Military News

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake Rattles Pentagon

By Jim Garamone and Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2011 – Operations continued at the Pentagon despite the magnitude 5.9 earthquake centered in Mineral, Va., today.

The National Military Command Center in the building “maintained the watch, and there was no loss of communications,” said Navy Cmdr. Patrick McNally, a spokesman for the Joint Staff.

Some photos were knocked off walls in the building during the mid-afternoon quake, and a water pipe on the building’s third floor burst, but plant engineers were able to stop the deluge, Pentagon Force Protection Agency officials said.

Many offices did evacuate the building, but officials gave the all-clear to return after about 15 minutes.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of about 1 kilometer, about 27 miles east of Charlottesville, 34 miles southwest of Fredericksburg and 39 miles northwest of Richmond, all in Virginia.

The last time a magnitude 5.9 earthquake happened in Virginia was in Giles County, near Blacksburg, in May 1897, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Though it’s not as well known as the San Andreas seismic zone in California, there is a seismic zone in central Virginia. The nearest tectonic plate boundaries, which tend to generate large and more frequent earthquakes, are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea, USGS officials said.

The central Virginia seismic zone has known faults, officials added, but probably has many undetected smaller and deeply buried faults. Because of these faults, people in central Virginia have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from a few larger ones since at least 1774, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In 1875, a magnitude 4.8 earthquake struck in the central Virginia zone. Every year or two, smaller earthquakes happen in the region.

East Coast earthquakes are less frequent than West Coast temblors, but they tend to be shallower, and therefore, they can be felt over a larger region, USGS officials said.

East of the Rocky Mountains, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the West Coast. Today’s magnitude 5.9 earthquake could be felt as far away as Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts.

NORAD Flight Exercise Planned For National Capital Region

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), will conduct an exercise - - Falcon Virgo 11-11 beginning Wednesday night, Aug. 24 at midnight into early Thursday morning, Aug. 25, in the National Capital Region.

Flights in the National Capital Region are scheduled to take place between midnight and 1:30 a.m. EDT Thursday morning.  In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will take place the next day at the same time.

For more information on Falcon Virgo exercises, please contact CONR Public Affairs at 850-283-8080, or the NORAD Public Affairs Office at 719-554-6889.

Selectees Volunteer for Special Olympics

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dustin W. Sisco

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Chief petty officer selectees from various commands in the Hawaii region volunteered at the Special Olympics at Waiau District Park in Pearl City, Hawaii, Aug. 20.

The selectees, who volunteered as referees and judges, learned about the importance of volunteering.

"I've volunteered for the Special Olympics before and I think it's awesome because you're helping out the community, meeting new people and learning about their disabilities and how hard they have it," said Chief (select) Machinist's Mate Maya Art, a Special Olympics volunteer. "It makes you more understanding about their situation."

The selectees made up a large portion of the more than 500 volunteers.

"We get fantastic support from the military every year," said Dan Epstein, manager of Special Olympics Hawaii. "We use over 6,000 volunteers a year and probably 70 percent of them are military."

The effort put forth from the selectees, military and other volunteers was greatly appreciated by those who run the Special Olympics.

"The volunteers are the best," said Nancy Bottelo, chief executive officer, Special Olympics Hawaii. "We couldn't do this without them. We only have a full time staff of seven people and we could not do anything that we do without the volunteers."

Face of Defense: Soldier Saves Drowning Child

By Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Little
32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command

FORT BLISS, Texas, Aug. 23, 2011 – "I asked my dad, 'Please don't let me die like this. I have a kid in my arms,'" said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don Schmidt, a Patriot missile system technician here for B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery.

These were Schmidt's thoughts before a piece of debris struck him on the head and he lost his grip on 11-year-old Angel Sandoval, resulting in the boy being swept away by raging flashflood waters.

A fierce July 23 rainstorm that’d pummeled the area surrounding Tucson, Ariz., caused Schmidt to risk his life in an attempt to save the boy, named Angel, from drowning.

Many low-lying areas in the southwestern United States flood easily, Schmidt said, because of a combination of intense rain and poor drainage.

Schmidt, who hails from Tucson, said he is well aware of the areas that become dangerous and impassable when severe weather strikes. He had returned home and was visiting his family when dark, thick rain clouds filled the sky.

"I was home playing with my baby for about an hour when this huge monsoon storm rolled in and it started pouring," Schmidt said. "Initially when I went out it was still raining and I was trying to help the county [highway personnel] put out the 'Do not enter when road closed' signs."

These signs are placed at sections of roads intersecting with a usually dry riverbed, Schmidt said, which is also referred to as a "wash." He had helped position a road closing sign when he noticed how unusually high the water was in the previously dry riverbed.

"I remember leaving my truck running because I was just going to videotape [the water-filled riverbed] because I had never seen the wash this full," Schmidt said. "I recorded approximately 10 seconds of video … I took a couple of steps forward to get a better view of stuff that floats by in the wash."

On the opposite side of the river, Schmidt noticed a group of young men running along the bank and staring intently at the water. That's when he noticed Angel floating down the river as the powerful current pulled his head underwater.

"They screamed 'Help, help; he's in the water,’" Schmidt said. "I jokingly laughed to myself and said 'My wife's going to kill me and I hope no one steals my cell phone.'"

Schmidt, who in no way considers himself a strong swimmer, tossed his phone and dove into the raging, debris-riddled water, oblivious to what was awaiting him.

"I got a hold of Angel right away; he was fighting with me but I managed to get control of the situation," Schmidt said. "I got him to where his back was in my arm pit. We kept getting pulled underneath; I mean we're getting dunked constantly."

They gasped for air as their heads burst above water for only a quick two or three seconds and then they were once again submerged, Schmidt said.

"Ninety percent of my time in the water was spent underwater," he said. "There was one point where we went under [for about] 20 or 30 seconds. [When you resurface] you don't get good breaths. I was stretched out on my back and I was fighting to keep us above water; I swear I thought I was going to die."

Schmidt said he had a tight grip on Angel with his right arm while using his left arm to frantically grab at thorny branches in unsuccessful attempts to free them from the strong current. These branches caused deep lacerations on Schmidt’s hand and arm.

It was at this point, Schmidt said, that he asked his father, who’d passed away in 1999, to help him out of the perilous situation.

"I said: 'Dad please, let me get home to my baby and my wife; let me get this kid out of here. I can't die like this, I don't want to be found face down in a muddy wash,'" Schmidt said.

At that very moment, a large piece of debris struck Schmidt, splitting his bottom lip.

"When I got whacked, I still had him by the shirt but my grip had loosened up,” Schmidt said. “Somehow I lost grip [of him] and I'll never forget this kid looking at me like I let go of him … that still haunts me to this day.”

Schmidt then hit a sandbar and was pulled ashore by an onlooker. Angel, too, hit a sandbar on the opposite side of the wash and was rescued by onlookers. Schmidt had battled the ravaging current for nearly five minutes. Angel was swept away further upstream while he tried to save his younger sister who’d also fallen into the water.

Schmidt, Angel and his sister were taken to the hospital for medical treatment and then they were released.

"My wife was pretty upset and didn't speak to me the entire trip to the hospital," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he didn’t think of being a hero when he jumped into the water to help Angel.

"I didn't jump in the water for guts and glory," Schmidt said. "I just hoped that someone would do the same for my kid in that situation. Maybe I didn't change the world, but at least I made a difference in someone's life."

Biden: U.S. Honored to Have Helped Japan After Tsunami

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2011 – Humanitarian aid has flowed both ways between the United States and Japan, and American aid to Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is just the latest example of two close allies working together, Vice President Joe Biden said in Japan today.

Biden visited the Sendai Airport, which was re-opened by U.S forces in the days and weeks following the tsunami. The airport was flooded to the second level, and the runways and taxiways were clogged with debris, vehicles and bodies. The earthquake and resulting tsunami killed more than 20,000 people in Japan, and destroyed more than 125,000 buildings.

Still, the terminal building was one of the few buildings left inhabitable, and more than 1,000 refugees lived above the waterline.

The Japanese people already have come a long way since the disaster, Biden said, and American service members rushed to help. “As I stand here at this airport, I am proud … that our military was given the privilege of being able to join your forces,” he said, “and within a week of the earthquake, able to re-open the runway that enabled the arrival of hundreds of relief workers and more than 2 million tons of humanitarian supplies.”

A few weeks later, American service members were able to help in opening the airport to commercial flights.

“The American people are also proud and honored by the way they have been able to assist,” Biden said. “They’re proud to continue doing whatever you would like us to as you rebuild. And that’s because of a simple proposition. It’s not because of government-to-government or military-to-military relations. It’s because of a genuine affection the American people [have] for the Japanese people.”

Within hours of the disaster, the United States launched Operation Tomodachi, which Biden said was the single largest humanitarian relief effort in American history. “It was done without having to convince the American people of anything,” he said. “It was spontaneous. It’s because of the affection for the people … of Japan. That's the building block upon which this partnership and alliance of ours is built.”

A total of 20 U.S. Navy ships, 140 U.S. aircraft and almost 20,000 American service members participated in Operation Tomodachi.

The United States is a Pacific power, Biden said, and Japan is one of the closest allies in the region.

“America’s commitment to our friend and ally Japan extends well beyond support in times of need and reflects the profound importance America places on our relationship with Japan and our deep ties to this region,” Biden said. “America’s focus on this critical region will only grow in the years to come -- as Asia plays an ever increasing role in the global economy and international affairs.”

When disaster strikes in the world, Japan always is one of the first countries to offer aid and assistance, Biden noted.

“When the Indian Ocean tsunami left hundreds of thousands dead or homeless throughout the region, when the earthquake leveled Port-au-Prince in Haiti, when flood waters ravaged Pakistan, when Hurricane Katrina cut a devastating swath through America’s Gulf Coast, in every one of those instances, … the people of Japan have lent a hand,” he said.

As Japan faces its own difficult time, Americans will stand by Japan for as long as it takes, the vice president said.

“My visit today is to reinforce and reassert that commitment of an ally to an ally, a friend to a friend,” he added.

Many in the world are betting on the decline of America and the inability of Japan to rise again, Biden pointed out.

“They are making a very bad bet,” he said. “Both [nations] will continue to grow and prosper. Together, we are a significant part of the engine that will allow the world to recover.”

ONR Seeks Big Opportunities at Small Business Conference

By Katherine H. Crawford, Office of Naval Research Corporate Communications

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Office of Naval Research (ONR) will share partnership possibilities with members of the small business community at the 23rd Annual Navy Gold Coast Small Business Opportunity Conference, being held Aug. 23-24 in San Diego.

"This conference allows us to identify potential program participants from among the 1,500 attendees," said Brenda Pickett, who oversees ONR's Office of Small Business Programs. "The event is a great way to connect small business and Department of the Navy professionals to develop partnerships that may result in important scientific advances and new technologies."

The conference provides a forum to educate, guide and assist primarily small businesses in working with the government, particularly the Department of Defense. The objective is to reach the mutually beneficial goal of identifying relevant research and technology for military use.

ONR strives to ensure underrepresented businesses have access to the information they need to compete and participate throughout the federal acquisition process. ONR's small business programs are specifically aimed at businesses that are disadvantaged, women-owned, service-disabled veteran- and veteran-owned and in historically underutilized business zones, as well as historically black colleges and universities, and minority institutions.

This year's event is at the San Diego Convention Center and will include more than 250 exhibitors. ONR's booth, no. 751, will be open from 2-5 p.m. on Aug. 23 and 1:15-4:10 p.m. on Aug. 24.

The conference is co-sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association's San Diego chapter and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). The event is co-hosted on a rotating basis among the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, SPAWAR, Naval Supply Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command and the U.S. Marine Corps.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta will address students at 1 p.m. EDT at the Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, Calif.  Media interested in attending should contact Alan Richmond, NPS, at (o) 831 656 3649, (c) 831-809-1122.

Secretary Panetta will address students at 4:40 p.m. EDT at the Defense Language Institute, Monterey, Calif.  Media interested in attending should contact Dan Carpenter, Public Affairs, Presidio of Monterey at 831-242-6421/5555.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn has no public or media events on his schedule.

A National Capital Region Flyover of Arlington National Cemetery occurs at 1:48 p.m. EDT with one MC-130P.

How Providers Can Improve Care for Reserve Component Members

By Jayne Davis, DCoE Strategic Communications

Have you ever tried to communicate with a person who speaks a different language? No matter how clearly, or slowly, you speak, the other person just doesn’t seem to understand you. This sometimes happens when military culture and language collide with civilian providers, as when reserve component members seek behavioral health care post-deployment.

Reserve component members often choose civilian health care providers because they may not be able to access services from the Defense Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs for psychological health care and substance abuse treatment.

“When they do [visit civilian providers], what commonly occurs is they voice military references and acronyms in an effort to relate whatever concerns brought them there, which they may not understand themselves, to someone with no understanding of military culture,” said Master Sgt. Stephanie Weaver, National Guard counterdrug liaison, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Weaver is a proponent of what's called “military cultural competence,” a kind of peer support effort to better understand reserve component military culture. According to Weaver, knowing how to communicate in the same language makes it easier to talk about difficult issues and experiences with reintegration. This leads to effective care and more recovery options.

Since 2001, more than 2.2 million service members have deployed, with nearly 40 percent coming from the National Guard and reserves. Because of their unique civilian and military responsibilities, more should be done to help this community.

“Reserve component members are not routinely attached to a base or post and therefore their reintegration period is far shorter than active-duty service members,” said Air Force Col. Christopher Robinson, DCoE deputy director for psychological health. “Also, they’re not apt to be as plugged in to reintegration and transition resources available to all service members, so that’s where DCoE’s online resources can really help.”

Here are some ways civilian providers can improve their military cultural competence:

■Operation Immersion: This military culture immersion program for behavioral health care providers seeks to reduce stigma and substance use disorders. SAMHSA and the Tennessee National Guard serve as two of the co-hosts for the training.
■Military Cultural Competence online course: Center for Deployment Psychology, a DCoE component center, provides this training to help civilian mental health care providers communicate more effectively with service members and their families.

There are additional resources reserve component members can use to improve their reintegration experiences:

■Real Warriors Campaign articles for reserve component members
■Mobile apps: PTSD Coach and Mild TBI Pocket Guide
■SAMHSA Treatment Locator
■Yellow Ribbon Program
■Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
■Joint Family Support Assistance Program for geographically dispersed military families
■National Center for Telehealth and Technology, a DCoE component center, just held its first live workshop on how providers can offer mental health care services through videoconference.

Have you found additional resources helpful? Please share them here.