PHOTO: Friends braid the air of North Carolina National Guard Chaplain (Maj.) Melissa Culbreth ahead of a head shaving party in her honor. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mary JunellRALEIGH, N.C. – On Oct. 12, Army Chaplain (Maj.) Melissa Culbreth sat laughing and joking in a chair on the front porch of the farm where she works in Franklinton, North Carolina. The North Carolina National Guard chaplain’s signature red hair was styled into five braids. The porch was full of friends, family and fellow soldiers watching and waiting for the braids to be cut off and collected.
Army Sgt. 1st Class John Setera, who had deployed to Iraq with Culbreth in 2009, draped a black hairdresser's cape around her and grabbed the clippers. Chunks of Culbreth's hair fell down the front of the cape and onto the floor at her feet. "I wanted to take my hair on my own terms," Culbreth said, “instead of letting the chemo take it." This was the second party the chaplain has held to shave her head shortly after starting chemotherapy for breast cancer. The first was in March 2010, when she was less than two months home from a deployment to Iraq with the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team. "I'm not sure which is going to be harder -- not knowing what is going to happen over the next 18 weeks, or knowing what is going to happen over the next 18 weeks," she said.
PHOTO: Air Force 1st Lt. Casey Garner, left, before graduation from U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., Oct. 17, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan CallaghanFORT BENNING, Ga. – On average, more than 4,000 soldiers go through the U.S. Army Ranger School here each year. Just more than 300 Air Force airmen have completed the course since its inception in 1950. Of these 300 Ranger-qualified airmen, 1st Lt. Casey Garner is the first of his kind. Garner, an air liaison officer with the 7th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Bliss, Texas, became the first ALO to graduate from Ranger School, completing the rigorous 61-day course.
Wearing the Ranger tab on his shoulder will give Garner an unprecedented advantage among ALOs while working to supply air support to the Army units he will be attached to, he said.
PHOTO: Lance Cpl. Benjamin Ferry and his grandfather, Richard T. Ferry, have each served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines -- more than 60 years apart. U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration USS PELELIU – Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Benjamin J. Ferry joined the Corps because of his grandfather. “My grandpa always said I could go in any branch, and die in any branch, but if I joined the Army he would shoot me tomorrow,” said Ferry, a 23-year-old from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. “I always wanted to be a Marine, so that’s the way I chose to go.” Richard Ferry, Benjamin’s grandfather, is a Marine combat veteran who served with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in the Korean War, fighting in Inchon and at the Chosin Reservoir. “I encouraged [Ben] to join the reserves and stay in college so he would have a good shot for a commission,” said Richard. “Like me, he didn't pay any attention!” Benjamin, who was working toward a criminal justice degree after high school, temporarily set his books aside to enlist in 2013. “Infantry was the only option,” said Benjamin, an automatic rifleman currently deployed with Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “I wanted to be a trigger puller.”
A family’s service history His 83-year old grandfather, a Boston native, had different reasons for joining the Marines, but it would ultimately set a path for Benjamin to follow. In April 1949, Richard was spending time with a high school classmate who was the son of Boston Red Sox chief scout Neal Mahoney. Neal would often take his son, Neal Jr., and Richard on scouting trips during the summer break. One day at Fenway Park, Richard and Neal Jr. met Ted Williams, the famous Major League Baseball player who served as a Marine Corps pilot in World War II. Neal Jr. was a pitcher in high school at the time, and Williams challenged him to throw some pitches from the mound. “Neal took the mound and Ted belted a few balls out of the park and teased the hell out of Neal,” said Richard. “Afterwards, he asked what we were doing in town. Neal admitted that we had caught the ride with his father because we wanted to go to the Federal Building to join the Naval Reserve, [mainly] so we could get an ID card and alter the date of birth [so] we could drink.”
PHOTO: An airman takes a passenger’s temperature at a temporary holding facility at Ramstein Air Base. RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany– As service members travel to Africa in support of Operation United Assistance, Ramstein Air Base continues to establish itself as a power projection platform for Europe and Africa. Germany, Oct. 19, 2014, after the passenger returned from West Africa. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sara Keller Medical professionals from the 86th Medical Group recently implemented plans to ensure safety precautions are taken to protect the air crews, passengers and the 54,000 members of the Kaiserslautern Military Community from possible exposure to the Ebola virus.
Exposure assessments All personnel are screened before departing from Ebola-affected areas, and those categorized as “no known exposure” or “low risk of exposure” are allowed to board Air Force aircraft bound for Ramstein. “Transient aircrew members who are on the ground for only a few hours are actually below the lowest Center for Disease Control exposure category,” said Air Force Capt. Michael D’Amore, a flight surgeon assigned to the 86th Aerospace Medical Squadron. “Additionally, airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing that are located in the areas of the Ebola outbreak are kept within secure Department of Defense areas,” D’Amore said.