Archive for September 2017

DoD Accelerates Hurricane Relief, Response Efforts in Puerto Rico

September 30, 2017


Breaking Yellow Ribbon America News!

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2017 — The Defense Department is accelerating relief operations and the deployment of additional response capacity to Puerto Rico to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s need for a comprehensive commodities distribution network able to reach isolated communities and provide sustained medical support for the island’s residents, Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement this morning.

Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, who’s in command of the DoD response effort in Puerto Rico, is working with FEMA and service components to get distribution priorities right, Davis said.

Buchanan, assisted by his deputy, Army Brig. Gen. Richard C. Kim, assessed that the planned force flow will build the capacity necessary to support Hurricane Maria response priorities, the spokesman said.

Army Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers, is also in Puerto Rico overseeing the temporary power project, electrical distribution repairs and infrastructure improvements, Davis said.

The Navy amphibious assault ship USS Wasp is now involved in response operations in and around Puerto Rico, the spokesman said.

Davis provided the following updates and details of hurricane relief operations in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean region:

Puerto Rico Situational Update

— FEMA reports assessments completed at 64 of 69 hospitals; 59 are partially or fully operational; five unassessed facilities are psychiatric hospitals that do not provide emergency care.

— Forty-five percent of customers have access to drinking water. Ninety-five percent of customers remain without power; power has been restored to San Juan airport and marine terminals.

— Eight hundred and fifty-one of 1,100 retail gas stations have reopened and purchase limits have been lifted. Forty-nine percent of grocery and big box stores are open.

— Erosion repairs to the Guajataca Dam are scheduled to begin Oct. 1-2.

— The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort departed Norfolk, Virginia, yesterday and it is estimated to arrive in Puerto Rico on Oct. 4.

— Five of six FEMA-priority sea ports are open or open with restrictions; surveys of Ponce and Roosevelt Roads are ongoing.

U.S. Virgin Islands Situational Update

— An assessment of the main hospital on St. Thomas will be completed today.

Details of DoD Response in Puerto Rico

U.S. Northern Command is deploying enhanced logistics capacity, centered on commodity distribution and medical support, and designed around a sustainment brigade. Northcom is flowing five force packages into Puerto Rico focused on logistics, tilt/rotary wing lift, and medical units. Force Package 1 is on the ground with leadership in Puerto Rico for planning and assessment. Force Packages 2 and 3 will deliver logistical units and associated command and control and is deploying. Force Package 4 will follow and deliver helicopters, aviation command-and-control elements and medical units. Force Package 5 will deploy next and provide more robust medical capacity.

— The USS Wasp, carrying three MH-60 helicopters, is en route to Puerto Rico and will embark 10 additional aircraft. The Marine Corps has identified eight additional MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and two KC-130 fixed-wing aircraft that will self-deploy to support operations on Puerto Rico.

— U.S. military helicopters moved 3 HHS Disaster Medical Assistance Teams with 12,500 pounds of equipment to Mayaguez, Arecibo, and Ponce from Roosevelt Roads to support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “hub-and-spoke” concept for the delivery of medical care. Seven federal medical stations will be co-located with each of the seven hospitals identified as ‘hub’ hospitals.

— The Guajataca Dam spillway continues to erode; immediate risk reduction measures are ongoing to stabilize the dam spillway. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports two to three inches of rain has fallen, and an additional two to four inches each day over the next two days is possible.

U.S. Transportation Command will deliver super sandbags for spillway stabilization today; sandbag installation will follow on or about Oct. 1.

Foreign Disaster Assistance

U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Leeward Islands continues evacuations on Dominica. Following the evacuation of priority U.S. citizen medical cases, the Hurricane Response Task Force will transition to on-call status today.

Picture: In San Juan, Puerto Rico National Guardsmen load pallets of food and water onto an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter for distribution to Orocovis, Puerto Rico, Sept. 29, 2017. The National Guard has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and federal agencies in response and relief operations for Hurricane Maria. Air National Guard photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea

HUMACAO, Puerto Rico (Sept. 27, 2017)

September 29, 2017

U.S. Marines, Sailors assess hospitals, provide support in Puerto Rico

Yellow Ribbon America News Desk:

U.S. Navy Construction Electrician 2nd Class John McConnell, left, assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 2, annotates Spanish-English translations concerning a faulty generator to Hospitalman Apprentice Judd A. Ostolaza, a local resident and U.S. Navy Reservist assigned to Det. 1, Headquarters & Services Company, 4th Marine Logistics Group, volunteering his translating services with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) as part of Hurricane Maria relief efforts at Ryder Hospital in Humacao, Puerto Rico.

The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

DoD Continues Support in Hurricane-Ravaged Areas

September 29, 2017

U.S. Marines with the 26th MEU clear roads in Puerto Rico

Yellow Ribbon America News Desk:

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2017 — The Defense Department is continuing relief operations in areas of the Caribbean Sea stricken by hurricanes in recent weeks.

In Puerto Rico, DoD continues ongoing relief operations and deployment of additional response capacity, expanding airfield and seaport throughput and supporting Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements, Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement this morning.

Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, DoD’s liaison to the FEMA-led effort, and his deputy, Army Brig. Gen. Rich Kim, are in Puerto Rico and are coordinating with FEMA, the Puerto Rico National Guard, leaders and other key response stakeholders, Davis said. The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp is returning to support response operations in and around Puerto Rico, he added.

U.S. Northern Command will pair Wasp MH-60 helicopters with additional helicopters to bring the total of tilt- and rotary-wing aircraft supporting the response to 52 aircraft, he said.

Hospital Assessments Continue

FEMA reports that assessments are complete at 62 of Puerto Rico’s 69 hospitals, Davis said — one is fully operational, 55 are partially operational, five are closed, and the status of eight is as yet unknown.

An assessment of the Schneider Regional Hospital on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be completed today to determine when patient services may resume, Davis said. Meanwhile, he added DoD is working to fulfill a FEMA request to establish a mobile medical facility on St. Croix.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort will depart its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, today, bound for Puerto Rico, and Northcom is sourcing a Role 3 medical capability and additional medical support, Davis said. The capability includes a self-sufficient deployable medical/surgical treatment facility, including inpatient care with 50 inpatient beds for up to 10 days, he explained.

The Army Corps of Engineers has completed a damage assessment at Puerto Rico’s Guajataca Dam, Davis said, and are consulting on repairs. A flash flood watch is posted there, with 1 to 3 inches of rain expected over the weekend, he added.

Ten of 12 regional staging areas, including 12 Puerto Rico National Guard armories, are open, he said, supporting more than 100 distribution points for meals, and other commodities.

Eight airports are open in Puerto Rico and one remains closed, he said. Five of six FEMA-priority are open or open with restrictions, he added, and surveys of Ponce and Roosevelt Roads are ongoing. U.S. Transportation Command lifted a replacement generator for San Juan Combined Center/Radar Approach. When installed, the generator will enhance air traffic control capability and increase air traffic capacity.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean region, U.S. Southern Command‘s Joint Task Force Leeward Islands evacuations on Dominica, Davis said, noting that Southcom assets rescued one British and one French national whose civilian aircraft crashed outside Guadeloupe.

Picture: A U.S. Marine and a local American clear a tree from the main road as part of Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 27, 2017. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexis C. Schneider

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017)

September 27, 2017

Hurricane Maria

Yellow Ribbon America News Desk:

U.S. Sailors and U.S. Marines attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), unload military field rations, known as MRE or meals, ready to eat, from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kearsarge and the 26th MEU are assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Eduardo Jorge/Released)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017)

September 27, 2017

Hurricane Maria

Yellow Ribbon America News Desk:

Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), speaks with Puerto Rico’s National Guard director Army Brig. Gen. Gisele Wilz about joint operations. Kearsarge is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dana D. Legg/Released)

DoD Officials Provide Update on Hurricane Relief Efforts!

September 27, 2017


Yellow Ribbon America Breaking News!

DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2017 — In Puerto Rico, enhanced communications and completed assessments are providing a clearer picture of the extent of the storm damage and the magnitude of the response challenge, Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said today.
“Given the changing scope and conditions, DoD will adjust its concept of operations in Puerto Rico and transition from a short term, sea-based response to a predominantly land-based effort designed to provide robust, longer term support to [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and [to Puerto Rico],” Davis said. The situation in the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to improve, he said, noting that the governor is shifting from response to recovery.
In Puerto Rico, response operations continue as synchronization of efforts between the Title 10 forces, Puerto Rico National Guard and FEMA improve. Fuel distribution remains the top FEMA priority. Multiple DoD elements delivered fuel and continue route clearance operations. Fifty nine of 69 hospitals are operational with unknown status. Roughly 44 percent of the population remains without drinking water. The San Juan Airport and nine other airports are open. Three seaports are open and five are open with restrictions.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the J.F. Luis Hospital in St. Croix has been found to be structurally sound. Power has been restored to the Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas. Airports are closed except for military and relief operations. Eight seaports are open with restrictions.
DoD Response in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands
— U.S. Northern Command is developing an enhanced logistical capability designed around a sustainment brigade and able to provide logistical command and control, transportation, supply distribution, movement control and engineering capabilities.
— The U.S. Army North deputy commanding general, Brig. Gen. Rich Kim, will deploy to Puerto Rico today and establish a joint forces land component command forward headquarters to manage the Title 10 support to the response.
— Northcom will deploy medical capability and ambulances and has requested the hospital ship USNS Comfort prepare to get underway. The ship has a 72-96 hour prep time.
— U.S. Transportation Command coordinated 14 flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico yesterday, delivering food, water, FEMA communications, FEMA logistics, security teams and critical DoD enablers — communications, logistics, and command and control — and has 16 flights scheduled today to deliver food, water, communications and DoD rotary-wing aviation.
— A joint Army National Guard and Marine expeditionary unit team is providing first responder movement, commodities and fuel distribution, and route clearance in Puerto Rico. The team established Roosevelt Roads Airfield as an Installation Staging Base; available for 24/7 hurricane relief and commercial operations. The MEU is also moving Department of Health and Human Services assessment teams, via helicopter, to hospitals across Puerto Rico to determine medical requirements.
— The Defense Logistics Agency is transporting 15,000 gallons of propane to Puerto Rico and 10,000 to the U.S. Virgin Islands and has coordinated the shipment of trucks and support vehicles, including 175,000 gallons of diesel and 75,000 gallons of gasoline, by barge to Puerto Rico by Sept. 29. DLA is also shipping 90 fuel trucks to Puerto Rico.
Foreign Disaster Assistance
Caribbean Region: U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Leeward Islands continues to support State Department humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the Leeward and Windward Islands, conducting search and rescue operations and evacuating U.S. citizens. Helicopters from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp continue to support evacuations of U.S. citizens and to respond to requests for reconnaissance, transportation and logistics support.
Picture: U:S; Air Force Staff Sgt. Trevor Black, a small package initial communications element technician with the 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron, checks wires on a satellite communication antenna at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. A 70-member contingency response element from the 821st Contingency Response Group at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., deployed to Puerto Rico in support of Hurricane Maria relief efforts. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks

Mattis: U.S., NATO Will Stand by Afghanistan

September 27, 2017


Yellow Ribbon America News Desk:

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at a news conference in the Afghan capital of Kabul today that the United States will stand by his country through thick and thin.

It was Mattis’ first visit to Kabul since President Donald J. Trump announced the new South Asian strategy Aug. 21.

The strategy calls for more U.S. advisors in Afghanistan, to be used in different ways and at different levels. It encompasses all aspects of American power, employing diplomacy, economic might, intelligence and military power to advance U.S. interests and ensure the safety of the American homeland and the nation’s allies and partners. 

The strategy also addresses Pakistan providing safe havens for terrorist cells inside its borders, but the bottom line is that it commits the United States to Afghanistan – a country where Americans have fought and died since 2001, the secretary said.

Reaffirming NATO’s Commitment

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg joined Ghani and Mattis at the news conference, and he reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan, saying NATO wants to ensure the country doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists again.

“We will not abandon Afghanistan to a merciless enemy trying to kill its way to power,” Mattis said. The secretary praised the accomplishments of the Afghan security forces since they assumed responsibility for the nation two years ago. “With our new conditions-based South Asian strategy, we will be better postured to support you as you turn the tide against the terrorists,” he said.

Mattis said the strategy allows a more holistic approach to solve the region’s problems. The United States embracing this strategy “also makes it clear we are not quitting this fight,” he added.

“In short, uncertainty has been replaced by certainty,” Mattis said.

The secretary stressed that the strategy is conditions-based, not time-based, “because war is principally a matter of will, and we’ve made clear we have the will to stand together.”

Afghanistan’s security forces now have more than 300,000 trained members. NATO and partner forces will help to train the forces and provide them with capabilities they do not currently have, Mattis said.

“Through our partnership, we will suffocate any hope that al-Qaida or [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] or the Haqqani or Taliban have of winning by killing,” Mattis said. “I want to reinforce to the Taliban that the only path to peace and political legitimacy to them is through a negotiated settlement.”

September 27, 2017


Happy Birthday U.S. Air Force!

September 18, 2017

United States Air Force 70th Birthday (Facebook)

Yellow Ribbon America News Desk:

President, First Lady Praise Air Force Members, Families

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2017 — Celebrating the 70th birthday of the U.S. Air Force, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump saluted airmen and their families during their visit this afternoon to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

The official birthday of the Air Force is Sept. 18, 1947.

The First Lady opened the event by thanking “the brave men and women who wear the noble uniform of the U.S. Air Force for having us here today.”

She added, “I had the privilege to visit with some of your wonderful children at the youth center here on base. I enjoy our time together, getting to know them, and want to thank everyone who helped make this visit possible.”

Military children from all service branches “should be enormously proud because your mom or dad is a true American hero,’ the First Lady said. “In the wake of two devastating hurricanes, the world has witnessed your courage and compassion, and you have made every American proud.”

‘We Know That We Are Free Because You Are Brave’

America’s citizens, she said, “have trust in the United States Air Force because we know you will never quit, you will never yield, and you will never fail. We know that we are free because you are brave.”

The First Lady told the airmen that said she and the president “are grateful for your service.”

She added, “I also want to take a moment to recognize the families of those who serve. You endure the time apart, are expected to move when new orders come in, and face the uncertainty that came in the times of need. This kind of lifestyle requires its own kind of courage, and your sacrifices do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you.”

The First Lady then introduced the president.

‘The Greatest Air Force’

The president said he was honored to visit with the airmen and their families, noting the U.S. Air Force is “the greatest air force on the face of this Earth — by far.”

The commander in chief also said that he spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May, this morning “and relayed America’s deepest sympathy” for today’s London terrorist attack “as well as our absolute commitment to eradicating the terrorists from our planet.”

America and it allies will never be intimidated by terrorists, the president said.

“We will defend our people, our nations, and our civilization from all who dare to threaten our way of life,” he said. “This includes the regime of North Korea, which has once again shown its utter contempt for its neighbors and for the entire world community.”

The president saluted the “capabilities and commitment” of the Air Force and its people, adding that he’s “more confident than ever” that U.S. options in addressing the North Korean threat “are both effective and overwhelming.”

The president then discussed the ongoing recovery efforts for Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

“I visited Florida yesterday, where the American people have once again shown the world how resilient, strong, and truly united we are,” he said. “We’re going to help our fellow Americans put their lives, their homes, and their communities back together because when Americans are in need, Americans pull together.”

The commander in chief added, “And we know, we can always count on the courageous members of our nation’s military to be there every step of the way, just like more than 400 Air Force medical personnel who have deployed to Florida to help care for the sick and the injured.”

“To the men and women who proudly wear the Air Force uniform, who keep our country safe, and who fill our hearts with pride, thank you for your service and devotion to America. Thank you,” he said.

‘Celebrating 70 Years of Heroes’

Celebrating the Air Force’s birthday today means “celebrating 70 years of history, 70 years of heroes, and 70 years of victory,” the president said. “I also want to thank all of the amazing family members and loved ones whose sacrifices make your service possible. We love you; we appreciate you and everything you do. Thank you.”

For seven decades, America’s Air Force “has pushed the boundaries of science and technology, helped restore peace and stability to troubled lands, and kept Americans safe from those who threaten our very way of life,” he said.

And, “nothing inspires more confidence in our friends or strikes more fear in the hearts of our enemies than the sight of American warplanes on the horizon,” the president said. “You patrol the sky, protect the homeland and deliver American justice to anyone who dares to threaten our people.”

The president said America’s Air Force “has advanced from the earliest wooden biplanes, to the high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles, to the awesome power and stunning beauty of the F-35, B-2, F-22, — and I saw a lot of them today — the F-15, the F-16, the F-18, I don’t know which one I liked the most.”

America’s Air Force aviators “have given America total dominance of the air and space, no matter where we fly,” he said. “Now when our enemies hear the F-35’s engines, when they’re roaring overhead, their souls will tremble and they will know the day of reckoning has arrived.”

The Air Force “was born during a time of monumental change and uncertainty in the world,” the president said. “Unconditional victory in World War II had come at a terrible price. Millions of lives had been lost, empires had collapsed, and much of Europe laid in ruin.”

During the ensuing Cold War, the threat of global communism emerged from the void left by defeated foes,” he said. “And the free nations of the world, once again, looked to the United States to secure the peace. It was at this crucial moment that America established the Air Force as a separate military service and a truly great military service.”

‘We Have the Best People – By Far’

The president added, “And, from that moment, America has dominated both air and space like no other nation in history. Our air superiority is unquestioned — not merely because we have the best equipment, but because we have the best people — by far”

From the Berlin Airlift in 1948, through air operations during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, “American airmen have proven that they have no equal in courage, capability, or commitment.”

The president added, “You are the ones who own the sky. You are our greatest weapon of all. In the last 64 years, American ground forces have not lost a single life to an enemy air strike — pretty amazing — and that is truly a testament to the strategy and skill of American airmen and the essential role you play in our national defense.”

As the commander in chief, the president said he’s “committed to keeping the United States’ military the best trained, best equipped, and most technologically advanced fighting force on the planet.”

One of his key tasks is rebuilding the U.S. armed forces, the president said.

“Congress took an important step this year by heeding my call for a $20 billion increase in defense spending, and we’re going to be doing even much more than that,” he said. “But the servicemen and women who defend our nation with their lives deserve the predictable and consistent funding that will help them win quickly and win decisively.”

New Military Equipment

New military equipment will be obtained, the president said

“It is equipment like you’ve never even thought of before,” he said. “There is nobody in the world that will have anything even close” to U.S. military equipment.

America’s armed forces “have endured continuous combat for the past 26 years, yet despite this, the number of airmen on active duty has dropped by one-third since the 1990s, and we’ve cut more than half of our fighter squadrons,” the president said. “Terrible. That is why I’m calling on Congress to end the defense sequester once and for all and to give our military the tools, training, equipment and resources that our brave men and women in uniform so richly deserve.”

“Each of you is fulfilling your duty to America, and now government must fulfill its duty to you,” the president told the airmen. “We will stop delaying needed investments in our readiness, and we will renew our commitment to the patriots who keep America safe.”

‘Proud Legacy of Service’

He added, “In so doing, we will continue the proud legacy of service that each of you has inherited, a legacy built over the generations by legends like Yeager, Wagner, Rickenbacker, Boyd, Grissom, and Schriever — the heroes who broke barrier after barrier to push America farther. And they really did. They broke so many different barriers — they went farther, faster, and they always went on to victory.”

Like America’s air heroes of yesteryear, “each of you is a living, breathing symbol of our great country, the United States of America,” the president said. “The characteristics that define the Air Force aviator — boldness and bravery, action and instinct, power and grace — are woven deep into the American spirit and have defined our people since our nation was founded.”

The president said the legendary Air Force General Robin Olds immortalized those attributes when he said fighter pilots possess an attitude and display cockiness and aggressiveness.

“And I just met a lot of these folks,” he said.

The president added, “They’re truly, truly competitive. But there’s something else — there’s a spark. There’s a desire to be good, to do well in the eyes of their peers.”

‘The Sky is Never the Limit’

America “forever will be a nation of pioneers and patriots, risk-takers and renegades, aviators and astronauts,” he said. “We crave adventure and achievement, exploration and enlightenment. We carved out a home in the New World, gave birth to the modern world, and we will shape tomorrow’s world with the strength and skill of American hands. Because for America — the sky is never the limit.”

And, the U.S. Air Force “will remain the most awe-inspiring flying force ever known to man,” the president said. “Like every part of our military, the Air Force is born from the will of our people — to search, to explore, to reach new heights. It is the people’s will that you reflect and their power that you project to every single corner of the globe.”

Earlier this year, the president said he “had the honor of speaking with a great Army Air Corps and Air Force legend, Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, and a true American hero.”

He added, “Like those who serve today, Dick Cole was a common American who answered to the call of duty with uncommon devotion. His place in the pages of history might have seemed unlikely prior to that fateful mission. He had never seen the ocean before boarding a ship that would take him halfway around the world. Neither he, nor anyone else, had ever flown a B-25 into combat from the deck of an aircraft carrier. Nor had we ever seen anybody to use a parachute before bailing out thousands of feet above the Chinese mainland.

“But he knew what his country needed, and what his duty required,” the president continued. “And there was no barrier that could stop Colonel Cole and his fellow Raiders from accomplishing their mission.”

That spirit of daring, devotion, duty and love of country that has defined the Air Force for the past 70 years “will lift each of you to new heights every day from this day forward,” the president told the airmen.

“There is no distance too far, no speed too fast, no challenge too great, and no height too high that will keep the United States Air Force — or the American people — from total victory,” he said.

The American people are eternally grateful for the service of their airmen, the president said.

“We will stand with you always. And never forget: I am always on your wing,” he said. “Happy 70th birthday to the United States Air Force. Happy birthday to everybody. We are so proud of you. Congratulations to each and every one of you. And thank you for keeping America proud, strong, safe, and free.”

The president added, “Thank you. May God bless the armed forces and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Congratulations. Thank you.”

On This Day In American History…

September 13, 2017


Frances Scout Key pens Star-Spangled Banner

September 13, 1814

On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key pens a poem which is later set to music and in 1931 becomes America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, originally titled “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, as reflected in the now-famous words of the “Star-Spangled Banner”: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

Francis Scott Key was born on August 1, 1779, at Terra Rubra, his family’s estate in Frederick County (now Carroll County), Maryland. He became a successful lawyer in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and was later appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

On June 18, 1812, America declared war on Great Britain after a series of trade disagreements. In August 1814, British troops invaded Washington, D.C., and burned the White House, Capitol Building and Library of Congress. Their next target was Baltimore.
After one of Key’s friends, Dr. William Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British, Key went to Baltimore, located the ship where Beanes was being held and negotiated his release. However, Key and Beanes weren’t allowed to leave until after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombing campaign unfold from aboard a ship located about eight miles away. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed.

The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to the music of a popular English drinking tune called “To Anacreon in Heaven” by composer John Stafford Smith. People began referring to the song as “The Star-Spangled Banner” and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson announced that it should be played at all official events. It was adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931.

Francis Scott Key died of pleurisy on January 11, 1843. Today, the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry is housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.