Military News

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bataan Earns Repeated Recognition for Force Health and Wellness

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Erin Lea Boyce, USS Bataan Public Affairs

USS BATAAN, Mediterranean Sea (NNS) -- Multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) was announced as a 2010 Force Health and Wellness Unit Award, or 'Green H,' winner by Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, April 30.

It's the ship's fourth consecutive 'Green H' award.

The 'Green H' is awarded annually to commands who demonstrate commitment to the health and welfare of their Sailors and Marines throughout the year. The award also reflects on the crew's professionalism and readiness to perform their mission at any given time.

"It wasn't necessarily the medical department that received the award, it was the entire ship based on a whole range of things," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman(SW/FMF/SS/DV/PJ) Sean Brown, the medical department's leading chief petty officer. "It included the physical fitness assessment (PFA) scores, our medical readiness, [sexual assault prevention and response] programs, substance abuse, men and women's health, suicide prevention and various other programs."

Bataan's medical department supports the crew with both emergent and preventive health care needs, including smoking cessation, fitness sessions and educational programs promoting a healthy lifestyle.

"It's a daily maintenance," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Charlena Beebe, medical's leading petty officer. "It's how hard you work everyday to maintain the health of the ship and the comfort of the crew."

Maintaining the crew is only one part of the achievement process. The medical professionals aboard Bataan undergo constant training in all aspects of patient care.

Beebe said the staff complement is made up of a number of technical experts, which allows for focused crosstraining. "We do training everyday on different subjects, from qualifications to health promotions."

This is Bataan's 12th 'Green H' award since her commissioning Sept. 20, 1997.

By being awarded the 'Green H,' Bataan can now add another green hash mark beneath the H already painted on the bridge wing.

"It's a symbol of pride for the medical department," said Beebe.

Bataan's crew is confident the trend of medical excellence will continue for years to come.

"We're going to win it again every year," said Beebe. "We have a fantastic crew and a fantastic ship's company that obviously works as hard as we do to make sure that we'll get it every year."

"Everyone on the staff is committed to the crew and to their programs," said Brown.

Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

U.S, South American Navies Train and Prepare while in Rio de Janeiro

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Steve Smith, Southern Seas 2011 Public Affairs

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (NNS) -- U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships, along with their South American partners, prepared for the second half of the Atlantic phase of UNITAS 52 May 1, while in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from guided-missile destroyer Nitze (DDG 94), guided-missile frigates USS Thach (FFG 43) and USS Boone (FFG 28), and USCGC cutter Escanaba (WMEC 907), attended various training and preplanning briefs in preparation of the second half of UNITAS, alongside their Brazilian, Mexican and Argentinian counterparts.

"These sessions allowed the team the opportunity to clearly understand the exercise design and answer any safety questions related to the complex events ahead," said Capt. Marc Weeks, commander, Task Group 138.0. "It also allows participants to cover any shortfalls or concerns about the exercise before the ships return to sea."

In addition to the training sessions, each country hosted a reception during which their respective navies were able to showcase their ships, crews and customs in a social environment.

"These events were the highlight of our stay in Rio de Janeiro," said Weeks. "The receptions enabled the re-establishment of old friendships, the development of new individual friendships, and it was a venue for each participating Navy to showcase their individual honors, customs and traditions."

Sailors also gathered for a day of soccer, tug-of-war and other friendly competitions during a sporting events day.

The six-day stop in Rio de Janeiro marked the midway point of the three-week exercise, which runs April 15-May 9.

The ships will spend seven days at sea for the final portion of the exercise. The Atlantic phase will end with a community relations project, wreath laying memorial ceremony and closing ceremony, in Rio Grande, Brazil.

UNITAS, Latin for "unity," is a combined South American and U.S.-sponsored annual exercise series. Active participants for UNITAS 52 include Brazil, the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Chile.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing 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 in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Family Matters Blog: Families React to bin Laden’s Death

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2011 – I heard the news of Osama bin Laden’s death when doing my usual late-night workout in my kids’ play room. My husband burst through the door and told me the president was about to make an announcement.

I turned on the news and watched as the country celebrated the demise of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, which claimed 3,000 lives in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

Those attacks are what led this nation to a war on terrorism that continues today, and prompted me to re-enlist in the Air Force, even though I had just separated from the service to pursue a civilian career.

Over the past decade, as a journalist, I’ve written about the wars and seen firsthand the wounded servicemembers recovering from life-altering attacks. I’ve visited Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and watched as fallen servicemembers returned to U.S. soil from combat in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

But my experiences pale in comparison to those who have direct ties to the 9/11 after-effects – families of the fallen.

I reached out to several families to find out how they felt in the wake of bin Laden’s death, and wrote about their responses in the American Forces Press Service article, “Survivors Call bin Laden’s Death ‘Bittersweet.’”

After talking with several families, I realized there were mixed emotions about the news – a sense of elation coupled with a sense of caution about what lies ahead.

Wendy Duffman, whose brother died in Afghanistan, said she first felt elated when she heard the news.

“I woke up for the first time in four years feeling like my brother didn’t die in vain,” Duffman told me.

However, she also cautioned against complacency. “I don’t want people to forget there are others like bin Laden,” she said. “The war isn’t over. We still have troops in harm’s way.”

Lisa Dolan called the news “bittersweet.” Her husband, Navy Capt. Bob Dolan, was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11 when Flight 77 struck the building,

“Nothing will bring back my husband and the almost 3,000 men, women and children that were killed on Sept. 11, 2011,” she said. “Is there some vindication in the death of bin Laden? Maybe.

“However, I do feel incredibly proud of our military,” she continued. “They have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.”

You can read more responses from families in my article. For more on bin Laden’s death, visit the AFPS special report, “The Demise of Osama bin Laden.”

If you have a related story to share, please don’t hesitate to write in.

This Day in Naval History - May 02

By the Navy News Service

1975 - US Navy departs Vietnamese waters at end of evacuation.