Valor Strike - The JRTC 'Green Room' 27th Brigade Soldiers Prepare for Challenges of Fort Polk by Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta
138th MPAD FORT DRUM Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, 27th Brigade bested the weather’s worst here April 7, slogging through knee-deep snow to assault mock enemy positions in Operation Valor Strike. Named for the battalion’s call sign, Operation Valor Strike was preparation for the battalion’s August rotation through JRTC (Joint Readiness Training Center), according to 1-108th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Paul F.Hulsander.
“Deliberate Assault is a key task we’ll have to accomplish at JRTC, and one where we need to integrate all our weapon systems.”
One such weapon system used in the night assault was indirect fire, which, according to the active army formal evaluation of Valor Strike, accounted for 50 percent of opposing force casualties.
“When you have a 60 mm mortars at the company level, 81 mm mortars at the battalion level, and 105 mm howitzers at the Brigade Level, that’s a lot of firepower-enough to rattle some nerves, keep the bad guys heads down, inflict casualties, and make it easier for the troops on the ground,” said Huslander.
The troops on the ground were, as always, the battalion’s infantrymen, scouts, and mortar crews, pitted against the ‘bad guys’-three platoon-sized elements of the fictional Cortina Liberation Forces, or CLF. The battalion’s mission was to fix and destroy the CLF platoons - a task they’ll face at JRTC, and in line with the 27th Brigade’s wartrace.
“We’re an enhanced brigade that has a real-life mission,” said Huslander. “Most likely we would be used in a low-intensity type of environment. [The CLF] is the type of opposing force we would be dealing with when we entered the area of operations.”
The planned air assault portion of Victory Strike was canceled due to weather, so the troops were bused and trucked to the line of departure at Fort Drum, where they hit the ground and did what the infantry always does, and does well - walk.
Though disappointed, some troops conceded the missed helicopter ride was only that - a ride.
“The chopper is just a ride, so we just improvised,” said Cpl. Daniel Greenawalt, an M203 gunner for B Company. “I don’t think it mattered much to the mission at all,” said B Company member Spec. Michael Van Itallie.
The troops left the line of departure and moved tactically for about 1000 meters down a frozen dirt road. With darkness falling , they moved into the bush to establish ORPs (Objective Rally Points), an important part of the assault, said Greenawalt.
“The ORP is your last chance to adapt and make anychanges before you execute the mission,” said Greenawalt.Leaders’ reconnaissance teams departed the ORPs while remaining soldiers pulled security, which meant lying downin cold, slushy snow.
"We have been seriously training for JRTC for the past three or four years" “It was really cold, windy and wet,” said Sgt. Paul Stewart, B Company team leader. I don’t think anyone was expecting to have two feet of snow on the ground. It made for a miserable couple of hours. Whenever the wind would gust through, it got worse.”
The soldiers were doing something outside of common task training, but nonetheless familiar to infantrymen - waiting.
“It was cold, but like anything else, you have to wait it out, stay awake, and stay alert,” said Greenawalt.
“Anytime you are performing any type of security in cold weather, you are increasing the risk factor,” said B Company Platoon Leader 1st Lt. Charles Martina, who added that lying prone in the snow exposes more of the body’s surface area to cold. “That’s when you rely on your squad and team leaders to make sure no one is developing frostbite.”
“I keep in mind what’s at hand, what comes next,” said C Company Team Leader Spec. David Donley. “I think about the operation, not about being cold or laying in the snow. I’m thinking about checking on the guy to the left and to the right, to make sure their feet are warm.”
Following the leaders’ reconnaissance, the assault went forward with the distinct pop of rifle fire from opposing forces followed by the deep, distinct, authoritative sound of machine gun crews responding with suppressive fire to support assaulting troops.
“The ORP is like the moment before the big game,” said Martina. “You’re excited, getting ready for action. As soon as you start moving toward the objective, the adrenaline starts flowing, and you forget about the weather and the temperature.” Active army observer-controller Sgt . First Class Jay Fink said Valor Strike met most training goals overall, enhanced the soldiers’ readiness for JRTC and gave new soldiers an understanding of teamwork.
“Without teamwork, you really can’t be successful as a maneuver unit,” said Jay. “You really have to key in on your specialists, young corporals and junior sergeants who are the fire team and squad leaders, to maneuver your element.” Responsibility in combat often falls to junior leaders, Jay emphasized, because of attrition. “You just never know who’s going to get killed out there,” said Jay. Hulsander praised the battalion’s scout platoon for their part in Valor Strike.
“They were out approximately 12 hours prior to our soldiers going in,” said Hulsander. “When we go to the JRTC, they will be out 24-48 hours before the infantry. Their best weapon system is the radio, either to identify where the enemy is, or to call in indirect fires on the enemy.”
In addition to conducting a TOW live fire, the battalion qualified all eight of their M240 Bravo Machine Gun teams and certified 13 sling-load teams - crucial to JRTC, said Battalion Executive Officer Maj. Kevin Forney.
“The biggest piece we wanted to fix this weekend was the sling-load training,” said Forney. “When we go into the box at JRTC, we will be sling-loading delta anti-tank sections, an ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life-Support) team, a mortar section, and the battalion commander’s HUMVEE.” A former marine, Greenawalt sees JRTC training in the light of his three tours of Beirut, Lebanon in the ‘80s. He looks forward to JRTC for more advanced, realistic training. “The troops really need the training, if they have to go someplace like Bosnia,” Greenawalt said.
Stewart said any infantry operation is good preparation for JRTC, because training time often suffers due to problems like transportation.
“JRTC is the United States Army’s testing ground,” Stewart said. “Before a unit deploys they have to be tested to see if they meet the standard or need retraining. We have been seriously training for JRTC for the past three or four years. This is the superbowl we’ve been preparing for.”
Maj. Gen. John H. Fenimore, V The Adjutant General TAG Talk
Guard Members Get More Life Insurance Coverage WASHINGTON, DC (Army News Service) - Eligible troops will automatically be insured for a maximum $250,000 in coverage through the military’s life insurance program that went into effect April 1.
The new coverage marks a $50,000 increase over the previous maximum provided by Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. The premium for coverage will be $20 monthly, said Tom Tower, assistant director of DoD’s military compensation office.
Participants can then decrease or maintain their levels of SGLI coverage, Tower said, adding that service members who want less than 250,000 of coverage after April 1 must apply for it through unit finance or personnel officials.
The government and commercial insurers underwrite SGLI, which has been in existence since 1965, said Tower. It has been more than eight years since the last increase in maximum coverage, he added.
He said 98 percent of all service members are covered by SGLI and 80 percent have maximum coverage. This shouldn’t be surprising, he noted, as military members, like police and firefighters, often perform hazardous duty.
At 80 cents for each $10,000 of coverage, SGLI rates are competitive, and coverage “is guaranteed, whether you’re an aviator, sailor or tanker,” Tower said. Service members can also convert their SGLI policies to the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program after they leave the service, he said.
ARLINGTON, VA (American Forces Press Service) - TRICARE’s new dental insurance program will help ensure reservists are ready to deploy when they’re called, DoD medical officials said.
“We want to encourage a higher level of dental health and dental readiness than we saw during Desert Storm/Desert Shield,” Navy dentist Dr. (Capt.) Lawrence McKinley said. McKinley is senior consultant for dentistry for the TRICARE Management Activity and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs here. Army Reserve Lt. Col. William Martin said roughly 35 percent to 40 percent of Army reservists activated during the Gulf War needed dental work before they could deploy. Martin is the program manager for reserve affairs for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.
The new TRICARE Dental Plan went into effect Feb. 1. It replaces the TRICARE Selected Reserve Dental Program and provides reservists and their families the same dental benefits package that is available to families of active duty service members.
The new program will also help the Guard units meet a 1998 DoD requirement that says they must document an annual dental screening for all their service members.
Martin said the yearly screenings pose several problems. “Most reserve components don’t have the infrastructure to perform annual dental exams,” he said.
Increasing readiness isn’t the only reason DoD officials wanted to make the TRICARE Dental Plan available to reservists. “The total-force concept is important. We’re all one family,” McKinley said. “We wanted to make this quality-of-life benefit accessible to the reserve community as well as the active duty community.”
FORT BENNING, GA. (Army News Service) - The 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., announced March 16th that it will exchange its traditional black beret for a tan one.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki approved the regiment’s request to change its beret to maintain the distinctiveness of the unit and the legacy of Ranger history.
The change was requested by Col. P.K. Keen, regimental commander, in a memorandum dated March 9, 2001, to the Army chief of staff.
“The black beret has served the Rangers well and will be a symbol of excellence and unity for the Army,” Keen said. Shinseki announced last year that the Army would issue black berets to all soldiers on the Army's 225th Birthday this June 14th.
Keen said changing to the tan beret for Rangers is not about being different from the rest of the Army, but about a critical aspect that unifies the Army - high standards.
“The decision to adopt the Ranger Tan Beret is based upon maintaining a distinctive beret for our Rangers as the Army transitions to the black beret,” Keen said. “Rangers have never been measured by what they have worn in peace or combat, but by commitment, dedication, physical and mental toughness, and willingness to Lead the Way - anywhere, anytime.”
“The Ranger Tan Beret will represent for the Ranger of the 21st Century what the black beret represented - a unit that ‘Leads the Way in our conventional and special operations forces,” Keen said.
Armed Forces Week Message To the men and women who proudly wear the uniforms of our Nation's military forces:
I am proud to offer my sincere thanks during Armed Forces Week to the brave men and women who protect our Nation. During the past several months, I have been privileged to witness personally the depth of your dedication and the strength of your character. The professional manner in which you conduct your duties, your can-do spirit, and your sense of patriotism all reflect the fact that our Armed Forces are second to none in the world.
In a world of both existing and emerging threats, you provide a strong and steady defense. Because of you, America is a secure nation where our citizens can hope, dream, and live their lives in freedom. My office holds no greater honor than to serve as your Commander in Chief. On behalf of all Americans this Armed Forces Week, I salute you for the tremendous contributions you make to our Nation’s defense.
You are guardians of peace and liberty and have the thanks of a grateful Nation. May God bless you all. George W. Bush
Guard Times Staff LATHAM Maj. General John H. "Jack" Fenimore V, the Adjutant General of New York State and Commander of the New York Air National Guard, announced this April his retirement from the Air Force and as Adjutant General effective June 23, 2001 -- his 60th birthday. Gen. Fenimore's retirement brings to a close a distinguished 38-year Air Force career that included 411 combat missions in Southeast Asia and more than 7,200 flight hours in seven different types of aircraft.
Appointed to the position of Adjutant Generalby New York Governor George E. Pataki in July of 1995, Maj. Gen. Fenimore leaves a legacy of unequalled success. During his nearly six year tenure commanding the state's military forces, Gen. Fenimore oversaw not only the historic turnaround and revitalization of the New York Army National Guard, but the implementation of bold new programs like the Guard's Tuition Incentive Program, the Civil Support Detachment for Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the innovative GuardHELP community support initiative.
"While no one enjoys closing the book on a 38-year military career, I have to say that I will leave with optimism for the long-term success of our National Guard, Naval Militia and New York Guard," said Maj. Gen. Fenimore.
Under his command, the New York National Guard has been among the busiest in the nation, supporting New Yorkers through ice storms, wildfires, tornados, blizzards, and floods in every region of the state. In addition, elements of the New York National Guard have supported national defense goals in Southwest Asia, Europe and the Balkans.
by Major Richard Goldenberg HQ, 42d ID (M) PROVIDENCE, RI For eighteen years, residents of Providence, Rhode Island gather at Temple Emanu-El to commemorate Holocaust survivors and victims. The memorial this year included the colors of the 42d Infantry Division, famous for its World War Two liberation of the notorious Dachau Concentration Camp. But the Rainbow association with Temple Emanu-El is even greater than this historical achievement.
In April of 1945, the 42d Infantry Division, along with the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Division, liberated some 33,000 survivors of the Dachau Concentration Camp during the US Seventh Army’s drive towards Munich. Rainbow and Thunderbird veterans were forever changed by their roles at Dachau.
A Rainbow Division Chaplain bore witness to the Dachau liberation and went on to help serve Holocaust survivors in Displaced Persons (DP) camps while the 42d Division administered occupied Austria. Rabbi (Captain) Eli Bohnen served as a chaplain in the Rainbow Division giving spiritual and worldly support to the concentration camp survivors. He wrote home to his wife Eleanor in October, 1945, “the people are thrilled by their good accommodations. They feel like human beings again after such a long period of being treated like animals.”
“I can’t tell you how much it touches me to see the Rainbow colors and a Rainbow uniform again” Rabbi Bohnen returned from the war and served Temple Emanu-El in Providence as Rabbi for more than twenty years. In 1982, to commemorate Holocaust victims and honor survivors, the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island began presenting “Never Again” awards for individual efforts at reducing anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice. Rabbi Bohnen received the award in 1983.
“We’re so honored that the colors of the Rainbow Division could be here for our commemoration,” remarked Rabbi Wayne Franklin of Temple Emanu-El. “Survivors of the Holocaust who were aided by Rabbi Bohnen will forever remember the generosity of the Rainbow.” Carrying the division colors in the ceremony’s processional was Staff Sgt. Christopher Moroski from the Rainbow Division’s 173rd Long Range Surveillance Detachment (LRSD), Rhode Island Army National Guard. Moroski, the detachment's communications chief , has served more than twelve years in the unit and feels a unique appreciation for the Holocaust commemoration.
“I come from mixed blood myself, both Native American and Eastern European,” he explained. “I had a basic understanding of the division's history in the World Wars but I did not know anything about this. Learning about the impact the Rainbow Division had in the past is one thing, but here tonight I could see and hear it firsthand.”
“For the people of Providence the honor is really ours to display the Rainbow colors that literally meant liberation and freedom to so many during the war,” said the 42d Infantry Division Chief of Staff Col. Mark Heffner.
Rabbi Bohnen passed away in 1997. “I can’t tell you how much it touches me to see the Rainbow colors and a Rainbow uniform again” said his wife, Eleanor. “I’m so glad they could be here for everyone to see.”
by Capt. Robert Giordano HQ, 53rd Troop CommandLATHAM Major General Michel VanPatten, Commander of the New York Army National Guard opened the first video teleconference meeting between Commanders of 53rd Troop Command earlier this March.
This ‘real-time audio and video” equipment stationed in Latham, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Camp Smith allows leaders from around the State to communicate face to face at a moments notice. The Commanding General’s opening remarks were focused on how technology is assisting the New York National Guard and helping to propel it into the 21 Century.
With so many units spread across the state, it becomes more effecient and effective to use video teleconferencing versus absorbing the costs of travel for every commander to come to one location. The technology has been widely adopted for private companies, distance education, and even family support activities to bring live images of military members deployed overseas to their families.
The use of video technology is now even applied to help coordinate state assets during emergency response missions. "This state of the art technology is now saving our soldiers valuable resources and during a State Emergency could help save lives, said Brig. General Robert Kline," Commander of 53rd Troop Command.
by Sgt. Ann Pesso HQ, 107th Corps Support Group GRAFENWOEHR, GERMANY Nine months after returning from Annual Training 00 at South Da kota, 107th Corp Support Group was off again to another Annual Training commanded by Col. Paul A Schneider, this time to Granfenwoehr, Germany. The unit participated in the V Corp Warfighter Exercise involving over 15,000 troops.
Preparation for Annual Training for some soldiers started as early as January. An advance team went to Germany to train-up at the battle simulation center. The Simulation (SIM) Center, located on post at Granfenwoehr, Germany, uses omputer generatedinformation to produce realistic battle simulations to train in large-scale operations. The exercise allows for the training and evaluation of division and corps level headquarters without the significant cost of deploying their subordinate units to the field.
The Annual Training for 66 officers and enlisted soldiers commenced March 24th. The unit deployed to Germany from both John F. Kennedy and Newark International Airports. Soldiers from JFK arrived in Munich, while the remainder of the unit flew from Newark, arriving in Frankfurt after 7 hours and were met with another 4 hours of ground transportation to Granfenwoehr, Germany. While a difficult and long journey overseas, many found some conveniences that almost reminded them of home. During the ground transportation to Granfenwoehr, for example, the unit stopped at a McDonald's restaurant, a familiar sight. When they entered McDonald's, however, the soldiers realized they were no longer back in the Empire State, but in a foreign country. Unable to communicate and understand the German language, soldiers had difficulty ordering from the menu. However, with both sign language and body language, soldiers were able to order their food. Did you know that ketchup in Germany costs 30 cents per packet?
Upon arrival at Granfenwoehr the unit was divided into two elements. Half of the unit went to the SIM Center to prepare for the Warfighter Exercise. The rest established the Tactical Operations Center (TOC). With many new soldiers in the unit, the commander emphasized the importance of training junior enlisted soldiers so that they would be able to lead others in future exercises. Annual Training is a place to learn, where soldiers practice and learn from any mistakes, he said.
"We are here to train to standard and not to time," said Col Schneider.
Daily staff briefings during the entire exercise allowed for rehearsals and information updates for new members to get used to the unit's battle rythm. Lt. Col. Glenn R. Marchi, the Operations Officer and Lt. Col. Gary D. Hyer, the Support Operations Officer gave the operations brief later in the week to the warfighting corps. The 107th higher headquarters, the 3rd Corps Support Command, and its commander, Brig. General Robert T. Dail received these updates regularly from the 107th command and staff.
Tension was high and security was tight. Getting around post was difficult. All you would see were guards who would ask for security passes. The SIM Center was fortified with fences and barbed wires. Soldiers on guard duty only allowed a soldier with a security pass to enter the SIM Center. At the SIM Center, soldiers belonging to the 107th Corp Support Group worked hard and put in long hours to accomplish multiple tasks.
Prior to the conclusion of Annual Training, though, the unit coordinated a trip touring the Concentration Camp memorial in Flossenburg followed by shopping and dining at Weiden. The trip through the countryside was a huge morale booster since this was, for many 107th soldiers, their first visit to Germany. As for future opportunities for training exercises in Germany, the deployment would have no problem finding personnel ready to go.
Story and photo by Lt. Col. Paul Fanning Guard Times Staff ALBANY Governor George E. Pataki or dered more than a hundred members of the New York National Guard to state active duty during the fist week of March in anticipation of a major storm, which threatened the New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley regions.
At the state Commander-in-Chief’s direction, the New York National Guard activated its Emergency Operation Center in Latham and positioned troops and vehicles at armories, air bases, State Police barracks and Dept. of Transportation sites during the early phases of what could have been the season’s worst winter storm.
But, like so many times in the past, the storm’s path shifted at the last moment, and brought the heaviest snow to the capital district and Saratoga Springs region instead of the state’s southern areas. New York City and Long Island got mostly rain while almost three feet fell upstate - where communities are more used to such amounts.
Even as the storm approached, emergency officials in threatened areas were in contact with the State Emergency Management Office requesting National Guard support. They wanted Guard members and humvees standing by at their locations to help rescue stranded motorists and assist with emergency transportation.
“The Guard’s hummers are great for situations like this and we stay in contact with the local armory whenever severe weather is forecasted,” said Sgt. Warner P. Hein of Troop F, New York State Police in Kingston. “It really is important to have Guard personnel and equipment positioned in advance, because by the time you realize you need the Guard’s help, it is too late to start from scratch,” he said.
The Guard organized four joint task forces in the threatened areas to coordinate emergency support. In the Hudson Valley, the 105th Airlift Wing headquarters at the Stewart Air National Guard Base served as the JTF command and control hub. The Wing’s operation center served as the Guard’s control point for mission execution when orders for approved missions came from state headquarters. More than a dozen humvees were positioned at State Police barracks, local hospitals and other sites in Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties before the storm came to an end and the emergency was over.
by Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 138th MPAD FORT PICKETT, VA Scouts and mortar gunners of the 1st Battalion, 127th Armor shook, shot and lit up Fort Pickett's Observation Post Two (OP 2) in March with their own lethal mix of vehicle-mounted .50 caliber machine guns, Mark-19 grenade launchers and 120 mm mortars.
The training weekend was a unique livefire exercise which challenged the scouts' critical wartime skill-Call For and Adjust IndirectFires.
The scouts called, and the mortar platoon delivered, firing night illumination missions, and bracketing in and bombarding tank hulks and various other vehicles. "We were hitting the targets," said Fire Direction Coordinator Staff Sgt. Daniel Kobis. "There was all kinds of training going on. It was awesome."
Firing began the afternoon of March 9 with .50 caliber machine guns and Mark-19 Grenade launchers, a scant six hours after the unit's arrival. Based in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, the soldiers left the area in a snowstorm and drove 12 hours to Fort Pickett in unit HUMVEES.
The scouts began calling for fire that same evening-turning night to day at OP 2 with white phosphorus and illumination rounds, which floated through the windless, ebony sky to reveal terrain and targets in stark, ghostly white light over an estimated 5-mile area.
Throughout the exercise soldiers fired 81mm mortar rounds from their 120mm mortar tubes. The next day soldiers targeted a column of M48 tank hulks with high explosive rounds.
Scout Spec. Aaron Spallina said actually seeing the impact of his fire missionswas "educational."
"There is a world of difference between reading about call for fire in a book, and doing it in real life," Spallina said. In addition to lengthening the battalion's offensive reach, indirect fire also helps scouts screen and protect the battalion's vulnerable flank, freeing an armor company for front-line tasks. Scout Platoon Section Leader Staff Sgt. Jack Van Zile said scouts also reconnoiter routes, bridges, fording sites and terrain for the tanks.
"It's our job to go out in front and make sure there's nothing out there that can kill our tanks, or nothing our tanks can't get through."
In addition, Van Zile said, scouts observe the enemy without becoming engaged with direct fire weapons. He called indirect fire "our main defense."
"We don't have the offensive weaponry to stand and fight. We are supposed to hand the battle off as soon as we can." Between the unmistakable thunder of exploding mortar salvos, soldiers fired other weapons, another realistic aspect of the operation, said Kobis.
"If you're firing a mortar in combat, and you take fire, you're going to grab an M60 machine gun and defend yourself," said Kobis. "That's why Fort Pickett is so good."
Mortar Platoon Squad Leader Sgt. Kim Nottingham also praised Fort Pickett.
"Getting and returning equipment was easier at Fort Pickett, a National Guard post, than it is at Fort Drum," Nottingham said. "At Fort Pickett, they treat you with respect." Nottingham the change of scenery was the best aspect of the exercise.
"Except for Fort Pickett, I have never been anywhere but Fort Drum since basic training," Nottingham said.
Though the maneuver aspect of the exercise was canceled due to time constraints, Kobis said the opportunity to "work the whole team" was unique.
"I've been in the National Guard for 14 years and that was the best MUTA (monthly unit training assembly) I've ever experienced," Kobis said. "Hearing the call for fire seemed just like combat."
"We were hitting the targets. There was all kinds of training going on. It was awesome."
For Spallina, working with the mortars to call for and adjust indirect fire reminded him of a lesson he learned in basic training. "The deadliest weapons a scout has are his mind, and his radio" he said.
by Staff Sgt. Corine Lombardo HQ, 42d ID (M)In a combination Earth Day/Arbor Day celebration, the New York Army National Guard spent April 27th with over 500 first and second grade students at the Bradt Elementary School in Rotterdam.
As the children climbed through a UH-60 "Blackhawk" helicopter, they learned how the National Guard uses aviation to preserve and protect communities in New York. Students reviewed photographs as aircrews explained how the Guard is helping to restore places like the Pine Bush Preserve, in the capital district and Long Island's Pine Barrons Preserve by removing abandoned vehicles. Div. of Military and Naval Affairs Environmental Branch Manager William Knox discussed preservation projects such as the placement of materials creating a fish habitat in the Great South Bay off Long Island and the construction of a bridge on the Paumonak foot-path. Constructing that bridge allowed for the re-opening of a 120-mile nature preserve trail on Long Island.
Of greatest interest to the children was the discussion on the Guard's fire fighting capabilities and experiences during the Long Island wild fires in1995 and recent fires at the US Military Academy at West Point.
"This has been a wonderful experience for the students, they have been excited for weeks waiting for the helicopter." said school principal Dr. Gail Paludi, adding, "the activity packets really encouraged them to look closely at Earth Day."
"This was a wonderful opportunity to show the children our military equipment and how our soldiers train while protecting and preserving the environment," said Knox. The National Guard has several programs in place to protect endangered species and continually monitors ongoing training to ensure compliance with all Federal and State environmental laws. ROTTERDAM
by Staff Sergeant Cori Lombardo HQ, 42d ID (M)FT. DIX, NJ It's a long, dusty and loud weekend, but for a National Guard artillery gunner and crew there is nothing more satisfying than live fire. That's the general sentiment of the roughly 90 members of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 258 Field Artillery (FA), who maintain and fire the M109A5 self propelled Howitzer and provide direct support to the 42d Infantry "Rainbow" Division's 3rd Brigade.
The Bronx based unit spent the last weekend in April at Fire Point 13, Ft. Dix, NJ preparing for their upcoming Annual Training at Ft. McCoy, WI. "These soldiers train hard all year, working as a cohesive team, fine tuning and honing their skills. When they get to the field they're pumped and ready to put steel on target" said Battalion Commander, Major Frank Candiano. As an additional incentive, during AT 2001 at Fort McCoy, the best firing battery will go on to the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, CA next year.
The 258th FA, located at the Kingsbridge armory, has three artillery and two support batteries which traditionally drill on separate weekends each month, allowing the unit to integrate the three howitzers and M109A5 artillery simulator at Camp Smith, Peekskill into their training program. "This is the first time we are firing at Ft. Dix and the troops like a change of scenery from Fort Drum. These artillerymen are enhancing some of their basic soldier skills such as map reading and land navigation. These skills will prove to be invaluable when they train in unfamiliar terrain. It all comes down to doing our mission safely while improving techniques in force protection and survivability on the battlefield. Needless to say, this annual training tour will prove to be challenging. The bottom line is the more we challenge and train our soldiers, the more troops we retain for the Guard." said Candiano.
The battery routinely trains at their local training area at Camp Smith, where troops can train in the howitzer, occupy an area and simulate fire procedures through dry fire missions. This puts soldiers through the motions as if they actually fired.
Since the acquisition of the howitzer simulator at Camp Smith, the loss of actual live fire time has had less of an impact since most members have practiced simulated dry fire training. Without tracks, the mock M109 simulator tests the knowledge and skills of all crew personnel in their individual areas of responsibility and provides realistic and cost effective training.
"Training in the simulator is great because it allows for mistakes and provides an opportunity to learn and correct them. Once you're out here, or in combat, there's no room for errors" said Cpl. Johnny Faris, a cannon crewmember as well as a fire direction specialist. Faris was specially trained to operate the computer system at Ft. Dix's High Tech Center and assists the command in evaluating unit members. Using the simulator also aids commanders in assessing crew drills, team proficiency and certification of selected artillery tables. A howitzers nine-member crew consists of a section chief, gunner, asst. gunner, ammo team chief, ammo vehicle driver, three cannoneers and the howitzer driver. The fire direction team consists of the fire direction officer, chief fire direction computer, senior fire direction computer and fire direction specialists whose mission is to receive information from the observation point, plot the target and provide the coordinates to the gun crew. Additional mission essential personnel include safety personnel who determine the safe limits of fire and several ammunition specialists. Prior to the release of the 98 pound, 155 millimeter 'round', crews go through six different checks before firing. "It takes constant coordination between all sections to perform the mission and do it safely" said Sgt. Major Rene Rivera, who was recently selected as the Battalion Command Sergeant Major, adding "I've never met a more dedicated group of soldiers, they work hard and always uphold our motto 'Ready and Faithful'. I'm proud to work with them." Rivera is a 20-year National Guard veteran and has been a member of the 258th for his entire career.
Throughout the exercise, the battery is observed and evaluated by Ft. Drum's Training Support Brigade, active US Army observers who confirm unit members follow proper procedures and complete all required tasks. "We consider this an advantage, an 'extra set of eyes'. They're not here to train our troops. They assist and more importantly, provide a critique that helps us to identify possible shortfalls" said Bravo Battery 1st Sgt. Herbert Peck, Jr.
But as the day goes by, firing is delayed and the wait begins as maintenance crews spend the morning repairing equipment supplied by the Unit Training Equipment Site. Soldiers routinely work hard throughout the year to maintain their own equipment and are then required to draw equipment from other training sites. This is a frustration many National Guard soldiers experience when required to use equipment other than what they are accustomed to at home station.
As the day draws on, the struggle to keep morale up gets tougher. "These are professional citizen-soldiers. They're here to accomplish their mission. I've seen these guys stay excited through all kinds of weather, high heat and caked on mud. As long as they're doing their jobs they're happy, but the wait can be hard on them" said 1st Sgt. Peck. But the wait is not entirely wasted as veteran unit members take advantage of the time to train, review procedures, and share experiences with soldiers drilling for the first time, or recently returning from their Advance Individual Training.
"These soldiers train hard all year... When they get to the field they're pumped and ready to put steel on target" The 258th FA 'Washington Greys' was formed as the first artillery unit in 1809 in the New York Militia and has participated in every campaign from the War of 1812 through the Gulf War. Its distinctive unit crest is worn proudly and dates back to George Washington's family crest. "We have done a great deal of research on the crest and our unit history is something we proudly share with all our members," said Sgt. Maj. Rivera.
"The more challenging the training the more troops we retain"
By Airman First Class Ann-Marie Santa HQ, 105th Airlift Wing NEWBURGH In March, the 105th Airlift Wing participated in a humanitarian mission to deliver relief supplies for a charitable organization to earthquake-shattered El Salvador.
The mission, which was made possible due to the Denton Program, a program that permits donors to use the space available on US military aircraft to transport humanitarian goods, provided the 105th with an opportunity to work with the community to aid the victims of the earthquakes that devastated El Salvador in January and February.
When employees of Centro Civico of Amsterdam, Inc., a community-based, not-for profit organization, heard about the damage in El Salvador that was caused by earthquakes and landslides, they immediately began mobilizing to collect donations of clothing and other supplies to aid the victims of the destruction, said Karen Kelly, director of development at Centro Civico.
"I think the biggest thing that affected me was the images of everyone, women and children, who were suffering," said Kelly. "We knew we had to do something, and the day that we decided that we wanted to do this, a local TV station from Albany picked up the story. Other stations, radio and TV, gave it a lot of coverage, and the donations poured in from all over."
Once the donations were collected, Centro Civico needed a way to ship the cargo to El Salvador for distribution, and Kelly said she was referred to the 105th for help.
Kelly found out that she had to apply for the Denton Program in order to use military resources to ship the donations when she contacted Col. Dana B. Demand, 105th Vice Commander.
"I didn't learn about the Denton Program until I met Col. Demand... We were overwhelmed by the whole process because this was a first for us... He (Demand) was never exasperated with us. He was very nurturing and helped through the entire thing," Kelly said.
"In addition to filing the proper paperwork, the cargo had to be inspected and properly prepared for shipment. Chief Master Sgt. Pete Johnson, the 105th Aerial Port Squadron (APS) superintendent and other members of the APS, went to perform these duties and offer advice," said Demand. "We at the 105th have been doing humanitarian missions for a long time now, practically since we got the C-5s in 1985," said Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Maguire, Jr. "The organization and enthusiasm of Centro Civico was the best we've seen to date. The sense I got throughout was that they were very committed to helping the unfortunate people in El Salvador who are so affected by the devastation there," Maguire said.
The State Department and Department of Defense, who authorize shipments under the Denton law, granted approval and the 105th was given the mission, said Demand. "The 105th was able to match a flight that was already going to Puerto Rico to go to El Salvador and Nicaragua," Demand said. On March 16, the relief supplies, which consisted mainly of clothes and water, were finally on their way to their destination, said Demand. After a stop in Honduras to drop off cargo that would be shipped over land to Nicaragua, the donations from Centro Civico arrived in EL Salvador.
Some earthquake damage could be seen upon arrival at El Salvador International Airport, said Maj. Keith G. Brown, pilot in the 137th Airlift Squadron for the mission. "There was construction going on in the habitable areas, and it looked like they were deciding to tear down other areas and start from scratch because the damage was so great," Brown said. "When I was there, I realized it was an earthquake-prone area. You could see one of the volcanoes smoldering and throwing smoke when we were flying over. There was also another tremor the day we were there. It wasn't scary for us, but it was scary for the people there because that's how the others started before."
Although they didn't spend much time on the ground, delivering the supplies meant something to Senior Airman Robert E. Farrell, a loadmaster with the 137th AS. "This was my first humanitarian mission. I felt like I was putting my training to good use. Really, it didn't feel like a job. It was more of a privilege because you realize that those people depend on what we do. My fiance is from Puerto Rico, and somewhere along the line some of her family may have moved down there, so who knows? We could be helping family," Farrell said.
Maguire said he agreed with Farrell about the importance of doing humanitarian missions.
"Humanitarian missions, by far and away, are the most satisfying types of missions to perform. It makes us feel like we've earned our pay for the day," said Maguire. Kelly said that the cooperation between the 105th, Centro Civico and the various other organizations involved was what made this venture work. She knows that many people were helped, she said, because she received a letter from Father Garcia, a member of the clergy who received the supplies and has been distributing them, detailing the impact that has been made by the donations.
by Tech. Sgt. Trish Pullar HQ, 105th Airlift Wing NEWBURGH Persistence pays. Just ask Staff Sgt. Nic Caputo and Master Sgt. Stacy Johnson, both hydraulics technicians in the 105th Airlift Wing Maintenance Squadron. Not only did the NCOs design a C-5 brake tester that will save the entire fleet time and money, but they earned themselves a combined total of $10 thousand through the Air Force "IDEA" program.
The IDEA program, which stands for "Innovative Development through Employee Awareness," is the revamped improvement to the former "Suggestion Program." The IDEA program is easier to use and track and includes a number of other changes such as quicker pay-outs to individuals if their ideas are approved for Air Force use.
The seed for their idea was planted in August 1999 after a co-worker, Senior Master Sgt. John Gallagher, Accessories Element Supervisor (then the Pneudraulics shop chief), returned from a C-5 brake improvement conference. The conference was attended by representatives from all the C-5 bases and engineers from the depot and the Lockheed Martin Corporation in Georgia. "Basically the purpose of the conference was to kick around ideas and have the opportunity to field questions," Caputo said. One issue that was discussed was the need for a new, more efficient way to test the brakes on the fleet's C-5s.
The standard Air Force brake tester is a heavy, expensive piece of equipment according to Caputo and Johnson, weighing a hefty 70 pounds and costing an even heftier $25 thousand a piece. Four testers are required, bringing the price tag up to $100 thousand. The system is so cumbersome, that few C-5 bases actually use them. Instead, many C-5 bases, including Stewart, use an approved alternative test. This alternative test, though less expensive, is still timely and confusing, say Caputo and Johnson. The test calls for maintenance personnel to first bleed air from the aircraft's brakes, then interconnect a series of hoses and fittings to the aircraft's brake system and to the tester, and take pressure readings. This process must be repeated for each of the aircraft's 12 pairs of brakes.
"The test is time consuming-it takes two shifts to complete-and can be inaccurate because of the difficulty in reading the mechanical gauges. The readings can be interpreted differently depending on where the reader and gauge are situated," said Caputo. "Additionally, the excessive bleeding can produce up to two gallons of hydraulic fluid waste. When John (Gallagher) came back from the conference, we discussed the ideas that were proposed to solve this problem and started talking about them here." Caputo and Johnson are both experienced aircraft maintainers, having a combined 24 years of experience between them. Caputo came to the 105th about two years ago after eight years as an active duty Navy aircraft maintainer. He is FAA Airframe and Powerplant licensed and has a Bachelors of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Johnson joined the 105th about 10 years ago as a pneudraulic systems craftsman after having spent four years on active duty in the Air Force and one year in the Virginia Guard, also in pneudraulics.
After a few weeks of talking through various ideas, they hit upon a design so simple and efficient that Logistics Group Commander, Lt. Col. Kevin F. Dannemann, said he was notably impressed.
"I was in awe," Dannemann said. "I thought, 'How could we, as a part of the C-5 fleet, not have thought of something like this before.' I was impressed that these guys, with the expert advice they received from our back shops, were able to conceive the project that trained engineers didn't even consider."
Caputo and Johnson called the tester the "CJ-1." The "C" and the "J" are the first letters of their last names and the "1" designates it as the first built. The unit was designed to be "user-friendly." The tester itself weighs less than 40 pounds and is about the size of a small piece of luggage. Caputo and Johnson manufactured it locally at a cost of just under $4 thousand. The unit can test the entire brake system at once and contains color-coded connections and an illuminated digital readout.
This translates to an easier, quicker and cleaner method of testing the brake system. "The system cuts down on waste fluids, we can bleed the entire system with only a small piece of absorbent material," said Caputo. Another benefit to the unit's ease of use is that it can be explained to a novice in about 15 minutes, thus cutting training time substantially. "The unit also has multiple-use capability," Caputo said. "It's not brake-specific. It can provide a reliable pressure reading that can easily be adapted to multiple applications." Using the CJ-1, the brake test can be performed by two individuals in less than two hours.
Caputo and Johnson first submitted their suggestion in November 1999. It was disapproved for various reasons, but they were not deterred. "When you have the opportunity to do something better, than why not do it," said Caputo, who credits his father with setting the example for his persistence and work ethic.
"I think the perception is out there that people think the Guard is nothing more than a bunch of 'weekend warriors.' I think getting this design approved for use Air Force-wide shows what just what Guard members can accomplish," Johnson said.
With 21 years of experience in the aircraft maintenance field, Lt. Col. Shelly Hunihan, Maintenance Squadron Commander, said she knew the iedea would work. "When I first saw the idea, I loved it. The principle was sound and this type of technology is in wide use on other aircraft. The parts used to build the box were commonly available," she said. The two NCOs received encouragement from the Air Wing as well as the engineers from Lockheed to resubmit their design for a re-evaluation, which they did. It was approved for Air Force use Dec. 14, 2000. What do they plan to do with their windfall? Johnson said he's unsure at the moment. Caputo said he purchased an all-terrain vehicle for his wife, Lisa, as a surprise.
Caputo and Johnson just completed building seven more CJ boxes authorized by the Air Logistics Command to outfit the C5 fleet initially.
Caputo said he hopes more people will be encouraged to submit their suggestions to the IDEA program. "People should really submit their ideas. It does take some effort put the package and supporting documents together, but it's worth it to make an improvement, possibly Air Force-wide, and get paid for it," he said.
Those interested in making thier own suggestion to the Air Force can check out the IDEA Program guidelines in Air Force Instruction Manual 38-401, the "Innovative Development through Employee Awareness Program Guide."
by First Lt. Jeff Brown HQ, 174th Fighter Wing SYRACUSE The Inspector General of the Air Force's Air Combat Command (ACC IG) completed its Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) this May for the New York Air National Guard's 174th Fighter Wing. The Air Force Combat Command found the Wing to be fully combat ready for mobilization and deployment as an Air Expeditionary Force.
"The positive results of the ORI are a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication of all 1,000 plus members of the 174th Fighter Wing," said Wing Commander Col. Robert Knauff. "The results are particularly gratifying given the fact that the Air Force recently changed the 3way it conducts and grades inspections." ORIs are routinely performed on all Air Force units approximately once every five years. The recently concluded ORI involved a total of 24 inspectors reviewing a broad cross-section of Wing functions during simulated sustained combat operations. The 174thFighter Wing was found to be combat ready, meaning that its performance meets mission requirements and its procedures and activities are carried out in an effective and competent manner.
The Inspector General review team selected 44 individuals as Superior Performers and 13 Superior Teamsm for special recognition. The Superior Teams included Aircraft Removal, Aircraft Turnaround, Bus Transportation, Communications and Supply Sweep Teams, Engineering Beddown and Planning, Machine Gun Teams, Mobile Reserve Fire, Munitions Control and Hold, Security Forces Command and Control, and Supply Reconstitution and Replenishment. The Wing also received recognition for launching 42 of 42 tasked fighter sorties, a 100 percent sortie generation effectiveness rate.
The 174th Fighter Wing was formed in 1947 as the first post-World War II Air National Guard flying unit in New York State. The unit continuously deploys personnel on real world missions with the Air Force Air Expeditionary Forces and was one of only two Air National Guard combat units to fly missions during Operation Desert Storm.
by Chief Master Sgt. Alan Manuel HQ, 102nd Rescue Squadron WESTHAMPTON BEACH Senior Airman Louis Muscarella is a 21-year-old member of the 102nd Pararescue Team. Besides being the youngest member of the team he is also tied with one other for being the most recent to complete the long and rigorous and lengthy Pararescue Training Pipeline. Lou, as fellow team members know him, is from Bellmore, LI, NY, and, graduated from John F. Kennedy High School. He is the middle brother of the three children of Fredrick and Patricia Muscarella. Tech. Sgt. Ken Smith, a community neighbor and long time 102nd Pararescue Team member, recruited him into the 106th Wing.
With US Air Force Basic Training and 10 weeks of Pararescue Selection course as a starting foundation he entered the Pararescue Training Pipeline. There he attended US Army Special Warfare Underwater Training at Key West, FL, US Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA, US Army High Altitude-Low Opening (HALO) Parachute Training at Ft. Bragg, NC and Yuma, AZ, USAF Survival School at Fairchild AFB, WA, US Army JFK Special Warfare Medical Training (Paramedic) at Ft. Bragg, NC, and finally, the Pararescue School at Kirtland AFB, NM to bring it all together. With his parents and family in attendance in Albuquerque, NM, Muscarella and 21 other new Pararescuemen graduated on Feb. 4, 2000 in one of the largest combined classes ever to finish the challenging training.
Muscarella has had many exciting experiences to last him a lifetime, yet has only been out of Pararescue School for 14 months. As if over a year of Formal Technical School Training with the active duty Air Force wasn't enough, he has also been afforded the time and opportunity to continue with his 5-level upgrade doing some rather excellent training adventures.
Upon his return to New York, he found himself surrounded by long time 102nd PJ Team Members - all looking forward to help him learn the nuances of the diverse job of Pararescue. After some local training which included Static and Freefall Parachuting on land and water, HH-60G helicopter flying to include rappelling, fast rope, rope- ladder and hoist training as well as aerial gunnery and Night Vision Goggle work he was ready for several Temporary Duty (TDY) trips.
Muscarella went to Patrick AFB, FL to support a Space Shuttle Launch and then headed off to Hurlburt Field, FL for a month's work with the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).
Back at FS Gabreski he continued with his "upgrade" and participated in a precautionary "duckbutt" escort of fighters enroute to an overseas location. He and the rest of the HC-130 aircrew stopped in the Azores before returning to FS Gabreski Air National Guard Base. He spent three weeks in Washington State with AFSOC members conducting mountaineering training where the managed to reach the summit of Mt Rainier. He continued his mountaineering training in New Hampshire where he stood on the summit of Mt Washington. He has performed parachute and underwater dive training with a SEAL Team in Puerto Rico and medical advanced life support training in New Hampshire. Along the way he even parachuted into the Fall Festival at Greenport, NY.
All this may seem like a lot for a 21-year old fulltime student at Nassau County Community College in Garden City, NY. Senior Airman Muscarella has his sights set on getting into Cornell University, and after that - Medical School. Even with all these activities he manages to be on the NCC Track Team and pursues swim, bike and run triathlons for fun in his physical fitness spare time.
Lou is a driven young man with a focus on a lifetime mission. He is friendly, quick witted and polite - a winning combination for a successful future.
by Peter Pilc HQ, 152nd Engineers BUFFALO The very same week that the City of Buffalo was names the number one "City with a Heart" this past winter, Rainbow Engineers from the 152nd Engineern Battalion were hard at work giving that honor true meaning in Buffalo, New York.
In mid-February, soldiers from the battalion donated their time and the use of military vehicles to collect and transport nearly 4,000 pounds of food and more than $5,000 in donations for the "Have-a-Heart" food drive. The drive, sponsored by the local Bar Association, has been run since 1989 and covers twenty-five collection sites located throughout Western New York. All the food donations and funds went to the Food Bank of Western New York.
"This represents a 24% increase in monetary contributions and a 6% increase in food donations over last year's totals," said Lynn Clarke, Food Drive Chairperson. "Clearly, the success of the Drive depends upon the generosity of those who make the commitment to devote their precious time, energy, and resources to the cause of helping the less fortunate among us."
"This year we extend our gratitude to the members of the 152nd Engineer Battalion who provided National Guard vehicles and lots of muscle," said Clarke.
Photos and Story by Major Richard Goldenberg HQ, 42d ID (M) BRENTWOOD Members of the NY Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, the 42d Division's famous "Fighting 69th" hosted a children's immunization drive this April at the Bravo Company armory for the local Long Island community. Hundreds of Bayshore and Islip residents turned out for the children's immunizations as well as adult health screening and information.
Part of the New York State "Shots for Tots" initiative by Governor George E. Pataki, the Bayshore armory opened its doors to the Good Samaritan Hospital from West Islip for the health screenings and immunizations. The children's immunizations were provided free of charge under the supervision of Good Samaritan Hospital and a local family practice medical office.
More than a dozen soldiers from the 69th volunteered to help with the day's events. Also participating in the health fair were physician assistant students from Long Island's Touro College School of Health Sciences and the New York Institute of Technology.
Residents of these southern Long Island communities were able to receive childhood immunizations, vision examinations, and adult screening for blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, vision, bone density, scoliosis as well as patient information for occupational therapy and other health concerns.
"This is the second time we've had the "Shots for Tots" program here in Bayshore," said Major Joseph Tommasino, the battalion's physician assistant and key coordinator for the community event, "and already I know we've exceeded expectations. Here it is not even two o'clock and we've served almost 500 hot dogs and we're nearly out of ice cream," he said with a smile. Attendance at the "Shots for Tots" program this year is more nearly triple the previous year, Tommasino estimated.
Immunizations for children included Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio and Lyme Disease. Healthcare representatives from various pharmaceutical companies provided financial assistance and patient information for visitors. Also on hand at the armory for the children were pony rides, a balloon artist/comic, and Winnie-the-Pooh.
"Everyone came together to make this work," noted Major Tommasino. "I'm glad to see the Guard be such a positive role model for community service to these folks. We had so many volunteers from the Touro College Physician Assistants, I had to turn some of the students away," he said.
"These are the kind of events that tie the Guard directly to our communities," said Major Geoff Slack, commander of the 69th Infantry. "What makes it so great is our ability to bring soldiers from across the battalion, like medics from Brooklyn, out here to local armories." Medics from Brooklyn's Detachment One, Charlie Company, 342nd Forward Support Battalion volunteered for a youth fingerprinting and photo identification table and provided a M996 HMMWV ambulance for display. The Rainbow volunteers provided 140 children with photo and fingerprint identification packets to take home.
"There's a lot here I can take back with me to the unit just for training our medics," said Staff Sgt. Beryl Brown, a medical specialist supervisor from Brooklyn as he picked up Hepatitis information materials from a Schering Pharmaceutical representative. "I can develop a couple of training classes just from the items right here," he said.
"These are the kind of events that tie the Guard directly to our communities" "This community event is just incredible for our soldiers," said Major Tommasino. "We've given 45 immunizations to kids here and reached out to more than 500 of our neighbors on Long Island."
by Lt. Col. Paul Fanning Guard Times Staff ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS More than 250 troops of the 27th Infantry Brigade underwent a unique training opportunity in February by deploying to a distant site for a field exercise.
No, it wasn't Iceland, Fort Drum or even another big-name Army post. While snow and ice abounded in upstate New York, these troops flew via military transport to the tropics for an exercise at a local training area used by the Virgin Islands Army National Guard.
"This worked out very well. We accomplished important training at a site our troops had never been to, and even though it was a lot of work, the troops really enjoyed it" Members of the 1st Battalion 105th Infantry practiced mobilization and deployment skills during air movements to and from the Caribbean, and then conducted infantry maneuvers at a site adjacent to an armory complex on St. Croix. The participants deployed during separate increments over two drill weekends each comprising more than 120 troops and at least 15 vehicles.
Deploying soldiers came from the battalion's headquarters company and companies B, C, and D with additional troops from the 1st Battalion 156th Field Artillery and Army training support advisors from Fort Drum.The Virgin Islands Guard played host by making available its facilities and loaned additional vehicles for administrative support use by members of the battalion.
Each increment began on a Thursday when the troops moved from their home armories in Schenectady, Troy and New York City to the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. At the airbase, troops performed air movement preparations with Air Guard loadmasters, which included the blocking, bracing and tie-down of humvees and other vehicles the troops would use at their ultimate destination.
The 105th Airlift Wing flew the missions to St. Croix aboard two giant C-5A transports for each increment. According to the battalion commander, a major training objective was to practice mobilizing and deploying, a task that most units seldom get a chance to experience.
"We really needed to train some place different and provide a practical exercise for a deployment," said Lt. Col. Mark Warnecke, who added that the location was selected because the site was available and the mission was viable and logistically supportable. "Another training objective was to go somewhere warm so we can begin to prepare for the Joint Readiness Training Center rotation in Louisiana in August where temperatures are expected to soar. This worked out very well. We accomplished important training at a site our troops had never been to, and even though it was a lot of work, the troops really enjoyed it," he said.
A separate training plan was established for each increment so that the exercise was customized to the needs of the participants with respect to their role in the upcoming JRTC rotation. The battalion headquarters staff performed what is known as the "orders drill," where the various staff sections coordinate the military decision process towards the production of a battalion operations order. Scouts from the Headquarters Company performed reconnaissance and screening tasks while other section personnel established the main, field and combat trains command posts. Company C troops performed security mission tasks to prepare for their assignment as the security force for the 27th Brigade headquarters Tactical Operations Center during the rotation. Company B troops served as the opposing force, and in the process, performed the same maneuvers they expect to use at the JRTC.
Each mission lasted four days from start to finish and the daily schedule was crammed tight with activity. Even so, the battalion commander was able to squeeze in a little time for troops to relax in a world-class vacation site at the height of the busy season. "We were able to give our troops a little time off to swim, visit the town of Christiansted and shop for a couple of items for their families. They had less time to do that than we would have had we trained at Fort Drum, but the destination made that worthwhile," he said. "I haven't seen the soldiers morale this high since I took command. My staff did a great job in putting this together and we got good support from the Air Guard and the chain of Command."
by Storekeeper First Class Melody Solyian Syracuse Naval Reserve Center SYRACUSE The Cargo Afloat Rig Team (CART) A401 Naval Reserve Unit from Syracuse, New York recently participated in a major Underway Replenishment (UNREP) and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) exercise with the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) carrier battle group off the coast of Hawaii.
After three days of preparation and prestaging cargo, members of the Cargo Afloat Rig Team conducted their Annual Training underway in the Pacific Ocean providing supplies to the carrier battle group's destroyers and frigates. "During the exercises, CART units usually average about thirty loads an hours and these underway replenishments can last anywhere from 4-12 hours depending on the amount of cargo that need to be transferred," said Lieutenant Glen Viado, commander of the team since last fall.
"CART units usually conduct two underway exercises a year with other ships, but this was the first exercise our team ever conducted with an aircraft carrier," Viado said. Syracuse area reservists participating were: Boatswain's Mate Chief Keith Doss, Engineman Chief Richard Schuler, Storekeeper First Class Melody Solyian, Boatswain's Mate Richard Haberek, Engineman William Bivens, Boatswain's Mate Jonathan Stephens, Boatswain's Mate Raechelle Chrisman, and Boatswain's Mate David Smith. CART units from both coasts provided support for this important fleet exercise.
Most observers of the ship to ship resupply operation would be impressed with the smooth movement of cargo to and from an aircraft carrier. "I would say it is actually easier to conduct underway replenishment with a carrier because they ride much better out at sea than their escort ships," said Lt. Viado.
The CART mission is to provide Reserve manpower support and expertise for replenishment and resupply operations for US Navy ships operating at sea. Reservists must complete an extensive and rigorous training program before they can become qualified to participate in these demanding at-sea evolutions.
In a congratulatory message to the fleet following his observations of the Naval Reservists' training, Vice Admiral Holder, Commander of Military Sealift Command, said: "Cargo Afloat Rig Teams, comprised of Naval Reservists, clearly demonstrated their thorough training, prior experience and unbridled enthusiasm. The 30 loads per hour transfer rate simultaneously at two transfer rigs, which was conducted safely during a five-hour evolution, compare favorably with Navy standards and prove once again that Reservists can excel in this mission. Congratulations on a job extremely well done!"
Following the exercise at sea, CART members received some time off in Hawaii before redeploying to New York.
by Hubert Matson Courtesy of Univera Healthcare BALDWINSVILLE Elaine Manella and Susan Langendorfer are true American patriots. In recognition of their support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserves, the two Univera Healthcare managers received the "My Boss Is A Patriot" award by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) at a ceremony at Univera Healthcare's offices in Radisson. Susan Langendorfer is Vice President, Operations, at Univera Healthcare, where she oversees the health maintenance organization's Claims and Group Billing and Enrollment departments, and directs the Model Office program. Langendorfer was nominated for her award by Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Richard Jennejahn, Team Lead in System Administration at Univera Healthcare's Model Office.
"It is always difficult to plan for an employee's absence," notes Langendorfer. "Rick is very much aware of this and plans his departure with staff to minimize the impact. Current events have demonstrated the need for the Reserve and the value that they have for our country. They deserve our support!"
A member of the US Army Reserve, Medical Team, 3rd Battalion, 309th Regiment, 2nd Training Support Brigade, 78th Division, Training Support, Jennejahn cited his supervisor's strong support of his Reserve activities.
Elaine Manella, a Director in Univera Healthcare's Claim Department, is pleased to be recognized with this honor. "Each person makes a personal decision on how to best fulfill their role as an American citizen," Manella said. "Karen and Rick have chosen military service. By supporting them, as an employer or as a friend, we demonstrate pride in their efforts and belief that they make a difference."
Manella was nominated by Karen Whedon, who has served as Configuration Analyst in Univera's Model Office since 1999. A member of the Naval Reserve, Whedon holds rank as Storekeeper Chief, involving supply and fiscal management. She currently serves as Command Chief for a Military Sealift Command unit of 50 sailors.
"I decided to nominate Elaine because I had worked at Univera for only a few months when I had to go on my two weeks annual training," says Whedon. "Over the years I have worked for many individuals, and only two others, who were both prior military and understood what serving your country means, showed the same positive attitude that Elaine did."
The "My Boss Is A Patriot" award is part of the ESGR's efforts to recognize employers for supporting employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserves.
Guard Times Staff SAUDI ARABIA While on duty at Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB) in Saudi Arabia, 107th Air Refueling Wing weap ons instructor Walter J. Adamczyk received his promotion to Master Sergeant.
Adamczyk is currently serving a three-month tour. While at PSAB, he is the NCOIC of the Armory, issuing equipment and weapons to about 200 persons daily.
He is in charge of 9 armories that work for him and makes sure all the Posts have all the equipment, ammo, weapons; they need to perform their jobs.
by Lt. Col. Kenneth H. Powers, Regimental Historian 69th Regiment of New York Special to the Guard Times NEW YORK CITY In this issue, our history of the famous "Fighting Sixty-Ninth" continues with the combat record of the 69th Regiment, one of the most decorated combat units in the entire US Army. The 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry commemorates its 150th year of service this fall.
The "Fighting Sixty-Ninth"
When the secessionists fired on Fort Sumter, on April 12, 1861, the 69th was one of the first units to answer Lincoln's call for troops, and was the second regiment to leave New York for Washington D.C.
At the first battle of the war, First Bull Run, the regiment fought well, (serving under William T. Sherman, and fighting with the 79th New York and the 2nd Wisconsin). During the Union withdrawl from the field, the 69th protected the Union rear, providing time for the retreating army.
After Bull Run, the 69th returned to New York, and disbanded, their 90 day enlistment being over. They quickly reenlisted for three years. Being the first of the Irish units to reach unit strength, they were given the honer of being named the "First Regiment of the Irish Brigade." Following the reenlistment of the 69th New York, Tomas Meagher, (Pronouced "Marr") formed the Irish Brigade that was soon to become famous. The Brigade consisted of the 69th New York, 88th New York, and 63rd New York. They were later joined by the 116th Penn., and the 28th Mass.
In early December 1862, the Army of the Potomac thought they were going into winter quarters. But the new General, Burnside, thought he needed to prove himself. At the town of Fredericksburg, on a cold snowy December 12th, Gen. Burnside ordered the army to attack the heavily entrenched Confederates up on the hill above the town. Wave after wave of Union troops charged up the hill, knowing it was hopeless, and that many of them were going to die. Of the 1200 gallant Irishmen that went into battle that fateful December day, only 280 came out unscathed.
It was Confederate General Robert E. Lee who gave the 69th the colorful nickname it has carried so proudly. Learning, at Fredericksburg, that the 69th New York was among the Army of the Potomac troops facing the Army of Northern Virginia that day, Lee nodded and commented, "Ah,yes. That Fighting Sixty-Ninth."
On the regiment's green flag there is a red banner that says in Gaelic, "Those who never retreat from the clash of spears." By 1863, the glorious Irish Brigade was the size of a regiment. Of the 7000 that left for the war in the Brigade, only 1000 returned unwounded.
Thirty five years later, during the War with Spain in 1898, the Governor of New York requested each Regiment to submit a list of those who would volunteer for Active Service. Colonel Edward Duffy answered immediately that the 69th volunteered to a man. The quick cessation of hostilities however, found the 69th at a port of embarkation in Florida.
The World War
Called into active service for the Mexican Border Campaign in 1916, and again in 1917, upon entry of the United States into the First World War, the 69th Regiment was temporarily redesignated as the 165th Infantry and chosen by then Colonel Douglas MacArthur to represent New York in a specially created shock division that was being formed from the cream of the National Guard, the famed Forty-Second (Rainbow) Division. As such, it saw some of the bitterest fighting - Lorraine, Champagne, Marne, Ainse- Marne, St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne. On the Ourcq River (known to the Regiment as the "River O'Rourke"), the 69th put up what has been called one of the greatest fights of that terrible war when it forced a river crossing without artillery support and, fighting alone on the enemy's side of the river, with its flanks unsupported, engaged a Prussian Guards Division and forced it to retire. It was an incredible feat of arms, but a mere incident in the chronicle of glory that is the saga of the Fighting 69th. Medals of Honor from World War I were awarded to Michael A. Donaldson, to William J Donovan and Richard W. O'Neill. Among the most famous Americans who served with the 69th in the First World War were Colonel "Wild Bill" Donovan (later head of the United States Army's Office of Strategic Services - the OSS - in World War II), Father Francis Patrick Duffy and the beloved poet Joyce Kilmer, whose poem "Rouge Bouquet" is still a part of the ritual of the 69th and of its Veteran Corps.
World War Two: Takin' Makin
Following the First World War, the regiment returned to the New York National Guard and its service of its citizen soldiers. The regiment was assigned to the 27th Infantry Division, another renowned combat unit of World War One fame, the Orion. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the 69th Infantry Regiment performed in its role for state and for country.
In 1940, the 69th again mobilized for service as part of the Army's Louisiana Maneuvers. The training, intended to evaluate the newer tactics and doctrine of maneuver warfare continued right through the onset of World War Two where the 69th deployed early on for the war in the Pacific. During the four years that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 69th Regiment saw action on Makin Island, on Saipan and on Okinawa with the 27th ("New York") Division. It was during the last of these campaigns that Company "F" was presented with the Distinguished Unit Citation, and the Regiment's seventh Medal of Honor was awarded to Sergeant Alejandro R. Ruiz of Company "A" for gallantry in action. It was during World War II that both a Regimental Commander and Chaplain were killed in action: Colonel Gardiner Conroy on Makin and Father Lawrence Lynch on Okinawa.
A Green Flag
In April 1947, the 69th resumed its place as a unit of the New York National Guard. Its headquarters are in the armory at 26th Street and Lexington Ave., its home since 1906. Officially resuming its designation as the 69th Regiment of New York, the 69th sent its Second Color green flag from the American Civil War as a gift to the people of Ireland, in recognition of its Irish roots; the flag was presented by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, on behalf of the Regiment, in 1963, and now hangs in Leinster House, the parliament building in Dublin.
"Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked," like their Irish wolfhound mascots, the 69th Regiment of New York, part of the 42nd ("Rainbow") Infantry Division of the New York Army National Guard continue their historic legacy of service to their state and country. From prison strikes to postal strikes to natural disasters such as blizzards, floods, tornados and ice storms, the 69th Infantry has a full share ,of battles for emergency response assisting the people of New York during the years of the Cold War.
by Second Lt. Kevin Hynes Nebraska National Guard VIRGINIA BEACH, VA The luck of the Irish was with members of the National Guard Marathon Team this past March 10, as they ran and recruited runners at the Shamrock Sportsfest in Virginia Beach, VA. National Guard runners took top places in team awards at the Shamrock Marathon with the Guard
Marathon Team taking top honors. The normally gusting ocean wind was merely a whisper and the sun shined bright, making this a perfect day for the Guard's Open 8K teams, which swept the top two places in the Military Team competition.
The Shamrock races are set up for fitness enthusiasts of all levels with separate races including an open 8K, a masters 8K and a 26.2 mile marathon. Not only did the Guard walk away with first place military team finishes in the open 8K, they also ran away with first place in the marathon, too.
The Guard Marathon Team finished with a team time of 8:54:40. Members on the Guard's winning team were Chief Warrant Officer Russ Hoyer of Voorhesville, New York; First Sgt. Gregg Whisler of Midlothian, Virginia; Senior Master Sgt. David Kinsey of Richmond, Virginia; and Sgt. First Class TrentSinnett of Kokomo, Indiana.
Hoyer, a Data Processing Technician with the Headquarters Detachment for New York's State Area Command in Latham, finished the 26.2 miles in under three hours with a time of 2:57:06. He finished third amongst National Guard runners and 40th overall in the entire race. The marathon course was designed to be fast moving, with a flat, out-and-back course. Runners traveled through the scenic resort area alongside the ocean and continued through Fort Story, home to one of America's oldest lighthouses.
by Master Sgt. Bob Haskell National Guard Bureau FORT LEWIS, WA A recent nationwide survey of Army National Guard soldiers indicated they were more concerned about training than well-being or quality-of-life matters. More than two-thirds of the 5,712 respondents to the survey said they were willing to attend a skill-training or professional-development school as well as annual training with their unit during the same year.
The same soldiers were concerned about the lack of training resources available for the Army National Guard. This easily outweighed their concerns about spending time with their families, promotions and civilian employment conflicts.
"It doesn't take a G.E.D. to figure it out - training is retaining," wrote one Guard soldier in Virginia's 29th Infantry Division in a candid letter he sent with his completed questionnaire.
"With the increasing tempo on operations, and with a substantial reliance on the Guard to accomplish these missions, it's imperative that we 'train as we fight' so we can 'fight as we train,' " the soldier observed.
This was the first survey of its kind, initiated by the Training Division at the Army National Guard's Readiness Center in Arlington, Va. It was conducted last October and November by the civilian firm Indestructible Inc. of Fairfax, Va. Analysis of the responses took several months, officials said, and the results of the survey are just now being released to the public.
"One of the most important things my staff and I must do is acquire the money necessary to support your training requirements," wrote Mj. Gen. Roger Schultz, the Army Guard director, in a cover letter. "This survey is designed to gather very specific items of information which the Army National Guard staff and I need to better understand your training needs."
The 20-question survey was sent to half of the more than 61,000 Guard soldiers who are scheduled or qualified for formal military school training this year. Questionnaires were sent to 36,689 randomly selected soldiers, and the survey's results were based on 5,712 valid responses. "This was a significantly higher response rate than I initially estimated," said Lt. Col. Gerry Kitzhaber, who oversaw the project. "It included a good cross section of our Guard soldiers, including a large percentage of specialists and sergeants."
Sixty-seven percent of the respondents claimed they would be willing to attend a military school for professional development or duty qualification and perform annual training during the same year.
The Army Guard's survey also revealed:
-- A lack of training resources-funds, equipment and time is the chief concern among citizen-soldiers. Time with families ranked a close second in importance. Promotions were fifth. Civilian employment problems ranked a distant eighth.
-- Seventy percent indicated they want more team training with their unit. Training at the platoon level is the cornerstone and key component of team training within the Army, Kitzhaber pointed out.
-- Guard soldiers are very satisfied with the training they receive and their unit leadership. The current training pace was rated a distant ninth, dispelling the idea that the training pace is too high.
-- Serving their communities and their country is more important than financial considerations. More than 28 percent cited service as their main reason for joining the Army Guard. That underscores the fact that soldiers join and remain in the Guard to serve their community, state and nation, said Kitzhaber. It highlights the fact that Guard soldiers rate education and retirement benefits and additional income less important now as well as when they enlisted.
With the returned questionnaires, said Kitzhaber, came 800 additional comments including some thoughtful and provocative letters.
"What I am trying to get across is we want to be trained, and we want the opportunity to attend other active-duty training schools-to prepare us [for] when we are needed for actual combat," wrote one Guard soldier to Schultz. "On a drill weekend I will have at least one or two privates pulled away from me to pull KP," stated another infantry team leader. "How am I supposed to train these guys, as well as the rest of the squad, [in] the vital skills and teamwork required of an infantry squad if they are never together?"
by Gary Sheftick Army News Service WASHINGTON, DC Beginning this summer and continuing through 2005, some National Guard offic ers may be considered for promotion a year earlier than anticipated.
The Army has extended an adjusted promotion board zone of consideration program first announced in 1999. Promotion zones of consideration will expand from a year to 13 months for several years, officials said, to comply with law.
First lieutenants and captains with dates of rank that now fall between May 17 and Aug. 31 may be affected by the incremental zone expansions, officials said. Those majors and lieutenant colonels who have a date of rank of Jan. 2 through March 31 may also be affected by this program.
"The intent is to actually promote people at their max time-in-grade," said Maj. Tom Fowler of the Directorate of Military Personnel Management.
The Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act, known as ROPMA, requires officers selected for promotion on their first consideration to be pinned before reaching their maximum time-ingrade, he said. In the past, some promotion lists received final approval after a number of officers had already passed their maximum time-in-grade. To address that problem, officials said zones of consideration will be adjusted incrementally over the next few years.
Guard Times Staff CAMP SMITH National Guard units from across the state sent over 250 of their best marksmen to Camp Smith this spring to participate in The Adjutant General's (TAG) Combat Rifle, Pistol and Light Machine Gun Matches, 27-29 April 2001. The competitive events were conducted using the M16A1/A2 rifle, the M9 pistol and M60 and M240 Light Machine Gun.
Every component and branch of military force located in New York State was represented, which makes the matches one of the most diverse training events in the state.
The matches are a competitive event but most importantly, it is a training event, where all participants can hone their marksmanship skills. " All competitors leave the matches with enhanced individual marksmanship skills as well as an increased confidence in their individual weapons", says Major Bruce Olsen, the State Marksmanship Coordinator, and the Match Director. "Not only are the matches an important training event, they are effective on the retention side also. The participants really seem to enjoy themselves and take pride in their individual and team accomplishments."
The top honors for the combat championships reflects the diversity in National Guard participants at this year's event. In the combat rifle match top honors for individual went to Sgt. Knowlton from Bravo Company, 342nd Forward Support Battalion, NY Army National Guard, Sgt. Mutchler of Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 25th Marines of the Naval Militia, and Tech. Sgt. Potter of the 109th Airlift Wing, NY Air National Guard. Top achievers in the Combat Pistol category went to PO1 Stonier from the Naval Reserve's Construction Battalion 21, or SeaBees, Sgt. MacKechnie from the Army National Guard's 442d Military Police Company,, and Master Sergeant Jacobellis of the 105th Airlift Wing, NY Air National Guard. Individual achievement for Light Machine Gun marksmanship went to Spec. Balus from Bravo Comapany, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry, Spec. Potzler, also from the Army National Guard's Bravo Company, 1-108th Infantry, and Staff Sgt. Perkins of the Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing.
Team event honors go to Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 25th Marines for Combat Rifle, the Naval Militia's Construction Battalion 21 for Combat Pistol, and Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry for the Light Machine Gun match.
The matches are held annually at Camp Smith the last weekend in April, which makes next year's match dates, 26-28 April 2002. The Small Arms Readiness Training Section (SARTS), from State Area Command organizes and conducts the matches.
Courtesy of First Army Public Affairs FORT GILLEM, GA Command Sergeant Major Jeffn Mellinger boomed out "You are the best of the best" to 113 competitors assembled at the First U.S. Army Soldier and NCO of the Year banquet, Saturday night, April 28.
Included in those honored was Sgt. Steven Scott from the New York Army National Guard's 2d Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment of the 27th Enhanced Separate Infantry Brigade. The Orion soldier had reason to be proud - the Brasher Falls, New York native is the First Army's National Guard Non-Commissioned er (NCO) of the year.
Earlier that day, those 113 soldiers and NCO's faced grueling boards run by First U.S. Army's seasoned senior NCOs who tested the soldiers on their military bearing and overall military knowledge. Hailing from First U.S. Army's twenty-seven states and three-territory area, the competitors represented the Active Component, Army National Guard and Army Reserve from 48 major subordinate commands. They had all, like Sgt. Scott, already been named number one for their own commands before facing First Army's competition.
According to Mellinger, "all of these soldiers are reflective of the best of our nation, and though there are only six winners recognized here, all of them are winners in their own commands. You would be proud to just have been in the presence of these soldiers."