Military & Veterans News
Georgia native goes above and beyond for man’s best friend PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Carlos Cruz   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:15
Georgia native goes above and beyond for man’s best friend

Lance Cpl. Jeffery Rodriguez, a dog handler with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, stands with his dog, Dharma, next to the kennel he built for her, April 26, 2012. The kennel, made from extra Hesko wall and cargo netting, provides Dharma relief from the harsh Afghanistan wind and heat.

TREK NAWA, Afghanistan – Many children beg their parents for a dog. The floppy ears and wagging tail seems to attract children to man’s best friend. But many parents know that caring for a dog means a lot of responsibility, training and effort.

Dog handlers in the Marine Corps not only shoulder those same responsibilities — they volunteer for it. Then take on the responsibilities of being deployed to Afghanistan as well.

A dog handler’s job can be exhausting, with an additional month of dog handler school, combined with months of predeployment training.

For Cpl. Jeffery Rodriguez, a dog handler with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, those responsibilities are more like a privilege.

Rodriguez said he loves being a dog handler. He knows he’s helping his squad, and the added responsibilities far outweigh the added attention of caring for a dog.

What sets Rodriguez apart from other dog handlers is the personal effort he puts into Dharma, a 4-year-old Labrador retriever.

“He’s the best dog handler I’ve ever seen,” said Sgt. Edward Welsh, Rodriguez’s squad leader. “He’s constantly taking care of the dog and working to make himself and Dharma better.”

Rodriguez, a native of Fayetteville, Ga., knows that a dog handler’s job is more than just patrolling with and feeding the dog. The most important job is ensuring the dog is well prepared for the deployment ahead.

Shortly after he arrived in Afghanistan he built Dharma a new kennel.

The kennel, made from discarded pieces of Hesko wall, has a door and a crate for Dharma to sleep in. He used excess cargo netting to cover half of the kennel to shield Dharma from the harsh wind and heat of Afghanistan.

Dharma, with her endless wagging tail and dark eyes, returns the favor with loyalty and obedience.

Rodriguez’s responsibilities extend farther than supplying Dharma with shelter. He works with Dharma to keep her skills sharp.

“He exercises the dog and whenever he goes running he takes the dog with him,” said Welsh, a native of Cleveland.

Keeping the dogs in shape is vital in an area where temperatures will reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

“If a dog gets out of breathe in 20 to 30 minutes, they actually become a hindrance to the unit,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Hoeksema, Rodriguez’s platoon commander. “Dharma is in shape, and (Rodriguez) works her out two to three times a day.”

Keeping Dharma in shape is a priority for Rodriguez. He laughingly said he can’t let the dog get fat.

Rodriguez continually trains Dharma. After patrols and after security posts, he trains her with commands to strengthen their communication.

The bond between a dog handler and his dog is based on trust. If a dog doesn’t trust the handler it won’t obey commands.

“He tells her to sit there and stay there, (and) she does it,” said Hoeksema, a native of Davenport, Iowa. “It doesn’t matter if we are getting shot at, she’s obeying (Rodriguez).”

Rodriguez has Dharma to help find improvised explosive devices and weapons caches.

“I use Dharma to search compounds, or to verify potentially dangerous objects,” said Rodriguez. “She’s like my little guardian angel running around.”

The Marines patrol with Dharma daily, clearing compounds and routes.

“Just trusting (Dharma) helps the Marines,” said Hoeksema. “When she goes into a compound and doesn’t find an IED, the Marines are able to walk in confident that there aren’t any IEDs.”

Dharma confirmed two IEDs and some hidden-away weapons while deployed; but beyond her keen nose, she’s made more of an impact on the Marines she protects.

Dharma also helps with morale of Marines who are away from their families for several months.

After patrolling, the Marines regularly pet and play with Dharma. They also laugh as she interacts with the local animals; goats and turkeys make an interesting find for a curious dog.

The sound of wings flapping and a loud gobble lets the squad know Dharma is up to some good-natured mischief.

Rodriguez lets it go for a little bit before calling Dharma back.

“It has been a great experience being a dog handler,” said Rodriguez. “It’s a great job to have with a lot of responsibility.”

The extra workouts and countless hours to keep Dharma’s training sharp are well worth the sacrifice when compared to the bond Rodriguez developed with Dharma. He considers her more than a dog. She is a friend, and a faithful one at that.

“She’s not much of a growler,” said Rodriguez. “She does get protective with me though, she’ll bark at someone if she thinks I’m in danger.”

In a couple of weeks, Rodriguez and Dharma will return home from their deployment to Afghanistan. This is Dharma’s first deployment and could be Rodriguez’s last.

They’ll return on the same flight but will then be separated. Dharma will be assigned a new dog handler, and Rodriguez will return to his squad.

Though he said the goodbye will be hard, Rodriguez shared that he loved every minute of being a dog handler. The bond he built with Dharma and the experience was well worth the extra responsibility.

“It’s hard not to think of Rodriguez and not think of Dharma too,” said Welsh. “They are like two peas in a pod.”

Rodriguez leaves Afghanistan with a four-legged friend and a lifelong bond.

“These dogs do work, so I’d want the next dog handlers to know to take it seriously,” said Rodriguez with a smile.

 
Three Illinois Employers Move One Step Closer to Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:11

Employers Recognized Among 3,236 Nominations Nationwide

SPRINGFIELD, IL (05/03/2012)(readMedia)-- ARLINGTON, Va. – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, announced today that three Illinois employers have been selected as semifinalists for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the DoD to employers for exceptional support of their Guard and Reserve employees. This year, 133 semifinalists nationwide stood out among an impressive pool of 3,236 nominees.

The Illinois employers named semifinalists are Caterpillar Inc., Peoria; Prairie Grove Consolidated School District 46, Crystal Lake; and Divane Brothers Electric Company, Franklin Park. Freedom Award nominations come directly from Guard and Reserve members, or family members acting on their behalf. The Freedom Award provides service members with an opportunity to recognize employers for going above and beyond what is required by law. Employers chosen as semifinalists support their Guard and Reserve employees through a variety of formal and informal initiatives, including developing internal military support networks, providing full benefits to employees fulfilling their military obligations, caring for the families of deployed employees, and granting additional leave to Guard and Reserve employees preparing to leave for or return from deployments.

"The employers selected as Freedom Award semifinalists have distinguished themselves for their support of their National Guard and Reserve employees, and are truly serving our Nation with their extraordinary commitment to these special employees," said ESGR National Chair James G. Rebholz. "Their efforts are to be applauded, and ESGR salutes these patriotic employers for their special care of their Guard and Reserve employees and their families while they serve our Nation in times of war and peace."

ESGR will announce the 2012 Freedom Award finalists next month after a review board comprised of military and civilian leaders selects the 30 most supportive employers from among the 133 semifinalists. The 15 award recipients will be announced early this summer and honored in Washington, D.C. at the 17th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Ceremony on September 20, 2012.

A complete list of Freedom Award semifinalists from each state is available at www.FreedomAward.mil under the Media Tab in the Press Releases section.

About ESGR and the Freedom Award:

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 160 employers have been honored with the award. Established as a DoD agency 40 years ago, ESGR develops and maintains employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

 
Through dust, heat, ANA lead operation to success PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Carlos Cruz   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:34
Through dust, heat, ANA lead operation to success

Lance Cpl. John Ellington, a team leader with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, patrols with his Afghan National Army counterparts on the third day of Operation High Noon 15, April 26, 2012. The Afghan-led operation cleared compounds and searched for improvised explosive devices, and weapons caches.


Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/image/570276/through-dust-heat-ana-lead-operation-success#.T6Ld5lIf8sY#ixzz1tpxbldpR

 
Family of Area War Hero to be Presented Awards PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 09:00

WHO: The family of late World War II veteran Private First Class (PFC) Theodore “Ted” Bruch, Congressman Bobby Schilling, and First Army Deputy Commanding General for Support, Maj. Gen. Mark MacCarely.  Also expected is East Moline Mayor John Thodos.  

WHAT: A ceremony presenting the family of late WWII veteran PFC Bruch with a number of awards, including the Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, the World War II Victory medal, the Army of Occupation with Germany clasp, the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, and the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar.

WHEN: Thursday May 3, 2012 at 12:00pm CST.

WHERE: East Moline City Hall’s Council Room, 912 16th Avenue, East Moline Illinois 61244.

WHY: To give well-deserved recognition for the service of  PFC Bruch.  PFC Bruch was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1926.  He joined the United States Army in June 1944, and served as a Combat Engineer in the European Theater of Operations, conducting a number of engineer missions.  PFC Bruch served until he was Honorably Discharged in June 1946.  He passed away on July 26, 2011. 

# # #

 
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.

Become our Facebook Fan!

www.facebook.com/illinoisnationalguard

-30-

 
<< Start < Prev 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 Next > End >>

Page 93 of 132