Monday, April 23, 2012

This Day in Naval History - April 23

From the Navy News Service

1918 - USS Stewart (DD 13) destroys German submarine off France.
1934 - In the first Navy movement through the Panama Canal, more than 100 ships transited.
1945 - In only U.S. use of guided missiles in World War II, two BAT missiles release at Balikpapan, Borneo.
1956 - Project Vanguard, earth satellite launching program, assigned to Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air).

USS Constitution Sailors Help Renovate School Destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

By Seaman Michael Achterling, USS Constitution Public Affairs

GRETNA, La. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Constitution participated in a community service project to help renovate property at Reed Elementary School in New Orleans, April 20.

Reed Elementary School was one of three schools destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Sailors helped the City Year New Orleans-sponsored event as part of New Orleans Navy Week, April 16-23.

"To be able to assist City Year at an elementary school that was decimated by Hurricane Katrina was an honor," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Conrad Hunt, Constitution. "Doing volunteer service projects is a wonderful way to show my appreciation to the people that I serve."

Sailors painted flower beds, built wooden waste container storages and provided general clean-up services.

"I love volunteering within the community," said Damage Control Fireman Ashley Fairfax, Constitution. "Giving back to a community is something that makes you proud and smile at the end of the day."

City Year New Orleans' service programs include school-based service and community engagement. They have 23 active locations across the United States and two international sites.

"City Year's primary mission is to keep kids in school and make sure they are on track to graduate," said Peggy Mendoza, executive officer for City Year New Orleans. "It's really inspiring to see our corps members serve alongside military service members. Everyone is donating their own time to help out this school."

The volunteer event at Reed Elementary School is one of 29 community relation projects taking place during New Orleans Navy Week.

New Orleans is the second of eight Navy Weeks Constitution Sailors are scheduled to participate in throughout 2012, celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. New Orleans Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. America's Navy: Keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.

Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history. For more information, visit or

For more information on the bicentennial of the War of 1812, visit http://www.ourflagwasstillthere/.

Utah Guard members provide aid to Moroccan villagers during African Lion 2012

By Army National Guard Sgt. Nicolas A. Cloward
Utah National Guard

AGADIR, Morocco (4/23/12) – Soldiers from the Utah State Medical Command, Utah Army National Guard, worked alongside Moroccan military medical personnel April 13, providing medical aid for as many people as they could during African Lion 2012, an annual partnership training exercise between U.S. forces and the Royal Moroccan Military.

Throngs of Moroccan villagers gathered around the Humanitarian Civil Assistance site in Sidi Moussa, Morocco and pathways to the examination rooms were crowded with parents eagerly trying to receive medical aid for them and their children.

Army Sgt. Robert W. Carpenter, a combat medic for MEDCOM, said MEDCOM arrived on site early in the morning and began setting up each individual clinic. The HCA site provided several clinics such as general medicine, dermatology, respiratory, pediatric, gynecology, ear, nose and throat, Ophthalmology and dental.

Because of the large number of Moroccans seeking medical aid, the HCA crew was only able to provide care in one of the areas per person – medical, dental or ophthalmology. Once the villagers got into the clinic the crew was faced with another problem – language.

Carpenter said a major obstacle was the language barrier. In Morocco, the three main languages are French, Arabic and Berber. Berber is a common language spoken among the small villages of Morocco and has three dialects. Each one is so unique that people that speak one dialect may have a difficult time understanding one of the other dialects.

Luckily, interpreters from the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, Royal Moroccan Military and Peace Corps were available to help bridge the language gap between the villagers and physicians. Many times, information about a patient’s condition would have to be translated through several people before getting back to the care provider, Carpenter said.

Army 1st Lt. Emily S. Smith, a physician assistant for MEDCOM, worked in the pediatric clinic and said she understood first-hand the value of overcoming the language barriers. “If it weren’t for the interpreters, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did.”

Despite the overwhelming demand of health care needs and the labyrinth of linguistic daisy chains, the service members and volunteers of the HCA were able to provide medical care for more than 1,000 in a single days work.

“There’s still just so much work to be done,” Carpenter said.

Texas Guard members connect with Uganda airmen, children

By Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon
Task Force Raptor

SINGO, Uganda (4/23/12) – The road four Texas Army National Guard Soldiers took to the Singo Training Center each day of their deployment here opened up an opportunity for them that they won’t soon forget.

“Every morning, I remember passing a school at the entrance of the Singo Center,” said Army 1st Lt. Victor Lauersdorf, a security officer with Task Force Raptor, 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, and a member of the Texas Army National Guard. “It was unique, because the same field the children used for their recess, the Ugandan People's Defense Forces used for their military training.”

Lauersdorf, along with Army Staff Sgt. Jason Smith, Sgt. Enrique Icedo and Spc. James Andrew, exchanged best practices with Uganda Air Force airmen during an RQ-11 Raven unmanned aircraft system operational skills course held here March 19 through April 7.

“The Raven is a small, unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft,” Smith said, a squad leader with Task Force Raptor. “It is flown in support of ground troops, giving commanders an eye in the sky on what may lie ahead.”

The Raven is a new addition to the UPDF, and Smith said the Ugandan airmen new to the unit took the training very seriously.

“It’s a lot of information for a technology that most of these guys have never seen, but these guys were up to the challenge,” said Smith. “We’d give them tasks and homework and the next day they had everything memorized and completed. These men are well prepared for what challenges may lay ahead.”

Like their U.S. counterparts, the Ugandan airmen constantly train for possible deployment and to defend their country. They also share the likelihood of being away from family and friends back home.

“The children of the airmen we trained with attended the school we passed every day,” Lauersdorf said. “As a father of two children, I empathized with the Ugandan servicemen who could at any time leave their families behind.”

Remembering how they felt when they themselves left home for deployments, the Guard members decided to take the opportunity and pay the Ugandan children a visit.

“We all pitched in a few dollars of our own money and bought some school supplies and soccer balls for the children to use,” Smith said. “When we showed up with the supplies, the smiles on the children were priceless. We spent a couple of hours with them playing, shaking hands and taking pictures with them. It was a special experience.”

The Ugandan servicemen were also touched by the act of kindness, Lauersdorf said.

“When we asked the leadership if it was OK to visit the school, they said yes and let us know that they were very appreciative of the gesture,” Lauersdorf said.

“They said they couldn’t believe that not only did we come to train with them, but now we are helping out their children as well,” he said.

DOD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for Fiscal 2012, Through March

The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal 2012, through March.

Active Component.

Recruiting.  All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal 2012, through March.

Army - 27,701 accessions, with a goal of 27,550; 101 percent
Navy - 15,151 accessions, with a goal of 15,151; 100 percent
Marine Corps - 10,625 accessions, with a goal of 10,591; 100 percent
Air Force - 14,353 accessions, with a goal of 14,353; 100 percent 

Retention.  The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force all exhibited strong retention through the sixth month of fiscal 2012.

Reserve Component.

Recruiting.  Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal 2012, through March.

Army National Guard - 24,706 accessions, with a goal of 25,991; 95 percent
Army Reserve - 14,095 accessions, with a goal of 12,852; 110 percent
Navy Reserve - 3,756 accessions, with a goal of 3,756; 100 percent
Marine Corps Reserve - 4,485 accessions, with a goal of 4,216; 106 percent
Air National Guard - 4206 accessions, with a goal of 4,192; 100 percent
Air Force Reserve - 4,255 accessions, with a goal of 4,255; 100 percent 

Attrition - All reserve components are on target to achieve their fiscal year attrition goals.

Detailed information on specific recruiting data can be obtained by contacting the individual military recruiting commands at 502-626-0164 for Army, 210-565-4678 for Air Force, 703-784-9454 for Marine Corps, and 901-874-9048 for Navy.  The reserve components can be reached at the following numbers:  National Guard Bureau 703-607-2586; Army Reserve 910-570-8330; Air Force Reserve 703-697-1761; Navy Reserve 757-322-5652; and Marine Corps Reserve 504-678-6535.