Archive for August 2018

NATO Names Canadian General to Head Alliance’s Iraq Mission

August 24, 2018

Canadian General bids farewell to


By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2018 — Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin of the Canadian army will lead the new NATO mission in Iraq.

Alliance heads of state approved the NATO mission during July’s summit in Brussels.

The mission will continue NATO’s efforts to train Iraqi forces as they work to prevent a return of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or similar terror groups, alliance officials said.

“It is an honor and privilege to be designated as the commander of this NATO mission,” Fortin said in a written statement. “I am confident that our contribution will meet the expectations of Canadians, our allies and partners, and especially the population of Iraq as we seek to help their security institutions to ensure long-term peace and stability in Iraq.”

Fortin will take command in the fall.

The noncombat mission will focus on training and bolstering the professionalism of Iraqi forces. It mission will consist of about 600 NATO personnel, with about 250 them from Canada.

‘Training the Trainers’

The NATO mission will advise Iraqi Defense Ministry officials and will train instructors through the “training the trainers” concept at Iraqi military schools and academies. NATO specialists will train personnel to counter improvised explosive devices and will work with Iraqi specialists on civil-military planning. NATO mechanics and logisticians will train Iraqis on armored vehicle maintenance, and NATO medics will work with Iraqi specialists on military medicine.

Fortin is currently the commander of the 1st Canadian Division Headquarters in Kingston, Ontario. His previous assignment was as deputy commanding general for operations at the U.S. 1st Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Picture: Then-Brig. Gen. Dany Fortin of the Canadian army, the outgoing 1st Corps deputy commanding general for operations, addresses the audience during a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 13, 2017. Now a major general, Fortin will serve as the commander of the NATO mission Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Youtoy Martin

U. S. Air Force Hero’s Widow Presented America’s Highest Honor; The Medal of Honor

August 23, 2018

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President Presents Medal of Honor to Fallen U. S. Air Force Hero’s Widow

By Secretary of the U. S. Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2018 — On what would have been their 26th wedding anniversary, Valerie Nessel, the widow of fallen Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman, accepted his Medal of Honor from President Donald J. Trump during a ceremony at the White House yesterday.

“We are gathered together this afternoon to pay tribute to a fallen warrior, a great warrior … and to award him with our nation’s highest and most-revered military honor,” Trump said.

Fighting in the early morning hours through brisk air and deep snow, Chapman sacrificed his own life to preserve the lives of his teammates during the Battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan on March 4, 2002.

“[John] would want to recognize the other men who lost their lives,” Valerie said in a previous interview. “Even though he did something he was awarded the Medal of Honor for, he would not want the other guys to be forgotten — they were part of the team together. I think he would say his Medal of Honor was not just for him, but for all of the guys who were lost.”

Chapman was originally awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions; however, following a review of the Air Force Cross and Silver Star recipients directed by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Deborah James, then-Secretary of the Air Force, recommended Chapman’s Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

‘John Was Always Selfless’

“John was always selfless — it didn’t just emerge at Takur Ghar — he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities,” retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time of the battle, said in a previous interview. “He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the [Quick Reaction Force] and [Combat Search and Rescue] team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them.”

Chapman enlisted in the Air Force on Sept. 27, 1985, as an information systems operator, but felt called to be part of Air Force special operations. In 1989, he cross-trained to become an Air Force combat controller.

According to friends and family, Chapman had a tendency to make the difficult look effortless and consistently sought new challenges. Dating back to his high school days, he made the varsity soccer squad as a freshman. In his high school yearbook, Chapman quoted these words: “Give of yourself before taking of someone else.”

Chapman looked for a new challenge, which he found in combat control. This special operations training is more than two years long and among the most rigorous in the U.S. military; only about one in 10 airmen who start the program graduate. From months of intense training to multiple joint schools — including military SCUBA, Army static-line and freefall, air traffic control, and combat control schools — Chapman is remembered as someone who could overcome any adversity.

“One remembers two types of students — the sharp ones and the really dull ones — and Chapman was in the sharp category,” said Ron Childress, a former Combat Control School instructor. “During one of his first days at Combat Control School, I noticed a slight smirk on his face, like [the training] was too simple for him … and it was.”

Following Combat Control School, Chapman served with the 1721st Combat Control Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, where he met Valerie in 1992. They had two daughters, who were the center of Chapman’s world even when he was away from home, which was common in special operations.

“He would come home from a long trip and immediately have on his father hat — feeding, bathing, reading and getting his girls ready for bed,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael West, who served with Chapman through Combat Control School, a three-year tour in Okinawa, Japan, and at Pope AFB. “They were his life and he was proud of them. To the Air Force he was a great hero … what I saw was a great father.”

The Battle of Takur Ghar

In conjunction with Operation Anaconda in March 2002, small reconnaissance teams were tasked to establish observation posts in strategic locations in Afghanistan, and when able, direct U.S. airpower to destroy enemy targets. The mountain of Takur Ghar was an ideal spot for such an observation post, with excellent visibility to key locations.

For Chapman and his joint special operations teammates, the mission was to establish a reconnaissance position on Takur Ghar and report al-Qaida movements in the Sahi-Kowt area.

“This was a very high-profile, no-fail job. And, we picked John,” said retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time. “In a very high-caliber career field, with the highest quality of men — even then — John stood out as our guy.”

During the initial insertion onto Afghanistan’s Takur Ghar mountaintop on March 4, the MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying Chapman and the joint special operations reconnaissance team was ambushed. A rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter and bullets ripped through the fuselage. The blast ripped through the left side of the Chinook, throwing Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts off the ramp of the helicopter onto the enemy-infested mountaintop below.

The severely damaged aircraft was unable to return for Roberts, and performed a controlled crash landing a few miles from the mountaintop. Thus began the chain of events that led to unparalleled acts of valor by numerous joint special operations forces, the deaths of seven U.S. servicemen and now, 16 years later, the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to Chapman.

Alone, against the elements and separated from his team with enemy personnel closing in, Roberts was in desperate need of support. The remaining joint special operations team members, fully aware of his precarious situation, immediately began planning a daring rescue attempt that included returning to the top of Takur Ghar where they had just taken heavy enemy fire.

As the team returned to Roberts’ last-known position, now on a second MH-47, the entrenched enemy forces immediately engaged the approaching helicopter with heavy fire.

The helicopter, although heavily damaged, was able to successfully offload the remaining special operations team members and return to base. Chapman, upon exiting the helicopter, immediately charged uphill through the snow toward enemy positions while under heavy fire from three directions.

Courageous Actions

Once on the ground, the team assessed the situation and moved quickly to the high ground. The most prominent cover and concealment on the hilltop were a large rock and tree. As they approached the tree, Chapman received fire from two enemy personnel in a fortified position. He returned fire, charged the enemy position and took out the enemy combatants within.

Almost immediately, the team encountered machine-gun fire from another fortified enemy position about 40 feet away. Chapman deliberately moved into the open to engage the new enemy position. As he engaged the enemy, he was struck by a burst of gunfire and became critically injured.

Chapman regained his faculties and continued to fight despite his severe wounds. He sustained a violent engagement with multiple enemy fighters for over an hour before paying the ultimate sacrifice. Due to his remarkably heroic actions, Chapman is credited with saving the lives of his teammates.

Picture: Valerie Nessel, the spouse of Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, holds up the Medal of Honor after receiving it from President Donald J. Trump during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 2018. Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions on Takur Ghar mountain in Afghanistan on March 4, 2002. His elite special operations team was ambushed by the enemy and came under heavy fire from multiple directions. Chapman immediately charged an enemy bunker through thigh-deep snow and killed all enemy occupants. Courageously moving from cover to assault a second machine gun bunker, he was injured by enemy fire. Despite severe wounds, he fought relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. With his last actions, he saved the lives of his teammates. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank

Camp Lemonnier Holds K-9 Casualty Care Training

August 21, 2018


Camp Lemonnier holds K-9 casualty care training


By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Rullo

Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti, Aug. 21, 2018 — U.S. Military Veterinarians assigned to Camp Lemonnier and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa conducted Canine Tactical Combat Casualty Care training to joint-service medical and operational personnel deployed here Aug. 18.

The training, which included canine anatomy, primary assessments and CPR, is designed to provide handlers and nonveterinary providers the capability to provide basic first aid until definitive veterinary care is available. 

Base veterinarian Army Capt. (Dr.) Richard Blair facilitated the training to personnel from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force medical and law enforcement fields. Blair said that while the focus of the training was aimed at medically trained personnel, people from other military occupations were welcome to attend.

“In a mass casualty situation where military working dogs may be injured, anyone with this kind of training in their back pocket would be extremely helpful.” Blair said. The training combined classroom and practical hands-on applications. Artificial dogs were used as training aids, and participants simulated CPR, intravenous catheter insertion and tracheal intubation. 

Army Maj. (Dr.) Steven Pelham, veterinarian for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa civil affairs, said military working dogs are an integral weapon for today’s fighting forces and that combat casualty care training is an important part of readiness.

“These dogs detect explosives that would go undetected. They save people from getting injured or killed,” Pelham said. “The number of lives one dog can save is worth the medical care we can give them to keep them in the fight.”

Valuable Partnership

Navy Cmdr. Mark Thomas, emergency medical facility officer in charge, attended the training and said that the cooperation between medical personnel and the veterinary units is a valuable partnership that can improve the level of care in an emergency.

“Having our people trained in canine combat care as well as utilizing the veterinarians in our facility gives us an interoperability that allows for better coverage for anyone [including military working dogs] who may be injured in a mass casualty situation,” Thomas said.

Camp Lemonnier is one of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia installations that conducts six lines of operations to support air operations, port operations, safety, security, quality of life, and what is called the core: the fuels, water and power that keep the bases operating. Camp Lemonnier’s mission includes enabling joint warfighters operating forward and to reinforce the U.S.-Djibouti relationship by providing exceptional services and facilities for the tenant commands, transient U.S. assets and service members.

Picture: U.S. Military Veterinarians assigned to Camp Lemonnier and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa conduct Canine Tactical Combat Casualty Care training to joint-service medical and operational personnel deployed to Djibouti, Aug. 18, 2018. The training is designed to provide interoperability for medical personnel to provide first aid in a mass-casualty scenario involving military working dogs. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Rullo

Clearing Buildings American Style!

August 20, 2018



U.S. Soldiers move forward toward another building as they clear an objective during a combined arms live-fire exercise at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Aug. 6, 2018. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Ryan DeBooy