Military News

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pentagon Observance Honors Civil Rights Leader’s Impact

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

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta led the Pentagon in honoring the “lasting impact” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during its 27th annual observance here today.

“Dr. King’s dream was America’s dream, and as he put it, the dream was about taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by our founding fathers,” Panetta said.

“The simple power of Dr. King’s message resonates across generations,” he said. “It changed my whole life in public service.”

Panetta said as the son of Italian immigrants he had his own experiences with discrimination.

“Enough to know,” he said, “that unless we provide equality to all, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, disability, sexual orientation, … none of us can truly be free.”

Panetta shared some background of his own career during the civil rights movement.

“As many of you know, my own career in public service began at the height of the civil rights movement,” he said. “I was a young legislative assistant in the United States Senate working for California Senator Tom Kuchel, who was very much involved in drafting civil rights legislation.

“I had the opportunity to work on some of the landmark civil rights legislation at that time,” he noted. “I also, at a signing ceremony at the White House with then-President Lyndon Johnson, had a chance to meet Dr. King.”

The defense secretary also spoke about his time serving as director for the U.S. Office for Civil Rights in the early 1970s.

“It was an office that was responsible for enforcing civil rights law, particularly with regards to achieving equal education for all children,” he recalled. “You can imagine this was a tough time.”

Panetta called this time tough for him “politically” due to being in an administration “not that dedicated to strong civil rights enforcement.”

“Ultimately, it cost me my job,” he said. “But it taught me a great deal about where that line is between your conscience, and what’s right and what, sometimes, you’re told to do by others that may not meet the requirements of your conscience.”

Panetta also pointed to highlights in his career, such as casting his vote for a day to commemorate King’s legacy, and fighting “to preserve the progress made that had been made by protecting our national commitment to affirmative action.”

Panetta cited the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that had barred gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military as removing one of the last “barriers” to allowing everyone to serve the nation.

“[It] ensured that today’s military more closely reflects the society that we are obligated to defend,” he said.

“We can now more proudly say, out of many, we are one,” Panetta added. “So regardless of background, regardless of perspective, every man and every woman at DOD has answered the call to serve.”

The keynote speaker, Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, a leader in the civil rights movement, is the last living person present during King’s final hours before he was assassinated.

Kyles often referred to a quote from Harlem Renaissance writer, Langston Hughes, in encouraging others to hold onto their dreams like King did.

“‘Hold fast to your dream for if dreams die you’re like broken-winged birds who cannot fly,’” he quoted Hughes as saying. “Hold fast to your dreams.

“Dreamers, they’re not bound by glass ceilings or brick walls, they don’t go down that road at all,” he added.

“All of us have dreams, [but] some of us have lost our dreams,” the pastor said. “I encourage you to recapture your dream. It’s yours. Nobody has a right to take your dream. It is your dream.”

Panetta lauded King for his “boundless impact” and noted the importance of commemorating the civil rights leader.

“Martin Luther King Day is a chance to ensure that our children and every generation that follows knows Dr. King’s story of courage, strength, dedication, and that all of them can hopefully follow the great example that he set,” the secretary said. “That, I think, in many ways, is the test of life which is whether or not we make a difference.

“Though much has been achieved, Dr. King’s own words remind us that we can never sit still,” he continued. “We have to continue to press ahead to fight each day to make sure we achieve that American dream.

“May God bless our nation and may God bless Dr. King’s enduring hope for a better future,” he said.

Face of Defense: Marine Sets Lego World Record

By Marine Corps Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz., Jan. 26, 2012 – While many have a hobby, few have the drive and dedication to turn that hobby into a world record. But Marine Corps Capt. Kyle Ugone not only has that drive, but also the certificate declaring him as the Guinness world record holder for the most completed Lego sets in a private collection, with an astonishing 1,091 sets.

While his record officially stands at 1,091, Ugone actually has 1,251 sets. But some did not count toward the record because they are reproductions or don’t have the original instructions, Ugone explained.

His vast collection started small and at a young age, but has grown in size and number, including one set that contains more than 5,000 individual pieces.

"I got my first set as a gift when I was 5 years old," Ugone said. "It's a windmill, and I still have it today. From there, I kept getting more and more sets."

Rooms in his Yuma home look as if they belong in a Lego Land theme park, containing hundreds of completed Lego sets separated by genre, such as space, trains, castles and “Star Wars” sets, displayed on tables and shelves.

Lego is a line of construction toys consisting of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, mini-figures and various other parts.

Lego bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways to form vehicles, buildings, and even working robots. Anything constructed can be taken apart to make other objects.

The toys originated in the 1940s in Denmark and have achieved international appeal, with an extensive subculture that supports Lego-themed movies, games, video games, competitions and five amusement parks.

It wasn't until 2009, when Ugone was talking to other Lego enthusiasts online, that he decided to go for the world record.

"I was talking to a guy who said he wanted to build every set Lego has ever made," Ugone said. There are more than 5,000 sets, he added, some of which are extremely rare and others available only in certain areas.

Ugone contacted officials at the Guinness Book of World Records and found that no such record existed. He was told he would need at least 500 sets to claim a record.

"At the time, I had about 600 to 700 sets, but I wanted more," Ugone said. "So I spent a lot of time scouring the Internet to purchase more sets and build them."

After a Lego expert visited Ugone's home to verify his plethora of building-block masterpieces, 1,091 of his 1,251 sets were authenticated for the record, earning him the title as the man with the most.

Now, Ugone is slowly taking the sets apart for storage to regain some of the square footage in his home. He’s taking a break from collecting Lego sets, planning instead to focus more of his attention on restoring a classic muscle car.

U.S., Canada Strengthen Bilateral Security Relationship

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – The United States and Canada expanded their security relationship today by entering into two new agreements and renewing another that promote closer cross-border cooperation and lay out both countries’ roles and responsibilities in the event of a natural disaster or attack.

Army Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr., commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, joined Lt. Gen. Walter Semianiw of the Canadian army, commander of Canada Command, during defense meetings in the Canadian capital of Ottawa to sign three key documents that strengthen the combined defense and security of the United States and Canada, Northcom officials reported.

The new Combined Defense Plan establishes a planning framework to enhance defense cooperation between the two countries in the event their governments need each other’s assistance, such as during a natural disaster or attack, officials explained.

Jacoby and Semianiw also renewed for the next two years the Civil Assistance Plan that allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency. That agreement, in effect since 2008, recognizes the role of each nation's lead federal agency for emergency preparedness, but facilitates military support of civil authorities once government authorities have agreed on an appropriate response, officials said.

In the United States, the Homeland Security Department would be the lead agency. In Canada, it would be Public Safety Canada.

A third document signed today, the Information Sharing Memorandum of Understanding, updates and formalizes existing arrangements to promote information-sharing among the three organizations, officials said.

Jacoby said the documents reinforce an already-strong defense relationship.

“Canada and the United States are great security partners who have worked together for over half a century,” he said at the signing.

“These three documents provide us with the necessary means to better coordinate our combined military resources to help our fellow Americans and Canadians during emergencies,” Jacoby continued. “They help us be better prepared to defend the interests of our two great countries.”

The signing took place as both generals attended meetings of the Permanent Joint Board of Defense, the highest-level defense forum between the United States and Canada. The current meeting, the 228th in the body’s 70 years, featured talks on continental defense and security cooperation, regional engagement and the arctic.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay, who delivered the keynote address at the forum last night, told participants the new agreements promote combined defense of the United States and Canada during peace, contingencies and war.

They describe the authorities and means by which the two governments would approve homeland military operations in the event of a mutually agreed threat, and how the two militaries would collaborate and share information, he added.

MacKay emphasized the close defense and security relations between the two countries, calling the bilateral military-to-military relationship a model for broader cross-border cooperation between civilian agencies as well.

He cited the value of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense in promoting this relationship.
“The United States is Canada’s most important ally and defense partner, and strategic discussion entrench our defense relationship at a critical time,” he said.

Vinson Holds Memorial FOD Walk-down for Nimitz Sailor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Byron C. Linder, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 held a memorial foreign object damage (FOD) walk-down Jan. 25, for a fellow shipmate who was killed two days prior.

Lt. Cmdr. Regina Mills, formerly Rogers, was assigned to USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in Bremerton, Wash., as the Navy's only female aircraft handling officer. She was struck and killed by a vehicle when she stopped to assist others involved in a traffic collision in Gig Harbor, Wash., Jan. 23.

Though she was never stationed aboard Vinson, she made an impact as a member of the Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AB) community, explained Master Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AW/SW) Raul Castillo, an El Paso, Texas, native and Vinson's senior enlisted aircraft handler. Castillo served with Mills for two tours of duty, one aboard the Nimitz and one at Afloat Training Group San Diego. She was his division officer at both commands.

"Being part of such a small community, we all know each other," he said, explaining how the Navy's 21 total platforms for ABs to serve at sea, combined with high attrition and turnover rates, resulted in longtime ABs being a premium. "Everybody loved her and respected her passion for life. She shared a lot of moments with me that would have broken a person down, but her passion for life is what will always stick with me."

Castillo said FOD walk-downs were a favorite for Mills, and a memorial FOD walk-down was most appropriate.

"In the seven years I knew her, that was her thing," said Castillo. "She found it a way to relax. When she called it, she'd take off her gear and go out there. She really liked being out there with the young ABs. She was a big promoter of female ABs because there are not very many, and the places she went in her career should be very inspirational to young female ABs to pursue the same route."

Hundreds of Sailors from a wide range of departments and divisions gathered on the flight deck for the walk-down. At 4:26 p.m., the attendees observed a moment of silence. The walk-down commenced one minute later, and concluded at 4:35 p.m., the sun descending on Vinson's port side.

Chief Religious Programs Specialist (SW/AW/FMF) Monica Kuhl, a Cheyenne, Wyo., native and USS Carl Vinson Command Religious Ministries department leading chief petty officer, was one of the hundreds in attendance. She had served aboard the Nimitz with Mills, and noted her influence spanned far beyond the flight deck.

"I just knew her from around the ship, but she was the highest-ranking female there," Kuhl. "A lot of the junior females looked up to her and respected her because she had done so much in the Navy. She set the example for everybody, and I would like to be that kind of leader."

Mills' leadership also affected and continues to impact Lt. Paul Dussault, a Barrington, R.I., native and Vinson's flight deck officer.

"I served on several ships with her, and she was one of my best friends ever," he said. "She was the emcee at my commissioning and one of my mentors when I became an officer. She was an amazing human being and one of the best ABs I've ever known. She had to overcome some hurdles that we as males did not, and I always respected her for that."

"The AB community lost not only a great person but a great AB and one of my personal friends," Castillo added. "She truly will be missed. This tragedy happened because she was trying to help somebody else. She'd take the shirt off her back to give to someone in need. She gave a lot to the community, and she gave a lot to the young ABs in hopes that one would take her spot."

Carl Vinson and CVW-17 are conducting maritime theater security operations in U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Landstuhl Medical Center Saves Lives, Advances Medicine

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

LANDSTUHL, Germany  – Medical-surgical teams at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center here save the lives every day of warriors wounded in Afghanistan and, until recently, saved troops wounded in Iraq. But that’s only part of their success.

Here, a side benefit of providing relentlessly superior care from the point of injury in the war zone to what doctors call “definitive care” -- care given to manage a patient’s condition -- has been to advance the practice of military medicine and, ultimately, the practice of medicine everywhere.

For medical teams at Landstuhl, the brutality of combat and the urgent need to respond to the wounded have yielded advances in en-route lung bypass, whole-blood transfusion, and even combat tourniquets that can be applied with one hand and in the dark.

“Ten years ago, we had to stabilize [patients] before we could move them,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Jeffrey B. Clark, commander of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“Now what our Air Force can do is basically put an intensive care unit in the back of a C-17 with a critical-care air-transport team so we can continue to stabilize while we are moving,” Clark said.

The critical-care team program is part of the Air Force aeromedical evacuation system. A team consists of a critical care physician, a critical care nurse and a respiratory therapist, along with supplies and equipment.

Over the past 70 years, and especially over the past 10, a combination of evolving surgical capabilities, technology-intensive critical care and long-range air transport have pushed medical-surgical capability far forward. This saves lives and helps to reduce the load on teams at Landstuhl, a military hospital operated by the Army and the Defense Department, whose staff since 2004 has treated nearly 66,000 patients from Iraq and Afghanistan and military personnel and their families stationed in Germany.

From the United States, 48 visiting civilian trauma surgeons rotate in to Landstuhl for two weeks at a time from hospitals at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, the Oregon Science and Health University in Portland, and others.

Also under the Landstuhl command are seven clinics: two in Belgium, two in Italy and three in Germany.

Landstuhl is the only hospital outside the United States designated a Level I Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons. Its survival rate for trauma patients is 99.5 percent.

“About 14,000 of the 60-some thousand were actual battle injuries,” Clark said. “We have returned to duty about 20 [percent] to 21 percent of those who have come to us from Iraq or Afghanistan, which is huge.”

Every week, every critically ill patient is discussed on a video teleconference that spans nine time zones on three continents. Attendees include “our NATO colleagues such as MERT [Medical Emergency Response Team], the British paramedic units that have physicians on the helicopter teams, to the forward surgical team, the [three] combat support hospitals [and] Landstuhl … as well as our partners on the East Coast and San Antonio and the [Air Force] Aeromedical Evacuation service,” said Air Force Maj. (Dr.) David H. Zonies, Landstuhl’s trauma director.

“Everyone discusses their care that’s provided along the continuum,” he added.

The broad influence of Landstuhl’s medical-surgical innovations is seen 25 to 30 times a day, Zonies said, every time a patient undergoes surgery in an operating room.

“From the last 10 years, a lot of the evidence that we’ve gathered has changed not just the practice of military medicine, but has now been completely translated back into civilian practice,” Zonies said.

For example, he added, the way patients are resuscitated has changed significantly since 2001.

For the past 50 years, he explained, the standard practice for storing blood has been to break it up in to components such as red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

When it was time to give stored blood to a patient, “we’d give them a bunch of red cells, and maybe for every four of those we’d give a unit of platelets [and plasma]. That was how it worked,” Zonies said.

“Well,” he added, “we noticed that our mortality rate was extremely high doing that, and it was standard practice.”

Then six or seven years ago, Army surgeon Dr. John Holcomb and Air Force surgeon Dr. Donald Jenkins, now both retired, observed that transfusions with 1-to-1 ratios of plasma and platelets to blood cells lowered patient mortality rate by about 15 percent. They began to use the practice for combat trauma patients, Zonies added.

“That is how we changed our guidelines for how we resuscitate all our patients,” he said. “We have now taken that evidence back to our civilian counterparts, and they’ve been able to replicate the same approach in civilian practice, and it has decreased mortality there.”

Another life-saving innovation involves a procedure called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or just extracorporeal life support. This is basically a lung bypass, or cardio-pulmonary bypass, that a special team from Landstuhl flies downrange to perform en route as the patient is evacuated from the war zone.

The suitcase-sized device takes the patient’s blood through an artificial membrane that replaces carbon dioxide with oxygen.

The technology, developed by a team at the University of Regensberg, about a four-hour drive from Landstuhl, has been around for 30 or 40 years, but only in the past decade, Zonies said, “has it gotten to the point where everyone feels this is a safe modality that truly … improves patient outcomes.”

So far, Landstuhl has the only capability in the Defense Department of providing that kind of support, Zonies said.

At Landstuhl, the hospital itself is a sprawling complex built in the early 1950s. By 2018, a new hospital that’s more contemporary and flexible will replace it, to be called the Kaiserslautern Community Medical Center.

“It’s a very special mission,” Clark said. “We take a tremendous amount of pride in what we do, and so we consider it a privilege. In many ways, it is so terribly uplifting to take care of wounded warriors, to take care of our own. But … it can wear on you, so we try very hard to look out for each other.”

Colonel ‘Proud, Humbled’ to Represent Gay, Lesbian Troops

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace, an intelligence officer, had a choice seat for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech yesterday -- she listened to it live, as a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Wallace was there at the White House’s invitation to represent gay and lesbian service members and veterans. The White House contacted her through Servicemembers United, which calls itself America’s gay military organization. Wallace has been a member for about a year and a half, she said.

She got the invitation Jan. 20, and “stressed out all weekend,” she said.

The colonel first made news in December, when her partner of 10 years, Kathy Knopf, attended her promotion ceremony as her significant other and pinned on Wallace’s new rank. Wallace that said as far as she knows, that was the first time a same-sex partner had taken such a role in a promotion ceremony following repeal of the law that had banned gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Knopf also was at Wallace’s side at the White House yesterday before the president’s speech at the House of Representatives chamber, Wallace said. She added the event left her feeling “extremely proud, and so honored and humbled to represent the thousands of gays and lesbians that serve in the military.”

That includes not only those serving now, she added, but also those who didn’t get to serve out full careers under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” as well as those who will serve in the future, “because there will be many more that follow.”

Wallace said she hopes her attendance at the State of the Union speech offers a teachable moment for parents of young people who are being bullied about their sexuality, calling the pressure on those young men and women “tragic.”

“And I hope that last night provides an opportunity for parents to highlight to their children that it really does get better, and it is better,” she added. “We have a ways to go; we’re not there, but it is better. And every day it’s going to get a little bit better. We just have to be patient.”

Wallace said she was glad to have the chance to thank the first lady for the work she and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, do in support of military families.

“And then to get to thank the president for his leadership in the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ … was pretty amazing,” the colonel said.

Wallace said before 2010, she hadn’t expected to see the law repealed during her career.

“I thought, the economy the way it is, the president’s got a lot going on, Congress has a lot going on, there are other issues that need to be dealt with,” she said. “That’s hard to say, considering how hard it was to live under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but it was true. For the greater good of the country, their focus needed to be on, ‘Let’s get this economy moving again.’”

From 2008 to 2010, Wallace said, she wasn’t sure repeal would happen, but then momentum started to build.

“Then there were those dark days in December [2010],” she said, when repeal couldn’t get through the Senate, and the provision was stripped out of the National Defense Authorization Act. "I thought, ‘Now I won’t see it until I retire.’”

Before repeal, Wallace said, she always felt her career as an intelligence officer could be over if her sexual orientation became known.

“I could never talk about Kathy. I didn’t talk about Kathy,” she said. “She was always on my security clearance, but not who she really was.”

Security clearance requirements dictate that service members report “everything you’ve ever done,” she noted. “You have to be 100 percent honest and truthful -- you have to be, in order to retain the clearances that we have. That was an added concern. I didn’t ever lie. I just wasn’t forthcoming with everything.”

When the legislation did pass and repeal was implemented, the colonel said, the freedom to serve openly brought both relief and challenges -- and her promotion ceremony was an example of both.

“At one point, it was very stressful,” she said. “I’m from a real small town in Kentucky, and I knew that this was the start of me coming out of the closet, basically.”

Wallace said she was concerned about the effect her openness might have on her parents, public educators who are “very well known” in their community.

“I was a little bit worried about how they would be treated, but Kathy and I talked about it,” she said. “I finally said to her, ‘Look, we’re going to do this the right way.’”

Not including Kathy in her promotion ceremony, Wallace said, would have implied there was “something wrong” with their relationship.

“And there’s absolutely nothing wrong,” she added. “She sat exactly where any other spouse or significant other would sit -- I had to move my dad. … I said, ‘Dad, that’s not your seat, you need to move down one. That’s where Kathy sits.’”

Military and civilian friends and family who have supported the couple also attended the ceremony, she said.

“It was awesome. And really, to be able to thank her for what she’s been through. … She had to become accustomed to what it meant to be partnered with someone who [had] to live under those circumstances [the law imposed],” Wallace said. “And she’s unpacked boxes by herself, just like everybody else.

“She’s made houses into homes,” Wallace added, “just like everybody else. And to be able to acknowledge that, and her sacrifice, was huge.”

Wallace was 10 years into her Air Force career when she met Knopf, and the military “was my life,” she said. She was used to gays and lesbians being barred from serving openly, she added, but Knopf wasn’t.

The biggest difference repeal has made for her, the colonel added, is the freedom to acknowledge how important her partner is in her life.

“The bottom line is, our families – and I think everyone would agree -- sacrifice much more than we do,” the colonel said. “When we go away, our lives simplify so much. Theirs become so much more complicated.”

Wallace now is taking part in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands program, known in defense circles as “Af-Pak Hands.” She is in a year of language and cultural training “trying to learn Dari,” she said, and will start a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan this spring. She will then return to the United States and work for a year in a regionally focused job.

The Af-Pak Hands program offers U.S. service members the information and knowledge they need to advise the Afghan people as they rebuild their country after decades of war, the colonel said.

“It’s the [U.S.] military’s attempt to build a cadre of individuals that are experts in that region,” she said, “and can go over and … assist the Afghan government and be effective, as [Afghans] tackle the challenges that they face.”

Wallace said she’s very excited to be part of the program, which is aimed at “one of the biggest challenges we face.”.

“As hard as it will be to leave Kathy, I have not been to Afghanistan yet,” Wallace said. “I checked the Iraq box, … but I’m really looking forward to [Afghanistan]. I think it’s a critical, critical region for our national security. We’ve got to figure it out, and we’ve got to get it right.”

Wallace’s partner is a civilian intelligence analyst whose father is a retired Air Force colonel.

In a telephone interview, Knopf said she felt a constant “low level of anxiety that somehow, I could inadvertently cost Ginger her career” before repeal of the law. She avoided official events and effectively remained in the background of Wallace’s life, she said.

“She obviously couldn’t introduce me as her partner, so when we did meet people, I was her ‘friend,’” Knopf said. “We had to do it, and I was fine with that, but it was always just kind of strange.”

When the repeal took effect in September, the couple woke up the next morning and felt “just a sense of relief,” she said.

Now, “she can just introduce me as, ‘This is my partner, Kathy,’” Knopf said.

Knopf said she was a little anxious before Wallace’s promotion. “She was going to publicly thank me as her partner in front of a roomful of military personnel,” she explained.

“It was wonderful,” she added. “Everybody was so nice. … [They] made a special point to look at me and say, ‘It was wonderful to meet you,’ and ‘This is great,’ and ‘We’re very happy for you and Ginger.’”

Since repeal, “it’s just been super,” Knopf said.

“I’m so happy for her, because she just loves the Air Force,” she said. “She’s given them 150 percent for 20 years, and she does it cheerfully. And so to see that happen, and it was in time for her promotion, … I’m just thrilled for her.”

Knopf joined Wallace at a White House reception before the president’s speech, and she and others who accompanied the first lady’s guests watched the event from the White House theater.

“It was great,” she said. “The staff was wonderful. … We all just sat there and watched it on CNN and applauded.”

Knopf said she also got the chance to thank Michelle Obama for her support to military families, and the fact that Wallace met the president is “a thrill.”

“It’s still surreal, for both of us,” she said.

NSC Offers Winter Safety Tips

By April Phillips, Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Much of the continental U.S. has experienced a milder than average winter, but that's no reason to get complacent. The month of February often packs a big winter punch, and it's not too late to prepare. The Naval Safety Center (NAVSAFECEN) offers tips to help Sailors and their families get ready for inclement weather.

One of the most important things to do before winter weather strikes is to prepare the vehicles. A NAVSAFECEN "Safe Tips" factsheet entitled "Winter, Your Car, and You" states that the first order of business is a winter checkup that includes inspecting the battery, the ignition, breaks, wiring, hoses, and fan belts; changing and adjusting the spark plugs, ensuring tires have adequate tread, and checking the antifreeze level.

An emergency situation can arise without much warning, so it's important to keep a winter survival kit in the trunk at all times. Essential supplies include a working flashlight and spare batteries; a first aid kit; an ice scraper and snow brush; non-perishable, high energy foods such as nuts and granola bars; and blankets.

For stranded motorists, these items could mean the difference between life and death. However, it's also important to note that it is usually a good idea to stay put in the vehicle when stranded. Don't leave the car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and you are certain that leaving the car will improve your situation. Never leave the car while blizzard conditions continue.

Many make the smart choice not to drive during winter storms, but there are still other risks associated with extreme cold weather and snow and ice. NAVSAFECEN has an entire factsheet dealing with the dangers of shoveling snow. Recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield looked at hospital emergency admissions in Michigan after a blizzard and found that the number of people suffering from cardiac-related conditions skyrocketed 59 percent during the first 24 hours of the storm. This is because people were shoveling snow and many of those people were unaccustomed to strenuous activity.

When you do go out to shovel the driveway, it's important to take it slow. Drink plenty of water, because dehydration also stresses the heart. Dress in layers, and wear a hat. Much of the body's heat is released through the head. Don't ignore chest pain or tightness. Assume the worst if it strikes and call an ambulance or have someone take you to the emergency room.

Finally, even those who choose to ride out the storm indoors with a cup of hot chocolate may face risks. Space heaters can pose a significant fire hazard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns consumers to only use those space heaters that have been certified by a national testing laboratory. Place heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface such as a tile floor. Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and drapes, keep it away from children and pets, and never leave it unattended.

Squadrons Team Up For E-2D Evaluation

By Clark Pierce, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 combined forces with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120 to bring a joint detachment to Naval Air Station Jacksonville Jan. 16, to help meet its schedule for the E-2D Hawkeye Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.

The squadrons are conducting four weeks of operational evaluations in conjunction with the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) underway in the Atlantic Ocean.

The new Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye is the Navy's latest carrier-based airborne early warning, battle management command and control system that works in concert with surface ships equipped with the Aegis combat system.

"The Hawkeye is highly valued by admirals who want to know what friends and foes are in the vicinity of their carrier strike group. Where naval surface ship surveillance systems like Aegis can only see as far as the horizon, VAW aircraft fly above the curvature of the earth to provide the strike group's command and control leadership with a more expansive look of potential battle spaces," said Officer-in-Charge Lt. Cmdr. Dave Champaigne of VAW-120.

VX-1 E-2D Operational Test Director Lt. Cmdr. Greg Harkins said, "The new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is able to scan a larger area, detect smaller targets, process data about those targets faster, and transform all of that information into improved situational awareness for strike group leadership."

Champaigne said, "This is an unusual mission for VAW-120. We're glad to assist our brethren at VX-1 and help keep the fleet introduction of the E-2D on schedule."

VAW-120, based at Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field, is the fleet replacement squadron (FRS) for the E-2C and E-2D Hawkeyes, and the C-2A Greyhound. The FRS is responsible for training pilots, naval flight officers (NFOs) and maintenance personnel for fleet operational squadrons.

"The tasking of our joint detachment at NAS Jax comes to VX-1 from Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR) and Commander Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL). VX-1, based at NAS Patuxent River, Md., is in the midst of a big wave of operational evaluations that include programs for the P-3C and the new P-8A platform -in addition to programs for C-2A, E-2C and the new E-2D platform," explained Harkins.

Champaigne said, "VAW-120 acts as a trusted agent for VX-1. Our job is to determine how well the E-2D compares to what the Navy asked for, and how it operates in the real world as opposed to a controlled test environment."

"We're already getting qualitative assessments from aircrew and maintainers, including good feedback on the glass cockpit," he continued. "NFOs are liking the large 17-inch monitors at their workstations, as well as the option for the co-pilot to plug in as a fourth mission systems operator."

Harkins said, "We brought a cross-section of junior and senior flight crew because we want the perspective of those fresh from the FRS, as well as those with five or more years of operational experience in the Hawkeye community."

Over the next six months, the detachment will travel around the country to evaluate how it functions in large-force exercises, strike group and air wing exercises and joint exercises. During their time in Jacksonville, the sqaudrons will be part of the Enterprise JTFEX, the strike group's final operational exam before being certified for overseas combat operations.

"Since E-2s have the biggest footprints on the flight deck, the Enterprise air boss isn't going to be happy when we add two more to the mix. But they understand we're doing these tests to provide a new and improved platform to the fleet. So, we'll put two E-2Ds on board Enterprise and fly our other pair from NAS Jacksonville," said Harkins.

"To this point, the aircraft has proven it can meet developmental requirements. Now it's up to this detachment to assess everything in a more fluid and realistic operational environment," said Champaigne.

San Diego Learning Center Recognized for Information Management, Technology Excellence

By Steve Vanderwerff, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Center for Sea, Air, Land and Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman (CENSEALSWCC) was presented the Navy Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT) Award at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Conference at the San Diego Convention Center Jan. 24.

In his commendation the Department of the Navy's Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen wrote, "Your team's foresight and innovative use of the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS) database has resulted in system-wide enhancements and increased functionality. Now operational commanders Navy-wide can quickly and accurately extract detailed capabilities of their units and individuals within their units."

CENSEALSWCC changed the Navy's E-7 advancement process for Special Warfare Operators and Special Warfare Boat Operators, which increased the commanders' knowledge management, improving how commanders can employ their personnel.

"Information that previously took days or weeks to compile is now available to decision makers in minutes," said Gerald Moy, director, Knowledge Management Department. "Operational commanders can now easily and quickly determine how many Joint Terminal Attack Controller qualified personnel are assigned to a specific SEAL team, and which SEALs assigned have a language capability. This enhanced functionality is not limited to Naval Special Warfare (NSW), but can be used by all Navy commands."

The effort is the result of four years of identifying requirements and enhancing NSIPS to accommodate a Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) approved NSW Alternative Final Multiple Score (AFMS) project. NSW AFMS determines NSW Selection Board Eligibility (SBE) by adding five variables - Leadership, Deployments, Qualifications, Awards and Ethos to the Navy's existing two variables - Performance Mark Average (PMA) and Standard Score. The goal of modifying the system was to enable war-fighting commanders and the Navy enterprises to use additional selection criteria to shape their forces to meet their communities' unique needs and values. CNP directed that any enhancements created for NSW AFMS must be exportable to other Navy communities as well.

"The challenge for the CENSEALSWCC team was to meet the requirement that all information used for advancement purposes is authoritative and legally defensible if challenged," said Harold Farley, Knowledge Management Process manager. "The information needed to be collected and extracted from an enterprise system that would capture and combine the NSW factors with current exam scores and PMA of any given advancement cycle."

Enhancements were made to the Electronic Service Record (ESR) and NSIPS Analytics. The ESR modification enabled the capture of NSW relevant skills such as medic, sniper, range safety officer, or other specialties. Information entered such as deployments, leadership and ethos count for points to determine E-7 Selection Board eligibility.

Within NSIPS, an electronic worksheet was developed to display the NSW AFMS factors to the individuals. The worksheet is used by leaders and mentors to provide individuals with a snapshot of their career achievements and how they relate to NSW community values.

One example of the enhancements and improvements that were made to NSIPS included language, an item of critical importance to NSW. Previously, it was necessary to use six different objects when forming an NSIPS query, to find out whether an individual had a particular language skill, which was complex and time consuming. These were combined into one language object, and a single language query filter was added. The result was a substantial improvement to the existing language reporting capability.

Individual Personnel Tempo (ITEMPO) panels were developed to track an individual's time served on deployments, including Individual Augmentee (IA) deployments, in leadership positions, and while on temporary assigned duty, in country and out of country. This provides NSW commanders the capability to track and report on individuals who are away from their assigned units at any given time. he report automatically calculates personnel in violation of the Navy ITEMPO and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) dwell time policies.

"Leveraging an existing enterprise IM/IT system saved time and money, improved the knowledge management of NSW commanders, increased effectiveness and vastly improved electronics records management," said Moy.

For more information about the Center for SEAL and SWCC visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/censealswcc/.

Author of Self-Help books for Kids kicks off first USO tour to the Pacific

USO Sponsored “With You All the Way” program kicks off International Tour and helps children cope with issues unique to growing up a military child
Tour led by Trevor Romain, award winning author and illustrator of self-help books for kids

Arlington, Va. (January 26th, 2012) –USO’s With You All the Way program concluded the 2012 international tour kick off this week with presentations to military children in Guam.  The With You All the Way program is led by award winning author and illustrator, Trevor Romain.  Romain uses humor to help children identify and cope with serious issues such as deployment, reintegration and when a parent returns home with invisible and visible wounds.

On his first visit to the region for the With You All the Way program, Romain led the two-week tour kick off with presentations to thousands of children at schools throughout Hawaii and Guam.  Hawaii is home to more than 56,000 military family members and Guam’s approximately 8,000 military personnel experience frequent deployments due to mission requirements.  Romain visited with more than 3500 children bringing messages of hope and comfort to kids who have experienced deployments, multiple deployments, the visible and invisible wounds of war, as well as loss of a parent or loved one.

“It is about being real and sharing stories.  I mix in humor and encourage the children to express themselves,” said Romain.  “For some, just knowing that there are other kids out there going through the same thing as them can be so comforting.”

The presentations, tailored to children in length and content, opened with kid friendly jokes followed by a showing of the video “With You All the Way! Dealing with Deployment” as well as clips from other Trevor Romain Company videos such as “Bullies Are A Pain In the Brain” and “Facing Fear Without Freaking Out”.  The presentations closed with an interactive session of questions and answers.  In the week following the presentations, children will receive the With You All the Way Military Family Empowerment Pack containing videos and resources to help both children and parents.  Romain has been working with the USO for the past five years- visiting approximately 21 military installations on seven USO tours.

“We are so excited to have Trevor work with the children in our region,” said Carolyn Harris, USO Regional Vice President of Operations for the Pacific.  “The families here have experienced multiple deployments and Trevor’s presentations and tools provide the children with a way to express themselves and know that they are not alone.”

The With You All the Way tour will return to the Pacific in February with visits to military children living in Korea and Japan.  The fall leg of the tour will include presentations to U.S. military children living in Germany and the Mediterranean.

Click here for photos from the tour kick off.

SEMI-FINALISTS ANNOUNCED FOR 2012 MILITARY CHILD OF THE YEAR® AWARD

Deserving Young Patriots Will Win $5,000

SAN ANTONIO – Operation Homefront today announced the 100 semi-finalists – 20 representing each branch of Service – for the 2012 Military Child of the Year® Award.  For the second year in a row, the award will be given to an outstanding military child from each branch of Service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Each semi-finalist will be interviewed by Operation Homefront staff, and award recipients will be chosen by a committee including active duty military personnel, Family Readiness Support Assistants, teachers, military mothers, and community members.

The recipient of the Military Child of the Year® Award for each branch of Service will be announced March 8.  Each award recipient will receive $5,000 and will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C. for a special recognition ceremony on April 5, 2012.  

Ideal candidates for the Military Child of the Year® Award demonstrate resilience and strength of character, and thrive in the face of the challenges of military life.  They demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities.

“The sons and daughters of America’s service members learn what patriotism is at a very young age,” said Jim Knotts, President & CEO of Operation Homefront.  “Children in military families understand sacrifice and live with the concept of service.  This is what the Military Child of the Year® Award honors.”

Following are the semi-finalists for the 2012 Military Child of the Year® Award.

AIR FORCE

Tasha D. – Age 15 – Callaway, FL
Gregory C. – Age 17 – Albuquerque, NM
Jacob P. – Age 11 – Childress, TX
Ilaria R. – Age 10 – Valrico, FL
Brookelyn S. – Age 17 – Marblehead, MA
Brandon S.  – Age 16 – Andrews AFB, MD
Chelsea R. – Age 17 – Panama City, FL
Joanna S. – Age 17 – Europe
Caitlin R. – Age 17 – Luling, TX
Alexandra D. – Age 17 – Durham, NC
Bryce R. – Age 12 – Valrico, FL
Bailey C. – Age 8 – Surprise, AZ
Kyle W. – Age 15 – Ashland, IL
Brianna S. – Age 13 – Kadena Air Base, Japan
Jada K. – Age 12 – Tolleson, AZ
Mika D. – Age 12 – Lumberton, NC
Katherine O. – Age 16 – Las Vegas, NV
Jeffrey M. – Age 13 – Scott AFB, IL
Ryan P. – Age 18 – Yuba City, CA
Madyson N. – Age 15 – Lackland AFB, TX

ARMY

Hunter M. – Age 12 – Fort Huachuca, AZ
Amelia  M. – Age 17 – Carlisle, PA
Brock W. – Age 12 – Vine Grove, KY
McKenna T. – Age 14 – Fort Meade, MD
Jacob F. – Age 12 – Europe
Marly K. – Age 12 – Hope Mills, NC
Andrew M. – Age 11 – Lakewood, WA
Gabriella G. – Age 10 – Copperas Cove, TX
Samuel B. – Age 14 – Fortson, GA
Brandon G. – Age 17 – Hope Mills, NC
Sydney S. – Age 12 – Wake Forest, NC
Jessica H. – Age 17 – Fort Riley, KS
Courtney L. – Age 16 – Fayetteville, NC
Robert D. – Age 11 – Europe
Robert W. – Age 13 – Gastonia, NC
Alexis S. – Age 13 – Fort Drum, NY
Zachary H. – Age 17 – Aberdeen, NC
Kirsten L. – Age 14 – Elizabethtown, KY
Erika J. – Age 17 – Raeford,, NC
Marquis H. – Age 17 – Sanford, NC

COAST GUARD

Alena D.  – Age 17 – Fairfax, VA
Felicity M. – Age 8 – South Portland, ME
Meaghan, M. – Age 15 – Grosse Pointe Park, MI
Collin E. – Age 17 – Morehead City, NC
Margaret C. – Age 17 – Chesapeake, VA
Maggi F. – Age 10 – Prescott, AZ
Matthew M. – Age 9 – Lake St Louis, MO
Lyric S. – Age 13 – Bayamon, PR
Maverick J. – Age 15 – Port Angeles, WA
Meaghan B. – Age 8 – Astoria, OR
Ayden M. – Age 10 – Cocoa, FL
Alyssa S. – Age 12 – Davie, FL
Chandel B. – Age 13 – Chesapeake, VA
Tamalega T. – Age 8 – Amherst, NY
Matthew Y. – Age 16 – Fairhope, AL
Jack F. – Age 8 – Prescott, AZ
Felicity L. – Age 11 – Kittery, ME
Sara H. – Age 11 – Virginia Beach, VA
Zahkeira B. – Age 13 – Jacksonville, NC
Duncan M. – Age 15 – Groton, CT

MARINE CORPS

Renalyn Q. – Age 16 – Kailua, HI
Michael-Logan J. – Age 13 – Oceanside, CA
Jacob M. – Age 14 – Garden City, NY
Erika B. – Age 16 – Jacksonville, NC
Benjamin L. – Age 18 – Tampa, FL
Bailey – Age 16 – Beaufort, SC
Desirae S. – Age 18 – Jacksonville, NC
Tanner G. – Age 11 – Concord, NC
Kathleen D. – Age 16 – Camp Lejeune, NC
Tyler V. – Age 17 – Chester, VA
Eric D. – Age 15 – San Diego, CA
Bailey L. – Age 15 – Tampa, FL
Archie B. – Age 17  – Pearl City, HI
Joseph K. – Age 18 – Hubert, NC
Whitney H. – Age 18 – Prince Frederick, MD
Mikayla L. – Age 12 – San Diego, CA
Thomas C. – Age 10 – Beaufort, SC
Anastasia B. – Age 10 – Oceanside, CA
Gavin S. – Age 8 – Jacksonville, NC
Savannah C. – Age 8 – Paso Robles, CA

NAVY

Desiree' W. – Age 13 – San Diego, CA
Ashley F. – Age 16 – Jacksonville, FL
Haley F. – Age 8 – Lexington Park, MD
GiVahna P. – Age 14 – Springfield, VA
Daniel N. – Age 12 – Fleming Island, FL
Addalyn B. – Age 13 – Newbury Park, CA
Malcolm T. – Age 10 – Odenton, MD
Avery D. – Age 12 – Jacksonville, FL
Elisha D. – Age 15 – Pacific Area
James  Nathan R. – Age 9 – Jamul, CA
Debra P. – Age 11 – Seattle, WA
Sheridamae G. – Age 12 – San Diego, CA
Hallie G. – Age 11 – Chula Vista, CA
Mariah W. – Age 14 – Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan
Isabella T. – Age 13 – Jacksonville, NC
Kasey P. – Age 13 – Ramona, CA
Maiya D. – Age 16 – Portsmouth, VA
Keegan M. – Age 13 – Panama City Beach, FL
Amanda N. – Age 12 – Aiea, HI
MacKenize F. – Age 11 – Browns Mills, NJ