Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: June, 2011 (153) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 153

June 1, 2011 at 5:57am

JBLM Army Ranger to be awarded Medal of Honor

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, now serving as part of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., will receive the Medal of Honor July 12. U.S. ARMY


WASHINGTON -- An Army Ranger who lost his right hand after throwing a live grenade away from fellow soldiers will be the second living Medal of Honor recipient from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Army.

On July 12, President Barack Obama will award Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry with the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry, for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktia, Afghanistan, on May 26, 2008.

"It's very humbling to know that the guys thought that much of me and my actions that day, to nominate me for that," Petry was quoted in an Army news release. The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military honor.

On the summer day three years ago, Petry and his soldiers participated in a rare daylight raid to capture a high-value target, the Army said.  At the time Petry was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Petry was to stay with platoon headquarters in a building already deemed safe, but he noted that one of the platoons needed help clearing a building and he made his way there, according to the Army's account.  Once part of the building had been cleared, Petry and Pfc. Lucas Robinson moved to the outer courtyard, which had not been cleared by U.S. soldiers. The pair, both Rangers, encountered three enemy fighters.


June 1, 2011 at 6:09am

Honored JBLM soldier: 'This Memorial Day is the greatest ever'


LACEY, Wash. -- Staff Sgt. Marshall Diaz was honored to cut the ribbon, unveiling his new deck to his family, friends and fellow soldiers in his backyard on Monday. 

"This Memorial Day is the greatest ever," he said. 

Diaz earned a Purple Heart after he injured his knee, back and ankle in a roadside explosion in Afghanistan three years ago. He was in the Warrior Transition Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 

To thank him for his service, the North American Deck and Railing Association started construction on a deck in Diaz's back yard two months ago. They donated the labor, materials and time to honor the American hero.


June 1, 2011 at 6:33am

Some days you have to be an "active" military spouse


Almost all military spouses can be divided up into two categories: passive and active. Recently I've experienced some confusion about which category I belong in. I've always considered myself rather passive when it comes to my position as the soldier's other half. I'm not much into Family Readiness Group meetings - although I probably should be - and I rarely find myself worrying about my husband's upcoming promotions. 

I'd met many active Army wives and our differences were glaringly obvious. Some of you know what I mean when I say (write) "active." Some of you know exactly who I'm talking about; some of you are married to who I'm talking about; and probably all of you have found yourself in the war path of an active...


June 1, 2011 at 6:49am

Close Calls Affect Military Spouses, Too


I knew something was up as soon as I opened the email. It was from my husband, but in place of Sampson's familiar address was the name of one of his squadronmates. In what was obviously a message dashed off in haste on an unfamiliar keyboard, Sampson explained that he was writing from his buddy's cell phone.

"We had an incident, but everyone is ok," he wrote, "safe on deck." He told me that he loved me, and the rest of his day would be busy but he would try to call later.

As I blinked my bleary eyes, I read the email over again. And again, with the strangest sense of muted alarm oozing through my sleep-hazed brain. It was not Sampson's habit to email me after a normal flight; the unusual communication pegged my Something's-Not-Right-O-Meter. I tried to squelch the feeling - he'd said he and the other guys were all right, hadn't he? Logic would dictate that I had no cause to worry after the fact.

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June 1, 2011 at 6:57am

Battle-based gaming a hit in war zone


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - "See, he's cheating," said 2nd Lt. Brent Stolzoff, the recipient of Nace's wrath, accusing him of looking at his and other players' screens while they duke it out in the popular video game Call of Duty: Black Ops.

"Some say it's cheating, but it's all part of the strategy of the game," Nace answered his accuser with a grin.

First-person, shoot ‘em up games such as Call of Duty, where players can either take on game-generated enemies or each other, are wildly popular among many soldiers in Afghanistan.

In the recreation centers at Kandahar Airfield, home to thousands of U.S. and other NATO troops, there are numerous flat-screen television equipped with the latest Sony PlayStations accommodating several "gamers" at a time. Many opt to play the violent variety of games that in recent years have also become a big hit back home.


June 1, 2011 at 7:03am

Gay Archie Comics character takes on Army life


PHILADELPHIA - Kevin Keller may find himself dead square in the national debate over gays in the military all because of his dad.

The Archie Comics character, the company's first openly gay one in its 70 years of publishing, is loud and proud of his dad, a retired Army colonel which, in the pages of his new four-issue miniseries debuting next week, has Archie, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the Riverdale gang puzzled given their pal's sexual orientation.

They're even more perplexed when Kevin's mom calls her son her "future military man" - particularly Veronica.


June 1, 2011 at 7:07am

Ore. lawmakers look to protect sibling soldiers


Oregon National Guard soldiers who have lost a sibling in combat would not have to be deployed under a measure unanimously passed Tuesday by the state Senate.

Under the measure, the Adjutant General will have to notify the governor if a unit is deploying that has a soldier whose brother or sister was killed in service. Current military regulations require a soldier request a waiver to not be deployed if their sibling is killed in service.

"It will be a process that everyone knows will occur, given the circumstance," said Brig. Gen. Mike Caldwell, deputy director of the Oregon Military Department. "...This put the onus on the leadership of the organization, to ferret this out."


June 1, 2011 at 4:51pm

Provost marshal responds to thefts on post, offers up advice

As the Provost Marshal for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I would love to report that things are not being stolen on our installation. The reality, however, is that they are. Unfortunately more than half of the reported thefts were preventable.

Thieves are typically opportunists looking for easy targets. They seek out targets that afford the greatest chance of success with the lowest chance of being caught. If your personal belongings are easily accessible, you become a potential victim. If everyone on JBLM locked up their things, we could cut property crime by at least 50 percent overnight. It really would be that simple.

As I review police reports and travel around the installation, I have observed some consistent areas which are resulting in thefts or easy access for a theft. We call these crime conducive conditions. Below are some of the most common examples on the installation that we have the ability to control:

  • Parked cars with windows down. Even if your belongings are not in plain view, this allows a thief quick and easy access to the inside of your car.
  • Cars parked and left unlocked. We are especially seeing this in the housing area. Thieves are moving down our streets and testing door handles. When they find one that is unlocked, they quickly steal whatever they can get their hands on.
  • High value items left in plain view in cars. The method used by thieves is called the "smash and grab." The unfortunate part for the victim is the loss of personal property and a window in the process.
  • Parked motorcycles with helmets, gloves, jackets and/or backpacks hanging off the handle bars. There aren't too many ways to make it easier for someone to steal your stuff.
  • Phones, watches, wallets, bags, left on park or gym benches while the owner participates in an activity.
  • Phones, watches, wallets, bags, left unattended in gyms or unlocked gym lockers while the owner works out.
  • High value items or cash being left unsecured in barracks rooms. The fact that your door is locked doesn't always prevent someone from gaining access to your room. Once they are in, your stuff is easy prey.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a thief:

  • Lock up your stuff.
  • Do not leave high-value items in your car, especially overnight.
  • Do not leave high-value items in plain sight whenever possible.
  • Do not leave bags, wallets, watches, cell phones lying out when at the gym or participating in an activity.
  • Store high value items and valuables in a locked drawer, wall locker, room safe ... when not in your barracks room.
  • Record serial numbers of high-value items to aid in recovery after a theft.

Preventing property crimes is a team effort. All of us have to do our parts to eliminate the opportunity for thieves to be successful. Report criminal activity if you see it. Start crime prevention programs in your units and consider trying to start one in your neighborhood. Look for and eliminate crime-conducive conditions in your areas to reduce opportunity for theft. If you want some help in that effort, you can contact Chris Owens, JBLM Crime Prevention Officer at 966-9501. Finally and most importantly - lock up your stuff.

June 2, 2011 at 5:41am

Agent Orange allegedly buried in South Korea prompt rapid U.S. response


SEOUL, South Korea - Steve House can't stop thinking about the day in 1978 when he says he helped bury toxic Agent Orange at a U.S. military base in South Korea, hauling rusting drums to a ditch from a warehouse that soldiers called "voodoo land."

After decades of silence and countless hours of suffering that he links to exposure to the dangerous herbicide, House is one of three former American soldiers whose accounts have sparked a joint U.S.-South Korean investigation.

The allegations have set off a media firestorm in South Korea, fueling daily TV news shows, front-page newspaper stories and worries among people near the base about groundwater safety, cancer and drops in land prices.


June 2, 2011 at 6:22am


Help in starting new careers and seeking new jobs after being relocated is now available to military spouses and civilian defense workers residing in Pierce and Thurston counties. The majority of a recent $4.8 million grant will help 825 displaced military spouses who relocated to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) with their husbands or wives between 2005 and now.

"As the host city to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and as one of the economic development partners that applied for the grant, the City of Lakewood is thrilled to be able give back to those who have given so much to our country," said Ellie Chambers-Grady, economic development manager for the City of Lakewood. "Military spouses often times give up their careers to follow and support their spouses. This grant will go a long way in integrating these new residents into our local workforce and adding valuable jobs to our local economy."

The National Emergency Grant was made available through U.S. Department of Labor as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action of 2005 and the subsequent relocation of military personnel and families to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The grant funds will assist BRAC impacted workers upgrade their skills and/or prepare for new careers. Services will include: career coaching, job training, supportive services and employment linkage. The grant also will assist in identifying skill gaps in new and emerging industries critical to the economic growth of Pierce and Thurston counties. It is the goal of the grant program to enroll 825 people into the job assistance program this summer.

From 2003 to 2010, total personnel stationed at JBLM increased by about 38 percent to a total population of more than 45,000. It is estimated that more than 6,000 spouses, family members and contractors will relocate due to these military personnel moving to the joint base.

The grant was awarded to the Washington State Employment Security Department in partnership with WorkForce Central, City of Lakewood, Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, Thurston Economic Development Council and Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board."  WorkForce Central, the workforce investment board for Pierce County, and the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, the workforce investment board for Thurston County, will implement the program at a local level. The Stone Education Center, located on base, serves as the Joint Base Re-employment Center providing easy access to those seeking new jobs in the two-county area.

Individuals interested in participating in the grant program can call (253) 966-7366.  Businesses that are interested in hiring from this talent pool should call (253) 591-5450.

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