Military News

Friday, December 30, 2011

Funding to improve MAFB, national security

by : Senior Airman Jessica McConnell
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


12/29/2011 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven held a press conference here, Dec. 27, in conjunction with local civic leaders known as Task Force 21, to discuss how the Department of Defense Appropriations Act will affect the base and its Airmen.

The senator recognized how important Minot Air Force Base is to its surrounding communities, as well as to the nation's security. With the base playing such a key role in this nation's defense, the senator said it was important to provide the necessary funding to ensure the mission of deterrence remains unaffected.

The senator stated that the top priorities for the fiscal year 2012 Defense Appropriations Act include taking care of military members and their families, supporting military readiness, protecting military forces, maintaining a technological edge, and improving fiscal accountability.

With the base supporting two nuclear-capable wings, Team Minot received funding to upgrade and maintain weapons systems for both the 91st Missile Wing's ICBM fleet and the 5th Bomb Wing's B-52H Stratofortress fleet.

"When upgrading Minot AFB's weapons systems, it is also about becoming more cost-effective," the senator explained. "When looking at the ICBM and B-52 fleets and the funding they are receiving, it's not just about ensuring we have the best technology for our warfighters and the defense of our nation, but also about being the most cost-effective. Ultimately, these improvements are saving money."

Equally important, the senator spoke of plans to renovate and build more housing for Minot Airmen, something Airmen and their families desperately need, especially after the historic Souris River flooding Minot experienced this year.

"In the military construction area, there are a few key projects that will be funded," said the senator. "Minot needs more housing, and funding will support the building of more dormitories," said the senator. "Between military, civilians, and dependents, Minot AFB makes up approximately 12,000 people affiliated with the base. This funding will support another 168-room dormitory for our Airmen."

Also important is the maintenance of Minot's aircraft, both during the winter and summer months. With the cold weather up north, maintainers face harsh winds and negative temperatures while performing maintenance duties. While these conditions do not make maintenance impossible, the senator recognized that this process could be made simpler. This is something the senator spoke of funding as well.

"Although it isn't as cold this year, normally, the weather makes it difficult to work on the B-52s," said Hoeven. "To have the ability to work on these large aircrafts indoors is very important. Funding is going towards building a two-dock facility where B-52s can be worked on without dealing with the outdoor elements."

A new control tower and renovated flightline was also funded and approved. There are a lot of improvements happening around this base, and rightfully so, said the senator.

"This is a very important base," he said. "When considering both the nuclear mission for both bombers and missiles, as well as the conventional mission, there is a lot going on here, giving Minot AFB a strong role in our nation's defense."

Photographer Documented Defense Secretaries for Decades

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2011 – Many Americans only catch glimpses of defense secretaries and other senior Defense Department officials on television or in photographs. One man has dedicated decades to ensuring those photographs are of the highest quality, true to what they capture and are taken from anywhere in the world.

Robert D. Ward, a photographer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, documented the activities of defense secretaries and other senior defense leaders since 1974, capturing images of the hustle of their daily schedules and travels.

A former Army officer during the Vietnam War, Ward retired today from his position, in which he served 12 defense secretaries since 1974, including Donald Rumsfeld twice.

“I first came to the Pentagon in 1968 as a second lieutenant in the Army,” Ward said. “I worked at the Army Photographic Agency. I was particularly assigned to a branch called DASPO -- which was the Department of the Army Special Photo Office.”

Ward revealed his path to his current position, which began with his departure from active military service.

“After my period of time in the military, four years, I left as a captain, not totally voluntarily. I had sort of thought of staying in the service, but at that point in time they were offering [reductions in force] to everyone, it seems like, whether you wanted them or not.

“So I left the service and began looking for a civilian position in photography,” Ward continued. “First, I looked in Chicago at the newspapers and wire services [but] they didn’t seem to be hiring at the time.”

Ward said he returned to Washington, D.C., and worked with the Army Materiel Command for two years before finding an opening at the Pentagon.

“I … found an ad saying that they were looking for photographers for the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” he said. “And that sounded like a really good job. I applied for it and got the position.”

Ward noted the long list of defense secretaries he has worked for, starting with Secretary James Schlesinger.

“He was here a short time … [then] he was replaced by the young Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld,” Ward noted. “He was the youngest secretary to serve … I think he was 43.”

“Schlesinger was followed by Harold Brown, then Caspar Weinberger, Frank Carlucci, Dick Cheney, Les Aspen, William Perry, William Cohen, Donald Rumsfeld came back again, Robert Gates followed him and Leon Panetta, our current secretary,” Ward said.

Ward cited Frank Carlucci as the only defense secretary he didn’t work for in that period since he was with the Veterans Affairs Department during Carlucci’s stint. He noted he did work for him in his capacity as deputy defense secretary.

The photographer said he has gained a wealth of experiences serving on the defense secretary and deputy’s staff and taking “thousands and thousands” of photos while visiting 87 countries.

“Just going through the collection to try to pick out some … I must have gone through 3,000 prints that I have,” Ward said. “It’s very difficult to narrow it down to something that would be of particular interest because they’re all of particular interest.”

Ward pointed to former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as the easiest to photograph and former secretary Robert M. Gates as the toughest.

“Robert Gates was a very serious man. He took the job seriously, but he was wonderful at doing it. He will certainly go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of defense,” Ward Said.

“He was a little difficult to photograph because he rarely gestured, and he didn’t smile a lot,” Ward added. “When he did smile, it fairly lit up the room -- he had a wonderful smile, but he just didn’t show it very often.”

Ward shared one of the rare times he didn’t have a camera when he needed it most -- the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on 9/11.

“Unfortunately, while 9/11 probably presented the most historic opportunities for photos, I wasn’t able to take any because when the attacks occurred we were in an office on the second floor of the Pentagon,” he said. “Our photo equipment was located on the first floor of the Pentagon in a secure room.”

Ward was one of the determined Pentagon workers who returned to work the following day.

“I came to work the next day and got access to my equipment,” he said. “That was the day that President Bush came over and met with Secretary Rumsfeld and his staff then went outside to tour the area of devastation.”

With a four decade-plus career, Ward said he has had the opportunity to photograph some very well-known people ranging from singer Jewel and Margaret Thatcher to Bob Hope and the last World War I veteran.

“Some of the photos I’ve taken are sort of last-chance photos,” he said. “You have someone like Gen. Omar Bradley, the last five-star general, I was able to photograph him a couple of times.”

After 43 years, Ward looks forward to moving on to other interests.

“I’m really looking forward to retirement,” he said. “I’ve loved this job tremendously, but I do have other things I’d like to do.”

Ward cited his hobby as a birder, building model airplanes, riding his bicycle and scuba diving as post-retirement interests, but noted he will always love photography.

“If I took your picture today, this would be the last time that you would be this particular age, looking this particular way in your life and that’s one of the wonderful things about photography,” he explained. “It preserves those moments for future generations to see and I think that’s important.”

Locklear Nominated as Next Pacom Commander

 

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2011 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced Dec. 28 that President Barack Obama has nominated Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III for reappointment to the rank of admiral and for assignment as commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Locklear is currently serving as commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; and commander, Allied Joint Forces Command, Naples, Italy.

Pacific Command is likely to assume increasing importance in the coming years, as senior government officials including Obama, Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have all spoken in recent months about the Asia-Pacific region’s increasing strategic importance.

During a visit to the region in November, Obama said as the United States plans for the future, “we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region. We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace.”

The nation’s enduring interest in the Pacific region requires its enduring presence, the president said. “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay,” he added.

Locklear this year commanded Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, the U.S. part of the coalition effort aimed at protecting the people of Libya from forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and establishing a no-fly zone over the nation. The overall name of the NATO-led operation was Operation Unified Protector.

Locklear graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1977. His career as a surface warfare officer culminated in command of the USS Leftwich. Subsequent fleet command assignments include commander, Destroyer Squadron Two; commander, Nimitz Strike Group; and commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet.

Locklear has served ashore as executive assistant to the vice chief of naval operations; the 78th commandant of midshipmen, U.S. Naval Academy; director, assessment division; and director, programming division. Before his current assignment, he served as director of the Navy Staff from July 2, 2009, to Sept. 10, 2010.

Locklear is a 1992 graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University.

If confirmed as Pacom commander, Locklear will replace Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, who has served in that position since Oct. 19, 2009.

This Day in Naval History - Dec. 30

1941 - Admiral Ernest J. King assumes duty as Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
1959 - Commissioning of first fleet ballistic missile submarine, USS George Washington (SSB(N)-598), at Groton, CT.

Republic of Korea Consulate General Visits USS Essex


SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- The Republic of Korea consulate general and the principal officer U.S. Consulate Fukuoka visited forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), Dec. 29.

ROK Consulate General Cho Jung-Won and Principle Officer U.S. Consulate Fukuoka Jason R. Cubas toured Command Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) and later toured Essex after expressing an interest in seeing the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship.

Cho and Cubas visited Sasebo to meet with CFAS Commanding Officer Capt. Charles W. Rock and Essex' Commanding Officer Capt. David Fluker to learn more about the capabilities and assets of Sasebo and the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

"It is an honor and a privilege to be able to host a tour of Essex for the Republic of Korea consulate general and principal officer, U.S. Consulate Fukuoka," said Fluker. "It is important for our allies in the region to understand the U.S. Navy's capability to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security and crisis intervention."

Fluker also spoke about Essex' role in the Essex Amphibious Ready Group as well as the ship's numerous recent patrols and exercises. Essex recently participated in patrols of the South China Sea, Philippine Sea and the Celebes Sea.

"The versatility of Essex is remarkable," said Cubas. "I think that it is important for America to educate our allies about the impressive and diverse functions of our Navy. I will personally do anything I can to showcase our nation's great fleet."

Fluker escorted Cho, Cubas and guests through the ship, and described the success of the Navy and Marine Corps team in recent exercises such as Amphibious Landing Exercise and Operation Tomodachi.

Essex is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.

USS Carl Vinson Sailors and Volunteers Build Relationships in Hong Kong


HONG KONG (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 spent a day with Salvation Army volunteers in Tai Wo Hau Estate, Hong Kong, Dec. 28 during the ship's port visit.

Team-building exercises between Sailors and Chinese youth volunteers were organized by Lau Po-ngan, assistant service supervisor for the Salvation Army in Tai Wo Hau Estate. Afterward, the young adults took the U.S. Sailors on a tour of their town.

"We got to really interact one-on-one with them throughout the tour," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class (AW/SW) Ricardo Amezcua, assigned to Vinson's Intelligence Department.

Sailors were not the only ones eager to share and interact. The Chinese youth volunteers usually do not have the opportunity to communicate outside of their community, explained Po-ngan.

"Not many foreigners come to [Tai Wo Hau], so it was good for them to talk to the Sailors and learn how to communicate with different cultures," he said.

"It was less hands-on and more of a group effort," said Ship's Serviceman Seaman Amber Walker, assigned to Vinson's Supply Department. "It was a good separation from the usual community service project."

"It was both an educational and really fun experience," Amezcua said.

Vinson and CVW-17 along with guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) and guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) comprise Carrier Strike Group 1 and are conducting a western Pacific deployment.

USS Carl Vinson Departs Hong Kong


HONG KONG (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 departed Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor Dec. 30 after a three-day port visit.

The Vinson crew welcomed aboard more than 400 visitors to the ship's hangar bay Dec. 27 for a reception. U.S. service members mingled with their guests and counterparts from the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Attendees also took an aircraft elevator ride to tour the carrier's flight deck. Vinson's S-2 Division, of Supply Department, provided 800 pounds of food, including meat, seafood, cakes, fruits and vegetables. More than 24 hours were devoted to cook, chop, fry and bake the various items, with a separate team assigned to transform the hangar bay into a reception area with tables and carpet.

"The Food Service personnel did an outstanding job in preparing and executing this event," said S-2 Division's Leading Chief Petty Officer, Master Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Wilfred Cheong. "They took pride in their work regardless of their task, and it showed every step of the way."

Sailors volunteered their liberty time to interact with their host country through six community service (COMSERV) projects Dec. 28-29. Three hundred Sailors completed myriad of tasks - from fixing up and painting a home for the elderly to working at a homeless shelter. The COMSERVs, spearheaded by Vinson's Religious Ministries Department, were a popular liberty choice among Sailors.

"We probably filled up about 75 percent of the available slots within the first hour-and-a-half of the information coming out," said Religious Ministries Department's assistant leading petty officer Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Johnson. "Within three days, it was full. Usually about three weeks before a port visit, people start coming in asking about COMSERVs non-stop before we have any information. Once the information comes out, the phone just keeps ringing and the door's always opening."

Sailors also took advantage of opportunities to see Hong Kong's cultural offerings with Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR)-sponsored tours. From Disneyland and shopping to mountain biking and golf, MWR's goal was to offer something for everyone with 19 tours to choose from. Vinson's rugby and soccer teams also played against local Hong Kong nationals, building camaraderie over a common interest.

"It is important to have a variety of activities because everyone's interests differ. Everyone has limited liberty time and they want to make the most of it," said Therese Guinane, Vinson's "Fun Boss". "Since we visited Hong Kong in May, this was also an opportunity for Sailors to try something new they didn't get to do then."

Vinson and CVW 17, along with guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) and guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), comprise Carrier Strike Group 1 and are conducting a western Pacific deployment.

Martial Artist Takes Break to Serve Nation

By Marine Corps Cpl. Marco Mancha
2nd Marine Division

COMBAT OUTPOST CASTLE, Afghanistan, Dec. 30, 2011 – Marine Corps Cpl. Justin Stewart’s childhood was spent moving all over the United States with his mother. Fortunately, he didn’t let the constant relocating deter him from his love of flying kicks and fast strikes.

Stewart, a professional martial artist, took a break from the fighting world of taekwondo to serve his country as a U.S. Marine.

Stewart was born in Augusta, Ga., but because of his mother’s occupation as a traveling nurse, moved two years later. His mother was required to move wherever her specialties were needed.

It was in Jackson, Miss., where 5-year-old Justin would attend his first martial arts class. His mother signed him up once she saw Stewart’s determination to learn the sport.

“Growing up I had an older brother who I always looked up to, and I was only 5 when he started out,” Stewart explained. “I begged my mother to put me into it. So she did, knowing I was trying to follow in big brother’s footsteps.”

His older brother stopped attending classes after a while, but Stewart stuck with it and fell in love with the sport. He practiced for hours a day and his skills improved quickly.

At age 13 he moved with his family about two hours east of Jackson to Meridian. There he found the International Taekwondo Alliance, a group of Taekwondo schools determined to empower member instructors and students to enrich their personal, artistic and professional lives through traditional taekwondo training.

He began training with the ITA and took his calling to the next level by becoming a certified martial arts instructor. Stewart and his mother continued to move throughout the country, but his martial arts studies remained consistent.

“It was an escape for me, it kept me busy, and I made a lot of friends anywhere I traveled,” he said.

By age 16, Stewart was a second-degree black belt and even studied taekwondo abroad in South Korea, where the art form was born and established. He balanced martial arts and school upon his return, became a third-degree black belt, and spent a year teaching taekwondo full-time in California after graduating high school in 2006.

Thirteen years of sticking to what he loved, Stewart thought it was time for him to see the world. A trip to the recruiter’s office and some influence from his older brother, who was in the Marine Corps at the time, aided his decision to join.

“He was really excited when I told him I was going to take that next step and become a Marine,” he recalled. “I’m glad I did it because I actually got to see the world just as I had hoped.”

Stewart did in fact get to see the world on his first deployment with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He deployed as a professional instructor gunman with the Scout Sniper Platoon attached to Battalion Landing Team 1/1.

Now 23, Stewart is on his second deployment and is serving in a special billet as an infantry noncommissioned officer for the civil affairs team attached to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. He is tasked with being the specialist in leading, planning and organizing patrols for the CAT when they conduct business throughout the unit’s area of operation in Afghanistan.

“His role is to provide the team a subject-matter expert on all things related to infantry, and this is invaluable due to our constant dismounted patrolling operations,” said Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Andrew McGann, a Longmont, Colo., native and assistant team leader with the CAT. “He is always the first to volunteer for a patrol and convoy operations. Corporal Stewart has displayed unwavering motivation through our deployment.”

Stewart said he hopes to continue his taekwondo career in the future, but is taking it one step at a time and focusing his attention on school and his Marine Corps profession.

Air Force couple refuels their holiday spirit

by Senior Airman Michael Charles
 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/30/2011 - SOUTHWEST ASIA  -- A little more than a year ago if you asked Timothy and Victoria McBride what they would be doing around the holidays they probably would have answered with the usual holiday traditions - making cookies, decorating the Christmas tree or opening presents. Normal newlywed couples would have been able to enjoy the many activities we associate with the holiday season, but the McBride's aren't your typical newlywed couple.

Both Timothy and Victoria are KC-135 pilots at the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron here. Due to the high deployment tempo of their job, birthdays, holidays and even their first anniversary have, for the most part, been relegated to chow hall dates and library visits. It was no surprise when both were notified of missions on Christmas day.

"We do many of the things your typical couple would do while we are home at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., but while deployed our focus is expanded to accomplishing the Air Force's objectives as well," said 1st Lt. Victoria McBride, a native of Renovo, Pa.

"We both know the mission comes first," said Capt. Timothy McBride, a native of Orland Park, Ill. "We've been very fortunate. It's a testament to the Air Force's ability to accommodate relationships to even be deployed at the same time. If we have to sacrifice a holiday here to accomplish a much needed mission it doesn't really bother us."

Little did they know, however, that separate missions would also bring them together for Christmas.

After taking off on Christmas Eve on a nearly 10-hour mission to provide refueling support for special operations aircraft over Afghanistan, Timothy felt he would not get the opportunity to spend time with his wife on Christmas.

"It's the nature of the job," he said.

But things turned out for the better when the aircraft he was piloting was directed to provide fuel to an aircraft being co-piloted by his wife.

"It's a bit of coincidence that Vicky was in the tanker we were directed to offload fuel to," said Timothy. "Consolidating fuel is a common occurrence when providing tanker support; however, being able to work together to accomplish that mission on Christmas Day in the skies above Afghanistan was pretty special."

Consolidation of fuel is an oft used process in which one tanker will offload a majority of its fuel into another before heading back to base. By doing this, the newly replenished tanker can loiter providing additional air refueling capability.

Even though using this exercise is common, it was the first time that the couple had piloted the two tankers performing it in a real mission.

"It was a unique experience," Victoria said. "Even though I knew flying and completing a mission with Tim was possible, I never really gave much thought to actually accomplishing it."

Both were thankful for being given the opportunity to briefly connect during Christmas.

"Technically we got to spend Christmas together," said Victoria. "I can't complain about that."

"Going into this deployment I knew it would be hit or miss if we would actually be off on the same days during the holiday season," Timothy said. "Even though we both weren't, it's refreshing that I was able to speak and spend time with her on Christmas. Every little bit counts."

The couple knew that it was very much possible that they would spend their holiday season deployed.

"I had not deployed yet," said Victoria. "In a tempo such as ours I knew that it was only a matter of time 'till I was gone. It just so happened to fall on the holiday season as well. "

Victoria was notified in early 2011 that she would be deploying, upon completion of her co-pilot training in August. Timothy, who was coming off of his fourth deployment of the year, volunteered for another, in order to get on the same deployment rotation as her.

"She inspired me," Timothy said. "To be willing, without complaint to step up for her first deployment during the holiday season tells stories about her work ethic. After seeing how she carried herself through the whole ordeal I didn't mind volunteering to do the same."

The McBride's sense of duty and dedication to their mission speaks testaments to their character. For the rest of their lives they will always be able to tell the story of the Christmas night they spent in the skies of Afghanistan as only a service member can.

"The stars were aligned I guess," said Timothy with a chuckle. "It's truly the Air Force's version of the Christmas Story that I was able to work together with my wife to accomplish the mission in the skies of Afghanistan. It doesn't get any better than that."

Team Concludes Agent Orange Investigation in South Korea

By Walter T. Ham IV
Eighth Army Public Affairs

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea, Dec. 30, 2011 – A joint U.S.-South Korean investigation team announced that it discovered no evidence of Agent Orange during its probe into claims that the toxic defoliant was buried on Camp Carroll.

Led by Dr. Gon Ok, Pokyong National University’s chief professor, and Army Col. Joseph F. Birchmeier, U.S. Forces Korea engineer, the team concluded its eight-month investigation Dec. 29 at a press conference in South Korea’s Chilgok County Office.

The investigation began in May following a report on KPHO TV in Phoenix where U.S. veterans claimed they buried Agent Orange on the military base in southeastern South Korea in 1978.

Birchmeier, the lead U.S. investigator, said the bilateral investigation found no evidence that Agent Orange was buried on Camp Carroll and discovered no risk to public health on the U.S. Army post.

"I want you to know that we have found no definitive evidence that Agent Orange was buried or stored on Camp Carroll," Birchmeier said.

During the investigation, the team interviewed 172 former Korean civilian employees and U.S. soldiers and worked with 32 different government agencies.

A document review revealed that all 380 barrels of Agent Orange brought into South Korea in 1968 were used by the Republic of Korea Army to reduce areas for enemy concealment inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone that same year.

The team also conducted an exhaustive geophysical survey with ground-penetrating radar, electrical resistivity and magnetometers of the area where the Agent Orange allegedly was buried. Based on the results of the geophysical survey, water and soil samples were taken to check for the compounds of Agent Orange and its specific dioxin byproducts.

All samples were tested by South Korean and U.S. scientists. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District verified the U.S. analytical results, and Seoul National University, Pohang University of Science and Technology, and Pukyong University analyzed the samples.

The investigation was conducted in consultation with the status-of-forces agreement environmental subcommittee, which will handle future environmental issues.

"Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people and our Korean neighbors in the surrounding communities," said Army Brig. Gen. David J. Conboy, deputy commanding general for Eighth Army. "This joint investigation was thorough, scientific and complete, and I'm happy to report that there is no threat to public health and no evidence that Agent Orange was buried on the post."

Leap Frogs Complete 2011 Season at Holiday Bowl


SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, kicked off the 34th annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego Dec. 28.

In their last jump of the season, the team performed for approximately 55,000 college-football fans, including more than 100 local Marines who paraded an American flag that spanned the football field.

"The Leap Frogs have been a tradition at the Holiday Bowl every year, so it's one of the more exciting moments that we have at the beginning of the game," said Chuck Wasker, president of the 2011 Holiday Bowl. "They're always precision perfect and we're delighted to have them. They are special to us."

The game hosted the University of California Golden Bears and the University of Texas Longhorns. Texan fans screamed with excitement while watching two fellow Texans jump out of a C-2 Greyhound plane. The aircraft, piloted by Fleet Logistics Squadron 30, stationed at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, Calif., escorted the team to the field.

The jumpers used colored smoke to help spectators track them as they soared across the sky, traveling at a rate of 120 miles per hour.

"It was exhilarating, exciting," said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Thomas Kinn, a native of Texas, about his jump. "A sunset jump at the stadium in front of my hometown team. I jumped last year and I jumped this year!"

Michelle Oestrick, a Longhorns fan who followed her team from Austin, Texas, said it was an honor to see the Leap Frogs jump.

"It was absolutely amazing," said Oestrick. "I have an overwhelming sense of patriotism and there are just not enough words to say thank you [to all service members]. So it's really amazing to see it -- experience it -- in person."

The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego and perform aerial parachute demonstrations across America in support of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) and Navy Recruiting as a "Global Force For Good." The team is composed of parachuting experts from Naval Special Warfare including Navy SEALs, special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, and an NSW parachute rigger, in addition to support personnel.