Special Report: Hurricane Maria

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Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, Sept. 20, as a Category 4 storm with deadly flooding expected. The Defense Department had personnel and equipment already assisting authorities in the region that has seen two other powerful hurricanes, Irma and Jose, in recent weeks.

Coverage

Sept. 17

Sept. 19

Sept. 21

Northcom Providing Disaster Relief Following Hurricane Maria

U.S. Northern Command is fully engaged with federal, state and local mission partners as the command provides support to the response efforts for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Read more on Navy.mil.

Sept. 22

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico (Sept. 22, 2017) Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes (top left), Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), discusses joint operations in Puerto Rico with Army Brig. Gen. Dustin Shultz (top right), Commander, 1st Mission Support Command. Kearsarge is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Goff/Released)
GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico (Sept. 22, 2017) Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes (top left), Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), discusses joint operations in Puerto Rico with Army Brig. Gen. Dustin Shultz (top right), Commander, 1st Mission Support Command. Kearsarge is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Goff/Released)

Sept. 23

CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 23, 2017) 1st Sgt. Rafael Colon, a native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, and the senior enlisted advisor for the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, 261st Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., gets accountability of his soldiers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), in the Caribbean Sea. Members of the 602nd ASMC returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands to continue to assist with disaster relief operations in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Department of Defense conducts Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations to assist civilian responders in saving lives, relieving human suffering and mitigating property damage in response to a catastrophic disaster. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Alleea Oliver/Released)
CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 23, 2017) 1st Sgt. Rafael Colon, a native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, and the senior enlisted advisor for the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, 261st Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., gets accountability of his soldiers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), in the Caribbean Sea. Members of the 602nd ASMC returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands to continue to assist with disaster relief operations in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Department of Defense conducts Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations to assist civilian responders in saving lives, relieving human suffering and mitigating property damage in response to a catastrophic disaster. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Alleea Oliver/Released)

Sept. 24

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 24, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), exit U.S. Navy Landing Craft, Utility 1657 to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 24, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 24, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), exit U.S. Navy Landing Craft, Utility 1657 to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 24, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

Sept. 25

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing operations with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing operations with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) Sailors and Marines attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), unload military field rations, known as MRE or meals, ready to eat, from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kearsarge and the 26th MEU are assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Eduardo Jorge/Released)
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) Sailors and Marines attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), unload military field rations, known as MRE or meals, ready to eat, from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kearsarge and the 26th MEU are assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Eduardo Jorge/Released)

Sept. 26

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Marines, Navy corpsmen, and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), begin assessing medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital as part of the humanitarian effort for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Marines, Navy corpsmen, and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), begin assessing medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital as part of the humanitarian effort for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) Construction Mechanic 2nd Class John McConnell, center, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), talks with a civilian employee after repairing a Hima San Pablo Hospital generator during relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) Construction Mechanic 2nd Class John McConnell, center, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), talks with a civilian employee after repairing a Hima San Pablo Hospital generator during relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Navy Lt. Robert R. Bryson, left, a physician assistant with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), discusses medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital with its staff as part of relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Navy Lt. Robert R. Bryson, left, a physician assistant with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), discusses medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital with its staff as part of relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

Sept. 27

CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 27, 2017) A Sailor signals the take off of a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) in order to refuel during humanitarian relief efforts following the landfall of Hurricane Maria on the island of Dominica. The Department of Defense is supporting the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rawad Madanat/Released)


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U.S. Navy Sailors and assets are supporting federal, state and local authorities’ ongoing relief efforts …

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Special Report: Hurricane Maria

Tripoli: Then and Now

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By Capt. Kevin P. Meyers
Commanding officer, PCU Tripoli

Having just passed the 30-year mark of service to this great Navy, I have seen quite a bit of history and experienced many memorable events. There are moments which give you pause, due to their timelessness and their place in our Navy’s heritage. The christening of a ship, for me, is one of them.

I recently had the honor to attend the christening of the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Tripoli’s sponsor, Lynne Mabus, wife of our 75th Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, deftly shattered the bottle of sparkling wine across the ship’s bow. Those in attendance or who watched the video of the event know that was a “home run” swing if there ever was one.

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Sept. 16, 2017) Ship's sponsor Lynne Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow of the future amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) during the ship's christening ceremony. Also pictured, left to right, are Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Capt. Kevin Meyers, Tripoli's prospective commanding officer; acting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee; Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias; and former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Huntington Ingalls Industries by Lance Davis/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Sept. 16, 2017) Ship’s sponsor Lynne Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow of the future amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) during the ship’s christening ceremony. Also pictured, left to right, are Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Capt. Kevin Meyers, Tripoli’s prospective commanding officer; acting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee; Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias; and former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Huntington Ingalls Industries by Lance Davis/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (May 1, 2017) The future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries. Tripoli was successfully launched after the dry-dock was flooded to allow it to float off for the first time. Tripoli incorporates an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced maintenance facilities, increased fuel capacity and additional storerooms to provide the fleet with a platform optimized for aviation capabilities. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (May 1, 2017) The future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries. Tripoli was successfully launched after the dry-dock was flooded to allow it to float off for the first time. Tripoli incorporates an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced maintenance facilities, increased fuel capacity and additional storerooms to provide the fleet with a platform optimized for aviation capabilities. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The Sailor in me is filled with a range of emotions; I feel all at once humbled, proud and excited. I am humbled by the sheer magnitude of this 45,000-ton mighty warship, proud beyond measure to be her first commanding officer and lead this amazing crew, and excited at our future endeavors.

During time-honored traditions like a ship’s christening, the best way to appreciate what the future holds is to fully appreciate where the past has brought us.

As a student of history, the comments by Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter, 62nd superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, in his remarks at christening were enlightening. He spoke fondly of the Tripoli Monument, which now sits on the grounds of the Naval Academy.

For a bit of context, the ship’s name, Tripoli, harkens back to our nation’s first foreign conflict, the War with the Barbary Pirates. In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson dispatched ships instead of paying tribute and our nation’s flag was raised on foreign soil for the first time. The Marine Corps Hymn celebrates the bravery of our early Marines with the line “To the shores of Tripoli.” LHA-7, the future USS Tripoli, will be the third to bear the name.

The Tripoli Monument, I learned, is actually our nation’s oldest military monument. Carved in Livorno, Italy, in 1806 to honor the heroes of that war, it was brought to the United States aboard USS Constitution. Its first home was the Washington Navy Yard, where it sustained damage there during the War of 1812. It was then moved to the west front terrace of the U.S. Capitol, facing the National Mall in 1831, and stood there until 1860 when it was moved to the Naval Academy.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 15, 2017) The Tripoli Monument is pictured at the U.S. Naval Academy (U.S. Navy courtesy photo/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 15, 2017) The Tripoli Monument is pictured at the U.S. Naval Academy (U.S. Navy courtesy photo/Released)

As I reflect on the christening of LHA-7 Tripoli and the Tripoli monument, I find it an interesting juxtaposition. The monument—with its column, sculptures and mass of stone—resting stoically on the Naval Academy campus the last 157 years and the enormous mass of steel – Tripoli. The Tripoli Monument honors the brave men who fought our Nation’s first war centuries ago, I trust the Sailors and Marines who serve aboard Tripoli will continue to honor their forbearers. What a proud day for our Navy and our nation!


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Tripoli: Then and Now

From Sea to Space: NASA Selects Three Sailors for 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class

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Three Sailors are on their way to join the growing list of Navy astronauts!

NASA announced June 7 that Lt. Kayla Barron, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick and Dr. Jonny Kim were selected from a record breaking 18,300 applicants to join its 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class of just 12 people.

2017 NASA astronaut candidates. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
2017 NASA astronaut candidates. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Barron, Dominick and Kim as well as their fellow astronaut candidates will return to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in August to begin two years of training. Then, they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

Get to know them below!

Lt. Kayla Barron

As a submarine warfare officer, Lt. Kayla Barron was a member of the first class of women to join the submarine community. The Washington native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering in 2010. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Lt. Kayla Barron (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Lt. Kayla Barron (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Her graduate research focused on modeling the fuel cycle for a next-generation, thorium-fueled nuclear reactor concept. Following graduate school, Barron attended the Navy’s nuclear power and submarine officer training before being assigned to USS Maine (SSBN 741), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine homeported in Bangor, Washington. Barron qualified as a submarine warfare officer and completed three strategic deterrent patrols while serving as a division officer aboard Maine. At the time of her selection, Barron was serving as the Naval Academy’s superintendent’s flag aide.

Barron has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit commendations. She is a Trident Scholar and distinguished graduate of the Naval Academy.

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Barron will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick, a Colorado native, earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He has accumulated more than 1,600 flight hours in 28 aircraft models, 400 carrier arrestments, 61 combat missions and nearly 200 flight test carrier landings (arrested and touch-and-go).

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Dominick was commissioned through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps following graduation from the University of San Diego in 2005 and reported to Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. He was designated as a naval aviator in 2007 and reported to Strike Fighter Squadron 106, Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, for transition to the F/A‑18E Super Hornet. Following his initial training, Dominick was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 143. He made two deployments to the North Arabian Sea, flying close air support missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While with Strike Fighter Squadron 143, Dominick was selected to attend the Naval Postgraduate School / U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Co-Operative Program, where he earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Designated a developmental test pilot in 2013, Dominick was assigned to the fixed wing carrier suitability flight test department of Air Test Evaluation Squadron 23. There, he served as developmental flight test project officer for a variety of carrier suitability test programs, including MAGIC CARPET, Joint Precision Approach & Landing Systems, Infrared Search and Track Pod, and the precision approach and landing certification of aircraft carriers. He flew developmental flight tests in the F/A-18ABCD, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G. Additionally, he contributed to the X-47B (Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike), V‑22, T-45, E-2C, C-2A and F-35C test programs.

In 2016, Dominick returned to an operational naval squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 115, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets in the forward deployed naval forces stationed in Atsugi, Japan.

At the time of his selection as an astronaut candidate in June 2017, Dominick was at sea aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) serving as the department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.

Dominick was the 2015 Naval Test Wing Atlantic Test Pilot of the Year. He has been awarded the Strike Flight Air Medal (three awards); Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards)

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Dominick will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment.

Dr. Jonny Kim

Dr. Jonny Kim (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Dr. Jonny Kim (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Dr. Jonny Kim, a California native, trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V”. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in Mathematics at the University of San Diego and a Doctorate of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Kim enlisted in the Navy as a seaman recruit following graduation from Santa Monica High School in 2002. After completion of training at Naval Special Warfare, he was assigned as a special warfare operator to SEAL Team 3. He served as a combat medic, sniper, navigator and point man on more than 100 combat operations spanning two deployments to the Middle East before he was commissioned into the Medical Corps following graduation from the University of San Diego in 2012.

At the time of his selection in June 2017, Kim was a resident physician in emergency medicine.

Kim’s military decorations include the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; and various other service awards.

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Kim will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment.

Comment below to join us in congratulating these Sailors!


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From Sea to Space: NASA Selects Three Sailors for 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class

USS Somerset Shines on Maiden Deployment

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By Capt. Darren Glaser
Commanding Officer, USS Somerset (LPD 25)

SAN DIEGO (Oct. 14, 2016) — Line handlers assigned to Naval Station San Diego release the mooring lines as the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), departs for a scheduled deployment. Somerset is a part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which will serve in the U.S. 3rd, 5th, and 7th Fleet area of operation, providing maritime security operations, crisis response capability, theater security cooperation and forward naval presence. (U.S. Navy Photo by Seaman Kelsey Hockenberger/Released)
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 14, 2016) — Line handlers assigned to Naval Station San Diego release the mooring lines as the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), departs for a scheduled deployment. (U.S. Navy Photo by Seaman Kelsey Hockenberger/Released)

As we departed Naval Base San Diego Oct. 14, 2016, for USS Somerset’s (LPD 25) maiden deployment, along with USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and USS Comstock (LSD 45) for operations in the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th fleets, I knew the ship and crew were more than ready. Now, as we prepare to return to San Diego on May 15, I want to share how Somerset shined on our maiden deployment.

We worked very hard transitioning from a pre-commissioning unit to a deployment ready U.S. Navy warship – first through the basic phase of training and then into the intermediate phase as integrated members of the Amphibious Squadron  5/11th Marine Expeditionary Unit team and the ‘Makin Island’ Amphibious Readiness Group. During this training, Somerset Sailors and Marines quickly learned to work together and completed certification in all mission areas we could be assigned to perform throughout a deployment. Since setting sail, the Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group has collectively been engaged in numerous operations defending U.S. interests and maintaining freedom of the seas.

APRA HARBOR, GUAM (April 20, 2017) The amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) heads towards Guam for a scheduled liberty port visit. Somerset, with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU), was operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance amphibious capability with regional partners and to serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison/Released)
APRA HARBOR, GUAM (April 20, 2017) The amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) heads towards Guam for a scheduled liberty port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison/Released)

As a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD) ship, Somerset offers the kind of innovation and cutting edge technology the surface Navy needs to meet future challenges at sea – both during this initial deployment and for years to come. The ship includes innovations in its external design that reduces the ship’s appearance on radars and a state-of-the-art command and control network. San Antonio-class ships were designed to be stealthy, have significant survivability features and an advanced computer technology to accomplish a broad range of missions. This class is the first amphibious ships in the U.S. Navy to feature these design innovations. High-tech systems, an integrated Ship Wide Area Network, video cameras located throughout the ship, and technology like the Consolidated Visual Information System allow the crew to monitor the vast array of systems onboard, while requiring fewer personnel at watch stations.

WATERS NEAR TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA (Nov. 22, 2016) Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) lower a rigid-hull inflatable boat with a knuckle-boom crane of the coast of Sri Lanka in preparation for a theater security cooperation exchange with the Sri Lankan military. Somerset and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were conducting the exchange with Sri Lankan forces in order to enhance tactical skill sets and disaster relief capabilities while strengthening the overall relationship between the two forces (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Chavez/Released)
WATERS NEAR TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA (Nov. 22, 2016) Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) lower a rigid-hull inflatable boat with a knuckle-boom crane of the coast of Sri Lanka in preparation for a theater security cooperation exchange with the Sri Lankan military. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Chavez/Released)

These advanced systems facilitate both external and internal flexibility to not only serve as a warfare commander in a strike group, but also gives the crew the ability to monitor vital ship system’s from traditional controlling stations like the bridge, as well as in other places like a joint planning room, the wardroom lounge or even the ship’s library and chapel. With shipboard innovations in technology like the Consolidated Visual Information System, it’s possible to be in the helo control tower and review all the parameters of online equipment in the engine rooms, keep an eye on all surface/air contacts while sitting in the wardroom or even steer the ship all the way back by the flight deck in our These unique capabilities have been in high demand and we have participated in major operational tasking throughout the deployment. A true testament to our resolve, we remained on station and at sea for as long as 76 consecutive days supporting missions.

Through our work, we demonstrated our commitment to readiness. Operations included several firsts for the United States and our partnering nation, Sri Lanka, as the first and largest U.S. Navy warship to conduct both Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) and air ship-to-shore operations on a Sri Lankan Naval Base and first ever theater security cooperation exercise with the Sri Lankan Navy (Marines). This enabled a first major military-to-military exercise, multiple exchanges and training events with the U.S. Marines and Sri Lanka forces. While Somerset already has three of its own rigid-hull inflatable boats, we embarked an additional two rigid-hull inflatable boats crewed by Assault Craft Unit 5 to support the Marine’s Maritime Raid Force operations. Our LCACs from Beach Master Unit 5 moved Marines and their equipment to beaches around the world during this deployment. Our ability to rapidly embark diverse joint forces, integrate them, deploy them close to the mission objective and support them in the execution of their mission sets has been critical to getting the job done this deployment. Additionally, we also took part in exercises and engagements with our valuable strategic partners in Oman and Djibouti.

SALALAH, OMAN (March 4, 2017) Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Brandon Kellum, from Harlem, N.Y., signals a vehicle onto a landing craft, air cushion (LCAC), assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, during exercise Sea Soldier 17. The annual, bilateral exercise is conducted with the Royal Army of Oman and is designed to demonstrate the cooperative skill and will of U.S. and partner nations to work together in maintaining regional stability and security. The amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce and enhance regional stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Chavez/Released)
SALALAH, OMAN (March 4, 2017) Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Brandon Kellum, from Harlem, N.Y., signals a vehicle onto a landing craft, air cushion (LCAC), assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, during exercise Sea Soldier 17. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Chavez/Released)
GULF OF ADEN (Dec. 21, 2016) Lt. Taryn Cazzolii, right, the senior medical officer aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), and Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Donahue, a Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 5 surgeon, operate on a patient during Somerset’s first ever onboard surgery. FST 5 is embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) in order to enhance surgical, casualty receiving and trauma treatment capabilities across the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Somerset was deployed with the Makin Island and 11th MEU to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Chavez/Released)
GULF OF ADEN (Dec. 21, 2016) Lt. Taryn Cazzolii, right, the senior medical officer aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), and Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Donahue, a Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 5 surgeon, operate on a patient during Somerset’s first ever onboard surgery. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Chavez/Released)

Using this technology, all of the impressive work is accomplished with a ship operating with lower manning levels than traditional ships of its size. Somerset, and the other San Antonio-class ships like it, are unique and forward-thinking surface warfare ships that bring a wide array of naval warfighting and Defense Support of Civil Authorities capabilities together in one package. Her distinctive characteristics make Somerset worldwide deployable for almost any mission – but I am the first to admit, the ship would only be a shell without the devoted Sailors and Marines. Each LPD-17 class can support up to 800 additional personnel, provide medical care (we have both surgical and dental capability) and it encompasses more than 23,000 square feet of vehicle storage space, more than double of the previous LPD-4 class it replaced. Somerset’s crew is both highly trained and prepared to support command and control, to on load and offload people, provisions and/or special equipment ashore.

Dedicated, highly trained and professional, the Somerset team is united to defend our country and to keep the seas safe and free. The ship’s array of accomplishments on this first deployment, from naval firsts with other countries to successfully carrying out traditional mission tasking, are a direct result of the hard work and service of the crew and their embarked 11th MEU counterparts on board. They are the heart of the ship – without them, the ship could not move operate and fight to deliver concentrated, projected combat power ashore or execute the vast number of humanitarian missions we have the flexibility to support.

Having served on several different ship classes in my career, I could not ask to serve on a more powerful surface warship or with a better crew! As one of the Navy’s three 9/11 Memorial ships, the memory of Flight 93’s courage and sacrifice lives on, embodied by Somerset’s Sailors and embarked Marines. Somerset has 22 tons of steel from one of two mining excavators present at the crash site, which stood witness to the crash of Flight 93, and later where an American flag was flown by first responders during the recovery operation. That steel was melted down and incorporated into the bow stem of this ship during its construction. That piece of history and courage through adversity is now a part of the backbone of this ship, it cutting through the water for both this crew as we return from our maiden deployment and future crews who will serve aboard this ship.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (Nov. 10, 2016) Capt. Darren Glaser, commanding officer of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), and Lt. Col. Matthew Lundgren, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU), salute during a ceremony for the 241st birthday of the Marine Corps aboard Somerset.
SOUTH CHINA SEA (Nov. 10, 2016) Capt. Darren Glaser, commanding officer of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), and Lt. Col. Matthew Lundgren, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU), salute during a ceremony for the 241st birthday of the Marine Corps aboard Somerset. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison/Released)

Editor’s Note: Capt. Glaser’s service aboard Somerset began as this ship’s executive officer in October 2015 before assuming his current role as the ship’s third commanding officer.


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USS Somerset Shines on Maiden Deployment

The Road to Recovery

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By Retired Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh

Archery
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh, draws his bow back during training for the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. , June 19-28, 2015. Waugh is competing in shooting and archery in this year’s games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

My story began in 2006 the day after Christmas while I was on my third deployment to Iraq as a tactical air control party Airman. My team and I were on patrol in Sadr City, Iraq, completing a blocking operation for a special operations team that was on a mission.

As we provided protection for the special operations team, there was a blast from a rocket propelled grenade launcher that hit my vehicle and knocked me out of the turret. We all were fine, but while my team was EXFIL-ing (removing personnel from a hostile environment), we were hit again. Next thing I know, I woke up and was lying on the ground. I have never really spoken about this.

One of the guys in my truck was killed. My driver lost his leg, and I woke up fine.

So I thought.

After the deployment, I came home and enjoyed life for five months before I was tasked to deploy again. Little did I understand the injuries I had suffered. I sustained a brain injury and a broken back, and I blew out my right ear drum, which left me with significant balance issues (not allowing me to run anymore or walk quickly).

Through a friend of a friend, I was able to meet athletes from the Wounded Warrior Program. I always knew there was a program specifically for wounded warriors, but I never knew the full extent of the adaptive sports program. So I went to see what this was all about.

I thought I had recovered; I thought I was resilient. I mean, I went back to a war zone three times after getting blown up. I thought nothing could faze me.

In February 2015, I went to an Air Force Wounded Warrior camp known as ”Trials,” three months after having back surgery. On day one, I wanted go home as I decided this wasn’t for me.

Although I wanted to leave, I stuck it out for two days, and I made the team. However, I started to realize I hadn’t recovered. It had been eight years since getting injured, and I never knew that I was still struggling with things. Slowly, I eventually began to open up to people on the team. This is when my healing process began.

Robin Hood
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh, celebrates hitting a “Robin Hood” during his archery practice at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. , June 19-28, 2015. A “Robin Hood” is when the archer hits another arrow of theirs dead on into the end of the arrow on the target. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Because I made the team, I was able to work and meet additional athletes at a training camp held at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in preparation for the Warrior Games. This is when I met the amazing people of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Program. This is when it clicked.

There are pillars of resiliency, and socially I wasn’t there. I had dealt physically, mentally, spiritually, etc., but socially, I had shut out the Air Force. I began to open up more socially in the Air Force and speak to the other members of the wounded warrior team. I started to hear their stories and get to actually know the other people, realizing I wasn’t alone. That is when I realized how great the Wounded Warrior Program is, and I began to put myself back together.

Now I am here today getting ready to compete in the Warrior Games, and I’m still progressing in my healing process.

It has been a long road to get here. I know everyone has his or her own struggles and road to travel. There are people in different stages; it can take years to really feel like you are there. But I am here, and I didn’t think I was going to be here. But I am happy that I am.

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The Road to Recovery

Worth A Thousand Words: Machine Gun Marine

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Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kenneth Benton, a technical controller assigned to Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, mans a machine gun in a turret during a combat logistics patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 25, 2013. The Marines were on a mission to deliver equipment and supplies to Marines at forward operating bases near Camp Leatherneck. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/Released)U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kenneth Benton, a technical controller assigned to Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, mans a machine gun in a turret during a combat logistics patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 25, 2013. The Marines were on a mission to deliver equipment and supplies to Marines at forward operating bases near Camp Leatherneck. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/Released)

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Worth A Thousand Words: Machine Gun Marine

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.”

———-

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

Worth A Thousand Words: Bump, Set, Spike!

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Photo: Marine Corps Cpl. Marcus Chischilly, left, and Marine Corps Cpl. Steven Lunt, right, block a shot at the net by Army veteran Perry Price during the gold medal sitting volleyball match of the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 15, 2013. DOD photo by EJ HersomMarine Corps Cpls. Marcus Chischilly, left, and Steven Lunt, right, block a shot from Army veteran Perry Price during the gold medal sitting volleyball match at the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 15, 2013. (Defense Department photo by EJ Hersom/Released)

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Worth A Thousand Words: Bump, Set, Spike!

Sexual Assault: Not in My Navy

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By Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Photo: Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Many of you are familiar with my philosophy of “Ship, Shipmate and Self.” In the Navy and Marine Corps, we ensure the mission is accomplished, we watch out for our comrades and we must take care of ourselves. When it comes to preventing and stopping sexual assault, the same applies. Sexual assault strikes at the dignity, health, and welfare of our people, it erodes trust and cohesion, and it undermines the readiness of our force. Together, we must combat sexual assault crimes.

April marks Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. During this month, Navy Medicine will focus its efforts on awareness and prevention of sexual violence through command-level education and special events. Sexual assault prevention is a priority year-round, but this month I want talk to stress what Navy Medicine is doing to tackle this issue and how we must come together to prevent sexual assault every day of the year.

While we work to eliminate this crime from our service, we will continue to care for the victims when these unfortunate incidents do occur. It is crucial we support the sexual assault victim and hold offenders accountable. When a victim tells us that they have been sexually assaulted, we believe them and protect their privacy. We must create safe environments free from sexual assault and harassment.

Navy Medicine is committed to the quality of care we provide to victims.  We’re increasing the capability to provide timely, readily accessible medical-forensic examinations (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination – SAFE). Last month, we made revisions to Navy Medicine policy establishing training requirements for health care providers to conduct SAFE examinations. Standardized SAFE increases capability and improves the patient experience. Standardization also allows for consistent evidence collection and reporting whether it is at one of our military treatment facilities at home or in a forward-deployed operational area.

Recent sexual assault prevention and response program changes have also resulted in increased access for patients and improved readiness for our Navy Medicine providers. Specifically, as a result of the recent SAFE policy update, our Regional Commanders are ensuring the availability of sexual assault medical response capability 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all our service members. Navy Medicine Regional Commanders are also in the process of appointing a Regional Sexual Assault Program Manager to ensure that the Department of Defense standard of care of sexual assault victims is met at the local medical command level.

Awareness and support of those affected by sexual assault is critical, but prevention is vital. We are leaders at every level, and I expect you to exert compassionate and intrusive leadership to stamp out anything that fosters a condition where sexual assaults could occur. Look into any trends or occurrences of sexual assault, unwanted behavior, or on-duty or off-duty atmosphere where trouble can arise. We also need to pay attention to the use and prevent the abuse of alcohol. In many case, alcohol is a contributing factor in sexual assaults.

Every command has access to a sexual assault response coordinator for witnesses and/or victims to report issues. Don’t be that person shaking their head after the fact saying “I saw this coming and I didn’t do enough to prevent it.”

I take this issue very seriously, and I expect you to do the same. We will be a stronger military, a stronger Navy and a stronger Navy Medicine enterprise as we stand together to combat sexual assault crimes.

Somewhere out there is a young man or woman who is considering either joining, or staying in our Navy. As they consider the pros and cons for themselves, one of them must never ever be fear of sexual assault or inappropriate sexual behavior. Not in my Navy! Not in our Navy!

I am so very proud of the work you do each day. Let’s lead together to a Navy that sets the example in honor, courage, and commitment. Thank you for your service and as always, it is my honor and privilege to serve as your surgeon general.

———-

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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Original article: 

Sexual Assault: Not in My Navy