill]," McKinley said.

Along with their warfighting skills, Guard members will need to continue to hone those homeland-response skills.

"The American public demands that we be there ... quickly with the right equipment, with the right formations, with the right leadership, and we're not arguing about who is in charge when we show up, and we get it done," the general told the conferees.

"We will continue to work with our Army and Air Force to provide the combat forces that the combatant commanders need," he said. "And we are an eager and willing partner with our allies, with our state partners, with our interagency players to make sure that the National Guard of the 21st century is ready, is capable, is accessible, is adaptable and is affordable."

MILITARY CONTRACTS May 14, 2010

DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

BAE Systems Information Technology, Inc., McLean, Va. (HHM402-10-D-0013); General Dynamics Information Technology, Inc., Chantilly, Va. (HHM402-10-D-0014); Lockheed Martin Corp., Gaithersburg, Md. (HHM402-10-D-0015); Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Fairfax, Va. (HHM402-10-D-0016); Science Applications International Corp., San Diego, Calif. (HHM402-10-D-0017); Systems Research and Applications Corp., Fairfax, Va. (HHM402-10-D-0018); BC Fed Group, LLC, Reston, Va. (HHM402-10-D-0019); CenTauri Solutions, LLC, Alexandria, Va. (HHM402-10-D-0020); Enterprise Information Services, Inc.m Vienna, Va. (HHM402-10-D-0021); Red Arch Solutions, Inc., Columbia, Md. (HHM402-10-D-0022); and Worldwide Information Network Systems, Inc., Seabrook, Md. (HHM402-10-D-0023) have each been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract supporting information technology (IT) requirements across the Defense Intelligence Enterprise and the greater intelligence community. The Solutions for the Information Technology Enterprise (SITE) contract is designed to enable streamlined execution; simplify purchase requests; standardize acquisition documentation; improve enterprise program management for customers; provide better reporting capability; improve contracting performance and data integrity; and make the agency's overall IT acquisition processes more efficient. The SITE contract will have a ceiling of $6.6 billion over five years. Competition among the listed firms for task orders under the SITE contract vehicle will begin this summer. The SITE contract vehicle will replace the multiple awards for the Defense Intelligence Agency's Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Integration and Engineering Support Contracts and replace the Air Force's longstanding Intelligence Information, Command and Control, Equipment and Enhancements single-award contract vehicle. The Defense Intelligence Agency is the contracting activity.

NAVY

Navmar Applied Sciences Corp., Warminster, Pa., is being awarded a $49,730,224 cost-plus-fixed-fee Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project under Topics N92-170, entitled "Laser Detection and Ranging Identification Demonstration," and N94-178, entitled "Air Deployable Expendable Multi-parameter Environmental Probe." This Phase III award provides for the research, development and production of surveillance, reconnaissance, detection, classification and targeting systems for the Department of Defense, Navy, and Air Force. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, Md. (30 percent), Yuma, Ariz. (30 percent), Afghanistan (30 percent), and Warminster, Pa. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2015. This Phase III SBIR contract was competitively procured using SBIR Program Solicitation under Topics N92-170 and N94-178. Contract funds in the amount of $1,400,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-10-C-0045).

Pacific Ship Repair & Fabrication, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $15,848,931 firm-fixed-price contract under a multi-ship solicitation for a 75-calendar-day post-shakedown availability of Military Sealift Fleet Support Command dry cargo/ammunition ships USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) and USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10). The ships' primary mission is to deliver ammunition, provisions, stores, spare parts, potable water, and petroleum products to the Navy's carrier strike groups and other naval forces at sea. This shakedown availability is primarily for ship alterations, including: lube-oil-tank, second-deck-cargo and galley modifications; cargo hold overhead insulation; and deck air compressor and radar installation. Naval Sea Systems Command (PMS 325) provided funding to accomplish approved alterations during the post-shakedown availability. The contracts include options which, if exercised, would bring the total contract value to $18,874,191. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed within 75 calendar days once work begins for each ship. Contract funds in the amount of $8,083,580 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured on a set-aside for small business basis, with four offers received. The solicitation was posted to the Military Sealift Command, Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities Web sites. The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Fleet Support Command, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting authority (N40442-10-C-3020 for the USNS Matthew Perry; N40442-11-C-3000 for the USNS Charles Drew).

Rite-Solutions, Inc., Pawcatuck, Conn., is being awarded a $15,406,804 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for a Phase III Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) - Combat System of the Future to perform research, development and engineering services. Rite-Solutions, Inc., shall continue the formulation of system-level design; software and hardware development; systems engineering; commercial off-the-shelf product procurement; hardware/software integration; test and evaluation; installation; and life cycle support to integrate manpower reduction, command and control automation, and cost reduction technology into submarine platforms during new construction, overhaul, and modernization periods. Rite Solutions will apply unique humans systems integration processes leading to command decision modules and supporting infrastructures, command and control center configurations, and other technical support work for Navy submarines, surface, and air platforms. Work will be performed in Middletown, R.I., and is expected to be completed by May 2015. This Phase III SBIR contract was competitively procured using SBIR Program Solicitation under Topic Number N05-149. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-6258).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a maximum $8,699,778 firm-fixed-price, sole-source corporate contract for control indicators. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is Aug. 15, 2011. The Defense Logistics Agency (DSCR-ZEB), Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (SP0400-01-D-9406-XE01).

Army Recalls 44,000 Combat Helmets

May 15, 2010 - The Department of the Army announced today that it has initiated a recall message for approximately 44,000 Advanced Combat Helmets produced by ArmorSource LLC (formerly Rabintex USA LLC). These helmets do not meet Army specifications.

The 44,000 helmets represent about 4 percent of Advanced Combat Helmets issued to soldiers. Sufficient helmets produced by other manufacturers that meet Army requirements are currently available in the Army's inventory. The Army will immediately issue these helmets to soldiers worldwide serving in those units identified to have recalled helmets. Army Central Issue Facilities have been directed to remove all affected helmets from the inventory and to directly exchange noncompliant helmets turned in for helmets meeting Army specifications. The recalled helmets will be sent to the Defense Logistics Agency Defense Reutilization and Marketing Services for demilitarization.

The exact risk to soldiers wearing the recalled helmets is still being determined; however, sample testing from a quarantined inventory revealed that the helmets did not meet Army specifications.

The matter is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General.

NHB Nurse Corps Speed Mentoring Pairs Up Prospects

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Charlemagne Obana, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

May 15, 2010 - BREMERTON, Wash (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) nurses hosted a speed mentoring event for nurses, hospital corpsmen, support staff and students interested in career opportunities in nursing at the hospital's Terrace Dining Room May 11.

"The concept is a spin on speed dating, where you spend a few minutes talking to somebody, in this case it was a potential mentor," said NHB Command Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Cook, one of the event coordinators. "Each person will have approximately three to four minutes to talk before moving on to the next station and meet the next person."

The coordinators invited 17 different subject matter experts for the event.

"We tried to select mentors who have a wide variety of experiences," said Cook. "Every mentor has their primary topic or specialty area that they're interested in talking about, and each mentor also has several secondary topics to talk about such as interesting schools they've attended, programs they've completed, and duty stations they've served."

The specialties represented at the event included preoperative nursing, flight nursing, certified nurse anesthetist, and critical care clinical nurse specialist.

"A lot of these different career paths, you really need someone to guide you," said Cook. "Some of these programs are somewhat complicated, particularly the nurse practitioner and certified nurse anesthetist program. You actually have to shadow someone on the job in order to apply for the program so it's important to make those contacts if you're interested in those fields."

"I came to the event because I am currently an active duty corpsman and I plan on getting out of the Navy to get my Bachelor's of Science in Nursing so I can come back in as a Nurse Corps officer," said Hospitalman Celinna Pascual. "I met a few other nurses from different departments that went through DUINS (Full-Time Duty Under Instruction Program), and I will definitely contact them when I have questions about the program."

"We all can benefit from a mentor because mentors are essential for everyone at any stage in their career," said Lt. Amanda Schaffeld, NHB staff nurse and co-coordinator of the event. "Mentors help by being there to answer questions, give you feedback, advocate for you, and help you learn and develop positive habits."

"With a good mentor, Sailors succeed," added Shaffeld. "The diversity of the Navy enables us to continuously benefit from the many backgrounds, experiences and resources that are here in the staff at NHB."

As part of the National Nurses Week celebration at NHB, the speed mentoring event also presented an opportunity for some of the mentors on hand to network with fellow nurses who had retired or serve in the Naval Reserves.

"There's a nursing shortage nationwide so it's important to promote our profession, not necessarily just in the Navy Nurse Corps, but nursing in general to make sure we get people interested in nursing and keep them interested in nursing," concluded Cook. "I was interested in finding out about prior enlisted officers and their transition from enlisted to officer, and I was also interested in learning about the certified nurse anesthetist program, and I got a lot of good information on that," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (FMF) Gilbert Mendoza. "I'm pretty excited about becoming a nurse."

Motorcycle Safety Key to Summer Travel

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ardelle Purcell, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

May 15, 2010 - BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- With Memorial Day approaching, historically marking the start of the 101 Critical Days of Summer, National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) leadership is supporting the Navy's summer safety campaign "Live to Play, Play to Live," in hopes of preventing motorcycle deaths and injuries.

"We need everyone to ride smart and most of all to ride safe this summer," said NNMC Deputy Commander Capt. Daniel Zinder, who also rides a motorcycle. "If new motorcycle riders and experienced riders take motorcycle safety courses to learn new skills or refresh old skills, I believe we can prevent and reduce motorcycle fatalities."

According to Dan Moore, Naval District Washington lead traffic safety instructor with Cape Fox Professional Services, motorcyclists need be aware of other drivers on the road.

"Once the weather warms up, motorcycles are on the road and it was reported in 2008 that 33 Sailors lost their lives in motorcycle accidents," he said. "Most people in an accident with a motorcyclist almost always say 'I never saw them.' We have to be aware there are others on the road."

Sport bikes represent a popular trend in motorcycles, a vehicle the Defense Department describes as any motorcycle with a forward leaning position, rear set foot pegs and high power-to-weight ratio.

For those wanting to purchase one of these motorcycles, Moore recommends riders understand the limitations of their skill.

"Sport bikes are the cheapest motorcycles out there and most people that get sports bikes are not experienced riders," he said. "Their popularity has brought them out to the streets. So a person that gets these types of motorcycles needs to make sure they can handle it. They need to take the training classes that can teach them if they get into a situation, how to get out of the situation."

Individual Augmentees: A Family's Perspective


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

May 15, 2010 - PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The second in a series of Navy Individual Augmentee (IA) perspectives aired on Hawaii Navy News, a weekly program of the Honolulu Fox-affiliated KHON2 TV station on May 13.

Focusing on a family's perspective, Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) David Taylor and his wife, Lindsey Hearne, talked about their experiences and the way they coped with the challenges of an IA deployment.

"I've been in the military for 15 years," said Taylor. "I've been on several different deployments. This is actually the first time I've been boots on the ground, actually there, actually involved where I should have been. It was very rewarding for my career."

An IA is a Sailor who is temporarily assigned to augment another command in support of overseas contingencies. The Navy is sending IAs to assist commands in other branches of the service, primarily the Army and Marine Corps. These assignments are not on ships, but on the ground in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Taylor served in Kabul, Afghanistan and provided protective security services to the commanding general, International Security Assistance Forces/US Forces Afghanistan from Dec., 2008 to July 2009. Taylor currently serves at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) Security Department, where he is assigned to the Harbor Patrol Unit.

There are some aspects of an IA deployment that present special challenges for Sailors and their families. These include relatively short notice of the deployment, deployments are typically longer than Sailors are used to, training for the deployment is different, and there may be an element of danger not associated with shipboard deployments.

"Basically we worry for him everyday, whether we are going to hear from him or not," said Hearne. "We see a lot of stories on the news. He's always telling me, don't look at the stories. You can see a lot of explosions, and it kind of put a lot of fear in your heart, because you want to make sure that your spouse comes home."

Taylor, who was deployed to Afghanistan for eight months, said what he missed most was the normal day-to-day life.

"When you're moving around inside the country, and you're moving from place to place, there's always the fear," said Taylor. "You always have to be on your guard. You will always have to be what we call: 'amped up and ready to go.' I missed the day-to-day safety and normal day-to-day life. Not having to worry about things blowing up or being shot at or things like that."

Since the Sailor is deploying as an individual, and not with their unit, Sailors and their families may feel somewhat isolated from others in the command. Command ombudsmen help support IAs by providing a resource of information and opening lines of communication between the spouses, Sailors and the command leadership. Hearne is currently the Navy's ombudsman for JBPHH.

"I deal with a lot of IAs now," said Hearne. "I try to get in contact with the spouses and family members every month to make sure that their okay and see if there's anything they want to talk about, basically just having all your life matters in order."

As of March, there are 10,504 Sailors serving in IA assignments. More than 4,000 Sailors are in the pre-deployment status and approximately 1,800 Sailors are in mission-specific training.

National Naval Aviation Museum Symposium Highlights Achievements in Naval Aviation

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebekah Adler, Navy Public Affair Support Element East

May 14, 2010 - NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The National Naval Aviation Museum recently concluded its two-day 24th annual Naval Aviation Symposium, which featured the enshrinement of Neil Armstrong, who first learned to fly when he was in high school.

"I would like to thank the Naval Aviation Museum for allowing me to join those remarkable individuals who are enshrined in the Hall of Honor," said Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon's surface. "My Navy and my country have given me extraordinary opportunities and I have had the benefit of working with amazing individuals."

Along with his achievements as an astronaut, Armstrong also served as a flying Midshipman and logged 78 combat missions during the Korean War.

The Naval Aviation Hall of Honor was created in 1979 and has selected 84 people for enshrinement.

"The symposium is also a valuable way to educate the public and service members on Naval Aviation's history and achievements," said retired Marine Corps Col. Denis J. Kiely, senior editor, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and symposium coordinator.

The symposium's other highlights included performances by the Naval Air Station New Orleans Navy Band followed by themed sessions featuring prominent speakers such as author Steven Coonts, who gave a speech at a luncheon on Thursday.

The themed sessions topics included "Genesis: The Birth of Naval Aviation (1898-1914)," "Answering the Call: Naval Aviation's Dynamic Expansion for the Great War" and "Naval Aviation: Issues and Answers." More than 4,000 people were at the event, which sold out both days.

"As for the service members, especially the young officers who are going through flight training, this event is important for their professional military education," Kiely said. "It's part of their heritage, to learn about those who have preceded them. It also teaches them courage, devotion and duty. It also shows the public that Naval aviation has a very rich tradition."

According to Kiely, this year's symposium leads into next year's event which will celebrate the first 100 years of naval aviation and is scheduled for May 2011.

NMCSD Wounded Warriors Participate in Bay Bridge Run

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea A. Radford, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- For a few hours, 24 Army, Navy and Marine patients from the Balboa Warrior Athlete Program (BWAP) at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) will get the chance to run, walk, or cycle across the Coronado Bridge in the Navy's 24th Original Bay Bridge Run/Walk on May 16, 2010.

This will be the fourth year athletes from the Wounded Warrior program at NMCSD have participated in the event. Registration completely sold out.

The patients from BWAP actively engage in therapy, including physical, occupational and recreational therapy.

"We work so hard in the therapies, it's nice to step back on a Sunday morning and go do the run without all the formalities," said Marla Knox, a recreation therapist with NMCSD.

Knox also commented that being motivated through exercise helps the patients maintain a positive outlook while recovering.

For some patients, this year will be their first time taking part in the Bay Bridge Run/Walk. For others, the run has become an annual event to look forward to.

"I've been doing the Bay Bridge Run every year since I got to Balboa (NMCSD)," said Marine Sgt. Chris Lawrence. "2008 was my first year of the Bay Bridge Run, and I did it in a wheelchair since I had just gotten my leg amputated and had my first prosthetic. In 2009 I walked the entire thing so this year I'm trying to run it- maybe not the full thing, but at least run up the bridge."

Along with the rare opportunity of running or walking across the bridge, the event also contributes to the well-being and therapy of the patients.

"I was still kind of the whole 'woe is me' back in 2008," said Lawrence. "I had just lost my leg, and I was so self conscious, and I didn't think I'd be able to do anything, but then I went up that Bay Bridge. I had to do it in a wheelchair and my arm was messed up, I couldn't use it. I had to one-arm drive the wheelchair, going up the whole bridge with one arm. I had people help me when it got bad. After I got done with that, I realized right there that the only thing holding me back from doing anything is myself, and how I feel. I've done the most ridiculous things now, like a 500 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Bay Bridge Run is what broke the ice for me."

On top of the exercise, the occasion gives patients the ability to connect with other people from around the area.

"There's a lot of people out there who actually care about what we do," said Army Spc. Dan Lockey. "It's nice, you get to see them, and they get to see you and show that they really care."

In addition to the wounded, ill or injured service members, staff and family members will be participating alongside the BWAP patients. Athletes will start the event at 8 a.m. in Downtown San Diego near the Convention Center. They will then travel across the bridge in the method of their choosing and finish at Tidelands Park in Coronado.