Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Russian Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov to the Pentagon at 10 a.m. EDT.  The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort to the cordon.

Secretary Gates and Defense Minister Serdyukov will conduct a document signing at 1:45 p.m. EDT in Pentagon room 3E928.  The document signing will be open press and will be followed with a statement only.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn is traveling.

Army Col. James H. Johnson, commander of Task Force Bayonet, accompanied by the Governor of Wardak Province, Mohammad Halim Fidai, and Jordanian Army Col. Aref Alzaben, commander of Task Force Nashmi, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at 10:30 a.m. EDT in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973), to provide an update on current operations.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, will address the media live from Vicenza, Italy, at 12:30 p.m. EDT, in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).  On Sept. 10 the White House announced Giunta will receive the Medal of Honor and further details on the presentation ceremony will be released at a later date.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy will host the opening of the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Corridor at 2:30 p.m. EDT at the Pentagon, third floor, A ring, between the 6th and 7th corridors.  The Department of Defense historical exhibits curator designed the corridor with input and artifacts from MIA families and former POWs to honor the more than 88,000 Americans missing since World War II.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Use Pick a Day to go to a different day. Check Other Events for additional listings, including air shows, band concerts, Congressional hearings, reunions and much more.

Soldier Selected for Medal of Honor to Address Media Live from Italy

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, will address the media live via satellite from Vicenza, Italy, at 12:30 p.m. EDT, Sept. 15, in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).  On Sept. 10 the White House announced Giunta will receive the Medal of Honor and further details on the presentation ceremony will be released at a later date.

Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Carter Outlines Plan to Help Warfighters, Taxpayers

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2010 – The Defense Department’s $400 billion-a-year system for buying goods and services is about to undergo major changes designed to save taxpayer money without affecting mission readiness, a senior Pentagon official said today.

“We’re asking you to do more without more,” Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said in a memo to his senior acquisitions staff released today.

Carter later outlined the plan at a news conference with Pentagon reporters. It contains 23 areas of improvement to make the department’s procurement offices and defense contractors more efficient.

The procurement changes are the first detailed announcement as part of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ initiative, announced last month, to save $100 billion over the next five years without negatively affecting warfighters.

Under the changes, the department is to mandate affordability in contracts and control cost growth. No longer will major weapons systems have to be cancelled after years in the making and billions of dollars in cost overruns have been spent, Gates said speaking before Carter at the news conference.

Procurement officers will consider not only what goods and services cost, but what they should cost, Carter explained. An example is the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, for which the cost estimate ballooned from $50 million in 2002 to $93 million this year, he said. The contractor later agreed to absorb some costs.

The SSBNX ballistic submarine, the long-range strike system, the Army’s Ground Combat System, and the Marine Corps presidential helicopter all are examples of systems that are being procured under the new rules, at a cost of about $200 billion, he said.

Carter used the submarine as an example of the possibility of significant cost savings, saying the new sub’s price dropped from $7 billion to $5 billion after officials reduced the scope of the design – something he said engineers must do on the front end of projects.

The new system will reward companies that consistently deliver affordable systems on time, and those that share in any necessary cost overruns, he said.

Contractors will now have to produce systems in a specified and shorter time than has been allowed, Carter said. The contract for the F-18 Hornet fighter jet, for example, has been set at five years, allowing for better management and oversight, he said.

“These all the ways you get productivity in an industrial activity,” Carter said of the changes.

In other changes, procurement officers will:

-- Eliminate redundancy in warfighter portfolios;

-- Give industry incentives to reduce, rather than increase, costs;

-- Put processes in place to ensure real competition;

-- Require open-system architecture; and

-- Increase the role of small businesses.

The changes will require particular attention to contracted services, an area that has grown substantially over the last 10 years to become a $200 billion annual cost to the department, Carter said. “Half of our costs are for services, and we’re performing worse there,” he said. “It’s grown so large, we simply have to manage it better.”

The department also will look inward to its “unproductive bureaucratic processes,” Carter said, that waste time and resources and force unnecessary costs on contractors. “We can’t leave ourselves out of this,” he said. “We contribute to low productivity in the industry, and we need to step up and take responsibility for it.”

Carter called the changes “very reasonable goals” that will ensure warfighters have what they need. “It’s entirely possible to find $100 billion [in savings] in the $400 billion we spend every year in contracting,” he added.

Carter vowed to be “relentless” in the implementation of the goals, which he said are very specific and measurable. He added that he will oversee progress daily and will provide progress reports to Gates monthly.

“To those who hesitate, to those who fear to go down this path, they need to consider the alternative: broken promises, cancelled programs, unpredictability and uncertainty that is bad for industry, erodes taxpayer confidence, and worst of all, results in lost warfighter capabilities,” he said.

COMMENTARY: A Chaplain's View

By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Richard Cavens
Alaska Air National Guard

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del., Sept. 14, 2010 – A day off is a cherished and holy time when you are deployed to the Air Force Mortuary Operations Center here.

Every military death overseas, from Alpha to Omega, comes through this mortuary. A new part of the mortuary mission, added a couple of years ago, is having families invited to see the arrival of their fallen loved one come home to U.S soil.

My primary duty as a chaplain here at the mortuary is working with the grief-shocked families when they watch the dignified transfer, but sometimes I’m with the fallen as I help move gurneys and work with the people working with the fallen servicemembers.

As a laborer in this casualty vineyard, you can’t help but have images of grief and death come tripping through your mind in stocking feet.

Seeing the dead and their families is a reality for me. To compensate and change your brain when that offered day off comes, you find a diversion away from the base.

My diversion on my day off is soaking up American history. Like a pig in mud, I’m deployed to the center of the homeland of American history.

Within a two-hour drive from Dover AFB, everywhere you go there is a historical site from the Revolutionary or Civil wars.

If the church sign out front says “first” in its title, it may have really been the very first Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker or other church in the original colonies. The first great thoughts and spoken words of our democracy are littered on every corner of the combined states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

After my lunch at the City Tavern, I saw the masts of a tall ship on the waterfront. It was time to keep exploring history by foot. In my walk to the pier, I found the Korean War memorial.

A wonderful series of dark panels with pictures of the war etched into its marble. As I came to the site facing the river, there was an old man wearing a Korean War veteran ball cap. He was alone and in tears. This is where the chaplain, instead of the historian, took over.

I inquired of my tear-filled soldier: “You were there weren’t you.”

My vet nodded and pointed to the carved letters on the marble that read: “7th Infantry.”

I heard of the Battle of Inchon, and how he had been wounded. I listened deeply as he told me of holding a comrade who was dying as they were surrounded by the Chinese. Again he was wounded, but had escaped capture with the others from his unit.

He looked up at me and said, “My brother fought in World War II and told me I would never get it out of my head, and he was right.”

I saw the dead comrades he told me about in my mind, for I had just seen them recently in body bags from Afghanistan and Iraq. He looked at my head and eyeballed my recent haircut.

“You’re military, you understand, don’t you?” he said.

I nodded, and told him I was a deployed chaplain at Dover AFB’s mortuary.

Like a child wanting a hug, his arms reached out, and we held onto one another, reaching across the decades. Two wars, memories dropping like falling leaves building a foundation of understanding and healing.

To place my story into a simple theology, even when we are not expecting it, God places us where we are needed.

We can embrace the moment and find the holy in stories, and care for one another, or we can walk on, to the waterfront where stuff just floats by. The joy of finding the holy moment when we are sent is that we don’t forget the real sacrifice.

Army Reserve Postures for ‘Uncertain’ Future

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

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2010 – With tough budget decisions on the horizon and the changing military missions in the Middle East, an uncertain future awaits the Army Reserve, the organization’s commander said today.

Speaking to Army Reserve soldiers in a town hall meeting at the Pentagon today, Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz talked about the state of the Army Reserve and what he’s doing to help evolve the force to better meet the needs of tomorrow’s military.

“Everyone is trying to figure out what the future will look like and plan accordingly,” Stultz said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty out there.”

Stultz cited “uncertainty” in how the Army Reserve’s mission will change with the drawdown of forces in Iraq and the troop surge in Afghanistan. He said he also recognizes the effects unemployment and the national deficit will have on future fiscal budget requests.

Meanwhile, he said, soldiers must stay focused and can’t let the current issues influence “the things we need to get done.” Initiatives are under way, he added, to “operationalize” the Army Reserve.

“The natural tendency is to wait and see and let somebody tell us what the future is,” the general said. “My push from my position is to push our staff, our commanders [and] our leaders to not wait. We’re going to continue to move forward with the vision that we have for the Army Reserve and the things we need to do to shape the future for us.”

Operationalizing the Army Reserves means that the force would be used on a regular basis to augment the active Army, Stultz explained. In the future, he said, the active Army and the Army Reserve will not have separate missions.

The idea will help to ensure the Army is more fiscally efficient and streamlined, he explained. Most importantly, he added, it will ensure the Army Reserve is an effective tool for combatant commanders throughout the armed forces.

The mission in Iraq now requires fewer troops, and the same will eventually happen in Afghanistan, Stultz said. But because Army Reserve units are made up primarily of combat support and combat service support skills, a need exists for reservists outside of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, he said. He noted that on a recent trip to Southeast Asia, he met with Army reservists partnering with Navy sailors to provide medical support to people in need in Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore.

Their efforts supported the U.S. Pacific Command mission and provided thousands of people with much-needed dental and medical care, the general said. The same types of missions are under way in South America and Africa, Stultz said, noting that Army Reserve troops, in this capacity, can boost combatant commanders’ effectiveness and efficiency.

“I’ve seen Army Reserve forces doing a lot of great things in security operations, theater engagements [and] nation building outside of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,” he said. “There’s a goal for forces in the future to do great things for our nation around the world, not necessarily associated with kinetic operations.”

Army Reserve troops can have a positive impact in helping foreign armies train and improve their defenses, he added.

“The Army Reserve is not just a contingency force for America,” he said, “but also a valuable asset to theater engagements.”

Stultz also talked about the Army campaign to manage resources and eliminate redundancy within the force. That includes military and civilian personnel and programs, he said.

“We can’t afford redundancy,” he said. “We can’t afford two guys doing the same job. We’ve got to work for efficiency.”

Despite these challenges and future changes, the one thing that’s remained constant is the quality of Army Reserve soldiers, Stultz said.

“The good news in all of this is that our soldiers are outstanding,” he said. “As I travel around the states, the world, seeing what our soldiers are doing, their attitudes [and] the dedication have never been higher.”

Retention rates are exceeding goals, despite actions to reduce retention and enlistments, Stultz said. The Army Reserve still have more people than authorized, he added, and that’s because of the soldiers’ attitude.

“We’ve got a lot of great soldiers out there,” he said. “All we’ve got to do is give them training and opportunities to grow, and keep them engaged. The force is in great hands.”

USS McFaul Receives Navy's New Anti-Corrosion Covers

From Team Ships Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Representatives from the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Surface Ship Life Cycle Management (SSLCM) Activity installed the first full ship set of new anti-corrosion equipment covers on board USS McFaul (DDG 74) at Naval Station Norfolk, Sept. 13.

The new Envelop protective covers are designed to protect weapons and equipment from degradation and corrosion caused by heat, dust, ultraviolet rays, rain and sea water.

Navy trials found the waterproof, breathable covers provide a 90 percent reduction in surface-equipment corrosion. NAVSEA personnel, assisted by the cover supplier, will train the crew on proper use and maintenance of the covers.

"I look forward to the rollout of this important new tool to fight corrosion," said Rear Adm. James McManamon, deputy commander for surface warfare at NAVSEA, as McFaul's installation was completed. "This is an excellent example of how the Navy is leading the effort to install preventative deterrents in the war against corrosion, minimize the use of volatile organic chemical cleanup agents and to save taxpayer dollars."

All new-construction ship programs will utilize the covers, which were developed through a U.S. Navy small business research grant. By the end of FY 2011, every Navy surface ship will be outfitted with the covers.

These efforts are part of a new focus on surface ship readiness. NAVSEA, in coordination with the fleet, has begun a series of initiatives to increase fleet support and improve maintenance practices across ship classes, while also modernizing them to keep pace with mission requirements. These maintenance initiatives are designed to ensure all surface ships are fully mission-ready and able to achieve their expected service life.

Sexual Assault Prevention Advocate Speaks at U.S. Naval Base Guam

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Peter Lewis
Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, GUAM (NNS) -- A respected sexual assault prevention advocate spoke with Sailors at the Big Screen Theater on U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG), Sept. 9.

Anne Munch is a veteran attorney, with 22 years of experience as a prosecutor and advocate for victims of stalking, sexual assault and domestic violence. She is also recognized as a subject matter expert by the Air Force, Army and Navy, and has done extensive work in helping to develop the military's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) programs.

The SAPR program was designed to help the military ensure the reduction of sexual assault through the education of service members, and to maintain readily available assistance for victims throughout the military.

The presentation, entitled "Naming the Unnamed Conspirator," challenged the Sailors to think about the societal trend of placing the blame on the victims when a sexual assault occurs.

"The unnamed conspirator is all around us," said Munch. "It's you; it's me, the media, movies, TV. It's our societal view, and we need to do our best to change it."

During the 90-minute presentation, Munch said that it is up to everyone, as individuals, to do what they know is right in order to prevent sexual assault.

"You know what consent is. You know all about manipulation and bullying," she said. "If we all stick with what we know, and only do what we know is right and don't hurt others, then we'll all be okay."

Munch also praised the military for everything it's done to prevent sexual assaults, educate service members about prevention, and help people who are assaulted.

"The military does a great job in deterring sexual assault, and has created a climate where reporting sexual assault is an option. We, as bystanders, can take it a step further and intervene to help prevent sexual assaults," she said. "If you save one person from being assaulted, you've changed their life and prevented a group of people from having to suffer. That is not a small contribution."

Capt. Richard Wood, commanding officer, NBG, urged the Sailors in attendance to remember Munch's words, and to share them with shipmates, family and friends.

"Sexual assault is a serious problem. I hope everyone here internalizes this training and shares it with everyone they know," said Wood. "Look out for your shipmates. If you see someone in a situation where there's potential for a sexual assault, intervene. Remember, our safety and the readiness of the fleet depends on Sailors looking out for each other."

Munch also talked about several sexual assault cases she worked on. She employed anecdotal humor to speak about a very serious and often depressing topic in a way that kept the audience interested.

"I thought this training was one of the best I've ever been to. I am glad that the Navy brought Ms. Munch out to Guam," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (AW/SW) Elizabeth Hines, of USS Frank Cable (AS 40). "It was good to hear the different perspectives about rape that she encountered during her career. Hopefully it will change how some people view sexual assault victims, and prevent any victims from becoming pariahs in the future."

According to the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, during 2009, more than 400 sexual assaults were reported in the Navy. It was found that the majority of those were service member on service member assaults involving alcohol, and that approximately half of the assaults occurred on military installations.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made it clear that the military takes a zero-tolerance stance toward sexual assault.

"The Department of Defense has a no-tolerance policy toward sexual assault," said Gates. "This type of act not only does unconscionable harm to the victim; it destabilizes the workplace and threatens national security."

For more information on Munch, visit http://www.annemunch.org/>
For more information on the SAPR program, visit http://www.sapr.mil/, or contact your command's SAPR Response Coordinator.

Naval Hospital Bremerton Conducts Influenza Vaccination Exercise

By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB)partnered with Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) and local tenant commands to administer a mass influenza vaccination during a shot exercise (SHOTEX) Sept 13 and 14.

The two-day SHOTEX was for all shore-based active duty service members, along with activated Reservists, and critical civilian personnel such as health care workers, federal fire department, Department of Defense police and base security personnel.

NHB is one of two military treatment facilities selected to participate in the exercise. The other is Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

"This is a great opportunity for us and one we are capable and able to handle with our team of experts," said Capt. Mark E. Brouker, NHB commanding officer. "It might sound dramatic, but an exercise like this has really never been done before. This is uncharted waters, but we have the right personnel who have done a lot of planning and coordination to make this happen the right way."

According to Capt. Dan Frederick, NHB population health officer, the influenza vaccination exercise tested the ability of NHB to rapidly vaccinate active duty in the event of a mass inoculation scenario, as well as have shore-based commands effectively track their personnel.

"Commander Naval Installations Command tasked Naval Base Kitsap to execute our mass vaccination response plan to accomplish the goals," said Frederick. "The exercise really gave us a great opportunity to administer a mass vaccination to our active duty population, similar to what we did during last year's overlapping H1N1 and seasonal flu seasons. This year however, we worked with all the local commands to ensure that they properly tracked their vaccinated personnel using the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS)."

NFAAS is a standardized Navy method to account, manage, and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected and/or scattered by a wide-spread catastrophic event.

"Using the NFAAS data and information system to administratively document who has been vaccinated was part of the overall challenge to see if the shore based commands could get all their active duty personnel's immunization status entered into NFAAS within 48 hours at the three selected sites," said Frederick.

The three sites were located on Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton, NBK Bangor, and NHB and handled approximately 5,000 personnel. Operational forces such as those assigned to ships, submarines and squadrons will hold their own vaccination evolutions.

"Coordination with Naval Hospital Bremerton in the lead, and the many tenant commands at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor and Bremerton in support was excellent," said Brian Edsinger, NBK emergency manager. "This was an early morning, cold start exercise and it went very well. Base-wide support for NHB was the key to success for this exercise. Our goal was to have this exercise as realistic as possible."

Frederick said the overall communication and coordination was enhanced by having all the local commands providing the organizational and logistical support necessary to document the vaccination into NFAAS.

The sites used an assembly line approach to streamline the personnel through, emphasizing everyone to initially fill out the required 'adult screening and immunization document' form and then moving on getting their vaccine.

"This was an excellent team exercise that validated our ability to react to a short notice, manpower intensive operational requirement," said Cmdr. James Travers, NBK executive officer and emergency operation center incident commander for the exercise. "Naval Hospital Bremerton provided critical staffing support and NBK provided command and control support between tenant commands and NHB that ensured success of this massive exercise in a very small execution window."

There were four graduate students from the Georgia Institute of Technology on hand from a grant by Defense Threat Reduction Agency for empirical evidence gathering to observe, track and note the entire process from collecting data to administering shots.

"They're doing a time-motion study analysis," said Capt. Fred Landro, NHB branch clinics director. "We're not concerned with how fast we keep the line moving as much as how efficient we are with our continued health care needs in regards to handling a mass vaccination."

Naval Hospital Bremerton continues to advocate and follow the Center for Disease Control recommendation of "Following the Four C's": clean hands frequently (wash with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer); cover your cough (use your arm or tissue, not your hand); confine yourself (stay at home if you are sick); and avoid crowds when flu is in the community (decrease your risk by increasing your distance of three feet or more from others). These are considered to be great habits that slow the spread of flu.

This year's seasonal flu vaccine includes H1N1, so only one vaccination is needed unlike last year's situation which required two. Additionally, all eligible beneficiaries are continually encouraged to keep their shot record and their immunizations up to date to help provide maximum protection against vaccine preventable diseases.

Northwest Region Reserve Component Wins 2009 Flagship Award

By Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class KarinaGrace Shouldice and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer S. Kimball, Navy Region Northwest, Reserve Component Command Public Affairs

EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Douglass Biesel, Commander, Navy Region Northwest, presented the 2009 Campaign Drug Free (CDF) Flagship Small Shore Command Award to Navy Region Northwest Reserve Component Command (NAVREG NW RCC) on Sep 10.

CDF is one of six Navy Flagship programs and is open to all Navy personnel. Each year the Navy recognizes commands that have coordinated the most effective and exemplary community outreach projects.

NAVREG NW RCC is being recognized for their exceptional efforts in 2009 for teaching local students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

"It makes me proud to be associated with such professional Sailors," said Capt. Gary Hetzel, commanding officer, NAVREG NW RCC. "Our Sailors are comitted to educating America's youth and their enthusiasm for this program is quite evident."

NAVREG NW RCC staff spoke to children at the local YMCA, as well as, four local schools and at various other events.

They reached out to an audience of more than 3,000 students ages 8-17, in grades 3 through 11, putting in more than 50 hours of volunteer time.

"Our Sailors are truly making a difference in our community. Our presence in the schools is indicative of how much the Navy cares about our future leaders," said Senior Chief Yeoman (AW) Nia Clark, CDF Coordinator assigned to NAVREG NW RCC. "They are dedicated to providing students with the tools to ignore peer pressure and make good decisions."

Commands and individual participation in CDF continues to demonstrate the dedication and devotion our Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and civilians show to the people they serve.

“Round Island Row” in honor of DC3 Bruckenthal

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
Post co-authored by Christopher Lagan

In 2004, Damage Controlman 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal became the first Coast Guardsman killed in action since the Vietnam War while serving in Iraq. Nate Bruckenthal was an inspiration both to his shipmates and the Long Island, N.Y. community that he called home. Nate’s influence on one group of Long Islanders was so strong that they set out earlier this summer to honor the fallen Coastie with a row around Long Island in support of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Chris Cuddihy, Ryan Cuddihy, Rick Shalvoy and Chris Rizopoulos, set out in a 24-foot wooden lifesaving vessel to complete the 300-mile circumnavigation of Long Island on August 15 following a memorial service at Coast Guard Station Eatons Neck. The ‘Round Island Row,’ which raised $4,000 dollars for the Wounded Warriors Project, would test the will of the four friends, and the strength of Nate’s memory would help one man overcome the very limits of his physical endurance.

“Station Eatons Neck was honored to be the ceremonial launching point for this courageous feat in support of the Wounded Warrior Project,” said commanding officer Chief Warrant Officer Steve Pollock. “The ceremony was even more poignant for us because it was dedicated to DC3 Nate Bruckenthal. The Bruckenthals are and will remain part of our family.”

As the four men rowed through New York Harbor, a thunderstorm broke out over Long Island Sound. While the lifesaving boat would withstand the treacherous waves, Rick Shalvoy was forced to abandon the row after suffering from seasickness and severe dehydration.

Down a man, the crew carried on in hopes of completing the trip. It was not to be. With only three men rowing, Mother Nature would force the crew to beach their boat and abandon the row.

Defeat was too bitter a pill for Shalvoy to swallow. Rehydrated and determined, he set out in a one-man row boat, rowed out to the location where his comrades were forced to abandon, and resumed his journey.

Chris Cuddihy, Ryan Cuddihy and Chris Rizopoulos practice in a 24-foot wooden lifesaving boat prior to the Round Island Row. Photo courtesy of Rick Shalvoy.
“I had to think long and hard if someone was trying to tell me something,” recalls Shalvoy. “Failure was not an option. That’s just not the way this mission was going to go.”

Shalvoy would row for six more days through heavy seas and a two-day nor’easter to complete his mission as Coasties kept a watchful eye and cheered on this civilian who was pushing himself to the limit in honor of one of their own.

Those cheers and the persistent resolve of Shalvoy were reminiscent of another row back in 1999. During that year’s ‘Row for a Cure’, Shalvoy would drop out of the race after an incident with a powerboat only to resume his row to the cheers of Coasties aboard Coast Guard Cutter Point Wells … including a young Nate Bruckenthal.

“If Nate were here right now I would want to thank him,” said Shalvoy. “Throughout his life, he was an example of self service.”

General Officer Assignments

The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignments.

Maj. Gen. Robin Rand, director, legislative liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., to special assistant to the vice chief of staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Brig. Gen Lori J. Robinson, who has been selected for the rank of major general, deputy director, force application and support, J8, Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., to director, legislative liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Maj. Gen. Brooks L. Bash, director of operations, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., to vice commander, Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

Brig. Gen. Frederick H. Martin, special assistant to the commander, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., to director of operations, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Brig. Gen. John D. Stauffer., vice commander, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency, deputy chief of staff, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to deputy to the deputy chief of staff, intelligence, Headquarters International Security Assistance Force, U.S. Central Command, Kabul, Afghanistan.

Brig. Gen. Bradley R. Pray, deputy director of operations, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., to deputy director, plans and policy, U.S. Cyber Command, Fort Meade, Md.

Flag Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Navy Rear Adm. Cecil E. Haney for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and assignment as deputy commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Haney is currently serving as director, Submarine Warfare Division, N87, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

POW/MIA Corridor Opens

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy will host the opening of the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Corridor on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 2:30 p.m. EDT at the Pentagon, third floor, A ring, between the 6th and 7th corridors.

The Department of Defense historical exhibits curator designed the corridor with input and artifacts from MIA families and former POWs to honor the more than 88,000 Americans missing since World War II.  Its panels depict the evolution of the prisoner of war issue since World War II to current day accounting activities.

Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Mullen Tackles Questions in Virtual Town Hall

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2010 – Navy Adm. Mike Mullen took on some of the military’s toughest topics – all posed from servicemembers, spouses and veterans - in a virtual town hall meeting scheduled to air at 1 p.m. EDT today on the Pentagon Channel.

From tolerance of servicemembers’ religions and sexualities to Iraq, Iran and “winning” in Afghanistan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took nine questions submitted online via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and answered them in a Sept. 8 taping that marked the second installment of the Pentagon Channel’s “Ask the Chairman” program, which began last year.

In response to the first question, taken from a senior airman at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Mullen said the drawdown of forces in Iraq already has increased the time servicemembers spend at home – known as dwell time – between deployments.

The redeployment of some 100,000 troops out of Iraq in the past year, down to 50,000 at the end of August, has increased dwell time for Marines and soldiers “who bore the brunt” of repeated deployments to the country, Mullen said. Dwell time will continue to improve as the remaining troops return at the end of next year, he said.

Asked by a recent veteran about Iraq’s future, the chairman said the United States will continue a strategic relationship with Iraq, but the specifics have yet to be determined. “What we’re waiting for right now is for Iraq to stand up their government,” he said. “Until then, we can’t really know specifics.”

Until then, Mullen said, he “is comfortable that 50,000 is enough” U.S. troops to help Iraq sustain security and advance its government.

Asked how Iran might affect “post-withdrawal” Iraq, Mullen noted that Iran, Iraq’s neighbor to the east, has a rich history in the region, and that it invested in trying to influence Iraq’s national elections earlier this year. “I would hope it would become a stabilizing influence, but now it’s a destabilizing influence,” he said.

The chairman noted that U.S.-Iranian relations have been stalled for 30 years. “Even at the height of the Cold War, we still talked to the Soviet Union,” he noted. Mullen said he worries about a “miscalculation” between Iran and the United States and said there is “no question” Iran will continue to try to influence Iraq.

On Afghanistan, Mullen rejected a characterization of the country being in “the Stone Age,” saying much progress has been made there and that U.S. goals there are less than a 21st century democracy. A “win” there would be a secure Afghanistan, without corruption, and with good governance, he said.

Mullen added that the United States only recently began fully resourcing the mission in Afghanistan. “We’ve been in there for nine years, but we’ve only had the right resources in the past year to 18 months,” he said.

A retired Army officer asked Mullen about allowing gay servicemembers to serve openly, to which the chairman repeated his position that the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law should be overturned. “For me, it’s fundamentally an integrity issue” to not force servicemembers to hide who they are, he said.

The Defense Department issued hundreds of thousands of questionnaires to servicemembers and their spouses this summer as part of a report on the impact of changing the law that is due to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Dec. 1.

A Muslim servicemember asked the chairman if there has been a military roundtable discussion about religious tolerance, in light of reports of intolerance toward Muslims among non-Muslim Americans. Mullen replied that he is not aware of such a discussion, but that it may be a good idea.

“There is a need for understanding each other and our different views,” he said. “We, as a country, support religious freedom.”

Wounded Troops Challenge Obstacle Course

By Mike Strasser
U.S. Military Academy

WEST POINT, N.Y., Sept. 14, 2010 – They run road races and compete in triathlons. They climb mountains, kayak through rapids and ski on snow and water.

They are America’s wounded warriors -- veterans who continue to inspire by their resilience and will to overcome any obstacle placed before them.

Six Army soldiers and one Marine from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., visited the U.S. Military Academy here Sept. 10 to test their abilities on a challenging set of obstacles.

The indoor obstacle course test is a rite of passage for all West Point cadets as a testament to their physical fortitude. Being able to make it through this intense test of balance, strength and stamina is hard enough, given months of practice and training. But for the wounded warriors, with only hours of preparation, the test was an inspirational example of the Warrior Ethos and human perseverance, said Army Col. Gregory L. Daniels, the chief of the academy’s physical education department.

“These outstanding soldiers are a testament to the amazing power of the human spirit,” Daniels said of the wounded warriors. “They make no excuses for their so-called disabilities, and they drive on with an indomitable grit that is truly remarkable. Every single cadet should take notice and emulate their invincible spirit.”

For that reason, Daniels made sure cadets were present for this event. Hayes Gymnasium roared with the encouraging cheers of cadets as the wounded warriors moved through the timed course.

“I wanted the cadets to cheer them on with all their might and to be inspired by what they observed,” Daniels said. “These soldiers demonstrated the Warrior Ethos in a very unique and powerful way. I wanted as many cadets as possible to see first-hand the type of young person they will eventually have the immense responsibility and awesome privilege to lead.”

Cadets lined up to congratulate and speak with the group after the test. Cadet Brittany O’Connell said she left with a lump in her throat from what she’d witnessed.

“It made me realize that even with things as hectic as they are here, your problems may not be as big as you think they are,” she said. “It was truly amazing.”

When Daniels told the cadets to remember this event the next time they complained about something being too hard, Cadet Tom Snukis took it to heart.

“It was definitely inspiring, because you see cadets struggle through this every day,” said Snukis, who will take the course for score in October. “Then to come out here and see soldiers missing arms and legs, and they destroyed the [course]. ‘Inspiring’ is definitely the word.”

As the sole Marine and only double amputee in the group, Lance Cpl. Joshua Wege said he had even more to prove than his colleagues. He was not expecting such a large audience, he said, but it fueled his performance with an added dose of adrenaline.

“The entire bleachers were filled, and just the sound reverberating off the walls was cool,” Wege said. “I’ve never had crowds cheer me before. I was nervous at the starting line, which I don’t get very often, but with everyone watching and the blood pumping, I wanted to do the best I could.”

Army Spc. Matthew Kinsey said the group of wounded warriors is pretty close-knit, and it was evident in the way, as professional soldiers, they supported each other. They’d been practicing for a few weeks on a smaller course at Walter Reed, Kinsey said, but the West Point course was exhausting.

“At half-speed, the individual obstacles are not bad, but when you go through everything at once, that’s a challenge,” Kinsey said.

Along with Wege and Kinsey, Army Sgt. Robert Brown, Army Pvt. Harrison Ruzicka, Army Spc. Joshua Rector, Army Spc. Nicholas Edinger and Army Sgt. Shane Baldwin also participated.

Lynn Discusses Cybersecurity with NATO Allies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, Sept. 14, 2010 – Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III has arrived here for discussions with NATO leaders.

The primary purpose of the trip is to brief NATO leaders on the U.S. defense cybersecurity initiative, said Bryan Whitman, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

“It’s an opportunity to convey the importance of cybersecurity to our NATO allies, as well as a chance to encourage them to secure NATO systems,” Whitman said.

Lynn is scheduled to meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen before briefing the alliance’s North Atlantic Council on U.S. cyber initiatives. He will then travel to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe to meet with Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe.

While the focus of the visit will be cybersecurity, the discussions will cover the gamut of NATO issues, Whitman said. Lynn probably will discuss the NATO mission in Afghanistan with the leaders, and the November NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, he added.

The cybersecurity threat is real and growing, and an effective defense will require international cooperation, Lynn has said. More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to hack into various aspects of the U.S. information technology infrastructure, and foreign militaries are developing offensive cyber capabilities, he noted in a June speech in Canada’s capital of Ottawa.

The Canadian, British and Australian militaries have agreed to work closely with the United States to combat the threat to military information systems, defense officials said, noting that cyber attacks are not just military threats, but also threats to critical infrastructures and overall economic well-being. The U.S. military always has maintained that a shared, alliance approach to cybersecurity is critical to defending against cyber attacks, officials said.

Lynn’s briefing will update NATO’s 28 nations on U.S. initiatives and suggest ways to improve cybersecurity for the alliance and among the individual countries, Whitman said.

Lisbon Summit Will Chart NATO’s 21st Century Course

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2010 – NATO’s roadmap for a new world and its mission in Afghanistan will be the main topics of discussion when the alliance’s leaders gather in Lisbon, Portugal, in November for their annual summit, a senior Pentagon official said yesterday.

Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, said two “main baskets” of issues will be on the table at the summit.

“The first will be revitalizing the alliance for the 21st century,” she said, “and the second will be succeeding as an alliance in Afghanistan.”

Leaders are working on a new strategic concept to capture NATO’s missions going forward, Flournoy said. The last update of the strategic concept was in 1999. The United States also would like to see some changes in the alliance’s infrastructure and organization, she added.

“We have a whole series of reform proposals looking at command structure, NATO agencies and institutions, NATO committees and NATO financial reform,” she explained.

Flournoy said she believes that with many in Europe calling for cutbacks in the face of the world’s economic situation, the impetus is there to reform the alliance. That, she added, sets the stage for organizational changes that suit the alliance’s operational evolution.

“There is a downward pressure to do things more efficiently,” she said. “Secondly, NATO has now had more than a decade of experience in the requirements to do expeditionary operations – to actually have your command structure actually be able to deploy and employ forces in real-world contingencies.”
The economic and operational imperatives mean NATO leaders have become serious about reforming command structure and streamlining how the alliance does business so the alliance is more efficient and effective in how it spends its resources.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has put forth an initiative to pare down the number of NATO committees from more than 400 to fewer than 200. Other changes also are in the offing, Flournoy said.

“We are taking a look at 14 NATO agencies and seeing if we can consolidate them to three,” she said. “There is also a very careful scrub now of the common funding budget for NATO. Again, countries are asking, ‘What am I getting for my money, and are we spending it well?’ That is leading to some serious reform for the first time in a long time.”

The United States would like to revive the NATO-Russia Council, Flournoy said. The relationship has had its ups and downs, she acknowledged, but she added that progress is possible in light of current U.S.-Russian relations. NATO and Russia have many areas in which they can work together, Flournoy noted, such as the effort in Afghanistan, fighting terrorism, ballistic missile defense and counterpiracy.

“We would like to revive the NATO-Russia Council and make it a much more productive body,” she said. “We’re quite open to that.” Flournoy said she hopes a NATO-Russia Council meeting could take place during the NATO summit in Lisbon, but that has not been decided yet.

As they discuss the Afghanistan mission, NATO leaders will focus on assessing how the alliance is doing, identifying milestones for progress and keeping the cohesion of the International Security Assistance Force, Flournoy said.

“We are approaching 150,000 international troops in Afghanistan – about 45,000 are non-American,” Flournoy said. “When we had our plus-up of 30,000 [troops], NATO also stepped up with an additional 9,000.”

And while the alliance members have stepped up in numbers, a number of the countries are stepping up in terms of their activities, Flournoy said. For example, the Germans in Regional Command North are now fully partnered with the Afghan units and “are operating with them, training with them, doing everything with them,” she said. “That is a real change, and we’ve seen other countries also step up.”

But problems and shortages still exist, Flournoy acknowledged, with a shortfall in institutional trainers and mentoring teams foremost among them.

“The long pole in the tent here is growing Afghan capacity in the security forces,” she said, “and while we are getting traction there – especially with the army – the trainers shortfall must be addressed if we’re going to be in a position to transition to greater Afghan lead for security.”

The need for police trainers has slowed the process, the undersecretary said. Changes in NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan have improved the process, she added, but the police still lag significantly behind the Afghan army.

Before, she explained, police simply were hired and placed on the streets. They received rudimentary training, if any at all, she said, and they failed spectacularly.

“Now,” she said, “we are actually vetting them, we are training them before we put them out in the field, and we are trying to partner them with units and mentors so they get on-going professional development once they are actually in the field.

“We are hearing from our infantry and [military police] units in Kandahar that when we actually partner with the Afghan National Police, they do quite well,” she continued. “There is a lot of on-the-job training and development that goes on, [and] a lot of leadership development, when we are closely partnered 24/7.”

The counterinsurgency strategy is permeating ISAF forces in Afghanistan, Flournoy said.

“Our troops really ‘get’ counterinsurgency,” she said. “They understand it’s not about how well they can do something -- it’s about how well the Afghans can, and building the Afghan capacity and confidence to be in the lead. That’s what it’s about, so we are doing everything we can possibly do together.”

Though the Dutch have left Afghanistan and the Canadians are leaving, this is counterbalanced by a number of countries that have increased their commitments, Flournoy said. Still, she acknowledged, all of the NATO nations involved in the effort need to show their publics at home some demonstrable progress in Afghanistan by the Lisbon summit, and even more progress by next summer.

NATO leaders also will discuss Kosovo at the summit, Flournoy said. The alliance still has 9,000 troops in the country, she added, and overall, the mission is progressing well.

“The United States is emphasizing training local security forces to eventually be in a position to take the lead on security,” she said. “The principle that we are operating under is ‘in together, out together.’ Any decisions toward the next gate and some reduction of forces will be made together as an alliance, rather than individual troop-contributing nations.”

Missile defense is another priority for NATO in Lisbon, Flournoy said, and the United States hopes the alliance will embrace missile defense as a mission. NATO would need to contribute a command and control system, with individual countries contributing various capabilities, she said.

The defenses would be focused on the threat from Iran and would in no way be aimed at Russia, the undersecretary emphasized. U.S. officials hope that Russia embraces the system, she added, as Russian radars would be particularly helpful.

“We would welcome Russian participation, but we have some work to do to convince them that it makes sense for them,” Flournoy said.

Lewis and Clark Keeps Pakistan Flood Response on Track

By Kim Dixon, Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
USNS LEWIS AND CLARK, At sea (NNS) -- USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1), with its 130 embarked civil service mariners and nine military department members, is a key contributor to the ongoing humanitarian assistance being provided to flood-ravaged Pakistan.
Military Sealift Command's dry cargo and ammunition ship Lewis and Clark helps keep ships responding to the Pakistan crisis supplied with food, fuel and other supplies, enabling them to remain at sea, on station and able to provide help to a country where thousands are reported dead, and millions are reported displaced or homeless.
Prior to the news of Pakistan's devastation, Lewis and Clark was replenishing U.S. and coalition navy ships conducting counter-piracy operations in the Red Sea. Immediately after reports of the Pakistani crisis, Lewis and Clark was diverted to the Gulf of Oman to join the humanitarian assistance team.
In response to the disaster, USS Peleliu (LHA-5) was tasked to provide heavy-lift capability with its embarked helicopters to the Pakistani government. Lewis and Clark arrived on station in the Arabian Sea Aug. 11 and assumed a pivotal role as the resupply bridge for U.S. ships providing disaster relief. One of Lewis and Clark's first missions was to off-load humanitarian assistance and disaster relief kits to Peleliu, who in turn delivered them to Pakistan.
Lewis and Clark carried a standard cargo allotment of humanitarian and relief kits, designed to support 2,500 disaster survivors. Kits included five-gallon water containers, tarps, blankets, insect repellent, surgical masks, water purification tablets and basic personal hygiene items for victims of the disaster.
Helicopters from Peleliu and members of the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit began delivering humanitarian aid supplies to the government of Pakistan Sept. 6.
A sustained replenishment cycle was necessary to allow Peleliu and embarked Navy and Marine Corps helicopters to continue their support to the Pakistan government and military disaster relief efforts. Lewis and Clark began transiting to and from port in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, loading the ship with supplies and then returning to sea to replenish Peleliu while it remained off the coast of Pakistan.
Lewis and Clark transited to and from port in seven- to 10-day cycles delivering food, fuel and cargo to Peleliu – allowing the ship to remain on-station to provide support to the overall relief efforts.
Lewis and Clark's two embarked Aerospatiale SA-330J Puma helicopters have delivered more than 800 pallets of routine, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies, in addition to transporting more than 50 personnel transiting to assist in relief operations.
"I feel like we make a difference," said Able Seaman Paul Chaffin, a civil service mariner aboard Lewis and Clark. "I think every time we supply a Navy ship, we are supporting those who directly support those affected by the crisis."
MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

Northwest Sailors Ride to Fight Multiple Sclerosis

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardel Gervacio, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Detachment Northwest
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (NNS) -- A team made up of 21 members of active duty and civilians gathered together as "Team Navy," in Skagit County Fairgrounds Sept. 11-12 for a Bike for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Ride.
The Bike MS Ride was a two-day ride ranging from 22 to 92 miles throughout the Whatcom, Island and Skagit Counties. The routes consisted of figure-8 loops that started and finished at Rider Village at the Skagit County Fairgrounds in Mount Vernon, Wash.
The ride was an opportunity for bike enthusiasts to raise funds and awareness about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"I'm here because I'm a second generation MS person. My dad had MS, and he died from it when he was only 48 years old, and eight years after he died, I was diagnosed with it," said Sharon Dodge, wife of Cmdr. Bill Dodge, commanding officer of Navy Information Operations Command Whidbey Island.
According to the website, Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.
Along with Team Navy, more than 20 teams participated in the event to fight MS.
"My team encouraged me to ride today. We all started riding our bikes to work and based on that, started a team for this event," said Francois Prinsloa of Seattle, Wash., a member of Team Expeditors. "It started as fitness, and then I saw the website, I learned more about MS and how the money we raise can make a difference. This is a great a great community; it combines my love for biking with a good cause, and I'm happy to be a part of it."
Groups of volunteers provided by the society helped set up and man the rest stops along the route, located every 10-12 miles on both days. Rest stops provided snacks and water to cyclists as they passed through; volunteers thanked the participants and encouraged them as they went on their way.
Money raised on both days support MS research, programs and services dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals affected by MS.
Even with the unpredictable weather and road riding conditions, riders were determined to finish the course.
"I love the fact that the National MS Society gives more money directly to research than any other non-profit in the world. I love that everyone came together for the movement, our team especially, the comradeship on Team Navy is just overwhelming. I ride for my kids, so we don't have another generation of our family that has the same disease. When we cross the finish line, grown men on our team would cry," said Dodge.
According to the website Team Navy raised over $31,280.
The Dodges have also been members of Navy biking teams participating in the Maryland Bike MS ride in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as the Delaware Valley.
Team Navy made their Greater Washington Chapter Bike MS debut in September and won the "Best Pledge Average Team" with nine riders and an average pledge of $2,640 per rider.
In all, Team Navy has raised more than $150, 000 over the past four years.
"Bill Dodge, our team captain has done such a great job organizing this every year for Team Navy; we have an inspiring group of riders," said Lt. Cmdr. Philip King, a Navy chaplain assigned to Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 10 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. "This is my first year participating in the event. I've known the Dodges' since I came to Whidbey Island, and this was just a great opportunity for me to show my support for them and for Sharon, who has MS."