Military News

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wisconsin Air Guardsman first recipient of Thomas E. Wortham IV Achievement Award

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

A seven-year veteran of the Wisconsin Air National Guard is the first recipient of the Thomas E. Wortham IV Achievement Award.

Tech. Sgt. Robert Garrelts of Sparta, a mechanic with the 128th Air Control Squadron at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, received the award during a Dec. 2 ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison. The award recognizes Wisconsin National Guard member accomplishments off duty.

Garrelts, who joined the Illinois Army National Guard in 1987 and served in various units as well as the Army Reserve before joining the 128th ACS, struggled to express what receiving the Thomas E. Wortham IV Achievement Award meant to him.

"I really wish I could have gotten the chance to meet Thomas and serve with him," Garrelts said.

Garrelts is active with the Sparta Boys and Girls Club, serving as an executive board member and helped the organization raise $40,000 by volunteering for the club's annual haunted house fundraiser.

"I've seen numerous kids grow up in that house," he said, explaining that he works with Boys and Girls Club members for months constructing the new haunted house interior. Some youth appreciate the adult mentorship, while others learn how to use tools or build walls for the first time, he said.

Garrelts volunteers for the Sparta Fire Department, where he serves as the training officer and fire inspector for a 284-square-mile area of responsibility.

"I grew up around it," Garrelts said. "My dad was a firefighter - he still is. My brother is in a fire department. It's a family thing."

He noted that he has missed some holiday meals answering fire calls.

"I'd rather protect and save life," he said. "Who else is going to do it?"

He also volunteers with the Monroe County Hazardous Materials Team, and had volunteered with the Camp Douglas Ambulance from 2008-2010.

Garrelts has been a member of the Volk Field color guard team the past three years, and said every veteran deserves military honors at their funeral. He is also an executive committee member for the Wisconsin National Guard Youth Camp, where he serves as assistant security director.

The award is named for 1st Lt. Thomas Wortham IV, a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Troop A, 105th Cavalry as well as a member of the Chicago Police Department. He was murdered outside of his parents' Chicago home May 19, 2010 when four men attempted to steal his motorcycle. The Bronze Star recipient and veteran of two Iraq deployments as well as a tour of duty performing airport security as part of Operation Noble Eagle joined the Chicago Police Department in 2007.

"As impressive as his uniformed contributions were to nation, state and community, they don't paint the entire picture," said Capt. Matthew MacDonald, Wortham's commander in Troop A. Wortham served as president of the Cole Park Advisory Council in Chatham, and worked to make the neighborhood safe for children to play in area parks as a youth mentor and community watch coordinator. His fellow Soldiers learned about these accomplishments after his death.

"In a way, Tom's humility is the genesis of this achievement award," MacDonald said. "Tom represents the best traditions of the colonial militias going back to the days of America's founding. His embodiment of the warrior ethos is enhanced and made all the more impressive by his spirited embrace of what it means to be a citizen in the fullest sense."

Wortham's father, retired Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham III, was on hand to help present the award, and thanked the Wisconsin National Guard for developing the award.

"It is a great honor to my son and my family and I," he said. "It's truly something that we never expected, and we're truly grateful to all of you for doing this. I think this will keep my son alive forever. Giving this award out every year, young people not even born yet will know who he was and what he stood for. And for that, I thank you."

"This is Tommy's award," MacDonald added. "I'm confident that, long after everyone in this room is gone, the Wisconsin National Guard will continue to find and recognize Soldiers and Airmen in our ranks worthy of his legacy."

The Thomas E. Wortham IV Achievement Award was announced last year during a halftime ceremony at Soldier Field, part of a Sept. 27 Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The Chicago Police Department developed their own version of the Wortham Award, given to police officers.

Garrelts said the award lets the public know how Guard members give back to their communities.

"I'm going to do my best to get the word out about this award," he said.

Face of Defense: U.S. Troops Combat Floods in Thailand

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matheus J. Hernandez
Marine Corps Bases Japan

BANGKOK  – U.S. Marines, airmen and sailors worked in tandem with their Thai military counterparts to provide flood relief late last month at the Don Mueang International Airport here.

The U.S. service members and Royal Thai soldiers and airmen transported equipment from the Laem Chabang port to fight flooding at the water-inundated airport Nov. 29.

Marines and sailors assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 3, part of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force’s 3rd Marine Logistics Group, performed water removal operations with the Thai air force. Before the operation, Thai airmen placed sandbags as barriers around the airport’s four flooded maintenance facilities.

“The Marines were tasked to drain a specific area of the airport that the Royal Thai Air Force had isolated,” said Marine Corps Maj. Jonathan A. Derosier, engineering officer for the 3rd MEF’s flood relief command element. “They had a mission, which was to drain a specific targeted area, and that was within the scope of our capability.”

U.S. forces provided equipment to assist in draining the area, including hose-and-reel systems, 600-gallon-per-minute fuel pumps and vehicles to transport the equipment.

“They wanted to accelerate the natural drainage of the flood water, and to do that we deployed the hose reel to pump the water from the isolated area and routed it through the hose down to a drainage canal,” Derosier said. “That was going to allow the water to naturally flow [from the canal].”

U.S. Marine Corps and Army engineers and civil engineers with the U.S. Air Force’s 36th Contingency Response Group worked with Thai service members, officials said, to determine how to conduct the flood-relief operations, including routing flood water to minimize the length of hose needed, and determining the amount of water to be moved.

Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Julio C. Dominguez, the engineering detachment officer in- charge with the logistics regiment, said the American and Thai service members worked diligently during the successful operations.

“The Marines were able to adapt to the environment and complete their mission,” Dominguez said. “Completing our mission allowed the Thai people to get back to work by gaining access to their buildings.”

Army-Navy Game Rich in Rivalry, Tradition

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – The Army and Navy football teams are preparing to collide at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., continuing a tradition of athletic competition and military tradition that’s spanned over a century.

This year’s Army-Navy football game, the 112th, begins at 2:30 p.m. EST. CBS and the American Forces Network will broadcast the game live. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to attend.

FedEx, a 85,000-seat stadium that’s home to the NFL Washington Redskins football team is located in the National Capital Region, which is a fitting venue for the annual Army-Navy football clash, the Army’s Black Knights head coach Rich Ellerson told reporters last week at Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va.

“There's a special connection between both of our institutions and our nation's capital,” he said.

The Army and Navy Pep Bands will be in the Pentagon today with their cheerleaders and mascots to fire up the military crowd. As they do every year, the pep bands will march through the Pentagon’s halls, making stops at the offices of senior leaders and performing a pep rally or two.

The longstanding “Beat Navy” and “Beat Army” banter between the two squads, Ellerson said, showcases the teams’ competitive spirit.

“The meaning and symbolism go so much farther than what you see on the field,” said Navy Cdr. William Marks, the Naval Academy’s public affairs officer.

“Only in this game do brothers-in-arms become rivals for one day, knowing that … they will be side by side defending the nation,” he added.

Fans of these friendly rivals feel game anticipation early before the kick-off, particularly with the pregame spirit videos, said Dennis Herring, mass communications chief in the Naval Academy public affairs office. "It really gets your adrenaline pumping,” he said.

That rivalry has been part of the game’s storied history since its inception in 1890, when a Navy football player challenged an Army cadet to a game.

Just three years into the tradition, the Army-Navy game was suspended from 1894 to 1898 after a Navy win in 1893 reportedly caused an incident between a rear admiral and a brigadier general that nearly led to a duel.

When the game returned in 1899, it was moved to Philadelphia -- a neutral venue that was about halfway between West Point, N.Y., and Annapolis, Md. Most of the subsequent games were played in various Philadelphia stadiums.

Army cancelled its season in 1909 after the death of a cadet in a game against Harvard. War suspended the games during World War I in 1917 and 1918. They were suspended again in 1928 and 1929 because of player eligibility issues. The games have continued each year since.

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to attend an Army-Navy game in 1905.By 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who hoped the Army-Navy game would boost a war-weary nation, connected the game to a war bond drive. That year's 70,000 attendees were required to purchase war bonds with their tickets.

Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur cabled West Point head coach Army Col. Earl H. "Red" Blaik from his Pacific base following Army's 23-7 win against a tough Navy team, 23-7. MacArthur’s cable read: "We have stopped the war to celebrate your magnificent success.”

Perhaps central to the Army-Navy game rivalry are the traditions of gags among team members, such as the cadets' annual goat-kidnapping of the middies' mascot.

Since 1982, the midshipmen of 13th Company have run the game football from Annapolis to the playing field to try to get the "unlucky" company off the yard.

A more involved gag in the name of rivalry is the teams' prisoner exchange, when certain cadets and middies spend a semester of their junior year in “enemy territory.” On game day, the middies and cadets return to their own school’s sides of the field for the duration of the game during the “prisoner exchange.”

Another tradition is the Victory Bells, two of which flank the steps of the Naval Academy's Bancroft Hall.

One, the Enterprise Bell, originated from World War II's most-decorated ship, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. A kamikaze attack off Japan destroyed its forward elevator and killed 14 people. The carrier was decommissioned in 1947 and eventually scrapped.

Now the ship's bell rings continually from the time of the game's final score until the team returns to Bancroft Hall.

On the other side of Bancroft Hall stands the Japanese Bell, a replica of the bell presented to Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1854.

Each time Navy defeats Army, the Enterprise Bell is rung from the time the results are known until the team returns.

At the team’s reception, the Navy score is rung on the Japanese bell by the team captain, coach, superintendent and commandant, followed by each team member.

On the field just before the kick-off is the March On, the military presentation of the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets marching onto the field.

Herring called it “truly one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports."

For the many that can’t attend the game or watch it in the comfort of their homes stateside, the American Forces Network broadcasts the game to service members worldwide.

Marks recalled watching the game last year on a movie screen at 2 a.m. aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln while deployed in the Arabian Gulf.

“You could feel the electricity among the 5,000 crew members,” he said. “It was an amazing experience and it meant the world to us to be able to cheer on Navy during our overseas deployment.

“I think as a country,” Marks added, “we can take a moment to step back and marvel at the quality of these men and the virtues and values they represent.”

LCAC 91 Achieves Navy's Fastest Maritime Surface Craft Speed on Algal Fuel Blend

From Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy successfully concluded its final alternative fuel demonstration for the year today with the Dec. 7-9 operational tests of the 50/50 algae-derived, hydro-processed algal oil and petroleum F-76 blend in a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) amphibious transport vehicle.

The tests also marked the fastest speed achieved to date by a U.S. Navy surface craft using alternative fuel blends, as LCAC 91 reached 50 knots, Dec. 7. The fastest speed demonstrated on the 50/50 algal blend in previous tests was 44.5 knots by the Riverine Command Boat (experimental) (RCB-X) in October 2010 at Naval Base Norfolk, Va.

"Our Navy is working to be resilient to any potential energy future. Pursuing sustainable resources, such as alternative fuels that are drop-in replacements, assures our performance and mobility while protecting us from the volatility of the fossil fuel market. This demonstration is another Wright Brothers-moment for the Navy. We have shown that we can achieve more than 50 knots on the water and Mach 1.7 in the air - all on biofuel blends," said Rear Adm. Philip Cullom, director, Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division.

LCACs move elements of a Marine Air/Ground Task Force - weapons systems, equipment, cargo, and personnel - from ship to shore and over the beach. The vehicles have four gas turbine engines, and two generators that traditionally run on NATO F76 or NATO F44. They have a 7,000 gallon fuel capacity, an average range of 200 nautical miles, and can carry up to 150,000 pounds.

"For the test, the craft was operated out in the Gulf of Mexico using two different fuel configurations so we could compare the craft's operations as powered by each fuel type," said Naval Sea Systems Command's Navy Fuels Engineering Manager Richard Leung. "After draining the diesel, LCAC 91 received approximately 5,000 gallons of the 50/50 algal blend. We assessed the engine performance capabilities on the biofuel blend, and collected data on engine torque, acceleration rates, craft speed, fuel flow rates, propeller pitch, compressor discharge pressure, and inlet and exhaust gas temperatures"

Mechanical engineers bore scoped the engines and collected the technical data. LCAC operators then provided input on how the craft performed and operated.

"We are going to compare how the engines performed during the test both on the straight diesel and on the 50/50 mix. Results from the comparison will help us assess the performance of the fuel," said mechanical engineer Ben Canilang, NSWC Carderock's Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pa.

"To see what type of numbers came out, we connected a laptop with a harness that read into our digital and analogue data collectors," said mechanical engineer Peter Diamond. "The type of analysis is simply comparing numbers. We'll plug in a stream of numbers and compare results from each of the tests."

"The test run on the 50/50 alternative fuel mix was very successful," said Scott Feenstra, mission director, Landing Craft Air Cushion, NSWC Panama City Division. "LCAC 91 performed without issue. The operators were able to use high power; and reported that the craft handled beautifully and without problems."

Meeting the secretary of the Navy's call for a drop-in fuel replacement, no changes were required to the LCAC or fueling equipment infrastructures for the test. Alternative fuel efforts also support the secretary's overall energy strategy to increase energy security and safeguard the environment; as well as his goals to demonstrate a 'green' strike group by 2012, and deploy a strike group composed completely of alternatively powered ships, "The Great Green Fleet," by 2016.

Wisconsin Air National Guard Airmen honored for service

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders recognized Airmen for deployments and meritorious service at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center Dec. 3 and the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee Dec. 4.

"Every Air National Guard family member has proudly served and supported the Air National Guard mission," master of ceremonies 1st Lt. Orman House said at the Volk Field ceremony Dec. 3. "We hope that every spouse or significant other, child and extended family member knows the important role they have in what we do."

Gov. Scott Walker, commander-in-chief of the Wisconsin National Guard, thanked the Airmen at Volk Field for their service and sacrifice.

"We take it for granted that, come Christmastime we'll have our families together, and many of you won't always be together with family," he said. "We appreciate that sacrifice.

"You are the best and brightest we have to offer in this state," Walker continued. "Not just when you're deployed, but for what you do every day. Thank you for what you're doing to be willing, prepared and qualified to accept that call when it comes. If we didn't have the National Guard, we would not be the country we are today."

Brig. Gen. John McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, observed that the term "hometown hero" may call to mind sports legends.

"I like to talk about our heroes, and really America's true heroes," McCoy said. "They don't have numbers on the front and back of their uniforms. We truly are the Citizen Soldiers, Citizen Airmen, citizen military that this country depends on."

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, told Airmen at Volk Field that Congress recently recommended that the chief of the National Guard be given a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and that it was the performance of the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard who prompted that action.

"There was a time when our country thought it was better to do all this without the National Guard," Dunbar said. "Not today - we are part of that team. And you, each and every person in this room, you bring the Air Force values - integrity, service before self, excellence in all we do - to everything you do. I couldn't be prouder of the men and women in this room."

Volk Field Airmen of the year were recognized as well. Staff Sgt. Ryan Swieter was named Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Jacqueline Griffis was named Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Master Sgt. Michael Mullenberg was named Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, and Capt. Anthony Hart was named Company Grade Officer of the Year. They will advance for consideration at the state level.

Col. Gary Ebben, Volk Field commander, noted that Senior Master Sgt. Jessica Maple, a member of the 128th Air Control Squadron, was named the 2010 Senior Noncommissioned Officer for the entire Air National Guard.

"That's 106,000 across the nation," Ebben said. "So there's no reason that, potentially, one of the folks identified today can't end up in those same shoes."

Master Sgt. Kenneth Williamson was recognized as the 2011 Honor Guard Member of the Year, and Master Sgt. Brian Gruber received the 2011 Lt. Col. Thomas A. Reis Citizenship Award.

"This ceremony is not about the general officers, command chief or special guests," Col. Ted Metzgar, commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, said in Milwaukee Dec. 4. "It is about you, who have sacrificed so much."

McCoy agreed.

"It's important that we recognize the fact that you've deployed," he said Dec. 4. "I truly appreciate what you do every day, either here or abroad.

"We do the work America asked of us."

Master Sgt. Jeffrey Venus, a 128th Civil Engineering firefighter, said the Hometown Hero award he received was more for his family than himself. "It’s for their staying home while I was over there," he said.

"That's why we do what we do," added Master Sgt. Mike Schmaling, the first sergeant of the 128th Mission Group.

Schmaling and Command Chief Master Sgt. Joe Parlato were presented with detailed European swords in wooden display cases for their duty and service to both the 128th Air Refueling Wing and the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing.

"These guys, in a figurative way, slew a lot of dragons," Metzgar said, explaining the "dragons" as continuous and demanding rigors of working in a deployed location while being available to the deployed Airmen of the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing at all times and for all causes.

The Hometown Heroes Salute campaign began in 2008 to recognize Airmen, their families and communities.

Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze, 128th Air Refueling Wing, contributed to this report.