Military News

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, April 15, 2011

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

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley and Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Kaye Whitley will participate in Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Award Meeting and Ceremony at 1 p.m. EDT as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2011 at the Pentagon Courtyard.  Media interested in attending should contact Cynthia Smith at 703-697-5135.

This Day in Naval History - April 14

From the Navy News Service

1898 - Commissioning of the first post-Civil War hospital ship, USS Solace.
1988 - USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) strikes an Iranian mine off Qatar.
1989 - The first Navy ship arrives on scene to assist in the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup.

Gates: America Must Balance Idealism, Realism

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MOUNT VERNON, Va., April 14, 2011 – Since the beginning of the republic, the United States has had to balance its idealistic impulses with realism, and that remains true today, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today.

Gates was the keynote speaker at the groundbreaking for the National Library for the Study of George Washington on the grounds of the Mount Vernon Estate.

Washington faced some of the same questions over the rise of revolutionary France that President Barack Obama faces with the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, Gates said. Washington became America’s first president in 1789, and he was confronted with the consequences of the French Revolution.

“The issue was whether to support the revolutionary government and its war against an alliance of European monarchies led by Great Britain,” Gates said. “To many, like Thomas Jefferson, the French Revolution, with its stated ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, seemed a natural successor to our own.”

But many disagreed, including Vice President John Adams. “They were appalled by the revolution’s excesses and feared the spread of violent French radicalism to our shores,” the secretary said.

Washington had to resolve the matter. “My best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom,” he wrote. But the upheaval in Europe had begun to disrupt the U.S. economy, and he understood the fragility of America’s position at the time. He “adopted a neutrality policy toward France and would go on to make a peace treaty with Great Britain – sparking massive protests and accusations of selling out the spirit of 1776,” Gates said.

“Washington was confronting a question, a dilemma, that has been persistent throughout our history: how should we incorporate America’s democratic ideals and aspirations into our relations with the rest of the world?” the secretary said. “What Washington’s experience shows is that, from our earliest days, America’s leaders have struggled with ‘realistic’ versus ‘idealistic’ approaches to the international challenges facing us.”

The most successful American leaders steadfastly encouraged the spread of liberty, democracy, and human rights, Gates said. “At the same time, however, they have fashioned policies blending different approaches with different emphasis in different places and at different times,” he added.

The United States has made human rights the centerpiece of its national strategy, even as it was doing business with some of the worst violators of human rights, the secretary noted. “We have worked with authoritarian governments to advance our own security interests, even while urging them to reform,” he said.

The world is witnessing an extraordinary story in the Middle East and North Africa, the secretary said.

“People across the region have come together to demand change, and in many cases, a more democratic, responsive government,” he said. “Yet many of the regimes affected have been longstanding, close allies of ours, ones we continue to work with as critical partners in the face of common security challenges like al-Qaida and Iran, even as we urge them to reform and respond to the needs of their people.”

A theme of American history is that the United States is compelled to defend its security and interests in ways that spread democratic values and institutions, Gates said.

“When we discuss openly our desire for democratic values to take hold across the globe, we are describing a world that may be many years or decades off,” the secretary said. “Though achievement of the ideal may be limited by time, space, resources or human nature, we must not allow ourselves to discard or disparage the ideal itself.”

America must speak about its values and ideals, Gates said.

“And when we look at the challenges facing contemporary fledgling democracies, or societies and governments facing pressures for change,” he added, “we would do well to be modestly mindful of the turbulence of our own early history and to remember our own long journey from a political system of, by, and for property-owning white men to an inclusive nation with an African-American president.”

Carter Outlines Military Acquisition Improvements

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2011 – The Defense Department has made much progress toward buying and fielding equipment smarter and faster, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisitions, technology and logistics told a congressional panel yesterday.

At a time when President Barack Obama and Congress look for ways to fix the nation’s finances, Ashton B. Carter outlined progress to the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

“I would point out that the answers to the nation’s budget woes do not exist primarily in the Department of Defense, and within DOD they also do not exist solely or even primarily in acquisition,” Carter said in a prepared statement.

The administration’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget includes $78 billion cut from the predicted rate of growth in DOD overhead. Of that, $4 billion comes from acquisitions, all of which resulted from restructuring the F-35 joint strike fighter program, Carter said.

Defense officials have made hard choices in canceling some weapons programs and restructuring others when the department was not getting a good return on investment, Carter said. The changes include:

-- Issuing a stop-work order on the F136 engine for the F-35, which was costing the department roughly $1 million per day and would require nearly $3 billion to bring to completion; and

-- Canceling the Marine Corps’ expeditionary fighting vehicle and reallocating funds to existing Marine ground combat requirements. The EFV consumed more than $3 billion, would cost another $12 billion to complete, and if continued over two decades, would expend more than half of the Corps’ procurement funds.

Carter said the department has demonstrated improved processes in the acquisition and management of several programs, including:

-- The KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, which he called a model of how a solicitation process should work when the contract was awarded in February;

- The next two advanced extremely high frequency satellites, designed to reduce costs and allow for future investments that will lower risks in technology; and

- The Navy’s replacement to Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, for which engineering tradeoffs have reduced average procurement costs by 16 percent.

Such improvements are being made by new Pentagon directives to oversee programs based on what they should cost, rather than accepting only what manufacturers say they will cost, and by demonstrating affordability throughout the process, Carter said.

Moving forward, Carter has directed the department to more aggressively manage the more than $200 billion it spends annually on services, which consumes just over half of all DOD contract dollars.

In other areas, the undersecretary asked the subcommittee to support Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ initiative to revitalize the acquisitions workforce by supporting his fiscal 2012 budget request for $734 million for new hires.

Gates’ plan to grow the acquisitions workforce by 10,000 workers is an exception to budget levels that freeze the remainder of department staff to fiscal 2010 levels, Carter said. The department has hired 4,200 people toward the 10,000 goal, he said.

Martha Stewart Honors Military Families

By Anna Hancock, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Public Affairs

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (NNS) -- First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and celebrity television show host Martha Stewart kicked off a national tour to generate support and awareness for Joining Forces aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 13.

Joining Forces is a national initiative focusing on supporting America's service members and their families. Obama noted how Camp Lejeune and the Jacksonville, N.C., community serve as a model for military support and positive community involvement to the rest of the nation, and was an obvious choice to launch their national campaign.

Later that afternoon, Stewart, an Emmy Award-winning television series host, joined Capt. Daniel Zinder, NHCL commanding officer, and Col. Daniel Lecce, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune commanding officer, in recognizing active duty NHCL staff for their work and commitment to serving their country and taking care of military families.

Stewart donated a southern magnolia tree and engraved plaque to the hospital. A production crew was present to film the dedication and tree planting along with a small crowd of NHCL staff, Family Readiness Group family members and hospital leadership.

The dedication ceremony began with Stewart introducing Zinder and Lecce to the crowd, and then gifting the tree to Zinder. Stewart said choosing NHCL to dedicate the tree to growing military families was most appropriate. She recognized that out of the approximate 100,000 babies born each year in the United States, about 2,000 babies are delivered at NHCL, placing NHCL among the hospitals with the highest birth rates in the country.

"I brought you a gift," said Stewart. "Since you're doing this massive restoration at the hospital, I thought you can use this grand Magnolia…in honor of Mother's Day and the babies born here at the Naval Hospital. You are familiar with Magnolia trees, aren't you?"

Full-grown, a magnolia tree can reach approximately 90 feet in height with large, dark green leaves and white fragrant flowers. Stewart's vision is for the babies born in 2011 to return to the Naval Hospital and visit the tree as it flourishes, to remind the children of Stewart's increasing gratitude to military children's many sacrifices for this country. She empathized with military children, who she noted often grow up with only one parent present while the other serves this country somewhere away from home.

Stewart began the tree planting demonstration with the help from the commanding officers and two active duty Navy NHCL staff members. The demonstration concluded with the presentation of an engraved plaque from Stewart to the Naval Hospital that states, "A gift to babies born at Camp Lejeune in 2011. April 13, 2011."

The commanding officers then presented Stewart with their respective command coins; thanking Stewart for her kind gesture.

"NHCL staff is a mix of active duty Sailors, civil service employees, contract personnel and Red Cross volunteers who carry out Navy Medicine's mission to provide quality care to all Sailors, Marines and their families no matter where they serve around the world, every day," said Zinder. "Our Sailors serve in positions from doctors and corpsman, to biomedical technicians and facilities maintenance, and we pride ourselves in our great Navy medicine support to the military community."

Stewart supported Zinder's comments and commended the efforts of the hospital staff in taking care of their own.

"I think the community is lucky to have the Naval Hospital here," explained Stewart. "The hospital is very valuable. I met some of the doctors and families and they were great. I hope that the children and families appreciate [the gift] for years to come."

Military Children Take Health and Wellness Tour

From Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Cabasos, Naval Base Coronado Public Affairs

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) -- More than 25 kindergarten students and parents participated in an educational program and tour at the Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Imperial Beach commissary, April 12, as part of Month of the Military Child.

This educational program was designed to help children and their parents focus on health and wellness, and enhance their knowledge on the importance and benefits of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables; enabling them to develop life-long healthy habits.

The event included games, a tour of the store's produce section, a dietician presentation and various competitions, such as hula hoop, jump roping and coloring contests.

According to Commissary Produce Manager, Jay Aguilera, in addition to the educational piece of the tour, the objective was to recognize military children for their strength of character in an enjoyable environment.

"This event was very important because we gave the children information to help them develop life-long, healthy eating habits," said Aguilera. "We also gave each child a fun, interactive tool they can use at home to track their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables."

"We see the rates of obesity increasing in the country and we know that lack of exercise and poor diet are the two major contributing factors," said the program's guest speaker Kathleen Heilpern, a Naval Medical Center San Diego health education program coordinator.

"We hope to have an impact on the children and their parents by helping them choose healthy foods and consume less sugar in the form of soda and concentrated fruit drinks; emphasizing an increase intake of dairy products and water for young developing bodies," added.

In 1986, Defense Secretary Caspar Weingberger designated April as Month of the Military Child. Each year the sacrifices made by children of parents who are serving our country are recognized and honored by every branch of service, around the world.

For more information about Month of the Military Child events in San Diego, contact Fleet and Family Readiness.

Firearms Safety Vital Aboard Navy Ships

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Koons

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors received a refresher course on the basics of gun handling during a firearms safety training session aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) April 7.

"There are four rules that you must observe at all times when you have a firearm in your possession," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW/AW) Reginald Allen, the lead instructor for the session. "The first is to treat every weapon as if it were loaded; the second is to never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot at; the third is to keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire; and the fourth, is to make sure your weapon is on safe until you are ready to fire."

For Allen, the training session also offered a chance to remind Sailors of the basics of checking out and returning guns to the ship's armory, a process that is just as important as standing the watches themselves.

"When checking out a 9 mm handgun, you must ensure that you have 15 rounds in your magazine," said Allen. "If you come back to the armory with only 14 rounds, they'll think you lost one of them. When checking out an M-16, you need to make sure your magazine is firmly inserted. If it's not, it could fall in the water if you are standing watch on the flight deck."

While standing watches, Sailors must be vigilant about keeping their weapons in the proper, non-firing condition, said Allen.

"A shotgun can easily go into Condition One (ready to fire) if you push its slide with your elbow," he said. "A small mistake like this can lead to tragedy."

Allen also reminded watch standers that before assuming control of a weapon, they must be in the proper state of mind.

"If you are tired right before you go on watch, you need to let your section leader know, because he can switch you out with someone else if necessary," Allen said.

The major goal of the training was teaching Sailors the importance of standing their armed watches in a proper manner, said Allen.

"Weapons are not toys; they don't kill people, those who fire them do," he said. "Whenever you are handling a gun, pay close attention to what you are doing because you don't want it to be on your conscience that you hurt or killed someone."

For Sailors working in Wasp's armory, ensuring proper gun-handling procedures during weapons check-out and return is paramount and a never-ending job.

"We tell them not to do anything until we instruct them to do so," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Aaron Anderson. "If they try to skip ahead, we stop them."

Having watch standers follow exact instructions could mean the difference between life and death.

"The worst thing that could happen would be a negligent discharge," said Anderson. "If a gun is not placed in the clearing barrel and it goes off, someone could get killed."

Because of this risk, the armory is very stringent on the safety measures it has laid down, said Anderson.

"For the safety of everyone involved, only one person can be down here at a time loading or unloading their weapon," he said.

Many Wasp armed watchstanders describ their job as one that requires the utmost attention to detail.

"You need to know the different weapons conditions, when it is all right for you to use your weapon, and how you should use it," said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class (SW/AW) Brandon Staples. "If you know all of these things, you should be able to do your job correctly."

'Helping Babies Breathe' Training Aboard Comfort

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson, Continuing Promise 2011 Public Affairs

KINGSTON, Jamaica (NNS) -- Medical personnel aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) participated in "Helping Babies Breath" training sessions, April 13, in preparation for humanitarian assistance in the Caribbean, Central and South America as part of Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11).

The practitioners learned how to tell the difference between healthy babies and those who require assistance after birth, as well as how to provide life saving care if needed.

"The purpose of the training is to reduce unnecessary neo-natal deaths worldwide," said Dr. Tom DiDonne, master instructor and American Academy of Pediatrics volunteer.

The students will use their new training to teach skilled birthing attendants, who are typically not doctors or nurses, how to properly assist with the birth of newborns.

DiDonne said many infants are dying due to their birthing attendant's lack of knowledge and equipment. Several organizations have come together to educate people on how to safely deliver babies and help infants who cannot breath properly.

DiDonne told the students that communication will be a barrier because they are traveling through many different countries.

"As you're trying to show them how to give the baby air through the ventilator, say 'breathe baby breathe' as you do it, so that they can remember how long they need to squeeze the bag," said DiDonne.

The medical personnel will provide basic, yet in-depth training, to the attendants who will be equipped with critical life saving training sometimes never offered to many of the countries DiDonne's students will visit. Each participant will learn how to properly ventilate a baby, stimulate those who cannot breathe, tear down and reassemble the equipment for future use.

"We'll teach them what a healthy baby looks like as opposed to a baby who might need a little bit of help to breathe," said Emily Forster, registered nurse volunteering on behalf of Latterday Saints Charities.

The medical team's main focus during its visit in Jamaica is teaching infant stimulation, breathing and equipment sterilization.

Forster said is it important they share what they learn with others after Comfort leaves the area. For the skilled birthing attendants, resources are very limited, so after completing the training, each attendant is given a free infant ventilator bag. While in Jamaica, the medical personnel will provide this training during the entire visit for all to attend.

COMUSANAVSO / COMFOURTHFLT supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined full-spectrum military operations. The units provide principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space to enhance regional security and to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Carribean, Central and South American regions.

Record Retention, Shifting Missions Prompt Focused Navy Retention Board

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy announced April 14 that it will conduct a focused enlisted retention board (ERB) in August for 31 specific ratings.

The ERB will be conducted as a result of record high retention and low attrition among active duty Sailors and to meet current and future planned end strength controls.

Currently, the Navy is overmanned in 31 of its 84 ratings, and as a result, many ratings have limited Perform-to-Serve (PTS) quotas available, resulting in increased competition and reduced opportunity for strong performing Sailors to reenlist. In order to enable the PTS program to work as designed to shape the force, Navy leadership has determined it is necessary to increase the opportunity for top performing Sailors to compete for a quota.

"Programs like Perform-to-Serve and selective reenlistment bonus have been effective tools at optimizing and stabilizing our force strength. Retention behavior, coupled with the shift of 6,800 billets back to sea and development of our capabilities in key areas such as ballistic missile defense (BMD), cyber and information dominance has necessitated the establishment of the enlisted retention board to meet congressionally mandated end strength and to rebalance the force," explained Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson.

The board will review the records of selected third class petty officers (E-4) through senior chief petty officers (E-8) in the 31 overmanned ratings with greater than seven but less than 15 years of cumulative service as of Oct. 1 2011, and will be conducted in two independent phases -- Phase I will review E-4 to E-5 Sailors and will convene Aug. 22, 2011. Phase II will review E-6 to E-8 Sailors and will convene Sept. 26, 2011.

The specific ratings identified include the following:

- Aviation Boatswain's Mate Fuels (ABF)
- Aviation Machinist's Mate (AD)
- Aviation Electrician's Mate (AE)
- Aerographer's Mate (AG)
- Aviation Structural Mechanic (AM)
- Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AS)
- Aviation Electronics Technician (AT)
- Aircrewman Mechanical (AWF)
- Aircrew - Tactical Helicopter (AWR)
- Aircrew – Avionics (AWV)
- Aviation Maintenance Administrationman (AZ)
- Builder (BU)
- Construction Electrician (CE)
- Construction Mechanic (CM)
- Engineering Aide (EA)
- Electrician's Mate Surface (EMSW)
- Equipment Operator (EO)
- Electronics Technician, Surface Warfare (ETSW)
- Fire Controlman (non-Aegis) (FC)
- Gas Turbine Systems Technician, Electrical (GSE)
- Machinist's Mate, Surface Warfare (MMSW)
- Mineman (MN)
- Machinery Repairman (MR)
- Operations Specialist (OS)
- Parachute Rigger (PR)
- Personnel Specialist (PS)
- Religious Program Specialist (RP)
- Ship's Serviceman (SH)
- Sonar Technician Surface (STG)
- Steelworker (SW)
- Utilitiesman (UT)

The board will exclude Sailors whose soft expiration of active obligated service (EAOS) date is in FY12 because they will be considered in PTS. The board will also exclude those who advanced to their current paygrade in cycles 208 (E-4/5/6), 209 (E-8/9), 210 (E-7), or 211 (E-4/5/6), are nuclear qualified, Joint Special Warfare Command enablers and those currently enrolled in the Navy's Safe Harbor program.

This quota-based board is anticipated to review roughly 16,000 records and will identify approximately 3,000 Sailors who will not be retained on active duty. In essence, this board will review roughly 6percent of the force to separate approximately 1 percent. Separation quotas will be developed by individual rating, pay grade and years of service, and will be published once the board convenes.

In an effort to provide maximum opportunities for conversion ahead of the board, eligibility requirements will be adjusted to allow eligible Sailors to convert to an undermanned rating prior to the board convening. Those Sailors approved for rating conversion prior to the board will be exempted. Procedures to apply for rating conversion will be published by May 1 and the applications must be received by June 15, 2011.

Those Sailors not selected for retention will need to separate by June 30, 2012, but qualified Sailors will be afforded the opportunity to compete for a Selected Reserve quota via PTS. The Career Transition Office (CTO) will be available to assist Sailors who desire to make this transition into the Reserve Component.

Sailors separated by this board will also have access to the Navy's transition assistance programs which includes the Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP), employment assistance, relocation assistance for separating members stationed overseas, and other benefits for members who are involuntarily separated. Members will also be eligible for involuntary separation pay.

"Navy values the service of every Sailor. The decision to establish this board was made after careful consideration, and will allow Navy to keep our very best Sailors in these overmanned ratings, improve advancement opportunity, and enable PTS to maintain this balance into the future. We also strove to afford Sailors the opportunity to shift ratings prior to the board and to affiliate with the reserves should they not be continued on active duty."

To read the ERB announcement, NAVADMIN 129/11, visit http://www.npc.navy.mil/.

Navy Reaches Out to Japanese Spouse Group

By Joe Schmitt, Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka's (CFAY) Command Master Chief (CMC) spoke with Japanese spouses of military service members aboard the facility, April 6.

CMC Gregory A. Vidaurri spoke about how the base is responding to the effects of the March 11, earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan.

"Communication is key in any event that ever happens," said Vidaurri. "And when you are communicating any type of message, any time you are able to stand up in front of people and address their concerns, that return investment is huge. I know these spouses are going to leave this event and go tell their friends. They aren't going to have to read it in an e-mail. They are not going to get it second hand. They are going to get it first hand right here today. That's why town hall meetings or discussion groups where we can have senior leadership on a base come and sit down with particular target groups really pays a lot of dividends for us."

Rie Coyne works at the CFAY Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) and volunteered to coordinate the event.

"At this time, after the voluntary departure had started, I ran into a lot of people who were confused and not knowing anything because everything was provided in English, and their husbands were out to sea," said Coyne.

Many of the spouses speak English as a second language and did not get all the same information that their native English speaking counterparts were receiving. FFSC teamed up with the Japanese Spouse Group to get the event for these spouses organized. Coyne translated the meeting so everyone understood what was being discussed.

"I was able to get the first group together to meet, and we told them that they are not alone, we are in this together," said Coyne. "So, we then asked if the CMC could come, and now we feel so much better."

After Coyne gave a few opening remarks she turned the event over to Vidaurri who started taking questions from the group.

Some of the topics covered in the meeting were information sources, medical care, infant and children concerns, rolling black out schedules, school schedules, passport applications and many others. Vidaurri stayed to answer all the questions the group had until there were no more raised hands.

"I really appreciate that the military is helping Japan," said Reina Bay, who helped with the event and asked a few of her own questions. "I feel safe living on base but after these things happened there were so many rumors and it was really confusing, but now I feel OK."

Coyne said as more news comes out in the future, she will try to plan more meetings for Japanese spouses to continue to get information from the base and the commands that operate there.

Near the end of the event, several of the spouses expressed a calmer, more positive outlook by saying 'kokoro sukkirishita' which means 'my heart feels much better.'

Washington State Honors U.S. Navy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Nathan Lockwood, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

OLYMPIA, Wash. (NNS) -- The State of Washington honored the U.S. Navy at the capitol in Olympia as part of the Navy Appreciation Day, April 13.

Government officials convened a special recognition proclamation for service members in the Senate Chamber and in the House Chamber to honor the U.S. Navy.

To kick off the event, Musician 3rd Class Sarah Reasner, vocalist from Navy Band Northwest, sang the national anthem in the Senate Chamber.

After the opening remarks from Washington State Lt. Governor Brad Owen, Commander, Navy Region Northwest, Rear Adm. Douglass T. Biesel addressed the senate.

"Thank you for providing such great support to our Navy's Sailors, our families and all our great veterans that have served this nation," said Biesel. "You have made Washington State the state of choice for many that have served this great nation."

After Biesel addressed the senate he recognized Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Search and Rescue for all their dedication, and particularly for their efforts during the rescue of a 15-year-old girl in the Skokomish River Canyon where Lt. Brandon Sheets flew a MH-60S Knighthawk under a steel bridge.

"Due to that narrow canyon, Lt. Sheets was not able to turn that helicopter around, he literally had to back the helicopter out underneath the bridge, of course that's all in a days work," said Biesel.

Navy officials had an opportunity to tour the Legislative Building and visit the Senate Caucus, the House of Representatives Caucus and met with the Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Navy Band Northwest performed a concert in the Capitol's Rotunda room where spectators enjoyed live music. Lt. j.g. Patrick Sweeten, director of Navy Band Northwest, said performing at the state capitol was a privilege.

"It is an honor to be able to perform here and visit the capitol," said Sweeten. "The legislators go out of their way to thank the U.S. Navy and performing here is one of the highlights of the year for the band."