Wednesday, May 02, 2012

ASD Misawa Receives Supply Blue "E" Award

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Aviation Support Division (ASD) Misawa was officially awarded the 2011 Ashore Navy Supply Blue "E" Award for Supply Excellence, April 30.

Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Force 5th/7th Fleet Rear Adm. Matthew Carter was on hand to present the award to ASD Misawa personnel and congratulated them for their outstanding effort.

"An award like this takes a team effort," said Carter. "And should all be very proud for achieving this impressive feat."

The Blue "E" is awarded to supply departments that demonstrate excellent quality and efficiency, as judged by a comprehensive, multiple-day Supply Management Inspection (SMI). ASD Misawa scored a cumulative 97.3 percent, which easily qualified for the award.

Additionally, the command also had to continually meet standards of excellence with monthly Type Commander Pulse Points, a comprehensive Supply Department Training Program, and Continued Process Improvement projects.

"The key to achieving the 'E' is details," said Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Christopher Burn, ASD Misawa leading chief petty officer. "Maintaining 100 percent validity and ensuring that all records are filed and processed correctly is tantamount to success."

Earning the award was especially challenging for various reasons, but ASD Misawa was able to pull it off with a little help from a their "friends."

"It takes the entire team to make this happen," said Burns. "Our brothers at Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment (AIMD) Misawa provided a helping hand and sent four of their guys over TAD (Temporary Assigned Duty)."

Of note is the sheer scope of the job that ASD Misawa undertakes. Not only do they support the deployed P-3 squadron in Misawa, but they are also responsible for squadrons around the world.

"A lot of people think we just support the aircraft on the flight line here, but we also support all the P-3 aircraft in Kadena Air Base in Japan, as well as P-3s that are operating in Bahrain and Qatar," said Warrant Officer Clive Dixon, ASD Misawa officer in charge. "We also have squadrons on detachment in the Philippines and Thailand, not to mention that we provide support to the Fleet Repair Center in Atsugi, Japan.

"So when we talk about meeting issue-effectiveness, it can be very challenging to support customers that are not even in the same geographical location as you are," said Dixon. "The real challenge for us is to meet our customers' needs who may be more than 7,000 miles away."

Despite the unique logistics involved in making sure aircraft operating halfway around the world remain up and running, ASD Misawa personnel excelled under the challenge.

"Everyone played their role and stepped up to the plate," said Dixon. "With the support of Naval Supply Fleet Logistics Center Site Misawa and AIMD Misawa, our guys were really able to do awesome work."

And the culmination of that work comes in the form of a large blue "E" that now adorns the wall of ASD Misawa.

"Hey, the 'E' stands for excellence," said Burns. "You can't argue with that."

Face of Defense: Ranger Turned Bandsman Remains a Soldier First

By Army Sgt. Christopher Gaylord
5th Public Affairs Detachment

EUREKA, Calif.  – If there’s any one thing Sgt. Norman Montes De Oca envisioned for his life, it was earning the right to call himself a U.S. Army Ranger.

“As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a Ranger,” said Montes De Oca, a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who grew up in Redmond, Wash., and entered the Army in 2008. “In high school, that was all I ever thought about.”

At a point where his peers were still deciding what to do with their lives, he was studying standard operating procedures for combat, memorizing infantry battle drills and committing the Ranger Handbook to memory. He was preparing for war before he even knew what it was about.

“I knew the Ranger Creed before I was even in high school,” he said. “I was just dead-set on being a Ranger.”

The sergeant set out to follow in the footsteps of his father, who served in the 2nd Ranger Battalion. But sometimes, life turns you in another direction.

Today, Montes De Oca plays guitar and percussion for 56th Army Band group “Swingin’ Sounds of Courage,” a jazz-style big band made up of 15 members -- a guitarist, a drummer and a brass section.

Montes De Oca said he spent his time as a Ranger and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the same battalion in which his father served, and he loved it. But two years in, with Ranger School and the follow-on possibility of leading his own squad in his sights, an injury dashed his hopes.

He and his fellow Rangers were tasked with standing up three massive logs outside the battalion’s headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to replace the three that formed a large archway but had worn down over the years.

“Long story short, the log fell on my head,” Montes De Oca said, recalling that it took six Rangers just to lift the log. “Everybody else moved out of the way when it fell down, and I figured we were going to try and stop it. It smushed me, basically.”

The Ranger injured his ankles and suffered a concussion. Ranger School, which prepares Rangers already assigned to their units to assume leadership positions, was over for him before it even started.

The day he should have left for the school, he drove a friend across post instead, while the friend checked out at various facilities in preparation to leave the Army. He had brought a guitar to pass the time, and that’s where the light of a new dream began to shine through.

“This guy saw me playing and said, ‘Hey, you’re really good. You should go check out the 56th Army Band on North Fort and audition,’” Montes De Oca said, recalling his encounter with a soldier who had tried out for the band himself but couldn’t read music.

“I kind of took it as a sign that maybe that’s what I should be doing,” he said. He tried out and was accepted into the band under an on-the-job-training program in July 2010.

Now, music fills his days. He plays at events across the joint base and in other parts of the country.

He traveled with his band to Eureka, a coastal town in northern California, April 26-29, to participate in the town’s annual Rhododendron Parade and play for the community at its main high school.

Even after nearly two years of playing with the band, the admiration from appreciative audiences is still new to him.

“[As a Ranger,] we’d get back from a mission, and they’d be like, ‘Good job,’ and nobody else would know,” he said. “There’s not a crowd out there [saying], ‘Wow, that was a well-executed mission.’ You never got that. Maybe your squad or team leader would say, ‘Good job, you didn’t mess up tonight.’ And that was all you could hope for.”

Being a Ranger and being a musician are complete opposites, Montes De Oca said, noting he’s always felt welcome in the band.

“You meet your new unit [as a Ranger], and they usually treat you like crap because you’re the new guy,” he said. “But here, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re the new guy; we’ve got to welcome you and make you feel good.’ They opened their arms to me.”

Everywhere he goes with the band, he said, people are thrilled to see him. Eureka was no exception.

But whether he’s a Ranger or a guitarist, Montes De Oca said, he’s a soldier first.

“There are some days when I really miss being an infantryman,” he said, sitting on a government bus after marching more than four miles in the 2012 Rhododendron Parade in downtown Eureka as the cymbalist for the group. “I definitely still believe in being mentally and physically prepared for war. I mean, we’re soldiers first in my eyes.”

“He brings a different side to what we do,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Islas, the bandleader for Montes De Oca’s group. “We’re not combat arms, and he brings that different side and perspective. He’s a little more hardcore than we are. But it’s good to have that other side, too.”

Islas said Montes De Oca is both a great soldier and a technically gifted guitar player. In September, the former Ranger will attend the U.S. Armed Forces School of Music at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va. There, the Army will officially certify him as a musician.

And while he looks forward to that day, he said, one sentiment will stay with him wherever he goes.

“Whether it’s in the infantry, or in the band, or any other fields of endeavor -- Rangers lead the way.”

NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support Hosts 'Bring Your Children to Work Day'

By Margaret Kenyon-Ely and Meagan LeMelle, Naval Supply Systems Command Public Affairs

PHILADELPHIA (NNS) -- More than 100 students joined their parents, guardians and sponsors at the annual, "Bring Your Children to Work Day," at NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support's sites in both Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Philadelphia, April 26.

"This is a great opportunity, and I'm glad to see such a great turnout," said NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support Commander Rear Adm. John G. King, SC, USN, during his opening remarks at the event's kick off ceremony.

Before King engaged the participants in a lively question and answer session with the children who ranged in ages from eight to 17, he ensured they were aware of the importance of their sponsor's work.

"Your sponsors make sure that money is spent wisely on the weapons systems needed by our forces. They ensure our young Sailors, Marines and Airmen have everything they need to do their job," King added.

NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support Deputy Commander for International Programs Capt. Tracy Larcher, SC, USN, continued that theme in his keynote remarks and video presentation.

"The civilian employees are the backbone of our organization. What your sponsors do is very important and is the lifeline to keep the fleet going. The job they do here is vital," said Larcher.

Among the highlights of the day in Philadelphia were a video teleconference with Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., to talk to experts from food service, readiness, and medical departments about how they ensure their aircraft and aircraft carriers are mission ready. Additionally, the day featured tours of the static display aircraft on the front lawn on NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support, the Army's Clothing and Textile operation, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Medal Works - Purple Hearts, and of course, one-on-one time between sponsor and child.

The other half of the command in Mechanicsburg sponsored a program where children and sponsors from a number of Department of Defense commands located at Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg, made cards of appreciation for U.S. Navy Troops currently serving in Afghanistan. The children also learned about life as a military officer from Lt. Darren Sablan.

"We hope that the cards help the person who is going overseas for their first deployment. My children and I had a wonderful time," said Jonathan Works, a Business Analyst at Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

This was the 20th anniversary of the National Bring Your Children to Work Day program, which started out as Bring Your Daughters to Work Day. This year's theme "Build Opportunity: 20 Years of Education, Empowerment and Experience" paid tribute to that milestone.

A field activity of the Naval Supply Systems Command, NAVSUP WSS is the U.S. Navy's supply chain manager providing worldwide support to the aviation, surface ship, and submarine communities. NAVSUP WSS provides Navy, Marine Corps, joint and allied forces with products and services that deliver combat capability through logistics. There are more than 2,000 civilian and military personnel employed at its two Pennsylvania sites. NAVSUP WSS Philadelphia site supports aircraft, while its Mechanicsburg site supports ships and submarines.