Military News

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Wisconsin Guard goes to great lengths to improve state partnership skills



By Staff Sgt. Tiffany Addair
112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Wisconsin Army National Guard Military Engagement Team members journeyed to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a two-week language immersion program at Institute for Second Language Acquisition, Inc., (I.S.L.A.) Sept. 9.

The MET - a 12-person rotational team of subject matter experts - went to learn Spanish for future trips to Nicaragua, as part of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program. Those visits will begin with fact gathering, and progress to making recommendations to the Nicaraguan military regarding natural and manmade disaster response efforts.

The State Partnership Program just celebrated its 20th year of building civil-military relationships through partnerships between U.S. states, territories, the District of Columbia and foreign countries. Currently 48 U.S. states, two territories and the District of Columbia are partnered with 62 countries around the world, to include the Wisconsin-Nicaraguan partnership.

In 2003 the Wisconsin National Guard formally partnered with the Republic of Nicaragua in the SPP, and every year about eight to 10 meetings in both Wisconsin and Nicaragua take place, expanding Nicaragua's capabilities in several critical areas.

I.S.L.A., Inc. focuses on conversational Spanish. When the Soldiers arrived at the school they were individually evaluated to see how much Spanish they knew so they could be put into the correct class level.

"We give them an oral evaluation to see where there are at and if they understand what I am asking them, if they can respond and how comprehensive or complete and so forth," said Sacha Delgado, director of I.S.L.A., Inc. "Then based on their responses we place them in one of the six levels that we work with and each level has a set definition in terms of what it covers."

The Soldiers attended daytime classes at I.S.L.A., Inc., located outside of the tourism area to maximize their learning experience and expose them to more Spanish. In addition to the structured classes and cultural experiences, the school coordinates with local host families to house students during their course.

"We are the only language school in Puerto Rico that offers an immersion program, where students come in from abroad and stay with host families," Delgado said. "It maximizes [students'] learning experiences because they have to think and study Spanish in the classroom, do homework and communicate with their family."

The schoolhouse provided the Soldiers with basic knowledge and conversational aspects of learning Spanish, but being in Puerto Rico and experiencing the day-to-day cultural greatly enhanced the training experience for the MET.

"Being exposed to the language and the cultural all the time helps you pick it up more," said Sgt. 1st Class Culley J. Popma, 64th Troop Command readiness non-commissioned officer. "It will be helpful to us when we go down to Nicaragua for the rest of our mission."

Popma plans to use Rosetta Stone to build off of what he learned in Puerto Rico so he can become more fluent by the time the team visits Nicaragua.

Maj. Robert J. Buettner, MET officer-in-charge, said this training is a great opportunity and will enhance opportunities to deepen the relationship between the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the Nicaraguan military members with whom they will closely work.

"It is important for us to gain as much information and knowledge on the language and culture so that when we do go to Nicaragua and start working with our counterparts and the senior leaders we show them respect by speaking their language in their own country," Buettner said. "The MET team will be evolving every year depending on the wants and needs of the Nicaraguan government so we will need to continue language training as the team evolves to progress our skills and continue to build our relationship with Nicaragua."

Marines Missing in Action from WWII Identified



The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of seven servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being buried with full military honors. 

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Laverne A. Lallathin of Raymond, Wash.; 2nd Lt. Dwight D. Ekstam of Moline, Ill.; 2nd Lt. Walter B. Vincent, Jr. of Tulsa, Okla.; Tech. Sgt. James A. Sisney of Redwood City, Calif.; Cpl. Wayne R. Erickson of Minneapolis; Cpl. John D. Yeager of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Pfc. John A. Donovan of Plymouth, Mich., will be buried as a group, in a single casket representing the crew, on Oct. 4, in Arlington National Cemetery.  Six of the Marines were identified and buried as individuals previously this year.  Lallathin, also individually identified, will be interred individually at Arlington on the same day as the group interment.

On April 22, 1944, the Marines were aboard a PBJ-1 aircraft that failed to return from a night training mission over the island of Espiritu Santo, in what is known today as Vanuatu.  None of the seven crew members were recovered at that time, and in 1945 they were officially presumed deceased. 

In 1994, a group of private citizens notified the U.S. that aircraft wreckage had been found on the island of Espiritu Santo.  Human remains were recovered from the site at that time and turned over to the Department of Defense.

In 1999, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) survey team traveled to the location.  The crash site was located at an elevation of 2,600 ft., in extremely rugged terrain, and the team determined that specialized mountain training would be necessary to safely complete a recovery mission.  From 2000 to 2011, multiple JPAC recovery teams excavated the site and recovered human remains, aircraft parts and military equipment.

To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) evaluated circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of the Marines’ family members.

Today, more than 73,000 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

#Warfighting: CNO and MCPON to Host Worldwide Navy Birthday All Hands Call



From Defense Media Activity Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In celebration of the Navy's 237th birthday, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) will hold a worldwide all hands call, Oct. 11, at 1:00 p.m. EST.

The all-hands call will be televised on Direct-To-Sailor (DTS), The Pentagon Channel (www.pentagonchannel.mil) and online without the chat function at www.navy.mil, and with the chat function at www.livestream.com/usnavy.

Questions may be submitted in advance for CNO and MCPON to answer live at the all-hands call. Submissions should be emailed to usntownhall@gmail.com prior to and during the all hands call. Questions can also be posed during the all-hands call via www.livestream.com/usnavy. Personnel submitting questions should include their name, rank, rate and command.

"October is the month of our Navy's birth and as such it is an appropriate time to reflect on the integral role we play in accomplishing the Navy's warfighting mission," Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, director of the Navy Staff in the Pentagon, explained in the NAVADMIN announcing the event.

Information about the Worldwide Navy Birthday All Hands Call can be found in NAVADMIN 303/12 http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/NAVADMINS/NAV2012/NAV12303.txt.

October is #Warfighting Month focusing on Navy warfighters, a fast and flexible force deployed worldwide to preserve peace, protect commerce, and deter aggression on, above, and below the sea.

Houston Man Handed 20-Year Sentence in Drug/Money Laundering Conspiracy



HOUSTON—Kevin Joseph Gobert, 39, of Houston, has been handed a 20-year sentence for his leadership role in a multi-year drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Gobert was convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering after pleading guilty on April 26, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt.

At the sentencing hearing today, Judge Hoyt determined Gobert was a leader in the conspiracy and handed him a 240-month sentence on the drug conspiracy in addition to 240 months on the money laundering conspiracy to be served concurrently. He was further ordered to serve five years on supervised release following completion of his prison term.

Gobert was originally charged along with Jose Arredondo, 27, of Houston; Thierry Harvey, 44, of Riverdale, Georgia; Damian Holmes, 37, of Birmingham, Alabama; Donald Long, 45, of Ellenwood, Georgia; Tommy Smith, 46, of Bossier City, Louisiana; and Ali Rhodes, 46, Kelly Hobson, 50, and Shernotta Walters, 40, all of Atlanta, Georgia.

From January 2003 to February 2010, Gobert operated a cocaine and marijuana organization out of the Houston area and trafficked cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States. Relying on his co-defendants for the success of his enterprise, Gobert would coordinate the delivery of the drugs brought through the Houston area to be subsequently distributed throughout Houston, Atlanta, Birmingham, and other areas.

Gobert would occasionally pick up cocaine and marijuana himself but would also pay individuals to pick up, transport and distribute cocaine and marijuana at his direction. He would also pay his co-defendants to collect, count, and distribute drug proceeds derived from his drug trafficking. To facilitate his drug operation, Gobert rented residences in the Atlanta area to be used as stash houses to store his cocaine, marijuana, and cash. At Gobert’s direction, Harvey and Hopson would deposit drug proceeds, in the form of cash, into a Bank of America bank account in the Atlanta area and have the money transferred into a bank account located in Laredo, Texas, with the intent of promoting Gobert’s drug activities.

During the period of the conspiracy, the organization was responsible for distributing more than 800 kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

The others charged in relation to this case have all also entered pleas of guilty for their respective roles on the criminal enterprise. Rhodes received a sentence of 120 months, while Hobson and Smith received respective sentences of 63 and 87 months. The remaining defendants are pending sentencing.

This case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, including agents with the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stuart A. Burns.

Nimitz Promotes Responsible Habits - Zero Zero One Three



By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jess Lewis, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- "Don't make alcohol your only liberty buddy," is a common phrase often heard coming from the commanding officer, whether over the 1 Main Circuit (1MC) or during Captain's Call for all hands, it's something every Sailor on board the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) has heard at some point.

Walking about the passageways, Sailors can often spot posters depicting "ZZ13" across the top.

ZZ13 means zero underage drinking, zero driving under the influence (DUI) citations, one drink per hour and three drinks per night.

"ZZ13 is a Navy-wide initiative," said Chief Hospital Corpsman David Cunningham, Nimitz' Drug and Alcohol Program Advisors (DAPA) coordinator. "It's what the Navy considers to be responsible drinking."

After Navy-wide surveys were conducted and data compiled, it was discovered that the three drinks per night at a rate of one drink per hour is responsible drinking.

"Three drinks in a night is normal," said Lt. Douglas Santillo, Nimitz' health promotion coordinator. "ZZ13 promotes drinking in moderation as opposed to binge drinking."

A ship-wide survey was conducted a few months ago, asking Sailors questions such as what they think the average Sailor consumes in a night and how many drinks they consume in a night.

"On average, Sailors have the mindset that eight drinks per night is what the average Sailor drinks when in actuality, it's really only about three to four drinks being consumed," said Santillo.

DAPA distributed Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) cards to the crew to bring awareness of how much Sailors should drink and still be responsible based on their weight and how many drinks they are consuming.

"It's hard to gage different size people," said Cunningham. "The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) cards should help people determine where they should be. ZZ13 is intended to give a broad spectrum of what we expect to be responsible drinking. And if you follow the ZZ13 guide, you know you won't get incapacitated to the point where you can't function. With one drink per hour and three drinks per night, we know you should be ok, and that covers all the weight ranges."

ZZ13 is designed to bring alcohol awareness to Sailors so they understand what exactly responsible drinking is. They can learn how to drink responsibly and prevent bad decisions from being made due to the amount of alcohol consumed.

"A lot of Sailors who get in trouble usually say they didn't realize they drank as much as they had because they weren't paying attention," said Cunningham. "By using this campaign and the cards, we are giving them the opportunity in the back of their mind to start thinking about how many drinks they'll have in a night. A lot times they'll just go out and start drinking, having a good time, and not pay attention and that's where trouble starts. We are just trying to help give them some situational awareness about how much they've been drinking."

"Sailors can check the POD (plan of the day) for ZZ13 notes, look for signs and posters throughout the ship and we're planning to do a 5K run during this underway to bring awareness," said Santillo.