Military News

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

75 Years of Pelican Pride

by Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/29/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- "Once a Pelican, always a Pelican," said Lt. Col. Matthew Husemann, 9th Airlift Squadron commander.

The 9th AS celebrated its 75th Anniversary with various events and reunions Sept. 25-26, 2015, at Dover AFB, Delaware.

"The Proud Pelicans have been built by 75 years of tradition from the leaders that have come before us," said Husemann. "They're the ones that taught us how to move the mission; they're the shoulders of the giants we stand on today."

The 75th Anniversary weekend's events and reunions included a golf tournament at Eagle Creek Golf Course and a Block Party Cookout on Friday. Saturday saw a 75th Anniversary Barbecue Lunch and a Plane Pull at the Air Mobility Command Museum. Countless 9th AS alumni, current Pelicans and their families attended this event. The weekend's activities concluded with the 75th Anniversary Reunion Banquet at the Duncan Center in downtown Dover.

"It's a time for former Pelicans to interact with current ones," said Capt. Joel Loftus, 9th AS pilot and 75th Anniversary events organizer. "This whole weekend is about us reflecting on how some things have changed, and how some things stayed the same."

Originally designated at the 9th Transportation Squadron, the 9th activated on Dec. 1, 1940, a year prior to the American entry into World War II. During the war, the 9th went through several changes. In 1942, it was redesignated as the 9th Troop Carrier Squadron and moved from its original home at Patterson Field, Ohio, to Camp Williams, Wisconsin. The squadron then moved to Hickam Field, Hawaii, in early 1944 to support operations in the Pacific against Japan. The squadron's mission consisted of transporting cargo, mail and passengers, as well as the air evacuation of the wounded. Highlights for the squadron include aircrews dropping supplies to U.S. Marines fighting on the island of Iwo Jima, and deforestation spraying missions over the islands of Okinawa. The squadron was decorated with several campaign streamers during the war to include: Air Offensive - Japan, Eastern Mandates, Western Pacific, Ryukyu Islands, New Guinea, Biskmark Archipelago and Leyte. The 9th TCS was inactivated on Oct. 15, 1946.

The squadron reactivated and re-inactivated several times over the next two decades, and redesignated itself as the 9th Military Airlift Squadron. During this time, the squadron settled down and began to grow roots in its new home, Dover AFB, in 1968. The squadron inactivated one last time in that year to prepare for its new fleet of C-5 Galaxies in 1971. Since receiving the C-5, the squadron has supported nearly every major airlift operation throughout the world. In 1991, the squadron once again redesignated itself to its current name, as the 9th Airlift Squadron.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Pelicans have once again taken center stage. By the end of 2001, the 9th flew more than 535 sorties and delivered more than 25.5 million pounds of cargo in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Noble eagle, and Infinite Justice. In 2003, the squadron once again answered the nation's call in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, surging to a 300 percent operations tempo. The squadron flew 11,161 hours and moved 106,767 pounds of cargo and 23,000 troops.

Today, the 9th AS continues to support military and humanitarian operations around the world. The 9th AS will fly to wherever the U.S. needs it to.

Over the past 75 years, the 9th AS has operated C-33 Debonairs, C-34 Airmasters, C-39 DC-2s, C-50 Twin Bonanzas, C-53 Skytroppers, C-47 Skytrains, C-46 Commandos, C-54 Skymasters, C-124 Globemaster IIs, C-141Starlifters and C-5 Galaxies. Today, they fly the newly upgraded C-5M Super Galaxies. The dedicated pilots, loadmasters and flight engineers of the 9th AS have operated all of these aircraft.

"We are the Proud Pelicans, we are the 9th Airlift Squadron," said Husemann. "We often talk about the four patches that you wear on your flight suit as you go out and who it is that you represent."

Pointing to the American Flag on his left shoulder, Husemann said, "We've had a storied tradition to always be able to represent the United States of America, and that's first and foremost."

The commander then pointed to the AMC emblem on his right chest.

"Then we represent Air Mobility Command," he said. "The patch has changed over the years, depending on where the 9th has called home."

The third patch that Husemann pointed to was the blue and orange squadron patch on his right shoulder.

"The other patch that you get to wear is that patch on your shoulder that is the Proud Pelican," he said. "The power behind that patch and what you represent is 75 years of excellence, moving the mission and rocking it all over the world."

The fourth and final patch Husemann pointed to was his nametag.

"Finally, the thing that you represent is yourself," he said. "So if you are going to call yourself a Proud Pelican, then you better represent yourself well."

Service Members' Compensation for Unlawful Foreclosures Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Rises to $311 Million



The Justice Department announced today that an additional 1,461 service members and their co-borrowers are eligible to receive over $186 million for home foreclosures under the department’s settlements with five of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers.  Those settlements implement the protections of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  Together with other foreclosure-related compensation announced by the department in February, a total of 2,413 service members and their co-borrowers are eligible to receive over $311 million.  The five mortgage servicers are JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. (JP Morgan Chase); Wells Fargo Bank N.A. and Wells Fargo & Co. (Wells Fargo); Citi Residential Lending Inc., Citibank, NA and CitiMortgage Inc. (Citi); GMAC Mortgage LLC, Ally Financial Inc. and Residential Capital LLC (GMAC Mortgage); and Bank of America N.A., Countrywide Home Loans Inc., Countrywide Financial Corp., Countrywide Home Loans Servicing L.P. and BAC Home Loans Servicing L.P. (Bank of America).

The compensation results from the SCRA portion of the 2012 settlement known as the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) and an earlier settlement with Bank of America, for foreclosures that took place between Jan. 1, 2006, and Apr. 4, 2012, where the servicer obtained a foreclosure without a judicial proceeding or where the servicer obtained a default foreclosure judgment without filing a proper affidavit with the court stating that the service member was in military service.

“While this compensation will provide some financial relief to more than 2,400 service members and their families, the fact is no one serving our country in the Armed Forces should ever have to worry about losing their home to an illegal foreclosure,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.  “Through the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative, the Department of Justice will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect service members and their families from such unjust actions.”

“We are very pleased that the men and women of the armed forces who were subjected to unlawful foreclosure judgments while they were serving our country are now receiving compensation,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “We look forward, in the coming months, to facilitating the compensation of additional service members who were subjected to excess interest charges on their mortgages.  We appreciate that JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, GMAC Mortgage and Bank of America have been working cooperatively with the Justice Department to compensate the service members whose rights were violated.”

Section 533 of the SCRA prohibits non-judicial foreclosures against service members who are in military service or within the applicable post-service period, as long as they originated their mortgages before their period of military service began.  Even in states that normally allow mortgage foreclosures to proceed non-judicially, the SCRA prohibits servicers from doing so against protected service members during their military service and applicable post-military service coverage period.  Section 521 of the SCRA prohibits mortgage servicers from obtaining default judgments against service members unless they file an affidavit with the court stating whether the defendant is in military service.  If the affidavit shows that the person is in military service, the court must appoint an attorney to represent the service member and may delay or “stay” the foreclosure proceeding for a minimum of 90 days.

Under the NMS, for mortgages serviced by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi and GMAC Mortgage, the identified service members will each receive $125,000, plus any lost equity in the property and interest on that equity.  Eligible co-borrowers will also be compensated for their share of any lost equity in the property.  To ensure consistency with an earlier private settlement, JP Morgan Chase will provide any identified service member either the property free and clear of any debt or the cash equivalent of the full value of the home at the time of sale, and the opportunity to submit a claim for compensation for any additional harm suffered, which will be determined by a special consultant, retired U.S. District Court Judge Edward N. Cahn.  Payment amounts have been reduced for those service members or co-borrowers who have previously received compensation directly from the servicer or through a prior settlement, such as the independent foreclosure review conducted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Board.

The NMS process for identifying service members eligible for foreclosure-related relief is now complete.  The department expects that additional service members will be identified in the coming months based upon ongoing reviews of Bank of America’s non-judicial foreclosures pursuant to the earlier settlement.

The NMS also provides compensation for service members who gave proper notice to the servicer, but were denied the full benefit of the SCRA’s 6 percent interest rate cap on pre-service mortgages.  The service members entitled to compensation under this provision will be identified in the upcoming months.

Carter: Avoiding Shutdown Not Enough for Troops, National Defense



By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, September 30, 2015 — Avoiding a government shutdown tomorrow is not enough for service members and the national defense, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at a Pentagon news conference today.

Carter said he and other advisors already have recommended that President Barack Obama veto the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that will reach the president’s desk tomorrow. The bill sets spending goals for fiscal year 2016, which begins tomorrow.

“It appears, at this hour at least, that we will avoid the trauma of a government shutdown for now,” the secretary told reporters. “But that’s not enough,” he added. “It's not enough for our troops [and] not enough for the defense of our country, because this is about more than just the short-term damage of a temporary shutdown. It's also about the accumulating and lasting damage that comes from a paycheck-to-paycheck approach to budgeting for the defense of our country.”

Funding the Department

Carter said that although the bill contains some funding authorities, the Defense Department needs an appropriations bill that funds the entire department.

The NDAA also tries to evade the question of overall fiscal responsibility, Carter said, by using what he referred to as “the so-called OCO gimmick,” in which overseas contingency operations funds are used to pay normal department expenses to get around budget caps such as those set by the Budget Control Act.

This approach, Carter said, “is objectionable to me and to [those] in other agencies, and I think ought to be to the taxpayer and certainly to the warfighter.”

The NDAA contains other objectionable provisions, he added, including disallowing key defense reforms that extend from health care to force structure and represent billions of dollars.

Next Generation

“That’s not OK with me, because that is taking dollars that I already regard as short for national defense and using them in a way that we, the department leadership, have for several years determined are not in the national interest,” he said.

On the severe cuts in defense spending that sequestration-level funding represents, Carter said the department must innovate and attract the best people to develop the next generation of capabilities and meet the current generation of threats. Political gridlock could hold it all back, he added.

“The alternative to a budget deal -- a long-term continuing resolution -- is merely sequester-level funding under a different name,” the secretary said, adding that this eventually will result in a $38 billion deficit in resources for the military if Congress pursues this path for the full year.

Painful Choices

Through seven straight years of continuing resolutions, Carter said, the department has made painful choices and tradeoffs in the joint force’s size, capabilities and readiness. Meanwhile, he added, “the world has not stood still. Russia and China have advanced their new capabilities, and new imperatives such as ensuring the lasting defeat of [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] have emerged.”

In such a dynamic security environment, sequestration and a long-term continuing resolution puts the Defense Department in a straitjacket, Carter said.

“Making these kinds of indiscriminate cuts is managerially inefficient and therefore wasteful to taxpayers and industry,” the secretary said. “It's dangerous for our strategy, and frankly, it's embarrassing in front of the world.

“Most importantly to me,” he continued, “for the men and women serving our national defense and their families, it adds an absolutely undeserved element of uncertainty about their future.”

Force of the Future

During the news conference, Carter also mentioned planning for the Force of the Future, noting that today service leaders will submit reports to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that contain recommendations on positions they plan to open to women and exceptions to opening all combat specialties to women.

Carter said he would carefully review the information and analysis from all four services and U.S. Special Operations Command to make his final determination.

“As secretary of defense, I’m committed to seeing this through,” he said, “because attracting the best and staying the best means that wherever possible, we must open ourselves to the talents and strengths of all Americans who can contribute with excellence to our force.”

Face of Defense: Soldier Employs Language Skills to Build Bridges



By Army Sgt. Jarred Woods, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

PANEVEZYS, Lithuania, September 30, 2015 — The language skills of one soldier assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s Dog Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, have helped to build a unique connection between U.S. and Lithuanian service members.

Born and raised in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, U.S. Army Pfc. Aidarbek Raev, a unit supply specialist, grew up speaking Russian, the second-most common language in Lithuania. His journey to the U.S. and eventual enlistment into military service was unexpected, he said.

 “Honestly, it wasn’t really planned,” Raev said. “When you grow up in Kyrgyzstan, you’re more orientated to Russia. I was going to go to the Russian economic academy in Moscow, but when I was in my eleventh year my mother said, ‘Do you want to go to the states for a couple years and learn the language?’ I said, ‘Why not? Let’s give it a shot.’”

His mother’s blessing might have been the final push for Raev to journey to the United States, but his constant drive toward self-improvement and continued education is his father’s legacy, he said.

“My dad was always saying, ‘Go to better schools,’” Raev said. “When I was young, he took me out of public school to a private school, which was better for math and science. Around my dinner table, there were always discussions about politics and economics.”

 “My dad thought the colleges were better in the [U.S.] than in Kyrgyzstan or in Russia,” Raev said. “It was kind of always intended for me to go to better schools.”

Education

Raev ultimately made it to Texas to study economics, which wasn’t without its challenges.

 “My English wasn’t that good, so it took me about three months to get through the language barrier, and up to six months to be really confident speaking, writing and reading in it,” he said. “The hardest part was being away from family and friends at [age] 17.”

Following a couple semesters in Texas, Raev traveled to Philadelphia to pursue a business degree and to be near his parents, who had moved there. During this time, Raev’s father was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

“They gave him four months to live,” Raev said. “During those four months, I spent every possible moment with my dad. We would go for walks and talk about life and my future.”

“He said, ‘I sent you here so you can be different and get a better education, but also so you can go back to Kyrgyzstan and make a difference. Would you go back to Kyrgyzstan?’ I said, ‘Dad, since I’ve moved to the states, I’ve changed. My perspectives about the world have changed. If I graduate, it’s going to change even more. I’ll give you an answer when I get my master’s degree,’” he said.

After his father’s passing and a few more years of school, Raev’s path would indeed continue to change. With his student visa nearing its end, military service seemed a viable option.

“I was reading the New York Times, and one of the ads was about a ‘path to U.S. citizenship through military service,’” Raev said. “I started reading about and researching it. I wasn’t eligible at first. There wasn’t a program for people with an international student visa to join the military. I either had to be a resident or a citizen.”

Enlistment

Fluent in Russian, he was able to enlist in the U.S. Army due to the strategic importance of the Russian language.

Raev entered basic training in January 2014, and said he loved it.

“Even after six years of being in the states, it was my first time being exposed to American culture,” he said. “College is one thing, but on a day-to-day basis, being side-by-side with other Americans, I learned that there are a lot of great people -- good people who show that they want to be great.”

Raev’s peers selected him to be a team leader and toward the end of his training he was promoted to squad leader.

“I saw that in the military and in basic training -- no matter where you come from, no matter your religion or ethnicity -- if you have a skill and you’re easy to work with, they’re going to promote you,” he said. “There were other guys who were better than me, but they saw something in me and they pulled me out front to be a leader -- I respect that.”

Following basic and advanced individual training, Raev attended the U.S. Army Airborne School and was eventually assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Now his company’s supply sergeant -- a duty position three tiers above his pay grade -- Raev’s leaders say he exemplifies outstanding professionalism and discipline.

“Raev is absolutely invaluable to this company,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Steven Siberski, a native of Clearwater, Fla., and a platoon leader in Dog Company. “His language and cultural knowledge really bridges the gap between us and our host nation allies here. What he’s able to do, as far as communicating and establishing relationships and a good working environment, has made Dog Company’s stay here in Lithuania that much better.”

“As far as establishing networks for our sustainment such as food, cleaning supplies, laundry and all the other basic essential things we would need to sustain ourselves here, Raev has done a fantastic job facilitating our needs within the local community,” the lieutenant said.

Undecided Future

Raev has now obtained his U.S. citizenship and new doors have opened on his future, however uncertain that future may be.

“I think a lot of people in my position might consider going green to gold,” Raev said. I already have my associate’s degree, and if I were to become an officer, they would help pay for my bachelor’s.”

But, he said, “I’m not sure if I want to stay past my four-year contract, because my family doesn’t really understand why I have to be away all the time. Family is extremely important to me. Am I going to stay in and go green to gold? I don’t know.”

Although Raev may be unsure of his next step, others have no doubt as to his future success.

“I think his potential is limitless,” Siberski said. “What he’s doing right now, as a private, is incredibly impressive. With further progression and development, he could really accomplish anything he wants in the U.S. Army.”