Monday, September 19, 2011

Chairman’s Corner: Happy Birthday Air Force!

By Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON – Our Air Force was literally born “in the air.” President Truman was aboard the presidential VC-54C – the Air Force One of its day – when he signed the National Security Act of 1947. With Truman’s stroke of the pen sixty-four years ago, America’s Air Force was launched as an independent Service.

In the decades since, our Air Force has grown a rich tradition of pushing back the bounds of the possible, rising to meet any challenge.

Wherever the interests of our Nation or our allies and partners are at stake, the men and women of our Air Force have been – and continue to be – among the first and fastest to answer the call.

I see this every day as I’ve watched and worked with airmen around the globe in my four years as your chairman.

From executing operations simultaneously across the spectrum of conflict and multiple domains, to delivering the highest chance of survival to our wounded of any war in U.S. history, the commitment of our airmen has been extraordinary and your contributions pivotal.

It has been a tremendous privilege to serve with the finest men and women in the world’s greatest air, space, and cyberspace force. I salute each of you and your families for your service and thank you for the difference you make for our Nation and for so many around the world. Happy Birthday Air Force!

31st Seabee Readiness Group Seabees Train Marines

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Dan Pearson, Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center

PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- Seabees from the 31st Seabee Readiness Group (31st SRG) trained Marines here from the NINTH Engineer Support Battalion (9th ESB) to construct non-standard bridging using timber, hand tools and muscle from Sept. 12-16.

The 31st SRG Seabees taught Marines from the 9th ESB's Bridging Platoon valuable skills in preparation for the battalion's upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

"We've been looking at the after action reports of (the battalion we're relieving), and a lot of the missions they're doing have been taking MGBs (medium girder bridges) and replacing them with non-standard bridges," said 1st Lt. Matthew Paluta, bridging platoon commander. "This is a great opportunity for us to develop that skill set."

Medium girder bridges are only rated for 10 thousand passes before they must be disassembled and every component checked for structural integrity. Many of the bridges built by U.S. forces in Afghanistan are getting very close to that limit. "What this is going to do is allow us to pull our assets and give the Afghans more of a long-term structure," said Staff Sgt. Richard Glory, platoon sergeant. "If they're taught how to do it they can do their own repairs."

The training needed to construct a non-standard timber bridge is not available in the Marine Corps, so the platoon came to the Seabees of the 31st SRG to gain the mission skills they need.

"It's different from what we usually get. Instead of pins in metal bridges, we use bolts and wood. It's an alternative to metal bridging in case we don't have the means and supplies to do an MGB," said Lance Cpl. John Hoover. "We get to put it together and take it apart and try something new by adding more bays to make it longer. The quality of the training was really high."

Steelworker 2nd Class (SCW) Joseph Hamilton, 31st SRG Contingency Construction Crew Training, said the Marines were very motivated for the training. "They want to do it all by hand, because usually they won't have a forklift."

They performed the training in full battle gear with Kevlar and body armor and lifted 20-foot-long timbers into place to build the three-bay bridge.

"Most of these guys have only dealt with the MGB and have never built a timber bridge at all," Hamilton said.

The Seabee instructors' expertise was welcomed by the Marines of 9th ESB. "The Seabees really know a lot about bridging. They're helping us a lot," said Pfc. Timothy Haerr. "We're learning how to put them up and take them down so we can do it faster in combat. I've learned a lot in a short period of time."

The Marines' evident enthusiasm was due in part to the scarcity of the training, said 9th ESB Seabee Liaison Officer 2nd Lt. Matthew Librizzi. "We don't get many chances to do this in Okinawa, so when they get the chance, they are all into it. It's a good experience for the Marines to get."

This was not the first time Marines from the 9th ESB worked with Seabees from Port Hueneme to accomplish a task. In 2007, the 9th ESB worked side by side with Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOUR building combat operation outposts, forward operating bases and clearing roads of improvised explosive devices. The 9th ESB Marines and Seabees from NMCB 4 helped coalition forces achieve provincial Iraqi control in Iraq.

The training should pay off in another way for both the Marines and the Seabees in mutual respect and camaraderie as well. The Seabee instructors' knowledge and the Marines' discipline and motivation were just some of the qualities commented on by the trainers and trainees. "Some of these junior Marines have never operated with Seabees," said Glory. "As combat engineers, we operate with Seabees on a regular basis, and this helps build rapport."

The 31st SRG Seabees provide support to the Commanders, 1st Naval Construction Regiment, 9th Naval Construction Regiment, 30th Naval Construction Regiment and their subordinate units. The 31st SRG serves as the personnel receiving and processing activity for deployed Pacific Fleet Naval Construction Force units. In addition to training new personnel in transit, 31st SRG Seabees also provides support to active duty personnel family members through the family support groups.

Obama proclaims Employer Support of Guard, Reserve Week

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (9/19/11) - The National Guard and Reserve constitute nearly half of the nation's military forces and make vital contributions to overseas missions and domestic emergency response operations, President Barack Obama said in a presidential proclamation issued Sept. 16.

In the proclamation, Obama named Sept. 18 to 24 National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week.

"I call upon all Americans to join me in expressing our heartfelt thanks to the members of the National Guard and Reserve and their civilian employers," the president said.

He also called on state and local officials, private organizations and all military commanders to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, he said, "the 9/11 Generation has borne the burden of war with courage and valor, continuing the legacy of the brave men and women who served before them."

More than 5 million volunteers have worn the country's uniform over the past 10 years and thousands have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president said.

"During America's struggle for independence, ordinary individuals in small towns across the colonies banded together to confront an empire," Obama said. "Today, their spirit lives on in the Guard and Reserve."

The members of our National Guard and Reserve demonstrate the dignity and selflessness that are at the core of the American spirit, he added.

"These patriots serve not only in combat, but also when disaster strikes at home, offering a strong hand to victims of floods, tornadoes, and fires across America," the president said.

Employers who provide jobs to Guard and Reserve members when they are home also are vital to the nation's success, he said, and many offer support as well to service members and their families during deployments.

"We are deeply grateful for their work, and this week we celebrate not only our service members, veterans and military families, but also their devoted employers," the president said.

This year, he added, to help connect service members, veterans and their families to employment opportunities, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, announced Joining Forces, a comprehensive national initiative to support and honor the nation's patriots.

"As part of this initiative we issued a challenge to private sector employers to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses," the president said, and proposed tax credits for businesses that hire returning troops.

"This week we remember our obligations to each other, and we pay tribute to the employers of our Guardsmen and reservists whose support and flexibility is vital to the strength of our military," the president said.

"The support of employers across our country," Obama added, "reflects the best of the American spirit -- the understanding that we are bound together to serve and protect our nation."

Flags lowered to half-staff Monday in Wisconsin for U.S. Army Sgt. Chester Stoda

Flags at Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities across the state will fly at half-staff Monday (Sept. 19) in honor of U.S. Army Sgt. Chester G. Stoda of Black River Falls, Wis., who lost his life while serving his country supporting Operation Enduring Freedom according to a Department of Defense release received late Friday. The Guard will render these honors in accordance with an executive order that will be issued by Gov. Scott Walker Monday.


Relating to a Proclamation that the Flag of the United States and the Flag of the State of Wisconsin be Flown at Half-Staff as a Mark of Respect for Sergeant Chester G. Stoda of the United States Army Who Lost His Life While Serving His Country Supporting Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan

WHEREAS, Sergeant Chester G. Stoda provided faithful and honorable service to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the people of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the people of Wisconsin mourn the death of Sergeant Chester G. Stoda; and

WHEREAS, a memorial service will be held for Sergeant Chester G. Stoda on September 19, 2011;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, SCOTT WALKER, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me by Federal and State law, do hereby order that the flag of the United States and the flag of the State of Wisconsin shall be flown at half-staff at all buildings, grounds, and military installations of the State of Wisconsin equipped with such flags beginning at sunrise on Monday, September 19, 2011, and ending at sunset on that date.


All Wisconsin state government facilities are covered by the governor's order and a 2007 amendment to the U.S. Flag Code now requires all federal facilities in Wisconsin to comply. Other government agencies, businesses and private residences with flagpoles may also honor Sergeant Chester G. Stoda by lowering their U.S. and Wisconsin state flags to half-staff during the daylight hours on September 19.