Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Arizona base helps validate RTAP

by Senior Airman Brittany Dowdle
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/24/2012 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., hosted an evaluation team during the Response Training and Assessment Program exercise Oct. 17-19, 2012.

Davis-Monthan is one of three installations needed to validate the RTAP training and exercise program to meet the requirements for Headquarters Air Force. Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., are the other two bases that will take part in the RTAP exercise.

The program is designed to provide installations a tool to optimize cross-functional emergency responses. This program replaces the contract-dependent All Hazards Response Training program with an in-sourced solution. RTAP provides installations with a capability for improving integrated installation emergency response training and assessments for installation Exercise Evaluation Teams and 19 functional communities.

"This exercise gives D-M the unique experience of hosting approximately 25 HAF-sourced contractor personnel and major command subject matter experts for several functional communities," said Master Sgt. Adam Hernandez, 355th Fighter Wing inspector general superintendent. "The RTAP visit allows D-M to showcase the capabilities of our Emergency Management programs and the dedicated personnel that support these programs."

Some of the functional communities impacted are command and control, fire and emergency services, explosive ordinance disposal, security forces, public health emergency officer, bioenvironmental engineering, clinical, public health, search and recovery and mortuary affairs.

"Our IG, Emergency Management, and Bioenvironmental functions are consistently strong performers when conducting response exercises," Hernandez said. "D-M was chosen to facilitate the RTAP exercise based on experience."

RTAP is a validation exercise that has three steps. The first installation, Travis, received an exercise scenario and was expected to execute the situation using existing training, standards and procedures. This was passively observed by the RTAP team to verify and validate the tactical drills.

The second and third installations, D-M and Fairchild, are tasked to develop and execute an exercise scenario utilizing the RTAP tools. The RTAP team will evaluate and validate the effectiveness of the tools.

All installations will receive credit towards annual exercise requirements based on the type of scenario they develop and execute.

"D-M provides a great testing ground for this new RTAP capability, and will provide Air Combat Command a good starting point for further implementation," Hernandez said.

After validation through these exercise events, the RTAP tools will be distributed Air Force-wide.

Panetta: U.S., South Korea Strengthen Alliance

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 – U.S. and South Korean militaries will continue their close cooperation against wide-ranging global security challenges and strengthen their cooperation in space and cyberspace, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said today.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, right, welcomes South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, left, to the Pentagon, Oct. 24, 2012. The two counterparts were to discuss defense-related topics. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In a joint news conference after the 44th U.S.-Republic of Korea Security Consultative meeting here, Panetta and South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin affirmed that the nearly 59-year-old alliance will remain a cornerstone of stability in Northeast Asia into the future.
At the meeting between the civilian and military leadership of the two defense establishments, the defense leaders led delegations that included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. This is the fourth time the two defense leaders have met, and the second time they’ve led the annual security meeting.

The United States and South Korea “will continue to enhance close alliance cooperation to address wide-ranging global security challenges, including through stabilization and reconstruction efforts, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and counterproliferation,” Panetta told reporters.

“Minister Kim and I agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation with respect to protection of space and cyberspace domains,” he added. “We must ensure that this alliance stays ahead of the cyber threat.”
The secretary also announced the signing of terms of reference for bilateral military space cooperation. The document, he said, formally establishes a U.S.-South Korea defense working group that will address space policy, architecture, training and personnel exchange.

“The new defense strategy of the United States makes clear that, as the military emerges from a decade of war, we will rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region,” Panetta said. “Because of its importance for global security [and] its importance to global prosperity in the 21st century, a stronger U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance is a critical part of this rebalancing effort.”

The secretary said he assured Kim that the United States stands fully committed to South Korea’s security.
“Make no mistake, we will provide the forces and the military capabilities needed to help maintain security on the Korean peninsula,” he said. “And we are committed to deepening and adapting our defense cooperation to meet evolving security challenges in the region.”

Discussions today focused on North Korea, he added.

“North Korea remains a serious threat to both of our nations and a serious threat to regional and global stability,” Panetta said. “Over the past year, North Korea has continued its pattern of defiance and provocative actions, including the unsuccessful test of a ballistic missile capability.”

“Minister Kim and I reaffirmed that North Korean aggression or military provocation will not be tolerated,” he continued, “and that we will continue working shoulder to shoulder to demonstrate our combined resolve.”

The United States and South Korea are committed to maintaining their close consultation, Panetta added, to develop comprehensive alliance capabilities to counter North Korean threats.

It has been nearly 60 years since the Korean War ended and the U.S.-South Korea alliance was born, the secretary said.

“For 60 years, our two countries have stood side by side and forged security and prosperity for our nations,” Panetta added. “We have been tested time and time again, and we have met every challenge.”

The reality, he said, “is that over the last 60 years, we have preserved peace in the peninsula and in that region, [and] as a result, today this alliance is stronger than ever.”

Range Master Tactical Clothing and Gear

Range Master Tactical Clothing and Gear focuses on proving the law enforcement and firefighting communities with work related clothing and equipment.  Moreover, the company is an excellent resource for security personnel, recreational shooters and others whose employed requires ruggedized safety equipment.
Their website is well designed and easy to navigate.  In addition to having a standard search feature, the website allows you to browse through their products and services by category as well as through a featured product function. Among the features of their website is a comprehensive and well written blog which explores, in depth, the various products and product lines they carry.

While most online companies are just that – online, Range Master Tactical Gear is an out growth of a well established and traditional brick and mortar company.  Thus their website contains information on use of their shooting range and, of course, their physical location. 

In looking through their product line, two of the interesting areas are “Business Tactical” and “Under Gear.”  As a consultant that travels internationally, I have come to respect the idea of Business Tactical.   Where ever you travel, you should have a “go bag” in your hotel room.  What do you need in case of an earthquake?  What should “grab and go” in an emergency?  Visit their business tactical section and think about what kind of “go bag” you need and what you would put in it.  My top three things in my “go bag” when I am in a foreign country are: 1) A map with the route to the nearest US facility; 2) Flashlight 3) Half roll of duct tape.

Lastly, visit the Under Gear section.  If you are working a field assignment, comfort and safety does start with your undergarments!

SFS Airman receives Hero of the Year award

by Senior Airman Brittany Dowdle
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/24/2012 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- Staff Sgt. Aaron Escalante, 355th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, was one of four to receive the Hero of the Year award at the fifth annual Tucson observance of Heroes Day, Oct. 18, 2012.

Escalante and Mushe, 355th SFS military working dog, are being honored by the city of Tucson for heroic work during their deployment. Escalante and Mushe deployed to the Ozra district of eastern Afghanistan from October 2011 to May 2012. While deployed, they assessed an Afghani terrorist operation site, detecting an arsenal of weapons and hidden explosives. They secured the site and suspended terrorist operations.

"I was on a joint expeditionary tasking," Escalante said. "I was attached with an Army unit out of Fort Bragg, N.C. No units had been in the area for about eight months. After getting intelligence that there was a possible weapons cache, we went to the scene. We arrived at three in the morning and waited for the sun to come up. We hit the objective and once Mushe found their stash, they knew we were taking all their weapons."

At home station, military working dog handlers are responsible for working the roads, conducting building and vehicle searches, and training their dogs.

"Depending on where you deploy, the job you perform could be very different," Escalante said. "I was in Afghanistan, and you're outside in the villages, always the point man in front, because of the dog. Anywhere I deploy, Mushe comes with me."

Since the beginning of Tucson's observance of Heroes Day, Escalante is the first military member to be honored with the Hero of the Year award.

"I was just doing my job," Escalante said. "I didn't think it was this big of an accomplishment, but it feels nice to be recognized by the city for doing my duty."

Families unite through WWII bayonet

by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/24/2012 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Clyde Sparks never spoke much about his time in the U.S. Army. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he earned a Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in Luxembourg. It was his silence that always marked him as a veteran of the Second World War.

It wasn't until Staff Sgt. Scott Martin, who is a radio frequencies transmissions systems operator for the 606th Air Control Squadron, met him for the first time that he began to talk about his experiences.

"He completely opened up to me," said Martin, who is married to Sparks' granddaughter, Jessica Martin. "He found out that I was also in the military, and that was all it took.

"My fondest memory of him is just sitting and talking with him," he continued. "Whenever I would come over, he would clear a space right next to him and tell me to sit down. He couldn't walk a lot, but he could talk. We would talk for hours and hours."

Sparks would tell Martin stories about how cold it was where he served. While most of his memories had faded over time and old age, one memory remained vivid.

"He always talked about losing his bayonet in the war, and you could tell he wasn't happy about it," said Martin, who is originally from Chico, Calif.

But now, the Sparks family has a new story to tell, because a Luxembourg man tracked down the owner of the bayonet from 68 years ago.

It was December 1944 when Pfc. Clyde Benson Sparks made his way into Boulaide, Luxembourg, where his unit liberated the small town from the German occupation. They had strict orders to keep the nearby roads clear so Gen. George Patton and his men could press north to Bastogne, Belgium.

It was there that Sparks lost his precious bayonet.

The bayonet, which was mounted on the end of a M1 Garand rifle, went missing during his time in the village of Boulaide, and Sparks never saw it again. He died in 2008 never knowing what happened to his standard-issued weapon.

Nine-year-old Alphonse Haas found the bayonet shortly after U.S. troops pushed forward and left the small village. The Americans used the Haas home as an aid station, and that was where he found the bayonet.

Haas kept the weapon as a reminder of his country's liberation until the day he died. His son, Marco Haas, developed a keen interest for Boulaide's involvement in the war in 1944. The bayonet was among other items that his father had from that period and Marco found initials and a series of numbers engraved in the sheath.

Haas began searching in 2001 for the owner of the bayonet, submitting search queries for what turned out to be Sparks' Army serial number and initials. He tried the National Archives, U.S. embassies, and veteran's organizations with no luck. He began to lose hope in finding the rightful owner of the bayonet.

The national archives finally came back with a positive match on the serial number. It was Sparks' serial number.

Thrilled, Haas now searched for Sparks and his whereabouts. He wondered if it was possible that he died in the war or if he made it home.

Haas found his answer on Sept. 9, 2011, when he found Sparks' death notice on a Web site.

"I was very sorry when I read (Clyde's) death notice," said Haas. "I was too late."

Still, he knew that the family would appreciate their loved one's belongings.

"I imagine myself getting something back from my dad or grandfather that they forgot 68 years ago in such conditions," he said. "He was not on holiday here, he was at war. Some of his friends gave their lives to free our country, to free Europe."

Martin received a call one day from his wife's aunt saying that a man found a bayonet belonging to Clyde in Luxembourg and he wanted to give it to the family.

"I was wary at first, because it seemed unreal," he said. "It was unexpected."

Haas presented the bayonet to Martin during a ceremony at the 606th, in front of an eager and curious room of peers. Martin accepted the bayonet on behalf of his wife's family, who were unable to make it to the presentation.

"I'm in complete shock that he was able to find this and actually bring it to fruition; that's quite amazing," said Martin, who seemed to still be taking in the whole situation.

Martin thanked Haas for the kind gesture and expressed the importance for his extended family.

The bayonet is a reminder of the Sparks family legacy and a reminder that freedom does not come without sacrifice.

"I think it belongs back home. It was here for 68 years, and I think it's time for it to go back," Haas said to Martin. "I hope this will make a lasting friendship between our families for a long time to come."

Defense Leaders: North Korea Remains Threat to Peace

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 – North Korea remains a threat to regional and global peace, U.S. and South Korean defense leaders said here today, adding that they still are unsure what North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, will do.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, left, and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, right, brief the media at the Pentagon, Oct. 24, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin spoke to reporters following the 44th annual Security Consultative Meeting at the Pentagon today.
U.S. and South Korean defense leaders discussed the threat from North Korea and reaffirmed that both nations are concerned about North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities.

“Secretary Panetta and I reaffirmed our shared view that North Korea’s asymmetric military capabilities, such as [its] nuclear weapons program and missiles, pose a serious threat not only to the security of the Korean peninsula, but also to that of Northeast Asia and the world as a whole,” Kim said.

The United States and South Korea will continue to work together to deter North Korea, the defense leaders said. Specifically, they will continue to work on “the concepts and principles for a bilateral deterrence strategy of the North Korean nuclear and [weapons of mass destruction] threats,” Kim said. The two countries will work together to develop a tailored deterrence strategy based on these concepts and principles.

Panetta and Kim also agreed on South Korean missile guidelines.

The defense leaders also addressed the planning that will lead to the transfer of wartime operational control for forces on the peninsula to South Korea. This milestone is set for December 2015. “In particular, the two countries agreed to jointly develop a future command structure that will ensure military efficiency after the transition of wartime operational control,” Kim said.

Panetta said South Korea will continue to be an exporter of peace -- continuing to work with the international community in places such as Haiti, Afghanistan, the Gulf of Aden, Lebanon and South Sudan -- but that its focus at home must remain North Korea.

“With regards to any provocations from the North,” he said, “I think it’s very clear that South Korea and the United States have a strong cooperative relationship, and that when those provocations occur, that we will work together to determine … [what] kind of response should be provided, if necessary.”

Kim said that for now, Kim Jong Un’s regime “seems to be quite stable.” But he noted signs that the regime will conduct another nuclear test.

“In fact, North Korea has been preparing for this for quite a long time,” he said. “And when the time comes for a political decision, it may in fact resort to this third nuclear test.”

Since taking over, Kim Jong Un has been trying to introduce economic reform measures, the defense minister said. “He seems to be making attempts to bringing a better life to his people, but the likelihood of success is yet to be seen,” he added.

Kim said the 29-year-old North Korean leader will continue hang on to the “military first” policy that has been the mainstay of North Korea since the end of World War II. “He may be a lot more aggressive compared to old people, because he's still young,” the South Korean defense minister said.

Panetta agreed that much remains to be known about Kim Jung Un’s regime. “We still don’t know whether or not he will simply follow in the steps of his father or whether he represents a different kind of leadership for the future,” he said.

The U.S. concern is that North Korea continues to prepare for missile and nuclear testing, the secretary said.

“They continue to engage in enrichment of uranium, against all international rules,” he said. “They continue to behave in a provocative way that threatens the security of our country and, obviously, of South Korea and the region.”

Orient Shield Promotes U.S.-Japan Readiness, Interoperability

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 – The U.S. Army and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force kicked off Orient Shield 2012 in Japan today, the first in a series of annual tactical field-training exercises since the Defense Department’s new strategic guidance refocused attention on the Asia-Pacific region.

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Snipers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 14th infantry Regiment, display their equipment to members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force and the media during the opening of Orient Shield 12 at Aibano Training Area, Japan, Oct. 24, 2012. The annual tactical-level exercise will run through Nov. 8 and includes more than 750 U.S. soldiers and 600 Japanese soldiers. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Baucom

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Considered the two armies’ premier field training exercise since it began in 2000, Orient Shield focuses on bilateral planning, coordination and interoperability, Army Maj. Randall Baucom, a U.S. Army Japan spokesman, told American Forces Press Service.
This year’s exercise, the first to include Stryker vehicles, brings together soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and the JGSDF Middle Army’s 10th Division, 33rd Infantry Regiment at Japan’s Aibano Training Area. Collectively, it includes about 750 U.S. service members and 600 Japanese troops.

Unlike other bilateral exercises focused primarily on headquarters and bilateral staff operations, Orient Shield promotes engagement at the junior enlisted and noncommissioned officer level. As the U.S. and Japanese soldiers exchange ideas, tactics, techniques and military experiences, Baucom said, they will enhance their combat readiness and interoperability at the tactical level.

That capability will get put to the test through collective training conducted during the exercise’s second week, as the troops work side by side in a tactical field training exercise, he said.

These engagements have big-picture significance, Baucom said, strengthening the historic U.S.-Japan alliance demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security interests of friends and allies in the region.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the U.S. Pacific Command commander, calls the U.S.-Japan alliance -- one of five U.S. alliances in the region -- a keystone in implementing the new strategic guidance that recognizes the growing economic and strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region.

As he explores ways to increase military-to-military engagement there, Locklear said, he wants to expand the scope of current exercises while also reaching out to new partners to initiate new exercises. The admiral said he also plans to encourage more trilateral and multilateral exercises that encourage broader regional engagement.

Army Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, told bloggers earlier this week he hopes to increase the number of troops available to support the exercise program. As the U.S. military draws down forces in Afghanistan, Wiercinski said, he wants to begin troop rotations.

As envisioned, the soldiers would serve 30- to 45-day deployments in the region, participating in exercises and other military engagements. Ideally, they will be able to fall in on equipment and supplies pre-positioned at key locations, he said, reducing the cost and logistical burden of that enhanced military-to-military engagement.

Meanwhile, Pacom also is seeking ways to engage its sailors, Marines and airmen more closely with regional allies and partners, reported Army Col. David Parker, Pacom’s exercise division chief.

As the command strives to exercise with more partners and promote more multilateral engagements, Parker said, they are finding disaster preparedness to be a universal common ground.
“If there is something common across the [area of responsibility], it is the awareness that there is going to be a natural disaster. So nations are focusing on that,” said Army Col. Phillip Meade, the director of Pacom’s Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.
“And that is why, when you develop a multilateral exercise under the humanitarian assistance disaster relief umbrella, it helps bring everyone to the table,” he said.

Red Devils take on Pacific CBP

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

10/23/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Airmen from the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron "Red Devils," Barksdale Air Force Base, La., arrived here Oct. 2, in support of the Continuous Bomber Presence, taking the place of the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron who returned home to Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

The CBP is an ongoing effort by U.S. Pacific Command to show the United States' commitment to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The bomber squadrons deploy here on a rotational basis, providing a flexible response capability.

"We aim to showcase the B-52 Stratofortress' capabilities to our allies and prove that the B-52 remains capable of employing a gamut of kinetic weaponry, from long-range cruise missiles to guided and unguided gravity weapons," said Lt. Col. John Bleil, 96th EBS director of operations. "The B-52 can do it all and switch rapidly between roles."

The bombers have been on rotation for more than eight years, providing PACOM a prudent enemy deterrence and reassuring regional allies with a strong U.S. military presence.

As part of the CBP, the 96th EBS has a key role in supporting PACOM's basic priorities, recently outlined by Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear III, PACOM commander. Strengthening and advancing alliances and partnerships, remaining prepared to respond to a Korean peninsula contingency, and countering transnational threat are three among the five basic PACOM priorities that the CBP directly supports.

"The best part about having B-52s in the region is that it can carry a wide array of weapons in large quantities," said Capt. Kera Rolsen, 96th EBS weapons and tactics flight commander. "Combine those two capabilities with a long-range strike capability and you have a lethal and accurate combination that a fighter aircraft can't provide."

With more than 80 aviators in support of the CBP mission, the 96th EBS is ready to take part and provide persistent airpower in large, multinational military exercises in the Pacific.

"I'm definitely looking forward to participating in the exercises," said Captain Rolsen. "In this deployment, the 96th EBS will be participating in Exercise COPE NORTH 2013, and it will be my third time participating in this event."

"I personally look forward to flying with our allies in the Pacific," she continued. "I'm excited to introduce the newer members of the squadron to the unique and challenging nature of large-force exercises."

Guam's location provides units with training areas that test the units' aviation skills and weapons skills.

"Guam provides Air Force Global Strike Command bombers with good training opportunities as well as a way to provide deterrence in theater," said Captain Rolsen. "Being able to go to a different airfield allows our aviators to practice their skills at unfamiliar fields and airspace. All this, challenging weather included, increases our squadron's combat edge."

During this deployment, they aim to exercise their capabilities as well as promote growth as a squadron and individual aviators.

Captain Rolsen said that she is expecting to see the new crewmembers mature as combat aviators, the older crewmembers to grow tactically, and see the squadron expand in skill and combat knowledge.

The 96th EBS has been to Guam numerous times in support of the CBP, but as they get accustomed to the island this time around, the aviators plan to take advantage of being in close proximity to other U.S. services, along with the opportunity to work on aviation and combat concepts.

"Being based here on Guam, along with Navy, Marine Corps and Air Combat Command aviators, provides unmatched training opportunities that are normally only available during Red Flag exercises," said Colonel Bleil. "The face-to-face operations coordination is fantastic training for our new Red Devils and an effective way to improve our capabilities as a combat aviation squadron and a cogent fighting force."

Life Extension Programs send missiles into the future

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

10/24/2012 - BARKSDALE AFB, La. -- Fifty years ago, the first Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were deployed to the missile fields in support of the strategic deterrence mission. Five decades later, these missiles are still in place, providing safe, secure and effective strategic nuclear deterrence.

Since it first deployed, a number of state-of-the-art improvements and modernization programs have helped the Minuteman system continue its deterrence mission with improved reliability that supports the missile's remarkable 99 percent alert rate. Air Force Global Strike Command continues to modernize the weapon system through a series of extensive Minuteman III Life Extension Programs.

Nearly the entire missile has been refurbished, including the flight controls and propellant in all three stages, the guidance system and the Propulsion System Rocket Engine.

"We are checking and balancing everything, but they are basically new missiles except for the shell," Mr. Michael Knipp, ICBM Program Analyst, said. "Over the last decade we've done more than $7 billion worth of upgrades to 450 missiles."

In addition to the missile itself, a number of upgrades to the Minuteman III ground systems have been made. Those include upgrade to various electronic, cryptographic and security systems, Knipp said.

The last of the Life Extension Programs that will take the platform through the year 2020 are scheduled to be completed in 2015.

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Wizards salute Andrews Airmen, service members

by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
Defense Media Activity

10/24/2012 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) --  More than 20 Airmen from Joint Base Andrews were served lunch by members of the NBA's Washington Wizards at a downtown steakhouse in Washington Oct. 22.

The Airmen were invited as a part of the Wizards' 3rd Annual Salute to the Stars. This year, the focus was recognizing service and family members who are caregivers for wounded warriors as part of the NBA Cares Week of Service. Honorees from each branch of service were invited to dine and several wounded warriors were in attendance to show their appreciation as well.

"It was such a wonderful honor to be selected to represent all the medics and the mental health flight in this event; it was a lot of fun," said Capt. Tabitha Mullins, a clinical psychologist with the 79th Medical Wing.

Although the Airmen appreciated being recognized for their work that sometimes goes unnoticed by the masses, Mullins said it can be difficult at times, but caregivers don't do it for the accolades.

"It can be challenging dealing with people you know have gone through a lot, but what makes it rewarding for us is that we are providing them with assistance, we are providing them with a service and help," she said. "When you see someone that walks into your office and they're completely broken -- broken spirited, their lives are pretty much in disarray - and you're able to help them through providing support as well as behavioral treatments to get them back to a point where they've come full circle, that's the most rewarding part of our jobs."

Emeka Okafor, John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Shelvin Mack and rookie Bradley Beal, along with the Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell , a retired All-Star player and three-time championship winner, and Washington Bullets alum Phil Chenier, served a three-course meal to those who serve as a token of appreciation for their service. The Wizard Girls were also on hand to show their spirit.

During the luncheon, the players took time to specially recognize family members who lost loved ones who were serving in the military.

"Really it's our chance, in a very small way, to say thank you to the folks who serve our country and the family members of those who serve our country by serving them," said Greg Bibb, the executive vice president of business operations for the Wizards. "Many of (the players) them have some sort of connection to the military themselves, so this event is a popular one. Everyone wants the opportunity to come out and show their appreciation."

Before the Airmen returned to their daily jobs of caring for and supporting their wounded warrior comrades, the Wizards signed autographs, took photos with Airmen and left small souvenirs for them to remember the event.

"It means a lot that they take the time out to recognize us," said Staff Sgt. Chris Pearson, a dental assistant at the 79th MDW and a native Washingtonian and Wizards fan. "You don't join the military for praises, but it feels good when you're acknowledged by your peers or your local community. It goes a long way. It makes you feel like what you're doing is really making a difference in individuals' lives."

Lincoln Sailors Represent Ship at Norfolk Base Festival

By Seaman Phylicia A. Sorenson, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) participated in the second annual Naval Station Norfolk Fleet Festival, Oct. 20.

Three Lincoln Sailors competed for cash prizes against teams from other Hampton Roads-area commands in a chowder cook-off at the festival.

Culinary Specialist 1st Class Christopher Williams, Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Chad Smith and Yeoman Seaman Darrel Dorsey started setting up their booth in the base softball field parking lot at 7 a.m. to try to get a leg up on the competition.

"When I saw the checklist that the judges would be using for the competition, I thought we had a good chance at winning first place," said Williams. "They are judging things like smell, taste, originality, showmanship and decoration of the booths. We had great chowder to present to the judges, and we had the energy to back it up."

Despite their best efforts, the Lincoln team did not finish among the winners of the cook-off. Nevertheless, their spirits remained high.

"Even though we didn't win, we had a great time today," said Dorsey. "It was a beautiful day, and now we all can go home to enjoy this chowder with our families. On top of it all, we were able to come out and show pride for our ship."

Also participating in the day's festivities, Lincoln's Mustang Association set up a booth to raise money for their own organization. Manning the booth were Lt. Cmdr. Clem Gattano, Lt. Cmdr. Ramil Salvador and Lt. Jeff McCrady.

McCrady said it was important to the mustangs to raise money for the community events that the organization will be involved with in the future. "Plus, it's always fun coming and hanging out on a beautiful day like today," McCrady said.

Abraham Lincoln arrived Aug. 7 in Norfolk following an eight-month change of homeport deployment that brought her to Virginia from Naval Station Everett, Wash., her home since January 1997. Over the next four years, Lincoln will undergo a refueling complex overhaul in Newport News, Va.

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Constitution Sailors Teach Naval History in Houston

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Achterling, USS Constitution Public Affairs
HOUSTON (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Constitution taught early U.S. Navy history to students at Lanier Middle School in Houston, Oct. 22.

Constitution Sailors gave an interactive historical presentation to more than 100 eighth grade students as part of Houston Navy Week, Oct 22-28.

"Teaching these young students about our country's early naval history was a wonderful experience," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Christopher Haws. "I felt like we connected with them, because we are Sailors who have the experiences and stories they want to hear. It was a very special afternoon."

Students learned about the creation of the Navy, Constitution's construction, her battle with HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812 and the mission of today's Navy as it relates to the past.

"It was very exciting because there isn't a large military presence in this area," said Lenny Briones, Lanier Middle School 8th grade history teacher. "It brings the Navy into our lives hearing about it firsthand from Sailors currently living it."
Constitution Sailors will also be giving presentations to Spring High School, Oct. 23 and Kingwood High School, Oct. 24.

Constitution Sailors undergo six months of naval history training as soon as they check on board. They also receive additional weekly training from the USS Constitution Museum and Naval Historical Heritage Command Detachment Boston.

"I love teaching kids," said Seaman Levi Simmons. "Their enthusiasm and energy in learning the history of our Navy and our ship gave me great satisfaction in doing what we as Constitution Sailors do best."

Houston Navy Week is the last of eight Navy Weeks Constitution Sailors are scheduled to participate in 2012. The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. Houston Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea-lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. America's Navy: Keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.

Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history.

USS George Washington Arrives in the Philippines

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Pittman, USS George Washington Public Affairs

MANILA BAY, Philippines (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) dropped anchor in Manila Bay, Republic of the Philippines, Oct. 24.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is conducting a five-day goodwill visit that highlights the strong historic, community and military connections between the United States and the island nation.

"We have a longstanding history of partnership with the Philippines dating back to the Spanish-American War, and we are always appreciative of the opportunity to be able to work with one of our regional partners," said Capt. G.J. Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer. "My Sailors also appreciate the opportunity to engage in new surroundings and for them to be able to visit a nation with such diversity will be a crowning moment in a lot of their lives."

George Washington hosted Amb. Harry Thomas, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines, as well as members of his staff at the embassy the day prior to its arrival in Manila. The visitors observed flight operations from the ship's flight deck, and toured George Washington's combat direction center, flight deck control, hangar bay and navigation bridge in order to better understand the general orientation of an underway nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

"George Washington's visit to the Philippines shows that our 61-year-old mutual defense treaty is still alive," said Thomas. "It shows that the United States is committed to the Filipino people, and that we actively support a reliable partner and a strong ally."

George Washington will also host a welcome reception aboard the ship for hundreds of Filipino dignitaries and distinguished visitors, and U.S. embassy and military personnel. Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus is also expected to attend.

"It is a genuine pleasure to open our doors to [SECNAV] because this visit will illustrate not only the Department of Defense's commitment to the George Washington Carrier Strike Group's mission, but also the United States' non-wavering commitment to our continued partnership with a respected, regional ally," said Fenton.

George Washington's visit to the Republic of the Philippines will allow the ship's crew to take a break from the arduous operational tempo that comes with forward-deployed life.

"As the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, we fly more often and operate in a less forgiving operational environment than any other carrier in the fleet; the crew deserves a break," said Legalman 1st Class Manny Gaona, from Greeley, Colo. "With us being allowed to visit the Philippines, we will be able to spend some time taking in the sights and enjoying some much-deserved rest and relaxation."

The Republic of the Philippines holds many unique types of local cuisine, cultural attractions and shopping that offers Sailors plenty of opportunity to unwind after spending a significant amount of time at sea.

"This is my first visit to the Philippines and I am looking forward to experiencing the culture," said Ship's Serviceman Seaman Matthew Davis, from Long Island, N.Y. "I want to try some of the local food and also visit the Mall of Asia to pick up some souvenirs for the family back home."

George Washington Sailors will also have the opportunity to interact with the locals via several community service projects set up by the ship. Projects include interacting with school children, teaching basic first-aid at a local hospital facility, and general cleaning and landscaping.

"My Sailors willingly volunteer their time because they genuinely want to help their fellow man," said Fenton. "This is a constant in each of our port visits and this fact is not lost on a lot of people; these men and women have a significant impact on the many lives they help. At the end of the day, we all walk away feeling like we've made a difference in someone's life, and that is truly the most rewarding feeling that anybody can have."

George Washington's visit to the Republic of the Philippines is also seen as a homecoming of sorts to Filipino-born members of the crew; George Washington has more than 800 Sailors of Filipino descent currently serving aboard.

"I have tried several times to go back home, but actually setting foot in the Philippines has evaded me; I have not seen my sisters in 21 years," said Command Master Chief Dioscoro Crucillo, from Manila, command master chief of the "Royal Maces" of Strike Fighter Squadron 27. "With the pride and the gifts that my time in the Navy has been fortunate enough to afford me, I want my return to the Philippines to show that I am still the same man I always have been; a native son, proud of both worlds, and immensely excited to share them with each other."

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific region.