Judge Advocates, Then and Now

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By Rear Adm. John G. Hannink
Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy                                                                

Upon learning that the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps is only 50 years old, most people express surprise.

One could be forgiven for assuming the JAG Corps has been around for far longer. Since its inception Dec. 8, 1967, the JAG Corps has been essential to naval operations. Furthermore, the scope and breadth of advice has grown since our Corps’ foundation, to the point that we’re at today – where our personnel advise clients across the globe on matters that range from the most sensitive national security decisions, to individual legal services, to Sailors in need of our assistance.

Indeed, Navy judge advocates have long captured the public’s imagination. I am still asked regularly about the “JAG” television show and few have forgotten Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise sparring on the big screen in “A Few Good Men.” Their portrayals in popular culture have made judge advocates indelible symbols of naval service.

Some people also are surprised to learn that the first uniformed chief legal officer of the Navy was, in fact, a Marine. Col. William Butler Remey was assigned to the post in 1878 after convincing Congress that, like other branches of the military, the Navy needed a permanent JAG (e.g., the Navy had a “JAG” long before the JAG Corps).


GREAT LAKES, Ill. (February 8, 2016) – Lt. Kimberly Rios works on legal briefs for Naval Station Great Lakes Command Feb. 8. (U. S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom)

Remey actually argued that naval law was so unique that a line officer must serve as JAG. It wasn’t until 1950, nearly 75 years later, that the law required the JAG to be an attorney. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation that formalized the creation of the JAG Corps.

Today, a half-century later, the JAG Corps is a very different organization. It has evolved in countless ways to meet the demands of a growing military and a more interconnected and complex world.

Judge advocates are now ever-present fixtures at most naval commands. And yet, I wonder how many Sailors have a comprehensive understanding of the myriad ways judge advocates support them and the Navy mission.

It’s impossible to capture everything the JAG Corps does in a single blog post. It is perhaps best to highlight our three core practice areas – the three ways in which we touch Sailors and their families every day.


PORT LOUIS, Mauritius (Feb. 3, 2017) Cmdr. Andrew Wilkes, a legal advisor assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, discusses the implementation of a United Nations security council resolution with Geeandeo Cheetamun, Mauritian chief inspector of police during Exercise Cutlass Express 2017. The exercise is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional security in East Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

Our military justice team strives to help ensure good order and discipline, and protects the rights of all parties in judicial proceedings. Trial counsel, defense counsel, judges and victims legal counsel work tirelessly on behalf of Sailors and their families, and to protect the integrity of the military justice system.

Our operational lawyers provide commanders with accurate and responsive legal advice to support military operations and sound naval administration. We have attorneys specializing in maritime law, international law, environmental law and many other disciplines. Our judge advocates are on the cutting edge of many emerging issues, such as cyber warfare and special operations.

Do you need a will, help with your taxes or perhaps home-buying advice? Our legal assistance team supports the fleet by helping Sailors and their families resolve personal legal matters and to remain mission-ready. A judge advocate or civilian subject matter expert is standing by at any time to help Sailors with all their concerns and more.

Today, as it turns 50 years old, our JAG Corps is more versatile and more ingrained in naval operations than Remey, Johnson or any of the JAG Corps’ earliest members could have envisioned. Our judge advocates are making a meaningful impact on the Navy and on the lives of Sailors and their families. The future – the next 50 years – looks bright.


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Judge Advocates, Then and Now

The SITREP: Army’s Zika Vax Shows Promise, Navy Week Schedule Set & More

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A team of U.S. Army researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are developing a Zika vaccine that has induced a strong immune response in early trials. U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Thompson/WRAIR

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Thursday, December 7, 2017.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are povided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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The SITREP: Army’s Zika Vax Shows Promise, Navy Week Schedule Set & More

How to Help Out Your Troops This Holiday Season

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

It’s the time of year when everyone’s in the giving spirit. Many Americans think about donating to a good cause during the holidays, and the Defense Department knows the public often wants to help out military families.

If you’re not sure how to donate or where to start, here are some great options.

Write letters or send cards to the troops:

Sending service members a letter and message of support is a great, simple idea. While the DoD can’t disclose the names or addresses of service members due to privacy and security concerns, many organizations collect letters and cards to include with their shipments to the troops. Here’s a list of some of them.

Many social media sites also offer people the opportunity to send greetings online.

Members of the 455th Expeditionary Medical Group decorated a table for Thanksgiving with placemats sent in care packages at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Decorations, cards and gifts are sent in care packages from family, friends and charities across the U.S. and help brighten the holidays for deployed service members. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Lasal

Donate an item or care package:

The DoD has also compiled a list of some organizations that send care packages to troops. Check them out here.

NOTE: You cannot donate funds or items directly to the DoD.

There’s also the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, although those donations don’t necessarily go to military families.

Kelley Cargle packs a Treats 2 Troops care package with snacks Nov. 29, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson

Other ways to donate:

Within the DoD, there’s also the Combined Federal Campaign. It’s the world’s largest and most successful yearly workplace charity campaign. Pledges made by federal civilian and military donors support eligible nonprofit organizations that provide health and human service benefits all over the world.

The charities are reviewed yearly to make sure they’re actually providing the services they claim to be, and they’re also reviewed for public and financial accountability. The charities are required to disclose the percentage of funds spent on administrative and fundraising purposes, which helps people deciding who they want to donate to.

To find a local campaign in your area and to get a list of charities or pledge forms, click here.

Good luck, and have a wonderful holiday season!

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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How to Help Out Your Troops This Holiday Season

Your Navy Operating Forward -Saipan, Ukraine, Japan

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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.


WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN: An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115, launches from the flight deck aboard the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during the Carrier Air Wing Five fly-off. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)

HYUGA-NADA SEA: Mineman 1st Class Justin Crabtree, from Diamondhead, Mississippi, lowers a mine neutralization vehicle aboard the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Chief (MCM 14) into the water to track mines and simulate delivering an explosive package. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jordan Crouch/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Philip Powell readies an E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the Sunkings of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 116 for launch on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rachael Treon/Released)

INDIAN OCEAN: Sailors work on the propeller of an AC-2A Greyhound, assigned to the Providers of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) steams in formation while participating in a photo exercise in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alexander Ventura II/Released)

SAIPAN: U.S. Navy Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Andrew Nye, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, signals to the pilots of a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter after their return to Guam from a training exercise in Saipan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis/Released)

YOKOSUKA, Japan: The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) is moored at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian G. Reynolds/Released)

ODESSA, Ukraine: Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) man the rails as the ship arrives in Odessa, Ukraine, for a scheduled port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Colbey Livingston/Released)

COMODORO RIVADAVIA, Argentina: Undersea Rescue Command (URC) and Argentine construction workers prepare the motor vessel Sophie Siem for the installation of the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS) which operates the deep diving rescue vehicle, the Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Christopher Lange/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) steams in formation while participating in a photo exercise in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alexander Ventura II/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) transits the Strait of Messina. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Krystina Coffey/Released)

INDIAN OCEAN: An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Indians” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 prepares to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Spencer Roberts/Released)

SOUTH CHINA SEA: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Milham/Released)

Tell us which photo best shows YOUR Navy Operating Forward !


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As Pearl Harbor Survivors Dwindle, Their Stories Remain Timeless

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

Dec. 7 marks the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a sneak attack by the Japanese in 1941 that took many American lives and thrust the United States into World War II.

The “date which will live in infamy” is commemorated yearly across the entire nation, with many survivors and their families making the pilgrimage to Oahu, Hawaii, in remembrance. While the population of military and civilian survivors from that day has dwindled, their stories and bravery have not.

Ahead of last year’s massive 75th anniversary commemoration, we interviewed several Pearl Harbor survivors about their experiences that fateful day. All these years later, they remain just as fascinating.

Floyd Welch was a 19-year-old Navy electrician when the Japanese started bombing Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row. His ship, the USS Maryland, was hit twice by torpedoes, which ripped holes in the hull below the water line.

While the damage was minimal, Welch knew he’d been lucky. Four of his colleagues died that day in compartments where the torpedoes hit, and he could have been one of them if it weren’t for a change in his duties.

Meanwhile, the Maryland was docked right beside the doomed USS Oklahoma, so Welch and his crewmates spent the rest of the day rescuing men who’d jumped off it. They also tried to cut holes through its hull to get to those who were still trapped.

Richard Schimmel was one of the first service members to know the Japanese were on their way. His friend and fellow radar tech, Joe McDonald, had told him that he saw something approaching on radar, but he couldn’t do anything about it. His superior told him to ignore it, so he did. And in the military, if your superior gives you orders, you follow them.

Shortly thereafter, the bombing of Pearl Harbor began.

Schimmel says a lot of what ifs came out of that day that bothered his friend for the rest of his life. And if they’d had time to set up more radar stations — a relatively new technology — the outcome may have been different.

View looking up Battleship Row on Dec. 7, 1941, after the Japanese attack. USS Arizona is in the center, burning furiously. To the left of her are USS Tennessee and the sunken USS West Virginia. Official U.S. Navy photo from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Melvin Heckman was assigned duties at Ford Island’s firehouse when all hell broke loose. He and his fellow sailors sped from hangar to hangar, dodging bombs that came within yards of them.

To get water to fight the fires, they ended up right beside the USS Arizona and watched in horror as it took four direct hits. Amazingly, they had the wherewithal to pull the few survivors out of the water – an awful and morbid scene.

“There was one man who asked for help. I reached and got his hand. I pulled him up, thinking I would take him up on the island, and when I got him out of the water, I looked, and nothing beneath his belly button was there. Everything was gone,” Heckman remembered. “I held him there for about two minutes until he passed away, and then I let him slide back into the water.”

Many military nurses also survived the attacks on Oahu, yet we don’t hear their stories as often. These women were pioneers of their time who faced stringent rules when they enlisted and took care of a lot of patients in the days following the attack.

Many of these women refused to share their stories with their families in the decades after the war, but a few finally did toward the end of their lives. They’re stories their families now share with the public to remind America of our lesser-known heroes of war.

More Pearl Harbor Content:

Pearl Harbor Wasn’t the Only Installation Attacked on Dec. 7
Many Lives Were Lost At Pearl Harbor. This Man’s Just Began
U.S., Japan Honor Fallen Vets in Whiskey-Pouring Ceremony

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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As Pearl Harbor Survivors Dwindle, Their Stories Remain Timeless

The SITREP: Army Engineers Inspect Puerto Rico’s Schools, Navy/Marines Honor History & More

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Infrastructure Assessment mission manager Brandon Works, left, and Carl Sellers, Infrastructure Assessment Team training officer, assess a building at Escuela Luis T. Balinas in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Nov. 22, 2017. Photo by Elizabeth M Lockyear/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Tuesday, December 5, 2017.

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has assessed more than 1,100 schools in Puerto Rico to check for structural damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
  • The Navy recently authorized the posthumous award of a combat medal to a sailor who was present at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack in 1941.
  • The evolution of the Air Force Safety Center’s Airman Safety App reached an important milestone recently. The web-based tool provides a streamlined process for all airmen and their families to report base safety issues.
  • Marines.mil takes a closer look at the bond and rich history between the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are povided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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The SITREP: Army Engineers Inspect Puerto Rico’s Schools, Navy/Marines Honor History & More

Remembering to Look Forward: Rising to the challenge in Pearl Harbor

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By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Winston Churchill, who was a World War I warfighter and World War II Prime Minister of Britain, famously said, “The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.”

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is an opportunity for the world’s citizens, especially those of us in the United States and Japan, to remember key lessons of the past and reflect on the meaning of the Second World War.

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island, Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy video/Released)
Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island, Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy video/Released)

Seventy-six years ago, under Western sanctions for having invaded Manchuria and Southeast Asia, Imperial Japan miscalculated and attacked Oahu. Veterans who were around then said they knew war was inevitable. War was already underway in Europe, as Churchill tried to stave off Hitler and the Nazis. When Japanese planes destroyed our battleships in Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, we rose to the challenge to fight fascism, both here in the Pacific and in Europe.

On the home-front, families also rose to challenges and confronted new realities. Women joined the workforce in nontraditional occupations. The armed forces became more diversified. Our nation came together in the name of freedom.

SOLOMON ISLANDS (Aug. 9, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) transits to the site of the wreckage of the World War II Royal Australian Navy heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (DD 33) near Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Barry participated in a memorial ceremony held for Canberra, which was sunk on Aug. 9, 1942. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Wesley Timm/Released)
SOLOMON ISLANDS (Aug. 9, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) transits to the site of the wreckage of the World War II Royal Australian Navy heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (DD 33) near Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Barry participated in a memorial ceremony held for Canberra, which was sunk on Aug. 9, 1942. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Wesley Timm/Released)

In the first year after the attack here in the Pacific, despite some initial setbacks, our aviators literally rose up in the Battle of Coral Sea and Battle of Midway. Submarines and surface forces took the fight to the enemy like never before. We continued to turn the tide in the Battle of Guadalcanal 75 years ago.

Just as our military would descend throughout Europe to fight fascism, our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen would rise from the South Pacific and move steadily up the island chain toward the Japanese archipelago. Even back then, we were “ready to fight tonight.”

Today, America’s relationship with the people of Japan is a model for good citizenry and good relationships everywhere. Britain, France and Germany, once mortal enemies, in some cases over centuries, are now strong democracies, friends and allies in Europe.

Our Navy trains and operates with the Japan Self-Defense Force and other navies throughout the world, including here in Hawaii during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise. The world, with just a few outliers, values security, prosperity and stability. History shows democracies, in general, work together to foster peace and cooperation.

Churchill encouraged us to look deep into the past to study history and understand how we can look forward. On this Dec. 7, we will once again remember and honor those who were killed 76 years ago and in the war that followed. At the same time, we will commemorate the reconciliation, security, stability and prosperity our veterans and their families achieved, beginning here at Pearl Harbor.

PEARL HARBOR (July 8, 2014) A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier, left, New Zealand army soldier and a U.S. Navy Sailor aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA5) render honors while passing the USS Arizona Memorial while departing Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to participate in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2014 was the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Amanda Chavez/Released)
PEARL HARBOR (July 8, 2014) A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier, left, New Zealand army soldier and a U.S. Navy Sailor aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA5) render honors while passing the USS Arizona Memorial while departing Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to participate in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2014 was the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Amanda Chavez/Released)


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Remembering to Look Forward: Rising to the challenge in Pearl Harbor

Ensign Earns MoH Leading Reload of Ship’s Battery at Pearl Harbor

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor. 

Ensign Herbert C. Jones. Navy photo

Later this week we’ll commemorate the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which catapulted the U.S. into World War II. It was a day when many service members were lost, but many others became heroes. One of those men was Navy Ensign Herbert C. Jones.

Jones grew up in Los Angeles, California, and enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1935 when he was 18. He was commissioned as an ensign before he joined the battleship USS California in 1940. That’s where he remained until Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

The California was moored with many other ships along Battleship Row, which was a prime target for the Japanese. In the first few minutes of the raid, the ship was hit by two torpedoes.

Jones had just relieved the junior officer of the deck and begun his duties when the attack started. When he realized a torpedo had damaged the mechanical hoists that load ammunition to the ship’s antiaircraft gun battery, he led a group of men on a mission to manually supply the ammo.

Jones and his men were on the third deck passing ammunition up ladders to the battery when a bomb exploded on the second deck. He was severely injured by the explosion, which plunged the third deck compartment the men were in into smoke-filled darkness.

The ship began to flood from all of the damage. When a large, drifting mass of burning oil from other ravaged ships threatened to set the California on fire, orders to abandon ship were called.

Two men tried to drag Jones out of the fire-filled compartment they were in, but he refused. He reportedly said to them, “Leave me alone! I’m done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off.”

USS California slowly sinking alongside Ford Island as a result of bomb and torpedo damage. USS Shaw and USS Nevada are burning in the distance. Navy photograph courtesy of the National Archives

The California eventually sank to the bottom of Pearl Harbor. It was raised several months later and was eventually repaired.

For his heroism, Jones posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions. He was one of 15 sailors who earned the nation’s highest honor at Pearl Harbor; only five of them survived the day.

Jones’ actions inspired the men around him, including troublemaking Marine Corps Pvt. Howard Haynes, who was awaiting a bad misconduct discharge and had been confined on the ship before attack. A remorseful Haynes later told one of his superiors that he was alive because of what Jones did.

“God, give me a chance to prove I’m worth it,” he said.

Jones was one of nearly 100 men from the USS California who died at Pearl Harbor. He is buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

In 1943, the destroyer escort USS Herbert C. Jones was launched in his honor.

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Ensign Earns MoH Leading Reload of Ship’s Battery at Pearl Harbor

The SITREP: Hurricane Maria Efforts Continue, Marines Establish Tactical Center & More

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Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Fenwick, a machinery technician with Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team, arrives on scene for vessel removal operations in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Nov. 19, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Steenson

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Thursday, November 30, 2017.

  • Joint Task Force – Bravo partnered with medical personnel to perform an ongoing pediatric nutritional assessment of three villages in Honduras.
  • The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain departed Subic Bay, Philippines aboard heavy lift transport vessel MV Treasure en route to Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
  • Marines establish tactical air direction center (TADC) at Camp Pendleton.
  • The Coast Guard, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have established a unified command to organize salvage and removal operations for displaced, sunken and wrecked vessels throughout the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

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The SITREP: Hurricane Maria Efforts Continue, Marines Establish Tactical Center & More

TRICARE Is Changing. Here’s How It Affects You

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

Graphic: TRICARE logoHopefully you’ve heard by now that the Military Health System is rolling out TRICARE benefit reforms in January to improve health care delivery and enhance medical readiness.

More than 9.4 million beneficiaries worldwide will be affected by the changes that take effect Jan. 1. To take command of your health, here’s what you need to know and do to make sure you’re covered.

First Thing’s First:

What plans are changing?

TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra on Jan. 1.

Otherwise, all other TRICARE plans (TRICARE Prime or premium-based plans) will be rolled over, unless you change your coverage.

Do I have to do anything to make sure I get coverage in 2018?

If you’re currently enrolled for TRICARE coverage, you should transition to your respective plan, no problem.

If you want to enroll in a plan or change your coverage after Jan. 1, you will need to take action now to get into the plan of your choice.

I’m a new active-duty service member. How does this work for me?

You’re automatically enrolled in TRICARE Prime. If you live in remote areas of the U.S., you’ll be enrolled in TRICARE Prime Remote.

Your eligible family members:
If they live stateside, they’ll automatically be enrolled in TRICARE Prime if they live in a Prime Service Area. If they live outside of a PSA, they’ll be enrolled in TRICARE Select. Family members have up to 90 days to change their plans if they want to.
If your family is in the TRICARE Overseas Program, they’ll be enrolled in TRICARE Select. They also have 90 days to change their plans, if they’re command sponsored.

There’s currently an enrollment freeze:

Under TRICARE now, there are three regions: north, south and west. Those are being consolidated into two. The west will remain mostly as-is and will be managed by Health Net Federal Services LLC, while the north and south regions will become the east and will be managed by Humana Military.

What this means for you:

The enrollment process will be put on hold for a few weeks so beneficiary files can be transferred to those regional contractors. This enrollment freeze starts Dec. 1 and will last until the data transfer is complete.

Will I still have access to care during the freeze?

Yes. If your enrollment is pending during the freeze, be sure to save all pharmacy and health care receipts just in case you need to submit them to get reimbursed for any TRICARE-covered expenses once your enrollment gets processed.
If you have a problem accessing care while your enrollment is pending, contact your regional contractor. If you have a problem getting your medications during that time, contact Express Scripts.

What if I haven’t enrolled yet?

As of Nov. 20, the Beneficiary Web Enrollment website is unavailable through the duration of the enrollment freeze, so online applications are no longer an option; however, you can still enroll by phone and by mail through your regional contractor. BWE will be available again around Jan. 1.

For detailed instructions on how to submit your enrollment applications while BWE is down, visit TRICARE.mil/changes/enroll. In the right column toward the bottom under “Related Downloads,” click on “Take Command Enrollment Freeze.”
Your application will be processed once the enrollment freeze is complete.

Enrollment fees are changing, too:

The costs for TRICARE benefits will shift from a fiscal year period to a calendar year in 2018, making it more consistent with civilian health plans. This will affect you if you’re in a plan that has an enrollment fee that’s billed by the fiscal year, including retirees and their family members in TRICARE Prime, Retired Reserve, Reserve Select, Young Adults and the US Family Health plans.

What this means for you:

The fees have begun the transition from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, but there won’t be additional costs this year, even if you reach your catastrophic cap or deductible before Dec. 31. However, new deductible and catastrophic caps rules will apply to some costs in 2018.

If you make automatic payments: You’ll continue to pay your fees automatically past Jan. 1, unless you cancel your allotment.
If you use debit, credit or e-checks: If you’re in an area where your regional contractor has changed, you’ll need to update your payment method with them in December.

Read more about the new cost changes here

How to have a smooth transition:

Prepare for the changes:

Any other changes I should know about?

Explanation of Benefits will now be paperless. You will only be able to access them online unless you specifically request to get them by snail mail.

As we get closer to the New Year, more details about the changes will be released. So keep checking DoDLive.mil and DoD’s Facebook and Twitter pages to stay informed!

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TRICARE Is Changing. Here’s How It Affects You