Monday, May 14, 2012

This Day in Naval History - May 14

By Navy News Service

1801 - Tripoli declares war against the United States.
1836 - U.S. Exploring Expedition authorized to conduct exploration of Pacific Ocean and South Seas, first major
scientific expedition overseas.
1845 - First U.S. warship visits Vietnam.
1975 - Marines recapture Mayaguez, go ashore on Koh Tang Island and release the crew from the Khmer Rouge.

Actor’s Foundation Builds Homes for Wounded Warriors

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

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2012 – Actor Gary Sinise’s efforts to help wounded warriors were highlighted by journalist David Martin on last night’s broadcast of the CBS program “60 Minutes.”

In the 1994 film “Forrest Gump,” Sinise portrayed “Lt. Dan,” an Army officer who loses both legs while serving in the Vietnam War and overcomes adversity following his discharge.

Since visiting Iraq as part of a USO tour in 2003, Sinise and his foundation have worked to support service members and veterans. Martin’s “60 Minutes” story focused on Sinise’s foundation helping to build custom “smart homes” for real-life amputees, such as Marine Corps Cpl. Juan Dominguez, who lost both legs and an arm to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2010.

In his report, Martin said that as of May 1, 1,459 service members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had limbs amputated. Of those, 439 lost more than one limb, and Dominguez is one of 39 who’d lost three, he said.

“I basically thought I was worthless until one of the [quadruple] amputees that were there, he was walking around like it was nothing,” Dominguez said in the “60 Minutes” report. He was referring to Marine Corps Cpl. Todd Nicely, one of five surviving quadruple amputees.

“I have a feeling 10 years down the road I'm not even [going to] remember what it was like to have arms and legs,” said Nicely, who was injured in March 2010 when he stepped on a booby-trapped bridge in Afghanistan.

Martin reported that Nicely and his wife, Crystal, are about to move into a new house being built in Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., and paid for by Sinise, who performs throughout the year with his Lt. Dan Band, raising money for wounded service members.

Nicely explained to Martin during the interview what the new home will mean to his family.

“For me, it means getting my life back -- you know, being able to do a lot of the things on my own,” he said.

Living without hands is the hardest thing, Nicely told Martin, but he added that having the house will make life 10 times easier.

Martin noted during the interview that Sinise’s foundation assists the severely wounded by building new homes. But triple amputee Bryan Anderson said he doesn't want one.

“I'm good,” he said. “Like, I get around just fine. I do everything I [want to] do. I don't need it, so give it to somebody that would take it, and I would feel guilty taking something away from somebody that could actually need it.”

Anderson explained how he’d met Sinise and became friends with the actor while learning to use his new prosthetic legs during physical therapy at Walter Reed Medical Center. “I just put my arms out and I landed on the first person that I could grab, and then I look up. I'm like, ‘Oh, holy crap, it's Gary Sinise.’

"And he looks at me,” Anderson continued. “He's like ‘Holy crap, the real Lt. Dan,’ and I'm just like, ‘No, no, no, no, you'll always be Lt. Dan,’” Anderson said.

Anderson said he and Sinise began to talk about everyday things. “It was like he was talking to me as a person and not just a wounded soldier,” he added.

Anderson said he is now in a “very good place” in his life and credits some of that to Sinise.

“Gary's responsible for the beginning,” he said. “I've done a lot on my own for myself. Gary was the one to show me that I can do everything -- that it is possible. He really showed me that I can still do anything. It doesn't matter that I'm in a [wheelchair]. If this guy can see that, why can't I?”

USS Jacksonville Sailors Visit Namesake City

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Greg Johnson, Commander, Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLe, Fla. (NNS) -- Five Sailors assigned to Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) visited Jacksonville, Fla., May 9-14, during a namesake visit sponsored by Navy League Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Commanding Officer Cmdr. Nate Sukols, Chief of the Boat Command Master Chief (SS/DV) Roger Schneider, Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SS) Andrew Crips, Sonar Technician (Submarine) 3rd Class (SS) Davin Fields and Electrician's Mate 3rd Class (SS) Thomas Rode´ spent the week meeting local officials, visiting local schools and enjoying various attractions throughout the Jacksonville area.

"One of our missions at the Navy League is to enhance the morale of active duty Sailors and Marines and this visit was a great opportunity to do that," said Chuck Tamblyn, Navy League Jacksonville president. "It was also a great opportunity for some of the Jacksonville's Sailors to come here and experience Jacksonville and get an understanding of what the city is all about and what their ship is named after."

According to Sukols, it was an honor to be able to represent his boat on such a visit.

"It's a tremendous privilege to be here and have the opportunity to represent USS Jacksonville," he said. "The city has been so supportive and it's actually very humbling to be the center of attention like this. We're one of 18 submarines in Pearl Harbor, so we're not really used to it, but to come here and be treated so special is really incredibly humbling and we are very grateful to the city, the base and the Navy League."

During the trip, Jacksonville Sailors visited First Coast High School and spoke to two Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps classes. At Oceanway Middle School, more than 900 students packed the gymnasium for a question-and-answer period that emphasized the importance of math and science and how it applies to their Navy careers.

"It's an important message because math and science can be the building blocks of a successful career," Schneider said. "We use it on a daily basis, whether it's to detect range or direction or just about everything else. Everywhere you look, there are guys doing math and science. It's fundamental and it's important for anyone who wants to pursue higher education."

The Sailors also conducted a number of other events in the local community, including visit to Wolfson Children's Hospital and a service project at Ronald McDonald House where they crew spread mulch and worked to improve the landscaping around the childrens' play area.

"Seeing the Ronald McDonald House was inspiring because it's a 100 percent volunteer effort," Crips said. "That kind of thing is really the mark of a good society and the work those volunteers are putting in is a reflection of the good will of the people in the Jacksonville community."

While community projects were a large part of the trip, the Sailors also found time to enjoy some recreational activities in the Jacksonville area, including a tour of Everbank Field, a Jacksonville Suns baseball game and a visit to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

According to Sukols, the only down side to the trip was that he could not bring along more of his Sailors.

"There are only five of us here, but we're representing the entire 140-man crew of USS Jacksonville. While I know they appreciate the support we've received from the city of Jacksonville leading up to this trip, I wish that more of them could have experienced the warm reception that we've had through the past few days."

Leap Frogs Perform Multiple Shows for Nashville Navy Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fletcher Gibson, U.S. Navy Parachute Team Public Affairs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team, the Leap Frogs, performed jumps at four different locations May 11-12 in support of the city's Navy Week celebration.

The team performed jumps at both Lavergne and Stratford High Schools, as well as a game-opening jump at Greer Stadium for the Nashville Sounds baseball team May 11. They performed two passes at The Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna, Tenn., May 12. Rainy weather May 13 prevented the Leap Frogs from performing on the second day of the air show.

Team members met and interacted with a wide-range of fans and audience members. At Stratford, the Leap Frogs enjoyed some one-on-one time with members of the local Sea Cadet unit, while the performance at Lavergne introduced them to a potential future member of the SEAL community.

"I've never met an active duty SEAL," said Ethan Vicars, a student at Middle Tennessee State University who had just been accepted into the SEAL training program. "They gave me a lot of good advice from their experiences."

"Just to be surrounded by men and women who have done something positive with their lives is important in our community and to our students," said Letoni Murry, the assistant principal at Lavergne High School.

Spectator Faye Lash was impressed with the team's opening jump during the national anthem.

"I've been coming to air shows since I was six years old, and I've never seen anything as awe-inspiring as that. To see an American flag fall out of the sky and be brought down by a Sailor...this is what it does," she said indicating her tears.

Deputy Chief, Medical Operations and Future Plans Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Rear Adm. Donald Gintzig, was also impressed.

"It's great to see them perform and really help inspire the next generation because I can guarantee you there were young men and women here looking up and saying 'I want to be doing that some day,'" Gintzig said.

The Leap Frogs are scheduled to perform May 15-16 at the Navy Week in Spokane, Wash.

The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego and perform aerial parachute demonstrations in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy recruiting.

For more information about the Leap Frogs, visit

Navy Medicine Feels the Pulse of Music City During Nashville Navy Week

By Valerie A. Kremer, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NNS) -- Navy Medicine met with corporate executives, local community leaders, universities, media and the Tennessee Titans to discuss shared medical initiatives and Navy Medicine's role in the maritime strategy as part of Nashville Navy Week, May 7-12.

Rear Adm. Donald Gintzig, deputy chief, medical operations, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, was the senior medical officer during the visit.

"It is an honor to be in Nashville and middle Tennessee, which has a rich tradition and heritage of supporting the military," said Gintzig. "We are America's Navy and Nashville Navy Week provides a wonderful opportunity to show the people of middle Tennessee what their Navy does, how we take care of our dedicated men and women in uniform, and the possibilities for those looking to pursue a career in the Navy."

Of the nearly 330,000 active duty Sailors across the Navy, 8,300 come from Tennessee. An additional 2,000 Reserve Sailors also hail from the state, and more than 11,600 retired Navy veterans live in Tennessee, Gintzig noted.

During a meeting with leadership and staff of Centerstone, the nation's largest not-for-profit provider of community-based behavioral health care, the parties stressed the importance of continued medical research and development, the significance of the electronic health record, and heralded the work both continue to do to provide outstanding behavioral health care to the nation's wounded warriors.

"Research and specialized care needs to be a part of the continuum of care," said Gintzig. "One size does not fit all in terms of care models. It is with partnerships with civilian organizations like Centerstone that can make a difference in how we learn from each other's care models."

During Nashville Navy Week, Gintzig also met with students and staff of Meharry Medical College where he discussed Navy Medicine's capabilities in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, research and development, expeditionary care, and garrison care, while supporting the maritime strategy.

"We are so thankful to have Rear Adm. Gintzig here at Meharry Medical College," said Charles Mouton, dean of the Meharry School of Medicine, senior vice president of health affairs. "It is wonderful to know that what our students are learning at Meharry is transferrable to Navy Medicine and the military."

As a global force for good, Gintzig pointed out the increased capabilities in life saving techniques on the battlefield.

"If we get you to one of our facilities after an hour of being injured on the battlefield, you have a 98 percent survivability rate," said Gintzig. "If we can get you to our medical center in Germany, you have a 99.8 percent chance of survival. These numbers are unprecedented and demonstrate the outstanding life saving capabilities by our corpsmen on the battlefield and the research and development that goes into making these techniques possible."

During his presentation, Gintzig also highlighted how Navy Medicine supports the maritime strategy.

"Navy Medicine plays a vital role in supporting the five 'hard power' capabilities of the maritime strategy: forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, and maritime security...because no ship, submarine, aircraft or other Navy asset deploys without the support of Navy Medicine," said Gintzig. "In addition, Navy Medicine projects and executes 'smart power', the maritime strategy's final priority, through its most visible role in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions."

During Nashville Navy Week, Gintzig also met with top leaders, staff, and veterans of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, where the parties discussed shared initiatives with Navy Medicine's Medical Home Port model and the Department of Veterans Affairs' Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model. Both models provide the patient a team of health care professionals that is responsible for their individual health needs.

"We are honored to have Rear Adm. Gintzig visit the Middle Tennessee Veterans Healthcare System," said Juan Morales, director, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Veterans Administration. "It has been wonderful sharing best practices of the Medical Home Port and PACT models, as well as our other life saving and health care capabilities."

Tennessee Valley Healthcare System is an integrated healthcare system comprised of Medical Centers, the Alvin C. York Campus in Murfreesboro, Tenn, and the Nashville Campus in Nashville, Tenn, and many community based outpatient clinics located in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Other events during Nashville Navy Week included: sending 102 World War II veterans on an honor flight to Washington, D.C.; a visit to a fifth grade class at Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; a visit to the future site of the Murfreesboro Fisher House; an address to members of Kiwanis Nashville; a visit to the Tennessee State Veterans Home; an interview on the FOX and CBS morning shows; and the commissioning of 11 new officers at Vanderbilt University's Reserve Officer Training Corps program, among others.

Navy Medicine is a global healthcare network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

Nashville Navy Week is one of 15 Navy weeks across the country this year. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they make in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

For more information about Nashville Navy Week, visit