Meet Your Military
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FORT BENNING, Georgia: On the afternoon of July 11, Army Rangers Spc. Luke Smith, Sgt. Khali Pegues, and Sgt. Brian Miller were cleaning up after hosting a barbecue with members of the 75th Ranger Regiment at a community pool area here when they heard cries for help.
A child about 6 years old had fallen into the pool and drowned. "We heard a woman scream and some commotion from another party," Pegues, Smith’s supervisor, said. "I grabbed Smith to head over there, because I knew he had extensive training in CPR and [lifesaving] techniques." Smith, a native of North East, Maryland, was a Boy Scout before he enlisted in the Army in 2011. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout as well as earning the Life-Saving Merit Badge and had extensive training in performing CPR.
Operating on Instinct "We got over there and then I went into a tunnel vision," Smith said. "As soon as I saw the child, I immediately asked everyone around if anyone was a current lifeguard or medical provider. No one responded." Smith and Miller assessed that the child was unconscious and had no pulse. In addition, the child’s abdomen was swollen and her lips were blue, Smith said. The soldiers immediately started CPR. As Smith began chest compressions, he called for the child’s father to begin rescue breathing. He instructed the father to do half-breaths, so the child’s lungs would not overexpand. After the second cycle of CPR, Smith said he began to fear the worst. "As I was giving her chest compressions, I was staring her in the face and praying," said Smith. "Please God, let me save this little girl."
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BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Air Force Senior Airman Carl Vanlandingham, 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, always knew he wanted to be a carpenter and welder.He said he was only 12 when he built his first project. He noticed he had a talent for working with his hands, he said, so he proceeded to experiment and build things throughout his young life. Ultimately, he decided to follow a three-generation family tradition and join the Air Force. As a civil engineer airman, he said he knew he would be able to deploy and make a difference doing what he loved.
Dream Job "I made the decision at a young age that this is what I wanted to do," Vanlandingham said. "From building a dog house to now building projects for the Air Force, I’m living my dream." Since being deployed here, Vanlandingham has worked on numerous projects, including building platforms for air conditioning units and a stand for the air traffic control tower. "We get many work orders to build things around the base," he said. "I always jump at the chance to build something new. It’s always exciting to see what the next project is going to be." During free time and days off, many airmen prefer to catch up on sleep or relax. Vanlandingham said he prefers to use his free time go to work and build things from scratch. "When I have down time, I really enjoy going to my shop and working on projects. It’s really relaxing to just build stuff with my hands," he said. "That’s what I like to do."
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BREMERTON, Washington: Some coins are simply worth more than money. Their face value is measured not in monetary worth, but with professional significance, personal sentiment and, at times, even historical relevance.
For Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carmelo Ayala, chief of the Naval Hospital Bremerton internal medicine department, the best example he can readily share is to reach into a uniform pocket and proudly display the commemorative coin of the 25th chief of naval operations, Navy Adm. Jeremy Michael Boorda. To Ayala, the coin’s worth lies in the fact that Boorda was the first sailor to rise up through the enlisted and officer ranks to become the Navy’s top officer. Ayala also started out as an enlisted sailor and has found his niche in the Navy Nurse Corps in his 28 years of naval service. “I just love getting and also giving coins. I have received a few over the years from mentors, hospital corpsmen, [independent duty corpsmen], Navy Nurse Corps officers and others,” the Camden, New Jersey, native said. “I am a firm believer that a coin is just a great way to say, ‘Thank you’ to someone for going that extra mile to help out.”
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LARAMIE, Wyoming: Some join the military out of a lifelong call to serve their country. Others join out of a long family tradition of service. Some are drawn by the chance to make a better life or see the world. For Maggie Walstrom, the decision came abruptly.
"I'd been talking to a friend in high school who had just gotten back from basic combat training," said Walstrom, a private in the Army Reserve's 353rd Transportation Company and an ROTC cadet at the Minnesota State University at Mankato. "At that time, I didn't know what I was going to do with my life. So, I was in the gym one day at school and said to myself, 'I'm joining the Reserve when I turn 17.'" Walstrom, a Buffalo, Minnesota, native, recalled telling her parents about the decision. "I told my mom, and she thought I was nuts," she said. "My whole family thought I was crazy."
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JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, July 14, 2015 – Underneath his quiet and cool demeanor, Army 1st Lt. Marcus Farris is ready to be unleashed on race days. A disciplined athlete, he has trained for many hours to represent and compete as a member of the All-Army Triathlon team.
Farris, a quality assurance representative in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District’s construction division, said he realized his passion for running in high school in Huntsville, Alabama. As a cadet in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, he did lots of running to prepare for physical training tests. It wasn't long before he was attending Auburn University and, in his free time, participating in ultramarathons –- distances longer than the standard 26.2 miles. Now, Farris said, his lifestyle consists of athletics and racing individually and for groups such as the All-Army Triathlon team and U.S. Military All-Endurance Sports team. “There are some days that feel like workouts and some that feel like I am playing outside,” Farris, 25, described. “It is good to see that your training pays off now and again.”