Military News

Thursday, May 12, 2011

USS Barry Sailors Maximize Experience During Port Visit to Rhodes, Greece

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman, USS Barry Public Affairs

RHODES, Greece (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Barry (DDG 52) recently enjoyed the opportunity to unwind and soak up some Greek culture during a port visit to Rhodes, Greece, May 5-11.

Crew members used the port visit to not only relax and enjoy time ashore, but to learn about the local culture and history.

Many Sailors chose to participate in tours organized by Barry's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) team. Tour options included an all-day excursion around the island, a walking tour of the Old and New Town, and a visit to the ancient town of Lindos.

"The donkey ride in Lindos was probably the highlight of my visit," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Ciria Stewart. "We started out in the main square and then rode the donkeys all the way up the mountain to the acropolis. It was so fun and such a beautiful site."

"One of the favorite parts of my job is being able to see how much enjoyment people get out of touring around my country," said Elena Papadopoulos, a Greek guide who led the island excursion tour. "Tourism in the number one industry in Rhodes, and we take a lot of pride in making our guests satisfied."

Sailors were also able to purchase unique gifts for their family and friends back home.

"I bought a couple different bottles of the local spirits," said Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 1st Class Avery Chester. "They had a very unique flavored liquor made from seven different spices and herbs. I also bought a bottle of honey liquor made from the local farmers."

"I bought all sorts of souvenirs," said Lt.j.g. Monika Hess, Barry's navigator. "I purchased local spices, a beautiful olive wood cutting board, a hand-crafted backgammon set for my father and matching necklaces for my mom and me. Between Old Town and New Town, they have a little bit of everything."

Barry Sailors also took the time to soak up some sun and enjoy Rhodes' beautiful beaches.

"The water was still a little bit chilly but it was refreshing, and it was nice relaxing on the beach," said Gunner's Mate Seaman Corrine Klister.

"A couple of buddies and I got diver qualified," said Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Andrew Lerner. "This was the best experience I've had on deployment so far. It's just good, clean fun. I always wanted to get my certification, and to be able to share this experience with good friends makes it even better."

Barry is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, conducting maritime security operations in U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

USS Guardian Continues to Build Partnerships, Visits Surabaya, Indonesia

By USS Guardian Public Affairs

SURABAYA, Indonesia (NNS) -- USS Guardian (MCM 5) arrived in Surabaya, Indonesia May 10, to continue a partnership mission with the nation's navy.

Guardian was welcomed by a traditional Indonesian dance and military marching band as the ship pulled into the port there.

During the ship's two-day transit to Surabaya, Guardian hosted two Indonesian junior officers; Lt. j.g. Tato Taufiq and Lt. j.g. Andri Priya. Both officers said they were happy to have the chance to work with the U.S. Navy.

"We're happy to have the American Navy in Surabaya and to be able to accompany Guardian in to port," said Priya.

The visit provided an opportunity for the two navies to share knowledge and increase their mine warfare planning capabilities.

Several Guardian crew members and a group of Indonesian mine warfare professionals also held discussions on different strategies and approaches to clearing the Tanjung Kodok waters off the shore of Indonesia. The area still contains mines that laid during World War II and have never been cleared.

Guardian is currently on routine patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Pentagon Must Handle Spending Slowdown Responsibly, Lynn Says

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

NEW YORK, May 11, 2011 – Managing a slowdown in defense spending responsibly will take more than being more efficient, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here tonight.

As the keynote speaker for the Royal Bank of Canada Defense and Aerospace Conference, Lynn told an audience at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum that the Defense Department must find ways to spend significantly less, even in the midst of two active conflicts and numerous other commitments and threats.

“It would be desirable to defer this challenge until a somewhat later date, after the transition in Iraq is complete and we are closer to handing off the combat mission in Afghanistan to local forces,” Lynn said. “But the deficit crisis doesn’t allow us that luxury. We need to get our fiscal house in order, and we need to do it expeditiously.”

The deficit crisis, he said, is a matter of national security.

“Our security begins with a strong economy,” he explained. “Our ability to exert global influence [and] protect interests abroad is threatened if we’re not able to reduce the deficit and to keep our national debt within sustainable bounds. No great power can project military force without a sound economy. … Deficits are now approaching 10 percent of our economy, and austerity measures are required to have long-term health.”

President Barack Obama has made clear that painful cuts in federal spending are necessary, Lynn said. “Everything has to be on the table: revenues, entitlements, domestic discretionary spending and defense spending,” he told the audience. “The defense budget alone cannot solve our deficit crisis. But it’s hard to envision an overall solution -- either economically or politically -- that does not include some contribution from the 20 percent of government spending that goes toward defense.”

For the Defense Department to accomplish this drawdown while engaged in Afghanistan and transitioning security responsibility in Iraq -- while still remaining ready to intervene elsewhere when national security interests are at risk -- policy makers and industry executives alike will need to perform “a high-wire act,” Lynn said.

“For [the Defense Department], how to slow defense spending responsibly while retaining the most effective fighting force in the world is the central task,” he said. “For industry, how to adjust to a less-robust defense market while maintaining technological prowess is their central task.

“Together,” he continued, “we must manage our resources without hollowing out our armed forces and without jeopardizing our industrial base. We must accommodate fiscal changes without undercutting our military effectiveness, now or in the future.”

The deputy secretary told the audience that that nation has reached the fifth inflection point in post-World War II defense spending. The first three drawdowns came at the end of conflicts: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

“The fourth drawdown came in the mid-1980s, and was somewhat analogous to the one we face today,” Lynn said. “Deficits during the early Reagan administration caused Congress to impose spending caps, which led to defense reductions, and those reductions were accelerated as the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union broke up.”

All of the transitions had something in common, Lynn said: each time, the Defense Department suffered a disproportionate loss of capability and subsequently had to rebuild those capabilities, often urgently and at great cost.

“And each time, the industrial base struggled to reverse course,” he added. “So in other words, we’re 0-for-4 in managing drawdowns to this point. To improve the playing field, we have to do better on this drawdown.”

Four broad lessons from prior drawdowns should apply this time around, Lynn said.

The first, he said, is to make hard decisions early.

“Things are not going to get better,” he said. “There’s going to be less, not more, money in the future, and even well-managed programs experience some cost growth. So if we cannot afford it now, we certainly won’t be able to afford it when funds are tight. Given our budget challenges, it is irresponsible to embark on programs that we simply cannot afford. We need to live within the resource levels that we’re going to have, and to do that we need to make the hard decisions now.”

The second lesson, Lynn said, is that pure efficiencies alone cannot generate the needed savings.

“By pure efficiencies, I mean doing the same mission, the same thing, just at less cost,” he explained. “We can generate some savings in that way. Cloud computing, I think, offers the potential to hold down or even reduce information technology costs while giving us greater capability. But we’re not going to find enough of those pure efficiencies to get the required savings.”

That means elimination of programs that are valuable, but not valuable enough to sustain in the foreseeable budget environment, Lynn said. “The ‘nice-to-haves’ must go,” he added. “We have to pare back to our core missions, to the essential goals the department needs to maintain.”

The third lesson from past drawdowns, the deputy secretary said, is the need to balance reductions.

“Reductions focused on just a single area like operational accounts hollow out the force by depriving it of the needed training and maintenance resources,” he said. “Similarly, disproportionate cuts in the investment accounts just produce a procurement holiday, which we then have to buy back at great cost at a later time, probably with some urgency.”

To avoid that, Lynn said, balanced reductions across force structure, operating accounts and investment accounts are required. “We do not want to end up the process with a force of the same size that could do all of the things that we do now, just not as well,” he said. “We need to choose the capabilities we’re going to retain and choose the ones that we’re not going to retain.”

The final lesson from prior drawdowns is not to cut too much too fast, especially from core mission missions, Lynn said.

“Rebuilding capabilities five, 10, 15 years from now comes with a cost multiplier, and cost is not the only price that we pay,” he said. “We pay for these decisions with the lives and welfare of our troops.”

Lynn cited the post-World War II drawdown as an example, noting it caused U.S. forces to pay a high price in the initial stages of the Korean conflict. “We don’t want to make cuts today that we’re going to regret in the near or midterm future,” he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates anticipated the situation and shifted the Pentagon’s fiscal and strategic approach in accordance with the lessons from previous drawdowns, Lynn said.

“In the past two years, we have been making tough decisions and we’ve been been making them early,” he said, noting the department ended purchases of F-22 fighter jets and C-17 transports and terminated the presidential helicopter program, which was over cost, behind schedule and had requirements that exceeded its mission needs.

The Defense Department also is closing less-essential organizations, such as U.S. Joint Forces Command, Lynn said, and has proposed conditions-based reductions in the Army and the Marine Corps beginning in fiscal 2015 and 2016. Officials are phasing the reductions in over several years, he added, to avoid precipitous cuts.

“If we continue this same approach and take seriously the lessons of history,” he said, “we can avoid going 0-for-5 in managing defense drawdowns.”

National Day of Prayer Observed at Oceana

By Cathy Heimer, Naval Air Station Oceana Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana observed the 60th annual National Day of Prayer May 5 with a prayer breakfast at the base galley, where more than 100 Sailors, Marines and DoD civilians came to hear the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

Dr. Clifford Stanley serves as the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense on recruitment, pay and benefits for active duty, National Guard and Reserve, DoD civilians and is responsible for overseeing the overall state of military readiness.

"Our nation needs prayer, our world needs prayer. I never forget that," said Stanley as he thanked Cmdr. John Lyle, Oceana's command chaplain, for the invitation to attend. The event was organized by the chaplains from Oceana and Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic.

Stanley, who is also a retired Marine Corps major general, was stationed with Lyle at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. In his introduction of the guest speaker, Lyle explained how Stanley and his wife were very active in the Quantico chapel community. As a major general, Stanley began his day with prayer led by one of the chaplains, including Lyle.

"If the commanding general was not too busy to pray, probably most of us were not too busy to spend some time in prayer," said Lyle.

During his introduction, Lyle also provided a brief history about how the day became a national observance. This year's theme is "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

"There have been several occasions when the government of the United States has asked its citizens to pray for the nation. As early as the Continental Congress in 1775, they designated a day for prayer," said Lyle about the origins.

Several presidents, including John Adams in 1798 and Abraham Lincoln in 1863 designated a day of prayer. In 1952, President Harry Truman signed congressional legislation authorizing a National Day of Prayer, which allowed subsequent presidents to choose the day. It was President Ronald Reagan who amended the legislation to designate the first Thursday in May for the observance.

"The intention of the National Day of Prayer was that it be a day when members of all faiths would pray in their own way for the citizens and government of the United States of America," said Lyle.

For Stanley, talking with God is an essential part of his day.

"I pray every day," said Stanley.

He explained he not only begins and ends his day with prayer, but also says quiet prayers throughout the day and he never forgets to say "thank you" during his prayers.

Even with a schedule that frequently has him travelling overseas to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, he still makes the time to be involved with his church, whenever he is home. An ordained deacon, he sings in two choirs, is active in his church's men's club and helps serve communion.

"The energy I have, I know comes from God," said Stanley.

Despite his 33 years of active duty and his current, influential position Stanley said he doesn't take himself seriously.

"I love my job. I actually love what I do because I actually love people – big time. I care very deeply. It's not a whole lot of work to love people, to care about people," said Stanley.

"Everything that affects people comes here and as I look to understand this, I turn to God for guidance for making the best decisions, the right decisions," said Stanley about his job.

"When you pray, make sure you know what you are praying for, because he is going to give you what he wants you to have," said Stanley while using the example of children who don't get everything they want and parents who don't give their children everything they ask for.

"But I'm humbled by the fact that I've been allowed to do the things I've been allowed to do, and be able to touch lives the way I'm able to touch them," said Stanley.

"The walk is not a make-believe walk. It doesn't mean you're perfect in everything you do because we all are not perfect…You've got to focus because this is a tough walk," said Stanley about relationships with God.

Noting how the walk with God does not get easier with age, Stanley closed with some advice that has helped him throughout his career.

"Keep your feet on the ground, stay humble, don't try to be perfect but try to live a life that is the walk. Pray for forgiveness. Recognize sin for what it is. Work hard not to be sinful in everything you do, even in your thoughts."

Following his talk, NAS Oceana Executive Officer Capt. Bob Geis presented several gifts to Stanley, including the book, "The Constitution," and the executive officer's coin.

"Your words are so inspiring to me," said Geis as he thanked Stanley for taking time to speak at Oceana.

Following the presentation, Stanley met with many of those attending, shaking hands, posing for photos and sharing their faith and stories.

Woodson Praises Military’s Medical Professionals

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2011 – Military medical professionals posted in combat theaters are skilled, patriotic, and make sacrifices by serving in harm’s way, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs told members of Congress here today.

Dr. Jonathan Woodson, who advises the defense secretary on medical issues, testified before the House Appropriations Committee Defense Health Program hearing for the fiscal 2011 and 2012 budgets.

Emphasizing the strides military medicine has made in 2011 and the goals for 2012, Woodson characterized the commitment of a medical professional –- an Army nurse, Capt. Joshua McClimins, a 32-year-old husband and father of two on his second deployment to the 356th Combat Support Hospital in Afghanistan.

On April 22, McClimins was killed in Afghanistan by indirect fire, Woodson said. At the memorial service, Woodson said, members of McClimins’ unit were deeply saddened.

“But these true professionals ‘soldiered on’ and continued their medical-mission support of other brothers and sisters in harm’s way,” he said.

Such medical professionals, along with improved public health and preventive medical strategies, Woodson said, have aided in the reduction of disease and injuries across the military.

And, the likelihood of survival for service members wounded in combat after medics arrive “remains at historic and unmatched levels,” he said.

Seriously wounded service members who require long-term care receive the “finest, evidence-based, medical service that is available in the country,” Woodson said.

“Thanks to the continued support of Congress and this committee, we are accelerating the delivery of our findings from the laboratory bench to the battlefield, to include prevention, diagnosis and treatment of both the visible and invisible wounds of war,” he said.

The military’s medical system works closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs to coordinate the disability evaluation process, sharing personnel and health information, and working together to establish electronic health records, Woodson said.

The Defense Department’s efficiencies initiative, he said, aims to reduce overhead costs, eliminate redundant functions and distribute resources to better support service members.

The proposals in the fiscal 2012 budget also include manageable cost growth, Woodson said, adding that DOD’s efficiencies initiative is a shared responsibility across the department.

“Our proposed budget keeps fidelity within our core principles,” Woodson said. “We will never lose our commitment to the members of our armed forces.”

The military health care system “is a vibrant, learning organization,” he added, that’s “capable of self-improvement and rapid incorporation of lessons learned in both peacetime and [in] combat.”

Constitution Sailors Teach Naval History during New Orleans Navy Week

By Seaman Shannon Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs

METAIRIE, La. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors taught more than 40 middle school students about naval history at St. Louis King of France School in Metairie, La., May 10.

Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Shirley, executive officer of Constitution, Yeoman 1st Class (SCW) Chrishinda Dobbs, Master-at-Arms Seaman Gary Matthias, Airman Sang Nguyen and Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Andrew Wyall gave their interactive presentation as part of New Orleans Navy Week.

"Our Sailors promoted USS Constitution and the Navy like they do every day, but today was customized for the children," said Dobbs. "I am very proud of their performance."

Sailors also showed artifacts of the ship, such as authentic rigging, an 1812-era telescope and books from the USS Constitution Museum. They also answered questions about the War of 1812 and their jobs in the Navy.

"For never having seen Constitution in real life or visited Boston, the level of interest was incredible," said Wyall. "The students were attentive, asked great questions and were enthusiastic. I had a fantastic time."

Sailors assigned to Constitution undergo 20 weeks of naval history training, along with additional weekly training.

"This has been very rewarding for the students," said Kathleen Gervais, teacher at St. Louis King of France. "From reading textbooks to interacting with a presentation by actual Sailors, it has opened the students' eyes."

New Orleans is one of 21 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2011. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

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 per year.

Army Captain Shares Experiences with PTSD

By Robyn Mincher, DCoE Strategic Communications

Army Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson was 24-years-old when he received the U.S. Army Bronze Star for Valor for his efforts that stopped a group of insurgents in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“After securing a convoy that was ambushed, my guys got hit by a drive-by shooting. My wingman spotted the shooters in a black sedan. They parked on the side of a school yard and started shooting machine guns. We had to do something,” said Veseth-Nelson. “We chased them onto a crowded entrance to a highway at 65 miles per hour, and I told my driver to ram them. It was out of a movie.”

A survivor, who they pulled out of the wreckage of the insurgent’s vehicle, threw a grenade at them. Fortunately, it didn’t detonate; it was the only one of the 15 grenades later found in the car without a fuse. Veseth-Nelson’s unit was safe, and the sole surviving, injured insurgent was taken away by police.

Once he returned to the states, Veseth-Nelson was considered a home-town hero — respected by family, friends and fans. Celebrations were in abundance, but for Veseth-Nelson, the indulgence didn’t end.

“I was easily drinking two six-packs a day and sometimes would come to work with alcohol on my breath,” he said. “Just like everyone else, I was happy that I was alive. I didn’t know the line between that and self-medicating.”

What Veseth-Nelson didn’t know was that he was self-medicating to cope with symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He developed behavioral and physiological symptoms like disturbed sleep, fluctuating weight, extreme road rage and general anger.

“My first response to any threat was to fight. I even flashed my gun at my colleague,” he said. “My boss pulled me aside and said I needed to change things. He knew the Adrian who he used to see wasn’t the one he was seeing right now.”

Veseth-Nelson took a proactive approach to treatment; he sought out a psychologist on base.

“My psychologist saw my PTSD for what it was,” he said. “She recommended the Specialized Care Program.”

The Specialized Care Program, run by Deployment Health Clinical Center, a DCoE component center, is a three-week multi-disciplinary treatment program for service members and veterans coping with deployment-related stress and PTSD. The program combines group therapy and one-on-one sessions that give participants tools to address psychological health concerns.

“I was immersed in an environment where people really care. Yet you had to be active in participating and be vocal because you only get out of it what you put into it,” Veseth-Nelson said. “It’s an amazing program that brought me back to my true self. It changed my life.”

While Veseth-Nelson has retired from the Army, he, along with his wife Diana, are very active in the military community, giving speeches and holding seminars about their own experiences while encouraging service members, veterans and families to reach out for help if needed.

“After some soul-searching, I realized that I even though I couldn’t be the combat leader that I was, it doesn’t mean I can’t help my country,” he said. “What I am doing now is helping people with PTSD as an extension of that service. I use my position as an officer and a war veteran to break the stigma wherever I possibly can.”

Stay tuned for Diana Veseth-Nelson’s DCoE Blog post about coping with PTSD as a military wife.

Visit DHCC’s Specialized Care Program for more information. Also, if you have questions related to psychological health or traumatic brain injury, you can contact the DCoE Outreach Center 24/7 at 866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.org to connect to a health resource consultant.

U.S. Soldier MIA from Korean War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Cpl. Primo C. Carnabuci of Old Saybrook, Conn., will be buried May 12 in his hometown.  On Nov. 1, 1950, Carnabuci’s unit, the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, occupied a defensive position along the Kuryong River, near Unsan, North Korea.  Chinese units attacked the area and forced a withdrawal.  Almost 600 men, including Carnabuci, were reported missing or killed in action following the battle.

In 2000, a joint U.S-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), excavated a mass grave discovered earlier in Unsan County, south of the area known as “Camel’s Head.”  The team recovered remains of at least five individuals as well as military clothing.

Analysts from DPMO and JPAC developed case leads with information spanning more than 58 years.  They evaluated the circumstances surrounding the soldier’s death and researched wartime documentation on the movements of U.S. and enemy forces on the battlefield.

Among forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of Carnabuci’s brother -- in the identification.

With this identification, 7,997 service members still remain missing from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1420.

Blue Angels Make Perfect Landing at Children's Hospital In New Orleans

By Chief Mass Communiation Specialist Steve Johnson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- The Navy Blue Angels brought out the smiles of patients at Children's Hospital in New Orleans May 6 when they visited more than a dozen patients there.

Lt. Jason Smith, flight surgeon for the Blue Angels, and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class John Mocek, squadron corpsman, spent part of Friday morning, going from room to room in the children's oncology ward, delivering Blue Angels' souvenirs and sharing stories with 16 patients and their families.

The Blue Angels were the featured attraction at the N'Awlins Centennial of Naval Aviation Air Show May 7-8 at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Belle Chase, which is located just south of New Orleans.

Smith underscored the importance of reaching out to local youth whenever the Blue Angels come to town.

"When we're at an air show, one of the coolest things is seeing how kids respond when they see the jets fly by, how loud they are, and the maneuvers they perform," said Smith. "Unfortunately, some of the kids can't come out because they are sick. So by coming to the hospital, we get to bring some of the excitement to the kids who otherwise would like to be there."

Mocek echoed Smith's sentiment.

"I love doing this. It gives us the chance to get out and meet the children," said Mocek. "Yes, we are a recruiting tool for the Navy. But for the kids who can't come out and see the air show, we bring a little bit of the air show to them."

Hospital officials welcomed the Navy Blue Angels visit.

"In this oncology unit, to have Navy Blue Angels pilots visit and come into their rooms, it helps break up the monotony of the day for these kids," said Nichole Marinello, special events coordinator at Children's Hospital. "Many of the children can't leave their room, so to have visitors come to them is a big deal and it's a really special treat to have the Navy Blue Angels here today."

Other Blue Angels team members visited students at high schools in the New Orleans area.

Airshow Ceremony Celebrates 100 Years of Naval Aviation

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- The Navy commemorated 100 years of naval aviation May 8 with a special ceremony at the N'Awlins Centennial of Naval Aviation Air Show May 7-8 in New Orleans.

Dignitaries who attended the event included Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Rex McMillian, Navy Rear Adm. Earl Gay, and Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry.

Capt. Tom Luscher, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chase, served as master of ceremonies. He was presented with a Centennial of Naval Aviation plaque to commemorate the milestone.

Three officers from the local area --Marine Capt. Lisa Zeeb, Navy Cmdr. Michael Dodick, and Coast Guard Lt. Joe Coffman -- were given the honors of cutting the large birthday cake celebrating 100 years of naval aviation with a ceremonial sword.

Luscher expressed pride that his command was selected to host the Centennial of Naval Aviation celebration.

"We were a bit shocked that the Navy would pick our Joint Reserve base, tucked away in southeast Louisiana, for such an airshow," said Luscher. "This community loves Naval aviation and their aviators, so we are just tickled pink that we were chosen for this honor."

Navy Band New Orleans performed military music at the ceremony, which was held along the flight line at the announcers stand, allowing visitors an up-close and personal involvement with the ceremony.

Following the cake-cutting event, the Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team put on their aerial demonstration. Later, Blue Angels pilots and crew signed autographs for airshow attendees.

Attendance to the three-day airshow exceeded 108,000, according to base officials.

The official beginning of Naval Aviation is recorded as May 8, 1911, when the first officer in charge of aviation, Captain Washington I. Chambers, issued requisitions for two Curtiss biplanes.

According to the Naval History & Heritage Command, civilian airplane builder Glenn Curtiss and civilian pilot Eugene Ely convinced the Navy in 1910 that aviation was ready for sea duty. On November 14, Ely flew a Curtiss biplane from a specially built platform on the cruiser Birmingham. He topped this feat on January 18, 1911, by landing a Curtiss pusher aboard the armored cruiser Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay and flying the airplane back to shore.

For vintage photographs and detailed stories of Naval Aviation history, visit www.history.navy.mil.

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, May 12, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates conducts a town hall meeting at 9:15 a.m. EDT with more than 1000 Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C.  The town hall will be carried live on the Pentagon Channel and streaming live at www.pentagonchannel.mil.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn has no public or media events on his schedule.

This Day in Naval History - May 11

By Navy News Service

1862 - CSS Virginia blown up by Confederates to prevent capture.
1898 - Sailors and Marines from USS Marblehead cut trans-oceanic cable near Cienfuegos, Cuba, isolating Cuba from Spain.
1943 - Naval task force lands Army troops on Attu, Aleutians.
1965 - U.S. destroyers deliver first shore bombardment of Vietnam War.