Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

America’s Best!

July 25, 2018

Cavalry amputeer re-enlists in Afghanistan

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America’s Best!

Col. Todd R. Wood, Commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, administers the oath of re-enlistment to Staff Sgt. Brian Beem, a cavalry scout assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, during a special ceremony at Forward Operating Base Frontenac, Nov. 9. Beem is a single leg amputee who has continued to serve despite his injury. He lost his leg after an improvised explosive device detonated during his 2006 deployment to Iraq.

 

The United States Air Force High Frontier

July 9, 2018

50th NOG changes command

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The United States Air Force High Frontier

The United States Air Force High Frontier Honor Guard performs during the 50th Network Operations Group change-of-command ceremony at Schriever U.S. Air Force Base, Colo., June 29, 2018. U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers

☆ Happy Independence Day America!

July 4, 2018

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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The Berlin Airlift: What It Was, It’s Importance in the Cold War Against Communism

June 26, 2018

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The Berlin Airlift: What It Was, It’s Importance in the Cold War Against Communism

By Katie Lange, Defense Media Activity

June 26 marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Berlin Airlift, America’s first major test of resolve during the Cold War and one of the largest humanitarian aid missions in history.

Never heard of it? Well, you’re in luck – we’ve summed the history up for you here.

Post-World War II Division of Germany

After World War II ended, Germany was in ruins, and the situation in its capital, Berlin, was dire. About 2.5 million Berliners were still living in the war-ravaged city, but food was scarce and shelter was hard to find amid all the rubble. The economy was mostly black market goods at that point.

To begin rebuilding, the Allies split Germany between the U.S., Great Britain and Russia. Berlin was also divided into occupation zones; the Soviets controlled the eastern portion while the west went to the U.S., UK and France.

Unfortunately, the Soviet-Allied alliance deteriorated quickly, and tensions fully erupted by 1948.

The Breaking Point

Russia met regularly with Britain, the U.S. and France after the war to coordinate occupation policy between the varying zones, but it stopped in early 1948 when it found out the other three nations were secretly planning to create a new German state out of their zones.

In June 1948, the U.S. and U.K. introduced a new currency, the Deutschmark, to their zones, which included West Berlin. They kept it from the Soviets because they wanted to regain economic control from Russia and quell the black market that was running rampant, as well as bring in aid under the Marshall Plan, a U.S. strategy to rebuild Europe.

But the problem was this – Berlin was located far within Russia’s East Germany, so the Soviets took advantage, leading to the first Berlin crisis of the Cold War.

The Berlin Airlift Begins

On June 24, 1948, Soviet forces blockaded all road, rail and water routes into Berlin’s Allied-controlled areas, stifling the vital flow of food, coal and other supplies. Soviet troop numbers dwarfed those of the Allies, which had drawn down after the war, so there was little the Allies could do about it militarily.

But the Soviets couldn’t block Allied airspace, so U.S. and UK forces took to the skies to get supplies to the Allied sectors. On June 26, the U.S. launched Operation Vittles, which the U.K. later joined. It was the biggest aerial resupply mission ever embarked upon. The Allies also imposed their own counter-blockade, restricting trade with East Germany and East Berlin.

A Massive Mission For Freedom

The airlift was a daunting task at first. More than 2 million Berliners were relying on the aid, which included much-needed food, fuel and medicine. Over time, though, it became more efficient, and the number of airdrops increased. At one point, Air Force and Navy planes were landing at Tempelhof Airport every 45 seconds.

On Easter Sunday, April 17, 1949, the constant procession of planes managed to deliver 13,000 tons of cargo, including the equivalent of 600 railroad cars of coal – all in one day!

Things weren’t going well for the Soviets. The airlift had been going on for 10 months, and the Allies had proven they could keep it up indefinitely. The Russians had gained a reputation as bullies because of their blockade. On top of that, an Allied counter-blockade was causing severe shortages in the Russian sectors, leading to fears of an uprising.

The Soviet Union gave in and lifted the blockade on May 11, 1949; however, the airlift itself didn’t end until Sept. 30, just in case the Soviets decided to change their minds.

During the entire airlift, the U.S. and U.K. delivered more than 2.3 million tons of food, fuel and supplies to West Berlin via more than 278,000 airdrops. American aircrews made more than 189,000 flights, totaling nearly 600,000 flying hours and exceeding 92 million miles.

The airlift demonstrated America’s innovative spirit, efficiency, perseverance and leadership. It also highlighted the value of cooperation and the need to have allies to accomplish tasks that one country simply can’t do alone.

While that crisis ended peacefully, the ideological division of Europe had just begun. By the end of the blockade, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had been established, partially in response to Soviet aggression. A few weeks later, East and West Berlin officially separated, with each becoming a symbol of their respective political views — democracy and freedom in the West versus communism in the East.

President Trump presents Medal of Honor to Widow of World War II Veteran Garlin Murl Conner

June 26, 2018

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President Trump presents Medal of Honor to Widow of World War II Veteran Garlin Murl Conner

By: Christopher Carbone and Lucas Tomlinson Fox News

For Pauline Conner, Tuesday is a day she wasn’t sure would ever come.

The widow of 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner waged a 22-year campaign to get his Distinguished Service Cross – which he was awarded for his actions on Jan. 24, 1945 in France – upgraded to a Medal of Honor, as his World War II battalion commander had wanted back then.

“After all these years it really is and truly is an honor,” the 89-year-old widow said Monday at the Pentagon. “I had really and truly given up on it. I just didn’t think it would ever happen. But he has a [combat] record that speaks for itself. I don’t have to tell it.”

President Donald Trump awarded the nation’s highest military decoration to Pauline in a White House ceremony honoring a remarkable moment of heroism from Conner’s 28-month combat career, which took him to North Africa and Europe.

The Medal of Honor makes Conner the second-most decorated soldier of World War II, according to the Army, surpassed only by legendary 1st Lt. Audie Murphy.

As it turns out, the veteran’s upgrade needed eyewitness accounts, which were finally found by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, who sent a staff member to the National Archives where the necessary documentation was discovered. 

His widow spoke about the toll his tour of duty, which included being wounded seven times, had on her husband – who she married at the age of 16.

“You know, in World War II and Korea, they didn’t recognize PTSD like they did in Vietnam,” Pauline said at the Pentagon. “But I’ve always said if anybody ever had PTSD, he did. Because many of the times, he’d wake up in the night, you know, with nightmares. And after I would wake him up, and he would go outside, sit on the porch, smoke cigarettes for hours at a time.”

However, her husband still never spoke about what happened to him overseas.

On Jan. 24, 1945, Conner’s soldiers – 7th Infantry, 3rd Battalion – were facing a counterattack from 600 German troops armed with tank destroyers. Instead of retreating, he chose to run forward into enemy fire with a telephone in order to direct artillery fire in hopes of ending end the attack. He stayed in an irrigation ditch for three hours until the battle was won as swarms of German soldiers moved toward his battalion.

“He’d just come back from being wounded. He wasn’t even supposed to be there,” said Erik Villard, digital military historian from the Army Center of Military. “But he came back to his unit and ran forward and volunteered the mission, and did what he did.”

“Today we pay tribute to this Kentucky farm boy who stared down evil,” Trump said. “He was indeed a giant, larger than life, he will never ever be forgotten.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, spoke about Conner’s sacrifice on the floor of the senate Tuesday

“I’m proud to congratulate Pauline and her family today. And I would like to thank her, for giving our nation the opportunity to salute First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner,” McConnell said in a statement. “He embodied the highest values of our Commonwealth and our nation. But this humble man never called himself a hero. So, it’s incumbent upon us to do just that.”

Conner’s Army record during the war included four Silver Stars, French valor awards and three Purple Hearts. He earned the decorations in savage battles between October 1942 and March 1945 as his 3rd Infantry Division unit pushed from Morocco, across Tunisia into Italy, across France and into Germany.

“My husband was a very humble man, and I’m honored to represent him. It’s—it’s not about me; it’s about him. And he was my hero. He was for 53 years, and he still is since he’s been gone 20 years.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/06/26/president-trump-presents-medal-honor-to-widow-world-war-ii-veteran-garlin-murl-conner.html

Enduring American Faith & Courage

June 22, 2018

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Enduring American Faith & Courage

(June 7, 2018) SUFFOLK, Va.- Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Giovanelli Clement wipes away a tear as she listens to Dame Mary Sigillo Barraco, a World War II Prisoner of War, share her story to Sailors from the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) during a breakfast at Bunny’s Restaurant.

USS Bataan (LHD5 )takes part in a monthly community engagement breakfast to Honor Veterans and Prisoners of War. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay

Mission Blood Pressure

June 20, 2018

Set up and train

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Mission Blood Pressure

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cristen A. Manjarrez checks U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Latresia T. Pugh’s blood pressure during a joint training mission with reserve airmen on a C-17 Globemaster III over the United States, June 17, 2018. Manjarrez is an aeromedical evacuation technician assigned to the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, and Pugh is an aeromedical examiner assigned to Air Mobility Command. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen

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

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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

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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

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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