Friday, August 01, 2014

Chief of Chaplains Retires after 31 Years of Faithful Ministry, Service

By Christianne M. Witten, Chief of Navy Chaplains Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Margaret G. Kibben relieved Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd as the chief of Navy chaplains during a change of office and retirement ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard, August 1.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert was the retiring officer for the ceremony, and during his remarks, he acknowledged the Tidd family's more than 100 years combined of distinguished naval service.

"The community has thrived under his leadership," Greenert remarked, referring to Tidd's tenure as chief of Navy chaplains.

He went on to highlight his enduring contributions to the Navy and Nation and commended his decisive leadership during crisis response efforts after the Navy Yard shooting. He brought humanity and served as an expert advisor to the leadership who sought to console and comfort those affected by the tragedy, Greenert said.

After being awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his tenure as chief of chaplains, Tidd addressed those in attendance.

"Part of the genius of the American experiment is that we're committed to the right of each person to determine his or her deepest convictions, including one's religious convictions," Tidd said. "Chaplains are deeply committed to protecting religious freedom, day in and day out, in times of calm and times of crisis," he added.

Tidd described the privilege of answering the call to serve and the sacred mission of serving those who serve the Nation - to share in their lives deeply. He also reflected on the camaraderie he and his wife will miss having been part of the Navy and Marine Corps family for the past 31 years. He thanked his wife and children for their support, love, and encouragement throughout their naval adventure as a family.

Kibben was promoted in a private ceremony in the Navy Yard chapel by Greenert prior to the change of office. Both her promotion and assumption of duties marked a historic event for the Navy and its Chaplain Corps as Kibben became the first female chief of Navy chaplains and the first female Navy chaplain to hold the rank of rear admiral upper half.

As Kibben takes over the helm of the Navy Chaplain Corps, she committed to all senior Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard leadership present to stay engaged with them, to advise them on the spiritual welfare of their people, and to care for them, personally, as their chaplain.

Kibben also pledged to make sure her chaplains and religious program specialists are "where it matters, when it matters, with what matters" to take care of their Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and families so that they "grow spiritually, are certain of their moral and ethical foundations, and are free and able to exercise and enjoy a community of faith."

She also thanked Tidd for "his unwavering dedication to our people and to the Navy," and his ability "to bring [the Chaplain Corps'] capabilities into the institutional dialogue, and to bring the Chaplain Corps to a higher level of professionalism." She went on to add, "I stand on ground enriched by your legacy and that of those who preceded you and pray that the stand I take will remain in God's gracious plan for our Chaplain Corps and our country."

Military Responders Help Battle Ebola Outbreak

By Terri Moon Cronk and Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2014 – Defense Department personnel are on the ground in West Africa and in U.S. laboratories fighting to control the worst outbreak in the African history of the Ebola virus, which a senior Army infectious disease doctor called a “scourge of mankind.”

Army Col. (Dr.) James Cummings, director of the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System, or GEIS, a division of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, said the battle against the virus since the outbreak began in West Africa in March focuses on trying to stop disease transmission.

At the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, or CDC, in Atlanta, Director Dr. Tom Frieden has announced that the health agency has raised the travel advisory to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone where he said the Ebola outbreak is worsening, to Level 3 -- a warning to avoid unnecessary travel to those countries.

CDC already has disease detectives and other staff in those countries to track the epidemic, advise embassies, coordinate with the World Health Organization, or WHO, strengthen ministries of health, and improve case finding, contact tracing, infection control and health communication.

Over the next 30 days, in what Frieden described as a surge, CDC will send another 50 disease-control specialists into the three countries to help establish emergency operations centers and develop structured ways to address the outbreak.

“They will also help strengthen laboratory networks so testing for the disease can be done rapidly,” the director said.

For travelers in and out of the three West African countries, CDC experts will strengthen country capacity to monitor those who may have been exposed to Ebola, and each country in the region has committed to doing this, Frieden said.

“It's not easy to do,” he added, “but we will have experts from our division that do airport screening and try to ensure that people who shouldn't be traveling aren't traveling.”

Frieden said CDC has spoken with air carriers that service the West African region.

“We understand they will continue to fly, which is very important to continue to support the response and maintain essential functions in the country,” he explained.

CDC gives information to travelers to the region and health care providers in the United States who might care for people returning from the infected area. Frieden said that includes medical consultation and testing for patients who may have Ebola.

Frieden said that in the United States, “we are confident that we will not have significant spread of Ebola, even if we were to have a patient with Ebola here. We work actively to educate American health care workers on how to isolate patients and how to protect themselves against infection.”

In fact, he added, “any advanced hospital in the U.S., any hospital with an intensive care unit has the capacity to isolate patients. There is nothing particularly special about the isolation of an Ebola patient, other than it's really important to do it right. So ensuring that there is meticulous care of patients with suspected or … confirmed Ebola is what's critically important.”

The Ebola virus has no known cure and up to a 90 percent fatality rate and only supportive care can be offered to patients diagnosed with the disease while researchers work to find a vaccine.

DoD researchers think the viral disease originated in rural populations that prepare and eat meat from Ebola-carrying gorillas and monkeys.

The virus is passed among animals or people through body fluids. Only a person who is infected and is showing signs of illness can pass the disease to others.

Health care workers and home caretakers who have direct patient contact and those who prepare bodies for burial also are at risk, the infectious disease doctor said.

“We had a large footprint in Africa,” Cummings said of DoD’s response to the first Ebola cases reported in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. Since that time, DoD has answered numerous calls for assistance from WHO, nongovernmental organizations and ministries of heath and defense, he explained.

DoD personnel provide a wide array of support to the Ebola-stricken African nations, from logistical help to guides for clinical management of the virus, Cummings said.

“DoD personnel bring a level of excellence second to none, working in response to host nations and WHO in the most-affected countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia,” he said.

Theodore Van Kirk, Enola Gay Navigator, Passes Away

509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Theodore Van Kirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, and the navigator on the famous B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II, died Monday in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Van Kirk was 93.

"Team Whiteman and the nation have lost a great patriot," said Brig. Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, 509th Bomb Wing commander. "Maj. Theodore Van Kirk was a vital member of a historic unit, the unit from which the 509th Bomb Wing was born, and his contributions to American military history and to Allied victory in World War II will forever be remembered."

A veteran of 58 World War II combat missions, Van Kirk was selected to be a member of the 509th Composite Group by the 509th's commander, Col. Paul Tibbets. The 509th Composite Group was the predecessor to the 509th Bomb Wing, which is stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

Before the mission over Japan, Tibbets told Van Kirk the group had been chosen for a top-secret bombing mission that might end the war.

On Aug. 6, the Enola Gay, crewed by Van Kirk, Tibbets and 10 others, dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima; Van Kirk, a captain at the time, was only 24 years old. His skill and professionalism ensured the Enola Gay arrived at the drop point a mere 15 seconds after the initially planned time, quite an accomplishment given technological and logistical limitations during WWII.

Van Kirk completed his military service in August 1946 with the rank of major. His decorations include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and 15 Air Medals.

Civil Engineer wins Armed Forces Salute award

by Airman 1st Class Emili Koonce
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

8/1/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The USO recognized a member of Team Whiteman for outstanding achievements during a ceremony July 25 at Mission's End.

Staff Sgt. Cody Foreman, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron's NCO in charge of training for emergency management was presented with the USO Armed Forces Salute Award for the state of Missouri, which recognizes military members for their leadership, military accomplishments and service to others.

"When I knew that it was a USO award, I knew there were other services involved and it makes me feel like I am not even on the same level as some of those people," Foreman said. "The amount of respect I have for the USO is above and beyond because they're an organization that puts the military first and there's not a ton of organizations that do that. The USO is a leader in that field and to be honored by them I honestly feel like I am not even worthy of that. I can't tell you how happy it makes me."

Foreman's achievements in 2013 included coordinating multiple unit-wide field training exercises, revamping the wing shelter program by identifying and correcting 103 issues that prevented mission resiliency and devoting 120 hours to Habitat for Humanity, raising $10,000 to construct homes for local residents.

"It's an honor to be here" said Mark Lear, USO's vice president of the board of directors. "I couldn't be more proud to present this award to Staff Sgt. Cody Foreman."

Foreman stated he invested his time in various organizations because he believed in what they were doing for the communities, but also because it helps make him a better person overall.

"Investing in things you believe in was the first step for me because I believed in [their] mission, and so forth," he said.

"The more and more things I could sink my hands into, it focused me so much more on where I felt I needed to be, and doing those things rounded me out both professionally and personally."

Although Foreman is humbled by winning this award, he says biggest achievement in 2013 was not on any awards package.

"I have a two-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter. If I am able to bring something like them into this world, it makes all my other achievements irrelevant," he said. "Those are my two proudest accomplishments."

Whether investing his time changing diapers, or training first-term Airmen, for Foreman, it is more about being confident in what you do and doing it because it is the right thing to do.

"If you believe in what you are doing, you are going to succeed," he said.

Officials Discuss Education, Careers for Military Children

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014 – Creating better education standards is key to preparing military children for college and future careers, the U.S. government’s top education official and the National Guard Bureau’s chief said yesterday.

“We want to empower young people to choose what they want to do, what they love and what they’re best at,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Military Child Education Coalition National Training Seminar.

As such, Duncan said the DOE has also fortified its partnerships with community colleges, where he said real training leads to real jobs in surrounding communities.

“Community colleges that are getting this right are becoming economic engines … green energy jobs, [information technology], healthcare, advanced manufacturing,” he said. “It’s amazing what they’re doing when you continue to build their capacities.”

Duncan predicted many future jobs will be science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based, so considering how to maintain the interest of young people in these areas will be critical.

“The more we can build [peer] programs, replicate them and empower young people who are living with this every day and understand the challenges way better than you or I do [the better] … I think we can’t do enough of that,” Duncan said.

Duncan said states have raised college academic standards, a trend he called a “monumental shift in the right direction.”

“Standards are just what you need to know; how you teach those standards [is] the curriculum and … we’re asking more critical thinking skills.”

To help meet the demand of connecting qualified military children to higher-paying, hard-to-fill jobs, Grass of the National Guard Bureau told the seminar that the new GI Bill allows service members to pass the benefits to their child, who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend school.

“The Guard can create an opportunity for those families … through different youth programs we have today,” Grass said.

But he acknowledged that as the operations tempo changes in coming years with many active-duty service members returning from deployments or retiring, children once ensconced in military communities may find themselves in school systems that aren’t necessarily aware of their backgrounds.

“They won’t have the connection that the Guard and Reserve has -- that family support and programs.”

As budget constraints persist, the Guard and Reserve will need to capitalize on community-based non-profit organizations that specialize in supporting military families, Grass said.

The nation owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to military families who face many unique challenges, Education Secretary Duncan said.

“Our goal is simple: to have young people graduate from high school truly college and career ready as they take that next step on their education journey,” he said.

'Let me tell you 'bout my best friend'

by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing

8/1/2014 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- For a Military Working Dog handler it may take weeks or even months to build a bond with their dog, but once they do that bond will last forever. This is a bond that will survive through the good and bad times, as well as the challenges and struggles of life. To build this bond it takes pure dedication, a desire and passion to do the job, and a lot of time spent with the K-9.

That bond begins to build after dog and handler has been paired together, iand it never stops growing. While each handler achieves the bond differently and each dog responds differently, the first steps to building that relationship are accomplished through simple activities such as grooming, playing, petting, taking walks, feeding, talking to, and training the dog.

"My old kennel master basically told me to grab a ruck and don't come back," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Nault, 799th Security Forces Squadron MWD trainer. "[Dak and I] rucked the whole base. After that it was a bond forever because I started pulling him around instead of him pulling me."

For some teams it takes a lot longer to build that relationship.

"It took three to six months to develop the type of bond I wanted with Kiara," Staff Sgt. Rosanne Caballero, 799th SFS MWD trainer. "I spent a lot of time with her, got to know her, and she was with me everywhere I went while on duty."

Even when the bond has been established, it never stops growing and only gets stronger over time. The handlers spend all but one hour a day with their partner and each day is something new. There is always more training and learning to be done no matter what skill level a pair is at.

"You can never stop learning, K-9 [as a job] is ongoing," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Michaud, 799th SFS MWD kennel master. "It's constantly evolving and has come a long way [since the beginning]."

Every minute of a handler's day is spoken for, starting around 4 a.m. with feeding, and ending the day around noon by putting the dog away after a strenuous day of constant learning. A significant portion of the day is devoted to nothing but training. These sessions include contraband detection, bite and take-down, obedience, live-fire scenarios, and other training situations.

"There's so much training to do and every training session earns more trust with your dog," Nault said. You get to advance your dog at the same time you advance yourself."

"There's more to this job [than people see] and it's very time consuming," said Caballero. "You have to want it. If your heart isn't set in it, then this job isn't for you."

The busy schedule doesn't faze the handlers though, in fact they look forward to being on duty.

"It's great to come in to work and see your best friend every day," Nault said. "It doesn't matter if you're not having a good day; [the dogs are] going to get you going."

When not at home station just the handler and the dog the MWD are deployed as a team. They often work 12-16 hour days conducting patrols and searching for anything that could do harm to U.S. personnel such as explosives, drugs, or enemy positions.

During deployments, dog and handler are never apart. They work, eat and sleep together as a team.

"When I was deployed, my dog slept in the same bed as me," Michaud said.

The handlers dedicate their time, energy and emotion into their job and are rewarded with a truly pure and strong bond with their partner.

"There is no better job in the Air Force. I put on my uniform and play with a dog," Michaud said. "What other job is like that where you get to go to work every day and get paid to play with dogs all day?"

ANG's Outstanding Honor Guard Member of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Amy Ough

by Maj. Mary L. Harrington
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs

8/1/2014 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Setting the example is a way of life for Tech. Sgt. Amy Ough, the Air National Guard's Honor Guard member of the Year. Ough takes to heart her influence as a role model, and is deeply committed to her family, her community and her unit.

"I think it's important to show my children and the next generation that your gender, your age, your profession doesn't matter. You can excel at anything, if you put your mind to it." A mother of five in a blended family (ages six to 14), Ough is also a full-time member of the New York Air National Guard, assigned to the Eastern Air Defense Sector as a student registrar.

"Life is a balancing act. I'm really good at keeping work-at-work and home-at-home," she said. "They both have their challenges, but when I walk into work, I'm Tech. Sgt. Ough and completely professional. When I'm home, I'm all 'Mom' and a dedicated wife."

Prior to joining the Air Force, Ough worked as a waitress, as a retail customer service rep, and as a babysitter. "I knew I definitely didn't want to work three jobs the rest of my life," she said. "So I did some research, met with a variety of recruiters, and fell in love with the Air Force." After four-and-a-half years in the active component, Ough joined the Air National Guard.

For the honor of this award, Ough was selected from a nationwide pool of ceremonial Honor Guard members, an all-volunteer additional duty. She stood out because of her dedication, exceptional leadership and military bearing. She has volunteered countless hours at special events, funerals and military ceremonies as a member of the Honor Guard. She has also dedicated her time to numerous organizations, charities and special events including food drives, run-walks and school events.

"As a family, we are very active and we try to give back to the community. I think that's important," she said. "We also spend a lot of time outdoors together, doing everything from kayaking and fishing to bike riding and hunting." She also doesn't have cable television, which helps the family stay off the couch. "We recently purchased a home, and we haven't set-up cable yet," she said. "It's been really nice not having it. I honestly don't know if we'll get it back again."

The oldest child of four, Ough is very close to her father, her sister Rebecca and her brother Michael. "My youngest brother, Jordon, was killed in an underage drinking and driving accident. Unfortunately, he perished along with his friend. As hard as that was, we have definitely turned it into a positive life lesson for all of our children."

Ough's mother also died in a car accident, when Ough was only five years old. "My family has had many losses. Fortunately that has brought us closer together. I am very close to my mom's youngest sister, my Aunt Debbie. She is very much like a mother to me," she said. "She helped raise my kids and has always been there for me, throughout all of my life challenges."

In 2012, Ough was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had a full thyroidectomy. "I had no voice for almost a year, because of damaged vocal cords. It was a life-changing event; I couldn't warn the kids if they were in danger, order coffee, or relay the most menial communication. It taught me that no matter what you go through in life--medically, physically and emotionally--there's always a way out of your problems. I stay strong, I'm positive and I'm pushing forward." The experience also taught her that "it's not always most important what you have to say, it's what others have to say, as well."

Ough graduated from the Community College of the Air Force with an associate's degree in air and space operations technology, and she has taken classes toward a bachelor's degree. She plans to stay in the military for at least five more years, to complete her twenty.

"I'll stay as long as they let me," she said. Asked what she wants to do in her future years, Ough said, "I want to be a successful parent who has sent all her children to college ... then I want to relax and enjoy the rest of my life."

Face of Defense: Soldier Leads Troops in Woodshop

By Army Spc. Ariel J. Solomon
Regional Command South

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 1, 2014 – The road to becoming a leader could be considered a long one. While some soldiers march along, others charge up the road.

Army Spc. Keith Harris of the Indiana National Guard’s 1413th Engineer Company has been earning leadership positions since he attended basic training.

Harris is in charge of his unit’s woodshop here. He leads several soldiers, each with varying amounts of woodworking knowledge. It's his job to form this group into a team and ensure their tasks are accomplished to the highest possible standard.

Harris credits the influence of his friend and mentor Darrell Harvey, because Harvey never gave up on him. Harris explained that he wants to be the same kind of person as he grows older.

“Growing up, I wasn't the best kid. I was sent to military schools and boarding schools,” said Harris, who hails from Cicero, Indiana. “For some reason, [Harvey] knew I was doing wrong, but he would just keep pushing me to be a better person. I'd keep saying I would change but never did. It wasn't until the last military school that I decided Darrell was right and that's why I joined the military, because I needed something in my life.”

Harris added: "It's like everything he ever said to me suddenly made sense. Ever since then we've been closer than we were when I was growing up.”

Harris said the National Guard has given him a place to grow and build his leadership skills. He believes a good leader commands with respect, instead of simply commanding respect. Army 1st Sgt. Michael Dunn of the 1413th Engineer Company, he said, has been one of his biggest influences in that regard.

“I feel we fall from the same tree,” Harris said of Dunn’s leadership style. “I like the way he's able to lead; he doesn't have to yell and scream at people. People just follow him. He walks into a room and people just listen, and that's what I want to be."

Harris’ soldiers describe his leadership style as adhering to the core value of selfless service. He puts the needs of his men above his own, taking extra time learning the various jobs and techniques used in the woodshop so that he can effectively train and impart knowledge to his soldiers.

Army Spc. Bevante Carlisle, a carpenter in the 1413th Engineer Company, from Franklin, Indiana, helps teach Harris some of the ropes.

"He’s pretty good at getting things done, but if he doesn't know something he'll come to me and instead of telling me to do it, he'll ask me to teach him,” Carlisle said of Harris.

The journey to effective leadership is not without trial. To get there, Harris said, he has some personal challenges to overcome.

Harris said one of his biggest challenges is self-control and he understands that a leader must keep a level head in the face of adversity. A big mentor for that has been Army 1st. Lt. Chad Harris of the 1413th.

“I call him ’Senior,’ he calls me ‘Junior.’ He's the one who is really teaching me self-control,” Harris said of the lieutenant’s guidance. I believe in order to be a good leader you have got to be able to control yourself before you can control somebody else.”

Learning self-control has been invaluable when leading people from different backgrounds and with personalities, Harris explained. Practicing self-control, he said, keeps him from becoming a catalyst in frustrating situations, ensuring his soldiers keep cool under stress.

Another leadership trait Harris said he’s learning is to recognize when he and his soldiers need to slow down. While having the desire to get a project done as fast as possible is an often sought-after quality, he said it sometimes can lead to sloppy work. He understands as he grows that sometimes you have to take a little more time to ensure the job gets done right.

Specialist Harris “is a pretty good leader and tries to do as much as he can for everyone,” said Army Spc. Robert Norman from Lake Station, Indiana, who serves with the 1413th as a member of Harris' crew. “As a specialist he's done a pretty good job.”

Harris’ team produces unit crests, support structures for equipment and other items for anyone in need of a carpenter. They've also been called upon to help dismantle some of the airfield’s non-permanent structures.

Sometimes building things is more than a simple physical matter of constructing something structurally sound, but also a matter of duty, honor and service. A leader must demonstrate all of the Army values and Harris is doing his best to be the leader his soldiers need.