Military News

Friday, May 16, 2014

Semper Fi Fund Looks Back On 10 Inspiring Years of Service



Veteran Non-Profit Celebrates Milestone Anniversary, Looks Ahead to Next 10 Years

Camp Pendleton, CA (May 16, 2014) This month, the Semper Fi Fund celebrates 10 Inspiring Years of Service, a milestone anniversary for the veteran non-profit.  Since 2004, the Semper Fi Fund has helped more than 11,500 post-9/11 service members and their families with a wide range of assistance totaling more than $91 million. While the numbers are impressive, they’re just the smallest part of what they’ve accomplished.

Ten years ago, a small group of Marine spouses including CEO and Founder Karen Guenther were inspired to help in ways that only a military wife could understand: making sure that a family could be at the bedside of an injured loved one for as long as they needed; helping with adaptive housing or transportation for a service member who lost a limb; providing specialized equipment to increase independence; and countless other ways.

“Our pledge is to never stop serving those who serve us all,” Guenther says, “We’re here for the whole family—not just at the moment of hospitalization or immediate crisis, but through recovery and beyond.”

The ongoing commitment of the Semper Fi Fund to service members and their families has earned them the highest possible ratings: four stars from Charity Navigator and an A+ from CharityWatch.  The Semper Fi Fund’s overhead is extremely low—even today, it stands at just 6%, which is all the more impressive considering that the organization has expanded to include:

             Wide-ranging assistance Including family support, adaptive housing, adaptive transportation, specialized equipment, education and career transitioning
             America’s Fund, established in 2012 to help service members and families in all branches of the military
             The Peter Murphy Semper Fi Fund Sports Program—A comprehensive program of recovery through sports that includes Team Semper Fi and Team America’s Fund
             Additional support programs including: the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program, Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companions, and the Semper Fi Fund Odyssey Camp for transition assistance.

But the real story belongs to the remarkable service members and families who have become part of the Semper Fi Fund family. From enlistment to injury to recovery and beyond, their journey provides insight into an exceptional level of human resilience and determination that inspires us all.

Like Sergeant Christopher Fesmire.  Born and raised in a Philadelphia suburb, Chris had just left Penn State when he decided to join the Marines. “I wanted to get out and see the world,” he said. “I wanted some excitement and adventure.”

On October 10, 2004, Chris was on security patrol in the al-Anbar Province of Iraq. It was his fourth deployment. The Humvee he was in hit an anti-tank mine and claimed both his legs.

“I was introduced to the Semper Fi fund when I received a surprise grant one day at Walter Reed. I’ve received a lot of assistance [from them] over the last 9 ½ years, for things like adaptive sports equipment and a Tempur-Pedic bed to help with the pain.”

Or Staff Sergeant Andy Robinson, who was changed by combat in some of the most profound ways imaginable. He was on patrol in al-Anbar Province in Iraq on June 20, 2006, when insurgents detonated an improvised explosive device beneath his truck, leaving him a quadriplegic.

 “When you join the military,” Andy says, “the thought of sacrificing your life for your country, for your brothers in arms, crosses most service members’ minds. What many don’t think of—or don’t think of as often—is the possibility of sustaining lasting significant injuries, both physical and psychological.”

 “The Semper Fi Fund was there from the beginning of my recovery,” Andy says. “They assisted in paying for my family to travel to see me while I was in the hospital. They helped pay for my first adapted vehicle that accommodated my wheelchair.” And through Team Semper Fi, Andy got involved with competitive sports; the Semper Fi Fund provided him with a handcycle and racing wheelchair, plus work-out equipment so he could train in his home.  

The Semper Fi Fund also contributed $50,000 to his fully adapted home, and purchased an Action Trackchair for him, making it possible to move across grass, snow, sand—and most importantly, play with his two-year old twins.  “The first time I used my Trackchair on the beach, I broke into tears—I was out on the sand, chasing seagulls with my kids, and we were all laughing and having a great time. What could be better than that?”

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Semper Fi Fund and look ahead to providing more assistance in the years ahead, we hope you’ll join us in taking some time to learn a little more about the heroes we help.

About Semper Fi Fund and America’s Fund
Semper Fi Fund, and its program America's Fund, are set up to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured, critically ill and wounded members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, directing urgently needed resources to post-9/11 service members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Reserves.  Semper Fi Fund has been working with wounded service members since 2004, offering assistance to lessen the burden for those who need it most. The Semper Fi Fund's streamlined structure keeps overhead very low, 6%; they are also one of three veteran charities to receive an "A+" rating from CharityWatch and a "Four Star" rating from Charity Navigator. 
The Semper Fi Fund has given more than 71,500 grants totaling $91 million+ to over 11,500 service members and their families.  For more information visit https://SemperFiFund.org/

It did just happen: 322nd TRS instructor selected MTI of the Year

by Mike Joseph
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs


5/15/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- "That did not just happen."

It's a phrase hundreds of trainees in the 322nd Training Squadron have heard Staff Sgt. Eddie Glover say while leading flights as a military training instructor.

In fact, one trainee eventually told Glover that when he heard the instructor say "that did not just happen," he knew the eagle-eyed MTI had just spotted a trainee's unnecessary movement, no matter how minute. Glover's catchphrase, albeit under totally different circumstances, might have been appropriate when he learned of his selection as Air Education and Training Command's 2014 MTI of the Year.

While he didn't use those exactwords, they were close.

"I was completely shocked," Glover said. "I knew the other MTIs up for the award. I knew their qualifications and I knew how good they were. That's why it was such a shock."

Glover understands there is no "I" in "team." Teamwork is one cornerstone of basic military training that MTIs use to mold civilians into warrior Airmen of character.

"When someone around the squadron congratulates me, I feel like they should pat themselves on the back," he said. "I was recognized because of the entire squadron's work."

Glover is the third MTI in a row from the 322nd TRS to be honored by AETC. He follows Tech. Sgt. Joshua Hite, last year's MTI of the Year winner, and Tech. Sgt. Brian Fisher, who won in 2012.

Glover and Hite were in the same MTI School class in 2009 and Fisher was a week ahead of the pair at MTI School. In addition to the AETC honors, the trio has another common thread. They've been the past three Blue Ropes of the Year, which signifies the best of the best among MTIs. Blue ropes are master instructors and chosen from the top 10 percent of the MTI Corps regardless of rank.

"It seems like Hite and I have always been together," said Glover. "I was his alternate when he was military drill and ceremony NCO in charge for the squadron in 2012 and I took over last year when he left to become an instructor at MTIS."

Since coming to the 322nd TRS as a senior airman almost five years ago, Glover has led 21 flights and trained four instructors before spending the last year and a half as MDC.

"My job as MDC was to make sure instructors were prepared for graduation ceremonies and lend as much help as humanly possible, help train instructors and have a pulse on the squadron," Glover said. "The real work came from the ones who stood behind me."

During the award year, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, Glover was in constant motion. Not only was he Blue Rope of the Year, he was also the MDC when Gen. Edward Rice retired as AETC commander, performed staff positions in seven BMT graduation parades, codified tracking for MTI best practices, organized the eighth annual Tiger Stripe Ball for more than 200 attendees, led 15 BMT tours, was hand-selected for the U.S. Air Force Association Leadership Program and conducted 605 checklist reviews/evaluations that resulted in the squadron learning five honor fl ights and eight warrior fl ights.

In his spare time, he co-chaired a golf tournament, coordinated a 737th Training Group 5K run and mentored 21 fi rst-grade children during "Read Across America."

Little wonder he calls his assignment to the 322nd TRS an incredible experience.

"The absolute greatest time of being an MTI is being a trainer to instructors," Glover said. "In addition to having trained 21 fl ights of Airmen (more than 1,100) who are now operational in the Air Force, each MTI student that I trained also has a piece of me in them.

"BMT gives you a unique opportunity," he said. "All the long days and all the Airmen make it mean more because you have a vested stake in them. I've already got four staff sergeants active duty, which makes me proud," before adding with laughter, "I need to make some rank before they pass me."

In a little more than a month, Glover will head back to his career field. However, the 322nd TRS won't be out of sight or out of mind. He'll be able to step outside the Transport Management Offi ce in building 5616 - "booking household goods and airline tickets," Glover said with a grin - and gaze to the west, where in the skyline he'll see the structure that's created a lifetime of memories. "You have to train to restock the Air Force," he said, "so I feel like mission accomplished."

Which, to borrow some of Glover's words, really did happen.

Air Force launches new program to capture innovative ideas

from Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

5/15/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS)  -- Air Force officials announced the creation of a new program April 4, designed to harness Airmen's innovation.

Airmen Powered by Innovation, or API, will replace three existing Air Force "good idea" programs - the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, and Best Practices programs - and expand the role of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century.

"API will consolidate the benefits of each program and simplify the process for submitting ideas, making it easier for our Airmen at the lowest levels to effect change across the entire Air Force," said David Tillotson, the Air Force deputy chief management officer.

Installations' manpower offices will be responsible for assisting and supporting Airmen as they submit ideas. In addition to gaining efficiencies by consolidating existing programs, API will also offer Airmen increased access to assistance prior to submitting ideas and institute a top-down tracking requirement, which includes confirming and documenting savings realized from implementing Airmen's ideas.

"The requirement for us to track these ideas from the top down recognizes the importance we place in having an environment that fosters and rewards innovation at all levels," said Gen. Larry Spencer, the Air Force vice chief of staff. "In this fiscally-constrained environment, we need every Airman engaged in finding smarter ways to do business."

API will serve as a follow-on program to institutionalize the success of the 2013 Every Dollar Counts campaign. During the campaign, 302 ideas submitted by Airmen were implemented by the Air Force, generating savings of $71 million and 24,000 hours annually.

"Our Airmen are the finest in the world and care about making sure our Air Force remains the best in the world," Spencer said. "I wasn't at all surprised by how many good ideas they had, and as leaders, we owe it to them to make sure their ideas are heard. API will ensure their ideas can be implemented."

Airmen who wish to submit ideas through API may do so by going online to https://ipds.afpc.randolph.af.mil or by working with their local AFSO21 office.

Deputy Secretary Meets With Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2014 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work and K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s foreign affairs minister, discussed a wide-range of issues during a Pentagon meeting yesterday, Defense Department officials said in a statement.

The discussion included the positive trajectory of the multifaceted U.S.-Singapore relationship and recent developments in the Asia-Pacific region, officials said in a statement summarizing the meeting.

Both leaders noted the importance of enhancing multilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and multinational antipiracy efforts. Work expressed his appreciation for Singapore hosting the forward deployment of U.S. littoral combat ships and the recent offer by Singapore to establish a regional disaster response crisis center.

Work relayed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's interest in following up on the success of the U.S.-hosted Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Forum held in Hawaii in April, the statement added, and told the minister that the secretary looks forward to attending the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore at the end of May.

Face of Defense: Army Father Joins Navy Son on Dragon Cruise



By Rich Bartell
U.S. Army Africa

VICENZA, Italy, May 16, 2014 – Some sons follow the footsteps of their fathers. Others sons make adjustments, following the intent of their father.

Army Lt. Col. Wes Hoyt and his son, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert D. Hoyt, share careers in the military, and both Hoyts share enlistment as their entry into the military.

The senior Hoyt, chief of medical operations for the U.S. Army Africa surgeon’s office, enlisted as a private in the Army nearly 30 years ago.

Recently, the two spent time together on the USS Chosin, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser. The younger Hoyt is a sonar technician on the ship, and he took the opportunity to invite his father on an 11-day voyage known as a Dragon Cruise. The cruise took place between Guam and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.

Colonel Hoyt described his experience at sea as a unique event in his life.

“The Dragon Cruise was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I’m thankful to U.S. Navy Capt. Patrick Kelly and the crew of the USS Chosin for allowing us to participate and embrace us as new members of their team.”

As a career Army officer, Hoyt’s experience on his son’s ship was a paradigm shift in his military experience.

“Their structure, staffing and operations are geared towards the successful functioning of the ship as a single weapon system, with many parts supporting the whole,” he explained. “This is significantly different than the way we approach it in the Army, where we are soldier-centric and man multiple weapon systems, with fewer personnel in each, over a distributed environment.”

Hoyt said he observed that both services have similar training regimens. The Army and Navy share the common practice of running battle drills to ensure quick reactions and responses to any number of situations.

“The Chosin and its crew are impressive,” he said. “Much like soldiers, sailors take part in cross-training duties other than their primary job. And sailors maintain a balance in all they do. They have a primary job or duty assignment, and they also must sleep.” Sailors also perform other duties needed on the ship, including working in the kitchen, cleaning and repairing the ship, training on weapons systems, firefighting, navigation, and port operations.

The father and son shared a bonding experience as a result of the cruise.

“Observing my son perform his leadership duties during multiple occasions was a realization that he is grown-up,” the elder Hoyt said. “And participating in an award ceremony and pinning the enlisted surface warfare pin on my son and some of his shipmates will be a memory that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Petty Officer Hoyt said his home life influenced his work ethic and his ambitions for his Navy career.

“My dad works hard and is dedicated to his job. I remember days where we would wait on him for dinner so we can have it as a family, because he was still at work finishing up some paperwork or a meeting,” he said. “I learned that it doesn't hurt to spend a few extra minutes to complete something and get it done right the first time. It takes patience and attention to detail.

“In my eyes,” he continued, “my father is the embodiment what it means to be in the military -- the hard work, dedication and perseverance to get through the tough times. He's the reason why I joined. After almost 30 years in the service, I hope to be as far as he was in my career.”

The petty officer also plans to follow in his father’s footsteps by seeking a commission. “I’m putting together my packet to become a Navy officer,” he said.

Hoyt said his son’s work ethic will serve him well.

“I think he will make a tremendous commissioned officer. He has a positive work ethic,” he said. “He is adept at problem solving and is meticulous in his attention to detail. After sailing with him on his ship and watching him in his environment, I can vouch for his caring, selfless attitude towards his fellow sailors and those he leads.”

The elder Hoyt and his wife, Kim, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They have five children, and recently one of their sons also chose to follow his father’s footsteps by enlisting in the Army.

Peace Carvin V: Singapore celebrates 5th Anniversary with U.S. Air Force



by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/16/2014 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- The U.S. and Republic of Singapore Air Forces celebrated five years of partnership during the Peace Carvin V anniversary at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, May 16.

The celebration honored the PC V F-15SG Strike Eagle detachment, known as the U.S. Air Force's 428th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the Buccaneers.

Mountain Home has proven to be the ideal location for the Buccaneers to train on the RSAF's newest fighter platform, as the base controls and maintains almost 7,500 square miles of operational range space complete with emitter sites to simulate opposing forces.

The RSAF Airmen benefit from such a vast and unpopulated training ground, which contrasts with the Singapore landscape, with an area less than 250 square miles and a population of nearly 5.4 million people, according to the Department of Statistics Singapore.

Access to airspace and ranges allows for realistic, safe training and testing, while providing flexibility to accommodate preparation for the allied nations - all culminating in world-class instruction.

"Peace Carvin V helps increase partner capacity by providing top-end training to our RSAF partners," said Lt. Col. William Marshall, 428th FS commander. "Our (Ground-controlled interception) controllers routinely control the other American fighter squadrons, which allow us to operate with our F-15E counterparts and integrate how we would in combat."

In the past five years a core group of fully qualified F-15SG air and ground crews brought the F-15SG fighter aircraft up to full operational capability ahead of the scheduled 2012 timeline. The Buccaneers made other historic milestones along the way.

"We've fired the first Foreign Military Sales AIM-9X Sidewinder and first AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles. We also dropped the first Laser (Joint Attack Direct Munition, or JDAM) for the RSAF," said Marshall. "We've demonstrated that the RSAF is a capable and credible partner through our performance at Exercises Red Flag Alaska, Maple Flag (in Canada) and Forging Sabre (in Singapore)."

Operations at Mountain Home, and Exercises Red Flag Alaska and Maple Flag Canada proved meteorologically challenging for RSAF Airmen, as the average annual low in Singapore is 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite unfamiliar weather, terrain and culture, RSAF Airmen and their families tend to fully integrate with their Idaho neighbors and their children attend public schools in the local community.

Though assimilation has been successful, there are still foreseeable obstacles. The Buccaneers vow to overcome.

"We are attempting to stand up a weapon's school here for the RSAF starting next year," said Marshall. "It's a very aggressive schedule to meet based on development of academics and validating the syllabus, but we're in the process of working with Boeing, (the F-15SG manufacturer), to help us develop the academics."

Scholarly activities for RSAF Airmen transcend the 428th FS. ME1s, or RSAF senior airmen equivalents, began attending the Mountain Home Air Force Base Airman Leadership School in the autumn of 2013, with the first three RSAF Airmen graduating Sept. 7, 2013.

"Our engineers, both officers and enlisted, have many unique opportunities available to them by being selected for a tour of duty at Mountain Home," said ME3 (Senior Master Sgt.) Govindasamy Mogan, 428th FS covering chief and quality assurance inspector. "Our pilots and maintainers benefit from the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with allied U.S. Air Force personnel, which could directly equate to improved mission execution in a combat environment. We train how we would potentially deter, and the realism is that nations rarely engage in armed conflict alone in the present day."

The concept is well understood by junior enlisted Airmen.

ME1 Joshua Chiang, 428th FS, was as one of the three original RSAF students to graduate ALS, but also joined the alumni of chosen distinguished graduates and garnered the Academic Achievement Award.

"Being selected to come to Mountain Home Air Force Base and work with our American partners has been the most profound moment in my fairly new professional career," said Chiang. "Since arriving here I've tried to assimilate into the Gunfighter spirit, share the RSAF culture and embrace our partnership. So being selected to attend ALS was really exciting. My goal was clear and simple. It was to do my utmost best, give it my all, and most importantly, treasure the experience. Being named a distinguished graduate of a U.S. Air Force ALS came as a surprise to me and it will be a moment I'll carry with me in my entire career."

The Peace Carvin program has a history spanning 21 years with detachments at four other locations in the U.S., including the PC II F-16 fighter detachment at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Peace Prairie CH-47 Chinook helicopter detachment in Grand Prairie, Texas, Peace Vanguard AH-64 Apache helicopter detachment at Marana, Ariz., and Peace Triton S-70B Sikorsky Seahawk naval helicopter detachment at San Diego, Calif.