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Posts made in: 'Deployment' (36) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 36

June 22, 2013 at 1:56pm

Video: How military vote in Washington state

U.S. Air Force photo: Tech. Sgt. Raheem Moore

Every November, thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines take a moment while on the "Frontlines of Freedom" and ponder what the hell is happening back home during Election Day. Many of those serving our nation in uniform will have gone through the complicated process of registering to vote from overseas, navigated the confusing and time consuming twists and turns necessary to obtain an absentee ballot, and then gone the extra mile to mail that ballot back to their home state. Some servicemembers will skip the process due to a number of reasons, including a lack of knowledge of the procedures.

In Washington state, the Office of the Secretary of State is trying to make it easier for military living in the state to vote. It has created a nifty video aimed at educating military members on the process.

The video discusses the history of moving Washington's primary elections earlier to aid service members, logistical challenges of sending and receiving ballots in remote locations, voting innovations pioneered by the Office of Secretary of State, and information on registering and updating voter registration information.

Check out the "Serving Those Who Serve - A Guide to Military Voting in washington State" video below. It's pretty slick, although it screams for a rockin' soundtrack. We suggest Titus Andronicus's "A More Perfect Union," which mixes Abraham Lincoln quotes, Harriet Beecher Stowe verses and homage to Bruce Springsteen. Launch that video below before launching the tax video. It's the perfect union.

Filed under: Deployment, Education, Video,

April 6, 2012 at 8:50am

Lancers set for deployment

Colonel Barry Huggins, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division commander, told Joint Base Lewis-McChord his "Lancer" Brigade will defend America far from her shores and return with honor in remarks at Watkins Field last week. His speech highlighted a morning colors-casing ceremony for approximately 4,000 Lancer Brigade Soldiers who will deploy to Afghanistan in upcoming weeks.

Troops from 2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. will join approximately 4,000 fellow JBLM troops in Afghanistan, most from 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.

Fifth Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division redeployed from Afghanistan and reflagged as 2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. in July 2010.

Last February, Huggins said the team expected to deploy for nine months to fight terrorist groups and support Afghan National Security Forces to relieve pressure on dedicated coalition training teams.

Huggins said in his speech March 30, regardless of the road ahead, the Lancers were thankful.

"Decades ago, my father served in Vietnam," he said. "When he came home he arrived alone and he was greeted with silence or worse. Today being a Soldier is very different. When we make our way through the airport it's impossible not to be stopped and thanked."

Huggins went on to thank service members, their families, and civilians throughout JBLM and the South Sound for supporting his brigade since their last return.

Soldiers from the brigade's six battalions and headquarters company, undeterred by recent international incidents, said high professionalism remains a standard across the "Lancer" ranks.

"We're definitely ready," Capt. Jeffery Wollenman, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment fire support officer, said. "I've been with the battalion for about a year. We're a professional organization with good leadership from the top, all the way down to the bottom."

Though the Lancers' colors will be new to the Afghan area of operations, many of the Soldiers who carry it are already battle tested. Almost 40 percent of those deploying with 2nd Bde. this spring have had Afghan mission experience and more than a third have deployed to Iraq.

Though Sgt. 1st Class Raul Cantu arrived five months ago at 2-1 Inf., the platoon sergeant is one of the battalion's seasoned leaders; this will be his fourth deployment and his second to Afghanistan. He said Afghanistan's lack of modern roads, streets and bridges one of its fundamental differences from Iraq.

"When people think of Iraq, they may not realize how developed it is. They have a lot more infrastructure and a lot of the things they have there, we have here," Cantu said. "Afghanistan is a lot less developed. It's very rural and rugged."

As a married Soldier with two children, Cantu said he recognized his wife, Mari, who will experience her first deployment this spring, and the other Lancer Families will have a lot on their shoulders in 2012.

"I told her she had the most important job of all," he said. "It's a difficult time for us as a Family, but we're strong - we'll get through it."

He also said most American people might be surprised to find they have more in common with most Iraqis and Afghans than they realize.

"Most of the people I've come across just want to work and provide for their families," he said. "The farmers go out to the fields, work hard to put food on the table, then come home to spend time with their families - much like us."

April 2, 2012 at 12:39pm

U.S. troops get new protections in Afghanistan

This from Army Times: WASHINGTON - U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have assigned "guardian angels" - troops that watch over their comrades even as they sleep - and have ordered a series of other increased security measures to protect troops against possible attacks by rogue Afghans.

The added protections are part of a directive issued in recent weeks by Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to guard against insider threats, according to a senior military official. And they come in the wake of a spike in attacks on U.S. and coalition forces by Afghans, including the point-blank shooting deaths of two U.S. advisers in Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior.

Some of the changes have been subtle, others not so much.

In several Afghan ministries, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons. And they have been instructed to rearrange their office desks there to face the door, so they can see who is coming in, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal directive.

To read the rest of the story, click here

Filed under: Afghanistan, Army News, Deployment,

July 25, 2011 at 3:13pm

Former Seahawks coach returns from USO trip to visit troops

From the Seattle Times: Mora learned that in Iraq, the NFL was the great escape.

"Here we are, 7,000 miles away from home in this God-awful place," he said. "It's 120 degrees. There's dust storms. It's nasty, ugly, awful. These guys haven't seen their families in months. They're doing these thankless jobs in this horrible environment, and doing them with smiles on their faces.

"But their biggest concern was not, are we going to take on indirect fire tonight. It was, are we going to have a season? They were really worried about that. The games give them something to talk about all week. That's the galvanizing power of the NFL."

Along with his father, Jim; Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt; and Houston coach Gary Kubiak, Mora, the former Seahawks coach, went to Iraq as part of a USO tour.

He called the trip humbling.

"Initially, there was this allure of going to this exotic, foreign place," Mora said. "But then the trip became something I felt I had to do, almost like it was my duty to do it. It started out as something I thought would be fun, but it became something more solemn that needed to be done."

To read Steve Kelley's entire column, click here.

Filed under: Deployment, Iraq, Sports,

July 21, 2011 at 9:41am

Missing hand the only change in MoH recipient, friends say

Staff Sgt. Nathan Norton, pointing, and Sgt. Otilio Vasquez, right, both assigned to D Co., 2-75 Rngr., look for Rangers from their company while watching a live broadcast of the Medal of Honor ceremony honoring Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry July 12.

Duane Hardesty's across-the-street neighbor is a lot like anyone else's. He mows the lawn, washes his car and occasionally comes over to sit on the porch and talk.

That's where his neighbor, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was on an evening in May, after the White House announced that he would receive the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in Afghanistan.

Petry, who lost his right hand throwing a grenade away from his fellow Rangers in 2008, and his wife Ashley, were sitting outside the Hardestys' home in Steilacoom, Wash., when the congratulatory texts and calls started to arrive. But in spite of his recent notoriety, friends and fellow Soldiers say he's the same guy he's always been - and that they couldn't be prouder.

"It's an incredible honor to know them personally and just be able to be a help to them," he said of the Family.

Hardesty, a retired Army colonel, works for a private contractor that assists severely wounded servicemembers. He remembers every detail of the first time he saw Petry without his hand. He had just returned from a business trip when his wife came into his study.

"I thought she'd seen a ghost or something," Hardesty said.

His wife told him Leroy and Ashley wanted to see him. When he came outside, he could see right away his neighbor's hand had been amputated at the wrist.

"I just gave him a bear hug and we cried for a while," Hardesty said.

Staff Sgt. Nathan Norton, 2-75 Rngr., has other vivid memories of Petry. He was part of the mission that day in Afghanistan, but couldn't be at the White House ceremony on Tuesday. Instead, he watched with the rest of D Company (Petry's former company) at Farrelli's Wood Fire Pizza in DuPont, Wash.

"I can't congratulate him enough," Norton said.

He remembers the events of May 26, 2008 as though they happened in slow motion, and knew even then what an incredible thing he was witnessing. There was no question in anyone's mind that Petry deserved to be nominated for the award, Norton said.

Aside from his missing hand, though, not much about Petry has changed. Before, he was known for always joking around - maybe even a little too much. Now his prosthetic arm just gives him another prop to be the goofy guy he always was.

"How the President described him is pretty much how he is," Sgt. 1st Class Aric Daldon, who's known Petry about six years, said after the ceremony.

Now Petry works with other wounded, injured and ill Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and Hardesty said there's no better man for that job, or to set an example as a Medal of Honor recipient.

"He's so focused on making sure he represents not only the Army, but every warrior (who has) ever worn a uniform," he said.

Hardesty expects that when Petry comes back to the house across the street, he and his Family will be just as humble, dedicated and duty-driven as they've always been. But he knows one thing for certain - the next time he sees his neighbor, he's going to salute him.

"I couldn't be prouder of him if he were my own son," he said.

April 6, 2011 at 5:12pm

U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffer more catastrophic injuries

This from the Los Angeles Times: Reporting from Landstuhl, Germany, and Helmand- Grim combat statistics that one military doctor called "unbelievable" show U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffered an unprecedented number of catastrophic injuries last year, including a tripling of amputations of more than one limb.

A study by doctors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where most wounded troops are sent before returning to the U.S., confirmed their fears: The battlefield has become increasingly brutal.

In 2009, 75 service members brought to Landstuhl had limbs amputated. Of those, 21 had lost more than one limb.

But in 2010, 171, 11% of all the casualties brought to Landstuhl, had undergone amputations, a much higher proportion than in past wars. Of the 171, 65 had lost more than one limb.

Injuries to the genital area were also on the increase. In 2009, 52 casualties were brought to Landstuhl with battlefield injuries to their genitals or urinary tract. In 2010, that number was 142.

Dr. John Holcomb, a retired Army colonel with extensive combat-medicine experience, said he and other doctors involved in the study were shocked by the findings, which he labeled as "unbelievable."  

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: Deployment, Afghanistan, Health,

February 3, 2011 at 10:17am

Aviation Guard unit to deploy Saturday

CAMP MURRAY - The Washington National Guard will bid farewell to the 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation in a ceremony on Saturday, February 5 at 2:00 pm in the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The unit will serve in support of Operation New Dawn and will be based in Kuwait. Approximately 180 Army National Guard aviators, support personnel and staff from all over the State of Washington will comprise the deploying force.

"The air warriors from the Raptor Battalion are well known throughout the military aviation community for their professionalism and record of excellence.  They will represent our state and nation well, and accomplish their mission," said Major General Timothy J. Lowenberg, the Adjutant General and commander of the Washington National Guard.

Commonly referred to as "The Raptor Battalion" the 1/168 Aviation is headquartered at JBLM, under the Washington Army National Guard's 66th Theater Aviation Command.  Their mission will focus on the synchronization of aviation assets, senior leader movement and general support missions in the Operation New Dawn Theater.  The Raptor Battalion flies and maintains UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

The unit recently completed a portion of their mobilization training and certification at the Yakima Training Center.  They will spend a couple of months training at Fort Hood, Texas and then deploy to Kuwait.  They will be mobilized for 12 months, plus any leave time they accrue.  The Raptor Battalion previously served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from May 2007 to May 2008.    

February 1, 2011 at 10:18am

Army to prosecute JBLM soldier for Afghan murder

This from The News Tribune: The Army announced today that it will prosecute the fifth and final member of a group of Stryker soldiers who allegedly murdered Afghan civilians during patrols last year despite a review that cited weaknesses in the case against the soldier.

The announcement is a setback to Spc. Michael Wagnon, 30, whose family had hoped that the Army would dismiss charges against him after an investigating officer reviewed the case in November and reported that there was little evidence against him.

That report went to Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the senior general at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, who determined the Army has evidence to proceed with a court-martial against Wagnon.

Wagnon will face a court-martial on charges that he murdered an Afghan civilian during a February patrol, shot at unarmed Afghans in March and participated in conspiracies to harm Afghans. He could be sentenced to life in prison if he's convicted.

The Army dismissed two charges from Wagnon's case. One alleged that he kept a piece of skull from an Afghan corpse; the other accused him of trying to obstruct the Army's investigation into his platoon's misconduct by destroying images of Afghan casualties on his computer.

His attorney debunked both of those charges at an Article 32 hearing in November. Wagnon's platoon mates said the skull fragment he kept came from a camel, not a person.

For more on the story, click here.

January 21, 2011 at 1:03pm

Chase spends $2M to fix errors on military mortgages

This from Army Times: JPMorgan Chase is issuing checks totaling $2 million to 4,000 service members after discovering overcharges and errors in their mortgages.

"We made mistakes, we deeply regret them and are working to fix it in the hopes that this does not happen again," JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Kristin Lemkau said.

Fourteen service members were improperly forced into foreclosure. Chase has resolved 13 of cases and is working on the remaining one, Lemkau said.

The errors were made in the loans of service members who requested their rights under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act and came to light after a Marine fighter pilot filed a lawsuit in federal court.

The law provides a number of protections to service members, including the right to require a bank to reduce interest rates to 6% on loans entered into before active-duty service or mobilization.

Marine Capt. Jonathon Rowles, now assigned to South Korea, alleges Chase committed a number of violations, including failing to give the proper effective date of the interest rate reduction, repeatedly requiring him to re-apply for protections, and trying to collect on inaccurate account balances.

Lemkau said Chase officials were aware of some of problems with service members before the lawsuit, "but the full-on review intensified" afterward.

To read more, click here.

January 18, 2011 at 8:56am

Study: Deployed GIs benefited from upfront help

This from USA Today: A battlefield study conducted by the Army on 20,000 soldiers during the troop surge in Iraq shows that more aggressive efforts to question and counsel GIs about their mental health reduce by nearly 80 percent the number who develop behavioral health illnesses during combat.

The results of the study, to be published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also show that 54 percent fewer soldiers contemplated suicide and that the number who needed to be sent home from Iraq with mental health problems dropped by nearly 70 percent.

"We're excited about what this study shows," says Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army deputy surgeon general. "It is the first direct evidence that a program [of more aggressive screening and treatment] is effective in preventing adverse behavioral health outcomes."

The Army will begin using screening and treatment methods from the study within six months, Horoho says.

Battlefield doctors who authored the study tracked six brigades attached to the 3rd Infantry Division fighting in Iraq during early 2007, at the height of a surge ordered by President Bush. At the core of the experiment was an effort to more thoroughly screen soldiers as they were heading off to war, the study says.

To read the complete story, click here.

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