Military News

Friday, January 20, 2012

CMS/ID CAC Login Makes Life Easier for Sailors

From Navy Personnel Command/Sea Warrior Program Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- An upgrade to Career Management System/Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID), the web-based program enlisted Sailors use to negotiate permanent change of station orders (PCS) has improved new Sailor access by simplifying log-in procedures, officials said Jan. 18.

"Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest impacts," said Donald Pellinen, CMS/ID project director. "That's what happened when the CMS/ID technical team enabled users to access the CMS/ID application using their command access card (CAC)."

Before this seemingly simple enhancement, Sailors, detailers, and other new users of CMS/ID had to login to the system using a password and their social security number. CMS/ID was yet another system that required Sailors to create and save login credentials, like a user name and password, which they had to remember for the rest of their naval career; an unrealistic expectation given the system is used on an "as needed" basis, which sometimes could be only during the orders negotiation process every three to four years.

"Sailors usually call the CMS/ID help desk an average of 500 calls per month with 50 percent of the calls for password reset," said Pellinen. "Leadership asked us to see if there was anything we could do to reduce the help desk calls related to password resets."

Improving and streamlining information technology to generate business efficiency is a critical goal. Opportunities to maximize technology in order to make business tasks faster and easier frees up Sailors' time to focus on their mission at hand, according to Pellinen.

"One month after implementing the CAC login we received only 17 help desk calls requiring assistance in accessing CMS/ID," said Pellinen.

CMS/ID has evolved over the years from a basic job advertising website to a core career management tool. Sailors can view aspects of their personnel information, search for job opportunities, update duty assignment desires and submit applications for their next duty assignment.

"Much of the functionality found in CMS/ID is a direct result of input and request from Sailors and career counselors," said Pellinen.

Sailors can learn more about using CMS/ID and access the web site by clicking the "Career Management System" link on the Navy Personnel Command web site at www.npc.navy.mil.>

Admiral Details Challenges, Opportunities of Pacific Fleet

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – As America’s focus shifts to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Pacific Fleet is well-placed to protect national interests and connect with regional nations, Pacific Fleet’s commander, Adm. Patrick Walsh, said.

Adm. Cecil Haney will replace Walsh as the commander of the world’s largest fleet tomorrow during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.

President Barack Obama’s military strategy announced earlier this month says that America’s focus will shift more toward the Asia-Pacific region in keeping with the U.S. position as a leading Pacific nation.

The Navy’s Pacific Fleet is a guarantor of peace and stability in the region, and it is well-positioned to take on the added focus, Walsh said during a recent interview with American Forces Press Service.

The fleet will continue to build military-to-military relations with Pacific nations, the admiral said. It will seek to strengthen ties with rising powers such as China and India while maintaining long-established relations with Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia. It will continue to work bilaterally, trilaterally or multinationally with all in the region, he said.

The region is huge and diverse, but one thing that the nations agree on is the role America plays in security and stability there. Few national leaders anywhere in the region want America to become isolationist, Walsh said.

“In terms of our role as a Pacific power, often I hear about the Chinese coastline being 9,000 miles long; ours is 45,000,” he added.

China is the dragon in the room. The nation now has the second-largest economy in the world – growing at about 8 percent annually – and is investing in its military force.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is engaging with Chinese counterparts in many areas. “We work with many countries in the region to take an inclusive approach to identify key exercises that would contribute to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief at sea,” Walsh said. The idea is to find common ground, and then build on them.

U.S. Pacific Fleet leaders have met with Chinese counterparts in many regional forums from Singapore to Japan to Hawaii. Walsh has met with his Chinese counterpart and said he believes there is a momentum to closing the gaps that separate the U.S. and Chinese militaries.

The South China Sea and the Spratly Islands are a potential flashpoint with China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all claiming sovereignty.

“It’s very important for us to understand how the Chinese characterize the South China Sea,” Walsh said. “We have very different interpretations of what we think they want. That leads to confusion and friction. That’s something I’ve addressed with my counterpart and something we must work toward resolving.”

The nations must talk or else local events at sea will play out in the international arena and spark tensions between countries. “Having China participate in the norms and behaviors and activities that all the other nations are participating in, I think is really important,” the admiral said.

The Chinese need to remain involved in talks “because the danger is that they could retreat into a very narrow interpretation of what is acceptable and what is not in international waters and the high seas,” Walsh said.

“There are established norms and behaviors at sea that have brought us the security, the stability, the prosperity in the Asia Pacific since the World War II era,” he added. “We can’t set that aside for an interpretation that the South China Sea falls under the category of internal Chinese law. That just won’t work.”

The United States recognizes the historical disputes in the area and believes “the most constructive role that we can play is to facilitate the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.

Competition for resources, including possible oil and gas deposit on the Spratly Islands, will increase tensions in the region, Walsh said.

“Moving forward, the question is how do we resolve the tension that exists now with the demand for greater resources?” he said. “Having a credible force that is sustainable forward is critically important to working with partners in the region to resolve disputes and to resolve conflict.”

India is another rising international economic power and the Pacific Fleet has a robust military-to-military relationship with the second-most populous nation in the world.

India and other Asian nations have recognized that the U.S. model for security and stability operations at sea has contributed, enhanced and underwritten prosperity in the region, Walsh said.

The Pacific Fleet works with nations to develop the ability to patrol and develop their maritime capabilities. “Our interests are inherited from our geography,” he said. “The idea that we have a Navy that looks after our interests and the interests of our friends and partners in the region is consistent and logical.”

There are countries in the region that see positive aspects to American influence and seek partnerships. “It’s an open and more inclusive approach that continues to generate interest on the part of other countries,” he said.

Walsh was commissioned out of the Naval Academy in 1977. An aviator, he served on the Blue Angels. The Navy today is far different than the one he entered as an ensign.

“We’ve come a long way, and we’ve got a lot to be proud of,” he said. “It’s best represented in the amount of interest in joining the service and staying in. The quality of personnel we have has continued to improve over time. It’s a model we need to take full stock of.”

America’s role in the Pacific is unique even according to statesmen in the region. Walsh told about a recent conversation he had with Singapore’s senior minister, Lee Kwan Yew. They were talking about translators and the senior minister asked Walsh if he brought his own interpreters when he visited Southeast Asia or if he hired them in country.

“I told him we have our own,” the admiral said. “The sons and daughters of those who immigrated to the United States are not only translators, but they are coming back now in command.”

Lee Kwan Yew’s observation about that fact was penetrating, Walsh said. “He said that America has done something that no other country in the region can do: we’ve learned how to recognize and embrace diversity,” the admiral said.

“What that means now is we have commanders who fled Vietnam in 1975 who are now back in command of Arleigh Burke destroyers going back to Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea or India, the commander said.

Lee “said you couldn’t do that in Asia. You could not expect to immigrate to China, for example, and then expect to land on your feet, attend a military academy and then get command of a Chinese naval vessel,” he continued. “It’s only in the United States that you’ve learned to unlock the potential of all that diversity and all it means.”

Navy Surgeon General Observes Field Training for Team Deploying to World's Busiest Trauma Hospital

From Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's highest-ranking medical officer visited students at the Kandahar Role 3 Hospital course at Naval Expeditionary Medical Training Institute (NEMTI) Jan. 19 at Camp Pendleton.

Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and several senior Navy Medicine flag officers met the nearly 200 Sailors and officers undergoing the first pre-deployment training session for the entire staff of a forward-deployed medical facility, and discussed the important role the service members would play by staffing the world's busiest military trauma hospital in Afghanistan.

They visited the Navy's expeditionary medicine training facility and observed the NEMTI Role 3 Kandahar course's final exercise. During the exercise, students implemented the clinical skills they honed during the two-week course. Kandahar Role 3 students participated in a scenario-driven series of exercises, including staffing a fully equipped hospital receiving patients with traumatic injuries, implementing triage procedures, a simulated air strike, simulated improvised explosive device scenarios, MOPP level-4 drills, and a mass casualty drill, all designed to foster the teamwork the next staff at the Kandahar Role 3 hospital will employ.

The NEMTI-sponsored Kandahar Role 3 course - the first U.S. Navy-led effort to integrate NEMTI in the pre-deployment training pipeline for medical personnel - is designed to allow members of the next rotation of service members deploying to the world's busiest trauma hospital the opportunity to train together, something Nathan said is imperative.

"Care for the warfighter is why we exist," he said. "This is our top priority. Our combat casualty care capability represents a continuum of training from battlefield to bedside to rehabilitative care and support."

Kandahar Role 3 Hospital course students were exposed to numerous classes during the nearly three-week course. Day-long clinical skill station practical scenarios encompassing the variety of injuries deploying personnel could see, classroom lectures on ethics, and other medical-related hands-on and classroom material were taught by NEMTI staff.

Rear Adm. Eleanor Valentin, commander, Navy Medicine Support Command, who has oversight of Navy Medicine education and training including NEMTI, said efforts such as the Kandahar Role 3 Hospital course continue to prove integral to the overall success of supporting ongoing contingency operations around the world.

"This training was designed, foremost, to save lives," she said. "Lifesaving training has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of Navy Medicine Support Command's education and training mission. You can see the results of these efforts on the battlefield. U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan are experiencing the lowest battle mortality rates in history, due in large part to exceptional military medical personnel and their training. Our training is also realistic. Naval Expeditionary Medical Training Institute provides an environment and realistic training programs that help medical personnel prepare to deploy to save lives."

Service members completing the Kandahar Role 3 Hospital course, which began Jan. 7 and is scheduled to conclude Jan. 21, will next complete military requirements at training sites such as Fort Dix, N.J., or Fort Jackson, S.C.

Also observing this unique training program were Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison, III, commander, Navy Medicine West and Naval Medical Center San Diego; Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, MC, director, TRICARE Regional Office - West; Rear Adm. Michael H. Anderson, MC, the medical officer to the Marine Corps; and Rear Adm. Charles Harr, deputy to the medical officer of the Marine Corps/deputy director, Medical Corps, Reserve Component.

NEMTI, the premier U.S. Navy training facility for expeditionary medicine, reports to the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center (NMOTC) in Pensacola, Fla., and NMSC, headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla.

NEMTI, NMOTC and NMSC are part of the Navy Medicine team, a global healthcare network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high-quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

1 Guard dad + 4 Guard sons = 5 Citizen-Soldiers

By Jennifer Archdekin
Missouri National Guard

ALBANY, Mo. (1/19/12) - With the most recent enlistment of their youngest son, one northwest Missouri Family serving in the National Guard could all but make up their own squad of artilleryman. One dad and four sons now serve with the 1-129th Field Artillery Battalion, making for some interesting war stories.

 Army Sgt. 1st Class Charley (Gene) Ramsey and his wife, Pam, have four of their five children currently wearing the uniform just like their dad.

 "I'm awful proud of every one of them," said Charley. "They didn't have to come in, but they did."

 "It's awful neat," said Pam. "They're a special group of boys."

 The entire family of Soldiers all serve within the same battalion, though they are split between two batteries in Maryville and Albany.

Charley joined the Nebraska National Guard in 1988 and later served in the active-duty Army. He transferred to the Missouri National Guard in 2001 and continues to serve as the readiness noncommissioned officer for Headquarters Battery in Maryville.

In 2005, Army Staff Sgt. Lance Ramsey was the first of Charley's sons to enlist, and serves alongside him in Maryville. His brother, Army Spc. Matthew Sipes, joined in 2006 and is with the Albany unit. Army Spc. Taylor Ramsey signed up in 2009 and serves in Maryville, while Army Pvt. Mark Ramsey, who just enlisted this past fall, will eventually serve with the Albany unit.

 The Ramseys know firsthand how children plot their own course in life,

 sometimes taking them far from home. However, with the help of the Guard they know at least one weekend a month their brood will be under one roof. Pam said she is thankful for drill weekends because it brings her family back together.

 "It's nice because they all come home the same weekend," said Pam. "One

 weekend a month we have a family reunion. The benefit is I get them all at home."

 Lance holds the distinction as the first son to choose to wear the uniform like his father.

 "It did kind of feel like I was carrying the torch," said Lance.

These Soldiers don't consider it to be a negative to have eight other eyes watching over them.

 "I feel I have more support than the average Soldier because they have my back," said Lance. "When we do have drill everybody gathers at the house and I think that does a lot for everybody. We always come together to talk at the end of the day."

 One potential downfall of having five Citizen-Soldiers serving from the same family is the possibility that all five could be deployed at the same time, whether it be a stateside mission or overseas.

 "It's kind of scary," said Pam. "You always worry when people are gone. I

 hope that never happens, though it could."

 "I sure don't want to go anywhere with them all," joked Charley.

 Being responsible for a few hundred Soldiers overseas is one thing, but

 looking after four sons is another story. As a father it is understandable how there would be extra weight on Charley's shoulders to keep his boys safe.

 "Pam's proud of them all for coming in, but not super excited about everybody going anywhere," said Charley. "She's probably the one that makes the biggest sacrifice to be honest."

 Having her husband and children away from home for long periods of time is a sacrifice Pam knows all too well.

Charley deployed to Germany in 2004 for 18 months and Pam was left at home with five kids. Pam said it was tough not having her husband home, as well as the kids' father, but pointed out that Charley was also alone without his family support system.

In 2008 Charley was called up again to serve, this time for a year in Kosovo. However he did have Lance and Matthew by his side.

 "I was glad he was there with the boys," said Pam. "They had a good sounding board and it made me feel safer to know he was there and could take care of them."

 Pam said the guys bonded while they were deployed and again it brought them closer together.

"They would have a date night in Kosovo," said Pam. "He would take them to the movies and spend time together. They all bonded."

"It was really nice when we were deployed having a brother and step-dad over there," said Matthew. "You always had a little bit of home."

 Having been a Citizen-Soldier for the past 24 years, Charley has chosen to make a career out of the military, but from the beginning he has impressed on his sons that he will not pressure them to do the same.

 "I've told every one of them, it's your decision," said Charley. "If you do your six years and get out, nobody can fault you for that."

 Though it was hard for Charley to keep the National Guard a secret in his own home, he was intentional not to persuade them to join. Nevertheless each son's reason for enlisting share commonalities.

 Lance said he never felt coerced by his father to join, but the benefits the National Guard afforded him for his education were clearly spelled out by Charley. Lance knew this was the only way he was going to be able to afford college.

Initially Matthew refused to join the Guard and completed two years of college before enlisting.

 "I then realized the benefits I could be getting, and I figured I'd always have these guys in my unit, so I signed up," said Matthew.

 Pam recalled Matthew showing up at home one day wanting to talk to Charley.

"I thought something bad happened and he wrecked his car or something," said Pam. "He said he was there to sign up and it just blew me away."

 Education was a key factor for Taylor choosing the National Guard, as well.

 "Part of it was to pay for college, and the other part was I wanted to serve our country," said Taylor.

 Mark also had no intention of following in his dad's footsteps, but the

 sticker shock of a college degree prompted him to consider what options he would have as a Citizen-Soldier.

 "Everyone always asked me if I would join, and I said 'no'," said Mark. "I was absolutely against it, then senior year came up, and I saw how much college cost, and I said, 'Yep, let's go join the Guard'."

 With the day-to-day duties his sons face as Soldiers, Charley says it can be conflicting at times to balance his position as a Soldier and his role as a father.

 "It's tough the first time you make them go be in charge of a range or make them go do this or that," said Charley. "I want them to succeed, but I don't want to spoon feed them. I don't want them to feel like the only reason they succeeded is because I did it for them. I want them to do it on their own."

 "The National Guard has been good for my sons," said Pam. "It has taught them discipline and responsibility. I think it's a great opportunity for them."

 After graduating from Albany High School, Mark will leave in June for his basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He will then get his advanced training at Fort Gordon in Georgia to be completed in November.

 "I feel more prepared because of my family," said Mark. "I know what to expect."

 Mark plans to attend Northwest Missouri State University beginning January 2013.

Navy Misawa Honors NMCRS Volunteers

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Darrius Wharton, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) honored Navy Misawa volunteers during an awards luncheon at the Naval Air Facility, Misawa Jan. 18.

Each NMCRS awardee served as a case worker and volunteered more than 50 hours of their time last year to help Sailors and Marines.

"The volunteers run the program," said William Costello, NMCRS Yokosuka assistant director. "Without them, we wouldn't be able to properly assist the service members because they are involved as soon as the need arises."

Case workers assist in assessing service members needs, usually in a crisis situation. They identify the immediate requirements of the client, and determine the appropriate resources necessary to help meet the need.

NMCRS only has a few full-time employees within its organization; therefore the need for volunteers is imperative. Most of the volunteers on board Misawa Air Base are service members, with a few civilians as well.

"We are fortunate to have such caring and qualified volunteers here in Misawa," said Capt. Chris Rodeman, commanding officer of Naval Air Facility Misawa. "The program is not effective without people who truly care about helping others."

One of those volunteers is Damage Controlman 1st Class Joseph Dubois from NAF Misawa's Emergency Management Department.

"Back when I was a young Sailor, I got plenty of help from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society," said Dubois. "I just wanted to do something to give right back to them so that's why I volunteer.

"It feels great to be recognized. However, we don't do it for the reward; we do it just to help."

According to the official NMCRS website, the society was founded in 1904, and is a private, non-profit charitable organization. It is sponsored by the Department of the Navy and operates nearly 250 offices ashore and afloat at Navy and Marine Corps bases throughout the world.

Its mission is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the naval services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need; and to receive and manage funds to administer these programs.

Pacific Fleet Commander Reflects on Operation Tomodachi

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – As he prepares to turn over the reins of U.S. Pacific Fleet, Navy Adm. Patrick M. Walsh looks back with pride in his command’s adaptability in responding to last year’s earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan.

Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, former deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, will take over as leader of the world’s largest fleet tomorrow.

Walsh spoke about the challenges and opportunities facing America in the region during an interview earlier this week. Speaking from his headquarters at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the admiral talked about the U.S. military assistance effort, dubbed Operation Tomodachi, in response to the March disaster.

More than 15,400 people died in the tragedy. Coastal villages, towns and cities were almost obliterated by the earthquake and tsunami. American aid to the Japanese ultimately included 20 ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, almost 20,000 personnel, and huge amounts of supplies and heavy equipment.

Walsh was in Hawaii when the earthquake struck. He soon realized it was a catastrophic event for the Japanese, he said, and damage to the nuclear power plant at Fukushima made providing assistance that much tougher.

The U.S. military worked in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The experience, skills, education and training that military people possess was quite adaptable to the situation, he said.

“It was important that we had a force that was forward, that was ready, that was credible, and that has relationships that extend well beyond simple military-to-military ties,” Walsh said.

American service members had a long history of working with Japanese counterparts and understood the culture and sensitivities, the admiral noted. The “can-do” attitude of American commanders in the region helped tremendously, he added.

“You have the forward-deployed naval officers who aren’t waiting for orders to move ships, but are reacting and responding quickly,” the admiral said.

Walsh stressed the importance of building relationships with regional partners, and the longstanding relationship with the Japanese was crucial to this effort. “It’s important to say this was not a cold start for us,” he said. “We had personal contacts with our counterparts in the region long before the earthquake and tsunami.”

American officials knew who to call and what to say to their Japanese counterparts as soon as the extent of the disaster became known, Walsh said, and Pacific Fleet has the experience and contacts to do this in other parts of the region.

“The flexible and adaptive capabilities of the force and the experience base of the force would work in other situations,” Walsh said. “We would, of course, have to tailor our approach to the needs of other countries.”

Norfolk Submariners Give Back to Local Community

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Kim Williams, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors from the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) volunteered with the non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity in Virginia Beach, Va., Jan. 18.

The crew of volunteers helped put the finishing touches on four newly constructed three bedroom, two bathroom homes, which Habitat for Humanity and its volunteers will present to families Jan. 21.

"For most people, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you'll make in your life," said Chief Fire Control Technician Angel Rivera, West Virginia's fire control and torpedo division leading chief petty officer. "Imagine receiving a gift like this from a group of people. It is a great way to give back."

The submariners, along with several other volunteers from the Hampton Roads community, have volunteered at two sites in Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, Va. since their arrival in 2011.

"I love helping the families," said Missile Technician 3rd Class Robert Gloden from Yale, Mich., and West Virginia's volunteer coordinator. "I have met most of the families that we are building these homes for and they are great people. With the economy being the way it is now, these projects help people who may be struggling, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, get an interest-free mortgage," said Gloden. "It's helpful for the command to be supportive like this in the community and also lets them know that we are here to support Virginia residents and help out the best we can."

The team touched up paint, sanded walls, covered linoleum floors and performed small landscaping jobs at the Virginia Beach site, but has assisted with building homes from the bottom-up.

"We can do anything that they need us to do as long as there is a supervisor or someone there to guide us," said Rivera. There's no shortage of Habitat sites in Hampton Roads and helping the community is our number one priority. Since our ship is in dry dock for at least the next year, we have plenty of opportunity to volunteer."

In addition to all of their own efforts on the Habitat projects, the West Virginia Sailors have plenty of help from their veteran counterparts in the local community as well.

"It's great, rewarding work volunteering with Habitat for Humanity," said retired Rear Adm. Stanley Bryant. "It makes the community feel good to see the Sailors out here and it makes the Sailors feel good because they get to do some work in the community that they can recognize. They are nice young people and it's good to see them out here."

Bryant is the chairman of a newly established Habitat for Humanity program called "Habitat for Humanity For Heroes." The program will offer home ownership opportunities to active duty, retired, honorably discharged veterans and surviving families similar to the traditional Habitat for Humanity Program.

While the project Bryant and the West Virginia team are currently working on is not for a veteran's family, their efforts are still the same.

"These young folks are working hard no matter what it is they are asked to do," said Bryant. "We really appreciate getting up close and personal with the military volunteers because they always energize everybody," said Bryant. "You can't ask for a better qualified more fun group of volunteers."

West Virginia, commanded by Cmdr. Adam Palmer, is assigned to Commander, Submarine Group 10 and permanently home ported in King's Bay, Ga., but is currently undergoing an Engineered Refueling Overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.

The sole mission of ballistic-missile submarines like West Virginia has been strategic deterrence since their inception in 1960. The SSBN provides the nation's most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability, always ready and vigilant in a secure and survivable posture to rapidly respond to national tasking.

Columbia College alumnus Col. Charles McGee consults on George Lucas movie “Red Tails”

COLUMBIA, Mo., Jan. 19, 2012 — Col. Charles McGee, a 1978 Columbia College graduate and Tuskegee Airman, served as a technical consultant for the World War II movie “Red Tails,” opening nationwide Jan. 20. “Red Tails," a George Lucas film starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., focuses on the exploits of the Airmen, the first African American fighter pilots in U.S. history, charged with escorting American bombers across the hostile skies of German-occupied Europe.

 “It’s really quite an interesting movie, the way he [Lucas] put it together,” said McGee. “He got the facts right. To try to put such a long story in a short film is rather difficult, so while maybe it is not 100 percent accurate, the combat scenes are tremendous and the message is tremendous: that color is not a measure of talent. It’s a good message from the past and a good one for young folks today, too.”

McGee is a frequent visitor to the Columbia College main campus in Columbia, Mo., for such events as the college’s annual Military Recognition Day held in May. He also endowed the Col. Charles E. McGee Scholarship, an annual $1,000 award to an undergraduate or graduate Columbia College student classified as a veteran or dependent of a veteran.

 “It’s all about education,” McGee said. “To prepare yourself so when opportunities come your way, you take advantage of them.  The movie rings to that, too.”

McGee served in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. He held the Air Force fighter combat record of 409 missions and 1151 combat hours. In 2007, President George Bush awarded him and the surviving Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the nation's highest civilian award.

Columbia College has educated military service members since 1973 and up to a quarter of total students are military or military dependents. With its Online Campus, service members can study from anywhere, even a combat zone. Columbia College also has 18 campuses located on military installations.

Founded in 1851 in Columbia, Mo., Columbia College has been helping students advance their lives through higher education for more than 160 years. As a private, nonprofit, liberal arts and sciences institution, the college takes pride in its small classes, experienced faculty and quality educational programs. With more than 30 campuses across the country, students may enroll in day, evening or online classes. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Columbia College educates more than 30,000 students each year and has more than 70,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit CCIS.edu.