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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hometown News: Brittany Young


Air Force Airman Brittany S. Young graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

She is the daughter of Rarilyn Myers of Old Mitylene Lane, and Herbert Young of Adams Ave., both of Montgomery.

Young is a 2007 graduate of Jefferson Davis High School, Montgomery.

Hometown News: Anthony GarriGuss

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Anthony B. GarriGus, son of Brenda G. and Mark A. GarriGus of Thorsby, Ala., was recently meritoriously promoted to his current rank and reported for duty with Marine Aviation Logistic Squadron 29, Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, N. C.

GarriGus is a 2006 graduate of Thorsby High School of Thorsby, Ala. and joined the Marine Corps in August 2006.

Hometown News: Tobbie Moorer


Air Force Airman Tobbie D. Moorer graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

He is the son of Felix Moorer, and Merlinda Moorer, both of Pleasant Ave., Montgomery.

Moorer graduated in 2003 from Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery.

Hometown News: Nicholas Rice


Air Force Airman Nicholas J. Rice graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

He is the grandson of Celetha Rice of Lauderdale St., Montgomery.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hometown News: Ryan Phillips

Army Reserve Pvt. Ryan D. Phillips has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

He is the son of Jessie Phillips of Hampton Oaks Drive, Millbrook.

The private is a 2005 graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School, Millbrook.

DoD issues new GI Bill transferability rules

The Department of Defense issued new rules today on the much talked about transferability of benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The transferability benefits kick in on August 1.

To read the complete rules, go to:

http://www.defenselink.mil/prhome/docs/Post-9-11%20GI%20Bill%20Transferability.pdf

Hunstville company sharing in defense contract

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded eight contracts with a shared capacity of $650 million to eight contractors who will perform utility monitoring and control systems work throughout the continental U.S. and overseas. One of the contractors is Johnson Controls Building Automation in Huntsville.

These contracts are for the procurement and installation of utility monitoring and control systems; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to include chiller/boiler systems installation and/or integration, supervisory control and data acquisition systems; and other automated control systems including fire alarm and life safety systems, chemical/biological/radiological contaminant detection/filtration/response, utilities (electric/gas/water/steam) metering; electronic security systems; and security and/or force protection measures worldwide.

The multiple award task order indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity service contracts have a three-year base period and one optional two-year period for a total of five years. The total capacity of these contracts is $650 million, with shared capacity among eight contractors: Ameresco, Inc., Framingham, Mass.; Honeywell Products, Inc., Austin, Texas; Johnson Controls Building Automation, Huntsville, Ala.; Siemens government Services, Inc., Reston, Va.; TAC Americas, Carrollton, Texas; Teng & Associates, Inc., Chicago, Ill.; Trane U.S. Inc., La Crosse, Wis.; and Williams Electric Company, Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The Huntsville Center solicited this acquisition on a competitive basis.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hometown News: Joshua Perdue

Army National Guard Pvt. Joshua E. Perdue has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

He is the grandson of Katie Thomas of W. Boone St., and Rosa Vandiver of Southlawn Drive, both of Montgomery.

The private is a 2008 graduate of G. W. Carver Senior High School, Montgomery.
Friday, April 24, 2009

Flowers tapped for Pentagon assignment

Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, commander of Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi has been chosen to become the deputy assistant secretary for budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller at the Pentagon.

Flowers attended Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base in 1980 and the Professional Military Comptroller School at Maxwell in 1985.

He was commander of the Officer Accession and Training Schools (which is now the Holm Center) at Maxwell from January 2007 to May 2008.

State veterans cemetery legislation close to passage

The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs is one step closer to providing a new benefit to Alabama’s veterans –- a state owned and operated veterans cemetery.

This week the House unanimously passed HB 301, sponsored by Rep. Randy Davis of Daphne.

The Senate’s version of the state veterans cemetery bill, SB 389, carried by Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma, is ready for a floor vote.


The ADVA needs to the authority, that would be granted in the bill, to move forward with plans to establish Alabama's first state veterans cemetery.


The authority would also allow the state VA to obtain a federal grant from the National Cemetery Administration -- about $7.6 million for the construction of the cemetery. The grant covers all construction costs and the state would only be tasked with funding the operations and maintenance of the cemetery.


Land has already been identified for the cemetery in south Alabama, in Baldwin County, near Fort Blakeley State Park. The proposed cemetery would serve the veteran population in that area -- an estimated 71,000 -- for the next two decades.

Hometown News: Jowanna Bush

Army Sgt. Jowanna A. Bush has deployed to Iraq to provide medical care at the Ibn Sina in Baghdad.

The 10th Combat Support Hospital has assumed medical care responsibilities in Baghdad, Mosul, Al Kut, Al Amarah, and Tallil for a one-year deployment. The medical unit will provide health service support and a combat hospital in Baghdad and Mosul, and a combat aid station in Al Kut and Al Amarah.

The unit, assigned to Fort Carson, Colo., is the Army's premier combat support hospital within Forces Command and the Department of Defense, with the mission of deploying worldwide to establish an 84 or 164-bed hospital in support of combat and non-combat operations.

Bush, a pharmacy specialist with seven years of military service, is regularly assigned to the 47th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Wash.

She is the daughter of Anthony B. and Shelby R. Crews of W. Spencer Road, Hurt, Va.

Her husband, Detrick, is the son of Lawrence H. and Mary L. Bush of Daffodil Court, Millbrook.

The sergeant is a 2001 graduate of Gretna High School, Va.
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bright questions generals during House subcommittee hearing

Rep. Bobby Bright participated in the hearing on Army Aviation in the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, which falls under the House Armed Services Committee.

As a member of the subcommittee, he directed questions this morning to Brig. Gen. Walter Davis, Director of Army Aviation, and Brig. Gen. William T. Crosby, Program Executive Officer, Aviation during a hearing on Army Aviation Programs.

His questions relate to a potential expansion of capabilities at Fort Rucker, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates included $500 million in his FY10 budget to increase training of pilots and maintenance crews for Army helicopters. Fort Rucker is the aviation hub for the Army.

No significant details were announced in the hearing, but the generals said they anticipate increased student numbers and infrastructure at Rucker.

To view the entire hearing, follow this link (Bright starts about 19 minutes in):

http://armedservices.edgeboss.net/wmedia/armedservices/al042309.wvx

Sessions meets with Gates, removes hold on Pentagon nominee

Sen. Jeff Sessions' office released the following remarks today after he met with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I have great respect for Sec. Gates and I appreciate his meeting with us today. We had a productive conversation regarding a number of important defense issues, including the Air Force tanker acquisition program. The tanker remains the Air Force's top acquisition priority. There is no question that our men and women in uniform desperately need these aircraft. The process has gone on far too long, and it's imperative that we get these refueling tankers to the war fighter as soon as possible."

"I was pleased to hear the Secretary reaffirm his commitment to a fair and transparent process that will deliver the best airplane to our troops. Anything less than a fair competition would be a body blog to the military procurement process, signaling that politics trump merit."

"Dr. Carter, a capable and qualified nominee, has made a similar commitment and has indicated his desire to move forward with a competition that selects the aircraft with the most capability for the taxpayers' money. It is important that the Pentagon's chief acquisition officer be in place to oversee this tanker competition as well as numerous other critical acquisition programs. Accordingly, after our conversation today, I am pleased to lift my hold on Dr. Carter's nomination. I look forward to working closely with him in the future."

Earlier this month, Sessions and Sen. Richard Shelby, placed holds on the nomination of Ashton Carter, over the tanker contract.

Military voting bill advances in Sentate

A bill to expand military and overseas voting for Alabamians has just one legislative hurdle left.

The bill, HB711, was unanimously reported out of the Senate's Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections committee today.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman said the bill will be placed on the calendar for a floor vote as early as Tuesday.

Chapman has headed Gov. Bob Riley's task force on military and overseas voting, which has been meeting for the last year to develop this legislation. The committee includes election officials, court clerks, military members, lawmakers and others.

If the bill passes the Senate, as Chapman expects to happen, the bill would create one of the nation's first electronic voting programs.

The bill would establish five methods of requesting ballots -- mail, e-mail, fax, secure transmission (kiosks) and commercial carriers. Ballots could be returned in four ways -- mail, fax, secure electronic transmission and commercial carriers.

Chapman said it's good to know that, "when everybody's on the same page, that our process still works and good legislation with good causes to help good people still happen in Alabama."
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Letter from Secretary Chapman

A letter I received in my inbox today:

As Alabama’s Secretary of State, I want to ask for your help in encouraging the Alabama Senate to adopt and pass House Bill 711 which provides members of our military with a more accessible, efficient and effective means by which to cast their votes while serving abroad.

I had the privilege of chairing the Alabama Military and Overseas Task Force which worked for more than a year researching, investigating and proposing such legislation. After a few additions to the bill and with the leadership and sponsorship of Representative Jimmy Martin of Chilton County, it passed on an 89-3 vote in the House of Representatives.

Now this valuable legislation lies in the hands of the Alabama Senate. Please call your Senators today and ask them to ensure that this legislation is placed on the calendar for a vote. This is imperative, as there are only seven days left for the Senate to meet.

This legislation would allow Alabama to use other means in addition the U.S. Postal Service including fax, secure electronic transmission and commercial carriers such as Fed Ex or UPS to send ballots. The system would provide for a paper ballot trail for auditing purposes. These changes would provide the time needed for our military members to cast their votes and return them in time to guarantee that they would be counted which has not been the case in the past.

Alabama has the highest percentage per capita of National Guardsmen and Reservists deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, with almost 2000 more deploying in the very near future.

It goes without saying that members of our military deserve the right to practice what they provide, protect and preserve – the sacred right to vote. Providing them with anything less would be disenfranchising them all; and that is not America’s or Alabama’s way of treating our military. Let’s prove it.

Please call 1-800-274-VOTE today and ask to be transferred to the Senate offices. Leave a message for your Senator to help the military have a more accessible and guaranteed way to cast their votes while serving our great nation abroad.

Sincerely,
Beth Chapman
Secretary of State

Man found dead at Rucker fitness center

A man was found dead today at Fort Rucker, but his identity and cause are currently unknown.

According to Rucker's public affairs office, a man was found at about 11:30 a.m. today in the Andrews Physical Fitness Center.

He was unresponsive and CPR was performed at the scene by Emergency Services personnel, but attempts to revive the man were unsuccessful.

Rucker officials are trying to verify the man's identity and do not suspect foul play, but the death is currently under investigation.

Hometown News: Byron Isaac

Air Force Airman 1st Class Byron L. Isaac has graduated from the Aerospace Maintenance Apprentice Course at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas.

The course is designed to train airmen in aircraft maintenance fundamentals and weapons systems familiarization, security instruction, technical order systems, maintenance management and documentation, aircraft and flightline safety. The training included use of hand tools, hardware, and equipment to perform aircraft ground handling, corrosion, and inspection procedures; and inspecting, troubleshooting, repairing and maintaining aircraft airframe, electrical, hydraulic, egress, environmental, fuel, flight and landing controls, engines and related systems and components, including communications, early warning radar, and electronic warfare equipment.

Isaac is an aerospace maintenance apprentice with the 552nd Maintenance Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Okla.

He is the son of Byron L. McMullen of Monarch Drive, Riverdale, Ga., and Gwen Isaac of Montgomery.

The airman is a 2008 graduate of North Clayton High School, College Park, Ga.

Hometown News: Ashley Wood

Air Force Airman 1st Class Ashley M. Wood has been named the 2008 U.S. Air Forces in Europe's Outstanding New Photographer of the Year.

Selection was based on the individual's exemplary duty performance, job knowledge, leadership qualities, teamwork, significant self-improvement, personal achievements, notable accomplishments, and community service and support.

The award is given to photographers with less than two years of experience in the photography career field.

Wood, a still photographic apprentice with one year of military service, is assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy.

She is the daughter of Deborah Wood of W. Paine St., Sevierville, Tenn., and William Wood of McKeithen Place, Millbrook.

The airman is a 2005 graduate of Sevier County High School, Sevierville.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hometown News: Courtney Williams

Courtney D. Williams has joined the United States Army under the Delayed Entry Program. The program gives young men and women the opportunity to delay entering active duty for up to one year.

The enlistment gives the new soldier the option to learn a new skill, travel and become eligible to receive as much as $50,000 toward a college education. After completion of basic military training, soldiers receive advanced individual training in their career job specialty prior to being assigned to their first permanent duty station.

The recruit qualifies for a $8,000 enlistment bonus.

Williams, a 2006 graduate of Lee High School, Montgomery, will report to Fort Knox, Ky., for basic training in June 2009.

He is the son of Samantha Conner of Bonaparte Drive, Montgomery, and Stanley Williams of Martin Luther King Blvd., Columbus, Ga.

Hometown News: Mekahya Prince

Mekahya D. Prince has joined the United States Army under the Delayed Entry Program. The program gives young men and women the opportunity to delay entering active duty for up to one year.

The enlistment gives the new soldier the option to learn a new skill, travel and become eligible to receive as much as $50,000 toward a college education. After completion of basic military training, soldiers receive advanced individual training in their career job specialty prior to being assigned to their first permanent duty station.

The recruit qualifies for a $8,000 enlistment bonus.

Prince, a 2007 graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School, Millbrook, will report to Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C., for basic training in July 2009.

She is the daughter of Gwendolyn Prince of Ella Drive, and Curtis Prince of Foxdale Road, both of Millbrook.

Rucker exercise may slow traffic this week

Fort Rucker officials will be conducting a force protection exercise on April 22 and April 23 from about 7:30 a.m. to noon. Anyone traveling to Rucker during those times is advised to plan for traffic delays at all post gates.

For more information, call 255-2590.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Mitchell donates $3,000 to Honor Flight

Sen. Wendell Mitchell presented a $3,000 check to Honor Flight River Region Co-Chair Joe Mathis
and Mayor Jim Byard, Jr. today.

The next Honor Flight will take area veterans to Washington on May 2.

Lorenz on leadership -- latest edition

By Gen. Stephen Lorenz, former Air University commander and current Air Education and Training Command

Recently, I had the distinct honor to attend the Airman's Coin Ceremony at Lackland AFB. It is always a privilege for me to meet the terrific men and women who train and are trained in what seems like a timeless setting.

That day, the crystal blue sky melted into the field of blue-suited trainees who proudly marched onto the parade field. They were surrounded by thousands of family and friends, all having traveled to Lackland to witness something special. Everyone in attendance sat, buttons busting with pride, eyes straining to catch a glimpse of their son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife or friend. The American flag presided, waving prominently on top of the pole.

Like everyone else, I sat at the ceremony marveling at the 745 trainees, ready to become Airmen in the world's greatest Air Force. For Lackland, this scene replays itself every week, year-round. For trainees that afternoon, however, it was their day, and I felt it as soon as the first flight marched onto the pad. Everyone felt it -- the pride and eager anticipation was written all over their faces; these trainees knew they had accomplished something absolutely amazing.

I was especially proud of these Airmen. They decided to join something bigger than themselves and defend our nation and its ideals. Within months, many of these Airmen will be sent forward into harm's way. I have no doubt that they will succeed. You see, our Airmen, non-commissioned officers and senior NCOs are the finest in the world and it doesn't happen by accident. Our recruiters fill our ranks with members from all walks of life and our training and education systems are second to none. We are a reflection of American society, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Basic military training is a terrific example of our Air Force's pursuit of excellence. The training builds upon the foundation influenced by mothers, fathers, grandparents and teachers across the nation, emphasizing the Air Force Core Values: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. It transforms young Americans into members of the Air Force family, a motivated team of warrior Airmen.

Why is our enlisted force the best? In a single word: trust. When an NCO from security forces tells me that the base is secure, I know without a doubt that all is safe. Before flying, I always review the forms documenting maintenance actions on that aircraft. The SNCO's signature at the bottom of the forms is all I need to see to have complete confidence in the safety of that airplane. I liken it to the cell phone commercial many of you have probably seen on television. Although there may be a single man or woman standing in front, he or she speaks with the voice of thousands standing behind. A successful team is one that works together, enabled and empowered by trust.

Where does the trust come from? It starts with our integrity, which is tested daily and without which a team cannot operate successfully. Basic training reinforces it with the discipline, initiative and competency essential to defend our nation and its ideals. Technical training continues the theme and is the next journey for these Airmen where they will develop respective core competencies that fit into the overall Air Force machine. Later, these Airmen will become NCOs and SNCOs and the Air Force will depend on them to make difficult decisions -- the "tough calls" that years of experience and training enable them to make. The Air Force machine relies on them, trusts them, to make the right call.

All of us have a job to do and no job is more important than another. One terrific example is Tech. Sgt. Matt Slaydon. In October 2007, while leading an explosive ordnance disposal team to investigate a suspicious road sign in Iraq, Sergeant Slaydon sustained extensive injuries when a bomb exploded two feet away from him. As Matt later said during his Purple Heart ceremony, "It's a rare thing for a person to find a job and career that gave them great, great joy. Every day I loved coming to work, and after a short period of time, I gained a great sense of purpose from what I did. I know that those days are coming to an end for me . . . I think probably what I'll miss the most is this Air Force family and this great sense of purpose."

Sergeant Slaydon gets it. All tasks have purpose and even the least glamorous are mission essential. We must all follow his lead and embrace our function, our purpose.

On our Air Force team, everyone's ability to perform their function is what builds trust and makes the machine run so smoothly. Ultimately, we all share the same goal -- the defense of our nation and its ideals. That's the common denominator, regardless of rank, where trust and mutual respect are paramount. At every base, in every shop and office, Air Force leadership, both officer and enlisted, consistently sets the example. We are all role models and always on the job. Our Airmen live up to these expectations every day.

Back at Lackland, the Coin Ceremony concluded with the Airman's Creed. All 745 spoke with a single voice, "I am an American Airman. I am a warrior. I have answered my nation's call." It was absolutely captivating; the crowd hung on every word. As the newly coined Airmen finished the creed, their voices rose in unison for the last line, ". . . And I will not fail!"

The last words echoed across the field and stayed with me. I knew each of the new Airmen stood that afternoon wondering if they were ready, eager to be tested. In reality, they had just passed their first big test with flying colors. Other tests and challenges will follow, but these new Airmen will face their challenges as members of the Air Force team. I have unwavering trust in our team -- together we will not fail!

Hometown News: Lover Barnes

Army Pvt. Lover J. Barnes has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

He is the son of Lover and Lenora Barnes of Oxford Drive, Montgomery.

Barnes is a 2008 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery.

Maxwell JAG working in Iraq

Caught this story on Air Force Link about a Maxwell airman in Iraq:

by Staff Sgt. Tim Beckham
U.S. Air Forces Central, Baghdad Media Outreach Team


4/20/2009 - CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- At home stations many Air Force attorneys spend their days providing legal counsel and preparing legal documents, but for one Air Force captain being deployed means serving in a unique legal position.

Capt. Sophia Crawford, Multi-National Force-Iraq Office of the Staff Judge Advocate; Detention, Judicial and Legal Policy attorney, provides a service that she would normally never get to do outside the country of Iraq, as she is the U.S. legal representative that provides feedback on how the Iraq detention facilities perform with regard to legal issues.

"I specifically work in detention operations, so everything that has to with a detainee or anything potentially relating to a detainee is what I do," said Captain Crawford, who is deployed from Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. "This could range from detainee deaths to detainee imagery. We also deal with interrogation procedures and provide legal reviews and advice to the MNF-I commanding general."

Captain Crawford said working in the Area of Responsibility is unique because she has to work from three different sides of the law.

"Just learning all the law has been a challenge, I mean we must have the appropriate authority to detain someone and authority to question someone, which has changed dramatically since the implementation of the Security Agreement post 1 Jan 09. It's a big realm of law, not only do we use United States law, but we use international law and abide by Iraqi law," said the Dallas native. "We have to coordinate and make sure we operate within all three, it's a lot of coordination with Iraq."

Air Force attorneys are compelled to view cases objectively and doing what is in the best interest of the United States.

"I am a JAG who represents the United States and it's my job to advocate for the commander. I'm also a prosecutor and it's my responsibility to make sure people are operating within the law," she said. "No matter who you are, you have to realize that detainees have rights."

The 30-person MNF-I legal team is a total force concept with Reserve and active-duty attorneys ranging from O-3s to O-6s in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and even the Australian army colonel is represented here.

"Air Force captains usually don't get to practice law in the AOR, it is a great opportunity to learn the different terms and practices they (co-workers) use," said Captain Crawford. "I have just learned so much, I am the junior ranking officer, so everyone is a mentor to me. It has been a great experience from the officer standpoint as well as a JAG."

New site for veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched its new "Returning Veterans" Web site -- www.oefoif.va.gov -- to welcome home veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with a social, veteran-centric Web site focusing on their needs and questions.

"VA is entering the world of Web 2.0, because that's where this generation of veterans is already communicating," said Dr. Gerald M. Cross, VA's Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Health. "We're opening our doors to them virtually to let them know what they can expect when they step through our doors in reality."

The Web site will feature videos, veteran stories, and a blog where veterans are encouraged to post feedback. The site also will restructure the traditional index-of-benefits format found on other VA pages into question-based, categorized, and easily navigated links by topic. This will allow veterans to find benefits of interest easily and discover related benefits as they explore.

"We hope our returning veterans find this site easy and helpful, but also engaging," Dr. Cross said. "As the site grows, we will be linking to veterans' blogs and highlighting more of their own stories from their own views. We are their VA, so we are eager to provide a forum for veterans to discuss their lives."

Blanchard dies at 84

Felix “Doc” Blanchard, the 1945 Heisman Trophy winner and Army’s Mr. Inside in one of college football’s most famous backfields, has died. He was 84, according to an Associated Press report.

His daughter, Mary Blanchard, told AP Sunday night in a phone interview that her father died of pneumonia at home in Bulverde, a small town in central Texas, earlier in the day.

For more, go to http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2009/04/ap_airforce_blanchard_042009/

Alabama man honored at Vietnam Memorial today

Today, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund posthumously honored 123 American heroes from the Vietnam War--including one from Alabama-- during the In Memory Day Ceremony at the Wall this morning.

Edgar Lee Day of Thorsby was served in Vietnam. He died on April 9, 2002. He was honored today at the ceremony.

In Memory Day was created to honor those who died prematurely from noncombat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by the Vietnam War, but who do not qualify under DOD rules to have their names added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

During the ceremony, loved ones will read the names of all those who are being inducted into the In Memory Program, then tributes to them will be placed at The Wall. This is the 11th annual In Memory Day. Overall, more than 1,800 individuals have been honored through this program.

To learn more about In Memory Day, read the press release here:
http://www.vvmf.org/index.cfm?SectionID=775.

To see a list of this year's honorees and their hometowns, click here:
http://www.vvmf.org/index.cfm?SectionID=774.






Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sullenberger honored at Air Force Academy

The pilot who landed the passenger jet on the Hudson River in January was honored at the Air Force Academy this week. 

Capt. Chesley Sullenberger III received the Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship. 

Sullenberger graduated from the Academy in 1973, with the school's current superintendent Lt. Gen. John Regni.

Gen. Stephen Lorenz also graduated that year. Lorenz and Regni were roommates at the Academy and both were commanders of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base. 

Sullenberger studied psychology and was a glider pilot instructor while at the Academy. He served in the Air Force until becoming a commercial pilot in 1980.
Friday, April 17, 2009

AFPA director's blog

If you're interested in following what the acting director of Air Force Public Affairs is thinking, check out Col. Mike Caldwell's blog here: http://fromanairforcecolonel.blogspot.com/

Air Force and social media

I came across this blog post this week and it's interesting as the author believes the Air Force's approach to social media is an impressive model. And I'll be honest, it's tough to keep up with their impressive presence on twitter, Facebook, BlueTube and a variety of other social media platforms.

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/85261

Another post I'm reading on the Air Force and social media: http://www.webinknow.com/2009/03/the-us-air-force-and-social-media-a-discussion-with-colonel-michael-caldwell.html

General officer assignment to Huntsville

Brig. Gen. Terrence A. Feehan, vice commander, Electronic Systems Center, Air Force Materiel Command, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., has been assigned as deputy program manager, Ballistic Missile Defense System, Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville.

Tanker discussions

The Associated Press is reporting that Airbus’ parent company EADS would bid with partner Northrop Grumman Corp. for a $35 billion U.S. Air Force contract even if it has to share it with Boeing Co.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has included the tanker replacement as a priority in his budget recommendations this month and has said he hopes to reopen the bidding this summer.

Lawmakers such as Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., has proposed a dual tanker buy, a split between the two companies. But Gates opposes the idea.

The KC-X tanker would replace the aging KC-135 fleet. But, the program has faced serious delays and other problems.

If Northrop-Grumman/EADS does win the contract, the tankers would be assembled in Mobile.

Sessions touring Maxwell

Sen. Jeff Sessions is touring Maxwell Air Force Base right now with Air Force leadership and some community leaders.

He's being briefed on what goes on at Maxwell, from what I'm told. Will update if anything comes of the visit.

Hometown News: Morrecus Foster

Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Morrecus B. Foster has graduated from the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

The course is designed to produce physically fit, competent, and confident infantry platoon leaders who are proficient in basic infantry skills. Lieutenants learn adaptive skills and to train and lead soldiers in infantry platoons to accomplish mission objectives in any environment.

Combat arms tactics covered in the course include tactical doctrine and operations, air assault operations, military operations on urban terrain, and field training exercises. Officers also learn artillery, engineer, and nuclear, biological, and chemical operations.

Foster, an infantry officer with eight years of military service, is assigned to Headquarters, 167th Infantry Regiment, Talladega.

He is the son of Dorothy Foster of Oakbrook Drive, Montgomery.

The lieutenant graduated in 2000 from Robert E. Lee High School, and received a degree in 2007 from South University, both of Montgomery.
Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gates' remarks at the Army War College

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates continued his speaking tour today at the Army War College in Pennsylvania.

Although his remarks were nearly identical to those he made at Maxwell Air Force Base on Tuesday, the Q&A session yielded some interesting commentary on provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

To read the entire transcript, go to: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4404

Military on Twitter

Follow me on Twitter too...eventually I'll figure out how to link my Twitter feed to this blog, but until then, here's the link: http://twitter.com/jenn822

Huntsville area preparing for BRAC influx

Came across this blog today from Army Material Command as it prepares to relocate thousands to the Huntsville region.

http://hqamcbrac.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/huntsvillemadison-county-chamber-hosts-community-brac-meetings-launches-revamped-jobs-websites/

Military voting passes House

HB 711 has passed the House by an 89-3 vote.

Now the bill that expands voting options for military members and overseas citizens heads to the Senate.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman said, "We've come a long way."

Chapman has headed Gov. Bob Riley's task force on military and overseas voting, which has been meeting for the last year to develop this legislation. The committee includes election officials, court clerks, military members, lawmakers and others.

"Its just one of those moments for me as Secretary of State that I have to pinch myself and say, 'Has this really happened?'"

If the bill passes the Senate, as Chapman expects to happen, the bill would create one of the nation's first electronic voting programs.

The bill would establish five methods of requesting ballots -- mail, e-mail, fax, secure transmission (kiosks) and commercial carriers. Ballots could be returned in four ways -- mail, fax, secure electronic transmission and commercial carriers.

"There's so many days that people beat up on the legislature and sometimes its justified and sometimes its not, but when a day like this occurs and they pass something monumental that's not just great for the state but the nation, you just have to take your hat off and say thank you," Chapman said.

Military wives in Real Simple

Real Simple magazine profiles an Air Force wife, who is an Air Force officer herself.

http://www.realsimple.com/television/episode-guide/episode-115/meet-gabrielle-dupree-00000000006192/index.html

Multistate compact getting closer

SB 371 was voted out of a House committee Wednesday, meaning that a floor vote could be up next.

If passed, Alabama would join an multistate compact aimed at making it easier for military kids to switch schools.

In the Senate, HB 438, is waiting a floor vote as well.

Two Guard units deploying

Two Alabama Army National Guard units are deploying soon and departure ceremonies are scheduled for Tuesday.

About 130 members of the 1343rd Chemical Company in Fort Payne will be recognized in a ceremony at 8 a.m. at the Fort Payne Army National Guard Readiness Center, 4206 Gault Ave. North.

At 11 a.m., about 95 soldiers of the 151st Chemical Battalion in Gadsden will have their ceremony at the Guard Readiness Center, 5323 Airport Rd. in Gadsden.

City, county and state officials will join senior Guard personnel at both ceremonies.

Both units will head to Fort Hood, Texas for pre-deployment training.

The 151st will be a command and control headquarters for units that provide support services to Soldiers and civilians in Kuwait and Iraq.

The 1343rd Chemical Company will perform security missions in the theater.

The public is invited to both ceremonies.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Selma company awarded defense contract

American Apparel, Inc. of Selma has been awarded a maximum $20,383,313 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity contract for Marine Corps combat utility uniform.


Other locations of performance are in Alabama.


Using service is Marine Corps.


The original proposal was Web solicited with 10 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the third option year.


The date of performance completion is April 18, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa.

Hometown News: Michael Jones


Air Force Airman Michael A. Jones graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

He is the son of Debra Ray of Bradley Drive, Montgomery.

Jones is a 2006 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, Montgomery.

SecDef at Maxwell

Secretary of Defense visited the Air War College at Maxwell today and said his budget recommendations are aimed at changing the way the military thinks about its future and how it does business.

To see the entire speech, go to http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/pcindex.aspx

Or to view the transcript of his speech, go to http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1344

His remarks will be aired again at 5 p.m., 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Check Montgomeryadvertiser.com or tomorrow's paper for the complete story.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today in National Guard History

1865
Washington, DC — President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated just five days after Lee's surrender effectively ends the Civil War. Lincoln had served as a volunteer in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War in 1832, though the war ended before he saw any combat. He was quickly elected captain by his men, a moment of pride he spoke of often in later life.

2001
Camp Robinson, AR — Senior Airman Jennifer Donaldson becomes the first female graduate from the Air Guard's Counter-Sniper School. She was a member of the Air Security Detachment of Illinois' 183rd Fighter Wing.

Hometown News: Caleb Powell

Coast Guard Reserve Seaman Apprentice Caleb L. Powell, son of Tina L. and William L. Powell of Eclectic, recently graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Training Center in Cape May, N. J.

During the eight-week training program, Powell completed a vigorous training curriculum consisting of academics and practical instruction on water safety and survival, military customs and courtesies, seamanship skills, first aid, fire fighting and marksmanship. A major emphasis is also placed on physical fitness, health and wellness.

Powell and other recruits also received instruction on the Coast Guard's core values -- honor, respect and devotion to duty -- and how to apply them in their military performance and personal conduct. Powell will join 36, 000 other men and women who comprise Coast Guard's force.

Men and women train together from the first day in the Coast Guard just as they do aboard ships and shore units throughout the world. To reinforce the team concept, Powell, and other recruits were trained in preventing sexual harassment, drug and alcohol awareness, civil rights training, and the basics of the work-life balance, as well as total quality management.

Powell is a 2006 graduate of Elmore County High School of Eclectic.

Gates update

As I mentioned yesterday, SecDef Robert Gates is coming to Maxwell on Wednesday to speak to the Air War College students about his budget proposal and other military issues.

He'll be speaking from 8-9 a.m. and the Pentagon Channel will be recording. As soon as I find out when that will air, or it will stream live, I'll post it here.

I'll also post updates on the speech here tomorrow.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Gates update

The Pentagon Channel will cover Secretary Gates' visit to Fort Rucker on Wednesday. As soon as I have details on whether it will be streamed live or when it will air, I'll post it here.

The Pentagon Channel is also covering the SecDef's visit to Maxwell Air Force Base on Wednesday when he'll be addressing students at the Air War College regarding his budget recommendations.

Gates spoke at Quantico Marine Corps Base on the topic today. He told 30 students at the Marine Corps War College that people were his top priority in the 2010 defense budget.

To read that story, go to: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=53915

Norred receives Distinguished Flying Cross


Sixty-six years after leading a dangerous, but successful, B-26 bombing mission over the skies of Sicily in 1943, the Air Force posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor to World War II Veteran Capt. William S. Norred of Pineapple.

Lt. Gen. Allen G. Peck, Commander of Air University, at Maxwell Air Force Base presented the award to Norred’s wife, Doris Norred, at a ceremony today in Greenville.

Norred was awarded the DFC with Valor for heroism while participating in aerial flight during WWII.

On June 15, 1943, while serving as both a flight leader and formation commander of a B-26 squadron, he was leading a mission over Rizzo Airdrome in Sicily when his plane was damaged by intense anti-aircraft fire.

Masterfully keeping his B-26 under control, Norred led his formation through evasive action and completed a devastating bombardment of his target. Shortly thereafter, 12 enemy fighters attached the unescorted bombers, but Norred skillfully outmaneuvered them and five of the hostile aircraft were destroyed.

Before Norred’s death at the age of 91 last year, the Butler County Veterans Service Office in Greenville contacted the Air Force with a request to review his service records to determine his eligibility for the DFC.

On Dec. 10, 2008, the Air Force honored Norred for his heroism in WWII by approving the award.

Photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.

Local cadet to interact with military leaders this week

Travis Hawkins, who is an Army ROTC Cadet from Troy University, will join senior U.S. military leaders at the General George C. Marshall national security seminar in Lexington, Va. April 15-17.

He will travel to historic Lexington along with key military officials such as Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George W. Casey and the Secretary of the Army Pete Geren.

While in Lexington, Hawkins will have the opportunity to directly interact with the key leaders in attendance and discuss a variety of issues directly bearing on national security.

Hawkins is an outstanding leader and served as the Army ROTC Battalion Commander for the entire 2008 – 2009 school year. In addition to several military awards, Alpha Phi Sigma, which is the National Honor Society for Criminal Justice professionals, selected Hawkins as the Distinguished Honor Graduate for our May graduation.

Hometown News: Dominic Piazza


Air Force Airman 1st Class Dominic A. Piazza graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Piazza graduated in 2003 from Montgomery Catholic High School and earned a bachelor's degree in 2008 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Military voting in the Legislature

The bill that would expand voting options for military members and overseas citizens has been amended to include a larger task force and the substitute bill also gives the Secretary of State's office more flexibility in implementing the legislation, if passed.

HB 711 is still in the House.

To view the bill, go here: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/pdf/HB711.pdf

Multi-state compact still moving through Legislature

Alabama may still join the multi-state compact that makes it easier for military families to transfer schools.

HB 438 has moved to through the Senate and is waiting to be put on the calendar for a vote.

SB 371 is in the House and will be in the Education and Policy committee on Wednesday.

Gates visit update

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrives in the Wiregrass April 14, to visit the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) and Fort Rucker.

Gates' visit to the lower Alabama military installation follows his April 6 announcement of defense budget reforms, which includes approximately $500 million for Army Aviation.

The Secretary Gates tour will include visits to USAACE training and maintenance facilities. He will also have several stops to speak with Aviation Soldiers.

Yellow Ribbon update

Got this information today in response to my Sunday story about the VA's new Yellow Ribbon program:

Troy University has pledged to support military veterans and active-duty personnel attending college by providing the maximum tuition assistance allowed through a special program in the latest version of the G.I. Bill.

The University has pledged to close any gap between the benefits provided under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 and the cost of tuition at Troy University by paying 50 percent of the established tuition and fee charges not already covered under the bill.

A special provision of the bill, called The Yellow Ribbon Program, allows colleges and universities to offer the tuition waiver. The Department of Veterans Affairs will match each additional dollar funded by the University. The legislation is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1.

Troy University has a long, distinguished record of supporting the United States military,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. “Our participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program is a natural continuation of our commitment of service.”

Troy University began its service to the U.S. military in 1950, with the establishment of its first on-base extension programs in 1950. Today, Troy University operates teaching sites on military installations in six U.S. states and two nations outside the United States. Approximately 60 general and flag-rank officers in the U.S. military have earned a TROY degree.

In addition, Troy University, through its Division of Student Services, will provide one-on-one assistance to discuss the program with veterans and active-duty personnel.

Gates in Alabama

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be speaking at Fort Rucker on Tuesday and Maxwell Air Force Base on Wednesday.

I'll update as soon as I have more details.

Montevallo grounds consecrated


U.S. Army bugler Staff Sgt. Terrell Binion plays TAPS at a consecration of grounds ceremony held at the new national cemetery at Montevallo last week.

The cemetery was dedicated last summer and burials will begin next month.
Friday, April 10, 2009

Distinguished Flying Cross to be awarded Monday

The U.S. Air Force will award the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor posthumously to World War II Veteran Capt. William S. Norred at a ceremony at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 13 at the Butler County Commission Office in Greenville.

Doris Norred, the wife of Norred, will receive the award from Lt. Gen. Allen G. Peck, Commander of Air University. During the ceremony, Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon will also present a memorial certificate to Mrs. Norred on behalf of the city.

Norred is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for heroism while participating in aerial flight during WWII.


On June 15, 1943, while serving as both a flight leader and formation commander of a B-26 bomber squadron, Norred was leading a mission over Rizzo Airdrome in Sicily when his plane was damaged by intense anti-aircraft fire. Masterfully keeping his B-26 under control, Norred led his formation through evasive action and completed a devastating bombardment of his target. Shortly thereafter, 12 enemy fighters attacked the unescorted bombers, but Norred skillfully outmaneuvered them and five of the hostile aircraft were destroyed.

Before his death in August 2008, the Butler County Veterans Service Office contacted the Air Force to request a review of Norred’s military service records to determine his eligibility for the DFC based on documentation in his military service records that described his heroism almost 66 years ago. The Air Force awarded the DFC with Valor to Norred December 10, 2008.

Hometown News: Julian Sayles

Coast Guard Seaman Julian D. Sayles, son of Sandee L. and James H. Hunter of Eclectic, recently graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Training Center in Cape May, N. J.

During the eight-week training program, Sayles completed a vigorous training curriculum consisting of academics and practical instruction on water safety and survival, military customs and courtesies, seamanship skills, first aid, fire fighting and marksmanship. A major emphasis is also placed on physical fitness, health and wellness.

Sayles and other recruits also received instruction on the Coast Guard's core values -- honor, respect and devotion to duty -- and how to apply them in their military performance and personal conduct. Sayles will join 36, 000 other men and women who comprise Coast Guard's force.
Men and women train together from the first day in the Coast Guard just as they do aboard ships and shore units throughout the world. To reinforce the team concept, Sayles, and other recruits were trained in preventing sexual harassment, drug and alcohol awareness, civil rights training, and the basics of the work-life balance, as well as total quality management.

Hometown News: Ayanna Bolling

Army National Guard Pfc. Ayanna D. Bolling has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

She is the daughter of Valerie Bolling of Bolling Road, Letohatchee, Ala., and Edward Hawkins of N. Burbank Drive, Montgomery.

Bolling graduated in 2006 from Calhoun High School, Letohatchee.
Thursday, April 9, 2009

Retiring fighter jets

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced with his budget proposal this week that he wants to retire 250 of the Air Force's oldest tactical fighter aircraft. That could be F-15s, F-16s or some other aircraft.

Speculation is running amok on this one and I've seen reports claiming that most of those retiring jets would be F-16s and some that said they would be F-15s.

Actually, the F-15s are generally older than F-16s, and the 20 Fighting Falcons (F-16) at Dannelly Field were built in 1987 and 1988.

But, to check it out I called the Pentagon press desk and a spokesman there told me that there won't be any further information on which jets are retired until the defense budget actually passes and the President signs off and a final defense budget isn't expected until May.

Bright requests funds for Maxwell

Congressman Bobby Bright's office has requested $14.4 million for Squadron Officer College Lodging at Maxwell Air Force Base.


According to information posted on Bright's Web site, this funding would construct adequate dormitory and living quarters to accommodate students that attend one of the courses that are offered at the Squadron Officer School (SOS) and International Officer School (IOS) at Maxwell Air Force Base.

The project would replace the existing deteriorated lodging and dormitory facilities. Existing facilities were constructed in 1956 with only limited and minor upgrades over the years. Adequate quarters are not available off-base because the local community cannot provide the number of rooms required for the schools to effectively operate. New quarters would provide an appropriate degree of individual privacy which is essential for successful training. Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base is a valuable part of the greater Montgomery area. This project is a wise use of taxpayer funds because it would raise an important component of Maxwell-Gunter to modern standards.


Alabama univeristy to parter with VA for nurse training

The University of Alabama is now one of the nursing schools nationwide to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand the VA Nursing Academy.

"The expanded role of the Department of Veterans Affairs in the education of nurses will ensure the department has the nurses needed to continue our world-class health care for Veterans," said Dr. Linda D. Johnson, director of VA Nursing Academy. "The VA Nursing Academy expands the teaching faculty, improves recruitment and retention, and creates new educational and research opportunities."

The VA Nursing Academy is a virtual five-year pilot program with central administration in Washington. It expands learning opportunities for nursing students at VA facilities, funds faculty development of VA staff for additional faculty positions to competitively selected school partners, according the VA. The five-year, $59 million program began in 2007.

The other four nursing schools are:
--Western Carolina University, Asheville, N.C.
--University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu
--Pace University, Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y.
--Waynesburg University, Pittsburgh.

VA Nursing Academy already includes 10 partnerships: the VA medical center in Gainesville, Fla., with the University of Florida; the VA medical center in San Diego with San Diego State University; the VA medical center in Salt Lake City with the University of Utah; the VA medical center in West Haven, Conn., with Fairfield University in Connecticut; the VA medical center in Charleston, S.C., with the Medical University of South Carolina; the Hines, Ill., VA medical center with Loyola University of Chicago; the VA Michigan Consortia (Detroit and Saginaw) with the University of Detroit Mercy and Saginaw Valley State University; the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences; the VA medical center in Providence, R.I., and Rhode Island College; and the VA medical center in Tampa, Fla., and the University of South Florida.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has reported that in 2007 more than 36,000 qualified applicants were turned away from entry-level baccalaureate degree programs in nursing schools because of insufficient numbers of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space and clinical mentors. VA currently provides clinical education for approximately 100,000 health professional trainees annually, including students from more than 600 schools of nursing.

VA Nursing Academy enables competitively selected VA-nursing school partnerships to expand the number of nursing faculty, enhance the professional and scholarly development of nurses, increase student enrollment by about 1,000 students and promote innovations in nursing education.

Hometown News: Ashley Crotwell

Army National Guard Pvt. Ashley E. Crotwell has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

Crotwell is the daughter of April Garner of Oak Hollow Court, Millbrook, and Mark Crotwell of Indian Ridge Road, Hattiesburg, Miss.

The private is a 2007 graduate of Chapman Christian Academy, Millbrook.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And some more...

Reacting to Pentagon’s budget recommendations for FY 2010, retired lieutenant general and Chief of the National Guard Bureau under President Clinton, Edward Baca issued the following statement:

“I was encouraged that Defense Secretary Robert Gates recognized the importance of the missile shield that protects the U.S. from long-range ballistic missiles fired by states such as North Korea. I also applaud cice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Cartwright for expressing his confidence in our defenses against intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“However, I am concerned that Pentagon’s decision to halt the build-out of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) will leave us vulnerable to missile attacks from countries like North Korea in the near future.

“North Korea’s recent test of a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, coupled with its troubling nuclear program, demonstrates that it is determined to develop the capabilities needed to strike the U.S. with a nuclear ballistic missile. GMD is the only system capable of defending the U.S. against such a threat.

“By halting production of the additional interceptors needed to complete the GMD shield, we are encouraging countries like North Korea to develop their nuclear ballistic missile capabilities at an even faster rate, in the hopes of catching the U.S. with its defenses down. Such an outcome could encourage regional arms races that would boost nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation, endanger U.S. national security and seriously set back diplomatic efforts in the region.

“Congress and the Pentagon should take special care that the 2010 budget does not cause today’s credible homeland missile defense to atrophy, encouraging aggressive countries and making the U.S. and its allies less safe.”

Other thoughts on Gates' budget

Samson company awarded defense contract

The Air Force has awarded a firm fixed price contract to Ma-Chis Lower Creek Indian Tribe Enterprise in Samson for an estimated $6,900,806.

This action will provide non-personal services contract for Facility Technical Engineering Support Services.

At this time $698,805 has been obligated.

AFDW/AF7KM-S, Brooks City-Base, Texas, is the contracting activity.

Implications of Gates' budget proposeal for Alabama

Gates wants to speed up the F-35 program and Alabama is on the Air Force's road map for possible future sites of new weapons systems.

Currently, the 1987th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field has 20 F-16 fighter jets and more are coming this year. The new aircraft and about 100 additional people are part of the last Base Realignment and Closure process.

In addition to those new people, about 150 active duty maintenance airmen and about 20 active duty pilots are due to join the unit by 2013 as part of the Air Force's total force integration initiative, Col. Jeff Smiley, commander of the 187th, said in December.

Gates' plan also calls for moving forward with the tanker contract, which could be good for Alabama if Northrop-Grumman/EADS wins the rebid as it did in the initial bid process. The corporation would assemble the tankers in Mobile, meaning jobs and money for Alabama.

Another interesting line in Gates' proposal is that he would eliminate 250 of the Air Force's oldest tactical aircraft. The F-15 is an older plane and there are some older F-16s. Most of the F-16s at Dannelly were built in 1987 and 1988. The A-10 could also fall under this. Retiring that many aircraft could cause a reorganization of fighter wings.

AFA on Gates

From the Air Force Association on Gates' budget proposal:

The Air Force Association (AFA) today urged Congress to reconsider massive defense cuts announced today by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

While pleased with some of the decisions, AFA is deeply concerned that the cuts announced today will significantly impact core capabilities the nation needs...despite the fact that many systems are well underway in research and development, including the F-22 Raptor, already in production; the Transformational Satellite Communications program (TSAT); Airborne Laser (ABL), a key component of missile defense; the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) helicopter and a planned long range strike platform.

With the aging Air Force fleet now on average a quarter-century old, the oldest it has ever been, and some key aircraft twice that age and dating back to the Eisenhower administration, AFA strongly believes the U.S. must recapitalize older air and space systems.

Air Supremacy: AFA urges preservation of the F-22 Raptor production line, continued US production and backs sales of the F-22 to proven allies. Sales of a few squadrons of these to a handful of our closest allies will serve to robustly augment our combined forces and build important coalitions, drive overall production costs down, and preserve economic activity in the U.S.

“The F-22 is much too important to allow this line to close prematurely,” said Mike Dunn, President/CEO of AFA. “We need more of these important aircraft. Production is now at its most affordable point” GEN (RET) Barry McCaffrey has stated: “The F-22 is the most important acquisition program in the Department of Defense. We should buy 750 of them.”

AFA believes we should:

  • Preserve the production line
  • Strengthen our defense capability
  • Build coalition capability with strategic partners
  • Protect vital U.S. jobs and economic activity
  • Drive costs down per aircraft
  • Position the U.S. to preserve air dominance for another generation

Combat Search & Rescue: AFA supports a dedicated CSAR force to extract downed pilots, military personnel in danger of capture and other endangered U.S. citizens – a capability used from high mountains to deserts to over water, and in response to natural disasters as well as military scenarios.

“Combat search and rescue capability is a commitment we make with our troops – a moral obligation ,” said Joe Sutter, AFA’s Chairman of the Board. “We owe them a rapidly deployed, ready, trained, professional force that can bring them to safety.”

Missile Defense: Already progressing in testing and development, airborne laser technology shows promise of being able to destroy an advancing missile with precision at the peak of its trajectory, where the debris will do the least harm.

“North Korea’s test of missile technology displays the need for continued investment in airborne laser,” Dunn said. “This technology could revolutionize our defenses. It’s time to commit to being able to protect ourselves and our allies from errant missiles and hostile launches.”

Communications: The Transformational Satellite Communications System will provide survivable, worldwide, secure satellite communications to U.S. strategic and tactical forces during all levels of conflict.

“This system would deliver secure, jam-resistant, connectivity for stationary or mobile warfighters,” Dunn said. “It will allow military forces anywhere in the world to gain immediate access to vital intelligence. We owe the warfighter quick access to information without the fear of jamming or eavesdropping.”

Long Range Strike: Continued planning and investment in a future long range strike platform is essential to complement the Air Force’s 20 B-2 bombers and older fleet of B-52s and B-1Bs. In the 1990s, the B-2 program was cut short prematurely on the theory that the nuclear mission was being reduced. Now those 20 aircraft are the only U.S. strike platform capable of going anywhere with the stealth capability that the older platforms do not possess.

“Long range strike is a core competency of the Air Force and arguably the most important part of its mission,” Dunn said. “Our bomber fleet is the smallest it has been since before World War II and certainly the oldest it has ever been. Long range strike is vital to ensuring there is truly no sanctuary for an enemy behind anti-aircraft defenses.”

Alabama employers nominated for ESGR award

53 Alabama National Guardsmen and Reservists nominated their employers to receive the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award is the U.S. Government’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. The Freedom Award is particularly significant because only members of the National Guard and Reserve or their family members are eligible to nominate their employers for the award.

Alabama nominees include the following:

3M

Decatur


Alabama Dept of Agriculture and Industries

Montgomery


Alabama Forestry Commission

Montgomery


Alabama Power Company

Birmingham


Alabama Power Southern Company

Birmingham


Andalusia Police Dept

Andalusia


Andrew Jackson University

Birmingham


ARINC

Huntsville


Army Fleet Support

Fort Rucker


BF Goodrich

Tuscaloosa


Bill Penney TOYOTA

Huntsville


Birmingham Police Department

Birmingham


Camber Corporation

Huntsville


Florence Police Department

Florence


Chilton County Education System

Clanton


City of Birmingham Police Department

Birmingham


City of Daphne

Daphne


City of Gulf Shores AL Police Dept

Gulf Shores


City of Mobile Police Dept

Mobile


Crestwood Medical Center

Huntsville


Davidson Technologies Inc

Huntsville


Dept of the Army/Fox Army Health Center

Redstone Arsenal


Donaldson Company

Auburn


E and H Steel Corporation

Midland City


Hard Wear Inc

Northport


Houston County Board of Education

Dothan


Huntsville Police Department

Huntsville


Intergraph

Huntsville


Jackson County Sheriff's Dept.

Scottsboro


Jenkins Brick Company

Montgomery


Mobile Infirmary Medical Center

Mobile


Pilot Catastrophe Services

Mobile


Primary Care Center of Monroeville

Monroeville


Quantum Research International

Huntsville


Russell County Mapping and Appraisal Department

Phoenix City


SAIC-Anniston

Anniston


Shelby County Highway Dept

Columbiana


Sigmatech Inc

Huntsville


Social Security Administration

Mobile


Southland International Trucks

Homewood


Star Aviation

Mobile


State of Alabama-Dept of Human Resources

Bessemer


Sylacauga Housing Authority

Sylacauga


TATE Inc

Daleville


The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa


Total Safety Inc

Mobile


Tuscaloosa County School System

Tuscaloosa


UAB Hospital

Birmingham


United States Probation Office

Mobile


US Postal Service

Birmingham


US4 Michelin Tire Corporation

Midland City


Utility Trailer Mnf. Inc

Enterprise


Verizon Wireless

Huntsville


More than 3,200 National Guard and Reserve members from across the country nominated their employers for their outstanding support. Many employers, for example, provided continued benefits, differential pay, family assistance and additional support. A national selection board comprised of senior defense officials and business leaders will select up to 15 recipients for this year’s award. The Department of Defense will announce the 2009 Freedom Award recipients this summer. The 2009 Freedom Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., September 17th at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Center.

About ESGR

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 that seeks to promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. We recognize outstanding support, increase awareness of the law, and resolve conflicts through mediation. For more information, please visit www.esgr.mil.

About the Award

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. Previous honorees include American Express, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Sears, Home Depot, the State of Tennessee and the Winner School District of South Dakota. For more information, please visit www.FreedomAward.mil.

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Name:

I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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