Thursday, April 05, 2012

Wounded Warrior Softball Team Thumps D.C. Celebs

By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service

WASHINGTON  – The loss of an arm or a leg didn't seem to have an effect on the play of soldiers and Marines who make up the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team yesterday as they soundly thumped a Washington-area celebrity team made up of sports legends, broadcasters and even the D.C. mayor.

In the second annual battle between the teams, hosted by the Washington Nationals at their ballpark, the softball classic started with the able-bodied celebrities taking an early 2-0 lead. But the celebrities could muster only two more runs in five innings of play as the wounded warriors -- playing with leg or arm prosthetics or no prosthetic at all -- couldn't be stopped defensively or offensively. They gave the celebrities a 17-4 shellacking under a perfect evening sky and full moon.

For Army veteran Greg Reynolds, the loss of his left arm forequarter happened at home following a 15-month Iraq tour when he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle. His odds were one in 2,000 of surviving and even less while in recovery, he said.

"To be out here today in front of all these people by far exceeds anything I thought possible," Reynolds said. "This is a really rewarding, humbling experience to play on such an amazing team with my brothers, but to be out and to play with obviously missing a great portion of my body motivates me to the next level, because I have this inner discipline and motivation where I want to play better than the guy with his limbs. No one should put limitations on themselves."

While on a night patrol in Iraq, Matt Kinsey stepped on a landmine, losing his right foot.

"You go from being a paratrooper, which is a very proud thing and you take a lot of pride in it, to missing a foot and your career,” he said. “It's not over, but it's really tough to get back into the infantry, and you go from being on top of the mountain to being on the bottom of it.

"This is a dream come true,” the former high school and college ball player continued. “Every little kid dreams of getting a second chance as an athlete, and I had one and lost it. This is my second chance, so I play as hard as I can while I'm out here, because it can be gone just in the blink of an eye."

Veteran soldier Brian T. Urruela, who lost his right leg below the knee to two improvised explosive devices during Operation Iraqi Freedom, said playing ball is like the next phase of his recovery, which he described as “a long, long journey of about five years."

"Being at this level and maintaining this level, we're constantly working at improving our limbs and it definitely pushes us to our limits,” he said. “It's improved me tenfold."

The partnership with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team is one of several military outreach efforts the Nationals organization has undertaken. Team officials said they hope the softball game demonstrates to other amputees and the public that through rehabilitation and training, life without a limb can be unlimited.

“Brothers at War” Screening Engages Audience

By Robyn Mincher, DCoE Strategic Communications

First-time filmmaker Jake Rademacher discussed the documentary “Brothers at War” after it was shown at the Warrior Resilience Conference last week. The film follows his two younger brothers on the front lines in Iraq, but instead of speaking about making the movie, he first asked viewers: “What part of the film did you most strongly identify with?”

The audience had different answers.

An amputee Army veteran had a tough time returning home. A military spouse identified with the guilt Jenny Rademacher, wife of Army Capt. Isaac Rademacher, expressed when her husband deployed. An active-duty service member related to Isaac’s fear that his newborn daughter wouldn’t remember him. During his own deployment, an Army company commander reflected on Afghans moving a burning vehicle to save a soldier. In the movie, Jake films a group of dedicated Afghans side-by-side with American troops under fierce fire.

Having never served in the military myself, I related with Jake’s initial struggle to understand what it’s like to be a service member and deployed.

Jake’s brothers Isaac and Joe Rademacher are soldiers. He is not. The film follows Jake’s attempt to discover why his brothers chose to serve as he travels with troops in Iraq, to look inside what life is like for the deployed and their loved ones left behind. With childhood home movies, his own intense footage of war, moving interviews with family, and insight into the life of warriors, Jake shows a complete and intimate portrait of a military family and the brotherhood service members shared in Iraq.

When he returned home, Jake had similar reintegration experiences to his brothers and newfound military comrades. He recalled simple annoyances, such as civilians aloofly asking if he had killed anyone. Jake asked the audience: “What inappropriate questions have you been asked?”

An Army spouse was asked if she could visit her deployed husband for the holidays, or if the military simply sent him home.

“There are no holidays in war,” she said.

A service member found that many civilians question the amount of combat in war. A spouse shared her frustration with being asked how and why she chose to be a part of the military lifestyle.

“They have no concept [of the lifestyle], but it’s really difficult to have one unless you have experienced it,” she said. “My answer is that I don’t really know how you do it, you just do.”

The discussion was a refreshing way to examine Jake’s own experiences as he continues to explore what life is really like in the military, hearing personal reflections from those who continue to serve and sacrifice.

Land and Louisville Sailors Give Hope to Malaysian Children

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Chris Williamson, Emory S. Land Public Affairs

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia (NNS) -- Sailors from submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) and Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) participated in a community service project at Likas Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, April 4.

Likas Hospital is a facility for children under the age of 15 who require treatment and special needs. According to head nurse Matron Maureen Yunus, one of those needs includes blood transfusions for children who have a hemoglobin deficiency.

"When we told the children that U.S. Navy Sailors were coming to see them, they all became very excited," said Yunus. "I am grateful to all who participated and helped put smiles on all of the kids' faces."

Land's Religious Ministries Department worked together with the children's hospital to put the event together, and had no problems recruiting volunteers. Rather than spending their liberty time out in town, 14 Sailors from Land and Louisville volunteered to visit the children.

"This is Louisville's first port call this deployment," said chief sonar technician submarine (submarine service) Winfred Cameron. "There is no where else I'd rather be than here, seeing children's smiling faces."

The volunteers divided into two groups of 10. The first group went to the second floor of the building where children and parents awaited monthly blood transfusions. Sailors quickly got involved with the kids by playing games and coloring with them.

"The children enjoyed playing all of our silly games, singing kid songs and hanging out with the Sailors," said Lt. Aaron Roberton, Land's command chaplain. "This is a very challenging time for the kids and their parents, so I'm glad that we got to provide a distraction from all the medical treatment."

The second group of volunteers headed to the third floor to play with another group of children. Sailors had no troubles with the language barrier thanks to the universal quality of kindness and friendship.

"This was a very successful COMSERV," said Roberton. "Several of the children's parents came up to me and told me that seeing the kids play with the Sailors was a real special time. Everyone at the hospital was appreciative of our support and we hope to come back soon."

Land is in Malaysia conducting a coordinated tended mooring with Los Angele-class fast attack class submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) as part of a theater security cooperation and good will mission in the region. Land is currently on an extended deployment to Guam serving as U.S. 7th Fleet's lead afloat fleet maintenance activity from the ship's permanent home port of Diego Garcia.

Airman Missing from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Allen J. Avery of Arlington, Mass., will be buried April 6 at Arlington National Cemetery.  On April 6, 1972, six airmen were flying a combat search and rescue mission in their HH-53C Super Jolly Green Giant helicopter over Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam when they were hit by enemy ground fire and crashed.

In 1988, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) turned over remains they attributed to an American serviceman; however, the name provided by the SRV did not match anyone lost or missing from the Vietnam War.  The remains were held by JPAC pending improved technology to facilitate a later identification.

From 1989 to 1992, Joint U.S./SRV field investigations, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), found evidence leading to an aircraft crash site as well as two reported burial sites.  Team members recovered human remains and personal effects as well as aircraft debris.  As a result, the crew was accounted-for in 1997 and buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery.  Three airmen were also individually identified at that time.

In the mid-2000s, JPAC’s laboratory’s improved scientific capability enabled them to match the 1988 remains to the correct loss.  The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) tested these remains against all servicemen who were MIA from the Vietnam War with negative results.  Later AFDIL expanded its search to make comparisons with previously-identified individuals.  In 2010, as a result of mitochondrial DNA testing, the remains were matched with four of the six airmen from the 1972 crash, including Avery.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at or call 703-699-1169.

Naval Safety Center Raises Motorcycle Safety Awareness

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Benjamin Crossley, NPASE West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 200 service members attended a motorcycle safety symposium discussing the current training climate of the military safety programs on Naval Air Station North Island, April 4.

Rear Adm. Brian C. Prindle, Commander, Naval Safety Center, offered insight into the current safety and training climate when dealing with motorcycles.

"We want to make sure we are drawing attention to the significant number of motorcycle fatalities occurring in the Navy and Marine Corps," said Prindle.

Sailor fatalities reached a high of 33 in 2008 due to motorcycle accidents before the implementation of the motorcycle safety representative (MSR) program in 2009. Each command is responsible for providing an MSR that will assist with training courses and logging reports.

"More than 50 percent of fatalities last year involving a motorcycle did not complete the basic motorcycle training course, and that is a shame because it is available to service members," said Prindle. "We need to continue to close the training gap. We need 100 percent of service members trained and ready for the road to be successful."

During the symposium, several service members offered testimony about personal experiences and mishaps as well as the motorcycle safety courses offered.

Senior Chief Air Traffic Controller Daniel Miller, a motorcycle rider for 28 years, talked about a recent mishap that occurred resulting in serious injury.

"I am alive because of my gear, my motorcycle specific riding gear," said Miller, assigned to Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) San Diego.

According to Miller, he was wearing proper protective gear required by military installations at the time of the mishap.

"The symposium is important because it brings real questions and concerns to the right people. The concerns that riders have can be addressed and brought to the attention of leadership as well as fellow riders in other commands," said Miller.

Motorcycle safety awareness is especially important in cities like San Diego where the riding season is so long, according to Prindle.

"We need to make sure service members are taking advantage of all of the safety programs offered by the military and set them up for success," said Prindle.

Safety is one of the key areas of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps.

J.R. Martinez and Dakota Meyer, Featured Speakers at National Conference Available for Media Interviews

The former U.S. Army Officer and Dancing with the Stars Champ Joins American Hero and Medal of Honor Recipient for Foundations Recovery Network conference to focus on the treatment of service men, women, and their families

Nashville, Tennessee. April 5, 2011 – Popular servicemen  J.R. Martinez and Dakota Meyer are the guest speakers at the upcoming Freedom & Recovery conference in San Diego, CA held April 23-26, 2012.   The conference brings together leading experts specializing in the treatment of service men, women, and their families. 

Medal of Honor recipient, Dakota Meyer will be featured on Tuesday, April 24 and retired U.S. Army soldier and “Dancing with the Stars” champion, J.R. Martinez will be featured on Wednesday, April 25. Both speakers will present their inspiring and motivational stories in the Crown room at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.  Each presentation will conclude with an interactive Q&A time.  Both Meyer and Martinez hope to bring attention to the various treatment methods available to returning military men and women while also raising the level of awareness of how our military is affected by the circumstances of war and service.

J.R. Martinez and Dakota Meyer are now available for media interviews in-studio or by phone. Media is also invited to attend and cover on site.

A limited number of tickets are available to media. For more information about the conference and to purchase tickets please visit:

About J.R. Martinez:
While many may know him as an actor or from his recent participation on Dancing With the Stars or being named the 2012 Grand Marshal for the Tournament of Roses festivities, J.R. Martinez is also a retired U.S. Army Solider who was deployed to Iraq in 2003. While serving, he sustained burns over 40% of his body after his Humvee crossed a land mine. During his recovery, he spent time visiting and encouraging other patients. Martinez now travels the country sharing his life-changing story and message of resilience and optimism. He has devoted himself to showing others the true value in making the most of every situation. His experience was certainly life changing, but he states it is a change for the better. We are very excited to present the opportunity to spend an evening with J.R. Martinez as he discusses his motivational and inspiring journey.

About Dakota Meyer:
This U.S. Marine veteran was recently awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration, by President Obama. He is the third living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, and the first living United States Marine in 38 years to be so honored. Meyer served in both Iraq and Afghanistan but his most notable efforts occurred in September 2009. During the attack near Ganjgal, with disregard for his own life, Meyer help to evacuate both trapped and wounded soldiers. He insists that he is not a hero and any Marine would do the same thing. Back home, this highly decorated service member has issued a "Challenge to America" to raise an additional $1 Million for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. As a speaker, he addresses inspiration, motivation, courage, leadership, believing in yourself, and doing what is right.

About Foundations Recovery Network:
Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., Foundations Recovery Network is one of the premier organizations for treating those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. The FRN family of treatment facilities includes Michael’s House in Palm Springs, Calif.; The Canyon in Malibu, Calif.; La Paloma in Memphis, Tenn. and a full-service outpatient treatment center in Atlanta, Ga. All FRN facilities employ an “integrated treatment” approach, focusing on a dual-diagnosis model for lasting recovery.

Caroline Galloway (440) 591-3807 or at