The SITREP: Navy Changes Grooming Policy, Marines Support ISIS Fight & More

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Lt. Jillianne Planeta stands the officer of the deck watch on the bridge of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released)

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Thursday, June 22, 2017.

    • Army researchers are working on a solution to the challenges involved with performing dock repair and security port entries.
    • The Navy has changed its grooming policies for women, including allowing female sailors to wear their hair in a bun through the rear opening of a command or Navy ball cap.
    • Marines have been conducting 24-hour fire support for the Syrian Democratic Forces as part of CJTF-OIR to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
    • Airmen from the 927th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., partnered with service members from throughout the country to provide no-cost medical care to communities in Arkansas.

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The SITREP: Navy Changes Grooming Policy, Marines Support ISIS Fight & More

The SITREP: Marines Restore School, Army Test Drives Prototypes & More

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Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Col. Roger Carter, right, the assistant chief staff officer of Headquarters, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, and U.S. Coast Guardsmen pose for a photo with students while at Carenage Boy Government Primary School as part of a community relations event during Phase II of Exercise Tradewinds 2017 in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, June 16, 2017. Tradewinds, sponsored by U.S. Southern Command, brings together security forces and regional civilian agencies from 20 participating countries to strengthen relationships, build partner nation capacity and conduct subject matter expert exchanges in security-related operations. U.S. Marines are providing providing training and logistical support for Phase II of the exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Olivia McDonald)

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Tuesday, June 20, 2017.

    • Serving as “test drives” for possible Army systems of the future, prototypes are playing an increasingly vital role as a natural bridge between emerging technologies and more mature solutions that are part of official programs of record.
    • The U.S. and Philippine navies will participate in the Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama June 19-25 in the vicinity of Cebu.
    • Renovating and restoring school buildings can enhance those opportunities and help children take pride in their school, especially if they take part in the work. That’s exactly what happened when U.S. Marines assisted with renovating the Carenage Boys Government Primary School in Carenage, Trinidad and Tobago.

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The SITREP: Marines Restore School, Army Test Drives Prototypes & More

Volunteer ‘Doughboy’ Team Works to Bring WWI MIAs Home

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Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, there are still about 82,540 U.S. service members considered missing in action since World War II began. But that agency doesn’t account for the more than 4,400 still missing from World War I.

Army Pvt. Eugene McGrath. Photo courtesy of WW1cc.org.

Thanks to the efforts of several volunteers, the records of these men are slowly being unearthed, and more men who served 100 years ago are being identified.

Historian Robert Laplander, known for his research and writings on the “Lost Battalion” of the Great War, started to search for World War I Army Pvt. Eugene Michael McGrath after someone found battle remnants in 2005 at the site of the Lost Battalion’s last stand.

“Among the stuff was a dog tag. It was to one of the guys in the Lost Battalion who was missing in action,” Laplander said, referring to McGrath. “We decided to see if we could figure out what happened to him.”

And thus began the Doughboy MIA Project. Laplander recruited several volunteer researchers, archivists and historians to help search for McGrath’s files. Over the years, word got out of their efforts, and they began to look for other fallen World War I service members.

“We have technology today that they didn’t have back then: deep-penetration metal detectors, ground penetrating radar, spatial imaging – all that kind of stuff,” Laplander said.

In 2015, Laplander was contacted by someone at the WWI Centennial Commission and asked to highlight their efforts on the centennial’s website. Their page, ww1cc.org/MIA, has since grown by leaps and bounds.

The Process

“Between 1919 and 1932, when searchers went out after the war, the Army made every effort to try to find these men and identify the remains they had recovered that were unknown,” Laplander said. “But they had a small team, a lot to do – the Graves Registration Service handled 80,000 burials after the war – and they did the whole thing with paper forms and shoeboxes full of index cards.”

Since many of those files have disappeared or are sparse and kept all over the world, it’s a long and tedious process.

A World War I Memorial in Jackson, Mississippi. Library of Congress photo

“It’s [often] sitting at a desk looking through boxes. During one case, we went through 200 boxes of burial cards … in four days. We looked at every single card,” Laplander said.

Their searches always begin by checking the official list of missing service members to see if they can chronicle their last moves. For those who aren’t missing or lost at sea, they first check through 2,300 burial case files, found at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

“They can take you in all kinds of directions,” Laplander said. “For McGrath, I pulled his [burial] file, and then we decided to pull the file of the guys buried next to him, one on each side, and there was more information in those.”

The search for McGrath’s final resting place continues (learn more about that journey here), but the team recently had success in honoring Navy sailor Herbert H. Renshaw.

A Tribute A Century in the Making

WWI Navy sailor Herbert Renshaw. Photo courtesy of the American Battle Monuments Commission/Robert Laplander

Renshaw joined the Navy in 1914, just after his 17th birthday. The U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, and he was unfortunately a quick casualty. Renshaw was on the USS Ozark, a sub-tender, on its first out-of-harbor mission on May 22, 1917, when he lost his life.

“They hit heavy weather that afternoon. The sea was very rough. He was on the deck of the ship signaling back to another ship, and he was washed overboard,” Laplander said.

Now is probably a good time to let you know that, after the war, U.S. lawmakers decided to create American cemeteries overseas, since so many men had died. The names of anyone who was lost at sea, missing or buried in an unmarked grave were carved into walls or tablets at each cemetery.

Renshaw’s name should have been added to one of those walls – but it wasn’t, and it took nearly 100 years before anyone noticed. The person who did was Salisbury University professor Dr. Stephen Gehnrich, who was researching Marylanders killed in the war. He came across Renshaw’s name on a Navy burial file and learned details of his death through old newspaper articles. But Gehnrich noticed Renshaw wasn’t on the official list given to the American Battle Monuments Commission, which is in charge of U.S. military cemeteries and memorials. So he contacted Laplander.

Together, the pair did more research and discovered that Renshaw’s name had, for whatever reason, been left off the lists provided to the AMBC by the Naval and War Departments.

U.S. service members and the local community honor U.S. service members killed during World War I during a Memorial Day ceremony at Brookwood Military Cemetery in England. Brookwood, the final resting place for 468 service members and 41 unknown service members from World War I, is one of the smallest American cemeteries in the United Kingdom. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chrissy Best

“In the naval register of sailors and Marines that were lost during WWI, his name is listed. But … his name wasn’t engraved at any of our cemeteries,” said Tim Nosal, the ABMC’s chief of external affairs.

So, the Doughboys petitioned in April to get his named added. Three days later, the ABMC agreed.

“It was pretty clear based on what they sent us,” Nosal said. So a former Army colonel with the ABMC made the decision – Renshaw’s name would be added at Brookwood American Cemetery in England, where the majority of naval casualties are listed.

“After 100 years, he’ll be remembered,” Laplander said.

Why It’s Important

One question Laplander always gets: One hundred years later, why do this?

The Wall of the Missing at Brookwood American Cemetery in England. Photo courtesy of the American Battle Monuments Commission

“The answer is the same always – why not? The first World War was the very first time we sent a major expeditionary force overseas to fight on foreign shores – not for land, not for wealth, but for an ideal,” Laplander said. “If we stand the chance of giving somebody a grave, why wouldn’t we?”

His team is working on identifying a few other missing men, including a soldier who had been buried by a chaplain. In a file, they found a description the chaplain gave of the burial area, as well as a set of coordinates he had given officials in 1926.

“Our ground team overseas managed to find the area, and I believe we’ve found the trench where this guy was buried,” Laplander said.

To his team, their tagline, “A man is only missing if he’s forgotten,” is crucial to their cause.

“Even if we don’t recover any more remains or identify anybody else, we’ve got people thinking about these guys,” Laplander said.

Remembrance, even so many years later, is how it should be for those who gave up everything for the rest of us.

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Volunteer ‘Doughboy’ Team Works to Bring WWI MIAs Home

WWII Bombardier Gives Up Parachute, Life for Injured Comrade

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By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity 

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

Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. David Kingsley. Air Force photo

A few days from now, we’ll mark the 73rd anniversary of the heroic actions of Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. David Kingsley, a bombardier in World War II who knowingly traded his own life for that of an injured compatriot.

Kingsley was born in 1918 and grew up in Portland, Oregon, as the second-oldest of nine siblings. When his father died in 1928 and his older brother joined the Navy to help with finances, he very quickly became “man of the house” until his mother died in 1939.

Kingsley became a firefighter in the years that followed. But then the war began, and in April 1942, the 23-year-old enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He eventually became a bombardier and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in April 1943. A year later, he was sent to Europe with the 97th Bomb Group’s 341st Squadron.

On June 23, 1944, Kingsley was serving in his role as a bombardier in a B-17 Flying Fortress on a mission to Ploesti, Romania, in which he was tasked with dropping bombs on enemy oil refineries. The mission was a success, as Kingsley’s delivery skills severely damaged vital enemy installations.

But during the flight, his aircraft was damaged by German gunfire and forced to drop out of formation. As the plane was losing altitude, it was targeted by several Messerschmitt Bf-109 enemy aircraft, damaging the plan further and seriously injuring two of the plane’s gunners.

Kingsley jumped into action, helping tend to the wounds of the gunners, one of whom was stripped of some layers of clothes and his parachute harness so he could be covered in blankets.

Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. David Kingsley. Air Force photo

The plane continued to get hit by enemy fire, so the pilot ordered the crew to bail out. Kingsley continued helping the gunners, getting them ready to jump. But no one could find the parachute harness of the man who had been stripped of it. It disappeared and was believed to be damaged, anyway.

So without hesitating, Kingsley took his own harness off and attached it to the injured man. He then helped them both bail out, knowing he would be left behind. All eight crew members who were able to bail out survived.

The crew said the last they saw of Kingsley, he was standing on the bomb bay catwalk. Minutes later, the plane crashed into a heap of fire in the small village of Suhozem, Bulgaria. The bombardier’s body was later found in the wreckage, along with seven casualties who were on the ground.

Records show Kingsley was initially buried in a makeshift grave by sympathetic Bulgarians, but his body was exhumed and later laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

For the incredibly selfless actions at the cost of his own life, Kingsley was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on April 9, 1945. It was presented to his oldest brother.

Kingsley is the first and only Medal of Honor recipient from the 97th Bombardment Group, now known as the 97th Air Mobility Wing. An Air Force airfield in Oregon was named Kingsley Field in his honor in the 1950s, and in 2004, a memorial near the site where his plane crashed was dedicated to him and the seven villagers who died.

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WWII Bombardier Gives Up Parachute, Life for Injured Comrade

The SITREP: Record Drug Busts at Sea, Vietnam Vet to Receive Medal of Honor & More

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HMAS Arunta personnel dispose of 260kg of illegal narcotics seized on June 8, 2017 while on patrol in the Middle East region. HMAS Arunta operates as part of the multi-national Combined Maritime Forces, predominately tasked to support Combined Task Force 150 for counter-terrorism and maritime security operations. Arunta is deployed on Operation MANITOU, supporting international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region (MER). (Royal Australian Navy photo)

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Thursday, June 15, 2017.

    • President Donald Trump will present the Medal of Honor to Army Spc. 5 James C. McCloughan. The Vietnam War veteran and retired coach will receive the medal on July 31.
    • In a four-month span, Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces has proven itself a formidable force against narcotics trafficking, with 10 drug seizures totaling over 3,300 kilograms of heroin, cocaine, cannabis resin and hashish since March.
    • Marines test M320 grenade launcher module in this new video.
    • The 388th Fighter Wing, the Air Force’s first F-35 Lightning II operational wing, recently tested the F-35A bulk ammunition loader during an engineering validation and verification evaluation. The mobile loader lets weapon experts safely and efficiently load 25mm ammunition into the F-35A while simultaneously unloading spent shells.

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The SITREP: Record Drug Busts at Sea, Vietnam Vet to Receive Medal of Honor & More

The SITREP: Man’s Best Friend Serves, Men’s Health Tips & More

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Senior Airman Kaleb Sermeno, 60th Security Forces Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., carries his military working dog Ben, through a training area near Fort Bliss, Texas, simulating what he must do if his dog is injured on deployment, Nov. 10, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Frederick Connelly)

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

    • About 90 percent of military working dogs are adopted by their former handlers when they retire. The Army has more on the treasured connection between service members and working dogs.
    • USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), the Navy’s newest littoral combat ship, was brought to life by her crew before a crowd of nearly 2,500 guests at Pier 21 at the Port of Galveston, June 10.
    • This Men’s Health Month, the Military Health System reminds men to take charge of their personal health by getting health screenings, eating healthy, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress and being tobacco free.

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The SITREP: Man’s Best Friend Serves, Men’s Health Tips & More

Army Private Gave His Life to Save Fellow Squad Members

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By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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

Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis. Army photo

Army Private 1st Class Ross McGinnis had a desire to join the service most of his life, having drawn a picture of a soldier during kindergarten when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He took advantage of that as soon as he could.

McGinnis, who grew up in the small northwestern Pennsylvania town of Knox, joined the Army through its delayed entry program on Jun 14, 2004 – his 17th birthday.

After basic training, McGinnis was stationed at Schweinfurt, Germany. In August 2006, his unit was deployed to Iraq.

On Dec. 4, 2006, McGinnis was serving as a machine gunner in 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in the northeastern part of Baghdad. His platoon was working to control sectarian violence in the area, which was rampant at the time.

During that afternoon, while McGinnis was in position at the back of his vehicle, an insurgent threw a grenade from a roof, and it fell into McGinnis’ Humvee. The private first class reacted quickly, yelling “Grenade!” to warn his four fellow soldiers stuck in the vehicle with him.

Instead of saving his own life by escaping through the gunnery hatch, as he was trained to do, McGinnis – the youngest in his platoon at 19 – chose to give his own life to protect his crew, diving onto the live grenade to shield them from the blast. He died immediately.

From left: Retired Army Staff Sgt. Ian Newland, Sgt. Lyle Buehler, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas and Spc. Sean Lawson are all alive today because of Spc. Ross McGinnis’s selfless sacrifice. DoD photo by Carrie McLeroy

The others in the vehicle with him – Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas, the platoon sergeant and truck commander; Staff Sgt. Ian Newland, the squad leader; Sgt. Lyle Buehler, the driver; and medic Spc. Sean Lawson all survived thanks to his bravery and selflessness.

Shortly after his death, McGinnis’ parents released a statement about him that said in part, “The lives of four men who were his Army brothers outweighed the value of his one life. … His straightforward answer to a simple but difficult choice should stand as a shining example for the rest of us. We all face simple choices, but how often do we choose to make a sacrifice to get the right answer? The right choice sometimes requires honor.”

President George W. Bush leads the applause to honor Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis after presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to his parents, Tom and Romayne McGinnis, June 2, 2008, at the White House. Photo Credit: Chris Greenberg, White House

On June 2, 2008, President George W. Bush presented McGinnis’ parents with the Medal of Honor in his name. He was posthumously promoted to specialist and also received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

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Army Private Gave His Life to Save Fellow Squad Members

NORAD Equals Homeland Defense

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By Jim Garamone, 
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The North American Aerospace Defense Command is homeland defense.

The common defense of the North American continent traces its history back to 1940, when Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt met to discuss the war in Europe and mutual defense concerns. In September 1957, the two nations agreed to create the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a bi-national command, centralizing operational control of continental air defenses.

NORAD was born in 1958 as the North American Air Defense Command with a mission to defend North America from a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. It has morphed over the years into the military homeland defense organization for the United States and Canada.

The command is closely aligned with U.S. Northern Command, and Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson commands both NORAD and Northcom. Her headquarters is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The deputy commander of NORAD is Royal Canadian Air Force Lt. Gen. Pierre St-Amand.

In its early years, the command focused on the Soviet threat, and terms like the DEW line – Distant Early Warning radars – and BMEWS – Ballistic Missile Early Warning System – entered the popular culture.

An F-15 Eagle assigned to the California Air National Guard is refueled by a KC-10 Extender assigned to Travis Air Force Base, California, during a mission supporting Operation Noble Eagle 2016. The refueling mission was in direct support of fighter aircraft patrolling the airspace surrounding Super Bowl 50. US Air Force photo by T.C. Perkins Jr.

NORAD aircraft intercepted Soviet bombers flying along the North American coasts. Aircraft and pilots were on ready alert at bases from Alaska to Nova Scotia and all points between.

Space became a more important domain, and NORAD assumed that responsibility, changing the “Air Defense” in its title to “Aerospace Defense” in 1981.

Senior Air Force Airman Ricardo Collie patrols the north gate of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex at Cheyenne Air Force Station, Colorado. Collie is one of many security layers to enter more than a mile inside a Colorado mountain to a complex of steel buildings that sit in caves. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

NORAD is best known in popular culture as a headquarters under a mountain with massive radar screens and large screen monitors that can switch to any display from all over the world. Hollywood’s version is much bigger and somewhat cooler than reality. While NORAD once had its headquarters in tunnels under Cheyenne Mountain, it is now very much above ground at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is still in use by many federal agencies. Construction started in 1961 and was finished in 1966. The complex could be used as alternate command center for NORAD if needed.

NORAD’s maritime domain awareness mission helps to provide the information and intelligence required to increase the security of U.S. and Canadian waterways and ports. Pictured here are four operational supersized container cranes on a 50-foot deep container berth at the Port of Baltimore, one of only two East Coast ports able to accommodate some of the world’s largest container vessels. Maryland Port Administration photo by Bill McAllen, courtesy of the Maryland Port Administration

NORAD commands Operation Noble Eagle, the air defense mission put in place in the wake of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That mission continues to this day, with more than 70,000 sorties flown in support.

NORAD may want to contemplate a name change again in the future, as the command now has a maritime defense component. In 2006, the NORAD agreement between the United States and Canada added a portion calling on the command to have “a shared awareness and understanding of the activities conducted in U.S. and Canadian maritime approaches, maritime areas and internal waterways.”

Finally, each year 1,500 NORAD volunteers work diligently every December tracking and protecting Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas rounds.

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NORAD Equals Homeland Defense

The SITREP: NASA Selects Airman, Marines Endure Rough Waters & More

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U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. Col. Raja Chari selected for NASA astronaut training. (Graphic/NASA)

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Thursday, June 8, 2017.

    • The Eighth Army is prepared for combat operations at any time. Stationed in the Asia-Pacific region, the Eighth Army is especially ready to assist its partner, the Republic of Korea, in any combined endeavor.
    • Marines with 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion endured the rough ocean waves as they conducted a series of amphibious operations during a training exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

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The SITREP: NASA Selects Airman, Marines Endure Rough Waters & More

Redskins Salute Service Members

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By William Selby
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participate in the Washington Redskins Salute to Service Day, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park on May 24, 2017 in Ashburn, Va. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes)

While May 24 may have been an insignificant date for some, for more than 150 active duty service members, veterans and their family it will be remembered as the day they were honored by the Washington Redskins football team at their training facility in Ashburn, Va.

Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participate in the Washington Redskins Salute to Service Day in Ashburn, Va. During the event, service members were given exclusive access to the training facility and observed the team during a private practice session. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes)

Redskins Salute, the official military appreciation sponsor of the Washington Redskins, hosted the service members and their families for a day of fun while taking in the organized team activities, known as OTAs, a term used for offseason practices.

Similar Salute to Service events are hosted throughout the National Football League in order to “elevate military appreciation across the league among players, teams and fans,” according the NFL web website.

After practice, the players and coaches signed autographs for the people in attendance and took photos with them. It was obvious that there was a mutual respect between the service members and players, from one team of professionals to another.

For more photos from the event, visit Flickr.

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Redskins Salute Service Members