Monday, August 15, 2011

Constitution Molds Chief Selectees

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathryn E. Macdonald, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution began its 14th annual Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Heritage Weeks training for CPO selectees Aug. 15.

Constitution's CPO mess designed CPO Heritage Weeks to instill pride in naval heritage and build esprit de corps while selectees lived and trained aboard the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

"The wonderful part about CPO Heritage Weeks is that Constitution Sailors get the opportunity to not only learn about the fleet but also meet the leaders who are out there," said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution commanding officer. "The big takeaway for the chief selects is they learn about and see all the things that Sailors assigned here do and how they live, plus they experience what life was like in the early Navy through gun and boarding pike drills, sail training, and living aboard 'Old Ironsides.'"

During CPO Heritage Weeks, Constitution's crew teaches approximately 300 chief selectees a variety of time-honored maritime evolutions. Selectees will learn boarding pike and War of 1812-era gun drills using Constitution's traditional 24-pound naval long guns. They also will learn small boat operations and how to climb the ship's shrouds.

"I hope to gain a deeper knowledge of our naval heritage through the selectee training," said Chief Culinary Specialist (Select) (SW) Brian Pettee. "Just recently being assigned to the USS Constitution and finding out I was selected to become a chief petty officer was an extremely humbling."

"One of the highlights of my first few weeks in command was calling in the three Sailors to tell them they were selected for chief," said Bonner. "It is a great feeling seeing the Sailors assigned to Constitution be recognized for all the outstanding work they have done both here and throughout their careers and demonstrates that we are getting the right people at this command."

Additionally, selectees supported the local community by helping at the New England Homeless Veterans Center, Old Soldier's Home in Chelsea, Mass., and Harvard-Kent Elementary School in Charlestown.

Mentor CPOs guide and train selectees as they endure the rigors of the CPO induction process.

"The chief selectees will be challenged throughout the week," said Senior Chief Yeoman (EXW) Anthony B. Iadevaia, a mentor chief for CPO Heritage Weeks. "The USS Constitution is a unique ship that truly exemplifies the need for teamwork. Selects will learn that only with teamwork will they be able to load the guns, raise the sails and get underway. These are only a few examples of tasks that require teamwork, effective communications, and leadership. All are critical to being 'the chief' and are decisive in their development as future CPOs."

Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history, as she welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.

Memorial Run Honors First Female Marine Killed in Action During OIF

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardel Gervacio, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island

NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 225 competitors hit the pavement during the 5th Annual Major Megan McClung Memorial Run aboard Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Aug. 13.

The memorial run, consisting of five- and 10-kilometer runs, is held each year in remembrance of McClung, who died Dec. 6, 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq.

She was the first female Marine Corps officer to be killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was also an avid marathon runner and six-time Ironman competitor.

Proceeds and donations from the run will go to support the Semper Fi Fund for wounded Marines.

"This is my third year participating, and it's great tribute, not only to Megan, but those that serve and put their lives on the line," said Christine Johnson of Sedro-Wooley, Wash.

Marine Corps Col. Bradley Close, Marine Aviation Training Support Group (MATSG) 53 commanding officer, was impressed with the command's cohesion and participation in this event.

"It's a great turn-out, we're really happy to see so many people come out and show their support for the Major McClung Memorial Run," said Close. "It's for a great cause; for a fallen warrior, one of our own and all the funds go to the Semper Fi Fund, which again goes to help wounded warriors and help with their transition."

MATSG 53 hosted the event, and according to McClung's parents and members of MATSG 53, they hope to gain even more support in upcoming years.

McClung's father, Michael, spoke about the event.

"Today's event is important for Megan's memory because Megan believed in mind, body and spirit, she believed that you need to be athletic, to get out and exercise, to clear you mind which will raise your spirit," said McClung. "It's a great turn-out; Megan encouraged people to run,. When she would run, she would finish the race, go back and help the slower runners along. Megan always said that it's not about winning the race, it's about finishing it."

Coming in first place in the 10-kilometer run was Brian Comer of Sammamish, Wash., at 37 minutes and 29 seconds. Matthew Reith of Oak Harbor, Wash., finished in first place in the five-kilometer run with a final time of 19 minutes and 8 seconds.

Marine to Receive Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Afghanistan

From a White House News Release

WASHINGTON – A former active-duty Marine now serving in the Inactive Ready Reserve will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama here Sept. 15 for conspicuous gallantry almost two years ago in Afghanistan, White House officials announced today.

Dakota Meyer will be the third living recipient - and first Marine - to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Meyer is receiving the nation’s highest military honor for actions Sept. 8, 2009, while he was serving with Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

He was born in Columbia, Ky., on June 26, 1988, attended local public schools, and graduated from Green County high school. In 2006, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He completed his active duty commitment last year and now serves in the Inactive Ready Reserve of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as a sergeant.

Meyer deployed twice to the combat theater, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, praised Meyer in a statement issued after the White House announcement.

"I am extremely pleased by the news that the president has announced that he will award the Medal of Honor to Sgt. Dakota Meyer,” he said. “Sergeant Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation's Corps of Marines. He is a living example of the brave young men and women whose service, fidelity and sacrifice make us so proud.

“Sergeant Meyer's heroic actions on Sept. 8, 2009, in the Ganjgal village in Afghanistan serve as an inspiration to all Marines and will forever be etched in our Corps' rich legacy of courage and valor,” Amos continued. “Speaking on the behalf of all Marines, I congratulate Sergeant Meyer on this auspicious news and look forward to his award ceremony here in Washington, D.C., in mid-September."

USS Blue Ridge Arrives in South Korea for Ulchi Freedom Guardian

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James Norman, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Busan, Republic of Korea (ROK), Aug. 13, in support of Commander U.S. 7th Fleet's participation in combined forces exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian, alongside the ROK navy.

While in Busan, Blue Ridge and embarked U.S. 7th Fleet Sailors will be directly engaged in the annual exercise, which strengthens U.S. and ROK forces' interoperability and capability to defend the ROK through field exercises and cyber scenarios.

"The purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the ROK-U.S. alliance and enhance the combat readiness of ROK and U.S. supporting forces through combined and joint training," said Blue Ridge's Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Ralston. "During the coming weeks, our Sailors will work closely with their ROK military counterparts to build upon relationships vital to achieving our shared goals.

Sailors will also have the opportunity to participate in community service (COMSERV) projects, enjoying the local culture of Busan.

COMSERV project volunteers are slated to visit the Blue Bird Senior Citizen's Center, where Sailors and Marines will go on walks and sing songs with the residents.

Volunteers will also visit Hee Rak-Wan Children's Welfare Facility and Jinhae Hope Children's Home, where they will play games with children and help clean the grounds of the facilities.

"I can't wait to play with the local boys and girls at the children's home that I'm volunteering for," said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Nicolette Lockwood. "It's always a pleasant experience seeing the children's faces light up whenever our Sailors enter the room."

Many Sailors will also have the opportunity to take part in Morale, Welfare and Recreation-sponsored tours which will include the shopping district of Osan and the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

"This is my third time to South Korea," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Mark Jean. "I always look forward to coming here. The different foods they offer here are always good and I'm constantly finding something I've never seen before."

There are also several sporting events such as basketball, soccer and volleyball in which U.S> Sailors will compete against ROK sailors. Sailors will also take to the street for the U.S. 7th Fleet-ROKN Liberation Day 5K run with ROK navy sailors Aug. 15.

Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force and is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, August 15, 2011

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