Military News

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Governor, First Lady to honor state service members with 'Tribute to Our Troops' holiday tree

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

Gov. Jim and Jessica Doyle will again honor Wisconsin's deployed service members with a "Tribute to Our Troops" holiday tree, and are inviting Wisconsin military families to send in a holiday ornament dedicated to their service members here and abroad.  The Executive Residence will display the ornaments on one of the large evergreen trees on display during December's holiday tours.

"Our whole state is very proud of the men and women who serve our country throughout the year," Gov. Doyle said. "This holiday season we want to acknowledge the sacrifices that these brave men and women make each and every day."

"This tree also represents the sacrifice so many families must make so we can live safely and in peace," Jessica Doyle said.

Hundreds of Wisconsin service members continue to serve around the world and will be away from home this holiday season. This "Tribute to Our Troops" Holiday Tree honors all those who serve, whether currently deployed or not.

Families of all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard members are welcome and encouraged to participate by sending ornaments - plain, fancy, and/or personalized - no later than Nov. 27 to:

Service Member Support Branch Special Projects
ATTN: Carolyn Morgan
2400 Wright Street
Madison, Wis. 53704

Individuals submitting ornaments are asked to include their name and return mailing address, along with the name of the service member being honored. Ornaments will be returned after the holidays.

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has no public or media events on his schedule.

 Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn delivers remarks at at the USSTRATCOM Space Symposium at the Qwest Center, Omaha NE.  Media interested in attending should contact LT Charlie Drey at 402-294-4130.

 Director of the Department of Defense Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Task Force Lt. Gen. John Koziol addresses the Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Conference at at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA.

 Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead delivers remarks at at the Vice Adm. Stockdale Award Ceremony at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes.  Media interested in attending should contact CDR Charlie Brown at 703-692-5307.

 Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Jr. speaks at the “Stand Up For Heroes Show” at in New York City.  Media interested in attending should contact Lt. Col. Rich Spiegel at 703-693-4961.

Veterans’ Reflections: The Crew of the USS Oklahoma City

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2010 – On Sept. 2, 1945, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu boarded the USS Missouri to sign the Japanese instrument of surrender, effectively ending fighting on the Pacific front in World War II.

Off the coast of Japan, the USS Oklahoma City was hunting for mines, clearing a path for the eventual occupation of Japan. Shortly thereafter, crewmembers of the Oklahoma City were among the first U.S. servicemembers to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the cities had been destroyed by atomic bombs.

“The people were still bandaged up. Everything was just demolished,” Ray Palumbo said. “It was very emotional.”

Palumbo, Frank Zaccharo, Ralph Alfaro, Bill Crouch and Fred Kapanos all joined the Navy in 1944, serving together as the first crew of the Oklahoma City. Now all 84 years old, the five men looked back on their role in history with fondness and respect for their former enemies. The damage inflicted by the atom bomb is one seared into their memories.

“I wouldn’t say it was good, but it was a unique opportunity [to see Hiroshima],” Zaccharo said. “It’s something that’s still vivid in my memory.”

“It left a big, big impression on me,” Alfaro added.

By 1944, the war in the Pacific was in full swing. American forces were fighting in the Philippine and Palau islands and working to build airfields on Saipan, within B-29 range of Tokyo. For years, Americans had been hearing about the wars in Europe and the Pacific, and many young men were chomping at the bit to get into the fight.

For some, being drafted into the Army at 18 was all the opportunity they needed. Alfaro said he had a different idea in mind as his 18th birthday approached.

“At that time, when you were 18, you got drafted right into the Army,” he said. “When I was 17, I decided I didn’t want to walk. I said to myself, ‘I gotta get into something where I don’t have to walk, [where] I can ride on something.’ So I joined the Navy. I couldn’t wait to get in. Patriotism was running through my blood.”

Over the previous three years, the images in newspapers and stories told in radio broadcasts hadn’t prepared the young sailors for what they’d see as they prepared to set sail across the Pacific Ocean.

“It wasn’t until we left Pearl Harbor in 1944 to head out to the Pacific when coming into Pearl Harbor was an aircraft carrier called the USS Franklin that had just been bombed by kamikaze planes,” Zaccharo said. “That was when I realized the reality of being in this war, and believe me, I was scared.”

The men said fear wasn’t a negative feeling. Rather, they explained, it helped them to understand the gravity of the situation. Kapanos said what servicemembers endure today is every bit as daunting as what he saw in the 1940s, if not more so.

“We salute the young people serving today. They’re doing their share of what needs to be done,” he said. “We can only give them a lot of credit and keep them in our prayers.”

The Oklahoma City supported the campaign in Okinawa and screened 3rd Fleet aircraft carriers during intensified air operations as Allied forces grew nearer to Japan.

The Oklahoma City crew was very fortunate to be part of the fleet arriving to accept Japan’s surrender, Crouch said. While so many in the world celebrated the Allied victory in the Pacific, he and his comrades got to experience the surrender first-hand and take part in the beginnings of subsequent American presence in Japan.

“The pride that we came out victorious, and to see our nation lead the world -- that can’t be replaced,” Crouch said. “[We were] younger fellows at the time [who] shared our service to obtain that victory.”

The ship was relieved at the end of January 1946 and returned to the United States with its crew.

(“Veterans’ Reflections” is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.)

Face of Defense: Amputee to Return to Pilot Training

By Joel Langton
47th Flying Training Wing

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, Nov. 2, 2010 – A Laughlin officer who lost much of his right leg after a boating accident got word last week that he’ll soon return to pilot training here.

Since his accident nearly 14 months ago, Air Force 1st Lt. Ryan McGuire has completed rehabilitation using his prosthetics, completed the Air Force Marathon and competed in the Warrior Games. Since July, he's been back on duty here, but not in pilot training.

"When I first lost my leg, I never dreamed this day would come," McGuire said. "But leadership here has supported me every step of the way, and honestly, they're the ones who gave me this dream to come back."

Air Force Col. Michael Frankel, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, said it was a no-brainer to support McGuire in his efforts.

"When I first met Lieutenant McGuire, it was obvious that this young man is something special," Frankel said. "He has always had a positive attitude. I've never seen him down, never seen him upset. He's always been pressing forward, trying to achieve his goals. I look forward to the day when he graduates from pilot training and I can hand him a set of silver wings."

McGuire was injured Sept. 6, 2009, when he was yanked from a boat jetting across Lake Amistad at 40 mph. He was lifted out of the boat by a rope that was tied to an inner tube when the wind caught the tube, pulling him out. His hip was dislocated, his pelvis was fractured, and his right foot was mangled.

The aftermath was a nightmare for many, and a challenge for McGuire. He was taken by ambulance to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio, Texas, and 10 hours after the accident, he arrived by helicopter at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Initially, doctors attempted to repair the foot, but five weeks later, McGuire lost much of his right leg below the knee.

"It was so surreal," he said. "It probably really didn't hit home until I woke up after the surgery. I woke up after, and my mom started crying. I pretty much knew then it wasn't just a bad dream."

But that pain launched him onto the road to recovery. As a child, McGuire said, he wanted to be an Air Force pilot. His dream eventually led him through the Air Force Academy.

"I never wanted to give up my dream," he said. Through months of sometimes painful rehabilitation, he relearned to walk and then to run.

A medical board found McGuire fit for duty in August. Two days later, a waiver request was submitted to allow him to return him to pilot training, and the waiver was approved Oct. 29.

A few pilots are serving on active duty with prosthetics, but McGuire is the first student to be returned to training status. He said he's learned a lot through the whole ordeal, but that he especially learned the meaning of the words “Air Force family.”

"I went to the Academy, and it was a great time and we experienced a lot of camaraderie," he said. "However, throughout this, my Air Force family, and my real family, has been by my side throughout. The day of the accident, I had commanders at the hospital with me, helping take care of my real family, and ever since, they've been in my corner helping and pushing me as needed."

Navy Training Hosts Retired Flag Officers

By Steve Vanderwerff, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Retired flag officers from the Pensacola area gathered at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola conference center Oct. 26, for insight on ground operations and diplomacy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rear Adm. Joseph Kilkenny, commander, Naval Education and Training Command hosted the bi-annual event to keep retired officers in touch with current military operations.

Discussions included Seabee and Marine operations, and religious leader engagement.

"The discussions provided insight into the ground and diplomatic portion over in Iraq and Afghanistan," Kilkenny said. "We clearly don't have a shortage of topics, and in the future I'd like to get somebody from the Air Force and the Army to speak. Many of our retired flag and general officers are from the different services, and even though I'm hosting, I do run a lot of joint schools. I think it would be pretty interesting for the retired flag officers to see a joint perspective," said Kilkenny.

Kilkenny said the conference attendees spent most of their lives in the military, planning and carrying out operations, just like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The general/flag officers eat, live and sleep military operations," Kilkenny said. "They see this stuff, day in and day out, in the news and want to be kept informed about what's going on. They are also active members of the community's business and civic groups, and if someone asks a question about military operations, they have a little different perspective because they've heard it from people who have been boots on the ground."

Guest speakers at the event were Capt. Lou Cariello, commanding officer, Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, Miss.; Navy Chaplain Capt. Michael Langston, commanding officer, Naval Chaplaincy School and Center; and retired Marine Colonel William McLaughlin, who served as chief of staff, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

"My brief about the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade's activities last year at Camp Leatherneck, the main Marine base in the Helmand Province, gave an overview of what's going on in Afghanistan as far as U.S. activities," said Mclaughlin. "We have such a great group of retired folks in the community. It's great to keep them engaged."

Langston's brief, called "Religion and Diplomacy - Cleric to Cleric Religious Engagement," gave insight into his experience as the theater chaplain with Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.

"One of the key things I wanted them to take away from my brief was that the chaplain is an asset available to the military leaders," said Langston. "In this religious world that we live in, they have a subject matter expert on their staff that is trained and can be used to help them better understand the arena which they have to fight.

"These general officers, once they retire, still have tremendous influence and relationships with the men and women of our active force. I hope my brief helped them understand the dynamics of how a chaplain can be used, that was a little different than in their day. Hopefully, they'll go back and be able to mentor, shape and provide a foundation for our future leaders," said Langston.

A veteran of many retired flag officer conferences, Rear Adm. Bill Mathis said the conferences really helped those attending to better understand current operations.

"Each of these conferences is different," said Mathis. "They renew the knowledge level of the guys who used to do this for a living. We know operations in Afghanistan are very difficult, but until you get somebody like the colonel explaining what he's been doing the last five years in Iraq and Afghanistan, you have no idea of what is taking place over there."

Iwo Jima Sailors Earn Enlisted Warfare Qualifications

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Mavis Tillman USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs

PARAMARIBO, Suriname (NNS) -- Sailors on board the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) have been providing humanitarian assistance to 8 different countries, as well as bettering themselves professionally by earning their warfare qualifications during deployment.

A total of 366 Sailors have earned their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) or Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (EAWS) qualifications, or both, since deploying in July.

Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Craig Harris, command ESWS coordinator, explains the importance of Sailors earning their qualifications.

"They [warfare qualifications] are beneficial for every Sailor in their Naval career," said Harris. "You have to have a knowledgeable crew of fully qualified personnel for a Naval vessel to be operational and ready to fight and to keep her afloat."

Warfare qualification is important for Sailors giving them a good familiarization of their ship. During the qualification process, Sailors are exposed to a vast number of jobs and learn the roles of everyone onboard.

The qualification process involves four separate parts: The Surface and Aviation Common Core qualification standards, the LHD specific qualification standards, written examination, and an oral board. The common core consists of policies, concepts, and responsibilities within the entire scope of Naval aviation and Naval surface warfare's from maintenance procedures to enlisted ratings.

The LHD specific qualification is unique to the Wasp class ship. "Sailors are responding to the program very well, and it's working," said Aviation Boatswain Mates Handling 1st class (AW/SW) Scott Lee, assistant EAWS coordinator. "They have remained consistently motivated even after very long and strenuous days working on the flight deck, engine room and ashore via community relations (COMREL) projects. These Sailors have worked tirelessly toward completing their examinations, practicing subject matter walkthroughs, and passing a rigorous board all to achieve both surface and aviation qualifications."

Cryptologic Technician Collection 1st Class Eliu Ortiz who came from Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Texas, joined the Iwo Jima CP10 team and took advantage to complete all prerequisites and both warfare qualifications.

"I basically used most of my time off to get signatures, go to training, and study for the written tests and the oral boards," said Ortiz. "I was surprised with the opportunity and time given to me to board earlier than I planned."

Sailors across the Navy are pushing towards obtaining their ESWS and EAWS. "Now that enrollment into these programs are mandatory and will directly affect a members Perform to Serve results, its very satisfying knowing that I play a huge role in helping to shape a Sailors career," said Lee

An estimated 85 more Sailors are expected to qualify before the ship returns to its homeport of Norfolk, Va. mid-November.

For more news from USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd7/.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, November 02, 2010

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

Veterans' Reflections: 'Serving a Cause Bigger than Myself'

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2010 – If it weren’t for America, John Gunther Dean very well might not be alive today.

Born John Gunther Dienstfertig in Breslau, Germany, in February 1926, Dean had a good life to look forward to until the Nazi government started annexing surrounding nations by force -- persecuting, enslaving and murdering Jews along the way.

“This country was great to me,” he said. “I came as an immigrant, I was able to go to Harvard, I was fleeing Nazis. … I want to help the country.”

Dean’s family was one of the lucky ones; they escaped to the United States in the winter of 1938-39 and changed their surname. Dean was a quick study in Kansas City, Mo., where his family finally settled, and went off to study at Harvard at the age of 16. In 1944, he became a U.S. citizen and interrupted his education to join the Army.

“Every human being, regardless of age, has to decide at one point what they want to do with their life,” Dean said. “I wanted to serve a cause bigger than myself. Serving the country was a wonderful way of fulfilling that need.”

He originally was sent to Fort Belvoir, Va., to train as a combat engineer. But Dean -- a native German speaker who also is fluent in English, French and Dutch -- was a perfect fit to work in the Office of Military Intelligence at the infamous
P.O. Box 1142
, a facility housing teams that interviewed prisoners of war and made clandestine attempts to communicate with Allied prisoners held overseas.

After serving his enlistment, Dean returned to Harvard, where he finished his undergraduate studies in 1947. He studied law at the Sorbonne and got a degree in international relations from Harvard in 1950.

He would end up spending the next 39 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, eventually serving as the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, Denmark, Lebanon, Thailand and India. But his time working with the military wasn’t over. He routinely worked side by side with top brass. In Vietnam, he oversaw a large contingent of U.S. diplomats as the war came to an end.

“I worked a great deal with the military from 1970 to 1972, in Da Nang, … I was given the equivalent rank of major general,” he said. “I had several hundred American advisors working for me in Vietnam. Unfortunately, 14 of them were killed.”

His unwavering dedication to telling the absolute truth in his diplomatic work often was unpopular, he said, but that didn’t keep him from speaking his mind to superior officers, secretaries of state and U.S. presidents.

“It wasn’t always much appreciated,” he said, noting that his honesty as a diplomat caused quite a few personal conflicts in addition to accolades.

He said his goal in his diplomatic career, fueled partly by his own life, has been to promote development around the world, irrespective of religious influence or culture, so long as the people represent good values and respect.

“I’ve tried to be the best possible representative for the good values the United States stands for, whether it was in military or civilian life,” he said. “We all come to this country, whether we’re Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus or Buddhists, we couldn’t care less – we care about our country, and it’s a wonderful country.

“I’m here today to help the country with the problems it has in 2010,” he added. “We’re all humans. We all make mistakes, and so I’m trying to help people learn to do things better.”

(“Veterans’ Reflections” is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.)