Military News

Monday, October 24, 2011

Face of Defense: Friends Become Army Brothers in Arms

By Susanne Kappler
Fort Jackson

FORT JACKSON, S.C., Oct. 24, 2011 – When Army Pvt. Jereld Vanhook arrived to go through basic combat training here nine weeks ago, his good friend Pfc. Omari Paul was by his side.

Vanhook and Paul, who are assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, are not related, but the two friends from Brooklyn, N.Y., have lived together since 2007, and consider each other as brothers.

Vanhook lived with Paul and his family throughout high school, and they later studied at the same college. Motivated by Paul's sister, who had served in the military, the two decided to enlist in the Army Reserve.

Paul and Vanhook were chosen as platoon leaders at the same time early in basic training.

"For me to get picked, I felt honored. I never expected to come into the military and be in any leadership position at all," Vanhook said.

Paul “is a natural-born leader. He stood out from Day One," said Army Staff Sgt. Marquita Daniels, one of Paul’s drill sergeants.

"I wasn't aware that he had a brother [here], until one day I actually heard him say they were brothers,” Daniels said. “I thought it was a joke. Both of them are very high-speed soldiers."

Army Capt. Sherric Nelson, the company commander, said the synergy between the two soldiers is apparent.

"They motivate the company together. … They push each other on the physical fitness test. They're just a positive [duo]," Nelson said.

Vanhook said serving with Paul during basic training is an advantage.

"It feels great knowing that I have someone that I already had a connection with before the Army," he said.

The two soldiers are scheduled to graduate Oct. 27. Their families are planning to attend Family Day and graduation events together.

After graduation, Vanhook and Paul will move on to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where they will attend training to become military health care specialists. They plan to finish their college educations, Paul in electrical engineering and Vanhook in accounting and business financing.

Panetta Lauds Growing U.S.-Indonesia Partnership

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2011 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta praised Indonesia’s leadership in promoting regional security cooperation as part of the growing U.S.-Indonesia defense partnership.

In a commentary published today in Indonesia’s Jawa Pos newspaper, Panetta reported on progress following yesterday’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations annual meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, and his session with Purnomo Yusgiantoro, his Indonesian counterpart.

Following his visit to Indonesia, Panetta arrived in Japan today as part of a weeklong Asia trip that’ll include a later stop in South Korea.

Indonesia, the secretary wrote in his Jawa Pos article, “has emerged as one of the most important contributors to the peace and prosperity of Asia.” America, he added, “has watched with deep admiration over the past decade as Indonesia has emerged as a strong democracy and an important regional and global leader.”

Panetta cited Indonesia’s role in promoting multilateral security cooperation to tackle challenges ranging from terrorism and piracy to natural disasters and maritime security.

He underscored the U.S. commitment to closer, stronger engagement in the Asia-Pacific region to promote security and stability and to stand up to these and other threats.

“Nowhere is the deepening of our relations more exciting than in Southeast Asia,” he wrote. “I can assure you that I am personally committed to our relationships in this region and to building on the remarkable progress we have made over the past several years.”

The secretary highlighted strides already made by the United States and Indonesia, built on a foundation of shared values including a belief in tolerance, pluralism and religious freedom.

Panetta noted the comprehensive partnership formed last year between the two countries, and a new defense framework arrangement that builds on it. This arrangement, he observed, paves the way for stronger military-to-military ties and closer cooperation in areas including disaster relief and maritime security.

“Although we face a range of threats and security challenges, I am confident that the United States and Indonesia will succeed in overcoming them,” Panetta wrote. “As Indonesia and the United States confront the challenges of the 21st century together, I have no doubt that we will show the world that this spirit remains strong and vital.”

Monument Recognizes Jewish Chaplains’ Sacrifices

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 24, 2011 – The sacrifices of 14 rabbis killed on active military service are now recognized on Chaplains Hill at Arlington National Cemetery here.

Many of the rabbis’ family members attended the dedication ceremony on Chaplains Hill, and hundreds attended a larger ceremony at the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater today.

The monument joins two other memorials to chaplains killed in the line of duty. In 1981, a Protestant chaplains’ memorial was dedicated and, in 1989, a similar one was erected to remember Catholic chaplains.

A World War II episode was the driving force behind the memorial. Ken Kraetzler had grown up hearing the story of the four chaplains of the USAT Dorchester. The four men were aboard the Army transport with 900 other soldiers crossing the North Atlantic when German torpedoes smashed into the ship in February 1943.

The four chaplains -- two Protestant reverends, a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi -- strove to keep soldiers calm and helped to pass out life jackets. When they ran out of jackets, they gave their own away. They were last seen as the ship was going down, arm-in-arm, praying together.

Kraetzler, from White Plains, N.Y., visited Arlington National Cemetery. “I went to Chaplains Hill and found the names of George Fox and Clark Poling on the Protestant memorial and John Washington on the Catholic monument, but I couldn’t find the name of Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, because there was no Jewish memorial,” he said.

Kraetzler found out what needed to be done and proceeded to do it. He received support from the Sons of the American Legion, many Jewish war veterans groups and the Jewish Chaplains Council. “Many people donated to make the memorial a reality,” he said.

He discovered that 14 Jewish chaplains from World War II to Vietnam had died in the line of duty.

Alexander David Goode Fried, the Dorchester rabbi’s grandson, attended the unveiling of the memorial and the dedication ceremony. His grandfather’s heroism “was always something I was aware of as a kid,” he said.

“My grandmother always wanted to keep her private life private,” he added. “Only much later in life was she able to talk about it. Before she died, she and a family member of another of the four chaplains -- George Fox -- worked together to promote the interfaith aspect of the four chaplains’ sacrifice.”

Fried called the ceremony today a “high point,” but not a “culmination” of efforts to highlight the sacrifices of Jewish chaplains. “I hope this doesn’t just end here,” he said. “The cross-faith message of the four chaplains has direct relevance to today’s world. I think the lessons from it are universal, directly applicable and timeless.”

Meeting the families of the other chaplains was interesting to Fried. “We all shared that sense of pride and honor, but also loss,” he said. “We all are proud of their accomplishments, but there is always the sense of what would lives have been like with them in them.”

Chaplain [Maj. Gen.] Cecil Richardson, the Air Force chief of chaplains, lauded the 14 rabbis during his talk at the Memorial Amphitheater. He said he didn’t know the men, but after 35 years as a military chaplain, he knows what drove them.

“They were 14 men who stepped forward as volunteers to provide spiritual care for the men and women in uniform,” he said. “They comforted the wounded, they buried the dead; they supported the faith of all of our troops without regard to race, or ethnicity, or religion.”

The 14 men “walked where warriors walked. They went were warriors go,” Richardson said. “That’s what made them military chaplains. Right now there are over 800 chaplains -- Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine -- deployed at locations throughout the world in dangerous places. At this moment, chaplains and chaplain assistants are transforming places in the harshest environments into sacred places of worship and hope.”

The West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir sang throughout the event and had the last word in the ceremony, singing “God Bless America” with the audience joining in.

The memorial was dedicated to the following chaplains: Army Capt. Nachman S. Arnoff, Army Lt. Col. Meir Engel, Army 1st Lt. Frank Goldenberg, Army 1st Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Army 1st Lt. Henry Goody, Air Force Capt. Joseph I. Hoenig, Army Maj. Samuel Dodkin Hurwitz, Army 1st Lt. Herman L. Rosen, Army Capt. Morton Harold Singer, Air Force Capt. David M. Sobel, Army Capt. Irving Tepper and Army 1st Lt. Louis Werfel.

MCPON Speaks at 29th Submarine League Symposium

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Abraham Essenmacher, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) spoke at the 29th Annual Submarine League's Symposium Oct. 20, reflecting on the high quality of today's Sailors, future challenges and the programs in place for Navy's continued success.

"The future of our submarine force, the future of our Navy for that matter, is very bright due to the quality of the young Sailors who are choosing a life of service and sacrifice," said MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West. "It starts with great leaders challenging our young Sailors to be better every day, like some who sit here today - many of who shaped my career - supporting our Sailors and their families."

The theme for this year's symposium was "Forging the Way Ahead," focusing on organizational progress the Navy and submarine force are continuing to make.

"This has been a big year for the submarine force, leaders have challenged their force but have given them the tools to succeed. From extinguishing the smoking lamp underway, to successfully utilizing breathalyzers on board (achieving a nearly 50 percent reduction in ARIs/DUIs), to welcoming our first female submariners aboard in a few weeks, the submarine force has placed leadership and an aggressive communications strategy at the forefront to ensure success," said West.

During the symposium, select officer and enlisted Sailors from across the submarine force were given awards for their distinguished efforts throughout the year, including support of submarine acquisition, logistics support and technology development programs.

"It's always fulfilling to be a part of recognizing our great Sailors watch them receive accolades for their hard work and dedication they give our great Navy and nation," said West.

The Naval Submarine League Symposium is an annual meeting that covers history, ongoing programs and future programs incorporated within the Navy's submarine force.

"It is my belief we should all take the time to affiliate with organizations that support our Navy," said West.

Rear Adm. Dunaway Visits His Alma Mater During El Paso Navy Week 2011

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

EL PASO, Texas (NNS) -- Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, Rear Adm. David A. Dunaway returned to his alma mater, Burges High School in El Paso, Texas Oct. 21 during El Paso Navy Week 2011.

The visit included a tour of the school, given by Principal Randall Woods who along with the rest of the faculty and students at Burges were very excited to host the admiral.

"It was wonderful to have the admiral back," said Woods. "I got to meet him as an assistant principal here (during a previous visit four years ago), so having him come back is just fabulous, and so, wonderful for our kids."

Dunaway spoke after the tour, to the top 30 seniors at Burges, telling them about his experiences at Burges and his subsequent career in the Navy and offering them advice on how to pick colleges and careers.

"It was a lot of fun," said Dunaway. "These are very talented kids. These are the top ten percent. They are very capable and very fun and engaging kids."

When Dunaway spoke to the students he was able to reinforce some of the messages that the community of El Paso and the faculty at Burges are stressing.

"I think it's wonderful that he got to talk to our kids about serving, and that's the Navy's role now," said Woods. "That's something I talk to our kids about. I expect them to serve this community. That's one of the things that I just really love that he talked to them-having him talk about that from the Navy's perspective is wonderful."

Dunaway was also impressed with how the students at Burges carried themselves.

"I thought they were awesome," said Dunaway. "They were very well dressed, very orderly. They make eye contact, shake your hand; it was a real pleasure to see them."

Dunaway's visit provided a tangible example for the students at Burges.

"Really having somebody who walked these halls, walked these neighborhoods come back and say look at how I've done this and what I've done, so that's really important," said Woods. "It's really very good for them to see this; as a principal, wonderful to have a role model to say, 'this is what you can become.' It kind of inspires them."

Another good side-effect of Dunaway's visit was showing a Navy presence in El Paso, where the closest water is the Rio Grande.

"I come from a Navy family, my father was a lieutenant commander, my brother was a captain," said Woods. "I am very, very proud of (Dunaway) being in the Navy. It's wonderful, I love that. We've got El Paso and Navy and that good connection."

Forging new connections with communities like El Paso is the reason behind Navy Weeks. They are an opportunity for the Navy to show what they can do and the essential services they provide for the country and the world.

For more information about El Paso Navy Week 2011, visit Navyweek.org.

Panetta Praises U.S.-Japan Alliance

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan, Oct. 24, 2011 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today cited the importance of America’s alliance with Japan in maintaining peace and security across the Pacific region.

During a town hall meeting with some 200 U.S. and Japanese troops gathered in the 459th Airlift Squadron hangar, Panetta said the U.S.-Japan alliance stretches more than 50 years and is, in many ways, the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific.

“And it will be for the next 50 years as well,” he added.

In line with President Barack Obama’s strategic guidance, U.S. defense forces will maintain and build on regional relationships with Japan and other countries, the secretary said.

“I just had the opportunity to be in Indonesia and meet with the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] defense ministers,” he noted. “And I conveyed the same message to them: the United States will continue to work with all of them to improve our cooperation, to improve our assistance, and to make sure that we strengthen security for all nations in the Pacific region.”

Panetta commended Japanese and U.S. military forces for their “extraordinary” efforts following the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck the island nation in March. Japanese forces rapidly mobilized, organized and brought relief to their fellow citizens at a time of great crisis and peril, the secretary said.

“The world witnessed the strength, the character, and the resilience of the Japanese people, and I pay tribute to Japan,” he said.

The U.S. military’s “great work” in bringing relief to the Japanese people suffering following the earthquake also is a source of pride, Panetta said.

America’s strength, he said, lies in its people serving in uniform at home or in Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere around the globe. “After nearly a decade of war on terrorism, we have significantly weakened al-Qaida and its militant allies,” Panetta said.

The nation’s military and intelligence communities are responsible for that success, Panetta said, but he warned they must keep up the pressure on terrorists.

“Make sure they never have anyplace to hide -- whether it’s Pakistan, whether it’s Yemen, whether Somalia, whether it’s the Maghreb in North Africa,” the secretary said. “We have to keep the pressure on and do what the president said we must do, which is to dismantle, disrupt and defeat al-Qaida and its militant allies. And we will do that.”

With the announced withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by the end of this year, Panetta said, the world must understand the United States will continue to have both a lasting security relationship with Iraq and a troop presence in the Middle East.

“We will continue to work with [Iraq] to establish a normal relationship,” he said, that will provide training and assistance to Iraqi forces. And Panetta emphasized that America will maintain a presence in the Middle East.

“At the same time, for Iran and anybody else who has any other ideas, the United States maintains 40,000 troops in that region,” he noted.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, International Security Assistance Force commander, is successfully planning and conducting the gradual reduction of U.S. forces in Afghanistan leading up to the transfer to Afghan-led security in 2014, Panetta said.

“I believe that we have made great progress there as well, in weakening the Taliban, in building up the Afghan army and police, and in giving the capacity … to secure their country,” he said.

Turning to Libya, Panetta said he commends NATO military forces and their partner militaries for the successful conclusion of the mission there. The Libyan people now have a chance to establish a new country that represents all of its people and also represents their hopes for freedom and self-government, he said.

“All of us can take a great deal of pride in the work that was done to achieve that mission,” he said.

Panetta pointed out all of the progress he noted could not have happened without “the sacrifices of those who were willing to serve.”

“Work remains,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to confront terrorism, … nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, … [and] a whole new battlefield of the future, called ‘cyber.’”

Those challenges, along with rising powers and continued unrest in the Middle East, will be met by an American military that is capable, agile and responsive to threats, the secretary said.

“Most importantly, we have the opportunity to strengthen our presence in the Pacific -- and we will,” he said. “This is an important region. The security of the world, in many ways, is dependent on the security of the Pacific.”

Panetta said his main purpose in visiting the troops was to thank them.

“You are the long arm of American military power,” he said. “You do a tough and a vital job. … I thank you for your service, because America’s strength is in people like you.”

The new greatest generation in America, the one that has gone to war over the last 10 years, includes more than 6,200 who have died and 46,000 who have been wounded in the nation’s service, Panetta said.

“You have done everything you have been asked to do,” he added.

Panetta told the U.S. troops that his duty is “to watch your back,” pledging his support as budget cuts loom.

“As all of you know,” he said, “we’re going to be facing some very challenging fiscal issues in America.”

Panetta said his goals for the defense budget include cutting defense spending without creating a hollow force.

“Most importantly, I am not going to break faith with the people who serve in uniform, who put their lives on the line time and time and time again,” the secretary said. “I commit to you that I will do everything I can to protect the benefits that were promised to you and to your families. That’s essential to our commitment to you, for what you have done for America.”

The secretary shook hands and presented a commemorative coin to each American and Japanese service member present.

This is Panetta’s first trip to Asia as defense secretary. He is in Japan after a visit to Indonesia, and he will travel to South Korea later this week. The Japan leg of his trip will continue with scheduled meetings with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Affairs Minister Koichiro Gemba and Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa.

En route to Japan, a senior defense official told reporters traveling with the secretary that the topics of discussion for those meetings will range from arms exports and ballistic missile defense to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology and U.S. troop basing in Japan.

Obama Congratulates Libyans on Their Liberation Day

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama congratulated the Libyan people on their Liberation Day, saying the nation is beginning a “new era of promise.”

In Tripoli, leaders of the Transitional National Council declared October 23 Liberation Day, thus officially ending 42 years of Moammar Gadhafi’s tyrannical rule. The Libyan ruler was killed Oct. 20 in Sirte.

Libyans greeted Liberation Day with jubilation, with many instances of celebratory gunfire heard across the nation.

“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the people of Libya on today’s historic declaration of liberation,” Obama said in a written declaration released by the White House today. “After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise.”

But Obama noted that much hard work remains in Libya. He said the officials of the Transitional National Council must turn their attention to the political transition ahead.

“We look forward to working with the TNC and an empowered transitional government as they prepare for the country’s first free and fair elections,” the president said.

Obama called on Libyan leaders to respect human rights, to reconcile with Gadhafi’s followers and bring together disparate armed groups under government control. He also called on Libyan leaders to secure weapons and dangerous materials.

“As they take these steps, the United States will continue our close cooperation with our international partners and the U.N. support mission in Libya to help advance a stable, democratic transition,” he wrote.

Leaders Express Sympathy at Crown Prince’s Passing

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2011 – U.S. leaders expressed their sympathy to the Saudi royal family and all Saudi Arabians on the death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz yesterday.

President Barack Obama called the prince a valued friend to the United States.

The crown prince died at a New York hospital yesterday. He was 80.

Sultan served as the Saudi minister of defense and aviation since 1962. “Crown Prince Sultan dedicated himself to the welfare and security of his people and country,” Obama said in a statement. “He was a strong supporter of the deep and enduring partnership between our two countries forged almost seven decades ago in the historic meeting between President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt and King Abd al-Aziz Al Saud.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the crown prince transformed Saudi Arabia’s armed forces into a modern and highly capable military. “He was a good friend and partner of the United States, and worked to further cooperation between our two militaries in order to better confront many shared security challenges,” he said in a statement. The secretary is traveling in Asia.

Vice President Joe Biden said the crown prince will be remembered for championing relations with America and for his philanthropy at home. He said the prince funded housing and medical care for the kingdom’s neediest citizens and scientific research on water and desertification, among other important causes.

Aircrew Missing in Action from WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of 10 servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert R. Bishop of Joliet, Ill.; 2nd Lt. Thomas Digman, Jr. of Pittsburgh; 2nd Lt. Donald W. Hess of Sioux City, Iowa; 2nd Lt. Arthur W. Luce, of Fort Bragg, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Karaso, of Philadelphia; Staff Sgt. Ralph L. McDonald of East Point, Ga.; Sgt. John P. Bonnassiolle of Oakland, Calif.; Sgt. James T. Blong of Port Washington, Wis.; Sgt. Michael A. Chiodo of Cleveland; and Sgt. John J. Harringer, Jr. of South Bend, Ind., will be buried as a group, in a single casket representing the entire crew, on Oct. 26, in Arlington National Cemetery.  Hess and Karaso will be interred individually in Arlington National Cemetery.

On April 29, 1944, the 10 airmen were ordered to carry out a bombing mission over Berlin, Germany, in their B-24J Liberator aircraft, piloted by Bishop and Luce.  German documents captured after the war noted that the aircraft crashed near the town of East Meitze, Germany, and there were no survivors.  German forces buried the remains of Digman, Blong, and one unknown airman in a cemetery near Hannover, Germany, around the time of the crash.  In 1946, the Army Graves Registration Service exhumed the remains of the three individuals for identification and reburied them in a U.S. Military Cemetery in Condroz, Belgium.

In 2003, a German national located the site of the crash and recovered human remains, which were turned over to U.S. officials.  In 2005, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) team excavated the crash site and gathered additional human remains, military equipment, and metal identification tags for Bishop, Blong, Bonnassiolle, and Harringer.  The team also recovered a class ring with the initials AWL -- presumably belonging to Luce.  In 2007, a JPAC team completed the site excavation and found additional evidence that helped to confirm the identity of the crew.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used dental analysis and mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of some of the crewmembers’ families -- in the identification of their remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 73,000 remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1420.

NAVFAC Washington Adds First Electric Vehicle to Fleet

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By James Johnson, NAVFAC Washington Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington Base Support Vehicles and Equipment (BSVE) office took delivery of its first Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, a Chevrolet Volt, at the Washington Navy Yard on Oct. 20.

The Volt is the first of four to be leased to NAVFAC Washington BSVE as part of a General Services Administration (GSA) pilot program. The remaining three will arrive early 2012.

"The addition of the Chevy Volt demonstrates our commitment to energy reduction goals set by the Secretary of the Navy," said Erin Bartley, product line coordinator at NAVFAC Washington BSVE. "This vehicle, along with the three to come later, will help us reduce our gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions."

In total, the GSA will deliver 11 electric vehicles to the U.S. Navy, nine Chevy Volts and two Nissan Leafs. NAVFAC Southwest is scheduled to receive five Volts and two Leafs in early 2012. NAVFAC Washington and Commander, Navy Installation Command (CNIC) have coordinated to install 220-volt charging stations at the Washington Navy Yard and Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Md. These stations will provide the Volt a full charge in four hours.

NAVFAC Washington BSVE has a fleet of 2,143 vehicles. These drove for 635,350 miles (enough to drive from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles and back 119 times) during Fiscal Year 2010. The fleet services many agencies, including CNIC, Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Air Systems Command among others.