Sunday, July 31, 2011

USNS Comfort Brings Continuing Promise to Costa Rica

By Senior Airman Kasey Close, Continuing Promise 2011 Public Affairs

PUNTARENAS, Costa Rica (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, July 28 for its eighth of nine mission stops during Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11).

CP11 personnel will have a few days of liberty before beginning 10 days of medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services in the country.

CP11 is a five-month humanitarian civic assistance mission to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. Comfort will visit nine countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America, working hand-in-hand with a variety of partner nations, governmental, and non-governmental organizations to train in civil-military operations while providing medical, dental, and veterinary care, and engineering support services to the countries visited.

The ship's crew of military and civilian personnel have triaged more than 54,671 patients throughout the entire mission to date.

"We are looking to see 500 to 600 patients at a medical site and the cases are going to be similar to the ones we've seen in the previous countries," said Cmdr. Patrick Young, from Arlington, Texas. "It's going to be a good visit."

The CP11 veterinary team has provided immunizations, surgeries, vitamins and deworming medication to 7,758 animals at 92 different sites throughout the mission so far.

"I'm looking forward to sharing knowledge with the host nation with the subject matter expert exchanges and the knowledge we'll receive while working with them," said Army Sgt. Heather Robinson, a veterinary technician from Champaign, Ill.

In addition to medical, dental, and veterinary care, Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 and Marines from the 8th Engineering Battalion, Camp Lejuene, N.C., will conduct two civic engineering projects in Costa Rica.

"One of things that I look forward to after the job is done is interacting with kids from the school we just improved for them," said Equipment Operator 2nd Class James Owen. "I hope we finish the scope of the projects early and are able to do something else to help improve the schools. It's an experience that I'll never forget."

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

NMCB 133 Actions, Training Save Timorese Lives

By Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Bryan Clarke, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs

DILI, Timor Leste (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Seabees were the first responders to a motorbike accident while returning from a liberty outing in the Bobonaro District of Timor-Leste, July 24.

When Constructionman Juan Moreiravelez, Construction Electrician Apprentice Rodney Peters and Equipment Operator 3rd Class Jose Alemanacevedo set out for a relaxing trip to one of the many beautiful recreation spots that Timor-Leste has to offer, they had no idea that the return trip would provide an opportunity to save the lives of two Timorese men.

The accident occurred as two local nationals traveling on the winding mountain roads turned a sharp corner and lost control of their motorbike in the loose gravel.

"These same guys had said hello to us while we were stopped on the side of the beach eating lunch" said Moreiravelez. "They were probably about 25-30 minutes ahead of us on the road. When we saw what happened, I told our driver to stop. I knew we had to help."

At the accident scene, the three Seabees quickly sprang into action, assessed the situation and rendered appropriate care. Alemanacevedo used his T-shirt as a bandage and the three took turns keeping one of the victims awake on the trip to the local hospital.

"I didn't even think; I just reacted," he said. "I remembered first aid classes from [our] Field Training Exercise (FTX) and stuff I got during Convoy Security Element (CSE) training."

Moreiravelez said, "Some time after the incident we looked at each other and realized that we were covered in blood. That is when it started to sink in."

"I'm proud of these guys," said Lt. Kevin Westbrook, the detail's officer-in-charge. "Their training certainly paid off, but I feel it was character that made the difference. When faced with a decision, these guys did the right thing. I think a lot of people would have just driven by assuming help was on the way."

NMCB 133 is currently on a nine-month deployment throughout the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations. Seabees from NMCB 133's Detail Timor Leste play a key role in executing the Navy's Maritime Strategy by developing multi-national interoperability through joint execution of humanitarian and civic action construction projects on the island nation of Timor Leste.

Wisconsin quickly fielded forces for Civil War

By 1st Lt. Brian Faltinson
Wisconsin National Guard historian

One hundred and fifty years after the start of the Civil War, it’s important to look back and see how Wisconsin responded to the conflict that changed our destiny.

Wisconsin had only been a state for 13 years in 1861, and retained much of its frontier character. The state population was approximately 776,000 — 45,000 in Milwaukee — and much of the northern part of the state was uninhabited.

State law called for a state militia consisting of “every able-bodied free white man between 18 and 45,” which in 1861 totaled about 130,000. However, Adjutant General Augustus Gaylord reported to Gov. Alexander Randall that Wisconsin fielded only 42 organized company-sized units totaling at most a few thousand men. These units lacked weapons, designed their own uniforms and largely operated as social clubs who marched on parade fields. It was not a force ready for war.

But as Southern states seceded from the Union following the election of Abraham Lincoln, Randall ordered Gaylord to prepare the militia. Randall also sought legislation allowing him to raise and outfit additional units. Wisconsin rallied to the cause following the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April of 1861 and began raising funds for local militia units. Fond du Lac raised $3,500 in a few days to purchase uniforms and equipment.

President Lincoln called for 75,000 Soldiers to serve a 90-day tour, with one regiment to come from Wisconsin. Randall asked “all patriotic citizens” to organize themselves into militia companies. The first unit Randall accepted for service was the Madison Guard, which became part of the 1st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment under the command of Col. John Starkweather.

The 1st Wisconsin reported to Camp Scott, now the site of the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis. Camp Scott lacked almost everything needed to support a military unit, and the state provided gray uniforms but no weapons or equipment. Still, the regiment trained and improved its living conditions before departing for Washington in May with 794 men. The 1st Wisconsin fought a skirmish at Falling Waters in Virginia, suffering 20 wounded and one fatality — Pvt. George Drake, Wisconsin’s first Civil War casualty.

Randall continued raising troops even though Washington had yet to request them. The 2nd Wisconsin formed in April at the Madison Fairgrounds under Col. S. Park Coon, who renamed the site Camp Randall. Clad in gray uniforms, the unit’s 1,048 men shipped out in time to fight at the war’s first major battle, Bull Run. The 2nd Wisconsin was placed in a brigade, commanded by Col. William Tecumseh Sherman, which would soon be known as the Iron Brigade, one of the war’s most distinguished units.

The 3rd Wisconsin, consisting of men from northern and western Wisconsin, also experienced action during 1861. The unit trained in Fond du Lac before shipping to Harpers Ferry, Va., for a brief skirmish in July. In all, Gov. Randall organized 10 more infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment and eight artillery batteries. The 8th Infantry carried with it one of the war’s most famous mascots — an American bald eagle named Old Abe.

Thousands of Wisconsinites joined these units for three-year enlistments. While additional units were formed, those formed in 1861 were the backbone of the state’s war effort contribution.

Do you have any Civil War veterans in your family tree? Are you interested in learning more about how your community contributed to the Civil War? Are you looking for personal stories from the war? Try a search of these people, places and stories.