Thursday, August 18, 2011

NASCAR Star Visits Eisenhower

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zach Martin, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

AT SEA (NNS) -- National Association of Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR) Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series celebrity driver Carl Edwards took time to travel to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on, Aug. 16.

Edwards is best known for winning the 2005 NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year and 2007 Busch Series Champion awards, along with the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

Edwards and his group made an arrested landing on the ship's flight deck in a C-2A Greyhound, part of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40, and spent time observing Dwight D. Eisenhower conducting carrier qualifications (CQ) from the flight deck.

"There's absolutely no comparison between what I do and what these men and women do for thirteen hours every day on the flight deck," Edwards said. "The sacrifices you guys make, taking huge risks, the dedication and the hours you all put in is incredible."

Master Chief Gunner's Mate (SW/AW) Jason Robertson, one of Edwards' escorts, said he's been a lifelong racing fan and was thrilled at the chance to meet Edwards not only for himself, but for his family.

"I like Mr. Edwards myself but I'm most excited because I will get a picture and autograph for my father-in-law," Robertson said. "I would also like to thank Mr. Edwards for taking time out of his busy schedule to show respect for all our service men and women."

Following the group's experience and watching flight operations in action, Edwards set up shop in the ship's hangar bay to sign autographs and interact with the crew.

"Everybody has been awesome, I've met people from all over the country, and even some from my hometown," Edwards said. "I even met someone whose sister went to prom with my brother!"

Lt. Raleigh Stahl, assistant air operations officer for Commander, Carrier Strike Group EIGHT, was one of the Sailors in line to receive an autograph from Edwards. "He's a NASCAR driver, and I'm excited to be here," Stahl said, "It's awesome to see one of the guys you watch every weekend here on the ship."

Following the signing, Edwards joined the crew on the ship's mess decks for dinner, and was surprised with a belated birthday cake celebrating his day-prior Aug. 15 birthday.

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Samantha Fergus, who designed, baked and built Edwards' birthday cake, said the chance to create pastry art for a sports celebrity was an opportunity for her to showcase her talents.

"I'm really excited," Fergus said. "It was my first real celebrity experience."

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, August 18, 2011

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

Alisa Stack, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command deputy chief of staff for stability, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at 10:30 a.m. EDT in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on governance and stability efforts 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 11:48 a.m. EDT with one KC-135.

Face of Defense: Guardsman Aids Injured at Indiana State Fair

By Army Sgt. John Crosby
120th Public Affairs Detachment

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 17, 2011 – An Indiana Air National Guardsman leaped into action to help others here Aug. 13 when a concert stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, killing five people and injuring at least 40 others.

Air Force Master Sergeant James Stranahan of Shelburn, Ind., assigned to the 53rd Civil Support Team, was in the third row of the stands when the stage collapsed onto about 50 people. He jumped over the guard rail and took action.

Stranahan, a senior medic, triaged, treated and helped to evacuate more than a dozen injured people. Having responded to mass casualty situations before on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, the tragedy at the fair hit very close to home.

“In the military, there’s always that potential [for death or injury],” Stranahan said. “But, an accident of this magnitude, it’s tough. I’m an older guy; I feel like I can handle it. I feel bad for those kids that have to live with this memory for the rest of their lives.”

Stranahan has more than 29 years in the military, including more than 20 years in the Indiana Army and Air National Guard. His mission with the 53rd CST is to respond to civil emergencies, from natural disasters to attacks from weapons of mass destruction.

Stranahan attended the fair with this girlfriend, he said, noting they’d watched the opening act from the sand pit located just in front of the stage. Stranahan and his girlfriend returned to their seats after the opening act, he said.

About 30 minutes later, tragedy struck. Stranahan described the strong and sudden 60-mph gust of wind that collapsed the stage.

“Within just a few minutes, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped,” Stranahan said. “I could see just a wall of dust and debris tear through the Ferris wheel.”

Stranahan said the wind then hit the stage, causing it to fall within seconds.

“With all my military training, and the medical side, I knew I needed to spring into action to help these injured people,” he said.

“After the collapse of the stage, we started using whatever we could to help evacuate the casualties out from underneath the stage. We used the chairs that were knocked down -- we folded them up and used them as litters. Guys were cutting pieces of tarp, taking pieces of the collapsed stage -- whatever they could find -- to help these injured people.”

Stranahan said he and others worked for more than an hour through the storm to try to help as many people as they could. He treated head wounds, lacerations, broken bones and other injuries, and said he was amazed by the multitude of bystanders who stepped forward. Doctors, nurses, and service members sprang into action to aid the injured, he said.

“It was very gratifying to me, being military and me being a Hoosier, to see so many people come together so quickly from all different walks of life to help save those injured folks,” Stranahan said.

Stranahan’s enlisted supervisor praised his actions at the fair.

“His many experiences range from deploying for Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom, to responding to Hurricane Katrina,” said Army 1st Sgt. Tyson Johnson, 53rd CST. “All of this contributes to his immediate responsible reaction to the incident at the fairgrounds.”

This Day in Naval History - Aug. 17

From the Navy News Service

1812 - Frigate President captures British schooner L'Adeline in North Atlantic.  Read about this and other battles that saved this country from these War of 1812 books.
1942 - Submarines USS Nautilus (SS 168) and USS Argonaut (SS 166) land 222 Marines on Makin Island, first amphibious attack made from submarines.
1959 - Adm. Arleigh Burke re-appointed as Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) for third two-year term, serving longest term as CNO.
1962 - Navy's first hydrofoil patrol craft, USS High Point (PCH 1) launched at Seattle, Wash.