Special Report: USS Fitzgerald Collision

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

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We honor our fallen shipmates.

Posted by U.S. Navy on Sunday, June 18, 2017

An information center is being set up at the Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka Fleet and Family Support Center with…

Posted by U.S. Navy on Friday, June 16, 2017

“As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public. Thank you for your well wishes and messages of
Statement by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson
"Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors. We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance" said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Statement by Adm. Scott Swift, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Statement by Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet (June 17)

USS Fitzgerald Involved in Collision

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

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U.S.-Japan SAR Efforts Continue for 7 Missing Fitzgerald Sailors

Search and rescue efforts continue by U.S. and Japanese aircraft and surface vessels in the hopes of recovering seven USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) Sailors.

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USS Fitzgerald Returns to Yokosuka

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), aided by tug boats, returned to Yokosuka at 6:15 p.m. June 17.

Approximately 16 hours earlier, it was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. Seven of Fitzgerald’s crew remain missing.

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Good Evening USS Dewey Families and Friends,Early this morning, USS Dewey (DDG 105) was called upon to render immediate…

Posted by USS Dewey (DDG 105) on Saturday, June 17, 2017

Number of USS Fitzgerald Sailors’ Remains Found

A number of Sailors’ remains that were missing from the collision between USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a merchant ship have been found.

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Vice Adm. Aucoin Holds Press Conference about USS Fitzgerald Collision

The following are U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin’s prepared remarks for a press conference held June 18 at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, about the collision of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) with a merchant vessel June 17.

Thanks for coming today.

USS Fitzgerald experienced extensive damage and flooding after a collision with the Filipino container ship at 0220 local time, 17 June, approx. 56 nm off the coast of Honshu, Japan.

The damage included a significant impact under the ship’s pilothouse on the starboard side and a large puncture below the ship’s waterline, opening the hull to the sea.

The ship suffered severe damage rapidly flooding three large compartments that included one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew. The commanding officer’s cabin was also directly hit, trapping the CO inside.

The crew’s response was swift and effective, and I want to point out – as we stand by the ship – how proud I am of them.

Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading which could have caused the ship to founder or sink. It could have been much worse.

The crew navigated the ship into one of the busiest ports in the world with a magnetic compass and backup navigation equipment. One of two shafts were locked.

Because of the tireless damage control efforts of a resolute and courageous team, the ship was able to make its way back to port safely on its own power last evening.

The Fitzgerald crew responded professionally as all Sailors are expected to fight the damage sustained to their ship. They are known as the “Fighting Fitz” and the crew lived up to that name.

We owe it to our families and the Navy to understand what happened. Under my authority, I am initiating a JAGMAN investigation into this collision, and I will appoint a flag officer to lead that investigation. There will also be a safety investigation.

The U.S. Coast Guard is to take the lead on the marine casualty investigation.

We recognize that there are other organizations who have equities in this incident, and we expect they will conduct their own separate investigations. More information on any further investigations will be forthcoming.

I will not speculate on how long these investigations will last.

As you are aware, we have found the remains of a number of our missing shipmates. Our deepest sympathies are with the families of these Sailors.

Out of concern for the families and the notification process, I will decline to state how many we have found at this time. We owe that to the families and friends of these shipmates and hope you can respect this process.

We will update you after all notifications have been made.

We have transferred remains to Naval Hospital Yokosuka. The families are being notified and will be provided the support they need at this difficult time. Please keep them in your thoughts are prayers.

Their loved ones are what makes this Navy great, so this loss is something we all do feel. The names of the deceased will be released soon.

Unfortunately we don’t have the details regarding the conditions during their final moments, but hope that the investigation may shed some light on that matter.

At the same time, I want to express my most heartfelt appreciation to our Japanese allies for their swift support and assistance.

Japanese Coast Guard ships and helicopters were the first on scene and our first medevac, the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was accomplished thanks to a JMSDF helicopter.

A second medevac was performed for two Sailors with minor injuries. All three patients are alert and under observation at Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

We set up a USS Fitzgerald Emergency Family Assistance Center within hours, and disseminated the phone numbers to their hotlines through social media and Navy websites.

This support center remains open for chaplain and counselor care indefinitely, 24/7, on the Fleet and Family Support Center’s 4th floor.

But to be clear: my sole focus now has shifted to helping the grieving family, crew and friends of the Fitzgerald.

The Navy family comes together during a tragedy, and I want to thank the entire Yokosuka community rallying their support in these difficult days. Fellow Sailors, family members and civilian members of the Navy team were all out here last night to welcome Fitzgerald home and provide the crew and grieving families with food, blankets, clothes and emotional support. MWR, Port Operations, NEX, USO, the Chief Petty Officer Mess and many others pulled together to help out.

I ask all of you to keep the affected families in your thoughts and prayers, and respect their privacy as we work to get them the answers they deserve regarding their loved ones.

Editor’s note: These remarks are also posted on Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet’s website.

U.S. Navy Identifies 7 Deceased Fitzgerald Sailors
The remains of seven Sailors previously reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments, after divers gained access to the spaces, June 18, that were damaged when USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.

Read more on Navy.mil.

Statement from Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley

We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates as a result of Friday’s collision between USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

Read more on Navy.mil.


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Special Report: USS Fitzgerald Collision

9 Things to Know about the 48th Annual EOD Memorial Ceremony

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By Billy Martin
Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal Public Affairs

In honor of the 48th Annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal Memorial Ceremony, hosted by Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal, here are nine things to know about the significance of this annual ceremony to honor our military’s fallen EOD technicians.

1) This year, the EOD community from each of the services will gather May 6 to honor the memory of 320 EOD heroes and add six additional EOD technicians to the EOD Memorial:

  • Gunner’s Mate Seaman Robert Paul Burr who was killed in action July 16, 1944, while serving in World War II
  • Army Tech. Sgt. James H. Eberle, who was killed in action Aug. 23, 1944, while serving in World War II
  • Ensign Charles Williams Grice, Sr., who was killed in action May 14, 1945, while serving in World War II
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Biddle Carrol Izard, Jr., who was killed in action June 19, 1968, while serving in Vietnam
  • Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Jason Christopher Finan, who was killed in action Oct. 20, 2016, while serving in support of Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve
    WASHINGTON (Oct. 21, 2016) An undated file photo of Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan courtesy of his family. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
    WASHINGTON (Oct. 21, 2016) An undated file photo of Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan courtesy of his family. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

2) The ceremony is held at the EOD Memorial next to the Kauffman EOD Training Complex on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The Kauffman Training Complex is named after Rear Adm. Draper L. Kauffman (1911-1979) aka the “Father of U.S. Bomb Disposal”.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 4, 2013) Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) Sailors Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen and Command Master Chief Eric Brower place a wreath in front of the Navy panel of the EOD Memorial during the 44th Annual EOD Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 4, 2013) Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) Sailors Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen and Command Master Chief Eric Brower place a wreath in front of the Navy panel of the EOD Memorial during the 44th Annual EOD Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

3) During the ceremony, a wreath is placed in front of each service’s list of names before they are read aloud. After each list is completed, the names are saluted by an enlisted and officer EOD member. The families of EOD technicians added to the wall each year receive a folded flag that was flown over the memorial.

4) The EOD Memorial stands as an amazing monument to the honor, courage and commitment exemplified by EOD technicians from the services as they performed the EOD mission.

5) “We Remember” signifies the very essence and ethos of EOD technicians to never forget the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of our EOD brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice.

6) The first Saturday in May is remembered as “EOD Day” in honor of the memorial ceremony.

7) The first Saturday of every May represents a sacred time for the EOD community to reflect and remember the heroic actions of our fallen EOD warriors.

8) The EOD badge and its three levels (Basic, Senior and Master) became the standard for all services in the 1950s.

9) The badge remains the only badge in the military that is identical in each service. This unique distinction reflects the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal’s vital role as the schoolhouse for our military’s EOD warriors.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 5, 2012) Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen, right, and Command Master Chief Stacey McClain face the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Memorial wall and prepare to unveil the addition of three shipmates' names during the EOD 43rd Annual Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 5, 2012) Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen, right, and Command Master Chief Stacey McClain face the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Memorial wall and prepare to unveil the addition of three shipmates’ names during the EOD 43rd Annual Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)


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9 Things to Know about the 48th Annual EOD Memorial Ceremony

Busted, top 10 RPA myths debunked

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by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing

Drones. The once harmless term has taken on new meaning in recent years largely due to misinformation, Hollywood dramatizations and their growing uses in non-military settings. For the men and women of the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise who provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to combatant commanders around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, dispelling myths associated with their mission is now a top priority.

1. Myth: Drones and RPAs are the same.

Fact: In today’s mainstream media drones often refers to both small aerial capable vehicles with photo or video capabilities and, incorrectly, to U.S. Air Force RPAs. In the U.S. Air Force inventory a remotely piloted aircraft requires aircrews to operate but don’t have the capability to carry crews on board. Also in the USAF inventory, RPAs such as the Global Hawk are used to provide ISR data by recording imagery and are often incorrectly labeled as “drones.” (U.S. Air Force illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: In today’s mainstream media drones often refers to both small aerial capable vehicles with photo or video capabilities and, incorrectly, to U.S. Air Force RPAs. In the U.S. Air Force inventory a remotely piloted aircraft requires aircrews to operate but don’t have the capability to carry crews on board. Also in the USAF inventory, RPAs such as the Global Hawk are used to provide ISR data by recording imagery and are often incorrectly labeled as “drones.” (U.S. Air Force illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

2. Myth: RPAs fly themselves.

 Fact: RPAs are flown by a pilot, with the assistance of a sensor operator for the entire duration of the flight. Additionally, for every RPA combat air patrol there are nearly 200 people supporting the mission in various capacities. This includes pilot, sensor operator, mission intelligence personnel; aircraft and communications maintainers; launch and recovery element personnel; and intelligence personnel conducting production, exploitation, and dissemination operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Adawn Kelsey)
Fact: RPAs are flown by a pilot, with the assistance of a sensor operator for the entire duration of the flight. Additionally, for every RPA combat air patrol there are nearly 200 people supporting the mission in various capacities. This includes pilot, sensor operator, mission intelligence personnel; aircraft and communications maintainers; launch and recovery element personnel; and intelligence personnel conducting production, exploitation, and dissemination operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Adawn Kelsey)

3. Myth: Military RPAs are used to spy on U.S. civilians.

Fact: The Air Force only flies RPAs in the United States for training purposes. The only exception is with the appropriate level of coordination and approval RPAs can be used to support the aerial imagery needs of civil authorities in rare and urgent cases where local, state, or federal officials cannot use nonmilitary means of support. This level approval usually resides with the Secretary of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)
Fact: The Air Force only flies RPAs in the United States for training purposes. The only exception is with the appropriate level of coordination and approval RPAs can be used to support the aerial imagery needs of civil authorities in rare and urgent cases where local, state, or federal officials cannot use nonmilitary means of support. This level approval usually resides with the Secretary of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Additionally, the following guidelines structure how training flights work:
– Training is normally conducted in airspace over and near federal installations and unpopulated training ranges that have been set aside for that purpose.
– Information gathered during training missions that is relayed to ground stations is seldom retained after training operations.
– Any information retained after training missions is deleted shortly afterwards in accordance with regulations (typically no more than 90 days).
– During training missions, pilots and sensor operators are not applying or receiving the analytical support necessary to allow them to use imagery to identify individuals beyond gender and approximate age.

4. Myth: RPAs strike randomly.

 Fact: The vast majority of the time, the Air Force’s RPA fleet is used for ISR, not for strike activity. They are governed by the same procedures as other aircraft capable of employing weapons. RPAs are not ‘unmanned,’ and do not act autonomously to drop a weapon or choose a target. Human beings are an integral part of the system and will continue to be the decision makers. RPA pilots are not bound by a set timeline to strike a target; they spend days, weeks, and sometimes months observing the patterns-of-life of a subject and provide that information to the network of tactical personnel, intelligence members, databases and decision makers before any action is pursued. They are connected to a huge network of intelligence from multiple sources – including platforms, sensors, people and databases – to national decision makers, combatant commanders, and tactical level personnel. (Courtesy photo)
Fact: The vast majority of the time, the Air Force’s RPA fleet is used for ISR, not for strike activity. They are governed by the same procedures as other aircraft capable of employing weapons. RPAs are not ‘unmanned,’ and do not act autonomously to drop a weapon or choose a target. Human beings are an integral part of the system and will continue to be the decision makers. RPA pilots are not bound by a set timeline to strike a target; they spend days, weeks, and sometimes months observing the patterns-of-life of a subject and provide that information to the network of tactical personnel, intelligence members, databases and decision makers before any action is pursued. They are connected to a huge network of intelligence from multiple sources – including platforms, sensors, people and databases – to national decision makers, combatant commanders, and tactical level personnel. (Courtesy photo)

5. Myth: RPAs are made from alien technology and are flown from area 51.

Fact: The U.S. Air Force actually has a long history of unmanned flight and we are still learning new and better ways to fly.  We will continue to improve our methods of training, conducting operations and employing new weapon systems. The development and integration of unmanned aircraft represent a continuation of this trend and has been around since the early 1900s. The primary installations where RPAs are based and flown are Beale AFB, CA; Holloman AFB, NM; Creech AFB, NV; and Grand Forks AFB, ND.  There are additional Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard installations that are part of the distributed ground stations that support RPA flights and data analysis.(U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: The U.S. Air Force actually has a long history of unmanned flight and we are still learning new and better ways to fly. We will continue to improve our methods of training, conducting operations and employing new weapon systems. The development and integration of unmanned aircraft represent a continuation of this trend and has been around since the early 1900s. The primary installations where RPAs are based and flown are Beale AFB, CA; Holloman AFB, NM; Creech AFB, NV; and Grand Forks AFB, ND. There are additional Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard installations that are part of the distributed ground stations that support RPA flights and data analysis.(U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

6. Myth: RPAs are unmanned and require less manpower to operate.

Fact: In order to support ISR missions around the world, every RPA CAP requires the dedication of nearly 200 Airmen in various capacities to maintain 24/7, 365 day vigilance. The pilot, with the help of the sensor operator, flies the RPA for the entire duration of the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: In order to support ISR missions around the world, every RPA CAP requires the dedication of nearly 200 Airmen in various capacities to maintain 24/7, 365 day vigilance. The pilot, with the help of the sensor operator, flies the RPA for the entire duration of the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

7. Myth: RPA pilots are just “gamers.”

 Fact: Our Airmen are trained to be the best pilots in the world, regardless of aircraft. Our fully qualified aircrews consistently exceed expectations for both flight safety and operational effectiveness. Like pilots in manned aircraft RPA pilots are required to meet the same qualifications. New RPA pilots undergo a very intense training program before they fly operational missions. This training curriculum lasts approximately one year, and many current Air Force RPA pilots and trainers have already completed undergraduate pilot training in manned aircraft as well. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young)
Fact: Our Airmen are trained to be the best pilots in the world, regardless of aircraft. Our fully qualified aircrews consistently exceed expectations for both flight safety and operational effectiveness. Like pilots in manned aircraft RPA pilots are required to meet the same qualifications. New RPA pilots undergo a very intense training program before they fly operational missions. This training curriculum lasts approximately one year, and many current Air Force RPA pilots and trainers have already completed undergraduate pilot training in manned aircraft as well. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young)

8. Myth: Everyone in the RPA community suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 Fact: According to a 2014 paper from the United Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, studies have shown that 4.3 percent of Air Force RPA operators report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is lower than the 4 to 18% of PTSD reported among those returning from the battlefield and lower than the projected lifetime risk of PTSD for Americans (8.7%, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In addition, Creech Air Force Base established a Human Performance Team in 2011 comprised of an operational psychologist, an operational and aerospace physiologist, three flight surgeons and two Religious Support Teams to aid Airmen in dealing with stressors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: According to a 2014 paper from the United Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, studies have shown that 4.3 percent of Air Force RPA operators report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is lower than the 4 to 18% of PTSD reported among those returning from the battlefield and lower than the projected lifetime risk of PTSD for Americans (8.7%, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In addition, Creech Air Force Base established a Human Performance Team in 2011 comprised of an operational psychologist, an operational and aerospace physiologist, three flight surgeons and two Religious Support Teams to aid Airmen in dealing with stressors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

9. Myth: RPA aircrews are not compassionate to the missions they perform.

Fact: Airmen performing RPA operations receive moral, ethical, psychological and physiological training to build readiness that is sustainable over time. The Air Force will continue to support combatant commanders with RPA missions while also focusing on initiatives that reduce stress on personnel and remain committed to providing the best care possible for every Airman, regardless of the career field with which they are associated.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: Airmen performing RPA operations receive moral, ethical, psychological and physiological training to build readiness that is sustainable over time. The Air Force will continue to support combatant commanders with RPA missions while also focusing on initiatives that reduce stress on personnel and remain committed to providing the best care possible for every Airman, regardless of the career field with which they are associated.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

10. Myth: RPAs will replace manned aircraft

 Fact: According to Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III, “the Air Force needs a number of platforms.” He continued by saying this includes manned and unmanned assets to accomplish sustainable air supremacy. “Air superiority is a mission. It's not a platform, it's a mission. So ideally, you'd have both tools available to you." (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: According to Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III, “the Air Force needs a number of platforms.” He continued by saying this includes manned and unmanned assets to accomplish sustainable air supremacy. “Air superiority is a mission. It’s not a platform, it’s a mission. So ideally, you’d have both tools available to you.” (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

Despite the misconceptions surrounding the RPA enterprise Air Force leadership remain optimistic on the future capabilities RPAs can provide.

“What our RPA professionals are doing in today’s fight and in preparing for future conflicts is simply incredible. RPAs and their operators are in the highest demand from our combatant commanders because of the situational awareness and strike capabilities that they enable. Despite being some of the newest weapon systems in the Air Force inventory, RPAs fulfill critical demands in every theater 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Air Combat Command commander.

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Busted, top 10 RPA myths debunked

Soldier of Valor

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Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, assigned to White Platoon fire team, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides overwatch on a road near Dahla Dam, Afghanistan, July 2012. (U.S Army photo/Photo Illuststration by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Niegel/Released)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, assigned to White Platoon fire team, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides overwatch on a road near Dahla Dam, Afghanistan, July 2012. (U.S Army photo/Photo Illuststration by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Niegel/Released)

Story by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Chapman

The room hummed with the steady clicks of camera shutters as Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter and his wife, Shannon, were the center of attention during a press conference at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., July 29.

Carter will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House, Aug. 26, for his courageous actions while deployed to the Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, in October 2009. He was a cavalry scout assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort Carson, Colo., during his first of two deployments to Afghanistan.

Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Ty Carter, front, and Army Staff Sgt. Jimmy Justice, a section leader, sight in their M14 sniper rifles at the Observation Point Fritsche helicopter landing zone in Afghanistan, June 2009. The Soldiers wanted to collect data on how their bullets traveled at that particular altitude. (U.S. Army photo/Released)

U.S. Army Spc. Ty Carter, front, and Army Staff Sgt. Jimmy Justice, a section leader, sight in their M14 sniper rifles at the Observation Point Fritsche helicopter landing zone in Afghanistan, June 2009. The Soldiers wanted to collect data on how their bullets traveled at that particular altitude. (U.S. Army photo/Released)

On Oct. 3, 2009, more than 400 anti-Afghan forces attempted to take over Combat Outpost Keating. Carter, who was a specialist at the time, and his fellow Soldiers defended the small combat outpost against rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons fire coming from the surrounding hills. Of the 54 members who defended the position, eight Soldiers were killed and more than 25 were injured.

“A long time ago I told myself that if I was ever placed in a combat situation, that I wouldn’t let fear make my choices for me,” said Carter, during the press conference. “Inside, all I thought about was supporting the men in that position. When Mace was down it was hard to think about anything else but doing what I could to get to him.”

During the more than six-hour battle, Carter found himself resupplying Soldiers with ammunition, providing first aid, killing enemy combatants and risking his own life to save that of his fellow Soldier, Spc. Stephan L. Mace, who was wounded and pinned down under enemy fire, according to Carter’s award narrative.

While being recommended for the Medal of Honor was a surprise, Carter shared that receiving this medal was the last thing on his mind after he redeployed.

Photo: Army Sgt. Ty Carter pauses for a final photo with his wife, Shannon, before deploying from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 2012, with A Troop, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. (Carter Family courtesy photo)

Army Sgt. Ty Carter pauses for a final photo with his wife, Shannon, before deploying from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 2012, with A Troop, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. (Carter Family courtesy photo)

“I was going through some difficulties then and I was so concerned about the men we lost and friends that it didn’t even faze me,” said Carter, a native of Antioch, Calif. “I don’t want to put down the Medal of Honor and what it means, but when you have lost family, it’s not what you are thinking about. I just felt loss.”

Carter hopes that while being in the spotlight as a Medal of Honor recipient, he will also focus on post-traumatic stress, and bring more awareness to those who struggle with it daily.

Carter, who is currently assigned to the Secretary to the General Staff, 7th Infantry Division, concluded the conference saying that he was very nervous to go to the White House but meeting the commander in chief will truly be an honor.

———-

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Soldier of Valor

I Am a Navy Corpsman: Saving Lives

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Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, was recently selected as Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year. The corpsman has deployed to combat three times — twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, was recently selected as Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year. The corpsman has deployed to combat three times — twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos)

Story by Paul R. Ross, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affiars

A 16-year-old picks up a magazine and flips through the glossy pages. He stops at an article about a heroic sailor — a Navy corpsman — who ran through a minefield to save the Marines he served with during Operation Desert Storm.

For some people, the story would be something they forget about as quickly as they read it – just another news article. But for one boy growing up in Guam, it was the catalyst to his career.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, a hospital corpsman, enlisted in the Navy a year after reading that article and moved to the United States in 1999 to begin what is now a 13-year life in the Navy. The corpsman, who is assigned to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 24 stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, is a Purple Heart recipient and was recently selected as Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year.

Seeking Adventure

Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos poses with his family next to the ocean. The heroic story of a Navy corpsman during Operation Desert Storm inspired Santos to enlist in the Navy become a corpsman. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos poses with his family next to the ocean. The heroic story of a Navy corpsman during Operation Desert Storm inspired Santos to enlist in the Navy become a corpsman. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos)

Santos, the youngest of nine children, was the only one of his siblings to join the military and did so because he craved something different from his life on the island nation of Guam.

“I needed a change of life,” Santos said. “I needed better job opportunities. I wanted to grow up. (Life in Guam) was simple. It was laid back. It was the same old stuff. Just a slow life style — a beach life style. But I wanted more adventure.”

While the Navy would provide the adventure he was seeking, he knew the job of Navy hospital corpsman would provide something greater than adventure.

“I wanted to help people,” Santos said. “I wanted to save lives. I thought about how much I wanted to do a job like that.”

From the Battlefield

Throughout his 13-year career he would find himself deployed beside Marines in combat three different times – twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan. In 2004, while deployed to Fallujah he earned his Purple Heart.

“I received wounds and shrapnel to my hand and wrist on March 26, 2004, during an ambush in a firefight in Fallujah on the streets,” Santos said.

But it was later that same year when Santos played a vital role in doing what he became a corpsman to do — save lives.

“On Sept. 6, 2004, a large convoy got hit by a vehicle-borne IED (improvised explosive device),” Santos said. “It hit the second truck, which had the platoon commander, about 14 Marines and 12 Iraqi National Guard. The IED hit the truck and we had a mass casualty. We had about 10 mortally wounded and the rest of the guys were just scattered throughout the zone.”

Santos would be the only corpsman on-scene for the first ten minutes after the attack.

“I was in the third truck,” Santos said. “We pulled up to the scene. We started pulling our guys out. We pulled a bunch of guys out and set up a casualty collection point. We went to work. We were running out of supplies. I was using guys’ individual first aid kits and a lot of tourniquets.”

Soon, other medical personnel arrived to assist and bring more supplies.

“We saved a lot of guys that day, and unfortunately a lot of Marines didn’t make it,” Santos said. “A lot of close friends were lost.”

For Santos, the respect he has earned from serving beside his Marine brethren isn’t something he takes lightly.

“It’s a great honor to be trusted like that,” Santos said. “It’s something that’s earned from your guys and being there. It’s earned through trust.”

Mother, Mother Ocean

Outside of serving as a corpsman, Santos has another passion — the ocean. Growing up in Guam gave Santos a unique connection to the blue, salty waters that surround his childhood home, and the place he now calls home — Hawaii.

Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, catches a wave in Hawaii. Santos finds respite from his busy life as a corpsman through surfing and spending time at the beach. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, catches a wave in Hawaii. Santos finds respite from his busy life as a corpsman through surfing and spending time at the beach. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos)

“Growing up around the ocean, it’s everything,” Santos said. “It’s a food source. It’s fun. It’s my happiness.”

His love of the ocean isn’t something he keeps to himself.

“I take guys out and teach them how to surf,” Santos said. “I make them understand what surfing is all about and about the ocean. I coach paddling for beginners and kids.”

Success and Respect

In order to be successful as a Navy corpsman, you have to be a leader — someone who can be trusted.

“HM1 Santos is a sailor’s-sailor,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Frank Dominguez, lead chief petty officer for MAG-24. “He shows pride in everything that he does. He leads from the front and by example. Part of what makes him a great corpsman is how he treats other. He makes everyone feel like they are family. He is well respected by both Marines and sailors.”

The sentiment is shared by the Marines he has deployed beside.

“Doc Santos is one of the best Navy corpsmen I’ve had the pleasure of serving with,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Joshua Noel, CH-53E crew chief/flightline quality assurance representative. “He always maintains a very high level of professionalism, while at the same time has a very approachable demeanor. No matter how busy he was, he would always take the time to follow-up with his patients and ensure they were receiving the care they needed.”

The Extra Mile

Part of the reason some choose careers in the medical field is because of their unrelenting willingness to help those in need. This was the case when some Marines in Santos’ unit showed signs of suicidal ideation.

Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, who grew up in Guam, has a unique love of the ocean. He teaches others to surf and paddle board from his current duty station at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, who grew up in Guam, has a unique love of the ocean. He teaches others to surf and paddle board from his current duty station at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer1st Class Joseph Santos)

“Doc Santos did an incredible job handling those situations,” said Noel. “I feel he went above and beyond with those Marines. As those Marines were getting separated from the unit and sent back to the States, Doc Santos gave incredible amounts of his personal time to see to it that they left Afghanistan on as much of a positive note as possible.”

There were no “working hours” for Santos as he stayed committed to his Marines — it was a 24-hour responsibility.

“He gave up his personal space, privacy and time by allowing them to bunk above him during their last days in country,” Noel said. “This enabled him to be able to be there for them at a moment’s notice and I believe it showed those Marines that there are people who care and will go the extra mile for them.”

Love of the Job

For Santos, this is the precise reason he continues to serve. The relationships he has forged are the reasons he loves being a Navy corpsman.

“It’s the camaraderie we develop,” Santos said. “It’s the friendship and the brotherhood.”

If he had it his way, his life would always be the Navy. But what else would you expect from someone who lives to serve others?

“If I can promote and stay in longer I would,” Santos said. “I’d definitely do this for my entire life.”

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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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I Am a Navy Corpsman: Saving Lives

First Lady Joins Maryland Governor at Veterans’ Bill Signing

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Story by Amaani Lyle, American Forces Press Service

First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, seated, third from left, sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis, Md., April 17, 2013. Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, far left, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., second from left, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, right, joined O'Malley. White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, seated, third from left, sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis, Md., April 17, 2013. White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

First Lady Michelle Obama joined Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at the State House in Annapolis on April 17, 2013, as he signed into law the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013.

The Defense Department collaborated in development of Maryland’s comprehensive bill, designed to streamline credentialing and licensing procedures for service members, veterans and their spouses.

“We have asked them to risk their lives in combat, manage dozens of peers, operate complicated machinery, oversee millions of dollars of assets and save lives on the battlefield,” Obama said. “And then, when they come home, we’re also asking them to repeat months of training for skills they’ve already mastered. So we have to ask ourselves: how does this make sense?”

The first lady said enacting the bill represents more than merely “eliminating a few bureaucratic headaches” for veterans and their spouses.

“This is about improving the financial security for thousands of military families,” Obama said. “It’s about giving veterans and their spouses an opportunity to build their careers and create a better future for their children.”

As part of their Joining Forces initiative, in February, the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, addressed the National Governor’s Association as part of a call to action to bring millions of veterans into the civilian workforce.

“With the Iraq war over [and] the war in Afghanistan winding down, more than a million service members are going to be hanging up their uniforms and transitioning back to civilian life,” Obama said. “And that comes on top of the hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses already out there looking for work.”

While the first lady noted much progress in veterans’ employment over the past few years, she acknowledged that there is still more work to do. As of March 2013, roughly 783,000 veterans were unemployed and looking for work, including 207,000 post-9/11 veterans.

“We need more businesses to make big, bold commitments to hire and train our veterans and military spouses,” Obama said. “We need more hospitals … colleges and employers from every sector to recognize our veterans’ and military spouses’ unique skills and experiences and give them a fair shot at a job.”

Prior to the bill-signing, Obama visited the U.S. Naval Academy, where she ate lunch with midshipmen and met with a number of health care professionals who have served the country for years and mastered highly technical, high-demand skills.

Introducing the first lady at the State House was 23-year Navy veteran and former Senior Chief Petty Officer Andrew Hite, who suffered a traumatic brain injury while on active duty. Hite said he experienced anxiety about pursuing a degree.

“Even though I served this country for more than two decades as a radar tech, an avionics electronics technician and an avionics instructor, I was unable to receive even a single college credit with all of my military experience and numerous formal training courses I completed on active duty,” Hite said. “Legislation that’s being signed today will ensure the well-deserved recognition of our country’s veterans’ efforts of service and acknowledge their military experience and their formal training received while serving our country.”

The legislation, Hite emphasized, will remove the barrier of time.

“It will help shorten the time required to complete the desired degree by allowing credit for the often-expensive knowledge [veterans] have gained during their military service,” Hite added.

Maryland joins a growing list of states that have taken legislative or executive action to help service members, veterans and their spouses get the credentials they need to successfully transition to the civilian labor market.

“Your bill here in Maryland is one of the best bills we have seen in the entire country,” Obama said. “You’re helping our veterans obtain professional credentials … earn college credit … and making it easier for military spouses to continue their careers as they transfer to your state.”

O’Malley also addressed the plight of veterans before signing the bill.

“These individuals should never come home, after overcoming all the barriers they have for us, and face barriers to employment, barriers to licensing, barriers that prevent them from keeping a roof over their children’s heads and providing them with a loving home with economic security and dignity.”

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First Lady Joins Maryland Governor at Veterans’ Bill Signing

President to Present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy

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U.S. Naval Academy quarterback (#2) Kriss Proctor runs the ball during the 112th Army-Navy Football game at FEDEX Field in Landover, Md. The Midshipmen have won the previous nine meetings. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge/Released)

U.S. Naval Academy quarterback (#2) Kriss Proctor runs the ball during the 112th Army-Navy Football game at FEDEX Field in Landover, Md. The Midshipmen have won the previous nine meetings. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge/Released)

Every year, the service academies play in a triangle series against each other and the winner of that series is presented the Commander-in-Chief trophy.

This year, the Naval Academy won both of their games against Army and Air Force. Tune in to the link below and watch the ceremony as the President presents the Naval Academy players and coaches with the trophy.

Watch the ceremony here. 

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President to Present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy

Professional Reading’s Positive Impact

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Reading

Lance Cpl. Sterling Jeffrey, a data network specialist with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38 and a Springdale, Ark., native, reads “First to Fight: an inside view of the U.S. Marine Corps,” at the library aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

Story by Ian Phillips, Defense Media Activity

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman

If you are like me, you enjoy reading. I’ll read whatever I can get my hands on (though biographies, history and science fiction usually top my “favorites” list). Reading has always been a hobby since I was a kid. As I’ve gotten older, the thing I realized was that the more I read, the better prepared I was to be a positive contributor in both my military reserve and civilian careers. The military understands the importance of developing a habit of reading and has created lists to guide service members to great material.

Each year the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of staff of each service issue their own professional reading list. Designed to encourage professional development and growth, the lists provide service members with titles on a variety of topics.

The lists include books that cover topics such as history, leadership, novels, biographies and a host of others that can broaden your knowledge base, encourage critical thinking and prepare you for future opportunities.

One book I found through a former Air Force chief of staff’s reading list is American Generalship: Character is Everything: The Art of Command by Edgar F. Puryear, Jr.. It analyzes some of the military’s most seasoned leaders (including Eisenhower, MacArthur and Patton) and looks at what qualities they had that made them such great commanders.

I found this particular book helpful because it showed me that several great military leaders all had certain traits in common, including the value they placed on reading. They found that being well-read helped their careers. So, I have taken their lead and tried to make reading a priority.

Professional reading can have a positive impact on your career. Whether you’re enlisted, an officer or a civilian, reading will help you become a more effective communicator and leader. I encourage you to check out this year’s lists and find a few books that are of interest to you.

Here are links to the lists:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Reading List

Air Force Reading List

Army Reading List

Coast Guard Reading List

Marines Reading List

Navy Reading List

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Professional Reading’s Positive Impact

War Dogs

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Photo: U.S. Air Force SGT David J. Filchak the handler for Turbo, a military working dog and beagle, inspect a car for narcotics.  Turbo is a narcotics detecting working dog for the base and has been right 95 percent of the time.

U.S. Air Force SGT David J. Filchak the handler for Turbo, a military working dog and beagle, inspect a car for narcotics. Turbo is a narcotics detecting working dog for the base and has been right 95 percent of the time.

Story by Brittany Brown
Edited by MC2 Bryan Niegel

Have you ever wondered when or how military working dogs became what they are today? As a dog owner and lover I have always been fascinated by working dogs and how well trained and obedient they are. It is hard enough to get my dog to listen when I call her name or to stop her from chasing a squirrel up a tree. I always wonder, How do the trainers get them to behave so well? And how do the whole program got started in the first place.

Dogs have been associated with the U.S. Army since its inception, but their role was primarily that of a mascot or in some other unofficial capacity. Not until World War II did the Army make the connection official. In January 1942, members of the American Kennel Club and other dog lovers formed a civilian organization called Dogs for Defense. They intended to train dogs to perform sentry duty for the Army along the coast of the United States. Aware of this effort, Lt. Col. Clifford C. Smith, chief of the Plant Protection Branch, Inspection Division, Quartermaster Corps, met with his commander, Maj. Gen. Edmund B. Gregory, and suggested that the Army use the sentry dogs at supply depots. Gregory gave his approval to an experimental program, and on March 13, 1942, Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson approved Gregory’s application and created the K-9 Corps.

Controlled aggression exercise

Master-at-Arms Seaman Apprentice Randy Tallman, assigned to Commander, Navy Region Southwest, acts as a military working dog moving target during a controlled aggression exercise Jan. 10, 2013 in San Diego. The exercises are conducted to train the dogs in subduing noncompliant suspects. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mark El-Rayes

Check out these facts about the K-9 Corps and military dogs:

    • The K-9 Corps initially accepted for training thirty-two breeds of dogs. By 1944, that list had been reduced to seven: German shepherds, Doberman pinschers, Belgian sheep dogs, Siberian huskies, farm collies, Eskimo dogs and Malamutes.
    • The Quartermaster Corps experimented with training dogs to locate casualties on the battlefield. Dogs were first tested for this at Carlisle Barracks on May 4, 1944. Ultimately, the Army abandoned this program because the dogs did not or could not make a distinction between men not wounded, men who had received wounds, or men who had died.
    • Well over a million dogs served on both sides during World War I, carrying messages along the complex network of trenches and providing some measure of psychological comfort to the Soldiers. The most famous dog to emerge from the war was Rin Tin Tin, an abandoned puppy of German war dogs found in France in 1918 and taken to the United States, where he made his film debut in the 1922 silent film The Man from Hell’s River.
Photo: U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Christopher Coolahan and Military Working Dog Meky, assigned to Camp Lemonnier Base Security, participate in controlled training exercises at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2013. Military Working Dogs are used to apprehend suspects, perform searches, and detect explosives and narcotics. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Nick Strocchia

U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Christopher Coolahan and Military Working Dog Meky, assigned to Camp Lemonnier Base Security, participate in controlled training exercises at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2013. Military Working Dogs are used to apprehend suspects, perform searches, and detect explosives and narcotics. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Nick Strocchia

  • The top canine hero of World War II was Chips, a German Shepherd who served with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Trained as a sentry dog, Chips broke away from his handlers and attacked an enemy machine gun nest in Italy, forcing the entire crew to surrender. The wounded Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart–all of which were later revoked due to an Army policy preventing official commendation of animals. 
  • After World War II, the Military Police Corps took over responsibility for training military dogs. They have continued to serve with distinction in other conflicts.
  • It is estimated that the Army employed 1,500 dogs during the Korean War and 4,000 in the Vietnam War.
  • Gabe, a retired military dog who completed more than 200 combat missions in Iraq, was namedAmerican Hero Dog of 2012 at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards in Los Angeles.
  • Every military working dog is a non-commissioned officer – in tradition at least. Some say the custom was to prevent handlers from mistreating their dogs; hence, a dog is always one rank higher than its handler.
Photo: Paris, a coalition force military working dog gets ready to attend a transition shura in Khak-E-Safed district, Farah province, Afghanistan, Feb. 23, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau

Paris, a coalition force military working dog gets ready to attend a transition shura in Khak-E-Safed district, Farah province, Afghanistan, Feb. 23, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau

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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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War Dogs