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Meet Your Military: Submarine Officer Serves in New Role

[caption id="attachment_3619" align="alignleft" width="250"]SubmarineOfficerServes Navy Lt. David M. Bartles reviews a report of operations being conducted in eastern Afghanistan at the joint operations command center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 30, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. B. Todd Willis[/caption] BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – In wartime, servicemembers often are required to master and perform duties outside their area of expertise.
Navy Lt. David M. Bartles, 29, spent his three previous years of duty on a nuclear submarine. Now, he’s the night-shift battle captain for the Combined Joint Task Force 82 information operations section.“It’s definitely a big change from what I am used to, but it’s pretty exciting,â€Â Bartles said. The information operations section works with other sections in the communications action group in a variety of duties, including generating content that appears on radio and television stations in eastern Afghanistan. Servicemembers who accept duties outside their area of expertise incur some unique challenges. “The most difficult thing thus far is the pace,â€Â Bartles said. “You have to learn your job and the organization very quickly. You’re expected to be effective from Day One, and failure here can have profound effects.â€Â His day-shift counterpart says Bartles has stepped up to the challenge effectively. “I am definitely surprised at how quickly Lieutenant Bartles made the transition from working on a nuclear submarine to this,â€Â said Army Lt. Christopher L. Hunt, day-shift information operations battle captain. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Military Institute and a master’s degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University, Bartles received two years of training in nuclear engineering in preparation for his duties on a submarine. During his six years serving in the Navy, Bartles has earned two Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Expeditionary Medals and five Overseas Service Awards. “The best thing about working on a submarine is the camaraderie,â€Â he said. “The crew is pretty small, and we have to depend on each other to get through the day. We build strong relationships by sharing the hardships of life underwater.â€Â Still, Bartles said, opportunities to get off the sub were welcome during deployments. “Port calls aren’t anything new to the Navy, but we ended up spending six weeks in Perth, Australia, one time,â€Â he said. “The city was awesome. It had friendly people and beautiful beaches and an exciting nightlife. Also, I won a poker tournament and took a tour of southwest Australia, hopping from one park to the next.â€Â Bartles grew up in Falling Water, W.Va. He has two sisters and a brother, who also serves in the Navy. “The hardest part of military service for me is being away from my family and friends,â€Â Bartles said. “I have been able to keep in touch using the Internet, and it will be nice to take the family out for dinner when I get home.â€Â Though his duty here has been a new experience, Bartles said, he’s learned a great deal from it. “I’ve gotten to work with people from other services and field areas,â€Â he explained. “This has given me a better perspective on our effort here in Afghanistan.â€Â Jan. 5, 2010: By Army Spc. B. Todd Willis Special to American Forces Press Service (Army Spc. B. Todd Willis serves in the Combined Joint Task Force 82 public affairs office.) ***SOT***

Meet Your Military: Soldier Returns to Panama Home

[caption id="attachment_3613" align="alignleft" width="250"]SoldierReturnsTo Army Sgt. Nicanor Garcia left his native Panama in 1989 before the invasion by the U.S. Army and didn’t return until 20 years later. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Travis Zielinski[/caption] CAMP TAJI, Iraq – After the U.S. Army invaded Panama in 1989 to oust the dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega, the country’s people went on to rebuild their lives.
Twenty years after Operation Just Cause, a soldier deployed here who left Panama before the war began to live in the United States had the chance to return to his native country as a U.S. soldier.Army Sgt. Nicanor Garcia, a crew chief with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, said the road back to Panama was worth the long wait.Garcia, 34, who now calls Kileen, Texas, home, said growing up in Panama was mostly pleasant, with little to worry about in his early years.“I was living in Panama City in a decent neighborhood,â€Â he said. “It wasn’t middle class, but it wasn’t lower class. It was something in between. Economically, it wasn’t so good, but I had the love of my mother and I had a lot of friends, so it wasn’t that bad.â€Â Garcia said things remained calm until Noriega’s regime began to take hold during the 1980s. “We had an elected president, [and] things were going well, but slowly it started deteriorating, and a dictatorship was established by General Noriega,â€Â Garcia said. “Suddenly, there would be no buses to take us to school, … so I couldn’t go to school because it was too far to walk.â€Â As the move toward war intensified, Garcia said Noriega began to resort to desperate measures to recruit for his army -- even trying to recruit boys as young as 11 -- and that his mother would have none of that. “I was 13 at that point,â€Â Garcia said, “so my mom said ‘No, you’re not going to be in Noriega’s army to defend him.’ She wanted to get me out of the country, so we went and applied for a visa, and thankfully I got approved.â€Â In April 1989 Garcia went to live with his grandmother in Brooklyn, N.Y., avoiding the war that would destroy his country. “God knows what could have happened if I’d stayed,â€Â he said. “Back then, there was so much confusion in the country during the hours of the invasion that anything could have happened. Shots fired could have gone through our window or doors, things like that. It could have gone bad. So I’m glad my mother got me out of the country.â€Â Joining the Army was an easy decision after 9/11, Garcia said. “I love New York City, and I used to see the towers every day. When they came down, I said to myself ‘I have to do something,’â€Â he said. “Another reason I joined is this country has given me so much. … In Panama, I would never be working on Apaches and I would never have the lifestyle the U.S. offered me.â€Â After joining the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, Garcia said, he dreamed of returning to Panama. “I had to delay going back to Panama in part because of my Army career,â€Â he explained. “Also, I wanted to take my mom, who eventually came to the states and became a citizen. I wanted to take my family with me so we could experience it together, because I hadn’t been back there for so long.â€Â Garcia took his mother, wife and 5-year-old daughter back to Panama while on leave from Iraq last year, and found himself reliving his childhood. “From the moment I landed, memories started coming back. … I remembered leaving that airport, and it looked pretty much the same. I saw the rest of my family that were there to greet me at the airport. A lot of them were older, of course, and I met brand new cousins that I had never seen before.â€Â Garcia said he visited his former neighborhood, and that although Panama City has become modernized, the people remain the same. “I went back to my old neighborhood where I grew up, and it had totally changed,â€Â Garcia said. “There were still a few buildings that were there from when I was young; a mechanic and car repair shop with the same owner.â€Â “I went in and said hello to the owner, and he actually remembered me,â€Â he continued. “It was funny and interesting, because the country has changed so much, but the people haven’t.â€Â The experience left Garcia realizing things have improved significantly in Panama. “It has changed for the better, definitely, because if it wasn’t for the invasion, there wouldn’t be democracy in Panama,â€Â Garcia said. “I liked the whole experience, because it brought me back to when I was a kid. But at the same time, [it] reminded me where I came from. “I wanted to stay, but I had to come back and complete the mission,â€Â Garcia said with a laugh. Jan. 4, 2010: By Army Sgt. Alun Thomas-Special to American Forces Press Service (Army Sgt. Alun Thomas serves with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade public affairs office.) ***SOT***

Big Strike for B/1-169th Aviation in Iraq

B169ChristmasDropDecember 23, 2009 - 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment in Iraq strikes it big with 70 Christmas Boxes from SupportOurTroops.Org!   One for every member.  They work hard for us and we want to show them how much all of us here at home care about them this Christmas Season.   May God Bless and keep you all safe!

Meet Your Military: Recruiter, 80, Still Brings in Soldiers

[caption id="attachment_3629" align="alignleft" width="128"]Recruiter80Still2 Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Ray Moran talks to a potential recruit from his office at Fort George G. Meade, Md. Moran, a civilian recruiter for the Army Reserve, stands in front of photos from the "battalion" that he has recruited over the decades. U.S. Army photo by Jonathan E. Agee[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3630" align="alignleft" width="230"]Recruiter80Still Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Ray Moran stands next to the sign that points to his office at Fort George G. Meade, Md., and uses the nickname he gives to himself and many others, "Old Soldier." U.S. Army photo by Jonathan E. Agee[/caption] FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – He turned 80 in November and is having difficulty getting around - not because of any physical impairments, but rather because during his 59 years of recruiting, retired Army Sgt. Maj. Raymond Moran seems to know everyone, everywhere.
"I hate to take him shopping with me," his wife, Barbara, said. "He says he will push the basket, but then I have to look for him all over the store, because he is talking to friends. And that does not just happen in the commissary. Every place we go, he has enlisted someone or someone from their family, and they recognize him and they get into conversations."An average trip to the store, Barbara said, is increased by 30 minutes when Moran accompanies her, but she also knows how much it means to him to promote the benefits of the Army and speak to soldiers who enlisted under his guidance. Over the years, many people have trusted the guidance of Moran. He has enlisted everyone he could, including friends and family, who he is quick to mention "all still love me." However, when asked how many people he has recruited, he says he simply doesn’t know. "I have lost track over time,” he said. “I would have to say over 1,000. It is just something I never kept a list of. I just call them the Old Soldier's Brigade." His friends and colleagues call him the Old Soldier, a moniker he earned in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago, and although his age may justify the title, his attitude is anything but old. Lt. Col. Gary Sheftick, who joined the Army Reserve with the help of Moran, agrees. "He has a lot of enthusiasm, and he is definitely passionate about the Army. … He cares about soldiers, people, the Army and America,” Sheftick said. “He has a deep passion that drives him. He seems to genuinely care about the young men and women he is helping become soldiers." Getting out and talking to people is one of the main tools of a recruiter, Moran said, but not the most important one. "The most important thing is establishing a reputation of being truthful," he said. "When people trust you, they will send friends and family to talk to you. Once people trust you, they will follow your recommendations for the Army." "Sergeant Major Moran is the kind of person that you would want to teach your kids," said Edwin MacDonald, director of operations sustainment for Camber Corp. "His character, ethics and morals are something that you only read about, but when you're with him, you know in minutes this is who they wrote the book after." So why after nearly 59 years does Moran continue to recruit? Moran said it simply never has crossed his mind to retire. "It's just not something I think about,” he said. “I enjoy what I am doing, and I enjoy who I work with. You will not find better people to work with. For me, it is a great sense of pride." Dec. 17, 2009: By Jonathan E. Agee: Special to American Forces Press Service (Jonathan E. Agee works for the Army’s 1st Recruiting Brigade.)


Meet Your Military: Legal Officer Uses Life-saving Training

[caption id="attachment_3647" align="alignleft" width="250"]LegalOfficerUses Air Force Capt. Maureen Wood, right, stands with fellow legal officer Air Force Capt. Jaime Espinosa prior to a mission in Iraq. U.S. Air Force photo[/caption] WASHINGTON – The increase of troops into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility also is increasing the nontraditional roles filled by airmen in combat, a product of the Air Force's "all in" philosophy.
Air Force Capt. Maureen Wood, a legal officer deployed with Multinational Force Iraq’s Joint Task Force 134, recently found herself in one of those situations that was anything but "traditional." She helped to save a life of a fellow servicemember using self-aid and buddy care after her convoy was attacked by an improvised explosive device.On Aug. 21, while on a convoy in Iraq, the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle Wood was riding in, along with several other Army and Air Force personnel, was struck by a roadside bomb designed to penetrate armor and release shrapnel in all directions.Her head was thrown back from the explosion, and smoke entered the vehicle. While doing a quick self-check, Wood said, she felt a large knot on her forehead and another on her left hand. She would later find out the "bumps" were shrapnel lodged in her skin."I found myself trying to figure out what had just happened, what was going on," she said. "I saw [Capt. Wendy Kosek] in front of me with a gash across her jaw line. Next to me was an Army major who was yelling that he couldn't feel his legs." Glancing over at the major, she said, she noticed his foot was turned up at the shin. Wood said she unbuckled herself and went to help. Her goal was to keep him from going into shock. The medic was there quickly, and a tourniquet was placed on his leg. Wood attributes her actions and calm demeanor on that day to the advanced contingency skills training she received at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix in Lakehurst, N.J. "Many people may find themselves saying or thinking this stuff won't apply to them, because they are going to be at a 'desk job' in some building somewhere," Wood said. "Every passenger in our MRAP that day was assigned to 'desk jobs.'" Her training at the expeditionary center prepared Wood to react instinctively in the aftermath of the attack, she said. "We learned by repetition," she explained. "Everything we were trained on was repeated until we reacted without thinking. We were also trained on the fog of war and reacting under pressure, which helped tremendously during the attack." The MRAP was disabled in the blast. The injured servicemembers needed to be loaded into the casualty evacuation vehicle. "We were grabbing the injured troops by parts of their uniform, the way we were shown in training,” Wood said, “lifting and moving them into the vehicle accordingly." Kosek, a fellow legal officer, was more severely injured in that attack, receiving shrapnel to her face, hand and leg. With the help of the other servicemembers, she and the Army major were lifted out of the disabled vehicle onto the ground and guarded from secondary attacks. As they continued the medical response, the Army major was loaded onto the floor of the casualty evacuation vehicle first. Kosek was next; to guard against further injury, she was moved and loaded using her belt. Wood said she noticed the major's leg was still bleeding. She was handed a bandage so she could attempt to dress his wound. Using knowledge from self-aid and buddy care, Wood said, she concluded that the color of the blood indicated it was not arterial bleeding. Bandaging the leg didn't stop the bleeding, so she decided to use pressure. Using the bandage, she pressed the major's leg against hers to stabilize and secure his injuries. "I wasn't nervous or scared," she said. "I was just reacting. It was a team effort that day. Everyone stayed calm. For the most part, it was like a well-oiled machine." Wood said her pre-deployment training was invaluable. "Pre-deployment training teaches you the concept of the fog of war and explains the necessity of having muscle memory, and having the ability to react as needed when circumstances arise that make it difficult to think clearly," she said. "So many people go to training thinking they don't really need the training because they don't think it applies to them." (Air Force Capt. Amber Balken serves in the Air Mobility Command public affairs office.) Dec. 10, 2009:  By: Air Force Capt. Amber Balken- American Forces Press Service ***SOT***

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