Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: May, 2010 (34) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 34

May 2, 2010 at 6:32am

Union, Joint Base soldiers remember Spc. Aaron Aamot

A soldier assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment’s Color Guard renders a salute during the playing of the national anthem during a ceremony that honored Spc. Aaron Aamot.

Seven score and nine years separate Spc. Aaron Aamot and his great, great, great grandfather, Horace Hinds.

Assigned to 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Aamot died outside of Jelewar, Afghanistan in November 2009 when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.

Before enlisting in 2006 after graduation from high school, Aamot had been an avid Civil War reenactor.

"He loved history and loved being a reenactor, and there is a long blue line from then to now," said John Strand, spokesman for the Washington Civil War Association (WCWA), moments before a ceremony that honored both men.

About 400 members of the WCWA gathered this past Saturday to not only honor the two soldiers but to also relive a significant part of American history.

"We wanted to honor Aaron Aamot with our first major event of the year," continued Strand. 

"In learning that his great, great, great grandfather had served in the Union Army during the Civil War and was buried here, we knew we had an opportunity to honor both men."

Horace Hinds - who lied about his age to enlist - served with Company K, 16th New York Infantry Regiment.

During the Peninsula Campaign in early 1862, he was shot in the belt buckle and rendered unconscious. 

When he regained his senses, Hinds found himself behind Confederate lines.  Making it back to Union lines, he was treated for his injuries.

Believing he would not recover, the medical staff discharged Hinds and sent him home to die.

He survived the wounds but suffered from rheumatism and chronic dysentery for the rest of his life.  In 1903, Hinds and wife moved to Washington.

Soon after, he was committed to Western State Hospital suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia.

Hinds passed in 1907 and was buried at Fort Steilacoom Park's Cemetery in plot 808.

To honor him, the Aamot family recently ordered a Union Army veteran's headstone.  The marker will arrive and be placed in the near future.

Standing nearby, Union reenactor 1st Sgt. Jim Daily, 1st US Cavalry, and his horse, Kit, waited for the ceremony honoring Aamot and Hinds to begin.

"Today is a wonderful opportunity to say thank you and to pay our respects to both soldiers who served this nation honorably," said the former helicopter pilot who flew in Vietnam.

"And I don't have enough love and respect for the young men and women of 5th Brigade who are here today in remembrance."

May 3, 2010 at 10:35am

80th Ordnance Battalion holds third combatives tournament

Pfc. Ismael Roman, a heavy equipment operator with the 37th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Bragg, N.C., 36th Engineer Brigade and an Arecibo, Puerto Rico, native, and Spc. Anthony Mendez, a shower, laundry and renovations specialist with the 263rd Quarter

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The 80th Ordnance Company out of Fort Lewis, Wash., sponsored the Phoenix Support Combatives Tournament April 24 at Morale, Welfare and Recreation east at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

Although 112 signed up, 87 Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen weighed in and competed in the third tournament sponsored by the 80th, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard C. Mantooth, the JBB corps storage area accountable officer with the 63rd Ordnance Company, 80th Ord. Batt., 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

Mantooth, a level four instructor of Modern Army Combatives and a Biloxi, Miss., native, said the event was the second tournament the 63rd Ord. Co. hosted. 

Fighters traveled from other bases to compete, said Mantooth. The event offered service members a chance to vary their routine and eliminate some monotony from day-to-day operations, he said. 

Spc. Billy C. Avery, a supply specialist with the 63rd Ord. Co., placed fourth in the Cruiserweight division. This was his second competition at JBB.

"I did a lot better compared to my first match in the last tournament," he said.

Avery, a Pennington, Texas, native, who is level one combatives certified, said he lost in the first round of the last tournament. Since then, he said he has worked to better himself, and participated in this tournament to test his progress.

Mantooth, who studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and boxing, said the biggest difference between the tournaments was the physical striking in the semi-final and final rounds, including open-hand slaps to the face, fist punches to the body and authorized leg kicks.

"When you start adding striking to it, it definitely changes the way somebody responds on the ground, especially in combat," he said.

Pfc. Ismael Roman, a heavy equipment operator with the 37th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Bragg, N.C., 36th Engineer Brigade and an Arecibo, Puerto Rico, native, said he participated in all three tournaments and was excited to hear about this one.

"I am a fan of MMA, which is mixed martial arts, and I follow it," he said. "When I knew they were doing a combatives tournament, I jumped on it right away."

Roman, who won the Welterweight division, said he is level one certified for combatives and also studies judo.

"I think this was the best one, since the competition was pretty good and all the guys fighting were good," he said. "The other tournaments were smaller compared to this one, with not as many participants."

Mantooth said he thought the event went well.

"We had a packed house," he said. "People were standing, squatting, fighting for seats and it stayed that way throughout the day. We kept the gym packed."

 During the last tournament, he said he saw a great amount of technique and was pleased with the strikes, but was more impressed by the competitors who participated.

"The most impressive thing I (saw) was the 3/2 Stryker Brigade team that came out from Fort Lewis, stationed at Warhorse," he said. "Most of these guys just came off of a patrol mission. ... They haven't slept and they came in here, competed and won the team competition. That was pretty impressive."

To give service members a chance to compete, to watch them learn and then teach their skills to other service members - those are the fruits of labor for program instructors and competition coordinators, said Mantooth.

"We give these guys an opportunity to be champions, to showcase their skills," he said. "It goes to show you that even though we are over here in Iraq, thousands and thousands of miles away, we're still trying to bring Soldiers together, compete and have fun and try to bring the best out of one another. That's really what these tournaments are about."    

May 3, 2010 at 1:50pm

Madigan Gate delays

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Drivers entering and exiting Joint Base Lewis-McChord through the Madigan Army Medical Center access gate, located at Interstate 5 exit #122, can expect delays due to a scheduled construction project beginning May 5.

Traffic will be reduced to two lanes inbound and one outbound in the construction zone for the duration of the project except during periods of peak outbound traffic. That period is 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday, during which there will be two outbound lanes and one inbound lane.

This construction project involves replacing security devices in both of the inbound and outbound lanes enhancing both safety and security of the installation.

Speed limits through the gate construction site will be 15 miles per hour. Drivers can avoid traffic congestion at the MAMC gate during the May 5 through Aug.16 construction period by using three other gates to access JBLM Lewis-Main: the Logistics Center, Lincoln-Rainier, or Main gate.

May 5, 2010 at 5:20am

Memorial today for fallen Stryker

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Family, friends, Service members and
the Joint Base community will remember a Soldier who died while in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a ceremony to be conducted
Wednesday, May 5, at 3 p.m. in the JBLM Evergreen Chapel.

Staff Sgt. Christopher D. Worrell, 35, of Virginia Beach, Va., died
April 22 in Baghdad, of injuries sustained during a noncombat related
incident. He was assigned to the 702nd Combat Support Battalion, 4th
Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base
Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The brigade deployed to Iraq in September, 2009.

May 5, 2010 at 9:50am

Update in spy case

The Olympian has an updated report today in the case involving a JBLM employee supposedly infiltrating an Olympia peace group.

May 5, 2010 at 4:19pm

593rd Sustainment Brigade scheduled to return

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Approximately 200 Soldiers assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 593rd Sustainment Brigade will be reunited with friends and families at a "welcome home" ceremony currently scheduled for about 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6, at Wilson Gym on JBLM Lewis North.

The 593rd Sustainment Brigade deployed to Kuwait in May 2009 and assumed command and control of theater distribution and reception, staging, and onward movement operations in Kuwait.

Over the course of the deployment, the brigade effectively conducted more than 3,000 combat logistic patrols and moved over 367,744 tons of equipment while driving more than 7.5 million miles over some very treacherous roads.

Additionally, the brigade directed the delivery of 626 million gallons of fuel, managed 21 thousand tons of ammunition, processed over 1.5 tons of mail, and monitored the processing of over 300,000 finance transactions.

The 80th Ordnance Battalion deployed to Iraq in May 2009 tasked with providing command and control for sustainment forces and multi-functional logistical support to U.S. Forces-Iraq.

May 6, 2010 at 1:53pm

Family announces death of 5th Bde Stryker

The Seattle Times has a story online today regarding the death of a Stryker from Fort Lewis.

May 6, 2010 at 1:57pm

Stephanie Gonzalez, Army spouse, profiled

Being a military spouse can be a daunting role filled with long days living in a service member's shadow, but Stephanie Gonzalez is proof that doesn't have to be the case.

Since marrying an Army officer, Gonzalez has learned to adapt and make the most of a lifestyle in which changes and relocating are inevitable.

She does this by approaching each move as a new opportunity.

"It starts with knowing what you want and not being afraid to pursue your goals," Gonzalez said. "You can always make things happen for yourself."

Gonzalez and her husband, Maj. Michael Gonzalez, were military brats when they met in grade school. After traveling to different parts of the world, the two reunited and married nine years ago. They have three children, ages 8, 6 and 2.

Prior to meeting Michael, Gonzalez was a school teacher and educational program administrator. She continued serving in the public education system after marrying, but by the birth of their second child, decided she needed a change.

"When I had our second child, I just needed a business plan that would allow me to be accessible to our children," she said. "I thought, ‘How can I caveat things I've been doing for the state as an educator in the private sector?'"

Gonzalez's solution was to start up an instructional design company, which involved writing curricula and textbooks for companies such as Microsoft and Discovery. It gave her the flexibility she needed as an Army spouse and enabled her to generate income while keeping skills fresh.

"If we were in the middle of a move, or I was getting ready to have a baby, we could structure my projects around it," Gonzalez said.

When her husband received orders to Washington, D.C., Gonzalez welcomed the move with a new project. She and a friend started a children's accessories line featuring unexpected themes for girls such as reptiles, trucks and monsters that would eventually lead to the creation of her latest business endeavor.

"We hadn't really launched the accessories, and I was looking for a place that I could use them," Gonzalez said.

When Michael came down on orders for Joint Base Lewis-McChord last summer, Gonzalez wondered what awaited her family. One of the first things she noticed upon arrival was a lack of indoor play space in DuPont - the community they now call home.

"There are more children per square inch in this community than anywhere we've lived," Gonzalez said. "Yet, there was nothing in our immediate community where you could go and have a safe, engaging and affordable playtime for your children." Michael was on his fourth deployment when she pitched the idea of opening DuPont's only indoor play space.

"Every time we move somewhere, she tries to do something within the community just because it's our community," Michael said. "It's a good way to get infused in a community that we claim to be ours."

Gonzalez took the idea of monsters from her previous accessories line, and married it with the indoor play space, which she named "The Rubber Room." Guests won't find gooey gobblins inside, but instead "an oasis with a variety of activities where little monsters can burn energy while parents unwind and swap stories with other parents," Gonzalez said.

The center officially opened its doors last month, and has grown into more than a play escape. Gonzalez offers a variety of daily classes for both children and adults.

Lindsay Davidson, military spouse, met Gonzalez last summer during a playgroup session with her son. Davidson instructs some of the classes and helps manage "The Rubber Room."

"I'm looking to spend my time staying busy," said Davidson, whose husband is deployed with 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Davidson said working with Gonzalez has really had a positive impact on her 2-year-old son, Layken.

"It's awesome that I can socialize and work while he's with me, and see that he gets something out of it," Davidson said. "He's become noticeably more independent."

Gonzalez said she hopes to have established a positive role model for her children and other military spouses. She encouraged others not to be afraid of taking on new challenges, which she understands can be intimidating, especially as a military spouse new to an area.

"You can find time to balance everything out if you have focus, talent and tenacity," Gonzalez said. "It doesn't really even matter what your educational background is. You can make anything happen for yourself."

Davidson plans to continue her role at "The Rubber Room" as long as she is able to.

"I'm sure when my husband comes home, it will be a struggle for me to balance this and him, but Stephanie's doing it," Davidson said. "She had the idea and went for it. Just seeing all that she has done as a mom and spouse is really inspiring."

May 10, 2010 at 7:52am

4th Strykers: Air Power Gets Grounded to Help Iraqis

Air Force Airmen assigned to 2nd Platoon, 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, with 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, U.S. Division-Center, bring medical supplies and bed linens to a hospital in Yarmouk, May 7. The supplies

BAGHDAD - A police force is considered necessary in order to bring order from chaos, especially in Baghdad. 

Airmen from 2nd Platoon, 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, U.S. Division-Center, work in partnership with local Baghdad based Iraqi police to do just that.

On May 7, the Airmen of 2nd Plt., traveled to the Yarmouk local police station located inside a hospital to distribute medical supplies and bed linens. The Iraqi Police will later take these items and deliver them to the hospital and people in the local area. 

"We go out to IP stations and patrol with them emphasizing community policing," said Tech. Sgt. Eric Gray, a Phoenix native and squad leader assigned to 2nd Plt. "It helps them build up their rapport within the community."

Another way the Airmen help the Iraqi police is to collect items that are important to local communities and pass them along to the police so they can hand them out to the people of Iraq. 

Scottsboro, Ala., native, Air Force Staff Sgt. Donald Williams, 2nd Plt., said conducting these types of missions helps create better relationships between the local police and Iraqi civilians.

"American forces are leaving here and the local police have to build relationships with the people," said Williams. "The Iraqi people are used to us giving them stuff, so when the Iraqi police start giving it out it builds trust and stronger relationships."

This is Williams' third deployment to Baghdad and he said that he has seen improvements made by the Iraqi police and he believes they can take care of their people.

Gray believes these humanitarian missions help the citizens trust the police. He said in the past the local populace would not call the police to settle disputes but instead would take matters into their own hands, which sometimes led to violence. 

Although these missions are designed to help the Iraqi police, Staff Sgt. Edward Lopez, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native assigned to the 2nd Plt., also finds them personally fulfilling.

"It gives me a lot of pride to help the people of Iraq, to see their faces and smiles; hopefully, it can change some lives," said Lopez. "The feeling is indescribable."    

May 10, 2010 at 3:47pm

And now an advertising message...

Swarner Communications is publishing the program guides for two events this summer that combined will bring 500,000 people to the area.

That's two special sections, half a million people.  WOW!

First is Freedom Fair on Tacoma's waterfront July 4th.  Our guide circulates across Ruston Way at all of the venues.  The Freedom Fair combines music, food, fireworks and an airshow that delights over 150,000 spectators.  The Guide also inserts into all of our publications the week before.

Next, we publish the Air Expo at McChord Field.  The guides are handed to attendees as they enter the gates - right into their hands, as well as at key locations inside the flight area.  350,000+ people attended the 2008 show, and the Air Force expects a similar crowd this year.  The show is packed with acts, and it is our guide that give everyone the times and background info for the show.
To advertise, call us at (253) 584-1212.    

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