Sunday, May 16, 2010

NAS Lemoore Hones Emergency Response Skills with Local Counterparts During Aircraft Mishap Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st (SCW) Class Carmichael Yepez, Naval Air Station Lemoore Public Affairs

May 16, 2010 - ARMONA, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore's Training and Emergency Management offices tested their emergency response capabilities during Operation Parkview Incident 2010 in the small community of Armona, Calif., May 10-14.

The exercise, which simulated a military aircraft mishap, involved more than 15 civilian agencies and eight military commands assigned to NAS Lemoore in one of the largest installation-led exercises held in Navy Region Southwest.

"An aircraft mishap is something no one wants to focus on, or talk about," said Dave Busby, training officer for NAS Lemoore, and architect of the multi-faceted training scenario. "Being prepared from both the installation and community stand points is very crucial, so we work hard with our community counterparts to test our lines of communication and responsibilities, so if anything happens, we are prepared to respond to any type of natural or man-made disaster."

Navy Reserve Sailors assigned to Navy Region Southwest initiated the first stage of the exercise setting in place the region's Mobile Command Unit and establishing a command post near the crash site within a few hours of notification.

According to Lt. Francisco Valdez, Navy Reserve, Commander Navy Installations Command Region Southwest, the part the reservists played in the scenario helped to establish the nerve center allowing for the different organizations to communicate from a central location.

"We handled the facilities part of it. Our Sailors were able to come up from San Diego and within a matter of hours were able to set up and had things running," said Valdez. "With all the agencies involved we wanted to make sure everything was set up as smooth as possible, so that all the agencies involved could come together and take control of the situation."

During day two of the exercise, subject matter experts familiarized local emergency support personnel with aircraft equipment and techniques that would assist first responders during a mishap.

"We had over 200 people on scene including the Kings County Sheriff's Office and Office of Emergency Services, National Weather Service, paramedics, hospital representatives and other agencies," said Busby. "An F/A-18 crash is very dangerous and you need to know from a safety stand point how to respond to that crash. The focus of the seminars was to make our local area first responders better informed and better prepared to respond if needed."

On day three the first responders arrived on scene after receiving reports of a downed aircraft. Firefighters from several Kings County fire departments battled flames erupting form an aircraft fire simulator, while security personnel secured the crash site.

"The Kings County Fire Department was heavily engaged," said Busby. "Today they came up and responded as a unified command with our fire department. Kings County Sheriff's Office was also heavily engaged with traffic control and maintaining a security perimeter with our security department."

The exercise was also a good opportunity for the Installation Training Team and Emergency Response Team to practice mishap response, Busby added.

As the events unfolded, the various command and control components were able to coordinate and pass information collectively thanks to the intricate forms of communication established from the on-site command post.

"We tested very specific response capabilities at the Mobile Command Unit that allowed us to communicate instantaneously with NAS Lemoore's Emergency Operations Center," said Busby.

The Mobile Command Unit is a 40-foot fifth trailer outfitted as a communications center. The Mobile Command Unit included several tents which housed some of the latest satellite and communication equipment that allowed for video teleconferencing, press conferences, as well as housing medical emergency casualties if needed.

The exercise, which was the first of its kind in the area, served to define clear lines of communication between military and civilian first responders and helped establish a response plan in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

USS Constitution Sailors Reach out to Children during Spokane Navy Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Frank E. Neely, USS Constitution Public Affairs

May 16, 2010 - SPOKANE, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors talked with more than 100 children at the Northtown Branch Boys & Girls Club of Spokane about what it means to be in the Navy, May 12.

Command Master Chief (SW/SS/AW) David Twiford, Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class (AW/SW) Jason Keith, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SW) Dana Loney, Airman Trina Pardo and Seaman Mark Gonzales' visit with the children comes as part of Spokane Navy Week, May 10-15. 

"I love working with kids," said Pardo. "They bring a lot of energy and interest in us, so in turn, we want to give them that much appreciation back."

Sailors talked for approximately half an hour about their jobs aboard Constitution, their previous duty stations, Navy rules and regulations and life aboard a Navy vessel.

"It was very outgoing and fun," said Jason Anderson, branch director, Northtown Branch Boys & Girls Club of Spokane. "The kids reacted great to them, and positive interaction with people in uniform is often rare for many of our members."

Afterward, Sailors played basketball and dodgeball with children and answered questions they asked about the Navy.

"These opportunities are always rewarding," said Keith. "You feel like a big brother to the kids. You feel like you've accomplished something great."

Spokane is one of 20 Navy Weeks planned across America for 2010. Navy Weeks show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

USS Constitution's Sailors participate in more than 50 volunteer projects annually. The ship is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. She's the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year.

Gates Calls on Graduates to Live Lives of Service

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates spoke of the satisfaction of a life of service during graduation exercises at Morehouse College in Atlanta this morning.

"You have learned and lived values this school prides itself on: caring beyond self, devotion to one's community and fellow citizens, and preparedness to serve – all fundamental to our democracy and this great experiment we call the United States of America," Gates said at the all-male, historically black college.

The secretary, who has served the nation since 1966, spoke of the obligation of service in America .

"We hear a lot in the United States about our rights as citizens, but what we don't hear enough about ... are our responsibilities as citizens," he said.

The secretary quoted former Morehouse President Benjamin Mays who said, "It is not what you keep, but what you give that makes you happy. We make our living by what we get. We make our life by what we give."

Americans hear of the problems with public service, but they don't often hear of the rewards, and the idealism, joy, satisfaction and fulfillment that those who serve experience, Gates told the graduates.

"My own views have been formed by what I have seen and experienced since entering government 44 years ago this summer, and especially in the last few years at the Defense Department," he said. "Every day, I have the great honor of interacting with men and women who have volunteered to serve our nation during a time of war – setting aside their dreams to protect yours; putting the security of their countrymen above their own lives."

Millions of Americans have chosen careers in civic service as police, firefighters, teachers, nurses or elected or appointed officials. "If, in an unguarded moment, you asked the public servants I have known what their motivation was, you'd learn that – no matter how outwardly tough or jaded – they mostly were, and are, in their heart of hearts, romantics and idealists," he said. "And optimists."

Public servants believe they can make a difference, and change the lives of others for the better. "That we can make a positive difference in the life of our country," he said.

Gates told the graduates of his own experience. The secretary grew up in Kansas in the 1940s and 1950s. In Topeka , Kansas in 1951, Linda Brown tried to enroll in an all-white neighborhood school. She was denied. Her father, the Reverend Oliver Brown, sued the local board of education in a case that came to be known as Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education. The landmark case went to the Supreme Court, which knocked down the idea that education of blacks and whites in America could be separate but equal. A few years later, it was another son of Kansas , President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who sent federal troops to Little Rock , Ark. , to enforce that Supreme Court decision – and tear down once and for all the pernicious belief that a two-tiered society could ever be separate but equal.

Gates also spoke of Eisenhower's decision to send troops to Little Rock to uphold the Supreme Court's integration decision.

"I think about that multiple times a week, when I cross the Potomac River to visit the White House – a building originally constructed in part with slave labor – and serve at the pleasure of our nation's 44th president, the first African-American commander in chief," Gates said. "I can tell you it is an incredible and humbling experience – made possible only because millions of ordinary citizens fought for generations to uphold a truth we hold to be self evident: that all men truly are created equal."

The United States is an imperfect nation, the secretary said, "and will always be a work in progress. And so it falls to your generation to ensure that we continue along the path of progress. As President Obama has said, you must put your foot firmly into the current of history."

Morehouse was founded in 1867, just two years after the end of the Civil War. It began in the basement of a Baptist church and has since grown to become an international icon, and is often called one of the "Black Ivy's." Many, many "Morehouse Men" have served America nobly, including current Defense Department General Council Jeh Johnson, Gates said. He urged the graduates to continue the tradition.

Gates quoted a letter from President John Adams to his son: "'Public business, my son, must always be done by somebody or other. If wise men decline it, others will not; if honest men refuse it, others will not.' And, I would add, if Morehouse men turn away, others will not.

"And so I ask you, Morehouse College Class of 2010, will the wise and honest among you come help us serve the American people?"

Some already have made the commitment. Following the graduation, the defense secretary presided at the commissioning of seven graduates into the U.S. Navy and Air Force.