Military News

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gunston Hall Departs Mayport for Amphibious-Southern Partnership Station 2011

From Southern Partnership Station 2011 Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Dock Landing Ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), along with an embarked U.S. Marine Corps Theater Security Cooperation Task Force (SCTF) and a U.S. Navy staff element from Destroyer Squadron 40, departed Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Jan. 16.

The ship will begin a two-month deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) in support of Amphibious-Southern Partnership Station (A-SPS) 2011.

Southern Partner Station is an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

Commander, Destroyer Squadron Four Zero, Capt. Brian Nickerson, will serve as the mission commander for A-SPS 11 while the Sailors and Marines conduct subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) with partner nations in the region. During the deployment, Gunston Hall will visit Belize, Columbia, Guatemala and Jamaica.

"This is a great opportunity to exchange information and build cooperative partnerships," said Capt. John Meier, USS Gunston Hall commanding officer. "Although we're a fighting force, we're also a force for goodwill."

Led by Lt. Col. Paul Baker, TSCTF is made up of elements from Marine Wing Support Squadron 271, Second Tank Battalion, Second Assault Amphibian Battalion and Second Marine Expeditionary Force. The Marines will conduct SMEEs, which allow for joint operations between partner nations, including live fire exercises, search and rescue, martial arts, land navigation and combat marksmanship, in order to develop regional, civil and maritime services' capabilities to respond to a variety of maritime missions while exercising lines of communication between regional security services.

Gunston Hall is also prepared to provide "first-responder" capabilities in the event of any disaster relief response while deployed to the region.

In addition, Gunston Hall will be transporting 89 Project Handclasp pallets, as well as gifts donated by various non-governmental organizations including Loving Hugs, Inc., Give a Kid a Backpack and Samaritan's Feet.

"These gifts will be given out to children as they come in contact with Marines and Sailors," said Cmdr. Lewis Preddy, Commander, U.S. Fourth Fleet Project Handclasp coordinator.

"This (mission) is something that I am really looking forward to, and it will be very rewarding," said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Johan Sanchez, a Gunston Hall supply petty officer who was born and raised in Colombia. "I am happy to be going back to Colombia, my home country, and giving these things to the people and children who need them."

Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nations.

"This is a great thing that we don't always get to do; it gives Marines a chance to help shape the kids of these countries," said Lt. Col. Paul Baker, TSCTF commander. "Maybe 20 years from now those children will look back and remember this."

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) is the naval component command for USSOUTHCOM and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the AOR. COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. maritime strategy, including security cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

For more information, visit www.public.navy.mil/comusnavso-c4f, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SoutherPartnershipStation, or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

Congressional Delegation Tours USS Cleveland

By Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman William T. Harcourt, USS Cleveland Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A congressional delegation led by Rep. Mark S. Critz (D-Pa.) paid a visit to the amphibious transport landing dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD-7) Jan. 13.

The purpose of the trip was to experience, first-hand, aspects of the U.S. Naval and Marine Corps forces and to expand his knowledge of the U.S. Marine Corps and Naval amphibious operations, programs, personnel and readiness issues.

To gain a better understanding of the Operational Maneuver From The Sea (OMFTS) concept, Critz and his delegation took a full tour of Cleveland's operational spaces, led by USS Cleveland Commanding Officer Capt. S. Robert Roth. The delegation was able to get a first-hand look at the ship's well-deck, flight deck, bridge, medical spaces, and Combat Information Center.

Critz also had the opportunity to dine with a few of his constituents, members of the ship's crew from Pennsylvania.

"It was truly an honor," said Cryptologic Technician Technical 2nd Class Joshua Ritter, one of the three Sailors who had lunch with the congressman. "…to have [him] take time out of his schedule to show us on the front line that people really do appreciate our sacrifices and efforts."

For more news from Naval Surface Forces, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnsp/.

USS Halsey Sailor Missing at Sea

From U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

GULF OF OMAN (NNS) -- U.S. and British units are searching for a Sailor from USS Halsey (DDG 97) who went missing while the ship was conducting operations in the Gulf of Oman Jan. 18.

The Sailor did not report to watch and after a search of the ship, man overboard was called away.

Helicopters from Halsey, USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7), and the Royal Navy's HMS Cumberland (F85) are currently conducting search and rescue operations to find the missing Sailor. F/A-18 Hornets from the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and a P-3 maritime patrol aircraft have also been involved in the search.

The Sailor's name is being withheld while the search is ongoing.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.

Charities Provide Relief to Bethesda's Wounded, Families

By Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- The National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) treated more than 500 combat-injured service members, each accompanied by an average of three family members, in 2010.

As many of the family members leave their jobs to be with their wounded service member, NNMC staff works with several charitable groups to ensure the needs of the families, as well as the wounded, ill and injured are met.

The charitable groups provide a variety of goods and services, ranging from clothing, plane tickets, medical assistance and financial grants.

"These families aren't prepared, and when they find out [their loved one has been injured], they drop everything immediately, some of these families are here for months, and that's just here, then they could move on to another facility and be there for months," said Dawn Van Skike, of the Semper Fi Fund. "The wounded, ill and injured are more motivated if their family members are here. Our organization helps with that."

The Semper Fi Fund is just one of the many organizations helping to provide relief for troops and their family members.

"If there's a need, it's immediately addressed and handled. Our goal is to help with that need," said Van Skike. Be it medical or non-medical assistance, "Our goal is to meet and get to know all the families and let them know we're here for them."

The Semper Fi Fund provides relief to service members, including transportation assistance, home grants, adaptive housing support, education and career transition assistance. Since its establishment in 2004, the 501-1 (c) (3) organization has given out more than 24,000 grants, totaling more than $44 million.

The Inpatient Warrior and Family Liaison Office (IWFLO) works with a number of organizations throughout the year to ensure needs are met, said Chief Brian O'Keefe, IWFLO officer. Some of the organizations O'Keefe works with include the Aleethia Foundation, the Wounded Warrior Project, Armed Forces Foundation, Soldier's Angels, United Services Organization, the Fisher House, the Oakleaf Club of Greater Washington, D.C., and many others.

"I think we've done just about everything we could come up with, from boarding pets to helping families from losing their homes. The only problem we can't solve is the one that we don't know about," said O'Keefe.

Navy Safe Harbor also works with benevolent organizations to ensure resources are provided to patients and their loved ones. Since its establishment in 2005, the Navy-run program provides one to two non-medical care managers at all the major medical treatment facilities throughout the country, providing non-medical care management.

"We're going to be with you from the time you enter those doors, throughout the time you're in the Navy," said Cmdr. Shauna Hamilton, non-medical care manager for Navy Safe Harbor. "They'll be getting a phone call, letting them know that everything is taken care of so all they need to do is focus on taking care of their loved one, and we'll make that as easy as possible."

Benevolent organizations, and those that assist with coordination of their efforts, work quickly and efficiently, said Hamilton. Additionally, the Wounded Warrior Battalion East — Bethesda Detachment also works with benevolent organizations, providing for the wounded, ill and injured Marines at the hospital, said Lt. Col. Michael Wall, detachment officer-in-charge.

"[Charitable groups] do an awesome job helping the wounded, ill and injured warriors and their family members," said Wall. "They help the family members whether they're [organizing] a dinner, assisting them in shipping [belongings] back to their home address...We're very grateful for the support and everything they do."

Marine Corps Liaison Office (MCLO) Events/Charitable Organizations Coordinator Sgt. Joe Bradley added that all groups are afforded an opportunity to assist. The MCLO also works with numerous community organizations to coordinate events for the Wounded Warriors.

"We want to be able to maximize the benefits for the Marines," said Bradley.

"We really do grow a relationship with these families," said Van Skike. "We've become such a part of their family in the time of crisis...you bond."

Semper Fi Fund is also one of the many organizations that follow up with families to check on their well-being, as the wounded, ill and injured return home to face a new set of challenges.

Robin Dawes, whose husband, a Marine, was injured in Afghanistan in 2007, said she feels the hospital staff and members of these charitable organizations have become like family. After her husband, Gary, was injured, they spent about a month in the Intensive Care Unit at NNMC.

"It was a very emotional experience," said Dawes. "We continuously had to go back for surgeries...we're still coming here."

The IWFLO has been one of her main points of contact, said Dawes.

"They always make sure we have a place to stay, and everything we need," she added.

Like many families with an injured loved one, bills at home can seem out of hand.

Dawes said the Navy Relief Society stepped in to lend her family a hand.

"We have people who come to us simply to see how we are doing," said Dawes. "When you've been doing this for three and a half years, it's nice to know who's there and who you can count on and that you won't be forgotten. The last thing you want to worry about is financial [issues]. You have to concentrate on getting your significant other better."

All organizations, including federally-approved and private organizations, have an opportunity to donate their goods and services to the wounded, ill and injured and their family members. We are looking forward to expanding our relationship with benevolent organizations as we merge with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to create a world class medical treatment facility for beneficiaries and their families. For more details, contact the IWFLO at 301-319-6805.

For more news from National Naval Medical Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnmc/.

Frank Cable Takes Virginia-Class Submarine Alongside

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gabrielle Blake, USS Frank Cable (AS 40) Public Affairs

POLARIS POINT, Guam (NNS) -- For the first time ever, the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) moored outboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) Dec. 28 in Guam.

"The Virginia class is the nation's newest fast attack submarine," said Cmdr. Michael Dufek, repair officer aboard Frank Cable.

Hawaii is the first Virginia-class attack submarine to deploy to the Western Pacific and the first in Navy's history to be moored alongside a submarine tender.

Cmdr. Bruce Deshotel, Frank Cable's executive officer, said this accomplishment is a first for Frank Cable, the Navy and the Virginia-class program office.

"Being able to moor this new class of ships alongside is critical for the Cable to be able to provide necessary support to this class of ship under any and all conditions in Guam or any foreign port in the Western Pacific," said Deshotel.

In preparation for the new class of submarines, Frank Cable conducted a thorough review of new maintenance items associated with this ship class and also validated parts allowances and special tooling needs for the class of ships.

Dufek said Frank Cable, Hawaii and the Naval Sea Systems Command came together to arrange a configuration that would allow safe mooring without risk of injury or damage to the submarine, as well as the tender.

"We were able to complete that evolution safely and provide her the support she needed so she could get back to her mission," said Dufek.

Capt. Thomas Stanley, Frank Cable's commanding officer, said in order to accomplish the tender's mission and support the mission of the submarine force, Frank Cable needs to have the capability to tend and moor every type of submarine in the U.S. Navy.

Frank Cable conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

For more news from USS Frank Cable (AS 40), visit www.navy.mil/local/as40/.

Search + Rescue = Math

Posted by: LT Connie Braesch

Just how does the Coast Guard find a person in the vast ocean with not much more to go on than a radio mayday call? It takes training, experience and… math.

Recently, search and rescue coordinators in the 17th Coast Guard District ventured out of the radio room and into a sixth-grade class to show students the importance of math when conducting search and rescue.

Between calculating drift, developing search patterns and predicting time on scene, Lt. j.g. Crystal Hudak and Operations Specialist 1st Class Sean Terry know first-hand how much math is involved in SAR planning. They talked to students at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School in Juneau, Alaska, about how calculations and probability are used in almost every aspect of rescuing a person in distress.

Terry used the example of a vessel that is taking on water. He explained to the class how he first estimates the gallons-per-minute the vessel is flooding and then determines how much the boat can handle before it sinks. He then calculates how much time it will take Coast Guard vessels, airplanes or helicopters to arrive on scene to assist the mariners. These two calculations help him predict whether the rescuers will be looking for the boat or people in the water.

“Demonstrating the importance of math and how to apply it to real life can inspire students to appreciate the subject more,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mia Dutcher, 17th District Command Center Chief. “This holds especially true when it can directly lead to saving a person’s life.”

Congressional Commission Studies Women in Combat

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2011 – The Defense Department will review the recommendations of a congressional commission studying the role of women in combat when the group’s report is complete, a DOD official said today.

Congress established the Military Leadership Diversity Commission as part of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act. The commission’s task is to evaluate and assess policies that provide opportunities for promotion and advancement of minority members of the armed forces.

The commission’s report, expected in March, will include the findings and conclusions of the commission as well as its recommendations for improving diversity within the armed forces.

“DOD will look at the recommendation and go from there,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said. “We’ll see what the nature of the report is when it’s done.”

Congress repealed the combat exclusion laws in the January 1994 National Defense Authorization Act, but requires the services to submit proposed changes to existing assignment policy to Congress for review, Lapan said.

“For example, when the Navy recently changed its policy to enable women to serve on submarines, that would go through that process,” he said. “So the Navy would have to inform Congress it was going to make a change.”

The Marine Corps also triggered congressional review when it opened some intelligence positions to women, Lapan said, but female Marines serving on engagement teams in Afghanistan are in line with department policy on women’s assignments.

Lapan said the U.S. military currently prohibits women from serving in combat units below the brigade level. The Marine women on engagement teams are not assigned to combat units, but are augmenting them for a specific mission, he said.

“Part of the reason to do that was because the infantry battalions that were out there didn’t have any women, because they couldn’t,” he explained.

Women make up 14.6 percent of the active duty military. By service, the percentage ranges from 7.5 percent in the Marine Corps to 19.2 percent in the Air Force, according to statistics compiled by the Women in Military Service for America Foundation.

Face of Defense: Soldier Earns Worldwide Competition Berth

By Army Pfc. Karina Paraoan
Alaska National Guard

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2011 – An Alaska National Guardsman will compete in the figure bodybuilding competition at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, March 3-5.

The festival, founded by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is billed as the nation’s largest multisport event and features competition in archery, boxing, amateur bodybuilding, cheerleading and dance, and other sports.

Army Staff Sgt. Diane Singh, an Alaska National Guard drug demand reduction noncommissioned officer, will compete in the amateur figure bodybuilding category. One way to qualify for the category is to be a nationally qualified bodybuilder, a qualification Singh met when she competed in the Emerald Cup amateur figure bodybuilding competition in Seattle on April 16.

“This competition is different [from] the others I have competed in, because everything I have done up to this point is going to culminate in this show,” Singh said. “Every show I have done so far has been a stepping stone and learning experience. For me to say that I’m competing in the Arnold is a dream come true.”

Along with a strenuous workout schedule, Singh said, her diet plan is a challenge. For the next few weeks, Singh is limited to eating only grilled chicken, fish or turkey with green vegetables, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Another key to staying healthy with her workout plan, she added, is to drink a lot of water.

“I have always been impressed with Staff Sergeant Singh’s enthusiasm before, during and after her competitions,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Theulen, also an Alaska National Guard drug demand reduction NCO. “Even if she wins fifth place, her smile never disappears and she only has positive things to say about the experience.”

Singh has represented the Alaska National Guard for the past two years in various bodybuilding competitions in and out of state, including two nationwide events.

“Ever since I started competing, I’ve had so many soldiers ask me questions,” Singh said. “They’ve asked me questions about bodybuilding and what to eat. I’m always happy to help Guardsmen out, and I love sharing that information with them.”

Singh said she’ll continue to compete after the Arnold event, and plans to take part in the Alaska National Physique Committee State Championships on April 30.

“She has been a role model to the women in our office, as she is always sharing fitness regimens and techniques,” Theulen said.

Gates Consults With South Korea on North’s Provocations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 14, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited South Korean leaders here today to demonstrate American solidarity against North Korean provocations.

North Korea sank the South Korean ship Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors. In November, North Korea shelled the South Korean island of Yeongpeong, killing two civilians and two South Korean marines.

“We are all concerned about the tense situation on the peninsula caused by North Korea's continued belligerence and repeated provocations over the past few months," Gates said at the beginning of a meeting with Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin.

During the meeting, Gates and Kim discussed South Korean-U.S. military coordination and consultations to deter future provocations.

Gates said diplomatic engagement is possible, starting with direct engagement between North Korea and South Korea, but only if “North Korea's actions show cause to believe that negotiations can be productive and conducted in good faith.”

Following the meeting with Kim, Gates traveled to the Blue House and met with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. He spoke to both Kim and Lee about his meetings with Chinese and Japanese leaders.

Earlier in the week, Gates said a moratorium on nuclear research and testing and a moratorium on building intercontinental ballistic missiles would be examples of concrete steps North Korea could take. Only with these concrete steps, he added, could the Six-Party Talks -- with the United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea -- resume.

“But the [North Korean] leadership must stop these dangerous provocations and take concrete steps to show that they will begin meeting international obligations," Gates said.

The Six-Party Talks began in 2003 after North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In response to a United Nations Security Council presidential statement in April 2009 condemning a failed satellite launch, North Korea pulled out of the talks and announced it would resume its nuclear enrichment program.

Alaska crews deploy to safeguard fishing fleet

Posted by: LTJG Stephanie Young

As harsh winter weather causes Alaskans to pack up their boats until spring, the Alaskan crab and groundfish fleets brave fierce storms and icy temperatures in search of the big catch. As the fishing fleet gets underway, they can take comfort in the knowledge that Coast Guard search and rescue teams will be protecting them every step of the way.

Two rescue helicopters from Air Station Kodiak have been forward deployed to remote St. Paul Island, one of four volcanic islands located in the Bering Sea between the United States and Russia. With aircrews standing by on this 40-square-mile island, more than 270 miles from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, they are able to greatly reduce the response distance to a possible emergency during the winter fishing season.

“Winter in the Bering Sea is a combination of the harshest weather and most activity,” said Capt. Bark Lloyd, chief of response for the 17th Coast Guard District, “In the case of an emergency, critical response hours are significantly reduced by forward deploying aircraft to St. Paul.”

In addition to the aircrews, the fishing fleet will be protected by a Coast Guard cutter carrying a rescue helicopter of its own.

Forward deployment of these assets is the culmination of months of preparation by Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak and Unalaska. These marine safety detachments conducted safety training with the crab fleets as well as voluntary fishing vessel safety exams.

“The Coast Guard continues to vigorously stress the importance of exercising good maritime practices and compliance with safety standards,” said Capt. Adam Shaw, chief of prevention for the 17th Coast Guard District. “The dockside safety examination services offered to commercial fishing vessel owners and operators are especially relevant given our extreme maritime environment and geographic remoteness.”

Despite the best efforts of the Coast Guard, the cooperation of local partners and fishing fleet itself is critical to mission success. To strengthen vital safety and enforcement partnerships in Alaska, the Coast Guard hosts bi-weekly teleconferences with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers.

With crab pots safely stacked on deck and the fleet out in droves, Coast Guard crews standby ready to protect and look after Alaska’s fishing fleet.

Coast Guard update to the Surface Naval Association

Posted by: CDR Glynn Smith

Yesterday, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp provided a Coast Guard update to the 23rd annual symposium of the Surface Naval Association.

In his speech, Adm. Papp provided attendees a snapshot of the Coast Guard’s major cutter fleet and efforts to recapitalize these ships.  “We anticipate delivery of the first three [Fast Response Cutter] hulls by the end of calendar year 2011,” said Adm. Papp, adding, “The acquisition project to replace 12 high endurance cutters [with new National Security Cutters] is well underway.

While discussing his principle of Steady the Service, Adm. Papp said, “Rather than proposing additional change, I determined that our best course of action would be to complete these [modernization] initiatives, and seek to properly resource our new post 9-11 responsibilities.”  Adm. Papp went on to outline the other three of his four principles: Honor our Profession, Strengthen our Partnerships, and Respect our Shipmates.

This year’s Surface Navy Association symposium theme is, “Surface Naval Forces: Relevant Capabilities For A Challenging Future.”

Wisconsin Army Guard one of nation's top two Guard organizations

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Wisconsin Army National Guard is in the running to be named the overall winner in the Army National Guard category of the Army Communities of Excellence Awards competition.

Wisconsin and West Virginia are the two Army National Guard organizations vying for the top honor this year. The runner-up will receive the
Gold First Place
award. The Department of the Army is expected to announce the Army National Guard winner sometime in March.

According to Lt. Col. Robert Phillips, executive officer for the Army National Guard chief of staff, the initial selection process took place in late August 2010. The National Guard Bureau sent a site visit team to Wisconsin's Joint Force Headquarters Nov. 4-8, 2010, and the judging board rendered its decisions Nov. 15-17.

The ACOE Awards follow a 12-month evaluation in which Army, National Guard and Reserve installations are judged against Army priorities and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program criteria. Participants are not judged against each other. The assessment considers the overall quality of military environment, facilities and services.

"The most important benefits of the ACOE program are the eventual improvements made as a result of the annual feedback reports," Phillips said in a Jan. 11 e-mail.

Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, explained that the ACOE program provides Wisconsin Army Guard leadership with an understanding of the organization's direction. The ACOE system of processes allows for a critical examination of the organization, he added, which leads to a better organization overall by reinforcing the ability to assess and improve.

Phillips agreed.

"In the spirit of continuous performance and process improvement, we emphasize that everyone is a winner," he said. "By documenting individual organizational management practices, states use measureable performance results to continually and systematically improve their processes and customer focus."

This can be seen in recent top ACOE finishes for the Wisconsin Army National Guard. In 2010 Wisconsin received a
Silver Second Place
finish - sixth in the Army National Guard. The state earned a
Gold Third Place
award in 2009 (fourth overall), and a Silver
1st Place
award (fifth overall) in 2008.

MMA Brawlers Invade Navy, Air Force Bases on Guam

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

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Seven mixed martial arts (MMA) superstars interacted with service members, dependents and Department of Defense employees during autograph signings and interactive exhibitions on U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) and Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) Jan. 10-11.

Nate "Rock" Quarry, "Filthy" Tom Lawalor, Dustin Poirier, Joao Assis, Eben Kaneshiro, Kurt Shrout, and legendary coach Eddie Dahlen were on hand at the Navy Exchange and Single Sailor Sanctuary on NBG Jan 10 to take-on all visitors during a meet-and-greet session.

"I'm a huge MMA fan, and I was so excited to come out here and meet all of these great fighters," said Fire Control Technician 1st Class (SS) Donald Medlin, of Submarine Squadron 15. "It's awesome to know that they support the military and were willing to travel all the way to Guam to show it!"

After signing autographs, taking photos, and giving thanks to service members for all they do, the fighters were off to an interactive exhibition at the Charles King Fitness Center on NBG.

Hundreds of people showed up to watch the grapplers demonstrate the basics of MMA fighting. Several lucky amateurs were also able to receive one-on-one instruction from the professional martial artists.

"I've been on-island for eight months, and that was by far the most fun I've had," said Construction Mechanic 3rd Class (SCW) Justin Bennett, of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11. "It was great to learn techniques from the pros, and a real honor that they'd come all the way out here just to interact with us. I really had a blast."

After their visit to the naval base, the MMA specialists visited the Coral Reef Fitness Center on Andersen AFB to sign more autographs and host another interactive exhibition.

"The training was a really good overview; I liked the pace. It was nice and slow, which made it real easy for you to learn and commit it to memory, as opposed to seeing it done and trying to figure it out yourself," said Staff Sgt. Juan Pacheco, of 36th Civil Engineer Squadron. "They obviously know what they're doing and they broke the moves down to a simple level where people could learn them fairly easy."

Pacheco said he also felt that events like this help to lighten the mood and improve command climate.

"It's excellent for morale and it's something everyone can enjoy," he said.

Kaneshiro said that it was truly an honor to meet with service members and their families, and to have a positive effect on their morale.

"The military does so many things for us, that it's really hard to fathom the depths of their sacrifices," he said. "So if my two weeks of touring can do anything to brighten their day and let them know that we appreciate what they do for us, then it was totally worth it."

The MMA fighters will move on to Japan to continue their tour.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam/.

Carrier Air Wing One Conducts Carrier Qualifications Aboard Enterprise

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jared M. King, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At sea (NNS) -- Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW-1) continued to arrive and conduct carrier qualifications aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Jan. 15 as she heads east for her 21st deployment.

A total of 61 aircraft from eight squadrons based out of Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Wash., and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., comprise CVW-1, enabling the Enterprise Strike Group to carry out missions in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The mission of CVW-1 is to conduct carrier air warfare operations and assist in the planning, control, coordination and integration of eight air wing squadrons in support of combat operations. Following extensive training at their respective air stations, the aircrews and pilots embarked Enterprise in August to complete shipboard qualifications before deployment.

"CVW-1 returned from our last deployment in Dec. of 2007 and since then, we have upgraded our technology, trained to the most demanding scenarios and studied the enemy as they have evolved their tactics," said Capt. Kenneth Whitesell, commander, CVW-1. "There is no better prepared air wing to go into combat and support the coalition fighters on the ground."

Updated radar technology, called active electronic scanned array, in two of the air wing's F/A-18 Super Hornet squadrons is just one of the many technology upgrades made to air wing aircraft.

"Our nation has made huge investments in advanced technology in order to provide us with the most capable and lethal aircraft possible," said Cmdr. Jason Velivlis, executive officer of the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136. "The F/A-18E Super Hornet is a multi-role, strike-fighter aircraft, which can be configured for a wide variety of combat and combat support missions, including air-to-air, air-to-ground and most recently, aerial refueling."

CVW-1 has been in commission longer than any other Navy air wing. Since July 1, 1938, CVW-1 has served aboard 20 different aircraft carriers and has made more than 40 major deployments.

Velivlis said that teamwork, pride and professionalism are the keys that will help each squadron achieve its goals and successfully contribute to CVW-1's mission.

"Our most important goal is to arrive in the theater of operations prepared for combat and to be ready to provide critical close air support to friendly troops on the ground," said Velivlis. "VFA-136's long-term goal is to complete the deployment safely and effectively and bring the entire "Knighthawk" team back to Oceana for a happy reunion with our friends and family."

As the squadrons of CVW-1 fly on board the Enterprise's flight deck, they round out the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, providing the force with the ability to complete their mission.

Enterprise Strike Group consists of Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), the guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mason (DDG 87), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.

For news regarding Enterprise Strike Group's deployment, log onto www.navy.mil/local/cvn65 or visit the USS Enterprise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65>
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.