Push On to Name Navy Ship after Iwo Jima Photographer

iwo jima

By Debbie Gregory.

In 1945, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was in the right place at the right time. Although you may not be familiar with his name, you most certainly would recognize his most famous work: a group of United States Marines cresting Mount Suribachi to plant their nation’s colors on Iwo Jima, as Old Glory snaps in the breeze.

Rosenthal won the Pulitzer Prize for the acclaimed image. The Pulitzer Committee in 1945 described the photo as “depicting one of the war’s great moments,” a “frozen flash of history.”

The photojournalist was rejected by the U.S. Army due to poor eye sight, so he volunteered for frontline action in the Pacific theater, and covered the fighting on Guam, Peleliu, and Angaur.

Now, a group of current and former Marines want to honor Rosenthal by having the Navy ship named after him.

The US Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association submitted a petition to the office of the secretary of the Navy to accomplish that goal.

Although the odds are against the request, theirs is nothing that prevents the Navy naming a U.S. vessel after someone who didn’t serve in the military.

In later years, when asked about the photo, he would say “I took the picture, the Marines took Iwo Jima.”

On August 20, 2006, at age 94, Rosenthal died of natural causes in his sleep.

Rosenthal’s story and the stories of the flag raisers on Mount Suribachi was told in the film Flags of Our Fathers (2006), directed by Clint Eastwood.

“There are awards and there are plaques and there are speeches, but this whole idea of the ship is so appealing, because a ship is like a living thing,” said Anne Rosenthal, the late photographer’s daughter. “It has people who spend their lives on it, or parts of their lives on it.”

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Air Force Conducts “Light Attack Experiment”

Light attack

By Debbie Gregory.

In August, for the first time since the end of the Vietnam era, the Air Force conducted a flying experiment with combat aircraft. This nontraditional event was put together in only five months.

The Air Force was interested in assessing the potential of low-cost, commercially developed ground attack aircraft to conduct the kind of combat missions that have composed the vast majority of combat missions in the last 25 years. The light attack experiment is the first large-scale experiment of its type in decades.

During the first week of the experiment, Air Force pilots flew basic surface attack missions in Textron Aviation’s AT-6 Wolverine turboprop, as well as in Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano.

Now, the Air Force is preparing to launch Combat Dragon III, a combat demonstration meant to test light-attack aircraft in the field.

“We are preparing as if we’re going,” said Air Force Reserve Col. Mike Pietrucha, who is light-attack adviser to Air Combat Command.

The squadron commander and a detachment of 70 personnel will be drawn from operational squadrons.

The personnel chosen will have a minimum requirement of 1,000 flight hours and combat experience.

“We’re experimenting and innovating, and we’re doing it in new and faster ways,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “Experiments like these help drive innovation and play a key role in enhancing the lethality of our force.”

Expected to make a final decision about combat-testing by the end of the year, Air Force leaders have already selected some of the previously tested aircraft. Testing criteria includes weapon capability, reliability and maintenance requirements.

“This experiment is about looking at new ways to improve readiness and lethality,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein. “Working with industry, and building on the Combat Dragon series of tests, we are determining whether a commercial off-the-shelf aircraft and sensor package can contribute to the coalition fight against violent extremism.”

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Majority of Young American Adults Are Unfit for Military Service


By Debbie Gregory.

The failure of Americans from 17- 24 years old to meet weight and fitness standards, as well as issues with conduct, medical concerns, mental health, and substance abuse are causing significant recruiting problems for the military.

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the prospects that are in college or the ones who have no interest in military service.

A big misconception is that military service disproportionately attracts minorities and men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many believe that troops enlist because they have few options, not because they want to serve their country.

But often times, military service is a family tradition. Some 80% of recruits currently entering the military have family members who served, with between 22% and 35% being the children of veterans.

As the veteran population shrinks, the obligation to serve is increasingly being shouldered by a small subset of multigenerational military families. A soldier’s demographic characteristics are of little importance in the military, which values honor, leadership, self-sacrifice, courage, and integrity-qualities that cannot be quantified.

There are a number of ways that the military is looking to beef up its numbers. Besides aggressive marketing, the service branches are offering incentives such as relaxed standards, monetary bonuses, sabbatical leaves, and of course, the great GI Bill benefits.

There is also a big push to recall veterans to active duty.

But will this be enough?

“If we don’t turn this around, where does the world’s strongest military recruit from?” asked Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican and former Air Force one-star general.

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Soldiers Opioid Use Decreases

army yoga

By Debbie Gregory.

Members of the armed forces are not immune to the substance use problems that affect the rest of society. The Army’s efforts to find alternate methods of pain management for active duty soldiers have resulted in a decrease of opioid use by more than 3 percentage points.

From 2012 to 2016, opioid use fell from about 10.5 percent to about 7 percent.

“This addiction problem recognizes no distinction between those who wear the uniform and those who don’t,” said Lt. Gen. Nadja West, speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.

With that said, studies have shown that soldiers and veterans use opioid painkillers, essentially the chemical equivalent of heroin, far more frequently than civilians because their military training, combat -related injuries and the strains from carrying heavy equipment during multiple deployments likely play a role in this trend.

A 2012 report prepared for the DoD by the Institute of Medicine (IOM Report) recommended ways of addressing the problem of substance use in the military, including increasing the use of evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions, while expanding access to care.

The report also recommended broadening insurance coverage to include effective outpatient treatments and better equipping healthcare providers to recognize and screen for substance use problems so they can refer patients to appropriate, evidence-based treatment when needed. It also recommends measures like limiting access to alcohol on bases.

At that time, the Army implemented changes that included limiting the duration of prescriptions for opioid pain relievers to six months, and having a pharmacist monitor a soldier’s medications when multiple prescriptions were being used.

Now officials have shifted their focus to seek out alternatives to prescribing medication, including meditation, tai chi, acupuncture and yoga.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

After a Long Wait, Translator’s Special Immigrant Visa Finally Approved


By Debbie Gregory.

For Iraqis and Afghans, working with the U.S. military in the Middle East carried great risks. Mahmood, who is going by his first name for his protection, is one of more than 23,000 Iraqi and Afghan people who worked with American Forces, and then immigrated to the United States.

Their work as translators or other supporting roles earned them special immigrant visas for themselves and their families.

Mahmood has been mired in the dangerous process of applying for the visa for more than two years. But on April 6, 2017, Mahmood found out that his application had been approved.

“It was the best day of my life,” said Mahmood, but he is still treading very carefully; his family in Iraq is still at risk.

With his parents’ encouragement, in 2008 Mahmood got a job in the laundry department on a U.S. military base in the Kirkuk province.

As Mahmood’s language skills improved, Army Col. Mark Leahey encouraged him to become a military translator, a job that would allow him to apply for a special immigrant visa.

Mahmood became a tactical translator first in the Kirkuk province, then in Diyala province.  He lived on an American base and translated reports about attacks.

When the United States began drawing down its forces in Iraq, Mahmood moved back to his family home and worked on finishing his degree.

And, he waited. Finally, his application was approved, and within two months, Mahmood landed in Washington, D.C. He stayed with Leahey at his home in New Hampshire, and eventually settled in Portland.

He hopes to become a teacher.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.