Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: May, 2017 (15) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 15

May 4, 2017 at 1:12pm

Wine and Canvas

Christine Coles talks about her finished artwork with a friend during a Wine and Canvas event on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, April 28. Photo credit: Sgt. Youtoy Martin

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Arts and Craft Center hosts a monthly Wine and Canvas, creating a very laid-back and fun atmosphere, which allows amateur painters a creative release, said Debbie DeSpain, lead recreation assistant of the Arts and Craft Center.

"It lets whatever is in your head out," said DeSpain. "You just free-flow. Basically it's Zen. Whatever is stressing you just let it out through the artwork."

DeSpain, an instructor at the Arts and Crafts Center, is also a professional artist and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State University.

She said Wine and Canvas is more like a social event than a formal class. She is there to encourage and be a cheerleader.

"I love teaching," said DeSpain. "I absolutely love interacting with people. This is a dream job for me."

As the participants filed into the event April 28, they received either a glass of wine or the non-alcoholic beverage of their choice. As the room began to fill, people socialized, sipped wine and ate as they found a seat and canvas.

At the front of the room was a display of several paintings, which participants were encouraged to replicate.

DeSpain chose one for the participants who wanted to follow along with her - a simple painting of a tree with a yellow background.

"It's in my mood," said DeSpain enthusiastically. "The sun is out. It's gorgeous. I feel like doing something really cheerful and not super complicated."

Many participants used their phones to snap pictures of the paintings they wanted to re-create before taking their seats and donning their aprons.

"I do really believe that art can be therapeutic for people," said Lesley Hill, manager of the Art and Craft Center. "It can be very therapeutic to take a pen and paper and just draw or even doodle."

Hill, like DeSpain, has been into art since childhood. A native of England, she was hired at an arts and craft center there, straight out of high school as part of a youth program. She has been with the JBLM art center since 2000.

She, along with DeSpain and another assistant, walked the room giving encouragement and advice to the 40 people in attendance throughout the night. Unlike a typical classroom setting, participants were encouraged to walk around and view each other's work or grab more food and wine during the two-and-a-half-hour session.

Some participants received prizes, handed out raffle-style during the event. Hill said the event is usually held with wine, but she is open to accommodating requests for other types of adult beverages. Priced at $30, Hill said the event is just below what others in the area charge.

"We are here to serve our community," said Hill. "We are not here to profit. As long as we are breaking even we are good. Anything we can do to provide the service to the community, that's what we are here for."

Some people attended alone, others with a spouse or a group, which was the case for Callie Rogan, a first time attendee at the painting event who was accompanied by two friends for a "ladies hangout night".

"I'm terrible with art," laughed Rogan. "I'm not really into it, but this was fun. I liked having an activity to do, hanging out with friends, sharing it together and giving each other ideas and tips."

Rogan said she hopes to attend another Wine and Canvas and felt it gave her a bit of a mental escape. She was also quite pleased with her finished product.

"I surprised myself," giggled Rogan. "I don't want to throw it away, that's good."

For more information on the Arts and Craft Center or to register for a Wine and Canvas, call the Arts and Craft Center at 253.982.6726 or 6718.

May 4, 2017 at 1:16pm

Local serviceman given Howard O. Scott Award

Master Sgt. David Lom, left, was awarded the Howard O. Scott Award Tuesday in Tacoma, presented by Jason Lopez, Business Development officer, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber. Photo credit: Richard Baker

No one better exemplifies the Howard O. Scott Citizen-Service Member of the Year Award for 2017 than Master Sgt. David Lom, a drilling reservist at Battalion-23, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The award memorializes Howard Scott, a Tacoma resident who, after serving in World War II, returned to the city and became a successful banker. His belief that serving the community is everyone's responsibility led him to spend much of his time volunteering with community service organizations.

Lom, originally from El Paso, Texas, has lived in Tacoma for 19 years and is married to Jewel. Together they have a 12-year-old son, Andrew. After his last active tour of duty at Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Lom remained in Tacoma and worked for Aramark Uniform Service for 15 years as a sales representative.

While on active-duty, Lom was deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch on board the USS Independence. His time at home did not last long. He was soon deployed to Kuwait and participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A diligent and loyal marine, his awards include two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals.

Lom is a small and muscled man with a big heart and relentless energy. He is also quick to smile. He credits his wife and son for supporting him in his work. He said that without their help, he would not be able to carry on his many and varied activities. Lom was quick to thank his Marine Corp Unit for nominating him for the award. In their nomination unit officials stated, "the outstanding character (Lom) demonstrates serves as a stellar example for all Marines in the battalion." Several members of his unit were at the ceremony in his support.

His devotion to duty has carried over to civilian life, especially with funerals. Since 2009, Lom has helped support 112 funerals with full military honors. So far, this year, he has buried an additional 43 veterans and has participated in 620 funerals, a service of which he is proud.

He is also proud of his 20 years as a volunteer police officer with the Poulsbo Police Department. He finds DUIs especially repugnant. They are vicious and uncaring crimes against innocent victims, he said. His devotion to arresting drunk drivers has led to over 200 arrests. This valuable service has not gone unnoticed and he has been recognized 10 times by the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers in Kitsap County.

The award, presently in its 36th year, is sponsored by America's Credit Union and was held at Kiwanis Clubs' Tuesday meeting at Tacoma's La Quinta. The credit union has served the military needs at JBLM since 1954. They actively support an atmosphere that recognizes servicemembers within a community. 

May 4, 2017 at 1:51pm

Sexual assaults in military drop, reporting goes up

The past-year prevalence of sexual assault in the military reached a new low in fiscal year 2016, and reporting of such crimes is on the upswing from previous years, Defense Department officials said May 1.

The Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for fiscal year 2016 shows that 4.3 percent of women and 0.6 percent of men said they experienced a sexual assault in the year prior to the force-wide survey. Those numbers are down compared to the fiscal year 2014 figures of 4.9 percent of women and 0.9 percent of men, officials said.

The report shows that in addition to the drop in the estimated total number of incidents via the survey, the portion of those incidents that is reported to DoD authorities has risen. As many as one in three servicemembers reported the incidents in fiscal 2016, compared to one in 14 people 10 years ago, they added.

The fiscal 2016 report shows about 14,900 servicemembers indicated they experienced a sexual assault last year, which is 5,400 fewer than the 20,300 victims estimated in 2014.

"We're encouraged that there was less of this horrible crime in 2016.  However, there are still too many people experiencing a sexual assault," said Navy Rear Adm. Ann Burkhardt, the director of DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. "We will continue to provide first-class support to those who have been victimized and further evolve our prevention efforts to stop the crime before it occurs."

Resounding Message

"Our people have heard the message from their senior leadership that this crime has no place in our military," SAPRO Deputy Director Nate Galbreath said of the uptick in victim reporting. "We believed ten years ago that if we built services that gave people confidence they would be supported, more people would report."

And more men are reporting sexual assault crimes because of strides DoD has made through awareness, he noted.

"Leadership at all levels of the department have been making an effort to let men know we want to hear from them," Galbreath emphasized. "In the military, sexual assault is something experienced equally by men and women - there are just as many men as women who experience sexual assault. ... Real warriors ask for help when they need it."

While force-wide surveys in DoD are voluntary, more than 735,000 active-duty servicemembers were invited to take the fiscal 2016 survey, and 24 percent of those invited replied, Galbreath noted.

"That kind of response gives us a lot of precision and confidence in our results," he said. "Our surveys are designed so that the results represent the entire force. This is how we know that about 14,900 active-duty men and women experienced a sexual assault in 2016 - down from some 20,300 in 2014, and way down from about 34,000 in 2006 when we first started."

DoD Supports Victims

Servicemembers who made a sexual assault report and participated in the military justice system said in the Military Investigation and Justice Experience Survey that they received solid support, the deputy director said.

"We are very lucky to hear from a small, but important, group of military members who take our (survey)," he added. "They've told us that they get great support from our special victims counsel - their lawyers - as well as from their victim advocates and sexual assault response coordinators.

"Three-quarters of these servicemembers who've been through the justice process would recommend that other servicemembers make a report," he continued. "If anyone is wondering whether they should come forward, I hope they take this advice."

Prevention is the key in the way ahead to further reduce the occurrence of sexual assault and increase reporting, Galbreath said.

"If we expect prevalence rates of sexual assault to decrease in the future, we will need to get after the prevention of co-occurring misconduct like sexual harassment, hazing and alcohol misuse," he said. "We have plans in the works to collaborate with our counterpart organizations across the DoD to press forward together."

DoD's Safe Helpline is anonymous and offers support for sexual assault survivors in the military at or by phone at 877.995.5247.

May 8, 2017 at 6:03am

Volunteers needed for spring games on JBLM

5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/2015 Corvin McGarey, from the Tumwater Power Dragons, performs a squat of 205 pounds during the powerlift event for the Special Olympics Washington Summer Games at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Saturday. Volunteers are

Special Olympics Washington is looking for volunteers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to assist with events on the installation as part of the 2017 Spring Games June 2 to 4.

The organization is looking for volunteers for the cycling events and Olympic Town near Integrity Gate on Lewis North and the powerlifting event at Evergreen Theater on Lewis Main. Special Olympics Washington has hosted its Summer Games on JBLM in past years.

This year, the opening ceremony, soccer, track and field and other athletic events will be located at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland. There’s still a need for volunteers from JBLM, especially for cycling, powerlifting and the Olympic Town festivities.

“We’re really hoping to get all of those volunteer spots filled with people who are already on base,” said Elise Tinseth, volunteer outreach manager for Special Olympics Washington.

Cycling events would need the most volunteers on JBLM — 200 people for June 3 and 4. Because races will be done on the streets on Lewis North, volunteers are needed in groups to help direct cyclists and monitor traffic.

Additional volunteers will be needed for Olympic Town, which is generally where vendor booths with games and activities are set up.

“We’ll need people to help set up, tear down, man the booths and help athletes go from the cycling venue to Olympic Town,” Tinseth said.

Powerlifting is only expected to have about 60 athletes, with about 10 to 15 volunteers needed to assist with athletes checking in, being staged, warming up and setting up the weights for each lift.

Anyone interested in volunteering can go online to The site provides details and opportunities for the Spring Games, along with an online application.

Volunteers can be service members, spouses and even family members. Anyone younger than 18 must have a parent or guardian sign off on their application. Younger volunteers need a chaperone with them at all times.

Tinseth said there are additional opportunities for volunteers at the opening ceremony and the events at PLU, as well as the swimming events at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

For the athletic events, such as track and field, the organization is hoping to find 200 to 300 volunteers per day. An additional 150 to 200 are sought for soccer. Overall, there will be 2,000 athletes participating in this year’s Spring Games.

“We have four large events a year and this is our biggest one,” Tinseth said. “In total, we’re looking to have about 1,000 volunteers.”

For more information, email

May 8, 2017 at 6:05am

I3MP completes infrastructure upgrade at JBLM

U.S. Army photo The modernization project included a turn-key solution for voice, data, site preparation, inside cable plant and outside cable plant at four cantonment areas at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The Product Manager for the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program — I3MP — completed the delivery of a state-of-the-art information technology capability modernization effort at Joint Base Lewis-McChord recently. The modernizations enable JBLM to provide a secure suite of collaboration, real-time communications and supporting services to the Soldier and Army business user on any device, anywhere in the world.

This modernization effort directly affected the Army network for the project’s core customers at the headquarters for JBLM, the I Corps and the 62nd Airlift Wing, in addition to the Madigan Army Medical Center and the JBLM Network Enterprise Center.

Part of the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, I3MP’s mission is to enable information dominance through information technology infrastructure modernization and life cycle management of the Army’s installation campus-area networks and command centers within the continental United States. Time-intensive and costly, modernizing the Army network is an ongoing project, requiring that outdated equipment be decommissioned and disposed of while installing upgraded equipment without a loss in services.

The JBLM network modernization project took three years to complete, and provides the facility with a secure and highly available network infrastructure that integrates voice, video and data services to provide increased mission effectiveness to the warfighter and business communities.

“The comprehensive information infrastructure modernization of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s installation campus-area network enables the delivery of voice, video and data network services to our warfighters,” said Brendan Burke, product manager for I3MP.

Alberto Dominguez, assistant product manager, led the $18 million effort for I3MP. He and his integrated project team, known as APM CONUS, build network capacity that simplifies and standardizes installation campus-area networks at Army installations within the continental United States.

“The JBLM project delivers the foundational and mission-critical installation capability sets that will serve JBLM Soldiers, Airmen and civilians for many years to come,” he said.

As part of a contract awarded in 2014, the JBLM project included work on the outside cable plant and the inside cable plant as well as network modernizations to the JBLM information infrastructure, enabling the integration of standards-based network services with available enterprise applications, such as business, intelligence and warfighting.

Willie Matthews, the IPT lead for the JBLM project, managed day-to-day activities to ensure the project’s timely completion. He and Joseph Casazza, IPT assistant, worked in close coordination with their government and industry partners to install and route the DSN traffic through the new infrastructure. Government partners included JBLM NEC, the Defense Information Systems Agency, U.S. Army Contracting Command — Rock Island and the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command.

Matthews and Casazza supervised the installation of a turn-key solution for voice, data, site preparation, inside cable plant and outside cable plant at four cantonment areas at JBLM: Lewis Main, Lewis North, McChord Field and the Yakima Training Center.

The new infrastructure supports DISA requirements for the enterprise session controller multiprotocol label switching and joint regional security stacks, enabling JBLM to deploy hard phones or soft clients via the DISA-managed and sustained enterprise session controller.

“The JBLM modernizations provide the necessary voice infrastructure to support up to 50,000 users,” Matthews said.

May 11, 2017 at 10:09am

Future warfare requires 'disciplined disobedience'

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, talks with Observer Controllers at the U.S. Army National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 6, 2016. Photo credit: Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden

Following every order to the letter is largely understood to be a way of life in the Army. But that may not always be the best course of action. In fact, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said he expects soldiers to know when it's time to disobey an order.

"I think we're over-centralized, overly bureaucratic, and overly risk-averse," Milley said while speaking last Thursday at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., as part of the Atlantic Council Commanders Series.

That overly bureaucratic environment may work in garrison, during peacetime, he said, but it's "the opposite of what we are going to need in any type of warfare - but in particular, the warfare I envision."


During last year's Association of the U.S. Army symposium in October, Milley laid out just exactly what his vision of future warfare would be. He said then that he expects conditions "will be extremely austere. Water, chow, ammo, fuel, maintenance and medical support will be all that we should plan for."

He also said that soldiers could expect to be surrounded all the time, so they will always need to be on the move if they hope to stay alive.

"In short, learning to be comfortable with being seriously miserable every single minute of every single day will have to become a way of life for an Army on the battlefield that I see coming," he said.

Leaders on the battlefield could expect to be out of contact with their own leadership for significant periods of time. Those officers would still need to accomplish their commander's objectives, even when the conditions on the battlefield change and they are unable to send word up the chain of command.

"We are going to have to empower (and) decentralize leadership to make decisions and achieve battlefield effects in a widely dispersed environment where subordinate leaders, junior leaders ... may not be able to communicate to their higher headquarters, even if they wanted to," Milley said.

In that environment, Milley said, the Army will need a cadre of trusted leaders on the battlefield who know when it's time to disobey the original orders they were given and come up with a new plan to achieve the purpose of those orders.


"We're the military, so you're supposed to say, ‘Obey your orders,'" Miley said. "That's kind of fundamental to being in the military. We want to keep doing that. But a subordinate needs to understand that they have the freedom and they are empowered to disobey a specific order, a specified task, in order to accomplish the purpose. It takes a lot of judgment."

Such disobedience cannot be "willy-nilly." Rather, it must be "disciplined disobedience to achieve a higher purpose," Milley said. "If you do that, then you are the guy to get the pat on the back."

Milley said that when orders are given, the purpose of those orders must also be provided so that officers know both what they are to accomplish and how they are expected to accomplish it.

To illustrate his point, Milley offered the example of an officer who has been ordered to seize "Hill 101" as part of a larger battle plan.

"I've said the purpose is to destroy the enemy," Milley said. "And the young officer sees Hill 101, and the enemy is over on Hill 102. What does he do? Does he do what I told him to do, seize Hill 101? Or does he achieve the purpose, destroy the enemy on Hill 102?"

The answer, Milley said, is that the officer disobeys the order to seize the first hill because following that order would not achieve his commander's purpose. Instead, he takes the other hill.

"And he shouldn't have to call back and say ‘hey boss ... can I go over to 102?' He shouldn't have to do that," Milley said. "They should be empowered and feel they have freedom of maneuver to achieve the purpose."

Right now, Milley said, the Army already has doctrine that describes what he envisions for the future: "mission command" doctrine. Part of that doctrine, he said, instructs commanders to tell their subordinates the purpose of what they are doing. "That's important for subordinates to understand the why, the purpose," he said.

But the Army, he said, has a hard time practicing what it writes into doctrine.

"My point is what we do in practice is we micromanage and over-specify everything a subordinate has to do, all the time, in regulations, in ALARACT messages, in rules," he said. "That is not an effective way ... to fight. Not an effective way to conduct operations. You will lose battles and wars if you approach warfare like that."

"We must trust our subordinates," he added. "You give them the task, you give them the purpose, and then you trust them to execute and achieve your intent, your desired outcome - your purpose."

Getting soldiers and leaders to do that will require training, he said. And it will require encouraging them to operate that way.

"You have to train to it, you have to prepare for it, and you have to live it and do it every day," he said.


Milley acknowledged that it's impossible to predict exactly how warfare in the future will play out, but he did say there are some "broad outlines" that can be drawn upon to help with the development of decisions regarding doctrine, organization and equipment. Technology, he believes, will have a huge impact on warfare.

"I think we are at the intersection of a variety of technologies that are happening in time and space, all about the same time, that are going to have a fundamental change or result in fundamental change to the character of warfare."

One technology of today that has already been around for a while, he noted, are precision-guided munitions.

"For a long time, the United States dominated precision-guided munitions," he said. "Now, precision-guided munitions have proliferated throughout the world."

Information technology also will have a dramatic effect, he said, citing the iPhone as an example. He said that today, through existing technology, one has access to high-quality imagery, communications, and real-time data on the location of people, equipment and formations, for instance, nearly anywhere on Earth.

"I would argue that we are at a point where ... almost anything militarily can be seen," he said. "So when you combine the ability to see ... with precision-guided munitions, that's like going from the smoothbore to the rifle. That's going to rapidly and radically increase lethality on the battlefield."

He noted that robotics are now used in the air and sea domains but currently play a limited role on the ground. Over the next decade, however, he expects to see a "rapid introduction of robotic systems in ground warfare."


Demographic changes also will affect the character of war, he said. In particular, he pointed to increases in urbanization.

According to Milley, social scientists predict that by 2050 about 90 percent of Earth's projected population of more than eight billion people will likely live in "highly dense, complex urban areas." As a result of that shift, he said, it's probable that armed conflict will occur in those same densely populated areas.

"The U.S. Army has been optimized to fight in rural terrain, to fight in the plains of Northern Europe, North America (and) the deserts of the Middle East," he said.

Optimizing for urban warfare, he said, will require changing not only how soldiers fight, but how equipment is used.

"A tank's barrel can elevate to a certain degree," he said. "In an urban environment, it might need to elevate to almost a 90-degree angle. That has huge implications."

Likewise, much consideration must also be devoted to such practical matters as the wingspans of unmanned aerial vehicles, casualty evacuation in densely populated areas, and the ability of current command and control systems to function in the concrete jungles of the future.

"The list goes on and on," he said. "There are about maybe 100 or 150 significant implications to that fact of urbanization and the likelihood that armed conflict is going to be more in urban areas than not."

Right now, he said, the Army has optimized for non-urban areas. But he said, "we are probably going to have to shift gears significantly over the coming decade or so to optimize the Army, or land forces - I would argue the Marines as well - to be able to operate successfully in combat operations in highly dense, complex urban areas."

May 12, 2017 at 6:20am

JBLM culinary team wins annual competition

U.S. Navy Photo The Naval Base Kitsap Trident Inn Galley Iron Chef team presents their dish to the judges, during the 25th annual Armed Forces Culinary Arts Competition Saturday.

BREMERTON — Olympic College hosted the 25th annual Armed Forces Culinary Arts Competition at the college’s Bremer Student Center in Bremerton Saturday.

A team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord won the competition with a score of 950 points.

Each year, service members from JBLM, Naval Base Kitsap, Naval Station Everett, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and other commands throughout the Pacific Northwest come together to compete in a battle of culinary ability for the title of “Iron Chef.”

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island placed second with 313 points, and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) came in third with 294 points.

“I’m excited to taste the talent of the Pacific Northwest today during the competition,” said Capt. Alan Schrader, Naval Base Kitsap commanding officer.

There were also more professional judges at the event.

“I think it’s great we have so many competitors this year and all of the branches and veterans alike,” said Chef Chris Plemmons, a judge from Olympic College. “I’m honored they have come together to compete and allowed us to host and judge the competition.”

There were eight categories for the entire competition: chili, ribs, wings, cake, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, hot food kitchen floor and overall.

“When you watch the competitors, you can see them thinking on how they will use the ingredients and what they will make,” said Capt. Mike Elmstrom, commanding officer, Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific.

The event was open to the public with a large turnout.

“This is my eighth year judging the culinary competition,” said Mayor Patty Lent, Bremerton mayor. “This is the first year Olympic College has had its own team compete.”

The competition was the kickoff for Bremerton’s Armed Forces Week, according to Lent.

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island took home the title of best wings, cake and chili, while JBLM won the hors d’oeuvres and desserts categories, pushing their points high enough to win the overall category.

“I love the challenge,” said Army Spc. Aaron Miseray, with the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord . “Fear is what drives me. This is my first year competing on the grand scale.”

As the teams prepared to present their main dishes for the judges, spectators roamed around and ate food prepared by other participants.

“It makes me feel like I’m making all the right decisions as an effective leader and an even more effective follower,” Miseray said. “To set the standard for a new breed of aggressive and efficient 92 Golfs (culinary specialists).”

May 12, 2017 at 6:21am

What to do with mom this weekend

Courtesy photo The annual Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet will take place at the Club at McChord Field Sunday. Seatings are available at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

If You Go

Five fun ideas for Mother’s Day:

• Northwest Adventure Center’s Mother’s Day Rafting Trip in Wenatchee. Begins at Leavenworth Saturday. No rafting experience necessary, must be 12 years old or older. Cost is $65 each with $20 extra for steak dinner. For information, call 253-967-7744.

• Pike Place Market Flower Festival, on Pike Street, just east of the waterfront in Seattle. Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Bring money to buy flowers, food and more.

• Mom and Me at the Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle. Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $12.95 to $20.95. Half-price for moms. Children age 2 and younger free.

• Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma. Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $9.95 to $17.95. Moms half-price. Children 2 years old and younger free.

• Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet at the Club at McChord Field, 700 Barnes Blvd. Seating is at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Price is $28.95 for ages 13 and older; ages 4 to 12, $14.95; ages 3 and younger, free. Club members receive a $2 discount. Reservations are required. Call 253-982-5581.

From rafting to restaurants, flora, fauna and festivals, the Pacific Northwest offers several ways to celebrate and honor loved ones this Mother’s Day.

If the mother figure in your life is the adventurous type, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Northwest Adventure Center’s Mother’s Day Rafting Trip in Wenatchee might be a fun, family activity to make her feel loved on her special day.

Instructors will start the course near the state’s own cute and quaint Bavarian-style village of Leavenworth. The trip allows participants to paddle through the class-three rapids. River rafting trips are rated by the American Whitewater Association, with class-one being a beginner’s trip, and class-two worthy of novice rafters.

Class-three rapids have moderate, irregular waves that may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Though scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties, injuries while swimming in class-three waters are rare and self-rescue is usually easy, according to the American Whitewater’s website.

Water ratings go up to class-six, with class-four being advanced; class-five, expert; and class-six, extreme and exploratory rapids.

For those who want a more traditional and less invigorating outing, there are several of those in the area as well.

The ninth annual Pike Place Market Flower Festival will offer 40 tents filled with floral bouquets to show appreciation. Floral-themed, hand-crafted items will be on sale at the event, which is at the market on Pike Street, just east of the waterfront in Seattle. The Flower Festival is free and takes place Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A trip to the zoo also might be a way to show mom some love. Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle is hosting Mom and Me at the Zoo Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. All moms get in for half-price at the event, which, in addition to all the regular animals and exhibits, includes zookeeper talks about the moms and new babies at the zoo.

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma also has a half-price admission for moms event Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

And, if you’re looking for an opportunity to treat mom right on Mother’s Day itself, consider the Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet at the Club at McChord Field, 700 Barnes Blvd. The meal includes: salads, seafood, omelets, bacon, sausage, roasted prime rib with au jus and horseradish, waffles, hash browns, fresh vegetables, cheese, fruit, pastries, muffins and an assortment of sweets.

May 12, 2017 at 6:23am

Former JBLM youth signs contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Joel G. Broida Former Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau (13) recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent for the 2017 season.

The only thing Sefo Liufau wanted was a chance to compete for a spot on a roster in the National Football League. Although he went undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft April 27 to 29 in Philadelphia, he will have that chance signing as an undrafted free agent.

Shortly after the end of the seventh round, Liufau was signed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — one of several names of undrafted college players going to all 32 NFL teams.

The former University of Colorado quarterback grew up at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. His father is a retired Army sergeant first class who served with Western Regional Medical Command, now Regional Health Command-Pacific.

“(My family) was really happy that I got an opportunity to play for a team,” Liufau said.

Liufau’s uncle, Jack Thompson, known as “The Throwin’ Samoan” from Washington State University, was a quarterback for the Buccaneers from 1983 to 1984 as part of a six-year career in the NFL. Thompson was recently quoted in the Tampa Bay Times recognizing Liufau’s leadership skills and work ethic. Aside from warning Liufau how hot Tampa would be, Thompson’s advice for the former Colorado quarterback was simple.

“Just be yourself, and that will show your character,” Thompson said.

In his four years with the Buffaloes, Liufau totaled 9,763 yards and 60 touchdowns. He was also part of the team’s growth from a 4-9 record in 2015 to 10-4 last season that included a trip to the Alamo Bowl — the school’s first bowl bid since 2007.’s draft profile on Liufau credits Liufau’s 6-foot-3, 232-pound frame and mental toughness that served him well for Colorado’s offense. However, scouts negatively marking his mechanics gave him a 4.8 grade out of 10 — falling in the range of having a 50 percent chance of making a 53-man roster in September.

The odds are not impossible for Liufau to be with the Buccaneers for the start of the regular season. Jermaine Kearse of the Seattle Seahawks, who also grew up at JBLM, has had success in the five seasons, including a touchdown catch at Super Bowl XLVIII.

Liufau said how he got into the NFL didn’t change how he plans to approach training camp and the preseason games.

“Even if you were picked early, you want to have the mindset to work hard; that mindset hasn’t changed for me,” Liufau said.

Liufau will enter training camp with three other quarterbacks on the Tampa Bay roster: last season’s starter in Jameis Winston, returning backup Ryan Griffin and Sean Renfree, who was waived by Atlanta before last season.

Liufau said there can be more details in a NFL playbook than a college playbook, but he remains confident he has put himself in the right spot going into the 2017 season.

“It’s a big jump from college to the NFL,” Liufau said. “You have to show that you can make all the reads and show you can play at this level. I just have to understand the reads and the checks in the pass and run game.”

May 18, 2017 at 2:53pm

"Ghost Brigade's" war on excess

Spc. Aaron Dumond (left), a team leader with D Company, reads off a list of required items needed for turning in their Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter to the Logistics Readiness Center. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup

The 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team has been taking part in an installation-wide material management program to synchronize and execute material management actions and increase on hand equipment readiness.

The process included equipment alignment, lateral transfers, and excess turn-in so units can maximize equipment readiness across Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The process started at company levels and expanded to include all 1-2 SBCT units. Units have also divested excess equipment to fill shortages off of JBLM.

"If transfers are not required within the brigade because everyone is filled up on the equipment, than the next step is to turn it in or ship it possibly to another post," said Capt. Clayton Shillings, logistics director for 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry, 1-2 SBCT.

The program, which is known as Unit Equipping and Reuse Working Group - Expanded (UERWG-E), was directed by Forces Command and began in September 2016 with the identification of excess equipment, according to Maj. Joseph Baumbach, the logistics director for 1-2 SBCT. The brigade began with 6,500 pieces of excess equipment and 4,642 need to be divested by July 9.

"A piece of equipment can go anywhere, from another company in the brigade to the Army National Guard or Reserve component units," Baumbach said. "Wherever it's needed. It can also go to depots or to the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services where it will get stocked for future use or destroyed.

"This program is important in order to modernize the Army," he added. "It is forcing us to get rid of our legacy equipment, whether it is old NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) equipment, old communication equipment, or old soft-skinned vehicles, while retaining the newer equipment."

This is all based on the Modified Table of Organization (MTOE), said Shillings. There may be a new weapon that is being issued and a unit has an older weapon sitting on the books in place of it. By replacing and divesting equipment, the brigade can maintain readiness on an equal footing across the board.

"Getting rid of equipment that is excess also benefits us because we are not trying to perform maintenance on that equipment to keep it running or up-to-date," said Shillings. "This saves time and money. If you have twenty weapons, but you only need ten. You can focus more on maintaining the ten than on the twenty, ensuring unit readiness."

"We are only authorized to repair what in our unit by MTOE, so anything excess will eat into our training dollars in order to fix," said Baumbach. "Reducing the amount of excess equipment also reduces our budget constraints - making us a better fighting force by having more money available for training."

The 1-2 SBCT is the largest unit on JBLM to participate in UERWG-E, according to Baumbach. As of May 9, the unit has divested 3,075 out of 4,642 of equipment - 66 percent during the 11 weeks of conducting UERWG.

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