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Army Sgt. Jeremy Hazard rides his dirt bike during the 7th Annual Alaska Supercross Challenge at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska, Aug. 23, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Sept. 15, 2014 – Crowds cheering, dirt and rocks flying as tires spin and sharp, high-speed turns can make a huge impact on a 7 year old.

PHOTO: Army Sgt. Jeremy Hazard rides his dirt bike during the 7th Annual Alaska Supercross Challenge at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska, Aug. 23, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera 
 
For Army Sgt. Jeremy Hazard, an 84th Engineer Support Company (Airborne) wheeled vehicle mechanic, it ignited a passion that nothing else ever did. Thirteen years after witnessing dirt bike racing for the first time, he finally got his chance.

“I watched my first supercross during the Alaska State Fair in 2012,” Hazard said, “so I decided to join the Anchorage Racing Lions.”

Seeing the off-road terrain and aerial jumps, Hazard said, he wanted to experience what the bikers were experiencing.

Desire to experience motocross

But a few obstacles prevented Hazard from taking to the track in 2012. His commitment to the military and preparing for an upcoming deployment halted his dream to try out in the motocross race. “I wanted to participate in the summer series when I first heard about it, but was always in training,” he said. “I was deployed from February to October of last year.”

But in the back of his mind, Hazard said, he was on the lookout for the next opportunity to join the summer series. After six months of waiting, he finally was able to join the club this year. Hazard started in the "big bike novice" class, and out of the 25 participants, he ended up taking first place in the overall category in the summer series.

High intensity competition

“The high intensity and adrenaline are some of the factors why I wanted to join,” Hazard said. “It’s fun to show your competitive side.”

His family is supportive of his extreme hobby and only asks him to be careful, he said. “My wife supports me and all the crazy things I attempt to do, while my family thinks it’s pretty neat that I am doing this,” he added. Hazard’s wife and 2-year-old son watched him compete in the 3rd Annual Amateur and Youth Supercross Challenge during this year’s Alaska State Fair.

Preparing for a race

Hazard said that before a race starts, he analyzes the track. “I try to get a mental feel of how I will do at the race,” the Jonesboro, Georgia, native said. “At the start of the race, I try to visualize getting in front.”

Initially, starting at fourth place allowed some of the faster riders to get in front of Hazard and caused him to flip on the first lap. “The bike has a lot of power, so you have to work your clutch and brakes, and have good throttle control so you don’t fall,” he said.

With seven of eight laps to go, Hazard tried to recover. Focusing on his strong areas and taking one competitor at a time, he finished in 10th place.

Encourages others to try motocross

Despite his finish, Hazard said he had a good time and that he advises others who are interested in joining the sport to try it out.

“Even if you do not have a bike, just go out and watch people ride their bikes,” the eight-year Army veteran said. “Talk to other riders and ask about their experiences.”

Although he is relocating to his next duty station early next year, Hazard said, he hopes to come back to participate in the summer series and state fair in the future.

Written Sept. 15, 2014 By:
Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson

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Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00

Army Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia helped stabilize an injured man’s neck after he witnessed a fiery car crash Dec. 16, 2013, on Interstate 5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington. Garcia, an infantryman, attributes his quick reaction during the accident to this combat training. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin A. NaylorJOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Sept. 12, 2014 – The memory of the fiery accident that occurred near here on Interstate 5 last December is still fresh for Army Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia. His actions that day -- disregarding his own well-being as he rushed into the crash zone to help rescue the injured -- are hard to forget.

PHOTO: Army Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia helped stabilize an injured man’s neck after he witnessed a fiery car crash Dec. 16, 2013, on Interstate 5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington. Garcia, an infantryman, attributes his quick reaction during the accident to this combat training. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor 
 
For his heroic conduct, Garcia was honored Sept. 10 at the American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast held in Tacoma, along with other community heroes.

Garcia was driving home from a 24-hour shift on Dec. 16, 2013, when he saw a truck towing a trailer heading northbound suddenly cross the center meridian and hit a box truck, both of which burst into flames.

Without thought, Garcia pulled his car over and rushed into the flaming crash where he started to help the injured. Before long, he found himself in the back seat of a truck stabilizing the neck of a man suffering from a concussion. He stayed in the truck with the injured man until the fire department arrived and removed the roof of the vehicle.

Now, almost a year later and in the midst of a busy training schedule, Garcia, who hails from New York City, was surprised to learn that he was receiving an award for his actions.

“Actually, I never even thought about it,” said Garcia, an infantryman assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team here.

“Once I got contacted the first time it was a shock,” Garcia said. “I didn’t know people even saw the crash. It means the world to think that someone out there put me in for this award.”

For those who honored Garcia and the other community heroes during the breakfast, the awards were a chance to give back.

“When Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia came upon an accident situation, he knew what to do and he didn’t hesitate to act,” said Barbara Hostetler, the director of regional clinical services for UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, formerly known as the TRICARE West Region. “Even though he had just finished a 24-hour shift, he went above and beyond to save the lives of those people involved in this accident.”

Although Garcia is grateful for the award, he is modest about his actions during the accident, especially after meeting the other heroes who were recognized.

“By far, I think that what I did was nowhere near what they did,” said Garcia, whose three deployments have given him opportunities to practice lifesaving skills. “I train and do this for a living. They are just everyday people putting their lives at risk. Those guys deserve it way more than I do.”

Garcia also maintains that anyone would have done what he did if they saw the accident.

“It’s just one of those things -- I still believe that everyone has it in them to do the right thing,” he said. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
 
Written Sept. 12, 2014 By:
Army Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor
3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division

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

Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:36

Soldier Encourages Healthy Eating

Written by Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Kimball

Army Spc. Katarus Moore picks ripe tomatoes from the Warrior Center greenhouse at Smith Barracks, Baumholder, Germany, Sept. 4, 2014. Moore started an organic fruit and vegetable cooking course that focuses on cooking healthy with limited space and utilities. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian KimballArmy Spc. Katarus Moore, center right, teaches an organic cooking course at Smith Barracks Baumholder, Germany, Sept. 4, 2014. Moore started an organic fruit and vegetable cooking course that focuses on cooking healthy meals with limited space and utilities. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Kimball BAUMHOLDER, Germany – When it comes to healthy food, not everyone enjoys eating it, but we know it is good for us.

PHOTO: Army Spc. Katarus Moore picks ripe tomatoes from the Warrior Center greenhouse at Smith Barracks, Baumholder, Germany, Sept. 4, 2014. Moore started an organic fruit and vegetable cooking course that focuses on cooking healthy with limited space and utilities. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Kimball 
 
And as many military dorm and barracks residents know, it can be difficult to eat healthy, maintain fitness standards and still fulfill day-to-day military obligations.

Limited kitchen space, minimal access to fresh foods and a lack of cooking knowledge are just a few of the setbacks that most first-term dorm residents face.

Army Spc. Katarus Moore, a petroleum specialist here, knows what it is like to face this issue and has developed a way to teach others how to “cook fresh with less.”

Moore grew up in Dallas, learning his culinary arts from his great-grandmother and attending cooking classes in high school. He has spent his entire Army career living in the barracks, perfecting his cooking methods with minimal kitchen space and limited items.

This summer, Moore and other members of the Baumholder Warrior Zone have harvested a fully organic garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables for military members to use in a cooking class he teaches that focuses on cooking enjoyable, healthy meals with limited kitchen utilities.

“I have been wanting to help teach dorm residents healthy eating habits, as well as how to cook with their small dorm kitchen spaces,” he said. “Also, people kept coming to me with cooking questions, and our garden had just ripened with fully organic fruits and vegetables, so I thought, ‘Now it’s my chance to teach.’”

Written Sept. 11, 2014 By:
Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Kimball
DoD News Specials and Features, Defense Media Activity

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Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 11:29

Soldier Rescues Woman From Alligator-infested Pond

Written by Walter Ham

Army Pfc. Nathan Currie, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 756th Explosive Ordnance Detachment, recently helped save a woman's life after her car went into an alligator- and snake-infested pond on Fort Stewart, Ga. Courtesy photoFORT STEWART, Ga. – A U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal technician recently rescued a woman from alligator-infested waters here.

PHOTO: Army Pfc. Nathan Currie, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 756th Explosive Ordnance Detachment, recently helped save a woman's life after her car went into an alligator- and snake-infested pond on Fort Stewart, Ga. Courtesy photo 
 
Army Pfc. Nathan Currie from the 756th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company was fishing on the south dock of Fort Stewart's Holbrook Pond when he heard a splash from a sedan driving into the pond.

The soldier dropped his fishing rod and sprang into action. Currie drove his car around the pond to where the submerged sedan was flipped over with only the driver's side tires visible above the murky water.

Dives into the pond

Currie, who hails from Oklahoma City, dove into the water to see if someone was in the car. He felt a body in the back seat and came back up for air. He then swam back into the car and pulled the woman from the vehicle.

The woman had been under the water about five minutes and was turning blue. Currie revived her with cardiopulmonary resuscitation and stayed with her until paramedics arrived on the scene.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Wylie Hutchison, the senior enlisted leader for the Fort Stewart-based 188th Infantry Brigade, joined Currie at the scene and took part in the rescue. While Currie was performing CPR on the woman, Hutchison jumped in the pond and checked the vehicle three more times to ensure no one else was inside.

Alligators and snakes

"My Army training helped by preparing me to respond quickly and take action with courage and confidence under adverse conditions," Currie said.

An avid fisherman from Norman, Oklahoma, the 28-year-old Currie was on his first fishing trip to the large pond on Fort Stewart, which is home to alligators and snakes.

Currie is assigned to the Fort Stewart-based 756th EOD Company from the 63rd EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group, 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives). With its members serving on 19 installations in 16 states, the 20th CBRNE, with headquarters at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the U.S. Army's only formation that combats chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.

A two-year veteran, Currie volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army's life-saving explosive ordnance disposal profession.

"I wanted to be an EOD tech because the job was challenging and very rewarding," Currie said.

Brave soldier

According to the 20th CBRNE Command’s Command Sgt. Maj. Harold E. Dunn IV, Currie's actions were not surprising for an Army EOD soldier trained to go into harm's way and dismantle explosive devices.

"Pfc. Currie is a direct representation of each and every trooper in the 20th CBRNE Command," said Dunn, a native of Roanoke, Virginia.

"He is part of a team that lives each moment of every day in service to others, a team of soldiers that continually prepare themselves through tough realistic training and then they execute with little or no thought regarding their own safety," Dunn added. "They drive themselves each day just a little further knowing they will, not could, be called to the front to clear the path for others to travel.”

Currie’s actions, "although extraordinary for most, are not surprising," Dunn said.

"We are all very proud of how he stepped forward when called -- without hesitation," he added.

Written Sept. 10, 2014 By: Walter Ham, 20th CBRNE Command

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Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 11:23

Mother, Daughter Strengthen Bond in Kuwait

Written by SOT Staff

Army Spc. Lydia Boll, left, and Army Capt. Andrea Boll receive Army Commendation Medals for their service with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Sept. 5, 2014. The mother and daughter pair deployed together and work in the U.S. military hospital. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Isra PananonCAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Many have heard U.S. soldiers calling their comrades family, only a relatively small number of soldiers have served overseas with a member of their immediate family.

PHOTO: Army Spc. Lydia Boll, left, and Army Capt. Andrea Boll receive Army Commendation Medals for their service with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Sept. 5, 2014. The mother and daughter pair deployed together and work in the U.S. military hospital. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Isra Pananon 
 
In November 2013, Army Capt. Andrea Boll and Army Spc. Lydia Boll of the 452nd Combat Support Hospital were mobilized to prepare for their deployment to Kuwait.

Mother-and-daughter duo

This mother-and-daughter duo has served in the same Army Reserve medical unit since April 2010, when Andrea joined the military. Andrea said she never would expect her children to do something she would not do, so she joined the Army Nurse Corps as a medical surgical nurse to give back to her country.

“She followed me into the military, and I followed her into the medical field,” Lydia said. Lydia joined the military in 2009, after being inspired by her grandfather, who served in the Army as a saxophonist in the Army Band.

Back home, Lydia resides in Wisconsin with her mother and father and Lydia’s four younger siblings. The experience of being deployed with her daughter has forced her two youngest children to grow up fast, Andrea said. Her husband, Jim Boll, has embraced this experience with open arms, and is bonding with their other kids at home, she added. The Bolls’ middle child, Emerson, also is in the Army, and will be in Afghanistan when Andrea and Lydia return home.

When they first heard of the mission to Kuwait, all three wanted to deploy together and get Emerson on the roster as a combat medic. But it was not to be, and Emerson is serving in Afghanistan on a forward surgical team.

Health care careers

In civilian life, Andrea and Lydia work at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Andrea in the cardiac intensive care unit as a critical care nurse and Lydia as a care partner in the surgical/medical ICU.

Working together at home was good preparation for their current deployment, they said. Although many soldiers could not imagine having their parent or child overseas with them, the Bolls said they cannot imagine not having each other here. Andrea is a registered nurse in the ICU/intensive care ward here, and Lydia works in the medical regulating office.

Special bond

The bond that soldiers experience while deployed together is something unexplainable, but for the Bolls, it is special. They share the experience by exercising, shopping and sitting and enjoying coffee together.

As with any deployment, their experience has had its ups and downs. Andrea’s sister died in April, and although it was nice to have Lydia here to mourn with, it was difficult for Lydia to stay overseas while her mom traveled home for the funeral service. On the other hand, Lydia was excited to have her mother here to tell in person when she became engaged during the deployment.

The Bolls will return to Wisconsin soon, when their tour here ends.


Written Sept. 9, 2014 By:
Army 1st Lt. Isra Pananon and Army Staff Sgt. Laura Treangen
3rd Medical Command Deployment Support

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Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
Friday, 05 September 2014 11:15

Soldier Makes History in Graduate Program

Written by Christine Creenan-Jones

Army Sgt. Julie Bytnar is the first enlisted service member to be accepted into a graduate education program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. DoD photo by Thomas Balfour  BETHESDA, Md. – Five years ago, Army Sgt. Julie Bytnar was leading a very different life. She was a homemaker living in the Chicago suburbs while her husband, Bill, earned most of the family’s income.

PHOTO: Army Sgt. Julie Bytnar is the first enlisted service member to be accepted into a graduate education program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. DoD photo by Thomas Balfour 
 
Then, without warning, Bill became very ill after a rare blood-clotting disorder ravaged his body. Over time, his condition deteriorated, and he could no longer work. Their bills began piling up, with no reprieve in sight.

Desperate to keep hope alive, Bytnar enlisted in the military so she could take care of her husband and young children.

“Although I was eligible for a commission based on my education and work experience, the lead time would have been much longer, and I needed a career right away,” she said. “So I enlisted in 2009 at 38 years old and have been learning about the Army from the bottom up ever since.”

Swift indoctrination

Although her uniformed career has been short, Bytnar’s military indoctrination was the swift, no-holds-barred kind. After proving herself at garrison duty assignments as a lead health care specialist, Julie deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.

“It was an intense experience,” she said. “I provided a lot of hands-on care to wounded service members and local Afghans, treating everything from minor to life threatening injuries.”

Bytnar said her experience in Afghanistan also changed her career focus. Instead of simply providing care, she said, she began thinking about the bigger picture and wondering how she could prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Her curiosity eventually led her to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here, where she broke ground as the first enlisted service member to be accepted into a graduate-level program.

“Even though I was hopeful, I was still very surprised when I got my acceptance letter from USU,” she said. “Now I’m working toward a Master of Public Health [degree]. I already have a few classes under my belt. They were challenging, but I feel confident I’ll survive the program. I want to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do this.”

Looking to the future

Although she is still uncertain about her future after graduation, she said, she has a science background and a fondness for research that’s pulling her toward a specialization in epidemiology.

It’s a difficult track in a rigorous program on a campus full of military officers. Still, her determination is tenacious.

“The past few years have been tough, but I’m more confident now than ever before,” Bytnar said. “I made it through basic training with a bunch of soldiers in their late teens and early 20s. I’ve gone on dismounted patrols in a war zone and treated some pretty grievous injuries. Now I’m at USU. I feel like there isn’t a whole lot I can’t do.”

Written Sept. 5, 2014: By Christine Creenan-Jones
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

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Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00

Air Force Airman 1st Class Nana Sefa is deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Following this deployment, Sefa, a native of Ghana, will see his wife after two years apart. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Being away from family is nothing new to Air Force Airman 1st Class Nana Sefa.

PHOTO: Air Force Airman 1st Class Nana Sefa is deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Following this deployment, Sefa, a native of Ghana, will see his wife after two years apart. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez 
 
The 455th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management analysis craftsman deployed here for six months from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, said he understands that being away from family is difficult, as he has experienced separation his entire life.

Sefa grew up in Ghana. When he was 4 years old, his father left to go to America. After his father was gone, Sefa said, he constantly moved around Ghana, taking turns living with his mother and his grandparents and at boarding schools.

“It was tough not having my mom around sometimes, especially when I was a kid,” he said. “I remember wanting to leave with her when I lived with my grandparents. I would not want to fall asleep, afraid that she would leave when I did. The next day when I woke up, I would always ask my grandparents for her.”

Although it was difficult moving around, Sefa said, he learned to overcome being away from his mother, sister and father. At 19, after graduating from boarding school, he learned that his father was hoping Sefa and his sister would come to live with him in California.

Back with family

“After boarding school, I was finally able to be home with my mom,” Sefa said. “We were having the opportunity to get to know each other more. Then, after graduation, my father filed for my sister and me to move with him to the U.S. I was excited, because I hadn’t seen him for a while, but at the same time, I was sad because I was leaving my mom and girlfriend.”

In 2010, Sefa and his sister made the journey to be with their father. Immediately after arriving, he started working to pay for his college education. He learned to play American football and quickly adapted to a new way of life. After a few months in his new home, Sefa said, he had saved enough money to return to Ghana to visit his mother and girlfriend.

During his short stay in Ghana, Sefa and his girlfriend, who would later become his wife, made the decision to attempt a long-distance relationship. Sefa wouldn’t see his girlfriend until two years later.

“We kept in touch, either on Facebook or phone calls,” said Sefa. “We had a lot of trust in our relationship, and because [of] what I had gone through with my mom, I understood how to deal with being apart.”

Citizenship through service

Eventually, Sefa said, he decided to join the Air Force to help the process of becoming a U.S. citizen and because he’d always been interested in the military, having been part of the cadet program in his boarding school. After signing the enlistment paperwork, he said, he again made the journey to Ghana to tell his future wife of his plans.

“When I visited home in 2012, my family was very excited to see me after two years of being away,” Sefa said. “I knew I was joining the Air Force and that I would be able to take care of my girlfriend, so I went ahead and asked her to marry me. I proposed and married her during my visit.”

Sefa returned to America for Air Force basic training and technical school, and his wife remained in Ghana. Not long after he arrived at Holloman, his first duty station, he was tasked for deployment.

“A few months after I arrived to Holloman, I was able to finally get my citizenship,” Sefa said. “Then, shortly after, I was told I was going to deploy. While I was deployed, my wife finally was able to get her green card and travel to New Mexico this past July.”

Seeing his wife only twice over the last four years was a long struggle, the airman acknowledged, but he said trust and understanding made his relationship strong. “Sometimes it was hard being away from my wife,” he said, “but she was very understanding. All she needed from me was reassurance that I was thinking about her.”

Service before self

Though being away from his wife is difficult, Sefa declined the opportunity to curtail his deployment to finish his mission and time in Afghanistan.

“Airman Sefa exemplifies our core value of service before self,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Brown, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief. “Despite the potential to return home early, he expressed his desire to stay and finish the mission. Sefa also demonstrated our core value of excellence in all we do.” On his own accord, the chief said, Sefa has taken on a role and responsibility normally reserved for a noncommissioned officer.

“He has proven his work ethic and warrior ethos,” Brown added.

Joining the military almost guarantees periods of separation from family. But Sefa noted that his service is the best thing he has done to help unite his newly formed family, because it allowed him to become a citizen and to bring his wife to America.

As he approaches the end of his deployment, Sefa said, he will finally have a place to call home.

“When I get back, we will celebrate our two-year anniversary,” he said. “We might have a wedding, since we didn’t have a big celebration. I am also trying to get my mom to move out here, and then our family will all be together.”

Written Sept. 4, 2014 By:
Air Force Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

Republished and redistributed by permission of DoD.
Article Redistributed by Support Our TroopsRedistributed by www.SupportOurTroops.org

Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
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