Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: December, 2010 (12) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 12

December 1, 2010 at 5:59pm

JBLM soldier to light Capitol holiday tree

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. - A soldier who returned this summer from duty in Afghanistan and his family will join Gov. Christine Gregoire Dec. 3 to light the Holiday Tree in the rotunda of the Capitol Building in Olympia. 

Sgt. Kevin Barretta, Company C., 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, along with his wife Amanda and their children Madison, 6, and Abigail, 2, will represent Joint Base Lewis-McChord through participation in the Holiday Tree lighting ceremony. 

Sgt. Barretta has been assigned to the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team for more than four years and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from July 2009 through June 2010. He has served in many infantry positions such as rifleman, automatic rifleman, team leader, and squad leader.  As a rifle team leader, Sgt. Barretta led his men on more than 200 missions and patrols in Zabul and Helmand Provinces, Afghanistan.  His excellent leadership and care for soldiers has made him an integral part of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Sgt. Barretta is originally from Newman, Calif. 

For more than 20 years, the Association of Washington Business has sponsored the Holiday Tree at the Washington State Capitol. This year, a 25-foot Noble fir will be lit at what has become an annual holiday tradition for the governor, fire departments, families and the community to come together.

The Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. in the Washington State Capitol Rotunda Legislative Building in Olympia with musical selections from Kids in Koncert.  Just before 6:30 p.m. the lighting will take place with Gov. Christine Gregoire and the Barretta Family.

Over the past several years an Army Reserve Soldier or National Guard soldier from Washington State has participated in the Holiday Tree lighting.  This year the state asked JBLM to select an active-duty soldier and family from the base to participate.

"It's an honor for Sgt. Barretta and his family to not only participate in the tree lighting in Olympia, but to represent all the military men and women at JBLM who serve our country," said CSM Frank A. Grippe.command sergeant major of I Corps. "This is also an opportunity for all the leaders at the base to thank everyone in our surrounding communities for supporting our Soldiers and their families. Thank you." 

Filed under: Army News, Ceremony, Familes, Olympia,

December 1, 2010 at 11:01pm

U.S. deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

This from American Free Press: WASHINGTON (AFP) - It looks and acts like something best left in the hands of Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo," but this latest dream weapon is real -- and the U.S Army sees it becoming the Taliban's worst nightmare.

The Pentagon has rolled out prototypes of its first-ever programmable "smart" grenade launcher, a shoulder-fired weapon that uses microchipped ammunition to target and kill the enemy, even when the enemy is hidden behind walls or other cover.

After years of development, the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, about the size of a regular rifle, has now been deployed to US units on the battlefields of Afghanistan, where the Army expects it to be a "game-changer" in its counterinsurgency operations.

For more on the XM25, click here.    

December 2, 2010 at 10:53am

Stryker soldier gets 9 months for Afghanistan crimes

This from The News Tribune: A combat medic pleaded guilty today to shooting at unarmed Afghans and lying to officers to cover his tracks, giving the Army its first conviction in its probe of Stryker soldiers who allegedly murdered civilians during their recent deployment to the Middle East.

Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens will serve nine months in a military prison without pay and be demoted to private. He'll be allowed to stay in the Army even though prosecutors wanted him discharged.

He struck a plea agreement that reduced his sentence from the 27 years he had faced if he had been convicted of five charges of misconduct. That deal requires him to testify against his 11 codefendants from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Five face murder charges.

Stevens, 25, sounded remorseful when he addressed the court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Nine witnesses at his court-martial before judge Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks described Stevens as an outstanding combat medic who had a bright future in the Army.

For more on the story, click here.

December 3, 2010 at 9:48am

Army chaplain makes ultimate sacrifice

This from The Los Angeles Times: Reporting from Colorado Springs, Colo. - When Christy Goetz's husband, Dale, told her at the outset of the war in Iraq that he wanted to join the Army to become a chaplain, she rebelled.

"I told him: 'You're not going over there and getting killed,' " Christy Goetz recalled. "I mean, he's my honey. I love him. I don't want anything to happen to him."

Dale Goetz, a Baptist minister, signed up anyway in January 2004. Before long he was Chaplain Goetz, ministering to troops in Iraq later that year and the next. He volunteered for a second combat tour last summer, in Afghanistan.

"I prayed on it and realized that this is what God wants him to do," Christy Goetz recalled. "Who am I to stand in God's way?"

She knew what every chaplain's wife knows: They may carry holy books instead of rifles, but they're still soldiers, and they still tread in harm's way.  

To read the complete story, click here

Filed under: Afghanistan, Deployment,

December 3, 2010 at 9:59am

'Don't Ask' should remain law, top officers say

This from NPR: Some of the nation's top uniformed officers told a Senate panel Friday that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" would be divisive to wartime troops in the field and recommended instead that any change to the law should be pushed to 2012.

The testimony stood in sharp contrast to that given Thursday by their boss - Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Changing the law now "has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat," the Marine commandant, Gen. James Amos, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

President Obama has called on Congress to overturn the current policy. Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed and ordered a 10-month study looking at the attitudes of service members toward gay troops.

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: Army News, News To Us,

December 6, 2010 at 12:31pm

Homeless veteran clothing drive

VetsMeetVets is uniting the communities around Tacoma to assist our homeless Veterans survive a rough winter with its 1st annual Homeless Veteran Clothing Drive on Dec. 10 and 11.

Rod Wittmier, an Army Veteran, created VetsMeetVets in 2009 with the mission to end veteran suicide in the nation (currently at 1 every 80 minutes or 18 / day or 6,570 per year).

"We have studied the disconnect that happens to our veterans on the spiral that ends in suicide and are working proactively to stop that spiral," Wittmier said in release. "Recently we joined forces with the VA in its mission to end Veteran Homelessness within five years. VMV Homeless Veteran Liaisons do the outreach to bring our homeless Veterans to the services of shelters and the VA itself."

VetsMeetVets has joined forces with a local movement called "Blankets for Hope" which is an alliance with Insight School of WA, IQ Academy of WA and the Council for the Homeless to create events on Dec 11 to gather items such as blankets, sleeping bags, coats, hats, gloves/mittens, NEW socks and NEW undergarments, small tarps and single-use hand warmers for our homeless.  Alliance partners are working from Bellevue to Vancouver with VetsMeetVets adding a Veteran focus and covering the Tacoma area with two events; Friday Dec 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Tacoma Dome parking area (with the 'Toys for Tots' team) and Saturday Dec 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Tacoma Mall parking area (near Krispy Kreme).

VetsMeetVets welcomes individuals, organizations and community leaders to join them in this great cause.  Together we can be proactive in the lives of our returning heroes to prevent them from disconnecting from their families, communities and life itself.

For more information on events or how to get involved, call (253) 861-7100 or visit

Filed under: Health, Tacoma, Veterans,

December 6, 2010 at 1:01pm

Stryker soldier waives hearing

This from The News Tribune: A Stryker soldier facing charges that he assaulted a private who blew the whistle on drug use in their platoon during its deployment to Afghanistan this year chose to skip a pretrial hearing scheduled for today and move on directly to a court-martial.

Spc. Corey Moore of Redondo Beach, Calif., is one of a dozen soldiers in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division who await proceedings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for alleged misconduct at Forward Operating Base Ramrod. Five of them stand accused of murdering civilians.

Moore could have used his Article 32 hearing today to gather evidence for his defense. At least two of his co-defendants have elected to waive their Article 32 hearings as well. They're focusing on negotiating plea deals with Army prosecutors.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Army News, Crime, Afghanistan, Strykers,

December 6, 2010 at 2:01pm

Strykers honor Pearl Harbor veteran

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -  The 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment,4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2ndInfantry Division, will conduct a ceremony tomorrow, Dec. 7, to re-issue several combat-related military awards to a veteran of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, at the onset of World War II.  The ceremony will be at 4 p.m. at the Soldiers Field House on JBLM Lewis-Main.

Staff Sgt. Alfred Eye will be re-issued the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge which he originally received for his actions in the Pacific Theater during World War II. A resident of Toledo, Ohio, Eye was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, the day of the attack, and participated in combat operations against the Japanese forces. He subsequently served throughout the Pacific, including the liberation of the Philippines.

The Bonze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge will be re-issued by Lt. Col. Charles Lombardo, the commander of 2-1 Cavalry Squadron.

During Staff Sgt. Eye's six-year Army career (1940-1946) he was also awarded the American Defense Service Medalthe Asiatic-Pacific CampaignMedal (with four bronze service stars), World War II Victory Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon (with one bronze star).

Staff Sgt. Eye is being re-issued the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge because these three awards had gone missing.

Eye's great-grandson, Spc. Nathan Glaser, is currently assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th SBCT, 2ndInf. Div. and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He deployed with the 4th Stryker Brigade to Iraq from August 2009-August 2010.  Spc. Glaser was instrumental in getting his great-grandfather's awards replaced.

Filed under: Ceremony, Veterans,

December 22, 2010 at 5:07pm

Discharged lesbian nurse to attend signing of repeal

SEATTLE - A Washington state flight nurse who sued to win reinstatement to the Air Force is planning to be there when President Obama signs a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

Maj. Margaret Witt, of Spokane, was discharged just short of retirement after the Air Force learned she had been in a relationship with a civilian woman. She sued, and in September U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma found that her dismissal was unconstitutional because it advanced no legitimate military interest.

He ordered that she be reinstated as soon as possible.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Witt, says she flew to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and will attend the ceremony on Wednesday.

Witt says she's excited to be there for all of those who can't be.

She expects to rejoin the Air Force Reserve early next year.

Filed under: Ceremony, News To Us, Tacoma,

December 23, 2010 at 11:37am

Ousted gay troops hope to re-enlist

NEW YORK (AP) - Joseph Rocha reported being cruelly hazed by Navy colleagues. Katherine Miller resigned from West Point halfway through, weary of concealing her sexual orientation. David Hall was outed by a fellow Air Force cadet and booted from the career he loved.

The exits from military service were wrenching consequences of "don't ask, don't tell," the policy prohibiting gay and lesbian personnel from being open about their sexuality. Yet Hall, Rocha and Miller savored military duty and now - with "don't ask, don't tell" heading toward oblivion - they want to return.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: News To Us,

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