Military News

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

This Day in Naval History - March 01

From the Navy News Service

1942 - Patrol Wing (VP) 82 aircraft sinks German submarine, U-656. It is the Navy's first submarine kill of World War II.
1954 - The first of six detonations takes place during Operation Castle nuclear test.
1980 - USS Vulcan (AR 5) completes first six-month deployment with women as part of its crew.

A-SPS 11 Bids Farewell to Guatemala

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian S. Finney, A-SPS 11 Public Affairs

PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala (NNS) -- USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) departed Guatemala, Feb. 23, following ten days of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) with Guatemalan sailors and marines.

Throughout the week, Gunston Hall Sailors and Marines from the embarked SCTF participated in a variety of SMEEs. Areas of engagement included small boat maintenance, land navigation, live fire, and visit board search and seizure (VBSS).

"It's an honor for us as representatives of the United States Marine Corps to be here this week, to stand side by side with our Guatemalan partners exchanging techniques, tactics, and procedures" said the SCTF Commanding Officer of Troops Lt. Col. Paul D. Baker. "Guatemala's rich military history has enabled us to have a very eventful and rewarding engagement, one that we will remember for the rest of our lives."

A-SPS 11 Sailors and Marines also found time to participate in a local community relations project. More than 60 Sailors and Marines worked alongside parents, students and teachers to renovate and paint a school in the town of Livingston, near Puerto Barrios.

"This has been an exceptionally rewarding exchange with the Guatemalan armed forces, where we have formed bonds based on professional respect and personal friendship," said Capt. John Meier, A-SPS 11 mission commander. "This mission has also presented a unique opportunity to connect with the Guatemalan people as well, through a series of cultural exchanges and a community relations project that saw over 60 Sailors and Marines work side by side with the local community to paint a school house."

Gunston Hall and the embarked Marine Security Cooperation Task Force (SCTF) are deployed for Amphibious Southern Partnership Station 2011 (A-SPS 11). A-SPS 11 is intended to provide a sustained, visible presence in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility through combined and multilateral cooperative missions.

Guatemala is the second of four countries scheduled to host Gunston Hall and A-SPS 11, which also includes scheduled stops in Belize, Colombia and Jamaica.

A-SPS11's visit to Guatemala concluded with a day of sports, a field meet, barbecue and closing ceremony at the Santo Tomas Naval Basel.

A-SPS 11 is a United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)-directed operation implemented by Commander, United States Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), supported by United States Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH) and carried out by Commander, Destroyer Squadron Four Zero (CDS40), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and a Marine Corps Security Cooperation Task Force.

COMUSNAVSO is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility. COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. Maritime Strategy, including Theater Security Cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

Face of Defense: Teacher Seeks Officer’s Commission

By Jennifer Archdekin
Missouri National Guard

CALLAO, Mo., Feb. 28, 2011 – Jamie Matheney, the kindergarten teacher at Callao Elementary School here, is expanding her role as a public servant by becoming a commissioned officer in the Missouri Army National Guard.

The 34-year-old educator from Brookfield will attend officer candidate school to obtain her commission.

Matheney has taught for the past four years and possesses both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. About 300 people live in the small town of Callao where she teaches. In addition to the 70 student-school, there’s a post office and a couple of antique shops.

“In this area [the students] don’t have a lot of choices,” Matheney said. “I want them to know -- especially in kindergarten -- that you can do whatever [you want to do].”

Pam Halstead, a fellow teacher, said she had mixed emotions when Matheney shared her plans about joining the military.

“I’m selfish enough to want her to stay, but love her enough to wish her all the best,” Halstead said. “I know that in order to be a great leader, you have to be an exemplary servant. That is Jamie. She is loyal, patient, willing to get out of her comfort zone, kind, hardworking, unconventional, funny, and my kindred spirit.”

“All the teachers here have been very supportive,” Matheney said.

Matheney said she received a mixed response when she told her eight young students she was joining the National Guard. She said they did not fully understand what was going on.

“After I told the class, one of the students looked and me and said, ‘I licked an icicle,’” Matheney said. “I said, ‘Good. I’m so glad you did.’ In two weeks they will have forgotten about me.”

Some of the older students Matheney had taught in years past have a better understanding of what their former teacher is doing and asked more questions.

“I love my students, I do,” said Matheney. “When I told them I was leaving, I cried.”

Matheney believes she’ll return to her classroom as a different person after spending 21 weeks of training with the National Guard.

“I might be a little stricter,” Matheney said. “I’m very laid back and talk calm to them. I try to respect the kids no matter what, and expect them to respect me. That may be more intensified when I get back.”

The decision to join the military was not entered into lightly. Matheney knew her choice would affect a lot of people in different ways, not only at school, but at home as well. A driving force in her decision to become a Guard member was the opportunity to receive up to $50,000 in student loan repayments.

Matheney said her husband, Todd, is extremely supportive.

“He pretty much said, ‘If you want to do it -- do it,’” Matheney said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Brad Gladbach recruited Matheney. He said she is a stand-out soldier that the Missouri National Guard is fortunate to have.

Matheney’s impressive education “has already taught her how to be a leader,” Gladbach said. “Her experiences with the National Guard will only increase those leadership skills in her classroom and help her to be a strong leader to her soldiers.”

Gladbach said Matheney is the first soldier he has enlisted that will go straight into officer candidate school. He said most of his recruits are either right out of high school or attending college. Matheney’s education, he said, makes her unique.

Matheney and her husband live on a family farm and raise cattle with their 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter. Matheney received her master’s degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia and her bachelor’s degree from Graceland University in Trenton. She plans to continue teaching this fall.

USS Higgins Makes Port Call to Maldives

By Ensign Samantha J. Carnahan, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

MALDIVES (NNS) -- USS Higgins (DDG 76) arrived in the Maldives, Feb. 25, in support of the U.S. Navy's agreement to provide maritime domain awareness (MDA) to the Maldives Coast Guard.

The port visit will also give crew members the chance for cultural and professional exchanges with the people of the Maldives.

"Our port visit is just one small action that reflects our nation's continued commitment to the Western Pacific," said Cmdr. Rome Ruiz, USS Higgins commanding officer. "We view this port visit as another excellent opportunity to increase our friendship with the people of the Maldives."

While in the Maldives, Higgins Sailors will participate in a variety of activities including maritime security training, a joint physical training (PT) program with the Maldivian navy, a women's outreach seminar and a reception with tours for more than 100 distinguished guests.

Higgins Sailors will conduct a PT exercise with Maldives Naval Defense Force (MNDF) to familiarize MNDF with the U.S. Navy's fitness model. The exercise will include a warm-up and workout that incorporates the Navy operational fuel and fitness system which is the latest fitness exercise initiative implemented by the Navy. There will also be a discussion that includes aspects of the physical fitness assessment (PFA), how the Navy prepares for the PFA, and an open question and answer session.

Female Sailors will partake in a women's outreach program led by Lt. Megan Granger, USS Higgins weapons officer. There will be a tour, lunch, and then an open discussion about women in leadership roles.

For recreation, Higgins Sailors will have the opportunity to discover the Maldives by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) renting an island exclusively for the crew. The crew will be able to experience the local culture through the beach, food, and renting outdoor gear for snorkeling and diving.

This port visit represents an opportunity to promote peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region and is an outward demonstration of U.S commitment to the Maldives and fostering relationships throughout South Asia.

USS Higgins is assigned to the Carl Vinson Strike Group homeported in San Diego, and has been operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility since departing in January 2011.

Prior to the Maldives, the ship made a port visit to Phuket, Thailand, and participated in a passing exercise with the Royal Thai Navy.

The Carl Vinson Strike Group consists of the flagship USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, guided-missile cruisers USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and the embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1. Ships assigned to DESRON 1 include USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Rentz (FFG 46) and USS McClusky (FFG 41).

‘Meet My Helmet’…on Facebook!

Are you a service member or veteran who experienced an in-theater head trauma that could have been much worse without your helmet? Or are you an avid biker who wears a helmet almost daily to prevent head injury, in case of a collision?

Helmets have long protected warriors and athletes from skull fracture and have even saved lives. This month DCoE is recognizing those very helmets – and we want you to get involved!

During the month of March, you have the opportunity to participate in a month-long “Meet My Helmet” virtual event on Facebook. We’re encouraging people to share why their helmet is important; how their helmet protected them from larger injury; or perhaps even saved a life. Personal stories help people connect and rally around important issues.

Meet Robyn Mincher, a DCoE Communications officer who likes outdoor activities:

■“While I’ve never been in the military, I’m passionate about my efforts for DCoE to raise awareness of military psychological and brain injury issues, including prevention. Prevention is what I had on my mind when I recently went skiing at Timberline Resort in West Virginia, for a good reason, because while I like to go fast, controlling my skis isn’t my forte! My helmet protected me when I thought I was skilled enough to tackle the black diamond slopes…and skipped, tripped and tumbled the entire way down. I simply dusted off and headed back to the intermediate level, where I should have stayed put in the first place. Thank you helmet!”

Whether you’ve spent time on the battlefield, football field or ski slopes tell us your story at http://on.fb.me/meetmyhelmet. Don’t forget to upload a photo of you wearing your helmet or video, too!

USS Constitution Participates in Special Olympics Fundraiser

By Seaman Shannon Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs

HULL, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors participated in a fundraising event for the Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) at Nantasket Beach in Hull, Mass., Feb. 26.

Sailors, along with more than 1,000 other participants, dove into the freezing cold water of Nantasket beach as part of the 13th annual "Passion Plunge", a fundraiser to help provide year-round training and competition for athletes of SOMA.

"My experience has been invigorating, not just because of the freezing water but for the cause," said Constitution Fireman Margaret Hoss.

The Passion Plunge operates with participants raising money for the annual plunge, through the collection of donations from family, friends and co-workers. Sailors helped contribute to Passion Plunge's total fundraising efforts of more than $250,000.

"USS Constitution Sailors continually give back to the community year-round, and we hope to find additional volunteer opportunities in the future," said Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Shirley, USS Constitution executive officer. "It's a joy and privilege to see our Sailors 'plunge in' at an event such as this to assist the Special Olympics organization. Giving back to the community in such a direct manner is very beneficial to our mission and our Sailors."

SOMA aims to provide opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities in developing physical fitness, preparation for entry into school and community programs, and sharing in friendships of other Special Olympics athletes.

"This event was wonderful with a large turn-out," said Megan Hoffman, a volunteer director. "The support from police and military forces brings the local community together. In making the community stronger, we can achieve our goals to help others in need."

The event also took place at Revere Beach in Revere, Mass., the same day.

Constitution participates in more than 50 community relations projects annually, totaling more than 7,000 hours of community service in 2010. The ship is the recipient of the 2010 Commander, Navy Region Middle Atlantic Good Neighbor Flagship award for small shore commands and also received the 2009 and 2010 President's Volunteer Service Award.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. She is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year.

Flags lowered to half-staff in Wisconsin Wednesday for Army 1st Lt. Daren Hidalgo

Flags at Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities across the state will fly at half-staff Wednesday (March 2) in honor of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Daren Hidalgo of Waukesha, Wis., who lost his life while serving his country in Afghanistan. The Guard will render these honors in accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Scott Walker.

EXECUTIVE ORDER # 17 reads:

Relating to a Proclamation that the Flag of the United States and the Flag of the State of Wisconsin be Flown at Half-Staff as a Mark of Respect for First Lieutenant Daren M. Hidalgo of the United States Army Who Lost His Life While Serving His Country in Operation Enduring Freedom

WHEREAS, on February 20, 2011, First Lieutenant Daren M. Hidalgo, a member of 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany, United States Army, died while serving his country in Afghanistan; and

WHEREAS, First Lieutenant Daren M. Hidalgo provided faithful and honorable service to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the people of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the people of Wisconsin mourn the death of First Lieutenant Daren M. Hidalgo; and

WHEREAS, a memorial service will be held for First Lieutenant Daren M. Hidalgo on March 2, 2011;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, SCOTT WALKER, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me by Federal and State law, do hereby order that the flag of the United States and the flag of the State of Wisconsin shall be flown at half-staff at all buildings, grounds and military installations of the State of Wisconsin equipped with such flags beginning at sunrise on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, and ending at sundown on that date.

All Wisconsin state government facilities are covered by the governors order and a 2007 amendment to the U.S. Flag Code now requires all federal facilities in Wisconsin to comply. Other government agencies, businesses and private residences with flagpoles may also honor 1st Lt. Daren Hidalgo by lowering their U.S. and Wisconsin state flags to half-staff during the daylight hours on March 2.