Monday, August 09, 2010

Shoup, Halsey Strengthen Partnership with Canadian Ally

By Lt. Jacquelyn R. Bengfort, USS Shoup Public Affairs

USS SHOUP, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Shoup (DDG 86) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) refueled with the Canadian oiler HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) while simultaneously receiving stores by helicopter from USNS Ranier (T-AOE 7) Aug. 5.

The replenishment helped Shoup and Halsey continue with Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group's Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California.

The ability to refuel with allied naval forces provides a significant advantage while conducting sustained overseas operations. To prepare for the evolution, Shoup conducted an extensive brief with key personnel from the refueling and navigation teams. Understanding the differences between Protecteur and the oilers Shoup usually works with helped make the event nearly seamless.

"One significant difference was how much closer we had to keep the two ships, sometimes as close as 120 feet," said Ens. Lauren McKinley, a native of Troy, N.Y., one of two conning officers who drove the ship during the replenishment. "The conning officers had to keep cool and alert to help keep everyone focused on the task at hand."

"It was a pleasure working with such skilled mariners," said Lt. j.g. Chris Crazy Bull of San Mateo, Calif., Shoup's other conning officer for the exercise. "We hope for the opportunity to work with Protecteur again."

Shoup is currently off the Pacific Coast participating in the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group's COMPTUEX.


by Ensign Andrea Psimer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Decisive.

CGC DECISIVE has been on the scene of the Deepwater Horizon for the past two weeks. The patrol has been a rewarding one despite the circumstances of the tragedy. For many of the crew, it is an opportunity to contribute to the cleanup of the waters they grew up on.

Serving as a large operational asset on scene during the response, we have hosted many reporters. This has afforded us the opportunity to provide people around the Gulf and around the country with a glimpse into the life of a Coast Guardsman (or woman in my case) and to demonstrate just how much we care about this mission.

As we conduct our mission – search and rescue guard for on scene workers and aircraft, and hurricane guard in the event an evacuation is ordered, media from around the country have landed on our flight deck. In just 24 short hours, NBC 33 from Baton Rouge, LA, learned first hand what the Coast Guard and the men and women of DECISIVE are all about. We are from the Gulf, live on the Gulf and are committed to doing all we can to help restore the Gulf.

I thought I’d share some of those stories with you to give you a glimpse of life aboard DECISIVE during the response.

From Honor Guard to oil spill

As we head back out to patrol the well site after a couple of days to refit, we reflect on time spent bringing stories of the biggest environmental response in our nation’s history to our neighbors – many of whom are out of work and in some cases out of patience. We told them what we saw out there and promised to do everything we can to support the mission when we get back on scene.

We hope the media coverage of our mission has made the surreal events of the past couple of months real for folks around the country, but we also see it as an opportunity to remind the residents of the Gulf that we live among you. Our families and children look forward to fishing the Gulf, enjoying its beaches, and most of all seeing the promise of restoring the Gulf become reality.

ENS Andrea Psimer

USS Russell Returns to Pearl Harbor from Seven-Month Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after a scheduled seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibilities (AOR) Aug. 6.

Russell deployed under the Middle Pacific Surface Combatant deployment concept, in which Pearl Harbor-based ships deploy in support of operations in the Middle East and western Pacific.

Russell also conducted integrated operations in conjunction with coalition partners, and with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

"While on deployment we operated mainly in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR protecting oil platforms," said Cmdr. Rodney Patton, commanding officer of Russell. "On our way home we conducted operations with the Malaysian Navy, and we stopped in Japan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. alliance."

Patton also spoke about how well the more than 200 Russell Sailors performed on the deployment.

"I could not have asked of anything more from the ship and the crew. It was an outstanding performance," said Patton. "We were on station each and every day, and we never missed any tasking."

Friends and families of Russell Sailors lined the pier as they waited for the ship to arrive.

"I really haven't seen my husband that much this year because the ship has been deployed for a while now," said the wife of a Russell Sailor. "I'm just really happy to see him and be able to spend some extended time with him."

Sailors were happy to be home as they walked off the ship to be greeted by their families.

"It was a long deployment and it feels great to be back here in Hawaii," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Tommy Nickerson. "I think we did a great job on the deployment, and I want to thank everyone who was involved for the support."

Guided-missile destroyers like Russell provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups and underway replenishment groups.

Military, Civilians Celebrate Seafair Festival

By Mass Communication Specialist Nardel Gervacio, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

SEATTLE (NNS) -- Service members, their families and the local Seattle community celebrated the 61st annual Seafair festival at Genesee Park in Seattle Aug. 7-8.

The public interacted with service members from all branches and observed a flight demonstration by the Blue Angels air show and hydroplane races.

"I just watched the Blue Angels flight show, and it was really awesome," said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Angela Alvarado Leal of Long View, Wash., assigned to Naval Security Force Everett. "I think it's great that there are so many different people here, and how they are all here to honor the men and women in uniform."

For some, the festivity at Genesee Park was a way for the public to see what the military has to offer.

"Seafair festival is great for the whole family and pretty much everyone else, a great place to be in any situation, I really enjoyed the Blue Angels performance " said Timothy Porter of Seattle. "I just saw a tour of the USS Kidd (DDG 100) and the USS Port Royal (CG 73) few days ago also, their great ships and I was very impressed with what I saw."

Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Lan Albright of Clearwater, Wash., assigned to Naval Security Force Everett, said that, although he is a Washington native, this was his first time at Seafair.

"I like it even with the rain; you get to meet a lot of wonderful people," said Albright. "I got to see the Blue Angels, which was a first for me. The whole Seafair experience has been great and I'm enjoying myself."

Seafair 2010 offered a unique opportunity to inform the public of the Navy's capabilities and showcase its armed forces through both personal interaction with service members, flight demonstrations and tours aboard visiting ships Port Royal, Kidd and USS Green Bay (LPD 20).

"The events today have been very entertaining, and there were much more than I thought there would be," said Denise Groon of Federal Way, Wash. "My family and I really enjoyed watching the hydroplanes races and the Blue Angels perform. I also enjoyed seeing military personnel interacting with the civilians."

Deputy Navy Surgeon General Retires after 42 Years of Service

From Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- After 42 years of service in the U.S. Navy, the deputy Navy surgeon general retired during an official ceremony held at the National Naval Medical Center Aug. 6.

Rear Adm. Thomas Cullison said the Navy provided him many opportunities during his more than four decades of service.

"It's been a tremendous ride," said Cullison. "I've always tried to focus on doing the right thing for our men and women in uniform and their families. I hope that I've been able to leave the service just a little better than when I was commissioned."

"During his time in uniform, he has served in everything from the riverines to submarines to the Marines," said Navy Surgeon General Adam M. Robinson, Jr. during his keynote speech at the ceremony. "Tom Cullison has served is a hero who evokes admiration and respect for all he has worked with throughout his career."

A native of Plymouth, Ind., Cullison graduated from Hanover College and received his commission through Officer Candidate School in 1968. He earned his medical degree in 1979 from the Indiana University School of Medicine. After completing a surgical internship and orthopedic surgery residency at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, he reported to Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton in 1984, where he served as the Chief of Orthopedic Surgery in 1986.

Cullison held several positions while stationed at Naval Medical Center, San Diego, from 1987-95 including assistant chairman of orthopedic surgery, director of Sports Medicine Service, surgeon general specialty leader for orthopedic surgery, and director of Surgical Services.

He served as deputy commander, Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va., from 1995-98, commanding officer, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune from 1998-2001, and fleet surgeon, U.S. Pacific Fleet from 2001-03 and command surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command, from 2003-04. Medical officer of the Marine Corps from 2004-2005. He served as Commander, Navy Medicine East, commander, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth from 2005-2007. Has he been deputy surgeon general since 2007.

Cullison had many significant accomplishments during his tenure as the deputy surgeon general including overseeing noteworthy improvements to the electronic health records program and managing the complex logistics requirements for fielding the Navy medicine response to the humanitarian response mission to Haiti after a 7.0 earthquake killed more than 230,000 people in January 2010.

In less than 76 hours, Cullison coordinated the identification and transportation of more than 1,000 Navy medical personnel from Navy hospitals throughout the United States to Haiti to provide a cornerstone of the U.S. humanitarian assistance mission.

"Providing quality healthcare to our people around the world, as well as, helping those in need has been very satisfying," said Cullison. "I believe the mark of success is to continue to try your best, no matter the situation or condition you are confronted with."

Cullison's personal awards include the Legion of Merit with three gold stars, Bronze Star with Combat V, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon.

Cullison will be retiring to North Carolina with his wife, Marilyn who is a registered nurse. The couple has four daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Obama Calls Gates Announcement 'Step Forward in Reform'

American Forces Press Service

Aug. 9, 2010 - President Barack Obama today called Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' announcement concerning Pentagon efficiency initiatives "another step forward in the reform efforts he has undertaken to reduce excess overhead costs, cut waste, and reform the way the Pentagon does business."

In a written statement, Obama added that the initiatives "will ensure that our nation is safer, stronger, and more fiscally responsible."

Here is the complete text of the president's statement:

Today, Secretary Gates advanced our effort to invest in the defense capabilities that we need in the 21st century, while being responsible and accountable in spending taxpayer dollars.

I have long said that we need to change the way that Washington works so that it works better for the American people. That's why we undertook the Accountable Government Initiative -- to make government more open and responsive to the American public, and to cut waste and inefficiencies that squander the people's hard-earned money. This effort is particularly important when it comes to our national defense, since waste and inefficiency there detracts from our efforts to focus resources on serving our men and women in uniform, and to invest in the future capabilities we need.

Today's announcement by Secretary Gates is another step forward in the reform efforts he has undertaken to reduce excess overhead costs, cut waste, and reform the way the Pentagon does business. The funds saved will help us sustain the current force structure and make needed investments in modernization in a fiscally responsible way. Change is never easy, and I applaud Secretary Gates and his team for undertaking this critical effort to support our men and women in uniform and strengthen our national security. These reforms will ensure that our nation is safer, stronger, and more fiscally responsible.

Gates Strives to Change Pentagon's Culture

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 9, 2010 - The initiative to reduce Defense Department overhead and to eliminate duplicative capabilities is part of a larger thrust to change the culture of the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today.

The department must be more frugal with the taxpayers' money and must put what money it gets to the best use, the secretary said. Gates announced efforts that will freeze civilian hires, cut contract payments, reduce the number of general officers, flag officers and senior civilians, and eliminate two Defense Department offices and U.S. Joint Forces Command.

"My hope and expectation is that the efforts we have launched will lead to the kind of cultural changes that over time become a part of the department's DNA and institutional memory," Gates said during a news conference today announcing the initiatives.

The secretary said his greatest fear is that Americans – all affected by the tough economic times – will look at the defense budget as a cash cow for other parts of government. "My responsibility to the president and to the Congress is to present them with a program that I believe is necessary to defend this nation," he said.

As he looks around, Gates said, he sees an unstable world with more failed and failing states such as Somalia and more rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea. He also sees countries that are investing heavily in their militaries, and new kinds of threats – such as cyber attacks, increasingly accurate cruise and ballistic missile – are emerging.

"My greatest worry is that we will do to the defense budget what we have done four times before, and that is slash it in an effort to find some kind of a dividend to put the money someplace else," he said. "I think that would be disastrous in the world environment we see today and what we're likely to see in the years to come." The United States slashed its defense budget after World War II, Korea, Vietnam and at the end of the Cold War.

"If you were to graph the defense budget going back the last 40 or 50 years, it would look like the EKG of a fibrillating heart," he said. "What we need is modest, sustainable growth over a prolonged period of time that allows us to make sensible investment decisions, and not have these giant increases and giant decreases that make efficiency and doing acquisition in a sensible way almost impossible."

The effort to find savings in the department not only is the right thing to do, but also is a way to make a "persuasive case to the Congress, and through them to the American people, that we are spending tax dollars wisely in the Department of Defense and in areas where they would like to see it spent," Gates said. "And that is in capabilities and in our force structure and investment for the future, as well as our troops."

The only way the department can make such a persuasive case is if it tackles poor acquisition practices, poor business practices, excessive reliance on contractors, waste and abuse, Gates said.

"We need to be able to show that we are actually doing something about these programs in a systematic way that affects every part of the department," he said. "I think under those circumstances, we have a pretty good opportunity to make our case."

Conformance Testing Begins for Navy's Newest Working Uniforms

By Mass Communication Specialist (SCW/EXW/SW/AW/SG) James G. Pinsky, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Conformance testing of the Navy's newest working uniforms, Navy Working Uniform Types II and III (NWU Type II/III), began July 26 and will last six weeks.

Norfolk will serve as the primary testing location for 150 Sailors, with smaller groups testing the uniform in Tampa Bay and San Diego.

The NWU family of uniforms is intended to replace multiple and less capable legacy uniforms, reduce the Navy's total ownership costs, modernize the warfighter, and complete the vision of Task Force Uniform. As such, these two new uniforms in the NWU series have been developed for use in the tactical expeditionary mission of today's Navy, tailored for desert and woodland environments.

"The NWU Type II/III approval is a culmination of a four-year effort comprising all of the expeditionary stakeholders, ensuring we capture the true operational requirements our Sailors' need to succeed on the battlefield," said Master Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Robert McCue, NWU Type II/III Conformance Test Monitor. "They provide unmatched capabilities to the warfighter enabling tactical advantage and enhancing mission success thus saving lives."

The NWU Type II (desert) uniform will be worn by Navy Special Warfare (NSW) operators and Sailors assigned to NSW units or units which directly support NSW operations. The NWU Type III (woodland) uniform will be the standard camouflage uniform for all personnel, to be worn in non-desert environments, including most stateside areas. The only difference between the two uniforms is the camouflage pattern.

The NWU Type III will replace the existing tri-colored woodland camouflage utility uniform, will be the standard camouflage uniform worn in CONUS, and can be worn while deployed as prescribed by combatant commanders. Occasion for wear of the NWU Type III will be the same as the current woodland camouflage utility uniform per NAVADMIN 188/09.

Commands and Sailors currently authorized to wear the woodland camouflage utility uniform (CUU) will continue to wear the CUU as their primary daily uniform until their transition to the new NWU Type III.

The Chief of Naval Operations' approval of the NWU Type II/III was announced in NAVADMIN 374/09, and Program Management was assigned to Naval Facilities Engineering Command's Expeditionary Programs Office (NEPO).

Norfolk was chosen as the primary testing location due to its heavy Navy population and concentration of expeditionary Sailors who will be primarily wearing the NWU Type II/III.

Norfolk participants will be issued Type III (woodland) uniforms at the Cheatham Annex, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, and the other participants will receive their uniforms on an individual basis. Along with two sets of uniforms, the testers will be given a user handbook, which explains the care and manner of wear of the uniforms. They will maintain a detailed log of their experience regarding the wear and care of their uniform and participate in interviews, focus groups and surveys both during and after the conformance test.

At the completion of the testing, the results will be presented to the chief of naval operations. Contract preparations for the initial production of the NWU Type II/III are underway, with the roll out scheduled to begin in the summer of 2011.

"The conformance testing phase of the uniform is critical to our developmental process because we are focused on the details of refining the uniform for our end-users," said Force Master Chief (SCW) Michael Holdcraft. "How the uniform looks is only a small facet of our design process. We need to know how it wears, if the pockets work in their perspective locations, ease of care and wearing."

Special Duty Assignment Pay Deadlines Approach

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Approximately 8,000 Sailors were impacted by revisions to the Special Duty Assignment Pay (SDAP) and the deadline for certification is Aug. 31.

While the revisions adjust SDAP levels for active and Reserve component full-time support (FTS) Sailors, the majority of SDAP pay remains unchanged from 2009.

"This process is critical to ensure that the Navy is accurately compensating Sailors for serving in uniquely challenging assignments," said Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW) Ace Sutton, Navy Personnel Command (NPC) Career Progression SDAP program manager. "Out of 133 line items, one single-level line item was deleted, one single line item was reduced. Twelve single line items were increased and 199 remain unchanged."

According to NAVADMIN 234/10, commanding officers are required to annually review and certify each Sailor's SDAP entitlement and that review is due by Aug. 31.

"Commands and Personnel Support Detachments are responsible for verifying each member is still eligible to receive SDAP and that each member is receiving the correct level," Sutton said. "Once the command has verified that everything is correct, they must submit their verification, signed by the commanding officer or officer-in-charge only to NPC's Active Enlisted Advancement/Conversions/Incentive Section (PERS-811). Failure to submit the annual recertification on time will result in the command having their members' SDAP shut off."

More than 26,000 Sailors receive SDAP each month. Those whose entitlements will be eliminated will receive half of their previous SDAP entitlement for 12 months, or until the Sailor completes their current tour, whichever comes first.

For more information on SDAP, visit, click on "Messages" and read NAVADMINs 230/10 and 234/10.

Alaska’s battle aboard the black hulls

Monday, August 9, 2010
by: LTJG Stephanie Young

For Alaska’s Coast Guard buoy tenders participating in the buoy tender roundup, this past week has been one of intense training and exercises. But, along with the imperative training, there was camaraderie and fellowship. One such team building event, that is also a highlight of the week long assembly, is the Buoy Tender Olympics.

The buoy tenders, or “black hulls” as they are commonly referred to because of their distinctive black hull paint, contended in five events dating back to a tradition that started in Kodiak, Alaska in 1982.

The “boom spot” is a game of accuracy in which a crane operator tries to place a water-filled 5-gallon bucket, hanging from the ship’s boom, on a 1-foot by 1-foot “x” taped on the deck. Another event is more about brut strength where a team of 5 people compete in the “chain drag” pulling a buoy chain weighing 2,000 pounds 30 yards. Focusing again on strength, the crews compete in a traditional tug-of-war challenge with 10 crewmembers on each side. Exhibiting their endurance, the crewmembers must then compete in a 60-yard swim in the icy 55-degree water wearing their survival gear, such as an immersion suit. The crews are then asked to race time in the final event, the “heat and beat,” in which crewmembers join two lengths of steel chain together by heating a thick stainless steel pin with a torch and then flattening the heated steel with sledgehammers.

“It’s good to see our training and the hard work we put in everyday translate into being the winners of the roundup,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Season, a Boatswain’s Mate aboard Hickory. “It’s great to have won three of the last four buoy tender roundups especially when competing with such an elite group of buoy tenders.”

Training and camaraderie aboard the black hulls is vital due to their significance to Alaska’s coast. Collectively, the buoy tenders service 1,250 navigational aids along 33,000 miles of coastline while still supporting search and rescue, oil spill response, law enforcement, homeland security and ice breaking missions.

The five buoy tenders that participated were CGC Hickory homeported in Homer, CGC SPAR homeported in Kodiak, CGC Maple homeported in Sitka, CGC Anthony Petit homeported in Ketchikan and CGC Elderberry homeported in Petersburg. CGC Sycamore, homeported in Cordova, was unable to attend due to the crews deployment to the Gulf of Mexico supporting efforts for the Deepwater Horizon response.

Guard Official Describes Southwest Border Mission Buildup

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
National Guard Bureau

Aug. 9, 2010 - The National Guard has a long history of supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protection efforts along the Southwest border, and it looks forward to the current support mission, the National Guard Bureau's director of communications told participants in a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable Aug. 6.

Defense and Homeland Security officials announced last month that up to 1,200 Guardsmen would augment U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. In the bloggers roundtable, Jack Harrison said he wanted to discuss the sometimes-inaccurate reporting about the incremental deployment of those Guard members.

Harrison emphasized that the deployment plan is "incremental," with each state providing its own soldiers and airmen. The states also will retain the command and control of the Guardsmen under the governor and adjutant general, he added.

"During the next 60 to 90 days, we anticipate that those states will get [Guard members] on the mission, and they will be doing the support that [the Homeland Security Department] has requested of them," he said.

Training and vetting times always are built into the incremental deployment process, Harrison said, to conform with Customs and Border Protection requirements. The Guard is following the plan as it was agreed to by Defense and Homeland Security officials, he said, and is not missing any deadlines.

"We are uniquely suited to do this mission," he said. "We are implementing the plan agreed to, ... and everything is moving according to that plan, ... allowing our soldiers and airmen to be properly trained and vetted and brought on to the mission."

After cycling through the requisite training, up to 1,200 soldiers and airmen will work primarily in one of two specialties: entry identification or criminal investigative analysis, Harrison said.


Date: August 9, 2010
Media Inquiries: Aaron L. Taylor, Public Relations Manager
Phone: 240-403-7294

Military Child Education Coalition and Operation Homefront Sending Kids Back to School

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and Operation Homefront, two national nonprofits, are entering into a partnership to better serve military families sending their kids back to school.

Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade program will provide backpacks with school supplies to almost 25,000 military kids around the country. The Military Child Education Coalition is providing materials for parents to be distributed at Ft. Hood and NASJRB-Ft. Worth in Texas August 13 and 14. The two organizations expect to expand the partnership nationwide in 2011.

“This is a great example of how nonprofits can work together to better serve our military families,” said Jim Knotts, president and CEO of Operation Homefront. “Operation Homefront already had the backpack distribution in place. MCEC has subject-matter expertise and materials for military parents and kids. Working together, we can provide even more value to the families through existing events.”

Dr. Dave Splitek, MCEC VP of Programs added,“Beyond the donated school supplies, which save our military families money, the MCEC materials give the families something that is invaluable – knowledge to help their students be more successful.”

About Operation Homefront
Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers across 23 chapters and has met more than 267,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, $.95 of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes to programs. More information is available at

About Military Child Education Coalition
The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, world-wide organization. A model of positive leadership and advocacy, the MCEC’s work is focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all military-connected children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition. The MCEC performs research, develops resources, conducts professional institutes and conferences, and publishes resources for all constituencies.

Grand Haven National Memorial Service

Monday, August 9, 2010
Written by: CDR Glynn Smith

The seven crew members aboard Coast Guard aircraft 1705 when it was lost during a search and rescue case in 2009 and a petty officer lost while conducting a dive in 2004 were formally remembered during a National Memorial Service at Escanaba Park in Grand Haven, MI, Friday. Family members of the fallen, Coast Guard personnel, Canadian representatives and the citizens of Grand Haven were in attendance to pay tribute.

“It is my duty and privilege to represent the entire Coast Guard family as we assemble to memorialize those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duties,” said Adm. Bob Papp, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard. “Of all the events that we face in life, the loss of a husband, a father, a brother, a son or shipmate is one of the most difficult to accept or comprehend.”

Those remembered during the service included Lt. Cmdr. Che Barnes, Lt. Adam Bryant, Chief Petty Officer John Seidman, Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl Grigonis, Petty Officer 2nd Class Monica Beacham, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Moletzsky, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Danny Kreder, from the 1705 accident, and Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Mueller from the diving accident. The three air crew members lost recently in the Coast Guard helicopter 6017, LCDR Sean Krueger, AMT1 Adam Hoke and AMT2 Brett Banks, were also recognized and will be formally remembered at next year’s National Memorial Service.

“We gather to pay tribute to our lost shipmates, past and present,” said Papp, adding, “The air crew members of 1705, the lost air crew members of 6017, Petty Officer Mueller and all the Coast Guard men and women who have passed on while fulfilling the motto “Semper Paratus”, Always Ready.”

The memorial service dates back to Aug. 4, 1943, when more than 6,000 citizens of Grand Haven first gathered to pay tribute to the 101 lost crewmembers from the Grand Haven based Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba during World War II. The ship was deployed to the North Atlantic for convoy duties when it was sunk during the early morning hours of June 13, 1943. Many of the crew were sons of Grand Haven.

“I know you [citizens of Grand Haven] also share in the anguish of Coast Guard men and women lost in the line of duty,” Papp said.

TAP helps Airmen transition to civilian life

by Erin Tindell
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Airmen planning to separate or retire are encouraged to participate in the Air Force transition assistance program to help them make informed decisions on life after active-duty service.

The Department of Defense partners with the Department of Labor and Veterans Affairs to provide TAP workshops at installations worldwide. TAP workshops are hosted by Airmen and Family Readiness Centers with a goal to provide Airmen the knowledge, skills and confidence needed for a successful transition to civilian life or to service in the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve or another branch of the armed services.

Planning early for separation or retirement is a key part of ensuring that transition is successful, Air Force Personnel Center Airman and Family Readiness officials said.

“Transitioning into the civilian sector can be a challenging process,” said Vonda Ware, Airman and Family Readiness Center program manager. “It's a cultural change, and the sooner the member begins their preparation, the more successful their job search will be.”

Airman and Family Readiness Center’s offer congressionally mandated pre-separation counseling, which should be the first step in preparing for transition. Workshops cover topics such as writing resumes, job search techniques, interview skills and salary negotiations. Airmen and their families are eligible to begin participating in TAP activities two years before a retirement and one year before a separation.

Air Force officials have also ensured procedures are in place to expedite the identification of those affected by force management initiatives as the service continues to reduce its personnel to meet its congressionally mandated end strength.

“Airman and Family Readiness Centers provide one-on-one assistance to all those affected by force management,” Ms. Ware said. “They contact those impacted directly to inform them of services available at home or if deployed, at the Al Udeid Airman Readiness Center.”

Besides helping Airmen transition out of the service, Airman and Family Readiness Centers provide personal financial services, relocation services and readiness programs that assist Airmen and their families throughout the entire military life cycle, including deployments.

For more information about TAP and other services available, contact a local Airman and Family Readiness Center. Additional information on TAP benefits available to those affected by force management can be found on the AFPC personnel services page at

Air Force to release staff sergeant promotion list

Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Air Force officials selected 13,518 of 28,510 eligible senior airmen for promotion to staff sergeant for a selection rate of 47.41 percent.

The average score for those selected was 282.88, with an average time in grade of 1.97 years and an average time in service of 4.55 years, respectively. The average score was based on the following point averages: 131.31 for enlisted performance reports, 0.94 for decorations, 71.18 for the promotion fitness examination and 59.08 for the specialty knowledge test.

The staff sergeant promotion list will be released publicly Aug. 19 at 8 a.m. CDT on the Air Force Personnel Center's public website at Airmen also can access their score notices at the same time on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight and Air Force Portal.

Those selected for staff sergeant will be promoted according to their promotion sequence number beginning in September 2010.

As a reminder, selections are tentative until the data verification process is complete, which is no later than 10 days after the promotion release date. AFPC officials will notify Airmen through their military personnel sections if their selection is in question.

The promotion release using the Web is one of the many technological initiatives AFPC has taken to effectively deliver personnel services, allowing Airmen around the world 24-hour access.

For more information, visit the AFPC public website or contact the 24-hour Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.

Gates Praises Incoming, Outgoing Intel Leaders

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 9, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today presided over a ceremony at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that put in place the first woman to head a major U.S. intelligence agency.

Gates said Letitia Long's 30 years in engineering and intelligence made her the right choice to lead the agency. Gates chose Long, then deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in February to head NGA, replacing Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, who served as NGA's director since 2006.

The secretary presented Murrett with the Distinguished Service Medal in a ceremony today at NGA's new headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Gates noted his special interest in NGA. As CIA director in 1992, he wanted to create the agency then, and helped to put the processes in place that led eight federal agencies to become the National Imagery and Mapping agency in 1996, the predecessor to the current NGA.

The impact of NGA on U.S. national security is real, Gates said, "and is making a big difference in the lives of our men and women in uniform."

The NGA has provided a "common operating picture" for operations such as earthquake relief in Haiti and oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico, Gates said. Also, he said, the agency is helping officials at all levels of government make informed choices with the most up-to-date equipment and analysis.

"This organization has grown into a critical link in the nation's national intelligence apparatus," Gates said. "To the men and women of NGA, I'm grateful for your service and what you do every day to protect our country."

James R. Clapper Jr., a former NGA director and President Barack Obama's nominee to be the director of national intelligence, also spoke at the ceremony, saying the work of Gates and others in creating the agency "allowed us to collaborate, focus outward, and deploy forward."

That focus and collaboration has made NGA "the world experts at imagery, imagery intelligence and mapping," Clapper said. "We are in so many settings, so many places around the world."

For her part, Long said she is "excited by the opportunity to build on the firm foundation that NGA's four former directors have provided." The agency will continue to build on its partnerships in the military and intelligence communities "to benefit our nation and the warfighters," she said.

Recruit Joins Marines to Return Favor

By Marine Corps Pfc. Emily Cone
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Aug. 9, 2010 - People have many reasons for joining the Marine Corps. These reasons can include family tradition or a strong desire to serve, but one recruit here joined the Corps because a group of Marines saved his father's life. Marine Corps Pfc. Weldu Aregawi Gebrimichael said he was inspired to join after hearing how a Marine sniper team saved his father's life.

His father, Weldu Aregawi Gebrimichael, was an activist against the communist government in Ethiopia, and was known to have valuable information that could be used to fight them, Gebrimichael said. The communist government had gained a foothold in Ethiopia in the early 1980s after a series of droughts and famines that affected 8 million people and left 1 million dead.

His father fled to Sudan with other activists, but was captured by the Ethiopian government. Later, he was rescued by Marines who were conducting operations in Sudan at the time, said Gebrimichael.

He said his father returned to Ethiopia in 1988, and shortly afterward Gebrimichael was born and given his father's full name, which is an Ethiopian custom.

A short while later, his father moved to the United States for his safety. Gebrimichael grew up in Ethiopia with his mother, never having known his father or hearing the story of the Marines who had save his father's life.

It wasn't until five years ago, at the age of 17, that Gebrimichael was able to come to the United States, sent for by the father he had never met. It was then he learned that his father's life was saved by Marines.

"I knew I wanted to join the Marine Corps as soon as I heard the story about Marines saving my father's life," Gebrimichael said. But first, he chose to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to learn English.

"I will finish college while I am in the Marine Corps, but I stopped for now so I could enlist," he said.

"He shone among his pears because he had a better attitude and was very enthusiastic and motivated," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Zachary Taylor, Gebrimichael's drill instructor. "He refused to quit, even when it got hard on him. He did more than exceptionally well on the tests."

Gebrimichael has earned a sharpshooter badge on the rifle range and excelled in his physical fitness test. He finished the 54-hour Crucible, the final task to complete before earning the title of Marine, with his fellow recruits, culminating in a nine-mile hike called the Reaper, on July 29, and then received his eagle, globe and anchor emblem, the symbol of the Marine Corps.

"On the Crucible, he worked hard," Taylor said. "I think he put out max effort. It was exhausting, and he never lagged behind. At the emblem ceremony, he really had earned it."