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Meet Your Military: Fort Jackson Club Boss Puts Soldiers First

[caption id="attachment_3772" align="alignleft" width="300"]FortJacksonClub07262010 Carole Coveney, the new general manager of the NCO Club on Fort Jackson, S.C., serves lunch to Master Sgt. Bruce Kidd, senior enlisted adviser on the Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness for the Master Resilience Training program, at Magruder's Club & Pub July 20, 2010. Coveney was recently promoted to be the club’s general manager after serving as its assistant general manager for six years. U.S. Army photo by Kris Gonzalez, Fort Jackson Leader[/caption] FORT JACKSON, S.C. – Providing soldiers a home away from home has been Carole Coveney's mission for more than two decades.
And Coveney will continue to take care of soldiers in her new position as the general manager of Fort Jackson's NCO Club."Soldiers are defending our country, they're putting their necks out for us," said Coveney, who for 23 years has helped serve soldiers as part of Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command-sponsored services.Fort Jackson, a major Army basic training post, is home to thousands of soldiers and trainees. "So I want to make sure that while they are here training - or if this is their permanent duty station - that they enjoy themselves, that their families enjoy themselves, and we have nice activities for them that make them feel at home," Coveney said. Coveney said she plans to make changes to some of the catering menus for the many events that take place at the NCO club and Magruder's Club and Pub, an all-ranks annex to the NCO club, as well as drumming up more nightly entertainment for both clubs. Improving the clubs’ overall product quality and customer service are other missions that Coveney said she looks forward to achieving. "She is very customer service focused," said Rose Ann Turner, chief of Fort Jackson’s Family and MWR's business operations division. Turner said Coveney was selected for the club manager’s position because of her proven leadership skills and her vast experience in Army club management. Coveney's career in hospitality began in 1987, when, as a Florida State University student, she was recruited by Army MWR to become a club management intern. She headed to Germany, where she worked as the general manager for a community club at an installation in Nuremberg. Two years later, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management, she was asked if she would like to keep her position in Germany. She loved her job so much, she said, she decided to stay for awhile. Two years later, she was offered a job at Fort Jackson to become the assistant general manager of the Officers' Club. She accepted and worked in that position for only six months before she was promoted to general manager. During the next nine years, she remained at Fort Jackson, married a soldier and began a family of her own. In 2000, Coveney traveled back to Germany with her husband and daughter to their next duty station in Kaiserslautern. There, the new mom, with another baby on the way, continued her career as yet again a club general manager. In 2004, her husband received orders to Fort Drum, N.Y. Realizing that he was going to deploy to Iraq in the near future, Coveney decided to move back to Fort Jackson with her daughters. She has been the assistant general manager of the NCO Club ever since, until her promotion. Turner said she envisions many positive changes within the clubs as Coveney takes over, because the patrons will see what she sees - that Coveney "sets high standards and challenges her staff to do the same ... she is creative and willing to try new ideas." Coveney also "is positive, professional and a pleasure to work with," Turner said. July 26, 2010: By Kris Gonzalez- Fort Jackson Leader
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Meet Your Military: World War II Vet Gets Distinguished Flying Cross

[caption id="attachment_3778" align="alignleft" width="300"]WorldWarII07222010 Retired Air Force Col. Claude M. Schonberger, who piloted B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II, poses with Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes after being presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross on July 19, 2010. Schonberger’s award was held up by wartime paperwork snafus. Deptula is the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Pausic[/caption] WASHINGTON– A World War II veteran received long-delayed recognition for heroism he displayed 65 years ago in the skies above Nazi Germany during a July 19 award ceremony held in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.
Retired Air Force Col. Claude M. Schonberger received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic actions as a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot on Feb. 16, 1945.Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at U.S. Air Force Headquarters here, presented Schonberger’s award."I am in awe and ecstatic to be in the Hall of Heroes for this presentation," Schonberger said during the ceremony. "It is indeed a great privilege and honor to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for my actions in World War II.â€Â Schonberger said he is sharing his award with the members of his Liberator’s aircrew, whom he said, “flew with me on most of my missions; many who were fatally injured." Deptula praised Schonberger's heroic actions. "Courage -- there are those who attempt to define this small corner of the human soul with eloquent words," Deptula said. "And then, there are those who define it with their actions; who under great personal risk and danger, and not without fear, but rather in the resolute and firm sense of duty to service before self, act in spite of that fear in the almost certain consequences of the most selfless of ways that show us what courage really is. "We call those who show us this courage 'heroes,'" the general continued, "and I'm both honored and humbled to be in the presence of just such a hero today: Col. Claude Schonberger. For aviators, we recognize those heroes and their tenacity with the Distinguished Flying Cross.". Schonberger's award citation details events of the Feb. 16 mission: " ... Lieutenant Schonberger demonstrated extraordinary flying skills and courage against the Obertraubling Airdrome in Regensburg, Germany. During the final bomb run of this mission, his bomb-loaded B-24 aircraft was struck by enemy fire, resulting in an uncontrollable propeller of the number-four engine and a fire near the number-three engine. Despite this hazardous situation, Lieutenant Schonberger continued on the bomb run and released his bombs with considerable accuracy." A wartime paperwork snafu prevented Schonberger from receiving his award. Deptula acknowledged that the delay in presenting Schonberger's award was not a reflection on the actions justifying it. "Despite the fact that it's taken over 60 years for this day to arrive, time in no way diminishes the courageous actions of my fellow airman, Claude Schonberger," Deptula said. Schonberger thanked Deptula for bringing his award paperwork to the attention of the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records. Schonberger recalled that his draft number was about to be called up for military service in 1942. The Army Air Corps became the U.S. Army Air Forces in June 1941. The U.S. Air Force was established in September 1947. "I always wanted to get in the Air Corps," Schonberger said. He decided to head to Minneapolis to see if he could pass the requirements to become a pilot. He did, and began training at Lincoln Army Air Field, Neb. He and his crew sailed from Norfolk, Va., en route to Bari, Italy, on Sept. 4, 1944. He was assigned to the 759th Squadron, 459th Group, 13th Wing, 15th Air Force. Schonberger flew 21 missions before being shot down Feb. 28, 1945 on a bombing mission to a bridge in the northern Italian town of Bolzano. This happened 12 days after the mission where he earned the DFC. The only other crew member to survive the bomber's explosion along with Schonberger was his navigator, 2nd Lt. Bob Johnson of Bigfork, Mont. Schonberger spent the rest of the war at Stalag Luft XIII in Nuremberg, Germany. Schonberger continued to serve on active duty until 1951. He later joined the D.C. Air National Guard and retired in 1974 as a colonel. He worked as an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. July 22, 2010: By Air Force Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff- American Forces Press Service ***SOT***

Meet Your Military: Big Marine Unfazed by Enemy Bomb Blast

[caption id="attachment_3788" align="alignleft" width="309"]BigMarineUnfazed07212010 U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Matt Garst absorbed the direct blast of an improvised explosive device in Shorsurak, Afghanistan, June 23, 2010. Fortunately for Garst, the bomb’s explosives didn’t completely detonate. After spending a day to rest and attend to some aches and pains, Garst continued his mission. Courtesy photo[/caption] SOUTHERN SHORSURAK, Afghanistan– Marine Corps Cpl. Matt Garst continues to do his job here, thanks to an enemy-emplaced roadside bomb that malfunctioned.
Few people survive stepping on an improvised explosive device. Even fewer walk away the same day after directly absorbing the force of the blast, but on June 23, Garst did just that.A squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Garst was leading his troops that day on a patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Afghanistan, to establish a vehicle checkpoint in support of Operation New Dawn. The group was four miles from Lima Company’s newly established observation post when they approached an abandoned compound close to where they needed to set up their checkpoint. The compound would serve well as an operating base — a place for the squad to set up communications and rotate Marines in and out of. But first, it had to be secured. As they swept the area with a metal detector, the buried IED registered no metallic signature – it was too deep under the soil. Two men walked over it without it detonating. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 260 pounds with all his gear on, Garst is easily the largest man in his squad by 30 or 40 pounds — just enough extra weight to trigger the IED buried deep in hard-packed soil. Lance Cpl. Edgar Jones, a combat engineer with the squad, found a pressure plate inside the compound and hollered to Garst, asking what he should do with it. Garst turned around to answer and he stepped on the bomb. “I can just barely remember the boom,â€Â Garst recalled. “I remember the start of a loud noise and then I blacked out.â€Â Since Garst's encounter with the IED, his tale has spread through the rest of the battalion, and as often happens in combat units, the story mutates and becomes more and more extraordinary. What really happened even eludes Garst. When he came to, he was standing on his feet holding his weapon, turning to see the remnants of the blast and wondering why his squad had a look on their faces as if they’d seen a ghost. Marines in Lima Company think Garst is the luckiest guy in the battalion, and while that may seem a fair assessment, it actually was the enemy’s shoddy work that left Garst alive and relatively uninjured. The three-liters of homemade explosive had only partially detonated. Marines who witnessed the event from inside the compound caught glimpses of Garst’s feet flailing through the air just above the other side of the building’s eight-foot-high walls. The explosion knocked him at least fifteen feet away, where he landed on his limp head and shoulders before immediately standing back up. Not quite sure of what had just happened, Garst turned back toward the blast, now nothing but a column of dirt and smoke rising toward the sun. Garst said he’d immediately realized that he’d encountered an IED. “Then I thought, ‘Well I’m standing. That’s good,’â€Â he recalled. Garst then directed his troops to establish a security perimeter while letting them know that he was OK. Garst also radioed back to base, calling for an explosive ordnance disposal team and a quick-reaction force. “I called them and said, ‘Hey, I just got blown up. Get ready,’â€Â Garst recalled. “The guy thought I was joking at first. ‘You got blown up? You’re not calling me. Get out of here!’â€Â Once the area was cleared, Garst led his squad the four miles back to their observation post — just hours after he’d been buffeted by the IED blast. “I wasn’t going to let anybody else take my squad back after they’d been there for me,â€Â he said. “That’s my job.â€Â Garst awakened the next day with a pounding headache, he recalled, and felt as sore as he’d ever been in his life. “Just getting up from trying to sleep was painful,â€Â he said. But he saw no reason being sore should slow him down. After a day of rest, Garst was back out on patrol, showing his Marines and the enemy that just like his resolve, he is unbreakable. July 21, 2010: By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Mark Fayloga- Regimental Combat Team 7
 
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Meet Your Military: NCO Leads Guard Response Team

[caption id="attachment_3783" align="alignleft" width="300"]NCOleadGuard07202010 Army Sgt. Maj. Kevin E. Smith is the network operations sergeant as well as the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the National Guard’s Domestic All-Hazards Response Team-West. Smith is assigned to the 35th Infantry Division, Missouri Army Guard. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith, National Guard Bureau[/caption] FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – The Missouri Army National Guard’s Sgt. Maj. Kevin E. Smith is the network operations manager and noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the National Guard’s newest Domestic All-Hazards Response Team.
With 31 years of service, Smith knows a thing or two about the Guard’s disaster response capabilities. From deadly heat waves, floods and hurricanes – including Hurricane Katrina – Smith’s service with the 35th Infantry Division has mobilized him on state active duty many times to support his governor and governors of other states.“The division was actually the National Guard’s C2 [command and control] part of Hurricane Katrina [for Louisiana],â€Â Smith said. “We had a work cell at Bell Chasse [Naval Air Station].â€Â Smith and others from the 35th division deployed here last week to participate in an exercise that tests the DART, which can be requested by state governors who need resources to assist civilian responders during a major disaster. The 35th division’s DART-West is one of only two DARTs that encompass the Guard’s major disaster coordination for the nation. The Pennsylvania Guard’s 28th Infantry Division runs DART-East. DARTs provide disaster response assistance at a state governor’s request when the state’s internal assets are exhausted or unavailable, Smith explained. DARTs also can provide assets, he added, through hurricane matrices and emergency management assistance compact agreements. “We find those assets,â€Â he said, explaining that the DART establishes force packages that mobilize and deploy to a disaster area to meet the identified capability gaps. Those packages, Smith said, can provide Army and Air Guard capabilities, including command and control, special response teams, aviation, military police, engineer, transportation, medical, chemical and communications, among others. Army officials pointed out why infantry divisions are qualified to run DART in the service’s 2010 Posture Statement: “The DART concept utilizes the unique capabilities of a division headquarters for planning and coordinating the employment of units.â€Â Having deployed twice with the 35th division’s headquarters, Smith possesses the requisite qualities and experience needed for a DART. He deployed to Multinational Division North in Bosnia as an operations NCO for the communications office there. He also deployed to Camp Bondsteel, the main Army base in Kosovo, and served as a first sergeant for military intelligence. DART members also use their skills and experiences from their civilian occupations, said Smith, who employs his skill as a commercial telecommunications specialist in international circuits and lines. In his DART role, Smith gets communications systems up and working when the team’s coordination cell is activated. In the exercise, the DART simulated its activation for a series of domestic disaster scenarios, including a wildfire, flood, hurricane, earthquake and terrorism. If a DART is ever activated to establish real-world force packages, Smith said, then “something very bad has happenedâ€Â to the nation. “We hope we never have to use the DART,â€Â he said. “I hope my job is always easy … I never want to go to a big disaster.â€ÂJuly 20, 2010: By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith- National Guard Bureau ***SOT***
 

 

Meet Your Military: Brothers Serve Together in Afghanistan

[caption id="attachment_3801" align="alignleft" width="299"]BrothersServeTogether07162010 Air Force Master Sgt. Dempsey Walker, left, talks with his brother, Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Walker, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 4, 2010. The brothers meet about once a week to talk and relax together while they are deployed. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Healy[/caption] BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan– Two brothers from Atmore, Ala., who wear different uniforms have found themselves not only deployed to Afghanistan at the same time, but also assigned to the same location at this sprawling air base.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Dempsey Walker is a supply support activity platoon sergeant with Company A, Task Force Workhorse, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon. He has spent 24 years in the Army, and is serving on his fourth deployment.His brother, Air Force Master Sgt. Nicholas Walker, is a computer systems manager with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan. He has spent 17 years in the Air Force and is serving on his third deployment.“This is the first time we have been deployed to the same base,â€Â Dempsey said. “We were stationed in Korea at the same time and deployed to Iraq at the same time, but to different bases.â€Â Nicholas said his brother had been here for six months when he arrived. “It makes life here a lot easier,â€Â he said, “having a family member so close who can relate to what you are doing.â€Â Dempsey said he was anxious to join the military and chose the Army because it was able to let him join three months earlier than the other services. Nicholas, however, was not as anxious, and said he made his decision based on the experiences of his brothers. “We have an older brother that used to be in the Air Force,â€Â Nicholas explained. “After I talked to both my brothers, I decided the Air Force was right for me.â€Â Dempsey said he and Nicholas get together at least once a week to talk, go to church or just hang out. They usually eat at least one meal together whenever their schedules allow, he added. “It is nice to have a family member here to talk to -- someone who is in the same location and situation and who can understand and relate to the types of problems that can pop up from time to time,â€Â Dempsey said. “In times like these, it is good to have your brother by your side.â€Â July 16, 2010: By Army Sgt. Robert Healy- Task Force Falcon
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Meet Your Military: Physician Assistant Cares for Troops, Local Iraqis

[caption id="attachment_3795" align="alignleft" width="300"]PhysicianAssistantCares07152010 Army 1st Lt. Jessica Larson, a physician assistant with 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, treats an Iraqi child during a one-day, combined U.S.–Iraqi medical clinic in Kubaysah, Iraq, June 6, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Katie Summerhill[/caption] AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq– During a clinical rotation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, physician assistant student Jessica Larson made up her mind to join the Army.
At the Center for the Intrepid, Larson worked with severely wounded warriors, and from them she drew a singular inspiration.“They were still proud to be in the Army, and they were working really hard to rehabilitate themselves and to do the best they had with what they had,â€Â said Larson, now a physician assistant and a first lieutenant with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, deployed in Iraq since August 2009.“‘This is what life dealt me; this is what I am working with, and now it’s time for me to move on. There is no feeling sorry for yourself here.’ That was the attitude that all the soldiers had,â€Â Larson said. “It was really inspiring.â€Â At age 28, with years invested in a career designing airports for domestic and international markets, Larson, a Chicago native, decided she wanted more than a big paycheck and a corner office. “I asked myself, if I could start over and do anything at all, what would I do? And I realized that I’ve always wanted to be in medicine and never had the guts to try it,â€Â she said. Of all the career options, medicine was the one thing that resonated and stuck, Larson said. However, the Army was never part of the plan until she “met someone who knew someoneâ€Â during PA school clinical rotations. The Army intrigued her, but Larson wanted to be sure she could handle being around the worst of combat injuries before committing. She recalled being deeply impressed by the bravery and stoicism of the severely wounded soldiers, including amputees, she’d met. “That is when I made my decision to join the Army,â€Â Larson said. “If these guys could give up multiple limbs for their country, the least I could do was to give three years of my life.â€Â Not too long after that, the newly-minted PA found herself caring for the soldiers of an airborne logistics unit, the 307th Brigade Support Battalion, deployed in Iraq’s largest and historically most volatile province, al Anbar. “I found that in the military, I was catering to a completely different population than I thought I would be,â€Â said Larson, who initially wanted to practice international medicine in areas with little access to medical care, such as Africa’s Swaziland. “My guys – the guys I treat – are convoy security, and that’s not a very ‘sexy’ job and not often glorified. I really enjoy taking care of them,â€Â she said. “Even though it’s not humanitarian aid in Africa, I feel like it’s an incredibly worthy cause. I am very satisfied with it.â€Â As it turns out, through the advise-and-assist mission of professionalizing Iraqi security forces in Anbar, Larson also gets to care for people who might otherwise never receive medical attention. The U.S. paratroopers, she said, have sponsored temporary medical clinics for the poorer, more rural towns and villages up and down the western Euphrates River Valley in partnership with the Iraqi army, police and local doctors. Often, hundreds of ailing Iraqis, she noted, receive medical treatment at the clinics each day. Larson said some of her soldier-comrades are puzzled as to why she left her corner office and high-paying job for the Army. “I don’t miss my former lifestyle at all,â€Â she emphasized. “I was miserable, and I’m not miserable now.â€Â She tells her younger medics that knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you want to do. Don’t do things just for the money and don’t choose things because they are easy, she counsels them. When Larson joined the Army, she recalled, her mother was shocked, and cried. “My mom was like, ‘What are you doing? You are going to deploy. You could get hurt,’â€Â Larson said. “But now my mother is the most ridiculously proud woman on the planet.â€Â The daily challenge of medicine, Larson said, is what keeps her enthused in her job. And, she added, unlike some other occupations, there always is more to learn in medicine. “It’s worth it to me,â€Â Larson said. “It’s an honor serving these guys who are fighting for us and out there doing the grunge work.â€Â July 15, 2010: By Army Sgt. Michael MacLeod- 1st Brigade, 82d Airborne Division Public Affairs Office
 
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