Thursday, November 03, 2011

Face of Defense: Creative Marine Loves Music

Discover some of the best military music!

By Marine Corps Cpl. John Robbart III
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Nov. 3, 2011 – A desire to serve his country and his love of music influenced Lance Cpl. Richard B. Orellana to join the Marine Corps.

Orellana said he started playing the drums when he was 5 years old. At age 13, he taught himself the guitar. At 19, he picked up the trombone.

“There’s always something I can learn. I try to keep pushing myself creatively,” he said.

Orellana’s devotion to music paid off when he auditioned for and was accepted into the Los Angeles Unified School District All-City Honor Marching Band as a junior in high school.

“Richard was the best drummer to ever come through Chatsworth High School, which is why I recommended him for the all-city band,” said Larry O. Williams, Chatsworth High School’s band director. “I remember him as a freshman -- he was so talented, but controlling his energy was the real challenge.”

Orellana’s talent doesn’t end with being an exceptional musician. He also found that he could draw. His high school art teacher, he said, saw his sketches and challenged him to take advanced-level courses.

During his junior year, Orellana competed in a nationwide art competition, which earned him a scholarship to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. He recalled he was surprised at how comfortable he felt with a pen and sketchpad.

“I took courses in design and illustration -- I had found my niche,” he said.

However, Orellana’s scholarship ran out after he’d attended a trimester at the school, and his family could not afford to pay for his art classes or music lessons.

“I was crushed, devastated, you name it,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that my dreams couldn’t be fulfilled because of my economic background.”

Orellana said he found himself making bad decisions and heading toward trouble.

“I needed to get away from that trouble back home and get set on a straight and narrow path,” he said, speaking of a time when he needed discipline in his life. Orellana decided he would join the Marine Corps and audition for the Marine Corps Band.

Before his final audition for the Marine band, Orellana injured his finger skateboarding and was unable to complete the audition. He needed to depart for recruit training and had to reclassify for training in an administration job.

“Orellana is very good at what he does,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Michael A. Travis, Orlellana’s supervisor at the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit here. Orellana, he said, is considering becoming a combat illustrator so that he can use his creative talents.

“He needs a specialty where he can be more free,” Travis said. “Being creative is his ‘thing.’ … He has made creative cover pages, unit symbols and designed different things for our section.”

Meanwhile, Orellana is still making music. He has a drum set in his barracks room, and sometimes plays at local venues.

Orellana said he also makes time to help out his fellow Marines.

“If there’s one thing I’ll always take from my time in the Marine Corps, it’s to look out for others,” Orellana said. “I want to be that person who can help, not only artistically, but also morally, to make sure [other Marines] have that role model who will keep them out of trouble.”

Army Secretary: Balance Needed as Wars Draw Down

Read true war stories and other incredible stories from the best military books written by real military writers.

By Rob McIlvaine
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2011 – With the drawdown of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, talented soldiers will need to be retained while Army infrastructure draws down, and the American people and warfighters need to maintain a connection, Army Secretary John M. McHugh said here yesterday.

"You can't have an Army without people," McHugh told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast, adding that the Army today is family-oriented, unlike the 1970s, when the vast majority of soldiers were single.

McHugh said it’s also time to take a look at the balance between contracting and providing government services.

"I think it was long overdue that the Army takes the opportunity to look at how it does its business,” he said. “We had outsourced a lot of jobs, hired a lot of contractors, and they did yeoman's work for us, but it was time after nearly a decade of that trend to take a better look at how we're doing things inside the Army. And I expect … by the time these [changes] are implemented, we could save, say by the year of 2017, upwards of $10 billion a year."

McHugh said he hopes these kinds of savings will contribute toward decreasing the deficit and the debt, and will, in turn, spur the economy. But without a budget, he added, decisions are difficult to make.

"Now, we're looking at possible options so that we can make smart decisions correctly, rather than not-so-smart decisions quickly,” he said. “But until we know what our figures are, it's kind of hard to say what we would actually take action against."

And whatever comes about, the Army secretary said, he believes the military needs to remain part of the American fabric, noting that the National Guard and the Army Reserve provide that connection.

"I would argue that the Guard and Reserve are terrific ambassadors across virtually every state and every community in this nation. … They put a face on the goodness that is military service,” he said. "Those that are operating in areas or states where we don't have a base are playing an even more important role, because they can help bring the military message to communities and people that otherwise don't have reason to be exposed to it."

Meanwhile, after 10 years of war with less than 1 percent of the population serving in uniform, McHugh said, the Army has to make sure it doesn't become an enclave unto itself.

"We're already scheduled and programmed to come down from current [strength], roughly [from] 569,000 to 520,000,” he said. “But for us, the glideslope by which we reach that end strength so that we can direct resources and balance ourselves, while providing the programs that are underpinning those forces, is equally important.”

End strength -- the total number of soldiers -- drives the Army’s cost, McHugh said. So if the budget goes down further, he explained, the end strength is likely to come down as well.

"What that will be will in part be determined, of course, by what that budget number is,” he said. “So it's not like we have a vote in this matter. We will, at the end of the day, be handed a budget. And our key objective, whatever that budget number may be, is to come out and shape an Army that is balanced and retains the great skills and capabilities that have been honed over the last 10 years.

“We don't want to lose this most effective land force the world has ever seen,” he added, “and balance is the key to that."

As the Army draws down in size, McHugh said, it has less need for facilities.

"At some point, we have to begin to look at rationalizing the vacancies, and would it make sense for us to support another [base realignment and closure process],” he said. “We don't want to be over-structured. That costs -- in fact, it wastes -- money. But at this point, we need to do a little bit more analysis."

The operating force has become incredibly adaptive over the last 10 years, the Army secretary said, recalling a recent trip to Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley, one of the bloodiest battlegrounds of the war there.

"We took off our body armor and walked into a village about a half mile away, and the soldiers that led the fight to clear that part of the valley were now working with the Afghan elders,” he said. “They were establishing the Afghan local police with a special operations captain, a young man, and a first lieutenant, just over a year out of West Point.”

The young officers were exercising authorities and responsibilities the Army probably would have given to a brigadier general 10 years ago, McHugh said.

“Now, they were out there doing amazing things, and each and every day they change what they're doing, because the enemy changes,” he told the writers. “That's adaptability. That's creativity."

Young leaders accustomed to having such authorities and responsibilities in the combat theater over the past decade could become frustrated with garrison life, McHugh noted.

"How do we bring soldiers like that home, who have exercised such authorities and have shown such creativity, into a garrison environment and keep then interested and challenged and engaged is one of our critical challenges for the future,” he said.

"I've asked our [Training and Doctrine Command] folks, and I've asked leaders throughout the institutionalized Army, as to how we can reconfigure everything from social programs to education programs to flexibility and our rating system to allow more creativity and perhaps re-examine the traditional Army ladder of promotion to see what we can do to create an environment that keeps young leaders -- just amazing soldiers like that -- interested in the Army, and at the same time, of course, attracting those kinds of folks in the future.

That's not a budget problem,” he continued. “It's just a problem of our breaking out of our traditional way of thinking about things and trying to create a peacetime Army and opportunities in that peacetime Army that will keep the kind of incredible people that have been stepping forward and putting their name on the dotted line for the last 10 years coming to us.”

TV Special to Celebrate Veterans, Military Families

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2011 – A Veterans Day TV special will celebrate service members and veterans and spotlight the issues they face as they leave the military and re-enter their communities and the workforce.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ‘Rise and Honor’ A Veterans Day Special” will air Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. The show teamed up with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Hollywood’s leading charity, to present the one-hour special, a news release said.

The reality show undertakes massive home renovations for families in need with the help of a builder and a host of volunteers. This season’s premiere featured Barbara Marshall, a 15-year Navy veteran who has devoted her life to helping homeless female veterans.

“In 200 episodes, we've seen thousands of armed forces volunteers to help us rebuild homes and lives,” said Brady Connell, the show’s executive producer. “Now we're thrilled to be able to honor all veterans with this television special.”

The special will feature host Ty Pennington as he revisits past episodes with some of the show’s most memorable military stories. The “Extreme Makeover” crew also will visit with some of the families featured in those episodes to find out how they’ve been faring since their home makeover and how they’re continuing to aid their fellow veterans.

Throughout the show, celebrities will spotlight the issues veterans face after service, and the strengths and skills they bring to the workforce and their communities, the release said. Celebrity guests include Whoopi Goldberg, Jewel, George Lopez, J.R. Martinez, Rachael Ray, Sherri Shepherd, Robin Williams and Major League Baseball players Daniel Murphy of the Mets, Shane Victorino of the Phillies and Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox.

Additionally, the Entertainment Industry Foundation will launch its “Rise and Honor” program during the special. The program raises funds to support reintegration services for veterans and their families, benefiting organizations such as the Fisher House Foundation, Hire Heroes USA, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, USO, Volunteers of America and Welcome Back Veterans. These organizations offer veterans and their families services and support such as housing, job placement, health care, rehabilitation and mental health treatment.

“We’ve highlighted the difficult struggles our veterans often face when returning home,” George Verschoor, executive producer, said. “We are so proud to take this a step further with a moving tribute to our nation’s heroes, while inspiring Americans to give back to those who’ve given our country so much.”

The special will culminate with an event featuring an audience of active-duty service members and veterans, along with a live musical performance by Jewel, who also will co-host the special.

In the news release, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis cited the importance of efforts such as this one that shine a light on veterans’ issues as they transition from military to civilian life.

“All across the country, we have talented and dedicated veterans who have been unemployed for far too long,” she said. “These service men and women are right here and ready to get back to work. They just need a little help from all of us to find a good job at a fair wage and successfully transition from military to civilian life.

“We applaud ABC and the Entertainment Industry Foundation for broadcasting this special show to raise awareness of the needs of our returning veterans and their families,” she added.

Cumberland County, NC School System Honors Vietnam Veterans as Part of Heroes Homecoming

55,000 students take part in more than 100 activities leading up to Veterans Day

Fayetteville, NC – November 2, 2011 – More than 30 percent of students in the Cumberland County School System come from military families. So it’s fitting that the school system has put together a detailed list of resources and events all geared towards honoring Vietnamveteran heroes as part of Heroes Homecoming. Heroes Homecoming is a 60-event, 10-day celebration honoring and paying tribute to Vietnam vets from across the country. It will take place in Fayetteville/Cumberland County, NC, from November 4-13, 2011.

There is no other city in the country tied more closely to the Vietnam War and that entire period of our country’s history. More than 200,000 troops trained at Fayetteville’s Fort Bragg before being deployed to Vietnam. The community currently has both a considerable population of native-born Vietnamese and one of the highest concentrations of Vietnam veterans in the country. Yet there is still a great deal of misunderstanding among residents, especially the younger generation, about just what this history means. Heroes Homecoming is designed to celebrate the community’s history and cultural diversity, while promoting an atmosphere of appreciation between Fayetteville and Vietnam, and giving thanks to those who fought for us in that conflict.

“An event like Heroes Homecoming provides an unprecedented opportunity for our children to learn about that period in history,” said Frank Till, Superintendent of Cumberland County Schools. “I am very proud that our schools have the opportunity to honor the tremendous sacrifices of those who served during the Vietnam War.”

The Cumberland County School System, the fourth largest district in the state, is made up of 85 schools and nearly 55,000 students. From November 4-11, more than 100 activities will take place at the majority of elementary and secondary schools throughout the county. Many of these events will focus on the Vietnam War era and conflict.

All classes will invite parents, relatives or other Vietnam veterans to speak to students about their service. They will be invited to share their experiences, both good and bad, with older students during an interactive panel discussion.

Students will create and present artwork, poems and songs in honor of Vietnam vets. They will write letters of appreciation that will be delivered to local veteran hospitals and nursing homes. Students will have the opportunity to read books like “The Wall” and “The Lotus Seed” and to watch videos like “How Tiger Got His Stripes” and discuss their significance afterward.

Facts and statistics about the Vietnam War will be read over the PA system each day as part of the morning announcements. Students will bring in pictures and videotaped interviews of their veteran family and friends to share during “Vietnam Show and Tell.” There will be a school-wide moment of silence for Vietnam soldiers that were killed or injured in the war, as well as a breakfast and brunch held in honor of all Vietnam vets.

Students will learn about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and will have the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall that will be located at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum (ASOM) throughout Heroes Homecoming. Schools will also raise funds to purchase an “In Remembrance of Our Vietnam Veterans” brick paver at the ASOM.

The entire Heroes Homecoming curriculum can be viewed at

Heroes Homecoming is being held in partnership with the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. All Heroes Homecoming events recognize the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans, ranging from concerts and parades, to lectures and movie viewings, to cultural celebrations and recognition ceremonies. For more information on Heroes Homecoming, visit

About Heroes Homecoming: As America’s First Military Sanctuary Community, Fayetteville/Cumberland County is giving brave Vietnam veterans the welcome home they deserve. The community will host Heroes Homecoming – the biggest commemoration/reunion of its kind – for the 10 days leading up to Veterans Day 2011. The event series will feature celebrations, discussions, fellowship and memories for all those who attend. Heroes Homecoming is Fayetteville/Cumberland County’s way of showing all Vietnam veterans that we remember and appreciate their courage, their sacrifice and everything they’ve done to defend our freedom – now and forever.

About the FACVB: The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, not-for-profit organization responsible for positioning Fayetteville/Cumberland County as a destination for conventions, sporting events and individual travel. For additional information, visit or call 1-800-255-8217. Fayetteville/Cumberland County is America's first military sanctuary. Through the Army's Army and other volunteer groups, our citizens and businesses are dedicated to “watching over those who watch over us ©.”

World Record Cheese Carver and Harris Teeter Honor Veterans and Raise Awareness for Wounded Warrior Project

Who:  Nationally recognized cheese carver and Guinness Book of World Records holder, Sarah Kaufmann, “The Cheese Lady,” along with Harris Teeter.

What:  Will be saluting all veterans and active duty military personnel and raising awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project with a special cheese carving. Kaufmann, known for her military cheese carvings will be sculpting Old Glory and her protectors in one, 640-pound Cheddar Mammoth.

When & Where:  Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 – 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. carving   
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 – 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. carving   
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 – 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. carving   
Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 – 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. carving
Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 – 11 a.m. carving finished
Harris Teeter Pentagon Row
900 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, Va. 22202

Phone: 703-413-7112

Why:  Sarah Kaufmann is honored to be part of Harris Teeter’s promotion to raise awareness and encourage support for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Shoppers are welcome to come out and celebrate all military personnel, past and present, watch Sarah in action, taste the Mammoth Cheddar and enjoy other fine foods from their neighborhood market.

For more than 16 years Kaufmann has been sculpting salutes to the military and their families.  Famous sculptures include a six-foot long aircraft carrier celebrating the return of the USS Ronald Reagan and the “yellow submarine,” the USS Jallao, honoring the men that built and served on the submarine during and after World War II. View Sarah’s military carvings here.

Interviews: Sarah is available for in-store interviews during her time at Harris Teeter. Journalists and cameras are permitted inside the store for photographs, video footage or in-person interviews. Please contact Danna Jones at 704-844-3904.

For any additional information on Sarah “The Cheese Lady” or to request photos contact Angela Hemauer, Flavorful Insight Marketing Communications & PR, or 715-212-2910.

About Sarah “The Cheese Lady” - Sarah “The Cheese Lady” is a nationally recognized cheese sculptor and Guinness Book of World Records holder for World’s Largest Cheese Sculpture set August 14, 2011 at the Wisconsin State Fair. Since 1996, she has created hundreds of sculptures, captured countless media impressions on national and cable television networks, and appeared at numerous professional sporting events.  Kaufmann carves in her studios in Cincinnati and San Diego and often appears in person to sculpt cheese live at venues across the United States: food & wine festivals, supermarkets, tradeshows, state fairs, sporting events, museums, civic celebrations and other special occasions. Her works of art can be viewed at Facebook: Sarah Kaufmann “The Cheese Lady” Twitter: @sarahcheeselady.