Thursday, October 12, 2017

Face of Defense: Army Recruiter Helps Son Follow in His Footsteps

By Alun Thomas, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion-Phoenix

PHOENIX, Oct. 12, 2017 — The wide, beaming smile flashing across Army Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Guerra’s face was impossible to ignore.

Unfolding before him was an oath of enlistment he had never expected to see -- that of his own son, Anthony.

Along with his wife, Mayra, and other son, Joshua, Guerra watched with pride as Anthony was sworn into the Army Sept. 21 by Capt. Eugene Lee, commander of the Phoenix West Recruiting Company at the Phoenix Military Entrance Processing Center.

Guerra, a recruiter at the Arrowhead Recruiting Center, said seeing Anthony join the Army is bittersweet, but as a recruiter and father, he couldn’t be prouder.

“At the same time my paternal instincts kick in, however, and I think: ‘This is my boy and I don’t want to see him in danger,”’ Guerra said. “But I’m extremely proud of him and the path he’s chosen.”

Future Artilleryman

Guerra said Anthony chose the military occupational specialty of 13B, a cannon crewmember, which didn’t come as a complete shock to his father.

“When Anthony was younger he didn’t want anything to do with the Army, because I was always gone, whether in the field or deployed,” Guerra said. “He would always say: ‘You’re never here. Why would I want to be in the military?’ But as he got older and we would talk about my experiences in the Army and in combat, his mindset started changing into a combat arms direction.”

Watching his father’s career progress was certainly an inspiration for Anthony to join, Guerra said, with his success rubbing off on his son.

“He’s seen my [17-year] career and how well I’ve done in it … I think he wants that success as well,” Guerra said. “He wants to be enlisted and then become an officer, just to surpass me so I’ll have to salute him one day … but in all seriousness he wants to lead the military life.”

Proud Father

Guerra praised Anthony’s determination, stating once he puts his mind to something, he always finishes it.

“He told me he wants to do 20 years in the Army and I believe that’s exactly what he’s going to do -- he’s just that type of person,” Guerra said.

Guerra said he never pushed Anthony to join the Army, with the decision being made of his son’s own volition.

“I never bought it up once; especially when I became a recruiter,” he explained.Guerra said although living the Army lifestyle has been difficult for Anthony and the rest of his family, with many family moves and deployments, his son has always coped well with change.

“Right now, Anthony is in his third high school and eleventh school overall,” Guerra said. “But he’s done really well with all the change. He’s quiet and thoughtful, which helps see him through.”

Watching Anthony perform the oath of enlistment evoked both feelings of sadness and pride, he said.

“Watching my little boy up there swearing in made me realize he isn’t little anymore,” Guerra said. “That’s my son and baby who’s all grown up and ready to move on with his life.”

For Anthony, 17, performing the oath also gave him an immense feeling of pride, sharing his father’s feelings.

‘I Felt Proud Reciting the Oath’

“I felt proud reciting the oath. I’m doing something only one percent of the nation does, so I want to do my part,” Anthony said. “It felt even better with my dad watching, because he serves as well and I’m following in his footsteps.”

The chance to serve his country played an important part in deciding to join, he said.

“I’m making a difference in this world and that’s a good thing to do. I’ll also get a college education and other benefits thanks to the Army,” Anthony explained. “I’ve already lived in five states and I’ll get the chance to see even more of the country and world, too.”

Anthony said he doesn’t ship to Basic Combat Training until June 2018, which gives him ample time to prepare.
“I’ll use the time to get physically fit and prepare mentally,” he added. “It’s still nine months away, so I won’t be thinking about it all the time. But as it gets closer I’ll be nervous and excited to begin.”

Airman's Hometown Visit Leads to Helping Hurricane Victims

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno, 621st Contingency Response Wing

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 12, 2017 — A civil engineer air advisor for the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron here had been looking forward to visiting his hometown in Texas for a relaxing Labor Day weekend with family and friends, but instead his plans quickly

"Over 3,000 homes in a city only 14 square miles in size were destroyed and all you saw were thousands of people pilling debris and personal belongings by the curb to be hauled away forever," Air Force 1st Lt. Shane Lockridge, a native of Friendswood, Texas, said.

Driving Into Houston

As he drove into Houston, the lieutenant said, he prepared himself for the worst. "Even then, I couldn't believe what I was seeing," he added. "The city I spent my entire life in looked like a landfill."

Hurricane Harvey caused more than 50 inches of flooding in some parts of the state. Air Mobility Command directed allocation of its airlift, aeromedical evacuation and contingency response assets to federal relief efforts, as requested by U.S. Northern Command on Aug. 30.

"Once the hurricane reached my hometown, it just sat there for four days dumping 59 inches of rain -- all while I sat here in California for a week, heartbroken and anxious to get home," Lockridge said.

After hearing the devastating news, Lockridge quickly took action and began collecting donations from his unit. "We noticed there was a trend of shortages for baby supplies and hygiene kits," he said. "Word spread quickly to the spouses program in our unit, and the response was amazing."

The team was able to collect about 400 pounds of relief supplies. Multiple people donated cash, which was contributed to Houston Texans football star J.J. Watt's Hurricane Harvey relief fund, which raised more than $37 million. "My initial hope was to fill two deployment bags to take home with me during Labor Day weekend, but instead I ended up with five bags full of relief supplies," Lockridge said.

The relief supplies were organized, boxed and taken to a local distribution center to be given out to those directly affected.

Quick Response

The role of contingency response forces during disaster relief missions is to rapidly respond with critically needed capabilities to deliver assistance and aid in the relief efforts as directed. In many cases, the 621st Contingency Response Wing is one of the first units to arrive to the disaster locations. Similarly, Lockridge was able to provide that quick response for donations with the help of his unit.

"I truly believe the humanitarian aspect of military operations is the most underrated aspect of this job. Seeing how quickly and efficiently the CRW is able to respond to these disasters is nothing short of miraculous," he said.

Lockridge was thankful his family and girlfriend were all spared from any severe damage, but many of his friends were not so lucky. During his time home, Lockridge and his family spent four days gutting a friend's house to the bare studs because the hurricane flooded over 7 feet of water into their home.

"It's hard to watch so many loved ones lose everything and know there is nothing you can do but pray," he said. "Being part of a unit with people who are willing to step up and support complete strangers without hesitation is heartwarming and inspiring. It really reaffirms that I am privileged to serve next to the most selfless and genuine people in this country."

Mattis Highlights Working By, With, Through Allies

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2017 — International military operations for U.S. forces have evolved to work by, with and through, allied nations who join the United States in a range of efforts, including the U.S.-led coalition formed to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday.

Mattis briefed reporters traveling with him en route to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida. The secretary is on a trip to three military headquarters -- Centcom, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Southern Command -- all in south Florida.

This is Mattis' first trip to the headquarters, he said, although he and the combatant commanders there talk every week during video teleconferences and he sees them when they visit the Pentagon.

"By doing this, I close the gap between myself and commanders who have the burden of carrying out policy," Mattis told the reporters. "I get [that information] unfiltered, because we have more discussion than just weekly reports in video teleconferences. I think what you're going to see in all three of these commands is the way our military … has evolved, specifically under President [Donald J.] Trump, [in working] by, with and through allies."

By, With and Through

The number of different country flags flying at each combatant command headquarters represents this evolution, the secretary said.

"You'll see a lot more than the American flag," he added. "For example, when I was in Tampa, I had 67 nations at the U.S. Central Command headquarters. Mattis was Centcom commander from August 2010 to March 2013.

"They give a little bit more flesh on the bone to the defeat-ISIS coalition right now," Mattis said, noting that the coalition today includes 69 nations and four international organizations -- the Arab League, NATO, the European Union, and Interpol.

Interpol asked what more they could do about ISIS fighters trying to go home, he said, "and Interpol is going to have the databases we all feed into so police departments around the world will know where somebody's showing up."

Through military-to-military relations with all allies, Mattis added, "we try to maintain a very steady engagement with open lines of communication. And the whole idea is you look for common ground to work together, and we are unapologetic about our values. But at the same time, we respect the other countries."