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October 6, 2013 at 4:45pm

Update: Spc. Tevin A. Geike of JBLM died from stab wounds

This in from 7th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office:

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - On Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, Spc. Tevin A. Geike, died from wounds suffered during an altercation while with friends in Lakewood, Wash. The incident is currently under investigation by the Lakewood Police Department.
 
Geike, of Summerville, SC, was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division.
 
According to unit records, Spc. Geike entered the Army in October 2010 and reported to Fort Jackson, SC, for Army Basic Training. Following graduation, he reported to Fort Rucker, Ala., for Advanced Individual Training in the Military Occupational Specialty 15P (Aviation Operations Specialist). Upon graduation from AIT, Geike arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in April 2011. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4-6th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 16th CAB, as an aviation operations specialist. In October 2011, he was reassigned to the 2-158th AHB.
 
Spc. Geike's civilian and military education includes a high school diploma (2010) and Military Occupational Specialty 15P: Aviation Operations Specialist (2010).
 
His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Aviation Badge.

UPDATE: Reuters reports race not a factor in Geike's stabbing.

UPDATE TWO: The office of Pierce County Prosecuotr Mark Lindquist has released a statement regarding the three men charged with murdering Spc. Tevin A. Geike. The release is posted below:

Today, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Jeremiah Hill, 23, with MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE in the stabbing death of Tevin Geike, 20. Cedarium Johnson, 21, and Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, 21, were charged with RENDERING CRIMINAL ASSISTANCE for tampering with evidence. The victim and defendants are all active duty soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

"This was a senseless and sad murder where a soldier killed a fellow soldier for no reason," said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "Our prayers go out to the family and friends of Specialist Geike. He served our country honorably, and it breaks our hearts to see him lose his life in a cowardly street stabbing."

On October 5th, 2013, at approximately 2:30am, Geike and two fellow soldiers were walking in the 12500 block of Pacific Ave SW after leaving a gathering at a nearby motel. According to a witness, the car passed by the three friends and someone from the vehicle made an unspecified racial slur towards the men on foot. Witnesses could not recall what was actually said. The victim and his friends responded that they were combat veterans. The vehicle pulled over, and four of the five men got out and approached Geike and his friends. Once it was established that all parties were active duty soldiers, the occupants of the vehicle began to walk back to the car. It appeared the confrontation had defused. Defendant Hill grabbed the victim, put him in a "bear hug" hold, and stabbed him twice. Hill got back into the car, and the vehicle and its occupants left the scene.

Hill was covered in blood and told the car's occupants that he "cut" the victim. Defendant Johnson ordered the car's driver to proceed to Tillicum, where he then told Defendant Runnion-Bareford to throw the knife into the roadside brush. The vehicle belonged to Runnion-Bareford, so when the suspects returned to JBLM, Runnion-Bareford attempted to clean the blood from his vehicle, and parked it several blocks from his barracks to avoid detection. Over the weekend, Hill requested assistance from an Army medic to treat a cut on his hand. Hill told the medic that he suffered the cut to his hand when he "stabbed someone to death." Investigators recovered bloody clothing from Hill's and Johnson's rooms and also recovered the knife from a roadside in Tillicum.

The two suspects who spoke to investigators said race was not a motivating factor in the assault, and the victim's friends said that the initial slur was the only race-related language used. The other two occupants in the vehicle were fully-cooperative and detectives do not believe they participated in the stabbing or tampered with evidence. They will not be charged.

An autopsy showed that Geike suffered a superficial stab wound to his right side, followed by a deep stab wound to the front of his chest, which struck his heart.

The defendants were arraigned today at 1:30pm in Courtroom 270 of the County-City Building in Tacoma. The three plead "not guilty." Bail was set at $2 million for Hill and $250,000 for Runnion-Bareford. Johnson was released to Joint Base Lewis McChord. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

June 25, 2013 at 4:51pm

City of Lakewood sad to lose 4-2 SBCT relationship

The city of Lakewood is losing its best friend. The news the Army's plan to eliminate a dozen combat brigades by 2017 included deactivation of the 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of the force structure changes surely sent shockwaves throughout Lakewood City Hall. The city and the 4-2 SBCT have had a "Community Connector" relationship since 2006.

Below is a city of Lakewood statement in response to the 4-2 SBCT deactivation news.

LAKEWOOD, WA - Earlier today, Congressman Denny Heck relayed the news that the Army had selected the 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) for inactivation. The City of Lakewood has enjoyed a very active "Community Connector" relationship with the "Raider Brigade" since 2006.

Read more...

June 4, 2013 at 12:19pm

Greenwood, Clarkmoor, and Beachwood elementary schools score big bucks

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

Click here to read the full release.

May 29, 2013 at 8:05pm

Sen. Mike Carrell, active military supporter, died today

Sen. Mike Carrell, 69, lost his battle with myelodysplastic syndrome, which compromises the body's born marrow, Wednesday, May 29 while under care at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. 

Carrell spent almost two decades serving in the Washington State Legislature, first as part of the state's House of Representatives for 10 years and then as a member of the Senate, to which he was first elected in 2004. 

Most notably, Carrell authored both the bill that reformed the Washington criminal justice system in order to better protect the public and the "Becca" laws, which help to identify truant, at-risk youth so that they can receive assistance and guidance.

The Lakewood resident also held the military in high regard and worked hard to sponsor bills that would allow for easier transitions from the military into civilian life and to pass resolutions that would honor servicemembers' service. Additionally, he was a part of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs. 

In 2006, he memorably championed renaming the Berkeley Avenue I-5 overpass, which provides direct access to the Camp Murray front gate and the Madigan Army Medical Center gate to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. From that point on, the overpass has been officially referred to as "Freedom Bridge." 

Any cards, flowers or gifts can be sent to his Olympia office at P.O. Box 40428 Olympia, WA 98504-0428. 

Our thoughts are with the Carrell family.

May 23, 2013 at 2:35pm

The Arlington Project at Clover Park High School

Students at Clover Park High School work on The Arlington Project. In its eighth year, it honors the 6,650 service members who have fallen since 9/11. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Ariona Hendricks walked along a long row of stakes, each with the name of a fallen service member.

"I'm looking to make sure there are no duplicates," the Clover Park High School sophomore said. 

"It's a sign of respect to honor those who have given they lives for us."

As Memorial Day approaches, Clover Park High School students have been engaged in The Arlington Project.

Begun eight years ago by instructors David Russell and Bryan Winkler, the stakes are laid out in the exact same way the headstones are at Arlington National Cemetery.

>>> Cpl. Brandan Craig, Army, is remembered as part of The Arlington Project. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"When we started in 2005, there were 4,564," Winkler said.  "Now there are 6,650 - all deserving of recognition."

Zoey Selby agreed.

A senior at Clover Park High School, she invites the public to join her in a HERO - WOD, or Workout of the Day, activity.

"We can use a good physical workout to remember those who worked hard and gave their lives for us," Selby said.

For more information on this project, visit www.staystrongwodon.weebly.com.

Filed under: Holidays, Memorial, Lakewood, Education,

July 28, 2011 at 3:51pm

JBLM female Soldiers fill roster of semi-pro hoops team

Jasmine Campbell, left, and Chloe Mosey warm up July 14 during the Lakewood Panthers practice at Wilson Sports and Fitness Center on JBLM. (Photo by Ingrid Barrentine)

Chances to play women's basketball after college are few and far between.

So when post-grad Chloe Mosey heard about a semi-professional team forming in Lakewood, she saw it as her chance to continue her playing career.

"A lot of girls who play college ball don't get an opportunity to play unless it's a recreation or church league," the 6-foot-1 post said. "So to be on a semi-pro team is awesome."

Mosey commutes from Bremerton to Wilson Sports and Fitness Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord two nights a week to practice with the Lakewood Panthers, who are in their inaugural season of the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League.

The WBCBL is already established on the East Coast, and now women 20 and older are getting a chance to play competitively on the West Coast.

There are four other teams in the Pacific Northwest Division: Northwest Magic, Tacoma Stars, Olympia Matrix and Seattle Express. The Panthers' general manager Dave Williams turned a former women's recreational league squad into a semi-pro team.

The Panthers are gearing up for the season finale West Coast National Championship at Fort Steilacoom Pierce College on Aug. 6 and 7. Teams from Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona will participate.

Mosey was a standout at University of Montana Western, finishing her career with more than 1,000 points and 600 rebounds in 104 games. Williams hopes the exposure of the league will help players like Mosey catch the attention of basketball scouts overseas.

"I hope it leads to an opportunity," Mosey said.

In the meantime Mosey will continue to learn and adapt to the new rules of the WBCBL. She adjusted from a 30-second shot clock in college to 24 seconds, as well as four 12-minute quarters instead of two halves. Mosey also had to get used to jumping for jump balls, instead of alternating inbound passes.

The fundamental adjustments are minor compared to the major challenge the team faces in fielding a consistent starting five. The team is mainly made up of Army officers with just two civilians.

"It's tough practice-wise without a full team," Panthers coach Alphonso Niles said. "But when they're here they give it all they've got."

Katie Fichter may be the team's co-captain, but she's a first lieutenant first. Her season with the Panthers ended prematurely because of her commitment to the military. Fichter went on leave in mid-July, followed by training until September.

"Obviously the military is our job so it has to come first, and you try to fit in basketball as much as you can," Fichter said. "It's a tough balance because work hours fluctuate so much."

Despite the challenge of fielding a team, Williams is determined to offer an opportunity to play competitive basketball to women, both military and civilian. Recently adding Niles as coach has helped the Panthers form a cohesive unit. Niles, who once played All-Army basketball, brings a wealth of experience to the team. The 6-7 coach played from 1996 to 2000 at Concordia University in Portland, Ore., where he is still No. 1 in field goals (772), rebounds (1,082), blocked shots (185) and career points (1,883 points). He went on to play overseas, so he understands each Panther's stage in her career.

The Panthers' season might conclude after the national tournament, but Williams is already thinking of 2012. After not having a home court this season and traveling to all their games, he secured a venue for next season at Curtis High School in University Place. He plans to have three rounds of try-outs in mid-August, later in the winter and one in the spring. The 2012 season starts in May.

For more information contact Williams at dwilliamsone4@msn.com.

Filed under: Fort Lewis, Lakewood, Sports,

July 28, 2011 at 3:24pm

Eagles Pride Golf Course a work in progress

Tom Higgins putts off the fringe onto the red course’s sixth green at Eagle’s Pride Golf Course July 25. (Photo by Ingrid Barrentine)

A golf course is like a house.

It is built, maintained and welcomes numerous guests. Eagle's Pride Golf Course on Joint-Base Lewis-McChord is Mike McDonald's second home.

"I want (Eagle's Pride) to be like anybody comes to my house and walks in the front door and says, ‘This is comfortable,'" the course manager said.

For that to happen McDonald and his staff made some recent changes in his three seasons as manager.

"The course was OK when I came here," McDonald said. "It was probably not a lot of golfers' first choice."

The improvements began with the front door - the parking lot entrance. The old lot with railroad ties and no lighting gave way to a smooth, sleek parking surface with an attractive entrance sign. Beyond the entrance golfers are welcomed with a well-maintained 27-hole course open daily to the public.

Nine holes were given new tee boxes last year. Over time the boxes become uneven, but a professional company came out to laser level the surface.

A golf course architect study revealed some of the fairways in the 6,440-yard long course were too long. Forward tees were added to accommodate all levels of golfers.

"As the baby boomers, as we get older we feel like we're 30 but we can't hit that far," McDonald said. "So we've added other tees to try to attract more people. We make it a user-friendly golf course."

New irrigation drains were added to help eliminate wet spots on the greens, and a forestry department was involved to thin and remove trees that were depriving the greens of sunlight. All the work was done without taking away from the ambiance of the course.

All the physical improvements have given new life to the 73-year-old course.

Eagle's Pride opened in 1938 as an 18-hole course. Nine more holes were added in 1979 and in the mid-1990's the military course opened to the public. The driving range features natural grass hitting areas, as well as covered areas with heat and light.

McDonald did more than just a physical remodel at Eagle's Pride to attract more golfers to practice and play the course. Administrative changes made those golfers want to return.

"If you look at courses in the area like the Home Course and Chambers Bay, the competition has been elevated around us," Eagle's Pride PGA Pro Eric Bowen said. "With public access they have many choices and we want them to choose this one."

One of the first changes McDonald made as manager in 2008 was implementing an annual special. This season's special is valid Monday through Thursday and includes the greens fee, golf cart and an $8 food voucher for $35. A civilian would normally pay $47. Tee times can be reserved up to seven days in advance.

Friday through Sunday the course is normally busy with tournaments, but the extra nine holes allow golfers to still play during weekends. McDonald and Bowen have plans for other improvements to the course, including upgrading the other 18 tee boxes.

"We still have a long way to go," McDonald said. "Our goal is to eventually make this the best golf course in the Pacific Northwest where people will want to come and play."

Filed under: Fort Lewis, Hobbies, Lakewood, Sports,

July 21, 2011 at 4:43pm

PT program makes splash with Soldiers

The Soldiers were hesitant about getting into the waters of American Lake during a cold June morning for physical training. The air was brisk and the wind made it even colder.

"Don't worry," the instructor said. "You will warm up."

Minutes later, Soldiers of the 295th Quartermaster Company were knee-deep in the water and climbing onto long, thick surf boards, trying to maintain their balance. A few claimed the water was surprisingly warm.

The Soldiers were learning how to Stand Up Paddle, also known as SUP boarding.

Corporal William Smoot, the company operations NCOIC for the 295th Qm. Co., 80th Ordnance Battalion, 593rd Sustainment Brigade, had decided weeks earlier that he wanted members of his company to try this.

"This would be different and something new - especially for PT," Smoot said.

Smoot began diving deeper after an article about SUP boarding caught his attention.

As its name implies, SUP boarding requires a person to stand on a surf board and use many of the body's muscles to paddle forward while maintaining balance. It is said to have originated in Hawaii with people learning the basics of surfing. Since the sport doesn't require waves, it is spreading across the country's lakes and rivers.

Smoot found that SUP boarding meets almost all of the five dimensions of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, which anchors all facets of a Soldier's health, builds resiliency and improves performance.

The first dimension, physical strength, involves aerobic fitness, endurance, strength and flexibility. Secondly, emotional strength requires a Soldier's ability to demonstrate self-control and stamina.

Family and social strength would be evidenced by how much the Soldiers had fun with this new experience together.

Smoot said he knew this would be "a great way to get some really good physical training especially for the core muscles and is low impact," so he took the next step.

After tackling the research, Smoot presented his idea to his company first sergeant and commander. They liked Smoot's plan and allowed him to move forward with coordinating this unique training. He contacted Christ Fry of West Bay Paddleboards in Olympia.

Fry personally led the group of Soldiers out onto American Lake and gave them a few minutes to get used to handling the paddles and balancing on the boards - first on their knees, then standing up.

Then he gave the order: "Paddle to the other side of the lake."

For some, paddling came naturally; others had to work a little harder.

Afterward, the rest of the workout included sprints as well as some stationary exercises - the supine bicycle, planks, crunches - all while keeping balance to avoid capsizing.

In spite of sore muscles and wet clothes, Smoot says he got a lot of positive feedback on the workout. The company is planning to do it again, he said, "just as soon as it gets a little warmer out there."

Filed under: Lakewood, Health,

July 19, 2011 at 9:26am

VA announces free childcare program at American Lake

WASHINGTON - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the launch of free, drop-in childcare service centers at three VA medical centers to an audience of more than 700 participants attending the Fifth National Summit on Women Veterans' Issues July 15-17 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. 

"We know that many Veterans, particularly women Veterans, are the primary care takers of young children," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "We want these Veterans to have the opportunity to access the high-quality health care that VA offers, and we believe that these childcare centers will make it easier for Veteran caregivers to visit VA."

The pilot centers are part of VA's continuing effort to improve access to health care for eligible Veterans, particularly the growing number of women Veterans. Congress established this childcare initiative as part of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 which was signed by the President in May 2010.  The three sites and childcare details include:

  • Northport, NY: 30 child capacity, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., ages 6 weeks to 12 years
  • Tacoma, WA (American Lake VA): Varying capacity, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., ages 6 weeks to 10 years
  • Buffalo, NY: 6 to 10 child capacity, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., ages 6 weeks to 12 years

All the pilot childcare centers will be operated onsite by licensed childcare providers. Drop-in services are offered free to Veterans who are eligible for VA care and visiting a facility for an appointment. 

In a survey, VA found that nearly a third of Veterans were interested in childcare services and more than 10 percent had to cancel or reschedule VA appointments due to lack of childcare.          

This pilot program will benefit both men and women Veterans.  Development of the pilot program was facilitated by the Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group, which strives to make positive changes in the provision of care for all women Veterans. 

"While the number of women Veterans continues to grow, they use VA for health care proportionately less than male Veterans," said Patricia Hayes, Chief Consultant of the VA's Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group. "We hope that by offering safe, secure childcare while the Veteran attends a doctor's appointment or therapy session, we will enable more women Veterans to take advantage of the VA benefits to which they are entitled."

Women Veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the Veteran population. Of the 22.7 million living Veterans, more than 1.8 million are women. They comprise nearly 8 percent of the total Veteran population and 6 percent of all Veterans who use VA health care services. 

VA estimates women Veterans will constitute 10 percent of the Veteran population by 2020 and 9.5 percent of VA patients.

Filed under: Familes, Lakewood, Veterans,

January 25, 2011 at 1:47pm

Commute getting easier around JBLM

This from The News Tribune: A bit of good news for commuters: The morning trip through Joint Base Lewis-McChord has gotten a little easier, at least in one direction.

Anecdotal evidence suggests northbound traffic has stabilized during the mornings since the latter half of 2010, when a crush of traffic caused miles-long backups for residents heading into Pierce County, said Lisa Copeland, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

While she was unable to provide detailed traffic counts because of equipment problems, several commuters told The News Tribune they, too, have seen improvements during that period.

A bit more relief is on the way. Ramp meters that DOT is scheduled to have running by Labor Day should further relieve northbound traffic during busy times. And Lewis-McChord started a construction project on one of its secondary gates last week so that drivers have an easier time leaving the base.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed 2011-13 budget, however, doesn't include an estimated $6 million needed to pay for a study of long-term improvements on the key 11-mile stretch from the Thurston-Pierce county line to the state Route 512 junction.

To read more from the story, click here.

Filed under: Familes, Lakewood, Lacey, Tacoma,

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