Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sailors and Marines Train-Up for Amphibious Operations

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Kuzlik, Expeditionary Strike Group 2 Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- More than 200 active and Reserve component Sailors and Marines stormed Anzio Beach aboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLCFS), Va., Oct. 29, as part of Exercise Sandcrab 2010.

After initial delays caused by high seas, heavy winds and some computer problems, the landing was successfully accomplished.

"We had some small logistical problems, but we were able to turn it around as a result of the training that we go through," Chief Boatswain's Mate (SCW) Stephen Helmer said. "The successful integration of Active and Reserve component assets, combined with our experience and training is what enabled the exercise to proceed. The want to, the need to, learn and be involved is the mitigating factor."

The simulated ship-to-shore movement and amphibious landing was the highlight of the three-day training exercise between U.S. Navy Beach Group TWO (NBG2) and the Marine Corps 4th Landing Support Battalion.

This was all part of an increased emphasis on training in amphibious operations to provide fully-trained and ready personnel and prepare Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve assets for mission readiness and world-wide deployment.

Among the objectives of the exercise was to conduct individual, team and craft training exercises to train Reserve component personnel to handle actual and simulated personnel and equipment casualties.

The operation featured Landing Craft Air Cushioned, high-speed over-beach-landing class hovercraft capable of carrying 75 tons of weapons, cargo, equipment and personnel.

Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 2 utilized improved Navy lighterage system causeways ferries to transport Humvees, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) six-wheel drive all terrain vehicles, and support personnel.

Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 provides operational command and control over forces to deliver power projection ashore and rapidly respond to global crises.

ESG-2 Commander Rear Adm. Kevin D. Scott emphasized the importance of providing Sailors and Marines continued training with Navy landing craft and lighterage.

"Hands-on training develops proficiency and confidence in our Sailors and Marines," Scott said. "This type of joint exercise is how we know we are ready to successfully execute any mission in support of the nation's maritime strategy."

"Our Reservists have always been essential members of the nation's military force. They are the reason why we have unsurpassed readiness to respond to any mission, anytime, anywhere. A fully integrated Reserve component brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise that complements our active component and increases our overall combat effectiveness," said Scott.

The primary mission of NBG 2 and its subordinate commands, ACB 2, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU 4, and Beach Master Unit 2, is to provide ship-to-shore transportation of fuel, materials and equipment in support of expeditionary strike groups, Marine expeditionary forces and brigade-sized operations and maritime prepositioned force operations.

Texan wants a fighting chance

552 Thoreau Trail • Schertz, TX 78154 • 702.497.1921 •

Texan wants a fighting chance; Birth defect is causing liver failure

Dallas, TX October 26, 2010 - Health care costs are a major political issue this election. While insurance companies wait for politics to prevail, one Texan finds himself caught in the middle - with his life at stake.

Stephen Dikovitsky needs a new liver. That is not because he abused alcohol or illegal drugs. Stephen was born with a condition known as biliary atresia – a problem with the common bile duct of the liver. A surgical procedure performed as an infant provided him with borrowed time. Stephen is now 23 years old and his time is running out.

To be placed on a waiting list for a suitable liver, a patient must get the costs approved by an insurance company… or submit a down payment of $300,000. After a transplant, the medical costs continue to go up.  Prescription drugs are needed to prevent his body from “rejecting” the organ. There will also need to be follow-up care and steps to prevent other illnesses that weaken the liver.

For now, Stephen just hopes to get on the waiting list. Stephen and his father Mike are trying to maintain positive thoughts. Mike tells us, “Medicaid says they will consider our case. However, every day we wait is a threat to Stephen’s survival. It gets complicated and it takes time. After all that, they can still say no. It’s a lot of money.”

If you ever get mad when thinking about your medical insurance options, talk to someone born with a liver defect. It is difficult to get even the most basic coverage. Insurance companies do not want to take on costs that are categorized as “pre-existing conditions.” The more costly the pre-existing condition, the more likely you are to be denied coverage. Even “guaranteed” medical insurance from an employer is no guarantee. If you can get coverage, it can be just about impossible to afford.

Although it is illegal for an employer to consider medical coverage as criteria for hiring, it happens all the time – and is difficult to investigate and prosecute.
If you ever want to feel better about your resume or job prospects, talk to someone born with a liver defect.

“I wanted to join the military or maybe become a police officer,” says Stephen. “I would like to be one of those people who help others. Sometimes that kind of thinking just makes things worse. I guess I just always looked up to my dad. Of course I work when I can, but no one has offered me a job that covers me medically.”

Stephen’s father, Mike Dikovitsky served in the US Army and then worked as a Dallas area police officer.  He now owns US Small Arms Training School – a small business that provides firearm training to military, law enforcement, and private citizens. “Stephen can often help me,” Mike says. “He has good days and bad days. He has earned several training certifications and he really excels at maintaining our good safety record. I just can’t find him coverage for his condition.”

When asked about the upcoming election, Mike’s face takes on a look only a parent would recognize. “I try not to blame anyone,” he says. “I wish I could talk to Governor Perry or someone who is running this time.  I would like to tell them about my son’s situation. I know they are busy and we are just regular people. I can’t help them get elected. I just want my son to be OK. I would do just about anything.”

Legend has it that on March 5th, 1836, Colonel William Travis drew his sword upon the ground of the Alamo. There he challenged his men to cross a line in the sand, and stand beside him for the Texan cause.  Texans all know this story since about the time they could understand words. The desperate and heroic decision inside the Alamo has touched us all at an early age.

Now, Texas has a young man that did not decide upon a line in the sand. His situation was thrust upon him –
and he too, just wants a fighting chance.

For information:Contact: or

Phone: 702-497-1921

Send checks payable to:

Stephen Dikovitsky
Liver Donation Fund
C/O Bank Representative
Heather Warren or
Angie Castillo
Wells Fargo Bank
557 E Ovilla Road
Red Oak, TX 75154


Jennifer T. Wells, MD
Liver Transplant Specialist
Baylor Hospital Dallas
214 820-8500

Veterans’ Reflections: Following in Her Father’s Footsteps

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2010 – Marie Peckham is a small woman. While it wouldn’t be technically inaccurate to assume she wears military-themed pins and jewelry because her husband served in the military -- he did -- it would be an underestimation of Peckham’s strength.

Even though she stands only somewhere between four and five feet tall, she was a Marine Corps staff sergeant, following in her father and brothers’ footsteps.

“It was only natural I became a Marine, and thank God I did,” she said.

Through her service and subsequent involvement in the U.S. Marine Corps League, Peckham met her husband, a fellow Marine who survived five major campaigns in the Pacific and went into Nagasaki mere weeks after it had been bombed.

Peckham, who grew up with dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, ultimately embraced America when she took the oath of enlistment and joined the Corps in 1943. After basic training, she served with the Marine air wing at Congaree Field, S.C., as a link trainer. She also taught plane and ship recognition to fighter pilots.

“We taught pilots to fly by their instruments,” she explained. “When they were ‘undercover,’ as we called it, and they couldn’t see very well, they had to learn to fly by instruments. So I sat at a desk and watched what they did in the trainer and made sure they were doing it right.”

Peckham’s service changed her outlook on people, she said. A lot of cultural norms were changing at the time, she added, and being in an integrated force helped her adjust.

“My service taught me camaraderie, it taught me to not be prejudiced, and it taught me to appreciate all of the blessings of this country,” she said.

That appreciation, she said, is something that isn’t as prevalent today because a gap between civilians and servicemembers needs to be remedied.

“I’m a bit prejudiced,” Peckham said of the nation’s current conflicts when asked if she has any advice for today’s servicemembers. “We want all of it to be over as soon as possible, but while it’s going on, do your part.”

Civilians don’t need to feel pressured to serve in uniform, she said, but they need to do everything they can to support those who do don the uniform. Members of the all-volunteer force are putting themselves at great risk, she added, and the least people can do at home is to create an environment of support and caring.

“Read more about veterans issues – read about their problems, what they need, and what they deserve,” she said. “And always, always support them – always.

“All you veterans out there, especially you Vietnam guys, if you want to be loved, accepted and belong to a group where we’re brothers and sisters, come and join a veterans organization,” Peckham added, noting that she is a member of the U.S. Marine Corps League, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary and the American Legion.

(“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.)

Boat Forces Tour – ANT San Francisco

Written by: Dan Bender

Our next stop on the Boat Forces Tour is Aids to Navigation Team San Francisco where Coasties work hard to keep the maritime public safe around California’s Bay Area.

“Our mission is to maintain more than 700 aids to navigation within our area of responsibility,” said BMC Jay Brisson, the officer in charge at the ANT, “although we can be assigned many other Coast Guard missions depending on the needs of the service.”

This is vital work because the thousands of vessels that transit the bay rely on the aids the ANT services.

 “Maintaining these aids contributes to safe passage of all commerce into the ports of Oakland, Richmond, Martinez, Stockton, and Sacramento,” said Brisson. “There’s a massive amount of goods coming in and out of port every day.”

Like most ANTs, their area of responsibility is much larger than that of your average station.  With hundreds of aids to navigation to service, there’s only one way for the 20-person crew to stay caught up—hard work.

“ATON work routinely requires long hours, technical expertise, attention to detail, adaptability and plenty of initiative,” said Brisson.  ”Our AOR extends form Bodega Bay, through San Francisco Bay, to Point Sur and east to Sacramento including Lake Tahoe as well as all other federal waterways and tributaries in between.”

It also requires a lot of training; there’s a huge skill set associated with working here from servicing buoys to seamanship.

“We’re responsible for all of the requirements set forth in Coast Guard Boat Operations and Training Manual in addition to specialized ATON training including minor aids, lighthouse technician, aid positioning, and tower climbing courses,” said Brisson.

Ultimately, the demanding operational tempo only makes the job that much more satisfying.

“The best part of our job is the feeling of accomplishment you get with tangible results,” said Brisson.

They’re definitely tangible for the mariners who rely on them.

Coast Guard Heroes: Charles Walter David Jr.

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
With contributions from LTJG Ryan White

This Compass series chronicles the first 14 heroes the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters have been named for. These men and women, who stood the watch before us, lived extraordinary lives as they lit the way for sailors in times past, braved gunfire in times of war and rescued those in peril at sea. As Coast Guard heroes, their stories are a constant reminder of our service’s legacy. As the namesake of the Coast Guard’s newest patrol boats, they will inspire the next generation of Coast Guard heroes.

Stewards-Mate First Class Charles Walter David Jr. served aboard CGC Comanche on North Atlantic convoy duty during World War II. His dauntless character was put into action on the night of February 3, 1943 as the U.S. Army transport USS Dorchester was torpedoed by a U-boat off the coast of Greenland.

The Comanche was on scene with the Dorchester and its crew desperately searched for survivors in the frigid North Atlantic waters. David fearlessly volunteered to leave the safe haven of Comanche to dive overboard, with air temperatures below freezing, to help rescue the Dorchester’s crew.

As other Comanche crewmembers volunteered to dive in, 93 survivors from the Dorchester were rescued and plucked out of cold riotous waters.

One of the men David saved was a fellow Comanche crewman, the cutter’s executive officer, Lieutenant Robert Anderson who had fallen overboard and after exhaustion set in he was unable to pull himself out of the water. David was able to tie a line around Anderson and the crew aboard Comanche hoisted him to safety.

After the last of the survivors were safely aboard Comanche, David began to climb the cargo net to the ship’s deck. One of David’s shipmates, Storekeeper Richard Swanson had volunteered to dive overboard to assist with the rescue but was having trouble climbing the net due to his freezing limbs. David encouraged his friend to continue but Swanson was fatigued and frozen. David descended the net and with the help of another crewmember, pulled Swanson to Comanche’s deck out of harm’s way.

Tragically, David died a few days later from pneumonia that he contracted during his heroic efforts to save the Dorchester’s survivors and members from his own crew. He was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his bravery, which was received by his wife and son, Kathleen and Neil David.

A special place in the Coast Guard’s history

Two hundred and thirty one thousand men and 10,000 women served in the Coast Guard during World War II. Of these, 1,918 gave their lives in service.

In the spring of 1941, Coast Guard cutters were assigned to the Navy and operated in anti-submarine warfare escorts, amphibious landings, search and rescue, beach patrol, port security and LORAN duty.

Coast Guard-manned ships sank at least 11 enemy submarines and its cutters and aircraft rescued more than 1,500 survivors of torpedo attacks in areas adjacent to the United States. Cutters on escort duty saved another 1,000.

David served his country at a time when the service was segregated and was aboard a cutter where he was barred from the officer ranks and limited in his enlisted specialty. Despite this, David exercised the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty to the highest measure.

Swanson, recalling his friend in an interview, described David as a “tower of strength” on that tragic day, and his heart and commitment to his shipmates is something to be revered.

“Charles Walter David Jr. is a selfless American hero,” said Petty Officer Third Class Forest C. Reimann, a cutter surface swimmer on Coast Guard Cutter Waesche. “The sacrifice he made for his shipmates is a perfect example of why the Coast Guard Cutter Rescue Swimmer Program is indispensable. As one of the first three cutter swimmers onboard Coast Guard Cutter Waesche I am honored to fulfill this duty.”

Swift Boats in Vietnam

On November 4, 2010, Conversations with American Heroes at the Watering Hole features a conversation with Weymouth D. Symmes, USN, author of War on the Rivers A Swift Boat Sailor’s Chronicle of the Battle for the Mekong Delta.

Program Date: November 4, 2010
Program Time: 1600 hours, PACIFIC
Topic: Swift Boats in Vietnam
Listen Live:
About the Guest
Weymouth D. Symmes, USN, “was raised in Lewistown and Billings, Montana. In 1966 he enlisted in the United States Navy. During his service he spent two years aboard the USS Ticonderoga and one year on Swift boats in Vietnam. Honorably discharged in 1970 he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation for Extraordinary Heroism, Two Navy Unit Commendations, The Republic of Vietnam meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross) and other awards.

He was the treasurer for the Montana State Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial; was one of the founders and first treasurer of the Swift Boat Sailors Association (the fraternal organization for Swift Boat sailors); was one of the founders and the national treasurer for Swift Boat Veterans & POWs for Truth; and was on the board and the treasurer of the Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann Foundation. Weymouth is the author of two books: War on the Rivers A Swift Boat Sailor’s Chronicle of the Battle for the Mekong Delta and This is Latch The Story of Rear Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann."

According to the book description of War on the Rivers: A Swift Boat Sailor's Chronicle of the Battle for the Mekong Delta, “This is a story about sailors, and one sailor in particular, asked to do extraordinary things and make great sacrifices during the Vietnam War.”

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, law enforcement technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:

Listen from the Archive:

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Above and Beyond: Honoring our nation’s veterans

It was always about the names.       

When I first got involved with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the most visited memorial in our nation’s capitol, our goal was to honor the 58,241 names of the men and women killed in Vietnam. We were determined that the names should not be forgotten, nor lost, in American history as the most lasting sacrifice of a tumultuous war that divided our nation.  At the dedication of the Memorial in 1982, the healing process truly began as the Wall brought honor and dignity to all who died and served our country.  Each soldier killed has their name equally displayed without rank or date of birth.  All were soldiers who went “above and beyond” and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Aside from Washington, D.C., the soldiers names engraved on the Memorial are permanently honored in only one other location.  The “Above and Beyond” exhibit, unveiled in 2001 at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, is comprised of dog tags, one for each service man and woman killed.  Suspended from a fine line, each dog tag sits exactly one inch apart, allowing them to move “like a living thing with shifts in the air current”.  

Hung from the ceiling in a two-story atrium, the design including all 58,241 names is haunting, breathtaking and memorable.  As people enter, the breeze waves the metal dog tags creating the faintest sound of chimes, evoking a sudden silence, spiritually and unspoken dignity within the space.

The Museum has been visited by thousands of people and provides one other place for family and friends to honor and remember. This award-winning design has become an instrument to educate people about sacrifice in war. As one observer noted, visiting students “snap to silence and their jaws drop” stunned by the power of the exhibit. The Museum has become a unique and important place for veterans of all wars to display poignant and healing art. However, the museum has lost its lease and needs to relocate. As a result, the soldiers' dog tags may be boxed up and placed in storage "until further notice”. Such action would be unfortunate for our veterans and our nation for it is still about the names.

As George Washington cautioned after our war for independence “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war...shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars are treated and appreciated by our nation.”

As the country engages in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many more have made the ultimate sacrifice. While there will be efforts to permanently honor the names of the more than 5,000 soldiers killed in these conflicts, we must continue to respect service to country and take care of our troops returning home. As a nation, we must not sink into the amnesia for which it may long, as reflected upon by Philip Caputo in “A Rumor of War”. Indeed, our country does need public displays and memorials so that we never forget the names of those veterans who have gone “above and beyond” for our nation.

Ronald F. Gibbs, Vietnam veteran, helped spearhead passage of the legislation establishing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., and is a former board member of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

For further information write email or visit

Ron Gibbs Background information
Ron is head of National & International Public Affairs Consulting (NIPAC) and provides strategic counsel to businesses and non-profits on public policy, legislative affairs, marketing/branding, fund raising and communications. He is a nationally recognized expert in public policy and an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy. Mr. Gibbs served for twenty-five years on the board for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and helped spearhead the passage of the legislative establishing the Memorial. As Jan Scruggs stated in his book, To Heal A Nation, "Ron spent many hours walking the halls of Congress. He never asked for public recognition or acclaim. His only desire was to see the 58,000 names inscribed in a place of honor." He served as an Army Infantry Captain in Vietnam and Germany from 1968-1972. Mr. Gibbs received a Master's Degree from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. Contact information:
55 E. Erie St.
Unit 3501, Chicago, IL 60611, 312-543-1455,

Coast Guard Heroes: Paul Leaman Clark

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
With contributions from LTJG Ryan White

This Compass series chronicles the first 14 heroes the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters have been named for. These men and women, who stood the watch before us, lived extraordinary lives as they lit the way for sailors in times past, braved gunfire in times of war and rescued those in peril at sea. As Coast Guard heroes, their stories are a constant reminder of our service’s legacy. As the namesake of the Coast Guard’s newest patrol boats, they will inspire the next generation of Coast Guard heroes.

Fireman First Class Paul Leaman Clark displayed extraordinary devotion to duty in the face of enemy fire while serving as a landing boat engineer attached to the USS Joseph T. Dickman during the allied assault on French Morocco during World War II.

Clark served as beach master where he supervised the unloading of soldiers and supplies from the transports on the beach. This was an especially hazardous duty, as once disembarked from the landing crafts, soldiers were vulnerable to enemy fire.

Early into the assault, which lasted from November 8-11, 1942, Clark was unloading a transport when a hostile plane battered his boat with machinegun fire. The heavy fire mortally wounded the bowman and severely injured the coxswain. Showing unsurpassed courage and initiative Clark took control of the boat and withdrew from the beach with the injured crewmember aboard.

Clark sped towards the nearby USS Palmer and transferred the wounded man to safety. Although enemy bullets had already punctured his craft, he courageously returned to his station at the beach and completed the boat’s mission.

The torrential gunfire led 21 of the 32 boats to be lost at the landing during the duration of the assault. These harrowing wartime conditions did not hamper Clark, instead he rose to the occasion with fierce bravery in the highest traditions of military service. For his courage that day, Clark was awarded the Navy Cross.

A special place in the Coast Guard’s history

The USS Joseph T. Dickman underway in April 1942 with pattern camouflage. The USS Joseph T. Dickman was one of the ships that led the assault on French Morocco. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.  The invasion of North Africa in November 1942 was the first offensive for the United States against Germany during World War II. At the time, “Operation Torch” was the largest amphibious operation ever undertaken.

Operation Torch proved to be the turning point in the Allies’ war in Africa and after their loss of French Morocco, the Nazis remained on the defensive for the remainder of the war.

Honoring the heritage of Clark, the Coast Guard presents the “Fireman First Class Paul Clark Boat Force Engineer Award” annually to an enlisted boat engineer who demonstrates exemplary performance and superior technical, professional, leadership, and seamanship abilities while performing Coast Guard boat operations.

“Fireman Clark was a true hero, selflessly risking his own life in order to save wounded crewmembers while simultaneously completing an important mission,” said Petty Officer Second Class Matthew Merical, a machinery technician and recipient of the 2009 Paul Clark Boat Force Engineer Award. “Clarks actions were incredibly inspiring to me as an enlisted member and hopefully his story will continue to inspire others in the service. Having a new Fast Response Cutter named after him will be a fitting tribute to one of our best.”