Military News

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Day in Naval History - Nov. 25

From the Navy News Service

1775 - Continental Congress authorizes privateering in the War of American Independence.
1943 - In Battle of Cape St. George, five destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 23 (Capt. Arleigh Burke) intercept five Japanese destroyers and sink three and damage one without suffering any damage.
1961 - Commissioning of USS Enterprise [CVA(N)-65], the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, at Newport News, Va.

Face of Defense: Marine Gives Back to Community

By Marine Corps Cpl. Andrew D. Johnston
2nd Marine Division

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Nov. 25, 2011 – An active duty Marine Corps noncommissioned officer was recognized for his outstanding service to the city of Jacksonville, N.C., during a Nov. 22 ceremony at the municipality’s town hall.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Daniel G. Stoy, assigned here to the 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, received a standing ovation when he received the city’s Outstanding Veterans Award.

Stoy, who earned three Purple Hearts from wounds he received in the War in Iraq, serves as the sergeant-at-arms for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Beirut Memorial Chapter 642.

 “Each of the different veteran chapters here in Jacksonville was allowed to put up one nominee for the award, which is basically for your service in the community,” said Stoy, who hails from Hudson Falls, N.Y. “This the first time that The Military Order Of The Purple Heart has had an active duty member up for the award in two or three years.

“Basically [the award is for] all of the volunteer work I’ve done after the tornados hit,” he added. “I had my whole [team] out there working with me.”

Some tornados struck the Jacksonville area in late summer, Stoy said, destroying homes and leveling businesses. He gathered up a group of Marines to help out.

“If there is any time that we need help, Staff Sgt. Stoy always gets his troops for us,” said Verl H. Matthews, senior vice commander of the local Purple Heart Chapter. “He asks for volunteers and he and his guys always come and help.

“These guys are some of the hardest workers,” Matthews continued, “and I just got done signing about 20 appreciation letters this morning. He has just done so much for us and the community.”

Stoy, a married father of three children, said he juggles his duties as a Marine, a community volunteer and husband. He said his wife makes it all work.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my wonderful wife,” Stoy said. “She has fully supported me in everything. She’s here taking care of the home front while I’m out volunteering. It’s that basic love and your basic husband and wife support -- she has been great.”

Stoy said was very humbled to receive the award. He attributes his love for community service to his late father.

“It feels good to be honored like this because my father, who just passed in October, always used to tell us, ‘What you give is what you get,’ so it meant a lot to get it," Stoy said. “Between the balance of work and the balance of volunteering it was tough. But just being able to see the looks on people’s faces, when you’re out there helping just makes it all worth it in the end.”

USNS Safeguard Depart Tsunami-Stricken Japanese Port

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford, U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan Public Affairs

ONAGAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors and civilians aboard USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) departed Onagawa after spending days in the tsunami-stricken Japanese city, Nov. 24.

In response to an invitation from city officials, Safeguard became the first U.S. ship to visit this area since the conclusion of Operation Tomodachi. While inport, the ship welcomed almost 400 local school children aboard for tours, and also delivered donated clothing and blankets to a local school.

The crew, comprised of Military Sealift Command personnel and U.S. Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, Company 1-7, said they were honored by the invitation and enjoyed interacting with the local populace.

"What got me were the smiles on the children's faces," said Frank Watkins, an able-bodied seaman aboard Safeguard. "Seeing them so excited about the ship makes you feel good inside. They've been through a lot this past year. I hope they enjoyed the visit."

Onagawa was greatly impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake, March 11, 2011, which triggered a massive tsunami that devastated the local area. More than nine months after the incident, the city is still struggling to recover. Because of that, the crew wanted the children's visit to be special.

While on board, the kids had the opportunity to see diving and shipboard firefighting displays, take a tour through the Safeguard-class salvage ship, and enjoy a barbecue on the pier.

"It's rewarding to see the kids have a good time, and I think our Sailors did a fantastic job in making that happen," said Senior Chief Navy Diver John Stegall, MDSU 1, Company 1-7 master diver. "All my guys were very caring, very motivated and I was proud to be their master diver today."

Safeguard previously spent time in Hachinohe, Japan, earlier this year, and in the days immediately following the tsunami, helped clear its harbor for ship travel.

Warrant Officer Davin Strang, MDSU 1, Company 1-7 officer in charge, said Safeguard and its crew are always willing to help out if needed.

"I hope the Japanese population understands that they can count on us if they need us," he said. "After all, helping out is what friends do."

For more news from Naval Air Facility Misawa, visit CNIC.navy.mil/misawa/index.htm or check out our Facebook page at Facebook.com/nafmisawa.

FIRST TALL SHIPS ARE CONFIRMED FOR NEW ORLEANS NAVY/OPSAIL COMMEMORATION

Commemorations of War of 1812 and The Star-Spangled Banner Bicentennials Bring Tall Ships, Navy Vessels, Blue Angels and More to New Orleans, April 17 – 23, 2012

New Orleans, LA – The NOLA Navy Week Host Committee and Operation Sail, Inc. have confirmed the first tall ships coming to New Orleans April 17 – 23, 2012. The historic USCG Barque Eagle will join the Guayas of Ecuador and the Gloria of Colombia in New Orleans at Woldenberg Park.

The U.S. Navy and OpSail will commemorate The Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and The Star-Spangled Banner and have chosen The City of New Orleans as the inaugural destination of a three-year nationwide celebration that will also finish in New Orleans in 2015. For information on the commemoration, visit www.OurFlagWasStillThere.org.

“Being the inaugural city to kick off a three-year nationwide celebration speaks to the greatness of our city,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “We will set the bar high for all cities by demonstrating our experience in entertainment on a massive level.

States, municipalities, and civic organizations have formed host committees to organize the details of the events in each port in concert with Navy officials and OpSail executives. Mayor Mitch Landrieu appointed Mark Romig to be Chairman of the host committee in New Orleans (www.nolanavyweek.com).  Related commemorations will take place on the Atlantic Coast in New York, Norfolk, Baltimore, Boston, and New London. Commemoration events in the Great Lakes will take place in Milwaukee, Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo.

“Our committees have been working steadily to begin ironing out the details that will make up the event,” said Mark Romig, Chairman of the NOLA Navy Week Host Committee. “We are presently looking for sponsoring partners who want to be part of something truly historic and see the opportunity for vast exposure on a national level.”

Built at the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1936, and commissioned as Horst Wessel, the USCG Barque Eagle was one of three sail-training ships operated by the pre-World War II German Navy.  At the close of the war, the ship was taken as a war reparation by the U.S., re-commissioned as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle and sailed to New London, Connecticut, which has been its homeport ever since.

The Guayas, a 914-ton, three-masted barquentine, was named both for the longest river in Ecuador and the first steamship ever built in the Guayaquil Shipyard. The Guayas stretches over 257 feet long, and, like her sister ship, the Gloria, now serves as a training ship. She carries 80 cadets under the guidance of 35 officers and crew members.

Built in 1967, the Gloria is a Colombian barquentine now serving as a school ship, with a crew of 80 cadets. She was modeled after Germany’s Gorch Foch and is able to stay at sea for up to 60 days without external supplies. Launched in 1968 from Bilbao, Spain, she is 178 feet in length and carries 23 sails. Her first long voyage took place in 1970, when she traveled from Cartagena to Sydney, Australia.

“Bringing the tall ships of the world back to U.S. waters for the commemoration of this glorious American milestone excites the imagination,” said Jose Fuentes, chairman of Operation Sail.  “Throughout 2012-2015, millions of people will watch these graceful and majestic sailing ships as they parade together, and celebrate the brotherhood of the sea and our freedoms.”

The week-long 2012 program in New Orleans will include parades of sail, public visitation, a spectacular air show by the Blue Angels, international athletic competitions, and community relations activities. The theme of the event is, “Our Flag Was Still There.”

 “The War of 1812 really signified our rebirth as a Navy and a nation,” Said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert. “In a few short months, we’ll be celebrating the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. We’ll learn a lot about our Navy over the next twelve months.”

The Navy has invited some 120 countries to send appropriate combat ships as well as their national academy sail-training tall ships to America for the 2012 commemoration events. The Navy and Operation Sail have partnered in producing major patriotic events for more than 50 years.

More ships coming to New Orleans will be announced between now and April 2012.
 

About Operation Sail, Inc.
Operation Sail, Inc. is a non-profit organization established in 1961 with the endorsement of President John F. Kennedy. Backed by a Joint Congressional Resolution, its mission is to advance sail training and promote goodwill among nations. OpSail has produced five international sailing events in 1964, 1976, 1986, 1992, and 2000, each tied to a landmark historical event and culminating in a traditional Parade of Sail in New York Harbor. For more information, please visit www.opsail.org.

Contact: Operation Sail: William G. Armstrong, warmstrong@opsail.org  203-904-8115

About the United States Navy
The U. S. Navy is the sea-service branch of the U. S. Armed Forces. The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. The United States Navy - A Global Force For Good.  For more information, please visit www.navy.mil and www.history.navy.mil. For more information on Navy 1812 Bicentennial activities and events, visit our website: www.OurFlagWasStillThere.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/Navy1812; Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Navy1812.

Contact: U.S. Navy:  Daniel S. Dayton, daniel.dayton1@navy.mil, 202-685-0210

About New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation
New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation promotes the city as a leisure tourism destination throughout the year. Annually, NOTMC’s marketing campaigns include strategic print, broadcast, and Internet advertising and public relations.  Web sites: www.nolanavyweek.com; www.NewOrleansOnline.com; www.NewOrleansMuseums.com; www.RadioFreeNeworleans.com; www.gonola.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/NewOrleansOnline. Twitter: www.Twitter.com/visitneworleans.

Contact: NOTMC: Lea Sinclair, lea@notmc.com, 504-826-9710.

'Magic' Johnson helps FITC Lieutenant Propose at Carrier Classic

By Lt. Scott Cunningham, Center for Information Dominance Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- While thousands of people were watching the inaugural Quicken Loans Carrier Classic aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CV 70), Nov. 11, one couple only had eyes for each other.

On a pleasant, November evening on Veteran's Day, a few thousand service members gathered on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to watch an NCAA, Division I basketball game between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the Michigan State Spartans. One of the country's most well-known basketball fans, President Barack Obama, was there to enjoy the game as well.

As basketballs and collegiate athletes flew though the air, love was in the air as well and Navy Lt. Wil Whiteman, an instructor at Fleet Intelligence Training Command, in San Diego, seized the opportunity, to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Tara Dilworth.

He recruited the help of former Lakers celebrity and basketball great, Earvin 'Magic' Johnson to be his wingman while he took on this most important mission.

Johnson, a Michigan State alumnus, took a few moments away from the game and kneeled down alongside Whiteman while he popped the question.

When Dilworth, a former Hofstra University basketball star in her own right said "yes," it proved to be an unforgettable day for the couple and yet another memorable assist for the storied point guard.

Whiteman, who has been decorated throughout his distinguished 17-year military career including earning two Purple Hearts, was happy to adorn the woman who had supported him through injuries sustained in Iraq with a shiny accessory of her own.

After being posted on YouTube, the proposal was picked up by various media outlets, which included Sports Illustrated and the San Diego NBC news affiliate.

Despite being raised in the Chicago area and growing up as a die-hard Michael Jordan fan, Whiteman now has a new affinity for 'Magic' Johnson, who selflessly contributed to what will surely remain as a great moment in the young couple's long relationship.

CID is the Navy's learning center that leads, manages, and delivers Navy and joint force training in Information Operations, Information Technology, Cryptology and Intelligence.

With a staff of nearly 1,300 military, civilian and contracted staff members, CID Corry Station oversees the development and administration of more than 168 courses at four commands, two detachments and 16 learning sites throughout the United States and in Japan. CID Corry Station provides training for approximately 24,000 members of the U.S. Armed Services and allied forces each year.

Face of Defense: Coast Guard Mechanic Excels in Florida

By Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael De Nyse
American Forces Press Service

AIR STATION CLEARWATER, Fla.  – A Coast Guardsman stationed here is universally recognized as a consummate shipmate, role model and go-to guy.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Savage, an aviation maintenance technician, is raising the bar in his department. As a recent Coast Guard Achievement Medal recipient for superior service at his previous unit, Savage has not skipped a beat in bringing his work ethic and great attitude to the air station.

Whether it’s the most mundane task in the shop or the most challenging, bosses and coworkers said Savage makes it look easy and his enthusiasm is contagious.

“Savage has always been one of those guys you can always go to get the job done,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Lamb, Savage’s shop supervisor. “His positive attitude reflects on the rest of his peers and his work ethic is infectious to the rest of his crew.”

Savage, 35, of Raymondville, Texas, has served in the Coast Guard for eight years. After being laid off from his civilian job, he said he was ready to do something different.

“I think my good work ethic is something that just comes naturally, but if I was to credit someone for my inspiration it would my grandfather, who just passed away last year,” Savage said. “He was a devout Christian, World War II veteran, loving husband of 65 years, father and grandfather, and a person I would say had true grit. He always put family first, and never knew the meaning of give up.”

Savage’s sunny smile and hard work, his shipmates said, helps them to keep a positive attitude, especially during difficult tasks.

Savage’s superiors said he’s demonstrated vast knowledge about aircraft systems and maintenance procedures, proving to his shipmates he can be relied upon at any time.

“Savage is the type of guy you don't have to keep under a microscope -- you can give him a task and let him go to do it,” Lamb said. “You don't have to check back with him until the job is done.

“That, to me, is huge,” he continued. “We have $20 million worth of aircraft out there, and if you have to keep your eye on somebody all the time, it takes away from what you're doing as a supervisor for everybody else.”

Savage said he’s been a “grease monkey” since he could remember.

“I always wanted to get dirty working on tractors, cars, trucks, and now aircraft,” Savage said. “I love being a mechanic; I like working with my hands and always challenging myself to learn more.”

Coast Guard aviation mechanics like Savage have a plethora of responsibilities. They service and repair aircraft fuselages, wings, rotor blades, fixed and movable flight control surfaces, and also bleed aircraft air, hydraulic and fuel systems. The mechanics fill aircrew positions such as flight engineer, flight mechanic, load master, drop master, sensor-systems operator and basic air crewman.

“Savage makes it look easy,” said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Michael Ethridge, Savage’s senior enlisted supervisor.

It’s not all about work for Savage. When off duty, he prefers spending as much time with his loved ones as he can.

“I enjoy exercising, fishing, shooting, but most importantly spending time with my wife and two boys who joyfully take up most of my free time,” Savage said. “I am blessed with a job I enjoy, even with the ups and downs of it. Blessed with a beautiful wife and two beautiful boys, and I owe it all to the grace of God.”

Pearl Harbor Combat Systems Team Trains to Hone Warfighting Skills

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason J. Behnke, Amphibious Squadron 5 Public Affairs

USS PEARL HARBOR, At sea (NNS) -- Crew members of the dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) conducted a combat systems training evolution Nov. 18 to keep their warfighting skills sharp on the current deployment.

For the drill, the ship simulated an inbound missile attack and Sailors working in the ship's Combat Information Center (CIC) relied on a steady "team" concept to enhance their ability to make the split-second decisions needed to keep the ship safe.

"Everyone has to work together," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Cortney Jackson, CIC work center supervisor. "There's a lot of communication going around the room. The key thing is just letting everyone play their role."

During such training evolutions, Jackson is one of many bodies positioned around CIC. While he manages his station in the corner of the room, a row of Sailors sit side-by-side in the middle of the room. Their faces are illuminated by the faint glow of their computer and radar screens, while the overhead lights cast a dim blue tone over them.

The watch standers are busy at their stations, determining "friendlies from hostiles" and gathering information to paint an accurate picture of what is happening outside of the ship. All the while, a team of Sailors in blue hats stand back and observe the event.

These Sailors are part of the ship's Combat Systems Training Team (CSTT). They pool together their combined years of knowledge to determine if the watch standers are ready for the real thing. They play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the ship and everyone aboard it.

"I love training and mentoring Sailors," said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Thomas Johnson, CSTT Coordinator. "Seeing them excel at their duties and seeing them be able to respond to a drill that we give them, and act the way they're supposed to act and make the appropriate decisions, allows me to know that we've trained them the right way."

Johnson said the drill went well. Although he knows that there are always areas the team can approve upon.

"There were some minor rough areas," said Johnson. "It's just brushing up on skills from taking time off. That's why we run the drills prior to getting in theater so that they can get back into the mentality of what they need to be thinking about at all times."

Pearl Harbor left its homeport of San Diego, Nov. 14, and Johnson said he and his team know that now is the time to get the watch standers on top of their game. Mistakes can be made safely during these training sessions. It's a different story, however, when the ship arrives in a potentially hostile environment.

"We all have to work together and come together as one team to make sure the ship stays safe," said Jackson. "Everyone did really well. CSTT makes sure we train hard. They make sure we're always improving."

Both Johnson and Jackson have been around the world with this ship and much of this crew before. They both know that the extra hours drilling and training every possible scenario imaginable will ensure another safe deployment for everyone.

Pearl Harbor deployed Nov. 14 in support of the Navy's Maritime Strategy, along with the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), which make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

MilConnect is New Online Portal for DOD Beneficiaries

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – A range of information about Defense Department benefits information and eligibility is now available online, the director of the Defense Manpower Data Center said yesterday.

Two new online efforts -- milConnect and eCorrespondence -- give beneficiaries 24/7 access to personnel information; the ability to update information related to health, education and other benefits; and e-mail notifications about changes in benefits, Mary Dixon told American Forces Press Service.

“At the Defense Manpower Data Center, one of our many responsibilities is to be the interface with beneficiaries, especially on benefits and eligibility for benefits,” Dixon said.

MilConnect, available online and through a mobile application for the Android smart phone, was known for a year as the mydodbenefits website.

The revamped milConnect site is available online, around-the-clock, to all DOD beneficiaries and their spouses and children age 18 or older.

Users can sign on in several ways, Dixon said.

Anyone who has a common access card, a Defense Finance and Accounting Services myPay account logon, or a DOD Self-Service or DS logon can sign in on the MilConnect website, or apply at the site for a DS logon.

MilConnect information comes from the Defense Enrollment Eligibility System called DEERS. Eligible users are active duty, National Guard and Reserve members; and military retirees, spouses and eligible family members age 18 and older.

Sponsors can view information about all dependents listed in DEERS but for now eligible dependents can see only their own information.

Beneficiaries who use milConnect, Dixon said, can update DEERS contact information, manage health care enrollments, locate the nearest military ID card issuing facility, view personnel information, transfer education benefits to eligible family members, view group life insurance information, and manage other information.

Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard can update civilian employment information.

The mobile application works today on Android phones, but Dixon said her center is in the process of making MilConnect available for iPhones and other smart phones and mobile devices.

The smart phone app lets users find sites for the Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System called RAPIDS, where military members receive new ID cards, military treatment facilities, and contact information for Tricare regional offices.

Related to milConnect, Dixon said, is an initiative called eCorrespondence that will use e-mail notifications of changes in benefits rather than postal service letters for active-duty service members and National Guard and Reserve service members on periods of active duty.

E-mail notifications will be sent to the e-mail address associated with a service member’s common access card, Dixon said.

Beginning this month, service members will receive e-mail notifications of a change in Tricare primary-care manager, of potential eligibility changes when a child turns 21 or 23, and of the ability to view or print a Tricare enrollment card and welcome letter after enrollment into a Tricare medical or dental program.

The e-mail notifications will refer service members to the milConnect web portal.

Service members will be able to check Tricare eligibility and information through the MilConnect portal, whether or not they receive an e-mail notification.

Dixon said service members also can opt out of the e-mail notifications.

“We’re hoping to continue to expand both the things that we let you know by e-mail … and to expand to other kinds of benefits changes and to additional populations,” she said, including retirees.

“It’s a little bit hard with retirees because we don’t necessarily know their e-mail addresses,” she added. “But that’s something they can enter into the system on milConnect.”

Holiday Giving: Navy Lieutenant Commander Donates Marrow, Saves Life

By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jared Marquis, Defense Information School Public Affairs

FT. MEADE, Md (NNS) -- A Sailor assigned to the Defense Information School is home recovering after a surgical procedure on Nov. 21 in which he donated live-saving bone marrow to a person he does not know.

During the holidays, people all over the country spend time with family, eating, watching football and enjoying the opportunity to reflect and give back. John T. Schofield is doing much the same thing, save one difference. Three days before Thanksgiving, Schofield was in a hospital undergoing a procedure to extract his bone marrow to save someone else's life.

That someone is a seriously ill 57-year old woman who may die without Schofield's donation.

While the procedure itself is usually no more than two hours, the path to the hospital bed started for the 15-year veteran and Navy lieutenant commander more than two years ago.

In July 2009, Schofield was stationed aboard the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Schofield was asked by the ship's senior medical officer to market a marrow-donor registration drive for the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program.

The goal was to add to the more than 622,000 people already in the system. An already regular donor of blood and platelets, Schofield was not only willing to help publicize the event, he also registered. Nearly three years and two moves later, the instructor and Navy Element Commander at the Defense Information School here got the call he never expected.

"They called me early last month and told me I had been identified as a potential match for someone in need of a bone-marrow donation," he said.

Until that call, Schofield said, he had completely forgotten he had registered in the system. But that did not change his willingness to give.

"From the second I received that call 2 1/2 months ago until this very moment, it has been hard for me to think of anything else," said the Salt Lake City native.

Schofield said donating a part of himself to someone for a lifesaving procedure is one of the most meaningful things he has done. He knew from the moment he got that phone call he wanted to donate. His only fear was not being able to. This fear followed him throughout the next couple of phases of the process.

Being matched in the database does not guarantee a donor's marrow will work, said Schofield. It takes several more tests before the donor is identified as both physically and medically capable of donating.

Just getting a preliminary match to a non-relative is a one in a million chance, said Schofield. It was still a one-in-a-hundred chance he would actually be able to donate.

But, after all the follow-up tests, Schofield got the news he hoped for: The donation was a go.

Once the surgery was on, there was nothing to do but wait, something he didn't have to do much of. From the time he got the first phone call to the time he went into the operating room, a little over a month had passed. That didn't give Schofield much time to worry, which he said he didn't do a lot of. His wife and kids were a different story.

His wife, Susan Schofield, who is also on the registry, was concerned at first because she wasn't really sure what was involved, she said. But, her husband put her at ease with his assurances that the surgery was not dangerous and he would be fine.

His wife's fears calmed, it was time to focus on the children.

Schofield and his wife have three boys. At ages 3, 5 and 7, they were not particularly aware of what was taking place, said Schofield.

"They knew daddy was going to the hospital, and would be home in a couple of days," said Susan.

"The only question they really had was 'Will it hurt?'" said Schofield. "Once I assured them it wouldn't, they were fine."

In addition to easing their concerns, Schofield used the opportunity to teach his kids it is important to help out those in need.

"I feel that this transplant sets a good example for my kids in that I want them to see at a very early age that kindness and service are very good things," he said. "It doesn't take a lot of work. Sometimes just being available and being willing is sometimes all it takes to save someone's life."

That lesson, and motivating people to do their part, is why Schofield volunteered for the registry.

Now that he is out of the hospital, he said he was humbled by all the appreciation he received from the doctors and nurses following the surgery. But as much as he appreciated it, it was not necessary.

This 57-year old patient needed his marrow for a chance at life. There never really was a choice for him, he said.

"The act of being a donor doesn't seem to me that it's something you should be thanked for," he said. "It is something you should do."

Post-surgery, Schofield's goal is to raise awareness for the marrow-donor program.

"The process is so simple," he said. "It took mere minutes to register. There is nothing about this that was difficult."

As far as the pain, Schofield, who spent one night in the hospital, said it was minimal.

"At its worst, the pain was no more than what I would have after a day spent raking leaves," said Schofield. The average recovery time is approximately two weeks, but he said he is able to do pretty much everything he could do before the surgery.

He added that he hopes more people come forward to volunteer their marrow. The experience has impacted him profoundly, he said.

"When you break it down, you are availing yourself to someone for a lifesaving procedure," Schofield said. "I really don't think I'll have that opportunity to do something that special again."

For her part, Susan said the experience has motivated her to be a donor. She was already on the registry, but after experiencing the process through her husband, she hopes to get the same call. Her aunt was a marrow donor recipient, but they were never able to find a complete match. She hopes to be that complete match for someone else, Susan said.

Now, as he continues to recover, and follow through with his Thanksgiving plans to participate in a 5K run/walk, cook and deliver a turkey to junior service members and enjoy time with family, Schofield has something else to be thankful for: that his marrow is giving someone else the opportunity to do the same.

To find more information on the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program, or to request a registry recruiting trip, visit DoDmarrow.org.

USS Mitscher Pulls Into Lisbon

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Deven B. King, USS Mitscher Public Affairs

LISBON, Portugal (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, for a regularly scheduled port visit, Nov. 23.

The visit serves as a continuing effort for U.S. 6th Fleet to build global maritime partnerships with European nations and improve maritime safety and security.

"Liberty is a mission for the ship, and we were looking for a good port to visit to strengthen relations and be good ambassadors for the (U.S.) Navy and the United States," said Cmdr. Brian K. Sorenson, USS Mitscher commanding officer.

The port visit comes after almost seven months of deployment, five of which were spent conducting operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

During Mitscher's time in port, Sailors will have the opportunity to tour the city and learn about the culture and history that Lisbon has to offer.

"Lisbon was our number one choice, because we know it's a tremendous city with great culture, has a warm demeanor and great hospitality," Sorenson said. "It's a great opportunity for Mitscher to spend time in the 6th Fleet AOR, as we're coming back from our deployment to the 5th Fleet AOR."

The visit also serves as a beginning point for an antisubmarine warfare exercise Mitscher is scheduled to participate in with the Portuguese navy, beginning shortly after the ship departs Lisbon.

Mitscher is deployed as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (GHWBCSG) to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and support missions.

The strike group consists of Carrier Strike Group 2 staff, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron 22 staff, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64), and USS Anzio (CG 68) and the guided-missile destroyers Mitscher and USS Truxtun (DDG 103).

Joining Forces Director Cites ‘Tremendous’ Progress

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – About 1,500 companies have hired 20,000 veterans and military spouses in the past couple of months, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Joining Forces campaign, the campaign’s executive director said yesterday.

These companies aim to hire upward of 135,000 veterans and spouses over the next couple of years through actions spurred by the White House’s military-support initiative, Navy Capt. Bradley Cooper told American Forces Press Service.

“This is a story of the extraordinary -- the extraordinary nature of our troops, veterans and our families, and the extraordinary capacity of a great nation to lend a hand and offer support to those who have earned it,” Cooper said.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched Joining Forces in April to raise public awareness of military families’ challenges and sacrifices and to call on all sectors of society to support them. Cooper came on board in the summer to head up this initiative.

Since its inception, the campaign has made “dramatic leaps” in military family awareness and support, the captain noted, particularly in its focus areas of employment, education and wellness.

The public awareness dimension gained a boost when some big-name stars signed on to help. Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg each appear in a public service announcement to honor military families’ sacrifices. These PSAs now are rolling into theaters and national networks.

Joining Forces also has teamed with large organizations such as Major League Baseball and NASCAR, Cooper said. MLB recently dedicated Game 1 of the World Series and NASCAR its final race of the year to military families and veterans.

“We’re going to keep doing those types of events,” Cooper said, “engaging with big, national voices and leaders who can help the first lady and Dr. Biden shine a light on the importance of veterans and military families.”

Along with public awareness, the campaign has made tremendous inroads in tackling veteran and spouse employment in recent months, the captain noted.

In about three months, the campaign went from teaming with 100 companies to more than 1,500, and from 1,500 people hired to nearly 20,000.

“There’s been a dramatic leap, particularly in employment, of people willing to step forward and lend a hand,” Cooper said. “And I think you’ll continue to see this trajectory moving very fast in a very positive direction.”

President Barack Obama signed a bill earlier this week that gives tax credits to employers who hire unemployed veterans and veterans with service-connected disabilities.

This initiative will have a big impact, Cooper predicted, citing the International Franchise Association as an example.

"IFA is seizing on the great capacity and potential of 'vets hiring vets' in leveraging their 66,000 veteran-owned small businesses around the country to hire a veteran,” the captain said.

IFA also has committed to hiring 5,000 of the nation’s wounded warriors by 2014, “and not just hire them, but mentor them,” he said, so they can develop into successful managers and facilitate franchise ownership for those who are interested.

“As companies large and small have shown, the private sector has enormous capacity to help our troops, veterans and families,” Cooper said. “The people of this great nation clearly want to help; people want to have impact. Everywhere we’ve turned and with every company we’ve asked to step up, the answer has been ‘yes.’”

The positive response makes sense in light of the talent veterans and military spouses bring to the table, he noted.

“The consistent feedback that we have received is that companies like the type of talent they’re getting,” Cooper said. “These are individuals who at a young age have managed large groups of people and … had to make quick decisions often in the most difficult of circumstances. I think that translates well into any company.”

While some Joining Forces’ efforts bear instant fruit, others are sustained efforts that will foster support for years to come, the captain said.

On Nov. 7, the president unveiled two new Internet-based job- search tools for unemployed veterans: My Next Move for Veterans, where veterans can browse career options and translate their military experience to a civilian application, and the Veterans Job Bank, where veterans can seek jobs posted by companies committed to hiring them.

Companies such as Google and LinkedIn have committed to populating the Veterans Job Bank, Cooper said, and Simply Hired scoured veteran-friendly companies in job portals around the country and deposited more than 500,000 jobs in the job bank.

Fueling these efforts in part is Google, Cooper noted. The company has developed a process that enables literally every company in the United States to electronically tag any job they choose as a veteran commitment. Google’s search engines then collect these postings and populate the job bank. This offers a “constant fueling of jobs,” he said, noting a significant number of the 1,500 companies already are electronically tagging jobs.

“As time moves forward, you’ll see those translate into real people getting real jobs in a more synchronized, manageable way,” he said.

Also aimed at employment, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sponsored 75 veteran and spouse hiring fairs around the country, with a goal of hosting 100 hiring fairs within a year. The chamber also has committed to hosting 300-400 additional hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses around the country in 2012, the captain said.

In mid-January, the chamber will host its first military-spouse-only hiring fair and career forum here, looking to bring together more than 100 employers and more than 1,000 spouses, Cooper said.

The Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership program also is aimed solely at military spouse support. MSEP partners with local, national and international businesses to foster job opportunities.

Since its launch in late June, the partnership has grown from 72 companies to 96, and has led to the hiring of more than 8,000 military spouses, Cooper said. The program’s site -- http://www.msepjobs.com -- lists more than 70,000 jobs for military spouses.

“It’s a really enormous capacity and includes jobs all over the world,” the captain said.

Cooper also noted a recent emergence of virtual hiring fairs, which is an asset to people unable to attend a hiring fair due to distance or who want to see what’s available in other locations.

Milicruit hosted a virtual fair a few weeks ago that included more than 24,000 jobs from nearly 70 employers with more than 30,000 veterans and spouses engaged in the process. “As we go forward, I think we’ll see positive results,” he said.

While employment opportunities have garnered the most attention, the campaign also is making inroads in the area of education, Cooper noted.

When Joining Forces first rolled out, the Military Child Education Coalition and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education committed to working together. They aimed to bring 100 universities around the country on board to develop and implement a curriculum that would give educators around the country knowledge of military child-centric issues. They’re on track to accomplish this goal by 2012, Cooper said.

This Joining Forces effort will have a lasting effect, the captain said, as thousands of teachers enter communities with a greater understanding and appreciation for what military children experience.

Cooper also noted progress in the area of wellness.

Medscape, a web resource for physicians and other health professionals, committed early on to standing up a resource center and curriculum on military family health care for physicians and nurses. The site contains original medical education programs as well as links to government, academic and community resources.

Medscape already has launched seven medical education programs and they will complete three more by the end of the year, Cooper said. These programs, which can be accessed by anyone, address a variety of topics including health care needs of military families, military culture, and screening and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

As of Nov. 21, more than 40,000 doctors and nurses around the country had accessed the portal and site. “It’s been a huge hit,” he said.

Looking forward, Cooper said he’s working closely with 14 associations -- nurses, physicians and psychiatrists -- to see “where we can capture the power of these associations in the world of behavioral health for families and veterans.”

Overall, Joining Forces has exceeded his expectations, Cooper said. He never imagined that the nation’s private sector would hire 20,000 people so fast, and that’s just for starters. “We’re at the infancy of this effort, and the trajectory continues to go even steeper and faster,” he said.

To get a true sense of the campaign’s effect, Cooper said people would simply need to ask those most directly affected -- the 20,000 veterans and spouses who have landed a job through Joining Forces hiring actions. “And then ask the next 135,000 what the impact has been or will be in their life,” he said.

Still, much work remains to be done, especially as the wars draw down and more troops enter the workforce. “There’s been a great leap in awareness, service, impact and effect these last few months,” he added. “But tremendous work remains as we have more than a million troops transitioning out of the service by 2015.”

USS Essex Crewmember Fatally Injured

From CTF 76 Public Affairs Office

INDIAN OCEAN (NNS) -- A U.S. Navy Sailor assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) was fatally injured aboard the ship Nov. 23, while it was anchored off the coast of Bali, Indonesia.

The Sailor lost consciousness after suffering a blunt trauma injury during a daily systems operability test. He received emergency medical attention from the embarked Fleet Surgical Team. The Fleet Surgical Team was not able to revive the Sailor despite exhaustive efforts to save his life. He was pronounced dead on board.

The identity of the individual is being withheld pending next of kin notification.

The incident is under investigation.

Challenge Academy graduates complete AmeriCorps service

Five graduates from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy completed 10 months of service with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) Nov. 17.

Samantha Czerkas of Cross Plains, Taylor Maciosek of Milladore, Samuel Puchalla of Sheboygan, Ryan Skiff of Mauston, and Starr Spencer of Eau Claire - all Dec. 18, 2010 graduates from Class 25 - completed various projects across the Midwest ranging from building and restoring homes, managing invasive species, mentoring youth, engaging in disaster response, developing trail systems, and restoring parks and recreational facilities. All five earned the Congressional Award for their achievement in public service, personal development, physical fitness, and exploration activities. In addition, Czerkas, Maciosek, Puchalla and Spencer also achieved the Presidential Award for completing 100 independent service project (ISP) hours and leading an ISP. All five also earned a $5,350 educational award to use for higher education.

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program and AmeriCorps NCCC have developed a partnership with the hopes that more cadets will transition into service to community work with NCCC. Currently, there are 15 Challenge Academy graduates from Class 22 through Class 26 who are serving at AmeriCorps campuses around the country. In addition, 16 cadets from the Class 27 residential class are preparing to begin their service in February 2012.

USS George H.W. Bush Breaks Advancement Records

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Misty Trent

USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) produced record-breaking promotion numbers with the release of the results from the Fall 2011 Navy-wide Advancement Exam, Nov. 18.

The Navy's newest aircraft carrier, which is wrapping up its first operational deployment, advanced 432 Sailors to first, second and third class petty officer, nearly 200 more than promoted off the previous cycle. In addition to breaking the ship's own advancement record, George H.W. Bush also experienced the highest promotion of all carriers in the past seven years with not only its total number but also its 30.3 percent advancement rate.

"Our Sailors truly connected the importance of studying to the results of Perform-to-Serve and the Enlisted Retention Boards," said Command Master Chief David Colton. "We provided the avenue through some creative training and incentive programs, but our Sailors were the ones who really put forth the time and effort to set themselves up for success."

One big incentive came in the form of a personal challenge from the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Brian "Lex" Luther. More than 240 Sailors advanced off the Spring 2011 exam, and during an all hands call, Luther offered a 96-hour special liberty if at least 275 Sailors advanced during the next cycle.

To meet that goal, members of the crew took advantage of down time on deployment to study for the fall exam, and the ship also offered additional opportunities to study. One command program, "Professional Pursuit," focused on Professional Military Knowledge (PMK) topics, to include Enlisted Surface and Aviation Warfare Specialist material, as well as damage control, 3M, and Navy history. Initiated by the ship's Training department and run by the First Class Petty Officers' Association, the program was a combination board game and television game show in which Sailors competed in teams of five on the ship's mess decks in elimination-style rounds. Competitors won prizes ranging from head-of-the-line passes to free drinks at the ship's coffee bar, Lonestar Café. Each winning week's winning team carried the Professional Pursuit trophy to their departmental spaces.

"I knew most of the PMK questions on the test because of Professional Pursuit," said Aviation Boatswain's Mat (Handling) Airman Vanessa Pierson of Air Department, who was selected for advancement to third class petty officer. "It was fun and rewarding, not only because of how it helped me on the advancement exam, but because my team won the overall competition, we'll be some of the first Sailors to get off the ship when we return from deployment."

In addition to the challenge from the captain and unique study programs, Colton also credited leadership on the deckplates for creating an environment focused on success. For example, the ship's Legal Department enjoyed 75 percent advancement, with three of four Sailors promoting. Chief Legalman James Connor credited his Sailors' performance to a tailored training program, rotating his personnel through various positions throughout the department, and a sense of personal ownership.

"We created a focused training plan geared towards the bibliographies," Connor said. "My Sailors implemented the Legalman 52-week training program, and they took ownership over their training topics and conducted outstanding training that benefited each of them."

The ship's educational services office (ESO) also played a critical role in the command's success. ESO verified nearly 1,550 service records and four electronic databases to ensure the flawless administration and processing of each exam. As a result, the Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center reported zero exam discrepancies for the ship. According to educational services officer Lt. j.g. Aquichia Brown, advancement to E-6 Navy-wide was 10.3 percent from the Fall cycle, and George H.W. Bush more than doubled it with 23.9 percent promoting to first class petty officer.

"The crew looked around to see what they could do better and implemented tools such as Professional Pursuit, PMK training, and leadership group training," said Brown. "Of course, the dedication of Sailors applying themselves to study played the biggest part in all of this."

George H.W. Bush is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. The Navy's final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier departed its homeport of Norfolk, Va., May 11.