Military News

Monday, December 27, 2010

Face of Defense: B-52 Tail-gunner Recalls MiG Downing

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo., Dec. 27, 2010 – If the landmarks here could speak, the B-52 Stratofortress bomber sitting near the academy’s north gate would have quite a Vietnam War story to tell.

The crew of the “Diamond Lil,” a B-52D, tail number 55-083, took off from Utapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield on Christmas Eve in 1972. The crew’s mission was to bomb the North Vietnamese railroad yards at Thai Nguyen as part of Operation Linebacker II, which took place Dec. 18 to 29, 1972.

However, the Diamond Lil's crew faced enemy air power. A North Vietnamese MiG-21 raced to intercept the B-52. The bomber’s tail gunner, Airman 1st Class Albert Moore, noticed the MiG's approach.

"I observed a target in my radar scope , low at eight miles," Moore wrote six days later in his statement of claim for enemy aircraft destroyed. "I immediately notified the crew, and the ‘bogie’ started closing rapidly. It stabilized at 4,000 yards, . I called the pilot for evasive action and the [electronic warfare officer] for chaff and flares.

"When the target got to 2,000 yards, I notified the crew that I was firing. I fired at the bandit until it ballooned to three times in intensity then suddenly disappeared from my radar scope at approximately 1,200 yards, low. I expended 800 rounds in three bursts."

Another gunner aboard the B-52, Tech. Sgt. Clarence Chute, verified Moore’s kill in his report.

"I went visual and saw the ‘bandit’ on fire and falling away," Chute wrote. "Several pieces of the aircraft exploded, and the fireball disappeared in the under-cast at my position."

Moore's kill is one of only two confirmed kills by a B-52D in the Vietnam War and the last confirmed kill by a tail gunner in wartime using machine guns.

Following the MiG kill, Moore wrote, "On the way home I wasn't sure whether I should be happy or sad. You know, there was a guy in that MiG. I'm sure he would have wanted to fly home too. But it was a case of him or my crew. I'm glad it turned out the way it did. Yes, I'd go again. Do I want another MiG? No, but given the same set of circumstances, yes, I'd go for another one." Moore died in 2009 at age 55.

Linebacker II brought the North Vietnamese government back to the negotiating table after earlier talks had broken down. A month after the campaign, North Vietnam and the United States signed a ceasefire agreement.

Diamond Lil continued serving long after the end of the Vietnam War. In all, the aircraft flew more than 15,000 hours and more than 200 combat missions between its commissioning in 1957 and its decommissioning in 1983. It came to the Air Force academy shortly after it was decommissioned.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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

Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of Task Force Rakkasan and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, will brief the media live from Khost Province, Afghanistan, at in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on current operations.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

DOD Urges Troops to Quit Tobacco in 2011

From a Tricare News Release

FALLS CHURCH, Va., Dec. 27, 2010 – Each year, more than a million people successfully quit tobacco, and the Defense Department wants more military members included in that number in 2011.

“In the tradition of New Year’s, we are asking our active duty and retired servicemembers and their families to make a resolution to quit tobacco,” said U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. (Dr.) Aileen Buckler, chair of the DOD Alcohol and Tobacco Advisory Committee. “Tobacco use impairs military readiness and results in serious health problems, so New Year’s is a great time to commit to stopping tobacco use.”

With studies showing people are 10 times more likely to succeed in behavior change when acting on a resolution, New Year’s appears to be the perfect opportunity to start the process of quitting tobacco.

“But making a resolution to quit tobacco is just the beginning. Developing a strategic plan to overcome obstacles and stay on course is the ultimate key to successful quitting,” Buckler said. “DOD has developed a comprehensive set of tools and a support system to help individuals prepare to follow through on their New Year’s resolution.”

Buckler is referring to several Tricare resources, including “Quit Tobacco -- Make Everyone Proud,” DOD’s tobacco cessation campaign. Tricare is DOD’s managed health care system. The campaign’s website, www.ucanquit2.org, features Train2Quit, an online support system that uses interactive quit tools, self-assessment questionnaires, quizzes and other activities. The support system shows servicemembers how to create a customizable quit plan with a calendar to track progress and learn how to beat cravings, overcome weight gain and cope with the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

The site also offers live help with links to personal quit coaches, available seven days a week, 24 hours a day to get answers to questions about quitting tobacco and how to stay tobacco-free.

The website also features a New Year’s resolutions page, where individuals can post their resolution to quit tobacco. Individuals can send e-cards of their resolution to quit tobacco, and family and friends also can send e-cards of encouragement to those trying to quit. Free New Year’s smoking cessation materials are available for health professionals and other installation leaders to order or download to help promote events. The site also features an “I made a resolution to quit tobacco in 2011” badge that can be downloaded to a Facebook page.

Users of the DOD website can sign up to receive quit tips via text messages or personal widget downloads. The DOD site also has a savings calculator, fun games like Texas hold ‘em and blogs for peer support, as well as social-networking links to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The site provides medication information, news articles, podcasts, RSS feeds, special monthly features and much more.

All non-Medicare eligible beneficiaries can receive assistance with smoking cessation through Tricare’s toll-free smoking help line. Toll-free telephone lines are available in each Tricare region offering around-the-clock support.

“We are committed to helping all members and former members of our armed services and anyone close to them start the journey to a healthier lifestyle in the coming New Year,” Buckler said.

National Guard Responds to East Coast Storm

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2010 – As of 8 a.m. today, 430 National Guard members had been activated in response to an East Coast winter storm that left as much as 2 feet of snow in some areas and prompted six governors to activate their National Guard.

Guard members from Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia are providing equipment and manpower support to civilian authorities conducting emergency operations throughout their respective states.

“The key to rapid response for this event is having personnel in place and ready to respond,” Army Col. Gerald Catrett, joint operations officer for the Virginia Guard, said. “We are staging personnel, vehicles and equipment … to support missions such as transportation through heavy snow.”

Massachusetts Guard members are assisting local police to evacuate some homes affected by coastal flooding caused by the storms.

Maryland Guard members are calling on the lessons they learned during the “snowpocalypse” earlier in 2010.

“During the blizzards of earlier 2010, we helped deliver babies and rescue motorists on the highway,” Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, the adjutant general of Maryland, said. “Who knows what the next call may be.”

Virginia Guard members are assisting Virginia State Police and local emergency response organizations in the Eastern Shore by conducting Humvee-mounted route patrols to assess road conditions and assist stranded motorists.

At about today, they transported one adult and two children stranded on a side street and also were scheduled to transport emergency services personnel to work at a local hospital.

At about they also rescued three people trapped in their car for more than four hours and transported them to a local shelter for further assistance.

Gates to Travel to China

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will travel to China from Jan. 9 to 12, and then to Japan Jan. 13 and 14. He'll also make a stop in South Korea on Jan. 14,  according to defense officials.

"We look to use this trip to confirm recent progress in advancing the defense component of the U.S.-China relationship, expand upon those areas where we can cooperate, and sustain a dialog aimed at improving our mutual understanding and reducing the risk of miscalculation,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

The trip comes at the invitation of China's minister of national defense, Morrell said. While there, Gates will meet with his counterpart and other members of the defense and political leadership, he said.

“The secretary's visit to China will underscore the importance the United States places on building toward a sustained and reliable military-to-military relationship with China, which we view as an essential part of a U.S.-China relationship that is positive in tone, cooperative in nature and comprehensive in scope," Morrell said.

Following the visit, Gates will then travel to Japan, where he will meet with the defense minister and other senior members of the Japanese government Jan. 13 and 14.

"We will use that portion of the trip to discuss recent security developments in the region and to further develop our long-term agenda for strengthening and deepening the bilateral alliance,” Morrell said. “The visit will underscore the centrality of the U.S.-Japan relationship for addressing regional and global challenges, now and in the years to come."

Gates has added a brief stop in South Korea to his upcoming trip to Asia. Following previously announced visits to China and Japan, the secretary will travel to Seoul on January 14 to meet with Minister of Defense Kim. "They will discuss North Korea's recent actions and consult on the way forward for the alliance to address the threats posed by North Korean provocations and its nuclear and missile programs," Morrell said.

Family Matters Blog: Blogger Shares Secrets for Creating Exceptional Care Packages

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2010 – I’m pleased to introduce a new Family Matters guest blogger, Megan Just, a Navy veteran and the editor of the weekly newspaper at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif.

As both the sender of less-than-ideal care packages and the receiver of awesome ones, Megan discusses the importance of care packages to deployed military personnel and the elements that distinguish an outstanding care package from a run-of-the-mill one. 

By Megan Just

One of my most vivid memories of my deployment to Iraq is the adrenaline rush of receiving care packages. The arrival of a care package could instantly turn a bad day into a euphoric one.   Receiving care packages was so important to me that I often wrote about them in my diary.

At the beginning of the deployment I wrote, "I received Eric's (my boyfriend) package today and I've been waiting all night to open it. I've been so looking forward to it that I don't want the anticipation to be over."

The next day, after opening his package, I wrote, "Eric's box was great. He sent my favorite fig sugarless cookies (which I am finishing as I write), a bunch of Cliff Bars and a variety of dried fruit. He also sent two issues of ‘National Geographic’ and ‘Climbing.’"

In that care package, Eric had also enclosed a small book he made that contained his favorite quotes, photos of us together and a long letter. My reaction to the book tugged at my heartstrings enough to nauseate you, so I'll pass on sharing that section of my diary here, but I can assure you, the book meant a lot more than the fig cookies and it is still a treasured item today.

Toward the end of deployment, even as the recipient of an estimated 50 care packages, I was still raving about them. "I love getting care packages," I wrote. "It is hands-on proof that somebody loves me. Opening them is like being a kid on Christmas morning. Each package contains a surprise and what is inside is additionally valuable because the contents are things that I can't procure myself."

While all care packages are great to receive, I did notice a difference in the emotional impact of a run-of-the-mill care package versus one where the sender put a lot of thought into selecting the contents and packaging them in a creative manner.

A run-of-the-mill care package contains generic items and things servicemembers can easily buy themselves at the Exchange on base or order online. A run-of-the-mill care package is one that might as well have been packed by one of the many web-based care package companies. See, the preparation of an exceptional care package cannot be outsourced. The preparation and thought that goes into a care package is half of its value and the servicemember can perceive this extra effort.

Now, I must confess that buried in my past is a string of these generic care packages. Back then, I was dating a servicemember who was deployed to Iraq and although I am a procrastinator by nature, I was determined to send him care packages at regular intervals and I was determined to do it in an efficient manner.

From the post office, I gathered an armload of identical Priority Mail boxes and customs forms.  At Costco, I stocked up on a variety of jumbo packs of single-serve snack items like trail mix, crackers, beef jerky and sunflower seeds. Once a month, like clockwork, I tossed a handful of each type of snack item into a Priority Mail box and, voila! I had a care package!   I think I added a note to each box before taping it up, but I couldn't be sure. (FYI: Not including a note -- even if it's just a sentence -- is the cardinal sin of care package preparation.)

I sent this string of care packages before I'd been deployed myself. The care packages I send to friends now are different.  They are smaller, for one, and I think about details like picking a nice card for my note so the servicemember can use it to decorate their trailer. I sent a small box of gourmet chocolates to a friend around Valentine's Day one year and now, when I bake batches of cookies to send, I pay close attention to the packaging so the cookies don't turn into a plastic bag of crumbs by the time they arrive overseas.

While I'm on the topic of baked goods, it's important to mention that one of the greatest joys of a care package is being able to share homemade treats with the members of your unit and your trailermate. Keep this in mind if you send baked goods to servicemembers and send enough so the servicemember can share without jeopardizing his or her own stash of treats.  Help them out by packing a large container for sharing and a smaller container for hoarding.

In some cases, however, the servicemember may be watching his or her weight and you shouldn't send them a double batch of Aunt Hermonie's Triple-Fudge Buttery Delights. Depending on the servicemember's level of self control, you might consider sending a single serving of the baked good: enough so they can enjoy the special treat, but not enough to throw their diet off course.     

What I found especially touching as a deployed servicemember was when I would receive a care package from someone unexpected, like the parents of a close friend, a distant cousin or a co-worker who I didn't know very well. Recently, a friend of mine sent a care package of gag gifts to the goofy husband of one of our mutual friends who is deployed on a Navy ship.

Family members back home can facilitate this process by making a list of the types of things the servicemember would like to receive and circulating the list with the servicemember's mailing address. Also include an approximate date range –- so you don't violate operations security -- so senders can spread packages through the entirety of the deployment.

If you have the time and desire, savor the process of preparing the care package. While you're packing, think about the servicemember who is absent. Tuck a family photo into the spine of a book. Wrap a brightly colored ribbon around a fancy chocolate bar. Have the kids make crafts. Go to an imports store and pick up a food item that you enjoyed together during your honeymoon in Paris. Make a good, old-fashioned mix CD. Clean a few seashells from your summer vacation and nestle them inside the package of undershirts your servicemember requested. In the end, you're not shipping goods. You're showing that you care.

The following are some care package items I found especially awesome while I was deployed:

-- A stack of 11x17 landscape prints from a friend who is a professional photographer.

-- A peppy comforter and matching curtains sewn to fit the dimensions of my trailer window.  Also, a new sheet set and a foam mattress pad to make my bed more comfortable.

-- A mini-rice maker and a bag of rice helped me stay healthy by enabling me to skip occasional meals at the all-you-can-eat dining hall. Just-add-boiling-water meals were nice, too.

-- Good books friends and family members back in the States had recently read. I discovered several great books by authors that I might not have otherwise picked up and it gave me something interesting to discuss in letters and e-mails.

-- Ground coffee from my favorite coffee roaster in San Diego.

-- Fashion magazines and current newspapers from back home.

-- Watercolor paints.

-- Fancy shampoos, lotions and soaps.

-- Tape and scissors.

-- Decorations for the holidays, including the minor holidays, like a small pumpkin for Halloween.

-- Blank cards for sending thank you notes.

And here are some questions for you:

What have been some of your favorite items you've sent or received in a care package?

What are your strategies for sending thoughtful care packages ... efficiently?

This Day in Naval History - Dec. 27

By Navy News Service

1814 - Destruction of schooner Carolina, the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson's make-shift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of New Orleans. After loss of craft, the naval guns were mounted on shore to continue the fight.