Military News

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nimitz Sailors Volunteer in Local Community, Support Area Youth

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ashley Berumen, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Public Affairs

LAKE BAY, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors from the Air Department aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) assisted local volunteers in a community relations project at Lutheran Church in Lake Bay, Wash., Dec. 15.

Sailors stuffed backpacks full of food and school supplies for 85 children in the local community.

Nimitz' participation was organized by Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Michael Pascerella, whose aunt, Karen Jorgenson, organizes the church's backpack program.

Jorgenson runs the program each week from donations supplied by the local community.

"It's a blessing," said Jorgenson. "We really needed the extra help, and the Sailors worked really hard."

Cmdr. David Appezato, representing Nimitz leadership, participated in the project and said it was a great way for Nimitz to get to know the community and show Nimitz cares.

"Bremerton has opened its arms to us," said Appezzato. "We can give back by helping the community. What better way to give back, than by helping kids?"

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Jeremy C. Mathis has volunteered on community relations projects before and thinks it is something everyone should do because it is a good way for Sailors to give back to the community.

"The people are very passionate and really want to be here," said Mathis. "It makes an impression on you. It's always good to do something for someone else and have fun while you're doing it."

This was Nimitz' first community relations project since arriving at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton Dec. 9 to prepare for a year-long dry-docked maintenance period at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

Event Pays Tribute to ‘The Chosin Few’

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 – Fang Woo walked into a room, walls adorned with Navy history memorabilia, and made a beeline for a young Marine reservist across the room.

The 78-year-old retired Marine was eager to meet one of the men responsible for what is believed to be the first full-length documentary about the Chosin Reservoir campaign, a harrowing 17-day battle during the Korean War marked by crippling losses and incredible triumphs of the human spirit.

Woo has a personal interest in the topic -- he is among “The Chosin Few,” the last living survivors of the battle.

Woo was one of several Korean War veterans who braved chilly temperatures last night to attend a commemoration of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, which took place 60 years ago this month. A crowd of local history buffs and servicemembers also gathered at the Navy Memorial here for the public event, which featured a viewing of the documentary “Chosin” followed by a panel discussion on the film.

“I twisted his arm to come here, but I know this means a lot to him,” Woo’s son, Conrad, said, while watching his father from across the room. “He doesn’t ask for attention for what he did. My dad never even mentioned what he did in Korea when I was growing up.”

The documentary -- produced, written and directed by Marine Corps reservists Anton Sattler and Brian Iglesias, both former active-duty Marines -- tells the Chosin story through first-person accounts from Korean War veterans the Marines interviewed across the country. They made the movie after they departed active Marine Corps duty, both drawn to a largely overlooked, but highly impactful moment in history.

“We picked this battle because it’s never been done before, and these guys are slowly fading away,” Iglesias said, flanked by two of the Chosin veterans featured in the documentary, Warren Wiedhahn and Dr. Stanley Wolf.

Wiedhahn said the movie offered veterans an opportunity to talk about events that some had never opened up about before. After his kids saw it, they asked him, “Daddy why didn’t you ever talk about it? Why didn’t you tell us this?” One of the reasons, he said, is that it was difficult to share his military past with anyone other than the veterans who shared it.

Still, he and his fellow Chosin veterans opened up in detail on the documentary about the horrific, yet triumphant, events of the Chosin Reservoir battle, also known as the “Frozen Chosin.”

In November 1950, U.N. forces were nearing a successful end to the Korean War. U.N. Forces had chased the North Korean army from near the southern tip of South Korea to the north, near the border with China.

But China had decided to enter the conflict and sent thousands of its troops flooding across the border. In late November, the seasoned Chinese forces launched a surprise attack on about 15,000 U.S. troops from the 1st Marine Division and elements of the 7th Infantry Division in and around the Chosin Reservoir area. By Nov. 27, 120,000 Chinese troops had encircled about 30,000 U.N. troops, and a brutal, 17-day battle in sub-zero temperatures began.

The Chinese troops attacked in human waves each night, sending thousands at a time to overrun the U.N. troops until dawn. The veterans recalled the Chinese coming in relentless fronts, unaffected by the mass casualties piling up around them.

“You thought you were a dead man,” one veteran said in the documentary. Only a relentless “love of life” kept him from giving up, he added.

“I prayed for the first time in my life,” another Chosin veteran said, his voice breaking with emotion. “I said, ‘God, don’t let me die, not here. I just want to see the sun come up one more day.’”

Temperatures dipped to frigid levels and a veteran recalled a “mind-numbing” cold so intense that the troops’ eyeballs would freeze until they put their hands up to warm them. “It was 30-below zero,” Wiedhahn said. “You lived in 30-below temperature, all the time.”

U.N. troops fought valiantly for days and broke out of the encirclement while inflicting huge losses on the Chinese, with an estimated 35,000 Chinese troops killed or wounded.

They fought their way to freedom across miles of rough, mountainous terrain until they reached the port of Hungnam on Dec. 11, where they were evacuated along with thousands of Korean refugees to Pusan.

Of the 15,000 U.S. troops at the battle of Chosin Reservoir, 3,000 were killed, 6,000 were wounded and 12,000 suffered frostbite injuries. For their heroic actions, 17 U.S. servicemembers were awarded the Medal of Honor, making Chosin one of the most decorated battles in U.S. history.

Army Col. David J. Clark, director of the Defense Department’s 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, was on hand for the last night’s event. Congress created the committee, he explained, to honor and thank Korean War veterans, celebrate the war’s milestones and ensure the American public has a clear understanding and appreciation of the war.

Clark praised the documentary and the Korean War veterans in the audience. He was honored, he said, “to share the experience with some of the heroes that lived this story, and in the process saved a nation and a people from unspeakable tyranny and oppression.”

“And certainly, the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir was a major part of that,” he continued. “We have come to honor our comrades in arms who persevered through one of the most ferocious battles in the annals of American military history. While vastly outnumbered and fighting in unimaginable conditions, our veterans’ courage, selfless sacrifice and unbendable will evened the odds. In Chosin Reservoir, all that is good about the American fighting spirit was on display.”

General: Exercises Vital to U.S., South Korea

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 – Exercises such as the Invincible Spirit series are helping the U.S.-South Korean alliance transform for the future while sending an unmistakable message to North Korea that its provocations won’t be tolerated, the top U.S. general in South Korea said yesterday.

Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, condemned North Korea’s spate of destabilizing activities during a speech to the East Asia Institute and Center for a New American Security in Seoul.

The most recent attack, on South Korea’s northwest islands, “crossed a significant threshold and represents a worrying trend toward more frequent and more violent provocations,” Sharp said. “Our task … is to find ways to change North Korea’s strategic calculus and end the cycle of provocations.”

The United States and South Korea’s message to North Korea is clear, he said. “We will not tolerate attacks against the civilian population and all provocations will be met with the utmost response that the combined [South Korea]-U.S. instruments of national power can bring to bear and that the laws of land warfare permit.”

Sharp said North Korea’s actions bolstered the U.S.-South Korean alliance, which is observing its 60th anniversary this year. “Alliance resolve has never been stronger, and we will strengthen the alliance further still, both in terms of capability and commitment,” he said.

The new Strategic Alliance 2015 plan lays out a framework for that effort. It includes improvements in the military exercise and training program, transfer of wartime operational control to South Korean forces by 2015 and the consolidation of U.S. forces to hubs around Pyeongtaek and Daegu.

Sharp called a realistic and adaptable exercise and training program critical to the plan, particularly in light of recent events on the peninsula.

“We will seek to further adapt our exercises to address limited, as well as full-scale, North Korean attacks,” he said. “All our exercises are designed to improve our interoperability and demonstrate unwavering alliance resolve to maintain peace and stability in the region.”

Sharp cited the success of the recent Invincible Spirit naval and air readiness exercises, the most recently that included the Carrier Strike Group George Washington. Together with the biannual theater-level exercises, Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian, and future bilateral and multilateral exercises, these are improving alliance capabilities and readiness to respond to the full range of provocations and attacks, he said.

He emphasized, however, that the U.S.-South Korean alliance isn’t focused solely on North Korea. “The [South Korean]-U.S. alliance is a vital element in providing security, stability and prosperity on the peninsula and in the region,” he said. “Based on our shared values, our countries are primed to cooperate and act on a global basis to contribute to international security.”

VADM Currier Visits Military Airbus in Spain

By DCMS Log

FRI. 10 December: VADM John Currier visited Airbus Military (AM) facilities and executives in Madrid and Seville, Spain. Discussions focused on the current program AM holds with the US Coast Guard, the HC-144 air asset. VADM Currier also viewed AM's A400 test bench and Euro Fighter assembly lines.

Pictured: VADM Currier at the A400 test bench.

USS Pasadena Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Los Angeles-Class fast-attack submarine USS Pasadena (SSN 752) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Dec. 14 for a scheduled six-month deployment to the western Pacific region.

"The crew is excited and ready to get underway," said Cmdr. Andrew St. John, Pasadena's commanding officer. "They have all worked hard in getting this submarine ready to go and completing all the requirements to deploy."

Pasadena will be conducting various training exercises and a multitude of missions during the next few months.

"A major part of this mission is training the junior Sailors and getting them submarine warfare qualified," said St. John. "Out of a crew of 137 Sailors, 50 percent are making their first deployment, so we made this one of our main focus areas."

Pasadena was commissioned in July 1991 and is the U.S. Navy's second "improved" Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine. Throughout its proud and illustrious 20-year history, Pasadena has deployed to and conducted operations in virtually every part of the Pacific Ocean, from the west coast of North and South America to Australia and the Arabian Gulf.

Exercise Sandfisher Commences on Guam, Integrates US, Singapore Amphibious Techniques

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Corwin Colbert, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- The 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Marines from Okinawa, Japan, conducted helocast training exercise Sandfisher with their counterparts from the Singaporean Armed Forces just north of Gab Gab Beach aboard U.S. Naval Base Guam Dec. 13.

Exercise Sandfisher is an annual training exercise in which III Marine Expeditionary Force, Force Recon Company, conducts bilateral amphibious reconnaissance and combat diving training with the Singapore Armed Forces Naval Dive Unit (NDU) in order to sustain tactical proficiency and support the Pacific Command Commander's Theater Security Cooperation Program (TSCP).

Helocasting is a waterborne technique used by small unit, special operations forces to insert into a military area of operations. The small unit is flown by helicopter to the insertion point. Once there, the aircraft assumes an altitude just above the water's surface and a low airspeed. Team members then exit the aircraft and enter the water.

The 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion was the component that conducted the mission.

"What you see right now is helocasting," said Lt. Col. Travis Homiak, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion commanding officer. "That is when we deploy swimmers and dive teams from helicopters that are in a modified hover. The purpose of this is to get them into position to swim across to the beach to conduct confirmatory beach reports and surf observations in order to bring landing forces to the beach."

Homiak said the training has reaffirmed the nation's commitment and established personal bonds among the participants.

"On a personal level, this is an ongoing exercise and reinforces the bonds that the Marines have with their Singapore counterparts," Homiak said. "It also reaffirms the United States' commitment to security in the region."

The 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion's mission is to provide ground and amphibious reconnaissance for III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Gates: New START Treaty Accommodates U.S. Plans

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 – The new strategic arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia “in no way limits” U.S. plans for missile defense or modernizing its nuclear arsenal, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.

Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined President Barack Obama at the White House today as the president announced findings of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review, released today.

After weeks of debate, the Senate voted yesterday to take up the arms reduction pact with Russia.

Gates acknowledged what he called “genuine concerns on the Hill” about the treaty’s effect on modernization of the U.S. nuclear enterprise, adding that misunderstandings existed about the pact’s effect on the U.S. ability to move forward on missile defense.

“I think that there were some legitimate concerns,” Gates said, “but frankly, I think they've been addressed.”

Cartwright called the pact “a relationship between our countries” and said that the treaty addresses much more than the nuclear issue.

“All the Joint Chiefs are very much behind this treaty because of the transparency [and] because of the reality that both the United States and Russia are going to have to recapitalize their nuclear arsenals,” he said. “To have transparency … to put structure to that activity, we need START, and we need it badly.”

A single approach to deterrence that depends on mutually assured destruction is no longer relevant in the 21st century, the general added. “We need this treaty in order to move in that direction,” he said.

The treaty, Clinton said, is worthy of Senate ratification, and not only on its own merits. “It is part of the effort that we see moving forward to bring Russia and Europe and the United States closer together,” she said, “to cooperate on the threats of the future, not to be looking back at the threats of the past.”

’Twas a Night in December

By Jian DeLeon, Ian Graham and Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2010 – Servicemembers stationed from Antarctica to Afghanistan lent their talents and time to craft a video for a poem titled “’Twas a Night in December,” based on Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” but rewritten with a military twist.

More than 40 commands around the world, representing every branch of the military service, participated.

Along with the military people who contributed to this creative effort, country music star Toby Keith introduced the video, reinforcing his long-term support for military and their families stationed around the world.

Some of the servicemembers involved in this holiday greeting were located in the most remote regions in the world. For example, Air Force Capt. Graydon Muller of 6th Special Operations Squadron and Air Force Capt. Rob Marshall of the 8th Special Operations Squadron departed Nov. 24 to climb Vinson Massif, the highest mountain in Antarctica. Muller and Massif took time away from their climb to speak a few lines for the video.

Other servicemembers from Afghanistan, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Pakistan and throughout the United States participated in making the video. In fact, people on six out of the world's seven continents took part. The video was produced by Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate.

’Twas a Night in December

’Twas a night in December and all over the world,
At bases and stations where our flag flies unfurled,
The Holiday season had long since commenced,
And spread its spirit of cheer through the Department of Defense.

Combat boots sat at ease by the fence line with care,
In hopes that a return date soon would be there.

At home, loved ones slept sound in their beds,
With visions of troops coming home in their heads.
As Moms perform night patrols, and Dads conduct checks,
A long winter’s nap is the last thing they expect.
When out on the tarmac arose such a clatter,
Soldiers and sailors sprang up to see what was the matter.

Away to the deck, they hustled, they dashed,
Some ran through a passageway, one opened a hatch.

In Antarctica, moonlight shimmered on the snow,
A sliver of light shown on the objects below.
And what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But letters and packages bundled with care.
Yet it wasn’t just there that we saw these things land,
We received them as well, here in Afghanistan!
They were packaged so well that they could withstand,
The harsh desert winds full of Iraqi sand.
Onto Nicaragua with volcanoes and lakes,
Padded so carefully that nothing would break
Addressed from our family and friends we hold dear,
With Holiday greetings and a “Wish You Were Here!”
We lined up and claimed them, with smiles ear-to-ear,
Every person overcome with Holiday cheer.

Your support and your thoughts are the best possible gift,
We send you our thanks for giving our spirits such a lift.
Thanks from the National Guard
Thanks from the Army,
Thanks from the Navy,
Thanks from the Marines,
Thanks from the Air Force,
Thanks from the Coast Guard,
We want you to know how much this gift means.
In our eyes you’re super, and we mean A-OK.

We will do our duty and keep defending our freedom,
And wish you and yours the very best this Holiday season!

Suspicious Package Temporarily Closes Pentagon Metro

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2010 – A suspicious package resulted in closure of the Pentagon station entrance of the Metro rapid-transit system for more than an hour this morning while security officers investigated the threat, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Security officers closed the station at when a suspicious object was reported in a trash can on the station platform.

Pedestrian traffic was redirected to the Pentagon’s Corridor 3 entrance.

Officers from the Pentagon police department’s explosive ordnance disposal unit and the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives response division investigated the report, and K-9 officers and dogs swept the station for other hazards.

The suspicious object was identified as a battery-operated Christmas ornament.

The Metro entrance reopened at , the spokesman said.