Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: June, 2013 (58) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 58

June 1, 2013 at 3:03pm

4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team returned home today

Three-and-a-half month old Emma Saunders waits with her mother, Erin Saunders, to meet her dad, Sgt. Koty Saunders, for the first time. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Emma Saunders had never met her dad, Sgt. Koty Saunders.

"She was born three-and-a-half months ago, and he's never held her," her mother, Erin Saunders, said.

"He's going to be thrilled."

Families and friends gathered at Soldiers Field House late this morning to welcome home approximately 190 Soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

The soldiers returned from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

For one family, the return of their loved one - Sgt. Reid Hlavka - represented a form of "pay back."

"He called yesterday to say he that he was already here and that I was late," his mother, Linda Harrison said.

"He likes to play little jokes like that; he has no idea the pay back I've got in mind for him."

Traveling from New Jersey to Joint Base Lewis-McChord for her fourth redeployment ceremony, Harrison had brought along Hlavka's brother, his sister-in-law, a nephew and a niece.

"He's got no idea we're all here to welcome him home," Harrison added. 

"I can't wait to surprise him!"

The soldiers were part of Combined Task Force 4-2, which was responsible for providing security force assistance as Afghan National Security Forces conducted wide-area security operations.

"He's finally coming home," Leanne Ralston said as she waited for her husband, Capt. Alex Ralston, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment.

"Today is the day."

June 3, 2013 at 7:52am

Morning Report: Military ready to trim top brass, Pacific rebalance and more ..

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

AFGHANISTAN: Bomb kills 10 Afghan children, two NATO troops.

SPEAKING OF AFGHANISTAN: There's a pattern to DoD's reports.

HAGEL: U.S. following through on Pacific rebalance.

R.I.P. FRANK LAUTENBERG: The World War II veteran who twice held a senate seat but planned to retire next year, has died.

FINALLY: Army Pfc. Bradley Manning goes on trial today more than three years after he was arrested in Iraq and charged in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history.

DEMPSEY: Military ready to trim top brass, perks

WEEK AHEAD: House panel to mark up Defense authorization bill

TITANIUM TEETH?: Dick Van Dyke says don't do it.

R.I.P.: Edith Bunker

GOOGLE: Wanna know what other people are Googling?

RESTORED FAITH IN HUMANITY OF THE DAY: A kindergartner read 875 books in one school year.

Will you Prancercise today?

June 3, 2013 at 11:49am

Judge Osborn rules on Maj Hasan’s motion to represent himself

An Army judge granted the request of Ft. Hood massacre suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan to represent himself at his court-martial, ruling that he is physically and mentally able to do so, Fort Hood's public affairs office said Monday. Here's the PAO's release. ...

FORT HOOD, Texas -- In the case of U.S. vs. Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, Judge Col. Tara Osborn heard testimony by Army physician Maj. Prasad Lakshminarasimhiah, M.D.M.C., [Luck-schme-nara-sim-hiya] staff physiatrist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, San Antonio Military Medical Center, South, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, as to Hasan's ability to handle the physical strain of representing himself during his upcoming trial.

Hasan was injured during the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting incident and has since been confined to a wheelchair.


Filed under: Army News,

June 3, 2013 at 12:44pm

A Day in the Life: U.S. Army Spc. Nkelo Kurtz and Team Farrah

Screen shot of the video capturing a day in the life of Team Farrah in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Spc. Nkelo Kurtz of Joint Base Lewis-McChord is currently assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah Medical Team on a remote Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan's westernmost province. A pair of journalists hung out with Spc. Kurtz and Team Farrah, filing a "day in the life" story for the DoD.

Spc. Kurtz: Sick call is not the most fun job in the world sometimes, but it has to get done. We certainly see some interesting cases and I have definitely seen more here than back at home at Ft. Lewis.  In the clinic I have seen cases of appendicitis, diabetes and even an accidental, self-inflicted stab wound . There are some patients who take precedence over others in order to save life, limb or eyesight, but the most common things I see are back pain, foot pain and cold symptoms.  I usually have a pretty good idea of what someone's illness is after talking to them, especially having been here for awhile.


Read the entire story here.

June 3, 2013 at 2:18pm

VA is improving access for veterans to mental health services

Cheryl Pellerin of the American Forces Press Service has followed Pres. Obama's statements today concerning improving access for veterans to mental health services.

"We're ... doing more to support our troops and our veterans who are suffering from things like traumatic brain injury or PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder," the president told the audience. "Today, we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide - 22. We've got to do a better job ... of preventing these all-too-often silent tragedies. That's why we've poured an enormous amount of resources into high-quality care and better treatment for our troops."

In response to a presidential executive order, VA has hired 1,600 mental health providers and more than 300 peer-to-peer veteran specialists, according to a White House statement.

Read Pellerin's full report here.

Filed under: Veterans, Benefit, Health,

June 3, 2013 at 9:08pm

Reviewing "Starting Strong": Our take on the U.S. Army's reality show

"Starting Strong" Episode One: Sgt. 1st Class Will Trost tells Julian Chavez how to shoot a M240H gas-operated machine gun.

Ed. Note: Nearly two years ago actor Ricky Schroder and his production company began filming the reality show Starting Strong, which allows prospective Army recruits to try out military occupational specialties (MOS) for a week, helping them decide whether or not to join. Schroder spent four weeks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The 10-week series launched Sunday, broadcasting in select markets (not Western Washington), and on Youtube. Northwest Military asked Gary Lott - marketing, social media and multimedia specialist at Joint Services Support Washington National Guard - to review each episode.

He agreed. Sunday, Lott watched Episode One "Avionic Mechanic" of Starting Strong - which followed a Portland Community College student's explorations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Lott filed the report below.

Julian Chavez is a 19 year old who likes soccer, wants to serve his country and be part of something much bigger.

His decision to consider enlisting in the military is reasonable. One of the hardest parts of making the decision is knowing his girlfriend and family members don't want him to leave. There's probably a large majority of servicemembers and spouses out there that know exactly what that's like.

Sgt. 1st Class Will Trost, an airborne-qualified platoon sergeant with the 4th Squadron, 6th Attack Reconnaissance Regiment, mentored Chavez throughout his experience on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Trost has 10 years in the service, with five deployments to Iraq under his belt, an Army Commendation Medal and a Valorous Unit Award.


June 4, 2013 at 7:53am

Morning Report: Col. Barry Huggins leaves, Gen. Odierno speaks, licking Seattle and more ...

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno arrived June 4 on Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

LEAVING COMMAND: Stryker brigade Commander Col. Barry Huggins leaves his command of the 4,000 soldiers in the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division today, moving on to an as-yet unnamed post.

GEN. ODIERNO: "We have failed to address these crimes in a compassionate, just and comprehensive way"

MILITARY JUSTICE IMPROVEMENT ACT: Military leaders are concerned the bill would go too far by stripping the chain of command from responsibility from big military justice changes.

MILITARY THINK TANKS: Time to review women in combat standards.

PENTAGON: The size of the Pentagon's vast oversight organizations grew by more than 15 percent from 2010 to 2012, despite efforts to pare down the US Defense Department's bureaucracy.

F-35 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER TIMELINE: It will be operational for the US Marines in December 2015, followed by the Air Force in December 2016 and the Navy in February 2019.

HUMAN RESOURCE COMMAND: The US Army would like enlisted soldiers to remain on station for at least three years.

KIM JONG-IL: What it's like to serve sushi to the North Korean leadership.

YOU'VE BEEN WARNED: Dunkin' Donuts is taking the doughnut bacon sandwich national.

WHAT DOES THE SPACE NEEDLE TASTE LIKE?: Ben & Jerry's to produce original flavors for New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.

REPORT: Apple pushing to unveil Internet radio service.

GAME OF THRONES: Red wedding freak-outs caught on tape.

BLACK SABBATH: The band's new record is streaming on iTunes.

BONUS: 20 great albums you can download for free.

Fly! Be free!

Filed under: Morning Report, Defense News,

June 4, 2013 at 10:57am

Service for Staff Sgt. Michael H. Simpson is tomorrow

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Public Affair Office sent a reminder that the service for Staff Sgt. Michael H. Simpson will be held tomorrow.

Family, friends, Service members and the Joint Base community will remember a 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier who died while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in a ceremony to be conducted Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the JBLM Lewis North Chapel.

Staff Sgt. Michael H. Simpson, 30, of San Antonio, Texas, died May 1 in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit on April 27, with an improvised explosive device in Arian, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

June 4, 2013 at 12:19pm

Greenwood, Clarkmoor, and Beachwood elementary schools score big bucks

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent some good news to Joint Base Lewis-McChord today. According to her office, the senior member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee is sending $90,768,089 of the DoD's money to Greenwood, Clarkmoor and Beachwood elementary schools. As a bonus, The Clover Park School District and state of Washington will match these grants with an additional $23,075,465 for a total investment of $113,843,553.

Click here to read the full release.

June 5, 2013 at 7:40am

Morning Report: Rice is for security, Panetta is an idiot, Charles Dickens as Morrissey and more ...

Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell discuss the challenges and complexities of retrograde operations with leaders in Afghanistan, May 30, 2013. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller

OBAMA APPOINTS: US ambassador to UN, who was lambasted by Republicans for her role in the Benghazi controversy, Susan Rice to replace Tom Donilon.

TODAY AT JBLM: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales today is expected to confess to murdering 16 Afghan civilians.

UNDER SECRETARY, VICE CHIEF: Support for deployed troops Army's top fiscal priority.

WAKE UP TACOMA: The Top 50 military friendly cities doesn't include Tacoma, Seattle ranks 41st.

GOOD ONE: CIA chief Panetta disclosed classified information and name of bin Laden commander at event attended by filmmaker.

HERE IT IS: This is easily the most ridiculous basic training photo we have ever seen.

CONCERNED VETERANS FOR AMERICA: The new organization strives to provide political cover to legislators who want to make "tough decisions about our military."

INTERESTING: The Pentagon has decided to leave a sophisticated missile defense system in Jordan after it is used in a training exercise there.

AFGHANISTAN: The U.S. military has scaled back the support it will provide for Afghan security forces after 2014.

BECK: He's working on two new albums, and you can hear a new song.

MAY THE SAUCE BE WITH YOU: R2-D2 themed pizza box by Domino's Japan.

LIVE LIKE JAMES BOND: Cannon Security RadioVault

Today in Horrible Histories ...

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