Friday, May 25, 2012

USS Makin Island Arrives in Hong Kong for Port Visit

From USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), arrived in Hong Kong May 25 for a port visit.

More than 2,000 Sailors and Marines are expected to go ashore to visit the city and participate in goodwill-generating activities as well as cultural exchanges.

"We appreciate the rich history of Hong Kong and look forward to enjoying our time in this part of the world," said Capt. Cedric Pringle, Makin Island's commanding officer. "Dozens of U.S. Navy ships visit Hong Kong each year, and we are fortunate to make this visit as part of our maiden deployment."

Pringle said the Sailors and Marines serving aboard Makin Island are also excited about taking part in the community service projects that include distributing food to the elderly and helping to renovate a local animal shelter.

"We are excited to have this opportunity to help promote peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific region," said Pringle. "Makin Island Sailors and Marines are excellent ambassadors for the United States during every port visit we make."

Makin Island joins the amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18), also assigned to the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which arrived in Hong Kong May 23.

Sailors and Marines are also expected to participate in a variety of Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tours around the city including trips to Hong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park, the Buddha Statue Museum and Victoria Peak.

Kristen Venoy, Makin Island's MWR "fun boss," said she hopes all Makin Island Sailors and Marines enjoy their port visit to Hong Kong and take time to enjoy the culture.

"From shopping and eating to Disneyland and mountain biking, I think we have a tour for just about everyone," said Venoy. "The Sailors and Marines have worked hard over the past few months and this port visit is a reward for all of that hard work."

This is the first time Makin Island has visited Hong Kong. The ship and its crew, along with the embarked 11th MEU, departed San Diego Nov. 14, 2011, on deployment.

Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island ARG that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

The 7th Fleet area of operations includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.

Little: Pentagon’s Budget Request is Strong, Responsible

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

WASHINGTON  – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has clearly stated the consequences of sequestration, and the Pentagon has delivered a responsible budget request with a sound strategy to the U.S. Congress, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today.

“No one, to my knowledge, has really picked apart that strategy, including on Capitol Hill,” Little said. “People seem to recognize that it’s a sound approach to dealing with what we need to do to address the national security challenges of the future.”

Little said he understands there will be disagreements between legislators and Pentagon officials over DOD’s proposed budget, and how the security strategy will be implemented.

“We recognize that,” he said. “The DOD budget is always fodder for issues that members of Congress may have. We presented a budget; we’re engaging with the Congress to defend it.”

It’s understandable that Congress “may want to make changes along the way -- that’s part of the legislative process” in a democracy, Little said.

“But this is an unprecedented budget build, as far as I can tell,” he added. “And we believe that we have what we need in terms of a strong budget package to deal with a very strong strategy.”

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is confronted with the possible implementation of sequestration, a mechanism written into last year’s Budget Control Act that would trigger an additional $500 billion across-the-board cut for defense spending over the next decade if Congress doesn’t find an alternative by January.

The consequences of sequestration would be “devastating” to the Defense Department, Little said.

Yet, “there’s not a whole lot of planning [for sequestration], quite frankly, that you do, because it’s an across-the-board cut,” the press secretary said. “I’ve heard it described as a ‘haircut’ by senior department officials. There’s not a whole lot of planning we would have to do.”

The department would “take steps to deal with the consequences of sequestration, and for perspective reductions in resources, and personnel that sequestration may result in,” he added.

But at this point, Little said, steps to deal with the consequences of sequestration “haven’t started yet.”

“We’re going to have to see where the process takes us,” he said. “The focus is on trying to avoid sequestration. We do expect, at some point, to have to deal with this if it starts to look us straight in the face.”

Meanwhile, “we are affirmatively trying to hold off sequestration,” Little said. “When you’re dealing with about a half-billion dollars in cuts over 10 years, that is a daunting challenge, but we think we’ve addressed it responsibly.”

Vice Chief Visits San Antonio Wounded Warrior Support and Joint Force Training Facilities

By Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, VCNO Public Affairs

SAN ANTONIO (NNS) -- The vice chief of naval operations (VCNO) toured the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) and visited Navy and joint training sites during a May 24 trip to the greater San Antonio area.

Adm. Mark Ferguson interacted with patients, staff and family members at the Center for the Intrepid (CFI) and Warrior and Family Supprt Center (WFSC), and then met with Sailors at the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) and Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Lackland.

VCNO began his day with visits to CFI and WFSC to better familiarize himself with the wounded warrior care and family support offered at SAMMC.

The mission of the CFI is to provide rehabilitation to personnel who have sustained amputation, burns, or functional limb loss; to provide education to military and Department of Veteran's Affairs professionals on rehabilitation; and to promote research in orthopaedics, prosthetics and physical/occupational rehabilitation.

WFSC provides coordinated services to patients, next-of-kin and extended wounded warrior family members. Injured service members and their family visit the WFSC to receive emotional support, answers to their questions, and to extend their rehabilitation away from the hospital.

During his visit to METC and NTTC Lackland, Ferguson had the opportunity to address students, school officials and family members as he toured living quarters, recreational facilities, and various training classrooms at the two sites.

At all-hands calls at both locations, Ferguson discussed the Sailing Directions from the Chief of Naval Operations. He provided the audiences real-world examples of how today's Navy was putting the tenets of Warfighting First, Operate Forward and Be Ready into practice worldwide.

VCNO also thanked both groups of Sailors for their service and sacrifice. "You have all chosen to serve--to give up comforts and embark on a life of high standards--to be ready when the country is least ready."

In his METC remarks, Ferguson thanked Sailors training to be hospital corpsmen for their hard work, telling them that today's men and women were, "the best we have ever had. You are the most educated, intelligent and physically fit group of Sailors in the history of our Navy."

METC is the primary Department of Defense healthcare education campus and trains enlisted medical personnel in over 60 medical programs, graduating 24,000 joint service personnel annually.

At NTTC Lackland, Ferguson told an audience of Sailors training in the Master-at-arms (MA) rating, "you are making a difference because you make us safer--you protect us against terrorist and criminal threats."

Sailors attending the MA school are trained and tested in the areas of antiterrorism, security force fundamentals, and basic law enforcement.

Navy Corpsman Saves Drowning Victim at Corpus Christi Beach

By Bill W. Love, Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi Public Affairs

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (NNS) -- A Sailor assigned to Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi (NHCCC) was awarded a medal for saving a child's life during a family outing May 6.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Jesus A. Cordova, who thought two surfers were playing with their children coming out of the surf, realized that each of the two youngsters were lifeless.

"Once I noticed the children's situation and the anxiety on the surfers' faces, I rushed out and carried on as I've been trained without any thoughts but to resuscitate the child successfully," Cordova said.

Cordova continued cardiopulmonary resuscitation while simultaneously monitoring another adult's lifesaving efforts on the second child.

"It's a state of mind for EMTs, a course I am well-versed in as I have taught it throughout my career," he said.

Capt. Gina M. Jaeger, commanding officer at NHCCC, praised the El Paso, Texas Navy corpsman for his heroic achievement by presenting him the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

"HM1 Cordova you had a lot of self-trust that day," Jaeger said, refering to Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote about the essence of heroism. "It is a wonderful thing that you did, saving someone's life, and we really appreciate it. And you are just a fine example of the Sailors we have here at Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi, so again, thank you."

Winnefeld, Nonprofit Group Honor Wounded Warriors

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

WASHINGTON – The military is a family business and there’s no better example of that than the military spouses who formed the Hope for the Warriors non-profit organization, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said here last night.

The vice chairman spoke at the 3rd annual “Got Heart, Give Hope” gala, honoring the courage of wounded service members, their families and the families of fallen troops.

“We’re so proud of you, and we’re so proud of and inspired by, the young men and women you help who’ve given so much of themselves to their country and who are so determined that their sacrifice shall not hold them back,” Winnefeld said. “It really is a privilege to be part of such a great event in such a magnificent venue.”

Winnefeld was joined by Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, vice chief of staff of the Army, actor Gary Sinise, who hosted a portion of the evening, singer Randy Travis, and other celebrities and military officials, as Hope for the Warriors honored selected wounded, ill and injured warriors, and their families.

The nonprofit Hope for the Warriors organization, founded in 2006, focuses on enhancing the quality of life for U.S. service members and their families adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty.

“To the founders and the many military spouses here tonight, who make up this fantastic organization, thank you for what you do,” Winnefeld said. “We’re both married to awesome military spouses -- Charlene Austin and Mary Winnefeld. So Lloyd and I are very familiar with the greatness that lies in the heart of so many military spouses. And the founders of Hope for the Warriors, a group of military spouses themselves, are exhibit A.”

The vice chairman said earlier this month he and his wife, Mary, were “privileged” to see the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“There we watched, with thousands of others, as 200 amazing wounded warriors proved that there’s no challenge too great, no hurdle too difficult for these determined, young men and women,” Winnefeld said. “They, like the honorees, are bright and shining examples of the power of hope and determination.”

“They remind us of what greatness really is,” he added. “When one of us has a bad day, all we have to do is think about one of these remarkable young men and women. They also give hope and strength to those who are just beginning the difficult journey of recovery.”

Winnefeld said the evening gala also honored the caregivers, who are “unsung heroes” that spend countless hours unselfishly giving to those who have sacrificed and are now in need.

“It’s hard to find words to describe these remarkable people -- these caregivers,” he said. “We can only find them, support them, thank them and be inspired by them as well.”

Winnefeld noted the nation will pause during Memorial Day weekend to remember the service and sacrifice of the fallen, and their families who remain behind.

“We owe all of these men and women -- those who have selflessly worn the cloth of our nation in a decade of war, and those who have stood behind them, a debt of gratitude,” he said.

“We also owe a debt of gratitude to the many champions of our men and women in uniform,” Winnefeld added, “[the] people who understand the price the freedom, and who want to give back to those who have sacrificed to preserve it. They are everywhere.”

The vice chairman commended public officials, celebrities, corporations and private organizations for providing opportunities to support troops like Hope for the Warriors.

“You didn’t have to do any of this, and we know it,” Winnefeld said. “But you’re making a huge difference.”