Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: June, 2017 (14) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 14

June 1, 2017 at 10:44am

Auto-targeting technology to reduce "aim error"

Terence Rice, a researcher with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center, demonstrated an engineering model of what one day might make it into the field for soldiers, during a May 18 Lab Day at the Pentagon. Photo credit: Sgt. Jose Torres

Soldiers may now pride themselves on being a good shot, on scoring high in marksmanship, but one day that may not be as important as it is now.

Earlier this month, during "Lab Day" at the Pentagon, Terence Rice, a researcher with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center out of Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, demonstrated an engineering model of what one day might make it into the field for soldiers.

What Rice had on display was a plastic M4 rifle replica that was cradled inside a larger, rifle-like shell. A lot of soldiers and Marines had gathered around his tent in the Pentagon courtyard to hear what he had to say.

"We're trying to attack the problem of aim error. When you want to hit a target, you have to take into account the weapon, the ammo, the environments and the shooter," Rice said. "And given the fact that we're using sensors, computers and hardware ... we can engage targets faster now. What this concept does is reduce aim error and engage targets quicker."

What Rice was demonstrating was technology that automatically aimed the M4 rifle at the target, so soldiers could be a more effective shooter without actually being a good aim. A series of sensors and motors in the outer shell that held the M4 were responsible for moving the rifle around and keeping it pointed at the target.

All the soldier had to do was aim the entire setup in the general direction of a target. The motors and sensors took care of making sure the M4 was accurately aimed, so that any bullets fired by the soldier would hit their target.

The engineering model was heavy, and it's certainly not ready for prime time, Rice said.

"This is just a prototype demonstrator. It's not meant to be a fielded-type system," he said. "But we want to get the concepts to folks to say, ‘hey we have the ability to make computers smaller and faster nowadays, so embed this in a weapons system and see what we can do with it.' So what we are doing here is using this system to find a target, engage that target and always be on that target at all times, whether you are standing prone, or moving, or in a vehicle, or a helicopter."

While what Rice was demonstrating for individual weapons might be years away, that's not the case for larger, crew-served weapons, such as what may be found on a boat or off the top of a Stryker combat vehicle, for instance.

"What we are looking for is to apply this more in a crew-served, or a vehicle, or a helicopter-type system, because you have the real estate in there, you have ability for more computing power and for more constant power," he said.

Rice had a video on display that showed a person on a platform aiming a crew-served weapon at targets being projected on a screen. The platform moved back and forth as if on hydraulics. It was meant to simulate how a sailor, for instance, might aim a weapon while standing onboard a rocking boat.

"That's a simulation of firing off of a boat, and trying to keep it steady and on target," Rice said. "It's very difficult when you are going up and down."

But in the demonstration video, the subject was able to have a computer help aim the weapon and keep a lock on the target, similar to something Luke Skywaker might have had access to when shooting at enemy fighters from within the Millennium Falcon.

"You use the computer to lock on to the target at all times," Rice said. "That's what we are working on here. All he does is pull the trigger."

Rice said the Army isn't quite ready to take the hand-held, individual weapon version of the system and field it to soldiers.

"There's a lot of work to be done to make this as light as an existing M4, and build in all these stabilization concepts," he said.

But the software that is inside that system is the same software that's inside the version for the crew-served weapon. And the system to automatically aim a crew-served weapon is likely to be available to soldiers sooner.

Rice said that in about two years, they expect a user assessment of the software to be applied for use in a crew-served weapon.

"There is a foundational technology with software that's similar, no matter what system," he said. "It doesn't make any difference what caliber weapon either. It could be 5.56, 7.62, or .50-cal."

Rice said that with either a crew-served weapon or, one day when the concept is further developed for individual weapons, the technology will make it easier to be a more effective soldier.

Soldiers will be able to "engage targets quicker, kill them quicker, and survive them," Rice said.

June 2, 2017 at 6:12am

Special Olympics on base this weekend

Tyler Parkhurst, middle, practices his celebratory victory salute as he and teammate Jonah Tolar, right, work out together with members of the JBLM Tigers in preparation for this weekend’s Special Olympics Washington 2017 Spring Games at Cowan Stadium on

In years past, Special Olympics Washington has held its summer games on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, attracting athletes throughout the state. This year, events are split between three locations with the main ceremonies taking place at Pacific Lutheran University.

JBLM Child and Youth Services will once again bring a group of athletes to compete against the best in the state. The JBLM Tigers have 24 athletes competing in events like swimming, athletics — similar to track and field — and soccer.

Fifteen swimmers from JBLM won a total of 32 gold medals at the Southwest regional competition April 23 in Longview. They join seven in athletics and two in soccer competing at the spring games.

“Being a part of the state games means that all their hard work and practice over the last two months has paid off with making it to the state games,” said Genia Stewart, JBLM head coach. “They really look forward to it every year and try their hardest at regionals in hopes that they will make it to the state games.”

Athletics features track events like runs and walks, as well as field sports like a softball throw and a foam javelin throw. The sport allows unified partners to be more involved in helping their athletes.

Tyler Parkhurst, 14, swam for the past two years, but he’ll be joining Jonah Tolar for a few events at state.

“He really likes this; it’s like a buddy system,” said Elisa Parkhurst, Tyler’s mom. “(In swimming), he felt like he was just filling a spot on the relay.”

The newest sport under the JBLM Tigers is soccer. Both of the pilot athletes — Anthony Newlander, 28, and Cathy Fowler, 24 — won gold medals in individual soccer skills at the Southwest Regionals April 22 in Puyallup.

The skills competition includes shooting, dribbling and a pass and run event where the athlete starts in the middle of a square and attempts to kick the ball in each of the four corners through a goal.

It was a good fit for Coach Jim Newlander, Anthony’s father. Although he’s coached swimming in the past, he made his pitch while highlighting his experience with competing in junior nationals and All-Army.

“I was able to explain that we could do (practice) in conjunction with athletics,” Newlander said.

Winning a medal is always something the athletes aim for, but there are some things gained through the experience that are worth more than bronze, silver or gold. Layshka Velez said when she first brought her son Josh, 9, a year ago, he was extremely shy in public, but her son has slowly socialized more with every practice and every competition.

“As we keep on coming, he’s gotten so much better,” Velez said. “The more he comes, the more he’s been opening up.”

The opening ceremony will take place Friday at 7 p.m. at Pacific Lutheran University. The campus will also host soccer and athletics on Saturday and Sunday. JBLM will remain the host for cycling and powerlifting; swimming takes place at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way.

For more information, visit specialolympicswashington.org.

June 9, 2017 at 6:36am

1st SFG wins soccer title in walk-off style

1st SFG’s Guillermo Jimenez, middle, directs a header past 5th ASOS goal keeper Sammie Ervan, right, to win the JBLM Commander’s Cup Soccer Championship at the Lewis North Athletic Complex June 2. 1st SFG defeated 5th ASOS 2-1 in two overtimes. JBLM PAO p

What better way to finish your soccer final game with your team than to get the game-winning goal in the final moments of overtime?

Josh Avila of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) team gave Guillermo Jimenez a farewell gift with a precise corner kick to allow Jimenez to head in the winning goal to defeat 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, 2-1, in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Commander’s Cup Soccer Championship June 2 at the Lewis North Athletic Complex.

“Everything just opened up,” Jimenez said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but when I saw it, I just put a head on it.”

Jimenez’s goal in the 10th and final minute of sudden death overtime prevented a round of penalty kicks. In an exciting and physical soccer match, Jimenez — known as “Memo” by his teammates — was a unanimous pick for the championship’s Most Valuable Player award.

Jimenez said it was a team effort by a team he won’t be able to return to next intramural season. Jimenez’s expiration of term of service date is next March — right before the next Commander’s Cup season. He said he’s just glad his final game with his teammates ended in victory.

“These guys played their butts off,” Jimenez said.

The 5th ASOS team members built up momentum after big saves from their goalkeeper Sammie Ervan. In the 11th minute, Ervan made a stretching save off a header from 1st SFG’s Jon Dyer. A few minutes later, Ervan was able to stop a shot from Dyer after the 1st SFG had a two-on-one advantage inside the box.

The 5th ASOS turned that energy into a goal in the 17th minute when Fernando Torres Lopez, team captain, delivered a long pass that was redirected by Austin Spagnola’s head for the first goal of the game.

In the second half, the 1st SFG made adjustments and was able to create more quality opportunities early on. Dyer finally got past Ervan with a breakaway goal in the 10th minute. Dyer’s sidestep juke led Ervan to go for a sliding save as Dyer avoided him for an easy tap-in goal.

“It ignited a fire in the team; we realized we were back in it,” Dyer said. “It really emphasizes having to capitalize. You can have 20 opportunities, but you have to put some away.”

After the two 25-minute halves of regulation, the tied game went into two five-minute overtime periods where the next goal would win. Both teams had scoring chances, and each had physical defensive plays where players were knocked down or pushed.

Before Jimenez’s deciding goal for the 1st SFG, the 5th ASOS had some confidence to score another goal in the overtime period. Torres Lopez said the 1st SFG was able to counter perfectly on defense.

“Our morale was still high, but we just couldn’t capitalize on our chances,” Torres Lopez said.

June 13, 2017 at 6:59pm

Why is grass tall on JBLM?

The tall grass alongside the sidewalk between the McChord Field lodging and the Civil Air Patrol building still remains uncut, June 1, on McChord Field. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

For the past few months members who work on McChord, those visiting and those living on McChord have noticed that the grass has grown out of control and that the grounds maintenance has seemed to go by the way side.

Both the Joint Base Lewis-McChord and 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs offices have received numerous complaints on this situation and in an effort to inform the community we will attempt to answer the growing question of "Why is the grass so tall on McChord?"

"Grass cutting and landscaping for McChord Field's 1,400 acres of grass used to be provided by a long-term contract that expired in 2014," said Mr. Joe Piek, JBLM public affairs officer. "In the follow-on contract, challenges with a contractor and drought water condition very much degraded the quality of grounds appearance across McChord Field.  

"In the interim a series of ‘bridge' contracts have been awarded. The focus of these ‘bridge' contracts has been on maintaining grounds around high visibility areas such as the McChord Field Main Gate, the 62nd and 446th AW headquarters buildings, the medical clinic, the PAX terminal, and Western Air Defense Sector facilities.

"The recent award of another ‘bridge' contract will address basic grass trimming and edging for the remainder of McChord's grounds."

"We have been watching this, been concerned, and working to address this over the last year and a half with the JBLM Department of Public Works and Army Contracting," said Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd AW commander. "The grass is starting to get cut, buildings are being cleaned and repaired and we're working towards the level of appearance expected for McChord.

"We have Air Mobility Command's largest exercise, known as Mobility Guardian, coming to JBLM in August 2017 and are working together with our joint base partners to ensure the base appearance is addressed to meet that timeline and sustained after that."

Recognizing the situation, the JBLM Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation has "flexed" some of its grass cutting resources to McChord Field to help out, according to Piek.

Shrinking DoD budgets, increasing mission-driven requirements and funding allocated to JBLM to pay for building maintenance, repairs, utilities, base support contracts and the manpower to do the work has been cut significantly over the past several years stated Piek.

This situation is not only affecting McChord as it is seen across all of JBLM as well.

"Six years ago, JBLM Directorate of Public Works had more than 30 full-time employees, plus 15 summer hires to do grass cutting, spraying, trimming, and storm debris removal on Lewis Main and Lewis North, said Piek. "Now, 12 JBLM DPW employees (a 75% cut) mow more than 2,500 acres on Lewis Main and North, which includes the training ranges. These same 12 employees are responsible for snow plowing and storm debris removal.

"DPW prioritizes "high-visibility areas" to receive grounds maintenance.  These areas include locations on Lewis Main and Lewis North like Memorial Park and Camp Lewis Cemetery, certain headquarters buildings, the Liberty Gate, the Lewis-Clark monument and Iron Mike and other improved areas. Training ranges must be mowed two to three times each summer to ensure targets are visible.

"Every area to be mowed is already scheduled from April through October, but because of personnel cutbacks the time between cuttings is longer."

Piek addressed other grass contract and grounds maintenance that is not worked by JBLM DPW or the McChord Field contract.

"DFMWR cuts and maintains the grounds around all their recreation, child development, and child and youth services facilities, as well as both JBLM golf courses," said Piek. "Lincoln Residential cuts the grass throughout base housing, except for residents who have fenced-in yards, or residents who have requested to mow their own lawns.

"Contracts for trash pickup are gone. The Joint Base Headquarters has two, three-Soldier details that pick up trash along three routes on McChord Field, Lewis Main and Lewis North, as well as a few exterior roads just off base.

June 13, 2017 at 7:07pm

Leaders discuss lessons learned in the Pacific Theater

Col. David Foley (facing away), commander of 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, speaks with Lt. Col. Teddy Kleisner, commander of 1-23 Infantry, about the importance of training frequency to build skills into muscle memory. Photo credit: Maj. Kelly Haux

From February to May 2017, soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, developed their combat and interoperability skills in a series of joint bilateral exercises with allies in Thailand, Korea and the Philippines.

In order to expand upon the experience gained during these exercises, collectively known as Pacific Pathways, senior leaders of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Ghost Brigade, held a Key Leader Symposium, May 31, 2017, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, to discuss key practices developed by 1-23 Infantry during Pacific Pathways.

"It's about how we see ourselves now and where we see our formation, the Stryker Brigade, in the future" said Col. David Foley, the 1-2 SBCT commander and host of the KLS. "Our purpose is to examine the lessons  learned from Pacific Pathways and how best to resource our formation."

Pacific Pathways is an innovative training deployment or "pathway" for Army forces, linking existing exercises with partner-nation militaries and demonstrates U.S. commitment in the Pacific Region.

The overall assessment of Pacific Pathways was that it enabled the Soldiers of the Ghost Brigade to develop skills on the asymmetric battlefield similar to the situations they might encounter in the Middle East or in Africa. Not only did the training opportunity enable the Soldiers to grow in their tactics and skills but to learn from other nations' professional military forces, increasing the reputation of the US Army as a premier fighting force.

During Pathways, military tactics was a common language among allied nations and an avenue of overcoming a perceived language barrier.  

"A squad attack is a squad attack," said Lt. Col. Teddy Kleisner, commander of the 1-23 Infantry. "Of course there are some nuance differences between how it is carried out between U.S. and partnered nations, but essentially it is an easy common language between soldiers."

The common terminology, along with the frequency of live fire maneuver training during Pacific Pathways allowed a strong muscle memory to be developed, which in turn creates better soldiers and leader, Kleisner said.

Kleisner further explained interoperability with allies is much more than using the other nation's military hardware. In some cases it requires keeping plans simple, assigning language-capable liaison soldiers with radios to the right leaders, or using "old school" signal solutions such as signal flags to ensure everyone can communicate effectively.

Attendees at the leadership symposium later collaborated efforts and described what they learned when they participated in group break-out sessions, which were designed to develop strategies to enhance the Ghost Brigade's future training and campaign plans.

Additionally, brigade staff sections presented future training opportunities, discussed training objectives, challenges, possible risks and concerns which would provide details for future combat training center rotations.

In his closing remarks, Foley praised the participants for their active engagement in the conversation about the Ghost Brigade's future and how each of them has contributed to the unit's success.

"This has really been a great opportunity for us to actively participate in discussions about what we've learned, and where we're headed collectively as an organization," Foley said. "We don't look at this as an end state for we're barely scratching the surface of what we can do as we empower, develop and grow our leaders and prepare for the future.

June 13, 2017 at 7:11pm

I am a Sikh American. I am proud to serve.

Spc. Gurpreet Gill, a soldier with 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team at JBLM, had his religious accommodation approved, allowing him to grow facial hair and wear a turban in accordance with his Sikh faith. Courtesy photo

In 2012, I immigrated to the United States at age 24. I knew I was going to a whole new world, one that was markedly different from Jaipur, India, where I was born and raised.

America is a melting pot; as a Sikh, I was excited to share my culture with my new friends and neighbors. While I did not know exactly what the future would hold for me, I knew that I wanted to be true to the Sikh values of serving others and my country while fulfilling the Sikh tradition of serving in the armed forces. In 2014, I joined the U.S. Army. 

I was first stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., after which I was stationed at Fort Lewis, just south of Tacoma, where I currently serve as an active-duty member of the Army.

For me, there was never any question on whether I was going to join the military. The values with which I was raised placed a strong emphasis of serving my community and those around me. These values are a core tenet of my religion: Sikhism, which is still not well known in the U.S.

To provide some background, Sikhism is the world's fifth largest religion. It was established in India in the 16th century as a response to a cultural caste system, which had a rigid social structure that dictated how you were treated by society. Sikhism was founded, in part, to change that and to create equality and opportunity for all.

One of the ways Sikhs demonstrate their commitment to equality is by wearing the turban, a symbol that is often misconstrued as a symbol of extremism in the U.S. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sikh Americans wear the turban to demonstrate their commitment to equality and serving others. In fact, the turban symbolizes the same values that I defend as a member of the U.S. Army.

Approximately 600,000 Sikhs live in the U.S. and about 99 percent of the people seen wearing turbans in the U.S. are Sikh. Yet a majority of Americans don't know what Sikhism is and even more still have never interacted with a Sikh American. To help close this information gap, the National Sikh Campaign just launched We Are Sikhs, a new, national effort to help Americans better understand their Sikh American neighbors.

Until recently, Sikh men and women were not able to wear a turban while serving in the U.S. military, including myself. Earlier this year, the U.S. Army revised its regulations to allow servicemembers to wear a turban for religious reasons.

Due to the change in policy, I now wear my turban and beard with pride and I no longer have to choose between my country and my faith. This is a significant victory for Sikh Americans. I believe this will allow more Sikhs to continue the tradition of serving in the U.S. armed forces, which for Sikhs dates back to World War I.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. military is among the most diverse fighting forces in the world. Not only do my fellow soldiers fall across the socioeconomic spectrum, but our cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds are just as varied. There are very few places in the world that I can work alongside someone who could trace their ancestry back to the founding of the U.S. or share a bunk with someone who left his or her hometown for the first time to go to basic training.

The diverse culture of the U.S. military is what makes it unmatched around the world; our shared commitment to defending the United States, despite our differences, is what makes it great. I joined the U.S. Army to fulfill my desire and drive to serve my community. Even though I was not born in the United States, I know I am surrounded by soldiers - people - who share these feelings.

I am proud to be an American. I am even prouder to be a Sikh American. It is an honor to serve my fellow Americans in the U.S. Army.

June 15, 2017 at 2:05pm

"Ghost Brigade" holds change of command ceremony

Col. Jasper Jeffers gives a speech June 8 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord after assuming command of the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup

The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Ghost Brigade," 2nd Infantry Division, welcomed a new commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, with a change of command ceremony at Watkins Field June 8.

Col. Jasper Jeffers assumed duties as the commander, replacing Col. David Foley as the commander of the Ghost Brigade.

Maj. Gen. Thomas James, the 7th Infantry Division commander, described Jeffers as a man equal to the task of carrying on the legacy of the Ghost Brigade and Jeffers arrives at command with combat experience from Iraq, Afghanistan, North and West Africa as well as other locations throughout the Middle East.

"His predecessor, Col. Foley, aggressively built mission command," said James, "which allowed the Ghost Brigade team to attend two decisive action rotations at the National Training Center within 10 months, enhanced readiness through deploying formations to exercise Yudh Abhyas in India and on JBLM, plus simultaneously building interoperability with partnered nations in the Pacific Region through two Pacific Pathways iterations."

For Foley, the change of command ceremony was the opportunity to reflect upon the lineage of the 1-2 SBCT as well as the brigade's accomplishments.

"Over the course of this command," said Foley, "I've watched with admiration as these Ghost soldiers have not only evolved into a contemporary Stryker brigade combat team, but also conducted countless operations, administrative requirements, and training initiatives in support of a multi-faceted operational strategy that justly encapsulates the strength of this Stryker warfighting formation.

"They have developed strong community partnerships and a health of the force campaign in support of both a comprehensive leader development strategy and the indoctrinated tenets of a values-based learning organization," Foley added. "All of these major accomplishments could not have been realized without the strong support of the magnificent officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers in the bayonet division."

Foley highlighted what he believes is the single most important element of the formation: the soldiers and their development as leaders of character.

"The soldiers of this brigade are the best the Army has to offer," Foley said. "They are empowered leaders of character who possess the moral courage to do the right thing, who operate on disciplined initiative, fight and care for each other ... and they do not quit.

"They emulate the Officer/NCO team as the centerpiece for accomplishing tasks to standard and for developing individual and unit strength of character," he said. "Their physical and mental toughness is the cornerstone for ensuring competent, confident leaders, for inspiring a winning spirit, and for achieving the kind of readiness essential to providing lethal and adaptable force projection in support of future national security requirements."

This brigade change of command is the most recent in a series of changes within the subordinate battalions in the unit. Five of the six battalions that make up the Ghost Brigade changed command within recent months, with the final battalion scheduled to change in the near future.

June 15, 2017 at 2:09pm

1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Special Olympics power lifting

Soldiers with 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), assist an athlete during the squatting event at the Special Olympics on Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the Evergreen Theater. Photo credit: Brandon Welsh

The soldiers who gave up their Saturday had no problem doing so and would gladly volunteer at any type of event if ever such occasion arises. "For us it might be a little thing, but for them it's such a great accomplishment and you can see the satisfaction on their face, and that's definitely something that sparked the light in me that made me want to do this more and more," said human resources specialist Sgt. 1st Class Juan Heward. That's what being a soldier is all about - supporting the community they reside in and willfully volunteering whenever one can, showing selfless service in everything they do.

The amount of support that the soldiers gave to the athletes throughout the competition was overwhelming. Nothing but smiles and happy people the whole day everywhere one looked. The athletes were so proud of themselves after every complete lift as the building erupted in cheers and were greeted with high-fives on all sides of them from soldiers and other athletes alike.

The soldiers volunteer at this event every year and any other event they can, work permitting. Heward also said, "My wife and I always volunteer and try and participate, it's good to volunteer and give back to the community. Why not? It's better than sitting at home on the couch," said Heward. "When you do this type of event, it makes you feel good and that's what we should do. Nobody told us to come here; we participate every year."

June 18, 2017 at 5:59am

JBLM soldier headed to Warrior Games

U.S. Army photo Army Spc. Maria Garcia trains for the swimming event for the Warrior Care and Transition’s Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas, March 29. About 80 wounded, ill and injured active-duty Soldiers and veterans competed in eight different spor

Specialist Maria Garcia of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Warrior Transition Battalion will be one of 40 athletes representing Team Army at the Department of Defense Warrior Games June 30 to July 8 in Chicago.

Between the Air Force and Army trials, Garcia earned seven medals in cycling, shooting and swimming. When she first heard about the Warrior Games in February, she wasn’t exactly sure she wanted to participate. It took some encouragement from peers whose injuries prevented them from signing up to convince her.

“It was an eye-opener,” Garcia said. “I could be a lot worse off, and there would be plenty of people who would love this opportunity. I can’t really lose anything from it; I can only gain.”

That’s not to say Garcia’s injuries don’t make it tough to compete. In mid-2015, Garcia suffered injuries to her back, knee, shoulder and pelvis during a routine road march. She had one surgery in May 2016, and she has pelvis and back surgeries scheduled later this year.

Before signing up for the Air Force Warrior Games trials, Garcia said she was hesitant to go jogging, let alone running. There are still constant pains in her everyday life. That’s part of why she took on the physical and mental challenge of competing in the first place.

“If I’m enjoying (the competition) in the moment, that outweighs the pain later on — sometimes,” Garcia said.

When Garcia first began training for the Air Force Warrior Games Trials Feb. 24 to March 3, she said she wasn’t aware that there were medals. Her goal was to overcome the physical and mental challenge while receiving support from new teammates.

Garcia earned a gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke and a bronze in the 50-meter freestyle swim. She also added a silver medal in air rifle shooting.

Fast forward to the Army Warrior Games Trials April 2 to 6 at Fort Bliss, Texas, where she added four more medals — gold in 50-meter backstroke, silver in 50-meter freestyle, silver in air rifle and bronze in recumbent cycling.

“Yes, it was nice to see I could accomplish something, and it made me feel good,” Garcia said. “But the teamwork with everyone else was definitely a lot more important to me.”

Since training for the Warrior Games, Garcia has gained a lot of support from newfound peers — many of whom are folks with similar injuries who have learned how to adapt life to their physical and mental needs.

Those adaptations have allowed Garcia to be more confident moving forward, she said. It’s all about pacing herself to jog rather than try to go for a run. It’s also helped her to rediscover some of her previous passions, like dancing.

“Maybe I can’t do the splits anymore or other moves, but there are other things I can do slowly,” Garcia said. “Maybe I’ll get back to where I want to be>”

It wasn’t long ago when Garcia had the feeling of being alone, and it was hard to find someone who could relate in a logical manner, she said.

For Garcia, the most important outcome from participating in Warrior Games is the network of other wounded and injured service members.

“(Competing is about) not feeling alone and knowing that people do care,” Garcia said.

June 22, 2017 at 2:43pm

Bayonet division sets record

Pfc. Shaqwahn Stanard, a turn-in clerk with 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, places a pallet into a truck for shipment June 17 at Yakima Training Center. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup

The largest 7th Infantry Division-led exercise since 2012 is happening at Yakima Training Center and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, June 15-29. Thousands of soldiers from 22 units from across the country are conducting live, virtual and constructive training simultaneously, and none of it would be possible without the efforts of 35 soldiers.

Servicemembers conduct training at YTC throughout the year. The installation is normally capable of supporting 1,500 people with food and water. However, Bayonet Focus 17-03 has swelled YTC to approximately 7,000 people.

This exercise gave soldiers who are automated logistic specialists an experience they wouldn't normally get, said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Kizzie, 46th Aviation Support Battalion Supply Support Activity noncommissioned officer in charge. He wants his soldiers to understand they deal with multiple classes of supply, not just the Class 9.

Kizzie has revolutionized the way logistics is conducted, said Sgt. 1st Class DeRonnious Heidelberg, logistics noncommissioned officer in charge for 7th ID. He has set the standard even though he had one month to plan and execute the massive logistical operation.

Only 17 soldiers from 46th ASB and 18 soldiers from 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion are responsible for the inventory, separation and distribution of food rations for this exercise.

Food in the Army supply system falls under Class 1. The Class 1 yard is where these rations are pulled, inventoried and loaded to the correct unit. Normally this is done by automated logistical specialists; however, culinary specialists have been included into the Class 1 yard for the exercise.

"This is the first ever that culinary specialists have had this much involvement in class one resupply," said Sgt. 1st Class MacArthur Ocampo, Senior Culinary Management NCO, 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Ocampo, who orders and manages rations for the entire exercise, has only been at Lancer Brigade for two weeks and has never done anything of this magnitude in his career.

"An army marches on its stomach," Ocampo quoted Napoleon. That quote is what motivates him.

"How can a soldier focus on a mission if he is hungry?" Ocampo said.

The focus is to ensure soldiers are fed, stomachs are full and people are energized, said Sgt. 1st Class Dedrick Williams, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Class 1 yard. Nothing is worse than a soldier on the battlefield with a hungry stomach.

Approximately 21,000 meals are consumed daily and all that perishable food needs refrigeration. The Multi Temperature Refrigerant Containerized System is an eight-foot tall, eight-foot wide, 20-foot long freezer. The maintenance team for the system ensures the freezer keeps working so food doesn't spoil and meals keep getting to the troops.

"What motivates me is that there are seven thousand people counting on me to keep the refrigerators going and it makes me feel useful to this massive overall mission," said Spc. Cassition Adelbai, air conditioner mechanic, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. "I have only been in the Army six months and it taught me to adapt and overcome any obstacle."

All unused food not used during the exercise will be donated to the Washington Food Bank.

Bayonet Focus 17-03 is the largest exercise 7th Infantry Division has executed since 2012. Thousands of soldiers are training in combined arms breaches, attacking, counter-attacking, defending and calling for fire. An army marches on its stomach and it's 35 soldiers that make it happen.

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Remember - go out east gate, take a right, then right, then left and follow the road wayyyy out...

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Angelic said:

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