Military News

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dempsey Opens Exhibit on U.S., China’s Shared Military History


By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2015 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff opened a photo exhibit today at the Pentagon that puts America’s relations with China in a new light.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey praised the exhibit – titled “National Memories” – which shows American and Chinese service members working together during World War II.

The United States and China were allies during the war, and more than 250,000 Americans served in the China-Burma-India Theater under Army Gen. Joseph Stilwell. Retired Army Col. John Easterbrook, the grandson of that theater commander, spoke at the opening ceremony about the campaign. Actions in Europe and in the Pacific overshadowed the scope of the effort in the region, he said, and many present-day Americans are surprised to learn of the U.S. effort against Japan in China.

In China, too, the American effort in the country was forgotten, but for other reasons. Following the war, a civil war broke out in China, and with the victory of Mao Zedong’s Communist party all mention of cooperation with America was stricken from the record. “Many photos, letters, memorabilia that might link someone to the defeated Nationalists were destroyed,” Easterbrook said. “Anything that survived was destroyed in the anti-rightist campaigns and the Cultural Revolution.”

Uncovering History

Into this historical void stepped Zhang Dongpan, who also spoke at the exhibit opening. “In 1999, a friend sent me an old photograph from World War II; it showed a U.S. soldier’s funeral at a Yunnan battlefield,” Zhang said via translation.

The photo conflicted with the official history that the Chinese Communist Party defeated the Japanese alone. “That old photo told me that during World War II, the U.S. Army came to China, and at least one American died fighting in China, for China,” he said.

Zhang’s research led him to Easterbrook, and the two worked to contact survivors of those Americans killed in China during the war. Zhang also discovered that the U.S. National Archives had more than 23,000 photos of all aspects of the American interactions with Chinese during the war, taken by Army Signal Corps photographers.

In 2006, Zhang and his team copied and digitized the photos, and in 2010 he opened “National Memories” in China. Millions of Chinese have seen the photos in cities around the country, he noted.

“Today, when you discuss World War II with the Chinese people, increasingly they will tell you [that] in that war, the United States helped us, and we thank you,” Zhang said. Zhang – who served four years in the People’s Liberation Army – now wears a pin based on the shoulder patch of the China-Burma-India Theater, combining the Nationalist sun and the American star.

U.S. Military’s Vestiges of China

Dempsey viewed the pictures and praised Zhang and Easterbrook for their efforts. “This exhibit can help people on both sides of the Pacific remember this part of our shared history,” he said. “You can take pride knowing that your hard work will continue to deepen the understanding and communication between the United States and China.”

There are still vestiges of the U.S.-China relationship in the American military, the chairman said. The Air Force maintains strong identification with the legendary Flying Tigers who fought in the skies over China. “Today’s Army Rangers trace their legacy back to Merrill’s Marauders – that special forces unit in Burma that turned the tide of the war in the China-Burma-India Theater,” he said.

Peace, Security in Asia

“America has long-standing interests in peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, clearly demonstrated then as today,” Dempsey said. The chairman has made a number of trips to the region, including a trip to China last year, and has hosted Asian leaders at the Pentagon.

“In this venue, I think it is particularly important to point out Japan’s solid record as a staunch U.S. ally for the past 70 years,” Dempsey said. “Their demonstrated commitment to peace, prosperity and security in the region and the world shows that the Japan of the era of these photos is no more.”

Photographs are ‘Source of Pride’

Chinese defense and air attaches attended the opening, as did combat cameramen from the 55th Signal Battalion. They are the military descendants of the men who shot the photos from 1942 to 1945 – the 164th Combat Camera Company. Zhang praised those shooters, saying “the courage they showed going to war, armed only with a camera in order to preserve history, has left an indelible mark on our shared heritage. Their photographs of China’s lost military heritage have become both a source of pride for us and a challenge to pursue the power of truth.”

Zhang said he will continue his education effort in other American and Chinese cities.

The exhibit is at the apex of corridors 1 and 2 on the Pentagon’s third floor.

MC-130Js visit Kunsan

by Senior Airman Divine Cox
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/18/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group from Kadena Air Base, Japan, visited Kunsan Air Base in support of the Special Operations Command Korea Exercise Gryphon Knife from Feb. 23 to March 3.

Exercise Gryphon Knife is a habitual training exercise designed to integrate partners from the ROK Special Warfare Command and U.S. special operations forces components to increase combined and joint special operations capabilities.

Airmen stationed out of Kadena Air Base routinely travel to the Republic of Korea to train new crews and enhance interoperability through combined training exercises led by SOCKOR.

However, this was the first time the unit flew the new MC-130J Commando II to the ROK.

The Commando II primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Its secondary mission includes troop drops and airdrops.

Leaders used this opportunity to assess the handling and capabilities of the new aircraft in the challenging Korean terrain and sustain crew and aircraft readiness in support of SOCKOR and the ROK/U.S. Alliance.

"This is a very unique mission," said Lt. Col. Matthew Bartlett, 17th Special Operations Squadron director of operations. "Primarily since our aircraft is new, and our crew is new to operating both in the Pacific as well as operating in Korea, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with operating in the Korean peninsula as well as familiarize ourselves with our customers we supported for this mission."

In December 2014, the first MC-130J arrived at the 353rd Special Operations Group at Kadena AB, replacing the retiring MC-130P Combat Shadows assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron.

The MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport/special operations tanker, assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command, delivers increased combat performance to the warfighter with its more powerful engines and unique features.

"The future for us looks pretty bright," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Tanner, 353rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron MC-130J crew chief. "We have a lot of contingency exercises and plans in the future that will go a lot smoother using this new aircraft."

The MC-130J crew conducted specialized training while on mission here to the ROK.

"One of our missions was to conduct night vision low levels," Bartlett said. "The mountainous terrain in Korea made that pretty challenging, so you have to do quite a bit of planning for that type of mission."

Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group look forward to flying and familiarizing themselves with the new MC-130J Commando II.

"The increased range and reliability of this aircraft is amazing," said Master Sgt. Justin Solis, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron production superintendent. "Not only does the MC-130 make our job easier, but every Airman involved can operate more efficiently."

COMMENTARY - Tohoku earthquake and tsunami: Four years later

by Tim Flack
18th Wing Public Affairs


3/11/2015 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Four years ago today - March 11, 2011 - I was sitting in my office on Misawa Air Base, on the northern tip of the main island of Japan, when a massive magnitude-9 earthquake rocked the island nation.

It was 2:46 p.m., and I was finishing up my shift as a Stars and Stripes reporter. It was a slow news day for me since all the Airmen were participating in a base-wide training exercise.

As the building began to shake violently, I made the decision to head outside, joining a bunch of people who also had fled the arts and crafts center that shared my parking lot. I distinctly remember hearing children crying and the strange squeaking coming from the rocking cars and the swaying street lights. I jumped with a start when a wave of water crashed through the front doors of the indoor pool across the street. The earthquake had generated a mini-tsunami in the pool, a terrible foreshadow of what was headed for multiple communities dotting the rough and rocky coastal shoreline.

Sirens blared in Japanese, warning of an 18-foot tsunami. Our house sat a full mile from the coast, but I elected to drive inland with my family just to ensure we would be safe. Hours later, in a full electrical blackout, with snow falling and multiple aftershocks, I decided to pack up our quilts and head back to base to sleep in my office.

I'm a military veteran, but I was still amazed at how quickly the Air Force jumped into action, changing course from exercise to real-world emergency. Base personnel raced to set up generators for power, and the next morning I found the commissary packed with people stocking up on food, water and other supplies. In the following weeks, Misawa became a hub for recovery efforts, and I was lucky enough to see how all of the U.S. military services helped in Operation Tomodachi.

Then-Col. Michael Rothstein, 35th Fighter Wing commander, told me his immediate priority was taking care of the community, providing heat, water, food and, eventually, full electricity. He directed the Airman and Family Readiness Center to establish an Emergency Family Assistance Control Center in the base's Mokuteki Community Center. Within hours, more than 1,000 people had attended briefings and used Air Force communication lines to call home. My family and I showered in the gym and slept on five of the more than 200 cots the 35th Force Support Squadron had set up in the Potter Fitness Center.

Members of the world's two best search-and-rescue teams landed at Misawa Air Base enroute to some of the hardest hit coastal fishing villages. I followed their convoy to the village of Ofunato. The rescue workers searched for survivors in the devastation where thousands of homes had been demolished by the powerful tsunami.

In the weeks and months that followed, I wrote about the thousands of volunteers from Misawa Air Base who reached out to assist friends and neighbors in the local communities.  Volunteers first traveled to nearby Hachinohe, and continued to make their way south, logging countless hours digging out sludge, cleaning up debris and providing crucial manpower for clean-up efforts.

In Hachinohe, then-Tech. Sgt. Gregory Bird took a break from lugging huge chunks of debris to explain why he volunteered. "I want to get them back on their feet as soon as I can," he said of Hachinohe residents.

Misawa hosted other services who joined the efforts, including U.S. Navy helicopter crews. I sent a note to family and friends after flying on one resupply mission, explaining that it was awesome to watch the U.S. military put its technology to work on Operation Tomodachi.

"The military has mobilized thousands of troops, there is an entire carrier battle group sitting off the coast and directions are coming from an airborne command and control center," I wrote. "But when it comes down to it, the best help still comes via physically and mentally exhausting work, small crews lugging thousands of pounds of water, food, clothing, medicine and toiletries one helicopter flight at a time, box by box, into some pretty remote and devastated areas."

A small team of U.S. Navy Seabees who were stationed at Misawa Air Base continued to labor for months after the earthquake. I interviewed them in July 2011, when a three-man team had continued to clean debris fields with two Navy front-end loaders and a dump truck.

Billy Knox, then leading chief petty officer of the public works department at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command on Misawa Air Base, said the decision to keep helping was easy.

"It's our bread and butter," he said of the construction work.

Base residents also collected supplies, held fundraisers and found other ways to help the local Japanese communities.

Gemini Sanford, who helped volunteer at a local orphanage, collected 132 bags of food, seven boxes of fresh vegetables and 30 gallons of milk to donate to the Bikou-en Children's Care House. She told her in-laws about the efforts during a call home. They called a Seattle-area radio station, and Gemini found herself repeating the story on "The Rond and Don Show" on KIRO-FM. The radio hosts challenged their listening audience to lend a hand.

The end result was 200 tons of supplies, valued at $1.2 million, which were collected and sent to Misawa. Gemini's effort to help one orphanage blossomed into a project that aided similar homes all across northern Japan.

"I am awed and inspired by the fact that something that started as small as trying to get enough food for a week or two ... has blossomed into something that can do so much good for so many people," she said. "I'm really, deeply moved."

Four years later, I'm still awed and inspired by what I experienced during Operation Tomodachi.

Rosie the Riveter and me



By Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs / Published March 18, 2015

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) -- As we recognize Women's History Month this March, I am struck by the thought that heroes and role models do not have to be one single person but, in fact, can be several people. For me, this truth is especially relevant.

During World War II, many women opted to take on male dominated trades to support their families while their husbands fought in the war. This was a stark change from an era in which women typically held a position as housewives.

It was during this time that "Rosie the Riveter" was born. In 1942, Veronica Foster, who had in the previous year become the face of Canadian women in the war effort as "Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl," donned the red bandana and rolled up her sleeves for Canada's neighbors to the south.

"Rosie the Riveter," as she was known in the U.S., was soon the iconic image of women entering the workplace and taking up industrial jobs in support of their nation.

Originally, it was meant to represent the millions of women employed at shipyards and manufacturing plants who were developing the nation's military arsenal and assembling war supplies. The poster itself evolved into a multi-dimensional inspiration.

Shortly thereafter, Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb wrote a song in tribute to Rosie, which became very popular.

"All the day long,
Where rain or shine
She's part of the assembly line.
She's making history,
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter"

Even today, Rosie's signature expression and inherent strength are an inspiration to millions of Americans, myself included.

I first learned about Rosie when I was seven. My mom handed me a magazine to look through and I saw the bright yellow and blue background overlaid with a girl showing her muscles. I was so intrigued by the girl in the red polka-dot bandana.

From that moment on, I constantly asked my parents who she was, what she did and why she did it. I wanted to be exactly like her when I grew up.

I pushed myself hard in high school. During those years, we learned my mother had brain cancer, while my father's health would go from bad to worse. I needed to learn to support myself in any and every way possible. I needed to be independent. I applied myself at school, extra-curricular activities and several different jobs.

My parents signed the papers for me to enter the Air Force at the age of 17. Three weeks after I graduated high school, I was on a plane headed to San Antonio, Texas, for basic military training.

Although I do not get my hands dirty on an assembly line every day the way Rosie did, I still pull my hair back tight and use my hands to get the job done for our military and to provide for my family.

Every time I felt I could not do something, whether in BMT or at my duty station, I remembered the millions of women who rose above and conquered what others thought they could not.

My mother passed away while I was at my first duty station and shortly after that my father passed. During those times, I kept a positive attitude. I needed to; it was who I was and who I needed to be.

I had a can-do attitude and knew I was not alone. Thinking of Rosie helped me get back up on my feet and continue to do good things with my life and become a better Airman, a better me.

I am a single mother of two children, full-time student and a military career woman. I give 100 percent in every aspect in my life. I am a real life Rosie.
I have a tattoo of Rosie on my right arm as a symbol of how I became who I am today. Rosie taught me that all people, not just women, can do anything they want as long as they set their mind to it -- and history shows that.

World War II represented a major turning point for women as they eagerly supported the war effort. The long-term significance of the change brought about by the war provided the foundation for the contemporary women's movement.

Although women have made tremendous progress during the past 50 years, Rosie the Riveter still stands as a beacon of inspiration and determination.
The "We Can Do It" poster means so much to women in America -- a symbol that illustrates both a proud legacy and the challenges they will continue to face and conquer in the future.

Noted Actor Praises TAPS Program, Military Members



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 – A noted actor visited Pentagon leaders and staffers today to discuss his support for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

“TAPS offers help, hope and healing to families of our fallen service men and women,” actor Eric Dane said during his visit.

TAPS is a nonprofit national veterans service organization that offers peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, casualty casework assistance and crisis intervention for military families.

Dane has acted in the television series Grey’s Anatomy, and is the current lead in the post-apocalyptic dramatic series The Last Ship. But perhaps his most meaningful role has been in real life, as the son of a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam and passed away when Eric was just 7 years old.

Telling the Military Story

Dane said working on the The Last Ship has afforded him the chance to meet people from across the ranks and military branches, a privilege he doesn’t take lightly.

“The more I learn from you, the more impressed I am by your service to this great country, and the more determined that I am that all of us on the show get it right when it comes to portraying military [people] on television,” Dane said to current and former service members and their families.

And though he feels a sense of pride when donning his “digi-blues,” the dark and light blue Navy pattern of the service’s utility uniform, he said, he’s humbled to be part of The Last Ship and, along with fellow cast members and crew, to help tell the stories of service members.

“My job is not just to entertain but also to manifest and honor the courage and commitment that each of you possess,” Dane said. “My show is fictional. You’re the real heroes.”

TAPS Honors Grieving Military Families

TAPS president Bonnie Carroll, who founded the organization following the death of her husband, Army Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, in a C-12 plane crash in 1992, praised Dane’s involvement in bringing the challenges of mourning military families to light.

“TAPS has been very blessed to have wonderful support from many sectors of our society, citizens who have stepped forward to honor those who have selflessly served in the cause of freedom,” Carroll said.

Carroll said Dane takes his role on The Last Ship as Navy Commander Tom Chandler very seriously.

“He portrays the Navy in the absolute best light; it is a collaborative effort,” she said. “He is one of us … an extraordinary individual and a great citizen.”

The second season of The Last Ship will return in summer 2015.