Thursday, May 23, 2013

Home team honors reserve rescue pilot

by Maj. Cathleen Snow
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

5/22/2013 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Baseball was the furthest thing from Maj. Rod Stout's mind when dodging bullets and flying rescue missions in Afghanistan.

But the familiar sights and sounds of America's pastime filled the air May 16 when Stout was honored by the Brevard County Manatees during a special game-time ceremony.

The Florida minor league baseball team took time out to recognize the 920th Rescue Wing helicopter pilot for earning a Bronze Star and nine Air Medals for heroics.

Although excited to be enjoying America's favorite pastime with his family, Stout was passé about the recognition he'd be receiving.

"I've flown lots of harry missions--saved babies, little kids, guys with gunshot wounds to the head, but I've been doing this for a while," said Stout, an instructor pilot on Air Force Pave Hawk helicopters. He has been on multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.

Stout has been flying with the military for 12 years.

On his last deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, Stout flew roughly 160 missions and is credited with saving 100 lives.

"I counted at least 10 times we could hear bullets going by, or the sound of a gun," said Lt. Col. Rob Haston, Stout's co-pilot during his last deployment.

According to Stout, during one mission a bullet pierced the bottom of their HH-60G Pave Hawk and ricocheted through the cabin missing Stout and Haston, although a pararescueman on board was not so lucky. He was shot through the leg and survived.

Unlike that particular mission, the baseball game this evening ended more favorably. His home team beat the St. Lucie Mets, 3-2.

Biden: Coast Guard Has Growing Role in Nation’s Security

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2013 – Vice President Joe Biden told the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s graduating class today they are entering a world of new threats, some that didn’t even exist when they were born, and that the service’s changing mission means they are not joining “your father’s Coast Guard.”

“No graduating class gets to choose the time into which they graduate, and you’re graduating into a world that is rapidly changing,” Biden told the nearly 300 men and women about to be commissioned in New London, Conn., “from challenges and missions to changing climates.”

Biden noted the Coast Guard has become fully integrated into the U.S. military, playing an increasingly complex role in national security, given the types of post-Cold War threats America now faces.

“New stateless actors have stepped into the breach with the desire to smuggle weapons of terror into American ports in the belly of cargo containers to do our people great harm,” he said.

Human trafficking and piracy on the high seas are occurring at rates no one would have imagined 50 years ago, the vice president said, posing growing challenges to free trade and commerce.

“More than at any time in history, every nation’s economic power and viability [are] tied to the global economy and dependent on the safe passage of goods on the seas,” he added.

Another responsibility for the 2013 graduating class will be increasing operations in the Arctic. Biden said the melting of the polar ice caps triggered by global warming will likely open up new international shipping routes.

“You’ll operate icebreakers that allow ships to navigate waters that would otherwise be impassable from the Great Lakes in the Northeast to new passages in the Arctic,” he said.

BidenHe also highlighted Coast Guard achievements, especially the dangerous missions the service is routinely called on to carry out, from helping victims of Hurricane Sandy last year to humanitarian missions further from home.

“Your shipmates have saved 3,650 lives last year alone, risking their lives,” he noted.

From natural disasters to rescues at sea, Biden said, “there are tens of thousands of grateful men and women and children from all parts of the world who will tell anyone who will listen that the most welcome sight they’ve ever seen are those racing stripes coming toward them or the sound of that orange Coast Guard helicopter above them, lowering a bucket with a man or woman inside to save their lives.

“In this changing world, we are going to be increasingly dependent on you,” he said.