Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Face of Defense: Football Player Joins Marines

By Marine Corps Cpl. Rebecca A. Lamont
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Sept. 28, 2010 – Marine Corps Pvt. Bernard D. Lueken said his departed mother’s military service and his inner voice caused him to give up a promising football career and enlist in the Marine Corps.

Lueken, 21, graduated from boot camp here, along with 482 other newly minted Marines, on Sept. 23. The St. Louis, Miss., native previously played football for four years as an offensive tackle at Chaminade College Preparatory School in Creve Coeur, Miss.

“I tried out for the [Chaminade] football team as a freshman and was advised by the coach to pursue an athletic career in football,” said Lueken, who later was awarded a full athletic scholarship to attend the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.

Lueken said he owes much to the strong character of his mother, who died of breast cancer seven years ago. She was one of the first women Marines to graduate from boot camp after it was designed to replicate men’s training, he said. She served six years in the Marines.

“She would tell me, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine,’” Lueken recalled. “She taught me principles, traits and aspects of the Marine Corps like dedication, loyalty and to be good to the people around me.”

After his mother died, Lueken channeled his emotions and energy into sports.

Lueken said he was “physically and mentally ready” to play college football at the University of Kansas, noting he played for the Jayhawks for nearly two years. The intensity and dedication required to play college football, he said, is similar to the intensity and dedication required for the Marine Corps.

“There were many days we got up at and would physically train, have film sessions where we studied the opponent, and position meetings, which are like small-unit meetings similar to having fire teams,” Lueken said. “We would also take college classes, [and] have tutors for classes, which were required because we often wouldn’t be finished until

Despite his athletic accomplishments, Lueken said he eventually realized he didn’t want to be a football player.

“I was playing at the highest level and I felt like I was wasting my time,” Lueken said. “My years of youth could be spent for a better cause. I figured you only have your body and health once; I wanted to put it to good use.”

Lueken said he couldn’t ignore the fact that he was just playing a game.

“The Marine Corps is not a game. It deals with real issues,” he said. “College football is pure entertainment. It’s what people watch to get their minds off real-world issues.”

“Lueken understands the [Marine Corps] core values because he has known them all his life,” said Staff Sgt. Levi K. Fajardo, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3246, Company L. “He had them in him when he got here. He came with a good foundation and he was well prepared.”

“What’s so appealing about the Marine Corps is that it’s a group of people that can get together and strive for a better cause,” Lueken said. “I am a big believer in the ripple effect — you do something and it carries to another person.”

Lueken said he made the right choice by joining the Marines and doesn’t regret leaving football.

“I don’t want to wake up one day and look back and say, ‘I wish I would have,’” he said. Football “was exciting and fun, but we weren’t helping anyone.”

Chief of Navy Reserve Presents Awards Honoring Civilian Employers

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Kuzlik, Navy Operational Support Center Norfolk Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Hampton Roads area employers were presented awards during a ceremony at Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Norfolk aboard Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story Sept. 27.

The employers were recognized for their dedication and support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve components

Chief of Navy Reserve and commander, Navy Reserve Force Vice. Adm. Dirk J. Debbink presented his Chief of Navy Reserve (CNR) Employee Appreciation Award to STIHL Inc.; Sentara Healthcare; ECPI College of Technology; Norfolk Southern Corp; and former Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf.

The awards are presented to honor civilian employers who ensure Navy Reserve Sailors are fully ready.

Debbink joined Leon Hill, Employer Support for Guard and Reserves (ESGR) Reserve component liaison, in presenting ESGR Patriot Awards to Commonwealth Challenge; Sandy Bottom Materials, Inc.; ITA International, LLC; Honeywell, Inc., and Norfolk Southern Corp.

The Patriot Awards are an incentive program designed to recognize employers who support a strong National Guard and Reserve force. Employers qualify for recognition when they practice leadership and personnel policies that support employee participation in the Guard and Reserve.

"The work that we're doing in the military today is so important," Debbink said. "As National Guardsman and Reservists, we can't serve without the support of our families and our employers.

"Not only do they support us, but they do it in such incredible ways that it makes our job so much easier. That way, we can stay focused on what we're doing in the military and not have to worry about what's going on back home if we know that our employers are looking after and taking care of our families while we are gone," Debbink said.

As mayor of Virginia's largest municipality from 1988-2008, Oberndorf was instrumental in establishing a Statement of Support from all the Mayors in the Tidewater Area, including the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Poquoson, Smithfield, Windsor and Franklin and county supervisors of York, Surry, James City, Gloucester and Southampton counties.

"The Reservist who has been called to active duty, and the families that are left behind need to know how much we appreciate what their parents and loved ones are doing," Oberndorf said. "It's a partnership between the civilian arm of our nation working to support and nurture military members and their families."

David Cobbs, Norfolk Southern Corp., praised his employees who serve in the armed forces.

"We have employees that are members of all branches of the military and they certainly consider them an integral part of the Norfolk Southern team," said Cobbs.

ESGR is a part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. Its mission is to develop and promote employer support for Guard and Reserve service by advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between employers and service members.

Navy Operational Support Center Norfolk is the largest support center in the Navy Reserve with nearly 3,000 Sailors in 137 units, providing support to the Navy and Marine Corps Team throughout the full range of operations from peace to war.

Surface Warrior Week Presents SWO Career Enhancement Seminar

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elena Pence, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) and Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) hosted the first Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) Career Enhancement Seminar during San Diego Surface Warrior Week onboard NBSD Sept. 23.

Surface Warrior Week is comprised of a week of career enhancement activities on the San Diego waterfront and includes detailer visits to ships and area shore commands, a Career Sailor Expo for enlisted Sailors, and the first-ever SWO Career Enhancement Seminar.

"The events offered during Surface Warrior Week are about putting Sailors first," said Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "By bringing resources and personnel to the waterfront, we are empowering Sailors to take control of their careers, and affording them a chance to learn from seasoned experts at every level."

Aimed toward the professional development of SWOs O-1 through O-6, the Career Enhancement Seminar began with a series of presentations on career path options, training, and educational opportunities.

"As an ensign, this event gave me an opportunity to see what options are available to me as a Surface Warfare Officer," said Ensign Olakunle Folayan of USS Preble (DDG 88). "I was really interested to hear about the different education programs that are offered to SWOs, like the Scholarship Offset Programs and the Naval Post Graduate School. Today I realized the SWO community is very diverse and any direction you go in, you can enhance your career with extended education."

In the afternoon, division officers, department heads, and commanding and executive officers broke for milestone-specific breakout sessions.

"The breakout sessions gave me a chance to hear information that is focused more towards my needs and my career," said Lt. William Huebner of USS Gary (FFG 51). "The discussions were not too broad, and as a department head, I got my questions answered.

In addition to the scheduled program, officer detailers were present all day for one-on-one detailing sessions.

"I'm a part of the detailing command and it is important for us to get out here and the accurate facts out to the SWOs," said Cmdr. Lex Walker, Navy Personnel Command. "It is honestly a great time to be a SWO, there are a lot of challenging billets and opportunities out there, and we have a great career path that offers a lot of flexibility to get education and to make family plans."

The seminar concluded with a SWO join up, sponsored by the Surface Navy Association, and a brief for spouses from Navy Personnel Command (NPC) held at the Waterfront Recreation Center on NBSD. This was the second such brief from NPC, who also met with enlisted spouses at the conclusion of the Career Sailor Expo the previous night.

NAVFAC Hawaii Renovates 3rd Battalion Headquarters

From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Renovations to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment's headquarters building at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii were recently completed with a final inspection held Sept. 23.

The renovations were funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"The building was in such bad condition, the occupants were hoping we were going to demolish it, but the building's concrete structure was solid," said Steve Butala, MCBH project manager. "Now that we've finished all of the improvements the building looks almost new. It's good to know that when the Marines return from deployment they'll have a drastically improved working environment."

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii awarded a $2.7 million stimulus money contract to Honolulu-based SuMo/Nan Joint Venture Sept. 28, 2009, to completely overhaul MCBH's 15,000 square foot Building 1087, inside and out.

Completion of the project was initially scheduled for June 2010, but contract modifications by the customer involving electrical needs and a request for an additional $164,500 in ARRA funds extended the project's end date until the end of September 2010.

The renovation consisted of removing hazardous lead-based materials, installing new windows and doors, designing a centralized air conditioning system, replacing the existing restrooms and plumbing, re-engineering a weather-resistant roofing system and creating a secure parking area with larger stalls.

In addition, new shading glass and walls with reinforced siding will maximize energy efficiency when coupled with the new air conditioning units. The roof was re-engineered to be weather-resistant and received an elastomeric waterproofing system, which repels ultra violet rays and water, keeping the building leak-free.

"The entire team, MCBH Facilities Department, 3rd Battalion, NAVFAC Hawaii and contractor personnel, worked together to deliver a great product with minimal inconveniences to all," said Allan Ng, project manager for NAVFAC Hawaii. "In addition, the improvements made to the existing building will promote a healthy, comfortable, efficient and safer working environment for all members of the 3rd Battalion and/or others who use Building 1087 while they are deployed."

NAVFAC Hawaii has several more ARRA funded projects underway and scheduled for completion in 2010 or 2011. They range from various pier renovations and photovoltaic installations at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Pacific Missile Range Kauai to a Child Development Center also at MCBH Kaneohe Bay.

Command Leadership School Hosts Peruvian Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

By Lisa Rama, Naval Station Newport Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- The Command Leadership School convened its two-week Command Master Chief/Chief of the Boat (CMC/COB) course Sept. 20 with some international influence.

The Peruvian Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Tecnico Supervisor Primero Antonio Gonzalez Montes joined CMC Class 79, spending a full week assessing the course of instruction and interacting with the students of all six leadership courses at the school.

Gonzales had been invited to attend the CMC/COB course by Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Mauricio Rueda of U.S. 4th Fleet, as part of an initiative to enhance the abilities of senior enlisted leaders in the 4th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) to engage with their counterparts in partner nations.

"Maintaining these relationships with partner nations is vital to building trust and confidence," said Rueda.

Fourth Fleet's AOR includes operations in the Caribbean, Central and South American waters.

Command Leadership School convenes 14 classes each year. Students attending either the Major Commander, Prospective Commanding Officer, Prospective Executive Officer, Commanding Officer and Command Master Chief Spouse courses share instruction in a variety of topics that include senior leader briefs, case studies, family readiness, physical training and topics relevant to the leadership triad and command support team members.

The CMC/COB course is a capstone program for senior enlisted leaders.

New Military Retirement Home Debuts in Gulfport

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2010 – More than 100 residents at the Armed Forces Retirement Home here are packing up to move back into a brand-new complex in Gulfport, Miss., that replaces the facility that was destroyed five years ago by Hurricane Katrina.

Emotions are running high as the 135 residents prepare to leave AFRH-Washington Oct. 4, and along with it, the deep friendships they’ve forged during the past five years, spokeswoman Sheila Abarr told American Forces Press Service.

About 40 residents that are driving rather than flying to their new home already are en route, planning to be among the first to check into the new building, she said.

The Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport evacuated 416 of its residents Aug. 30, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina decimated the complex. Some buildings were knocked to the ground and the steel-and-concrete perimeter around the facility was destroyed.

Many of the residents rode out Katrina at the facility before moving in with family members in the area or taking up residence at the Washington home within 72 hours of the hurricane.

Henry Pike, who was among those residents who experienced Katrina’s wrath firsthand, said he’s looking forward to finally returning home. “All along, I’ve posted construction photos and updates on the new home and the residents have literally been counting down the days,” he said.

The residents will move into a modern four-tower complex, located on 47 acres of prime waterfront. The new facility features dining, social, recreational and therapeutic activities, including a swimming pool, hobby shops, a wellness center with basic dental and eye care, a bank, a barber and beauty shop, a bowling center, as well as a movie theater, computer room, library and a pedestrian bridge to the beach.

Residents’ personal rooms include a full bathroom, kitchenette and balcony, Abarr said.

The incoming residents have selected their rooms, based on seniority at the facility. Louis Nemec got the honors of being the first to choose.

“The new Gulfport home is an incredible advance in how AFRH provides senior housing for our nation’s heroes,” said Tim Cox, chief operating officer for AFRH. “In addition to providing state-of-the-art facilities, we have also partnered with the local community to provide additional services for our residents.”

A day-long “Glory on the Gulf” celebration on Nov. 9, 2010, will mark the official opening of the new facility.

While sad to see their Gulfport neighbors leave, residents at AFRH-Washington are looking forward to a new common-area building to be built next year, Abarr said. The facility will provide dining facilities, arts and crafts and other activities under one roof, making them more convenient and accessible for residents, she said.

Both AFRH facilities are operated exclusively for war veterans and retired service members from all branches of the U.S. military. Residents must be at least 60 years old, but the average age is 81, Abarr said.

Congress established a home for destitute Navy officers, sailors and Marines in Philadelphia during the War of 1812, and the facility eventually moved to Gulfport. In the mid-1800s, Congress established an asylum for old and disabled soldiers in Washington, D.C., which later became the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home.

Although the facilities operated separately for many years, Congress passed a law in the early 1990s combining the two facilities into the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

Both communities can house more than 1,300 residents in five levels of care, from independent living to long-term care. Each facility offers a nine-hole golf course, fitness center, walking trails, hobby shops, entertainment, and bus trips.

Every active-duty enlisted servicemember helps support both facilities through 50-cent-a-month payroll deduction.

Petaluma Welcome Home Day

Saturday Sept 25th , 2010
Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Day
Petaluma Historical Museum
Petaluma, CA
The Vietnam Experience
Runs Sept. 25-Nov. 28, 2010

Welcome Speech by Tony Lazzarini

"Over 35 years ago groups of people started arriving in the United States. It seemed the majority of Americans wanted nothing to do with them. They were ridiculed, rejected and despised. The many sacrifices they made for their country would yield no rewards, heal any wounds or fade the visions of war. They sought solitude through anonymity and stealth. These were not Vietnam Refugees: they were Vietnam Veterans. Sadly, casualties of this conflict would mount long after the wars end.
Decades would pass before awareness to this great travesty would break Lady Liberty’s heart.
Then the Brotherhood began, the men who saw the dragon. “Those who shed their blood with me today shall be my brothers.” Their numbers grew. The words honor, loyalty and friendship would seal the bond. “Never Forget” became their motto. Please honor them today, these men, these warriors, my brothers, these Vietnam Veterans"