Entire F-35 fleet grounded – updated

An F-35B Joint Strike Fighter from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) takes off from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., on Thursday, February 21, 2013 launching the squadron's first orientation flight. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. William Waterstreet / Released)

The Department of Defense grounded the entire F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet on Friday after a cracked engine blade was found in an F-35A at Edwards Air Force Base. The base is near Palmdale and about 3.5 hours northwest of Palm Springs. All variants of the F-35, including the Marine Corps’ F-35B Lighting II, are affected.

The move comes one day after Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) held its first operational flight for the F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. MCAS Yuma is about three hours southeast of Palm Springs.

In a Marine Corps press release published yesterday, VMFA-121 commander Lt. Col. Jeffrey Scott said Thursday’s flight was a milestone. “This flight was another important and successful milestone in the F-35 program and for the Green Knights of VMFA-121 as we continue to build capability in the squadron and in the Marine Corps,” Scott said.

Scott’s unit became the first operational F-35 squadron when it received its first F-35 aircraft in November and was redesignated; it was previously an F/A-18 Hornet squadron. By late 2013, VMFA-121 is scheduled to have 16 of the F-35B Lightning II strike fighters.

With today’s decision from the Pentagon, VMFA-121′s aircraft are grounded until further notice.

Below is the DoD statement issued this afternoon:

No. 103-13
February 22, 2013

F-35 Cautionary Suspension of Flight Operations: F135 Engine Crack

A routine engine inspection revealed a crack on an engine blade of the F135 engine installed in F-35A aircraft AF-2 operating at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Engineering teams are shipping the engine’s turbine module and its associated hardware to Pratt & Whitney’s Engine Facility in Middletown, Conn., to conduct more thorough evaluation and root cause analysis.

As a precautionary measure, all F-35 flight operations have been suspended until the investigation is complete. It is too early to know the fleet-wide impact of the recent finding. The F-35 Joint Program Office is working closely with Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin at all F-35 locations to ensure the integrity of the engine, and to return the fleet safely to flight as soon as possible.

Two servicemen competing in Modern Pentathlon World Cup

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Herbert Temple, Jr. meets with service members and Team USA pentathletes and Olympians Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher (left) and Air Force Reserve Maj. Eli Bremer (right) after the opening ceremony of the 2013 World Cup of Modern Pentathlon in Palm Springs, Calif. on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun

A pair of servicemen, both Olympians, are competing in this week’s World Cup of Modern Pentathlon, currently underway in Palm Springs.

Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher and Air Force Reserve Maj. Eli Bremer are set to compete in this week’s event.

They carry on a legacy of service member pentathletes in a list that includes Gen. George S. Patton, who competed in modern pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Helen Patton, the general’s granddaughter, offered the keynote address at Tuesday’s opening ceremony.

After the opening ceremonies, both Bowsher and Bremer were greeted by retired Army Lt. Gen. Herbert Temple, Jr. who also spoke at the competition’s kickoff. During his speech, Temple challenged all the athletes to “be audacious.”

Throughout the week athletes will compete in five events including epee fencing, 200mm freestyle swim, show jumping, laser shooting, and a 3km cross-country race.

Bowsher, who is stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado, competed for Team USA in London at the 2012 Olympic games and placed 32nd overall with a point total of 5324. He is training for the next 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Bowsher completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and is trained as an Army 88M Motor Transport Operator for his occupational specialty.

He applied for and is now part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) which offers elite-level athletic training to soldier-athletes in Olympic sports. Soldiers are selected from active duty, Army Reserve, and the National Guard. On the Army WCAP website, the program is described as “A program that provides outstanding Soldier-athletes the support and training to compete and succeed in national and international competitions leading to Olympic and Paralympic Games, while maintaining a professional military career and promoting the U.S. Army to the world.” The program falls under the Army’s Recruiting Command and is an outreach tool to promote a positive image of the Army.

Bremer competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and comes to the Palm Springs event from Colorado Springs. According to his website, Bremer is a 2000 Air Force Academy graduate and competed for the Academy in swimming and fencing. After graduating, he was part of the Air Force’s World Class Athlete Program, which is similar to the Army’s WCAP detailed above. He earned an MBA from University of Colorado in 2006 and co-founded a corporate motivational training company, 5Ring Insight, in 2008. He continues to serve as a reservist and reports to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia when not in Colorado Springs.

Both athletes will compete in the Men’s Qualifying Round on Wednesday at venues located at Sunrise Park in Palm Springs. During the qualifiers, athletes compete in four out of five events with equestrian show jumping left for the finals and mixed relay days only.

Military deaths: December 5, 2012 – February 14, 2013

The following is a listing of military deaths between December 5, 2012 – Feb. 6th. The Debrief‘s last casualty post was December 5. This post is broken into sections including Operation Enduring Freedom deaths as well as other military deaths due to on and off duty mishaps.

Department of Defense announced the following military casualties which occurred during deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

No OEF deaths have been reported by the DoD thus far in February.

20 Jan. 2013: Sgt. Mark H. Schoonhoven, 38, of Plainwell, Mich. died Jan. 20, at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device on Dec. 15, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

16 Jan. 2013: Sgt. David J. Chambers, 25, of Hampton, Va., died Jan. 16, in Panjwai District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered an enemy improvised explosive device while on dismounted patrol.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

10 Jan. 2013: Sgt. Aaron X. Wittman, 28, of Chester, Va., died Jan. 10, in Khogyani District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when he was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade while on mounted patrol.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

29 Dec 2012: Army Pfc. Markie T. Sims, 20, of Citra, Fla., died Dec. 29 in Panjwal, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 38th Engineer Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

• 24 Dec. 2012: Army Sgt. Enrique Mondragon, 23, of The Colony, Texas, died Dec. 24, in Baraki Barak, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by small arms fire while on dismounted patrol. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamberg, Germany.

• 22 Dec. 2012: Navy Cdr. Job W. Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pa., died Dec. 22 of a non-combat related injury while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Price was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit in Virginia Beach, Va.

14 Dec. 2012: Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin E. Lipari, 39, of Baldwin, N.Y., died Dec. 14 in Logar province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to HHC 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamberg, Germany. This incident is under investigation.

14 Dec. 2012: Marine Corps Sgt. Michael J. Guillory, 28, of Pearl River, La., died Dec. 14 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif. This incident is under investigation. The Naval Safety Center posted a mishap summary involving a Marine killed during an ATV rollover in Afghanistan on the same day and with the same rank (E-5).

13 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Reid, 26, of Rochester, N.Y., died Dec. 13 in Landstuhl, Germany from wounds suffered on Dec. 9, in Sperwan Village, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD), 3rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

13 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Nelson D. Trent, 37, of Austin, Texas, died Dec. 13 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Fort Worth, Texas.

10 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Wesley R. Williams, 25, of New Carlisle, Ohio, died Dec. 10 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

8 Dec. 2012: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa., died of combat related injuries suffered Dec. 8, while supporting operations near Kabul, Afghanistan. Checque was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit. Checque was a Navy SEAL and died during a mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was abducted by Taliban insurgents, CNN Reports.

As of 10 a.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 14, U.S. casualties during Operation Enduring Freedom totaled 2,168 including 2,047 in Afghanistan, 118 in other locations, and 3 DoD civilians. 18,255 military personnel have been wounded in action which is an increase of 146 WIA from statistics cited in The Debrief’s previous casualties post last on Wednesday, December 5.

The following on-duty non-OEF related military deaths have been reported for December – present.

15 Jan 2013: (FLORIDA) An Army National Guard Soldier died Jan. 15, from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash. The 20-year-old Soldier was driving a HMMWV on a Florida highway when he lost control of the vehicle while attempting to change lanes and the vehicle overturned. HMMWV is the acronym for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, also known as a “Humvee” tactical vehicle. According to police, the soldier was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. He was air evacuated from the crash but died following the medical transport at the hospital.

14 Jan 2013: (MacDill AFB, FL) Air Force Staff Sgt. Emily Elizabeth Clayburn, 29, of Palatine Bridge, N.Y., died in an industrial area accident. She was assigned to 6th Logistic Readiness Squadron, 6th Air Mobility Wing,

09 Jan 2013: (Abilene, TX) Marine Corps E-7 died on 18 Jan from injuries sustained in a multi-vehicle mishap. He was driving a government vehicle.

09 Dec 2012: (Camp Pendleton, CA) Navy E-4 was killed after he was ejected during a HMMWV rollover. HMMWV is the acronym for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, also known as a “Humvee” tactical vehicle.

The following off-duty military deaths have been reported for December – present. This list includes all deaths and mishap investigations The Debrief has access to, but does not include all PLRs posted by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center.

06 Feb 2013: (Camp Pendleton, CA) Marine Corps E-3 died in a single-vehicle mishap.

05 Feb 2013: (Meridian, MS) Navy E-5 passenger died on 07 Feb from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle mishap.

24 Jan 2013: (Naples, Italy) Navy E-4 died in a multi-vehicle mishap.

20 Jan 2013: (St. Lucie County, FL) Navy E-6 died in an automobile mishap.

20 Jan 2013: (Hawaii) Army soldier Trevor McGurran, 23, of Wahiawa, Hawaii died in a motorcycle accident. He was assigned to 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

20 Jan 2013: (Houston, TX) A 38-year-old Soldier died Jan. 20 from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash while on leave in Houston, Texas. The Soldier was driving his vehicle at a high rate of speed through a construction zone when he lost control, struck a curb, and slammed into a concrete pillar. He was evacuated to a local medical center where he was pronounced deceased.

19 Jan 2013: (Georgia) A 47-year-old Army officer died Jan. 19 from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash in Georgia. He was driving his vehicle when he lost control in a curve. The vehicle exited the roadway and struck a tree. Seatbelt use has not been reported but initial reports indicate he was ejected from his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

13 Jan 2013: (Jacksonville, FL) Navy E-5 found deceased in hotel hot tub.

06 Jan 2013: (San Diego, CA) Navy E-4 died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle mishap.

03 Jan 2013: (Newport News, VA) Navy E-5 killed in motorcycle accident involving a tractor-trailer.

27 Dec 2012: (Beaufort, SC) Marine Corps E-4 died in a motorcycle mishap when he was struck head on by another vehicle.

27 Dec 2012: (Wichita, KS) Marine Corps E-3 passenger died in a single-vehicle mishap after the vehicle hit a ditch, went airborne and overturned.

24 Dec 2012: (Pagat Caves, Guam) Navy E-3 drowned while swimming.

19 Dec 2012: (Escondido, CA) Marine Corps E-5 motorcyclist died in a multi-vehicle mishap.

01 Dec 2012: (Mission Bay, CA) Marine Corps E-3 died in a recreational diving mishap.

Sources: Department of Defense, Naval Safety Center, Air Force Safety Center, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.

Expanded role of women in combat: complete DoD statement

Pfc. Samone Molock, a Soldier with the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, listens to Afghan women and children during a women's meeting at the Spin Boldak District Center, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2012. The meeting, led by female Afghan leaders from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, non-government organizations and other local professional women, was held in conjunction with the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10. Women discussed topics such women's rights, education, access to medical care and hygiene. This week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced approval for expanded roles of women in combat. Photo by 1st Lt. Veronica Aguila, 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (Hawaii) / Released

Below is the full text of the Department of Defense statement released this morning regarding approval to expand the role of women in combat.

At the end of the release is a direct link to the Joint Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Women in Service Review Memorandum signed today by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Also linked is the Chairman’s Women in Service Review Memorandum, which was written to Panetta by Dempsey on January 9, 2013 and outlines implementation plans.

January 24, 2013
Defense Department Rescinds Direct Combat Exclusion Rule; Services to Expand Integration of Women into Previously Restricted Occupations and Units

Today, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey announced the rescission the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule for women and that the Department of Defense plans to remove gender-based barriers to service.

“Women have shown great courage and sacrifice on and off the battlefield, contributed in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission and proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles,” Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said. “The Department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.”

Today, women make up approximately 15 percent, or nearly 202,400, of the U.S. military’s 1.4 million active personnel.  Over the course of the past decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today’s announcement follows an extensive review by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who unanimously concluded that now is the time to move forward with the full intent to integrate women into occupational fields to the maximum extent possible.  It builds on a February 2012 decision to open more than 14,000 additional positions to women by rescinding the co-location restriction and allowing women to be assigned to select positions in ground combat units at the battalion level.

“The Joint Chiefs share common cause on the need to start doing this now and to doing this right.  We are committed to a purposeful and principled approach,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.

The Department of Defense is determined to successfully integrate women into the remaining restricted occupational fields within our military, while adhering to the following guiding principles developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

  • Ensuring the success of our nation’s warfighting forces by preserving unit readiness, cohesion, and morale.
  • Ensuring all service men and women are given the opportunity to succeed and are set up for success with viable career paths.
  • Retaining the trust and confidence of the American people to defend this nation by promoting policies that maintain the best quality and most qualified people.
  • Validating occupational performance standards, both physical and mental, for all military occupational specialties (MOS), specifically those that remain closed to women.  Eligibility for training and development within designated occupational fields should consist of qualitative and quantifiable standards reflecting the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for each occupation.  For occupational specialties open to women, the occupational performance standards must be gender-neutral as required by Public Law 103-160, Section 542 (1993).
  • Ensuring that a sufficient cadre of midgrade/senior women enlisted and officers are assigned to commands at the point of introduction to ensure success in the long run.  This may require an adjustment to recruiting efforts, assignment processes, and personnel policies.  Assimilation of women into heretofore “closed units” will be informed by continual in-stride assessments and pilot efforts.

Using these guiding principles, positions will be opened to women following service reviews and the congressional notification procedures established by law.  Secretary Panetta directed the military departments to submit detailed plans by May 15, 2013, for the implementation of this change, and to move ahead expeditiously to integrate women into previously closed positions.  The secretary’s direction is for this process to be complete by Jan. 1, 2016.

The Joint Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Women in Service Review Memorandum can be viewed at:  http://www.defense.gov/news/WISRJointMemo.pdf 

The Chairman’s Women in Service Review Memorandum can be viewed at: http://www.defense.gov/news/WISRImplementationPlanMemo.pdf

–end of release–


Service members to share a dance with Obamas, Bidens tonight

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance during the 2009 Commander-in-Chief's Ball. Tonight they will each share the first dance with a service member. Photo by SRA Kathrine McDowell, US Navy (Released)

As the day-long inaugural festivities carry on into the night, four service members are preparing their dress uniforms and slipping on their dancing shoes.

Joint Task Force – National Capital Region released the names and biographies of the personnel representing each service who will share the first dance at tonight’s Commander-in-Chief’s Ball one each with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.

According to the press release, more than 50 names were submitted of service members to partner up on the dance floor with the country’s senior leadership and wives. Using criteria like records and accomplishments, combat experience and volunteerism, the group was whittled down to four.

Here are their bios, as distributed by the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region.

Staff Sergeant Bria Nelson (USAF) will dance with President Barack Obama. Nelson, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., enlisted July 31, 2002, as a medical technician. She deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal. She is currently assigned to the 579th Medical Operations Squadron, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Explorer Family Health Element.

Gunnery Sergeant Timothy D. Easterling (USMC) will dance with First Lady Michelle Obama. Easterling, a native of Barnwell, S.C., enlisted Aug. 21, 2000, as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist. He deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. In 2009, Easterling helped plan and execute the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force’s participation in the Presidential Inauguration and four subsequent Presidential State of the Union addresses and Joint Sessions of Congress. He is currently assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., as a distance learning instructor.

Staff Sergeant Keesha Dentino (USA) will dance with Vice President Joe Biden. Dentino, a native of Homestead, Fla., enlisted July 6, 2004, as a military police officer. She deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan.in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal and four Army Commendation Medals. She is currently assigned to the 947th Military Police Detachment, Fort Myer, Va., as a patrol explosives detection dog handler and is working on her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.

Petty Officer Patrick Figueroa (USN) will dance with Dr. Jill Biden. Figueroa, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, enlisted Dec. 16, 2008, as a hospital corpsman. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While there, Figueroa rescued Marine Corporal Hoffman, who is now a Wounded Warrior at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His awards include the Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation. Figueroa is currently assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., as a manpower transfer clerk.

The Commander-in-Chief’s ball will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Inaugural Committee offers complimentary tickets to invited military guests. The committee announced Friday that the Pentagon Channel would live stream the ball online at www.PentagonChannel.mil and broadcast to military installations worldwide. Scheduled performers at the ball include Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, and Marc Anthony.

Military participation in Inauguration Parade

The Ceremonial Honor Guard marches past the presidential reviewing stand during the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform provided military ceremonial support to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington's 1789 Inauguration. Photo by Master Sgt. Gerold Gamble, US Air Force (Released)

The military will be well represented as the Inaugural Parade wends its way this afternoon from the U.S. Capitol building to the White House.

On the Department of Defense Support to the 57th Presidential Inauguration website, military support is listed from all five services. Each branch’s participants will be clustered together in the following order of appearance:

  • U.S. Army Staff
    U.S. Army Field Band
    U.S. Military Academy
    U.S. Army, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment
    U.S. Army Color Guard
    District of Columbia Army National Guard
    U.S. Army Reserve 200th MP Command
    Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment;    Fort Myer, Virginia
  • U.S. Marine Corps Staff
    U.S. Marine Band “The President’s Own”
    U.S. Marine Corps Active Company
    U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard
    U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Company
  • U.S. Navy Staff
    U.S. Navy Band
    U.S. Naval Academy
    U.S. Navy Active Company
    U.S. Navy Color Guard
    U.S. Navy Reserve Company
  • U.S. Air Force Staff
    U.S. Air Force Band
    U.S. Air Force Academy
    U.S. Air Force Active Company
    U.S. Air Force Color Guard
    District of Columbia Air National Guard
    U.S. Air Force Reserve Company
  • U.S. Coast Guard Staff
    U.S. Coast Guard Band
    U.S. Coast Guard Academy
    U.S. Coast Guard Active Component
    U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard
    U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Component
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Staff;    Kings Point, New York
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band;    Kings Point, New York
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Color Guard;    Kings Point, New York
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy;    Kings Point, New York

In addition to DoD support to the parade, 60 applicants were selected out of the more than 2,807 applications submitted to participate in the parade, according to the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee’s website.

Those selected with military ties include:

  • 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment
    Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts wiki
  • 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment Company B
    Silver Spring, Maryland website
  • 81st Regional Support Command Wildcats
    Fort Jackson, South Carolina website
  • Military Spouses of Michigan
    Michigan website
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Washington, District of Columbia website
  • Native American Women Warriors
    Pueblo West, Colorado  website
  • Norwich University Regimental Band
    Northfield, Vermont website
  • Punahou Band and JROTC
    Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii website
  • Union High School Air Force Junior ROTC
    Tulsa, Oklahoma website
  • United War Veterans Council
    New York, New York website
  • Virginia Military Institute Marching Unit
    Lexington, Virginia website

Three Wounded Warriors in Humana Challenge amateur field

Former President Bill Clinton talks with wounded warrior double amputee golfer Saul Martinez on the driving range at PGA West's Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses on Thursday, January 17, 2013 during the first day of the Humana Challenge golf tournament. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

Three wounded warriors are playing in the amateur field of this week’s PGA Tour Humana Challenge golf tournament in La Quinta. Saul Martinez, Dave Romanowsky, and Matt Anderson, who are representing the Troops First Foundation, will be on the course for their third and final round in the Humana Challenge’s amateur competition.

Wounded warrior double amputee Saul Martinez works out on the driving range Thursday at PGA West.

Sgt. Saul Martinez, U.S. Army (Ret), joined the Army infantry in 2006 and was deployed to Iraq the next year as part of the surge.  He quickly became a Sergeant assigned to the Brigade Commander’s security detail.  On May 8, 2007, his vehicle was hit by a large IED, instantly killing his best friends and severely injuring Martinez.

He became a bilateral amputee who also had a traumatic brain injury. He medically retired in 2010 after three more years of active duty including regular soldier training and serving as a squad leader in a Warrior Transition Unit. He also returned to Iraq in 2011 as part of Operation Proper Exit.

During his recovery he discovered that golf was both therapeutic and relaxing.  He and his family live in Montana, where he tries to get out on the course as much as possible.

Before the opening round on Thursday, Martinez was greeted by former President Bill Clinton on the driving range at PGA West.

A 15-handicap, Martinez posted 7-under in the opening round at Nicklaus Private Course with professionals Daniel Summerhays and Roberto Castro, who is a tournament co-leader at -14 after the second round. On Friday Martinez played with Michael Bradley and Jason Bohn and shot 4-under. He is at 11-under for the tournament.

Martinez tees off Saturday at 8:50 a.m. on the 1st tee at La Quinta Country Club. He will play with professional golfers Robert Streb and Steve LeBrun.

Technical Sgt. Dave Romanowsky, U.S. Air Force (Ret), served in the Air Force for 17.5 years where he served as an intelligence operative for 12 years before switching to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). Before Sept. 11, 2001, Romanowky served a 12-month deployment to Kosovo. Following 9/11 he did two one-year tours in Iraq where he conducted over 1200 ground combat missions.

He worked one year as a demolition specialist for Army Special Operations and as he described “in a capacity to go and catch the bomb makers that were killing or wounding so many of my fellow troops.”

He is a recipient of the Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart, Army and Air Force Commendation Medals, and several Combat action medals.

Romanowsky turned to golf as a rehabilitative tool after he was wounded in action with several fractured vertebra. “I am so thankful to just be walking,” he said about his injuries which include other injuries to legs, head, and torso area with severe damage to the lung area and hearing loss in left ear. He spent roughly 4 months in the hospital and roughly 18 months doing rehabilitation in Colorado. He and his family recently moved to Dallas.

“I found that golf is not only extremely fun but acts as a great way to spend time with wife and my two children. I did play prior to being injured but now being retired from the service I’ve thrown myself into it here in Texas,” Romanowsky said.

“I look forward to the great opportunity to play in the Humana and cannot even put into words how thankful I am for the opportunity. Having been nearly killed in combat, I truly embrace everyday of life and this event is almost unbelievable to a be a part of.”

Romanowsky has been Tweeting about his trip to the Humana Challenge via his handle, @Romo9999.

In Thursday’s first round, Romanowsky played with pros Brad Fritsch and Aaron Watkins at La Quinta Country Club where he shot 3-under. Friday the airman, who is listed as an 8-handicap, posted 9-under at the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West with Jason Kokrak and Greg Owen. He is 12-under so far in the tournament.

He tees off Saturday at 8:40 a.m. on the 10th tee of the Palmer Private Course at PGA West. He will play with professional golfers D.A. Points and Tommy Gainey. Comedian Ron White is also in his foursome.

Wounded warrior Matt Anderson shakes hands with PGA Tour player William McGirt after their foursome finished up on the18th hole at Palmer Private Course on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the Humana Challenge. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

After the September 11th attacks, Capt. Matt Anderson, U.S. Army, left college and join the military.  He enlisted as an 11B Infantryman and became a Scout/Sniper with the 25th Infantry Division shortly before deploying for a 15 month deployment to Iraq. He promoted from a Private First Class to Staff Sergeant in four years. He was selected to go to Officer Candidacy School. After finishing at #4 in his class, he voluntarily served as an assistant S-3 in planning and operations for 1-66 Armor, part of 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. Later he was given command of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company. 1-66 Armor was the first Heavy Brigade Combat Team to occupy Afghanistan.  Their area of operation in the Arghandab River Valley was heavily contested and land mines were a constant threat. The Arghandab River Valley was regarded as the worst area in Afghanistan in 2010. Within the first two-and-a-half weeks, his platoon suffered 14 casualties, diminishing their manpower by half.

His platoon helped with the identification and reduction of multiple IEDs and the improvement of the infrastructure and Afghan/American sentiment within three local towns.  One night, they were tasked to secure the Arghandab River from an abandoned town that was rumored to be extensively mined by the Taliban. At 4:16 a.m. then-First Lt. Anderson stepped on the first land mine inside the compound.  The explosion shattered his heel into 13 pieces and his ankle into three pieces. He also suffered a fractured tibia, fibula, cubiod and navicular bones with extensive vascular and neurologic damage.

A few months after his injury, he learned that there was 45-pounds of ammonium nitrate explosive attached to the land mine that did not detonate, had it gone off he would not have survived the blast. Two other soldiers were injured by land mines within the same compound.

Anderson has had 24 procedures and operations on his right leg.  His leg was salvaged and with the help of a brace, he remains an active duty Army officer and was promoted to Captain.

He said he loves to compete as an athlete and perform the job that he loves. He says that his men are his inspiration to always strive to become a better leader, to work harder, and not let pain or physical limitations stop him from anything.

Anderson is a recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

He opened the tournament 6-under on Thursday at the Palmer Private Course of PGA West with tour pros Brian Harman and William McGirt. On Friday he played at La Quinta Country Club and played 2-under for the round with pros Ryo Ishikawa and Lucas Glover. He is listed as an 8-handicap and is currently 8-under for the tournament.

Anderson tees off Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the 1st tee of the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West. He will play with professional golfers Ben Kohles and Alistair Presnell. Singer Dave Brock is also in his foursome.

*Tournament officials provided biographical data for each wounded warrior.

Overseas troops send holiday greetings home

Troops with ties to the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas sent recorded holiday greetings home this season while they serve on deployment or stationed at bases overseas. A video reel of their messages is below.

Those shown below are part of a total 5,965 holiday greetings recorded this fall by Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, and Marines.

Featured holiday greetings are from -

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Priest
Location: Southwest Asia
Hometown: Cathedral City

Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexis Gonzales
Location: Bagram Air Field
Hometown: Beaumont

Air Force Technical Sgt. Maurice Carbajal
Location: Aviano Air Base, Italy
Hometown: Yucca Valley

Army Maj. David Bourne
Location: Qatar
Hometown: Palm Springs

Army Specialist Theresa Baldwin
Location: Forward Operating Base Joyce
Hometown: Twentynine Palms

Army Staff Sgt. David Jimenez
Location: Bagram Air Field
Hometown: El Centro

Army Sgt. 1st Class Tamara Bogan
Location: Bagram Air Field
Hometown: Twentynine Palms

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Hunt
Location: Kabul
Hometown: El Centro

Army Private First Class Hollie Stutes
Location: Camp Leatherneck
Hometown: El Centro

Remembering Korea

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is southeast of the Lincoln Memorial at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and features 19 statues representing a squad on patrol. Photographed October 18, 2012. Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun

62 years ago today, Marines and Soldiers endured some of the most severe fighting of the Korean War and in U.S. military history. A mid-November 1950 Army offensive in the west to Yalu encountered an unanticipated number of enemy combatants while in the east thousands of Marines and Soldiers in the Taebaek Mountains found themselves surrounded by more than 100,000 Chinese troops at the Chosin Reservoir on Nov. 27, 1950.

Referred to as “the Marines’ greatest battle” by the National Museum of the Marine Corps, troops spent more than two weeks in subfreezing temperatures and harsh terrain trying to fight their way out. The war continued for two and half more years, until an armistice was signed July 27, 1953.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. lists the following statistics for the duration of the war:

  • 54,246 U.S. dead
  • 103,284 U.S. wounded
  • 7,140 U.S. captured
  • 8,177 U.S. missing

Of the more than 50,000 troops who died, 40 were from Riverside County according to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

  • Army Private First Class Clayton Arrowwood, died October 16, 1951
  • Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Tillman Avery, died April 7, 1951
  • Army Private First Class Peter Avila, died October 3, 1951
  • Army Private First Class George Baumer, died October 13, 1951
  • Navy FA Ray Allen Briggs, died March 11, 1951
  • Army Private First Class William Bryant, died December 1, 1950
  • Army Private First Class William S. Caldwell, died December 1, 1950
  • Army Private Pete Castana, died July 27, 1950
  • Army Major Charles Leo Cecil, died July 20, 1950
  • Army Private First Class Daniel V. Chavez, died October 14, 1950
  • Army Private Harold D. Chesbro, Jr., died March 17, 1951
  • Army Sgt. First Class Walter R. Coble, died September 8, 1950
  • Air Force 1st. Lt. Carl Edsel Combs, died February 26, 1951
  • Army Private First Class Jack R. Cooper, died October 14, 1951
  • Air Force Capt. Richard Glenn Croskrey, died January 25, 1951
  • Army Private First Class Ernest L. D. Curry, died August 18, 1952
  • Army Capt. Glenn R. Dean, died October 9, 1950
  • Army Corporal Arthur J. Duke, died June 11, 1951
  • Army 2nd Lt. John French, Jr., died July 25, 1950
  • Army Corporal Jerome E. Gallagher, died November 24, 1951
  • Marine Corps Corporal Wilburn Monroe Goodman, died May 20, 1952
  • Army Master Sgt. George R. Housekeeper, died December 12, 1950
  • Army Private First Class Victoriano Juarez, died September 6, 1950
  • Army Corporal Clyde S. Kennedy, died September 1, 1950
  • Army Private First Class Frank Lipscombe, died February 18, 1952
  • Air Force Major Joseph Sheldon Long, Jr., died April 7, 1952
  • Army Private Ralph O. Navarro, died August 27, 1951
  • Air Force Capt. Roger William Penninger, died October 23, 1951
  • Army Private First Class Tommie E. Rogers, died October 25, 1951
  • Air Force Capt. Michel Baines Russell, died February 26, 1951
  • Army Private First Class Charles J. Rutledge, died December 27, 1952
  • Air Force Capt. Harry Till Sandlin, died November 25, 1950
  • Army Sgt. Keith D. Seaman, died April 25, 1952
  • Army Private First Class Marvin K. Shaw, died September 4, 1951
  • Army Corporal Denver J. Smith, died August 26, 1950
  • Army Private First Class Paul A. Smith, died January 20, 1953
  • Army Private First Class John R. Stovall, Jr., died September 1, 1950
  • Army Sgt. Russell G. Torres, died January 30, 1951
  • Army Private First Class James F. Werber, died November 30, 1950
  • Army Private Ernest W. Wyckoff, died May 25, 1951

*Names collected from the California state level fatal casualty list for the Korean War compiled by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.