Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: January, 2011 (38) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 38

January 3, 2011 at 10:40am

JBLM solider spends time with cancer-stricken wife

This from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Her treatments are the main reason Bill Caudle signed up to join the Army on May 13, 2009, his 39th birthday. That decision is the reason he won't be there the next morning when she asks the doctor what comes next.

Still, Michelle is glad to have him home, if only on a four-day pass from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It is a comfort to have him beside her when the bad news lands.

Another comfort rests in the crook of her arm: her first grandchild, 3-month-old Trevor, son of her oldest daughter, Alysha, 22.

To read the entire story, click here.

Filed under: Army News, Familes, News To Us, Tacoma,

January 3, 2011 at 10:53am

Stars and Stripes: JBLM 'most troubled base in military'

This from Stars and Stripes: Plagued by one scandal after another, from violent mental breakdowns to steroid abuse and allegations of killing for sport, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state this year developed a reputation as the most troubled base in the military.

As the year wound down, the Army was conducting a top-to-bottom review of the 5th Stryker Brigade amid reports of misconduct from a wide swath of its soldiers and a failure of its leaders to curtail the issues.

To read the entire report, click here.

January 4, 2011 at 8:19am

Army sergeant charged in burgulary

This from The Olympian: OLYMPIA - A 25-year-old sergeant at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was arrested at his in-laws' Olympia home near Black Lake early New Year's Day after witnesses said he entered a neighbor's house uninvited and brandished a handgun, court papers state.

Sgt. Joseph Lee Winkelman, who returned to Olympia in August after a one-year deployment to Iraq with a Stryker brigade, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree burglary. He was in the process of being released from the Thurston County Jail on Monday on his personal recognizance, meaning he did not have to post bail. 

When Thurston County sheriff's deputies made contact with the soldier, he was holding a pistol to his own head. The soldier set the gun down after the deputies ordered him to do so at gunpoint, Thurston County sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said.

For more on the story, click here.

Filed under: Crime, Fort Lewis, Deployment, Olympia,

January 5, 2011 at 12:02pm

Stryker soldier court-martial case update

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -The Special Court-Martial case of U.S. vs. Cpl. Emmitt R. Quintal began at 9 a.m. this morning. Quintal is one of seven 5th Stryker Brigade Soldiers facing charges of serious misconduct while deployed in Afghanistan and is the second to face a Court-Martial.   

Cpl. Quintal's case was referred to a Special Court-Martial after the General Court-Martial Convening Authority reviewed the charges and evidence against Cpl. Quintal, and the recommendation of the Staff Judge Advocate. 

Charges against Cpl. Quintal include:

  • One specification of conspiracy to commit assault and battery, UCMJ Article 81
  • One specification of unlawfully striking another Soldier, Article 128
  • One specification of wrongfully using a schedule I controlled substance, UCMJ Article 112a
  • One specification of wrongfully endeavoring to impede an investigation, UCMJ Article 134
  • One specification of violating a general order, UCMJ Article 92

If convicted of all charges (and specifications), the maximum punishment Cpl. Quintal faces under Special Court-Martial sentencing is a Bad Conduct Discharge, confinement for up to twelve months, reduction in pay grade to E-1 (enlisted members only) and forfeiture of 2/3 base pay per month for a period of twelve months and/or an equivalent fine.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord officials emphasize that the charges are merely an accusation and that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Filed under: Crime, News To Us, Fort Lewis, Strykers,

January 6, 2011 at 10:55am

Stryker soldier discharged for misconduct

This from The News Tribune: Spc. Emmitt Quintal, 22, was given a bad-conduct discharge at a court-martial Wednesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

He also must do hard labor for 90 days and take a demotion to private for frequently using drugs during his combat deployment, joining an assault on a comrade and keeping digital photos of Afghan casualties.

He pleaded guilty to those three offenses, as well as a conspiracy charge related to the assault.

"I have put discredit not only on myself and my family, but also on the uniform I wear every day," Quintal said in the courtroom.

It could have been worse for the soldier from Weston, Ore. He negotiated a pre-trial agreement that capped his punishment and required him to testify at hearings for his codefendants in an Army war crimes investigation.

To read the complete story, click here.

January 7, 2011 at 12:15pm

Gates outlines ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal process

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2011 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday described the Pentagon's three-step process for preparing to allow gays to serve openly in the military services.    

At a Pentagon news conference with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gates updated reporters on the department's plan for implementing repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which has been in effect since 1993 and remains in effect until the process is complete.

"Our goal here is to move as quickly, but as responsibly, as possible," Gates said. "I see this as a three-step process. The first is to finalize changes in regulations [and] policies [and] get clearer definition on benefits."

The second phase is to prepare training materials for use by personnel specialists, chaplains, commanders and other leaders, and those who are in daily contact with service members, he said.

The third phase, the secretary explained, is the actual training for service members.

"We're trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible," he said. "My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks, so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people."

To read the complete story, click here.

January 10, 2011 at 8:45am

Health plan to remain free for troops, officials emphasize

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Though Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seeks modest premium increases for working-age military retirees who use the TRICARE Prime health plan, the benefit will remain free to service members, defense officials emphasized Jan. 7.

Secretary Gates unveiled sweeping, cost-cutting initiatives Jan. 6, including a recommendation to increase TRICARE Prime premiums for working-age retirees in fiscal 2012, the first increase in the plan's 15-year history.

"For some time, I've spoken about the department's unaffordable health costs, and in particular the benefits provided to working-age retirees under the TRICARE program," he said.

"Many of these beneficiaries are employed full-time while receiving their full pensions, and often forego their employers' health plan to remain with TRICARE," he said. "This should not come as a surprise, given that the current TRICARE enrollment fee was set in 1995 at $460 a year for the basic family plan, and has not been raised since."

Secretary Gates noted the dramatic increase in insurance premiums during that period for private-sector and other government employees. Federal workers pay roughly $5,000 a year for a comparable health insurance program, he said.  

For more on the story, click here

Filed under: Benefit, Familes, News To Us,

January 10, 2011 at 4:37pm

Rally planned to stop deportation of Army veteran

I received this today from a group calling itself "Keep Zahid Home."

Veterans, along with friends and neighbors of disabled US military veteran Spc. Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry will protest outside the Seattle Immigration Court building from noon to 1 p.m. prior to Chaudhry's deportation hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Supporters of Chaudhry are calling on elected representatives to take action to prevent the deportation of the decorated veteran and valued community member.

Chaudhry is a legal permanent resident who served in the U.S. Army and National Guard until he was honorably discharged due to injuries sustained in the military that left him in a wheelchair. Despite his qualified military service and despite being married to a U.S. citizen for ten years, Chaudhry has been forced to resist wrongful deportation to Pakistan and fight for his right to remain in the United States.

In his struggle to remain home with his family, Chaudhry has received letters of support and recommendations for citizenship from U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Congressman Doc Hastings, Washington State legislators, as well as from a former immigration adjudicator. His ordeal was profiled in the Yakima Herald Republic in an article that was subsequently picked up by the Associated Press and has been featured in news outlets across the country.

Yet deportation proceedings have continued against him. As a result, friends and neighbors of the Chaudhrys have organized the "Keep Zahid Home" campaign with the intention of making it clear that the Chaudhrys are valued members of the community who should not be forced to leave.

"This is a man who has always come to the U.S. legally and is a legal permanent resident," says Keep Zahid Home organizer Wendy Tanowitz. "Our government has a reputation for not fulfilling its promises to its veterans. The treatment of Zahid Chaudhry, who served in the military until injuries made him no longer valuable and who is now being threatened with deportation, does nothing to improve the government's image."

The Keep Zahid Home campaign calls on elected representatives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prevent the deportation of this valued friend and neighbor who has done so much for our country.

Following the Jan. 12 rally, Spc. Chaudhry will attend a master calendar hearing in Immigration Court to determine the status of his deportation proceedings.

For more information, visit www.keepzahidhome.org.       

Filed under: Army News, Ceremony,

January 11, 2011 at 9:10am

Defense official outlines pay freeze details

WASHINGTON (AFPS) -- Defense Department civilian employees affected by the federal pay freeze for 2011 and 2012 will still have the opportunity to receive performance awards, promotions and normal longevity increases, a senior defense official said.

Pasquale M. Tamburrino Jr., the deputy under secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said senior leaders are working to ensure that employees are treated fairly during the freeze.

"We value the contributions of our career federal employees, and we value their service to the nation," he said. "Nothing has changed there." 

From the time the pay freeze was announced, the emphasis has been on ensuring all federal employees receive equal treatment, he said.

"Whether you're the most junior civil servant on the first day of the job or you're a member of the executive leadership team, it applies to you," he said. 

Defense leaders, he noted, have been "very clear" in directing that the freeze should affect all employees equally.

"Not everything is covered by statute," Mr. Tamburrino said, noting that heads of agencies have some administrative discretion in some dimensions of pay. 

Guidance on the pay freeze instructs agency heads to manage administrative privileges the same way the president treated general pay increases in the executive order, he said.    

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: Benefit, Defense News, Honors,

January 11, 2011 at 12:15pm

5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment returns from deployment

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - About 280 Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment will be reunited with friends and families at a "welcome home" ceremony currently scheduled for 3 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Wilson Gym on JBLM Lewis-North.

The unit deployed in January 2010 and has spent the past year spread across 15 different locations in Iraq, from Mosul in the north to the southern city of Basra, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. 

The JBLM Soldiers were part of a larger air defense task force while in Iraq known as Joint Task Force 5-5 ADA which totaled almost 430 Soldiers and Sailors whose mission was to provide Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) "sense and warn" capabilities to detect incoming indirect fire attacks and to alert forces.  In various locations throughout Iraq, JTF 5-5 ADA also had the capability to intercept and destroy incoming indirect fire, protecting mission essential assets.

This was the unit's third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They completed their second deployment in May 2008.

Filed under: Army News, Deployment, Iraq,

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