Monday, October 31, 2011

All-Navy Rugby Team Hold Camp at Naval Air Station Jacksonville

By Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Jacksonville hosted the All-Navy Rugby Team's annual training camp Oct. 23-30 in preparation to compete in the Armed Forces Rugby Championships which are being held this week at Fort Benning, Ga.

The week was full practice sessions on the field at Sea King Park on a specially designed field for the rugby team built and maintained by the base Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department. The team also participated in fitness classes at the Fitness Source and several scrimmages with local college and city rugby teams.

"We are here for training camp to put together a team to compete in the Armed Forces Rugby Championships. We began the week with 34 players coming in from all over the world and have to reduce that number down to 25 for the competition," said All-Navy Rugby Team Head Coach Tom Jones.

The training camp consists of a lot of hard work and quite a few bumps and bruises. The team practices ball handling, line-out maneuvers, lifting techniques, situational moves, penalties and team concepts.

"We have been running two to three training sessions each day in a very jam-packed week. We've also participated in three matches against the University of Florida, University of North Florida and the local men's rugby teams," said Jones.

"We have to put this team together quickly and these guys know that the task ahead of them is not only to play together but to learn our system and take care of themselves and remain fit throughout the week. It's a trial by fire," said Jones. "A lot of these guys are first time players so they are taking it all in. We really have a great team with a lot of talent this year."

"They are definitely coming together as a team and listening to what we are teaching them. They are following the game plans and I really think we have a great shot in the championship this year," added Assistant Coach Steve Lynch.

The NAS Jax MWR Department coordinated all the logistics for the team including lodging in the MWR cabins on base, transportation and dining needs and escorting them to the championship games. 

"We love coming here - the weather is great and the hospitality we receive here is outstanding. This is our fourth year here and we are well taken care of by the MWR folks and the NAS Jax community," said Jones. "We really want to thank the base for hosting us and for letting this be our home for our training camp."

The team was met by NAS Jax Executive Officer Capt. Bob Sanders who officially welcomed them to the base. "Everyone of you should hold your head high for just being here. You are representing the U.S. Navy. It is honor and a privilege to welcome you and I wish you all good luck," said Sanders.

Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW) Max Delpivo of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Jax plays rugby with the Jacksonville Axemen, a semi-professional rugby league team and decided to try out for the All-Navy Rugby Team.

"This is a challenge that I never thought I would be doing. The camp is strenuous and it's been a learning process. I knew enough coming into this, but it's quantified during camp. From the videos we've been watching of the previous teams in the past championships, compared to our team now, I think we can have a good shot at winning," said Delpivo.

Players are selected from a pool of about 500 individuals vying for a spot on the All-Navy Rugby Team each year. Scouts are based in different regions around the world to help decide which players are selected to attend the training camp. To attend training camp, players are given no-cost temporary additional duty orders by their commands. Navy Sports picks up the tab for these camps.

Iraq troop departure not the end for Wisconsin Guard deployments

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's last troops in Iraq are expected to be home ahead of the Dec. 31 troop departure.

Capt. Randall Ramm, the officer in charge of the approximately 30 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers in detachments of companies C, D and E of the 2nd Battalion, 135th GSAB - comprised of National Guard Soldiers from multiple states - said the drawdown has affected his unit, which is providing medevac support for United States Division-North. Originally stationed at four operating bases in northern Iraq, personnel and aircraft have moved around as bases closed. Comfort services, such as the Post Exchange, dining facilities, mail and laundry have gradually disappeared as bases "retrograded" during the drawdown.

In spite of that, Ramm said the medevac mission continues.

"With the base closures, we've had to cover other bases outside of our usual area for a few weeks," he explained.

Roughly half of the Wisconsin contingent of National Guard Soldiers remain at an operating base in Kirkuk, with the rest in Kuwait preparing for the unit's return home.

President Barack Obama announced the troop departure Oct. 21, affecting approximately 40,000 service members.

"The last American Soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops," Obama said. "That is how America's military efforts in Iraq will end."

The Dec. 31, 2011 troop departure was determined in a 2008 bilateral security pact.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, said that the Wisconsin National Guard can be proud of the role it has played, and continues to play, in national defense since 2001.

"We answered the call," he said. "We are still answering the call, as can be seen with our troops preparing to deploy to Kosovo and Afghanistan. And we remain ready to respond when called for state or federal service, at home or overseas."

The Wisconsin Army National Guard will still have more than 200 Soldiers and Airmen on active duty when the 2nd Battalion, 135th troops return to Wisconsin.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Navy Medicine Delivers Ballcaps to Children's Hospital during San Antonio Navy Week

From Navy Medicine Support Command Public Affairs

SAN ANTONIO (NNS) -- Two Navy Medicine Training Center (NMTC) Sailors of the Quarter based at Fort Sam Houston, joined the Navy Medicine Support Command (NMSC) commander to visit with about 30 children Oct. 27 at the leading children's medical facility in south Texas as part of Navy Week San Antonio.

Rear Adm. Eleanor Valentin, also the Navy's Medical Service Corps director, was visiting San Antonio for the U.S. Navy's largest community outreach effort in south Texas.

Valentin joined Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Albert Ramirez, a Trauma Education Department instructor and coordinator at the Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute, and HM2 Jessica Zugzda, an instructor at Hospital Corps School, at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children's Hospital during the hour-long visit.

Caps for Kids, an initiative designed to provide ball caps and other Navy memorabilia to young patients in hospitals throughout the country, began in the early 1990s. Today more than 500 commands - including Navy Medicine commands and military treatment facilities, ships, submarines and squadrons - have donated memorabilia for personal distribution in non-Navy areas.

Valentin said meeting with the patients, parents and staff at Santa Rosa Children's Hospital - the first in the region dedicated entirely to children's patient care - served as an important reminder of how attached Navy Medicine personnel become to the local community.

"Navy Medicine and Navy Medicine Support Command medical professionals have become part of the local San Antonio family," she said. "Spending a little time with young patients and explaining what the Navy and Navy Medicine do around the world can have a very positive impact on San Antonio."

Ramirez, NMTC's Sailor of the Quarter (SOQ) for the third quarter, visited with "Cassandra," one of the young patients who was healthy enough to participate. Cassandra, a San Antonio native, told Ramirez, "This is good. I'm having fun."

For Ramirez, a parent himself, the experience was very emotional.

"This is my first time participating in a Caps for Kids event," he said. "It's pretty humbling. It's a different experience from anything I've ever done. I've spent 13 years deploying around the world, and this is probably the most overwhelming experience I've had yet."

Navy Medicine Training Center at Fort Sam Houston is a subordinate command of Jacksonville-based NMSC, managing Navy Medicine's personnel assigned to the tri-service Medical Education and Training Campus (METC), also located at Fort Sam Houston. METC houses Navy, Army and Air Force enlisted medical training programs, including Hospital Corps School and Navy Medicine "C" Schools. The daily student load is approximately 2,800 Sailors, contributing to 8,000-9,000 total enlisted medical students taught each day from all services, making the METC the largest consolidation of enlisted service training in Department of Defense history.

San Antonio Navy Week, scheduled Oct. 24-30, coincides this year with the Randolph Air Force Base Air Show and the 100th birthday celebration of Naval Aviation. Events during the weeklong outreach are scheduled to include demonstrations from the Blue Angels, as well as Navy Band performances and visits to area from Sailors stationed aboard USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and USS Texas (SSN 775).

NMSC provides a single point of accountability for all education, training, public health and resources for Sailors and Marines as well as providing innovative and responsive leaders in health support services.

Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than 1 million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

White House to Display Holiday Cards from Military Children

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Monique K. Hilley, Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The First Lady has requested that military children from around the globe create holiday cards supporting their parent and send them to The White House to be displayed with the holiday decorations no later than Nov. 16.

The White House is honoring American heroes this holiday season and would like to include the personal contributions in their finishing touches on the White House decorations.

"We are asking kids like you, from military installations around the world, to create a holiday card that represents your parent who is serving our nation," said First Lady Michelle Obama in a personal letter to military children. "I encourage you to use your imagination, and include words, pictures, and drawings to create a holiday card that honors your brave mom or dad."

Military children should submit 5" by 8" handmade holiday cards with words of appreciation for their military parents, as well as pictures and drawings. The child should be sure to include their mother or father's name, branch of service and command in the card.

Participants are asked to send holiday cards to the following address, along with information from where they are sending it: Reservation 1, Attn: Social Office, P.O. Box 8070, Washington, DC, 20032.

"Thank you for helping with this fun project, and most of all for your family's courageous service to our nation," added Obama. "I look forward to seeing the results of your creativity!"

The White House will display as many of the cards as possible.

Honor in the Valley of Tears

The November 10, 2011, episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation with documentary film Maker John A. Ponsoll, the executive producer of Honor in the Valley of Tears.

Program Date: November 10, 2011
Program Time: 1500 hours, PACIFIC
Topic: Honor in the Valley of Tears
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About the Film
A feature length documentary about Congressional Medal of Honor recipient 1st Sgt. David H. McNerney and the men of A-Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division that he trained and led into a bloody, yet forgotten battle near Polei Doc in the Central Highlands of Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War. This area was later known as The Valley of Tears.

In the men's own words, through the stories they recount, the film gives us insight into the time these men spent together and the bond they formed that remains unbroken to this day. The men of A-Company trained together for eleven months and served together for one year. Their story begins with basic training at Ft. Lewis, Washington in 1965 and continues 40 years later at their most recent reunion in September 2007. The highlight of the film is a detailed, first-hand account of their intense combat encounters, including the events of March 22, 1967 (for which Sgt. McNerney was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor). He is celebrated by the men he trained and served with and whose lives he saved on March 22, 1967.

Conceived by Executive Producer John A. Ponsoll, whose father served with A-Company and who documented his tour of duty with a Kodak slide camera, the film honors the memory of A-Company 1/8 and their incredible courage and dedication to one another.

About the Guest
John Ponsoll is a native of Danville, Kentucky. He graduated from Centre College in 1999 with a degree in English and Spanish. For the last 11 years he has worked as a marketer in pharmaceutical industry and has lived in Morristown, New Jersey. During this tenure, John's love of film collided with opportunities for film production when in 2006 he met Eric while working for a marketing agency in New York City. Growing up, John used to climb into the attic and explore his father's Vietnam memorabilia, including the pictures he took while in the Army. John made this film initially as a means to better understanding his father and as a tribute to the men his father served with in Vietnam from 1965-1967.

Honor in the Valley of Tears is his first foray into movie-making (though it won't be his last). John is Co-Executive Producer of Our Last Supper, which is currently in Post-Production. John enjoys traveling and maintains an active interest in all things Kentucky-related.

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.

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Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Belvoir Hospital Shows U.S. Loves Troops, Stanley Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

FORT BELVOIR, Va., Oct. 28, 2011 – The military’s new state-of-the-art community hospital here is a testament to the love Americans feel for service members and their families, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said today.

 “We’re in a nation now that cares deeply about people in uniform,” Clifford L. Stanley told hundreds of people who gathered here for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, which opened last month.

Stanley spoke to a crowd of dignitaries, hospital workers, service members and civilians who gathered outside the hospital on a crisp, fall morning. The Army’s Golden Knights parachute team jumped into a cloudless, blue sky and the Navy Band and Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps played as part of the celebration of the hospital’s opening, part of a five-year base realignment and closure effort.

The occasion, Stanley said, held both professional and personal meaning to him. The staff at Dewitt Army Community Hospital once saved the life of his wife, a paraplegic who had developed sepsis, he explained. Also, Stanley grew up visiting the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where his mother was a nurse practitioner, and his daughter is a Navy nurse at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

The nation has been “so fortunate and blessed” to have the kind of modern medicine and technology showcased at the new Belvoir hospital that allows people to live longer and better with their injuries, the undersecretary said.

Army Col. Susan Annicelli, commander of the new hospital, said the staff of more than 3,000 underwent a “herculean effort” amid a hurricane, earthquake and floods in the late summer and early fall to move out of DeWitt Army Community Hospital here and into the new facility, which is triple the size of the old hospital.

Navy Adm. John M. Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, said the hospital offers 25 new medical specialties from the old hospital, is environmentally friendly, and gives patients more control. Patients may control lighting and temperatures in their rooms, and will be notified of each professional’s name and occupation as they enter the room, he said.

“This is America’s newest, most extraordinary, most technically advanced facility, and we’re glad to have it in the military health system,” Mateczun said.

Acupuncture Treatment Helps Ease TBI Symptoms In Theater

By Robyn Mincher, DCoE Strategic Communications

In a clinic at Joint Base Andrews, Md., military health care providers practiced treatments to relieve head pain. Instead of writing a prescription for medication, providers learned to use a treatment rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and practiced for thousands of years: acupuncture. Retired Air Force Col. Richard C. Niemtzow, former president of American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, trained providers to locate pressure points within the ears and insert small needles on designated points inside them.

I spoke with Niemtzow about battlefield acupuncture, a technique that has advanced from the doctor’s office to the battlefield, treating service members with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) quickly and efficiently. The practice can interrupt the process of pain in the central nervous system.

“Like western medicine, it’s another tool in a medical bag,” Niemtzow said.

The tool was supported by Department of Veterans Affairs for a formal study on acupuncture’s effectiveness on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mTBI. The department’s recent clinical guidance recommends acupuncture as a supplementary therapy for PTSD, anxiety, pain and sleeplessness.

Air Force Col. Stephen Sharp, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) deputy director of TBI clinical standards of care, spoke about the benefits of battlefield acupuncture. He worked with Niemtzow treating warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Md.

“The treatment is really useful for treating headache and sleep issues, as well as other associated pain,” said Sharp. “Additionally, it can be used to treat psychological health concerns, which can occur with mTBI.”

The technique uses only five points on each ear and can ease mTBI symptoms within minutes, which can help a service member recover faster and stay with their unit.

“The advantage of acupuncture in theater is that it’s quick, easily done and uses no equipment except a few tiny needles. It also doesn’t have the potential side effects of some medications,” said Sharp. “Often, treatment begins two to three times per week, and then weans down depending on response.”

As battlefield acupuncture continues to become more accessible to service members, a provider might be met with skepticism when offering a treatment involving needles to an unaccustomed service member (even though it’s painless). How can a provider convince a service member to try the unique therapy?

“Start treatment with auricular electrical acupuncture, because it is painless,” Niemtzow said. “Once the patient gains confidence that the acupuncture is helpful, reapproach the subject of needles.”

Auricular electrical acupuncture uses electrical stimulation on pressure points on the ear.

The journal Medical Acupuncture published Niemtzow’s article “Battlefield Acupuncture” and his update about acupuncture with electrical stimulation.

The American Forces Network Afghanistan recently released a video that shows the advantages of acupuncture therapy. We also wrote a blog post about the acupuncture program offered to service members and veterans at Deployment Health Clinical Center, a DCoE component center, and a blog post on complementary alternative medicine last week.

Ride 2 Recovery: Veterans Leave Jacksonville on 350 Mile Ride

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sunday Williams, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Southeast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 200 cyclists, injured veterans and their supporters gathered at Mayo Clinic Oct. 25 and began the six-day, 350-mile Ride 2 Recovery Florida Challenge that will end in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Cyclists will ride across central Florida with overnight stops in St. Augustine, Gainesville, Daytona, Cape Canaveral, Orlando, Winter Haven and finishing in Tampa Oct. 30.

Mayo Clinic physician Dr. John D. Casler served as the master of ceremonies for the event and as a guest speaker. He served 25 years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and reflected on his service at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad and how honored he was to support the Ride 2 Recovery event.

"This is a great event. It brings together a lot of soldiers and fellow well wishers who are trying to do everything they can to help rehabilitate our wounded veterans; who have given so much for our country and bear the scars for the rest of their lives," said Casler. "This is a small token, a way that we can say thank you and help them on the road to recovery."

Many of the cyclists are returning participants, like retired Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Nathan DeWalt, who was injured in a motorcycle accident while awaiting deployment to Afghanistan.

DeWalt said the program has made a huge difference in his life and he hopes to help others like him benefit from the program.

"I have been with Ride 2 Recovery for about a year and a half now and I have done every ride since then. The rehabilitative aspect of the program is just remarkable because it takes people from all walks of life, from all over the country with different injuries and brings us together. We come together and we don't have to explain ourselves," said DeWalt.

He and many other veterans said the program changed their lives for the better.

"You come here for the camaraderie, for the healing and the bike riding. That's what the program is about," said DeWalt.

Ride 2 Recovery helps injured veterans heal through the challenge of cycling long distances using hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and traditional road bikes. The program helps veterans with physical and psychological rehabilitation and creates a network where service members have a support system of people just like them that understand what they are going through.

"You make new friends and take back great memories with you from these rides," said DeWalt. "Ride 2 Recovery has really changed my life and I'm proud to say that I have become a mentor to a lot of people here and I inspire some of the new riders here and help them progress."

Ponte Vedra local Greg Towns stood by until the last veteran rode away and said he will go all the way to Tampa to watch them finish.

"It is a very emotional thing for me to see these men and women. They have given so much for this country and the people who live in it. They continue to motivate and inspire themselves and the people around them," said Towns. "Seeing them through to the end is the least we can do for them."

Cyber Defense Requires Teamwork, Agility, Alexander Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2011 – The commander of U.S. Cyber Command called for increased collaboration among the government, industry and America’s allies in developing more defensible networks to confront escalating global cyber threats.

Current network security protections aren’t nimble enough to defend against the exploding number of threats, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander told government, academic and private-sector professionals yesterday at the Security Innovation Network’s Showcase 2011 conference here.

Firewalls, routers, antivirus software and intrusion detection systems are designed to identify and block specific cyber-intruder signatures, Alexander said. The problem, he noted, is that adversaries have the ability to scan the networks, exploit vulnerabilities and use them to gain access.

“It’s like the Maginot Line,” Alexander explained, referring to the fortifications France built along its border with Germany after World War I with hopes of preventing another cross-border attack. Germany responded during World War II by doing the unexpected: attacking instead through the Ardennes Forest.

“That’s the same thing that happens in your network,” Alexander said, noting in cyberspace adversaries have “all the advantages.” They can scan networks, he said, and identify what software is being run, and pounce when they identify a vulnerability.

“That’s the dynamic we have to change,” Alexander said.

“We are the guys who helped create the Internet. We are the ones that built that. We ought to be the first ones to secure it.”

The White House’s International Strategy for Cyberspace and Defense Department strategy represent a start in that direction, Alexander said. But he emphasized that developing more defensible systems isn’t something the Defense Department or any other entity can do alone.

It requires government agencies working as a team, he said, while also working with industry and U.S. allies and partners.

“When we talk cyber, we talk a team sport,” Alexander said. “It’s all of us operating as a team to defend the country in cyberspace, with the right legal authorities.”

Alexander cited the explosion of network communications around the world. As of March 31, 30 percent of the world population had access to the Internet. During 2010, 107 trillion emails were sent -- that’s 294 billion per day. By 2015, he said, it’s predicted that there will be twice as many Internet devices as people on the planet.

Such growth, the general said, has created vulnerabilities which leave no sector immune -- from hackings at well-respected companies such as Nasdaq, RSA Security and Booz Allen Hamilton to denial-of-service attacks in Estonia, Georgia and elsewhere.

For every company that recognizes it has been hacked, Alexander said, hundreds more don’t.

Among the costs is a huge loss of intellectual property through what Alexander called “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.” But the bigger fear, he said, is that disruptive attacks will turn destructive.

Alexander noted initiatives under way that show promise in countering these growing threats. For example, he said, “cloud” computing delivers shared resources and software through virtual routers, machines and networks [and] enables faster server updates and more agile responses than legacy databases.

Meanwhile, a pilot program in which the Defense Department shares classified threat intelligence with industry is helping to increase military cyber defenses and preventing enemy intrusions into other sensitive government networks.

Alexander called the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot, launched in partnership with the Homeland Security Department, “a huge step” that’s blocked intrusions and identified signatures that hadn’t been previously seen.

“The intent is to push signatures to the Internet service providers and protect vulnerabilities,” he said. “We are having success with that.”

Lauding progress in network protections, Alexander emphasized that they can’t come at the cost of civil liberties and privacy rights.

“We should demand that we get both,” he said. “In my opinion, we can do that. We can protect civil liberties and privacy and come up with a defensive program that we can defend this country and our companies in cyberspace.”

Face of Defense: Marine Honors Fallen, Injured Troops

By Marine Corps Pfc. Franklin E. Mercado
2nd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant James J. Dacey is running 345 miles to honor and to raise public awareness for the nation’s fallen and wounded warriors.

Dacey -- a 12-year Marine veteran who serves here with Support Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion -- left Camp Lejeune Oct. 22 and is running to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“The reason for this event is to assist men and women who have sacrificed so much for our great country,” Dacey wrote on his website. “The physical and psychological wounds incurred by these warriors are nothing short of heroic. It is with honor for my brothers- and sisters-in-arms [that] I embark on this endeavor to ease their burden, if only for a brief moment.”

Dacey said he plans to complete his journey to Maryland on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. He added that he hopes to raise $100,000 for injured service members through donations to the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project.

The Marine’s mother, Debbie Melamed, who’s also the safety driver for the run, said she had no doubt her son would take on the challenge.

“I’m very proud of my son,” Melamed said. “I’m not surprised he’s doing it. He has never second-guessed himself, either. Once he said he was going to do it, that was it. He’s always been a determined person ever since I can remember.”

Melamed was given three weeks of leave from her job at a law firm in Hackensack, N.J., to help her son along his run.

“I was amazed he asked me to be the one to help him,” she said. “This is a huge responsibility, and I’m very proud of him for what he’s doing in honor of his fellow troops.”

As her son runs his course, Melamed drives ahead and checks the route for him. She pauses at the halfway point each day to ensure all is well. If Dacey isn’t at the halfway point within a certain amount of time, his mother said, she’ll backtrack and check on him.

“We’ve taken the right steps to make sure we are ready for the run,” Dacey said. “Safety was a big concern.”

With his mother ready to go and on her way to the halfway point for the day, Dacey left Camp Lejeune and bid farewell to the people who came to see him off.

“Thank you to everyone who came to watch me begin,” he said. “Thank you for all the support.”

As Dacey ran down the road, well-wishers sent him off with a motivational “Oorah!”

Official Navy Representatives to Greet All Returning IAs at BWI Airport

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Kuzlik, Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center Public Affairs

BALTIMORE (NNS) -- Returning individual augmentees (IAs) can add Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport to the list of airports that have Navy representatives from Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center (ECRC) greeting them as of Oct. 5

All IAs, including Global War on Terror Support Assignments, Overseas Contingency Operation Support Assignments, Individual Augmentee Manpower Management, and mobilized Reservists are met on their return from deployment.

Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center set up an information and greeting kiosk at BWI to welcome all returning IAs and assist them in executing their follow-on transportation plan. ECRC representatives strive to make each IA's return to CONUS as smooth and seamless as possible. All IAs, regardless of type, must report to their designated Navy Mobilization Processing Site for demobilization.

"BWI is the first CONUS airport our Central Command (CENTCOM) returnees reach," said ECRC Commanding Officer Capt. Eric Jabs. "It is the ideal location to greet them and make certain the rest of their travel is confirmed.

"Typically, four to five personnel are deployed to Baltimore Washington International Airport for a given mission," said Jabs. "We have great continual communication with the Warrior Transition Program in Kuwait, so we know exactly who to expect on the flights, and their follow-on flight status."

On a recent flight to BWI, there were 141 Sailors who returned on the rotator flight from CENTCOM, including 55 Reservists.

"It was a nice welcome home," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Eric Name, from Navy Operational Support Center, Rochester, N.Y. "Stepping off of that plane and seeing my fellow Sailors made me feel welcome and that the job I did in Iraq didn't go unnoticed. It was like a hero's welcome home!"

Jabs added that this is a team effort.

"We would really like to thank all the supporting organizations that make this operation a success: our USO volunteers at all the airports, Operation 'Welcome Home Maryland,' and the BWI airport authorities for the spaces, kiosk, parking, and other arrangements," Jabs said. "Plus Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Baltimore for allowing us to set up a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in their facility, and U.S. Fleet Forces Command for their continued support of this effort."

ECRC directly assists IA Sailors by ensuring they are properly equipped while coordinating with the Army to ensure they get the proper stateside training. ECRC provides logistic support by coordinating IA Sailors' return home through the redeployment/demobilization process, helping get Sailors home expeditiously and safely.

CARAT Cambodia Enables Return to Homeland for Three Sailors

Discover these Vietnam Veteran books written by Vietnam veterans who served in Cambodia.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Clowney, Task Force 73 Public Affairs

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- When U.S. and royal Cambodian navies began their 2nd annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia exercise Oct. 20, three Sailors assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) were looking forward to the week ahead more than others. For them, it would be their first visit to their ancestral homeland.

Gas Turbine Systems Technician 3rd Class Channy Sath, Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Suorth Suom, and Storekeeper 2nd Class Sokchamroeun Yous were born in, or grew up in, the U.S. after their parents fled the genocide of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia from 1975-1979, and the nearly two decades of civil war that followed. Sath grew up in Lowell, Mass; Suom in Philadelphia, and Yous in Texas. All three eventually joined the Navy and, in a twist of good fortune, were able to visit their homeland when Kidd was selected to participate in CARAT Cambodia.

"This is my first time to visit Cambodia," Suom said, explaining how his family slipped across the border with Thailand in 1979 to escape the war. "My family, they miss the country and their way of life before the war."

For Sath, whose family left Cambodia for America in 1990, the visit was an opportunity to meet several relatives, for the first time.

"My dad used to tell me about Cambodia, and how I was fortunate to come to America, because the war was unforgettable," Sath said. "I was really happy knowing that we were coming to Cambodia, and I was looking forward to meeting my family members I've never seen."

While in Cambodia, Sath was given special liberty to travel to Phnom Penh, the nation's capital, and to Siem Reap to stay with family. "I couldn't help it - when we saw each other we all started crying. My family members were so happy that I had come to visit them."

For Yous, the exercise presented an opportunity to embark a royal Cambodian navy patrol craft for the first dedicated at-sea naval exercise between Cambodia and the U.S. Navy in nearly 40 years.

Though he didn't get to visit relatives on this trip, Suom said the experience was unforgettable. "I was excited to come here, even though I just stayed in the Sihanoukville area," he said. "I was excited and humbled to come here."

Approximately 400 U.S. Sailors are participating in CARAT Cambodia 2011. Two U.S. ships, Kidd and the dive and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50), are participating.

CARAT is a series of annual, bilateral maritime exercises between the U.S. Navy and the Armed Forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Australian Military Visits NECC Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven C. Hoskins, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (NNS) -- Twenty-eight members of the Australian navy, army, and air force visited Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) Oct. 24.

Australian Forces met with Sailors from the expeditionary community to see how they operate and to learn about NECC capabilities.

"We wanted to visit NECC as part of our Australian Command and Staff course," said Australian navy Lt. Cmdr. Glen Price. "Australia is looking to add expeditionary forces in the future so being able to see NECC capabilities will give us a bigger picture and aid us in working better as coalition forces."

The tour included hands-on displays of NECC forces along with demonstrations of explosive ordnance disposal robots, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), dive equipment and riverine boats.

"It's amazing to see all the capabilities that NECC has and all the different parts that go together successfully," said Australian navy Cmdr. Rebecca Jeffcoat.

Australian forces plan to take what they learned back to their operating commands.

"One of the biggest gaps in our forces that NECC has is riverine forces," said Jeffcoat. "I plan to make the riverine capabilities one of my topics in my report along with the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). I think those items could be used in [the] Australian navy."

NECC serves as the single functional command for the Navy's expeditionary forces and as central management for the readiness, resources, manning, training and equipping of those forces. NECC forces include riverines; naval construction; explosive ordnance disposal; maritime expeditionary Security; Expeditionary intelligence; expeditionary Logistics; maritime civil affairs; security force assistance; expeditionary combat readiness and expeditionary training.

"Australian forces here today are very appreciative of the hospitality that NECC has shown our forces," said Jeffcoat. "We look forward to visits like this in future."

World War II Veteran to Perform Time Honored Commissioning Role

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By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- A World War II veteran who served aboard the submarine USS Batfish (SS 310) will pass the "long glass," a tradition to signify the start of the first watch, during the commissioning ceremony aboard the Virginia-class submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit California (SSN 781) Oct. 29.

Dr. Joseph Cox, former national president of the U.S. Submarine Veterans Organization will be passing the "long glass" to Pre-Commissioning Unit California's first officer of the deck.

Cox will pass the long glass to Lt. j.g. Kyle Jones, from Knob Noster, Mo.

"Dr. Cox has been very active from day one as it relates to the commissioning of PCU California," said Bill Huesmann, director of the commissioning support team.

Huesmann is coordinating the Virginia-class submarine's commissioning and working with Cmdr. Dana Nelson, California's commanding officer, on the best person to perform this pivotal role.

"On the captain's behalf, I asked Dr. Cox if he would be willing to perform this time honored tradition during the ceremony," said Huesmann.

Some would say Cox has lived a storied life full of highs and lows from living through the Great Depression, to enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II at the age of 18 to earning both a master's and doctoral degree in education.

"I'm very excited about it and to be a part of the commissioning," said Cox.

When asked what advice the sage veteran has for the crew of the newest Virginia-class submarine, Cox replied, "Try to do the job the best you can, and you will succeed."

The 86-year old World War II veteran will arrive in Norfolk Oct. 28 to participate in the pre-commissioning activities.

Cox has resided in California since 1935 when his parents moved there from Booneville, Ark. during the Great Depression.

California will be commissioned Oct. 29 at Naval Station Norfolk. The ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m., will be streamed live on

Once California is commissioned it will become the seventh U.S. Navy ship - and the first submarine - to bear the name of the great state of California.

Wisconsin National Guard unit trains for Kosovo mission

By Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten
Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs

EDINBURGH, Ind. - Spc. Michelle J. Weissinger squinted her eyes as wind and cold rain pelted her face. The weather is typical of Indiana in late fall and early winter - but more than that, it is typical of where she is training to deploy to Kosovo, right down to the hilly and wooded terrain.

Weissinger, a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, is at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center training to deploy with Multinational Battle Group East Kosovo Force 15 this month. The approximately 150 members of the 157th MEB were notified March 6 of a potential deployment, and sendoff ceremonies were held Sept. 16 and 24.

While in Kosovo, the 157th MEB will serve as the brigade headquarters for Multi-National Battle Group East, referred to as Task Force Falcon. They will command foreign military units from Poland, Turkey, Greece, Armenia, Ukraine and Romania, as well as more than 700 U.S. Soldiers from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Georgia, Mississippi, North Dakota and Wyoming.

"It's a three-pronged mission," said Col. Jeffrey J. Liethen, an Onalaska, Wis., native and KFOR 15 commander. "We monitor the pulse of the populace, so to speak, keeping track of the feelings and opinions of the people. We also act as third responders to demonstrations and riots, and maintain freedom of movement for other KFOR forces."

According to Sgt. Angie J. Gross - a Bismarck, N.D., native and human resources specialist with the aviation element of KFOR 15 - one of the biggest benefits of coming to train together at Camp Atterbury is that everyone has learned how to work as one team.

"When we all first got here, everyone had their own little cliques. We are all from different places and even different states altogether," Gross said. "Now, you see the entire KFOR coming together. You see little things, like how many people sit together at chow time. We are really all coming together."

Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center is the only mobilization site in the United States for American forces training for missions in Kosovo. Besides the installation's historical expertise as a world-class training site, the weather and the terrain are all very similar to what Soldiers will encounter in Kosovo. "The support we have received here from the installation cadre has been excellent," Liethen said. "I would encourage other units to train here."

KFOR 15 will continue to train at Atterbury until they are ready to leave for Kosovo. Weissinger said, however, that she feels she is ready to go today.

"Our National Guard Soldiers have been trained on crowd and riot control, reacting to improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordinance, and law and order." Liethen said. "Our aviation task force has been practicing troop movements and sling loads, and the aviation and medical facilities here at Atterbury closely resemble what we will have in Kosovo."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Demand Grows for Squad-level Linguist Program

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 26, 2011 – Last year, 74 soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky., became the first to participate in a new program that provides short-term, intensive language and cultural training to deploying military members.

The general purpose force program wasn’t designed for professional linguists or interpreters, explained Sam Garzaniti, who manages it at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center here.

Rather, the program provides basic Dari or Pashto instruction, taught by native Afghan speakers, to help nonlinguists -- military police, medics, truck drivers and infantrymen, among them, -- operate more effectively on the ground in Afghanistan.

Retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal came up with the concept when he commanded the International Security Assistance Force to create what deployed forces refer to as “squad-designated linguists” able to communicate with the Afghan people. Graduates of the program proved so beneficial to their deployed units that it’s now growing by leaps and bounds.

Fort Carson, Colo., one of three pilot sites when the program stood up last year, soon sent almost 300 soldiers to a condensed version of the training before they deployed. The vast majority studied Dari, with the other 49 soldiers learning Pashto. Fort Drum, N.Y., also in the pilot program, sent 55 10th Mountain Division soldiers to its initial general purpose force training.

“After that, it has just been a steady flow of classes,” Garzaniti said. Schofield Barracks in Hawaii signed on to the program in September 2010. Fort Bragg, N.C., followed earlier this year.

The Marines jumped on board, too, with Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif., joining the program last fall.

To date, about 1,000 service members have completed the program, Garzaniti said. He expects more enrollment in the program as word about it spreads.

Classes typically run 13 to 16 weeks, with students spending as much as six hours a day in the classroom, in addition to practice sessions and mandatory study halls.

Unlike other Defense Language Institute programs, the general purpose force curriculum focuses on listening and speaking skills, Garzaniti said. Students learn vocabulary and verb tenses and how to construct sentences. Then they practice using them in various scenarios similar to what they might encounter in Afghanistan.

“It’s a very-focused program,” Garzaniti said. “We’re not going for global proficiency. We are going for tactical functionality.”

Graduates aren’t meant to take the place of professional linguists and interpreters, he said. For example, they typically aren’t able to discuss the news with local Afghans. They can, however, ask for directions or share pleasantries over tea or during key leader engagements.

They also have the skills to ask questions and understand responses at roadblocks and read street signs and even graffiti on walls that may provide clues about insurgent activities.

“That makes them a force multiplier,” Garzaniti said. “When they go out and do their operations, whatever they may be, having somebody there in the front able to at least greet [the Afghans] and lay groundwork for something makes a huge difference. They are somebody to help.”

Returning units report that even limited language and cultural skills have helped them in their mission. “We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from people who have been in country saying, ‘Hey, this works absolutely great,’” Garzaniti said. “They tell you that you speak two words and you see a face light up.”

A professional linguist himself who retired from the Army last year, Garzaniti said he has seen firsthand the impact language ability had on the Afghans we encountered.

“They know you took the time to learn at least a few words, a phrase, two phrases,” he said. “It makes all the difference in the world.”

More units are signing up as the message spreads about general purpose force training availability, Garzaniti said.

“I definitely don’t see any slowdown in business,” he said. “As more commanders hear the good stories from our brigades and battalions and companies that have used these people [during deployments], we see them starting to put their hands up and asking, ‘What about me?’”

USS Wasp Concludes JSF Testing

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Tommy Lamkin, USS Wasp Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) returned to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk Oct. 21 after spending three weeks at sea hosting the initial sea trials of the F-35B Lightning II, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The first F-35B landed on Wasp's flight deck Oct. 3, beginning an 18-day test period for the aircraft. During the testing, two F-35B Marine Corps test jets (BF-2 and BF-4) accomplished vertical landings and short take-offs under various conditions.

While underway, the world's first supersonic short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) fighter logged more than 28 hours of flight time and completed 72 short take-offs and 72 vertical landings. Wasp crew members worked around the clock with pilots, engineers, mechanics and a wide-array of aeronautical professionals, both military and civilian to meet the mission of the F-35B sea trials.

"Wasp Air Department personnel and the JSF team started working together from day one," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Curcio, Wasp's assistant air officer and JSF program officer. "Starting initially with the leadership interacting to set the vision for the ship trials, we worked a top-down approach to gradually bring in more people from each respective team.

"This ensured that, from planning to execution, every detail was tended to and no stone was left unturned. Ultimately, this group was well ahead of the power curve at every juncture," he said.

The Wasp and the JSF team have prepared for these sea trials for more than a year. The ship, which typically accommodates the AV-8B Harrier, had to receive modifications and installation of test monitoring equipment in preparation for the F-35B's arrival.

"We used Harrier operations as a baseline from which to deviate. Working with the JSF team, we identified the operational differences between the AV-8B and the F-35B, and we trained to those differences." said Curcio.

The trials are the first of three scheduled sea based developmental test events for the STOVL variant. One of the goals was to collect environmental data on the deck using instrumentation to measure the F-35B's sound, power, and thermal impact during flight operations.

Ansis Kalnajs, better known as "AK," a topside design and integration technical warrant for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), and his team of 31 engineers, collected data to capture the effects of the F-35 on flight deck and superstructure components.

"We have been collecting data on how the main engine affects deck edge equipment," said Kalnajs, "as well as thermal load stresses to the structure and the acoustic effects."

"We got a sufficient amount of data and really good assessments for the road ahead," he said.

Also being tested is a newer non-skid deck surface, Thermion, which is supported by a mechanical bond of ceramic and aluminum that makes the surface more resistant to extreme heat and better endures the wear and tear of flight operations. The Thermion covers landing spot nine on the flight deck, a small area used for vertical landings.

"The Thermion shows no signs of heat stress, which is good for the F-35, and eventually good for all surface ships," said Kalnajs.

During the testing period the Wasp and JSF team demonstrated the F-35B's at-sea capabilities for the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus; Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos; senior military officers; and JSF international partners as well as members of the national media.

The testing for the F-35 and its sea-based operations will continue over the next several years.

"It is imperative that we build off that basic knowledge for the next sea trials," said Curcio.

The next sea trial, DT-2 is scheduled for 2013 after Wasp receives additional modifications for F-35B operations.

The F-35B is one of three Joint Strike Fighter variants. The 'B' was designed for use by the U.S. Marine Corps, and is capable of short take-offs and vertical landings for use on amphibious ships or expeditionary airfields to provide air power to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The F-35B will replace the AV- 8B Harrier and will continue test and evaluation at Naval Air Station Patuxent River prior to delivery to the fleet.