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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.

Airman Designs White House Christmas Tree Ornament

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Luke Johnson Special to American Forces Press Service BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. , Dec. 24, 2008 A reservist with the 940th Air Refueling Wing here was selected by California's 2nd district congressman and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander to design an ornament for the White House Christmas tree. The theme for this year's White House Christmas celebration is "Red, White and Blue Christmas," and the ornaments featured on the tree were decorated by artists around the country to represent the unique patriotic spirit of each artist's state. [caption id="attachment_3129" align="alignleft" width="250"]fod_ltroopdesigned_whitehouse_orniment_01_16_09 The ornament for the White House Christmas tree designed by Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Bisland, an Air Force reservist at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., showcases the emerging intelligence missions performed there. Bisland was asked by California's second district congressman and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander to design an ornament for the White House tree. (Courtesy photo)"Back in September, I was contacted by Brig. Gen. Robert Otto and his staff and asked to paint the White House ornament," Bisland said. "They asked me to depict the emerging intelligence missions we perform at Beale Air Force Base."Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Bisland designed the "Team Beale" ornament for the White House Christmas tree. At the request of first lady Laura Bush, Bisland was present for the unveiling of the tree.[/caption] Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Bisland designed the "Team Beale" ornament for the White House Christmas tree. At the request of first lady Laura Bush, Bisland was present for the unveiling of the tree. "Back in September, I was contacted by Brig. Gen. Robert Otto and his staff and asked to paint the White House ornament," Bisland said. "They asked me to depict the emerging intelligence missions we perform at Beale Air Force Base." On one side of the ornament is the curvature of the Earth, space and the moon, with an RQ-4 Global Hawk flying on the edge of the atmosphere and a satellite in the distance. On the other side of the ornament is a U-2 "Dragon Lady" flying through lightning with the Sutter Buttes in the background. The ornament also features the Team Beale logo surrounded by new and old Air Force insignia. The chief also managed to include a personal touch to the ornament. "In dedication to my late father, Richard Bisland, a Grumman aerospace lunar module engineer, I airbrushed a very small gold lunar module launching from the moon," Bisland said. The experience and the opportunity to represent Beale and the Air Force at the unveiling of the White House Christmas tree was overwhelming, Bislund said. "What makes this tree so special is that every inch of the 20-foot Fraser fir [from North Carolina] is decorated with red, white and blue decorations and the ornaments painted for Mrs. Bush and our congressmen," he said. "Standing in its presence, you get a real sense of the honor to be a chosen artist for your state. This was quite an experience, and I was proud to represent the 9th RW, the Air Force Reserve, the 940th ARW and all of the airmen of Beale." (Air Force Tech. Sgt. Luke Johnson serves in the 940th Air Refueling Wing public affairs office.) ***SOT***

Guard Soldier Uses Civilian Skills in Iraq

By Army Staff Sgt. Jason Kendrick Special to American Forces Press Service BAGHDAD, Dec. 23, 2008 Deployed National Guard soldiers often find themselves doing a job outside of their military occupational specialty. Army Capt. Jaime Hernandez, who serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 36th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is one such soldier. Hernandez, an armor officer, spent his first deployment -- to Taqqadum, Iraq, in 2005 with the 2nd Battalion, 112th Armored Regiment -- serving primarily as an infantry officer. "We did patrolling, route clearance, quick-reaction force and entry control point missions," he said. [caption id="attachment_3132" align="alignleft" width="250"]fod_guard_uses_civi_skills_01_16_09 Army Capt. Jaime Hernandez takes a picture of a Baghdad project Dec. 17, 2008, to track its progress. Hernandez, an armor officer, serves as a project engineer for a general contracting firm in his civilian job. While deployed, he uses many of his civilian skills to be successful in his brigade's engineer section. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Kendrick"He was hand-picked by me because of his construction experience," explained Army Maj. Robert Crockem, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team's engineer officer.During his current deployment, Hernandez works in the brigade engineer cell. His civilian education and experience were deciding factors for his selection to serve in the section.[/caption] During his current deployment, Hernandez works in the brigade engineer cell. His civilian education and experience were deciding factors for his selection to serve in the section. "He was hand-picked by me because of his construction experience," explained Army Maj. Robert Crockem, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team's engineer officer. Hernandez is a 2002 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in construction science. The Fort Worth, Texas, native now works as a project engineer with a contractor on commercial projects. Prior to his deployment, he worked as a civilian project engineer on the Tarrant County Convention Center parking garage. His civilian skills have helped him be successful during this deployment, he said, adding that he has used those skills to put together various project proposals. But although there are many skill sets that are the same in his job back home and his mission here in Iraq, Hernandez said, there are some large differences as well. "Back home, I work for a general contractor, so we basically build off of the plans and specifications," he explained. "Here, we are developing the plan, designing the structure, providing the scope of work and quality control for the military, but I use a lot of the same skills." His brigade commander noted that National Guard soldiers often bring valuable experience gained outside the military when they deploy. "When you drop a National Guard soldier on the ground, you're getting more bang for your buck because of the civilian soft skills that they bring," Army Col. Lee Henry, commander of the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said. (Army Staff Sgt. Jason Kendrick serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 36th Infantry Division's 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.) Article Redistributed by Support Our Troops Distributed by www.SupportOurTroops.org

Wounded Warrior Ready to Return to Fight

By Emily Athens Special to American Forces Press Service SCHWEINFURT, Germany, Dec. 22, 2008 Danger lurks on every stretch of road in Iraq with the prospect of roadside bombs, which have taken a terrible toll on those serving downrange. Army Spc. Jake Altman knows very well the destruction they can cause. After serving two years in the Army, Altman deployed in 2006 with 9th Engineer Battalion, 172nd Infantry Brigade, stationed just north of Baghdad at Camp Taji. "Altman was hard-working. He was self-assured and got along with everyone," Army Spc. Jason Ogarro said. Army Sgt. Corey Blatchford, a friend of Altman's since they were stationed together in Bamberg, Germany, added that Altman was an eager worker in Iraq and pushed himself as far as a soldier should. [caption id="attachment_3041" align="alignleft" width="148"]fod_lwonded_warrior_returns_01_16_09 Army Spc. Jake Altman, wounded during his first deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007, is preparing to re-join his unit in Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Emily Athens[/caption] But five months into the deployment, on the morning of May 14, 2007, Altman's life changed. "I remember him coming in, and he actually said to me 'I don't feel well today.' He actually felt like something wasn't right," Blatchford said. Altman left on a route-clearance mission that morning, operating a Husky, a single-occupant vehicle equipped to detect mines and improvised explosive devices.But five months into the deployment, on the morning of May 14, 2007, Altman's life changed. "I was the lead vehicle scouting for IEDs and letting the guys behind me know what's up ahead," he recalled. "About three hours into it, I came across one. I saw it for about a split second. I called it, and then all of a sudden, it blew up," Altman said, trailing off. A piercing bang, the harsh smell of explosives, and an overwhelming cloud of dust proved the unfortunate success of yet another insurgent attack. Altman suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his legs and the loss of his right arm at the elbow. Immediately after the explosion, Altman tried desperately to smash his M-16 rifle through the glass window so he could get out of the vehicle, but he was unsuccessful because of space limitations and injuries. "I was awake through the entire ordeal. I was completely conscious. There was a lot of pain and a lot of anger," he said. Although in tremendous pain and agony, Altman could not help but think what only heroes perceive during this type of emergency. "I was actually glad it was me. If I would have missed it, it would've hit a truck full of guys. That explosion would have killed everybody in the truck," he said. Despite any initial frustrations, Altman has come to terms with his wounds and has vowed to "keep pushing through it." After a year and a half of recovery and physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Altman returned to the 9th Engineer Battalion here, continuing his service and eager to take on future challenges. He has decided to deploy once again, and will readily leave Schweinfurt in January, fulfilling his desire to "stay in the fight." "Personally, I want to do this for myself," he said. "I'm not proving it to anybody else that I can do this. I'm doing it just for me." Remaining in the military was not an easy undertaking for Altman, Ogarro explained. After several attempts, Altman finally spoke to the right people and was allowed to continue his service. "I've had to fight to stay in the military, because this is what I want to do," he said. "I don't really feel impaired. I can always find a way around it," he said, noting his quick adjustment to his injuries. Altman's prosthetic hand limits him to grabbing things, closing, and rotating his new hand. The ability to twist his prosthetic hand completely around is a talent that he finds useful when he wants to "mess with people," he explained with a smile, demonstrating that although he lost a hand, he did not lose his spirit. "He's had a good sense of humor before and after. That's something he definitely didn't lose," Ogarro said, remembering a specific incident. "I asked him to give me a hand, and I knew I set myself up. He popped it off and gave it to me," Ogarro said, laughing. Altman's experiences and continued determination have become a motivation for other soldiers. "It shows the other soldiers that even if you have something happen, you still can come down and fight hard and still defend your country," Blatchford said. "It's courageous. €¦ If he can do it without an arm, why can't I do it with two arms?" Without regrets or resentment, Altman said, he looks forward to the years of service ahead. "I am a little nervous, but I want this." Altman said about going back to Iraq. "The military really is for me." (Emily Athens works in the U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt public affairs office.) Article Redistributed by Support Our Troops Distributed by www.SupportOurTroops.org  
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