Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ships Sail into New York Harbor, kicking off Fleet Week New York 2014

By Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Sylvia Black, Fleet Week New York Public Affairs

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (NNS) -- Two U.S. Navy ships, the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS McFaul (DDG 74) cruised through the New York Harbor, kicking off 2014 Fleet Week New York, May 21.

Throughout the week, Sailors and visitors, along with the Marines and Coast Guardsman will participate in various events, including community relations projects, musical festivals, a Memorial Day parade, public ship tours and an official Navy reception aboard the Cole.

Even though it is not the Cole's first visit to NY, Cmdr. Dennis Farrell, commanding officer of the ship, said he is pleased to have his first visit in the "Big Apple" while witnessing this remarkable experience.

"I am very excited to be in New York during Fleet Week in support of the mission," said Farrell. "My Sailors and I are grateful for this experience and I couldn't be more proud to show off this mighty war ship."

Many of Farrell's Sailors are experiencing Fleet Week for the first time, and many more are also new to the city of New York.

Boatswain's Mate Seaman Velena Taylor, a Virginia native, said she is thrilled to be in New York and is looking forward to experiencing the festivities.

"This has been a great ship experience and I can't wait to witness the culture and the history New York has to offer," said Taylor.

2014 World War II Memorial Service Held

By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The annual Submarine Veterans of World War II Memorial Service was conducted today at the Submarine Learning Facility (SUBLRNFAC), Naval Station Norfolk. Hosted by SUBLRNFAC, the event is held each year prior to Memorial Day.

In past years the service honored the 52 submarines and the gallant Sailors lost during World War II, and the losses of the USS Thresher (SSN 593), April 10, 1963, and the USS Scorpion (SSN 589), May 22, 1968. But since the World War II submarine veterans were rolled into the United States. Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI) during the 2012 national convention, the ceremony also honors all submarines and submariners lost during since the submarine's force inception April 11, 1900.

Cmdr. Stan Stewart, Jr., SUBLRNFAC commanding officer, welcomed the more than 100 veterans, active duty Sailors, spouses, and visitors.

"Good morning and once again welcome to Submarine Learning Facility Norfolk," said Stewart. "We are grateful to have such a magnificent group gathered with us to celebrate our submarine veterans. I cannot express how proud my crew and I are to host such a prestigious, important and time honored event.

"As always, my greatest gratitude goes to United States Submarine Veterans of World War II and United States Submarine Veterans, Incorporated. Thank you so much for being here today - we are humbled by your presence. But more importantly, thank you for the contributions you and your families made and continue to make to our country. You established the standards we strive to maintain today.

"Today as we take the time to remember submarine heroes of the past, I wanted to emphasize the word "heroes". Too often we forget what the word means, and I believe it means something different to all of us. So today, I ask that you all take a moment and consider what the word hero means to you. Again, thank you all for coming and I hope you enjoy the ceremony."

Stewart then announced the ceremonial wreath would be presented by WWII submarine veteran Ed Kracker to Cmdr. Scott Luers, commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Boise (SSN 764). While underway, Luers and his crew will inter the wreath at sea to honor the fallen submariners. Kracker is the oldest submarine-qualified WWII submarine veteran in the Hampton Roads area. He got his submarine qualifications on the Balao-class submarine USS Bang (SS 385) in 1944.

Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Kent Siegel, the last commanding officer of the Tench-class diesel-electric submarine USS Pickerel (SS 524), was scheduled to be the guest speaker at the ceremony since the submarine was being inducted into the Submarine Hall of Fame. Dick Helm, a retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. who served briefly with Siegel as his engineer, read his speech.

"I regret that I could not be with you today," read Helm. "Cmdr. Stewart, I appreciate your invitation in offering remarks for the Hall of Fame induction for USS Pickerel. I extend my gratitude to the Submarine Veterans of the Hampton Roads Base who elected Pickerel to be inducted at the Submarine Learning Facility. As the last commanding officer before our boat's transfer to the Italian Navy in August of 1972, I am honored to represent the hundreds of fine submariners who served in Pickerel from 1949 to 1972. In her 33 years of operation Pickerel had an illustrious history. All of us from the commanding officers to the most junior hot-bunking Sailors who loved our boat thank you for this honor. I want to wish the submarine veterans a successful and enjoyable future in Norfolk."

Following the ceremony, Pickerel became the 16th submarine inducted into the Submarine Hall of Fame. Pickerel was commissioned April 4, 1949 and decommissioned Aug. 18, 1972. Selection into the Hall of Fame is merited by the submarine's contribution to national security, and is conducted by the Hampton Roads Chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. organization.

Speaking up for our Silent Warriors on Memorial Day

By Rear Adm. Stuart B. Munsch, Commander, Submarine Group 7

FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Memorial Day marks the start of summer with barbecues, swimming, and other family events; and, most importantly, it is a day of remembrance for the serious nature of military service and the sacrifices so many have made and continue to make for the nation.

In my command of Submarine Group 7, Task Force 54, and Task Force 74, we are responsible for submarine and anti-submarine operations from the International Date Line in the middle of the Pacific Ocean westward to the Red Sea. We are reminded daily of the sacrifices made by our predecessors as the areas in which we operate our submarines today are the same areas where our submarine force suffered the majority of its combat losses in World War II.

During the Second World War, submarine duty was the riskiest of all the branches of military service. Nearly 18 percent of U.S. submarines never returned. The sacrifices made by these men and their families were well know at the time but knowledge of them is fading with the years and the passing of older veterans.

More than 3,000 U.S. Sailors remain on "Eternal Patrol" in their submarines in the Pacific Ocean.

Many of these Sailors' families will never have the knowledge of their Sailors' final resting place. They won't be able to clean the grave or place flowers on it as Memorial Day was originally observed.

We have not given up on these Gold Star Families. As technology advances and more of the sea floor is surveyed, we are pursuing potential leads to identify the locations of these lost submarines. While the physical remains of the crew members may be lost to eternity, we should always commemorate their service and remember their sacrifice.

This Memorial Day please join us in remembering these warriors of the deep and all who have paid the ultimate price for our sake. If you find yourself at the beach or near the ocean, take a moment to consider those who continue to patrol the deep.

These are the names of the 52 U.S. submarines from World War II that remain on "Eternal Patrol":
USS Sealion, USS S-36, USS S-26, USS Shark, USS Perch, USS S-27, USS Grunion, USS S-39, USS Argonaut, USS Amberjack, USS Grampus, USS Triton, USS Pickerel, USS Grenadier, USS Runner, USS R-12, USS Grayling, USS Pompano, USS Cisco, USS S-44, USS Wahoo, USS Dorado, USS Corvina, USS Sculpin, USS Capelin, USS Scorpion, USS Grayback, USS Trout, USS Tullibee, USS Gudgeon, USS Herring, USS Golet, USS S-28, USS Robalo, USS Flier, USS Harder, USS Seawolf, USS Darter, USS Shark II, USS Tang, USS Escolar, USS Albacore, USS Growler, USS Scamp, USS Swordfish, USS Barbel, USS Kete, USS Trigger, USS Snook, USS Lagarto, USS Bonefish, USS Bullhead.

These men and their brothers and sisters in arms can never be repaid for their service but we can and should always remember them.

Pearl Harbor attack survivor speaks to JBPHH Airmen

by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs

5/22/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Pearl Harbor attack survivor retired Army SGT. Allen Bodenlos visited JBPHH May 21 to share his story of survival with 15th Wing Airmen.

Bodenlos was assigned to the 804th Engineer Aviation Battalion at Schofield Barracks as a bugle master on Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field and other parts of Oahu were attacked by the Japanese Air Self Defense Force.

The 94 year-old described the story of his survival and the years to follow as, "an incredible journey" as he replayed the details for the more than 160 Airmen in attendance.

He recounted the 24 hours leading up to the attack, remembering his excitement at being asked to form a drum and bugle corps by his commanding officer. On December 6 he and a friend went to Waikiki to shop for instruments and take in a battle of the bands competition at the Army-Navy YMCA. After the show, Bodenlos chose to stay the night downtown but awoke to orders to immediately return to his duty station. He quickly boarded a shuttle bus and arrived at Pearl Harbor to find the base under attack.

Smoke. Fire. Explosions. Planes swooping down low. Then the USS Arizona blew up.

Bodenlos said he remembers seeing the faces of the pilots as they flew by during the raid.

Over the next two days Bodenlos and his buddies couriered messages back and forth between the command post and military airfields around Oahu.

Bodenlos said he spent the next few years of the war hopping from island to island rebuilding and repairing airfields in the Asian-Pacific region, and was scheduled to participate in the planned invasion of Japan before the American attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki finally forced the country to surrender.

"The atomic bomb prevented me from having to invade Japan where it would certainly have been a tragic outcome," he remembers.

In addition to sharing his personal story of survival with the Airmen, Bodenlos entertained the group with historical anecdotes and photos. He also emphasized the importance of being able to forgive and move on.

"He has a remarkable, touching story," said Staff Sgt. Aaron Collins, 647th Civil Engineer Squadron power production craftsman. "I've never heard any of the survivors speak and it was an honor for me to hear his story."

Collins said he definitely learned a thing or two about history listening to Boldenlos speak, which for Boldenlos means his mission was accomplished.

"My mission is to keep America alert so that dreadful day never happens again," said Boldenlos.

A Simple Way to Thank Veterans on Memorial Day

Anyone Can Purchase Tickets for Veterans as a Way to Say Thank You for Their Military Service. More Than $900,000 in Event Tickets Have Been Already Been Donated to Military Families Through Brown Paper Tickets.

May 22, 2014 (Seattle) – Tickets valued at more than $900,000 to events nationwide have already been delivered to active or honorably discharged U.S. military personnel and their families, as well as to the families of those who gave their life in U.S. military service, through Brown Paper Tickets Salutes.

Socially conscious Not-Just-For-Profit ticketing service Brown Paper Tickets has created this easy way for anyone to purchase tickets, and for event organizers to provide tickets for verified U.S. military members as a way of saying “thank you for serving our country.” More than 45,000 event tickets have been donated and delivered through Brown Paper Tickets Salutes since the program began July 4, 2012.

“Brown Paper Tickets is helping us to provide the gift of tickets every day of the year, not just on Memorial Day, Veterans Day or Independence Day,” said Michael A. Focareto, a U.S. Navy veteran and founder of Veteran Tickets Foundation, also known as Vet Tix, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that matches donated tickets with U.S. military personnel and their families. Vet Tix verifies military service records, giving donors the confidence of knowing that their gift will be enjoyed only by those who served. “These free tickets to events mean everything to veterans, some of whom tell us that this is the first time anyone has ever said ‘thank you’ for their service.”

“The donation of more than $900,000 in tickets in less than 2 years means that our event organizers and ticket buyers just needed an easy way to express their gratitude,” said William S. Jordan, founder of Brown Paper Tickets. “We are honored to have created this simple way for anyone to say ‘thank you’ with a gift that shares the joy and community created by live events with those who have served.”

Tickets to music festivals, comic book conventions, sporting events, comedy shows, farm-to-table dinners, cooking classes, plays, concerts, burlesque shows, roller derby bouts and many more have been a part of the $900,000 ticket donation. “The donation of free tickets from event organizers working with Brown Paper Tickets has dramatically widened the range of ways that veterans can relax, enjoy themselves and share smiles with their families and loved ones,” Focareto said. “For some, these event tickets can help with their re-integration into civilian life.”

Anyone can browse Brown Paper Tickets Salutes to find events that have donated tickets through the program. Military personnel, veterans and the immediate family members of those who gave their life in U.S. military service can also find a link on the site to sign up through Vet Tix to have their military service verified prior to accessing the donated tickets.

For more information, or to help get the word out to military families by sharing this donation program on social media, go to Brown Paper Tickets Salutes at

USO’s Art Therapy Program Aids Wounded Warriors

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

FORT BELVOIR, Va., May 22, 2014 – The United Service Organizations’ Art as Therapy program provides comfort and a creative refuge for wounded warriors in the healing process.

Ashy Palliparambil, an Art Therapist and Hospital Services Program Specialist, has led the USO Art and Music Program here since August 2012, focusing on recreational programs which serve as a therapeutic release for wounded troops while creating a “safe space” to create art while they recover.

The unique program operates exclusively at the Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland and Fort Belvoir USO Warrior and Family Centers where there are a high number of wounded, ill and injured troops undergoing the recovery process.

Some of the services offered through the art and music program include wood carving, acrylic and watercolor painting, drawing, collaging, sculpture, writing, multimedia, poetry and spoken word workshops.

“Before the center was open, USO didn’t really have an art program or anything that offered something similar to this,” Palliparambil said yesterday during an interview with the American Forces Press Service. “When the center was being built they decided that they would have a music studio and an art studio.

“They decided to hire an art therapist who could pick programs that would be beneficial for the service members,” she continued. “I think the programs have developed very organically.”

Palliparambil said the program has flourished from partnerships she has been able to foster with willing organizations based on activities that service members request.

“Photography is an example of that,” she said. “Photography is something the service members come to me and say, ‘Hey, we really want to learn this. Can you find someone to help us become better photographers?’

“So then I found a USO volunteer photographer who could facilitate that,” Palliparambil added.

Sometimes, the art therapist noted, it comes from organizations such as the woodcarving group which initially operated only in Bethesda who offered to help elsewhere.

“They said, ‘Well, you have this new center at Belvoir,’” Palliparambil said. “‘I might have some people there that live close to that area.’”

The USO tried woodcarving, she said, “and we actually got a good amount of people who came out to the woodcarving workshops.

“So it’s happened both ways,” Palliparambil continued. “It’s what the service members want and then what can be offered. And we kind of see what works and what doesn’t and go from there.”

It’s not always a bad thing when something doesn’t work, she noted. “We also have programs that don’t do well, but we always try to give everyone an opportunity to offer a different program here,” Palliparambil said.

Activities also include a photo-transfer class, stained glass-making, learning to create using air-dry clay, model airplanes and ships, and garden stepping stones, according to the art therapist.

“We’ve also had cartoonists come in,” Palliparambil said. There are also opportunities to do three-dimensional works like the 360 project using any medium, mask making, collages, and many other services, she said.

Specialized workshops, Palliparambil said, such as combat paper where uniforms are turned into paper for imagery and words are also available.

“We’ve also had the Shakespeare Theater do some professional development,” she said, which involves employing acting skills to teach participants how to do interviews and present themselves to get a job.

One of the most challenging parts of her job, Palliparambil said, is watching service members who have grown close to the staff, transition out to new endeavors.

“Sometimes you get a good group of people who are really into the arts and will be in here making art,” she said. “They will be here past open studio time, talking, have music playing, creating art together.

“And then they move on to bigger and better things, and they transition out,” Palliparambil continued. “So you don’t have the same flow anymore, and it’s about getting new people interested. The constant changing that’s happening here -- it’s a transition unit -- everyone’s transitioning in and out.”

As they leave, it’s a challenge to get the next group of people interested in the program, she said.

“A lot of people say that they’ve never made art before, or ‘I can’t draw a stick figure,’” Palliparambil said. “So just getting them to have the confidence to even come into the art studio is a challenge sometimes.”

Palliparambil said she “definitely” thinks about those that depart the program, especially the wounded, ill and injured troops who use the art studio.

“It’s not opened to everybody,” she said. “It’s usually a very small, intimate group.”

The wounded warriors “get to the point where they’re comfortable in talking to you,” Palliparambil said, “and sharing their stories, and sharing their recovery process with you. So it’s great to have been able to meet them and work with them. It becomes very sad when it’s time for them to go.”

Palliparambil noted the USO’s music and art program dovetails with other programs that help service members and veterans.

“A lot of people here are transitioning out,” she said. “Being able to find resources outside of a military post is important. So I think we just complement each other really well.”

Palliparambil said that while the Fort Belvoir program is specific to wounded, injured and ill troops, there are other activities at the Bethesda center which is open to active-duty service members and their families.

“At Bethesda, there are some programs that are open to all active duty [service members],” she said. “We have a children’s program there, and I do get some of the families that work there and live close by that will bring their kids to the program.”

After seeing over 1,000 people participate in the first year alone, Palliparambil said she feels as though the program has made a difference in terms of helping wounded troops recover and providing a creative outlet for active duty service members and their families.

“I think it’s very positive, because after a year, you can see that the whole studio is filled with art,” Palliparambil said. “That means that people are coming in here making use of the space on their own time and in the program. So I think it’s been well-received by the service members.”

For now, the USO Art as Therapy Program is available for service members and their caregivers to explore, so they can “go back and learn to play, and kind of let go and just be,” Palliparambil said.

“And we just hope that they keep coming back,” she said.