Military News

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fourteen Honored with ‘Spirit of Hope’ Award



By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2014 – Fourteen individuals including a group of former New York City firefighters were honored by the Department of Defense with the Spirit of Hope Award today, named after the legendary entertainer Bob Hope to recognize selfless service and a dedicated commitment to the military.

“It’s the academy awards for those who have excelled in giving,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who hosted the annual Pentagon ceremony. “Reading your stories I can’t help but be reminded of the power of one. Bob Hope recognized this too.”

Those honored were nominated by the four military branches, the Coast Guard and the Office of Secretary of Defense for actions “whose patriotism and service to members of the U.S. armed forces reflects the patriotism and service of Bob Hope,” the comedian and actor who spent decades traveling the world entertaining deployed troops.

Those honored today were:

-- The Vigiano Group, nominated by the Office of Secretary of Defense: Eight former members of the Fire Department of New York and former Marines who experienced personal tragedy during the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The group takes its name in honor of New York City policeman Joseph Vigiano and his firefighter brother John, both of whom were killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers. The Vigiano Group was awarded for dedicating the last 10 years to supporting Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center.

-- Joyce W. Massenburg, nominated by the Army: Awarded for developing command climate surveys during the tour of three separate quartermaster generals which aided in prioritizing efforts to boost morale of soldiers. For 17 years, she served with a community service organization that provided economic development, health and physical awareness training, and participated annually in the Soldiers Walk for Hunger and other events. Her contributions extended to all Army personnel through her lead role in developing an Army human relations response course.

-- Marjorie L. and Arthur P. Miller, nominated by the Marine Corps: Awarded for volunteerism at Navy and Marine Corps bases around the world, enhancing programs benefitting service personnel and their families with a special focus on child care and recreational services.

-- Jaspen Boothe, president, Final Salute Incorporated, nominated by the Navy: Awarded for providing housing and other services to homeless women and veterans.

-- Victor M. Pulido, a retired Air Force technical sergeant, nominated by the Air Force: Awarded for his work with community and base organizations to enhance the quality of life of service personnel and their families as well as for providing meals to homeless and needy families.

-- Robert Powers, nominated by the Coast Guard: Creator of the American 300 Foundation, a service that connects members of the military with other Americans. Powers was awarded for bringing vital messages of resiliency and appreciation to military personnel who have faced some of the most challenging and stressful situations imaginable. American 300 tours have visited hundreds of bases and units, most of which have seen combat or operate in isolated and remote locations around the world.

F-35 European Maintenance Sites Announced



By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2014 – The F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter program office announced today the European locations for heavy engine and heavy air frame maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade facilities.

“In the European region, F-35 initial air frame MROU capability will be provided by Italy by 2018," Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan told reporters.

Bogdan is the Program Executive Officer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office in Arlington, Virginia.

Italy has invested $1 billion into a purpose-built final assembly and check-out facility for the F-35, he said.

"As Italy builds up their production capability at the FACO, there's an opportunity later on to add more production capacity to that FACO if other partners and the U.S. want to build their planes there," the general said. If the facility does shift toward production, Bogdan explained, the United Kingdom would be assigned to provide additional air frame depot capability.

Engine heavy maintenance will initially be provided by Turkey by 2018, he said, "with Norway and the Netherlands providing additional capability two to three years after Turkey’s initial capability."

Test cells for engine heavy maintenance are "very expensive -- in the tens of millions of dollars," the general said, and no single partner or their industry was willing to invest in more than one test cell in their nation.

"That's a big risk for industry and that partner long-term to get the return on that investment," Bogdan said. Based on projections by the program office, at least three test cells were needed in order to build a sustainable program in Europe, he said.

Global Sustainment Posture

The announcement is the next step in establishing a global sustainment posture for the aircraft, the general said, noting that he expects to announce the Pacific region locations next week. Regional assignments for components, systems repair, warehousing, support equipment and other global supply chain functions will begin next year, Bogdan added, eventually totaling hundreds of billions of dollars in potential work.

"There is much work still to be had on the F-35 global sustainment posture," he said, "and we will go through a similar process over the next few years of assigning that capability to those areas and those partners that provide us the best value for doing that kind of work."

Partner nations and countries participating in the foreign military sales program for the F-35 who also wish to be assigned MROU work are responsible for making the investments in their own infrastructure, the general said.

"Over time, the workload that gets sent to that partner nation is the way in which their industry can recoup that investment cost," Bogdan said.

Site Selection Process

The final site determinations were made after the F-35 program office solicited and evaluated proposals from nations interested in being assigned heavy engine or heavy airframe work, he said.

A site survey team visited each nation that responded, the general said, and the evaluations and site visits were used to compile a list of recommended locations for review by the Defense Department.

DoD's final decision took into consideration a number of factors in addition to the recommendations by the program office, Bogdan said, including geography, operational necessity and the expected distribution of aircraft.

Multiple Sites Guarantee Flexibility

Each nation that sets up a regional capability is guaranteed to always receive a workload that is equivalent to the number of aircraft it purchases, the general said. But as basing decisions change over time, he added, the additional regionally assigned workloads may shift based on who can provide the best value given past performance.

"We will probably look at this on a two- to three-year basis," he said, adding that cost is not the only consideration in determining best value.

"When you look at a best value type of arrangement, you're looking at quality of the work, you're looking at delivery schedule and are they meeting [it], and you're looking at cost," Bogdan said.

The site decisions will have no effect on where the F-35 is based, the general said.

"Those decisions are made at the DoD level for reasons other than this,” he said. “The reason why we're standing up capability in all three regions is to provide the partners and the U.S. the freedom of maneuver and the freedom of action to base the plane anywhere they want globally and still have access to the kinds of support we need to keep the F-35 fleet going."

Face of Defense: Amputee Triumphs at Grueling Swim School



By Marine Corps Maj. Eve Baker
Marine Corps Base Quantico

QUANTICO, Va., Dec. 11, 2014 – The Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival course is a grueling training evolution that requires Marines to swim a total of 59 miles over three weeks.

Just six of nine course students were able to complete the challenge and graduate Nov. 25. One of those six course students had the deck stacked against him from the beginning, but he overcame adversity and graduated with his classmates.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Adam Jacks, company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company at The Basic School here, is a motivated, extremely fit, Marine who said he quickly volunteered to attend the course when approached by the chief instructor trainer, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Marshall. The fact that Jacks’s right leg was amputated at the mid-thigh in 2011 did not faze either Marine.

Injured in Afghanistan

Jacks, a native of Newark, Ohio, was serving in Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, when he stepped on a pressure plate April 3, 2011, and was hit by an improvised explosive device blast. Among other injuries, Jacks suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost two-thirds of his right leg.

Though he easily could have medically retired, Jacks said, he “fought pretty hard” to stay on active duty, believing he had much more to contribute to the Marine Corps.

“Why I wanted to stay in is pretty simple: I wasn’t ready to hang up the uniform and turn the page into a new chapter,” he said. “I felt that I had a lot of fight left in me, and that I could help shape the Marine Corps into this new-age style of fighting, even with half of a leg, and to show Marines of all ranks and ages that it still can be done.”

Jacks asked to be placed in an expanded permanent limited duty status, a request that only the commandant of the Marine Corps can grant. Jacks said he met the commandant -- Gen. James F. Amos at the time -- and that Amos said to him, “If you want to stay in, I won’t push you out.” After about nine months of evaluations and paperwork, Jacks was granted permission to continue serving on active duty.

Specific Prosthetics for Specific Activities

Jacks said he has about 20 different prosthetic legs, each with a unique purpose. He has one for everyday activities, one for patrolling and one for running, among others.

“If I don’t have one that works well for the situation, that will set me up for failure,” he explained. He also has one prosthetic decorated with a blood stripe and some Marine graphics that he said he doesn’t like to wear much, because he doesn’t want to damage it.

What he lacked before starting the course, however, was a leg that would help him swim. The asymmetry in his body caused him to roll in the water when swimming, Jacks said.

“The first week [of the MCIWS course] was pretty hellacious,” he said, “because I had to relearn how to swim properly and use my upper body.”

He recounted having to fight feelings of vertigo from the lack of balance. Marshall said he and Jacks worked together to improvise a buoyant prosthetic that would enable him to stay at a level position in the water. Even with the buoyant leg, Jacks had to put in dozens of extra training hours to become more proficient, frequently staying at the pool until 6:30 or 7 p.m., up to two hours after the other students had left for the day.

High Standards

“We were not going to lower the standard,” Marshall said. “We were going to work with him to help him reach it.” And the standard was high. Marines had to complete conditioning swims up to 1,900 meters in length, including three that were timed. They also had to swim 25 meters underwater, complete four American Red Cross rescues with the aid of lifesaving equipment and four without, and pass all academic classroom evaluations.

“There were naysayers” who told him he wouldn’t be able to complete the course missing a limb, Jacks said, but he kept a positive outlook.

“You press on with it,” he said. “You use the adversities as fuel to get you through.”

Jacks and his fellow graduates are now certified as MCIWS instructors and American Red Cross lifeguards.