Military News

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MOH Recipient Issues Scholarship Challenge

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2011 – Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer plans to raise $1 million in scholarship money for the children of wounded Marines and Navy corpsmen, and challenges the American public to match it.

Meyer announced his “Sergeant Dakota Meyer Scholarship,” a $2 million scholarship matching initiative, at the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation 2011 Ceremony and Reception, here, Sept. 13, two days before President Barack Obama presented him with the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony.

“My entire Marine Corps career was about challenges and meeting that challenge,” Meyer said in an interview with MarinesTV. “So what I decided to do was challenge myself to raise $1 million for the scholarship fund initiative, and I’m challenging America to match -- dollar for dollar -- what I can bring into the fund.”

Meyer recently partnered with the foundation to form his initiative and raise the $1 million plus matching funds by the foundation’s 50th anniversary on May 28, 2012.

“I chose to partner with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation on this initiative because of our common mission of supporting Marines and Navy corpsmen families,” Meyer said. “Education paves the path for our future, and the money we raise will lead to a brighter future for the sons and daughters of many Marines.”

Meyer’s challenge to the public to raise a matching $1 million is to honor Marines and Navy corpsmen by educating their children, foundation officials said.

Outlining his call to the public for matching scholarship donations, Meyer set up the “Dakota Meyer Challenge” website.

The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation is the nation's oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships to U.S. military families, and has provided 26,500 scholarships valued at more than $65 million for the post-high school education of children of wounded Marines and Navy corpsmen, according to its website.

Meyer, the nation’s most recent recipient of the Medal of Honor, is credited with saving 37 lives in a six-hour firefight following an enemy ambush on U.S. and Afghan troops in the Ganjgal Valley of Kunar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 8, 2009, when he was a corporal. The nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor is awarded for risk of life in combat beyond the call of duty.

Meyer is the third living service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Sailors Support Caps for Kids during New England Navy Week

From USS Constitution Public Affairs

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors gave Navy ballcaps to children during a Caps for Kids visit at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass. Sept. 27.

Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW) John Campbell, Aviation Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (AW) Anthony Barnardo and Seaman Deidre Foster participated in the event as part of New England Navy Week, Sept. 25-Oct. 2.

"We all need support from time to time, and it was touching to support kids battling various illnesses," said Foster. "The kids really appreciated us visiting, and in return we appreciated their strength."

The Navy's Caps for Kids program is aimed toward children nationwide who are diagnosed and undergoing treatment for cancer, or receiving chemotherapy to treat other life-threatening illnesses. The program provides these children with a command ballcap in hopes of lifting children's spirits while they are required to stay in the hospital for extended periods of time.

"I'll never forget this Caps for Kids event," said Campbell. "Giving back to the community on a more personal level reminds me of the pride I have serving in the Navy."

Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter Jr., commander of Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, and Sailors from USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and Navy Recruiting District Springfield also took part in the event. Combined, Sailors gave more than 30 ballcaps.

"The event was phenomenal," said Carter. "With community programs like Caps for Kids, we have a chance to make a difference through the smiles on the children's faces. It has been rewarding, as is the chance to meet with Sailors from USS Constitution and USS Enterprise."

Constitution Sailors will also participate in a Caps for Kids visit at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Sept. 30.

New England Navy Week is Constitution's fifth Navy Week this year. The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. New England Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard of Boston Harbor and is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history, as she welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.

Governor visits National Guard storm cleanup effort

Check out these Army National Guard books written by Guardsmen who fought in the wars and served their states during disasters.

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Gov. Scott Walker got a first-hand look at storm cleanup efforts by the Wisconsin National Guard and other state agencies in two northern Wisconsin counties Sept. 23.

"After surveying the cleanup effort, I was truly amazed by the good work being done to repair the damage done by storms over the summer," Walker said. "I'd like to thank the local elected officials, hardworking state employees at numerous agencies, the Wisconsin National Guard, state legislators from the area and other interested parties for coming together to take decisive action to help deal with this massive blowdown."

Approximately 50 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 724th Engineer Battalion have been working since Sept. 6 to clear branches, limbs and tree trunks from roadsides in Burnett and Douglas counties. The powerful July 1 storm toppled trees across 130,000 acres in six northern Wisconsin counties. The storm debris in the rights of ways poses a safety and fire hazard.

"This is really helping our local townships," Bobby Sichta, Burnett County Emergency Management director, said Sept. 19. "[Without the National Guard's assistance,] it would be more expensive to local townships. They've already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Sichta said that the storm damage for Burnett County was estimated at $1.8 million, and that many towns have taken out loans to pay for initial debris clearing efforts.

The Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers began the mission as an Innovative Readiness Training project, which allowed existing federal funds in the training budget to be used. The Department of Defense revoked its IRT approval Sept. 8, and Walker placed the Soldiers on state active duty. Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, engaged leaders at the National Guard Bureau to restore federal funding Sept. 9 via additional annual training orders.

The state Department of Corrections has approximately 30 inmates in three teams, two male and one female, assisting the National Guard in clearing storm debris. The state Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation are also involved in different aspects of storm recovery.

The 724th Engineer Battalion and local officials had identified more than 162 miles of road as having the greatest need of debris clearance. As of Sept. 22, the Guardsmen had cleared close to 86 miles, or just over 52 percent. Maj. Brandon Manglos, officer in charge of the cleanup effort, explained that weather and density of fallen timber in some work areas have hindered the cleanup pace somewhat.

"You've got six toppled logs on top of each other in some places," he said Sept. 19. "It takes a while to be safe."

However, Guard members have picked up the pace where possible, clearing more than eight miles of roadside Sept. 22. This was accomplished by working two teams in tandem, so that one team - with heavy equipment, wood chippers and chain saws - completes work at its area and "leapfrogs" the second team to begin work farther down the road.

"We adjust our tactics," Manglos said.

Dunbar praised the "Men of the North," many of whom just returned from a deployment to Iraq, for their efforts.

"This is the Guard at its best," he said. "Deployed overseas in support of contingency operations, and then responding to the needs of our community a few months later. It means an awful lot to the folks who live here."

The 724th cleanup mission, originally scheduled to conclude on Sept. 30, has been extended until Oct. 12. As of Sept. 24, the National Guard had begun cleanup efforts in all 11 townships.

Constitution Sailors Teach Naval History to Middle School Students

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Shannon Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors taught more than 150 students naval history at Agawam Junior High School in Springfield, Mass. Sept. 26.

Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW) Anthony Costa, Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW/AW) Jered Sasen, Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW) John Campbell, Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Michael Fleck, Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Bryan Pickett, Operations Specialist Seaman Ashley West, Fireman Jessica Rodriguez and Seaman Jared Kercell gave their presentation as part of New England Navy Week, Sept. 24-Oct. 2.

"The students first came in the classroom wide-eyed, excited and unaware of the Navy," said Costa. "After the presentation they gained new insight to the Navy's mission in a fun, interactive lecture."

The history lesson included facts about Constitution's construction, her famous battle with HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812 and the ship in modern times. They finally answered questions from students about the Navy.

"The exposure of local history to our students is important and they were interested," said Karen Shugrue, the school's librarian and media director. "The presentation was contagious, as the kids are now looking forward to visiting USS Constitution."

Constitution Sailors undergo 20 weeks of naval history training, along with additional weekly training. They are also scheduled to give history presentations at Granite Valley Middle School in Monson, Mass. Sept. 27 and Converse Middle School, Sept. 29-30.

"It's important for our message to come across to people of all ages," said Kercell. "I always enjoy talking with students, and today I am thrilled I got to help students learn a new subject."

The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. New England Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard of Boston Harbor and is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history, as she welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.