Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

After completing a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations in support of maritime theater security operations and flying missions supporting Operation Inherent Resolve over the skies of Iraq and Syria, the ships and squadrons of the USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group returned safely home.

Thousands of friends and family members lined the piers of Naval Station Norfolk to welcome home more than 6,000 strike group Sailors! More than 300 Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aircrew flew home to cheering, flag-waving crowds in Norfolk, Oceana, Mayport and Whidbey Island.

While deployed, CVW-8 and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) launched 11,437 sorties, completed 1,924 combat missions. With flawless execution the aviators successfully delivered 1,717 pieces of ordnance on target with devastating lethality. By the end of the deployment, our aviators logged an amazing 30,873 flight hours and 7,868 arrested landings. These impressive numbers set post-Desert Storm records for any CVN/CVW team.

This deployment is yet another example of the pivotal role naval aviation plays in our national defense. As the U.S. Navy’s ‘Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority’ states, we have the mission to “conduct PROMPT and SUSTAINED combat power from and at sea, necessary to fight and win decisively in contested and denied environments against our enemies.” That is exactly what the men and women of CVW-8 and the strike group accomplished on deployment. The team delivered a devastating blow to the capabilities of ISIS, allowing our partners on the battlefield to employ a strategic initiative to retake large swaths of land in Northern Iraq and Syria.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

I have written several blog posts about how our carriers benefit from the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). OFRP is designed to maximize our return on training and maintenance investments, to maintain Sailor quality of life and ensure units are fully employable and deployable. By the time the strike group deployed, it was at the peak of readiness and this was clearly demonstrated through their record-setting accomplishments.

With USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) now at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to begin her maintenance phase, the first phase of the four-part OFRP cycle, George H.W. Bush enters the post deployment portion of its sustainment phase to maintain her combat readiness in order to be prepared to deploy fully ready combat forces if required by our Nation.

While George H.W. Bush is in her sustainment phase, CVW-8 will also be in sustainment. For the air wing, this means several underway periods to maintain their carrier qualification requirements, maintain their aircraft at optimum performance levels and provide continuous training in combat flight operations and maintenance.

Meeting these standards will allow CVW-8 to effectively remain combat ready around the clock in the event the president of the United States decides they need to surge an additional carrier strike group.

This will be a challenge, but I have every confidence that the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group team will not only meet but also exceed our leadership’s standards and expectations.

Finally, I send my strongest congratulations to entire carrier strike group for your tireless efforts and commitment to the Navy’s standard of excellence. Bravo Zulu, well done and welcome home!

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the “Tomcatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)


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Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Commissioning Ceremony

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Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of the July 22 commissioning of the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

Live video from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. (EST).

President Donald J. Trump will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Susan Ford Bales, Ford’s daughter, serves as the ship’s sponsor.

CVN-78 is the lead ship of the new Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carrier, the first new class in more than 40 years and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers when the ship is commissioned. The Ford class incorporates advances in technology such as a new reactor plant, propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, Dual Band Radar and integrated warfare systems. Compared to Nimitz-class carriers, the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers have more than 23 new or modified systems.

Lt. Cmdr. Gerald R. Ford, Photo Courtesy of Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum
Lt. Cmdr. Gerald R. Ford, Photo Courtesy of Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum

USS Gerald R. Ford honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service in the Navy, in the U.S. government and to the nation. During World War II, Ford attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, serving on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL 26). Released from active duty in February 1946, Ford remained in the Naval Reserve until 1963. Ford was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948, where he served until President Nixon tapped him to become Vice President in 1973. Ford became president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and served in the country’s highest office from 1974-1977.


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USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Commissioning Ceremony

Future USS Indiana (SSN 789) Christening Ceremony

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Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of the christening of our newest Virginia-class fast attack submarine, the future USS Indiana (SSN 789).

The ceremony is scheduled for April 29 at 11 a.m. EDT at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Newport News, Virginia.

Vice President Mike Pence, who previously served as the 50th governor of Indiana, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Diane Donald, wife of retired Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion from 2004 to 2012, is serving as the ship’s sponsor. 

Webcast courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries

“The christening of the future USS Indiana brings this technological marvel one step closer to joining the world’s preeminent submarine force.”
– Sean Stackley, Acting Secretary of the Navy.

The official crest of the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Indiana (SSN 789). (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)

SSN-789 is the 16th Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the sixth Virginia-class Block III submarine.

The submarine, which began construction in 2012, will be the third U.S. Navy ship to be christened with the name Indiana. The first Indiana (BB 1), the lead ship of her class of battleship, served in the North Atlantic and later participated in the blockade of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War. The second Indiana (BB 58) was a South Dakota-class battleship that earned nine battle stars for her service in the Pacific Theater in World War II. BB-58 fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and participated in the invasions of Tarawa, Kwajalein and Okinawa, and bombarded Saipan, the Palau Islands, the Philippines and Iwo Jima.

This next-generation attack submarine provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea superiority well into the 21st century.

For more information, visit Navy.mil.

Join the #USNavy conversation on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Flickr.


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Future USS Indiana (SSN 789) Christening Ceremony

12 examples of Air Force holiday cheer

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By Sarah Swan

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Staff at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force searched the archives and found some examples of holiday celebrations and greetings from Airmen through the decades. As Christmas approaches, we hope you enjoy looking through these artifacts. Please keep our military members, especially those who are away from their loved ones, in your thoughts this holiday season and throughout the year.

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12 examples of Air Force holiday cheer

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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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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Korean War Medal of Honor Recipient, Finally Resting in American Soil

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Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commanding general, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, hands a flag to Barbara (Bobbie) Broyles, during the funeral of her father, Lt. Col. Faith Jr., April 17, 2013, in Arlington National Cemetery, Va. He had been killed Dec. 1, 1950, near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.

By David Vergun

Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr., a World War II and Korean War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., today.

Faith, who commanded 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, was killed Dec. 2, 1950, by communist forces.

But it would take decades and a lot of help from other soldiers and Defense civilians before his remains were finally recovered in North Korea and identified. Only then could his family finally have the closure they so desperately wanted.

HAPPY MEMORIES

Barbara Broyles, or “Bobbie,” as she likes to be called, was only four years old when Faith left for Korea. She was young but still remembers. It would be the last time she would see her father alive.

“What I recall most about my father was that he was happy. I still can hear him laughing. He enjoyed life. And above all, he enjoyed the Army,” she said.

Bobbie said her father used to read to her from his own childhood books, a collection of six volumes titled “The Old House.” She said when he left for Korea, her mother, also named Barbara, read those books to her. She still has them.

President Harry S. Truman awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, to her father 18 months after his death. It was Gen. Omar N. Bradley who presented the medal to her mother, June 21, 1951.

Faith was born in 1918 and grew up in Washington, Ind. After the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, many Americans flocked to recruiting stations. However, Faith had decided to join the Army months before.

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A photo of Capt. Don C. Faith Jr. during World War II, wearing his 82nd Airborne patch. By the end of the war, he was a lieutenant colonel and had earned two Bronze Stars. Eventually he would get the Medal of Honor for his actions in Korea, where he was killed. Courtesy photo

In February 1942, he received his commission and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, where he served with great distinction in the North Africa campaign and later in Europe. He was awarded two Bronze Star Medals.

Following the war, Faith served in China and then Japan. He was in Japan when the war in Korea started in the summer of 1950.

A lieutenant colonel at that time, he was given command of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry, a unit that would soon be in the thick of the fighting.

MEDAL OF HONOR

Some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place in the vicinity of a place called Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in November and December 1950. That’s where Faith and his battalion were when the Chinese decided to enter the war. The Chinese sent thousands of troops south across the Yalu River into Korea.

The entry of China into the war and their drive south into Korea surprised the Americans who were quickly outnumbered and outgunned.

Faith’s Medal of Honor citation describes the action he took during this attack, noting that he “personally led counterattacks to restore (the battalion’s) position” and link up with other units, as they’d been disbursed by the enemy’s “fanatical attack.”

“Although physically exhausted in the bitter cold, (he) organized and launched an attack which was soon stopped by enemy fire,” the citation reads. “He ran forward under enemy small-arms and automatic weapons fire, got his men on their feet and personally led the fire attack as it blasted its way through the enemy ring.

“As they came to a hairpin curve, enemy fire from a roadblock again pinned the column down. Lt. Col. Faith organized a group of men and directed their attack on the enemy positions on the right flank. He then placed himself at the head of another group of men and in the face of direct enemy fire led an attack on the enemy roadblock, firing his pistol and throwing grenades.

“When he had reached a position approximately 30 yards from the roadblock, he was mortally wounded, but continued to direct the attack until the roadblock was overrun.

“Throughout the five days of action Lt. Col. Faith gave no thought to his safety and did not spare himself. His presence each time in the position of greatest danger was an inspiration to his men. Also, the damage he personally inflicted firing from his position at the head of his men was of material assistance on several occasions. …”

FAITH’S REPATRIATION

Faith was killed Dec. 1, 1950, in the vicinity of Hagaru-ri, North Korea. He was 32 years old at the time.

What follows is an account of his repatriation, the process of returning his remains to the United States. Leading the effort was Faith’s daughter, Bobbie. She was helped by a lot of dedicated men and women of the Department of Defense.

In the decades that followed the Korean War, thousands of remains of service members missing in action in Korea were recovered and returned home. In September 2004, some remains were excavated in the vicinity of Chosin Reservoir by the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command, or JPAC.

Among the remains were those of Faith, according to Michael J. Mee, chief, Identifications Past Conflict Repatriations Branch, Human Resources Command.

Once those remains were recovered, they were sent to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, or AFDIL, located in Dover, Del. AFDIL’s Central Identification Laboratory then made a positive DNA match, using a sample Bobbie had provided, Mee said.

Mee and two others who work for him collect DNA samples from MIA relatives, if they are willing to provide them. The lab keeps all the DNA samples on file, Mee explained, in case remains are ever found.

He said the procedure for extracting the DNA is painless, involving a simple cheek swab.

As an aside, since the 1990s, all service members’ DNA is on file at the lab.

Faith’s remains were among the last to come out of North Korea, said Mee. In 2005, North Korea prohibited JPAC teams from doing any more work there.

The process of obtaining the remains of service members in North Korea has always been peculiar, Mee said.

The North Koreans “rarely ever let us go to a primary burial site,” he said. “They would take remains from a primary burial location and rebury them somewhere else.

“Then, they’d come up with a witness who would tell the JPAC team members, ‘look over here, dig here.’ Whatever their rationale was, I can’t explain it,” he said.

Despite this peculiar custom, Mee said the JPAC team members were nonetheless happy to get remains out of the country. He said he hopes one day the North Koreans will again let the teams do their work there.

Faith’s remains were not positively identified until Aug. 14, 2012, Mee said, using five DNA sequences from the recovery site.

Eight years seems like a long time from when Faith’s remains were found to when he was identified, but AFDIL is backlogged with work, Mee said.

JPAC provides the labs with about 100 remains a year, Mee said. More than half of them are soldiers.

He said sorting through the remains is laborious work and that members of AFDIL liken the process to putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle without first seeing a picture of how it’s supposed to eventually look.

Sorting the remains of service members from North Korea is a particularly daunting task, he added, not just because they are re-interred in secondary grave sites, but also because the records North Koreans provide are often not reliable.

Mee cited an example of the difficulty.

In the mid-1990s, the North Koreans turned over 208 boxes to the United Nations, he said. Those boxes, which are referred to as K208, were full of remains that were co-mingled. The lab is still working today on identifying those.

Using DNA samples alone can be challenging, since so many people share similar snippets of DNA, Mee said. If teeth are found, that is much more reliable, he said. But the lab can only work with what they get, which often is very little.

Working to bring home all or most of those still missing in action will take years, if not decades.

“Most Americans don’t realize that there are 87,000 unaccounted-for service members who never came home,” Mee said. That number includes around 83,000 from World War II, Korea and Southeast Asia, primarily Vietnam. Remains from those three wars constitute the bulk of the work being done now by JPAC and AFDIL.

MEETING BOBBIE

Over the years, Bobbie has been in close contact with the accounting community, which includes JPAC, AFDIL and other organizations.

In the 1990s, Bobbie got to meet the men who were in Faith’s battalion when she was invited to Fort Drum, N.Y., for the christening of the headquarters building in her father’s name.

Bobbie said meeting the survivors of the battle left a deep and lasting impression on her.

“They told me, ‘we would have followed him anywhere. We would have followed him to hell and back,’” she said, adding that many of the veterans said they are alive today only because of him.

Mee, who has been with the program since 2009, said he had the honor of calling Bobbie with the good news that the remains of her father were positively identified. He said she had been in contact with the accounting community for years, hoping they could locate the remains of her father and return them to the United States.

Within just days of telling Bobbie the good news, Mee scheduled a meeting with her in October 2012 in her home in Baton Rouge, La.

Mee and 17 case managers who work for him meet with the next of kin whenever remains are positively identified. The meeting takes at least three hours, he said.

During that meeting, relatives are given an in-depth briefing of how and where the remains were found. The team uses skeletal diagrams, for instance, to illustrate the condition of the remains recovered. Additionally, the team reviews the entire repatriation procedure — from lab to eventual burial.

“If any material effects were found, watch, ring, dog tags, uniform items, coins, lighter, insignia, toothbrush, eyeglasses and so on, we try to return them to the family,” he explained.

Accompanying Mee at the visit was a casualty assistance officer from nearby Fort Polk.

The meeting with Bobbie “was a big deal for her and her family,” Mee said. “We’ve known for years that she was looking forward to this day.”

He added that Bobbie was especially appreciative of the very detailed briefing which was given to her at her home.

“These people (the accounting community) are absolutely astounding,” Bobbie said.

Bobbie said she hopes others who are waiting for the return of their loved ones will find a measure of peace and closure, like she has.

And for his part, Mee said he hopes to help make that happen.

“Repatriation is one of the most rewarding and honorable missions I’ve ever performed,” he said.

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Korean War Medal of Honor Recipient, Finally Resting in American Soil

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