Military News

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, June 20, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has no public or media events on his schedule.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn is traveling.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will speak at 10 a.m. EDT at the U.S. National Naval Ice Center 4th Symposium on Impacts of Arctic Ice at the U.S. Navy Memorial, Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Cmdr. Charlie Brown, CNO's public affairs officer at 703-692-5307.

Lynn Visits World War I American Cemetery in France

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

BELLEAU, France, June 18, 2011 – “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds,” General of the Armies John J. Pershing said of U.S. service members. Near this village about 50 miles northeast of Paris today, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III brought truth to that assertion as he paid his respects to 2,288 U.S. soldiers and Marines – 251 of whom have never been identified – buried on the site where they helped to stem a German offensive during World War I.

Lynn placed a wreath at the foot of the stairs of the chapel that overlooks the at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, before visiting the chapel and the nearby Belleau Wood, where much of the fighting took place and many of the Americans buried at the cemetery died.

Flora Nicolas of the American Battlefield Monuments Commission, public affairs officer for the cemetery, explained that Belleau Wood was significant because it represented the last natural barrier between 300,000 advancing German soldiers and Paris. The 3rd U.S. Division was the first to arrive when reinforcements were called in to help the French defend the Marne River, and the 2nd U.S. Division – which included 9,000 Marines – was in a reserve position and came as quickly as possible to Belleau Wood.

The 2nd U.S. Division had to cross open wheat fields in Belleau, and took heavy casualties before the division’s Marines killed German machine gunners occupying higher ground. The battle lasted 20 days, and on June 26, 1918, Belleau Wood was taken from the Germans.

Ten American divisions joined the fight and pushed back the German lines, crushing the offensive and marking the beginning of the end of World War I, Nicolas said.

The cemetery here was one of many temporary wartime cemeteries established by the Army’s Graves Registration Service, and was known as the American Expeditionary Forces Cemetery No. 1764 - Belleau Wood. In 1921, Congress authorized retention of the cemetery as one of eight permanent World War I military cemeteries on foreign soil. The following year, an agreement with the French government granted its use as a military cemetery forever, free of charge or taxation.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, Lynn’s senior military assistant, placed a wreath at a memorial in Belleau Wood honoring the U.S. Marines who fought there as part of the U.S. 2nd Division.

Two members of Congress – U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida and U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes of California – also were on hand for the visit, which included a stop at the famous “Devil Dog Fountain,” which honors the fighting spirit of the Marines who took Belleau Wood in June 1918.

U.S., Japanese Navy Bands Partner in Seattle

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Jonathan A. Colon, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

SEATTLE (NNS) -- Navy Band Northwest performed a free concert with the traditional Japanese Taiko drummers and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Fleet Band at Westlake Plaza in Seattle, June 17.

The JMSDF flagship Kashima visited Seattle's port June 15-18, as part of a four-month deployment to multiple ports in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile. During the training the JMSDF band is embarked as the ship's crew.

"We felt very welcomed, and we felt we received a lot of energy from the crowd performing," said Lt. j.g. Masamichi Tanabe, bandmaster, JMSDF Training Band. "It was absolutely wonderful, and we were absolutely honored to play with the U.S. Navy band."

The Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle, said this year's visit is especially meaningful to Japan, which has received significant assistance from the U.S. and its military, in response to rescue and recovery efforts immediately following the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck the Tohoku region this past March.

"This type of concert gives us awareness of each other's talents," said Musician 3rd Class John Head, a member of Navy Band Northwest. "It's a joy to be a part of."

The mission of Navy Band Northwest is to provide musical support for official Navy functions and Navy recruiting efforts, and to serve the communities of the Pacific Northwest in a public relations capacity.

"It's an honor to play with these great musicians from Japan and they are all very good musicians," said Head. "It's very humbling."

Navy Band Northwest performs more than 500 engagements each year, including military and civic ceremonies, dances, school clinics, parades and public concerts.

More than 200 service members, Department of Defense personnel, and civilians from the Seattle area attended the event.

JSMDF have made such deployments since 1957, marking its 55th year on such deployments. The last time a JSMDF vessel visited Seattle was in 1998, when the JSMDF Escort Flotilla visited.

Kashima is staffed by nearly 300 crew members, including 116 officer trainees in the JSMDF.

14th Navy Reserve Force Master Chief Appointed

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Elizabeth Merriam, Commander, Navy Reserve Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The 14th Force Master Chief (FORCM) of the Navy Reserve was appointed during a ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. June 16.

FORCM(AW) Chris T. Wheeler said it is an honor and a privilege to be given the chance to lead Sailors and advise on important Navy matters.

"It's an honor to work for such a great Navy Reserve," Wheeler said. "[FORCM(FMF) Ronney A. Wright] did a fantastic job with leading us in the direction we need to be. Of course, we have some big challenges ahead, and we feel we have everything in place to meet those challenges. I'm looking forward to taking on those challenges. It's what we Sailors do best."

Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink, spoke at the ceremony about how chief petty officers drive the Navy Reserve forward, and passing the position of force master chief would greatly change Wheeler's world, but he would be up to the challenge.

"The new force master is certainly ready for the job," Debbink said. "He was carefully selected by a board of master chiefs, and I had the privilege of reviewing the selection process and I'm very confident he will do a great job. I guess my words of advice are 'hang on. It's going to be a fast ride.' I'm sure he will do a great job serving and supporting our force and our Sailors."

Following the appointment of Wheeler, departing FORCM Wright retired after 31 years of service.

"As the 14th FORCM you will be humbled by the opportunities you will have to meet and share with service members and families around the country and serving around the world," Wright said. "Be true to yourself and depend on the outstanding leadership in this room. They will support you because if you fail, they fail, and failure is not an option. Go forth and do great things for our Navy Reserve and our Navy."

The Navy Memorial auditorium was standing room only and as Wright gave his retirement speech, he asked everyone who serves to stand and recite the Sailor's Creed. As a united group the crowd stood and the Sailors Creed thundered through the room.

MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West spoke during his speech about the legacy Wright would leave behind.

"You never hear me say Navy Reserve unless I am making a point, and there is a reason for that," West said. "It wasn't always the case. He closed the gap. I get in a room; it's a room full of Sailors. There is no difference. If I go on a ship; it's a ship full of Sailors."

Wheeler has served 29 years in the Navy, previously serving as command master chief for Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve Command, and command master chief for Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific.

Gates, Mullen Support ‘Stand up for Heroes’

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke for the need for enduring support for service members at a fundraising event for wounded warriors and their families.

The Defense Department leaders spoke before a crowd of about 800 who gathered in the Ronald Reagan Building here for the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s ‘Stand Up For Heroes’ event.

“I would like to thank Bob and Lee Woodruff for all they’ve done and continue to do for our wounded warriors and their families,” Gates said.

Families of the wounded have sacrificed and suffered much, the secretary said, adding, “America is grateful and eternally in your debt for the care and support you provide every single day to our heroes.”

Gates told the wounded veterans in attendance, “I am continually amazed by your grit and your resilience.”

When he became defense secretary and first thought of visiting wounded men and women in uniform, Gates said, “I wasn’t sure I could handle it, or what I would say. Seeing firsthand the incredible sacrifice … I frankly wasn’t sure I could keep it together.”

Gates said people kept telling him, “They will lift you up.”

“And you have,” he said. “More than you can possibly imagine.”

When he became secretary, Gates said, he pledged to provide the best-possible care for those wounded in combat.

“I am confident with the commitment and help and advocacy of military leaders like Admiral Mullen and his wife, Deb, our local communities, and organizations such as the Woodruff Foundation, this Department of Defense and this country will do what is necessary to continue to fulfill our obligation to our wounded heroes,” Gates said.

At the heart of the volunteer force is a legal, social and sacred contract between the United States and the people who serve in its military, Gates said.

That contract, he said, is “an inviolable promise, that when young Americans step forward of their own free will to serve, they can do so with the expectation that they and their families will be properly cared for.”

That promise is carved in stone within President Abraham Lincoln’s memorial, Gates noted.

“His words echo through time,” the secretary said, “calling on us today to care for ‘him who shall have borne the battle.’”

“The debt owed by all Americans to those of you who have given so much can never be fully repaid,” Gates said. “You have my deepest gratitude and respect for all that you have given. Know that I, along with many others here tonight and all across the country, will be an advocate for you for the rest of my days.”

Mullen also emphasized the need for Americans to remember what service members and their families have contributed to the nation.

“We are grateful not only to the men and women who wear the uniform, but the families who have made so much possible and made such a difference in so many lives,” he said.

“We live in a time where so much is changing,” Mullen said. He noted that since Bob Woodruff, an ABC News correspondent, was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006, there have been significant improvements in battlefield medicine and support to wounded veterans and their families.

Still, there are “many, many who are sustaining these wounds, visible and invisible,” the chairman said.

“We have to figure out a way to make sure we are with them, in support, for the rest of their lives,” he said. “We can never forget what they’ve done … the sacrifices that they have stepped forward and made for our country, so we can be who we are.”

Mullen thanked the Woodruffs, who established the foundation after the newsman’s injury, for their dedication to helping wounded veterans and their families.

They “have chosen not to walk away,” the admiral said. “They set such a great example for so many to follow, … making sure we never forget those who have given so much.”

Mullen also paid tribute to Gates and his wife, Becky Gates, as a “very special couple.”

Gates will retire from his position at the end of this month, Mullen said, adding that his dedication as defense secretary “could not be matched, and could not have come at a more appropriate time.”

“I can tell you, firsthand, that there’s nobody, no one I have met, who is more dedicated to those of us in uniform than Bob Gates,” the chairman said. “He had been ferocious in his defense of us; he has been ferocious in seeking solutions to very difficult problems.”

“We will miss you, and we are forever grateful for all you’ve done,” Mullen told the secretary and his wife.

Navy Dad Receives Military Fatherhood Award

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Riley, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- A Naval Base Kitsap Sailor received the 2011 Military Fatherhood Award during a ceremony in Bremerton, Wash. June 16.

The National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) selected Logistics Specialist 1st Class Christopher Cady, leading petty officer at priority material office headquarters aboard Naval Base Kitsap, from nominees around the world.

NFI honors a military father every year who is dedicated to his children and displays ongoing commitment to father from a distance while deployed, balances military life and family life, and helps mentor other military fathers and children who are separated from each other.

"It's extremely humbling," said Cady. "I didn't learn about the award until I found out I was nominated; extremely humbling."

Out of nearly 600 nominations, Cady was narrowed down to one of the three finalists by NFI. The public then was able to vote for the winner through a special Facebook page which had video stories of each finalist.

Cady said NFI sent the finalists video cameras and instructions for making their video submissions.

"I don't think I'm doing anything that any other father wouldn't do," Cady said. "I am honored and humbled to receive this award."

NFI President Roland C. Warren said Cady exemplifies the best of what involved, responsible and committed fatherhood is all about. He said Cady has fully dedicated himself to caring for his son, but also honorably serves the Nation as an exemplary Sailor.

"NFI is truly honored to give this award to a truly amazing dad and Sailor," Warren said.

Cady is a single father who cares for his 11-year-old son, Joshua, who was born with Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and is legally blind and deaf. CMV affects muscle control and can cause seizures.

Cady says he's not comfortable being in the limelight but he likes the attention CMV is getting throughout his experience.