Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Deployed Soldiers Send Videos for Loved Ones at Home

By Army Spc. Elizabeth White 3rd Sustainment Brigade

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 26, 2017 — The holidays can be hard, and this holds true for those deployed overseas and for their families back in the states.

But soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade are able to bridge the gap between home and station with the help of the Special Troops Battalion Unit Ministry Team.

Army Pfc. Hertaycious King, a religious affairs specialist with the brigade, started the Reading to Kids program as a way for the soldiers in her unit to stay connected with their families back home. It was instantly popular, with many soldiers coming more than once to create recordings.

Maintaining Family Communications

“We’ve had about 25 soldiers in a month,” King said. “It’s nice to see the effect it has on them and will have for their children.”

The soldiers pick out any children’s book from the chapel’s collection. King sets up a camera and records them reading as many books as they want. Some soldiers include messages at the end of their recordings for their families.

“One of the soldiers had to explain what he’s doing because his daughter has been asking for him,” King said. “He comes every week to get books and has done multiple videos.”

“My daughter doesn’t really grasp the reason why I’m not there and what I’m doing here,” said Army Master Sgt. Jorge Berriosruiz, the brigade’s chief ammunition noncommissioned officer. “She knows that I’m working, but as far as why I don’t come home from work, she doesn’t understand.”

It can be hard for young children to grasp why their parents can’t come home for so many months. By being able to see their parents reading to them, however much they want, soldiers can rest easier knowing they can still be there for their children.

“A Little Bit of Home’

“I try to read to them at least once a week,” Berriosruiz said. “This helps bring a little bit of me home to them, and at the same time, it is showing them how much I care for and love them.”

After they finish recording, King goes to work editing the videos, adding graphics and burning CDs to give to the soldiers. She also includes toys and candy for the parents to mail back to their children.

“Since we’re away, we feel we can’t do much. This is just another way of communicating,” King said. “A lot of people are missing their kids’ firsts, this is to let them know [their parents] love them and are thinking about them.”

“I think [this recording] will give them comfort and make them feel loved,” Berriosruiz said. “I would like to see more programs like this that help keep families engaged with one another and makes the distance between us seem nonexistent.”

Face of Defense: Marine Describes Route to Becoming Martial Arts Instructor

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Savannah Mesimer, 3rd Marine Division

OKINAWA, Japan, Dec. 26, 2017 — Marine Corps Cpl. Javier Carpintero, a native of El Paso, Texas, has earned instructor status in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

Carpintero, a motor vehicle operator with Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division here, didn’t start off with an interest in teaching martial arts.

“When I first got into the Marine Corps, I had no interest in MCMAP. I didn’t really have a background in the fighting techniques, so I didn’t even want to look into it,” he said.

Then, one of Carpintero’s noncommissioned officers, Cpl. Maira Ramirez, peaked his interest in the martial arts instructor program. “She led a gray belt course which I had to attend, and I ended up failing it the first time,” he said. “Failing made me want to study the gray belt techniques that much more, and I also wanted to make Ramirez proud because she didn’t give up on me.”

Gaining Experience

Eventually, Ramirez taught Carpintero up to the brown belt level, he said.

Carpintero was then promoted to lance corporal, and he went onto earn his black belt in February 2017.

“I remember the exact moment I earned my black belt; we had been doing MCMAP for over 2 hours,” he said. “I kept pushing, and just when I thought I wouldn’t make it, my instructor put my black belt on my chest and told me congratulations, I had earned it.”

Carpintero said MCMAP courses are rigorous and demand 100-percent focus from each individual. “I remember going through all of the courses; seeing and hearing all of the other students around me,” he said. “They were so happy to be there, even when we had been training for hours. They never gave up on their instructors and that’s what motivated me to become an instructor. I wanted to be around the constant spirit of dedication and motivation, I wanted Marines to look up to me.”

Another Promotion

Carpintero was promoted to corporal on Oct. 1, 2017. “I had been waiting on that since I was a lance corporal. Not just because it’s the next rank, not just because I would be an NCO, but because I could be a MCMAP instructor,” he said. “The very next day, I asked my leadership when the next course was and requested to be put on it.”

Carpintero was placed on the next instructor course in October 2017.

The MCMAP instructor course is a 15-day course, which includes all skills from tan belt to black belt, and then a little extra. On top of the belt techniques, the Marines perform physical training that puts them under the stress of a combat environment, such as carrying a casualty.

“The instructor course was challenging, but it really helped me become a better Marine and leader,” Carpintero said. “I felt fully prepared to be responsible for passing on the Marines’ knowledge of MCMAP techniques.”

Carpintero now spends 25 hours a week teaching Marines MCMAP skills.
“It’s tough, balancing work, personal life and being an instructor,” he said. “I sacrifice a lot of my time for the Marines in my courses, but I love it.”

Deployed Troops Get President’s Christmas Greetings

By Air Force 2nd Lt. Jenna Lenski, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar, Dec. 26, 2017 — “I'm thrilled to bring season's greetings on behalf of the first lady and our entire family and most importantly on behalf of the American people," President Donald J. Trump said over video conference to deployed service members on Christmas Eve.

Airmen from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed here, took part in a holiday conference call with the president Dec. 24.

U.S. service members from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard also joined in the video conference with Trump, who called from Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

Thanking Service Members

Trump arranged the conference call with deployed units from all the branches of the military to recognize their contributions to the fight and thank them for their service, especially during the holidays.

“Having the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron be selected to receive a morale phone call from the President of the United States is a true Christmas gift and a real honor,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Goossen, the 69th’s commander. “We feel fortunate to represent all Air Force deployed personnel and we are humbled to have the opportunity out of so many deserving units.”

Fifteen airmen from the squadron, which is deployed from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, sat in on the call with the president. The group was comprised of aircrew members, maintainers and senior leaders.

The 69 EBS was selected out of several different deployed units to represent the Air Force on the prestigious call because of their many accomplishments while serving here.

Fighting Terrorism

Flying and maintaining the B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the 69 EBS has successfully engaged over 700 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Taliban targets in five separate countries, uploaded and released over 1.5 million pounds of munitions, and received over 26 million pounds of fuel via in-flight refueling from U.S. and coalition aircraft.

“Every American heart is thankful to you and we are asking God to watch over you and to watch over your families,” Trump told the service members.

The deployed military units shared their holiday greetings and were able to ask the president questions about current and future operations.
“Getting a chance to hear President Trump discuss some of our top issues was an exhilarating experience. The 69th EBS wishes the president, his family, his staff and all Americans back home a very Merry Christmas,” Goossen said.