Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Obama to Award Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Airman

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2010 – A fallen Vietnam War-era airman will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for heroism from President Barack Obama during a Sept. 21 White House ceremony.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. “Dick” Etchberger was killed March 11, 1968, in Laos during the battle of Mount Phou Pha Thi.

Viet Cong troops overran a U.S. radar site where Etchberger maintained equipment in support of the U.S. bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Etchberger, a Hamburg, Pa., native, risked his life repeatedly during the battle to ensure the safety of his troops.

Etchberger held off enemy fighters with an M-16 rifle while directing air strikes and air rescue from his radio. His actions saved the lives of some of his crew who were unable to hold their fighting positions, according to a White House statement.

He put himself in harm’s way again when rescue helicopters arrived, exposing himself to heavy enemy fire as a decoy, allowing three wounded troops to safely board the hovering helicopter. Though his actions ensured his men’s safety, Etchberger was fatally wounded by enemy ground fire as he was being raised into the rescue helicopter, the statement said.

Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley nominated Etchberger for the award after a 2008 board reviewed Etchberger’s actions.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military recognition, and is awarded to members of the armed forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.

Etchberger’s sons -- Cory Etchberger, Richard Etchberger and Steve Wilson -- will join the president at the White House to commemorate their father’s example of selfless service and sacrifice.

Etchberger served in the Air Force from 1951 until his death. He served in the electronics career field in Mississippi, Utah, Morocco, North Dakota, the Philippines, Illinois and South Vietnam. He was 35 years old at the time of his death.

High Speed Vessel Swift Hosts Reception in Guyana

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kim Williams, High Speed Vessel Swift Public Affairs

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (NNS) -- The crew of High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) hosted a reception on board the vessel Sept. 3, closing out the first week of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010 Guyana.

The guest list included the prime minister of Guyana, the U.S. charge d' affairs, several participants from the subject matter expert exchanges, members of the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) and other distinguished guests.

"It is an honor to host the GDF, Prime Minister of Guyana, charge d' affairs and various distinguished guests on board this evening," said Capt. Kurt Hedberg, Southern Partnership Station 2010 mission commander. "This visit will give them additional insight into the U.S. military aside from the daily exchanges we participate in. Welcoming these guests on board Swift is similar to inviting someone into your home, which opens the door for a more genuine connection. We have had the opportunity to enjoy the Guyanese community and culture. This is our chance to share more of ours with them."

The prime minister of Guyana expressed his gratitude for Swift's visit to the country and said he hopes that this trip marks the start of a long-lasting partnership between the two countries.

"While we have had visits from other military vessels, this is the first large U.S. military vessel to come to a dock in Georgetown," said Samuel Hinds, the prime minister of Guyana. "These exchanges, which will help build the capacity of the Guyana coast guard, represent a continuation of the link between Guyana and the United States of America through which we pursue cooperation in several critical areas."

Subject matter experts from the U.S. military exchanged information with various levels of the Guyana coast guard, which Hinds said was a critical point for security cooperation.

"These exchanges were a particularly important aspect for security given our need to secure our spaces from drug trafficking," said Hinds.

Both Hinds and other guests on board for the affair explained that the people of Guyana were very receptive to the Swift's visit to their country.

"The ship's visit has been very well received and appreciated and has made a positive contribution, in a real way, to a continued partnership," said Carol Horning, acting deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy Guyana. "It's only (through) the person-to-person communication that people really understand what others are facing and how they deal with their problems. This visit has allowed both military groups involved the chance to exchange their expertise and mutual concerns and shows that the U.S. government and the American people care about Guyana."

Swift is currently deployed in SPS 2010, an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Central America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

52nd Cardinal Company Helps Kick Off St. Louis Navy Week

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Susan Hammond, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

ST. LOUIS (NNS) -- U.S. Sailors attended two St. Louis sporting events Sept. 2-3 as part of St. Louis Navy Week.

St. Louis Navy Week began Sept. 2 with area service members from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard standing on the sidelines to welcome the St. Louis Rams at their pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Seventy Sailors lined the first and third baselines at Busch Stadium Sept. 3 during a pre-game Navy ceremony where 87 recruits were sworn into Navy service. The 87 recruits make up the 52nd Cardinal Company.

Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, Vice Adm. David Architzel, administered the oath of enlistment to this year's Cardinal Company.

"Cardinal Company has a long tradition - 52 years. What Cardinal Company represents is a total of 87 young, new Sailors coming in to the Navy that is a global force for good, spreading across all the competencies and all the warfare specialties we have," said Architzel. "It's an enthusiastic group, and I am honored to be here."

Prior to their arrival for the St. Louis Cardinals' game, the recruits enjoyed a picnic with family members at Soldiers Memorial. They then marched in formation through the streets of downtown St. Louis to the ballpark.

The Cardinals and Navy Recruiting District (NRD) St. Louis have worked together with the St. Louis Navy League to form and sponsor Cardinal Company since 1958. Each year's company consists of recruits in the region, which stretches across Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Kentucky, who are scheduled to ship off to boot camp in September. They train together before their arrival at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, and become their own company during basic training.

Cardinal Company family members also participate in the tradition. Many family members traveled hundreds of miles to accompany their soon-to-be Sailor at the enlistment ceremony.

Family and friends of Seaman Recruit Zane Johnson of Ashland, Mo., had T-shirts printed with Johnson's name on the back for the event.

"It's kind of scary, since I don't come from a military family," said Megan Cockrum, Johnson's girlfriend from New Bloomfield, Mo.

Johnson's entourage included Cockrum, her mother, his grandparents, uncle and siblings, all from central Missouri.

"I joined because I want to be a combat medic," said Johnson, who has his emergency medical technician license, is a volunteer fireman and works with the Neo-Natal Children's Transport Team at the University of Missouri Children's Hospital in Columbia, Mo.

Johnson plans to be a hospital corpsman and serve with the Marines.

The Navy Office of Community Outreach, NRD St. Louis, Navy Operational Support Center St. Louis and the Navy element of U.S. Transportation Command joined forces this week to provide opportunities for citizens to meet Sailors and learn about America's Navy.

The schedule of events for the rest of the Navy week will include civic, corporate and media engagements by Deputy Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, Vice Adm. Mark D. Harnitchek, and Commander, Carrier Strike Group 8, Rear Adm. Philip S. Davidson.

Navy Band Mid-South "Freedom" will perform at high schools and city venues, including the Big Muddy Blues Festival.

Interactive displays such as the Navy simulator, featuring live-action Navy films programmed to move in sync with point-of-view imagery presented on a large screen, will provide additional entertainment during Navy Week events at a variety of locations.

Navy Week culminates with performances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels during the Airpower Over the Midwest Air Show at Scott Air Force Base Sept. 11-12.

For more St. Louis Navy Week information, news and schedule of events, visit www.navyweek.org/stlouis2010.

Top Senior Enlisted Sailor Wraps Up Western Pacific Visit

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (EXW) Jennifer A. Villalovos, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The master chief petty officer of the Navy (MCPON) wrapped up his 18-day trip to the Western Pacific Sept. 2, where he visited various commands and talked with Sailors.

MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West made stops in Hawaii, Guam, Japan and Korea during his visit.

His first stop was Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman where he toured and visited the crews of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) and the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Pasadena (SSN 752), as well as an impromptu visit to USS Hawaii (SSN 776). West also met with senior leadership and held an all-hands call at the Sharkey Theater.

While in Guam, West joined Sailors from Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 7 for an early morning physical training session and continued the day with a visit to the Fleet and Family Support Center. He also held all-hands calls for chief petty officers and E-6 and below personnel. Additionally, he visited with Sailors aboard the Los Angeles-class attack submarines USS Buffalo (SSN 715), USS City of Corpus (SSN 705), USS Houston (SSN 713), and the Ohio-class nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) and the Emory S. Land-class submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40). Afterwards, MCPON visited Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 and Naval Special Warfare Unit 1 where he toured the commands and talked with Sailors.

West then flew to Japan and joined the area's chief petty officer selectees for their traditional hike to the highest and most famous mountain in Japan, Mt. Fuji. West said the climb was something he will always remember.

"It was really cool that MCPON was able to hike Fuji with us," said Chief (Select) Electronics Technician (SW) Patrick Davis, with Commander, Submarine Group 7. "He is the first MCPON I ever met and he was very approachable. It was an honor to meet him. At Fuji, we (Yokosuka chief petty officer selectees) presented him with a Japanese scroll doll signed by all the selectees."

West made a quick stop in Misawa, Japan, his first visit since taking office as MCPON, before meeting up with Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert, in the Republic of Korea. Together MCPON and VCNO toured the child development center and Fleet and Family Support Center before heading back to Yokosuka, Japan. There they held an all-hands call and answered questions covering topics such as manning, rate mergers, education, uniforms and the future of the Navy.

Before leaving Japan, MCPON toured the guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Lassen (DDG 82) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67).

"I am proud of all of you. Keep up the great work out here in FDNF (Forward Deployed Naval Forces)," said West.

USS Peleliu Sends Relief Supplies Ashore in Pakistan

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) R. David Valdez, USS Peleliu (LHA 5) Public Affairs

USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- Helicopters from USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) began delivering humanitarian aid supplies to the government of Pakistan Sept. 6, as part of ongoing American support to provide relief to flood victims.

CH-46E "Sea Knight" and MH-60S "Sea Hawk" helicopters will move 90 pallets of relief supplies to Sharea Faisal Air Base during the course of several days.

The pallets include supplies for purifying and storing water, insect repellent, tarps, items to help control the spread of disease, as well as health and comfort packages to alleviate human suffering in the rain-soaked conditions. They will be transferred to the Sindh Provincial Disaster Management Authority for distribution to the people affected by the severe flooding throughout Pakistan.

"I've seen great coordination between the U.S. and Pakistani military since relief operations began almost a month ago," said Capt. Dale Fuller, commander of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group. "Delivering much-needed supplies is another way we can help our friends in need."

Since their arrival in the area, Navy and Marine Corps helicopters have worked in support of the government of Pakistan to evacuate thousands of people in flooded areas in the north, as well as deliver food and supplies with their heavy airlift capability. As of Sept. 5, U.S. military operations in support of flood relief has delivered more than 3 million pounds of relief supplies and evacuated more than 11,000 internally displaced persons.

The Navy and Marine Corps team has a unique capacity to help save lives and give the government of Pakistan support to recover from this natural disaster. The sea-based and self-sustaining nature of the amphibious assault ship is ideal to deliver relief items ashore and replenish as needed.

"Helicopters have the ability to move supplies to and from hard to reach places," said Lt. Chris McDonald, a pilot assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. "Whether that is between two ship's decks or into a remote landing zone, we're glad to be part of the process."

Peleliu and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit were dispatched to Pakistan in response to the Government of Pakistan's urgent request for flood relief assistance. They are currently executing a regularly scheduled deployment to the region in support of ongoing maritime security operations and serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command.

US Pacific Fleet Band Brings Jazz to Papua New Guinea

By Lt. Marissa Myatt, Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

KOKOPO, Papua New Guinea (NNS) -- The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band performed in the Kokopo Public Market in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, Sept. 4 in support of Pacific Partnership 2010.

Those present for the show included U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Teddy Taylor; Chief of Staff for Pacific Command, Rear Adm. Robin Watters; Pacific Partnership 2010 Mission Commander, Commodore Lisa Franchetti; Commanding Officer of HMAS Tobruk (L 50), Cmdr. Paul Scott; and Commanding Officer of USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), Cmdr. Steven Prescott; as well up to 2,000 folks taking a break from the busy market.

The band, which cross-decked to HMAS Tobruk (L 50) as part of a contingent of 64 U.S. Pacific Partnership 2010 participants, arrived in the East New Britain-province ready to share the sounds of a brass band with the locals of the Kokopo District.

The band played in the courtyard of the area's main market, where many local vendors were selling fruit, vegetables, fish, bread, food, flowers and crafts made out of coconut leaves, jewelry, masks and woven purses.

The concert's set-up was new for the band - the first time the 11-member team played in the middle of their audience.

"It was a unique area, the courtyard area...you're surrounded by concert-goers and everywhere you look in every direction, it's packed in, shoulder-to-shoulder," said Musician 1st Class Eric Snitzer. "We have played in many different countries, and it's always a pleasant surprise when you see the crowd connect with the music we play for them."

The locals enjoyed the music, and a few were brave enough to get up and dance. They weren't alone as about 30 members from the U.S. Navy and the Australian Defence Force, all living aboard Tobruk, danced and clapped to the music. Seaman Gap Year Grace Rounds is stationed with the ship and had never seen a performance like this once.

"They were very good," said Rounds. "They were very interactive with the crowd and fun."

The band is set to perform one more concert at the Kokopo Market, as well as participate in community service visits to area schools, all part of Pacific Partnership 2010.

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. Papua New Guinea is the last of six countries to be visited under Pacific Partnership 2010. USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste while USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited Palau.

The band members are all looking forward to the other performances.

"Once we got 'em going, they really loved it. That's what we live for; that's why we do it," said Snitzer.

The performance concluded with Taylor personally congratulating each performer.

Medical Mission in Costa Rica Leaves Impression

LIMON, Costa Rica (NNS) -- Medical services provided at the Continuing Promise 2010 Polideportivo medical site received national attention Aug. 27, when the Costa Rican minister of Foreign Relations and the United States ambassador to Costa Rica toured the site.

Continuing Promise 2010 Mission Commander Capt. Thomas Negus showed Minister Rene Castro and Ambassador Anne S. Andrews the capabilities of service members, and civilian personnel embarked on board the multi-purpose amphibious ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7).

"I want to take this opportunity to thank Commodore Negus and the crew of the USS Iwo Jima for coming to Costa Rica and working so diligently in making the Continuing Promise mission a success", said Andrews.

"There have been more than 3,000 people who have received help and more than 15,000 services provided."

"On behalf of the hundreds of Limon residents who have spoken to me, let me just say thank you, welcome, and come back", said Castro.

Herman Salmon and Alejandro Gomez, Costa Ricans who received aid at the site were grateful for their treatment and that of their countrymen.

"The service we are getting is excellent because we need it", said Salmon. "We're happy you are here and we hope the United States keeps doing this."

"It is very excellent the ship is here, and I hope the ship can stay longer because there a lot of people who need help", said Gomez.

Continuing Promise 2010 is a humanitarian civic assistance mission. The assigned medical and engineering staff embarked onboard Iwo Jima will work with partner nation's teams to provide medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering assistance to eight different nations to improve mutual understanding of current medical issues.

CP10 Seabees Help Improve Conditions at Local Costa Rican Schools

By Steelworker 2nd Class (SCW/SW) Anthony Rizzo, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 Public Affairs

LIMON, Costa Rica (NNS) -- Seabees embarked aboard the multi-purpose, amphibious ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) completed building and renovation projects at Westfalia and Hone Creek elementary schools Aug. 31.

As part of Continuing Promise 2010, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 was greeted with open arms when they arrived to help fix up the local schools.

"The people of Hone Creek Elementary greeted my project crew with a reception - I was honored!" said Builder 3rd Class (SCW) Brandon Kinsey, project crew leader.

The Seabees improvements at the two schools will help to enhance the education for the students.

"It was really neat to visit a country and offer our services by installing lights, receptacles, and repairing a roof," said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Aaron Rudd. "I got to see the children of Hone Creek Elementary School get a jump start on their education and it felt good to know that I was able to better their environment."

The improvements made toward the school will allow the children to play safely.

"Knowing that this will allow the parents and teachers to feel more at peace while their children play their hearts out safely is a good feeling," said Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Shane Hutzenbiler. "I felt grateful that we had the opportunity to assist the kids of Westfalia Elementary just by building a fence around their school."

The Seabees embarked aboard Iwo Jima are currently taking part in Continuing Promise 2010, a Humanitarian Civic Assistance mission taking place in Central and South America, which is also the U.S. Southern Command's area of responsibility. They will work with partner nation teams to help provide engineering assistance to eight different nations during this deployment.

General Officer Announcements

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nominations:

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling to serve as the deputy commandant, Aviation, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps and for re-appointment to the rank of lieutenant general. Robling is currently serving as the commanding general, III Marine Expeditionary Force; commander, Marine Corps Bases, Japan; and commander, Marine Forces Japan in Okinawa, Japan.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard T. Tryon to serve as the deputy commandant for plans, policies, and operations, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps and for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general. Tryon is currently serving as the deputy commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Washington, D.C.

Border Mission 'Not Unique' for Guardsmen

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 3, 2010 – Almost 1,100 National Guard members are on duty on the Southwest border performing a mission that is very familiar to many of them, a Guard official said today.

"This [mission] is not really unique," Jack Harrison, the director of communications for the National Guard Bureau here, said during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable. "The National Guard has been involved at the Southwest border for two decades."

During that time, he said, National Guard members have worked in the counter-drug program in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

"Above and beyond the 1,200 authorized for this mission, there are over 350 counter-drug personnel [in these states] doing that mission," Harrison said.

Almost 6,000 Guard members from around the country were deployed in support of Operation Jump Start, a two-year mission that ended in 2008.

"So, this is not new," Harrison said.

Many of the Guard members, who have volunteered for the current border mission, also have overseas deployment experience.

"And yes, those experiences are certainly useful for this mission," Harrison said.

The Guard, he said, will act as "extra eyes and ears" for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during the one-year mission. And, they’ll also provide entry identification and criminal analysis support to these agencies, he added.

The Guard’s mission along the southwest border primarily involves surveillance and it doesn’t perform law enforcement activities, Harrison said.

"They will be armed,” he said, “but that will be more for self-protection than anything else."

Of the 1,100 troops on duty, there are about 975 Army Guard members and 100 Air Guard members.

Harrison said the Guard members volunteered for this mission and were not called up as part of a unit. Each state, he said, is employing volunteers to man the border mission.

"There are no units or individuals from outside those four states being called in to help in those four states," Harrison said.

The incremental deployment of Guard members began on July 1, Harrison said, noting the one-year mission includes training time, "boots on the ground" time and the ramp down at the end of the mission.

The training can take from two to three weeks, he said, and it focuses on the agencies' tactics and procedures, as well as any equipment that may be used during the mission.

Harrison said this is a federally funded mission, but it’s not federally commanded.

"The governor and the adjutant general in each of these four states maintain command and control over each person on duty," he said. "They control the flow of the forces and the numbers of forces on duty ... and they will maintain that level of control throughout the mission."

Harrison said the total amount authorized for the border mission for up to 1,200 Guardsmen for up to one year is $135 million.

Of the almost 1,100 Guard members currently on border duty, there are about 300 in California, 450 in Arizona, 90 in New Mexico and 225 in Texas.

"We take this mission very seriously," Harrison said. "The president has asked us to support this mission, while CBP and ICE hire new agents.

“Everything is going as we expected it to go,” he added, “and we are on track for up to 1,200 people."

Pacific Partnership 2010 Marks Opening in Papua New Guinea with Ceremony

From Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (NNS) -- An opening ceremony in support of Pacific Partnership 2010 was held at the Malaguna Technical High School Sept. 3.

"This opening ceremony is a bittersweet moment for many of us, as it signifies that the important mission we've been working on for over a year is now drawing to a close," said Pacific Partnership 2010 Mission Commander, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti. "At the same time, it is incredibly exciting to be here in Papua New Guinea, aboard an Australian ship, with new partners and a great visit ahead of us. The level of enthusiasm and dedication is high – something we've seen at every stage of Pacific Partnership – and the folks who came here with me from USNS Mercy, our Australian Defence Force and Papua New Guinea Defence Force partners, and the NGOs (non-government organizations) that have joined us here in Rabaul are eager and ready to get started in PNG (Papua New Guinea)."

In the presence of dignitaries and high-ranking military officials from Papua New Guinea, Australia and the U.S., attendees were treated to a choir and a traditional dance performance by Malaguna Primary School students. The ceremony also provided the opportunity to describe the humanitarian and civic assistance projects planned for the visit.

While in the province of East New Britain, the eight-day visit will provide medical/dental civic action programs (MED/DENCAP) – essentially primary health care clinics - at Malaguna Technical High School in Rabaul and St. Mary's Vunapope Secondary School in Kokopo. Immunizations against measles will be administered for the first time during the mission. The MED/DENCAPs are also enhanced by the presence of Population Services International, an NGO that will be conducting public health education on site and in the local area.

In addition, mass drug administrations, or the administration of a specific medication to a targeted population, will be conducted in conjunction with Saint John's Ambulance, another NGO, on the Duke of York Islands. Finally, at Nonga General Hospital, a surgeon from SEE International will perform cataract surgery. All these efforts are conducted at the request of the Papua New Guinea Department of Health.

The visit also features engineering civic action programs (ENCAPS) which include renovating the laboratory building at Malaguna Technical High School, refurbishing a restroom facility and installing a water tower at the Vunamami Farmer's Training Center, and renovating the Vudal University Clinic. In addition, numerous community service projects and band engagements will occur throughout the visit.

The U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Teddy Taylor, was also in attendance and will have the opportunity to witness the mission firsthand as he is making a special visit to Rabaul to coincide with the mission.

"I know Pacific Partnership 2010 will leave a deep and lasting positive impact on these remote regions of Papua New Guinea," said Taylor. "We've all been anticipating the arrival of Pacific Partnership for some time now, and after witnessing the warm embrace by the locals, I could not be any more pleased to know the locals will be receiving medical, dental, immunization services, and engineering refurbishments. It's our U.S. commitment at its best and we are excited to see Pacific Partnership lead this effort."

Rabaul is no stranger to natural disasters as it once was the provincial capital until the devastation it experienced due to eruptions of the Tavurvur and Vulcan Volcanoes in 1994. According to the commander of the PNGDF, Brig. Gen. Francis Agwi, the people of East New Britain expect a natural disaster to occur from time to time, whether it may come in the form of a volcanic eruption or tsunami, and missions such as Pacific Partnership help build the relationships that may one day be called upon.

"Pacific Partnership enables us to come together and learn from one another and be able to work together as a team," said Agwi. "I'm very impressed with the mission and there is significant positive talk in Rabaul already."

The contingent of Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Australian Defence Force and U.S. Navy personnel, previously aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), is embarked aboard HMAS Tobruk (L50), which is now hosting the command element of the mission.

Tobruk will be joined in Rabaul by the USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), whose Sailors will also be participating in the mission. During Pacific Partnership 2010's other efforts, Mercy visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste. The USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited Palau.

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 host nations, partner nations, U.S. government organizations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.

4-star general visits NATO exercise at Volk Field

Gen. Roger A. Brady - commander of Allied Air Command Ramstein, and commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein Air Base, Germany - visited the Close Air Support Exercise Ramstein Rover 2010 conducted at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center on Tuesday (Aug. 31) to get a first-hand look at the exercise.

Brady expressed his appreciation of Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, noting that many of the participating air assets are based close by, proving essential to the success of the operation and for controller training.

"I am grateful for the Wisconsin Air National Guard's exceptional hospitality as host of Ramstein Rover," Brady said. "The combination of their facilities, professional force, and proximity to both ranges and units make Volk an outstanding resource. This has been a tremendous opportunity for our forward air controller capability branch, as well as all the nations participating in the exercise.

The primary purpose of Ramstein Rover 2010, held from Aug. 21 to Sept. 3, is to ensure integration of air and land forces by providing realistic training opportunities for NATO forward air controllers and joint terminal attack controllers. Brady was able to tour the squadron operations facility and talk to a variety of forward air controller teams from Estonia, Lithuania, and Great Britain, among others.

A forward air controller is a qualified and certified service member who, from a forward position, directs the action of a combat aircraft engaged in close air support. While forward air controller is the historical NATO term and most commonly used by Alliance members, joint terminal attack controller is the term used by the U.S. military.

"This is a perfect example of building capability," Brady said. "Thirteen nations coming together, executing a training plan and developing one of the most critical skill sets we need in Afghanistan - that of forward air controllers and joint terminal attack controllers.

"This type of exercise must continue because air-land integration is so incredibly important to the ongoing fight in Afghanistan," Brady continued. "That's what this is all about - making Alliance Airmen more effective for commanders in the field."

Face of Defense: Marine Follows Family Heritage

By Marine Corps Cpl. Ned Johnson
Regimental Combat Team 2

SANGIN, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2010 – Marine Corps Sgt. Dominick Valerio said he joined the military because the men in his family have always defended America’s freedom.

“My grandfather served in World War II, and both my uncles are Vietnam vets,” said Valerio, a squad leader here with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “My brothers also serve in the army.”

Having served in the Marine Corps Security Forces, Valerio said he likes teaching young Marines. Though he always knew he would end up in the military, Valerio said the Marine Corps’ “dragon slayer” commercial convinced him to become a Marine.

Valerio said he wanted to emulate a member of his family who serves as a Marine infantryman, known in military vernacular as a “grunt.”

“My brother-in-law is with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, and is a ‘grunt,’” said Valerio, a 22-year-old native of Phelps, New York. “I knew I wanted to be an infantryman and I told the recruiter I would do nothing else.”

After completing basic infantryman training Valerio was given the opportunity to receive advanced training when he elected to work in security forces rather than a regular infantry line company.

“As a ‘Security Forces’ Marine,” Valerio said, “I went to the Urban Assault Leader’s Course, Joint Fires Observer Course, Infantry Squad Leader’s Course, and a ton of other schools.”

Lance Cpl. Ryan Kinne, a team leader with Company K, said he appreciates Valerio’s mentorship.

“He will teach you anything you want to know, if you ask,” said Kinne, a 21-year-old native of San Antonio. “He’s given us classes on calling for fire, medical evacuation procedures and lots of other things.”

Valerio said his teaching style is anything but conventional.

“I like to use physical training to teach Marines,” he said. “We might go on a run and I can tell when everyone needs a break, so I’ll stop and teach them something important.”

Valerio said he also incorporates other types of physical training into his instruction, like carrying a litter and other tasks Marines may have to perform under fire.

In Afghanistan, Kinne said, Valerio’s training sessions have had a positive impact on the battlefield.

“We have taken casualties and we have had to transport them to a landing zone and call in a casualty report,” he said. “That’s where the training paid off.”

Kinne said Valerio’s “people” skills help him to connect with his Marines.

“He is very well-spoken,’ Kinne said of Valerio. “He can explain something no matter who you are.”

Other Marines who know Valerio, like Lance Cpl. Joshua Matthews, a team leader with Company K, say his physical courage, military skills and teaching ability have gained him the respect of his subordinates and superiors.

But Valerio also has earned his Marines’ trust because of his moral courage, Matthews said.

“My favorite thing about him as a squad leader is that he sticks up for his Marines,” Matthews said of Valerio. “Even at the risk of getting himself in trouble, he has stood beside Marines that he thought were in the right.”

Battleship Missouri Commemorates End of World War II Anniversary

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

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Service members assigned to various commands on Oahu, veterans and government leaders attended a ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial on historic Ford Island Sept. 2.

Sept. 2 1945 Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and other leaders from around the world signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on Missouri, marking the end of the most destructive war of the modern era.

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor during World War II, served as the guest speaker and offered remarks to those in attendance.

"I remember the day when the Missouri pulled into a permanent birth here at Ford Island next to the USS Arizona in June of 1998," said Inouye. "These two magnificent ships are the bookends of World War II. The Arizona represents the sacrifice and resilient spirit of America, and the Missouri represents America's triumphant victory."

"We must support and honor all of our men and women who fought and died during the war," Inouye said. "We also must continue to support our servicemen and women that continue to currently stand the watch in Iraq and Afghanistan."

During the ceremony, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki offered his thoughts during the keynote address.

"I'm most honored to be here on the deck of the Missouri. This is a magnificent battleship," said Shinseki. "Today we are here to commemorate the end of the epic struggle that was World War II."

"It all began here on Dec. 7, 1941 and it ended here as well on the deck of the Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945 in the still waters of Tokyo Bay where the 'Mighty Mo' served as the stage for the signing of the instruments of surrender between the U.S. and Japan," Shinseki said. "The significance of this statement memorial lies not just within the strength of steel, but in the soul of a generation of ordinary Americans who came forward to serve their country in extraordinary ways."

To conclude the ceremony, a U.S. Marine Corps honor guard fired a rifle volley, followed by the playing of echo "Taps" by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, and a helicopter flyover by the "Easy Riders" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 37 (HSL 37).

USS Hawaii Arrives in Yokosuka

By Lt. Lara Bollinger, Commander Submarine Group 7 Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) arrived at Yokosuka Naval Station in Yokosuka, Japan, Sept. 3, marking the very first time in U.S. 7th Fleet's history that a Virginia-class submarine visited the region.

With a crew of approximately 130, Hawaii is on its first Western Pacific deployment.

The boat's scheduled deployment will give Hawaii's crew the opportunity to conduct a multitude of missions and showcase the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet.

"My crew has worked very hard to train in preparation for this important deployment," said Cmdr. Steve Mack, Hawaii's commanding officer. "I'm proud that my submarine is the first of its class to ever deploy to the Western Pacific region, and I'm looking forward to completing all assigned tasking over the next few months."

For Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Myers, this is his first deployment.

"This is my first time to ever set foot in Japan, and I'm very excited to experience the culture and sights of this beautiful country," said Myers.

Measuring 377 feet long and weighing 7,800 tons when submerged, Hawaii is one of the Navy's newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines. The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare.

Navy, Marine Corps Team Moves to Southern Pakistan

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) R. David Valdez, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3 Public Affairs

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team, partnering with the Pakistani government, is moving from Ghazi to a southern location at Pano Aqil Air Base, near Sukkur, Pakistan, to support relief operations as flood waters move south.

Four CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced) (HMM-165 (REIN)) are the initial heavy-lift capable aircraft moving to Pano Aqil. Two of the helicopters arrived from Ghazi, and two more helicopters are flying in from amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5).

The transition will be complete when the CH-46E and CH-53E "Sea Stallion" helicopters from HMM-165 and the MH-53E helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 (HM-15) also move from Ghazi to Pano Aqil.

"The contribution of the Navy and Marine Corps helicopters in northern Pakistan has been tremendous," said Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Five and the officer in charge of Task Force 59, the Navy's task force for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. "But the flood damage throughout Pakistan is extensive, and there is still a long way to go. We're working with the government of Pakistan to make an impact in other areas, as well."

U.S. Army helicopters are due to backfill the Navy and Marine Corps helicopters in the Swat Valley in the coming days ensuring there will be a continued effort between the U.S. military and the Pakistani government to assist people affected by the floods in the northern regions. he Army's Chinooks and UH-60 Blackhawks are well suited for the mountainous regions in the north, and their arrival allows the Navy and Marine helicopters to operate in the flatter terrain of the southern areas and provide more rapid support missions with Peleliu.

"USS Peleliu has supported the operations ashore throughout the relief efforts, and will continue to do so," said Harris. "Pano Aqil Air Base is closer to the ocean, therefore the ship's crew will be able to provide logistical support to the helicopters more quickly and more often."

San Diego-based amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was the first Navy asset to arrive off the coast of Pakistan.

While the Peleliu/15th MEU team will remain in place as long as it's needed, the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group is on its way from Norfolk, Va. to relieve Peleliu and carry on the mission at hand.

To date, U.S. military aircraft supporting flood-relief efforts in Pakistan have transported more than 3 million pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies and rescued more than 11,000 people within Pakistan, delivering aid and providing transport to people who urgently need emergency assistance.

Sailors Pay Tribute To Heroes At Cleveland Area Civil War Monument

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

CLEVELAND (NNS) -- Sailors paid homage to their brothers-in-arms with a solemn visit to the Cuyahoga Country Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in downtown Cleveland Aug. 31.

The 116-year-old monument commemorates all local military personnel who served in the American Civil War.

The monument features a towering 125-foot column surrounded at its base by a memorial room and esplanade. The newly-rennovated memorial room walls are adorned with rough finished, light gray granite and light brown Amherst sandstone. Carved into the elegant granite: all the names of local service members who served during that era.

The Sailors' visit coincided with Cleveland Navy Week, one of 19 Navy Weeks planned across America this year. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

Cleveland Navy Week guest of honor, Rear Adm. Julius S. Caesar, vice director, Joint Concept Development & Experimentation U.S. Joint Forces Command, was given a personal tour of the monument by Timothy Leslie, a retired Navy Submariner who now works at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. Caesar was given an in-depth history on how the monument came to be, and the symbolism of various facets of the building's design.

Additionally, Navy Sailors from the USS Ohio (SSGN 726)and USS Cleveland (LPD 7) explored the monument and were given a private tour of the tunnels running beneath the monument.

USS Cleveland Command Master Chief Haasan Lamont was awed by what he saw. "I think this is amazing. I never expected to see anything like this."

Machinist's Mate 2nd Class (SS) Aaron Hammersmith from USS Ohio studied the names etched into the wall, scanning through the more than 9,000 names of Sailors and Soldiers who had fought 150 years ago.

"I've met a lot of great people this week in Cleveland," said Hammersmith, who hails from nearby Toledo, Ohio. "I had no idea that this Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument even existed. I think it's great. Even after 116 years, the monument still looks impressive."

The memorial room features four bronze relief sculptures depicting various scenes: Women's Soldiers' and Sailors' Aid Society, the beginning of the war in Ohio, emancipation of slaves, as well as the end of the war at City Point, Va., as well as busts of Gen. James Barnett and architect/sculptor Levi T. Scofield.

Outside, four bronze statues surrounding the column depict battle scenes of Navy, artillery, infantry and cavalry military men in action.

Timothy Daley, executive director of the monument, expressed delight in being able to show off the monument after its $2 million rennovation.

"We're very happy to bring the active members of the Armed Forces in to showcase their history," said Daley. "The Navy was a major part of the Civil War. It's just a great opportunity for us to share our history during Navy Week here in Cleveland."

Cleveland Navy Week Caps Rewarding for All

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

CLEVELAND (NNS) -- Navy Sailors visited a Cleveland hospital and brought smiles and Navy ball caps to children and their families Sept. 1 as part of Cleveland Navy Week.

Rear Adm. Julius S. Caesar, Navy Week guest of honor and his staff were invited to tour the Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Navy personnel chatted informally with the young patients while creating crafts and sharing stories throughout the morning.

Afterward, hospital staff led the Navy visitors through the hospital to visit youth who were too sick to leave their rooms. Caesar stopped into patient rooms to meet the children and their families who were room-bound, offering encouragement for their quick recovery and handing out official Navy ball caps that had been donated by Navy ships and squadrons from throughout the fleet.

"We were honored to interact with Admiral Julius Caesar and his staff," said MaryAnn Dragon, the director of the hospital's patient and family services. "The event was a great success with a non-stop crowd participating in the nautical crafts and enjoying the Navy mementos."

"This has been a truly rewarding experience," said Cmdr. Wade R. Mikulla, commanding officer of Navy Operational Support Center in Akron, Ohio. "It's something that not only do we feel good giving back in any way, shape or form that we can, but we walk out of here with a smile and a warm heart that these children put on our faces. To me, it just doesn't get any better than this."

The Caps for Kids community relations event was part of Cleveland Navy Week, one of 19 Navy Weeks held across America in 2010. During the week, Sailors volunteered for a variety of community relations projects, appeared on several television programs, attended meetings with local business and community leaders, and volunteered for a variety of community outreach projects.

Cleveland Navy Week concludes this weekend with the Cleveland National Air Show Sept. 4-6.