Saturday, May 05, 2012

Face of Defense: Crew Chief Reveals Passion for Flying

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C.,  – A UH-1N Huey helicopter crew chief here is confident both on the ground and in the air.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jay R. Wright is a dual-qualified crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467, where he works on Hueys and Cobras. He maintains the aircraft and serves as an extra set of eyes in the helicopter during missions and testing.

Wright, a Wasicca, Alaska, native, stepped on the yellow footprints, Sept. 15, 2008, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif.

“I knew right out of high school I wanted to join the military,” He said. My father was in the Air Force, and I told myself I wanted to join a more rugged branch. I also made it clear that I wanted to be in the air. I wanted to fly, and that was it.”

Wright said his recruiter gave him two options: either go to college and become an officer or enlist as a crew chief. Choosing the latter, Wright arrived here after his military occupational school, and his supervisors say he thrived immediately.

“Lance Corporal Wright is the junior Marine every shop hopes to have,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Stephen M. Salinas, a fellow crew chief in Wright’s squadron. “Wright has learned so much about both the Hueys and the Cobras. He has qualifications under his name that some corporals do not. Wright could be a sergeant with the amount of weight he carries in both knowledge and leadership abilities.”

Wright’s aerial duties include making sure the rotor blades are free of debris, monitoring gauges, communicating with pilots, and keeping a 360-degree watch around the helicopter. Each morning, he goes out with other crew chiefs to test fuel samples for debris or water. If they find any issues, they must drain and replace the fuel so it doesn’t damage the helicopter’s engine.

“On the ground, the biggest variable is the weather,” Wright said. “In the air, it is a whole new ball game. So many different things could go wrong, from an engine failing to a dust storm coming upon us. Also, when we are operating the guns, there is a possibility of jams and other weapon malfunctions.”

While in flight, Wright said, he has to be able to make a quick judgment call and let the pilot know whether he feels a situation is safe to proceed or unsafe to land. “In the sky, we are an extra set of eyes for the pilots,” he said.

The 22-year-old Alaskan said he enjoys what he does and credits his work ethic to the influence and mentorship of Salinas. But his first taste of Marine Corps motivation about his job field came at boot camp, he added.

“One of my drill instructors was a crew chief, and the best thing he did for me was tell me I would never make it in his job field,” Wright said. “Those words still motivate me today to be the best I can be as a crew chief.”

A few months after Wright arrived at the squadron, he was able to show and test his skills as a crew chief during a six-month deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

“On the MEU, Wright spent his off time studying or lifting weights instead of playing video games like some of his peers,” Salinas. “He is constantly trying to better himself as a person and a Marine.”

Battaglia Stresses Readiness, Resilience During Korea Visit

By Walter T. Ham IV
8th U.S. Army

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea  – As he meets with U.S. service members in South Korea this week, the military's top enlisted leader is stressing the importance of their mission and the need for resilience.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting military posts across the Korean peninsula in a visit that began May 1 and concludes tomorrow.

"It's been my honor and privilege to visit with soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and family members here on the Korean peninsula," Battaglia said. "I am very, very proud of their courage and commitment and the relationship, especially, that the U.S. has with the [South Korean] forces."

Battaglia said the bilateral relationship enables the alliance to deter and prevent the daily threat of possible conflict with North Korea.

Emphasizing the importance of the U.S. presence, Battaglia said American troops on the Korean peninsula have to maintain a high level of readiness.

"We have potential threats that live very nearby," he said. "It's extremely important for us to maintain a footprint -- not only in the best interest of our national security, but in the protection and best interest of this Korean peninsula."

A combat veteran who served in Anbar province during the Iraq war, Battaglia emphasized the importance of readiness. "You really have to keep a game face on," he said.

As the U.S. military reshapes and downsizes after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the sergeant major said the Defense Department will strike a balance that maintains military readiness.

The senior enlisted leader also noted that readiness and resilience go hand in hand.

"They are intertwined," he said. "If I don't have the ability to overcome adversity, I'm not ready.” And that extends to families, he added, because if a service member’s family isn’t resilient as well, the service member can’t be ready.

Battaglia said American troops continue to serve with distinction in Korea and around the world.

"We ask more from our troops now than ever before in our history of our armed forces, and these troops continue to clearly answer the call," he said.

During his visit, Battaglia also met with senior military leaders, including Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, and Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, commander of the 8th U.S. Army. This is his first trip to South Korea since he assumed his current duties Oct. 1.

Panetta Travels to Fort Benning to Address Troops, Families

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

WASHINGTON  – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will travel today to Fort Benning, Ga., to speak to deploying soldiers and their families, a senior Pentagon spokesman told reporters yesterday.

 “[The secretary] will be addressing troops down there in a town hall discussion, and he’ll visit multiple training sites at the base,” Navy Capt. John Kirby said.

The defense secretary will speak to about 1,300 soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team and will answer questions during the town hall meeting.

“I think it’s safe to say that one thing that’s on his mind … is concerns over how recent isolated incidents of misconduct and ethical lapses in judgment have had, and continue to have, a strategic impact on the military – particularly in Afghanistan,” Kirby said. “So I think he’s just going to share some of his concerns over that with them as well.”

The secretary will eat lunch with 10 junior soldiers, observe dismounted squad training demonstrations and meet with senior leaders. He will also look at their advanced situational awareness training and observe an infantry battalion during a live-fire exercise and as soldiers negotiate a confidence course, Kirby said.

Panetta also will express his appreciation for the sacrifices the troops and their families are making.

 “As always, he wants to thank them for their service and what they’re doing and [show appreciation for] the support that they get from their families and the extraordinary work that they do every day,” Kirby said.

COMSUBGRU 2 Sailor Mentors At-Risk Youth, Boosts Confidence and Aspirations

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

CRANSTON, R.I. (NNS) -- A Commander, Submarine Group 2 Sailor is giving back to the community through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State organization.

Sonar Technician (Submarine) 2nd Class (SS) Antwan Haywood, who regularly volunteers with the organization, discussed his reasons for volunteering and the critical role of mentoring.

"I know personally the impact that a positive role model can have. When I think back to when I was a kid, I'm thankful for and recognize that I have become the man I'm today simply because people took the time to care. It's only right to pay it forward," said Haywood.

Haywood's volunteering falls in line with the Navy's Brilliant on the Basics. Mentorship is one of the six fundamental elements of the program.

SUBGRU 2 Command Master Chief (SS) Wesley Koshoffer praised Haywood's initiative and strong desire to give back to the local community and desire to apply the Navy's mentorship philosophy to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

"We have long recognized that mentorship is foundational to our success as a Navy," said Koshoffer. "Mentorship is extremely important in the development of all young men and women."

The other five core elements of Brilliant on the Basics include sponsorship, indoctrination, career development boards, individual recognition and a robust ombudsman/family outreach program.

Heather Potter, program coordinator, match support specialist, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State emphasized the important role volunteers like Haywood provide, such as guidance and support to minimize at-risk behavior while building aspirations and boosting confidence of the children they mentor.

"Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State is so proud to have mentors like Antwan Haywood. Antwan has been an amazing support to his Little Brother Hector, who currently resides in the foster care system. Antwan is consistent and dependable. We truly appreciate his dedication to mentoring a child at risk," said Potter.