Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

July 23, 2017 at 5:53am

DuPont to host traveling Vietnam memorial

One doesn’t have to travel to Washington, D.C., to experience a powerful, emotionally-charged viewing of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

The city of DuPont will be host to the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Memorial, and the memorial wall will grace Powderworks Park, 1775 Bobs Hollow Lane, in DuPont, Thursday to July 30.

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Memorial is one of a handful of traveling Vietnam walls, but it is touted on its website as the largest such traveling wall.

This traveling wall is an 80-percent replica of the Washington, D.C. memorial, created in anodized aluminum. The Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is made of granite and said to be the most visited memorial in the Washington, D.C., area. The actual wall is set into the ground at varying heights and takes up a 2-acre site.

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Memorial Wall is 8 feet tall and 360 feet long with 58,310 names on it — that’s the same number as currently are on the original wall — including three names added to each this year for Vietnam veterans who died of injuries sustained in the war that led to their death, according to Kevin Weatherly, CEO of American Veterans Traveling Tribute, based in Flint, Texas.

“The wall is a way for all the people who will never get to D.C. to see their family member’s names on the memorial and also a way to bring those veterans on the wall back home,” Weatherly said.

Weatherly said the traveling wall has visited many cities across the state of Washington in the past, but this is its first visit to DuPont. The traveling wall has existed since 1998 and operated under its current ownership since 2006. The owner of the wall is retired Lt. Col. Don Allen, a Vietnam Special Forces veteran.

Administrators in the city of DuPont petitioned to have its city host the wall during the free commemorative event sponsored by the Marine Corps.

“The city of DuPont is very honored to be hosting the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall,” DuPont mayor Mike Courts said in a news release Monday. “Military and civilians alike respect the sacrifices made by the men and women who served our nation during the Vietnam War. This traveling wall has been a solemn and healing tribute to all of those who served or had loved ones who served during this time. We look forward to providing an opportunity for the people of our region to show their respect at this memorial.”

July 23, 2017 at 5:50am

JBLM soldier honored for saving man’s life

Maj. Gen. Thomas James Jr., left, 7th ID commanding general, awards Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jesse Rhymes the Soldier's Medal on July 13. JBLM PAO photo

Imagine you’re driving on a winding rural Thurston County road. It’s raining Jan. 16, 2016, and about 9 p.m.

The driver in front of you is driving fast and loses control of his vehicle. He flips over four or five times before the car comes to a rest upside down in the ditch. The engine of the car bursts into flames.

What would you do?

That wasn’t even a question for Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jesse Rhymes, who quickly called 911on his cellphone and rushed to the vehicle to assess the situation, see how many occupants were inside and what were the injuries.

Rhymes’ quick thinking and heroism resulted in the victim surviving and Rhymes receiving the Soldier’s Medal at a ceremony at Evergreen Chapel on Lewis Main July 13.

The Soldier’s Medal was introduced in 1926 and is sparingly awarded to any person of the armed forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, is distinguished by heroism in a noncombat event.

“This is an absolute honor for me,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas James Jr., 7th Infantry Division commanding general, as he officiated the ceremony. “This is a really, really big deal. Not many people receive this award.”

James talked of Rhymes’ actions and the importance of service members being ready to impulsively take care of each other, on or off the battlefield.

“With total disregard for personal safety, (Rhymes) said, ‘I’m in,’” James said.

Although no Soldier aims to receive an award such as this, it was humbling and an honor to be singled out, Rhymes said.

“I just did what any Soldier would do,” he said. “I just knew if I didn’t go in, (the victim) wasn’t going to make it out.’

The front of the vehicle was fast filling with smoke, Rhymes said. The victim’s legs were trapped, and there was no way to extricate him from the driver’s side of the vehicle. So, Rhymes crawled through the passenger side window of the upside-down car.

“When the flames started coming through the windshield, I was hoping it wasn’t going to blow,” the soft-spoken Soldier said.

Rhymes managed to get the victim and himself out of the car and to safety. He administered first aid until emergency responders arrived. By then, the entire car was engulfed in flames, which firefighters were able to extinguish, Rhymes said.

The victim was transported to a nearby hospital, and Rhymes drove himself home. During the ordeal, Rhymes managed to call his wife and let her know he’d be late for dinner.

When he arrived home, he was covered in his own blood, from glass he’d crawled through in the vehicle. Although his wife, Sally, said she was shocked to see her husband in that condition, she wasn’t surprised he’d perform such an heroic act.

“That’s just the kind of person he is,” she said. “I thought he was a little crazy crawling into a burning vehicle, but he’s a wonderful person, a wonderful husband and a wonderful father. I’m proud, very proud of him.”

Rhymes is now a special agent in charge of the CID Presidio of Monterey office in Monterey, Calif.

Rhymes and his wife have two children, Katelyn, 9, and Jacob, 6, who also attended the ceremony. Katelyn said she was really proud of her dad and glad he was OK after saving a man’s life.

“He’s my hero,” she said.

July 20, 2017 at 11:07am

Homeless women vets get new wing

VIPs at the ribbon cutting last week in Port Orchard. Photo credit: WDVA

The ribbon has been cut and doors are open at the Building 9 Women Veterans Wing at the Building 9 for Veterans Transitional Housing Program in Port Orchard.

"Although we have always served women veterans at Building 9, we saw a need for them to have additional privacy and more security in the building," said Building 9 Project Specialist Melissa Duffy. "So our team worked together to create a women's wing complete with a beautiful sitting room."  

This expanded wing in the Building 9 Transitional Housing Program will provide transitioning homeless female veterans with the privacy and space they need.

The Building 9 Veterans Transitional Housing Program is a 60-bed transitional housing facility available to assist veterans in need of stable housing, vocational rehabilitation and increased income potential.

Veterans participating in the Building 9 program are surrounded with supportive staff and services designed to assist and lead them to productive completion of the program and ultimately a successful return to the community.

"I am really excited about this program," Duffy said. "It makes me proud to see so many clients and individuals willing to put in so much effort and come together to accomplish this."  

Other Building 9 facility services include case management, mental health services, an on-site job center, on-site chemical dependency services and transportation to case management-related appointments. The facility is located on bus lines and is accessible from the Seattle area by ferry.

Those interested in becoming eligible for admission into the Building 9 Transitional Housing Program must have served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, received an Honorable Discharge, been homeless for one or more nights, be clean and sober for at least the last 30 days, have a desire to lead a clean and sober lifestyle, have a desire to make meaningful life changes leading to independent living, and be willing to undergo a criminal background check.

"It's a great place for women to be able to come and come together and work on their transition out of homelessness," said Duffy.

For more information, contact Building 9 at 360.895.4371 or email

July 20, 2017 at 11:02am

Army prepared to take on the 'key terrain' of cyber

The Army recently released a video inviting hackers to take a puzzle challenge. Those that successfully completed the puzzle could be recruited for a job with Army Cyber Command. Photo credit: Peggy Frierson

Each day, the Army faces "hundreds of thousands" of attempts to infiltrate its network, said Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, chief of U.S. Army Cyber Command, also known as ARCYBER.

"We have to be right every single time. The attacker only has to be right once; to find one vulnerability," Nakasone said at the 2017 Defense One Summit in Washington, Thursday, July 13.

Nakasone, speaking in a panel with Defense One executive editor Kevin Baron, faced questions on concerns over possible Internet attacks from North Korea, Russia and ISIS, but highlighted the Army's focus on solid analysis as a deterrent to cyber security breaches. "We're looking at vulnerabilities across our network," he assured. "We're looking at the key terrain like any military force."

In the wake of alleged Russian hacks into the 2016 American election, Nakasone said the key to preventing similar threats should come from analysis and research. U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Defense-wide sub-unified command known as USCYBERCOM, is in the midst of creating 133 cyber teams, including 41 for the Army. To fill these teams with quality analysts, the Army is recruiting leaders with the skills necessary to rise to new cyber security challenges.

Additionally, ARCYBER has participated in exercises at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, to gain a better understanding of what a brigade combat team needs to achieve success at the tactical level of cybersecurity. ARCYBER studied how a BCT commander should use social media and how a team can better defend their networks.

Nakasone mentioned further efforts in the Army's efforts to maintain a robust cyber awareness, including an initiative to bring in 60 new second lieutenants to ARCYBER with a science background. A pending proposal would commission skilled applicants as mid-grade officers. Nakasone said the requirements and perquisites for those positions are still being discussed.

"We are going to need coders, we're going to need malware forensics analysts," Nakasone said. "We are going to need top talent."

To help attract tech-savvy recruits, ARCYBER created an interactive link in a video on the ARCYBER webpage and YouTube Channel, inviting hackers to solve a puzzle. Nakasone said about 800,000 people attempted to solve the puzzle - less than one percent successfully completed it. The link generated 1.3 million hits on ARCYBER's website and 9.8 million views on YouTube.

"We wanted to create an excitement (and) an ability for our best talent in the nation to take a look and want to be part of our force," Nakasone said. "The intent was, how do you generate that excitement? This is one of the ways that we did it."

Nakasone also addressed the importance of artificial intelligence and its impact on operations. "I would love to have a self-healing network; that as soon as we see a vulnerability, it requires very little effort to have that vulnerability patched," Nakasone said. "A.I. can help us with that.

"We are obviously very interested in terms of how do you take a force that is only so big back to the question of resources and make that larger?" Nakasone continued. "Well, one of the ways that you can do that is through artificial intelligence, and how do we get more capability ... I certainly believe that's the future for us."

July 20, 2017 at 10:57am

Better serving those who served

WDVA conferences provide vital information for veterans and those hoping to support veterans. Photo credit: WDVA

Are you looking to gain more knowledge on how to better serve those who served?

Are you asked, or do you have, questions on veteran homelessness, benefits and other topics that you aren't completely comfortable answering?"

Would you like to establish a greater collaboration within the Veteran Service Community on both sides of Washington state?

Register now for the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs second annual, "Serving Those Who Served Conference," at the Wenatchee Convention Center July 26 and 27.

"In my mind, information is power, the more we learn the more empowered we become, and as a result, so do those we serve," said Washington Department of Veterans Affairs Behavioral Health Program director, Peter Schmidt.  "The potential of how this information is applied can potentially be a life-saver."

This two-day veteran's resource providers conference is not only aimed at establishing better collaboration and connection for all those who work with veterans and their families, but also providing a wealth of knowledge from industry experts in areas that impact the lives of our veterans and their families.

"This conference provides collaboration with professionals from across the state, all while learning new veteran-related information ... all at no cost to the participant," Schmidt added.  

This two-day conference will include breakout sessions on Justice Involved Veterans, WDVA Programs, VA Healthcare/VA Choice, Life Cycle of a VA Disability Claim, Suicide Prevention/Suicide Safety, VA Education Benefits/Vet Corps, Cemetery & Burial Benefits, PTSD & Traumatic Brain Injury, County Specific Topics - Best Practices/Creating Regional Strategic Partnerships, Helping Vets Succeed in the Workplace and YesVets, Service Animals, Veteran Homelessness & Housing Programs and more.

"The conference aims to provide the most current information and resources about veterans and their families in Washington state," said Schmidt.  "We will assist to better serve all individuals and groups that are Serving Those Who Served!"

Along with more than 20 breakout sessions focused around current veteran issues and topics, conference attendees will also be able to take advantage of a Networking Social Hour taking place after the first day of the conference at Pybus Market from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Register now for the state's largest veteran's resource provider's conference by visiting or by contacting Melissa Rhault at

July 20, 2017 at 10:53am

New exosuit for soldiers

Dr. Courtney Webster makes adjustments to the Warrior Web physical augmentation suit from Harvard’s Wyss Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo credit: David McNally

Thanks to a new "suit" being developed by the DoD-funded Warrior Web program, future soldiers will be able to march longer, carry heavier gear and improve mental sharpness.

The suit has pulleys and gears designed to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by the dynamic events typically experienced in the warfighter's environment.

Scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have been testing variations of the suit for more than three years at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research, or SPEAR, facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"We've been primarily focusing on the physical benefits of these types of suits, but we're also interested in the cognitive benefits," said ARL researcher Dr. Angela Boynton. "We're hoping that by reducing the physical burden, that they also have the ability to put more energy into other types of tasks that involve cognitive or perceptual workload."

The project, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has many partner organizations across the DoD and academia.

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the Army Capabilities Integration Center, and the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, met at ARL's SPEAR in June for a soft "exosuit" demonstration and to discuss the path forward for the Army's Warrior Web Program.

The program, which is funded by DARPA, is coming to an end; however, researchers hope to find future collaborators to expand on the progress gained in the current program iteration.

"In the longer term, the systems have benefits to be integrated into larger soldier systems and can be integrated with other capabilities to provide a marked advantage for our soldiers and our warfighters in the future," said Maj. Christopher Orlowski, DARPA's Warrior Web program manager. "I think it will take at least another five to ten years to be ready for the infantry soldier."

A team of researchers from Harvard's Wyss Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, led by Dr. Conor Walsh, associate professor of engineering and applied sciences at the Harvard biodesign lab, attended the meeting that was held in conjunction with ongoing testing at ARL. Walsh and his team have been working on and testing their prototypes on soldiers since 2014.

"The meeting was a good opportunity for our team to summarize the progress we have made as part of the DARPA Warrior Web Program to other Army stakeholders and get their feedback on how they see the technology and what further work remains to continue to optimize it," Walsh said.

Walsh said the latest version of the "exosuit" tested at ARL is the result of his team's system integration efforts over the past year. He said the system is much more user-friendly as compared to early prototypes and includes improved functional apparel attachments to the body, control systems that adapt to each individual, and actuation systems that are quiet and compact.

Edwin "Eddie" Davis, director of the Maneuver Battle Lab, Capabilities Development Integration Directorate Maneuver Center of Excellence, said he was impressed by what he observed and that soldiers should have a say in what kinds of equipment they will use in combat.

"Warrior Web is a perfect example where engineers and soldiers work together ‘early and often' to develop a capability that might be useful for the future," Davis said. "It also helps speed up the technology transition and program acquisition. Soldier feedback will help frame the Warrior Web Program outcomes and future Army investment."

Henry Girolamo, NSRDEC program manager for the Warrior Web project, has been with the project since its inception.

"What we're trying to do here is collaborate, so we can keep it going in a beneficial way for the Army and the services," Girolamo said.

Girolamo noted that the SPEAR facility has been highly beneficial.

"We have an indoor lab capability where we can instrument up the soldiers and keep them in an environment where you can just get pure data on things like treadmills, motion capture and be able to analyze everything in the lab," he said. "You can take them out on a three-mile course where it's more aligned with the environments in which they would be working. We've got the best of both worlds."

Walsh and his team agree.

"Our team has benefited greatly from working with the ARL team and soldiers. We get to evaluate the system with potential end users who are walking significant distance on the treadmill and over ground," Walsh said. "The feedback we get also informs our ongoing research and developments as we continue to refine the prototypes. Our team is interested in furthering the scientific understanding of how to best optimize these systems for individuals as well as refining the technology by creating more integrated systems suitable for everyday wear."

Researchers tested the same group of soldiers in April and again in June, both with and without the suit, and gathered massive amounts of data.

"If you reduce the physical burden on somebody, there may be some benefits additionally to the amount of attention they can pay to their situational awareness," Boynton said.

Officials are still discussing the path forward.

"I see it as a solution-focused suite of technologies that support a wide array of soldier issues that we are having to deal with right now," Girolamo said. "We need to iterate the technology a little bit further along to make sure we can actually do that and I know we can. We just need the funding and time to do that."

July 13, 2017 at 3:17pm

TRADOC to release active shooter mobile app that will educate, save lives

Members or the Special Reaction Team (SRT) secure a hallway while fellow teammates clear rooms during an active shooter training exercise at Fort Shafter, Hawaii in February 2017. Staff Sgt. Taresha Hill)

Soon, soldiers and civilians will be mere taps away from contacting emergency teams in the event of an active shooter.

Army Training and Doctrine Command and TRADOC Capability Manager -- Mobile (TCM Mobile) announced winners from a competition to develop an active shooter response mobile application for the Army. A team of civilian employees from the Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker, Alabama, submitted the winning entry.

The app will soon be released for free download from the Google Play, iTunes and other online stores.

"All these applications have the necessary and vital information that will save lives, time, and educate those with little or no training on active-shooter response situations," said Capt. Dylan Gallagan, operations officer at the Army Office of the Provost Marshal General.

The app will add to the Army's list of current applications that aid soldier training, readiness and response to emergency situations. The winning entry walks users through various steps of how to respond to an active shooter and what to do when law enforcement arrives.

"If adrenaline kicks in and they forget what to do in the moment, all of that information is right there in front of them," said Matt MacLaughlin, who works at TRADOC Senior Mobile Training Development. "It should help everybody respond to that situation in the fastest manner possible."

Users will be able to simply tap to open the app and tap another button to reach the emergency dialer. There will also be an option to translate the app to Spanish. Final features and details of the winning application are still being determined by the Provost Marshal's office, MacLaughlin said.

"We're going to try to think for you," said MacLaughlin. "Because there's situations where you won't have time to think."

Army Cyber Center of Excellence teams from five Army posts took part in the competition, which was created to further develop skills in a nine-course online training session. Prior to the competition, TRADOC provided mobile training from August 2016 through February. TCM Instructional Design Specialist Patty Dobbins and Senior IT Specialist Diane Jenkins provided three-day onsite training focused on user interface and user experience and coding.

"We decided to come up with an idea that they can do after we leave so they can apply what they learned during our training and also (create) a product that would be very beneficial across the Army," Jenkins said.

The active shooter response app follows the development of the "We Care" mobile apps created by TCM Mobile for sexual harassment prevention and suicide prevention. TCM has also produced about 80 mobile apps for other purposes, including combat training. Maclaughlin said TCM hopes to not only establish a pipeline of emergency mobile apps, but also help establish a service-wide infrastructure to oversee mobile app development and training.

Part of TRADOC's mission is to train app developers at decentralized locations to Defense Department standards.

Last year, TCM launched the Army's mobile app store, the TRADOC Application Gateway, which features official Army mobile apps. As part of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, TCM is responsible for validating and embedding mobile apps for the Army.

"This can easily be expanded across the Army, so we're just laying a blueprint down that the Army can utilize in the future," MacLaughlin said. "So just from this one effort, the Army itself can grow exponentially in the mobile capabilities based on this effort."

The judges evaluated the shooter app entries based on content and functionality as well as design and overall user experience, Dobbins said. There was also a competition for best logo design, won by the team from Fort Gordon, Georgia.

"We have people all the time that want to have mobile applications created and they want it ... as soon as possible," said Lt. Col. Joe Harris, TRADOC Capability Manager-Mobile. "Now that they have this capability down at the school level ... decentralized creation lessens the work on this end to have the mobile application (available for use)."

July 13, 2017 at 3:04pm

1st SFG dependents receive scholarships

A total of 22 students earned scholarships from the 1st SFG Special Forces Scholarship Fund. Those who could not attend the ceremony are pictured on the screen. Photo credit: Spc. Victor Richmond

Twenty-two dependents of current and former 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Berets received scholarships from the 1st SFG Special Forces Scholarship Fund July 7 at the Group's Regimental Mess Facility on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Since its founding in 2012, the fund has distributed more than $190,000 to 82 students. "It's an honor to celebrate the achievements of these 22 1st Group children," said Col. (Ret.) Rick Thomas, former 1st SFG commander and volunteer director who established the fund in 2012. "We recognize the next generation of our leaders whose futures are so promising," he said.

Thomas praised the high caliber of applicants who had competitive SAT/ACT scores, grades, athletic achievements, and community service.

"As a parent, I know it's hard to put kids through school," said. Col. Guillaume Beaurpere, 1st SFG commander. "The opportunities provided by the Special Forces Scholarship Fund are tremendously value-added."

Thomas and Col. (Ret.) Charles Higbee, fund co-director, presented the certificates to the students who could apply for scholarships for up to four years of undergraduate education and two years of graduate scholarships.

Andrew McCaulley, who graduated from Yelm High School and will study aerospace engineering at the University of Washington, placed first in the scholarship order of merit list. "With so many students applying to college, all scholarships are so competitive," he said. "I feel lucky to have the support of 1st Group for continuing my education past high school."

Some of the scholarships were named for donors, such as the Heritage Scholarship sponsored by the Heritage Distilling Company, or a scholarship sponsored by the Special Forces Association Chapter XVI.

The outstanding scholars receiving 2017 1st SFG Special Forces Scholarships and the schools they will attend are:

Kylie Ada, Pacific Lutheran University

Julia Bagshaw, Washington State University

Lauren Colonair, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mary Margaret Deedrick, Catholic University

Sierra Dickinson, Linfield College

Taylor Fernandez, Whitworth University

Caitlin Guiao, Chapman University

Taylor Guthrie, Ohio State University

Victoria Holcom, George Mason University

Bailey Hunt, Skagit Valley College

Seth Koivisto, Pacific Lutheran University

Madison Littlefield, University of San Francisco

Andrew McCauley, University of Washington

Alexis Orosco, University of Washington

Preston Palmer, University of Washington

Noah Prokopowicz, Seattle University

Jordan Reed, Florida Southern University

Teresa Shreve, University of Montavello

Bailey Stehn, Washington State University

Trentan Walker, Santa Clara University

Bobbye Wardlow, Hendrix College

Alex Wilson-Heid, Pennsylvania State University

The 1st SFG Special Forces Scholarship Fund is a 501(c)3 charitable, nonprofit fund that provides merit-based scholarships to the children of Special Forces soldiers. Every dollar donated to the fund goes directly to scholarships for children and is fully tax deductible. Anyone interested in supporting the fund is invited to view the "1st Special Forces Group Scholarship Fund" Facebook page, or to contact Col.(Ret) Rick Thomas at

July 13, 2017 at 2:43pm

Soldier reaches milestone

Army Reserve Capt. Trista Budzynski, Transportation Officer, 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, was honored as the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve’s Transportation Regimental Corps Officer of the Year July 12 at Fort Lee. Photo credit: Capt. Andrew Daane

Army Reserve Capt. Trista Budzynski, a transportation officer with the Washington state-based 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, was honored yesterday as the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve's Transportation Regimental Corps Officer of the Year.

Headquartered in Marysville, the 364th ESC has command and control of more than 40 Army Reserve units located in seven states. It has three subordinate brigade-level units: 96th Sustainment Brigade, located in Salt Lake City, Utah; 652nd Regional Support Group, headquartered in Helena, Montana; and 654th Regional Support Group, in Tacoma.

So what exactly does it take for a young junior officer to reach this milestone?

In an interview with Budzynski during the 364th ESC's annual training this week, I expected to see an exhausted soldier, knowing she had just finished a 12-hour assignment as the officer-in-charge of the 364th ESC M16 qualification range. She appeared sunburnt but surprisingly full of energy. As the interview continued it became clear her seemingly unlimited supply of energy and perpetual positive attitude contributed to her success as a Transportation Officer in the United States Army Reserves (USAR).

Her ability to successfully plan and execute strategic airlifts by coordinating, tracking and confirming the airlift of equipment and supplies from the United States to Poland during exercise Anakonda 2016, aided in her rising above her peers and earning this distinction.

When asked about how she was able to bring about these accomplishments, she referenced family as her major source of inspiration. With a supporting husband and two young children at home, they offer her support like no one else can.

"Nothing is a bigger stress reliever than hearing a baby laugh," she explained. Whether it is coming home to her baby laughing, or her husband listening to the frustrations of the day, she attributes much of her success to them. Her family understands she serves in the U.S. Army out of a sense of duty, and honors that commitment.

The transportation field is a demanding, fast-paced job. One of Budzynski's secrets to success is stress management and always maintaining a positive attitude whenever possible. "When I'm stressed out, I try and remain optimistic, which allows people to work around you more and want to work with you," she said.

Given transportation missions are often collaborative in nature, this is one of the most valuable traits she focuses on. She also possesses an energetic nature, which allows her to be proactive and anticipate obstacles that lie ahead, rather than simply react. "I'm an active person with a lot of energy and I have to expend it," she said.

In the end, being named the USAR Transportation Officer of the Year has to do with task completion, mission execution and furthering the reputation of the Transportation Corps as a whole through leadership. The entire chain of command holds Budzynski as a performer who leads from the front.

Perhaps her colleague Capt. Lane Wheeler described her performance best when he stated, "Captain Budzynski displays a never-ending persistence to ensure soldiers are provided the logistical resources they need to be successful. She has developed an array of logistical tools, techniques and procedures ... (that) are constantly being assessed and refined to ensure she continues to meet the challenges impressed upon her by the complex mission of the 364th ESC."

July 13, 2017 at 2:23pm

Soldier honors family at DoD Warrior Games

Col. Daniel Dudek is surrounded by his parents Robert and Peggy during the 2013 Warrior Games. He is currently at the McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, Illinois, for the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games. Photo courtesy Col. Daniel Dudek

On a cool summer morning on the Northside of Chicago, Col. Daniel Dudek enters his fifth lap on the track at Lane Technical College Preparatory High School. He's practicing for the DoD 2017 Warrior Games wheelchair racing competition; one of 38 athletes competing for Team Army.

Dudek, currently with I Corps, is the former Joint Base Lewis-McChord Warrior Transition Battalion commander.

For Dudek, Lane Tech is hallowed ground. His father, who died just last year, ran cross-country track at Lane Tech. That was more than 50 years ago.

"I can't believe I'm finally here. I feel like I'm spending time with Dad again," Dudek said.

Dudek suffered a spinal cord injury in 2007 after an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle. The blast left him with limited mobility in his legs, requiring him to use his arms to get around most of the time. However, this new reality did not dampen his spirit.

"Listen, if you have an ounce of positivity, it will go out into the world exponentially. Dealing with issues is a state of mind," he said. "If you were positive before the injury then that attitude will continue and vice versa."

Just one of many lessons Dudek encourages individuals to follow, but his greatest lesson came from his father, Robert.

"He would sit in the stands and I would always look for him and my mom. After the game he would say, "Don't look up at us, and focus!"

Although Dudek's dad is no longer in the stands, he remains his guiding force.

"There is a white ribbon encased on my cycle, with his picture. He's always with me."

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