Military News

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Misawa Sailors Receive Radiation Detection Training

By By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jose Lopez, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- The Radiological Controls Team (RADCON) trained 17 Sailors and Airmen at Misawa Air Base to perform Radiological Survey Team duties on Naval Air Facility Misawa (NAFM), Japan, April 13.

The RADCON team, typically stationed aboard ships and shore installations throughout the world, was called to Misawa to perform radiation checks on aircraft and personnel flying missions in support of Operation Tomodachi.

"We are training the Sailors in radiation control," said Chief Electronics Technician Mike Sanguinet, temporarily deployed to NAFM from Naval Shipyard Pearl Harbor. "They are going to learn surveying, monitoring, and decontamination. This way they can take over the job we've been doing when we leave.

"The most important part of the lecture is personnel and aircraft decontamination," said Sanguinet, a resident of Honolulu. "That's what they would be doing the most. All the other lectures are theory and equipment familiarization."

The three-day course is designed to give the Sailors a look at the types of instruments they will use in case they are asked to form a Radiological Survey Team.

"Now Misawa will have the people who can answer the call at a moment's notice," said Sanguinet. "They are permanent party. Each division will have personnel who can conduct the checks and testing needed in case a situation arises."

"We are now familiar with the radiological equipment," said Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Iasrealia Berns, attached to Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment Misawa. "Should the occasion arise, I will be able to perform the job."

USS Maine Returns from Patrol

From Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

BANGOR, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Maine (SSBN 741) (Gold) crew members returned to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor March 30, ending its 71-day strategic deterrent patrol.

"I was most impressed with the performance of my crew, especially considering the limited sea time we've had over the past year," said Cmdr. Richard Massie, USS Maine (Gold) commanding officer. "They pulled together with professionalism, motivation, and a positive attitude to overcome all challenges."

USS Maine's patrol began Jan. 19. During this time, a total of eight Sailors – seven enlisted and one officer – completed their submarine qualifications. As a result, those Sailors earned the right to wear the traditional submariner's dolphins.

"These Sailors are truly outstanding; I look forward to our next opportunity to perform at sea," Massie said.

Maine also saw four Gold Crew Sailors come home as new fathers.

USS Maine is one of eight ballistic missile submarines homeported aboard Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.

Returning Warrior Workshop Focuses on Communication

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Reserve Component Command

BOSTON (NNS) -- More than 130 active duty and Reserve personnel and their families attended the Navy Region Mid Atlantic Reserve Component Command's (NRMA RCC) Returning Warrior Workshop (RWW) at the Hyatt Harborside Boston Hotel in Boston, Mass. April 8-10.

RWWs are a support program initiated by the Navy Reserve Force to assist with the reintegration of Sailors and reunions with their families upon returning from an individual augmentee (IA) deployment in support of combat operations. The workshops are also designed to recognize those Sailors as they return home.

"We are here to honor you," said NRMA RCC Deputy Commander Capt. Todd Morgan. "We want to recognize, honor, celebrate and thank you for your service and sacrifice, and treat you like the VIPs you are."

Funded by the Department of Defense's Yellow Ribbon Program and hosted throughout the country by Reserve component commands, RWWs focus on psychological health and provide expert speakers, interactive group discussions and private counseling. Dr. Heidi Kraft, Navy psychologist, author of Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital, and a former IA herself, encouraged participants to share their deployment experiences.

"It does not matter what kind of groups I talk to, whether they are active duty, reserve, or veterans. We all have something in common," Kraft said. "We are all hoping to collectively heal from what has now been a long time at war. The way we are striving to do that best is through story telling."

An important aspect of the RWW is that it enables Sailors and family members to openly discuss their experiences. A majority of time during the weekend was spent in breakout sessions, where attendees could speak in a more private environment and communicate with others they can relate to. Topics included couples reconnecting, stress management and considering redeployment.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ricardo Quiles-Rosa, a Reserve Sailor who had been mobilized with Marine Aircraft Group 49, based at Ft. Dix, N.J., said the workshop was a comfortable environment where he felt free to be honest about his experiences; whereas in a uniformed command setting, he said he may feel slightly more guarded.

"I feel like there is a lot of bravado when it comes to being in the military," said Quiles-Rosa. One thing I really like about this weekend is that it focuses on the family issues; it's not just me that goes off to war; it's my wife and my kids. This weekend asked me about the problems I'm having."

The RWW also allotted time where participants could provide feedback to NRMA RCC about their personal mobilization and demobilization process. Service members and family members were given a chance to voice their opinions, concerns and suggestions during a breakout session called 'Improving the Process.'

"The mobilizing and demobilizing process puts people through a lot of stress, and I appreciate the fact that this is the Navy saying 'we want to hear what's wrong with the system and how we fix it,'" said Quiles-Rosa. "This is a really great opportunity for you to say what you experienced and it's great that we have time to talk and ask questions about it. It's great to finally have a voice."

Quiles-Rosa's wife, Maureen, also felt the open communication was refreshing.

"Allowing this feedback is so important because it is always great to hear from the people who have been through similar experiences. This is a perfect atmosphere for communication," she said.

Military members and their guests were treated to a Banquet of Honors, which consisted of a gourmet meal, letters of appreciation, a standing ovation by event organizers and facilitators, and even salsa dancing lessons provided by Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Luis Perez.

During the banquet, Rear Adm. Robert O. Wray Jr., president, Board of Inspection and Survey, gave attendees very personal accounts of the experiences that he and his family have faced during deployments. He spoke of his uncle, a Vietnam veteran, who received no psychological care upon returning home from his mission and the consequences it had. He also spoke about his own experiences when he first arrived in Iraq in 2004 and said he came home much more affected by his deployment than he expected he would.

Wray said that being able to talk through the experiences is a key part of the healing process.

"I'm telling you that the only thing that really works is talking," Wray said. "You cannot just have one conversation and expect anything to happen. You have to talk repeatedly with your shipmates, talk repeatedly with your partner, and sometimes you have to talk to professionals. If you're one of these people who will clam up and think that things will eventually go away, it doesn't work. You have to talk."

All participants received letters of appreciation signed by Wray, which thanked them for their service and sacrifice. He said the letters attempted to express the level of admiration they deserve, but they can never fully express how he and the rest of the country feel about the service they have rendered.

"The United States has a tradition where people have stood up to stand the watch during their time and place," Wray said. "Whether they were militias or national guards or Reservists, people have raised their hands and said 'I will go and I am prepared to do what I have to do. Sometimes, when they stand up and say 'I will stand the watch,' it was an uneventful watch. And then sometimes they stand up and raise their hand and all hell will break loose. The honor is not in what happened while you were on watch; the honor is in the fact that you stood up and said 'I'll stand the watch' when you didn't know what was going to happen. So I honor, respect and admire all of you because you stood up and said 'I am going to stand the watch, come hell or high water, no matter what happens.' You are all heroes, because you raised your hand and said 'I'll go."

Civil War Remembrance

President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Gerald Payn of Wooster, Ohio, sits with other distinguished guests from the Ohio National Guard, Ohio Historical Society and Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board during Ohio’s Civil War 150th Anniversary Ceremony Sunday, April 10, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. The ceremony commemorated the sesquicentennial of the first Ohio unit federalized during the American Civil War. (Ohio National Guard Photo/Capt. Matt Molinski) (Released)

Photo Of The Day answer: Lincoln commanded a rifle company of the 4th Regiment of Mounted Volunteers, 31st Regiment of the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War in 1832.

Misawa Chapel Provides "Starter Kits" for Displaced Japanese Families

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kim McLendon, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

MIYAKO, Japan (NNS) -- Families from Misawa Air Base (MAB) delivered 64 household "starter kits" for Japanese families in Miyako who are moving out of evacuation shelters and into temporary housing, April 14.

As U.S. military operations for Operation Tomodachi wind down, Misawa service and family members are still seeking ways to help out their host country's citizens. These kits are one way that base personnel are making a difference.

"This program is in the spirit of Operation Tomodachi," said Chaplain De'Etta Goecker, regional director of the Misawa Air Base chapter of the Protestant Women of the Chapel, which organized, built and delivered the kits to Miyako families.

The kits were created for Japanese families impacted by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, March 11, which triggered a massive tsunami that devastated this coastal city located on Japan's eastern seaboard.

Almost 7,000 families have lost their homes here because of the tsunami and have since been living in evacuation shelters.

As the families begin to leave the shelters and move into temporary homes, the kits will help enable residents to cook, clean and get back to a normal life.
Each starter kit includes cookware, plates, slippers, towels, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. In turn, Miyako city officials will provide rice cookers and hot pots for each household.

"Each kit will hold most the items needed to run a household with several family members," said Goecker.

Over the following months, families whose homes were completely or partially destroyed by the tsunami will receive a starter kit. Families of up to three people will receive one kit, while larger families will receive two.

In many cases, these kits will be the starting point for families as they try to resume normal lives. Many families are entering temporary housing with only the clothing and items they were able to quickly gather before fleeing their residences.

Goecker said the goal is to collect enough items and donations to put together 50 kits for delivery each week. With donations pouring in from as far away as Germany and people still wanting to contribute, she hope to continue this program for the next few months.

"We are working closely with people from the community so we can help ensure their specific needs are met," said 35th FW Chaplain, Lt. Col. Jerry Sather.