Archive for June 2018

Still Here And Still Ready To Fight For Freedom And Liberate The Oppressed! World War II Veterans Hold Reunion at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center

June 18, 2018

World War II heroes of the 66th Infantry Division hold final reunion at Camp Blanding Joint Training CenterWorld War II heroes of the 66th Infantry Division hold final reunion at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center

YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:

By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Carmen Fleischmann

Florida National Guard

STARKE, Fla., June 18, 2018 — For years, veterans of the Army’s 66th Infantry Division have reunited to reminisce about their time together fighting in World War II, to share stories of how their lives have changed since then, and to recall fond memories of those brothers they lost along the way.

They have taken many journeys together, but none as impactful as their June 15 return here to the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center for their final reunion.

The 15 veterans of the 66th “Black Panther” Division and their families were welcomed to the Camp Blanding Museum by post commander, Army Col. Matt Johnson, who shared how he was personally impacted by their stories.

Upon taking command of Camp Blanding in 2015, Johnson said he would enjoy a morning run past the troop billeting areas on Quincy Avenue which just happened to be located behind what used to be the headquarters for the 66th Infantry Division.

“I remember vividly on those first mornings as I ran through the area, how I observed the concrete foundations and the red brick chimneys that still remain there today,” Johnson said. “It stirred within me the desire to learn more about the history of this post and the soldiers and civilians who once trained and served here.”

Johnson ran his usual route again on the morning of the reunion to prepare for his meeting with veterans that trained at his post all those years ago.

“I could still imagine the voices and the sounds of men rising early, preparing for another day of training at Camp Blanding. I thought of what you experienced then and what we experience today,” he said.

Veteran’s Story

Johnson said he was also touched by the story of one of the veterans in attendance, Cyril Reshetiloff, who served in Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 262nd Infantry Regiment. Reshetiloff was onboard the S.S. Leopoldville, a Belgian passenger ship that was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine as it was crossing the English Channel to deliver members of the 66th to fight at the Battle of the Bulge.

While Reshetiloff was able to climb his way out of the wreckage and swim to safety, the 66th Infantry Division lost 14 officers, including two battalion commanders, and 784 enlisted men in that attack.

Instead of continuing to the original battle, the Black Panther Division was assigned to fight 60,000 Germans along the French Atlantic coast. They later relocated to Koblenz, Germany, following the German surrender in May 1945, where they conducted occupation duty and provided security at German prisoner-of-war camps. The men who left to continue the fight after Leopoldville consider the sacrifice made by their fallen brothers to have saved their lives.

Jerry Roetigers, President of the Panther Veterans Organization, and one of the young men who trained at CBJTC and went on to fight with the 66th Infantry Division, said the PVO has boasted as many as 2,500 members since it was created in the 1960s. He recalls emotional moments when the PVO went to Europe and placed a wreath at the location where the Leopoldville was sunk, and later when they placed one at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

The members of the 66th Infantry Division have been honored for their sacrifice and praised for their legacy. Their final reunion at Camp Blanding was no different. Dozens of soldiers, airmen and civilians turned out in the hot summer sun to pay their respects to the brave men of the Black Panther Division. Several World War II-era vehicles led the convoy of buses around post, bringing back memories of the unit’s time here, but also providing a reminder of how much time has gone by.

Choking back tears, Roetigers said, “None of this would have ever happened if our buddies on the Leopoldville didn’t give their lives. They gave their lives for us. It kept us out of the Battle of the Bulge, and who knows … we all might have been buried in Belgium.”

Honoring World War II Veterans

Roetigers had his grandson, also named Jerry and a veteran who served in Iraq, read an article written by his friend and previous PVO President Frank Bartino, and the current CEO of the Panther organization, Lenore Angelo, titled, “Roses in December.” The heartwarming words remembers comrades that fell during the war and have passed away since.

Just before laying a wreath on the monument, each of the 12 Black Panther Division veterans in attendance received a 66th Infantry plaque and a CBJTC challenge coin.

The veterans noticed on their tour of Camp Blanding that while the post has changed tremendously over the years, the spirit of sacrifice and service remains.

During the ceremony, currently serving Florida National Guard soldiers and airmen stood proudly as they donned the same style “Black Panther” Division patches as the heroes who have gone before them wore when the 66th Infantry Division was activated on April 15, 1943.

“We are very proud of the 66th Infantry Division’s record in World War II, and we are extremely pleased that you have come home in 2018,” said the president of the CBJTC Museum Association, George Cressman.

Picture 1: Combat Veterans of the U.S. Army 66th Infantry Division pose for a group photo during the division’s final reunion and site dedication at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center’s museum in Starke, Fla., June 15, 2018. The 66th division was activated in 1943 at Camp Blanding. After training, the division deployed to England and afterward fought German forces in Europe. The division finished the war in Koblenz, Germany, in 1945. While in Germany, the division conducted occupation duty and provided security at German prisoner-of-war camps. Florida National Guard photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Vann

Picture 2: U.S. Army Capt. Kimberly Quinn enjoys a laugh with World War II U.S. Army Veteran John Dietz following the 66th Infantry Division’s final reunion and site dedication held at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center’s Museum in Starke, Fla., June 15, 2018. Florida National Guard photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Vann

Family’s Support Makes Difference Through Multiple Deployments…

June 12, 2018

Celebrating Father’s Day: Family’s support makes the difference in military dad’s multiple deployments

YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:

Family’s Support Makes Difference Through Multiple Deployments

By Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 12, 2018 — Six times in the last 10 years, Sgt. Maj. Jeff Zentz has deployed with his Ohio Army National Guard units. Zentz’s most recent deployment ended just a few months ago when the 371st Sustainment Brigade, headquartered in Springfield, Ohio, returned from a nearly yearlong deployment in support of operations in Southwest Asia. With that many deployments on his service record and a wife and three children, Zentz knows firsthand the challenges soldiers face when they’re away from their families for an extended period.

“Staying connected to my wife and children is one of the hardest parts of being deployed, especially as often as I have been over the last 10 years,” he said. “Being gone for nine to 12 months is not like being gone for a drill weekend or a two- to three-week annual training.”

Zentz credits his wife, April, for giving him the ability to focus on taking care of his military business through the support she’s given him during the six mobilizations and “holding down the fort back home.”

“During every deployment, I handled most of the issues at the home level,” she said. “Even though things may have been difficult, I always made sure I did not complain to Jeff. I knew he had a lot of important responsibilities where he was, and I didn’t want to draw his attention away from those. “We have been married for 26 years now,” she continued, “and working together with my husband and children throughout all of the deployments has made us a very close family. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Serving Together

Zentz has served with both of his sons during two different deployments. In 2012 he and his son Army Spc. Jordon Zentz were in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, and last year he and Army Sgt. Jaaron Zentz deployed with the 371st Sustainment Brigade. Jordon was deployed with his unit at the same time last year and all three were able to get together for a brief visit.

“When deployed with one of my sons, it is nice to have a family member close,” he said. “The negative side is others tend to assume that I insert myself into their business, which I do not. They may be my sons, but they are not my soldiers. There is a very distinct difference.”

Jordon called the experience of being deployed with his dad “interesting,” and Jaaron said it was “nice, as I was able to spend time with him when we had free time.” The military experience also has helped the Zentz family pay for college tuition, including that of daughter Mikayla, who recently graduated from Michigan State University.

Zentz is on active duty at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and is scheduled to retire Nov. 30, 2019. With the support of his family, he said, he has been able to support the Ohio National Guard’s federal mission to defend the homeland and will be able to retire after a successful career as a citizen-soldier.

Picture: The Zentz family, from left, Jordon, Mikayla, Jeff, April and Jaaron, in 2014. U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Jeff Zentz has deployed six times in the last 10 years, and his sons were deployed at the same time he was in 2017.COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 12, 2018 — Six times in the last 10 years, Sgt. Maj. Jeff Zentz has deployed with his Ohio Army National Guard units. Zentz’s most recent deployment ended just a few months ago when the 371st Sustainment Brigade, headquartered in Springfield, Ohio, returned from a nearly yearlong deployment in support of operations in Southwest Asia. With that many deployments on his service record and a wife and three children, Zentz knows firsthand the challenges soldiers face when they’re away from their families for an extended period.

Afghanistan Making Progress Toward Peace, Mission U.S. Commander Says

June 8, 2018

Resolute Support commander visits TAAC-South

YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:

By Jim Garamone

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2018 — Afghanistan is making progress toward peace even as fighting continues, the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, said today.

Afghan security forces are providing the power, NATO is providing support and training, and the Afghan people are providing the will in the fight against the Taliban and other extremist groups, Army Gen. John W. Nicholson said during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Nicholson also praised Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s announcement of a June 15 cease-fire in the country for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of the Muslim observance of Ramadan – a month of fasting. The move is a “bold step towards peace and stability,” the general said.

The cease-fire pertains only to operations against the Taliban. Operations will continue apace against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaida and other violent extremist groups.

South Asia Strategy

Nicholson said the U.S. South Asia strategy has been a game-changer for Afghanistan and the region. “The objective of this strategy is reconciliation, and the strategy is working,” he added.

The level of violence between February and April in Afghanistan dropped 30 percent below the five-year average. “And in the month since the Taliban announced their offensive on April 25, violence has increased, but it is still below the five-year average,” Nicholson said.

Though violent acts still take place, the general said, the country is in a period of “fighting and talking,” as was the case in Northern Ireland and Colombia in the past. But the violent acts have not been effective, he noted. “The Taliban are no longer attempting to gain ground. They are trying to inflict casualties and gain media coverage,” Nicholson said.

For the first time, Nichoilson said, all six Afghan corps conducted offensive operations over the winter, successfully repelling 80 percent of Taliban attacks on district centers and retaking the remaining 20 percent within hours or days.

Finally, the general noted that a loya Jurga composed of 3,000 senior religious leaders issued a ruling rejecting the religious justification for suicide and terror attacks.

Picture: U.S. Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission and of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, shares a laugh with Afghan National Army Gen. Imam Nazar, 205th Corps commander, during a visit to the Train, Advise and Assist Command South region, May 14, 2018. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sharida Jackson

Utah Beach Salute…

June 6, 2018

74 years later: Eyes still upon the selfless service, sacrifices of Greatest Generation

YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:

American D-Day Combat Veteran John Roman, center, and U.S. Army Major General Mark W. Palzer, U.S. Commander of the 79th Theater Sustainment Command, center left, salute for the playing of French and U.S. “Taps” during the Utah Beach Federal Monument Ceremony in Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont, France, June 6, 2018. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Michael McNabb

On This Great Day In American History: June 6, 1944, D-Day…

June 6, 2018
ww2-book-d-dayeisenhower_jo_1-e1271415594644
YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:
 
History.com
 
Although the term D-Day is used routinely as military lingo for the day an operation or event will take place, for many it is also synonymous with June 6, 1944, the day the Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.
 
With Hitler’s armies in control of most of mainland Europe, the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was central to winning the war. Hitler knew this too, and was expecting an assault on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He hoped to repel the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts, giving him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east. Once that was accomplished, he believed an all-out victory would soon be his.
 
On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.
 
By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.
 
For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays. He also hesitated in calling for armored divisions to help in the defense. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as efficient Allied naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops.
 
Though it did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery–for example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France–D-Day was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe.
 
The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).

Operation Roundup Hits ISIS Remnants Hard in Iraq, Syria!

June 1, 2018

171012-D-MA852-001

YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 1, 2018 — Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and its partners increased offensive activity against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria targets in designated parts of Iraq and Syria throughout May.

Since the May 1 start of Operation Roundup, Syrian Democratic Forces resumed major offensive operations in the middle Euphrates River valley. Since then, the SDF has continued to gain ground through offensive operations, coupled with precision coalition strike support.

During May, the coalition has conducted 225 strikes with 280 engagements. This demonstrates a 304 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March, and a 123 percent increase over the 183 strikes recorded in April.

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and its partner forces continue to exert pressure on ISIS senior leaders and associates to degrade, disrupt and dismantle ISIS structures and remove terrorists throughout Iraq and Syria. ISIS morale is sinking on the front lines as privileged ISIS leaders increasingly abandon their own fighters on the battlefield, taking resources with them as they flee, task force officials said.

Over the coming weeks, Operation Roundup will continue to build momentum against ISIS remnants remaining in the Iraq-Syria border region and the middle Euphrates River valley.

Coalition military forces conducted 41 strikes May 25-31, consisting of 49 engagements in Iraq and Syria:

May 31 Strikes

On May 31 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted six strikes consisting of seven engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, four strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroying three ISIS vehicles, an ISIS command-and-control center and an ISIS fighting position. Near Shadaddi, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two ISIS command-and-control centers.

On May 31 near Basheer in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement again an ISIS tactical unit.

May 30 Strikes

On May 30 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted six strikes consisting of six engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, three strikes destroyed an ISIS fighting position. Near Shafah, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two ISIS vehicles. Near Hajin, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two ISIS fighting positions.

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on May 30.

May 29 Strikes

On May 29 near Abu Kamal in Syria, coalition military forces conducted a strike engaging an ISIS tactical unit, destroying an ISIS vehicle.

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on May 29.

May 28 Strikes

There were no reported strikes in Syria on May 28.

On May 28 near Qayyarah in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets.

May 27 Strikes

On May 27 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted five strikes consisting of five engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, four strikes destroyed three ISIS fighting positions. Near Shadaddi, a strike engaged an ISIS unit and destroyed an ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

On May 27 near Baghdad, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets, destroying an ISIS-held building.

May 26 Strikes

On May 26 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted 11 strikes consisting of 12 engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, 11 strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroying two ISIS logistics hubs and two ISIS vehicles.

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on May 26.

May 25 Strikes

On May 25 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes consisting of 11 engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, seven strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed three ISIS fighting positions. Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed six ISIS fighting systems and three ISIS logistics hubs.

On May 25 near Kirkuk in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets, destroying two ISIS-held buildings.

Definition of Strikes

The coalition’s strike report contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing, or remotely piloted aircraft, rocket propelled artillery and ground-based tactical artillery.

A strike, as defined by coalition officials, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect in that location. For example, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined.

Task force officials do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.