Friday, August 19, 2011

Eisenhower Conducts Burial at Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rob Rupp, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

USS EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (IKE) gathered to honor the deaths of two former Sailors in a burial at sea ceremony, Aug. 18.

"It was quite the honor to be able to participate in the ceremony and a humbling experience to meld the religious aspects with military honors for the burial," said Lt. Cmdr. Tom Statler, one of IKE's chaplains.

In earlier days, burial at sea was an absolute necessity when a death occurred on board a ship.

Today, it is seldom necessary to bury members at sea, except in time of war. On occasion, naval personnel who die ashore, or naval retirees, request a burial at sea.

These requests are honored whenever possible. Such requests are submitted to the cognizant naval area commander for approval. If authorized, the date of the burial will be determined by the availability of the concerned naval vessel.

"It takes a lot of preparation to conduct a burial at sea," said Statler. "Coordinating this ceremony involved a wide variety of people from the command, such as arranging the honor guard and a firing squad to be there."

The ceremony was composed of religious rites, which consisted of reading scriptures, prayer, the committal and Benediction. Military honors consisted of the firing of three volleys after the Benediction, Taps, and the folding and presentation of the United States flag to the Executive Officer and Command Master Chief, who received it on behalf of the deceased's next of kin.

"The families trust the Navy with the remains of their deceased to carry out their final wishes," said Statler. "Death can be such a great enemy at times, and remembering the life of someone that has passed away can be a great opportunity to bring comfort and joy to the families whom experienced such a significant loss."

Individuals eligible for this program are: active duty members of uniformed services; retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command: and dependent family members of active duty personnel, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services.

Eisenhower is currently underway conducting carrier qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean.

Motorcycle Ride Kicks Off 9/11 Memorial Observances

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – Tenth-anniversary commemorations of the 9/11 terror attacks will begin kicking off tomorrow, as almost 2,500 motorcyclists launch the 11th America’s 9/11 Ride that begins in Shanksville, Pa., and continues over the next three days to the Pentagon and World Trade Center crash sites.

The annual memorial ride, sponsored by America’s 911 Foundation Inc., honors more than 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks, including 184 killed when American Airlines Flight 77 exploded into the Pentagon, as well as the first responders who rushed to all three locations.

Sept. 11 survivors, families who lost loved ones in the attacks and first responders are among those registered for this year’s memorial ride, to kick off tomorrow evening in Pennsylvania’s Somerset County. There, the first phase of a new Flight 93 National Memorial honoring 40 people killed aboard the flight will be dedicated Sept. 10.

Following an evening memorial concert by rock ‘n’ roll “screamer” Donnie Iris Aug. 18, the motorcycle procession will depart early the next day for the Pentagon Memorial. There, riders will pay tribute to victims of the Pentagon attack, including the 58 passengers, four flight attendants and two pilots aboard the hijacked Boeing 757 and 125 people inside the Pentagon.

Country music star Aaron Tippin, best known in military circles for his “You’ve Got to Stand for Something” single that became a popular anthem for troops fighting in the Gulf War and his No. 1 post-9/11 hit, “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagles Fly,” will present a free concert that evening in nearby Arlington, Va.

The last leg of the ride will begin at the Pentagon early Aug. 20 as the motorcyclists travel to ground zero in New York. The following day, they will participate in a World Trade Center ceremony honoring 2,753 victims of the attacks there, which includes deaths from respiratory disease linked to the towers’ collapse.

Ted Sjurseth, who with his wife, Lisa, founded America’s 911 Foundation in October 2001, sponsored the first memorial ride the following month with 250 participants. The ride has increased in size over the past decade, and Sjurseth said he’s excited that the 10-anniversary ride will be the largest yet.

“We’re focused on making this year’s ride better than ever and taking what we’ve been working on over the past 10 years to the next level,” he said. “Through this year’s program, along with the ride, we will continue our primary mission to remember and honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.”

The ride also raises money for programs that support families of first responders, foundation officials said. Over the past six years, the foundation has awarded more than $180,000 in college scholarships to more than 75 children of emergency responders, and donated more than $500,000 in new equipment and contributions to first-responder departments.

“We're here to honor the heroes we have around us every day,” Sjurseth said.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Receives Award for Reservist, Guard Support

From Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) was recognized for its outstanding support to employees serving in the Reserve and National Guard during an Aug. 12 ceremony.

The command received a Patriot Award and Department of Defense certificate of appreciation from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve committee, a Defense Department organization charged to develop and promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees.

In addition, the Washington State ESGR committee presented the shipyard with the prestigious Above and Beyond Award, hailing the extra mile which PSNS & IMF goes to take good care of its activated employees.

One of those employees, Jason Donat, nominated the command for the awards for the support he received from the command when he was recalled for duty in Afghanistan.

"I took a moment to think about my civilian employer, PSNS & IMF, and realized how fortunate I was that they continually supported me and my spouse, Samantha, throughout my extended orders away from my home, family and my civilian job," explained Donat. "So, I decided to nominate PSNS & IMF as a whole for the support they have provided and to show them the impact it makes."

Donat spoke of the exceptional support both he and his wife received from the command's human resources, the leadership in his code, the outpouring from co-workers, and the flexibility he was given in his schedule.

"What we try to provide, over and above requirements, is the easiest transition possible for our employees who are activated," said Capt. Mark Whitney, PSNS commander. "We make certain we are prepared to meet the needs of our reserve service members and answer their questions with efficiency and accuracy."

PSNS & IMF provides additional support through an Employee Resource Group specifically for veterans and reservists. This group assists with connecting employees and their families with resources needed when called back to active service. The command also makes every effort to make the transition back to the employee's civilian work as easy as possible.

"It's our responsibility to come to work every day to support our nation," Whitney said to Donat. "You are the one going 'above and beyond' going to war for the country."

Arkansas Navy SEAL Remembered

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jamica Johnson, Navy Public Affairs Support Element

GREEN FOREST, Ark. (NNS) -- Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief (SEAL/SW) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, was honored in a memorial service at the Green Forest Assembly of God Church in Green Forest, Ark., Aug 16.

Ratzlaff was one of 30 U.S service members killed when a coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on, Aug 6.

Tuesday morning family, friends, service members and the community of Green Forest gathered to both celebrate the life and mourn the loss of their loved one.

The parking lot and walkways of the chapel were lined with volunteers from the Patriot Guard Riders and the Daughters of the American Revolution, all waving American flags and offering their support to the family of the fallen veteran.

Pastor Gray Hayhurst led the memorial service and spoke of Ratzlaff's life and Naval career. He consoled the family for their loss and thanked the veterans for their service.

Senior Chief Ratzlaff was described as being "selflessly dedicated to serving his family, country and brothers in arms. He was an extraordinary hero and his commitment to freedom will remain as a hallmark for Special Operations Warriors."

Ratzlaff was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (5th award), Defense Meritoriously Service Medal, and the Purple Heart.

Ratzlaff's interment is scheduled to take place at Arlington National Cemetery later this month.

The family requests that Memorial Contributions in his honor be made to the Navy SEAL Foundation,, or the Ratzlaff Memorial Fund, c/o First National Bank of Green Forrest, P.O box 1900, Green Forest, AR 72638.

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, August 19, 2011

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

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will speak at 8:40 a.m. EDT at the 2011 Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems National Symposium at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Melanie Hinton, AUVSI senior communications manager at 571-255-7786.

This Day in Naval History - Aug. 18

From the Navy News Service

1838 - Exploring Expedition under Lt. Charles Wilkes embarks on world cruise.
1911 - First Navy Nurse Corps superintendent, Esther Voorhees Hasson, appointed.
1965 - First major amphibious assault in Vietnam, Operation Starlight captures 2,000 Viet Cong.
1966 - First ship-to-shore satellite radio message sent from USS Annapolis (AMGR 1) in South China Sea to Pacific Fleet Headquarters at Pearl Harbor.
1974 - After flooding in Philippines, Navy helicopters begin six days of operations to rescue people and bring supplies (244 flights).
Don't forget the history and sacrifices of American heroes; discover these Vietnam veteran books where our heroes tell you their story.