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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgts. Craig and Minnie Nordman Husband, Wife Serve in Balad

By Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Jan. 20, 2006 - Air Force families find ways to stay connected when separated -- phone calls, emails, and internet chats stretching over 10 time zones are commonplace. But nothing beats seeing a spouse face-to-face. Deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, Staff Sgt. Millie Nordman knows how it feels to be separated from her husband. She and her husband have endured deployment separation twice. But today, rather than speaking into a phone receiver to talk to her husband, she just meets him for a game of putt-putt golf. [caption id="attachment_3173" align="alignleft" width="304"]iraq_12.20.06_husband_wife_serve_in_balad U.S. Air Force Staff Sgts. Craig and Millie Nordman enjoy a game of cards during their off-duty time at the recreation tent at Balad Air Base, Iraq. The sergeants have been married for four and a half years and are deployed with the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron for Air and Space Expeditionary Force 7/8. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore[/caption] Staff Sgt. Craig Nordman is also deployed to Balad Air Base. Both airmen are wrapping up a four-month deployment with the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron. He is deployed as a heavy equipment operator and she is here an engineer journeyman. The joint deployment came as a surprise to the couple who have been married for four and a half years. They are stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., with the 355th Civil Engineer Squadron.Staff Sgt. Craig Nordman is also deployed to Balad Air Base. Both airmen are wrapping up a four-month deployment with the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron. He is deployed as a heavy equipment operator and she is here an engineer journeyman. "I never thought we would deploy to the same base together," she said. "I was told it would never happen. When I found out I was going to Balad in June, I told my supervisor my husband was already going there. They said it was OK and I would be going as well." "I liked the idea; I thought it was cool," said Craig. "I was interested in seeing what she does while she is deployed." Millie arrived here a few weeks before her husband. "Getting here first, I was able to tell him what the squadron and base were like," she said. "I told him what to bring and what not to bring." Being deployed together has its ups and downs, according to the Nordmans. "It is better being deployed together for many reasons," she said. "I don't worry as much here. When he deployed the first time, he was not able to call me often; I would hear things on the news and not really know what was going on. This time, I know where he is during alarm reds and if he is safe." Although the couple is assigned to the same unit, they work in different duty sections, so they don't see one another at work much. But, they make a point to spend their off-duty time together. "We have only worked on one project together here," he said. "However, we have the same day off and we are always together after work." "We just hang out and talk about how our days went," she said. "We spend time hanging out in the recreation tent playing cards, video games and putt-putt golf." U.S. Air Force Staff Sgts. Craig and Millie Nordman enjoy a game of cards during their off-duty time at the recreation tent at Balad Air Base, Iraq. The sergeants have been married for four and a half years and are deployed with the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron for Air and Space Expeditionary Force 7/8. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jamie Dana Handler Adopts K-9 Partner

By Tech. Sgt. Matt Gilreath 21st Space Wing Public Affairs PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Jan. 18, 2006 - A 21st Security Forces Squadron airman is the first military working dog handler allowed to adopt her K-9 partner from active duty. Tech. Sgt. Jamie Dana, a military working dog handler, has been waiting since August for the official word after she requested to adopt her K-9, Rex. The two were injured in an improvised explosive attack on their Humvee June 25 in Iraq. [caption id="attachment_3166" align="alignleft" width="304"]peterson_air_base_jamie_dana_adopts_k-9_partner U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jamie Dana sits with her military working dog, Rex during a Dec. 1interview with NBC news. Dana is the first military working dog handler to adopt her working dog from active-duty service thanks to a new defense appropriations bill. She is a military working dog handler with the 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. U.S. Air Force photo U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jamie Dana[/caption] President George W. Bush signed the Defense Appropriations Bill Dec. 30 allowing military working dogs to retire early and be adopted by their handlers following traumatic events. The sergeant received a certificate signed by Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne approving the adoption from squadron commander Maj. Paul Cairney.President George W. Bush signed the Defense Appropriations Bill Dec. 30 allowing military working dogs to retire early and be adopted by their handlers following traumatic events. Dana is still recuperating from her wounds. "The past couple weeks have been hard to deal with," she said. "So I tried to keep myself as busy as possible so I didn't have to think about it. Normally keeping myself busy meant being in a lot of pain in the evenings because I have a habit of pushing myself too hard." Dana said she really didn't know how to feel after she heard the news because of the different opinions people have about her request to adopt Rex. "I had mixed emotions when I found out the bill had passed. I was so happy - on one hand - that Rex and I could stay together. But on the other hand I've heard very hurtful things from several people," she said. There are several Web sites that have posted both positive and negative feedback concerning her adoption of Rex. But the Air Force has backed her 100 percent. "They were injured together and they should heal together," said Brig. Gen. Robert Holmes, the Air Force director of Security Forces and Force Protection. Dana had support from Congress and the Senate. "They told me they wouldn't support my request if they thought letting me adopt Rex would cost one soldier their life," Dana said. "I wouldn't want to put anyone at risk either." Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley said the adoption was a positive event. "This has been a team effort between both houses of Congress and I'm just glad to see that there's a happy ending," he said. The president's signature was one of many needed to complete the retirement and adoption process. Dana's signature was one of the last on the document to complete the adoption. "The certificate arrived today and now that the ceremony is over I feel both extremely happy and very relieved," Dana said. Dana  said she plans to separate from the Air Force. "Rex will accompany me wherever I may end up (in veterinary school somewhere)," she added. "And hopefully we will be able to do some search and rescue work after I am strong enough to handle it."

U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Petty Officer Christopher Shannon Submariner Helps Protect Soldiers

From Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, Jan. 26, 2006 - Thanks to some help from a Hawaii-based submariner, soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division will be a little safer in Iraq. Christopher Shannon, command master chief for Submarine Squadron 7, presented about 100 shipboard flash hoods that he collected to Chief Petty Officer Eric Tyler of Naval Security Group Activity Kunia Jan. 20 for use by the soldiers in Iraq. Shannon is spearheading an effort to send extra Navy flash hoods to soldiers in Iraq. The hoods, which are designed to protect the neck and face from burns while fighting fires aboard Navy ships, have been shown to protect against burns during attacks by improvised explosive devices. Some Army units in Iraq are seeking the hoods to protect their soldiers. Shannon heard about the need for Navy flash hoods from Tyler, whose brother is stationed in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, 3rd Brigade. Shannon pulsed the waterfront requesting extra sets. There were about 100 sets gathered from the USS Cheyenne, USS Louisville, USS Pasadena and USS Tucson. Since the hoods were extras, their absence will not take away from the ships' ability to protect their crews. Shannon's ultimate goal is that everyone involved in the convoy be protected with such gear. "The process was easy, and we are going to stay in touch with these people (101st Airborne Division) and hopefully at a later date provide what we can," said Shannon. The flash hoods should arrive in Iraq within days. Capt. Barry Bruner, commodore of Submarine Squadron 7, lauded Shannon for his efforts in helping to protect soldiers in Iraq. "(Master Chief) Shannon is the kind of guy who would do anything for those that are on the pointy end of the spear," he said.

U.S. Marine Corps Shannon and Nicole LaVine Sisters Carry on Family Tradition

 By Sgt. Ryan E. Ohare Marine Forces Pacific CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, Jan. 25, 2006 - The United States Marine Corps is a service rich in tradition and customs. For centuries, sons and daughters have followed in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents by earning the title of U.S. Marine. For the LaVine family, this tradition now stretches four generations. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lauren LaVine, the Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band officer, swore in his two daughters Jan. 23 at the military entrance processing station aboard Naval Station, Pearl Harbor. [caption id="attachment_2986" align="alignleft" width="308"]camp_hm.sisters_carry_on_family_tradition U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lauren LaVine signs the enlistment contract for his two daughters, Nicole and Shannon, after they were sworn into the Marine Corps Jan 23, at Naval Station, Pearl Harbor. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ryan E. Ohare[/caption] His daughters, Shannon and Nicole, held their heads high as they repeated the oath their father proudly recited to them; the same oath that not only their father, but their grandfather and great grandfather had spoken before them. "My first reaction when they told me they were joining the Corps was a complete surprise," said LaVine, "I was thrilled to hear they chose the Marines."His daughters, Shannon and Nicole, held their heads high as they repeated the oath their father proudly recited to them; the same oath that not only their father, but their grandfather and great grandfather had spoken before them. According to LaVine, their family has had a Marine continually in service since 1942, and after he retires next year, his daughters will carry on the torch of tradition. Nicole, his youngest daughter, looks forward to Parris Island and the change in lifestyle that awaits her. "I think this is going to be a great stepping stone for me," said Nicole. "The Marine Corps is the most challenging and elite of the services, and that is what I'm looking for." When asked how it felt to be sworn into the Marines by their father, Nicole responded, "Awesome." "It's really an honor for me to be sworn in by my father," stated Nicole, a native of Overland Park, Kan. "When we first told him that we signed up, he thought we were playing a prank on him. Once he knew we weren't joking, he was very proud of our choice." LaVine said he didn't push military service on his daughters while they were growing up. "We had talked about it from time to time," said LaVine. "Mainly the values you receive in the military and what it's like to give back to your country. I had no idea that it was something that they were interested in." Although they joined together, they chose different career fields they felt suited their individual personalities. Nicole will become a combat photographer, while her older sister Shannon will attend school as an aviation technician. "I really wanted to be crash, fire, rescue," said Shannon, "But they said I was too short, so an aviation technician was my second choice." When asked how they were looking forward to Boot camp, Shannon responded. "I'm eager to get started, so that I can get it over with. I know it's going to be hard, but once I'm done, I'm looking forward to saying that I did it." Since Nicole and Shannon are shipping out the same night, they will also be in the same platoon at Parris Island. "I think it will make me feel stronger knowing that I have my sister with me," replied Nicole. "I think that no matter who you are, tough situations tend to bind people together, so I'm glad she'll be there along side me."      

U.S. Army Sgt. Karenna Lecher Soldier rejoins unit after surviving suicide bomb blast

By U.S. Army Spc. Lee Elder 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment BAQUABAH, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2006 - After being wounded in a suicide bomb blast, a U.S. soldier said there was never any question if she would rejoin her fellow soldiers, just when. Sgt. Kareena Lechner, assigned military police duties with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, was among six soldiers injured Aug. 23 when an Iraqi with a fake I.D. entered the dining facility at the Provincial Joint Communication Center in Baquabah and blew himself up. Besides taking his own life and destroying the facility, two other U.S. personnel were killed.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="101"]iraq_12.23.06.sgt.karenna_lechner.jpg U.S. Army Sgt. Kareena Lechner, of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, insisted that she return to her unit after being wounded in a suicide attack. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Lee Elder[/caption]
"I remember a bright light and the noise," Lechner recalled. "I pretty well remember all of it very vividly."The blast destroyed both of Lechner's eardrums, left her with cuts and bruises and shrapnel wounds in both legs. She was evacuated to nearby Forward Operating Base Warhorse and later to Logistical Support Area Anaconda.
Lechner was hospitalized for two weeks. When time came for her release, she was told she was being transferred. "I told them I wanted to come back here," Lechner said. "I insisted on it. I talked to my battalion commander and they let me come back here." While Lechner has recovered physically and bears no visible scars from the incident, she is reminded of it daily. She has to walk past the demolished site where the facility once stood to get to work. Now, all that remains is the outline of a building on the ground and a few piles of rubble. "It was hard at first," Lechner said. "I just do not want to let things like that bother me." "She fought through her injuries and came back," said Staff Sgt. Charles Warner, the unit's operations sergeant. "She's earned a lot of respect around here. She's a good NCO and has a lot of heart." "Lechner is special to all of us," said Sgt. 1st Class Roberto Chavez, the center's noncommissioned officer in charge, "She asked her superiors to send her back here. That says a lot for her character."
 

Future Airman Loses 160 Pounds, Gains Confidence

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Lindsey Special to American Forces Press Service RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, Jan. 2, 2009 For the past 15 months, Leo Knight-Inglesby has pushed himself beyond the limits he and his loved ones ever thought possible. [caption id="attachment_3004" align="alignleft" width="250"]airman081210-f-0317l-001 Leo Knight-Inglesby, left, reviews his Air Force enlistment contract with his recruiter, Air Force Staff Sgt. Ty Lopez, in the Rockville, Md., recruiting office. The 22-year-old lost more than 160 pounds to join the Air Force. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ty Lopez.[/caption] The 22-year-old Silver Spring, Md., native shed more than 160 pounds to meet the physical standard of Air Force enlistment, amazing his recruiter, family and friends. "No one believed I would do it till I showed them the [enlistment] papers," Knight-Inglesby said. "My life has completely changed. Not only am I stronger, physically, I am mentally stronger and more confident."The 22-year-old Silver Spring, Md., native shed more than 160 pounds to meet the physical standard of Air Force enlistment, amazing his recruiter, family and friends. Today, the former 351-pound college freshman noshes only on healthy food, limits his daily caloric intake and exercises at least five days a week. Although he maintains the same smile, he looks like a different person at about 190 pounds, his recruiter, Air Force Staff Sgt. Ty Lopez, said. "He's well on his way to making his goal of 185 pounds before heading to basic military training," Lopez said.
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