montgomeryadvertiser.com

Sponsored by:
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yellow Ribbon program expands in Alabama

A provision of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill is finally getting some traction in Alabama.

The educational benefit for veterans already covers tuition up to the highest in-state for undergraduate education in the veteran's home state.

The recently established Yellow Ribbon program helps veterans cover costs over that rate, such as graduate work, private schools or out-of-state tuition.

It's a voluntary program on the part of private colleges and public universities to waive up to 50 percent of the additional expense and the Department of Veterans Affairs will match that amount.

I wrote a story about the program in April and at the time, few Alabama universities knew about the program or had plans to participate.

Today, I got an e-mail announcing that all 13 members of the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities will participate in the Post 9-11 Veterans Education Assistance Act.

According to the VA, the maximum per credit hour rate in Alabama is $243 and the maximum total for fees per term is $12,612.

Four of the colleges have tuition low enough to be covered by the new GI Bill and the other nine are participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Troy University, University of Alabama, South University Montgomery, Auburn Montgomery and Virginia College are also participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.

The following AAICU schools are participating in the Yellow Ribbon program:

--Amridge University- Montgomery

--Birmingham-Southern College- Birmingham

--Faulkner University – Montgomery

--Huntingdon College- Montgomery

--Judson College- Marion

--Samford University- Birmingham

--Spring Hill College- Mobile

--United States Sports Academy- Daphne

--University of Mobile- Mobile

Independent college programs with tuition already low enough to be fully reimbursed without need for the Yellow Ribbon enhancement are:

--Talladega College- Talladega

--Concordia College- Selma

--Miles College- Fairfield

--Stillman College- Tuscaloosa

Check the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday for a full story.

Hometown News: Chrisopher Schlotterbeck

Air Force Reserve Airman Christopher R. Schlotterbeck 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 Debbie Schlotterbeck of Orchard Trace, Wetumpka.

The airman is a 2006 graduate of Holtville High School, Deatsville.

Hometown News: Tyler Green

Air Force Airman Tyler J. Green 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 Steven Green of Kingston Oaks Drive, Prattville.

Hometown News: Green is a 2007 graduate of Prattville High School.

Hometown News: Nathan Kull

Nathan C. Kull has received an Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) college scholarship offer to attend a selected host college or university.

The cadet was selected to receive the scholarship certificate on the basis of comprehensive tests, high school scholastic achievement, and extra-curricular activities. The majority of Air Force ROTC scholarships cover full college/university tuition, provide textbook allowance, and pay most laboratory or incidental fees. In addition, at least a $300 tax-free monthly allowance is paid to recipients during the academic year. The estimated value of the scholarship depends on the student's choice of school and type of scholarship offered.

Upon graduation from college and completion of the ROTC program, the cadet will receive a bachelor's degree and a commission of second lieutenant in the Air Force.

He is the son of John J. and Susan R. Kull of Calumet Parkway, Prattville.

Kull is currently a student at Prattville High School.

Krepinevich recommends military think (and buy) strategically

My latest edition of Foreign Affairs magazine came last week and I'm finally making some progress on reading.

This morning I finished Andrew Krepinevich Jr.'s article, "The Pentagon's Wasting Assets: The Eroding Foundation of American Power."

Those that agree with Defense Secretary Robert Gate's recent recommendations to cut expensive weapons systems and programs, would appreciate the article as the author suggests many American military capabilities are useless against irregular warfare and capabilities being developed by other countries.

Krepinevich recommends that programs like the Army's Future Combat System and short-range strike aircraft (I can only guess that he's referring to the F-22 or other fighter aircraft) need to be cut in favor of longer-range systems like the next generation bomber and the Navy's long-range unmanned strike system.

The Pentagon canceled the FCS program last week and when Gates was at Maxwell AFB in April, recommended ending the F-22 program in favor of the F-35. But, the F-22 is proving to be a sticking point so we'll see if Gates is able to reform military acquisitions and spending and reshape the strategies for the future as he'd like to and as Krepinevich encourages.

Krepinevich is the president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and the author of Seven Deadly Scenarios. You can read the article here. Subscribers can read the entire text, but non-subscribers will only be able to read a portion of it.
Monday, June 29, 2009

Hometown News: Laborian Jones


Air Force Reserve Airman Laborian K. 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 Shirley and stepson of Clay Gaddis of Whistlewood Drive, Montgomery.

Hometown News: Michael Zimmer


Air Force Airman Michael J. Zimmer 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.

Zimmer earned distinction as an honor graduate.

He is the son of Judith Zimmer of Oak Lane, Millbrook.

Zimmer is a 2003 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, Montgomery.

Hometown News: D'Erica Whatley


Air National Guard Airman 1st Class D'Erica S. Whatley 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 Nanetter Whatley of Shady Grove Road, and granddaughter of Doris Cook of Rosie May Drive, both of Grady.

Whatley is a 2008 graduate of Highland Home School.

Hometown News: Angel Beazley


Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Angel N. Beazley 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 Alice Free of Clubview Drive, Prattville.

Beazley is a 2008 graduate of Prattville High School.

217th MPs leaving, Mayor Byard asks locals to line the route in support

Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. has asked citizens to line the departure route as the 217th Military Police Company leaves for a year in Iraq.

The company is meeting around 5 a.m. Tuesday at the Prattville National Guard Amory on U.S. 82. They'll board buses and depart for the Montgomery airport around 7:15 a.m. From the armory, they'll follow 82, turning right onto U.S. 31 South to the city limits at the Alabama River Bridge.

Byard said in a release that there's no formal plan, but that he thinks it woudl be great for the soldiers to see locals lining the route and showing their support.

For more on the unit and their deployment, click here.
Saturday, June 27, 2009

Navy photo of the day


Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Paul Sanchez, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Weapons School U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Mayport, performs a search and rescue jump from an SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter into the St. Johns River during the annual SAR deployment procedures re-qualification. (U.S. Navy photo by Naval Aircrewman Airman Scott Beach/Released)
Friday, June 26, 2009

Air Force announces force structure realignment for FY2010

This just came out from the Department of Defense, I'll update as details shake out on who is coming and/or leaving the area. In the report, the Alabama fact sheet starts on pg. 20.

------

Air Force officials here announced June 26 its proposed force structure realignment for fiscal 2010.

The announcement addresses the Air Force's force structure, realignment and management actions supported by the president's fiscal 2010 budget and summarizes the civilian and military personnel changes as well as the reassignment of aircraft at bases for the upcoming fiscal year.

It reflects adjustments which will provide unsurpassed global vigilance, global reach and global power ... to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace -- today and in the future, given available resources.

"The force structure announcement reflects our best effort to meet the expanding Air Force mission areas and growing joint demands," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff.

The announcement does not include programmatic actions in fiscal 2011 and beyond.

"We've made some hard choices," General Schwartz said. "However, we believe this is the best overall design to meet America's national security needs and support to the joint fight."

The announcement specifies the force structure changes experienced by the total force: Air Force active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. Implementation of these actions will occur only after completion of appropriate environmental analyses.

For more details about the Fiscal 2010 Force Structure realignment, read the Fiscal Year 2010 Force Structure Announcement or review the Fiscal Year 2010 Force Structure Briefing.
Thursday, June 25, 2009

Photo of the day

Came across this on Navy News:

GULF OF ALASKA (June 22, 2009) An Air Force F-22 Raptor executes a supersonic flyby over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is participating in Northern Edge 2009, a joint exercise focusing on detecting and tracking units at sea, in the air and on land. (U.S. Navy photo by Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Ronald Dejarnett/Released)

Day Street gate closing, Bell Street construction starting

The Day Street Gate at Maxwell AFB will be closed July 1-Dec. 15.

Security improvements and a canopy, funding included in the stimulus package, will be added to the gate during that time.

The Bell Street gate will be open at all times and the Kelly Street Gate will be open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Bell Street widening project, however, begins mid-July and is expected to take about 300 working days, according to Robert Smith, the city's senior transportation planner.

The Kelly Street Gate will dedicate both lanes to in-bound traffic from 6-8 a.m. and dedicate both lanes to out-bound from 4-6 p.m.

Prattville unit preparing to deploy

The 217th Military Police Company out of Prattville mobilizes this week for an Iraq deployment.

This will be the second tour in the last six years for the Alabama Army National Guard unit.

The company commander, Capt. David Worthy, and the 170 company members completed pre-mobilization training at Fort McClellan in March. That training reduces the time troops have to spend at the mobilization station, giving them a little bit more time at home.

On Saturday, they unit will have a departure ceremony before heading to Fort Dix in New Jersey for their pre-deployment training. In Iraq, the 217th will provide military police support to coalition forces and conduct police transition team operations to train, mentor and coach the Iraqi police.

The unit first mobilized in Sept. 2002 and that lasted nearly two years. The unit spent their the first 10 months on active duty performing security missions at three Georgia Army posts, Forts Benning, McPherson, and Gillem.

In Sept. 2003, the unit deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where they spent a year guarding some 600 Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners. The unit returned to home station in Prattville in mid-July 2004, after more than 22 months on active – the longest continuous active duty tour any Alabama Army Guard unit has served since Sept. 11, 2001.

The general pubic is invited to the ceremony at 2 p.m. on June 27 at Prattville High School, 1315 Upper Kingston Road.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gates announces U.S. Cyber Command

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed off on a new Cyber Command.

According to Armed Forces News Service, the new command will report to U.S. Strategic Command, but details are still in the works.

Some reports indicate that Gates supports Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander to pin on his fourth star and take command of the new cyber security organization. He's currently the director of the National Security Agency.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told Pentagon reporters that the new command will only deal with military networks.

Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex play a role in the military's cyber security efforts with ongoing projects by the 754th Electronic Systems Group housed at Gunter. Airmen and civilians there work in the Software Assurance Center and developed the standard desktop configuration for the Air Force that is now being adopted by other military and governmental organizations.

Maxwell recently piloted a flag officer course on cyber operations to brief top officials on the Air Force's cyber operations and the importance of cyber security.

For more on the announcement, click here.

F-15 added to display collection at USS Alabama Memorial Park

An F-15A Eagle made a memorable stop in Mobile earlier this month and is now a part of the aircraft on display at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.

The addition makes the park the only location worldwide where aviation enthusiasts can find a Navy F-14 Tomcat, an Air Force F-16, a YF-17 Cobra, a Navy F/A-18 Hornet and now the F-15.

The F-15 came from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and is on loan from the Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.

Executive Director Bill Tunnell said that as long as they maintain the aircraft and pay the insurance, the park can keep the aircraft as long as they want.

The F-15 was previously a part of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin. The unit has been designated the home of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and will be the training center for the aircraft.

Public confidence in U.S. military is up

Public confidence in the U.S. military has jumped to where it was at the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll found that 82 percent of Americans expressed high confidence in the military. Public confidence went up 11 percentage points from last year and is catching up to the record high of 85 percent during the 1991 Gulf War.

The numbers are up now from the low marks of the last few years that signaled a lack of confidence in American success in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For the complete poll results, click here.

Remains of Alabama soldier killed in Afghanistan headed home

Army Sgt. Ricky Jones was killed Sunday during an attack on Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

The Selma Times-Journal reported that he was a 2001 graduate of Dallas County High School and enlisted shortly after graduation.

Jones had three children.

Jones' body arrived at Dover Air Force Base on Monday and his remains will be shipped to Alabama this week.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hometown News: Sean Harris

Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Sean P. Harris 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 Pam Harris of Adell St., and grandson of Eloise Harris of Copper Ave., both of Prattville.

Harris is a 2006 graduate of Prattville High School.

Man killed in Rucker helicopter crash identified

Fort Rucker released the name of the crewmembers involved in Monday night's TH-67 helicopter crash.

James Elliott, 55, was a civilian instructor pilot employed with LSI Corporation. He died with the training helicopter crashed nead Highbluff stagefield in Geneva County at about 3:30 p.m. on Monday.

WO1 Forrest Pryde received non-life threatening injuries and was medivaced to a local medical center where he remains in stable condition. The student pilot is assigned to Bravo Company, 1st, 145th Aviation Regiment.

The two were conducting Initial Entry Rotary Wing Training in the vicinity of Highbluff Stagefield when the crash occurred.

Fort Rucker's Flatiron medevac unit and emergency medial services, as well as and local EMS and law enforcement agencies were dispatched immediately after another training aircraft alerted the control tower they had located the crash site.

Elliott was pronounced dead on the scene by the Geneva County Coroner.

Officials have visited with Pryde today and will continue to monitor his condition. Fort Rucker chaplains have been made available for the families as well as unit personnel who may need support during this difficult time.

The incident remains under investigation by the Combat Readiness Center.

Rogers favors funding for missile defense

Rep. Mike Rogers spoke in favor of restoring funding for missile defense during the House Armed Services Committee mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act--Franks Amendment.

Catch the video clip here.

Rep. Franks of Arizona offered the amendment to the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010. The amendment would restore $1.2 billion for missile defense that was cut from the Obama Administration FY2010 budget proposal.

Watch him here.

GI transferability rules officially released

The Defense Department has signed off on policies and procedures for service members to transfer their unused Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouses or children.

The new version of the GI Bill is effective Aug. 1.

Eligible service members will be able to register their immediate family members to receive those benefits when a new Defense Department Web site goes live June 29.

The site, https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/TEB/, will be accessible using a common access card, DOD self-service user identification or a Defense Finance and Accounting Service personal identification number, according to a DOD release.

The full policy is available here.

Some of the eligibility and transferability rules are:


--To be eligible, service members must have served in the Armed Forces for at least six years, and agree to serve four additional years, from the date of election to transfer.


--Service members with at least 10 years of service, who by DoD or service policy are prevented from committing to four additional years, may transfer their benefits provided they commit for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.


--To maintain proper force structure and promotion opportunities, temporary rules have been developed for service members eligible to retire between Aug. 1, 2009 and Aug. 1, 2012. Depending on their retirement eligibility date, these service members will commit to one to three additional years, from the date of election to transfer.


Service members may be eligible for the “Post 9/11 GI Bill” if they served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged. Based on the length of active duty service, members are entitled to a percentage of the cost of tuition and fees, not to exceed the most expensive in-state undergraduate tuition at a public institution of higher learning. Members not on active duty may also receive a monthly living stipend equal to the basic allowance for housing payable to a military E-5 with dependents, and to an annual $1,000 stipend for books and supplies.

The Department of Veterans Affairs administers the “Post 9/11 GI Bill,” and more information can be found at http://www.gibill.va.gov .

The Armed Forces Press Service reported that the benefits can be transferred to a spouse, one or more children, or any combination. The family member must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System to receive the benefits.

F-16 crashed in Utah

Just saw this Associated Press report in Air Force Times:

Military officials say they have had no contact with the pilot of an F-16 that crashed at the Utah Test and Training Range west of Salt Lake City.

The Air Force says the aircraft, which is assigned to Hill Air Force Base's 388th Fighter Wing, crashed Monday night while on a routine training mission.

A search team has located the crash site but the condition of the pilot is unknown and the cause of the crash is not known.

The Air Force says search and rescue efforts are ongoing.

Military healthcare programs use social media to connect

The Military Health System (MHS) has launched a Social Media Hub on the MHS web site, www.health.mil, providing a “one stop shop” for its social media accounts.

MHS is a partnership of medical educators, researchers and healthcare providers. The Department of Defense enterprise includes the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; the medical departments of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Combatant Command surgeons and TRICARE providers.

Located at www.health.mil/connect, the MHS Social Media Hub includes accounts from a variety of MHS entities including the Office of Health Affairs, TRICARE, Force Health Protection & Readiness, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The MHS maintains active accounts on several social networking services including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace, TroopTube and YouTube as part of a push to engage more of the individuals it serves—the 18- to 24 year-olds who comprise a large portion of the more than 1.4 million troops on active duty.

The Twitter feed has already shown impact with MHS stakeholders. According to a DOD release, Debbie Hendrix, an Army spouse with an autistic son relocating to Fort Bliss, Texas, was in search of autism resources in April of this year on Twitter. MHS used its Twitter profile, @healthdotmil, to provide Hendrix with autism information at Fort Bliss within hours. Hendrix subsequently penned an entry about living with her son’s autism to the MHS blog, located at www.health.mil/mhsblog.

This month, the MHS is also asking service members and their families to refer five friends to the MHS Facebook fan page so they can keep up to date about military health news and resources.This fan page can be found via the MHS Social Media Hub.


Hometown News: Terence Pitts

Terence J. Pitts 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.

Pitts, a 2000 graduate of a high school program at New Haven Adult Education Center, Bridgeport, Conn., will report to Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga., for basic training in September 2009.

He is the son of Lisa Pitts of Ellsworth Ave., New Haven, and Calvin Pitts of Copeland Road, Wetumpka.

Hometown News: Christian Schultz

Army Reserve Sgt. Christian A. Schultz has been mobilized and activated for deployment overseas to a forward operating base in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is the official name given to military operations involving members of the U.S. armed forces and coalition forces participating in efforts to free and secure Iraq. Mission objectives focus on force protection, peacekeeping, stabilization, security and counter-insurgency operations as the Iraqi transitional governing bodies assume full sovereign powers to govern the peoples of Iraq.

Members from all branches of the U.S. military and multinational forces are also assisting in rebuilding Iraq's economic and governmental infrastructure, and training and preparing Iraqi military and security forces to assume full authority and responsibility in defending and preserving Iraq's sovereignty and independence as a democracy.

The sergeant, a squad leader with six years of military service, is regularly assigned to the 498th Transportation Company, Mobile.

He is the son of Gene E. Schultz of Clark Road and the grandson of Peggy L. Schultz of Lake Cove Drive, both of Tallassee.

Schultz is a 1999 graduate of Elmore County High School, Eclectic.

Hometown News: Brandon Saxman

Army Spec. Brandon S. Saxman has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.

Saxman graduated in 1991 from Montgomery Catholic High School and received a bachelor's degree in 1999 from Auburn University.

Hometown News: David Wright

Army Pvt. David A. Wright has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission and received instruction and training exercises in drill and ceremonies, Army history, core values and traditions, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, rifle marksmanship, weapons use, map reading and land navigation, foot marches, armed and unarmed combat, and field maneuvers and tactics.

He is the son of Amy Wright of Pinecrest Drive, Elmore.

Wright is a 2008 graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School, Millbrook.

Hometown News: Kenneth Harris-McQueen

Army Spec. Kenneth E. Harris-McQueen has completed the Warrior Transition Course at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.

The course teaches basic skills necessary for integration into the Army for all prior-service service members to fully prepare them for Advanced Individual Training or on to their first assignment.

Soldiers undergo much of the same training developed in basic combat training, except it is developed in a program of instruction that lasts five weeks instead of nine. To complete the course, soldiers must complete the Army Physical Fitness Test, with a minimum of 60 points in each event, M-16 weapon qualification, tactical foot marches, tactical field and situational training, and the land navigation course.

Harris-McQueen is the son of Brenda Hall of McCain Road, Wetumpka.

The specialist is a 1998 graduate of Prattville High School.

Hometown News: David Floyd


Air Force Airman David C. Floyd 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 Selena Polk of Springbrook Drive, Wetumpka.

Floyd is a 2006 graduate of Wetumpka High School.
Monday, June 22, 2009

Training flight from Rucker crashes

A routine training flight went awry Monday and a TH-67 helicopter went down in a peanut filed near Highfalls Stage Field in Geneva County.

The training helicopter had a civilian instructor pilot and a military student pilot on board, said For Rucker spokeswoman Lisa Eichhorn.

Fort Rucker officials were notified around 3:30 p.m. Monday that the helicopter was down and the Flatiron medevac from the Army post was immediately sent to the scene.

On-site personnel reported one injured crewmember, which was transported to a local medical facility with non-life-threatening injuries. The other crewmember was pronounced dead on the scene by first responders.

The crewmembers will be identified after next of kin notification, which is Department of Defense protocol.

"This is a lost to Ft. Rucker,” Eichhorn said. “We lost one of our own today."

The Ft. Rucker Combat Readiness Center investigates crashes and accidents for the Army and will investigate this crash.

Austal USA of Mobile gets contract modification, Gov. Riley visits company HQ in Australia

Austal USA of Mobile was awarded a $99,557,548 modification to previously awarded contract last week for long lead time material (LLTM) for Ships 2 and 3 of the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) Program.

This contract provides LLTM for main propulsion engines, aluminum, waterjets, reduction gears, generators, and other components to support construction of JHSV Ships 2 and 3, commencing in June 2010. The LLTM procured or manufactured for construction or installation in JHSV 2 and 3 will be subsumed with their associated costs into their respective ship construction line items upon award of construction contracts for JHSV 2 and 3.

Gov. Bob Riley is visiting Austal's western headquarters in Australia today. The company operates the 1,000-worker ship assembly facility in Mobile. According to Riley's office, it's the largest aluminum shipyard worldwide. The company is also part of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program.


During the visit, Riley said building and maintaining relationships with existing companies is key to bringing new ones to Alabama.


“Through the years we have found that our best industrial recruiters often times are international companies currently operating in Alabama,” Riley said in a press release. “Companies like Austal, Mercedes, and countless others have seen first-hand the benefits of locating in Alabama and they take that knowledge and share it with other firms in their home countries. Building upon our relationship with Austal and the people of Australia can only help us as we try to bring more international companies to Alabama.”

Since Austal USA’s establishment in 1999, Alabama has contributed more than $10 million in economic incentives in exchange for the company creating significant employment and training opportunities in the Mobile area. Recently, the state provided Austal USA with $5 million worth of incentives to assist with the construction of a new state-of-the-art Modular Manufacturing Facility (MMF), the first facility of its kind in the world.

The state is also preparing to break-ground on a maritime training facility in Mobile, two-thirds of which will be used to train Austal workers. The facility is designed to better prepare the state’s workforce for the influx jobs in the expanding maritime industry in Alabama.

“The ship-building industry in Alabama has grown tremendously over the last several years, and we’re poised for even more growth," Riley said. “That’s why we’re over here – to try and expand on Alabama’s reputation as a great place to do business. We have a tough economy right now and a lot of people are struggling. It’s more important than ever to get out and sell Alabama to the rest of the world, bringing new jobs and opportunity that will keep our state moving forward.”

Work for the recently modified JHSV ships through Austal will be performed in Detroit, Mich., (38 percent); Chesapeake, Va., (18 percent); Henderson, Australia, (13 percent); Gulfport, Miss., (10 percent); Ravenswood, W.Va., (9 percent); and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., (4 percent); Mobile, Ala., (3 percent); Auburn, Ind., (2.6 percent); Winter Haven, Fla., (1 percent); Gardena, Calif., (1 percent); and Davenport, Iowa, (.4 percent).

Work is expected to be complete by July 2013.

Contract funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Military to issue restriction on fighting near Afghan houses

The U.S. and NATO forces are looking for ways to prevent civilian casualties.

An Associated Press report said a formal order from the top U.S. general in Afghanistan is expected soon and the order will be for American and NATO troops to break away from fights with militants hiding in Afghan houses.

Civilian deaths are hurting the mission, leaders say, as well as relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan. U.S., NATO and Afghan forces killed 829 civilians in the Afghan war last year, according to U.N. figures cited in the AP report.

The order to be issued by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, will allow troops to attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses if U.S. or NATO forces are in imminent danger, according to the AP report.

A number of Alabama troops are in Afghanistan now, including Embedded Training Teams that are training the Afghan military and police forces. More troops are deploying this year.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hometown News: Stacy Lounsberry


Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stacy L. Lounsberry participated in the first college graduation ceremony held for American service members in Iraq at the Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory, Baghdad.

The service member was one of 79 students from 21 different schools who received their degrees during the ceremony. The education center allows service members to take online courses and offers core classes in a classroom setting.

The sergeant received a bachelor's degree in the liberal arts.

Lounsberry is an infrastructure special maintenance sergeant assigned to the 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. She has served in the military for more than eight years.

She is the daughter of James A. Pritts of Montgomery, and Rebecca M. Pritts of E. Luce Ave., Monessen, Pa.

Her husband, Jeremy, is the son of Dawayne Lounsberry and Helena M. Lounsberry, both of Port Orchard, Wash.

In 1991, the sergeant graduated from Smithsburgh High School, Md.

New art gallery recognizes local soldier


Art and military service collided on Sunday at the opening of the Art Gallery at the Prattville Center for the Creative Arts.

The Flag Day event included a portrait of a soldier recently returned from Iraq. Dustin Gish recently returned and is living in Prattville. His mother, Sarita Gish, painted the portrait and is a member of the the Prattauga Art Guild. The soldier attended the ceremony.

The Center is located on Chestnut behind City Hall adjacent to the art park along the Creek Walk. The opening exhibit features art work by members of the Prattauga Art Guild from throughout the River Region.

Included in the exhibit are pieces from the permanent collection by Charlie “Tin Man” Lucas, folk artist and sculptor from Pink Lily, Alabama; Russell Everett, artist, sculptor, and art educator from Troy University; Nancy Raia, artist and art educator from Fairhope, Alabama; Zachary Wickham, glass artist from Vermont; and Wade Oliver, clay artist from Birmingham, Alabama.

The works will remain on exhibit through the end of July. The Gallery also has a selection of fine art prints, note cards, and other gift items for sale by members of the Prattauga Art Guild. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for late summer.

203rd MPs heading to Iraq

The 203rd Military Police Battalion, an Alabama Army National Guard unit based in Athens, mobilizes this week and will deploy to Iraq.

A departure ceremony for the 70-member unit is set for June 19 at 4 p.m. on Beasley Field at Athens State University. In case of inclement weather, the program will be moved to the gym of Athens Middle School.

Athens Mayor Dan Williams will attend the ceremony along with Lt. Col. Charles H. Buxton, commander of the 203rd MP Battalion. Brig. Gen. Charles Gailes, Jr., commander of the 31st Chemical Brigade, and Maj. Gen. A.C. Blalock, adjutant general of Alabama, will attend along with State Sen. Tom Butler.

The 203rd heads to Fort Bliss, Texas for specialized training before shipping overseas. In Iraq, the unit will perform military police security missions. More than 300 members of two companies from the 203rd MP Battalion served in Iraq from mid-2006 to October 2007.

The general public is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony to show support for Soldiers of the 203rd and members of their families.

More than 14,300 Alabama Army and Air Guard members have been called to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
Monday, June 15, 2009

Hunstsville company awarded defense contract

The Air Force awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract to Wyle Laboratories, Inc. of Huntsville for $58,479,586.

This contract will provide data collection, interoperability assessments, research, analysis and reliability test and engineering for the Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Interoperability Project.

At this time, $200,000 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt AFB, Neb. is the contracting activity.

Hometown News: Kenneth Funderburk

Army National Guard Pfc. Kenneth T. Funderburk has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.

Funderburk is a 1989 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, Montgomery.

Hometown News: Deseria Williams


Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Deseria J. Williams 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 Lena Williams of Pickfair St., Montgomery.

Williams is a 2008 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School.

Hometown News: Jamey Milliner

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jamey K. Milliner, son of Gwendolyn A. and Sam F. Milliner of Alexander City, along with sailors and Marines from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG), Norfolk, Va., and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU), Camp Lejeune, N.C., recently deployed as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to support Maritime Security Operations, provide crisis response capability, and increase theater security cooperation and forward Naval presence in the Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of operation.

Prior to deployment, the BATARG and 22nd MEU successfully completed Expeditionary Strike Group Integration, a Composite Unit Training Exercise and a Certification Exercise.

The BATARG and 22nd MEU provide the combatant commander a versatile sea-based force that can be tailored to a variety of missions, including quick reaction crisis response options in maritime, littoral and inland environments in support of the Navy's Maritime Strategy.

The Navy, in coordination with the Marine Corps, is returning to the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment construct as the routine, rotational amphibious force deployment package. Returning to the this construct enables the Navy to more efficiently meet geographic combatant commander requirements.

ARGs usually include an amphibious squadron (PHIBRON), an amphibious assault ship (LHA/D), amphibious transport dock (LPD), dock landing ship (LSD), embarked Naval support elements and an embarked MEU.

The BATARG is comprised of the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 42).

The 22nd MEU includes a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its command element.

Milliner is a 1998 graduate of Benjamin Russell High School of Alexander City and joined the Navy in July 1998.

For more information on Bataan, please visit www. bataan. navy. mil.

Hometown News: Michael Humphries


Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Michael B. Humphries 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 Mary Jones of Holtville Road, Wetumpka, and William Humphries of Parkwood Court, Montgomery.

Humphries is a 2008 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

Alabama companies awarded defense contracts

Taos Industries Inc. of Huntsville has been awarded a $30,161,952 firm-fixed-price contract for a Foreign Military Sales requirement.

This award will result in a firm-fixed-price contract for 33,400,938 rounds of various non standard ammunition for the republic of Iraq.

Work is to be performed in Huntsville, with an estimated date of Oct. 29, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. Rock Island Contracting Center, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity.

-----

Tyonek Fabrication Corp. of Madison has been awarded a $6,822,000 firm-fixed-price contract for 344 each, de-ice control and indicator unit, NSN 1680-01-541-1782 / PR 53251000 for the UH-60 A/L Blackhawk.

Work is to be performed in Madison with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2011. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, is the contracting activity.

Army releases suicide data for May

Army suicide report from May:


The Army released suicide data for the month of May today, reporting one confirmed suicide and 16 potential suicides among active duty soldiers.


In the April report, the Army reported seven active duty potential suicides. Since that time an additional suicide was reported, for a total of eight April potential suicides, three of which have been confirmed and five remain under investigation. There have been 82 reported active duty suicides in the Army during calendar year 2009. Of these, 45 have been confirmed as suicides, and 37 are pending final determination of manner death. For the same period in 2008, there were 51 suicides among active duty soldiers.

During May 2009, among reserve component soldiers who are not on active duty, there was one confirmed suicide and seven potential suicides; to date in 2009, among that same group, there have been 16 confirmed suicides, and 21 potential suicides are currently under investigation. For the same period in 2008, there were 23 suicides among reserve soldiers who were not on active duty.

In January, the Army implemented an Army-wide effort to combat the rise of suicide in its ranks. The Army mandated a suicide prevention stand-down that involved all 1.1 million soldiers; established a Suicide Prevention Task Force; has made dozens of improvements to Army policies, procedures and resources; and recruited additional psychological and behavioral health counselors.


"We have got to do better," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, "It's clear we have not found full solutions to this yet. But we are trying every remedy and seeking help from outside agencies that are experts in suicide prevention. There isn't a reasonable suicide prevention tool out there the Army won't potentially employ."

The Army's Suicide Prevention Task Force is focused on rapid improvements across the spectrum of health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention to ensure the Army's programs in these areas are coordinated, fully-resourced, and effective.

"As hard as this problem truly is, in some ways it is also very basic, because it requires caring for soldiers, and that's something we already know how to do," said Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "We must simultaneously get back to basics and optimize current programs to set conditions for future programs to tackle this problem."


The Army has identified additional crisis intervention resources available to the Army community. Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance are strongly encouraged to contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center (DCoE). Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental United States is 1-800-342-9647, the Military One Source Web site can be found at http://www.militaryonesource.com. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.

The DCoE Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, or at http://www.dcoe.health.mil/media/DCoE_News/DCoE_Outreach_Center.aspx.


The Army's most current suicide prevention information is located at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/.

Sessions awarded by military group

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, was recognized by the Association of the United States Army this week.

The organization presented him with its 2009 Outstanding Legislator Award for his support of the Army.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, was also recognized. He's the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sessions is a senior member of that committee and accepted the award in Washington from retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan. He's the former Chief of Staff of the Army and current president of the association.

This was the 11th year the award has been presented. Past recipients include former Senators John Warner, R-Virginia, and Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guard's 877th training at Fort McCoy

An Alabama National Guard unit is at Fort McCoy preparing for their deployment to Afghanistan.

The 877th Engineer Battalion is based out of Hamilton and joined the 920th Engineer Company from New Mexico in May for their pre-deployment training.

At Fort McCoy, the 877th has trained on combat, survival and warrior skills. Soldiers train in an environment and situations that replicate, as realistically as possible, what they will experience overseas.

Soldiers lived in field tents in a training area surrounded by concertina wire, entry control points and guard towers. Soldiers traveled in convoys as they would in country and encountered role players posing as civilians on the battlefield or opposing forces. The training is repetitive, and its intensity increases with each iteration so that soldiers can respond intuitively to threats and situations they encounter.

The 877th participated in training related to weapons qualification, Army warrior training, physical fitness, leadership, combat life saving, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mounted combat patrol operations, urban operations, entry control point operations, motor vehicle operations and maintenance, protective mask familiarity and confidence, detainee operations, hand-to-hand combat, reflexive fire, grenades, culture/customs/language, land navigation, and much more.

The 877th's training culminated in an Army Training and Evaluation Program, which incorporated and tested all aspects of the individual and collective training they had received. Prior to deployment, the unit will receive additional military occupation specialty training and will be validated.

Hometown News: Bronzesean Knight

Army Pvt. Bronzesean Knight 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.

Knight is the daughter of Alfredia Knight of Ashley Court, Montgomery.

Hometown News: Octavious Taylor

Army National Guard Pfc. Octavious J. Taylor 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.

Taylor earned distinction as an honor graduate of the course.

He is the son of Annie Taylor of S. Opothleohola St., Wetumpka.

The private is a 2005 graduate of Wetumpka High School.

Hometown News: Angellech Briggs

Army Reserve Spec. Angellech Briggs 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 Ann Pettway of Edwards Lane, and sister of Valencia Pettiway Aaron of Paddock Club Circle, both of Montgomery.

The specialist received a bachelor's degree in 2008 from Faulkner University.

Hometown News: Sonya Hildebrand

Air Force Master Sgt. Sonya E. Hildebrand has been named the Air Force Equal Opportunity Director of the Year 2008. She was involved in completing the 2008 merger between the military equal opportunity and equal employment opportunity programs on the base.

The equal opportunity director is assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The master sergeant has served in the military for 20 years.

Hildebrand is the daughter of Diane Gladney of Bridlewood Drive, Montgomery.

The sergeant is a 1988 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery. She received a bachelor's degree in 2003 from Park College, Parkville, Mo.

Hometown News: Derrick Hartman

Army National Guard Pvt. Derrick L. Hartman 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 Lisa Hartman of Vandy Drive, Montgomery.

The private is a 2001 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School.

Hometown News: Donald Brazzley Jr.


Air Force Airman 1st Class Donald C. Brazzley Jr. 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 Shenetta Brazzley of Willow Springs Drive, Montgomery.

Brazzley is a 2007 graduate of Carver High School.

Hometown News: Julanda Jones

Army Pvt. Julanda E. Jones 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 Brown of Albion Drive, Montgomery, and sister of Tawana Jones of Grandview Blvd., Huntsville.

The private is a 2007 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Alabama Guard hires sexual assault response coordinator

The Alabama National Guard has hired its first full-time sexual assault response coordinator.

It's an issue in the military that has been getting Pentagon level attention and can affect a service members well-being.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rhonda McCrummen will manage and implement the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program and Domestic Abuse/Violence Program.

The programs will educate soldiers on prevention and will provide guidance to soldiers and their families regarding sexual assault and harassment. McCrummen will also respond and coordinate care to victims and family members of sexual assault.

She was also the SARC for the 167th Theater Sustainment Command in Birmingham.

McCrummen is from Enterprise and has two daughters, Cara, 25, and Millie, 18. Cara is a registered nurse at the Enterprise Medical Center, and Millie is a recent graduate of Enterprise High School and will begin college this fall.

Alabama talks hurricane prep

Gov. Bob Riley hosted a hurricane preparation workshop today to make sure individual agency plans jive with others and that key players are aware of their responsibilities and resources available to them.

Maj. Gen. A.C. Blalock, adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, attended the workshop with a few members of his staff.

He said the meeting is especially important to supporting agencies like the Guard, so they're aware of what they'll be asked to do in hurricane responses and where they'll need to be.

The Guard conducted its annual hurricane exercise in May, as did Alabama Emergency Management Agency and Alabama Department of Transportation.

The 2009 hurricane season is expected to be busy, but about normal, with nine to 11 tropical storms, four to seven hurricanes and one to three major storms. Last year, there were more storms that normal in all categories.

Jim Stefkovich, meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service in Birmingham said there's no way to tell yet how many of those will head to the Gulf of Mexico.
Monday, June 8, 2009

Guard medical company deploying to Iraq

Another Alabama Army National Guard unit is headed to Iraq.

The 129th Medical Company, based in Centreville, will go on active duty on June 13.

A departure ceremony for the 80-person unit will be held at Fort I. Judson Sneed Armory, 185 Walnut Street in Centreville on June 14 at 2 p.m.

The next day, the unit heads to Fort Lewis, Washington, for pre-deployment training. In Iraq, the 129th will provide health protection and gound evacuation to coalition forces.

The ceremony is open ot the public.

More than 14,200 Alabama Army and Air Guard members have now been called to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

Huey lands at Maxwell

A story that didn't make the Sunday paper, so special to the blog!

A UH-1H Huey landed at Maxwell last week and it had a special connection to the Gathering of Eagles.

The Huey was one that flew in Bruce Crandall’s unit.

The retired lieutenant colonel is best remembered for his role in the battle in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, as dramatized in the movie, “We Were Soldiers.”

Patty Meek was one of the volunteer pilots that brought the Huey to Maxwell. It’s a part of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, which refurbishes Army aircraft and uses them as a mobile museum.

“We’re trying to reconnect people with the aircraft of the past,” she said.

Many veterans wounded in combat were rescued by Hueys, she said, and seeing them again, outside of combat, helps close that door.

“Sometimes combat is the hardest thing to recover from,” she said. “This time when they come off, their families are there.”

The flying museum also helps civilians get a better idea of aviation and what it was like during combat and other veterans that were never on a Huey.

Crandall came out to see the Huey and told stories about it. He explained how they had to change the seating configurations during Ia Drang to evacuate more wounded.

The Huey is based in Ozark with the Wiregrass chapter of the foundation.

In July, Fort Rucker is having a celebration and the foundation will offer flights on the Huey. Donations from the flights help keep the aircraft operable, Meek said. For more information, go to www.wiregrassskysoldiers.org or www.armyav.org
Sunday, June 7, 2009

Heroes in our midst.

They walk among us. People who have made our history.

Most days, you probably couldn't pick them out of a crowd. They wear the same clothes, walk and talk the same. 

But they aren't the same.

They jumped out of planes into battles, flew training missions against live ammunition and somehow made their way up Omaha Beach, through Europe and back to Alabama.

They are our veterans and their stories are remarkable, but often forgotten.

This week I covered the annual Gathering of Eagles at Maxwell Air Force Base. The veterans always tell me what a big deal it is, but I think sometimes I forget. But, I have to say listening to a little lady named Elizabeth "Betty Wall" Strohfus was quite an experience. 

I told one public affairs guy earlier this week that I picked her from the list because she sounded interesting, because she was one of the few women on the roster and because she has red hair -- like me. Maybe that's like picking winning football teams based on their colors, but it worked in my favor this time.

She was certainly spunky and was excited to talk to me, oddly. 

Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Fisk was also here and I asked him if he thought it was important for veterans and retired military to tell their stories to current and future generations of service members. 

He said it was their duty. He said that many people have a negative perception of the military, but have never served. Fisk said that to counter that perception, veterans should share their stories, the good and the bad, because it is their story to tell and one that needs to stay fresh in American minds. 

I also talked to Buck Lowe this week. He landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day and "only God knows why" he lived to tell about it. It's hard to think about the battles and the friends he lost, he said, but if you ask him, he will tell you about it. Those were his brothers on the beach that day, brothers he won't forget. He still has bad dreams and sees the faces of those that died, but he that battle had to be won, he said. 

Fisk, Lowe and Strohfus were all just Americans until something called them to serve their countries. Some raised their hand to volunteer, others were drafted. But, ordinary people they were not, as they did what their country asked of them.

May they, and others like them, continue to walk among us.
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Alabama soldier killed in Iraq

Spc. Charles D. Parrish of Jasper was killed in Iraq earlier this week, the Department of Defense released today.

Parrish, 23, was wounded June 4 in Jalula when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank grenade. He died later that day in Balad. 

He was assigned to the 5th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Friday, June 5, 2009

Hometown News: David Owens


Air Force Airman David C. Owens 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.

Owens earned distinction as an honor graduate.

He is the son of Becky Owens of Upperkingston St., Prattville.

Owens graduated in 2004 from Prattville High School, and received a bachelor's degree in 2008 from University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
Thursday, June 4, 2009

New cyber boss named

The new 24th Air Force has a new commander as of this afternoon.

Air Force officials announced late today that Maj. Gen. Richard Webber will assume command of the new NAF that will focus on cyber activities.

Currently, General Webber is the assistant deputy chief for air, space and information operations, plans and requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington. In this position, he is responsible to the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff for formulating policy supporting air, space, nuclear, counterproliferation, homeland security, weather and cyber operations. As the Air Force Operations Deputy to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Webber determines operational requirements, capabilities and training necessary to support national security objectives and military strategy.

Webber is a command space and missile operator with qualifications in the Minuteman II, Minuteman III, Global Positioning Satellite and Counter Communications System weapon systems.

Webber’s complete biography is located at http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=7533.

Last fall, the Secretary of the Air Force decided to stand up a NAF dedicated to cyberspace. This new NAF will provide combat-ready forces trained and equipped to conduct sustained cyber operations, fully integrated with air and space operations.

The 24th Air Force is under Air Force Space Command and will consolidate cyberspace combat forces and allow for future growth, according to an AF release.

The final basing decision hasn't been made, but is in process.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New homes opening on Gunter today

Newly homes on Gunter Annex are opening today with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m.

Pinnacle, a private company, took over base housing at Maxwell in 2007 and has since built the five new homes at Gunter and renovated more and Gunter and Maxwell.

Some housing will be demolished to bring the number of housing units in line with demand and also to make room for newer facilities.

The ceremony will be followed by an open house.

For more information call the Maxwell Family Housing Office at 334-262-1630.

187th passes inspection

The 187th Fighter Wing passed it's Operational Readiness Inspection that concluded earlier this week.

Commanders can catch a breath now after preparing for months for the major inspection.

The 187th is an Alabama Air National Guard unit at Dannelly Field. The unit is becoming an active-associate unit and flies 1980s era F-16 jets.

I'll have more later this week.

Short Gathering of Eagles Q&A

A few tidbits from Maj. Pete Gryzen, the spokesman for this year's Gathering of Eagles event:

1. How were this year's Eagles selected?

The Gathering of Eagles team consists of 15 students selected from the class to execute this yearlong project while meeting research requirements for graduation, and earning a Master’s Degree in Military Operational Art and Science. Faculty advisers provide guidance with senior oversight provided by the Vice Commandant of the Air Command and Staff College (Col. David Solomon).

Each member of the 15-person GOE team was responsible to research and submit Eagle nominations. To accomplish this, the team also solicited nominations from students in the 69th Class of ACSC. From there, the team selected this year's 14 Eagles to represent the different eras of air/space operations and missions they performed.

2. What's the objective/goal of the Eagles event?

For almost three decades, the Gathering of Eagles program has served as the capstone event for the graduates of the ACSC. The program provides a forum to honor men and women who have made significant contributions to air, space, and cyberspace power. The bringing together of distinguished air and space leaders and legends from around the world ensures the Eagles’ “living histories” and “lessons learned” are carried forward into the twenty-first century by the world’s future military and civilian leadership. The GOE program is presented to over 450 students in the rank of major and above from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, as well as civilians from the Departments of Defense and State. Additionally, the class includes over 70 international officers from more than 60 countries.

Between the teaching interviews, informal breakfasts and lunches, and the family oriented BBQ dinners, the GOE program touches over 2000 people each year.

3. What are the benefits, to the AU students, the Maxwell community and the greater military community in Montgomery?

The program directly impacts the ACSC students, Maxwell AFB personnel, and the greater military community in Montgomery by the inspiration that comes from hearing the stories of these living legends.

Through the teaching interviews with the ACSC students, the breakfasts and lunches with various agencies from Maxwell-Gunter AFB, the BBQ dinners with the ACSC students and families, and the Air Force Association brunch (open to all AFA members throughout the River Region), this program reaches out and touches the lives of so many men and women.

The GOE program also awards $1,500 scholarship to one Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadet each year. These future officers from across the US compete for this scholarship by submitting a 3-5 page paper outlining who they think should be honored as an Eagle in future years.

The program also traditionally hosts an additional venue for local businesses and community leaders to interact with the Eagles.

One of original Tuskegee Airmen dies

The Plain Dealer in Ohio reported that one of the original Tuskegee Airmen died this week.

James F. Travis Sr. died May 26 and his funeral was this week in Ohio.

To read the full article, go to
http://www.cleveland.com/obituaries/index.ssf/2009/06/james_travis_one_of_surviving.html

Gathering of Eagles

For more on the Gathering of Eagles from the Air Command and Staff College: http://www.au.af.mil/au/goe/
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This year's Eagles

Gathering of Eagles 2009 is underway and this year's Eagles have arrived at Maxwell Air Force Base.

I'll be doing more coverage this week, but here's a list and short bios of this year's Eagles:

Captain John W. Young: Capt. John Young’s career with the Navy and NASA spanned 52 years. Young served aboard a destroyer in the Korean War and became a Navy fighter pilot and, subsequently, a test pilot. Selected as an astronaut in 1962, he flew the first manned Gemini mission and would ultimately fly into space six times. In April, 1972, Young commanded Apollo 16 and walked on the Moon. After Apollo, he commanded the first Space Shuttle flight and the first shuttle Spacelab mission.

Maj. Gen. John R. Alison: Maj. Gen. Alison’s military career spanned three decades and included service in both WWII and the Korean War. During WWII he served as assistant military attaché in England and the Soviet Union and flew combat missions in the China-Burma-India Theater. He went on to become an ace with seven confirmed and numerous probable kills while flying in, and commanding, the 75th Fighter Squadron “Flying Tigers.” Alison was later chosen by Gen. “Hap” Arnold to serve as co-commander of the newly formed 1st Air Commando Group. His innovative leadership of the 1st Air Commandos helped turn the tide of the Allied war effort in the CBI theater. After the war, Alison served as the assistant Secretary of Commerce, President of the Air Force Association, and as a Vice President of the Northrop Corporation.

Col. Regina C. Aune: Col. Regina Aune was the lead medic during the first mission of Operation BABYLIFT. Minutes after take-off, the pressure door and ramp blew out resulting in rapid decompression and forcing the pilot to conduct an emergency landing. Once on the ground, Aune, then only a lieutenant, helped rescue over 140 helpless and terrified children. One by one she removed the children from the wreckage down to safety. After the incident, Col. Aune was awarded the Cheney Award for her heroic acts and dedication to duty.

Cap. Augusto Bedacarratz: Capt. Augusto Bedacarratz’s distinguished career in the Armada de la Republica Argentina, the Argentine Navy, spanned 31 years. During that time, he flew a total of 3500 hours and performed 200 carrier landings in a variety of naval aircraft. On May 4, 1982, Bedacarratz led a formation of Super Entendards on a long range attack against the British Royal Navy. The damage inflicted by the attack led to the sinking of the HMS Sheffield. It was a dramatic success for Argentina.

Col. Jacksel M. “Jack” Broughton: Col. Jacksel M. “Jack” Broughton’s distinguished Air Force career spanned 26 years. He served four combat tours in Korea and Vietnam, flying 216 combat missions. Broughton was combat ready in every fighter from the P-47 to the F-106 and his numerous commands included the Thunderbirds. He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars, and the presidentially awarded Air Force Cross. Broughton has authored three books, including Thud Ridge, which has appeared on the CSAF’s reading list.

Lt. Col. Bruce R. Crandall: In 1965, Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall commanded Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion. During this command, he participated in the aggressive forged doctrinal development and tactical methods for employment of emerging helicopter capabilities. He validated this doctrine during his tours of Vietnam including actions in November 1965 in the Ia Drang Valley by providing support to 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and a second tour in 1968. Throughout his tours, Crandall flew lead on over 750 missions.

Chief Master Sgt. Wayne L. Fisk: Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Fisk was a pararescueman in Vietnam, flying over 400 combat missions and saving 14 downed aviators. He participated in the famed Son Tay POW camp raid and helped rescue the crew of the SS Mayaguez when it was captured by communist forces in 1975. He was selected as one of the Jaycee’s Ten Outstanding Young Men of America in 1980, and established the USAF Enlisted Heritage Hall at Gunter AFS.

Maj. Gen. James L. Hobson, Jr.: Maj. Gen. James L. Hobson Jr.’s distinguished Air Force career spanned 32 years. During that time, he served combat tours in Vietnam, held numerous commands, and flew a total of 6,850 hours in multiple special operations multi-engine and helicopter aircraft. In October 1983, Hobson led the airfield seizure in Grenada and subsequently won the Mackay Trophy for his actions. He played a role in the creation of Air Force Special Operations Command and retired as its third commander.

Col. Joe M. Jackson: Col. Joe M. Jackson’s distinguished Air Force career spanned nearly 33 years. During that time, he served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam — earning the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. Jackson flew several aircraft during his career, including fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, and transport type aircraft. He flew an impressive 107 combat sorties in Korea, and 298 sorties in Vietnam. Jackson was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, the Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame, and the Combat Airman Hall of Fame.

Eugene F. “Gene” Kranz: Gene Kranz flew the F-80, F-86 and F-100 while in the U.S. Air Force. Later, he became a flight-test engineer and joined NASA working with the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Programs. In 1969, his “White” Flight team made the first lunar landing become a reality. His leadership was pivotal in bringing the crew of Apollo XIII safely back to Earth in 1970. He also worked with the Skylab Program and became the Director of Mission Operations for the Space Shuttle in 1983. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Col. Charles E. McGee: Col. McGee started his career breaking barriers with the 99th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, the famed “Tuskegee Airmen” and downed a German FW-190. The 332nd Fighter Group never lost a bomber under its escort to enemy fighters. He continued his flying career during Korea and Vietnam, earning the highest 3-war total for fighter missions of any Air Force aviator. After a distinguished 30-year military career, he continues to be an advocate of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Gen. Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton: Gen. Lloyd “Fig” Newton’s Air Force career spanned more than 34 years. During that time, he made countless contributions to American aviation, from flying F-4 Phantoms in Vietnam to becoming the first African American Thunderbird pilot to commanding the Air Education and Training Command. He has flown more than 4,000 hours in various aircraft from the T-37 to the F-117 stealth fighter. His accomplishments are a living example of how his philosophy of “no excuses” and “hard work” can lead to inspiring success in life.

Elizabeth “Betty Wall” Strohfus: Elizabeth “Betty Wall” Strohfus audaciously served her nation during WWII as one of only 1074 Women Airforce Service Pilots (W.A.S.P.). She served from 1943 until the group was disbanded in December 1944. Piloting eight different aircraft including the B-17, B-26, P-39, and her favorite the AT-6, she flew anti-aircraft training missions against Army ground and bomber forces, towed aerial targets, and instructed male cadets in the skill of instrument flight. Her critical efforts ensured soldiers and airmen were prepared for combat.

Staff Sergeant David J. Thatcher: On 18 April 1942, David J. Thatcher and seventy-nine other Doolittle Raiders successfully accomplished the first air raid on Japan. Thatcher served as the engineer and gunner for crew number seven. His crew successfully struck the Nippon Steel Factory in Tokyo. The pilot crash-landed the plane quarter mile off-shore from China coastline. In the crash, all but Thatcher were seriously injured. He received the Silver Star for his heroic actions in rescuing the crew.

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Tyonek Fabrication Corp. of Madison has been awarded a $5,698,500 firm-fixed-price contract for the OH-58 KIOWA airframe for 340 each, control box, Elec., (AEU), NSN: 1055-01-H97-5411, part number 635107M100.

Work is to be performed at Madison, with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2012.

One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation and Missile Command, Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, is the contracting activity.

Montgomery man receives medals


Rep. Mike Rogers presented Montgomery resident and veteran, David L. Davis, with the Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Army Good Conduct Medal today.

Hometown News: Jason Palmer

Army Pvt. Jason W. Palmer 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 Kimberly Moore of Ashley Ave., and Hiram Moore of Crestview Ave., both of Montgomery.

Palmer is a 2004 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School.
My Photo
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.

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

Advertisement