Military News

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Marine Gen. John R. Allen, commander, International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, will brief the media live from ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, at 9 a.m. EDT, in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on current operations in Afghanistan.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

A National Capital Region Flyover of Arlington National Cemetery occurs at 11:38 a.m. EDT with one B-52.

This Day in Naval History - Aug. 09

From the Navy News Service

1815 - Captain Stephen Decatur concludes treaty for the United States with Tripoli.
1842 - Signing of Webster-Ashburton Treaty under which United States and Great Britain agreed to cooperate in suppressing the slave trade.
1865 - Return of Naval Academy to Annapolis after four years at Newport, R.I.
1919 - Construction of rigid airship Shenandoah (ZR 1) is authorized.
1941 - Atlantic Charter Conference is first meeting between President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
1942 - Battle of Savo Island begins; First of many sea battles near Guadalcanal.
1945 - Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Navy weaponeer arms the atomic bomb.
1949 - First use of pilot-ejection seat for emergency escape in U.S. made by Lt. Jack I. Fruin of VF-171 near Walterboro, S.C.

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 Marks 160,000 Mishap-Free Hours

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Byron C. Linder, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41 "Seahawks" recognized a milestone of 160,000 operational hours without a Class A mishap Aug. 8.

A Class A mishap is defined as an incident with a total cost of more than $1 million, destroyed aircraft, fatal injury or total disability. HSM-41, which began service as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light 41 in 1983, has accumulated the hours over the course of the fleet replacement squadron's lifetime.

HSM-41 quality assurance representative, Aviation Electrician's Mate 1st Class Philbert Wiggan, a New York City native, explained the significance of the achievement.

"We're keeping the standard of safety Navy-wide. Our maintenance is by the book, and we're keeping to the command statement to train pilots and air crew to go out and protect the nation," said Wiggan. "For me personally, I know we've been doing our job right for 20-plus years, keeping aircraft in the air with no mishaps."

Wiggan credited an environment of collaboration to the squadron's success.

"When we get people who have been doing this for a while, and they have something to bring to the table, we'll we'll take it to keep our standard high. And with that, we can all go to our next command or that next platform and spread that knowledge," he said.

Wiggan explained the challenge of preparing for the varied environments and missions the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter HSM-41 trains personnel to operate in.

"It's such a diverse aircraft. It can carry people, conduct antisubmarine warfare, logistics, pretty much anything you need," said Wiggan. "There's any number of things that can happen, so we train harder than we fight. Then the people we train are prepared to face whatever challenges come up."

Wiggan emphasized the importance of acknowledging the past as well as looking to the future.

"This wasn't just achieved by those of us here today. This was done by those who came before us, and we have to keep striving. Keep that standard high so we can leave something to those we've trained to replace us," said Wiggan.

USFF Honors Individual Augmentees, Launches Hall of Honor Webpage

From U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF), the executive agent for the Navy's Individual Augmentee (IA) Continuum, launched the Navy IA Hall of Honor webpage Aug. 1.

The page was launched to help recognize and honor Navy men and women who served their country as IAs and performed above and beyond the call of duty in overseas contingency operations, supporting Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. It also recognizes IA Sailors who received awards for both combat service and meritorious service.

Since October 2001, one IA Sailor has received the Silver Star, the military's third highest combat service award. The Bronze Star has been awarded to 1,416 IA Sailors, the Bronze Star with Combat V device to 10 IA Sailors and the Purple Heart to 48 IA Sailors.

The Hall of Honor page also includes a special tribute in its "In Memoriam" section to IA Sailors who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"We are proud to launch this webpage to collectively thank our IA Sailors for their distinguished service. And it is fitting that we honor the service members who paid the ultimate price during overseas contingency operations," said Adm. J.C. Harvey, Jr., commander, USFF. "Their service and sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Navy IA Sailors have served and continue to serve in numerous capacities in both combat service and combat service support roles in areas such as logistics & contracting, engineering, security assistance, detainee operations, headquarters staff, medical support, military trainers, provincial reconstruction teams and many other roles alongside the sister services, particularly the Army, Marine Corps and Coalition partners.

IA Sailors identified in the Navy IA Hall of Honor were retrieved from the official Navy Awards database, Defense.gov and the Defense Manpower Data Center. Any unintended omissions from the site may be addressed via the "contact us" link on the webpage.

NAVFAC Far East Delivers Sustainable Energy to Fleet Activities Sasebo

By Ronald Inman, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Far East Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Far East Public Works Department (PWD) celebrated the installation of a new 76.6 kilowatt (kw) photovoltaic (PV) system during a ribbon cutting ceremony, Aug. 4, at the Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) Navy Exchange (NEX).

"This 76,590 watt PV system is comprised of over 300 solar modules," said PWD Sasebo Production Division Director Karl Dreikorn. "Each module is rated for approximately 230 watts. It is expected that this system will provide nearly 100 megawatt hours of energy production annually, which is approximately 80 percent of hourly peak electrical consumption of the NEX main store," he added.

While CFAS has previously installed solar photovoltaic systems, this is the first Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) funded initiative at the base. The Secretary of Defense allocates ECIP funds for renewable energy projects that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is our third ribbon cutting for solar renewable energy at CFAS," Dreikorn said. To date, including this system, CFAS has installed 725 solar modules, which are expected to produce over 220 megawatt hours of electricity annually, or the equivalent of enough electricity for 18 homes annually and 54,000 showers."

All three renewable energy systems on base equate to approximately 270,000 pounds of carbon reduction for the environment.

The design of the NEX PV system was completed in December 2009, and the contract for it was awarded in September 2010. PWD Sasebo plans to implement more renewable energy projects at CFAS with anticipation of additional ECIP funding in the future.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus laid out five aggressive energy goals in October 2009 to improve our energy security and efficiency, increase our energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy. This initiative assists in achieving the energy goal of increasing alternative energy afloat and ashore where by 2020, the Department of the Navy (DON) will produce at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources and 50 percent of DON installations will be net-zero.

Maryland Guard, Australians develop bond during Talisman Sabre

By Army Spc. JP Lawrence
New York National Guard

CAMP GROWL, Australia (8/9/11) -- Maryland Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Eric Zubkus and Australian Defence Force Pvt. James Adams couldn’t be seen as they burrow under a framework of earth, grass and branches to scan the bush.

But they could be heard.

The Australian and the American are sharing a laugh with other Soldiers from the 1st Battalion 158th Cavalry Squadron (Long Range Surveillance) as they got ready to play their part in Exercise Talisman Sabre, a joint Australian/American exercise that ran here from July 11 to July 29.

The exercise brought together 22,000 troops from different branches of the U.S. and Australian military in a combined training environment, and brought Zubkus and his Soldiers to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area near the northeast coast of Australia.

It also brought Adams, and Australian Pvt. Neal Cullinan, both scouts in the Australian Defence Force’s Pilbarra Regiment, into Zubkus’ squad.

Both the ADF scouts and the LRS team are reconnaissance troops, trained in the art of infiltrating hostile territory in small groups with a backload of gear, staying hidden behind enemy lines for as long as the mission demands, and then bringing back what they saw to their higher headquarters.

For both parties, it was no surprise when the Australians were able to step seamlessly into training administered by the Americans.

Even more impressive, Zubkus said, was the ease in which the brash, enthusiastic Adams and the soft-spoken Cullinan meshed with his unit.

“It’s great for camaraderie, for espirit de corps, have a couple of guys from completely the other side of the world, two very different guys, come in,” Zubkus said. “Within five minutes of being attached to my team, they fit right in as if they were part of my unit their whole careers.”

That everyone speaks English -- or a least some form of it -- certainly goes a long way in bridging the cultural gap. To Zubkus’s Soldiers, the two Aussies are living, breathing dictionaries to consult whenever they want to know how to say some word or another in an Australian accent.

Additionally, both Aussie soldiers said they soon found themselves as the authorities on anything Aussie: Paul Hogan, Vegemite and Australia’s poisonous snakes, poisonous spiders, and poisonous platypuses.

“It’s all in good fun,” Adams said, admitting at times he exaggerates the dangers of Australian wildlife. “It’s too bad they’ve caught on.”

What united the two groups more than anything, however, may simply be the culture of being a modern warrior.

“It’s pretty easy for us to intermingle,” he said, “because we’re taught the same way, and we’re basically looking for the same things: covering your buddy and staying alive.”

For instance, during one training exercise, ten small military items were hidden in a patch of forest to test the Soldiers’ surveillance skills. With the aid of their scopes and binoculars, Soldiers were supposed to locate all ten and make a rough map of their location.

It’s a familiar drill for the Aussies, and Adams found almost all the hidden items.

“I think that’s the good thing about doing these exercises; it confirms that if we go to war together, our armies can work pretty seamlessly,” Adams said.

There is one small difference, however.

Since Adams’ Pilberra Regiment, a non-deployable defense-oriented reserve team, spends more time dealing with smugglers than Zubkus’s more infantry-oriented team, Adams was able to share at the end of the event how his unit places items higher up in the treetops, to encourage them to survey all heights and angles.

“That’s where smugglers hide their caches,” Adams explained.

Not every lesson is applicable between units, Zubkus said.

But discussing these differences often leads both groups to examine why they follow their practices in the first place.

Paradoxically, the differences in how they are taught bring the two groups together as they talk shop and swap tactics.

“A certain team leader who works with the Aussies might find something great about something they do and implement it in their team,” Zubkus said, “and then guys, when they switch back and forth between teams, they can bring that cross training to another team.”

In turn, Adams and Cullinan said they enjoy being able to work with the well-traveled LRS soldiers.

“It’s always better to get information from experienced people who have tried and tested these techniques,” Cullinan said.

“It gives you that confidence and competence that comes from real life situational awareness, rather than being trained and not having the feel of being in that situation, that mindset that ‘yes, you can do this.’”

While Zubkus and Adams checked out their hide site, similar exercises were being held at six training areas in central and northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, and in the Coral, Timor and Arafura Seas.

But in this one small hole in the ground, interoperability had another name: kinship.

“It’s comfortable in here,” says Zubkus, glancing around the hide-site.

“Yeah,” Adams responds, “it’s a real love nest.”

Outside their brothers-in-arms erupted in raucous laughter.

Soldier Missing in Action from WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being buried with full military honors.

Army Pfc. William F. Stehlin of Dayton, Ky., will be buried on Aug. 11 in Arlington National Cemetery.  On Nov. 20, 1944, Stehlin, as part of the 333rd Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, went missing near Süggerath while his unit conducted a largely successful offensive to capture towns in Western Germany. In 1951, after an extensive search, his remains were determined unrecoverable by U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel.

In 2009, a German citizen digging in a wooded area near Süggerath, discovered a grave with the remains of two individuals, military-related equipment and identification tags.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command laboratory also used dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.  The other individual, Pfc. Edward L. O’Toole, was identified and buried on July 15 in San Bruno, Calif.

Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

McKinley: America Must Preserve Tuskegee Airmen’s Legacy

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

Learn more about their courage and sacrifice by checking out the best Tuskegee Airmen books.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 – As the accomplishments of the World War II-era Tuskegee Airmen fade into U.S. history, a grateful nation must work to keep their legacy alive, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said at the 40th annual Tuskegee Airmen convention.

“The reality of human behavior is that the further in time we get from an event in history, the further it slips from our memory,” Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley said Aug. 5 at the gathering of the group named for the nation’s first African-American fighter pilots at National Harbor, Md. “I don’t want to see this happen to the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.”

The military made a tangible step in preserving the unit’s heritage when in 2007 the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard deactivated its 160th Fighter Squadron and reactivated it as the 100th Fighter Squadron in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, said McKinley, who was director of the Air National Guard at the time. But, there is more the military and the nation can do to preserve and replicate their legacy, he said.

McKinley spoke of the airmen’s commitment to service, noting that it came during a time of Jim Crow segregation laws when “this country was telling African-Americans they couldn’t stay in the same hotels as white people, they couldn’t attend the same schools as white people, and in some cases, they couldn’t even enter a building through the same door as white people.

“Why then would the Tuskegee Airmen in the 1940s choose to fight for our country?” the general asked. “I’ll bet that if you asked the original Tuskegee Airmen … a common answer would be commitment to service and preserving our nation for the next generation to make it better.”

All service members can carry on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by striving for excellence, McKinley said. He noted the accomplishments of the airmen, which include more than 16,000 combat sorties with 115 German aircraft destroyed in the air and another 150 on the ground, and 950 German vehicles destroyed. Their commendations include three Distinguished Unit Citations, about 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, at least one Silver Star, 14 Bronze Stars, 748 Air Medals and eight Purple Hearts.

“If you want an example of excellence, there it is,” McKinley said to applause.

The military can do more to carry on the Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy, he said, by conducting outreach to make more young people eligible for recruitment. Pentagon statistics show that three out of four Americans ages 17 through 24, and more often minorities, cannot be recruited due to inadequate education, health problems or criminal history, he said.

The services also must continue with efforts to promote diversity as a core value, making its leadership as diverse as America, and hold senior officers accountable for progress, McKinley said.

Also, the general said, the nation needs to prime its young people to maintain U.S. superiority in science and technology, noting increased competition from China, Russia, Canada and Brazil in aviation and aerospace.

“We have to ask ourselves, who is going to design America’s unmanned aerial vehicle technology of the future?” he said. “Who will build the next stealth bomber? Who will go to Mars?”

With fewer and fewer Americans having a family member who served in the military, McKinley said, service members and veterans must serve as the example. And, for those who cannot serve in the military, he encouraged other forms of service, such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

“Those of us who have influence over the younger generation of Americans can encourage them to continue the tradition of American aviation and to follow the Tuskegee Airmen’s example of service to our nation above self,” he said. “For 70 years, the Tuskegee Airmen have rightfully been hailed as America’s heroes. Through the actions we take starting today, we can ensure that their legacy lives -- then, now and in the future.”

Service Members Embody Best of America, Obama Says

By Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The five aircrew members and 25 special operations personnel killed in a Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Aug. 6 -- and their fellow U.S. service members -- embody the qualities America needs most for its future, President Barack Obama said Aug. 8.

"What sets us apart is that we've always not just had the capacity, but also the will to act, the determination to shape our future, the willingness in our democracy to work out our differences in a sensible way and to move forward not just for this generation, but for the next generation," Obama said during a news conference dedicated mostly to the latest downturn in the U.S. economy and the national political stalemates that have accompanied it.

Americans "need to summon that spirit today," Obama said, adding that he is hopeful for the future because of Americans' perseverance, courage and "willingness to shoulder the burdens we face together, as one nation."

"There is no one who embodies the qualities that I mentioned more than the men and women of the United States armed forces," the president said, evoking those lost on the helicopter.

"Their loss is a stark reminder of the risks that our men and women in uniform take every single day on behalf of their country," he said. "Day after day, night after night, they carry out missions like this in the face of enemy fire and grave danger."

Obama noted that Afghan commandos also were killed in the crash, and said that after speaking with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. commanders there, "I know that our troops will continue the hard work of transitioning to a stronger Afghan government and ensuring that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for terrorists.

"We will press on and we will succeed," the president added.

Reflecting on the lost service members, and all U.S. service members and their families, Obama said, "These men and women put their lives on the line for the values that bind us together as a nation. They come from different places, and their backgrounds and beliefs reflect the rich diversity of America.

"But no matter what differences they might have as individuals, they serve this nation as a team," he continued. "They meet their responsibilities together. And some of them, like the 30 Americans who were lost this weekend, give their lives for their country.

"Our responsibility is to ensure that their legacy is an America that reflects their courage, their commitment and their sense of common purpose.”

U.S. Special Ops Forces Unmatched in World, McRaven Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 – U.S. special operations forces are unmatched by any country in the world, said Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, who assumed command of the Tampa, Fla.,-based U.S. Special Operations Command today.

McRaven took the reins from Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson during a ceremony presided over by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. The video of the ceremony streamed to special operations teams around the world.

McRaven had been the commander of Joint Special Operations Command and worked with then-CIA Director Panetta to find and kill Osama bin Laden. The admiral told Panetta he looks forward to working with him in his new position.

“Today’s [U.S.] special operations forces are the finest the world has ever seen,” McRaven said. “As demonstrated time and again, their courage, their experience, their dedication to the mission and their sense of patriotism is unparalleled in the annals of history.”

McRaven, who was promoted to four-star rank earlier, also praised families of special operations personnel. “Behind every SOF warrior stands a family of equal strength and commitment,” he said. “As a nation, we are blessed to have such magnificent patriots.”

McRaven spoke directly to special operations personnel during his short statement upon taking command. “I look forward to serving with you,” he said. “The world today is as unpredictable as ever. As such, the American people will expect us to … answer every call to arms, to venture where other forces cannot and to win every fight no matter how tough or how long. They will expect it because we are the nation’s special operations force, and I guarantee you we will not let them down.”

McRaven, a Navy SEAL, has commanded at every level from SEAL platoon leader to his current position. He served during Desert Storm and was commander of Special Operations Command Europe where he also served as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Coordination Center.

Tuskegee Airmen Observe 70-Year Legacy

By Air Force Master Sgt. Tracy DeMarco
Air Force District of Washington

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 – More than 650 people gathered Aug. 3-7 for the 40th annual Tuskegee Airmen convention, which featured events throughout the national capital region.

This year's theme, "70 Years of Aviation Excellence: Then, Now, the Future," celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Tuskegee Airmen legacy.

Sixty-seven original Tuskegee Airmen registered for the convention; among them was retired Col. Charles E. McGee.

"Because we were segregated, we were together over a long time, so some lifelong friendships have come out of that experience," McGee said. "Gathering at conventions is our way of keeping in touch, even though our numbers are dropping off. Conventions are a chance for us to share with others in the different communities."

The week kicked off Aug. 3 with the final flight of an Army 1944 PT-13 Stearman biplane, as it flew along the Potomac River. The aircraft originally was used to train Tuskegee pilots before retiring from military service as a crop duster.

Recognized as a vital piece of aviation and African-American history, the biplane -- named the "Spirit of Tuskegee" -- will be viewed by future generations at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

The Tuskegee Airmen also honored their brethren who lost their lives in service to their country with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial, and they received a sneak peak of the national memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. that is set to open to the public later this month on the National Mall.

Aug. 4 was set aside to inspire the aviators of tomorrow. About 400 teenagers from across the nation began their day at Joint Base Andrews, Md. They toured static aircraft displays, watched operational demonstrations and tried on military gear. The teens then traveled to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor where they enjoyed a lunch with influential aviation and military leaders, including the Tuskegee Airmen.

"It's going great," said Trent Dudley, the president of the Tuskegee Airmen’s East Coast chapter and event coordinator. "Any time you can link the original airmen with the youth is wonderful."

McGee noted the importance of continuing the Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy.

"The way I put it when I talk to 7th graders or 8th graders is they need to realize that 25 years from now what's going on in the country is going to be what they're doing," he said. "So we hope that they're still focused to preserve our freedoms and still seek equal opportunity and equal access for all."

The Aug. 4 focus turned to the military members making sacrifices in today's wars. An executive and senior-leader panel fielded questions from an almost all-military audience. Topics included possible changes to the military retirement system, diversity in the military and mentoring.

"Diversity is a military necessity," said Jarris Taylor Jr., deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for strategic diversity integration. "Diversity is a leadership and managerial philosophy, not military equal opportunity. It's about organizational change."

"The more diverse that we are, the better," said retired Lt. Col. James C. Warren, an original Tuskegee Airman. "If we quit using hyphenations in America, we'll get along much better. I'm not an African-American -- I'm an American citizen."

Warren has attended 39 of the 40 Tuskegee Airmen conventions. He missed one because he was still on active duty serving in the Vietnam War.

Halfway through the day Aug. 5, a large crowd of hotel staff and guests lined the hallway outside the ballroom used for the convention. When the Tuskegee Airmen and current military service members broke for lunch, they were greeted with an explosion of clapping and cheering.

"It's such an honor for us to be able to host the Tuskegee Airmen. They are American icons," said Aimie Gorrell, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center director of public relations. "We were thrilled that about 400 of our staff were able to take time away from their work today to come out and do what we call a 'standing ovation.' We do a standing ovation for our very most VIP guests and customers, and certainly the Tuskegee Airmen are our true VIPs today."

The convention served as a reminder of just how diverse American society has become in present day, McGee said.

"It's been rewarding to be a part of the experience," McGee said, "and see that change has taken place. I believe it's for the good. Our country is more diverse now than it was then, so we need to stay on that road, … because talent doesn't come with happenstance of birth."

Leap Frogs Jump Start State Games of America

By Seaman Jumar T. Balacy, U.S. Navy Parachute Team Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Members assigned to the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, performed during the opening ceremony of the 2011 State Games of America at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego Aug. 5.

The jump helped kick off the four-day sporting event, which included more than 10,000 athletes from 47 states who competed in 26 athletic disciplines.

Approximately 20,000 spectators watched the Leap Frogs jump and chanted "USA" as the team came in to land. Several jumpers trailed colored smoke across the sky as they performed canopy formations including a down plane -- a maneuver in which two jumpers lock their legs together and turn their canopies to face the ground before separating to land. Niko Bluffin, a 15-year-old musician from San Diego, played the national anthem on guitar as Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Justin Gauny flew a large American flag above the cheering crowd.

"The State Games is a way for [athletes] to feel what it's like to be an Olympic athlete. When you're an Olympic athlete, there's an element of patriotism," said Barclay Kruse, president of the National Congress of State Games -- the governing body for the Games. "You're representing your country and so having the Navy Seals jump team tonight is an awesome thing for the kids to see."

The Leap Frogs presented Kruse with a signed photograph of the team commemorating the event after the performance.

"It's a privilege to be part of such a special event recognizing young athletes for their hard-earned victories from each of their respective states," said Chief Warrant Officer (SEAL) Keith Pritchett, Leap Frogs officer-in-charge. "The athletes are excited to be here and I think the Navy Parachute Team was able to add to that excitement. We're proud of all of them. They're all winners and we wish them the best of luck during the next few days of competition."

The U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, is composed of parachute experts assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif., including Navy Seals, special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, and support personnel. The team performs at various events across the United States as part of America's Navy -- a global force for good -- in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy Recruiting.

Samuel B. Roberts Crew Volunteers in Dar es Salaam

By Seaman Jacob Wiley, USS Samuel B. Roberts Public Affairs

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) participated in a community relations (COMREL) project cleaning and painting classrooms at Makongo Primary School, Aug. 4 -5, as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East's Tanzania Hub.

COMREL activities included cleaning, minor repairs and painting for the interior and exterior of two of the school´s classrooms. Samuel B. Roberts Sailors also played and conversed with the students during their recess.

Makongo currently has 28 teachers on staff with seven classrooms containing 80-160 students to a class. With 42% of Tanzania´s population under the age of 15, preservation of classrooms plays a key role in providing space for children to learn.

LT Dennis D. Strang, Samuel B. Roberts COMREL project coordinator, said the joy he received from being around such special kids made the project worth the long hours.

"We got to learn their phrases and see how their educational structure is set up," said Strang. "It amazes me how every single one of these kids learns their tribal language, Swahili, and English with such limited resources."

Makongo school teacher, Lorencia Magerra said the project had been needed for quite some time.

"We were very happy to have the U.S. Navy come to our school to assist us with our classrooms," said Magerra. "A fresh coat of paint helps us all feel more comfortable with where we are working and learning."

Logistics Specialist 1st Class Lasean A. Biggs, one of 40 Sailors to assist with the project, said he enjoys helping out when he gets the chance to give back to the less fortunate.

"At first glance, my impression of the school was that it's actually pretty organized," Biggs said. "It was nice to see how well educated the kids are and to get some pictures with some of them. I had fun and hope to get more people involved next time."

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.