Thursday, July 16, 2015

1/40th CAV redeploys

by Air Force Staff Sgt. William Banton
JBER Public Affairs

7/16/2015 - JONT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARSON, Alaska -- Approximately 350 Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division were honored in a redeployment ceremony at Buckner Physical Fitness Center July 10.

Several hundred paratroopers assigned to the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, along with a small contingent assigned to the brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, returned from a 10-month rotation in support of peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.

"This team ensured a continuous safe and secure environment for the freedom of the people of Kosovo," said Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, U.S. Army Alaska commanding general, at the redeployment ceremony.

"These arctic warriors served daily alongside our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies supporting nations including Hungary, Armenia, Germany, Poland and Turkey."

As part of the NATO-led Kosovo Force, Multinational Battle Group-East, the 1-40th CAV supported Kosovo police, alongside a multinational force which included Soldiers from Romania, Armenia, Moldova and Kazakhstan.

This support included conducting steady-state operations involving more than 1,000 presence patrols, 180 unexploded ordnance disposals, 139 synchronized patrols and 18 reconnaissance operations.

"I think the behavior and the conduct of the Soldiers was extremely professional," said. Col. Clint Baker, MNBG-E commander.

"We had a flawless record of mission success. All in all, I think the Soldiers did it as about as good as anyone could do it. I'm really proud of them."

Owens echoed the same sentiment in his remarks.

"They epitomize what the chief of staff of the Army refers to as globally deployed, regionally engaged forces," Owens said.
"Today it is an absolute pleasure to welcome home this team and say job well done."

KFOR entered Kosovo in June 1999 in support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, tasked with maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all Kosovo's citizens.

At that time, the Balkans were in turmoil, facing the biggest military and humanitarian crisis since World War II.

A mounting conflict between the Serb-dominated military of the Federal Yugoslav Republic and the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army demanding independence from Belgrade had claimed some 10,000 lives and sparked the exodus of almost a million Albanian refugees.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. forces played a key role in KFOR operations to end the war and established diplomatic relations with Kosovo, following its declaration of independence in 2008.

Additional reporting by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, and Army Sergeant Brian Ragin, 4-25 Public Affairs.

Veterans in Blue: Johnny "Bulldog" Hernandez

by Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs

7/16/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Johnny Hernandez joined the Air Force in 1981 with dreams of flying. However, the cost of education prevented him from becoming a pilot, so he settled for a job as a tactical aircraft maintenance specialist.

The job allowed him to travel the world, where highlights of his career included serving in Germany, England, Kuwait, Korea, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

After being treated for several ear infections, he was referred to different specialists. In 1987, Hernandez underwent a computerized axial tomography scan and was diagnosed with cancer.

It took two surgeries to remove it, leaving a scar that reached above his left ear down to his throat.

"When you almost lose your life ... you don't feel indestructible anymore," Hernandez said.

"You realize you can be hurt."

He was now completely deaf in his left ear and considers his biggest challenge being told he would not be able to continue in his career field. "It made me keep pressing forward," he said.

Hernandez convinced the doctors to let him keep going on the condition that he report his condition getting any worse. It never did.

He retired in 2001 and became a recovery care coordinator at the Warrior Transition Unit on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Motivated by his experiences with cancer, Hernandez is dedicated to helping military members access their benefits, from education to medical needs.

"I want to share my story with others," he said. "It really brings what I'm doing here into perspective. I'm extremely passionate about people."

Squadron hosts memorial service for deceased K-9

by Airman 1st Class Kiana Brothers
375 Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/15/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILL. -- The 375th Security Forces Squadron paid their final respects to Breston, a 375th SFS military working dog, during a memorial service July 9 at Scott. A canine prayer along with a poem was recited, and the Scott Air Force Base Honor Guard rendered military honors for Breston during the service.

The dog, a Belgian Malinois, was diagnosed with cancer June 18 and due to his medical complications, he was euthanized the same day after more than eight years of military service.

"Breston was a great dog and a loyal, dedicated friend always," said Tech. Sgt. Bryan Dell, 375th SFS kennel master of the military working dog section.

Breston was a drug detector and a patrol dog for the Air Force and was deployed to Afghanistan.

He served with 13 handlers, but during his final moments, he was being maintained by Staff Sgt. David Yaronczyk.

The canine's last moments were spent at the Scott Veterinarian Clinic, June 18, and he was surrounded by his fellow 375th SFS military working dog section members. Before his planned euthanizing, security forces members cooked a juicy steak for him as his last meal, however, he was so weak from the pain and medication that he didn't want to eat. "

That dog loved to eat his food, so seeing that was upsetting because when you work with these dogs day in and out, you know when something is wrong, and when they aren't acting like themselves," said Staff Sgt. David Yaronczyk, 375th SFS military working dog handler. "I had never seen him like that before."

Breston received military honors broadcast across the security forces' radios during his final moments.

"I felt a tremendous amount of sadness seeing him pass away," said Yaronczyk. "I knew that the Air Force lost a great asset and MWD. Breston meant the world to me. He was my first K9 partner assigned to me as a handler. The bond between us was very strong, I loved and cared about him very much."

Military working dogs are trained on various tasks depending on if they are a bomb dog or a drug dog.

They are also trained to attack fleeing suspects. Handlers and their dogs train daily to keep the dogs at the top of their game.

"Breston, in comparison to other MWDs, during work was a 'beast' in bite work," said Yaronczyk. "He loved to bite the'bad guys' and he had an amazing drive to work to find drugs and bad guys during training and in the real world."

"I went on my first temporary duty as a MWD handler with him to Grissom Air Reserve Base for a drug interdiction mission," said Yaronczyk.

"He was very protective of his Kennel or 'house' as we call it. He also was protective of his handler, and I saw this on every traffic stop I made or while on walking patrols with him."

Yaronczyk said his partner would always like standing up in his kennel and licking his face while he was driving. He also loved to stare down anyone near the car even if it as a fellow K9 handler.

"Outside of work, when I would come in to run with him and exercise, he was a big baby," said Yaronczyk. "

He loved to play with his Kong and play keep away with the aggression balls we have at the kennels."

This is heartbreaking, and I feel like I lost a small piece of my career in a sense.

I know that when I come into the kennels the next time I won't see him wagging his tail waiting for me to come by and say hi.

I will always remember how great of a partner, friend, and family member he was. Breston will be truly missed and always remembered."

Air Advisor Academy consolidates expertise and training under the Expeditionary Center

by Lt. Col. Laurie A. Arellano
USAF Expeditionary Center Public Affairs

7/15/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center officially assumed the responsibility of being the Air Force's sole provider of training for general purpose force Air Advisors as the program was inactivated July 10 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. This continues the transition of the Air Advisor Academy's courses, formerly under Air Education and Training Command, into the USAF EC's USAF Expeditionary Operations School.

The first class to graduate under the USAF EOS program began in early June as the last classes at the Academy continued to wrap up.

"Air Force leadership determined that Air Advisor skills are extremely necessary for the success of the security cooperation and building partnerships missions," said Mr. Ken Arteaga, USAF EOS deputy director. "It is important to continue the training even as we adjust to a changing budget environment."

The Air Advisor Academy trained Airmen to safely operate in unfamiliar places as they build cross-cultural relationships and support the Department of Defense's role in building partner nation capacities.

Col. Steven Cabosky, Air Advisor Academy commandant, says advising is a unique and specialized skill set, and one of the most dangerous duties our Airmen perform.

"The Air Force does a great job in the technical training arena," said Cabosky. "Our students come to us as subject matter experts in their career fields.  The Air Advisor Academy then educates Airmen in fundamental advising skills and gives them the cross-cultural communication skills to work with foreign militaries.  They also get the force protection skills they need to survive in hostile and uncertain environments.  We train these warrior/diplomats to be safe and effective in their Advisor roles," Cabosky said.

Scott Gericke, Air Advisor Academy dean of faculty, said the Academy focused on those traits that enable the advisor to build relationships and enable partner nation forces to effectively support security cooperation agreements. Those enabling traits include building trust, cross-cultural competency and confidence when operating in uncertain situations.

The Academy also taught the core knowledge and unique skill sets needed by an Air Advisor such as: being able to assess, train, advise, and assist host nation military forces, to speak common phrases in their native language, to know mission specific information, and the strategic guidance for a particular AOR.

"A properly trained advisor is a force multiplier," said Gericke.  "Experience has shown someone can be a good officer and a good technician, but a poor advisor.  Not everyone is cut out to be an advisor."

Arteaga said moving the program under the USAF EC consolidates Air Advisor expertise, provides continuity of training, and more closely links the program to the continuous improvement of Air Advisor Tactics, Techniques and Procedures maintained at the USAF EC.

"What this does is provide a more efficient program and synergizes all of the lines of the effort," said Arteaga. "It's the students and the COCOM commanders who win."

The biggest difference for students will be the efficiency of fieldcraft portions of the training.  Air Advisor students will merge with students from the USAF EC's other expeditionary skills training courses to maximize the use of staff and ranges as well as increase the types of skill training offered.

The most visible face of this training has been the Air Advisor presence in Afghanistan.  The Advisors to the Afghan Army and Air Force continue to be in high demand.   Air Advisors also continue to provide enduring support for diplomatic requirements across the globe in every combatant command.

As the USAF EC focuses on continuing to train advisors supporting standing force requirements, it is also prepared to adapt to emerging contingency requirements quickly and effectively.  The USAF EC has developed a modular approach to the training that increases the flexibility of the training offered depending on COCOM requirements, characterized as a 'plug and play' approach to programming the courses.

"We're very happy to be selected as the focal point to support this enduring global requirement," said Arteaga.

Fuel systems repair hangar officially opens

by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski
355th Fighter Wing public affairs

7/15/2015 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 355th Component Maintenance Squadron's joint fuel cell repair hangar ribbon cutting ceremony was held July 13.

The facility was constructed to improve efficiency within the joint fuel cell leading to the reduction in man hours and operating costs.

The new hangar is Air Combat Command's largest aircraft fuel systems repair section. It supports eight aircraft maintenance units which service assets with a combined worth of over $3.3 billion.

The structure is comprised of many state of the art features which contribute to the fuel system repair section's effort to be self-sufficient.

"We no longer have to make trips to maintenance to get what we need," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Newman, 355th CMS assistant fuel systems section chief. "Whether it's air hoses, respirator hoses or lights, everything is built into the ceiling of the hangar. Now we just have to walk to the side of the hangar, push a button and everything we need rolls out from the ceiling above the aircraft."

The facility encompasses 29,000 square feet and is capable of housing one C-130 Hercules, or either two A-10 Thunderbolts or HH-60 Pavehawks. It is equipped with three overhead stations to allow the repair section to work on multiple fuel tanks at a time.

"We can refuel and defuel in our own hangar as opposed to assembling a tow team to bring the aircraft out to refuel, diagnose, then defuel it to put into our hangar for repair," Newman said. "This feature will save us hundreds of man hours annually."

Another addition to the building that was not available to the repair section's previous location, is its own aircraft power unit. The wall-mounted unit has an output of 115 volts and 400 hertz to supply power to the systems of the aircraft in need of repair. This allows the repair section to diagnose problems without having to put in a request for a separate generator, according to Newman.

The Airmen of the aircraft fuel systems section have been ready to begin working in their new location since the beginning of its construction in April 2013.

"If I was a brand new Airman who was assigned here, I'd get a sense of pride after seeing the brand new building," Newman said. "I'd think to myself 'Wow, stepping into The Blue was worth it.' I think it will create a sense of pride among the Airmen who work here."

U.S., Aussies conduct joint refueling for Talisman Sabre 2015

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

7/16/2015 - DARWIN, Australia  -- Above the skies North Australian coast, in support of Talisman Sabre 2015 exercise operations, members of the U.S. and Royal Australian Air Force are conducting air refueling missions for U.S. and Australian fighters to improve interoperability and familiarization with each other's procedures July 15, 2015.

A variety of U.S. and Australian F/A-18 Hornets, Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers lined each side of the Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft and U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extenders from the 2nd Air Refueling Squadron, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to refuel.

"This is about our 8th sortie and we will continue on throughout the exercise," said squadron leader Stephen Monypenny, No. 33 Squadron Air combat officer and air refueling operator. "Our primary receiver has been U.S. Navy aircraft, which has been great for us because we've only been working with them the last year or so, so we're still learning their refueling processes."

The crew of four has been flying an average of two refueling missions a day throughout the exercise. For this particular mission, they provided fuel for 11 aircraft and offloaded about 135,000 pounds of fuel.

"Today was really busy for us," Monypenny said. "We usually refuel about half of the number of aircraft we did today."

The KC-30 used in the exercise was originally an Airbus A330 commercial jetliner, but was modified with military refueling capabilities. A drogue, or fuel line, extends from each of the aircraft's wings. The air flow for the moving plane holds the drogue steady as it hangs behind the wing, allowing the pilot of a refueling aircraft to navigate into position and connect to receive fuel. In all, it can carry 110 tons of fuel, 80 tons of cargo and 270 passengers.

Using either an advanced aerial refueling boom, or a hose and drogue centerline refueling system, the KC-10 can refuel a wide variety of U.S. and allied military aircraft within the same mission. The aircraft is equipped with lighting for night operations. The KC-10 can transport up to 75 people and nearly 170,000 pounds (76,560 kilograms) of cargo a distance of about 4,400 miles (7,040 kilometers) unrefueled.

RAAF Cpl. Benjamin Roberts, a No. 33 Squadron crew attendant, said the joint refueling training is good experience and valuable training for his crew.

"I've enjoyed this exercise and the opportunity to get experience with other countries' operations and airframes," Roberts said. "I think it's good that we can both learn from each other because we have different processes."

Monypenny also highlighted the importance of the joint operations.

"This exercise is perfect training for us," Monypenny said. "We're getting familiarized with each other's procedures, call signs, habits and nuances, and that makes it a lot easier for all of us when we have joint operations in the future."

Talisman Sabre 2015 is a joint exercise between the U.S. and Australia that improves both countries' ability to plan and execute a full range of operations from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts.

Eject or die: Optimism helps see Vietnam vet survive 2,355 days as POW

by Karen Abeyasekere
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/16/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- When 2nd Lt. John "Spike" Nasmyth climbed into his F-4 Phantom to fly a combat mission over Vietnam, he never forsaw that he'd be blown out of the sky Sept. 4, 1966, by a surface-to-air missile.

The last words he heard before his jet was transformed into a lump of crumpled, metal wreckage were from his "guy in back," Ray Salzurulo, pilot systems operator - "Hey, Spike - here comes another..."

Direct hit

As the missile struck, the first thing in Spike's mind was disbelief.

"As with all good fighter pilots, I thought I was invincible," said the 74-year-old Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war during a visit to RAF Mildenhall July 8, 2015. "I couldn't believe that they'd got me! But then, as I realized I was falling toward the ground at an appalling rate, I said to myself, 'Eject or die Spike!' It looked like a movie - I was tumbling toward the ground and it just looked like it was spiraling toward me at a hell of a rate! That's what made me eject."

In 1966, Spike was assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Ubon Air Force Base, Thailand, where he flew combat missions in support of the Vietnam War.

Crash landing

After what seemed like an eternity, his parachute opened and brought him down to earth somewhere north of Hanoi. Struggling to free himself from his canopy harness, Spike realized he'd been injured during the ejection. A shard of metal had gouged through his arm and gone in just below the elbow, out the other side, straight into his leg.

"It was just like a piece of red, raw meat was coming out of my right arm!" exclaimed Spike, showing off his forearm and the scars he still bears today.

On the ground, he was immediately surrounded by the North Vietnamese, some of whom started to beat him before hauling him away to collect their bounty. They took him to the infamous Hanoi Hilton - the first of several prison camps which would become his "home" for the next 2,355 days.

Unbreakable spirit

Spike was subjected to constant torture and near starvation during the first three years. The guards would find any reason to humiliate him and try and break his spirit at every opportunity, refusing to acknowledge that Spike was a POW. They referred to him as a war criminal, and as far as they were concerned, the Geneva Convention didn't apply to war criminals.

After several months of solitary confinement, he was allowed to mix with the other "American air pirates," as they were called by their captors. Together, they were held in a camp known as "The Zoo."

Sunny side of life

Being reintegrated into the general population of the camp brought new challenges for Spike. Primarily this meant getting along with others sharing a cell. An antagonistic relationship between cell mates could make long days and months even worse.

"I only had one I considered killing," Spike said tongue-in-cheek. "Luckily, I had great cell mates; my best one ever was a guy named Jim Piere, from Bessema, Alabama. Nothing got him down; everything was a joke! I was with him for six months, and we laughed the entire time."

His positive outlook got him through dark times where others would have given up.

"I'm a perpetual optimist and always have been," Spike grinned. "I always see the light at the end of the tunnel. Most fighter pilots are optimists, because flying a fighter plane is damn dangerous! It's nothing but a little tube full of fuel and bombs. So you don't get worried about things going 'BOOM...'

"Most fighter pilots figured they'd survive and get out - most of us did. The optimists survived, the pessimists died. Every guy I know who died was a pessimist. If you look at the dark side and think you're probably not going to make it, you don't."

'Remember - no 'k''

The prisoners learned to communicate in the form of tapping on the walls, and quickly passed messages around the camp in this manner. An entire communications network was built up around "the tap code."

When he first entered the camp in solitary confinement, Spike had heard the tapping, but had no clue as to what it was. His fellow Americans taught him the secret code: "The alphabet has 25 letters, no 'k'. Five lines of five letters. The first tap is for the line. The second tap is the letter in the line. Remember, no 'k;' use 'c' for 'k.'"

"I had nothing but time on my hands, so I practiced," he said. "I could do it so well, and would send messages fast and receive them first; it kept me busy and in the know!"

The code helped keep the POWs safe and sane, enabling them to share which lies they would tell their torturers. If they all said the same thing, then there was more chance of being believed.

All the while, the prisoners were on the lookout for the Vietnamese guards. If caught communicating, they were subjected to severe punishment. One prisoner would be down on his hands and knees looking through the gap under the door, keeping watch for the boots of their captors.

"I don't think they ever figured out the extent of our communications," laughed Spike. "They'd have probably just cut our heads off! They just didn't have a dream that we were as clever as we were. We could get a message through the 14 cells in The Zoo in three days! Even though it was caveman-primitive how we did it, we did it pretty cleverly."

Free at last!

As B-52 Stratofortresses attacked Hanoi during Operation Linebacker II Dec. 18 to 29, 1972, Spike recalled how the men at The Zoo endured a very violent two weeks that ended as quickly as it had begun.

"Then everything stopped. The Paris Peace Talks were happening, and after we bombed Hanoi, the Vietnamese decided they'd had enough of that, so they signed the Paris Peace Accords Jan. 3, 1973," he said.

One of the stipulations of the accord was that it had to be read to all the prisoners, so they were marched outside the Hanoi Hilton, where someone read the whole thing to them - in Vietnamese.

"None of us understood two words of it and it took them about an hour to read," he recalled, adding that an interpreter eventually read it in English.

Approximately 300 men were released. For most, this was the first chance they'd had to see each other. Inside the prison, they'd never been allowed to all be together.

"My big worry the whole time was that I'd wake up from a dream. Even the day I was released, I kept poking myself, saying 'don't wake up, man!'" said Spike. "When I was on that American plane - a C-141 Starlifter - and flew out of there, I was still thinking it was a dream. But it wasn't."

From past to present

As the Vietnam veteran arrived at RAF Mildenhall July 8, 2015, on his way to talk to today's U.S. Air Force Airmen, he saw KC-135 Stratotankers lined up on the flightline, and reminisced on the happy memories it brought back.

A KC-135 was the last aircraft he saw before getting hit by the SAM. It had just refueled his F-4, and he was full of praise for them.

"It was exhilarating and amazing to see them (on Mildenhall); I thought, 'my God - how old are they?'" Spike exclaimed.

"We loved the tankers, because they saved our bacon," he recalled. "They would deviate (from their route) and come north to get us if we were really short on fuel. They did it regularly, and I'm sure it was against orders, but they just did it. They were good guys."

Hearing war stories from the past aids in keeping history alive, and can help give Airmen of today a clearer picture of the struggles of those who served before them.

"Heritage is important to the 100th Air Refueling Wing and it should be for every Airman," said Col. Thomas D. Torkelson, 100th ARW commander. "To hear such incredible stories of service and sacrifice from a true hero of the Vietnam era is an amazing honor. Spike Nasmyth and his fellow POWs are an inspiration that motivates each of us to give a little more every day."

USS Lassen, USS Fort Worth Complete First Combined South China Sea Operations

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop, USS Fort Worth Public Affairs

SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) -- The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) partnered with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) to complete their first combined South China Sea presence operations, July 9.

"Our presence operations with USS Lassen demonstrates the U.S Navy's commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and emphasizes our ability to conduct maritime operations freely on the high seas," said Cmdr. Rich Jarrett, commanding officer of Fort Worth. "The 16-month deployment rotation for littoral combat ships like USS Fort Worth provides persistent presence that contributes to maritime stability throughout the region."

During combined presence operations in the South China Sea, Fort Worth and Lassen conducted joint maneuvering exercises at sea, working together to seamlessly share information between the two platforms.

"It's truly an honor to be part of the first joint presence operations in the South China Sea between an LCS and DDG," said Cmdr. Robert Francis, Lassen's commanding officer. "Lassen and Fort Worth complemented each other operationally, and the crews learned many great lessons that we will share with the fleet."

Fort Worth and Lassen also conducted joint flight operations with the ships' embarked MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters providing critical maritime domain awareness for both platforms.

"LCSs are accustomed to independent steaming, so sailing with Lassen was a welcomed change to our daily routine at sea," said Cmdr. Christopher Brown, prospective commanding officer of Fort Worth. "The operating picture shared between both ships proved invaluable in increasing our situational awareness."

Presence operations also provide U.S. Navy ships the opportunity to practice the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with other nations' ships operating in the region. Since the CUES agreement was established in April 2014, Fort Worth, Lassen and other U.S. Navy ships have been using CUES to formally communicate maneuvering intentions with ships from other navies, to minimize the risk of miscalculations at sea.

"Codified formal communications really do help eliminate miscommunications and clarify intentions between units," said Brown. "We use both CUES and plain voice on the marine [very high frequency] radio to communicate with other ships operating in this region."

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.

USS Houston Visits Singapore During Western Pacific Deployment

By Lt. Luis Luy, USS Houston Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Houston (SSN 713) arrived in Singapore July 15 for a visit as part of its deployment to the Western Pacific.

With a crew of approximately 142, Houston will conduct a multitude of missions and showcase the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet.

"Being in Singapore and part of a bilateral exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy is a great opportunity," said Cmdr. Scott McGinnis, Houston's commanding officer. "Singapore and Houston have a long history together; during World War II, Sailors from the heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30), after fighting in the Java sea were brought to Singapore for three months as prisoners of war. It is an honor to return here in memorial to their sacrifices.

"The crew is excited about the engagement during CARAT [Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training] Singapore and proud to be a part of the strong relationship between the Republic of Singapore and the United States."

Houston is equipped with four torpedo tubes, two countermeasure tubes and the ability to deploy and operate around the globe. Houston's design and crew spirit has earned recognition for being one of the fastest and fiercest vessels in the Pacific.

"Since departing Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, mighty warship Houston and her crew have been deployed to the 7th Fleet AOR demonstrating both the professionalism and perseverance that it takes to be a successful Western Pacific asset," said Senior Chief Sonar Technician Paul McCrory, the chief of the boat aboard Houston. "Their pride is displayed daily by continuing our storied history in the United States Navy and the Pacific Fleet with challenging operations and successful port calls. This deployment will culminate 33 years of dedication to the silent service. My crew is looking forward to our port visit in Singapore. We look forward to strengthening our bond and sharing our experiences with our Singaporean counterparts. We are also excited and grateful for the hospitality and the opportunity to experience Singapore's culture and all that Singapore has to offer, especially to our many young Sailors who are visiting for the first time."

For some of the crew, this is their first time visiting Singapore.

"I am quite excited about visiting Singapore since I hear that it offers a great variety of stores, in addition to an enhanced quality of life," said Electronics Technician Seaman Juanya Whittaker. "In particular, I am looking forward to exploring their computer stores and culture as a whole. I expect to purchase a few memorable items to send back home since this is my first time. Nonetheless, I will definitely ride on their famous Ferris wheel. Lastly, I look forward to being a tourist and experiencing all that Singapore has to offer."

Measuring 360 feet long and displacing 6,900 tons when submerged, Houston is one of the stealthiest submarines in the world. This submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance.

Houston is homeported out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is the fourth U.S. Navy vessel to be named after the city of Houston, Texas. In commemoration of the heavy weight cruiser USS Houston (CA 30), most commonly known as the Ghost of the Java Coast, which was lost in the Battle of the Java Sea, Houston (SSN 713) was commissioned on Sept. 25, 1982 and has starred in deployments, exercises and the famous submarine movie, The Hunt for Red October. Houston is the 132nd nuclear-powered submarine and the 20th of the Los Angeles class.