Military News

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Naval Base San Diego Holds Main Street Cleanup


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Justin L. Webb, Naval Base San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 200 service members, family members, retirees, civilian employees and local community members were on hand for the Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) Main Street Cleanup May 19.

NBSD Commanding Officer Capt. Winton Smith and National City Mayor Mr. Ron Morrison spoke prior to starting the semi-annual event where local military members and civilians worked together to enhance the appearance of the NBSD surrounding community.

"We see the activity in the bay and we get to see on TV the actions you [Sailors] do throughout the world, but a lot of times we don't get to see what you're doing here this morning and the things that are done within the community," said Morrison. "For everything that you do if it's your duty on base, on your ship or around the world; from the people of National City and the residents of the United States I want to say...thank you!"

During the cleanup event, civilians and volunteers from naval units around the San Diego-area collected more than 3,400 pounds of trash in the neighboring community.

"I think it's a great opportunity for our Sailors and local community members to come together and make a positive impact on our environment as far as safety and cleanliness around our base because this is not only where we work but where we live," said Seaman Kiara Lopez.

More than seven weeks of planning went into coordinating the cleanup, which base leadership hopes continue having every six months.

"The turnout today was great," said event coordinator Operations Specialist 1st Class Nestor Martinez. "In fact, it was better than expected. We are very pleased and look forward to more involvement in the future."

Naval Base San Diego provides comprehensive fleet support for 59 home-ported ships and 180 tenant commands, and stands to gain an additional eight ships by 2014.

Survivors of Fallen Share Memories, Understanding


By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va.  – When David Lloyd’s wife Ann, died, he hit a level of loneliness he says he never could have imagined. Today, he stood among some 2,000 people who had been there.

As the Washington area marked the first day of a weekend teeming with public events commemorating the nation’s fallen service members, some 1,500 adults and 500 children filled the Crystal Gateway Marriott here in an effort to help themselves and each other deal with the grief of losing their very own military heroes.

The 18th Annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors offered four days of events to help the families of those who died while serving in the military cope with their grief. Sponsored by the nonprofit TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – the seminar includes numerous sessions for adults and children ranging from coping with suicide to helping siblings and children to understanding survivor benefits.

“As the surviving family and friends of members of the armed forces, we share a very special bond of service and sacrifice to our nation,” TAPS Founder and President Bonnie Carroll said. “We have in each other our most powerful resource for comfort and understanding. This is a safe place to spend time with others who have experienced a similar loss and understand the pain we all carry.”

David Lloyd and his wife, Ann, were soldiers with the 3rd Army Division at Fort McPherson in Georgia – David, a lieutenant colonel, and Ann a major. Ann was away at training, preparing to deploy, at Fort Gordon, Ga., in November 2006 when David got the call that soldiers there had found her dead in her room from a blood clot.

With their two daughters, Rhaynae and Nicole just five and 11 years old, respectively, and the family living off base with no relatives nearby, Lloyd quickly decided to retire. “I had a new job then” – as a full-time father, he said.

The family got by as best they could, returning to their routines, and some happy times, too, Lloyd said. But he was concerned that the girls weren’t dealing with their loss at the same time he was trying to figure out his own grief.

It all caught up with him one night shortly before retirement, Lloyd said. “I was very much alone in the office that night,” he said.

Lloyd picked up a magazine among the papers on his desk. “I couldn’t even tell you what the magazine was,” he said. “I just flipped it over and there was TAPS advertised on the back cover. The ad included a hotline for grief counseling. He didn’t hesitate in picking up the phone. The TAPS volunteer spoke with him in exactly the way he needed, he said.

“When I called, it just opened up a new world to me,” he said. “Then I understood I was not alone. It was just one of those things, one of those defining moments,” he said.

Lloyd returned to the annual TAPS seminar for the fourth time this year, mostly for the girls, he said. “It’s therapeutic for them.”

Rhaynae, now 11, looks at it as going to camp and playing with other children who have lost parents, and Nicole, now 19, has come a long way in dealing with her grief, Lloyd said. It was only a year ago that Nicole asked what her mother had died from. “She just didn’t want to know,” he said.

“This place makes you see the kids in a different light,” Lloyd said. “You just know the hurt [they’re going through], then you see them laughing and you know this is a great thing.”

Other parents also voiced concern that their teens and young adult children also wouldn’t talk about their loss.

When Shelann Clapp’s husband, Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglas Clapp, was killed in a helicopter crash along with Army Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen and five other soldiers near Fort Hood, Texas, in 2004, Clapp quickly sought support with TAPS and other groups, she said.

“It helped me that I was employed,” said Clapp, who works in education and is a doctoral student. “I just had to keep going. I didn’t know what else to do.”

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the seminar about losing his wife and infant daughter, and how it made him understand how people can contemplate suicide. Clapp said his message resonated with her.

“I didn’t want to go on; I didn’t know how,” she said. “I was married to this man longer than I had lived without him.”

While Clapp worked through her grief, her then 18-year-old daughter, Jennifer, did not. “She kept telling me she didn’t want to talk about it. She was angry, but she couldn’t say why.”

The Clapps marked a milestone today when Jennifer, now 27, attended the seminar for the first time with her mother. After just one day of TAPS, Jennifer said she was glad she attended.

“I never really dealt with it,” she said of losing her father, but being at the seminar forced her to think about it and realize she wasn’t alone. Jennifer said she felt better about her loss when she met a mother of three young children on a Metro train this morning. The woman’s husband, a service member, recently died.

“It really opens your eyes about what people are going through,” Jennifer said. “You think you’re the only one it’s happened to, then you meet others who have it just as bad.”

“We’re very much about survivors helping survivors,” said TAPS spokeswoman Ami Neiberger-Miller, whose brother was killed in action in Iraq in 2007. “We find people come, first for themselves, then they come for others,” she said of TAPS mentoring program.

Bob and Kitty Conant attended the seminar for the first time this year, and went through mentor training. They said they hope to help other grieving families by being TAPS mentors. “It’s about coming alongside them and listening and being there for them,” Kitty said.

The couple, from Valencia, Calif., said their religious faith has gotten them through the loss of their son, John, an Army sergeant, who died of an undiagnosed heart condition, miocardial arythmia, on April 10, 2008.

“He just had a duty station change and he’s serving the supreme commander now,” Kitty Conant said of her son’s death. “He just went before us.”

Conant, the second of four boys, three of whom serve in the military, had been in the Army 15 years and completed two deployments to Iraq and one to Haiti when he died suddenly. While his heart problems were unknown, he had been battling post-traumatic stress and seemed to have turned a corner in the months before his death. He had started calling again, having long conversations with his parents, and reconnecting with his brothers, one of whom he had started to bond with in their shared PTSD and combat experiences. John found out two days before his death that he had been cleared to return to Iraq, his parents said.

While John’s death was a shock, the Conants say they are content in knowing that he died doing what he loved. “He had wanted to be a soldier since he was a Cub Scout,” his mother said. “That was his dream.”

Ellen Andrews, TAPS Defense Department liaison, said participants find a bond that lasts years. “This is like a family reunion for us,” she said. “This is the group no one wants to belong to, but we’re so glad it’s here.”

Military Libraries Anounce 2012 Summer Reading Program


By Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NNS) -- Navy General Library Program leaders announced May 25 that registration has begun for a shared summer reading program that will reach military families in all branches around the globe.

Readers of all ages can dig into a wide variety of book choices around the theme "Reading Is So Delicious."

Most programs will run eight weeks with open enrollment during the summer. Activities will range by location and include everything from Edible Art projects to discussions of books like "James and the Giant Peach".

"Last year we saw a 400 percent increase in participation across the program, and we plan to continue this trend with creative programs that connect with readers of all ages," said Nilya Carrato, Program Assistant, Navy General Library Program. "This year's theme ties in two great flavors - reading for the fun of it and healthy eating. We want to create and support a bumper crop of voracious readers!"

Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. Summer reading programs can help to offset this loss, because studies also indicate students who read recreationally out-performed those who don't. Students read more when they can choose materials based on their own interests.

This year marks the third in which 250 base and installation libraries will participate in the shared summer reading program. Last year's program logged more than 10 million minutes spent reading by children and families.

Sponsored by the Department of Defense with program content developed by iREAD, the Navy managed initiative; "Reading Is So Delicious" will reach thousands of families. The theme is brought to life by illustrators Barry Gott, Chris Eliopoulos, Lucy Knisley, and Patrick Girouard. Resource guides for the program were developed by librarians for librarians to motivate children to read.

"Summer reading programs are valuable not only in reducing fall-off in educational attainment over the summer, but as a means for families and children to spend time together, an especially important aspect for military families," Carrato added.

For more information on the program, please call Nilya Carrato with the Navy General Library Program at 202-433-0785 or email dodsumread@navy.mil.

The Navy General Library Program is a Commander, Navy Installations Command program designed to support base libraries around the world and participate in the initial outfitting of shipboard libraries across the fleet.

Southern Partnership Station Navy Dive Concludes Stop in Guatemala


By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Keck, Navy Dive-Southern Partnership Station 2012 Public Affairs

PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala (NNS) -- Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, Company 2-1, deployed aboard the Military Sealift Command rescue and salvage ship USNS Grapple (T-ARS 53), concluded a three-week subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) with Guatemalan divers, May 24.

The SMEE, which was part of Navy Dive-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (ND-SPS 12), focused on scuba diving, working underwater with no visibility, underwater search techniques, and salvage techniques.

"We were able to exchange many new and useful techniques with the Guatemalan divers," said Navy Diver 1st Class Robert Roloff, assigned to Company 2-1. "We shared our procedures for supervising dives with them, and they shared their knowledge of low visibility underwater searches."

Divers from MDSU 2, along with members of Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 4 and civilian mariners deployed aboard Grapple, also volunteered their time to help out a local school. They spent a day painting the schoolhouse with the enthusiastic help of the students. In addition, they provided the school with new bookcases, school supplies, and sports equipment.

"We were happy that we were able to help and participate in this community relations project," said Lt. Cmdr. Tristan Wagner, mission commander of ND-SPS12.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Navy Band Provides Show-Stopping Performance in the Bronx


By Mass Communication Specialist First Class Isaiah Sellers, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

NEW YORK (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Brass Band Northeast performed for the Madison Square Boys & Girls as a part of the 25th celebration of Fleet Week New York (FWNY) and the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, May 23.

The band performed for an audience of more than 250 children and staff at Columbus Clubhouse located in Bronx, N.Y.

The band provides musical support for moral and community relations programs all while partnering with education programs throughout 11 states.

"We love attending performances at events such as this," said Crystile Carter, a ten year Boys and Girls Club member and 2012 New York Citizen of Year award recipient. "Being a part of the Boys and Girls Club has given me the opportunity to attend events like this that are geared to keep kids motivated to do better and give back to their community."

A captivated audience showed their excitement and appreciation by leaving their seats and dancing and singing to the music performed by the band.

"Being able to perform in venues such as this is an honor. It allows us the opportunity to showcase the Navy in a way that the public doesn't get a chance to see too often," said Musician First Class Eric Snitzer, a member of Navy Band Northeast. "To see the excitement and smile on their faces gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment."

There are more than 55 Navy Band performances scheduled to take place in support of FWNY 2012. The band is slated to perform at various Boys and Girl Club events and parades though out New York and Times Square.

This year, approximately 6,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating Fleet Week events which will continue through May 29.

Held nearly every year since 1984, Fleet Week New York is the city's celebration of the sea services. Fleet Week New York provides an opportunity for the citizens of New York City and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

This year, Fleet Week New York is one of the signature events around the country commemorating OpSail 2012, the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner.

The commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is a salute to all Sailors and
Marines who fought gallantly in that conflict, who served in all our nation's conflicts since then, and who are defending freedom around the world today.

For more information, visit the official Fleet Week New York City Web site at www.fleetweeknewyork.com or find "Fleet Week New York" on Facebook.