Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Seal Beach Joins With Community for Tree Planting

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eli Medellin, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Public Affairs

Seal Beach, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach and members of the community worked together March 31 to enhance the view at a vacant corner on base near a busy public intersection.

Volunteers planted 24 western sycamore trees along the fence line of the installation in an effort to enhance the environment, as well as relations between the base and the community.

"I believe it's important for Sailors to work with the community and present a positive image," said Yeoman 1st Class Kiona Gilbert. "What we're doing here is good for the environment as well."

This particular species of sycamore is native to southern California and is drought-tolerant.

The oleander trees that had originally occupied the space had grown too close to the fence and were in violation of force protection regulations.

At the same time, the local Seal Beach Lions Club was conducting a beautification program to donate trees around the city.

"It's the perfect combination," said Lions Club Environmental Chairperson Laura Ellsworth. "The military is close to our hearts and we live here, so every time we pass by we'll see the trees we planted here."

"We especially appreciate the great support that our local Lions Club has shown to the base," said Commanding Officer Capt. Terry Auberry. "Our community partnerships are an important reason why we are one of the Navy's top installations when it comes to environmental support."

The Seal Beach installation recently won both the Chief of Naval Operations' and Secretary of the Navy's award for Environmental Sustainability (Industrial Installation) for outstanding performance in promoting environmental stewardship.

Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Resources in 140 Characters or Less

By Sarah Heynen, DCoE Strategic Communications

Posts from celebrities and politicians may be the first thing that comes to mind when someone hears Twitter, but this widely used social networking site isn’t just for the famous. Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) uses Twitter to bring better care to wounded warriors facing psychological health or traumatic brain injury (TBI) concerns. How can 140 characters promote better care? DCoE provides information and resources to service members, veterans, their families and the very health care providers who care for the wounded.

DCoE Deputy Director for TBI Katherine Helmick joined the “twitterverse” during a one-hour twitterview, or live discussion on Twitter, to connect with health care professionals March 28. As one of the top experts in the field of neuroscience with considerable clinical and research experience, Helmick answered each question with thoughtful consideration.

“The twitterview provided a wonderful opportunity to share available clinical tools that represent the state of science of care of wounded service members with TBI,” said Helmick.

Provider tools shared include the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Pocket Guide, Co-occurring Conditions Toolkit, case management resources and mobile applications. Helmick also noted several clinical recommendations for treating visual, vestibular and sleep disturbances after mild TBI to be released at a future date.

“Brain Injury Awareness Month [March] gives us the opportunity to highlight signs and symptoms of TBI and to encourage early detection, thus early treatment,” said Helmick.

In addition to providing education on the basics of TBI, the Defense Department plays an integral role in developing state-of-art diagnosis and treatments. Check out some key factoids discussed during the twitterview:

■The most prevalent type of brain injury is mild, also known as concussion
■The most common reported symptoms of concussion include headache, memory problems, dizziness and sleep disturbances
■Data shows that upwards of 85-90 percent of patients who sustain a mild TBI will fully recover with no long-term effects
■16 percent of all worldwide TBIs occur in deployed settings, 84 percent occur in non-deployed settings
■If a service member has a positive TBI screening, a health care provider will always follow up with a clinical interview and exam to confirm or negate the suspected diagnosis
■DCoE works with a collaborative network of TBI subject matter experts to develop tools for providers

'Year of the Chief' Kicks Off

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Terrina Weatherspoon, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The United States Navy Memorial hosted the official kick-off of the Year of the Chief and the 119th birthday celebration of the chief petty officer during a ceremony April 2.

For the first time in history, the Navy Memorial is casting a spotlight on the history, heritage and contributions of chief petty officers.

The guest speaker for the event was Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert. Remarks were also given by both Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick D. West and former MCPON James L. Herdt. Former MCPON Duane R. Bushey was also in attendance.

"The chief is the center of gravity," said Greenert. "There is not a seaman, petty officer or officer out there who cannot turn and say, 'I had a chief petty officer take care of me and get me where I am today.'"

The ceremony was attended by chiefs from across the nation who came not only to be a part of the official kick-off, but also to see the Memorial transformed into a Chiefs' Mess, resplendent with history and memorabilia spanning 119 years.

"We are becoming a part of history today," said West. "I see retired veterans in our midst and I am proud to carry on down a path they've laid for us so long ago. I couldn't be more pleased to be spending this day with representatives from so many commands. To stand in front of a sea of fouled anchors as your MCPON, and know that we are as much making history as we are a part of it ... I am truly humbled."

After the ceremony, guests were invited into the Memorial for the cake cutting. Visitors were then encouraged to walk through the Memorial, which has been decorated to reflect historical uniforms, anchors and other iconic symbols from the colorful heritage of CPOs.

"Happy birthday chief petty officers, you've earned it," said Greenert. "Absorb the moment, have a great year, remember your legacy and what got you here."

West added his expectations and appreciation for chiefs serving today.

"You are bold and accountable, executing the Navy's mission wherever you are, and developing the next generation of Sailors," West said. "Thank you shipmates - including those who have gone before us and those who are no longer with us - you have served your country well and will continue to do so as long as we sail the seven seas."

Coast Guard Cutter, Air Guard members rescue three injured persons from racing yacht

Coast Guard Courtesy report

ALAMEDA, Calif.  – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, along with Air National Guard members from the 129th Rescue Wing rescued and assisted three injured persons aboard a 67-foot racing yacht hundreds of miles west of San Francisco, April 1.

The Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf to assist the injured sailors. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, from Air Station San Diego, was sent to and landed aboard the Bertholf as it continued to steam toward the Clipper Venture 6.

Once in range, plans called for the helicopter to fly to the yacht and lower a rescue swimmer to assess the injured boaters. At that time, the rescue crew will determine the further needs of the injured persons.

The case began at about 9:45 a.m. March 31, when the Coast Guard RCC received a request for assistance from a rescue center in the United Kingdom. The U.K. rescue center reported that there was a 67-foot yacht with 13 persons aboard, three of which were injured. A large wave crashed on top of the yacht causing a steering failure and the injuries.

Early Saturday evening an attempt to provide assistance to the injured boaters was thwarted because of weather concerns.

A long-range Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules search and rescue aircraft from Air Station Sacramento flew to the scene after picking up a parajumper rescue team from the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing. The rescue team reached the yacht at approximately 7 p.m. and dropped medical supplies to the vessel but the Air National Guard members were unable to jump because of the weather. The plane returned the parajumpers to their base at Moffett Field.

The injured are aboard a 67-foot sailing vessel named the Clipper Venture 6 which is part of a 10 vessel around-the-world race that started in the United Kingdom. The current leg of the race had the Clipper Venture 6 en route to San Francisco from Qingdao, China. The next leg of the race calls for the boats to head to New York City via the Panama Canal.

The cutter Bertholf, homeported in Alameda, is the first of the service’s new fleet of National Security Cutters. The ship's long range and flight deck, capable of supporting MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters, are key factors in the ongoing rescue effort.

Illinois Airman named Air National Guard Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year

By Army National Guard Sgt. Charles Helmholt
Illinois National Guard

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- There may not be one perfect Guard member in the United States, but there is one Illinois Guard member who was recognized as the best noncommissioned officer in the country by the Air National Guard.

Illinois Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jacob Curtis, with the 126th Air Refuleing Wing’s Security Forces Squadron, was recently named one of the 2012 Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Curtis discovered he won this award March 16 with a direct phone call from Army Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, who congratulated him on his nationally recognized award.

“It was so surreal at first,” Curtis said. “It felt like my head was floating.”

He was awarded the highest national achievement the Air National Guard has to offer and now is in the running to be one of the Air Force's 2012 Twelve Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Curtis won the NCO of the Quarter, third quarter 2011, Squadron NCO of the Year in 2008 and 2011, Mission Support Group NCO of the Year 2011, 126th Air Refueling Wing NCO of the Year 2011, and 2012 Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen of the Year in the NCO category.

“Technical Sergeant Jacob Curtis is a gifted and giving professional and is most deserving of this crowning achievement,” said Air Force Col. Peter Nezamis, commander of the 126th Air Refueling Wing. “Technical Sergeant Curtis and his family have endured long and painful separations countless times in support of overseas operations. I couldn't be more pleased with the honor of having Tech. Sgt. Curtis and his family represent the 126th Air Refueling Wing as one of the Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen of the Year.”

Curtis is the noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the plans section for the 126th Security Forces Squadron. He is also the information security officer and client support administrator, all while performing his primary job as a security forces officer.

“He is a go-getter,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Salvador Silva, the 126th Security Forces' acting first sergeant. “He wants to be a part of everything and always wants more responsibility; this shows in his job here, and with his level of education.”

Curtis grew up a military child. His father James retired as a lieutenant colonel at Scott AFB and has called southern Illinois home since he was 15.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven J. Ask, NCOIC of combat arms for the 126th has known Curtis since high school, and now serves in the same unit with him.

“I've really gotten to know him since joining the unit,” Ask said. “He is one of the first people I call if I need something here, and one of the few people I feel I can talk to about anything.

“His work ethic is above and beyond most other peoples,” he said. “He completely looks after others, his troops, his friends, even if he didn't know the person he would look out for them.”

Perhaps this quality might best be justified from an event that took place on Curtis' recent deployment to Afghanistan.

While serving as the battle NCO at the Joint Defense Operations Center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, a nearby building was hit by indirect enemy rocket fire. The blast killed two local nationals and wounded three. In addition, two Airmen were also injured.

Noticing the closest Airmen to the blast had to retain security along the base's wall to guard against a follow up attack, Curtis sprang into action. He was among the first to reach the building and found one of the wounded Airman. The Airman had a broken leg that had lacerated his femoral artery.

Curtis administered aid by tying a tourniquet around the downed Airman's leg to help stop the bleeding, and waited to help carry him out until emergency medical technicians arrived. He was awarded a certificate of appreciation for his actions that day.

Curtis insists his entire unit should receive this award and that he just embodies his unit's commitment to excellence. And, although it may be true there are many great Airmen like Curtis, he has more than proven himself for this award to his peers, his friends and his superiors.

“We are all extremely proud of him,” Ask said. “Having him here serves as an example of what a person in the Guard can achieve and he inspires us to strive for that level of achievement.”

Curtis said he looks forward to his career and new challenges.

“I hope to continue on my career path and try to stay at this level of achievement. I'm at the top right now so it'll be a challenge, but a challenge I'm definitely looking forward to taking on,” he said.