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LOBELVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 16, 2014 – Army Staff Sgt. Pamela Pugh, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and 14-year member of the Tennessee National Guard, was contacted during the late summer by two of her fellow soldiers who found themselves homeless and in dire need of aid.

PHOTO: Army Staff Sgt. Pamela Pugh, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and 14-year member of the Tennessee National Guard, helped two homeless soldiers in her unit get a new start in their lives. Pugh guided them to resources and various support programs that aid current military personnel, veterans and their families. Courtesy photo 
 
A platoon sergeant for her unit here, Pugh immediately took the initiative to help her comrades in arms, not only by her own actions, but also with help of numerous resources now available to military personnel, veterans and their families.

“These are my soldiers. I take care of them every month, and they know I care about them whether on or off duty,” Pugh said. “They know they can call me any time, especially when they are having difficult moments in their life. I take extreme pride in helping these soldiers. They are like my family, like my kids, and I feel an obligation to assist them as best I can.”

Study shows extent of veteran homelessness

Battling homelessness among service members and veterans has become a priority in the United States. The Department of Veterans Affairs published a study identifying nearly 58,000 homeless veterans nationally on one single night in January 2013.

Lori Ogden, director of development for Operation Stand Down Tennessee -- a nonprofit organization that provides free help to Tennessee veterans – said the unemployment rate among veterans in the state is 6.9 percent, and one in five homeless persons are veterans. VA and other agencies continue to develop programs to reduce the number of homeless who have a military background, she added, yet they emphasize the need for further support within Tennessee and across the country.

Pugh’s story began when she was contacted by a young soldier in her platoon who was living in a rescue shelter in Nashville, Tennessee. Using her knowledge of resources available through the Tennessee National Guard Family Programs section, the Enlisted Association of Tennessee, a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other agencies, she was able to find financial assistance, temporary lodging and full-time employment for the Guard member.

Helping a second soldier

Pugh’s aid did not end with the one homeless soldier. Shortly afterward, she helped another member of her unit in a similar situation. The second soldier had sought refuge in a rescue shelter during an interim period prior to attending a state educational program.

Pugh helped the soldier obtain lodging and financial aid. Beyond the resources she accessed during the first soldier’s issues, Pugh was able to get other members of her unit to assist in moving the second soldier’s personal belongings during the transition to her school.

“The actions of Staff Sergeant Pugh are keeping with Army values, the Noncommissioned Officer’s Creed and are a true reflection of the nature of the Tennessee National Guard,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Scott, the senior enlisted leader for Tennessee. “Not only are our soldiers and airmen assisting their nation, state and communities, but they are dedicated to their fellow team members as well.”

Support mechanisms worked seamlessly

Pugh, members of her unit and the Tennessee National Guard’s soldier and airman support mechanisms worked seamlessly to help those encountering difficult times in their lives, Scott noted.

“Our National Guard is a family, and when any of our own are in need of assistance, we come together to support each other,” he said. “It is with great pride that I was allowed to witness the functioning of our internal support network to assist one of our own. Staff Sergeant Pugh is a credit to her unit, as well as her fellow service members. She recognized a need and proactively sought out the necessary resources to take care of our Guard personnel.”

Written Oct. 16, 2014 By:
Niki Gentry
Tennessee National Guard

Republished and redistributed by permission of DoD.

Last modified on Monday, 20 October 2014 15:54
Monday, 20 October 2014 14:48

Soldier Pulls Grenade From Man’s Leg

Written by Walter Ham

Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink removed a grenade from a man's leg in an ambulance outside of the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 11, 2014. Courtesy photoBIRMINGHAM, Ala., – An explosive ordnance disposal soldier removed a grenade from a man's leg in an ambulance outside of the University of Alabama Hospital here Oct. 11.

PHOTO: Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink removed a grenade from a man's leg in an ambulance outside of the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 11, 2014. Courtesy photo 
 
Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink from the 789th EOD Company, based at Fort Benning, Georgia, received a call from the Birmingham Police Department bomb squad around 1 a.m.

The police sought Mensink's advice to determine what kind of explosive item was stuck in the man's leg.

"From the initial X-ray, it looked like a 40mm grenade," said Mensink, a 27-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran from Seale, Alabama.

Explosive was a military round

Once the police discovered that the explosive was a military round, Mensink and his EOD team were called to support a team of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on scene. The agencies involved included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI; Alabama State Bureau of Investigations; and the police departments of Birmingham and the Jasper, Alabama.

Escorted by Alabama state troopers from the Georgia-Alabama state line, the team left Fort Benning at 4:15 a.m. and arrived at the hospital two hours later. The man was isolated inside the ambulance behind barricades more than 30 feet from the hospital with two paramedics who volunteered to stay with him.

On his first trip into the ambulance, Mensink discovered that the grenade was lodged so deeply in the man's thigh that it exposed his femoral artery.

Mensink returned to the ambulance with a doctor who volunteered to make an incision in the man's leg, while a paramedic stood by with tourniquet in case the man's artery was damaged. Another paramedic monitored his vital signs.

Mensink then carefully removed the grenade from his leg. Paramedics rushed the man into the hospital. Officials said the man had no permanent damage.

Priming charge could have been fatal

The explosive turned out to be an M713 red-smoke grenade. According to Mensink, the priming charge on the smoke grenade could have been fatal if it had detonated.

The man told authorities that the grenade activated and fired into his thigh while he was dismantling it. He initially sought treatment at the Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper, and later was taken to the hospital in Birmingham, a Level 1 trauma center.

In addition to Mensink, the 789th EOD Company Team consisted of Army Sgt. Johnny Lowthorpe from Columbus, Georgia, and Army Spc. Brandon Fair from Daytona Beach, Florida. The team was accompanied by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyron Mathews from Royal, Florida, senior EOD officer.

The EOD team was part of the 789th EOD Company, 184th EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group, 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command.

The 20th CBRNE Command combats chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive hazards around the globe. Stationed on 19 posts in 16 states and headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 20th CBRNE is the Defense Department's only standing multifunctional formation focused on conducting defense support to civil law enforcement agency missions.

More than 2,000 explosive mitigation missions

During fiscal year 2014, 20th CBRNE Command EOD technicians completed more than 2,000 explosive mitigation missions across the nation.

Capt. Ryan M. Plemmons, commander of the 789th EOD Company, said the incident was the most unusual mission his company had accomplished during his time in command.

"It definitely shows why I have such confidence in my soldiers," said Plemmons, a Reno, Nevada native who served in Afghanistan. "Everybody worked together well to make sure that we completed the mission."

Mensink said he became an EOD technician "because of its challenging mission set."

"Explosive ordnance disposal technicians directly defeat our current enemy's weapon of choice," said Mensink, a 9-year U.S. Army veteran who previously served as an infantry soldier.

Out of the 180 EOD missions Mensink has been involved in, both at home and in Afghanistan, he said, none were as unusual as removing a grenade from man's thigh.

"It was definitely a first," he said.

Written Oct. 15, 2014 By:
Walter Ham
20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command

Republished and redistributed by permission of DoD.

 

Last modified on Monday, 20 October 2014 15:06

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Flores leads the rifle team from the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command during the Memorial Day commemoration at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, May 27, 2013. Volunteering to go the extra mile in his military career is something Flores credits to his background as a Hispanic-American and combat-arms soldier. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn MorrisJOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J., Oct. 14, 2014 – Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Flores locked his rifle’s bolt to the rear, placed the butt of the weapon firmly against his shoulder, took aim and fired over the bow of an aircraft carrier in New York Harbor.

PHOTO: Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Flores leads the rifle team from the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command during the Memorial Day commemoration at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, May 27, 2013. Volunteering to go the extra mile in his military career is something Flores credits to his background as a Hispanic-American and combat-arms soldier. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 
 
It was Memorial Day at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan, and Flores and his fellow honor guard soldiers were firing the first volley of blank rounds in a 21-gun salute to their fallen brethren.

Going the extra mile

This wasn’t the first time Flores -- a native of Nicaragua and a 16-year Army veteran -- participated in such a ceremony. Volunteering to go that extra mile is something he credits to his background as a Hispanic-American and as a combat-arms soldier.

“With a Spanish upbringing, especially if you’re coming from another country, you’ve got to be able to go above and beyond, such as learning the culture, learning the language,” said Flores, who came to the United States when he was 4 years old. “Once you do that, you also have to remember your roots.”

Each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The theme of this year’s observance is, “Hispanics: A Legacy of History, a Present of Action and a Future of Success.”

Striving to do better

“‘You must try to be better’ is drilled down in our culture,” Flores said, recounting a bit of his own history. “Growing up, they always tried to push you, push you, push you to try to be better.

“The biggest thing in Hispanic culture is family, and I do everything for my family,” he continued. “And with the military being a big part of my life, I consider the military a kind of family also.”

Flores serves as a finance noncommissioned officer with additional duties as the physical security and voting officer for the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command, headquartered here. He also works for the 99th RSC in his civilian career.

“Being in the military gives you a sense of place, especially if you had the proper mentorship when you first came in,” Flores said. “I was lucky enough to have key leadership when I first joined the military. I went straight to a combat unit, and the leadership developed me into who I am now.”

Military mentorship

That leadership “mentored me; they showed me how a good leader leads,”said Flores, a husband of 10 years to his wife, Ki, with whom he has two children, Raymond and Sofia.

Today, Flores continues to mentor and lead those with whom he serves, sharing the sense of duty instilled within him by both his cultural and military upbringing.

“If there’s a mission, and you’re an NCO, figure out how to do it,” he explained. “We have personnel who are always doing the mission, because it needs to be done.”

Written Oct. 14, 2014 By:
Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
99th Regional Support Command

Last modified on Monday, 20 October 2014 14:46

Air Force Senior Airman Edward Lomelin and Air Force Airman 1st Class Chris Lomelin play video games at the home they share in Bitburg, Germany, Sept. 27, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – A pair of brothers serving together with the 606th Air Control Squadron here is preparing to deploy together.

PHOTO: Air Force Senior Airman Edward Lomelin and Air Force Airman 1st Class Chris Lomelin play video games at the home they share in Bitburg, Germany, Sept. 27, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese 
 
Air Force Senior Airman Edward Lomelin and Air Force Airman 1st Class Chris Lomelin grew up in Austin, Texas, and struggled early in their childhood after their parents’ divorce. The children moved in with their mother, and Edward stepped in as the role model for his younger siblings. This new responsibility forced him to grow up quickly to help his family through their struggles, he said.

Years later, Edward enlisted in the Air Force, and he serves as a radio frequencies transmissions systems technician with the 606th ACS. His mother said she was honored he made the decision to serve his country, and that she knew he would excel in his career.

Chris said he began to consider following in Edward’s footsteps after hearing stories of deployments and descriptions of military life from his brother, who encouraged him to join.

Hoping to be stationed together

Being stationed at the same base as Edward seemed unlikely when he was in training, Chris said, but he never gave up hope.

“I heard stories about my brother being in Germany, and I have been there once before,” he said. “I was taking a big chance by having Spangdahlem as my only preference for a station.” The Air Force takes stated preferences into consideration when determining airmen's assignments, but offers no guarantees.

But as it turned out, Chris -- a power production technician -- not only was stationed here with Edward, but also serves in the same squadron.

“This is great!” said their mother, Maritza Lozano. “Big brother will get to take care of little brother, little brother gets to look up to big brother, and we get to visit both of them.”

The 606th ACS is a self-contained mobile combat unit with airmen serving in more than 21 specialties maintaining more than $170 million worth of equipment.

Edward and Chris are preparing for a deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This will be Edward’s fourth deployment and Chris’ first.

“Not only are we stationed at the same base, … we are deploying together,” Edward said. “This is slim to none that this ever happens to anybody, and it’s completely boggling my mind how this all came together.”

Written Oct. 9, 2014 By:
Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese
52nd Fighter Wing

Republished and redistributed by permission of DoD.

Article Redistributed by Support Our TroopsRedistributed by www.SupportOurTroops.org

Last modified on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 11:24

PalauNativeMarineIRAI, Palau– Bedtime stories can have an impact on children’s imaginations. For many young people, hearing tales of fictitious characters like “Peter Pan” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” can create the desire to experience Peter’s or Jack’s extraordinary adventures.

PHOTO: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Milton Donatus, second from right, instructs Palau national law enforcement officers on the operations of the M9A1 9 mm service pistol in Irai, Palau, Sept. 16, 2014. Donatus is a native of Ngaraard, Palau. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drew Tech  
 
For one boy from Ngaraard, Palau, bedtime stories were not about fighting pirates or giants. This boy was told stories of combat and the U.S. Marines at the Battle of Peleliu during World War II.

That boy was Milton Donatus, and the stories his grandmother told him as a child spawned a lifelong dream to become a U.S. Marine.

“Every time my grandmother would talk about war, the Marines came up,” said Donatus, the training chief with Combat Logistics Detachment 379, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Idolized Marines

“The Marines were always talked about as the saviors and the best [warriors] ever, so growing up, I didn’t know about any other military,” he added. “I only knew about the Marines, and that I wanted to be one.”

Shortly after graduating from high school in 1995, Donatus moved to Guam to pursue his dream, and in May 2000, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

His career has seen him rise to the rank of staff sergeant and has brought him aboard the USNS Sacagawea as part of exercise T-AKE 14-2, a maritime pre-positioned force, multinational theater security cooperation event that deploys from the Japanese island of Okinawa to conduct training exercises.

Teaching pistol marksmanship

Palau national law enforcement officers and Combat Logistics Detachment 379 Marines completed live-fire training with the M9A1 9 mm service pistol here Sept. 16. The training, led by Donatus, taught the Palauan law enforcement officers the fundamentals of combat marksmanship with the weapon, such as loading, clearing and firing procedures.

“The training went according to plan,” Donatus said. “The national police showed up eager to learn. They left with a good image of what the Marines stood for and a knowledge that they will carry on with them throughout their careers as police officers.”

For the law enforcement officers of Palau, the opportunity to train with the U.S. Marines and receive instruction from a native of their island nation was special, said Fave Ngiramengior of Koror, Palau.

Great opportunity

“It was a great opportunity to get to train with the U.S. Marines,” said Ngiramengior, a police officer with Palau’s patrol division. “The last time we were able to shoot was two years ago, so getting to learn from the Marines, and especially a local in the Marines, was very nice.”

Donatus’s positive effect on the Palauan police officers was evident, said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Barr from Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

“One thing I noticed during the training was how the police officers gravitated to him,” said Barr, the company gunnery sergeant for the detachment. “Whenever he was instructing them, they paid close attention and really took in what he said.”

Meaningful experience

The chance to come home and participate in this training was a very meaningful experience, Donatus said.

“It feels good, and it means a lot to me to come back in this situation,” he added. “I was not a wealthy kid growing up, so people kind of always looked at me thinking that I wouldn’t amount to anything. Being able to come back with a different life is just awesome, because it gives me a chance to show everyone who grew up where I did that there is hope.”

Written Oct. 6, 2014 By:

Marine Corps Cpl. Drew Tech
3rd Marine Expeditionary Force

Republished and redistributed by permission of DoD.

 

Last modified on Monday, 20 October 2014 12:00
Friday, 27 May 2011 10:51

Empire Challenge Promotes Intelligence Interoperability

Written by Donna Miles

 

Eye

WASHINGTON- A handheld device that would give new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to warfighters and an airframe equipped with plug and play sensors are among new technologies being tested during U.S. Joint Forces Command's Empire Challenge 2011 demonstration.

Last modified on Thursday, 20 June 2013 13:14
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