Military News

Monday, June 07, 2010

Secretary of the Navy Visits Camp Leatherneck, Battle Space

By Gunnery Sgt. William Price

June 7, 2010 - CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus toured Helmand Province, Afghanistan to visit the Marines and Sailors of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF)(Forward) on June 3.

As current Secretary of the Navy, Mabus oversees the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Mabus is a former Governor of Mississippi, and served as United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Mabus was greeted at Camp Leatherneck by Major Gen. Richard Mills, I MEF commanding general, and Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, I MEF sergeant major.

Then Mabus, 75th secretary of the Navy, donned a flak jacket and Kevlar helmet to tour the battle space with Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman, 1st Marine Division commanding general, and Sgt. Maj. Phillip Fascetti, 1st Marine Division sergeant major.

Mabus boarded a CH-53 Sea Knight helicopter and flew from Camp Leatherneck to Forward Operating Base Delaram 2, home of Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 2 and the 31st Georgian Battalion, 3rd Brigade. After a meeting with the 31st Georgian leadership, Col. Paul Kennedy, RCT-2 commanding officer, and Sgt. Maj. George Young, RCT-2 sergeant major, gave their guests a quick tour of their FOB. They visited with the Navy Corpsmen of the Shock Trauma Platoon, RCT-2 personnel, Seabees, and the 11th Marines High Mobility Artillery Rocket System detachment.

Next, Mabus and the Marines jumped on an V-22 Osprey to visit FOB Musa Qal'ah, located near the northeastern border of Helmand province. With rotary wings still in motion, Lt. Col. Michael Manning, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Cullen, 1/2 sergeant major, greeted Mabus and Gen. Osterman, then escorted them to a sandbag re-enforced chow hall for a gourmet lunch with the troops: a Meal Ready to Eat.

"It was great to see the secretary of the Navy visiting our division Marines in their battle space," said Fascetti. "He got to see how the Marines live, how they operate and even what they eat for chow. All the things they are doing 24/7 in a combat zone to make our nation proud!"

Manning gave the SECNAV a "rooftop tour" of his area of responsibility, pointing out key terrain features in his battle space. While on the roof, Neimatullah, the district governor of Musa Qal'ah, talked with Mabus through an interpreter, sharing words of hope and a brighter future.

Mabus, a fourth-generation Mississippian, was Governor of Mississippi from 1988-92. He was the youngest governor in America at the time.

"As a former governor," Mabus told Neimatullah, "I know it can be a difficult job. We are honored to have a person of your stature in this position."

Following a detailed brief on future operations, Mabus boarded another Osprey, bound for FOB Delhi, area of responsibility of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. However, due to a severe sandstorm, this flight was diverted back to Camp Leatherneck.

Soon it was early evening. As the hot Afghan sun began to set, Mabus visited with the wounded warriors and medical personnel at Bastion's Medical Facility. He personally thanked each and every person for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

"A lot of people are alive today because of you and all the corpsmen out there. Blue in support of green!" Mabus said, referring to his Navy-Marine/blue-green team. "I was really happy there were very few patients, and very few Marines. The one Marine I got to meet is getting released soon. It was the third time he had been hit, but he was like every other Marine I have ever met – ready to get back in the fight!"

Back at the chow hall at Camp Leatherneck, Mabus asked a group of Seabees, if they would like to have dinner with him. They let out a resounding response: "Can do!"

"As good as my guys were 40 years ago," said Mabus, referring to his fellow service members aboard the USS Little Rock, where he served as a lieutenant junior grade, "nobody can touch the Marines and Sailors that we have today! They are the best-trained, most-educated, best fighting force the world has ever known. And what I saw today did nothing but increase that belief of mine."

Navy Musician Teaches Rowing to Wounded Warriors

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Awalt
Naval District Washington Public Affairs

June 7, 2010 - A military musician assigned to the U.S. Navy Band here teaches rowing to wounded warriors recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Johnson spends almost every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon motivating wounded warriors at the center's Mercy Hall.

Four years ago, Chief Petty Officer Michel Curtis, also a member of the Navy Band, and Johnson, began rowing at the Capitol Rowing Club here as part of their physical training regimen. Capitol Rowing Club is a masters rowing club on the Anacostia River next to the Washington Navy Yard where the Navy Band is headquartered.

Curtis, who has rowed for much of his adult life, thought other musicians would fit right in at a rowing regatta.

"I thought rowing [would be] such a natural fit with everyone's musical ability. [It is] very much related to rhythm and body awareness and it's a very technical sport which is very appealing to musicians," Curtis said.

"I thought [since] we are positioned on the Anacostia and there is a boathouse right next door to us, [then] why don't we go over there and see what happens?" he added.

Curtis and Johnson soon had 14 of their bandmates going to the boathouse on a weekly basis. They even put together a rowing team that won an award for being the best novice rowing crew in Washington, D.C., the year they started. The musicians found a fun way to build camaraderie while getting a good workout.

The rowing club includes an adaptive component that enables people with disabilities to row and compete in events. Club members approached Curtis and Johnson in 2006 with an idea to include wounded veterans in their adaptive program. They believed the musicians' military experience would be helpful to recruit veterans and make them feel more comfortable about participating.

"We were all enthusiastic to get involved with the vets and support their rehabilitation efforts," Curtis said. "Our familiarity with active duty military people - and our ability to relate to them on a certain level that only people in the military can understand - really helped."

Curtis and Johnson became certified U.S. rowing coaches and worked with representatives from the U.S. Olympic Committee's Paralympics Military Program at the Bethesda medical center to find wounded warriors who wanted to row. The program provides post-rehabilitation support to servicemen and women who have sustained severe physical injuries and other medical issues. Heather Campbell, PMP coordinator for NNMC and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, here, helped the musicians to coordinate with the Wounded Warrior Battalion – East at NNMC's Mercy Hall barracks.

Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jose Gonzalez is tasked with overseeing the welfare of the Marines in the battalion. Most of the Marines have been deployed overseas, became injured and were sent back to the United States due to their medical conditions.

"Some Marines come up, they stay two, three weeks and their medical care is not severe enough for them to be required to stay here [so] they can seek medical attention back at their units," Gonzalez said. "But some of them are really in need of extensive medical treatment and so they remain behind. It can last anywhere from three months to six months to nine months depending on what the injuries are."

Gonzalez sees great benefit from the Marines finding ways to exercise and having something to look forward to each day. He helped the musicians and Campbell to get the Marines interested in rowing by including rowing machines, called ergs, at the Marines' daily afternoon formation. Bringing the ergs and the coaches straight to the Marines made rowing a convenient option for exercise.

"Every Tuesday, if there is any delay in the [coaches] coming, they are asking me [for them]. They say, 'We are waiting downstairs Gunny; we are ready to go.' That goes to show you they are really into participating," Gonzalez said.

One such Marine is Lance Cpl. Joshua Heck. A 22-year-old Pittsburgh native, Heck suffered a stroke in 2008 which left him with some memory loss.

"I had to learn to talk and read and write and all that fun stuff all over again. Little spots [of memory] come back," Heck said. "I'll get a year back here or there. Little 'frames' will set things off, but I haven't gotten the full picture back or even half of it, really."

Heck has been at Mercy Hall for seven months. He recalled the first time he saw Johnson at one of their daily formations.

"They were trying to get everybody involved in some sort of activity [to] get us out of the barracks room," Heck recalled, "and I was, like, 'You know, that looks like something I could pace myself at.'"

By the following week, Heck and fellow Mercy Hall resident Marine Sgt. Adam Sanchez were competing in indoor rowing competitions.

"I took silver in one and I just stuck with it after that. I got a machine in my room," Heck said. "I've worked my way up."

If the Marines are interested enough after Tuesday practices on the erg, Johnson drives to Bethesda on Thursdays and brings them back to the Capitol Rowing Club to coach them on the water.

"I think the things that they do coming out here, it [means] a lot," Sanchez said. "They want to help and improve us while we get better and show us that there is still that camaraderie of being physical."

And, for Marines, being physical is extremely important. According to Sanchez, when he arrived at Mercy Hall after being injured, he felt down on himself for being out of the fight. The program has helped those feelings go away, he said, and has helped him both physically and mentally.

"I didn't want anything to do with rowing – did not like attending it or doing it or anything," Sanchez recalled. "But once I tried it a few times, I grew more fascinated with it and I figured out it helped a lot in my recovery.

"In a matter of three-and-a-half-months, I went from actually getting on a walker from being bed ridden to just walking regularly," he continued. "And it was all because of the physical [opportunities] that they opened up for us. I hope other guys can look at it and take advantage of it."

"A lot of the kids [referring to the young Marines] are just like 'My God, what's happened? My life's over,'" Johnson said. "It is about showing them, 'No, it's not over; you just have to keep going.'"

Defense Leaders Laud Air-Sea Battle Concept Initiative

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 7, 2010 - The air-sea battle concept being developed by the Air Force and Navy exemplifies the closer, more integrated relationships the military needs in order to confront future challenges, top Pentagon leaders said.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently lauded the new concept as "a prime example of how we need to keep breaking down stovepipes between services, between federal agencies and even between nations."

Speaking at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation and commissioning ceremony May 26, Mullen urged the cadets to embrace this spirit as they launch their military careers.

"The military owes it to our commander in chief and to the American taxpayers to operate effectively and efficiently across the battle space," he said, putting extra emphasis on "efficiently."

This requires that the services "integrate our efforts with each other and with our civilian counterparts" and "work seamlessly with old allies and new friends," Mullen said. It also, he added, requires the services to "keep pace with a flatter, faster and more inter-connected world."

Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, and Gen. Norton Schwarz, Air Force chief of staff, have teams fleshing out details of the plan that will promote closer cooperation between their services.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the concept one of the "more innovative strategies and joint approaches" the U.S. military needs in facing the future. Speaking last month at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition here, Gates called the agreement between the Air Force and Navy to work together on the air-sea battle concept "an encouraging development."

The concept "has the potential to do for America's military deterrent power at the beginning of the 21st century what Air-Land Battle did near the end of the 20th," Gates told exposition attendees. The Army and Air Force adopted the air-land battle concept two decades ago to deal with the then-Warsaw Pact threat in Europe, significantly boosting U.S. combat power.

NAS Supports North Whidbey Relay For Life

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

June 7, 2010 - OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Nearly 1,400 participants gathered at the North Whidbey Middle School track in Oak Harbor, Wash., June 4-5 to participate in the 2010 North Whidbey Relay For Life.

As part of the American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay For Life program, the event raised funds for cancer research and promoted awareness.

This 2010 event marks the 25th anniversary of North Whidbey Relay For Life.

A total of 118 teams, approximately 20 of which were comprised of Sailors, Marines and civilians assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island and its tenant commands, were arranged in tents around the edges of the track in support of the cause. Sailors also volunteered to help out with the committees that made the event possible.

"It's a good symbiotic partnership. The Navy doesn't officially sponsor the relay, but we have so many people who've been touched by cancer throughout our ranks that they naturally come out to help, so they're here," said Cmdr. Peter Mehl, NAS Whidbey Island executive officer and the logistics chair for the event whose aunt died of breast cancer, mother survived breast cancer and father survived testicular cancer.

"We came out here to do the right thing. I don't personally have any experience with cancer, but there are tons of people out here that do; some celebrating the fact that they overcame cancer, some that are fighting it and some in the memory of those that have lost the fight," said Chief Master-at-Arms (SW) Eric Wynn, the NAS Whidbey Island Chief Petty Officer Association team captain, from Reno, Nev. "We're letting them know that we care, and it's very important we show our support."

"We had a staff sergeant, Michael Reith, who was medically retired who had thyroid cancer," said Gunnery Sgt. Benito Chavez, assigned to Marine Aviation Training Support Group (MATSG) 53, from Tucson, Ariz. "It effected us because we don't like to lose 'Devil Dogs' to anything like that; he was our training staff NCO (non-commissioned officer) and there were things he just couldn't do, but he put his heart and effort into everything for MATSG."

Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik proclaimed that the days be recognized as the North Whidbey Relay For Life days in the City of Oak Harbor.

"Over the last 25 years, Relay For Life has spread from Tacoma to over 5,000 communities in the United States and over 20 foreign countries. All beginning as one man's statement in the fight against cancer, it has lead to the evolvement of a worldwide effort to help find the cure for cancer," said Slowik. "Relay For Life is not only an event to raise money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society, but also a chance to celebrate those who have survived cancer; it represents hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten; that those facing cancer will be supported and that one day cancer will be eliminated."

After the opening ceremony, the relay began with the Survivors Lap, where those who won the fight against cancer circle the track to help everyone celebrate the victories achieved and to serve as an emotional example of survival.

"I was surprised at how emotional the first lap was," said Capt. Gerral David, NAS Whidbey Island commanding officer and a skin cancer survivor. "When you're walking around people are clapping for you and wishing you a happy birthday that's (awesome)."

As the sun set more than 1,700 luminarias illuminated the track in memory of, for the fight of and in celebration of the people who have been lost to, currently have or have beaten cancer. Among the traditional white luminaria were 143 purple, which matched the purple T-shirts worn by cancer survivors present at the event. Three laps were also taken in support of those lost, fighting or surviving the fight.

"Let us admire the candles that represent our love and respect for those who have battled cancer and our hope that there will someday a cure for this dreadful disease. Please remember those who have lost the battle, those who have beaten this enemy and those who are currently enduring the treatment for cancer," said Debbie Brundage, the luminaria chair for the event.

The North Whidbey Relay For Life accrued $177,400 in 2009 and a total of $207,399 for the entirety of Island County. The 2010 event has already earned more than $180,000 with donations being accepted until August 2010.

MILITARY CONTRACTS June 7, 2010

AIR FORCE

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Herndon, Va. (FA8720-10-D-0001); Boeing Co., Saint Louis, Mo. (8720-10-d-0002); DCS Corp., Alexandria, Va. (FA8720-10-D-0003); BAE Systems National Security Solutions Inc., San Diego, Calif. (FA8720-10-D-0004); and Lockheed Martin Corp., Owego, N.Y. (FA8720-10-D-0005), were awarded a $919,640,000 contract which will provide for the software development of mission planning systems to provide the warfighter with the tools to plan missions and transfer required data to the aircraft avionics. At this time, no money has been obligated. 951 ELSG/PK, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded an $183,030,499 contract which will provide for the definization of the Space Based Infrared Systems Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Satellite and highly elliptical earth orbit payload production and ground systems modification. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. SMC/ISSW, Los Angeles Air Force Base, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8810-08-C-0002).

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded an $18,868,387 contract which will provide for non-personal services under the military satellite communications orbital operations and logistics support contract to support the operations and sustainment of Milstar and the Defense Satellite Communications System. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. HQ MCSW/PK, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8808-10-C-0002).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Ga., was awarded a $5,711,354 contract which will provide for the C-5M reliability enhancement and re-engineering program low rate initial production, contact change proposal support equipment, forward operating bases. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 716 AESG, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8625-07-C-6471).

ARMY

Textron Systems Corp., Slidell, La., was awarded on May 28 an $84,705,030 firm-fixed-price contract for eight command-and-control armored security vehicles; 72 extended personnel carriers; three years of spares support for all 80 vehicles; 80 English/Arabic operator manuals; five English/Arabic maintenance and parts manuals; one English/Arabic CD of manuals; and two field service representatives to provide logistics, maintenance and training support for 24 months. Work is to be performed in Slidell, La., with an estimated completion date of May 28, 2013. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Contracting Center, Warren, CCTA-ATB-D, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-10-C-0044).

AM General, LLC, South Bend, Ind., was awarded on May 28 an $18,049,690 firm-fixed-price contract to add 100 Humvees to contract. Work is to be performed in Mishawaka, Ind., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Warren, CCTA-ATA-C, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-01-C-S001).

Carson & Associates, Inc., Little Rock, Ark., was awarded on May 26 a $17,630,560 firm-fixed-price contract for an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act steam line replacement for the sustainment, renovation and modernization of several warehouses and storage buildings located at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Pine Bluff, Ark. Work is to be performed in Pine Bluff, Ark., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Little Rock, Ark., is the contracting activity (W9127S-10-D-6005).

Arrowpoint Corp., Alexandria, Va., was awarded on May 27 a $15,957,254 labor contract to provide program management and support services for the Army National Guard. Work is to be performed in Arlington, Va., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2015. Bids were solicited via the General Services Administration with 10 bids received. National Guard Bureau, ZC-AQ, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (W9133L-10-F-0145).

GM GDLS Defense Group, LLC, JV, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on May 28 a $14,366,117 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the engineering support for the Stryker Family of Vehicles. Work is to be performed in Sterling Heights, Mich., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Contracting Center CCTA-AI, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-07-D-M112).

BAE Systems, York, Pa., was awarded on May 28 a $10,728,276 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of material and installation of M113 Crew II A-kits for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Work is to be performed in York, Pa., with an estimated completion date of September 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army, TACOM LCMC, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-G-0005).

AM General, LLC, South Bend, Ind., was awarded on May 28 an $8,546,999 firm-fixed-price contract to add 53 Humvees to contract. Work is to be performed in Mishawaka, Ind., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Warren, CCTA-ATA-C, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-01-C-S001).

Promotions Plus, Inc., North Royalton, Ohio, was awarded on May 28 an $8,158,624 firm-fixed-price contract for 203,000 pairs of Marine Corps flame resistant organizational gear gloves. Work is to be performed in Fort Dodge, Iowa, with an estimated completion date of May 18, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with four bids received. U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Natick Contracting Center, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W911QY-10-F-0109).

Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., was awarded on May 28 an $8,158,607 firm-fixed-price contract for 128,482 pairs of Marine Corps flame resistant organizational gear gloves. Work is to be performed in Virginia Beach, Va., with an estimated completion date of May 28, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with four bids received. U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Natick Contracting Center, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W911QY-10-F-0108).

Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded on May 28 a $7,583,807 firm-fixed-price contract to provide engineering services for the design, development, qualification testing, and analyses required for the Rolls-Royce 250-C30R/3 engine "Single Channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control System Model #EMC-35A Electronic Control Unit Upgrade." This contract will have a 12-month period of performance. Work is to be performed in Indianapolis, Ind., with an estimated completion date of May 28, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM Contracting Center, CCAM-AR-B, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-D-0072).

Avox Systems, Inc., Lancaster, N.Y., was awarded on May 28 a $7,012,454 firm-fixed-price contract to produce and deliver 2,411 mask protective unit masks. Work is to be performed in Lancaster, N.Y. (90 percent), and Frederick, Md. (10 percent), with an estimated completion date of Oct. 20, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Acquisition Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground Contracting Division, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (F41624-03-C-1007).

Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla., was awarded on May 28 a $6,219,750 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of controlled image base one-meter and five-meter products produced from WorldView imagery. Work is to be performed in Melbourne, Fla., with an estimated completion date of May 27, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, ACSM, Saint Louis, Mo., is the contracting activity (MNA302-03-D-0006).

U.S. TRANSPORTATION COMMAND

Presidential Airways, Inc., an Aviation Worldwide Services Co., Camden, N.C., is being awarded a $24,289,339 task order for fixed-wing aircraft, personnel, equipment, tools, material, maintenance and supervision necessary to perform passenger and cargo air transportation services. Work will be performed in Afghanistan. The task order will start June 4, 2010, to be completed by May 31, 2011. This contract was a competitive acquisition. U.S Transportation Command, Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is the contracting activity (HTC711-10-D-R016).

Evergreen Helicopters of Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska, is being awarded a $14,490,000 task order for fixed-wing aircraft, personnel, equipment, tools, material, maintenance and supervision necessary to perform passenger and cargo air transportation services. Work will be performed in Afghanistan. The task order will start June 4, 2010, to be completed by May 31, 2011. This contract was a competitive acquisition. U.S. Transportation Command, Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is the contracting activity (HTC711-10-D-R017).

NAVY

FN Manufacturing, LLC, Columbia, S.C., is being awarded an $11,498,167 firm-fixed-price contract for the MK 48 Mod-1 light weight machine gun (LMG) in support of the Navy Small Arms program. The MK 48 Mod-1 LMG is a compact, man-portable, belt-fed, air-cooled weapon system that is capable of engaging targets out to 1,000 meters. This weapon system is extremely rugged, highly reliable, corrosion resistant, and capable of being maintained and operated by one man in combat. Work will be performed in Columbia, S.C., and is expected to be completed by January 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $11,498,167 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-10-C-JN06).

Cowpens Sailors Deliver Fun, Smiles to Orphanage

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mike Mulcare, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan

June 7, 2010 - FUJISAWA CITY, Japan (NNS) -- More than 50 USS Cowpens (CG 63) Sailors and their family members participated in a community service project at the Misono Orphanage June 5 in Fujisawa City, Japan.

Past and present officers and crew of the Ticonderoga-class, guided-missile cruiser have volunteered at the orphanage for more than five years.

Rather than waiting for their annual holiday visit to the orphanage, Cowpens volunteers brought their smiles and a few party tricks for an early and entertaining visit to the orphanage.

"We're here at the Misono Orphanage to entertain the children and to strengthen an already strong relationship we have with the orphanage," said Lt. Kermit Jones Jr., Cowpens command chaplain. "We adopted this orphanage many years ago and brought things today for the children to play with from our base MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation)."

The event started with a game of tag between the children and Cowpens "mascot," Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class (SW) Dixon Rivera, who happily donned a cow costume for the day.

Other activities included grappling in novelty sumo wrestler suits, bouncing in an inflatable bounce house and playing catch with the Sailors.

"I'm having a great time playing with the kids," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW) Love Terrell Harris III, of Moss Point, Miss. "The kids here are wonderful, the staff is great and everyone welcomed us with open arms."

After a round of morning games, Sailors prepared American-style barbecue of cheeseburgers and hot dogs for the children. The children showed their appreciation by baking a cake for the meal.

"COMSERVs (community service projects) like this are very important for Sailors," said Harris. "It gives us a chance to get out and interact with the host nation and for them to experience a little of our culture and understand why we are here in Japan."

Following the barbecue, Sailors played games with the children, including red-light, green-light, kickball and tug-of-war.

Cowpens Sailors are scheduled to return to the orphanage again during the holiday season to distribute gifts as part of their annual Angel Tree Program.

"I think it's really important that we come out here, so the kids know that there is someone out there who loves them and wants to spend time with them," said Jones. "When we come back at Christmas, they'll be excited and remember us."

Air Force volleyball teams take gold at armed forces championships

By Maj. Belinda Petersen
Air Force Services Agency Public Affairs

June 7, 2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The Air Force men’s and women’s volleyball teams won gold medals at the Armed Forces Volleyball Championship May 11 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

The Air Force men’s team went 5-1 to repeat as champions. It was the men’s third armed forces title in the past four years and their fourth in the past six years. The Air Force men’s team finished with silver medals in 2006 and 2008.

New events to this year’s championship were the addition of men and women’s beach doubles competition. Staff Sgt. David Dean and Senior Airman TJ Read became the first Air Force beach players to win a medal as they took silver in the first-ever Armed Forces Beach Competition.

“We started off with our smallest number of athletes at camp in the past 30 years due to deployments and other conflicts,” said Dale Grupe, Air Force men’s coach who has been a part of this program since 1989.

“That coupled with the requirement of not just putting together an indoor team, but also outdoor beach teams, added to our challenges,” he said. “All 13 players on the roster played a role in this year’s championship and made significant contributions at different times during the tournament.”

The men’s team setter, Senior Airman Derek Burlzoff, ran the offense superbly despite spraining his ankle in the first week of camp.

The offense had several hitting options thanks to the consistent passing of Capt. Keola Lacar, Maj. Tom Klemas, and Staff Sgt. Tipton Street. Airman Read was a lethal weapon hitting out of the back row.

Air Force lost to the Navy in the first round but ran the table after that to finish the tournament. It was not an easy road with close games against Navy and Army along the way culminating with a 15-12 victory over Army in the fifth set of the last match of the tournament to clinch the championship.

“That initial loss to the Navy was tough because we lost big leads in two of the sets and doing that can shake the confidence of a team,” said Coach Grupe. “It was great to see how this team rebounded from that early setback to win many close sets and matches down the stretch.”

During the women’s tourney, the Air Force squad went 5-1. It was their first armed forces title since 2007. The Air Force women’s team has won a gold or silver medal each year since 2001.

The women’s team also lost to the Navy early on which forced them to change their substitution strategy to allow both setters to set only from the back row. It resulted in more attacks from the Air Force front row players as well as a better blocking team which made a difference during the last Navy match and both Army matches.

“There were a lot of great outside hitters at the tournament, but our own 2nd Lt. Morgan Dolan and Capt. Molly Stowers stood out throughout the games. They passed the majority of the opponent’s serves and to do that successfully for an entire tournament is a skill that really is underappreciated,” said Maj. John Napier, coach for the women’s team.

“Our middles, 1st Lt. Lindsay Bengard and 1st Lt. Haley Homan, dominated the net in both blocking and attacking,” he said. “It was fun watching them take charge of the matches. And to have middle hitters also be part of serve receive is an absolute luxury that most coaches don’t have.”

“I’m really proud of how hard this team worked through the camp and the tournament,” Coach Napier said.

Captain Stowers, Captain Lacar, Lieutenant Bengard, and Airman Read were named to the 2010 Armed Forces Volleyball All-Star team.

“The tournament was pretty well-balanced this year, and some very solid athletes from each service raised the level of competition. I feel honored to be chosen for the all-tournament team, but above all I’m thrilled the Air Force women and men brought home the gold. Working hard during camp and creating a line-up that worked with each player’s strengths made the win worth even more to each member of our team,” said Lieutenant Bengard from Kadena Air Base, Japan.

Navy SEALs Attend Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Clark, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs

June 7, 2010 - CARY, N.C. (NNS) -- The East Coast-based Navy Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) Scout Team, including three active duty SEAL operators, attended the 8th Annual National Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet May 28-31 in Cary, N.C.

The SEALs spoke with swimmers and coaches from all age groups about opportunities available in Naval Special Warfare Community and challenged the swimmers to a SEAL Fitness Challenge as part of their community outreach initiative.

"Our goal is to plant the seed with the younger athletes and build awareness of the career opportunities available within Naval Special Warfare," said retired Capt. Dave Morrison, an aquatics instructor and SEAL motivator based out of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va. "This is a community outreach program through which we aim to both grow and diversify our force."

Event organizers recognized retired SEAL Master Chief William Goines, the first African-American SEAL, as a pioneer of swimming during a community breakfast May 27.

"I had always wanted to be a SEAL," said Goines, who graduated from Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) training in 1956. "It was and continues to be hard work along with sheer determination that sets SEALs apart."

During a coaches dinner for the event, Capt. Phillip Howe, a Navy SEAL, delivered a few words on the important role coaches play in the lives of children and teenagers.

"Life presents challenges at every corner," said Howe. "Coaches, whether in athletics or professional life, are the ones who push us to overcome adversity and achieve our goals."

As the swimmers took to the pool May 29, the scout team maintained a vigilant posture at the pull-up bars, aiming to find swimmers up to the challenge.

An East Coast-based SEAL master chief, who manned the pull-up bars at the event for his second year, said the community outreach initiative is an important piece in maintaining the elite capabilities of the Naval Special Warfare community.

More than 700 athletes from throughout the nation participated in the meet.

Morrison said the event has continued to grow and is the ideal venue for getting their message out about SEAL/SWCC programs.

"We want to show them that success breeds success. We have three active duty SEALs available to talk to the swimmers about their careers and the challenges they overcame to get where they are today." said Morrison. "By spending time with the athletes, the SEALs not only create awareness about Naval Special Warfare, they show them with the right amount of determination, anyone can serve. The door is open to everyone."

And for the special operations community, diversity will continue to be imperative for the force of the future.

"There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the Naval Special Warfare community, but we are here to show the athletes that they have the opportunity to serve within an elite force," said Howe. "Diversity within the NSW community is essential for maintaining our operational advantage in the future."

Gates Meets With British Prime Minister

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

June 7, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had "an excellent first meeting" with British Prime Minister David Cameron at No. 10 Downing St. here today, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

In a written statement, Morrell noted that Cameron is the sixth British prime minister with whom the secretary has met.

"They discussed a range of important security issues," Morrell said, "including the war in Afghanistan, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the fiscal pressures facing both our governments. They agreed to continue to work closely together to address each of these challenges."

Cameron, 43, is the youngest British prime minister in almost 200 years. He replaced Gordon Brown after the Conservative Party gained a plurality in Parliament in a May 6 election. Brown resigned, and Cameron became prime minister in a new coalition government on May 11.

En route to London from Azerbaijan today, Gates told reporters that while he has been asking leaders of other nations to provide more trainers for Afghan police and soldiers, he had no plans to ask the United Kingdom to boost its participation in Afghanistan.

"I think with 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan that the United Kingdom has done everything anybody could expect of it," he said, "so I will not be making any further requests of the U.K. I think they've really stepped up and, as usual, have been an admirable partner."

Tomorrow, Gates will have a working lunch with his British counterpart, Defense Secretary Liam Fox. Later that day, Gates will meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Vietnam, Pacific Partnership 2010 Veterinarians Come Together for the First Time

By Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

June 7, 2010 - QUY NHON, Vietnam (NNS) -- Members of Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development joined efforts with Pacific Partnership 2010 for the first time to engage in a three-day conference concerning veterinary care in Quy Nhon, which concluded June 6.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.

Pacific Partnership also affords the opportunity for subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) as in the form of the three-day veterinary conference.

Something unique in this year's Pacific Partnership mission is the opportunity for Vietnamese, nongovernmental organizations, and U.S. Army veterinarians to come together and exchange ideas and techniques that ultimately help improve the manner in which all participants approach their science, according to Capt. (Dr.) Jolene North, a veterinarian with the Japan District Veterinary Command, Misawa Branch and team lead for the conference.

"Since this is our first contact with Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, it was important for us to open the lanes of communication and obtain an understanding of the Vietnamese animal care," said North.

As the engagement evolved, both sides were able to discover the common ground they share in their field, explore the differences, and agree that both sides would welcome the opportunity to meet again.

"What was apparent to all of us was our dedication to patients and our desire to improve our field by using our individual resources as efficiently as possible, and this is only the beginning," said North.

Upon completion of Pacific Partnership, some NGOs will remain in place and serve as a steady link between Vietnam and others interested in similar collaboration.

"This is just the first step," said Rachel Halpin, member of World Vets, one of eight NGOs participating in Pacific Partnership in Vietnam.

"World Vets' goal is to establish a communication with the Vietnamese during Pacific Partnership," said Halpin, "then come back and continue the work of education and development."

Veterinary care and welfare for animals throughout rural Vietnam is an essential consideration for the general population as animals are interconnected with the livelihood of the population, from helping cultivate crops to providing companionship.

"In Vietnam I've seen the whole spectrum of animal influence in people's lives. I hope to see them be able to improve their quality of veterinary care, both in treating dogs and cats to treating water buffalo; but also in terms of public health, something we continuously strive for back home," said Halpin.

Medal of Honor Recipients Promote Mental-Health Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 7, 2010 - Twenty-eight Medal of Honor recipients recently launched the "Medal of Honor – Speak Out" campaign to encourage troops struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other health problems to take advantage of services to help them.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients dating back to World War II echo a common theme in video messages for today's returning combat veterans: Take advantage of the resources now available to treat the unseen scars of war.

"Make use of them," they encourage today's troops. "Stay strong, and don't let the enemy defeat you at home."

The Medal of Honor recipients, many who have endured harrowing wartime experiences, acknowledge in individual videos the emotional challenges many returning combat veterans experience.

"I know firsthand the challenges of war," said former Army Staff Sgt. Drew Dix, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Special Forces adviser in Vietnam. "Your experiences in combat are so powerful that very few will or can understand what you went through."

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Pat Brady, a helicopter ambulance pilot who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam, said he and his crewmembers treated the physical wounds of the warriors they rescued, but recognized that their unseen scars of combat ran deeper.

"There were other wounds – wounds that went beyond flesh and blood; wounds that could not be rescued by helicopters," Brady said. "Those enemy scars followed our troops home."

George E. "Bud" Day, an Air Force forward air controller in Vietnam, encouraged today's troops to seek help that wasn't available when he returned from combat.

"Back in those days, they didn't have the services, resources and tools that are available today to help servicemembers and their families deal with the challenges of adjusting after deployment," Day said. "The tools and resources are there now. Please make use of them."

The Medal of Honor recipients expressed pride in today's servicemembers who are following in their footsteps.

"Thank you for your service to our country," said Hershel "Woody" Williams, a former Marine who received a Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. "We are so proud of you."

Gates Talks Strengthen Azerbaijan Partnership

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

June 7, 2010 - Calling Azerbaijan an important partner in the coalition's efforts in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he discussed a stronger military relationship between Azerbaijan and the United States in meetings with two of the country's leaders yesterday and today. After arriving in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku yesterday, Gates visited with President Ilham Aliyev, and met today with Defense Minister Col. Gen. Safar Abiyev.

"They play an important part in Afghanistan, not only in terms of the troops they have there – and also a civilian presence – but [through] ground transportation and allowing over flights," Gates said, "so [the visit] was partly to express appreciation for that."

Azerbaijani servicemembers are part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and the country is a key part of the global air and ground network that resupplies ISAF and Afghan forces and brings in supplies for construction projects.

The secretary delivered a letter to Aliyev from President Barack Obama that expresses gratitude for Azerbaijan's contributions in Afghanistan, saying such assistance has "strengthened your country's stature as a steadfast security partner." The letter also conveys Obama's desire for a broader and deeper future relationship between the two countries.

During his talks in Baku, Gates said, he and the Azerbaijani leaders discussed strengthening the bilateral military relationship and the possibility of further U.S. help with maritime security in the Caspian Sea. "We already help them there with several tens of millions of dollars, boats, radars and capabilities," the secretary said.

More military exercises and intelligence sharing also came up during the meetings, he added, and the discussions also touched on Iran and Russia. "These guys clearly live in a rough neighborhood," Gates said, "and I told them at the same time how much the international community appreciated what they were doing to help everybody in Afghanistan."

The Azerbaijani leaders expressed concern about a lack of progress in a long-standing territorial dispute with Armenians in the Nargorno-Karabakh region, Gates said, and he promised to relay the message to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Obama also mentioned the dispute in his letter to Aliyev, saying a peaceful resolution is critical to the South Caucasus region and promising support for such an outcome would remain a U.S. priority.

"All in all," Gates said, "I would say it was a very positive visit, and I think it set the stage for further expansion of the relationship. We will have a bilateral defense consultation next month, where I think a lot of the things that we discussed will be put on the table and perhaps fleshed out."

The secretary left Baku this morning, bound for London to meet with leaders of the new British government.

Officials announce 2010 LULAC award winners

Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs Office

June 7, 2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -Air Force officials have selected the winners of the 2010 League of United Latin American Citizens Excellence in Military Service Award.

The award recognizes members who have made significant contributions to the advancement of minority groups and the promotion of diversity and equal opportunity in the military and federal workforce.

The winners are Senior Master Sgt. Limweshe D. Wright from Nellis Air Force Base, NV, and Maj. Omar Ebarb from Offutt AFB, NE.

Sergeant Wright is the vehicle management superintendent for the 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Nellis. Contributing to his win were his leadership and combat warrior skills while deployed to Afghanistan with a provincial reconstruction team. He led vehicle support for 300 missions and also served as a convoy commander, armored tactical vehicle driver, and M240B gunner. His actions as gunner were critical after an explosion killed his team commander and three others, earning him the Bronze Star and Air Force Combat Action Medal.

As a planning and programming officer for Headquarters U.S. Strategic Command, Major Ebarb voluntarily mobilized twice in support of overseas contingency operations. While at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, he supported the activation of Air Mobility Command's largest en route wing. He also deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, where his command leadership enabled his unit to maintain a 97 percent departure reliability rate, despite a constant threat of indirect fire attacks.

The awards will be presented at 81st Annual LULAC National Convention and Exposition, in Albuquerque, NM, July 15.

For more information on this and other Air Force recognition programs visit the Air Force Personnel Center personnel services website or call the Air Force's 24/7 Total Force Service Center toll-free at (800) 525-0102.