Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: April, 2013 (28) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 28

April 1, 2013 at 6:37am

JBLM Mystery solved: The case of the missing rock

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO Super sleuth, and JBLM DPW employee, John Perez, left, helped find a missing monument for members of 5-5 ADA, including, from left, Spc. Savannah Banks, Staff Sgt. Michael Schillinger, Staff Sgt. John Greaves, Spc. Stephanie Hendr

An enduring mystery on Joint Base Lewis-McChord was recently solved thanks to a little sleuthing by a JBLM facilities technician with a good memory.

It all started three years ago when Duane Denfield, an architectural historian with JBLM's cultural resources management program, began a hunt on Lewis North for a 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment monument that was somehow misplaced in the late 1990s.

Losing the monument was puzzling, since it was a hand-painted boulder weighing in at about 3 to 4 tons. But construction in the 1990s on then-North Fort Lewis resulted in the rock's relocation to a spot where it wouldn't interfere with construction crews tearing down buildings. And as with car keys and birth certificates, no one could remember to where the boulder had been moved.

Enter JBLM Directorate of Public Works employee and retired Sgt. 1st Class John Perez, a member of the 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, a unit stationed at Fort Lewis until April 1988. In late 1988 or early 1989, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment moved into the buildings formerly occupied by 1-4 ADA, Perez said, and a short time later 5-5 ADA created its own rock monument.

But comparing maps of North Fort Lewis from the 1990s with more recent ones shows a completely different installation. Most of the barracks, offices and parade grounds of 20 years ago no longer exist. With all the new buildings and roads, locating the lost monument was a challenge.

Perez told his Denfield in conversations about their past experiences that he had been an air defender at Fort Lewis. Denfield mentioned the rock, and although Perez was with a different ADA unit and had no prior knowledge of the monument, he had a sense he knew exactly where to look for it.

"It was just coincidence that they were looking for an air defense artillery monument," Perez said. "I knew where the old 5-5 ADA unit footprint was. I went out looking for it based on what (Denfield) told me and I drove right up to it. It was in an area that is now an open field instead of next to buildings where it was thought to be."

A unit that goes way back

The 5-5 ADA was constituted in 1861 as Battery H, 5th Regiment of Artillery. The unit participated in some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, including Antietam, Gettysburg and Fredericksburg. Forty years later, the unit became a coastal artillery unit until 1944, when it was inactivated.

It was reconstituted in 1950 in time for the Korean War, and after several redesignations became the 5-5 ADA in 1968. In 1971, the unit split into field artillery and air defense artillery, but a realignment of air defense and field artillery under the fires concept in recent years created new brigades that reintegrated the two branches, Perez said.

5-5 ADA is now part of 17th Fires Brigade, 7th Infantry Division.

"So for me, the branch came full circle because I started out in artillery and became air defense and now the two have joined again," he said.

Now that the monument has been found, the real mystery is when it was made and the identity of the person or people who made it. In 1988, the 5-5 ADA was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea and was made up of five batteries. One of those, C Battery, a Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle unit, was stationed at Fort Lewis in 1988 or soon after. The entire battalion didn't move to Fort Lewis until 2005 and the construction that misplaced the monument occurred in the late 1990s, so it's likely that the monument was created by C Battery of 5-5 ADA.

"It's a typical thing that units do, creating their own monuments," Perez said. "A unit created some history here and they memorialized it in this stone. But because there has been some construction, over the course of many years the stewardship of this monument has been lost."

Moving day

The rock itself is painted with the symbol of the ADA - crossed cannons and a missile - in white paint. There are also words painted in red, but years of Western Washington weather have either faded the paint or allowed moss to grow over it, leaving the letters indistinguishable.

A crew moved the heavy boulder March 22 from where it was found by Perez - south of the Lewis North traffic circle on East Drive near a physical training course - to the current headquarters of 5-5 ADA on the corner of 32nd Division Drive and 8th Street on Lewis North - where it belonged.

The unit will eventually try to restore the painting while preserving the original artwork, Perez said. They also hope to memorialize the history of the unit on a brass plaque and attach it to the rock. Battalion executive officer, Maj. Jeff Hazard, said they will have a rededication ceremony at a later date.

The rock is important to 5-5 ADA, Perez said, because the battalion traces its lineage to the unit that first painted the rock, reconnecting with its history.

"The more prestigious a unit is the more likely it's going to have longevity," Perez said. "Here's another unit that is still here because (it has) a significant history. That's the reason they continue on."

April 1, 2013 at 6:43am

JBLM fishing rules consolidated

All the growth and change on Joint Base Lewis-McChord has made it hard to know where to catch a fish. Multiple agencies have published rules in the past about where, when and how to go about landing your limit on the installation.

To avoid confusion about access to angling locations on base, JBLM recently consolidated, clarified and republished sections of the installation's fishing rules.

As a controlled use area, JBLM encompasses thousands of acres - many suitable for recreation if correct protocols are followed. With the opening of fishing season in April, it's important for sportsmen to know fishing policies on base and avoid law enforcement citations.

JBLM Regulation 215-1, in effect since Jan. 1, explains access to fishing areas on JBLM for Department of Defense personnel and family members along with non-DOD personnel. While there are differences, all sportsmen fishing JBLM waters must carry valid Washington state fishing licenses.

"We reworded it to have more clarity and to identify specifically, as the current (regulation) states, who must have an area access permit and who must not," JBLM Skeet/Trap Shooting Complex Facility Manager Dave Pedroza said.

DOD personnel and their family members are allowed to fish all the lakes and streams on JBLM unless the area is otherwise posted as closed. Area access recreational use permits for fishing are not required under JBLM Reg. 215-1 for active duty military, retired military, appropriated and non-appropriated fund employees, their immediate family members or the accompanied guests of the ID card holder in the following waters: American Lake, Cat Lake, Lewis Lake, Chambers Lake, Sequalitchew Lake, Vietnam Village Marsh, Johnson Marsh, Shannon Marsh, Wright Marsh, Solo Point and the Nisqually River.

Two non-DOD guests are authorized per ID card holder, whose vehicle must have a valid DOD sticker.

Non-DOD personnel are required to obtain an area access recreation use permit and are restricted to American Lake, Chambers Lake and the Nisqually River. Permits can be obtained at the Range Control Area Access Section in Building 4074 on JBLM.

Area access permits are required for all individuals who desire to use the JBLM training areas for other recreational activities: hiking, horseback riding, dog training, photography, and wildlife and vegetation observation. They must also check in and out with Range Control.

While the fishing policies detail a list of fishing opportunities on the installation, some of the bodies of water might not contain fish. One of the most popular fishing spots on base, including 347 on Lewis North, is a 1,123-acre area at American Lake, extending to a maximum depth of 90 feet. Outdoor Recreation participates in a state program in which they feed juvenile fish all winter and release them into American Lake in April at the start of the season. About 55,000 rainbow trout will be released next month, said Laura Lad, director of Outdoor Recreation. American Lake is the only JBLM lake that is stocked.

Other popular fishing areas include Chambers Lake (100 acres), Lewis Lake (54 acres) and the kid-friendly pond at Holiday Park on McChord Field.

There are also areas of water on training areas 19 and 23 that look as if they might hold fish. Those bodies of water require area access permits to fish.

JBLM Director of Law Enforcement Mathew Toth said most of those breaking the fishing regulations have been fishermen unfamiliar with JBLM, rather than on-base residents. Typically when JBLM officials find people in restricted areas, they direct the offenders to leave. If it is not the trespasser's first incident, he or she might be cited. And if the trespasser is caught poaching or stealing range materials, it's a criminal case.

Whether or not JBLM fishing enthusiasts require range access permits, Toth encourages everyone to be safe when using the recreation areas.

"If you do fishing or any other activity in or around the training areas, whether or not you need to check in with Range Control, please make sure someone in your immediate family or unit knows exactly where you're going," he said. "We do get cases of people getting lost and cell phone coverage can be sporadic."

April 1, 2013 at 6:45am

Coed touch rugby league scheduled to begin at JBLM

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO Coed touch rugby provides “something more athletic-wise for these (young people) to do,” says Nick Punimata, second from left.

With the spring JBLM intramural sports season underway, longtime JBLM rugby coach Nick Punimata wants to offer another option for those not interested in soccer or cross-country.

JBLM stadium manager Otis Sistrunk suggested that he organize a coed touch rugby league.

"It's something more athletic-wise for these (young people) to do," Punimata said.

Touch rugby is popular in Seattle and Punimata hopes it will catch on at JBLM. To introduce the sport, Punimata is hosting a touch rugby clinic April 5 at Cowan Stadium from 6 to 9 p.m. All experience levels are welcome to the orientation/clinic that will prepare athletes for league play. The new league is scheduled to open its season April 12.

Anyone 17 years old and older is welcome to participate, and it's open to males and females, active duty or non-military. The three-hour clinic will explain rules, tournament format, social aspects and the background of the game. Running shoes or cleats are recommended.

Punimata hopes to generate enough interest to put together at least six teams for the monthlong season. The Cowan Stadium surface will be split into two playing fields to allow for simultaneous games for Friday night tournaments. Each team will play at least three matches in an evening. After a month, Punimata will assess the participation level on JBLM and decide where to take touch rugby from there.

Two civilian teams have already expressed interest, along with teams from military units.

Punimata, who retired from the Army last week after 30 years of service, still plans to stay involved in the JBLM rugby scene.

"We're putting our roots down here," he said. "I'm not going anywhere."

April 1, 2013 at 6:47am

Western Regional Medical Command highlights collaborations, critical partnerships

Army physician and commanding general of the Western Regional Medical Command (WRMC), Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, spoke to a captivated audience comprised of business and community leaders on March 13 at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber military forum.

Established at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in July of 2009, the WRMC was fully operational by October 2010. There are 11 medical facilities under its auspices that cover the western United States, from Alaska and Hawaii to west Texas.  

Along with providing a history and overview of Army medicine and the kinds of services his teams provide, Thomas highlighted the strong collaborations, partnerships and gratitude to the community that keep WRMC processes and programs going strong.

One of the strengths of the organization is its very origins. In essence, Army medicine has been rooted in our country's foundations and has existed since 1775. It's a history and tradition of focus, commitment and quality care that resonates today more than ever before.

While Army medicine is considered one of the largest "healthcare organizations in the nation," Thomas sees the program as more.

"We are bigger, busier and better," he said. "We deploy our services to 160 countries around the world and provide very good medicine in some very bad places. There are still about 60,000 troops in Afghanistan. As the numbers change going forward, the medics are still going to be the last ones out."

While Thomas admits there is lots of work to do, he and his teams are ready to meet the challenges.

"We have a tradition of excellence and are looking to new initiatives, collaboration within the branches of service, and key partnerships in the community, universities and other entities to address our growing demands," he said.

With about 400,000 people receiving care through the overall program, demand is certain. Thomas provided a snapshot of a day in the life of the WRMC, and the numbers are interesting: Every day, there are nearly 2,000 clinic visits, 25 births, about 5,000 radiology procedures, nearly 20,000 pharmacy prescriptions filled, about 18,000 lab procedures, close to 5,000 immunizations, and 113 inpatient admissions. Add 33 narrative summaries of Soldiers transitioning back to civilian life to the mix and it's clear.

This is an enormous operation.

Thomas said it takes about 300 new doctors per year to keep up with the volume.

With the new Ready and Resilient Campaign (R2C) in place, teams are looking at ways to address the care and needs of those it serves. Some of the programs are operating around preventive medicine, embedded behavioral health programs at deployment and more follow up downrange that recognize "invisible wounds." The programs offer innovative programs using technology and other tools to help people heal, pain management initiatives and processes that take innovative and holistic approaches, and child and family assistance centers.  

Throughout last week's presentation, there were two important words that resonated very clearly with the patrons of the forum: partnership and collaboration.

Thomas shared examples of where collaboration and partnerships are creating win-win solutions for patients and providers alike. In the field of traumatic brain injury, for instance, there is a superb treatment and rehabilitation center in Maryland. Due to connections with community leaders, universities, and other civilian partnerships here locally, there will be a satellite program breaking ground this calendar year at JBLM to provide the same kinds of care.

There's more.

"The number one reason people seek medical care is for pain management," Thomas said. "We are partnering with Seattle's Bastyr College and the University of Washington to look at alternative medicine and other practices to help provide holistic approaches for managing pain. It's okay to look outside at other alternatives ... Our long standing relationships with places like universities, the VA and other civilian settings for training, research and project collaborations create excellence."

More collaboration, finding common ground with the other service branches in delivering healthcare, and learning from each other will continue.

JBLM is the largest installation on the West Coast, and people come here not only to receive care, but also to retire.  Approximately 50 percent of Soldiers are married with families, and the Madigan Healthcare System is a significant employer to a number of local civilians. These facts illustrate the numbers of people in the local area who are touched by healthcare -- and the numbers will continue to grow.

Community support during this growth is important.  

"These are the people that live right here in your community," Thomas said.  "Thank you for your ongoing support. Thanks for being here to work with us. We can't do it without you."

April 2, 2013 at 7:40am

Military Month of Child Salutes Children's Contributions

During April's Month of the Military Child, the Defense Department recognizes the support provided by and sacrifices made by military children, said Barbara Thompson, director of DOD's office of family policy/children and youth.

Since 1983, DOD has recognized military children for the support they provide to their families. There are now 1.8 million children in the military system, Thompson said.

"Military children, youth and teens are an integral part of their military parent because they stand by them, they're proud of them, they recognize their sacrifices and they take on additional responsibilities to meet the needs of their families," she said.

Military children also receive national-level recognition, Thompson said. Following a presidential study directive in January 2011, she said, the cabinet secretaries signed a level of support from their departments to military communities.

Based on that directive, DOD has partnered with the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to increase the availability of high-quality child care off the installation, she said, adding that 66 percent of military families live off base.

Thompson said she hopes civilian communities will also reach out to military children.

"Our military children are embedded in their school systems and their neighborhoods," she said.

Military installations will celebrate the Month of the Military Child with activities such as parades, face painting, carnivals and other events that children enjoy, Thompson said. Activities information, she said, will be available through base newspapers, youth centers, child development center and family support centers.

Even though the number of children with a deployed parent has decreased because of the U.S. military's drawdown in Afghanistan, military families continue to face deployments, humanitarian missions and training, Thompson said.

"Regardless of the mission military families are separated and it's during times of holidays" and children's birthdays, she said.

"That's why we recognize that children serve, too," Thompson said.

April 4, 2013 at 6:44am

Commissaries celebrate April: Month of Military Child with specials

April is the Month of the Military Child, and your commissary is celebrating with giveaways and savings for the whole family - pets included!

"Children in military households face unique challenges because of the demands of military life," said Joyce Chandler, DeCA's acting sales director.

"So, at the Defense Commissary Agency, we want to acknowledge them and do all we can to provide their families with great values on quality products they can depend upon."

DeCA's industry partners - vendors, suppliers and brokers - are collaborating with commissaries in April to offer discounts beyond everyday savings. Overseas stores may have substitute events for certain promotional programs. Customers are asked to check their local commissary for details on dates and times for the following promotions:

  • Nestle Purina Pet Care Company is hosting "Purina: Your Pet, Our Passion" by offering commissary shoppers at participating stores a chance to win a battery-operated, motorized, children's tractor (retail value $200) along with savings on Purina Pet brands April 11-24. One winner per store will be chosen the last week of April.
  • Eggo Waffles and Breyer's Ice Cream are teaming up for a recipe contest April 11-24. Details of "The Great Eggo Waffle Off Contest" are featured on packages of six-, eight- and 10-count waffles. The recipe contest is Facebook-driven and featured on both Eggo and Breyer's Facebook sites. Product demonstrations in stores will show shoppers how to make fun recipe creations, and there will be in-store coupons for $1 off the purchase of Eggo and Breyer's items.
  • S & K Sales Company is sponsoring the "Salute to Military Families" promotion March 21 to May 8. More than 650,000 promotional flyers will be distributed in stores worldwide. A portion of each name brand's sales will be donated to the National Military Family Association. Last year the promotion resulted in a $256,000 donation to the NMFA.
  • Keebler's 14th Annual Hollow Tree promotion will feature in-store displays on certain discounted Keebler products April 11-24.
  • "Child Hunger Ends Here" is ConAgra Food's initiative supporting "Feeding America." The "Feeding America" network features more than 200 food banks across the country and supplies food to more than 37 million Americans each year - some 14 million children and 3 million seniors, including military families. Here's how it works: Shoppers who purchase specially marked Con Agra Food products can enter their product codes at" rel="external" href="" target="_blank"> to activate meal donations. Customers can also donate meals to "Feeding America" by redeeming ConAgra Foods commissary coupons available in stores via tear pads on specially marked displays. For each coupon redeemed, there will be a donation of $1 to "Feeding America," and $10,000 equates to 80,000 meals.

"As we honor the Month of the Military Child, don't miss out on these opportunities to save even more," Chandler said. "For everyone in the family, the commissary is always worth the trip."

April 4, 2013 at 7:18am

Admiral Olson slated to speak at April Kiwanis event

It's been a big life so far for retired U.S. Navy Admiral Eric T. Olson. The facts say it all.

During more than 38 years of military service, Olson served in special operations units, earning several decorations for leadership and valor. He was the first Navy SEAL to earn the rank of 3-star and 4-star admiral.

From 2007 to 2011, Olson served as commander of the United States Special Operations Command and was responsible for leading, mentoring, and training our country's elite Special Operations Forces during a critical time in our country and in the world.

He's often been described as one of this century's great military leaders and is credited with some of the most notable military operations during the last decade.

After retiring from the Navy in 2011, Olson has served as consultant, director and instructor for a variety of business, charitable, educational and other organizations.

Whether you hear it from his family, a high-ranking official or a peer, Olson is as noted for his abilities, leadership and skill as he is for his kindness, likability and humility. Indeed, all of these are hallmarks of an extraordinary person.

Yet, there's one more thing that is extra-special about Eric Olson when it comes to the local area: He's a native son.  

Born and raised in Tacoma and a graduate of Tacoma's Stadium High School, Olson comes from a family of civic and community leaders who have served Tacoma and the surrounding communities proudly for many years.

Locals will soon have an opportunity to welcome this native son home while supporting the dedicated efforts of The Kiwanis Club of Tacoma Foundation and it's bevy of good works on behalf of children.

The Kiwanis Club of Tacoma is pleased to present retired Adm. Eric T. Olson for an exclusive speaking engagement on April 11 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College. Doors open at 6 p.m.

For his presentation, "The World at Night: Special Operations and Future Threats," Olson will speak to a changing world.

"We've seen the world change and there are now different factors at play," Olson said. "I plan to draw on my experiences to tell the story. Additionally, in building teams over the years, I'll share some of the things that led to success."

Event patrons will also have the chance to participate in a question and answer session with the admiral for part of the evening. Olson welcomes and looks forward to engaging with the audience, but also is eager to share his personal message of appreciation for Servicemembers.

"It's a complex world, and the expectations are hot and heavy," Olson said. "We will ask a lot of them and we appreciate everything they do."

For its part, the Kiwanis Club of Tacoma Foundation is glad to have Olson on board.

"We are so thrilled to be able to offer to the community a chance to hear and ask questions of this great military leader who has done so very much for all of us," said Mary Agnew, one of the event organizers and  the foundation's fundraising chairperson.

The event team has planned some extra things to mark this special occasion and give it a hometown touch.  Members of the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) from Stadium High School will post the colors at the beginning of the evening. The Washington State American Legion Band (formed in 1924) has put together a special brass ensemble just for the occasion. Finally, thanks to the generosity of event sponsors, a large number of local high school JROTC members will be able to attend at no cost. As many as 200 cadets, who will serve as ushers, are expected to attend.

The major event sponsor is McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College. The JROTC sponsors are Harborstone Credit Union, ACU Credit Union, Davies Pearson Attorneys, and GEICO Local Office, Rick Stevens, agent.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students, seniors (age 60 and over) and active-duty and retired military. Tickets are available for purchase online at

The event venue will offer festival seating so plan accordingly. For those wishing to attend the event as a large group, contact for more information. Additionally, light refreshments will be available for purchase.

Event organizers recommend that patrons purchase their tickets early due to the anticipated event response.

All proceeds from the event will benefit The Kiwanis Club of Tacoma Foundation.

Kiwanis is an international club formed in 1918 dedicated to saving the children of the world through a variety of programs, services and support. The longtime Kiwanis Club of Tacoma Foundation branch supports local children through a variety of projects aimed at helping children thrive mentally, emotionally and physically.

The Olson family

Helping children and helping the community is something the Olson family holds dear.

At a Kiwanis Club of Tacoma Foundation fundraising meeting, someone suggested that there should be an event featuring a famous keynote speaker that would benefit the 2013 children's program.

Club Vice President Kurt Olson offered up his brother.  

Adm. Olson not only answered the call, but also was honored to help.

This came as no surprise to many, as Olson and his family are deeply committed to service and helping others.

In addition to the admiral's distinguished career, Kurt Olson, along with their mother, Dawn Lucien, have taken on leadership roles of their own in our community.

Kurt Olson not also serves with Kiwanis, but was on the ground floor of the Safe Streets campaign in Tacoma organizing 30 neighborhoods throughout the city. He also serves on the board of the Tacoma Historical Society and is a volunteer baseball coach.

Lucien has been a civic leader and pioneer in the city of Tacoma who at one time served on nearly 20 boards.

"I grew up with parents in public service and who held office," Adm. Olson said. "It is definitely in the DNA and being of service stems from early childhood.  The community of Tacoma is special in that not only is it a patriotic community, it is also a community committed to grass roots efforts."

Kurt Olson remembers their late father was always busy helping and serving others as well.

"Eric and I didn't have a chance," he said with a smile. "There was always a family desire to help others."

Both Olson brothers will continue their good works. Since his retirement from the military, Adm. Olson has added the ability to take on new challenges and projects.

"Today, I balance doing different things and exploring things that I didn't have time to do in uniform."

Without a doubt, whatever paths he chooses, that big life will continue on.

April 5, 2013 at 6:57am

Quick thinking guards help deliver baby at Madigan Gate entrance

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO “It went by really fast. I was just trying to fall back on what the next step was,” said Pvt. Marvin Frisby.

She was born Sophia Hope Hernandez. But for the first couple days of life, she was known simply as the "gate baby."

The baby girl made an early debut - four days to be exact - at JBLM's Madigan Army Medical Center gate March 27.

Dionne Hernandez, an Army spouse stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, was at her mother's house in Spanaway when her water broke. Yvonne Chisa rushed her daughter to Madigan, but Sophia just couldn't wait. With the quick thinking and assistance of a 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Soldier and a civilian gate guard, Sophia Hope was born at about 9:30 p.m. in the front seat of Chisa's van.

"They took charge of the situation," Chisa said. "It was so much of a relief to know, even though they said they'd never had a baby birth before, they totally took charge. They made us feel reassured that we didn't have to worry anymore. They can handle emergencies of all kinds."

Hernandez's first pregnancy was an easy one. She didn't experience morning sickness or swelling, and her first contractions began March 27 - Sophia's birth day. Hernandez was getting out of the shower that evening when her water broke. As Chisa drove Hernandez to the hospital, the mom-to-be could feel the baby crowning as they approached the gate.

Chisa explained to the gate guard her daughter was in labor and parked the van by the guard house while a guard called in a medical emergency. Chisa described the next 20 minutes as mayhem.

Officer William Britton had an hour left on his shift and Pvt. Marvin Frisby was on break from guard duty when the van pulled in. Frisby, a Soldier with the 2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., is a certified emergency medical technician, but never worked as one.

"I learned what I was supposed to do, but I had never done it," Frisby said.

The Soldier and Britton ran outside to the van and began directing Hernandez to the back seat of the van where she would be more comfortable, but as Hernandez turned to move, Sophia entered the world. Hernandez caught her in a pajama pant leg and held her there while Britton and Frisby unwound the umbilical cord wrapped around Sophia's neck.

"It went by really fast," Frisby said. "I was just trying to fall back on what the next step was."

The young Soldier had barely served a year before delivering a baby while on duty. He said the experience validated his aspiration to become a nurse. Hernandez and Chisa said they are grateful for his initiative during the delivery.

"We have a really good outcome because he did all the right steps," Chisa said. "If he didn't act quickly, it could have been another situation."

Britton has been a civilian gate guard for about five years, and said the experience is a unique first for him. "This was one time I went home after work and felt really good about what had transpired that day," he said.

Just minutes after Sophia was delivered, Capt. Aaron Birch, a Madigan emergency room doctor, was entering the gate to start his night shift. He pulled over and assisted Hernandez and Sophia until the ambulance arrived. Once they were settled in at Madigan, word quickly spread about the baby born at the gate.

"When I would check in they would say, ‘Oh, you're here to see the gate baby,'" Chisa said.

Hernandez's husband, Kevin Hernandez, is deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment. The couple planned for Dionne to send Kevin an emergency Red Cross message when her water broke and another message once the baby was born.

"I figured I'd have more time, but she just came so fast I didn't have time to tell anyone," she said.

After Sophia was born, Dionne notified her husband through a Facebook message, where she also posted a photo of their 5 pound, 15 ounce newborn.

"She looks like her daddy," Chisa said.

Dionne moved up to Spanaway to stay with her Family and await the baby's birth during the deployment.

Once the Hernandez Family is reunited, the three will return to Texas and then move on to Alaska.

April 5, 2013 at 7:12am

Sgt. Joshua Andrew to represent JBLM at Warrior Games

The Warrior Transition Command announced the Army team for the 2013 Warrior Games, here, today.

Wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans trained and competed for months to be one of 50 athletes representing the Army team. Army athletes will compete against Marines Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and United Kingdom teams, May 11-16, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Paralympic-style competition for wounded, ill and injured service members allows athletes to compete for gold medals in shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track and field and wheelchair basketball. In addition to winners in each event, Warrior Games feature a pentathlon format Ultimate Warrior competition and the Chairman's Cup which is awarded to the team with the highest medal score.

Warrior Games showcase the resilient spirit of wounded, ill, and injured service members from all branches of the military who have overcome significant physical and behavioral health challenges.

The 2013 Army Warrior Games Team:

Charles Allen -- Army veteran
Spc. Quintarious Almon -- Community Based Warrior Transition Unit-Alabama
Staff Sgt. Spencer Anderson II -- Fort Carson, Colo.
Sgt. Joshua Andrew -- Warrior Transition Unit, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash.
Maj. John Arbino -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Belvoir, Va.
Charles Armstead -- Army veteran
Spc. Alaina Barnes -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Knox, Ky.
Capt. Frank Barroqueiro -- Community Based Warrior Transition Unit-Florida
Spc. Jon Brancheau -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Bliss, Texas
Staff Sgt. David Carte -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Bliss, Texas
Ashley Crandall -- Army veteran
Staff Sgt. Krisell Creager-Lumpkins -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Carson, Colo.
Maj. Thomas Davis -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Lt. Col. Daniel Dudek -- Warrior Transition Command, Alexandria, Va.
Staff Sgt. Carlton Duncan -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Chanda Gaeth -- Army veteran
Master Sgt. Rhoden Galloway -- Warrior Transition Command, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
James Green Jr. -- Army veteran
Michael Grover-- Army veteran
Capt. Lacey Hamilton -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Meade, Md.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Alan Hart -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Gordon, Ga.
Sean Hook -- Army veteran
Michael Kacer -- Army veteran
Sgt. Sean Karpf -- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.
Staff Sgt. Michael Lage -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Jeremy Lee -- Army veteran
Margaux Mange -- Army veteran
Sgt. Delvin Maston -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Chad McDuffee -- Army veteran
Sgt. Ryan Mcintosh -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Blake McMinn -- Army veteran
Staff Sgt. Anthony Misuraca -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Gordon, Ga.
Sgt. Edward Patton Jr. -- Community Based Warrior Transition Unit-Florida
Michael Phillips -- Army veteran
Spc. Quinton Picone -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Anthony Pone -- Army veteran
Perry Price -- Army veteran
Luis Puertas -- Army veteran
Will Reynolds -- Army veteran
Staff Sgt. Nathan Robbins -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Bliss, Texas
Anthony Robinson -- Army veteran
JR Salzman -- Army veteran
Sgt. 1st Class Keoki Smythe -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Carson, Colo.
Juan Soto -- Army veteran
Sgt. Monica Southall -- Community Based Warrior Transition Unit-Virginia
Lance Thornton -- Army veteran
Spc. Elizabeth Wasil -- Fort Carson, Colo.
Jessie White -- Army veteran
Staff Sgt. Curtis Winston -- Hawaii
Sgt. Kendall York -- Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Warrior Transition Command, or WTC, is a major subordinate command under the U.S. Army Medical Command. WTC's mission is to develop, coordinate and integrate the Army's Warrior Care and Transition Program for wounded, ill and injured soldiers, veterans and their families.

For more information on the Warrior Transition Command or the Army's Warrior Games team visit:, follow on Facebook at or Twitter at

Filed under: Sports,

April 9, 2013 at 6:21am

Officer drawdown: Retirement options for colonels


The Army's drawdown will hit the senior ranks of the officer corps in August when a board meets to consider senior colonels and lieutenant colonels of the basic branches for possible involuntary early retirement.

In announcing the Selective Early Retirement Board now, Army officials hope that zone-eligible officers will voluntarily request retirement in lieu of being considered for involuntary retirement, said Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Army G-1 and the chief of personnel.

Under a plan designed to reduce the size of the active component from 540,000 soldiers today to 490,000 in four years, the Army is reviewing a population of 500 retirement-eligible colonels and 700 lieutenant colonels for possible early retirement. The SERB can select up to 30 percent of those officers for involuntary early retirement. The cuts will be completed by the end of fiscal 2014.


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