Friday, June 08, 2012

Wisconsin Army Guard officer receives MacArthur Award

By Sgt. Darron Salzer
Wisconsin National Guard

Capt. Nils Henderson of Holmen, Wis., a flight operations officer with the Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment and former commander of Company A, was one of 27 officers nationwide - and one of only seven Army National Guard officers - to receive the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award May 24 in the Pentagon Auditorium.

Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, and Judge James Mathews from the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, presented the awards.

The MacArthur Leadership Award program recognizes company grade officers who demonstrate the ideals of duty, honor and country, with the goal of promoting and sustaining effective junior officer Army leadership.

Henderson said receiving the award was a great honor.

"The award recognizes the success of those around me," he said. "I had the chance to serve with an outstanding company with phenomenal leadership. That had a huge role in our overall success."

Lt. Col. Stephen Watkins, battalion commander for the 147th, along with Wisconsin Army National Guard Chief of Staff Col. Kenneth Koon and Brig. Gen. Scott Legwold, director of the Wisconsin National Guard Joint Staff, were on hand to see Henderson receive the award.

"That was certainly an honor, and appreciated," Henderson said.

Odierno said that the nation stands in good stead with young leaders living up to MacArthur's tenets of duty, honor and country.

"General MacArthur is undoubtedly one of the greatest military leaders that our nation has ever produced," Odierno said, "and it is an honor to be here amongst some of our greatest and strongest assets - our talented young leaders."

Before presenting each of this year's recipients, Odierno noted the role in which each Soldier served in as a leader came with its own set of unique challenges.

"Company grade leadership is about leading our nation's sons and daughters at the tip of the tactical spear ... and as company grade [leaders] you have the most impact on our young Soldiers," he said.

This year marked the 25th year of the award, with 622 recipients to date, Odierno said.

In his closing words, he said that it was ironic that the strategic depth of the all-volunteer force of the Army was not in the hands of senior generals, but directly in the hands of the junior officer corps.

"I am frankly humbled to be in your presence," he said. "We need leaders like you to be at the forefront ... guiding our transition to a leaner more agile force that remains adaptive, innovative, versatile and ready as part of the Joint Force 2020.

"You are the future of our Army, the future of our nation."

The other Army National Guard Soldiers recognized include Army Capt. Audrey L. Fielding, Ohio Army National Guard; Capt. Anthony J. Ortega, Massachusetts Army National Guard; Capt. Benjamin L. Ruffner, Florida Army National Guard; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timmothy A. Smario, North Carolina Army National Guard; Capt Andrew W. Vidourek, Oregon Army National Guard; and Capt. Charles W. Wimp Jr., Indiana Army National Guard.

Capt. Bill Barthen of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 132nd Brigade Support Battalion received the MacArthur Leadership Award in 2010.

Face of Defense: Marine Helps Pilots Navigate Runways

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andrea Dickerson
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., June 8, 2012 – Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachary G. Harrison is out to learn as many military skills as he can.

An ordnance technician working with EA-6B Prowler aircraft, Harrison also can be seen on the flightline here, visually communicating necessary commands and signals Prowler pilots need to navigate the runway.

“He is one of the best Marines this squadron has,” Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jasmine L. Saunders, the ordnance chief for Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, said of Harrison. “He is always our go-to person because [of] the dedication he has for his job.”

Harrison “is the first to volunteer when we need something done,” Saunders said. “His work ethic is unparalleled.”

A native of Port Huron, Mich., Harrison said he loves his job because there is always the opportunity to gain knowledge and new skills.

“I work with the ordnance on the Prowlers, but I am now training as a team leader so I am now the person standing in front of the aircraft conducting hand and arm signals to other team members,” he said.

Saunders said Harrison is progressing very quickly though he’s only been with the squadron a short time.

Resale Program Provides Important Benefits, Officials Say

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Despite the prospect of major defense cuts early next year, the Defense Department remains committed to resale programs that provide valuable benefits to uniformed members and employment for family members and veterans, a senior department official told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Robert L. Gordon, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, joined other officials in giving testimony before the committee to underscore the importance of the military resale program.

“On my visits to military communities, I hear of the tremendous appreciation for, and in some cases, the need for commissaries and exchanges,” Gordon said. “Often, they are (the only) source of high-quality American made products -- but equally important, they are the lifeblood to many of our installation support programs.”

Programs such as the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Navy Exchange Service Command, Semper Fit Exchange Service and the Defense Commissary Agency are not only a significant source of employment for military family members, but they bring quality-of-life enhancements to service members around the globe, Gordon and other witnesses explained.

“A strong exchange benefit is one of the cornerstones of the military way of life,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Francis L. Hendricks, AAFES commander. “It enhances recruitment and retention, thereby aiding in the readiness of the armed forces.”

Hendricks recalled AAFES’ rapid growth in theater since the spring of 2003, when U.S. ground forces fought their way up the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. “Our first store in Iraq operated out of the back of a Toyota Landcruiser,” Hendricks said. “As troops advanced northward, so did our store.”

During the next eight years, AAFES established 95 sites throughout the theater, and more than 4,000 of its employees volunteered to operate retail stores and food activities in support of the troops.  “We brought them familiar products and services and the food they craved,” Hendricks said. “In that moment, at that place, we brought a little piece of home to them.”

Humanitarian aid to military members and surrounding communities is but another virtue of the resale program, according to Thomas Gordy, Armed Forces Marketing Council president.  When the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March 2011, military resale systems worked with industry partners and the services to ensure military families stationed in the devastated region had access to food, water, milk and other essential items.

“The resale stores in Japan remained stocked, while the stores outside the gate were empty,” Gordy said. “Not only did the system support our military families, but (supported) the recovery effort with essential supplies, providing the United States with another element of humanitarian support to our friends in Japan.”

Wherever in the world uniformed members and their families rely on commissaries and exchanges, the resale program’s budget-conscious prices can offer consumers significant savings advantages, said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, Navy Exchange Service Command chief executive officer. “Our 2011 annual market basket survey results show that customers save an average of 23 percent below commercial retail prices not including sales tax, generating over $500 million in non-pay compensation,” Bianchi said.