Friday, October 16, 2015

Iowa Guardsmen Celebrate Heritage at Latino Festival

By Shannon Collins DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, October 14, 2015 — With the smell of paella and the sounds of Brazilian music floating through the air, hundreds of civilians, service members and veterans gathered to honor their Hispanic heritage at the Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 26-27.

“The festival celebrates and educates the community on the 22 Latin American countries represented here in Iowa,” said Iowa Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Connie Williams. “It’s important that we recognize our Latin culture here in the United States and here in Iowa. They are our future, and they have a lot to offer. Working together, we can achieve great things through diversity of thought, diversity of background and diversity of experience.”

The Iowa Army National Guard, based out of Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, has supported the festival since 2004. The festival has been going on for 15 years and consists of everything from dancing and a variety of food to Brazilian Capoeira, a type of martial arts, and dancing.

Iowa Army National Guard Capt. Jared Williams, a logistics officer of Puerto Rican descent, said being raised in a Latino culture has been beneficial for his military service.

“Latinos by nature, we’re very affectionate and are very close to our families,” he said. “That’s part of the attractiveness of joining the service. We preach the same thing. In the Army we are family. The unit you’re with is your family. That’s your blood; the people you’re attached to. So that bond is very important.”

Jared Williams said he joined the military because of “obligation and duty to my country, to be a better citizen and because I have a family heritage inside the military that drove that desire for me to serve.”


For Albert Martinez, a former Marine platoon sergeant who represents the American Legion at the festival, the event gives him a chance to represent veterans and his heritage.

“We’re here to recruit new members who may need help with money, help, family; we try to take care of all we can do for them,” he said. “We’re here for the veterans but we’re also here to pass on our heritage to the younger generation to keep our heritage going.”

Iowa Army National Guard Sgt. Michael Bebensee, from Clinton, Iowa, was on hand to recruit for the Army National Guard.

“The Hispanic community here in Iowa is huge for us,” he said. “The more we can bring into the National Guard, the more we can diversify, help serve them better and help serve us better. We’re here to serve the community and educate them on the different benefits we have such as college benefits, citizenship, job training and leadership opportunities.”


Jared Williams said he’s grateful for the Iowa festival, and for the Defense Department celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

“It’s important for the Defense Department to celebrate Hispanic Heritage because although the soldiers represent the United States, everyone comes from a very different background,” he said. “There are many different nationalities within the service, and it’s important for the Latino sector to see that we have Latinos serving in prominent positions. It’s also an opportunity for those who aren’t necessarily U.S. citizens to join the service and that will actually assist them in getting their citizenship into the country. We do have soldiers who are serving who are not U.S. citizens, but being in the service does help them get on the fast track toward getting their citizenship.”

Diversity Supports Military Missions

The Guardsmen said diversity will help service members in serving overseas.

“Americans all have different backgrounds and those can be very helpful for different situations in operations overseas in the theaters in the Middle East, Asia and South America. Those different backgrounds come into play in critical moments and can help us in very important situations in how to resolve those matters diplomatically,” Jared Williams said.
When it comes to festivals like this, “be open to new things, try something new, experience something new, and learn from someone. It doesn’t mean you have to change your beliefs or your background. Experience the world around you. It’s such a beautiful world and such an awesome place where we can all live together,” Connie Williams said.

JBER Airman meets senior Joint, Air Force leadership

Commentary by Airman 1st Class Calvin Stewart
3rd Wing Headquarters

10/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Washington, D.C., our nation's capital; a place where our nation's top leaders, civilian and military, make decisions that impact Airmen, Airmen who are the essential building blocks of the world's greatest Air Force.

These Air Force leaders sacrifice so much more than we realize unless we experience those sacrifices first hand. Every day, men and women work hard to improve the Air Force, even if it means spending more time at work than at home with family.

I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Washington with the 3rd Wing commander, Col. Charles Corcoran, and the 3rd Wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. JJ Little. We had the pleasure of visiting the Pentagon and Capitol Hill to get a better understanding of what the service's top leaders do for Airmen.

After walking around the Pentagon and feeling very lost in the never-ending hallways, I had the opportunity to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with Air Force Lt. Gen. Tod Wolters, director of operations for the Joint Staff.

To many, this would be a very intimidating situation. I, however, saw it as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk with the general about why I joined the Air Force and explain my plans for the future.

Wolters opened my eyes to all the opportunities the Air Force has to offer and how important it is to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise. He also explained how important it is to keep family close and to let them know how much they are appreciated, because they will still be there for you after you separate or retire from the Air Force.

Airmen sacrifice a lot serving our country; however, there are husbands, wives and other family members supporting us who deserve just as much credit.
Next on our tour, we headed to Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody's office. We were surprised to find him in his office, and he invited us in to meet him. Cody does not miss an opportunity to talk with Airmen, even if it means taking a few minutes out of his busy schedule for a selfie and a quick conversation.

After shaking his hand, he insisted I sit down at his desk and pose for a picture with him. This was one of the most motivating and exciting moments of my Air Force career so far. This moment is another example of exactly how our leaders truly care about Airman.

No matter the rank, they want to hear our stories and help guide us with their wisdom and experience. It was a humbling experience to be around these great leaders and hear not only how much they appreciate how hard Airmen work, but also how we complete the mission even with having limited resources to get it done.

My experience revealed that, just because these men and women work at the Pentagon or Capitol Hill, it does not mean they do not hear and care about what we do every day. Our dedication to the Air Force and the hard work we put in on a daily basis are noticed. In turn, these leaders do everything they can to improve our quality of life.

Another truly humbling experience on my visit was going to the Arlington National Cemetery. As soon as you walk in the gates, your eyes are drawn to the endless rows of headstones. These headstones represent all of the men and women who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

There are nearly 400,000 people buried there, and that number continues to grow daily. These are the heroes who embodied our core values to their last breath.

It is a humbling and solemn experience to walk through and read the names of all of our fallen brothers and sisters. It puts things into perspective with regards to how privileged we are to wear the same uniform as those fallen heroes who fought before us. Each day I put on my uniform, I will think back to my experience at Arlington National Cemetery and how truly blessed I am to serve the United States of America.

If I could pass on anything to my fellow Airmen from my experiences during this visit, it would be to take pride in the work you do every day. Be confident knowing you are serving a purpose greater than yourself.

Be grateful and make the most of the opportunities you are given. Be open and willing to listen and learn from the leaders above you, as they want the best for you and your success in the Air Force, as well as life in general.

Be proud to know you are a member of the world's greatest Air Force.

Face of Defense: Marine Returns to Native Philippines for Exercise

By Marine Corps Cpl. Joey Holeman 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines, October 15, 2015 — For the first time in nearly four years, Marine Corps Sgt. Viktor Cadiente is back in his homeland, and he's not on leave. He's here to support Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015.

"It's a nostalgic feeling to be in the country in which I was brought up in,” Cadiente said. “It makes me realize how much I've grown, how far I've come, and it gives me that humbling feeling to be reminded where I came from.”

Cadiente, a joint fires observer assigned to 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said this trip is the first time his father has seen him in uniform. “It is a good feeling to physically see my dad and see how proud he is of me,” the sergeant said.

Dreams of Service

Cadiente, who grew up in the Philippines until he was 16, said he always dreamed about serving in the military.

“Viktor has always been independent-minded and held a fascination with military life since he was a kid,” said Arnulfo D. de Vera, Cadiente’s father. “He nurtured that fascination by himself, and I wasn't the least surprised when he finally decided to pursue his dream.”

Both Cadiente and his father said they believe serving in the Marine Corps has given him opportunities that might not have been available to him if he had stayed in the Philippines.

“The Marine Corps has given my son the maturity and outlook that he wouldn't have gotten as fast as he did from living a civilian life,” said de Vera, a Manila native. “I am very proud with the fact that he joined the Marines.”

Importance of Education

During his sophomore year of high school, Cadiente moved to Hawaii, where he stayed with his mother, who worked as a hospital janitor to support him and his little sister. He said he credits his mother for making it possible for him to better his education.

“The one thing I appreciate the most is the opportunity [he has] to obtain higher education while serving his country,” de Vera said.

Driven by the support of his wife, his mother and his family in the Philippines, Cadiente said, he will continue to pursue his goals, which include continuing his education and eventually applying for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program.
“He has grown to be a smart and responsible grandson,” said Virginia Cadiente, his grandmother. “He is a man who strives really hard to achieve his dreams.”

Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy Ship Visits Pearl Harbor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) midshipmen training vessel Zheng He (Type 679, Hull 81) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Oct. 12 and is expected to stay until Oct. 16.

As part of a planned series of military-to-military exchanges between the two nations, Zheng He will be hosted by the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65).

Chinese and U.S. naval officers will conduct dialogues to build confidence and mutual understanding.

According to Capt. Eric Weilenman, chief of staff of Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, the visit is a good chance for both navies' Sailors to interact with one another.

"It's a great opportunity for a mil-to-mil exchange, to develop trust, build confidence in each other's abilities, a great opportunity for the midshipmen to experience Hawaii and to interact with the host ship Sailors," said Weilenman. "They've planned soccer games, tug-of-war, basketball games -- basically an opportunity to interact with our Sailors."

According to Capt. Kevin Brand, commanding officer of USS Chosin, during the ship's visit, U.S. and Chinese Sailors plan to engage in deckplate level events, giving both navies the opportunity to exchange professional knowledge.

"While the Zheng He is here, we'll be doing some naval planning exercises on board. We're going to do a search and rescue planning event -- a table-top exercise -- to show them how we go about planning a search and rescue," said Brand. "We'll also do a recovery exercise where we'll actually put a man in the water to show them how we would recover on board the ship and do some medical care. In addition to that, we're also going to do a damage control exercise, where we're going to share some of our best practices."

The U.S. Navy is committed to continued engagement to improve mutual understanding, build trust, enhance transparency, and reduce the risk of misperceptions and miscalculations. Military-to-military engagement is an important tool to build trust, encourage multilateral cooperation, enhance transparency and mitigate risk.