Military News

Monday, September 27, 2010

SEALs Bike Across America

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas, Naval Special Warfare Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Six bike riders participating in a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Foundation charity bike ride received a ceremonial send-off in Coronado, Calif. Sept. 26.

The riders are scheduled to travel more than 3,000 miles to bring awareness to the NSW Foundation, an organization that provides assistance and support to NSW families and the community. Retired Navy SEALs Mike Badger and Rob Rambeck, along with an East-Coast based SEAL, as well as three NSW supporters, Paul Resnick, Ron Watford, and Mary Jemison, met at Coronado City Hall, the starting point of their ride.

"Today's event is about supporting SEAL families in particular, because they're so often deployed," said Coronado mayor Casey Tanaka, whose father was a SEAL. "I'm all too aware of the importance of this group and their work."

NSW Foundation supports more than 9,000 members in the NSW community. Bill Hahn, special events coordinator for NSW Foundation, says that the ride means not just that more money will be raised to help the NSW community, but will shed light on the kinds of programs and support it provides to families.

"We provide families with, not just financial support but moral support, when their spouses are away we do a lot of different activities for their children," he said. "(We also) provide tuition assistance for active-duty personnel, as well as their children."

Rambeck says the ride is not only a good chance for him to give back to the NSW community, but it's also an opportunity for him to ride with members of his Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs class on the way to Florida.

"We only had 26 guys who graduated (from my class), so it's kind of unusual that we have that many people en route," Rambeck said.

The tour is slated to end in Ft. Pierce, Fla., where the riders will join other NSW community members and supporters for the National Navy Underwater Demolition Team-SEAL Museum's annual Muster event. The Muster event, which is in its 25th year, will reunite SEALs from across the country, and exemplifies the partnership between the museum and the local community.

NSW is a maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command and the Navy's special operations force. The community is composed of over 6,700 personnel, including 2,300 SEALs, 600 Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC), along with military support personnel, reserve components, and civilian staff. SEALs and SWCC focus on missions involving unconventional warfare, direct action, combating terrorism, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, personnel recovery and hydrographic reconnaissance.

For more information on Naval Special Warfare visit http://www.seal.navy.mil/.

Returning Warrior Workshop Brings Families, Service Members Together

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Maebel Tinoko, Commander, Navy Region Northwest Public Affairs

BELLEVUE, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 150 active duty and Reserve personnel and their families attended the Navy Region Northwest Reserve Component Command (NRNWRCC) "Returning Warrior" Workshop (RWW) in Bellevue, Wash., Sept. 24-26.

Service members and families learned how to get through changes caused by Individual Augmentee (IA) deployments, through guest speakers and by sharing their own stories.

"This event is designed for Reservists and active duty service members who recently returned from an IA deployment; to help them reintegrate back into their normal lives," said Cynthia Miller, NRNWRCC warrior family support program specialist. "This workshop is very beneficial for participants because we provide tools and information they need to help themselves."

RWW is part of the Department of Defense Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and is designed to honor IA service members who have returned from overseas and those who have had particularly hard deployments. The RWW addresses the stress that comes from these hardships.

"The RWW provides a venue where we can build unit cohesion and the ability to open up and interact with others to share similar experiences," said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class (FMF) David G. Oihus, Marine Corps Mobilization Command Kansas City. "This is designed to assist them with the reintegration progress back with their families, back into their communities and with their employers."

Topics during the event included warrior transitions, telling your story, spiritual and emotional well-being, reconnecting couples, and why a warrior would want to go back. Attendees are given information about resources available to assist with their transition back from deployment. For those wishing to speak about issues in a private environment, confidential sessions with counselors were available.

RWWs are hosted throughout the country by Reserve component commands and provide an opportunity for Sailors and their families to talk to others who have had similar experiences.

For Construction Electrician 2nd Class Lance Marvich, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 18, and his wife, Kellie Peterson, the workshop was an outlet where they could reconnect as a couple.

"This workshop has been very helpful, and it helps us to get our feelings out and teaches us how to communicate better," said Marvich. "My favorite part was the play where they had actors perform a skit for us, and we could relate to it."

The RWW held a banquet of honor which featured gourmet food and a "Thank You to Our Heroes" speech by Rear Adm. Raymond P. English, Supply Corps, Reserve Forces director.

Letters of appreciation were given to Sailors and their families and friends for standing by their side. The night concluded with Capt. James D. Puttler, Navy Region Northwest chaplain, presenting each returning warrior with a quilt from the Quilts of Valor Foundation.

"My favorite part was the Couples Reconnecting Workshop because it helps us build a stronger relationship as a couple," said Peterson. "It helps us grow closer and stronger, and this has been a great opportunity for us. I strongly encourage others to attend and come with an open mind."

NPC Keeps Sailors Moving

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- After congressional approval for a Department of the Navy re-programming request, Navy Personnel Command (NPC) received additional permanent-change-of-station (PCS) funding the week of Sept. 27.

The approval is great news for many Sailors detaching as far out as March 2011, according to NPC leaders.

"We received additional PCS funding, which will significantly aid our transition into fiscal year 2011," said Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, NPC assistant commander for Career Management. "Based on the amount of funds received and planned execution, we expect to be able to release approximately 10,000 orders by Sept. 30."

PCS funding became a major concern last year due to a policy change made in 2008 called the PCS Obligation Policy Change (POPC). Under the policy change, which was implemented across the services and came into effect in fiscal year (FY) 2009, funding must be provided at the time the PCS orders are written. Previously, the Navy could issue orders immediately after a PCS move was negotiated with the Sailor and then supply funding when the move occurred.

"We are working to release as many orders as possible before the end of the fiscal year, including some orders as far out as March 2011," said Shoemaker. "By comparison, in early FY10, we had nearly 10,000 Sailors detaching in first quarter who did not receive orders until after Oct. 1."

While the release of orders will be good news to many, Shoemaker cautions that, "independent of funding, there are many factors that may contribute to short lead times for Sailor's orders. These issues include PTS approvals, overseas and other screening requirements, timing of officer slating processes, orders re-negotiations, emergent requirements, awaiting school graduation dates, nominative billets, medical fall-outs, etc. Bottom line, there will always be some Sailors, even with unlimited funding, that will get their orders with less than optimal lead times."

There is still an emphasis on priority billets even while writing orders for moves through spring 2011.

"Emphasis remains on overseas contingency operations support assigment rotations, career milestone billets and critical readiness fills, minimizing manning gaps at sea for deployed units and those working up to deployment and keeping the training pipelines moving," Shoemaker said.

NPC spends more than $600 million annually on PCS moves. In FY09, NPC issued approximately 72,600 funded PCS orders with an average cost of $8,556 per move.

For more information, contact the NPC Customer Service Center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (1-866-827-5672).

Mount Whitney Completes Jackal Stone 2010

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Terry Vick, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

USS Mount Whitney, At sea (NNS) -- USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) completed its part in exercise Jackal Stone (JS10) 2010, ending the 10-day joint military operation in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Lithuania and Poland, Sept. 26.

JS10 is a multinational military special operations exercise organized by Special Operations Command Europe, designed to improve international military partnerships through joint training with special forces subunits from Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States.

During JS10, Special Operations Forces (SOF) from participating nations practiced airborne insertion maneuvers, and visit, board, search and seizure techniques.

"JS10 was a unique opportunity for SOF units from these countries to promote better communication and improve our readiness to build a greater fighting force worldwide," said Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Spencer, a special operations task group liaison officer from Naval Special Warfare Unit Two. "Mount Whitney answered the call by providing the ability to practice the underway vessel troop insertion techniques of fast-roping and small boat operations on numerous occasions to assist the SOF units on the ground."

Mount Whitney also supported the exercise by providing a forward afloat staging platform for SOF units and their support elements.

"We were able to be a mobile operating base for the Special Operations Surgical Team, as well as provide aerial reconnaissance and logistical support through the use of our organic air asset," said Lt. Tiffany Hill, Mount Whitney's operations officer.

"During the 10-day special operation exercise, Mount Whitney's presence was a huge asset," said Spencer. "The ship provided excellent surveillance of targets at sea and helped the SOF planners maintain an excellent perspective of the big picture by strategically placing itself off the coast ready to perform any task the SOF required."

Mount Whitney, the flagship for the U.S. 6th Fleet, is homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.

Green Navy Barracks Project Breaks Ground on San Clemente Island

By Lee H. Saunders, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A groundbreaking ceremony for a $20 million San Clemente Island bachelor quarters project to house 90 Navy personnel and incorporate sustainable design principles and energy conservation was held on the island Sept. 15.

"Today's ground breaking ceremony is a major milestone as we head into the construction phase of this project," said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Chung, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest Facilities Engineering and Acquisitions Division (FEAD) director for Naval Base Coronado. "It is symbolic of turning all the planning and design into reality."

Stronghold Engineering Inc. of Riverside, Calif. is the project contractor. NAVFAC Southwest will manage the construction project.

"We at NAVFAC Southwest and Naval Base Coronado will partner with Stronghold Engineering to ensure we construct both timely and quality facility while keeping safety at the forefront," said Chung.

Stronghold Engineering Inc. will build a 2,970 square meter bachelor quarters facility that will house 90 Navy personnel that work on the island for days at a time. Construction will include special construction and foundation features, electrical utilities, mechanical utilities with a recycled water irrigation system. Paving and site improvements, environmental mitigation consisting of monitoring a federally endangered plant called the Lotus Dendroideus Traskiae, and a sewage treatment system are in the project. Demolition of buildings and lead paint and asbestos mitigation are also part of the project.

"Stronghold Engineering has worked with us very well in the design phase to ensure a well designed product and a successful addition to San Clemente Island," said Lt. j.g. Liwei Chen, NAVFAC Southwest construction manager for the SCI barracks project.

The design and construction of the project will also include sustainable design principles and energy conservation in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

"These barracks will feature a waste-water treatment plant, photovoltaic systems, solar domestic hot water system, and wind turbines for enhanced sustainability as a part of San Clemente Island," said Chen. "The enhancements will be large enough to have future buildings tie in and use these resources."

The official party for the groundbreaking ceremony included San Clemente Island Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Cmdr. Geoffrey Herb, NAVFAC Southwest FEAD Director for NBC Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Chung, NAVFAC Southwest Construction Manager Lt. j.g. Liwei Chen, and Stronghold Engineering Inc. San Diego Operations Manager Pat Walls.

"We know that San Clemente Island is both remote and a challenging environment to work and live in," said Chung. "So we're striving to provide not just another barracks, but living spaces where Sailors are excited about staying in."

The project is scheduled for completion in August 2011.

Continuing Promise 2010 Supports People of Panama

From Continuing Promise 2010 Public Affairs Office

PANAMA CITY, Panama (NNS) -- USS Iwo Jima's (LHD 7) Continuing Promise 2010 (CP10) team collaborated with the Panamanian Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the U.S. Embassy Sept. 27 to bring medical, veterinary and engineering services to the people of Panama.

CP10 is a humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission presently on a four-month, eight-port mission aboard Iwo Jima that provides HCA support to Central and South American host nations.

Specifically, CP10 offered ten days of medical, dental, optometry, veterinary, engineering and community relations support to Punta Pena and Malic in Bocas del Tora and Palma Real Ngabe Bugle Comarca, Panama.

More than 1,500 military and 18 civilians from five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) spent ten days in Panama in support of CP10. The NGOs include Project Hope, Give a Kid a Back Pack, National Nurses United, World Vets and The Greitens Group Foundation.

"In addition to providing valuable humanitarian assistance, our team of experts will train with and learn from the host nation to ensure future humanitarian assistance, foreign disaster relief should a natural disaster occur in the region," said CP10 Commodore, Capt. Thomas Negus. "This experience helps ensure U.S. and partner nation militaries are able to rapidly respond in support of future disaster response efforts."

Primary medical care, preventive medicine, dental and basic health education services were offered at the Rambala Maternity Clinic, Palma Real and Chiriqui Mali. The medical teams were at Palma Real and Chiriqui Mali for three days, while veterinary services roamed in the areas of Chiriqui Mali and Cilico Creek.

Navy engineers re-built a medical storage building, car port and installed a septic system at the E1 Cilico Creek School. The engineers also worked on projects at Silico Creek School. The mission also upgraded playground parks at Silico Creek, Santa Marta and Chiriqui Town.

"We are extremely excited about welcoming Continuing Promise 2010 to Panama," said Phyllis M. Powers, U.S. Ambassador in Panama. "Continuing Promise is yet another example of the friendship and cooperation that exists between our two countries. The military personnel and volunteers will provide an invaluable service to the people of the Ngabe Bugle Comarca and Bocas Del Toro."

Additionally, CP10 includes medical providers from Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Suriname.

Navy Medicine Conducts SHOTEX to Prepare for Flu Season

By Valerie A. Kremer, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Flu season has arrived and the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) responded with a flu vaccination exercise (SHOTEX) for all hands held at BUMED in Washington, D.C., Sept. 27.

BUMED teamed up with National Naval Medical Center staff to administer more than 250 vaccinations to BUMED active duty and civilian personnel.

"The seasonal flu vaccine this year will have the H1N1 strain plus other strains in the one vaccine, so there will be one shot that people will have this year to be vaccinated," said Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Navy surgeon general. "It's important for all the active duty personnel to realize that in order to prevent flu the single best way to do that is with vaccination."

After receiving a short screening, active duty service members and staff lined up in the BUMED rotunda to get their flu vaccinations.

"It is important to keep our Navy medicine workforce, both active duty and civilian, healthy and ready to support the mission at a moment's notice," said Nancy Delahoya, National Naval Medical Center environmental health officer.

According to NAVADMIN 255/10, dated August 2010, it is mandatory for all active duty service members to receive the flu vaccine. Civilian employees have a choice of either the shot or the flu mist.

In addition to receiving the vaccine, Robinson recommended other methods to limit the effects of the seasonal and H1N1 flu: cover your mouth when you cough; covering your mouth with a tissue is best in order to reduce the spread of germs; wash your hands often; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; and if possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick.

"We'll be monitoring the seasonal flu virus carefully over the coming weeks and months and will be proactive in developing contingency plans to address any public health issues if required," said Robinson.

Medal of Honor Recipient Visits George H.W. Bush At Sea

By Lt. Cmdr. J.T. Schofield, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) hosted a Medal of Honor recipient on board for the first time in the ship's brief history in service while the ship was conducting training exercises in the Atlantic Ocean Sept. 24.

Retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs, who was awarded the MOH during his service in the Vietnam War, came aboard as part of an MSNBC television crew producing a story about the youth of America serving aboard the Navy's newest aircraft carrier.

Although visiting the ship in his capacity as a journalist and military analyst for the news network, Jacobs relished the opportunity to visit with the Sailors, shake their hands and thank them for the effort in their service to the nation.

"It was so rewarding to hear their stories and witness first hand the hard work and dedication going on here," Jacobs said. "It was very special."

Jacobs watched flight operations from the flight deck, toured the mess decks and galley, and visited the medical spaces and weapons magazines. The service and accomplishments of Jacobs were not lost on the Sailors who met him.

"To be able to show him and our nation the story behind what our Sailors do is almost too hard to describe," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (SW/AW) William Doyle, USS George H.W. Bush Weapons Department. "Having a Medal of Honor recipient and major news broadcasting network climb down into our weapons magazines and film our department execute what they have been training to do for so long, is one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever had during my time in the Navy."

For Electronics Technician 3rd Class (AW/SW) Brittney Fortenberry, USS George H.W. Bush Combat Systems Department, the opportunity to be around Jacobs was especially valuable.

"Speaking to him off-camera was a blessing because he gave me so much advice on my upcoming decisions to re-enlist and complete college," she said. "I really appreciate the opportunity that was presented to me in meeting him."

Jacobs was commissioned into the Army through Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Rutgers University in 1966. He served two tours in Vietnam and received the Medal of Honor from President Richard M. Nixon in October 1969.

According to his biography and Medal of Honor citation, Jacobs was an adviser to a Vietnamese infantry battalion when it came under a devastating fire that disabled the commander. Although bleeding from severe head wounds, then-1st Lt. Jacobs took command, withdrew the unit to safety, and returned again and again under intense fire to rescue the wounded and perform life-saving first aid. He saved the lives of a U.S. adviser and 13 allied soldiers.

In addition to the MOH, Jacobs retired from service having earned two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

"Having Colonel Jacobs on board CVN 77 is a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Capt. Chip Miller, USS George H.W. Bush commanding officer. "The entire crew was honored to host him on our great ship. He is a national hero who exemplifies the level of dedication, bravery and fighting spirit that we all hope to emulate as we serve our country and prepare for this ship's first-ever combat deployment."

Disaster Drill Tests Emergency Capabilities

By Clark Pierce, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville's emergency personnel tested their skills Sept. 23 during an air show disaster drill to prepare for the upcoming base air show in October 2010 in Jacksonville, Fla.

"Our purpose today is to assess the readiness of different base departments to communicate with each other in order to deliver an effective, integrated emergency response," said NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Maclay.

During the exercise, a civilian aerobatic plane spun out of control and crashed into a spectator area near Hangar 116 – exploding in a ball of fire. One of the grandstands collapsed as shrapnel and flames rain down on the air show audience, turning an aviation celebration into a disaster zone.

When the training exercise began, an air traffic controller in the NAS Jacksonville control tower immediately grabbed the crash phone to notify the fire department and emergency medical services.

In addition to the Jacksonville Navy Metro Fire and Emergency Services, the integrated training team included personnel from security and force protection; Naval Health Clinic Jacksonville; Naval Hospital Jacksonville Emergency Operations Center; environmental; safety; airfield services; air terminal services; Commander, Navy Region Regional Operations Center; and Life Flight from Baptist Medical Center.

The approximately 90-minute drill is required for any NAS that hosts an air show. In 2008, NAS Jacksonville was the first NAS in the United States to execute the aircraft crash with mass casualties drill. In 2010, more than 125 NAS Jacksonville personnel participated in the scenario.

"Overall, things went smoothly. It's good to see how well the ELMR (enterprise land mobile radio) network preformed. These interoperable, hand-held radios ensure that our security, fire and emergency medical personnel are communicating on the same wavelength. It appears that everything should be in order for the NAS Jacksonville Air Show in October (2010)," said Maclay, at the exercise debrief.

"I think the drill went well. Communications improved in some areas and there were a couple events that occurred due to our patrolmen's vigilance that changed the scope of the exercise, but did not affect our training," said NAS Jacksonville Installation Training Officer Jim Butters.

"Medical personnel received some great training in this drill. We were able to execute our 911 system and Life Flight communications. Operations were greatly improved since our chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear exercise held here last February," said Butters. "The planning and execution of the exercise provided us with some very valuable training. I believe we are well prepared for any emergency that may arise during our upcoming air show."

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome India’s Minister of Defense A.K. Antony 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 Pentagon River Parking 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; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner; USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah discuss the Administration’s new development policy at 3 p.m. EDT at the Global Leadership Coalition roundtable in the Grand Hyatt Washington D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Richard Parker, Global Leadership Coalition at 202-730-4163.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn; Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton B. Carter and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright testify at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Department of Defense efficiencies initiatives at 10 a.m. EDT in room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

A Capital Region Flyover of Arlington National Cemetery occurs at 1:50 p.m. EDT with four F-22’s.

VADM Currier Met with Mission Support Personnel in Seattle, WA

By DCMS Log

VADM John Currier held a meeting over breakfast at Base Support Unit Seattle with mission support leadership in Seattle, WA. The breakfast included leadership from BSU, NESU, CEU, HSWL, and PSSU Seattle. Following the meeting, VADM Currier held an all hands with all Seattle mission support personnel where he addressed various issues throughout the Coast Guard and their impact on the workforce. To conclude, VADM Currier recognized a high performing member from each mission support entity with a challenge coin.

A Conversation with the Commandant

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young

If you could ask the Commandant of the Coast Guard one question, what would it be?

Five female cadets, in D.C. for the AcademyWomen Leadership Symposium, were faced with answering this question as they met with the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Bob Papp. This once in a career opportunity made them privy to the ultimate insider tips on what it takes to be a Coast Guardsmen.

The intimidation factor was ever present as the five young cadets sat down across from Adm. Papp. But before the conversation started, Papp pulled out his chair from behind the desk and sat off to the side, creating an open atmosphere and helping to put the cadets at ease.

As the conversation began to unfold, First Class Cadet Jenna Carpenter asked a question about her opportunities for a first tour afloat. She had the desire to serve afloat, but was there space?

Papp replied frankly that this was one thing he was absolutely working on. While the service is acquiring new cutters with better co-ed accommodations like the National Security Cutter, it is also changing the structure on existing platforms to better accommodate female members.

“This is a challenge facing us now,” said Papp. “I want you to think about it, and shoot me an e-mail, I’m in the directory.”

The cadets laughed at the prospect of e-mailing him, but more importantly his imploring for ideas prompted First Class Cadet Laura Delgado to share her experience of being stationed on a 110-foot patrol boat for her summer assignment. She had issues with her berthing situation, but admitted the time aboard was invaluable for her professional development.

As Delgado spoke, there was a visible change in Papp’s body language. Previously leaning forward and animated, he sat back and took it all in.

Through the continued storytelling and exchanging of ideas, the once nervous laughter and chatter turned into a comfortable and honest dialogue.

“When you were a cadet, did you ever imagine becoming Commandant?” asked First Class Cadet Allison Majcher.

“There were days when I didn’t even think I would graduate the Academy,” said Papp. “I never imagined and I never planned to be Commandant, I just picked jobs I knew I would enjoy.”

The cadets had gone well over their allotted time, but there was still time for one more question – “What is something you know now, that you wish you knew as an Ensign?”

Papp unhesitatingly responded, “I wish I would have gone to the Chief’s Mess.”

The first time he visited the Chief’s Mess he was “requested” to be there, the Admiral noted. A request a junior officer should initiate rather than the Chiefs. He told the cadets that to this day he still seeks advice, guidance and counsel from the Chief’s Mess.

As the meeting drew to a close and the cadets took advantage of the photo opportunity, they also reflected on the conversations that just occurred.

“It was very flattering for the commandant to take time out of his day to meet with the five of us,” said 1/c Cadet Raven Holm. “A lot of amazing opportunities come up in the Coast Guard by virtue of it being such a small and versatile service, and Adm. Papp’s willingness to spend time with us really spoke to that.”

“My favorite part was when Adm. Papp talked about his family,” said Second Class Cadet Madeline Buchert. “It showed that as important as Adm. Papp is to the Coast Guard, his family still holds to be one of his highest priorities.”

Adm. Papp started the conversation by saying the cadet’s unvarnished observations were valuable to him. But, there was no doubt that the unvarnished responses from Adm. Papp were even more valuable to the cadets.

Missing WWII Naval Aviators Identified

The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Navy Lt. Francis B. McIntyre of Mitchell, S.D., will be buried on Sept. 29, and Aviation Radioman Second Class William L. Russell of Cherokee, Okla., will be buried on Oct. 1. Both men will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

On Nov. 10, 1943, the two men took off on a bombing and strafing mission in their SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber from Munda Field, New Georgia, in the Solomon Islands.  Witnesses last saw the aircraft flying at low altitude through a large explosion on an enemy airfield on Buka Island, Papua New Guinea.  None reported seeing the crash of the aircraft itself.

The American Graves Registration Service searched numerous South Pacific Islands in 1949 in an effort to gather data about aircraft crashes or missing Americans.  The team was unable to find any useful information, and failed to recover any American remains in the area.  A board of review declared both men unrecoverable.

In 2007, a Papuan national found a World War II crash site near the Buka airport, which was reported to U.S. officials.  In May 2008, specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), working with the country’s national museum, investigated the crash site but were unable to excavate it because of inclement weather.  Local officials turned over human remains, McIntyre’s identification tag and other military-related items which had been recovered earlier.  After examining the remains in 2008 and 2009, JPAC determined that no excavation would be required since the two sets of remains were nearly complete.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons for both men and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA which matched a sample from Russell’s relatives and DNA extracted from a hat belonging to McIntyre.

At the end of World War II, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury approximately 79,000 individuals. Today, more than 72,000 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, call 703-699-1420 or visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

Family Matters Blog: Guardsmen Help Families in Kosovo

By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2010 – Heather Forsgren Weaver of American Forces Press Service is a regular contributor to Family Matters. Heather's been heavily involved in this blog from the start. She edits, helps write and posts content on a daily basis.

In this blog, Heather writes about soldiers from the Puerto Rico National Guard helping families in Kosovo.

'So Many Families in Need'

The Family Matters blog often explores issues dealing with servicemembers and their own families, but I recently came across a story about Puerto Rico National Guardsmen who are helping families in Kosovo, "Puerto Rico Guardsmen Work With Kosovo's Poorest" written by Army Pfc. Sarah A. Cummings of the 130th Public Affairs Detachment.

I wanted to share the article with you as an example of the contributions our servicemembers are making overseas even as their families are at home missing them.

"There are so many families here in need," Sgt. Marta Gonzalez, told Pvt. Cummings. "Each family is living in extremely poor situations."

Sgt. Gonzalez is a member of the 192nd Liaison Monitoring Team. Sgt. Gonzalez and other team members spend their time talking to families, business owners and government officials to find out about specific needs.

Team members don't just talk to people in Kosovo's villages; they also travel out to the countryside.

Once the team finds out about a problem, the next step is to find out what governmental agency or non-governmental organization can best help and then work to get that group involved.

For example, sometimes the team works with the local Red Cross to bring families vitamins, soap and toothpaste.

"This job is very important," said Sgt. Radiff Vega, a former wheeled vehicle mechanic with the Puerto Rico Guard who is now a team squadron leader. "We are the link between the people in Kosovo and the government. We are teaching them where to go to get things they need so that they can do this on their own."

"What we have to understand is that Kosovo is still in development," Sgt. Vega added.

Education Center to Enhance Vietnam Veterans Memorial

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2010 – A major fundraising effort is under way to build an underground education center next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial here that’ll place faces and stories with the names etched in the smooth, black granite known simply as, “The Wall.”

“There is magic in that wall with its 58,000 names,” said retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, honorary chairman for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s education center campaign. “We want to make sure those names never become anonymous to future generations.”

As it keeps their memories alive, Powell said the center also will “pay tribute to all generations of GIs who answer the call to serve.”

The education center, as envisioned by Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Memorial Fund, will provide interactive exhibits and primary source materials to help visitors better understand the profound impact of the Vietnam War on servicemembers’ families, their communities and hometowns and the nation. Planned exhibits include a "Wall of Faces," to feature photos of those lost in Vietnam and a gallery of the more than 100,000 items left in tribute at the memorial’s wall since 1982.

Retired Army Gen. Barry A. McCaffrey, VVMF’s advisory board chairman, said the center will ensure that the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam lives on.

“This moving underground facility will pay tribute to our veterans and will educate the public about these honorable men and women who gave their lives for their country,” he said.

Scruggs expressed hope that the center will help visitors to understand the importance of the Vietnam Memorial Wall and the role it continues to play in healing the physical, emotional and societal wounds left by the war.

Construction of the center will cost $85 million, all to be raised through private donations. So far, nearly $25 million in pledges has been raised, with donations from corporations, organizations, veterans groups and individuals. Major donors include: Time-Warner Inc.; the Heisley Family Foundation; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Peter M. and Julianna Hawn Holt; Lockheed Martin Corp.; Boeing Company; FedEx Corp.; and the Tawani Foundation.

Peter Holt, owner of the San Antonio Spurs National Basketball Association team, promised his fellow Texans to match up to $1 million in their donations. “Raise a million and I’ll match it,” he challenged.

The History Channel recently announced a $10,000 contribution to the campaign as it also helps the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund get teaching materials about the Vietnam War into America’s classrooms. The History Channel is helping VVMF distribute “Hometown Heroes,” an educational guide designed to help teachers and students identify Vietnam veterans and family members within their communities.

“Education is at the core of VVMF’s mission,” Scruggs said. “Everything we do, from teacher training to building an education center on the National Mall, is geared toward fostering a deeper knowledge of the Vietnam War and those who served.”

Scruggs expressed his appreciation for the generous monetary support received so far, adding he’s confident that it will continue until reaching the $85 million mark.

“As people begin to learn about the education center, we know they will find ways to help us build it,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to tell the stories behind every name on ‘The Wall,’ and to honor all of those who have served and those who will serve this great country in the future.”

Program Offers Hope for Treating Brain Injuries

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 27, 2010 – Valerie Wallace was at her wits’ end when she first heard about a novel traumatic brain injury treatment program under way here at the National Naval Medical Center.

Her 22-year-old son, Army Sgt. John Barnes, was wounded in southwestern Iraq in 2006 during a mortar attack while he was deployed with the 101st Infantry Division.

He had slipped into a coma for 12 days, remembering nothing of the attack when he regained consciousness with a severe traumatic brain injury. He recognized his family members’ faces, but had lost much of his verbal and motor skills as well as his short-term memory.

After two months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, followed by treatment at the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, in Tampa, Fla., Barnes seemed on the road to recovery, his mother recalled.

But a fluid buildup within his brain stopped that progress cold, requiring an emergency craniectomy to relieve swelling. From there, as Barnes began his rehabilitation almost from square one, he fluctuated between extremes. At one point, his recovery was so successful that he’d started living independently and enrolled in college, but at other times, his condition was so dire that his mother feared he was spiraling out of control.

“Then the [post-traumatic stress disorder] set in and he began self medicating with whatever he could get his hands on,” his mother recalled. “It was just a disaster.”

The problem, she said, was that no program within the military, the VA or the civilian community treated all three of Barnes’ afflictions -- TBI, PTSD and substance abuse – simultaneously. “There was no place I could find capable of treating all three of these issues,” she said. “But I truly believed that they were all correlated and needed to be treated together.”

The one private program discovered online failed miserably, she said. After six weeks of treatment, Wallace’s son returned home “hostile, disrespectful and bitter,” she recalled, and lacking the supervision he now required, had blown through tens of thousands of dollars.

It was only by chance that Wallace learned through a friend about the National Naval Medical Center’s psychological health and traumatic brain injury team. The little-known team was stood up here about two years ago to address the complexities of brain and mental-health injuries.

Dr. David Williamson, the team leader, admitted Barnes for about a month of close observation in the six-bed TBI unit known as “7 East.”

“This is an environment where we can do very detailed evaluations of brain functions after a brain injury,” he explained.

“We have a whole portfolio of brain injury specialists, treating clinicians who look at all the basic aspects of brain function, like movement, balance and vision, up through the higher brain functions like memory and personality and emotional regulation,” Williamson said. “And the [patient’s] time here allows us to put together a very sophisticated assessment of all these different areas of brain function, and to identify what the needs will be downstream.”

The team then provides families “a complete briefing on what to expect,” Williamson said, while releasing the patient for follow-up care, typically to a VA polytrauma rehabilitation center.

“We know certain types of brain injuries are more associated with mood swings or depression or communication problems or judgment impairment,” Williamson said. “And we will look at the brain scans and the behavior of the patient while at Bethesda, and form an assessment that put in place strategies now to prepare this family and begin to work with this ahead of time.”

Williamson calls this approach “proactive intervention.”

But as word gets out about the psychological health and traumatic brain injury team’s capabilities, Williamson finds he’s getting calls from family members like Wallace, some whose loved ones have struggled with traumatic brain injuries for five, even 10 years.

“We’ll bring those people back to Bethesda and do an intensive evaluation or reevaluation of their brain injury, and look at new strategies for treatment, or maybe add additional elements to the treatment plan,” he said.

For Wallace, the National Naval Medical Center’s psychological health and traumatic brain injury team restored hope she’d all but lost in finding help for her son.

She worked closely with the entire team, which she said treated Barnes’ problems holistically rather than piecemeal. “It brought a component of completion, dealing with all the complex issues of brain injury,” she said. “It’s everything: the behavioral problem, the cognitive problem, the physical problem.”

Wallace reserved her highest praise for Williamson, whom she said “understands traumatic brain injury inside out, backwards, forwards and sideways.”

Williamson “sees the big picture,” she continued. “It’s not one dimensional; it’s multidimensional. There is a lot of mental illness that can come up because of the brain injury, and he understands that.”

The treatment “has made all the difference in John,” his mother said, crediting the PHTBI team with saving his life.

“John would be dead by now if he hadn’t been able to get there last summer,” she said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Unfortunately, Wallace’s story doesn’t end with a storybook “happily ever after.”
Her marriage dissolved during her son’s treatment. And her son, she noted, still has limited coping skills and occasionally self-medicates with an over-the-counter medication he knows the VA rarely screens for.

About four months ago, Barnes was readmitted to Bethesda for follow-on treatment by the PHTBI team. Wallace said she is resigned to the fact that it probably won’t be for the last time.

“John’s brain injury is never going to go away, and I don’t think there will ever be a real end to this,” she said. “I think that what will happen is that the need for interventions will become further and further apart. Instead of every three months, maybe it will be once a year. Then a couple of years from now, maybe it will be once every other year.”

That said, Wallace expressed hope her son will continue making progress under the PHTBI team’s guidance.

“It’s going to take a lot of time and consistency and dedication,” she said. “But that’s exactly what I’ve finally found in Dr. Williamson and his staff.”

(This is the last in a series of four articles about the military’s revolutionary new approaches to treating patients with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.)

DOD Announces Absentee Voting Week; Launches Electronic Voting Support Wizard

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today Absentee Voting Week from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4.  The week will encourage all citizens voting under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act who have not received their absentee ballot to go to http://www.FVAP.gov  to fill it out as soon as possible.

Commanders and voting assistance officers will use this week to emphasize the importance of filling out and returning the absentee ballot.  They will also educate eligible personnel on how to use the new online tools to fill out their absentee ballot, plus encourage the use of emailing and faxing as an alternative to sending the voted ballot to local election officials where allowed.

 “We encourage all military personnel, their family members, and overseas citizens to exercise their right to vote,” said Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.  “We strongly recommend they complete and mail their absentee ballots immediately, so they are received by local election officials in time to be counted for the November general election.  Make your vote count.”

The Federal Assistance Voting Program is responsible for making the absentee voting process easier and more efficient.  One of their new initiatives is to provide military members, their families and overseas voters electronic alternatives to requesting, receiving or returning their ballots.  If someone has not received their state absentee ballot, it is not too late.

“This year, the states and FVAP launched new online products that make completing absentees ballots much easier.  In many cases voters can request their ballot, fill it out and mail or fax it back in 10 to 15 minutes,” said Stanley.  “When I was a junior officer, this process could take 30 to 40 days.  The new online tools have remarkably reduced the wait time.  Go to FVAP.gov to fill out your state ballot or the federal write-in absentee ballot online and send it, today.”

Naval Base Coronado Hosts Speed Festival During San Diego Fleet Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eva-Marie Ramsaran, Naval Base Coronado Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The 13th annual Coronado Speed Festival took place aboard Naval Base Coronado Sept. 24-26 as part of San Diego Fleet Week.

The festival showcased three days of vintage car racing and static displays of military equipment and aircraft.

In addition to pleasing car enthusiasts, the Coronado Speed Festival also honored San Diego's Sailors and Marines who serve and protect the country. Free admission was offered for active duty military and their family members throughout the weekend.

"This is the fleet week premier event that Fleet Week's staff plans," said William Baugh, Coronado Speed Festival executive committee co-chairman. "The Coronado Speed Festival benefits the Navy and Marine Corps morale and welfare programs."

As part of the opening day activities, Sailors were given the opportunity to join the race car drivers in their vintage and current-model race cars on the track.

"It was an exhilarating ride," said Machinery Repairman 1st Class (SW) Regibert Agustino, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest. "Every time the car turned the corners, it felt like we were going to tip over."

This year the festival celebrated the rich race heritage of Shelby American cars, from the legendary Cobra and the Daytona Coupe to the GT40 and GT350.

"I was riding in the Shelby Mustang, and it was the most exciting experience of my life," said Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Austin Bolter, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303. "I was kind of scared for a second, but I would do that a million times if I could."

Local car fanatics also visited the car corral which featured a variety of new and classic automobiles on display.

The Coronado Speed Festival is the only auto racing venue in the world held on an active U.S. Navy runway. In addition to the races, a landing craft air cushion display, Navy Leap Frogs parachute team performances, and flyovers took place during the weekend event.

Peleliu ARG, 15th MEU Reach Halfway Mark During Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Omar Dominquez, USS Peleliu Public Affairs

USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group (PEL ARG) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) reached the halfway point of their deployment Sept. 4 while operating as U.S. Central Command's theater reserve force in the Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

Since departing San Diego in May, PEL ARG and 15th MEU have completed multilateral military training, maritime security operations, close air support operations in Afghanistan, counter-piracy operations, and have elements currently conducting humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations in support of the government of Pakistan.

Prior to beginning their 5th Fleet deployment, ARG command ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) participated in Exercise Crocodilo in Timor-Leste in the 7th Fleet AOR.

The exercise was designed to enhance military training in a tropical environment and cross train with the Timor-Leste Defense Forces and the International Security Forces from New Zealand and Australia.

Also while in the 7th Fleet AOR, USS Dubuque (LPD 8) conducted Marine Exercise 2010, a bi-lateral exercise promoting cooperation through community relations programs and military training with Indonesia.

Once in 5th Fleet, the PEL ARG and 15th MEU conducted maritime security operations and sustainment training while working with partner nations to improve relations and engage in valuable military to military training.

While elements of PEL ARG were engaged across the 5th Fleet AOR, the heaviest monsoons in recent history caused devastating floods throughout Pakistan. Peleliu and 15th MEU were mobilized in response to the government of Pakistan's urgent request for flood relief and were directed to move toward Pakistan.

The ship, along with her embarked Sailors and Marines, arrived in the vicinity of Karachi Aug. 9. They remain there nearly two months later, continuing their support operations.

PEL ARG and 15th MEU provided 15 heavy and medium-lift helicopters and supplies to assist the people affected by the flooding. The combined efforts of the PEL ARG and 15th MEU have resulted in the rescue of more than 8,000 internally displaced persons, and the transfer of more than 4 million pounds of relief supplies and equipment.

Demonstrating the flexible nature of the ARG-MEU team, AV-8B Harriers assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced), embarked on Peleliu also flew close-air support missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as Peleliu was supporting Pakistan HADR efforts. Aircraft assigned to PEL ARG and 15th MEU flew for more hours in the first half of deployment than they were scheduled to complete during the entire deployment. This was due in large part to the Pakistan HA/DR support operations.

While Peleliu operated in the vicinity of Pakistan, Dubuque departed to support Combined Maritime Forces' counter-piracy mission under the command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151. CTF 151 responded to distress calls from M/V Magellan Star, after it was hijacked by suspected pirates Sept. 8. Dubuque's embarked Maritime Raid Force of the 15th MEU boarded the hijacked ship the next day, rescued the 11 crew members, and took custody of the suspected pirates without firing a shot.

As the theater reserve force, the ships of PEL ARG and the embarked 15th MEU have flexed their unique capabilities to conduct simultaneous combat operations and humanitarian relief in multiple and far-reached parts of the AOR. The deployment has, so far, exemplified what the amphibious Navy and Marine Air Ground Task Force team can accomplish while working together.

The PEL ARG and 15th MEU are 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.

The team reports directly to Expeditionary Strike Group 5, which is responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet, and oversees the planning and execution of contingency response missions and maritime HA/DR operations.