The SITREP: Chaplains Provide Hurricane Relief, Air Force Explores Pumpkin Science & More

Lt. Francisco Muniz, Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico Chaplain, grabs a box of diapers for an orphanage in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

  • The 892nd Multi-Role Bridge Company, 190th Engineer Battalion from Juncos, Puerto Rico, built a bridge that will allow more than 30 families in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico the ability to travel in and out of the community in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Defense assess the need for continuing the use of certain support assets in Puerto Rico. As a result, USS Wasp and USS Oak Hill are two of the assets no longer needed in the region.
  • U.S. Coast Guard chaplains provide relief, support during 2017 hurricane season.
  • Just in time for Halloween, Air Force researchers explore the science of pumpkin chucking.

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The SITREP: Chaplains Provide Hurricane Relief, Air Force Explores Pumpkin Science & More

Your Navy Operating Forward – Irish Sea, Caribbean Sea, Arabian Gulf

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.


BUSAN, Republic of Korea: Sailors assigned to the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Chief (MCM 14) lower a mine neutralization vehicle into the water during Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jordan Crouch/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 flies over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Emily Johnston/Released)

CARIBBEAN SEA: The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) transits waters near Arecibo, Puerto Rico. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephane Belcher/Released)

IRISH SEA: Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) load buoys into an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter to conduct anti-submarine operations during exercise Joint Warrior 17-2, Oct. 8, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amy M. Ressler/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: Sailors taxi an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Oct. 9, 2017, in the Arabian Gulf.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jose Madrigal/Released)

TALCAUHANO, Chile: Sailors assigned to Undersea Rescue Command practice deploying the submarine rescue chamber during CHILEMAR VII. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

BUSAN, Republic of Korea: The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Gold) approaches the pier of Republic of Korea’s Busan Naval Base as part of a routine port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Carlisle/Released)

CARIBBEAN SEA: A Landing Craft Utility (LCU) from Assault Craft Unit 2 (ACU 2) departs the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp’s (LHD 1) well deck carrying a generator in support humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Taylor King/Released)

WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA: The Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) steam alongside ships from the Republic of Korea navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: The Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) transits the Arabian Gulf, Oct. 12, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Kinkead/Released)

Tell us which photo best shows YOUR Navy Operating Forward !


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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic It is with a tremendous …

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Your Navy Operating Forward – Irish Sea, Caribbean Sea, Arabian Gulf

Your Navy Operating Forward – Rota, Singapore, Tokyo

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.

TOKYO BAY, Japan: The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) prepares to moor onboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds/Released)
TOKYO BAY, Japan: The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) prepares to moor onboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds/Released)
CHANGI, Singapore: Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 perform functional tests on the engines and rotors of an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amy M. Ressler/Released)
CHANGI, Singapore: Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 perform functional tests on the engines and rotors of an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amy M. Ressler/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75)fires an MK 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alyssa Weeks/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) fires an MK 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alyssa Weeks/Released)
VILLEFRANCHE SUR MER, France:The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) arrives in Villefranche sur Mer, France, for a scheduled port visit to enhance U.S.-France relations and participate in commemorative events honoring the 50th anniversary of the years during the 1950's and 1960's during which the U.S. 6th Fleet was based in Villefranche sur Mer, France. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
VILLEFRANCHE SUR MER, France: The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) arrives in Villefranche sur Mer, France, for a scheduled port visit to enhance U.S.-France relations and participate in commemorative events honoring the 50th anniversary of the years during the 1950’s and 1960’s during which the U.S. 6th Fleet was based in Villefranche sur Mer, France. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
ARABIAN SEA: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) transits the Arabian Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford/Released)
ARABIAN SEA: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) transits the Arabian Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford/Released)
TOKYO BAY, Japan: The ocean surveillance ship USNS Able (T-AGOS 20) prepares to moor onboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds/Released)
TOKYO BAY, Japan: The ocean surveillance ship USNS Able (T-AGOS 20) prepares to moor onboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds/Released)
ROTA, Spain: Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) guide an MK-48 inert training torpedo into the weapon loading skid during an expeditionary ordnance loading exercise aboard Naval Station Rota, Spain. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael C. Barton/Released)
ROTA, Spain: Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) guide an MK-48 inert training torpedo into the weapon loading skid during an expeditionary ordnance loading exercise aboard Naval Station Rota, Spain. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael C. Barton/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan: Engineman 3rd Class Mathew Kenote, assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), inspects valves on the ship's service diesel generator.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Don Patton/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan: Engineman 3rd Class Mathew Kenote, assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), inspects valves on the ship’s service diesel generator. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Don Patton/Released)
U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) flies the National Ensign and the 4th Marine Division (MARDIV) flag during the Cole Memorial wreath-laying ceremony that honored the 17 Sailors who lost their lives on October 12, 2000. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brianna K. Green/Released)
U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) flies the National Ensign and the 4th Marine Division (MARDIV) flag during the Cole Memorial wreath-laying ceremony that honored the 17 Sailors who lost their lives on October 12, 2000. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brianna K. Green/Released)

Tell us which photo best shows YOUR Navy Operating Forward !


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Your Navy Operating Forward – Rota, Singapore, Tokyo

Daily SITREP: Navy Supports New Zealand, ISIL Leader Killed & More

The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), operates in the Java Sea while supporting the Indonesian-led search effort for AirAsia flight QZ8501. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos/Released)

The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) operates in the Java Sea while supporting the Indonesian-led search effort for AirAsia flight QZ8501. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your Daily SITREP for Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.

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Daily SITREP: Navy Supports New Zealand, ISIL Leader Killed & More

10 Military Athletes Who Are Also Olympians: Part 1

By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The wait for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero is almost over! You’re probably excited about watching at least a few of the events this year, so did you know there are a handful of U.S. military members on the 555-person roster? Somehow they manage to find time to serve our country and be world-class athletes. So, to make sure they get the accolades they deserve, here is a little about each one of them (Part 1- be sure to check back for Part 2):

Sam Kendricks, Army:

Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks competes in the preliminary round of the men's pole vault on July 2, 2016, at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon. He placed in the prelims and went on to secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic team during the finals. Army photos by David Vergun

Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks competes in the preliminary round of the men’s pole vault on July 2, 2016, at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon. He placed in the prelims and went on to secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic team during the finals. Army photos by David Vergun

Army Reservist 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks, 23, of Oxford, Mississippi, didn’t just pole vault himself to Rio this year – he broke an Olympic trials record! Kendricks came in first at the event, clearing the bar at 5.91 meters (19 feet, 4.75 inches for those of us non-metric system users). He’s ranked 2nd in the world at the sport, which bodes well for putting him in medal contention.

Kendricks spent four years in the Army ROTC during college, graduating as a second lieutenant in 2015. He’s currently with the 655th Transportation Company in Millington, Tennessee. Once his Olympic experience is over, he’ll be heading to the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Keith Sanderson, Army:

Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson, of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, practices at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson, of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, practices at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Sgt. First Class Keith Sanderson, 41, of San Antonio, Texas, is a skilled marksman – so good, in fact, that this is his third Olympics. Sanderson, an infantry noncommissioned officer, will compete as a 25-meter rapid-fire pistol shooter, of which he’s the most decorated in U.S. history – just check out all his accolades here.

Sanderson is part of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, but he spent the first eight years of his career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He switched to the Army Reserves, where he continues to serve and instruct soldiers and Marines in pistol marksmanship.

Edward King, Navy:

Edward King will compete this year in Rio on the men’s lightweight four-man crew team. Photo courtesy of navysports.com

Edward King will compete this year in Rio on the men’s lightweight four-man crew team. Photo courtesy of navysports.com

Edward King, 27, Of Ironton, Missouri, didn’t start rowing until he arrived at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2007, but he was a natural. King will compete this year in Rio on the men’s lightweight four-man crew team.

After the academy, King graduated from SEAL training and was eventually transferred to the Navy Information Operations Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. That paved the way for him to be granted an extended leave of absence in which he could get back to pursuing the sport in which he excels. King has a year left on his service contract but told a local newspaper that he plans to remain in the Navy.

Fun fact: A Navy rower hasn’t competed in the Olympics since 1988 – before King was born.

The athletes you see in the next four pics are cross-country track stars with the Army WCAP.

Hillary Bor, Army:

Army Sgt. Hillary Bor is competing in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase in Rio. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Army Sgt. Hillary Bor is competing in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in Rio. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Sgt. Hillary Bor, 26, is set to run in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in Rio, having come in second at the Olympic trials. The Kenyan native came to the U.S. for college in 2007 and became a naturalized citizen in 2013 when he joined the Army as a financial management technician. He’s not the only one in his family to do so, either. Bor’s two brothers are also U.S. soldiers.

Paul Chelimo, Army:

Army Spc. Paul Chelimo leads a pack of runners. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Army Spc. Paul Chelimo leads a pack of runners. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Spc. Paul Chelimo, 25, is another Kenyan native who joined the U.S. Army in 2013 after graduating as a track star at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Chelimo finished third at the Olympic trials this year in the men’s 5,000-meter run with a time of 13 minutes, 35.92 seconds. As an Army water purification specialist, Chelimo one day hopes to set up a water treatment plant in his native country.

Shadrack Kipchirchir & Leonard Korir, Army:

Left: Army Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir. Army photo by Tim Hipps Right: Army Spc. Leonard Korir. Army photo by David Vergun

Left: Army Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir. Army photo by Tim Hipps
Right: Army Spc. Leonard Korir. Army photo by David Vergun

Spcs. Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir both made the Olympic team in the 10,000-meter run, finishing second and third, respectively, at the U.S. trials. Kipchirchir, 27, and Korir, 29, are also from Kenya.

Kipchirchir moved to the U.S. to attend college, where he first started running competitively. He joined the Army in 2014 and works as a financial management technician when he’s off the track. Korir moved to the U.S. in 2009 and ran several track events at Iona College, where he was an eight-time NCAA All-American. He joined the Army in 2015, where he serves as a motor transport operator.

John Nunn, Army: 

Army Staff Sgt. John Nunn will be a three-time Olympian race walker when he competes in Rio. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Army Staff Sgt. John Nunn will be a three-time Olympian race walker when he competes in Rio. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Staff Sgt. John Nunn, 38, of Evansville, Indiana, secured his spot in Rio by winning the 50-kilometer and 20-kilometer race walk trials (yes, that’s really a thing). It’s not his first rodeo, either. This will be his third Olympics, having competed in 2004 and 2012.

Nunn is a noncommissioned officer who works as a dental hygienist in the Army. He was formerly infantry. You might remember him from a segment of NBC’s “Today Show,” where he helped teach Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and other news anchors how it was done.

And just for fun, here’s a military and Olympic veteran who also happens to be an icon:

David Robinson, Navy:

Left: David Robinson backs down a defender during the U.S. Naval Academy men's basketball alumni game Jan. 8, 2011. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Runge. Right: Robinson poses on the forecastle of the battleship USS Iowa. Courtesy photo

Left: David Robinson backs down a defender during the U.S. Naval Academy men’s basketball alumni game Jan. 8, 2011. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Runge. Right: Robinson poses on the forecastle of the battleship USS Iowa. Courtesy photo

To anyone who’s a basketball lover, this name is probably familiar to you. David Robinson, 50, was a famous center in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs. He was also an original member of America’s Dream Team, helping the team win gold in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and again in Atlanta in 1996 (he helped win a bronze medal in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988 … but that’s been a bit overshadowed by the golds).

Robinson had the nickname “The Admiral” for a reason. He came from a Navy family and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in the 1980s. While he was drafted first overall by the Spurs in 1987, he didn’t play until 1989 because of his two years of active-duty service in the Navy. The time off from his basketball career didn’t affect his playing, though – he went on to become the NBA’s 1989 Rookie of the Year.

To see the other U.S. athletes who will be joining Team USA in Rio this year, check Part 2 of our blog series here!

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10 Military Athletes Who Are Also Olympians: Part 1

Happy 118th Birthday Hospital Corps

By Vice Adm. Forrest Faison
U.S. Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Since their establishment in 1898, the Hospital Corps has grown exponentially from its first 25 apothecaries to the more than 30,000 corpsmen delivering world-class care to those entrusted to us across the globe.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 30, 2015) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Joseph Budke and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Dominick Sestito applies a splint to a patient during a mass casualty drill in the hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Mai/Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 30, 2015) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Joseph Budke and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Dominick Sestito applies a splint to a patient during a mass casualty drill in the hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Mai/Released)

OKINAWA, Japan (Jan. 21, 2016) A Navy corpsman with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, treats a simulated casualty during a mass casualty drill at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. The mass casualty drill was part of a noncombatant evacuation operation training evolution conducted during the 31st MEU's Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise II. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Thor J. Larson/Released)

OKINAWA, Japan (Jan. 21, 2016) A Navy corpsman with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, treats a simulated casualty during a mass casualty drill at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. The mass casualty drill was part of a noncombatant evacuation operation training evolution conducted during the 31st MEU’s Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise II. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Thor J. Larson/Released)

Today we celebrate the strength, bravery and resilience of our corpsmen that gallantly tend for America’s sons and daughters.

No Marine has ever taken a hill and no Sailor has ever boarded a ship, a submarine or a plane without a “doc” by their side standing ready to heed the call “Corpsman Up!” at a moment’s notice.

The corpsmen entrusted with the care of our Sailors and Marines today are the most highly-trained, highly-qualified force of medical professionals in Navy Medicine’s history.

Since the original school for hospital corpsmen was established in 1902 in Portsmouth, Virginia, to the current Navy Medicine Education and Training command based out of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, hospital corpsmen have played an integral role in contributing to the highest battlefield survival rate in the history of war.

Our corpsmen comprise the largest rate in the Navy; they are the most decorated and some of the most versatile Sailors in the Navy. Twenty-two corpsmen have received the Medal of Honor, among many other awards. Since the end of World War I, 179 corpsmen have been awarded the Navy Cross. Since World War II, more than 1,600 hospital corpsmen have been awarded a Bronze Star, and 959 corpsmen have earned a Silver Star. Twenty naval ships have been named in honor of corpsmen worldwide.

This year, I had the honor of attending a ceremony at which the Silver Star was presented to one of our corpsmen, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alejandro N. Salabarria. I also had the privilege of announcing Chief Hospital Corpsman Jessica Wentlent as the 2015 Navy Shore Sailor of the Year. These two corpsmen are a testament to the excellence of all the brave men and women who wear the caduceus and so selflessly serve our Sailors, Marines, their families and those entrusted to our care.

To the more than 30,000 hospital corpsman serving across the globe today, have a happy birthday and thank you for everything that you do. Happy 118th birthday, Hospital Corps! I am proud of you and honored to serve with you.

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published on Navy Medicine Live on June 16, 2016.


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Happy 118th Birthday Hospital Corps

Navy Gold Star Program Remembers

By Stephanie Hunter
Special contributor to Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

For many, the month of May is synonymous with the unofficial start of summer, barbecues, beautiful weather and a long holiday weekend. The Memorial Day holiday was created as a day of remembrance to honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate price to ensure our freedom. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was dedicated to remembering those who died during the Civil War; this tradition continued until World War I when it evolved to honor all those who gave their lives in service to our country. Memorial Day was officially recognized as a federal holiday in 1971.

Today, while our primary efforts are to remember those fallen service members, we should also take time to acknowledge the sacrifices of those who they leave behind – our Gold Star families.. The Navy recognizes that no one has given more for our nation than the families of the fallen, and the Navy Gold Star Program is there for them as the Navy’s official long-term survivor assistance program. Its primary focus and mission is to provide an unprecedented level of service and commitment to our Navy Gold Star families.

Navy Gold Star awareness pin

Navy Gold Star awareness pin

Survivors eligible for this program are the widow, parents and next of kin of the fallen service member. The term “widow” includes widower. The term “parents” includes mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, mother through adoption, father through adoption, and foster parents who stood in loco parentis. The term “next of kin” includes children (including natural, step-children and children through adoption), brothers, sisters, half-brothers, and half-sisters. If a spouse remarries, he or she is still eligible for services and support.

Each survivor is assigned an Installation Navy Gold Star Coordinator who serves as the long-term support advocate and is responsible for service delivery. The coordinators provide – either directly or through appropriate professional resources – support groups, life skills education, assistance in managing applicable life-long benefits, transition milestones and referrals to counseling resources. Survivors can be connected to our Navy family for as long as they desire.

The Navy Gold Star Program has dedicated the entire month of May to recognizing our Gold Star families. Throughout out the month, we’re sharing what it means to be a Gold Star Family and our honoring Gold Star families by hosting events that pay tribute to their fallen loved ones and provide surviving family members with opportunities to connect with one another.

For information about events in your area, please visit www.facebook.com/navygoldstar or www.navygoldstar.com, or call 1-888-509-8759.

Editor’s note: Stephanie Hunter is a program analyst for the Navy Gold Star Program under Navy Installations Command.


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Navy Gold Star Program Remembers

Pacific Partnership 2015’s “Weapon” System

By Capt. Christopher Engdahl
Mission Commander, Pacific Partnership 2015

As a Destroyer Squadron Commodore conducting Carrier Strike Group operations I had a wide variety of powerful weapons available for both offensive and defensive use.  These weapons span the technological and lethal spectrum from complex surface-to-surface missiles, intelligent air dropped torpedoes, pinpoint munitions, incredibly accurate rapid firing gun systems, crew served weapons and even down to hand thrown ordnance. The effective training, exercise, and at-sea use of these weapons strikes to the core of the CNO’ s “Warfighting First” tenet, but upon embarking USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) as the non-combatant Mission Commander of Pacific Partnership I was forced to give up these Surface Warfare warfighting unique capabilities.  Or so I thought…..I did not anticipate that I would be provided with an even more powerful, dynamic targeting capable, effect producing and all-weather weapon system…..the band.

SAVUSAVU, Fiji (June 13, 2015) Capt. Christopher Engdahl, Pacific Partnership 2015 mission commander, joins the Pacific Fleet Band to say thank you to a crowd during Pacific Partnership 2015.

SAVUSAVU, Fiji (June 13, 2015) Capt. Christopher Engdahl, Pacific Partnership 2015 mission commander, joins the Pacific Fleet Band to say thank you to a crowd during Pacific Partnership 2015.

Now you may consider my calling the band a “weapon system” a weak response to those who note that the U.S. military has more band members than some nations have in their entire troop inventory or you could call this a simple ploy to engender the team of incredibly talented musicians onboard Mercy and USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) to work longer, play louder and entertain better in support of this critical humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission.  This blog entry is neither of those things.  It is simply a reflection, in warfighting vernacular, of the incredible impact I have seen this remarkable group of Sailors have on the host nations we have visited thus far during Pacific Partnership.

SAVUSAVU, Fiji (June 13, 2015) Musician 2nd Class Christian Ivy, from Fort Worth, Texas, dances with a Fijian woman during Pacific Partnership 2015.

SAVUSAVU, Fiji (June 13, 2015) Musician 2nd Class Christian Ivy, from Fort Worth, Texas, dances with a Fijian woman during Pacific Partnership 2015.

How is the Pacific Partnership band like a weapon system?  Allow me to enumerate some of those reasons:

First, like every weapon system or piece of ordnance in the Navy’s inventory, it takes highly trained and intelligent Sailors to operate and be effective.  The Sailors in this group have years of musical training and experience, way beyond the time allotted in any ‘A’ or ‘C’ school.

Second, this band is highly scalable.  Small engagement at a Cooperative Health exchange in a remote village without power available –done. Rock Concert for 300 people to draw attendance at a disaster preparedness fair –done. Calming jazz ensemble when the 7 a.m. surgical screening call at the local hospital draws 200 more than expected –done.

KOLONIA, Pohnpei (June 23, 2015) – Senior Chief Musician Erik Desantis plays the trumpet during a community relations event at Pohnpei Library, June 23.

KOLONIA, Pohnpei (June 23, 2015) – Senior Chief Musician Erik Desantis plays the trumpet during a community relations event at Pohnpei Library, June 23.

Third, while advertised as an “all-weather” band, some band modes of operation do not take kindly to tropical winds, rain and heat.  I have discovered one exception to this rule, the horn section (yes, to include the Tuba player).

Fourth, the band onboard the Pacific Partnership secondary command vessel, Millinocket, is a Joint band, comprised of U.S. Navy band and U.S. Army band members. A joint band of Army personnel from the 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and Navy personnel from the Pearl Harbor-based U.S. Pacific Fleet Band are currently working in PP15 operations in Oceania.

The band makes an enduring and powerful impact wherever they are engaged.  They have opened host nation doors to this mission that would otherwise have remained shut, they engender partner, non-governmental organization, and host nation cooperation that, in the long-term, will improve regional stability and security, and they clearly demonstrate the cooperative approach required for Pacific Partnership to be a success.

So, while this “weapon system” is not going to counter an air, surface or subsurface attack, the bands are just the right kind of “strategic strike” Pacific Partnership needs to bring nations together, build relationships, and share our respective cultures through the universal language of music.

SAVUSAVU, Fiji (June 12, 2015) Fijian children from the Dreketi District School in Savusavu, Fiji, listen to a music ensemble performed by the Pacific Fleet Band during Pacific Partnership 2015.

SAVUSAVU, Fiji (June 12, 2015) Fijian children from the Dreketi District School in Savusavu, Fiji, listen to a music ensemble performed by the Pacific Fleet Band during Pacific Partnership 2015.

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Pacific Partnership 2015’s “Weapon” System

What I Learned Working with Wounded Warriors (Features) (Marines Uncovered)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/Released)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/Released)

For the last three years I have served as the chaplain to the Wounded Warrior Regiment providing pastoral care to wounded, ill and injured Marines, their family members and the military and civilian staff who advocate and care for them. It has been a sacred privilege to have served in this capacity.

| More: Get to know some of the Corps’ wounded warriors |

As I prepare to move on to my next assignment, here are some of the “lessons learned” that will go with me:

I’ve learned that injury and illness may place restrictions on a person’s activities, but do not define them. When Marines arrive at the hospital, they initially see themselves as patients. At the point they remember they are Marines who earned that title, healing increases its pace. The first time I met a quadruple amputee negotiating his way with prosthetics, he held the door open for me. An IED may have removed his limbs, but had no effect on his desire to be a gentleman.

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to decrease difficulties in whatever forms they present themselves is to increase joy. One way to do that is through athletic activities. The thrill of competition, of pushing oneself beyond perceived limits, of cheering for your team is quite healing. At regimental events, we know we have succeeded when a Marine refers to him/herself as a swimmer or a basketball player and not in relation to his/her injuries. A key component to increasing joy is the maintenance of a healthy sense of humor. Case in point, one of the favorite T-shirts for combat-injured Marines at Walter Reed states: “Wounded Warrior, some assembly required,” and on the back it says: “I had a blast in Afghanistan.”

I’ve learned that healthy connections are essential. Those who fare the best, whether wounded, ill and injured Marines, family or staff members are those who make the best connections. By this I do not mean the ones with the most friends. I mean those who feel connected to what matters most: the values that define them, the people who love them, the hope for the future that awaits them and the vision of their best selves. As a person of faith, I would also add those who feel connected to the God who never lets them go.

I’ve learned that the call of God upon a person’s life is not voided by illness or injury. It may be redefined and redirected, but it still remains. When our wounded, ill and injured Marines are able to discern and answer that call, becoming agents of care for others rather than just recipients, everyone benefits, especially them.

These lessons, about self-definition, joy, connection and calling are among many that I will carry with me not only to my next duty station, but for the rest of my life.

As we prepare to go our separate ways, I pray God’s blessing will be upon all with whom I have served and from whom I have learned so much.

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(Photo courtesy of Cmdr. Laura Bender/Released)

Read more:

What I Learned Working with Wounded Warriors (Features) (Marines Uncovered)

Worth a Thousand Words: Joint Services Make a Difference Day

photo: Yeoman shakes hands with vet.

Yeoman 2nd Class Erika Cash, assigned to Military Sealift Command, shakes the hand of a World War II veteran as she enters the World War II Memorial in downtown Washington, D.C., Oct. 20 during the Joint Services Make a Difference Day. Approximately 525 veterans participated in the Honor Flight Network program, which transports America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller)

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Worth a Thousand Words: Joint Services Make a Difference Day