Monday, September 05, 2011

Sharp Cites Strength of U.S.-South Korea Alliance

Did you know that North and South Korea are still at war?  See these Korean War books written by the warriors who survived.

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., Sept. 2, 2011 – The former commander of U.S. forces in Korea lauded those who contributed toward U.S. and South Korea efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula during his retirement ceremony here yesterday.

“For the last three years I have been honored to be the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea,” said Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp. Sharp, who is retiring after 37 years of service, provided his thoughts on the U.S.-South Korea alliance, after relinquishing command July 14.

“It has been an honor to help lead the strongest alliance in the world -- the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance,” he said. “I know we all hope for the day that North Korea will change its policies and become a responsible nation of the international community.”

Sharp looks forward to the day when North Korea “has rid itself of nuclear ambitions, stop threats and attacks on the Republic of Korea and the world, and has provided its people with the freedoms they rightly deserve.”

But until that day comes Sharp is ““confident the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance is ready to defeat any future North Korean attacks.”

The former commander also thanked his South Korean counterparts for their support and leadership during his tenure.

“To our great Korean friends, and those I served under and with in Korea, thank you for all that you’re doing to protect Korea,” he said. “It is because of your leadership the Republic of Korea military is so strong, prepared to face any North Korean threat, and is globally deployed today.”

Sharp also addressed those serving in the Defense Department for their commitment to making the alliance successful.

“I would also like to thank the Department of Defense civilians, military and families serving in this very important part of the world,” he said. “It is because of your commitment, and those in Washington that focus on northeast Asia, the Republic of Korea is free and prosperous today.”

Sharp, who was born while his father served in the Korean War in 1952, thanked all those who fought and sacrificed for both the United States and the people of South Korea.

“To all the Korean War veterans that are here today and to all who fought to keep Korea free -- thanks for all that you did 60 years ago,” he said. “Your sacrifice and that of those who did not return will never be forgotten.”

Sharp expressed gratitude for his time leading U.S. forces in Korea and said he looks forward to continuing his work.

“For Joann and I, there was no better way to end our military career than to do so serving in Korea as the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea,” he said.

“And I do pledge to continue to work to strengthen this great alliance,” Sharp continued, “and hope that we will be able to return to the ‘Land of the Returning Calm’ many times in the future.”

Air Force Pilot Missing From Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Air Force Major Thomas E. Reitmann of Red Wing, Minn., will be buried on Sept. 8 in Arlington National Cemetery.  In 1965, Reitmann was assigned to the 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed out of Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., to Takhli Air Base, Thailand.  On Dec 1, 1965, he was flying a strike mission as the number three aircraft in a flight of four F-105D Thunderchiefs as part of Operation Rolling Thunder.  His target was a railroad bridge located about 45 nautical miles northeast of Hanoi.  As the aircrew approached the target area, they encountered extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft artillery (AAA).  While attempting to acquire his target and release his ordnance, Reitmann received a direct AAA hit and crashed in Lang Son Province, North Vietnam.  Other pilots in the flight observed no parachute, and no signals or emergency beepers were heard.  Due to the intense enemy fire in the area a search-and-rescue team was not able to survey the site and a two-day electronic search found no sign of the aircraft or Reitmann.

In 1988, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) repatriated remains to the United States believed to be those of Reitmann.  The remains were later identified as those of another American pilot who went missing in the area on the same day as Reitmann.

Between 1991 and 2009, joint U.S.-S.R.V. teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), analyzed numerous leads, interviewed villagers, and attempted to locate the aircraft.  Although no evidence of the crash site was found, in 2009 and 2011 a local farmer turned over remains and a metal button he claimed to have found in his corn field.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of his brother -- in the identification of Reitmann’s remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call 571-422-9059.

Navy Divers Swim with Sharks

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Davis Anderson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

CINCINNATI (NNS) -- Divers from the Trident Refit Facility traveled from their home in Kings Bay Ga., to Newport, Ky. to give area residents on Sept. 1 a small taste of what Navy divers do -swim with sharks.

The divers were in town for Cincinnati Navy Week 2011 and dove for six shows a day in the tank with the sharks at the Newport Aquarium, just across the river from Cincinnati.

"It was extremely fun," said DesireƩ Matthews, show presenter supervisor at the Newport Aquarium. She used a microphone to talk with the diver in the tank and ask questions posed by the crowd. "I got to interact with (Master Chief Navy Diver) Joe Howard (from Millington, Tenn.), (who was in the tank for three of the shows). We were able to give them information about what he does in the Navy as well as some of the interesting things he's done in his 23 years of diving. I think the guests really, really enjoyed it."

There has been a mutual sense of enjoyment and excitement from both the divers and the city of Cincinnati.

"Cincinnati's been great," said Navy Diver 1st Class (DSW/SW) Noah Gottesman, from Trident Refit Facility, Kings Bay, Ga. "The people have been very friendly. (We're) always getting the, 'Thank you for your service, enjoying our time here, hope you get to see this part of the city, that part of the city.' It's just been really, really warm all over. Everybody at the aquarium has been fantastic."

The divers are scheduled to conduct several days worth of shows at the Newport Aquarium during Cincinnati Navy Week 2011.

"We are very appreciative of your presence here this week," said Matthews. "It gives us some variety, it adds something else for our guests to be educated with and it's a great difference in the usual routine."

TR Sailors Honor Fallen SEALs

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice John Paul Kotara II, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- More than 1,000 Sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) participated in a ceremonial event to honor the 17 fallen SEALs who were shot down in Wardak Province, Afghanistan Aug. 25 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

TR Sailors lined up in waves to volunteer for the opportunities to participate in the ceremony honoring the Navy heroes.

"I thought it was great that TR showed up to pay respects to the men who paid such a huge price," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW) Daniel C. Merrick.
The Sailors showed their support with the long-standing tradition of "manning the rails" outside the Convention Center in remembrance of the fallen heroes.

"I was devastated when I heard the news," said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman April Cornell, "One fallen member is too many, and more than one is a tragedy."

The ceremony was kept to a private setting allowing only those service members who knew the fallen Sailors to enter.

The Sailors stood alongside the streets for approximately one-and-a-half hours as the family and official party members arrived. One-by-one, bus-by-bus, the family and friends arrived to see Sailors standing at attention, showing the pride and camaraderie displayed in all military branches.

"We wanted to show the families that they not only have support from within their own community, but they also have support from within the Navy," said Merrick.
With the last of the family members arriving and the start of the ceremony, TR Sailors broke from formation and departed the ceremony, proud that they were given the opportunity to pay their tributes to the heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

"TR and crew give our condolences to the families out there, and we are sorry for their loss," said Merrick, "and our prayers go out to the families."

New York Aviators Respond to Hurricane Irene

By Eric Durr
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs

LATHAM. N.Y., Sept. 2, 2011 – New York Army National Guard aviation units have logged 150 hours of flight time and transported 60,000 pounds of food and water to isolated mountain towns and central distribution centers as New York state officials continue to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

The first flight of New York Army Guard aviators occurred Aug. 28, just after the brunt of the storm passed over the state. Aviators flying from the Army Aviation Support Facility at Albany International Airport flew south into Greene County to see if they could assist in rescuing people who were stranded by rising flood waters in the town of Prattsville. The stranded civilians were rescued before the helicopters were needed that night.

At first light the next day, the citizen-soldier aviators began flying surveillance missions so state officials could begin to assess the impact of the storm. On both Long Island, where Hurricane Irene first hit, and Catskill Mountain towns where small creeks became raging rivers, the Guard’s UH-60s provided eyes in the sky.

In a joint operation, three New York Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters, which had been evacuated from their base on Long Island to escape the storm, were dispatched to Schoharie County to conduct search and rescue missions if necessary.

The Task Force Aviation team also provided transportation to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate so they could conduct a tour of flood-ravaged regions.

The aviators began hauling food and water Aug. 30 and 31.

CH-47D Chinook helicopters assigned to B Company of the 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation, picked up FEMA supplies flowing into Stewart Air National Guard Base. The supplies were loaded into the Chinooks and flown to Belleayre Ski Center, a state-owned facility in Highmont in Ulster County.

At Belleayre, UH-60s from the Albany flight facility picked up water and food and airlifted them into Margaretville, Prattsville, Middleburgh and other Greene and Schoharie County mountain towns which were not easily accessible by road.

Other flights carried food and water donated by the Regional Food Bank of northeastern New York. Soldiers packed the UH-60s full of food and bottled drinks and sent them on their way.

Labor Day Message

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, The Pentagon, Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Labor Day is the day we pay tribute to the achievements of America’s workers, the backbone of our nation’s economic strength.  For most Americans, this holiday is a well deserved break from work, a time to celebrate with friends and family, a holiday that marks the end of summer, a final chance to fire up the backyard barbeque.  Of course, it also marks the beginning of another season of college football.

As the nation enjoys this holiday weekend, I want to remind all Department of Defense personnel who will be traveling to be safe.  Please celebrate responsibly, use good judgment, and make sound decisions while on the road and when you arrive at your holiday destination.  Our people are our most precious asset, and I want all of you to have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

For the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines deployed on the frontlines of America’s wars, Labor Day will be just another day spent in harm’s way, providing for our nation’s security.  It is because of your service that Americans can enjoy this and other holidays in safety and comfort.  My thoughts go out to you, and to all of our personnel who must spend this weekend away from loved ones.  America owes you a debt for your service in defense of the freedoms and liberties that are so precious to this nation.

I want to thank all of you for your willingness to serve a cause greater than yourselves, for your willingness to give something back to this country.  You are what makes this country great not just on Labor Day, but always.  God bless you all.

Blacks in Government Conference Highlights Diversity, Individual Achievements

This article is about civilian and military leaders getting involved in government and serving their communities.  Check out these military leadership books and become like them.

By Lt. Laura K. Stegherr, Diversity Directorate Public Affairs

BOSTON (NNS) -- The Navy took a central role in the 33rd annual Blacks in Government (BIG) National Training Conference in Boston Aug. 22-25.

BIG was established in 1975 to bring together African-Americans in public service to confront workplace and community issues. Today, the non-profit organization's goals are to promote equity in the workplace, excellence in public service and opportunity for all Americans.

The conference brought together nearly a thousand individuals from more than 20 government agencies for four days of seminars, panels and professional development sessions.

"This year's [conference] theme, 'Explore and Navigate Your Leadership Journey Through BIG!,' encourages each of us to become leaders and to make an impact not only within our Federal, state, or local government workplaces, but in our daily lives as well," said BIG National President J. David Reeves. "The world is calling for leaders of all kinds, but leadership often requires training, education, and experience. ... Equally important is the need for us to prepare the next generation of leaders to face future challenges. This year's [conference] is designed to do these things and more."

Capt. Thomas Whittles, deputy commander, Navy Intelligence Reserve Command, provided remarks at the BIG President's Reception Aug. 23 and explained the strategic role of diversity for the Navy, as well as the importance of organizations such as BIG.

"The Navy understands that diversity is indeed a strategic imperative that impacts our mission readiness," said Whittles. "We know that we become a stronger force as we draw from the best of America inherent in the rich diversity of our nation. As we operate globally, we must have intrinsic in our force a diversity of ideas, experiences, expertise, and backgrounds to fulfill the variety of missions asked of us - our ability to defend our nation, and to serve with excellence as America's Global Force for Good depends on it.

"As we move forward, our strong partnerships with organizations such as BIG are so important, continued Whittles." We must work together to inspire and mentor the youth of America - encouraging them to consider serving their country as a Sailor or civilian in the United States Navy."

The conference also featured a Department of Defense forum, during which DoD employees had the opportunity to hear presentations from several senior DoD leaders, including John H. James, Jr., SES, executive director of Missile Defense Agency, and Paige Hinkle Bowles, SES, principal director of Civilian Personnel Policy.

The DoD forum also featured an awards ceremony honoring military members and DoD civilian employees who demonstrated role model qualities and the core values of the military service. Cmdr. George Floyd, assistant reactor officer aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and Kevin Hines, a technical specialist at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport, Wash., both received BIG's Meritorious Service Award.

Floyd was recognized for his career-long efforts to build bridges for current and future generations of African-American servicemen and women, including through campus recruiting visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), organization of a school adoption program for disadvantaged Hispanic and African American youth, and participation in the National Naval Officers Association, the sea services' organization for mentoring and professional development of African American Sailors, officers and civilians. Floyd has also been recognized by the Black Engineering of the Year Awards as a Most Promising Engineer in 2009 and with the 2010 Roy Wilkins Award for Leadership by the National Association for Advancement of Colored People.

Hines was honored for his efforts establishing a relationship with students in the business and engineering programs at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, an HBCU, assisting in recruitment of the students and offering mentorship to new hires. He helped recruit students to Keyport and once they were hired, offered them one-on-one mentorship. Of the 60 Prairie View students interviewed, Keyport hired nine who are now employed as logistics management specialists, electrical engineers and mechanical engineers.

The Navy also partnered with BIG in facilitating their Future Leaders in America's Government program, which brought nearly 50 junior and senior high school students to the conference Aug. 24 for several informational sessions, including seminars on ways to pay for college, healthy lifestyle and personal finances.

The Navy's participation in the BIG conference is part of the Navy's national outreach initiative to engage and connect with youth, educational, civic, government and business leaders across the country, and to communicate the importance of educating and training future leaders from diverse segments of society in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit

Wisconsin to observe 10th anniversary of 9/11 with official ceremony

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

The public is invited to join Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, and state and federal officials to pay tribute to Wisconsinites who perished at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11, as well as first responders and all others who lost their lives in the attacks on America and in the global war on terror. Family members of the more than 150 Wisconsin service members who have died in the global war on terror will also be in attendance.

The commemoration will include music by the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 132nd Army Band, an F-16 flyover, 21-gun salute and wreath laying. Members of the Madison Police Department and the Capitol Police will post our nation's colors and a joint service color guard will retrieve them. Gen. Dunbar will share his recollections of being on duty in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001 and also serving as the commander of the Wisconsin National Guard.

A joint service color guard renders honors during a Sept. 11 ceremony at the Wisconsin State Capitol in 2002. A ceremony observing the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks on America will be held at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at the S. Hamilton Street corner of the State Capitol. Wisconsin National Guard file photo 

In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside the Capitol Rotunda.
Immediately following the ceremony, a Freedom Walk, sponsored by Operation Homefront, will take place at the Capitol Square. Registration and check-in for the event begins at 7 a.m.

All events are open to the public. Those unable to attend can view the ceremony live on Wisconsin Public Television. The ceremony will also be re-broadcast in its entirety beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 on The Wisconsin Channel.