Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fallen Army Journalist Honored at Newseum

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2011 – Army Staff Sgt. James Hunter is remembered for lots of things. His fellow soldiers will tell you he was a hard worker, selfless and dedicated to his soldiers and their mission. His family will tell you that he loved Kentucky basketball and, above all else, he loved his country.

Today, Hunter was honored for his work as a journalist. He was an Army public affairs noncommissioned officer who was killed by a roadside bomb in June during a foot patrol in Afghanistan. His rifle was slung across his chest, but clutched in his right hand was his camera.

“He was an outstanding NCO and leader,” Army Lt. Col. Larry Porter, public affairs officer for the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said. Porter was Hunter’s boss at the time of his death. “He was very dedicated to telling the soldiers’ story.”

He and 76 other fallen journalists were memorialized at the Newseum here today in the 2011 rededication ceremony of the Journalist’s Memorial. The memorial honors 2,084 reporters, photographers, editors and broadcasters who died covering the news between 1837 and 2010. Their names are inscribed on the glass panels of the memorial, adjacent to a wall filled with photographs of their faces, some with a short biography. Of those reporters honored today, 59 died in 2010.

Krishna Bharat, founder of Google News, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address, praising the character and drive of journalists for the risks they take to inform the otherwise uninformed public.

“In most cases, [journalists] made the conscious choice … to walk a path that was not paved with gold, but danger, to serve a higher human cost,” Bharat said. “As we look back on the lives lost in the service of journalism, it’s worth remembering that while we cannot predict how and when we die, we can certainly choose how we live.

“The journalists we remember and honor today chose lives full of meaning and purpose,” he added. “They chose to bring news that mattered to people who care to make the world a better place.”

The fact that Hunter was part of the ceremony is a humbling honor, said Army Lt. Col. J. Frank Garcia, an Army public affairs officer who worked closely with Hunter at Fort Campbell, Ky.

“It really is great to see the Newseum honor a soldier journalist,” Garcia said. “[Hunter] was someone who volunteered not only to be a soldier, but to put himself in danger repeatedly just to tell the soldiers’ story [and] to ensure the story of what [soldiers] do all over the world is being told.”

Hunter grew up in South Amherst, Ohio, and enlisted in the Army in September 2003. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 49th Public Affairs Detachment on Fort Bragg, N.C., and deployed with the unit to Iraq in 2006. Following his tour at Fort Bragg, Hunter reported to the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team on Fort Campbell, Ky. He deployed to Iraq a second time in 2008. He was only two months into his Afghanistan deployment when he was killed. He was 25.

“I’ll always remember [Hunter] as the guy who always volunteered for the tough assignments,” Garcia said. “He was the kind of guy who wanted to be up front with the troops, living with them and experiencing their experiences and making sure the world knew their stories.”

Navy Region Southwest MWR Sponsors 25th Annual Coronado Bay Bridge Run/Walk

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marie A. Montez, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Navy Region Southwest (NRSW) Morale, Welfare and Recreation officials sponsored the 25th Annual Coronado Bay Bridge Run/Walk May 15 in San Diego.

The event helps fund the five San Diego naval installations with quality of life programs, said Nancy Walker, Navy regional marketing manager for NRSW.

More than 10,000 people were invited to attend the event, roughly 2,000 more than in previous years.

"We thought we'd put it out and stretch it a little bit this year, and we sold out two weeks early," said Walker. "All participants are winners because they know they are here to support the military."

Walker has coordinated the event for the past 11 years, along with the help of more than 700 volunteers and sponsors throughout San Diego.

The four-mile bridge course is sanctioned and certified by USA Track and Field, and event participants competed in a range of age groups for both men and women.

All participants received a commemorative "Navy 25th Anniversary Bay Bridge" run/walk T-shirt with water bottles and bananas at the finish line.

The first place winners in each category received San Diego Padres baseball tickets and Padres memorabilia.

The event has become something many San Diego Navy personnel look forward to each year.

"This is my sixth year in a row," said Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Michael Summe, assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 51). "It's kind of a tradition running the bridge, great weather for it."

Ten thousand military and civilian community participants had the chance to take pictures while walking or running over the Coronado Bay Bridge, as this event marks the only opportunity for individuals to cross the bridge course by foot.

"It's a beautiful day, beautiful location and great setting and wonderful cause supporting Morale, Welfare and Recreation, along with the centennial anniversary for naval aviation," said Capt. Yancy B. Lindsey, commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado.

Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs help promote quality of life by providing the funding for the gymnasiums, fitness centers, swimming pools, beaches, youth, teen and child centers, movie theaters, golf courses and much more.

Army Reserve Seeks to Expand Cooperation Plans

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

LILONGWE, Malawi, May 16, 2011 – The after-action reports still are works in progress after a successful MEDREACH 11 medical humanitarian assistance exercise that wrapped up here May 13, but the Army Reserve already is exploring ways to expand its participation in theater security cooperation engagements in Africa and elsewhere.

Nearly half of the participants in U.S. Army Africa’s first MEDREACH exercise, which began May 3, were Army reservists, most of them assigned to the Boston-based 399th Combat Support Hospital. Working alongside the Illinois National Guard’s 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, which provided command and control for the exercise, and small teams of Air Force Reserve dentists and active-duty Army ophthalmologists, they provided the bulk of the manpower to teach medical skills to Malawi Defense Force medics and provide medical and dental treatments at three outreach clinics during the exercise.

Additional Army Reserve soldiers contributed civil affairs and military information support operations expertise to the mission.

These theater cooperation engagements support the broader U.S. strategy in the region, explained J.T. Ice, political-military advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe.

MEDREACH 11 promoted two specific U.S. Mission Malawi goals for the Malawi Defense Force, he said. It increased its capacity to conduct peacekeeping operations on the African continent, and it helped Malawi become a stronger partner in responding to humanitarian assistance and disaster response crises.

The exercise is an example of the “whole of government” approach to U.S. foreign policy objectives, with the military dovetailing with its State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and Peace Corps counterparts to support common goals, Ice said.

“Working the interagency is the future. We have gotten our marching orders that the different parts of government will – not may – work together on these issues,” he said. “And here at the U.S. mission in Malawi, the country team understands that it takes different parts of government working together on these issues.”

Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, said he wants to see his troops play a bigger part in these engagements, particularly as wartime demands in Iraq and Afghanistan subside. The Army Reserve provides many of the enabling capabilities the active component has come to rely on, particularly in areas such as civil affairs, transportation and engineering. Stultz said he sees no end to demand for these capabilities, even after the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan conclude.

He cited “pent-up demand” among U.S. Africa Command and other geographic commands that he said would love to tap into Army Reserve capabilities to support more theater engagement activities such as MEDREACH 11.

The Army Reserve already supports many of these efforts: medical support and engineering missions in Central America and the Caribbean as well as Africa, and aboard U.S. Southern Command’s Continuing Promise and U.S. Pacific Command’s Pacific Partnership medical missions.

Stultz said combatant commanders get excited when he suggests contributing additional Army Reserve capabilities to enhance these activities.

“What if in the future – when these units are in the [Army Force Generation] model and when there is no requirement for them in Iraq and Afghanistan – I could give you these units for 90 days at a time?” he asks, rather than the current two or three weeks.

“Their eyes light up,” he told American Forces Press Service. “They say, ‘Now you are talking about really expanding our horizons as far as engagement strategy, if we were able to build a strategy around that capability.’”

The approach could be used to fine-tune reserve-component capabilities, he said, while putting no additional burden on the active force.

Army Lt. Col. Klemens “Van” Schmidt is on the leading edge of a division being established to help in making Stultz’s vision a reality.

“I am the guy trying to figure out business practices for the Army Reserve, or to take all those pre-existing business practices we have and then try to put it into one well-working mechanism,” he said.

With two years of experience as U.S. Africa Command’s deputy for humanitarian assistance and program manager for military and civic assistance under his belt, Schmidt said the Army Reserve is particularly well-suited to support some of the operations for which he has helped to lay groundwork. Its structure is heavy with “enablers” – the combat support and combat service support capabilities are as important to these engagements as to combat operations, he noted.

This blend of capabilities is ideal for many theater engagement missions such as MEDREACH 11, said Navy Cmdr. Jonathan Adams, exercise planner for Africom. Many of the participants are doctors, nurses and other medical professionals in their civilian careers, and also have operational experience from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“So they bring an added level of professionalism and expertise in these specific areas we are dealing with,” he said.

But beyond that, the reserve component has a manpower pool able to support the Africom exercise program.

“The biggest thing is that they are available,” Adams said. “The [active] Army is stretched very thin, but we want to have engagement. So they are a very useful, viable source of manpower to do these exercises.”

As they contribute needed capabilities in exercises such as MEDREACH 11, Schmidt said, they realize an often-overlooked payoff in terms of military occupational skills training. Working with their Malawi military counterparts, participants operated in austere environments not found in the United States, and were exposed to diseases and challenges not seen at home, he explained.

Schmidt emphasized the importance of working with the host nation during missions such as MEDREACH 11 to ensure that what’s started can be sustained.

“Just going to one location at one time and giving 30 days of vitamins is just that – 30 days of vitamins. These episodic, one-time events are only one-time events,” he said. “You want to have something more sustainable.”

With an expanded role in security cooperation and international engagements, the Army Reserve can help to provide that sustainable support, Schmidt said. “We get wonderful experience” from even short, one-time engagements, he said. “But if we can get another group to come in a year later, six months later, that would be wonderful.”

Reoccurring engagements help build relationships and credibility about U.S. intentions in Africa, he said. Ultimately, Schmidt said, that’s the foundation for strong partnerships needed to address regional challenges, whether natural disasters or enemy threats.

Meanwhile, Stultz noted another consideration in tapping Army reservists to support these engagements: the troops themselves. He’s convinced that after playing key roles in an operational reserve, they’ll never be satisfied reverting to their long-abandoned “weekend warrior” status.

“We have created an environment and culture that [the soldiers] want to be part of and that they feel good about,” he said. “We have Army Reservists [for whom] two weeks at home station ain’t gonna cut it anymore,” agreed Schmidt. “They want to go out and do something exciting, particularly the ones who have been deployed. They have seen the goodness they can do, and they want to continue to do that.

“And we want them to continue to do that,” he continued, “because A, it retains them, and B, it is good for their [specialty] skills – the training they get in those austere places.”

Army Spc. Brian Zimmerman, a member of the Army Reserve’s 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion in Syracuse, N.Y., said he jumped at the opportunity to participate in MEDREACH 11 and would welcome more, longer engagements.

“It’s meaningful, and I can’t overstate the experience we’ve gotten from this,” he said, shaking hands with Malawian civilians as they filed from a tent, mosquito nets in hand, following a class in malaria prevention. “We are doing something. We are helping. I wish we could be here longer, because the work we are doing here really matters.”

Information Fair Prepares George Washington Sailors for Patrol

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William P. Gatlin, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- More than 3,000 Sailors and their families participated in USS George Washington's (CVN 73) annual information fair May 16 in Yokosuka, Japan.

The event provides necessary information for services that may be needed by Sailors and their families when George Washington returns to sea for its annual patrol.

"The most important thing everyone can gather from this event is information," said Cmdr. Brian Haley, George Washington's command chaplain. "The fair allows everyone to see what services are offered on the ship and on the base, and they are placed in one area for easy access to all."

For families, numerous organizations from across Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka were well represented included Fleet and Family Service Center, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department, Navy College and the Red Cross. George Washington contributed representatives from their legal, medical, dental and command religious ministries departments, as well as George Washington's Ombudsman team.

"The Navy lifestyle is hard for both Sailors and their families and as ombudsmen, we are here to act as a communication link between families and the command," said Lindsey Todd, a representative from George Washington's Ombudsman team. "This fair allows us answer any questions service members have and it lets everyone get a grasp on what is needed to prepare for the next patrol."

"This event is mainly for junior Sailors with families who are going to sea for the first time and need help getting prepared," said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW/FMF) Nino Miranda, command religious ministries department's leading petty officer aboard George Washington. "It allows Sailors to find out what services are offered on the base and allows them to utilize some services that are offered aboard George Washington."

Aviation Aerographer's Mate 3rd Class Richard Riley, a Sailor aboard George Washington, explained why the fair was beneficial to him.

"This is the third information fair I have been to since I came to George Washington and every year I find some new helpful information," said Riley. "The best thing is that MWR is always here with schedules of events and trips I can take."

George Washington is the Navy's only full time forward-deployed aircraft carrier, ensuring security and stability across the western Pacific Ocean.

128th Air Refueling Wing expands hangar capabilities

By Sr. Airman Ryan Kuntze
128th Air Refueling Wing

A $4 million expansion at the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee that will make maintaining a larger fleet of stratotankers much more efficient is weeks away from completion. The project converts an airplane dock that previously could only accommodate the wings and foward portion of aircraft into a fully enclosed hangar that will allow for year-round painting and cleaning of KC-135R Stratotankers. According to Chief Master Sgt. Chris Chatham, 128th Air Refueling Wing maintenance operations flight chief, a detailed cleaning for stratotankers requires two days in an enclosed hangar. An isochronical inspection - fully reviewing, repairing and returning an aircraft to the flightline as mission ready - takes one month.

Corrosion is the biggest problem for today's aircraft, Chatham explained.

"It's always going to happen to these aircraft as they get older," he said.

Deployments near salt water require constant corrosion repair, and an aircraft deployed for even 30 days requires corrosion maintenance, he said.

Expansion began Sept. 13, 2010 according to Maj. Heath Duncan, 128th Air Refueling Wing civil engineering squadron commander. The project is expected to wrap up on July 10.

The project faced some challenges, such as winter's effects on the new foundation.

Contractors from KPH Construction of Milwaukee continue working on expanding an aircraft dock into an aircraft hangar at the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee. Dual hangars will give a greatly increased capability to the 128th Air Refueling Wing's maintenance squadron and improve efficiency by 40 to 50 percent. The expansion project's current cost estimate is approximately $4 million. 128th Air Refueling Wing photo by 2nd Lt. Nathan Wallin 

"We had to figure out a solution to these problems, and then execute the solution," Duncan said. He praised KPH Construction and the architect and engineering firm Mead and Hunt for their continuing role in mitigating the construction challenges.

"We wouldn't have done this without this team," he said.

Dual hangars will greatly increase the 128th Air Refueling Wing's maintenance capability, Chatham said. The existing hangar is used to great effect, but it is also the site for on-base functions regarding community interactions, such as the Civic Dinner Dance, or training events, such as base-wide annual training. With the new hangar, the maintenance squadron can continue its mission without interruption while also serving the needs of the base's population.

Furthermore, the 128th Air Refueling Wing will save money by reducing the amount of time spent maintaining each aircraft, Chatham said. This has become more important since the Wing acquired three new aircraft late last year, Chatham said.

"[This expansion will] increase our efficiency by 40 to 50 percent," Chatham said.

Wounded Warriors Compete as Ultimate Champions

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre, Expeditionary Combat Camera Public Affairs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NNS) -- Two Navy/Coast Guard team members will represent their team and their service in the fight for the Ultimate Champion title during the 2011 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 16-21.

The Ultimate Champion competition is a pentathlon – a contest featuring five different events – occurring throughout the week.

"It is a great honor to represent the Navy and my teammates as an elite competitor," said Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Aaron T. Heldreth. "I will demonstrate the fighting spirit of everyone on our team and in our Navy."

The Ultimate Champion competition events are the same for men and women, and include a 50-meter freestyle (swimming), 10-meter prone (air rifle shooting), 100-meter sprint (track), shot put (field event), and 30-kilometer ride (cycling).

"It definitely is a big deal," said retired Navy Lieutenant John C. Edmonston. "We are two people representing our entire team and trying to be crowned the Ultimate Champion. It also means that our team has faith in us to represent the Navy well."

The athletes understand the race toward the Ultimate Champion title is more than a test of physical strength; it also measures the heart of a champion.

"I am determined to push harder even when I think I am too tired to go on," said Heldreth. "I know my teammates are counting on me. My teammates would never quit, and I will not quit on them."

"We won the Ultimate Champion title last year," said Edmonston. "We would like to maintain the winning tradition, but it will be a greater challenge this year. Last year we had three athletes vying for the trophy, but this year we are down to two. The reality is that the bar of excellence has been raised. We will have to perform at the highest level, because we can't rely on another teammate to pick up the slack. With less people there are greater expectations."

"No matter what it looks like or feels like, we should always stay positive," said Heldreth. "I am ready for the challenge, because the only person that can beat me is me."

Team Navy/Coast Guard's Ultimate Champion hopefuls show no fear because they already have overcome great obstacles.

"I was in a motorcycle accident and my helmet came off," said Edmonston. "The end result was a traumatic brain injury, which is what got me in the competition. But I also had to recover from a broken back, a face broken in three places, a broken arm, and small muscle damage up and down my spine."

"I was involved in a car accident in 2008," said Heldreth. "My foot was crushed. I broke my back, and [I sustained] a lacerated liver. The police couldn't pull me out of the car when they arrived to the scene because my seatbelt was inside my stomach. It took three amputations to get my leg to where it is now (mid-calf)."

During the 2010 inaugural Warrior Games, Navy Chief Special Boat Operator Daniel Hathorn earned the title of Ultimate Champion.

The Warrior Games is a Paralympic-style sport event among 220 seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Team Navy/Coast Guard is sponsored by Navy Safe Harbor, the lead organization for coordinating the non-medical care of wounded, ill, and injured Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and their families. Through proactive leadership, Safe Harbor provides a lifetime of individually tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of enrollees' recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration activities.

"The Navy has done a great job of taking care of its people," said Edmonston. "Really, it is not about me, it is more about what Safe Harbor has done for me and my teammates. I have been in service for eight years and have always been proud to serve my country, but because of all that I have been through and how the Navy has helped, I am even prouder to put on that Red, White and 'Navy' Blue. HOOYAH!"

Wisconsin National Guard sweeps regional Best Warrior competition

By Spc. Cassandra Monroe
Iowa Army National Guard

Two Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers took top honors at the Region IV Best Warrior Competition May 9-12 at Camp Dodge, Iowa, and will now advance to compete against the best Soldiers across the National Guard for national honors in late July.

Thirteen Soldiers from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin competed in events such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, combat water survival test, M-9 pistol and M-4 rifle qualification, day and night land navigation, confidence course, a nine-mile road march with a 35-pound backpack, an essay and an appearance board in dress uniform.

Sgt. Steven Dahl of Oconto, a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry in Menomonee, Wis., bested six other competitors in the Soldier category at the Region IV Best Warrior Competition at Camp Dodge, Iowa, held May 9-12. He was a specialist when the competition began at the unit level last fall.

Sgt. Brandon Swanson of St. Croix Falls, also a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry in Chippewa Falls, Wis., beat out five other competitors in the noncommissioned officer category.

"It's a lot of weight off my chest, that's for sure," Dahl said. "I'm relieved now - hopefully next year I can sponsor one of my Soldiers and take it again to give him a heads up."

"The competition was great, and all the competitors were phenomenal, and in the end I was not expecting to win," Swanson added. "I can't even describe how I felt. I was just as happy when [Dahl's] name was called out because we're from the same company."

For Staff Sgt. Matthew Ward, a Green Bay, Wis., native and infantryman with Company A, preparing Dahl for the competition was second nature.

"I'm [his] squad leader actually, and I looked at him and said, 'You can pick anyone you want as your sponsor,' and he ended up picking me," Ward said.

Ward and Dahl prepared for the competition by modeling their training to mirror past competitions and by utilizing local training areas.

"We used a local armory to train, and we also came up to Ft. McCoy twice to do some training as well," Ward said. "Whatever resources we could get hold of, we used.

"I feel extremely proud, but he put in the effort," Ward continued. "He had the motivation and dedication to put in the work - that's what gave him the edge."

Staff Sgt. Joshua Eads, Swanson's sponsor, was also pleased.

"The level of competition was tough, but I think it brought out the best in him," Eads said. "Sgt. Swanson is literally a human sponge - he's one of those rare individuals that can take information from any given source at any type of level and he automatically processes it and applies it. He was born to do stuff like the Best Warrior Competition."

According to Command Sgt. Maj. John Breitsprecker, the senior enlisted advisor for the Iowa Army National Guard, the regional Best Warrior competition evaluated each Soldier's skill as a war fighter.

"Every one of the tasks we test here are Soldier-type skills, to include the combat water survival tasks, the marksmanship training and the physical readiness," Breitsprecker said. "It's all tied at what warriors do, either in combat or during their unit missions."

"I can't swim and water survival always gets me, but I did it no problem this time," Dahl said. "I surprised myself - when the going gets tough, you just have to stay calm and not worry about anyone else but yourself."

Wisconsin Army National Guard State Command Sgt. Major George Stopper said that the appearance board was a critical piece in evaluating the mental aptitude of competitors.

"It's a fairly intimidating event because [there are] three senior command sergeants major sitting in front of the room with the Soldier and [they] fire questions at them," said Stopper, who was also the president of the enlisted board. "We had 90 questions in a period of 30 minutes, but the reason why we give them so many questions is that so when they get to the next level in the competition, they've had exposure to a lot of different topics."

Spc. Matthew Kosloski, a Lansing, Mich., native and a cable systems installer maintainer with the 126th Network Signal Company, 46th Military Police Brigade, was chosen as the runner-up for the Soldier of the Year. Staff Sgt. Patrick Helderman of Medina, Ohio, a military policeman with 838th Military Police Company, was chosen as the runner up for the noncommissioned officer of the year.

This will mark the third straight year the Wisconsin Army National Guard has competed at the National Guard Bureau's Best Warrior Competition, held in late July at the Warrior Training Center, Fort Benning, Ga.

2011 Vigilant Guard exercise kicks off in Jefferson County

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Wisconsin National Guard's 54th Civil Support Team (CST), in coordination with several state and local agencies, participated in the first of several planned events of the 2011 Vigilant Guard large-scale exercise.
The exercise began in Jefferson County at approximately 8 a.m. Saturday (May 14) with a scenario where Boy Scouts, hiking on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, reported a chemical leak from a fertilizer tanker. Local emergency responders responded to the request under the exercise scenario and determined they would need extra support. By 9:30 a.m. the 54th CST advance party arrived on scene, with the main body arriving shortly thereafter.

The 54th CST's mission is to support local and state authorities at domestic emergency incident sites by identifying agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with requests for additional military support. Civilian authorities are always the first to respond to an incident - the National Guard is the nation's first military responder, supporting the governor and state emergency management agency.

"The CST provided safety of the scene, data modeling, communications and liaison between the incident commander and public health authorities," said Lt. Col. Timothy Covington, 54th CST commander. "This was a great opportunity to introduce our capabilities to local agencies and to show how those resources might be used in the event of a large scale disaster."

First Assistant Fire Chief Timothy Dorn of Jefferson County Fire Department, the incident commander for this event, agreed with Covington.

"This was a tremendous opportunity to learn about the resources, equipment and training that the CST can provide," Dorn said. "The CST was the difference between a prolonged [situation] and a fast and efficient resolution of this exercise."

Along with Jefferson County Fire Department and the CST, other local agencies participating in the event included the Lake Mills Fire Department, Johnson Creek Fire Department, Jefferson County Health Department and the Jefferson County Sherriff's Department.

"A large majority of the fire departments and emergency services personnel on scene today are volunteers," Dorn said. "This exercise provided a great opportunity to learn about collaborating across multiple volunteer organizations. I'd like to speak with Jefferson County about when we could schedule our next exercise."

The Vigilant Guard exercise continues for the remainder of the week with scenarios ranging from tornados and earthquakes to chemical spills and cyber attacks. Nearly 3,000 participants - representing up to 48 federal, state, county, volunteer and private agencies - will respond to complex mock emergencies in several communities across the state during the exercise.

Carter Hall Offloads 26th MEU

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristin L. Grover, USS Carter Hall Public Affairs

USS CARTER HALL, Morehead City, N.C. (NNS) -- USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) offloaded the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in Camp Lejeune and Morehead City, N.C., May 12.

The offload marked the end of 26 MEU's deployment, which began Aug. 27, 2010. The MEU and the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group to which it was attached, deployed a month earlier than planned to support relief efforts in Pakistan following floods that devasted that country.

"The 26 MEU and Carter Hall formed an outstanding partnership during this extended deployment," said USS Carter Hall Commanding Officer, Cmdr. George B. Doyon. "The Navy-Marine Corps team worked together as a cohesive unit, allowing us to successfully complete our mission in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility and return home safely."

Carter Hall conducted the offload using landing craft assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4. With those craft and the assistance of the ship's combat cargo department, the evolution was completed in one day.

Combat Cargo began planning with the 26 MEU weeks in advance to coordinate the movement of 87 Marines, 86 vehicles and 75 pallets of cargo off the ship.

"It takes a great deal of organization and planning to ensure that large evolutions like this run smoothly," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. William Baldwin, Combat Cargo assistant aboard Carter Hall. "This was another successful offload for Carter Hall due to the exceptional working relationship between Combat Cargo, ACU 4 and Deck Department."

While anchored off the coast of Camp Lejeune, N.C.; landing craft, air cushioned (LCAC), from ACU 4 transferred gear from ship to shore.

"We had to be ready to go first thing in the morning," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Linn. "Days like this are extremely busy for us, but it is rewarding to see the results of our efforts in the end. Everyone worked together to get the job done and we were able to complete the offload very quickly."

Once the LCACs removed a portion of the equipment from the ship, Carter Hall pulled into port in Morehead City, N.C., where the remaining cargo was unloaded using the ship's crane.

Carter Hall is part of Kearsarge amphibious ready group which is led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4, and is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15). Also attached is Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 6, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21-detachment 1, and Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4 and Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2 detachments.

The 26 MEU is based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., and consists of Battalion Landing Team 3/8, Combat Logistics Battalion 26, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced) and the command element.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and China’s Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Gen. Chen Bingde will conduct a briefing at 1:45 p.m. EDT in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass must be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than one hour prior to the event, have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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

This Day in Naval History - May 16

By Navy News Service

1820 - Congress becomes first U.S. warship to visit China.
1919 - Three Navy flying boats begin 1st trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland.
1965 - First U.S. gunfire support in Vietnam by USS Tucker.