Sunday, October 03, 2010

Continuing Promise 2010 Opening Ceremony Held in Panama

By Lt. Jacqui Barker, Continuing Promise 2010 Public Affairs

CHIRIQUI GRAND, Panama (NNS) -- The U.S. Embassy and Panama Minister of Health hosted a welcoming ceremony for the Continuing Promise 2010 (CP10) team Sept. 28 at the Rambala Maternity Clinic in Punta Pina, Panama.

The CP10 team of 1,500 personnel aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) was anchored off the coast of Chiriqui Grand, Panama and provided humanitarian civic assistance (HCA), to include medical, dental, optometry, veterinary, and engineering services to the area for ten days.

"Though we bring doctors, and dentists, veterinarians and engineers, what we really bring is a message; a message of commitment and partnership," said CP10 Commodore, Capt. Thomas Negus. "That commitment is strong, sustained, meaningful and based upon mutual respect. I pledge to you, the work of the entire Continuing Promise 2010 team, as we work with you, our Panamanian partners in bringing "whole of community" humanitarian assistance to the region."

The CP10 message of partnership, respect and collaboration was reciprocated in the echoed sentiments articulated by Dr. Daryl Padmore, Bocas del Toro Regional Ministry of Health director.

"In this mission, your doctors and our doctors will work together to bring healthcare to the people of Panama," said Dr. Daryl Padmore, Bocas del Toro Regional Ministry of Health director. "The government of Panama is committed to bring healthcare to its people, as you see here. For medical people, it's not words that matter. It's the medical attention we give to the people."

Negus spoke about the CP10 team's excitement for being in Panama.

"The international Continuing Promise team is very excited to be here in Panama today, to work with you in this important humanitarian mission," said Negus "Continuing Promise is an equal partner mission that serves as a tangible demonstration of our commitment to our neighbors."

"With Continuing Promise, you are going to different countries and teaching and healing – and we are so very grateful," said Dr. Jose Stonestreet, Comarca Ngabe Ministry of Health regional director.

Continuing Promise 2010 is an HCA operating from USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility under the operational directorate of Commander, Fourth Fleet.

Navy Safe Harbor Hosts 2nd Annual Awards Ceremony

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity - Anacostia

Arlington, Va. (NNS) -- Eleven service members enrolled in the Navy Safe Harbor Program and their caregivers were recognized during the 2nd Annual Navy Safe Harbor Awards Ceremony in Arlington, Va. Sept. 30.

"The vast expanse and input, and the people that Safe Harbor touches is amazing," said Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO).

The Navy Safe Harbor program assists service members who are wounded, ill or injured with non-medical issues. More than 550 active duty, retired, reserve, discharged Sailors and Coastguardsmen are enrolled in the program.

"Our mission is to augment Navy medicine's mission of taking care of Sailors", said Capt. Key Watkins, Navy Safe Harbor director. "We pick up where they leave off. We do everything the Sailor and family needs, along with servicing the coast guard."

During the ceremony, the eleven service members and their caregivers were invited to the stage as a brief synopsis was read describing the challenges they have faced and overcome.

Navy Safe Harbor Program 2010 awardees received certificates from VCNO, as a token of appreciation for their commitment.

"The most challenging aspect of recovery was going from 100 miles per hour to 0", said Special Operator 1st Class Mark Robbins. "The most inspiring aspect for me was Navy Safe Harbor stepping in and helping me get back on my feet."

Robbins lost his right eye when he was shot by a sniper while on his second deployment to Iraq.

Culinary Specialist Seaman Judi Boyce, Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Nathan Dewalt, Rose Lammey and Stephanie Rose, were recognized for their ongoing commitment to the Navy Safe Harbor organization.

"It's always fun being the lowest ranking person demonstrating that small people can make a big difference," said Boyce, who suffers from Moyamoya disease, a rare cerebral-vascular disorder. Boyce acts as an advocate for the program.

"Safe Harbor is here for everybody," said Boyce. "They will find you if you don't find them, they will bother you in a good way. The hardest part is saying you need help. Once you come to grips with that, the help will continuously come."

During ceremony Lt. Cmdr. Sandra Cole was recognized as the 2010 Navy Safe Harbor Non-medical Care Manager of the Year.

As one of 17 non-medical care managers, Cole assists wounded warriors on a daily basis with a variety of issues such as pay and personnel benefits, veteran's benefits, childcare and family challenges, and employment benefits during their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.

"This award means a lot", said Cole. "We have care managers all over the United States working for the Navy that are representative of how wonderful Navy Safe Harbor is."

The Navy Safe Harbor Program was created in 2005 in support of the Military Severely Injured Center which had seen an influx of sea service members who were seriously wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

When the Navy Safe Harbor Program was created, the staff consisted of a Navy liaison, program director and an outreach case manager. At the time there were only 20 OIF and OEF Sailors enrolled in the program.

USS Kentucky Awarded Omaha Trophy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gretchen Albrecht, Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

BANGOR, Wash. (NNS) -- The blue and gold crews of USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) were presented the Omaha Trophy during a ceremony on Delta Pier at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash., Sept. 29.

The Omaha Trophy, sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and the STRATCOM Consultation Committee, is given annually to the best ballistic missile submarine as well as units with intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic aircraft and strategic space and information operations.

Rear Adm. Frank Caldwell, commander, Submarine Group 9 praised both crews of the Kentucky for their outstanding performance.

"When I think of the USS Kentucky I think of operational excellence," said Caldwell. "I am tremendously proud of the Kentucky crews and all they have done as well as their families because they too are an important part of our mission."

With 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) in the U.S. Navy and 28 crews, Kentucky was chosen as the number one SSBN for 2009.
During this time the Kentucky successfully completed three strategic deterrent patrols, had 100 percent strategic navigation performance and more than 1,200 hours of community service time given by Sailors of both crews.

Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin Chilton, spoke about the continued importance of strategic deterrence while addressing both crews.

"Let's give the Navy 600 ships, let's give the Air Force 45 fighter wings, let's give the Army 10 divisions of tanks and let's take away our nuclear weapons and give 10 nuclear weapons to any country in the Western Hemisphere," said Chilton. "Then you tell me who you fear most. It won't be a 600 ship Navy, a 45 wing Air Force, or a 10 battle tank division Army. It will be the country with the nuclear weapons."

Nuclear deterrence underpins every other element of our entire nation's defense, Chilton added.

Strategic Command Consultation Committee member, Mr. Joe Moglia, was on hand to present the award on behalf of the committee and the citizens of Omaha, Neb.

"I pride myself in the respect and appreciation I have for achievement of excellence," said Moglia. "You cannot find a better boat or crew in terms of what USS Kentucky has achieved, and it is my incredible honor to be here."

The opportunity to recognize excellence and help present the highest STRATCOM achievement to the crew was important to Chilton.

Navy Reserve Launches 2011 Strategic Plan

By Robert Durand, Director of Public Affairs, Chief of Navy Reserve

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Vice Adm. Dirk Debbink, Chief of Navy Reserve and commander, Navy Reserve Force, released the 2011 update to Ready Now: The Navy Reserve Strategic Plan, Oct. 1.

Now in its third year of execution, the plan serves as the blueprint for building the Navy Reserve so it can effectively and efficiently carry out its mission. This year's strategic plan lays out twelve strategic initiatives and identifies who is responsible for carrying them out.

"Our strategic initiatives go right to the heart of our Navy Reserve Force Motto: "Ready Now. Anytime, Anywhere.", said Debbink. "We have a solid plan that delivers real improvements in how we carry out our mission to provide strategic depth and deliver operational capabilities to our Navy and Marine Corps team, and Joint forces, from peace to war."

To read the complete Navy Reserve Strategic Plan, visit:

Jim Grover, a Department of the Navy civilian employee on the staff of the Office of the Chief of Navy Reserve, has been an integral part of Debbink's strategic planning team from the start, and has seen how the process has matured.

"We have learned a great deal in three years about how to drive positive change in the Navy Reserve, and this year's initiatives reflect those lessons learned," said Grover. "For 2011, we are concentrating our efforts on major issues requiring flag-level attention."

"What we did get right the first time, and what has guided us since, was the framework for our planning process: define the mission, articulate the vision, and identify our strategic focus areas to organize our change efforts," Grover said. "Our Strategic Plan organizes change efforts into three strategic focus areas – DELIVER a Ready and Accessible Force, PROVIDE Valued Capabilities, and ENABLE the Continuum of Service."

Debbink sees the strategic plan as a way to create fundamental changes and improvements in the way the Navy Reserve operates. It's also a useful tool for clarifying and requesting changes to laws and policies that are beyond the Navy Reserve's control.

"Our Sailors have performed magnificently in the years since 9/11, and we enjoy tremendous support from the Chief of Naval Operations, Congress and the Navy enterprises we support," Debbink said. "When we come to them with a well thought-out plan and say 'these are the things we need to fix so we can serve you better and make life better for our Sailors,' they are eager to join us in this important work."

Volunteers, American Red Cross Sort Thousands of Cards for Troops

By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin Smelley, Naval Air Facility Atsugi Public Affairs

ATSUGI, Japan (NNS) -- Volunteers from the Red Cross, Camp Zama Family Readiness Support group, Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi Ombudsmen, active duty service members and spouses helped out Oct. 1 at the NAF Atsugi's Aerodrom Conference Room by sorting holiday cards for the "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program.

The volunteers received and sorted more than 5,000 cards but the Red Cross station manager expects close to a million by the end of the campaign.

"Today we are sorting cards for 'Holiday Mail for Heroes,'" said Kenneth Romero, Station Manager for the American Red Cross serving Camp Zama and NAF Atsugi. "Basically it's a campaign Red Cross does in the U.S. to offer the American public a chance to show their support for military members who are deployed and serving worldwide."

The cards go through Pitney Bowes Inc. where they collect and screen the mail received. They go through and check for any hazardous materials in the mail. After that process they are shipped to various Red Cross locations where workers and volunteers sort through it.

"We are sorting them by the branch of service and to make sure that they are appropriate to send. We also check to see if they are for wounded military members or veterans," said Romero.

"I volunteered because I believe in the Christmas spirit and I wanted to give back to our service members," said Dozier Renee, Family Readiness Support Assistant for 441st Military Intelligence Battalion.

"I think this is a good way for the American people to show their support," said Romero. "There is a lot of energy put into these cards and we're able to share that with the folks deployed over here."

The program started on September 3rd and has a deadline of December 10th.

If you would like to participate in the "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program send cards to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD

Artist to Paint Seabee Series

By Mass Communication Specialist Chief Terrina Weatherspoon, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (NNS) -- A visual information specialist from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C., visited the Third Naval Construction Regiment in Kandahar, Afghanistan Sept. 12 to document Seabees in Afghanistan.

The artist, Morgan I. Wilbur, was given access to projects being done by Naval Mobile Construction Battalions 18, 40, 5 and 21.

"I wanted to come here to observe the Seabees in Afghanistan, so that I could do a series of paintings to tell their story for the Navy art collection," said Wilbur. "Together the head of the Navy art collection and I both said we need to capture the Seabees. We don't have too much art on that. So between the two of us we knew this was the next project we needed to do."

Wilbur was able to photograph and sketch scenes that he will take home and later turn into paintings for the Naval Heritage archives. The paintings may also be used in an exhibit at the Seabee Museum currently being built in Port Hueneme, Calif.

"I'm most excited about painting the people," said Wilbur. "Seabees are very upbeat and motivated people who love their jobs. I truly believe they are among the hardest working people in the Navy."

Wilbur has been on the staff of the Naval History and Heritage command, working as the art director for Naval Aviation News magazine.

His work is represented in several collections including the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, and his art has been reproduced in numerous books and magazines.

In 2002, Wilbur boarded the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier engaged in offensive operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In April 2003, he traveled to Iraq to document Navy Medicine's support in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which included time with Fleet Hospital 3 in southern Iraq. Wilbur returned to Iraq in 2005 to document the work of Navy medical corpsmen serving with the Marines, and in 2006 to document coalition activities in Baghdad.

"My trips have mostly been to shore based units," said Wilbur. "When people think of the Navy they think of the water. I wanted to show people a different side, a side that not everyone knows about."

Wilbur spent three weeks in Afghanistan and visited more than three forward operating bases and two combat outposts.

"The environment out here is incredible," said Wilbur. "All I knew up [until] this point is what I've read about Afghanistan. I knew it sounded like a difficult place to do the work that Seabees do. From what I've heard of the Seabees, I thought it would be good way to learn a lot about what they do and to help document their history and contributions to the people of Afghanistan."

Wilbur plans on painting at least a dozen different scenes from his time in Afghanistan.

"The dusty environment, the sun and the heat," said Wilbur. "I'm just going to try and capture this incredible work and these harsh environmental conditions. But the main thing is the people and their attitudes. One of the main impressions is the physicality. It's pretty impressive. The Seabee culture is very interesting."

New Navy Survival School Honors Former Prisoner of War

By Darryl Orrell, Center for Security Forces Public Affairs

KITTERY, Maine (NNS) -- Naval Education and Training Command's (NETC) Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR) officially named the new Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY), Portsmouth, N.H. in honor of retired Rear Adm. Jeremiah A. Denton Jr. Sept. 30.

Distinguished guests included Denton, Rear Adm. (Sel) Mike White, NETC chief operating officer and Congressional Representatives from the offices of Senator Judd Gregg, Senator Jeanne Saheen, Congressman Paul Hodes, and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire. Senator Susan Collins, Senator Olympia Snowe, and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine were among those attending the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"The men and women of the United States Navy and Marines step forward to serve with valor and determination," said Collins in a letter read during the ceremony. "This building is devoted to the highest ideals of America's armed forces and is named for a great patriot who exemplifies those ideals."

"This outstanding new facility will be used to fulfill a critical mission - the training of our Sailors in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape tactics," said White. "Our professional instructors will make excellent use of this wonderful new facility preparing Sailors so they know what to do when things go from bad, to worse. The demand for exemplary training has never been higher."

"The promise of covenant leadership requires we persist in finding ways to continue providing world-class training to our Sailors. As we have always done, Naval Education and Training works closely with the Fleet to determine the best training to support their needs," White said. "We have never, and will never, create our training in a vacuum. We listen to the subject matter experts. We take their knowledge and experience and craft them into exemplary training."

In his introduction of Denton, the key note speaker and namesake of the new training facility, White called Denton a "true American hero."

"Some people may look at the Code of Conduct printed in the program you hold in your hands and say, 'just words,'" White said. "For those who have fought in the past, and for those who fight today, these are a written testament to the strength, character and honor of our military. If you are looking for proof of this legacy of courage, you need look no further than our guest speaker."

A 34-year Navy veteran, Denton served on active duty during World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and was heavily involved during the Cuban Missile Crisis as the commander of the Guantanamo Defense Force.
In 1965, Denton was shot down and captured by North Vietnamese forces and spent the next seven years and seven months as a Prisoner of War (POW) and became the first U.S. military captive to experience four years of solitary confinement.

"Your responsibility as an American war fighter does not end when you are captured," said Denton addressing the SERE school staff earlier that morning. "There is much you can do to inflict damage on the enemy."

During his captivity, Denton gave the American public its first confirmation that American POWs were being tortured in Vietnam. He did so by secretly blinking his eyes in Morse code spelling the word 'torture' during a 1966 television interview arranged by the North Vietnamese.

"Once I was tortured for 3 days and 3 nights straight and overheard the camp commander, frustrated because I did not break, say to my tormentor, 'break his legs,'" said Denton. "I knew my body could no longer take the punishment and literally thought I was going to die any moment.

At that moment I prayed to the man up stairs telling him I could no longer continue to resist on my own - I needed him to intervene. It was in that very moment that my pain was simply gone and the guard refused the order to break my legs."

Touching on this same story during his ceremonial address and citing how honored he was by the new facility Denton said, "But I stand here today telling you that if it were not for God, I would have washed out."

Based on his experience, Denton said, "There are no atheists among POW's."

Denton went on to speak of how people only seem to focus on the pain and suffering endured by POWs.

"Often forgotten are the families of those men and women who equally suffer and in some cases endure the endless suffering of not knowing what has happened to their loved one," said Denton.

"As long as you realize who you are and the great country of which you belong, you can achieve anything," said Denton in his conclusion.

The relocation of the SERE school to PNSY was prompted by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission's decision to disestablish the Brunswick Naval Air Station in 2011.

Navy survival training emerged in the late 1950s as an arctic survival course and has since evolved into the current SERE training.

SERE is a 12-day Code of Conduct course designed to give students the skills necessary to survive and evade capture, and if captured, resist interrogation and escape.

The new $11 million 33,612 sq.ft SERE facility will host more than 100 military and civilian staff and train an average of 1,200 students per year.

The first group of students to attend training at the new facility will convene Oct. 4 where they will undergo six days of academic study before proceeding to the 12,500-acre Navy range in Redington, Maine for practical field exercises.

"This is a great day for PNSY and we welcome you, look forward to working with you, and wish you the best of luck in your new home," said Capt. Bryant Fuller III, PNSY commander.

Established by the Federal Government in 1800, PNSY launched its first product, the 74-gun warship USS Washington, and in 1815 during World War I, PNSY took on a new role -the construction of submarines.