Monday, April 02, 2018

North Carolina Youth’s Wish Comes True With Pentagon Visit

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chuck Broadway DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2018 — A North Carolina teenager had his wish come true today with a visit to the Pentagon that included meeting several Defense Department leaders.

In addition to walking the Pentagon’s halls during a visit made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cooper Smith, 16, met with Defense Secretary James N. Mattis; Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson; Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and senior enlisted advisors from all branches of the military.

Smith lives with neurofibromatosis type 1, a multisystem genetic disorder characterized by changes in skin coloring and the growth of tumors along nerves in the skin, brain and other parts of the body.

“The people I met were fantastic and seemed to really care about the country,” Smith said. “I wanted to see how the Pentagon works and see how each single factor plays into each other. I thought things would be more independent, but I saw how each [service branch] relies on each other.”

Admiration for Service Members

His admiration for the military comes from his recognition of the service and sacrifice of the nation’s men and women in uniform, he said.

Though he cannot serve as a military member, Smith said, he feels it is his civic duty to make his community a better place. He volunteers at several organizations in North Carolina, including the Ronald McDonald House and Brenner’s Children’s Hospital, and he initiated a project that secures used books, toys, and games for a school in near Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with a high percentage of students from low-income families. He donated bags of books and games to begin the initiative, and so far, the project has accumulated several truckloads of donations to help the school.

Smith’s family said they feel obligated to give back to community members in need, as they have received a tremendous amount of help in getting through difficult times and allowing Cooper to experience great moments.

His mother, Cindy Smith, is an Army veteran. She said her family gained a new appreciation for what the Defense Department does.

“We had such a limited idea of the sheer enormity of the decisions that are made every day that impact our entire country,” she said. “We appreciate and respect what people do here. It has been unbelievable.”

Face of Defense: Soldier Faces Life’s Challenges Head-On

By Annette P. Gomes U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va., April 2, 2018 — Like the legendary phoenix, Army Spc. Angel Euson is rising from the ashes and getting ready to face her next challenge.

“I can’t even count how many times I’ve wanted to give up. It’s so difficult to not get caught up in any setbacks or “failures” and there have been way too many to count,” said Euson, a combat medic. “However, as cliché as it sounds, ‘I don’t give up.’ is the biggest motto I live by.”

Euson is looking to live that motto at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games, June 1-9 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She recently competed at the 2018 Army trials at Fort Bliss, Texas, where she won four gold medals in swimming, two in field and one in track and became one of 40 athletes selected to represent the Army at the games.

Excited to Compete

“I’m super excited to go to Colorado! This is such a great opportunity and I feel so blessed to have made the team,” she said.

Her journey to the Warrior Games began when she entered the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to heal after being injured. The recovery time brought about many changes for Euson, including introducing her to adaptive sports.

The Florida native said she likes learning new things and adaptive sports fit the bill.

“I was overwhelmed with how many different activities there were. I never thought I would have so many opportunities to try new things,” Euson said. “I played sports my entire childhood, all the way through high school, and now I’m actively involved in swimming, shooting and shot put. Adaptive sports taught me to get outside of my comfort zone and try something new!”

However, she says the biggest lesson she learned was “off the field.”

Adaptive sports, Euson said, provide “a reminder of how far I’ve come in my recovery and how much stronger and happier I am now. The bonds [I’ve] formed and the support I’ve received from my teammates have been incredible.”

Special Operators Conduct Winter Training in Sweden

By Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Britton, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe

KIRUNA, Sweden, April 2, 2018 — Editor’s note: The names of special operations forces members have been withheld due to security concerns.

There’s cold, and then there’s the cold that comes from being above the Arctic Circle -- so cold, in fact, that frostbite can occur within minutes on exposed skin.

However, it isn’t cold enough to prevent special operations forces from operating in the arctic environment.

Airmen assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing and Special Forces soldiers assigned to 10th Special Forces Group conducted a winter training course here from February to March 2018.

The training consisted of six weeks of realistic scenarios and classroom instruction.

“The course included classes and practical exercises on survival in a cold weather environment,” a participating airman said. “We also trained [on] movement on skis and snowshoes, advanced snowmobile movements and live-fire ranges. We need to have the ability to employ and project global access, precision strike and personnel recovery across the globe, regardless of environment.”

Combined Training

Combined training and the exchange of information is critical for successful joint military operations.

“Our success relies on interoperability between U.S. and European forces,” said another airman. “We use common practices, but it is invaluable to integrate and train alongside our partners. This allows U.S. forces to gain credibility and build relationships that will continue during future engagements.”

The benefits of surviving and operating in the harsh conditions weren’t the only lessons learned from the course.

“Joint and combined training has been the most beneficial aspect of our trip to the Arctic,” according to another airman. “We have learned several tactics, techniques and procedures and standard operating procedures that we have adopted and trained to. These lessons learned not only add to our survivability, but also increase the lethality of our forces.”

Training in Arctic Conditions

Training in arctic conditions provides the U.S. and its partners the opportunity for future operations and strategic planning.

“The Arctic Circle holds strategic military, economic and geopolitical value,” an airman said. “The intent of our training is to support our European partners across all environments in [U.S. European Command]. The High North provides an opportunity for us to collaborate with partner nations in winter warfare exercises and learn from past and present experiences.”

The training in the unforgiving environment expanded the capabilities of the tactical teams and left them with a new-found respect for the cold.
“Training in the Arctic is a very humbling experience,” an airman said. “In the words of our partner forces, ‘In training, the enemy is simulated. The cold is real.’”