Military News

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oregon Air National Guard signs historic 50-year lease with Port of Portland Commission

by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/19/2013 - PORTLAND, Ore. -- After more than 15 years of negotiations between the Port of Portland and the Oregon National Guard, a ceremonial signing of a 50-year lease will allow the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing to continue to operate from the Portland International Airport in Portland, Ore., officials said.

The signing ceremony, held Wednesday at the Portland Air National Guard Base, was a "historic and momentous event," according to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who joined leadership from the Port and the Oregon National Guard.

The ceremony was held inside the Rosenbaum Hangar at the base, with one of the Fighter Wing's F-15 Eagles and a large American flag serving as the backdrop. The event site was symbolic as it will be part of the property turned over to the Port in the near future.

"Today we celebrate a 50-year commitment going forward between the Port of Portland and our nation's military," Wyden said. "We have now secured this facility to protect this country and Oregon for the next half century and that is why this ceremony today is so special."

The process to land this historic agreement involved years of proposals by both sides and careful negotiations, Port officials said.

The Oregon National Guard has been leasing land from the Port of Portland since 1949, and has operated out of Portland for more than 70 years.

With Wyden's support in Congress, the new lease will allow the 142nd Fighter Wing to continue their mission of Aerospace Control Alert, which maintains security over the Pacific Northwest.

"This agreement also paves the way for future growth and other missions here, as well as being creative and to look at new environmental innovations," Wyden said.

The Portland Air National Guard Base employs nearly 1,500 military and civilian personnel, with an annual payroll of $44 million.

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Oregon's adjutant general, who introduced Wyden, also expressed his appreciation for the Airmen who work at the Portland Air Base.

"To the Airmen here today, this ceremonial event is for you and your future," Rees said. "You come to work here every day no matter what the job, and contribute to the security of our nation and state."

As part of the lease agreement, the Oregon Air National Guard will reduce its existing 240 acres of land to 195 acres over the next 20 years. If the Port of Portland chooses to expand, or add a third runway, the size of the base would further reduce to 128 acres, but no changes would take place until 2043.

"This lease was absolutely vital to the future of 142nd Fighter Wing and the Oregon Air National Guard," Rees added.

Under the joint agreement, the military will pay $368,000 annually for use of taxiways and runways, and $60,000 annually toward the operation and maintenance of the Port of Portland's deicing storm water runoff collection system.

While addressing those at the ceremony, Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt asked Rees if the F-15 parked in the hangar behind the speaker's podium would be included with the agreement.

"It would be great to have one of these airplanes," he said, amid laughter from the audience.

The spirit of cooperation was instrumental in bringing the final lease agreement to the signing ceremony, planners said.

"This is a great day for the Port of Portland, a great day for the Air National Guard and a great day for our nation," Wyatt said.

Attending the ceremony via video teleconference was Kathleen Ferguson, the U.S. Air Force deputy assistant of installations, at the Pentagon. She has been instrumental in helping to craft the new lease.

"I first would like to thank the service members of the 142nd Fighter Wing for their service to our nation and to those serving before you," she said. "The signing of the lease today represents a true partnership through cooperation, perseverance and teamwork between those who have been working over the past 15 years," Ferguson said.

Nearly 1,100 personnel are headquartered at the Portland Air National Guard Base. The 142nd Fighter Wing patrols the airspace from the Canadian border to central California as part of its Aerospace Control Alert mission. Since September 11, 2001, the 142nd Fighter Wing has flown more than 37,000 hours to ensure the Pacific Northwestern skies remain safe.

Civilian wins AMC award second year in a row

by Senior Airman Taylor Curry
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


1/17/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A civilian from the 92nd Medical Group was selected as the Air Mobility Command Biomedical Clinician Civilian of the Year recently.

Garth Johnson, family advocacy treatment manager, received the award for the second year running.

Johnson works with the prevention and treatment of family members who have been through some form of family abuse. He organizes men and women counseling groups and runs a parenting program that teaches parents how to respond to their children's needs in a positive manner.

"One of the challenges I face is working with many clients who come in and aren't very happy at first," said Johnson. "I assure them they are in a safe place, and that makes it easier for them to be optimistic and learn tools to help themselves so they don't need me."

Johnson had a number of accomplishments:

-Authorized a domestic violence program curriculum.

-Stepped up as the family advocacy chief during a nine-month staff shortage.

-Trained 40 new Air Force clinicians.

-Helped secure 16 thousand pounds of food for a Second Harvest food drive.

-Actively involved in local Boy Scouts of America chapter.

"Garth Johnson is an exceptional employee whose knowledge, expertise, and dedication have been key to the success of both the local and national Air Force Family Advocacy Programs," said Capt. Veronica Smith, 92nd Medical Operations Squadron. "His experience and leadership make him an invaluable asset to Fairchild as well as to the individuals and families we serve."

Johnson has been with the family advocacy program for almost 16 years.

"It's a challenging job, but it's also very rewarding to me," said Johnson. "Helping people get through difficult times is what it all comes down to at the end of the day, and it feels nice to be acknowledged for my efforts."

American Red Cross helps families with deployments

by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


1/17/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The American Red Cross in Shreveport, La. works with service members and their families to learn to cope with the stresses of deployments and extended temporary duty assignments.

For the past five years the Red Cross has worked with Barksdale Air Force Base's Airmen and Family Readiness Center to make the transitions back to normal everyday life.

"The Coping with Deployments workshop helps spouses learn how to deal with the stress of becoming a dual-roled parent," said Laurie DiIulio, Red Cross emergency services director. "We also have a Reconnection Workshop that helps the service member to 'reconnect' with their families after returning from the deployment or TDY."

The Coping with Deployments and Reconnection Workshops are custom built classes to help all in attendance.

"With everyone's problems different we have to make everything fit to the families going through the workshop," said DiIulio. "Whether it's a one-on-one workshop or in a group environment to get encouragement and support from others in similar situations, we strive to ensure everyone gets the help and support that they need."

These two programs sponsored by the Red Cross sent a hand-picked counselor to the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington D.C., for specialized training in to equip them with the tools to assist the different needs that are so unique to the military.

The Red Cross and the A&FRC work together to get help for each family, and to work through the different stresses that happen during long separations unique to military members.

"Our staff wants to help those that are serving and protecting the country, and of course that means making sure that the families that are here are taken care of," said DiIulio. "We work with the A&FRC to help those family members in those unique situations; if something comes up that we may not know how to handle, we talk to the A&FRC to find the family the help they need."

For more information on the Coping with Deployments and Reconnection Workshops or general information contact Laurie DiIulio at (318) 865-9545 or the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at 456-8400.

March C-17s transport Navy boats to Guantanamo

1/17/2013 - MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- March Air Reserve Base Air Terminal Operations Center personnel and Reserve loadmasters from Dover Air Force Base, Del., assist U.S. Coast Guard members from Port Security Unit 311, based in Long Beach, Calif., with the upload of two Generation IV Transportable Port Security Boats, onto a C-17 Globemaster III, Jan. 11. It is the first-ever operational deployment for the newest generation of port security boats. They are being deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to provide security for the waters surrounding the base. They will be replacing Generation III boats that have been in operation for 20 years.

Salem Takes Honor as National Guard’s Birthplace

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 18, 2013 – On Jan. 10, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that designates Salem, Mass., as the birthplace of the National Guard.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
The history of the National Guard began on December 13, 1636, when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the Colony's militia companies into the North, South and East Regiments. The colonists adopted the English militia system which obligated all males between the ages of 16 and 60 to possess arms and participate in the defense of the community. Though the exact date is not known, the first muster of the East Regiment took place in Salem, Mass. Graphic courtesy of the National Guard Bureau
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Local officials, politicians and members of the Massachusetts National Guard gathered at the Salem City Hall yesterday to celebrate the signing of the bill.

“What a lineage we have -- what an honor to be here,” Massachusetts Guard Adjutant General Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice said at the ceremony.

“What a great meeting of all the history in the place,” Rice added.
The Guard’s birth dates back to Dec. 13, 1636, when the North, South and East Regiments of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were formed. The first muster of those regiments then took place on Salem Common, though the actual date has been lost to history.
The area’s significance as the Guard’s birthplace has been widely known and accepted locally. In 2010, Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Duvall signed a similar bill into state law and in 2007 the Salem City Council passed a corresponding resolution.

Each April, Massachusetts National Guard members hold a mustering of troops on Salem Common as a way of celebrating Salem’s role in the history of the Guard. The Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 182nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Engineer Battalion and 181st Infantry Regiment all trace their lineage back to the original regiments that mustered on Salem Common.

Service Members Chosen for Inaugural Ball First Dance

Joint Task Force – National Capital Region 57th Presidential Inauguration

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2013 – The Department of Defense has chosen four of its top men and women representing their respective service branches to join the Obamas and Bidens for the traditional first dance at the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s Commander-in-Chief’s Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Jan. 21.

The event will honor the brave men and women of the nation’s armed forces and their families -- a tradition started by then-President George W. Bush in 2005.

The selected service members -- representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force -- will dance with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden during the event. A service member from the U.S Coast Guard will also be represented in the official event program.

The service members include:

-- Air Force Staff Sgt. Bria D. Nelson, who will dance with President Obama. Nelson, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., enlisted on July 31, 2002, as a medical technician. She deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal. She is currently assigned to the 579th Medical Operations Squadron, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., as the noncommissioned officer in charge of Explorer Family Health Element.

-- Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Timothy D. Easterling, who will dance with First Lady Michelle Obama. Easterling, a native of Barnwell, S.C., enlisted on Aug. 21, 2000, as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist. He deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. In 2009, Easterling helped plan and execute the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force’s participation in the Presidential Inauguration and four subsequent Presidential State of the Union addresses and Joint Sessions of Congress. He is currently assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., as a distance learning instructor.

-- Army Staff Sgt. Keesha N. Dentino, who will dance with Vice President Joe Biden. Dentino, a native of Homestead, Fla., enlisted on July 6, 2004, as a military police officer. She deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal and four Army Commendation Medals. She is currently assigned to the 947th Military Police Detachment, Fort Myer, Va., as a patrol explosives detection dog handler and is working on her bachelors of science degree in criminal justice.

-- Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick R. Figueroa, who will dance with Dr. Jill Biden. Figueroa, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, enlisted on Dec. 16, 2008, as a hospital corpsman. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While there, Figueroa rescued Marine Cpl. Hoffman, who is now a Wounded Warrior at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. His awards include the Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation. Figueroa is currently assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a manpower transfer clerk.

The service members were chosen by a selection board made up of senior enlisted leaders from the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, a task force of DOD military and civilian members brought together to support the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

The board met with and reviewed the records and accomplishments of more than 50 individuals who were submitted by senior leadership within each service. Considering factors like combat experience and volunteer efforts, the board aimed to identify individuals who would best tell the story of their services.

“These men and women represent their service in an honorable and professional way and we are excited to afford them this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as part of the Presidential Inauguration,” said Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Julius Spain, who participated in the selection process as the senior enlisted board member representing the Marine Corps and serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the Joint Team Special Events, JTF-NCR.

The Commander-in-Chief’s Ball is for members of the U.S. military, including active duty and reserve military members, Medal of Honor recipients, and wounded warriors and their spouses, among others.

The 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Ball will have a significantly larger footprint than that of 2009, nearly doubling in size, and tickets for invited military guests will be provided free of charge by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

The Pentagon Channel will be carrying live coverage of inaugural events including the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, the Kids’ Inaugural concert and the parade.

NAVSUP Announces 2012 Sailor of the Year

By David Rea, Naval Supply Systems Command
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich named the NAVSUP 2012 Sailor of the Year during a ceremony held at NAVSUP Headquarters, Mechanicsburg, Pa., Jan. 18.

Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich selected Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Aida Gonzalez, currently serving as leading petty officer, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka, Site Atsugi, Japan, as the Sailor of the Year for her logistics and managerial expertise.

Gonzalez and Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/EXW) Washington Jaramillo, who currently serves at NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support in Philadelphia, were finalists for the award.

"These Sailors are the best of the best, having already been named Sailors of the Year at NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka and NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support," said Heinrich, who addressed those attending the ceremony. "The outstanding work that earned them these honors defines them as role models for us all."

Gonzalez serves as leading petty officer for 26 military and 75 civilian personnel. Her duties include managing more than 6,400 aviation consumable items valued at more than $7 million, while maintaining 98 percent inventory accuracy, 100 percent location validity, and 98 percent effectiveness. She was recognized for her managerial expertise, as she oversaw the management of a shelf-life program, processed more than 19,000 line items, shipped more than 5,000 high priority requisitions, and directed the movement of 7,000 tons of cargo in support of forward deployed operations in 2012.

"Petty Officer Gonzalez has certainly earned this honor," said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Sidney Dawson, who serves as the command master chief for the supply enlisted community. "She is truly a consummate professional and leader, and she represents the very best from across the NAVSUP enterprise."

Gonzalez enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 1994, completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, and then attended Aviation Storekeeper Class "A" School in Meridian, Miss. Her first duty was aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68), where she served as the Material Control Clerk in the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department.

Her previous assignments include Personnel Support Detachment Bremerton, Wash., as the Supply Logistics Coordinator; USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Bremerton, Wash.; Work Center Supervisor and Logistics Technician, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1, Patuxent River, Md.; leading petty pfficer, Special Projects Patrol Squadron 1 (VPU 1), Brunswick, Maine; leading petty officer, Aviation Support Detachment, Brunswick, Maine; and S-6 Division Leading Petty Officer, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

"I am able to accomplish what I can on a daily basis because of my family and the support and fellowship of my Sailors, and my leadership," Gonzalez said. "This has been a very special week for me, and I am very honored to receive this award."

Gonzalez said she hopes to be selected for chief petty officer. "This will allow me to join the great chiefs' community, and I will have a greater opportunity to share guidance and inspiration with my Sailors."

The NAVSUP and Navy Supply Corps team share one mission--to deliver sustained global logistics and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter. NAVSUP/Navy Supply Corps' diverse team of more than 25,000 civilian and military personnel oversee a diverse portfolio including supply chain management for material support to Navy, Marine Corps, joint and coalition partners, supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, security assistance, and quality of life issues for our naval forces, including food service, postal services, Navy Exchanges, and movement of household goods. The NAVSUP/Navy Supply Corps team forms a vast network of professionals who deliver unparalleled products and services to customers in the fleet and across the world.

NHB Staff Recognized for Supporting Kitsap Veterans 2012 Fall Stand Down

By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs
BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- The Kitsap County commissioner chair presented certificates of appreciation Jan. 18 to Naval Hospital Bremerton staff members for their volunteer efforts at the Kitsap Veterans 2012 Fall Stand Down.

"On behalf of the Kitsap County commissioners and the Kitsap County Veterans Advisory Board, I thank those who provided support with their time and effort," said Rob Gelder, Kitsap County District 1 commissioner, who represented Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, District 2 and Commissioner Josh Brown, District 3, in the presentation ceremony. "We don't say 'thank you' enough and we could not do the Veterans Stand Down without the volunteers supporting those who went before them."

"It was a great experience to be able to pay back to those who have served," Veteran Stand Down volunteer Chief Hospital Corpsman Brian Dike. "It gave us the opportunity to share what we do, as well as spend quality time to hear what they did during their time on active duty. I learned a lot, not only about them, but also about ourselves. Helping out that day meant just as much to us as it did to them."

The Kitsap Veterans Fall Stand Down was held Sept. 22, 2012. Joining Dike as volunteers were Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Tom Countryman, Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Michael Hess, Chief Hospital Corpsman Noel Gravina, Chief Hospital Corpsman Farrah Ocasio, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Dana Therkildsen, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rejoy Sison, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael Brownfield.

"Supporting operational readiness missions is what we do," said Capt. Christopher Culp, NHB commanding officer. "One of the ways we do that is giving back to the community. Our command has always been actively involved in providing support to civic projects throughout our area. Its part of who we are and what we do."

The Veterans 2012 Fall Stand down, coordinated by Kitsap County Veterans Program, city of Bremerton, Kitsap SUN and Kitsap Area Veterans Alliance, provided an estimated several hundred veterans and family members a host of services and information, such as legal assistance; guidance on how to change child support payments; women, men and children clothing; hot meals; advice on dealing with foreclosure; hygiene items and shaving gear; groceries; haircuts; VA health benefits and VA claim information; employment referrals; dental screenings; vision screenings; financial assistance; sleeping bag and camping gear; housing options; Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom benefits information; free voice main and mail address, and other services such as free shuttle services to the event by Suquamish Warriors, Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans, and Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs Building 9.

Truman AIMD Achieves "Unprecedented" Perfect Score in Aviation Maintenance Inspection

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor M. DiMartino, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs
USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the aircraft intermediate maintenance department (AIMD) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) surpassed all others in the fleet in their Aviation Maintenance Inspection (AMI), Jan. 14.

During the biannual, one-day inspection, 10 individuals from the Aviation Maintenance Management Team (AMMT), representing Commander, Naval Air Forces (COMNAVAIRFOR), graded individual aircraft maintenance programs aboard Truman on a scale ranging from 'on-track', 'needs more attention' to 'off-track' (when significant issues are present within a program).
All 44 programs within Truman's AIMD received a grade of 'on-track' in a showing considered "unprecedented and unbelievable" by the AMMT's lead inspector, Lt. Cmdr. Don Moore.

Truman's maintenance officer, Cmdr. Art Harvey, said the AMI is designed to inspect a variety of AIMD's processes to determine whether or not Sailors are working in line with current Navy directives and policies.

According to AIMD's quality assurance officer, Lt. Rick Boswell, these directives included proper maintenance, safety, and standardization within AIMD's multiple divisions.

"It all boils down to whether or not we are fixing aircraft systems properly, by the book," said Boswell. "Aviation is inherently dangerous, and everything that we do has some sort of safety contingency and procedure. But it's not just about fixing parts, it's also about the safety of our Sailors who conduct the maintenance."

Harvey attributed careful execution and planning by AIMD's leadership, hard work and preparation from all Sailors within the department as key factors that contributed to the success of the inspection.

"The inspectors recognized our Sailors' good work and the amount of time put in to get the department ready for the inspection," said Harvey. "From processes to material conditions, practical assessments that tested the Sailors, to emergency maintenance procedures and all of the administration work involved in AIMD, Truman reset the bar as the top carrier for this inspection and reestablished our excellent record from two-and-a-half years ago."

Though certain AMMT members have conducted more than 100 inspections in their careers, Harvey said Truman's AMI was the first perfect audit any had ever conducted.
"Of course there are always things that we will have to work on, but the inspection team recognized that all of our programs were on track," said Harvey. "The average across the Navy is six 'needs more attention' grades and six 'off-track' scores. We had 44 out of 44 programs labeled satisfactory, truly a perfect score across the board."

AIMD's leading chief petty officer, Master Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman (AW/SW) Martin Snowden, said that in his 29 years of service, he never expected to achieve a perfect AMI.

"Though we had very little time to prepare between the end of Truman's shipyard period and all of the preparations that were being made for Truman's upcoming deployment, our Sailors provided incredible effort to get our programs up to standards," said Snowden. "I'm not sure if our senior leaders will ever see a result like this again. It is truly historic."

Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class (AW/SW) Eddie Coley, leading petty officer for AIMD's IM4 division aviation support equipment logs and records, said excelling in the inspection of life-critical maintenance and procedures within AIMD was his personal "high-point" during the AMI.

"Squadron and ship Sailors trust their lives to our critical equipment, and they need to have peace of mind that it is all being properly maintained," said Coley. "I take pride in my Sailors and I will keep pushing for great work like this as we continue moving toward deployment."

Though his Sailors have set the bar for excellence throughout the fleet, Coley emphasizes humility to his Sailors after such an accomplishment.

"We can all feel happy about this result, but it can't get to a point where we feel we are so good we don't need to double check ourselves, or become complacent," said Coley. "This inspection was a great opportunity to maintain our excellence and continue to train to keep the standard up."

Snowden provided similar wisdom to AIMD as a whole.

"We've won the Superbowl, but now we have to get to work for the next season," he said.

Seabee Battalion Battle 'E' Awards Announced

By Daryl Smith, Commander, 1st Naval Construction Division Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Commander First Naval Construction Division (1NCD) recently announced the winners of the Naval Construction Force Battle "E" award, which recognizes outstanding operational performance of its Naval Mobile Construction Battalions.

Atlantic Fleet winners are Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 (Active) and NMCB 27 (Reserve). Winners from the Pacific Fleet are NMCB 4 (Active) and NMCB 25 (Reserve).

While supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, NMCB 11 supported engineering operations for three supported commands operating in 77 dispersed locations throughout six regional commands. Based in Gulfport, Miss., the battalion completed more than 70 projects and 46,000 mandays of construction, counter-insurgency operations and training support to Afghan engineer forces.

"Your efforts improved force protection, enhanced freedom of movement, and improved quality of life for U.S. and coalition forces, and set the stage for the surge drawdown of U.S. and coalition forces and the eventual transfer of the mission to the Afghan forces," wrote Rear Adm. Mark Handley, Commander 1NCD.

Headquartered in Brunswick, Maine, NMCB 27 was commended for accomplishments in preparation for and during its deployment to U.S. Southern Command.

"The 'Skibees' have clearly demonstrated that you are deserving of selection as 'Best of Type,' and I congratulate you on a job well done," Rear Adm. Handley wrote.

Its unit level training included two command post exercises, embark training exercises, a communications exercise and a field training exercise involving 376 battalion personnel. They completed more than 31,000 mandays of training and 19,000 mandays of homeport and contingency construction. They deployed an 85-person Air Detachment to Guantanamo Bay and completed projects there as well as El Salvador and Peru.

"Throughout a challenging year, NMCB 4 has consistently and unequivocally proven their commitment to excellence and an uncompromising 'can-do' attitude," wrote Rear Adm. Handley.

During its fourth consecutive CENTCOM deployment, NMCB 4 worked at 72 sites across all six regional commands in Afghanistan. It provided mobility support by establishing and improving low-water crossing sites, emplacing bridges and building roads. The battalion completed 72 projects consisting of more than 42,000 mandays of tasking. Returning to homeport in Port Hueneme, Calif., it executed a solid homeport training plan for preparation for the next deployment to Europe and Africa.

NMCB 25 ramped up its training schedule to account for a six-month acceleration of its deployment timeline. Headquartered at Fort McCoy, Wis., the battalion completed 20,000 mandays of construction support and training and attained more than 790 new technical skills. They maintained 100-percent accountability in their supply outlets.

"Through commitment and focus on personnel programs you have been successful in dramatically improving metrics in all program areas and setting the mark for foundation training," Rear Adm. Handley wrote.

"My congratulations to the Seabees of NMCB 4, NMCB 11, NMCB 25 and NMCB 27. Your efforts in helping our supported commanders achieve their desired effects were truly inspirational and exemplified the Seabee can-do motto."

Sailor to Run in Armed Forces Cross Country Championships

By Seaman Recruit Ellen Long, Center for Service Support
FORT MEADE, Md. (NNS) -- A Basic Mass Communication Specialist Course student at the Center for Service Support (CSS) Detachment, Defense Information School, Fort Meade, Md., will represent the Navy in the 2013 Armed Forces Cross Country Championships, Feb. 2.

Seaman Paul Coover recently qualified to take on the top armed forces cross country runners in Clayton, Mo.

Coover said he will be racing against the best cross-country runners the military has to offer.
"The top seven runners from each [military] branch race in what is called the Armed Forces Cross Country Championships," he said. "You're racing against the best guys in the U.S. and the best guys in the armed forces."

To prepare himself, Coover said he runs at least 10 miles a day and finishes long runs of up to 15 miles.

"When preparing for a race like this, you have to have a very specific way of training, said Coover. "As much as I would love to do weight training, Olympic lifts, biking and swimming, it's just not possible if I want to win."

Coover said he would like to run for the team full time, but understands he would have to balance running with his Navy career as a mass communication specialist. He said it is not difficult to balance his current military training schedule with his physical training.

"If you make up your mind to get it done, you'll do it," said Coover, who also serves as a section leader and fitness leader for the student detachment. "It's just a matter of priorities." Coover also serves as a section leader and a student fitness leader for the detachment.

"He wants to make other people better, he's not just there for himself," said Petty Officer First Class Barry Abbott, CSS Detachment's leading petty officer.
"I think people are inspired differently and I don't think I go out trying to inspire people," said Coover. "But if somebody follows my example by going out and working out then I think that will do some good."

An alumni runner of Indiana University, Coover said he placed 25th in the 2012 New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and was a San Diego section champion while on his high school's cross country team. He has participated in a number of local races including a five mile marathon in Washington.

With his eyes set on the finish line, Coover's passion for running and intense training regimen help him take on his goals one mile at a time.

"What keeps me going in training is that I am motivated by competition," said Coover.

MSC Ships Underway in Support of Annual Operation Deep Freeze Antarctica Resupply Mission

By Sarah E. Burford, Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command-chartered container ship MV Ocean Giant departed Port Hueneme, Calif., loaded with nearly seven million pounds of supplies such as frozen and dry food stores, building supplies, vehicles and electronic equipment and parts, Jan. 17.

MSC-chartered tanker ship MT Maersk Peary departed the European area of operations in December, with over six million gallons of diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline.
Both ships are currently underway en route to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, marking the start of MSC's resupply efforts in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the annual Joint Task Force Support for Antarctica mission to resupply the remote scientific outpost.

During this single mission, MSC-chartered ships will deliver 100 percent of the fuel and about 80 percent of the supplies that researchers and support personnel in Antarctica need to survive and work over the course of a year.

Maersk Peary will arrive in Antarctica first and discharge its fuel cargo, followed by Ocean Giant in mid-February. Ocean Giant is scheduled to off-load its cargo at a 500-foot ice pier that juts out from the Antarctic coast. The cargo will be off-loaded by members of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One working around-the-clock for eight days. Following the off-load, the ship will be loaded with retrograde cargo for transportation off the continent, including ice core samples carried back to the United States in sub-zero freezer containers, as well as trash and recyclable materials for disposal and equipment no longer required on station.

In 2012, unfavorable weather conditions made the ice pier at McMurdo unusable for dry cargo operations. Members of the Army's 331st Transportation Company constructed a floating dock to ensure cargo operations could be conducted.

"Even though we've been conducting ODF missions for many years, every year we have challenges to face," said Tom Brown, MSC Pacific Sealift Prepositioning and Special Mission Team Lead.

"We try to address as much as possible in the planning phase, but because we are working with Mother Nature, we can't always know what will happen. Because of this, we really have to function as a team, not just within the Navy, but with all the other organizations who participate in this mission, to ensure that we get the critical cargo onto the ice, and on time, to support the people who live and work there," he said.

Due to adverse winter conditions in Antarctica, the ODF mission must take place during a small window of opportunity in the Antarctic summer months of January to March. This can mean tight schedules for everyone involved in the mission, from the ship's crew, to the cargo handlers on the ice, to the mission schedulers in the United States.

"Operation Deep Freeze is a very critical mission for the people who live and work in Antarctica," said Capt. Sylvester Moore, commander MSC Pacific. "Without this resupply mission, all operations in Antarctica would end, and the scientific community would lose the opportunity to conduct research and study not only the continent of Antarctica, but its impact on our global climate."

An MSC-chartered cargo ship and tanker have made the challenging voyage to Antarctica, which includes passage through a 15-mile ice channel, in places more than 13 feet thick, every year since the station was established in 1955.

MSC operates approximately 110 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Visits USS Theodore Roosevelt

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Brian G. Reynolds, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs
NEWPORT NEWS, Va (NNS) -- Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter visited the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as a part of a scheduled tour of the ship Jan. 17.

TR Sailors took the opportunity to welcome Carter as the carrier finishes its final year of Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

Capt. William Hart, the commanding officer aboard TR, and Capt. Mark Colombo, the executive officer aboard TR greeted Carter on the pier.

During the visit, Carter took the opportunity to address the Sailors and employees of Newport News Shipbuilding aboard TR in the ship's hangar bay.

"The first thing that I would like to say to you on my behalf and on behalf of Secretary [Leon] Panetta is each of you go home tonight to your loved ones and say that you were thanked for your service to our country's defense," said Carter. "You are not thanked enough, and we appreciate all that you do."

Carter also said that the U.S. is now in the midst of a transitional period in terms of foreign policy and its use of the military across the globe.

"We are embarking in our nation's defense on a great transition," said Carter. "[It is] a great transition from the era of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the first post-9/11 decade to the world to come and to the security challenges that are going to determine our future. For two large counterinsurgency campaigns, you can see that era coming successfully to an end."

After the speech, Carter presented several select Sailors and shipyard workers with his personal challenge coin and posed for photos. Later, Carter embarked on a 45-minute tour of TR that included the ship's Combat Direction Center and the flight deck.

More National Guard Troops Arrive to Support Inauguration

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

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2013 – Nearly 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen have begun arriving here today to support the 57th Presidential Inauguration, said the commanding general for the District of Columbia National Guard.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, far right, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, Army Brig. Gen. Arthur W. Hinaman, center, commander of Joint Task Force-District of Columbia, and Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Bowie, a logistical officer, discuss the beginning stages of 6,000 National Guard troops arriving during a news conference at the District of Colombia Armory in Washington D.C., Jan. 18, 2013. The additional troops will augment the D.C. National Guard for the 57th Presidential Inauguration. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
At a press conference at the D.C. Armory, Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz explained how the troops will be used to augment his local National Guard troops.

“We’re getting 32 states and territories coming in to support the District of Columbia National Guard [as we] prepare for this inauguration,” he said. “Most of these Guardsmen have been here before so they’re well familiar with the city and the support that is needed.”

Schwartz said while 7,000 troops were on the ground for the last inauguration, there are only 6,000 troops arriving “with the capability of bringing more troops into the district if required.”

“There are 54 National Guard entities around the country and they’re well versed with working with the local population,” he said. “And I think that will be very, very helpful as we engage the crowd here for this presidential inauguration.”

Army Brig. Gen. Arthur W. Hinaman, commander of Joint Task Force–District of Columbia, provided additional information about the National Guard’s support to the presidential inauguration.

“The D.C. National Guard has participated in every inauguration since the 1861 Abraham Lincoln inauguration where President Lincoln received his first salute from a D.C. Guardsman,” Hinaman said.
“More than 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 32 states and territories will become part of the 224-year history this weekend ensuring a consolidated, coordinated and effective approach for professional and timely presidential inauguration support,” he said.

Hinaman said the troops will be a “force multiplier” as the National Guard supports seven agencies for the inauguration -- the U.S. Secret Service, D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, Metropolitan Police Department, U.S Park Police, D.C. Department of Transportation, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

“In a short, 36-hour period, approximately 6,000 national guard soldiers and airmen will be welcomed to Washington D.C., at one of our three reception locations -- Fort Belvoir, [Va.]; [Joint Base] Andrews, [in Maryland] and right here at the D.C. Armory,” Hinaman said.

These troops will become integrated into the biggest event the district holds on a reoccurring basis, he said, performing critical missions such as traffic control and crowd management.

“The National Guard will [also] be providing … communications, logistical, medical, public affairs and ceremonial support, among other functions,” Hinaman added.

Following the press conference, soldiers from the Pennsylvania National Guard, which provided the largest contingency of troops, began arriving for in-processing and swearing-in to augment the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

“Our soldiers and airmen are prepared for this mission,” Hinaman said, “just as we were in 2009 during the largest inauguration in history. The National Guard is [multipurpose] much like a Swiss Army knife, performing missions like the inauguration for our nation.”

Regardless of whether they are tasked with providing support for community events or securing the safety of Americans through homeland security, Hinaman said the National Guard is prepared.
“We’re ready, reliable, essential and accessible,” he said.

New Orleans Works to End Veteran Homelessness


By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 18, 2013 – In 2009, the same year the Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans Veteran’s Transitional Facility opened, President Barack Obama and the Veterans Affairs Department set a goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015.

Lisa Battaglia, wife of the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the facility here yesterday and spoke to American Forces Press Service after visiting with residents and staff.
“As a woman veteran myself, finding ways in getting our veterans off the streets remains a priority for my husband and me,” she said.

The facility arose out of a need for ways to assist homeless veterans transition out of homelessness, said Melissa Haley, director of supportive services for veteran families for Volunteers of America.

Its existence is a sign that people in the greater New Orleans area, as in cities across the country, have taken the president’s call to action to heart, Battaglia said.

Around 400 veterans have come through the transition program since the facility opened, said Gerald Rooks, the program director. About 88 percent successfully completed it, meaning they are permanently off the streets, he said. “We try every day to increase that number,” he added.

Veterans arrive at the facility in a number of ways, Rooks said. The staff seeks out veterans at places where the homeless gather, he said, but veterans can either self-refer or be referred by the VA.

Norman Adams, a Navy veteran residing at the facility, said he found the transitional facility through the staff’s outreach program.

“I retired from nursing after 45 years,” Adams said. “I lived a pretty good life until it just went off the road.”
After several months of homelessness -- during which he made his way to New Orleans -- outreach personnel told him about the transitional facility.

“This is where I belong right now. … I’m going to move on,” he said, “but I want to be right when I move on.”

The main facility has space to house up to 40 male veterans, while two other locations can house a total of 16 men. Currently, residents range in age from 34 to 68, Rooks said.

“We’re starting to see younger vets,” he added, noting that four homeless veterans in their 20’s have sought assistance from the program in the past 12 months.

Rooks said he’s also seen an increase in female veterans with children seeking assistance through the facility’s non-resident programs. He added that there are only 5 beds in all of New Orleans available to female veterans, and they don’t accept children.

The term “homeless veteran” should be an oxymoron, Haley said.

“When you’re a veteran, you have a home,” she said. “This is America, this is your community.” Her goal, she said, is to ensure veterans are homeless for as short a period of time as possible.

The organization works closely with the city of New Orleans and the New Orleans regional Veterans Affairs office to find funding, educational opportunities, employment and housing for veterans, Rooks said.

Programs for residents include life skills classes like resume writing and money management, peer and group counseling and assistance with obtaining benefits from the VA, he said.

“I get to help fallen heroes get back on their feet,” he said.

“We are committed to working with people who hire veterans,” Haley said, “because we know that [veterans] have transferrable skill sets.”

“I’d hate to see what it would be like if the program wasn’t here for others,” said Wayne Duvall, an Army veteran residing at the transitional facility. “I’m prepared to make that transition … and get out.”

“When I first came here, it was just a hideout … I’d just get lost in the background,” said Adams. But the staff helped him get on track, he said, and he has reconnected with his family and found a place to volunteer his time.

“Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said when he announced an initiative in 2011 highlighting local services for homeless veterans, their families and those at risk of becoming homeless.
VA offers a 24-hour toll-free telephone number, staffed by trained professionals, to help homeless veterans, their families and at-risk people. The number is 877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838.