Former contemporary Christian singer-songwriter and Navy linguist Paden Smith sits in the center row as one of 15 graduates of the Uniformed Services University's Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., May 16, 2018. Photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Pagan
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Thompson, an electronic systems mechanic serving with the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing poses for a photo in Martinsburg, W.Va., May 3, 2018. A Vietnam veteran helped Thompson’s family and inspired him to join the military.
Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
MARTINSBURG, W. Va -- By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
Forty-three years ago, as the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong took over the South Vietnam capital city of Saigon, thousands of refugees fled their home country and the communist government.
Left to right: Marine Corps aviators Capt. Evan Slusser, Maj. John Stuart and Capt. Andrew Thornberg pose for a photo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in the Pacific Ocean, March 15, 2018. The trio are F-35B Lightning II pilots with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, embarked aboard the USS Wasp. All three Marines graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, also known as Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va.
photo by Cpl. Bernadette Wildes
PACIFIC OCEAN -- April 23, 2018 - by Cpl. Bernadette Wildes
Three Virginia Tech alumni are now serving as Marine Corps aviators.
Marine Corps Maj. John Stuart, Capt. Evan Slusser and Capt. Andrew Thornberg fly the F-35B Lightning II out of Iwakuni, Japan, with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.
Marine Corps Sgt. John Verhage III, a native of South Brunswick, N.J., is a surveillance sensor operator with Task Force Southwest in Afghanistan, March 12, 2018. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sean J. Berry
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, April 10, 2018 — by Sgt. Sean J. Berry
“I’d rather take lessons from the past than learn lessons the hard way,” said Marine Corps Sgt. John Verhage III, who hails from South Brunswick, New Jersey, and is a surveillance sensor operator with Task Force Southwest here.
“It’s better to use something like ground sensors now, rather than something happening and wishing we would have employed measures like this beforehand,” Verhage said.
Verhage leads the ground sensor operations in Helmand province, which helps employ remote sensors as general surveillance and early warning systems to aid the Afghan National Defense and security forces.
Supporting Afghan Forces
The constant management of the remote sensors systems helps Afghan forces maintain a high level of awareness during combat operations.
“We’re all working together here; we’re protecting ourselves and the [Afghan National Police] at the same time with these sensors,” said Verhage, who has logged numerous security patrols — both mounted and dismounted — to help boost the Afghan’s defense capabilities through sensor emplacement.
“If I do my job, the police feel safer, which in turn makes us all feel safer,” he said. “Every life matters out here, and I’m just doing my part.”
Providing Warning of Enemy Activity
The ability to detect enemy activity through remote surveillance is nothing new. The Marines’ sensor control and management platoons employed unmanned remote sensor systems since 1967 during the Vietnam War.