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Specialized Springfield Based National Guard Team Returns from Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 08:39

BLOOMINGTON, IL (05/01/2012)(readMedia)-- Approximately 20 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers who served in Afghanistan as part of an embedded training team have completed their mission and will return to Illinois this week. The homecoming ceremony for Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A8 will be May 2 at the Bloomington National Guard Armory, 1616 S. Main St. in Bloomington at 4:30 p.m.

Mobilized in June, the team trained at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and joined its Polish counterparts in Poland for training before deploying to Afghanistan.

BEST A8, who was part of Task Force White Eagle, was instrumental in preparing the southern half of Ghazni Province for the 82nd Airborne's arrival.

"The amount of time, coordination and physical labor put into this mission is impressive by itself, but the fact that the Army and Air Force engineers completed this mission is incredible," said 1st Lt. Ryan Bivins of Dixon with BEST A8.

The operation consisted of more than 500 Army, Navy and Air Force engineers, expanding five existing bases and building five new bases during the harsh winter months of Afghanistan.

"A logistics operation of this significance was only possible through cooperation of the Soldiers, Airmen, transporters and aviators, Department of Defense agencies and the Polish military contingent," said Maj. Rhonda Petersen of Lindenhurst with BEST A8. "Task Force White Eagle was able to realize this objective through coordination and execution with more than nine task forces within Regional Command East and 1st Cavalry Division. The proactive dynamic of all involved ensured a winning combination."

Attack helicopters were not something Task Force White Eagle had received too much of in the past until Capt. Tony Keel of Grayslake ensured Soldiers in Task Force White Eagle had support from the sky.

"Helicopter planning was extremely time consuming, but very rewarding and I really enjoyed my job," Keel said. "I especially enjoyed planning with Kiowa and Apache attack helicopter crews because all the ground units loved having that air power overhead supporting their missions and that motivated me to obtain as much air support as possible."The Illinois National Guard has co-deployed with every Polish rotation to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Col. Tom Purple of Rochester said leadership and experience were evident in the success of their team.

"It is a true honor to serve with outstanding warriors during a critical time in the campaign and be part of the success and history of our great Army," Purple said.

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Muscatine Marine on duty in Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Carlos Cruz   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 08:24

Lance Cpl. Noel Miranda, infantryman, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, patrols through Musa Qa’leh District, Afghanistan, April 23, 2012. Miranda, from Muscatine, Iowa, was part of a patrol to disrupt insurgent supply lines and gain intelligence from locals

 
Coast Guard takes steps to eliminate sexual assault PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by USCG Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 07:58

WASHINGTON — Major steps in the Coast Guard's effort to eliminate sexual assault in its workforce were taken Wednesday as leaders released a new Coast Guard sexual assault prevention and response program manual formalizing improvements to its sexual assault prevention and response program, as well as announcing the seniority of officers allowed to act on certain sexual assault cases is being raised.

"These actions are major steps toward achieving our goal of eliminating sexual assault within the Coast Guard by ensuring a culture of prevention through improved education and training, response capability, victim support and accountability," said Coast Guard acting commandant, Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara.

Major improvements in the program manual include greater protection for sexual assault victims, enhanced accountability for response by unit commanders, and more rigorous and defined reporting procedures for all reports of sexual assault. The SAPR program manual, which replaces a previous Coast Guard instruction, is the culmination of a multi-year effort to put in place a more effective SAPR program across the service.

The service also announced the handling of certain sexual assault cases will be made only by officers holding the rank of captain or higher who possess special court-martial convening authority, beginning June 28. This will ensure a senior level of review by the Coast Guard's most experienced officers from the outset of certain sexual assault cases as well as ensure that the full measure of response, victim support and criminal investigative resources are brought to bear. This action aligns the service with a directive issued April 20 by Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta directing the same for the handling of sexual assault cases within components of the Defense Department.

The June 28 implementation date adopted by all five military branches coincides with the effective date of section 541 of the National Defense Authorization Act 2012 that reforms Unified Code of Military Justice offenses relating to sexual misconduct.



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Ceremony to Honor Illinois National Guard's Fallen Servicemembers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 14:07

SPRINGFIELD, IL (04/30/2012)(readMedia)-- A wreath laying ceremony honoring the 34 Illinois National Guard servicemembers who died during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom is being held at the Illinois State Military Museum May 5.

WHO:

The Illinois National Guard and families of fallen servicemembers.

WHAT:

A wreath laying ceremony honoring the Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have been killed during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

The memorial ceremony is open to the public. Following the ceremony, there will be a private, day-long event for the families of the fallen heroes.

WHEN: Saturday May 05, 2012 at 08:15AM Central Time (US & Canada)

WHERE:Illinois State Military Museum
Camp Lincoln
1301 N. MacArthur Blvd
Springfield, Illinois 62702

NOTES:

A total of 33 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers and one Illinois Air National Guard Airman are among the 247 Illinois servicemembers killed since Sept. 11.

Of the 34 casualties, 18 Soldiers were killed during the historic deployment of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). The 33rd IBCT was mobilized from June 2008 to October 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

For more information contact the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Hometown service member from Rock Island,IL. is Happy to be in the infantry in Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. Marc Loi   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:54

Sgt. Marc Loi

Pvt. Austin Schwab, an infantryman with B Troop, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash., looks back for instructions while pulling security duty during a combat mission in Didar, southern Afghanistan, April 13. Of Rock Island, Ill., the 20-year-old is deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom since January.

COMBAT OUTPOST KOLK, Afghanistan – Pfc. Austin Schwab woke up cold. He’d spent the majority of the previous day marching through the thick marshes of southern Afghanistan. Later that night, when the platoon in which he serves took over a compound, Schwab spent the majority of the night sleeping on the ground, his rifle next to his side. The early-rising Afghanistan sun woke him. The soldier quickly threw on his protective gear and equipment, and in a matter of seconds, climbed on a ladder toward the compound’s roof to provide security over-watch. He is just 20.

While his friends are busying themselves in college with political and international theories about Afghanistan, the Rock Island, Ill., native is living it. While others see Operation Enduring Freedom through the tidbits of information on the evening news, Schwab sees it through his own two eyes.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the military,” said Schwab, who was in elementary school when the first bombs dropped on the insurgents in Afghanistan. “I wanted to join at 18, but I was working and didn’t join until I was 20.”

War is different through the eyes of a 20-year-old, and especially as an infantryman, Schwab is the prime example. While others wrestle with philosophical questions about the meanings of war and life, Schwab said he is just happy to be in the infantry. What’s more, his experiences, despite being harsher than experiences others have endured, made him more disciplined and allowed him to embrace, rather than push away, the experience of war.

“People ask me what it’s like being over here, and I tell them that there are just no words for it,” he said. “It’s a lot more intense than it is back home – being in the middle of a war zone is a lot different than being home in America.”

One of those differences, said Schwab, is the freedom and autonomy to do whatever he would like. When stationed at a tiny combat operating outpost without so much as indoor plumbing, hot showers become a luxury for soldiers.

“Hygiene – not being able to shower whenever you want, that’s one of the challenges,” he said. “And not being able to talk to my family whenever I want. You could go to the MWR and find out the Internet is down or something.”

Yet, the lack of Internet service and hot showers are the least of his worries. As an infantryman, Schwab is stationed in one of Afghanistan’s most “kinetic” areas – a term soldiers often use to describe the amount of physical threats they face. On any particular day, whether patrolling villages in combat vehicles or on foot, it is unusual for Schwab and the soldiers in his squad to not have contact with the insurgents, he said.

Like many other firsts, Schwab still remembers the first time his squad was shot at. They’d just left the outpost, headed west, when bullets came whizzing by, hitting the dirt around them.

“We just saw dust clouds and heard the cracking of the bullets,” he said, recalling the event. “It was our first and only contact that day, but I remember it.”

Then, there was the time he was involved in a firefight that lasted nearly two hours.

“It was pretty intense,” he said. “It was our first big firefight – I just went through my training, scanned my sector and when they told me to shoot, I took well-placed shots.”

In war, there is no time to think, and it’s no different for Schwab. In that firefight, for example, he fought back based only on instinct; it was only afterward when they were safely back in the protected confines of the tiny outpost did he start to think about the inherent danger of his actions, Schwab said.

“I just went through my training,” he said. “It was only after the firefight that I thought about it.

“My family, they’re scared for me,” he continued. “But they know I am doing what I love and they think it’s really good for me.”

The ability to do what he loves while still earning a living from it, said Schwab, is what fuels his affinity for the infantry.

“The money is nice, but I just enjoy doing this,” he said. “The infantry is one of the tougher jobs in the Army and when I joined, I told myself I wanted to push myself to the limits. I plan on going to the Rangers after I get back.”

Another added benefit to the infantry, is the camaraderie he has experienced, Schwab said.

“One of the things I’ve learned here is that everyone has their ups and downs,” he said. “But in the middle of a firefight, everyone’s got your back –it’s a different kind of brotherhood.

“I love being in the infantry,” he added. “It’s exactly what I thought it would be.”

 
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