Archive for April 2017

Welcome Home A Company!

April 27, 2017

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Oklahoma Homecoming About 70 soldiers return home from a Middle East deployment to a ceremony at the U. S. Armed Forces Reserve Center in Norman, Okla., April 25.
, 2017.

The Soldiers are assigned to Oklahoma National Guard’s Company A, 777th Aviation Support Battalion, 90th Troop Command. The unit provided aviation support, including aviation refueling operations, ammunition distribution, warehouse operations, water purification and transportation for the 77th Theatre Aviation Brigade.

U. S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Amber Osei

 

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U.S. Troops Visit Children’s Home in Belize!

April 21, 2017

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By U. S. Army Staff Sgt. Fredrick Varney, 131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

LADYVILLE, Belize, April 21, 2017 — Not even inclement weather was able to put a damper on the spirits of the children living at the Liberty Children’s Home here, as U.S. service members visited, to lend a helping hand, April 18.

The U. S. Soldiers’ visit is was part of the Beyond the Horizon 2017 task force.

Partnership Exercise

Beyond the Horizon is a partnership exercise between the government of Belize and U.S. Southern Command. This year’s exercise will provide three free medical service events and five construction projects throughout Belize from March 25 until June 17.

The task force’s information operations cell coordinated the volunteer effort that included a wide range of helpful and needed services and activities.

Service members spent their day removing safety hazards from the property, playing a variety of games with the children and providing basic medical examinations.

“There was a low-hanging tree over one of the housing units and we decided to cut it down and get it out of the way,” said Army Spc. Rudy Sneed, a shower and laundry specialist with the 452nd Quartermaster Company, an U. S. Army Reserve unit based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “We were afraid the tree might fall and cause serious damage to the property.”

Michael Burkhardt, an American Missionary with Ladyville Baptist Church, attended the Community Relations event and assisted service members with the tree removal process.

“This has been a great day to be here with the troops and be able to get some projects done,” Burkhardt said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Removing Hazardous Trees

Burkhardt said removing the hazardous trees had been a top priority over the last two missionary trips, but they didn’t have the manpower to accomplish the project.

U. S. Army Capt. Julio Vargas, a Chaplain with the 448th Engineer Battalion, an U. S. Army Reserve unit from Puerto Rico, brought his travel guitar to the event and played several songs for the children.

“The No. 1 priority for today’s event was interacting with the children,” Vargas said. “We sang songs together and ate popcorn, which I think the children really enjoyed.”

Once the outdoor events and activities had concluded, several health care providers from the Utah National Guard Medical Command arrived to provide free check-ups for the children.

“We wanted to come over here and provide basic physical exams for the children,” said U. S. Army Maj. Samantha Madsen, the task force’s medical planner. “Our providers are checking for irregular curvatures of the spine, providing eye exams, and evaluating issues related to the ears, nose and throat.”

Helping Out

Before departing for the day, service members presented the children with a Beyond the Horizon 2017 gift bag that contained notebooks, notepads, pens and toys.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Ritchey, a team leader with the 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, helped to pass out the gift bags during the presentation.

“It’s always good to do something for people, but when you see those smiles on the faces of the kids it really means so much,” Ritchey said.

Picture: U. S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Ritchey, a team leader with the 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, hands out school supplies to children at the Liberty Children’s Home in Ladyville, Belize, April 18, 2017.

Ritchey and other U.S. Soldiers participated in the Community Relations event as part of Beyond the Horizon 2017. The event is a partnership exercise between the government of Belize and U.S. Southern Command that will provide three free medical service events and five construction projects throughout the country of Belize from March 25 until June 17. U. S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Fredrick Varney

Quiet Moment – Saying goodbye…

April 17, 2017

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Jenkins plays with his son before deploying from Moody Air force Base, Ga., April 11, 2017. Jenkins is a squad leader assigned to the 824th Base Defense Squadron. More than 100 airmen from the unit deployed to Southwest Asia to provide fully-integrated, highly capable and responsive forces. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash

Godspeed!

Run for Our Marines!

April 17, 2017

2017 run for Marines

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If you can please support the 2017 Marine Corp Marathon. For more info visit https://www.mca-marines.org/mcm2017 . Semper Fi!

Have a Blessed & Happy Easter!

April 15, 2017

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TAPS Honors Survivors, Mentors at Annual Gala

April 14, 2017

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U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivers remarks during the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors 2017 Honor Guard Gala in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2017. Dunford served as the event’s keynote speaker. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2017 — Since 1994, when tragedy strikes a military family, TAPS has been there.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors has helped 70,000 surviving family members cope with the devastating loss of loved ones.

On April 12, the group brought together survivors, peer mentors, mentors and sponsors for the TAPS Honor Guard Gala at the National Building Museum here.

Helping Military Families Deal With Loss

TAPS founder and president Bonnie Carroll said the group builds on the resiliency inherent in military families and lets survivors know there are people who can help if the unthinkable happens.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the keynote speaker at the gala. “TAPS is not about statistics, TAPS is about helping military families deal with loss,” he said. “It’s about keeping faith and it’s about lives that are changed.”

People have to look behind the statistics to understand the impact of TAPS, Dunford said. He noted that the TAPS helpline racked up 3 million minutes in 2016, which translates to “16,000 people that have called in on a helpline and had someone on the other end that understood what they were going through and helped them.”

TAPS is about so many confronted with loss, the chairman said.

“No matter what the circumstances — it could be in battle, it could be in training, it could be as a result of something in everyday life — TAPS stands behind all survivors,” he said. “What TAPS really means to those of us still in uniform is that someone is always going to be there for us and our families, especially if we confront tragedy.”

The chairman noted that in October 2016, the country quietly marked the 15th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Since 2001, the country has asked a lot of its service members, he said.

“To be honest, if you had asked me in 2001 or 2002, could an all-volunteer force maintain commitment over the course of that period of time, maintain focus, would we still be recruiting and retaining high-quality people at the end of that period of time, would our families be able to endure such sacrifice?” he said. “I think I and other senior leaders would have said at the time, ‘I don’t think so.’”

The conflict has worn on service members, “but they are still committed, and the families are still willing to endure extraordinary sacrifice,” the chairman said.

Dunford praised TAPS and its cadre of volunteers, noting the organization’s efforts on behalf of military families provide “the strength behind our force.”

“They are the reason that our men and women do what they do: they go out every day and focus on the mission, they don’t have to look over their shoulder and check their six o’clock, because they know, if something happens to them, somebody is there,” he added.

“That somebody is you, that somebody is TAPS.”

The organization presented the TAPS Senator Ted Stevens Leadership Award to Jaclyn Mariano, surviving daughter of Air Force Master Sgt. Jude Mariano.

Also, the TAPS 2017 National Community Partnership Award was presented to the National Basketball Association and USA Basketball. Retired Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the president of USA Basketball and a long-time supporter of TAPS, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

 

32nd Military Police Company back on US soil

April 1, 2017

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By, Capt. Joe Trovato, Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

More than 120 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers from the 32nd Military Police Company returned to the U.S. March 30 after a deployment to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Milwaukee-based unit returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, where it will de-mobilize before returning to Wisconsin in the coming weeks.

The unit returned after completing a detentions operations mission under Joint Task Force Guantanamo, where it provided care and custody for detainees. Waiting to greet them at the base of the plane when they landed in Texas were senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders including Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, the deputy adjutant general for Army, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the senior enlisted advisor for the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

“The mission is never done until you get back home,” Conde told the unit.              

Others echoed his sentiments and urged the Soldiers to take advantage of their time at Fort Bliss to learn more about the benefits they have earned and to ensure they get the care they need.

“When you left the state, we told you that you had an important mission,” Anderson said. “But your mission is not complete. The expectations as a Wisconsin Army National Guardsman are extremely high, and what you have accomplished down at (Guantanamo) has continued to set that bar at a very high standard. But that bar does not lower until you get back home and you get back into the arms of your loved ones.”

Dunbar and others praised the unit for its service, accomplishments and the professionalism with which it served in Cuba.

“I have so much respect for what you do, and the connection to the American public is the Guard and the Reserve,” Dunbar said. “It is incredible that so many of you have jobs in the civilian world, then put this uniform on and continue to serve our country as you just have. It is something unique. It is something remarkable.”

“You should be proud of yourselves,” he added. “I’m proud of you. What you’ve accomplished is not an easy thing. Most folks couldn’t qualify to wear the uniform, and you’ve taken the next step and deployed for your country.”

The 32nd Military Police Company left Wisconsin in May 2016 enroute to Cuba. The unit previously deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Hungary in 2002, Iraq in 2003-04 and 2009, and to Kosovo in 2011-12.

The Wisconsin National Guard continues to play a critical role as the primary combat reserve of the U.S. Army and Air Force in military operations around the globe. Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers with Detachment 1, Headquarters, 101st Airborne Division Multi-Component Unit returned from a deployment to Iraq and Kuwait in late 2016.

In February, approximately 65 Soldiers from the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Soldiers mobilized for a deployment to the Middle East, and another 35 Soldiers from the West Bend, Wisconsin-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation mobilized for a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel. Approximately 85 additional Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation are set to deploy to the Middle East later this spring.

The Wisconsin National Guard simultaneously remains ready to execute its other primary mission as the first military responder in the homeland.

Planning is underway for a homecoming ceremony for the returning Soldiers, and the Wisconsin National Guard will announce those details as the unit’s return to Wisconsin draws near.

 

Welcome Home!