Monday, June 11, 2012

This Day in Naval History - June 11

From the Navy News Service

1853 - Five Navy ships leave Norfolk, Va., on three-year exploring expedition to survey the far Pacific.
 1927 - USS Memphis arrives at Washington, D.C., with Charles Lindbergh and his plane, Spirit of St. Louis, after his non-stop flight across the Atlantic.
 1944 - U.S. battleships off Normandy provide gunfire support.
 1953 - Navy ships evacuate 20,000 Koreans from West Coast Islands to safety south of 17th parallel.

North Carolina Army National Guard Transportation Co. rolls with the changes

By Army National Guard Sgt. Miko Booth
113th Sustainment Brigade

RALEIGH, N.C. (6/11/12) – Running missions in three different countries, the North Carolina National Guard's 1452nd Transportation Company, "Rough Riders", has remained ready, proactive and flexible throughout its deployment.

"Afghanistan was not a part of the original mission," said Army Sgt. Michael Nichols, truck driver with the 1452nd Trans. Co. "First we were moving equipment and supplies from Iraq into Kuwait, and once the Iraq War ended, we came here."

The Soldiers of the 1452nd Trans. Co. are happy here with their Afghanistan mission, and most of them actually volunteered to be here, one way or another.

"I was born and raised in Winston-Salem," said Spc. Maurice A. Coleman, truck driver with the 1452nd Trans. Co. "So when I made the decision to enlist in the North Carolina National Guard, I knew which unit I wanted to join. When I found out that the unit was deploying, that sealed the deal for me."

Army Sgt. Thomas F. Lecky had initially enlisted in the North Carolina National Guard through the National Guard's "College First" program, which guarantees college students who join the National Guard that they will not be called up for deployments until after they complete their degree.

"I completed two semesters of school, then heard that my unit was deploying," Lecky said. "I wanted to go with my platoon, with my company. So, I just opted out of my 'College First' contract to just deploy with them."

Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Herring, another driver with the 1452nd Trans. Co., is on his second deployment. After serving six years in the Marine Corps working with communications, Herring started a successful career in trucking. Knowing how much he missed the military, a friend suggested that Herring look into the National Guard.

Herring deployed in 2009 to Iraq with the 230th Brigade Support Battalion's E Company, under the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team.

Herring returned from his first deployment only to hear a few months later that the 1452nd Trans. Co. would be deploying soon.

"I kind of felt unfulfilled from my first deployment," Herring said. "I enjoyed the deployment, and I respect every single Soldier who has deployed there before, but I just didn't feel like my time serving my country and state overseas was finished."

He immediately volunteered to go with the 1452nd.

Lecky, Nichols and Herring not only raised their hands to deploy with the 1452nd, but they also switched platoons in order to go on the mission to Afghanistan. On top of that, Lecky and Herring waived their optional two-week vacation, also known as R&R, to participate in the new mission.

"When we were told that there was a mission to Afghanistan, everyone was really excited," Herring said. "Then we were told that the platoon going had to physically be in Afghanistan for the entire mission.

"Because the Soldiers of fourth platoon had already taken their [R&R] leave, they were selected to go," Herring said.

"We both thought this new mission was exciting and [we] may never get an opportunity to experience this again,'" Lecky said. "So, we chose to switch from third platoon to fourth platoon."

Neither Soldier said he has any regrets in volunteering for this mission.

"During my first deployment I was hauling equipment and supplies in and around Iraq," said Herring. "For this deployment, not only did I help bring our troops and equipment back out of Iraq, but I get the chance to convoy security. That's something I've never done before."

The Soldiers each said that while they never practiced convoy security operations during their Army truck driver school, they learned the basics of this skill during basic training and rehearsed during their pre-mobilization training.

"Convoy security isn't really in our job description as [truck drivers]," said Nichols. "However, anyone can say that we're just truck drivers, but we're Soldiers first – this is one of those basic [Soldier] skills that we are using here."

Biden Family Shares Deployment Experiences at USO Event

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

WASHINGTON  – Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and their five-year-old granddaughter, Natalie, shared their first-hand experiences on how the deployment of a military parent can impact children during a USO-hosted book reading here today.

The Bidens traveled to the District of Columbia National Guard Armory to meet with children of members of the D.C. National Guard. Dr. Biden read from her new book, “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops.”

Dr. Biden’s book teaches coping methods for military children who are dealing with the absence of loved ones during deployment. The book provides a personal account of Natalie’s experience in coping when her father, then-Army Capt. Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, departed in the fall of 2008 for a year-long deployment to Iraq with his Delaware National Guard unit. Biden, a military lawyer, has since been promoted to major.

“There are tens of thousands of beautiful kids just like this all over the country,” Vice President Biden said at the armory. “What we found out … was when your mommy and daddy are away it’s a hard thing. It’s a difficult thing.”

“So Jill found out there’s a lot of ways to kind of make you feel better,” he added. “By the way, it’s not just little kids. You don’t have to be four, five, six, seven or eight. You can be 17, 18, [or] 19. It doesn’t matter.”

Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan Washington, explained to the children who Dr. Biden was and why she came up with the idea to write a book to help military families.

“She loves children,” Rogers said of Dr. Biden. “But do you know which children are very special to her? Military children -- children who have …” [one or both parents] “in the military.”

Rogers said Dr. Biden knows things can be hard when parents are away because of her experiences with her own two grandchildren, Natalie and Hunter.

“This is Natalie’s story, as well as your story, because how many your moms and dads have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan?” Dr. Biden asked the children. “What I realized when I went around this country, is that many Americans don’t even know anybody, at all, in the military.”

“And they don’t know how strong you are and how resilient you are when your moms and dads are away,” she added.

Prior to reading the book in its entirety, the Bidens provided free copies to each child at the armory. Proceeds from book sales, Rogers said, will be donated to the USO to support the education of military children.

“We’re going to make scholarships for kids like you when you get ready to go to college,” Rogers told the children.

Vice President Biden reminded the children to remember they are not alone in their experiences and their parents are constantly thinking of them.

“Just remember when your daddy and mommy are working for the country and they’re away -- they’re always, always thinking about you,” he said. “And parents, thank you very much. Thank you for your service. It’s amazing what you do.”

Dempsey Urges Alma Mater Grads to ‘Push the Envelope’

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, returned to his high school alma mater today to encourage the John S. Burke Catholic High School graduating class to embrace new opportunities in a demanding, fast-changing world.

The chairman addressed the graduates of the school, based in Goshen, N.Y., in an auditorium at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., from which he graduated in 1974.

“Push yourself to explore space you haven’t considered before, to lead where leadership is required and to keep options open -- because life will deal you changes and challenges you’ll have to figure out,” Dempsey told the 2012 class.

“The future will find you,” he said. “Be ready.”

Dempsey and his wife Deanie both are Burke High graduates, and he was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2003. He told the new graduates today he’s never forgotten his roots, and how his own high school experiences prepared him for what was ahead.

Recognizing the many high achievers in this year’s class, the chairman cautioned them not to rest on past accomplishments. “No matter how successful you’ve been up to this point, you need to keep working to be better than you think you can be,” he said.

It’s a lesson he said he learned quickly after arriving at West Point with his solid Burke record. “I realized that I had to keep getting better,” he said. “I realized that never settling for mediocre is one of our enduring national traits. As a nation, we dare to be great.”

Dempsey urged the students to be willing to take the risks as they “push the envelope” and embrace new opportunities.

“Many of you will exceed your wildest imaginations,” he said. But in doing so, he encouraged them to stay true to their moral compasses and never lose sight of their values. “Prioritize what’s most important to you,” and keep those priorities in order, he said.

As they apply the lessons they’ve learned to overcome obstacles they confront, Dempsey urged the class to serve, whether in the military or other endeavors. He congratulated those headed to military academies or ROTC units, and said other graduates may find their calling to serve in other vocations.

Dempsey said he looks forward to seeing the new graduates make a difference and impact society as they help influence the future.

“Your life takes on meaning only as the causes to which you attach yourself have meaning,” the chairman said. “The greatest value of a life is to spend it for something that lives after it. “

“In the end, you become what you are through some cause you have made your own,” he concluded.

Judge Upholds Charges Against Alleged Document Leaker

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md.  – The military judge trying the case of alleged WikiLeaker Army Pfc. Bradley Manning today rejected a defense motion to throw out 10 of the 22 charges against him.

Army Col. Denise Lind refused the defense’s argument that eight of the charges are unconstitutionally vague and overly broad.

She also upheld two other charges that Manning had exceeded his authorized access to classified Defense Department networks. Lind did announce, however, that she would use a narrow interpretation of the statute in this case. This raises the standard for what the prosecution will need to prove for Manning to be found guilty, a military lawyer told reporters.

The judge also announced that Manning’s trial, initially scheduled to begin Sept. 21, likely will be delayed until November or possibly January. The defense team had asked for more time to review documents associated with the case and prepare its arguments.

The rulings came at the end of a three-day hearing here leading up to what’s expected to be a three-week trial.

Manning, 24, is accused of the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history while deployed to Iraq as a military intelligence analyst. The former 10th Mountain Division soldier is accused of installing unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloading it, improperly storing it, and transmitting the data to the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks, in turn, released thousands of these documents, including classified records about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, on its website.

Manning is charged with aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, and fraud and related activity in connection with computers. The charges also include violation of Army Regulations 25-2 “Information Assurance” and 380-5 “Department of the Army Information Security Program.”

If found guilty, Manning could receive up to life in prison. He also could be reduced to E-1, the lowest enlisted grade, and face a total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and dishonorable discharge.

Much of this week’s pre-trial hearing, one of several to iron out issues related to the case, centered around what documents are being made available, and how quickly, for the defense to prepare for the trial.

Manning’s civilian attorney, David Coombs, complained of getting discovery documents too slowly, in a piecemeal fashion or with so many sections redacted – meaning parts of them have been blacked out – that they’re of little value.

The defense team hopes to use these documents to show that Manning caused little or no damage.

Yesterday, three State Department officials called by the defense testified that the department stood up three different teams after the leaks occurred to do damage control, identify people considered to be at risk because of the disclosures and improve computer security. The witnesses did not testify about what damages may have been caused.

In an effort to keep the proceedings as close to the projected schedule as possible, Lind announced this week that she would add additional pretrial hearings to assess progress and break through any logjams.

Lind announced that the next hearing will be June 25. At that session, both the prosecution and defense teams are scheduled to submit recommended instructions for the court to give the panel at the trial.

The defense team will have the choice of having the case decided by Lind alone, a military panel, or a jury.