Military News

Friday, October 01, 2010

Post 9/11 GI Bill Proves Popular

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Since its introduction in 2009, the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit has proven popular with transferability being one of the most-valued features for Sailors interested in paying for their family member's college education.

"I did everything online for my wife," said Navy Diver 1st Class (DSW) Jad Graves, Navy Experimental Diving Unit, Panama City, Fla. "I didn't have any problems what so ever. The biggest delay was waiting on a voucher from the Veterans' Administration."

According to NAVADMIN 203/09, while a Sailor may be eligible for education benefits provided by the Post 9/11 GI Bill, generally the option to transfer benefits to an eligible family member requires an additional service commitment in the Armed Forces.

Qualified Sailors may elect to transfer all or a portion of their benefits to a spouse or child enrolled in Defense Eligibility Enrollment System and eligible for benefits. For transferability, Sailors must have served at least six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve an additional four years, in most cases.

"It's extremely valuable to the service member, but I'm glad my wife can use mine," said Graves. "If I were able to attend school full-time, I'd receive the housing allowance also. That would be taking full advantage of this benefit."

"I give the Post 9/11 GI Bill a definite 'A+'," said Chief Warrant Officer David Williams, Southeast Regional Maintenance Center, Mayport, Fla. "The process was extremely easy. I transferred my benefits to my daughter who has graduated from Virginia State with her bachelor's degree, and she was able to continue her education. She was accepted into Saint Joseph University to finish her master's degree with the use of this benefit. I was really grateful to be able to do that for her."

Sailors can apply to use the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill at the Veteran's Administration website, https://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp or apply for transferability of benefits at www.dmdc.osd.mil/TEB/ however Sailors should ensure their service obligation is reflected in their Electronic Service Record at https://nsips.nmci.navy.mil/.

According to the Records Management and Benefits Division, the number one reason for rejected applications is the lack of sufficient obligated service or Page 13 not reflected in a Sailor's Electronic Service Record (ESR). Sailors should verify the information is there before applying for transferability. Self-validation of ESR is required by NAVADMIN 203/09.

Additionally Sailors should transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits before going on terminal leave. Benefits must be transferred prior to leaving active duty.

The Navy has approved more than 24,000 requests for transferability since the program's inception, processing approximately 250 applications weekly.

For additional information visit the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) Website at http://www.npc.navy.mil/CareerInfo/Education/GIBill/ or call the NPC Customer Service Center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC.

This Day in Naval History - Sept. 30

From the Navy News Service

1800 - United States concludes Treaty of Peace with France, ending Quasi War with France.
1944 - USS Nautilus (SS 168) lands supplies and evacuates people from Panay, Philipppine Islands.
1946 - U.S. government announces Navy units would be permanently stationed in the Mediterranean to carry out American policy and diplomacy.
1954 - Commissioning at Groton, Conn., of USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the world's first nuclear-powered ship.
1958 - Marines leave Lebanon.
1959 - Last flight of airships assigned to the Naval Air Reserve at Lakehurst, N.J., takes place.
1968 - USS New Jersey (BB 62) arrives off Vietnam.

Navy SEAL Laid to Rest After Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Scorza, Naval Special Warfare Public Affairs

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (NNS) -- Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) 3rd Class Denis Christian Miranda, 24, was laid to rest at Ocean County Memorial Park Cemetery in Toms River, N.J. following a military funeral Sept. 30.

Miranda was one of nine military personnel killed when the helicopter in which they were traveling crashed in Zabul Province in Southern Afghanistan Sept. 21.

Miranda's body was flown from Afghanistan to Dover Air Force Base, Del., during a dignified transfer. On Monday, his family and friends received his remains at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

As Miranda began the final leg of his journey to his hometown of Toms River, more than 400 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps lined the streets of the base to render salutes to him and pay respect to his family and friends as the procession passed by.

Beginning Tuesday family, friends, service members and an outpouring of local residents gathered at the Anderson and Family Funeral home to grieve the loss of the young man. Local and national organizations presented small mementos and offered support to family during the wake.

Among those who offered support was Judy Tapper, president of the Department of New Jersey Gold Star Mothers, an organization and support group made up of mothers of fallen service members. Tapper presented a gold pin from the group to Miranda's mother.

"After the loss of my son, it has always been important for me to help mothers in any way that I can," said Tapper. "What ever the Miranda family needs, we will get them."

Tapper's son, Photographer's Mate 1st Class (SEAL) David M. Tapper, died from wounds received during combat operations Aug. 20, 2003 in Afghanistan.

Miranda was carried in by his SEAL teammates to the cemetery where he received a military funeral. Miranda's best friend, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Eugene A. Lewis III, made remarks about the special friendship he and Miranda shared.

"Denis achieved his dreams," Lewis said. "He set out to become a Navy SEAL and fulfilled that dream. He lived life to the fullest. I consider myself lucky to have known him."

Capt. Tim Szymanski, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, solemnly spoke about the warrior spirit of Navy SEALs and Miranda's ultimate sacrifice for his country.

"Miranda was a man who touched the lives of so many of us, a man who willingly made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedom and liberty of his fellow citizens, and a man who lived his life for the cause greater than himself," Szymanski said.

After the commodore's remarks, the American flag that draped Miranda's casket was folded and presented to Miranda's mother. A Navy honor guard rendered a gun salute and guests bowed their heads through the playing of "Taps."

After the flag presentation, Navy SEALs from across the country lined up and one-by-one, removed the Tridents from the left chest of their uniforms and pounded them into Miranda's coffin.

Miranda's two brothers Alan and Kevin shared stories of their brother and spoke of his selfless, humble character.

"My brother could have been the most charitable man in the world, but if you didn't catch him in the act, you wouldn't know," said Alan. "He helped others and never spoke of his acts. That's just the type of guy he was … humble."

"He wanted to help as many people as he could with things he was knowledgeable in," said Kevin. "He would do anything for anyone in need."

Miranda's fiance, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Lacy Cromwell, grieved his loss as well. When asked what he meant to her, Cromwell simply said, "He was the love of my life." Miranda's last words to her before he deployed were, "You know I'm going to marry you right?" She responded, "I know."

Miranda is survived by his mother, father, Christian, and two brothers.

Fallen Wisconsin Guard hero honored at Soldier Field

Thomas Wortham IV, a first lieutenant with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Troop A, 105th Cavalry as well as a member of the Chicago Police Department, was honored for his dedication to duty, selfless service and heroism in a halftime ceremony at Soldier Field during the Monday night game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.
Wortham, a Chicago native, was murdered May 19 outside his parents' Chicago home when four men attempted to steal his motorcycle.

"Like many of his peers, subordinates and leaders, we knew he was a great leader," said Capt. Matthew McDonald, Wortham's commander in Troop A. "He was always out front, pushing his Soldiers, never asking them to do what he wouldn't do."

Wortham enlisted with the Wisconsin National Guard in April 1999 and deployed to Iraq twice — a 12-month deployment in 2004 with the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, and a 10-month deployment in 2009 with Troop A, 105th Cavalry. He also spent a year on active duty performing airport security as part of Operation Noble Eagle in 2003.

After being commissioned in 2006, Wortham attended police academy and joined the Chicago Police Department, working in the Englewood district.

McDonald said he learned after Wortham's death that the 11-year veteran brought the same warrior ethos to his police work and community. Wortham served as president of the Cole Park Advisory Council in Chatham, and worked to make the neighborhood safe for children to play in area parks.

"He didn't talk about it," McDonald said. "He embodied both the outstanding Soldier and the outstanding citizen."

McDonald, who attended Reserve Officer Training Course at the University of Wisconsin around the same time Wortham was in ROTC at UW-Whitewater, wanted to commemorate his friend's life and accomplishments but discovered that Wisconsin did not have an award recognizing both military and citizen service. After doing some research, he learned that the state of New York had a Citizen-Soldier award. He proposed a similar award to Wisconsin National Guard leaders, who embraced the idea enthusiastically.

Wortham was the first recipient of the Thomas E. Wortham IV achievement award, presented to family members Monday night. The Chicago Police Department developed a similar award, which was also presented Monday night.

"We don't always have the opportunity while in uniform to recognize the things our Soldiers do in their civilian lives," said Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. "This award gives our organization an opportunity to recognize Soldiers and Airmen for their success both in and out of uniform."

The Wisconsin National Guard and the Chicago Police Department said they intend to present the award each year to members who best represent the values and commitment to community and service Wortham emulated.

"We will annually recognize an outstanding sworn member of the department who has made significant contribution to the Chicago Police Department and his or her community," said Jody Weis, Chicago Police Department superintendent. "The awardee must also have served in the Armed Forces. When someone asks what the award ribbon stands for, saying it is the Thomas E. Wortham IV award will be enough to explain its significance."

Wisconsin Guard Drug Control program part of take-back initiative

The Wisconsin National Guard's Drug Control program was among 80 state agencies to take part in a national collaborative effort sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency to collect and dispose of potentially dangerous expired or unused pharmaceutical drugs.

The one-day effort, held Sept. 25, collected more than 4,400 pounds of pharmaceuticals in Wisconsin. The project also emphasized pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse and misuse as well as keeping pharmaceuticals out of the water system.

In the past, local government agencies have offered similar prescription drop-offs, but this Take-Back program is the first at the national level.

"This event took a tremendous amount of planning and partnership with local, state and federal law enforcement in Wisconsin, as well as with community groups," said James Bohn, assistant special agent in charge, DEA Milwaukee.

Discarded pharmaceutical medications were collected at De Forest, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Spooner and Wausau on Monday (Sept. 27) and taken by the Wisconsin Guard's Drug Control Program, under law enforcement escort, to the Milwaukee DEA office.

Drug Control Program and DEA personnel transported the discarded medication to Indianapolis on Tuesday (Sept. 28) using a Wisconsin National Guard transportation company vehicle. The DEA incinerated the medications Wednesday (Sept. 29).

"The Wisconsin National Guard provided much needed manpower and equipment to assist in the collection and transportation of several tons of collected pharmaceuticals from around the state," Bohn added. "Their commitment to the mission was instrumental to the success of the overall program and communities all around Wisconsin."

"The Drug Control Program appreciates the opportunity to support DEA in their efforts to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our state's medicine cabinets," said Col. Mark Greenwood, Wisconsin's Counterdrug coordinator.

DEA will evaluate the program's results nationwide to determine if the effort should be established on a more permanent basis.

Spc. Megan Burnham contributed to this report.

Face of Defense: Soldier Follows Grandfather’s Path

By Army Spc. Jerry Ellis
4th Infantry Division

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2010Army Pfc. Chelsea Draper joined the Army, she said, to follow in the footsteps of her beloved grandfather, a decorated Marine Corps veteran of World War II.

Serving here with Forward Support Command, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Draper said her grandfather, Teddy Draper Sr., was one of the celebrated Navajo “Code Talkers.”

“Even at a young age, I could see the pride my grandfather took in having served his country, and I also understood the sacrifices he made,” Draper said, noting she and her grandfather both hail from Chinle, Ariz.

Code talkers transmitted coded messages over radio and telephone utilizing the Navajo language, or DinĂ© Ke’Ji, which was undecipherable by the enemy.

Draper said she grew up very close to her grandfather during her youth, having heard him recite stories of his military service. He retired as a sergeant major. During his career he’d received a Purple Heart, the Congressional Gold Medal, and his own personal Congressional Silver Medal, along with numerous other honors.

“I miss her, and I worry about her,” Draper Sr. said of his granddaughter. “But America needs its defenders.”

Draper said she has traveled a long way from the beautiful red-rocked mesas of Arizona to the golden sands of Iraq. Growing up on a reservation, she said she was raised, like her grandfather, within the culture of the Navajo people.

“I speak and write in our native Navajo language in addition to English, following in a tradition our clan has kept alive as part of their heritage -- along with their religion, beliefs, legends and values,” she said.

When Draper was considering carrying on the family tradition of military service, she said her grandfather didn’t coax her at all. But when she told him she had decided to join the Army, she recalled how proud he was of her.

“He gave me his full support, calling me ‘My Soldier,’” she said.

General Officer Announcement

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

Air Force Brig. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson has been nominated for appointment to the rank of major general.  Johnson is currently serving as the director, strategy, policy, programs and logistics, Headquarters U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

General Officer Announcement

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

Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Travis, commander, 59th Medical Wing, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Air Education and Training Command, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas., to deputy surgeon general, Office of the Surgeon General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Joint Base Bolling, Washington, D.C.

Brig. Gen. Byron C. Hepburn, who has been selected for the rank of major general, deputy surgeon general, Office of the Surgeon General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Joint Base Bolling, Washington, D.C. to commander, 59th Medical Wing, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Air Education and Training Command, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Brig. Gen. Scott A. Bethel, director, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance strategy, integration and doctrine, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., to vice commander, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, deputy chief of staff, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Fort Meade, Md.

Brig. Gen. Scott P. Goodwin, deputy director of operations, Operations Team One, National Military Command Center, Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., to commander, 21st Expeditionary Mobility Task Force, Air Mobility Command, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

General Officer Announcement

The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignment:

Maj. Gen. James W. Hyatt, special assistant to the deputy chief of staff, operations, plans and requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., to commander, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, Air Combat Command, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

General Officer Announcements

The chief of staff, Army announced today the following assignments.

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Brown, chief of staff, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army to, commanding general, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Fort Benning, Ga.

Maj. Gen. Salvatore F. Cambria, deputy director, Center for Special Operations, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., to director for operations and logistics, U.S. Africa Command, Germany.

Maj. Gen. Richard J. Sherlock Jr., U.S. Army Reserve, director for plans and programs, U.S. Africa Command, Germany, to chief of staff,  U.S. Africa Command, Germany.

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, October 01, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will address the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Annual Luncheon at MST at the Westin La Paloma, 3800 East Sunrise Drive, Tucson.  A press conference will follow at 2:p.m.  Media contact is Laura Shaw, 520-609-5972 or laura.shaw@treoaz.org . Mullen will then conduct a public town hall in the University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall at   Media contact is UA Office of Federal Relations, 520-621-3108.