I was on Massachusetts Avenue NW in Washington, DC….waiting to turn into the US Naval Observatory. Traffic was heavy, and I was a few minutes late. I heard the announcement on the radio, and 20 minutes later, the USNO was locked down tight and Secret Service had formed a perimeter around the facility, as it was the home of the Vice President of the United States. When I was finally cleared to leave the compound, I marveled at the complete ghost town Washington had become.
I stopped on the parkway to view the Pentagon across the Potomac River, and as it burned, I realized how fragile things can really be. A Metro Police Officer pulled up behind me and ordered me to move along. My commute home, normally an hour and 15 minutes……took 35 minutes. I was very thankful to be home with my kids and know they were safe and sound.
-Dale Monteer, Senior Chief, US Navy (Retired)
Heroic Southwest Pilot Among First Female Fighter Pilots in Navy
By Debbie Gregory.
The Southwest pilot who is being called a hero for landing a crippled Southwest plane was
among the first female fighter pilots to serve in the U.S. Navy.
“We can confirm that Lt. Commander Shults was among the first cohort of women pilots to
transition to tactical aircraft,” the Navy said in a statement.
On April 17th, Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the twin-engine Boeing 737 toward cruising
altitude, generally considered the safest part of a flight, when one of the aircraft's engines blew.
Flying at an altitude of 32,000 feet, shrapnel from the crippled engine smashed a window.
Passenger Jennifer Riordan was partially sucked out of the plane as fellow passengers scrambled
to pull her back in. Unfortunately Riordan died from blunt impact trauma of the head, neck and
torso. Seven other passengers were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.
Her voice remained calm as she communicated with air traffic control in Philadelphia.
"We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we're going to need to slow down a bit," Shults said
from the cockpit. Later, she adds, "They said there's a hole and … and, uh, someone went out."
Shults made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Passengers praised how Shults skillfully
landed the plane, and said that she greeted each passenger after they were safely on the ground.
“This is a true American hero,” Diana McBride Self, a passenger, wrote in a Facebook post. “A
huge thank you for her knowledge, guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation. God bless her
and all the crew.”gh the plane personally to check on us after she landed our crippled airplane. …
We were truly all in amazing hands."
Passenger Alfred Tumlinson said Shults displayed "nerves of steel."
Shults lives outside San Antonio and is married pilot Dean M. Shults.
By Debbie Gregory.
The leadership triad of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 was relieved of duty after the executive officer was found wandering drunk and naked through the woods at Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan.
Lt. Cmdr. Jason Gabbard was discovered intoxicated and unclothed in a wooded area.
Cmdr. James Cho and Command Master Chief Petty Officer Jason Holden were relieved for mishandling the incident, according to the Navy.
The firings followed “an incident of personal misconduct by the executive officer, and the subsequent mishandling of that incident,” Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) officials said in a statement.
Capt. Nick Yamodis will assume temporary command of the Seabee battalion, which is deployed to Japan from Port Hueneme, until a permanent replacement is named.
“Trust is the foundation for everything we do as military professionals, and we expect our servicemembers to conduct themselves with the integrity and character to justify that trust,” said Cmdr. Cate Cook, spokeswoman for the NECC. “Our senior leaders are entrusted to uphold the highest standards of personal and professional conduct at all times.”
The move to remove all three leaders in a unit’s command is reserved for extreme instances of misconduct or failures.
“Our senior leaders are entrusted to uphold the highest standards of personal and professional conduct at all times,” Cook added. “Meeting these high standards of conduct is as critical as meeting our high standards of material, personnel and operational readiness.”
The Navy relieved the command triad of the destroyer Fitzgerald in one fell swoop last August following a deadly ship collision that left seven sailors dead. The former commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, is now facing a charge of negligent homicide.
Prior to that, the command triad of the destroyer Bainbridge was relieved in 2016 amid a scandal involving fireworks and gambling aboard the ship.
All three senior leaders have been temporarily assigned to Naval Construction Group 1 in Port Hueneme, California.
By Debbie Gregory.
President Trump’s ambitious plan to rebuild America’s overstretched military would cost $683 billion more than current spending plans over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
The Congressional Budget Office is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides budget and economic information to Congress.
President Trump came into office pledging the largest defense spending spree since the administration of Ronald Reagan — assuring the troops that they would see “beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment.”
More missile defense systems, an upgraded nuclear arsenal and hundreds of additional fighter aircraft were also on the president’s wish list.
The budget for President Trump’s goals for the military would be more than 20 percent larger than peak spending during the 1980s.
The buildup’s projected 10 percent manpower increase (an additional 237,000 troops), its addition of 20 percent more naval vessels, and its increased purchases of other new weapons, adds up to a 12 percent increase over the Obama administration’s plans for defense spending over the same period.
For the Air Force, rising costs result primarily from existing plans to replace aging weapon systems and increased purchases of the F- 35A to allow the Air Force field five additional fighter squadrons.
The projections were based on administration documents, congressional testimony and the 2018 budget request’s five-year plan. The administration is due to produce a 2019 budget request and its National Defense Strategy, which will likely add more clarity.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in congressional testimony earlier this year the buildup would begin in 2019.
By Debbie Gregory.
Lee Anne Walters noticed that the tap water in her Flint, Michigan home had an orange tint to it. Her twin boys also had rashes. Doctors confirmed one of the boys was showing signs of stunted growth.
The Walters were living in Flint because Lee Anne’s husband, Dennis Walters, was stationed there.
Walters sent a sample of her water to the EPA, expecting it to take care of the problem.
It took 11 months for the EPA to issue an emergency order in Flint. The lead levels in Walters’ home were twice the level considered to be toxic waste.
The family feels that Lee Anne’s criticism and advocacy during the water crisis has caused workplace retaliation and harassment against Dennis, a sailor with the US Navy.
The 17-year Navy veteran has filed a complaint claiming mistreatment at work due to his wife’s role in the Flint water crisis.
In a complaint filed last week, Dennis claims that he has been repeatedly mistreated at the Sewells Point Police Precinct, which is part of Naval Station Norfolk, because his wife has been so outspoken.
“Since I testified at the state Senate hearing, things got progressively worse,” Lee Anne Walters said. “They threatened to force him into a hardship discharge if he didn’t get me under control.”
Lee Anne Walters says the family has been careful to respect protocol and keep her husband out of the advocacy efforts. She says her criticism of the EPA and the slow response to the water crisis in Flint has caused her husband problems at work.
Two years later, now living in Virginia where Dennis is stationed, the Walters family is still dealing with the effects of the crisis. Both boys, now 5, suffer from health issues.
Lee Anne continues to testify in Congress and bring attention to the issue.
“They were demeaning me on a daily basis to my husband, that my job as a military wife is not to be a crusader,” Lee Anne Walters said. According to court documents, he was “effectively demoted, and reduced to administrative details that had the effect of completely removing him from any leadership role within the command.”
Dennis Walters is requesting a transfer to another unit within the Navy.
By Debbie Gregory.
The Navy is faulting a junior officer and a senior enlisted for failing to defend their patrol boats and then for surrendering them at gunpoint to Iranian paramilitaries, after they blundered into Iranian waters earlier this year.
“The investigation also found some crewmembers did not meet code of conduct standards while in custody,” said Vice Adm. John Aquilino.
On January 12th, the ten U.S. sailors aboard two patrol craft were detained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) when they inadvertently entered Iranian territorial waters. They were held for about 15 hours and released the next day.
The U.S. military said the Americans were intercepted after the diesel engine in one of their boats developed a mechanical problem. When the Iranians initially approached, the sailors were making repairs and did not man their weapons.
The U.S. crews were not in a position to defend themselves, leaving them with only two options-fight or surrender. The lieutenant ordered his coxswain to attempt to steer the boat through the Iranian vessels, but the ordered was ignored and the two boat captains ordered crews to drop their weapons.
Although the Iranians were within their rights to investigate why the boats were near the island, Navy officials said, they violated international law by holding the sailors at gunpoint, videotaping interviews with them and damaging equipment on their boats.
Adm. John Richardson said that the lessons learned from the incident would be taught to sailors around the fleet and also to future generations of officers and enlisted sailors. “So this will be something that we can mine for a lot of lessons,” Richardson said.
By Debbie Gregory.
In a sign of the times, the Navy held its first-ever “resiliency medicine” summit, which included exploration of healing methods outside of Western medicine, including meditation and yoga.
Guest headliner Deepak Chopra told the audience, “Stop thinking of your body as a thing. If you think of your body as a structure, you can only use mechanical means, like surgery or drugs. … Understand that your gene expression is influenced by your thoughts, your emotions, your social relationships.”
Since 2013, Cmdr. Jeff Millegan, a doctor stationed at the Navy hospital in Balboa Park, has put about 500 Navy personnel around San Diego through a seven-session “mind-body” curriculum. The curriculum includes discussion of sleep, meditation, social connections, diet and exercise.
The core issue is stress and the way it causes illness or magnifies existing health problems.
“We have a lot of sailors who go on ships that deploy by themselves, without a mental health provider, for seven months. These guys are trying to manage stress as best they can,” Millegan said during a break. “If we give them skills, tools to regulate their emotions, they are less likely to be overwhelmed.”
This is not news to the David Lynch Foundation, whose Operation Warrior Wellness (OWW) program uses transcendental meditation (TM) to build resilience and heal the
hidden wounds of war.
Since its initial launch in 2010, the OWW initiative has partnered with leading veterans service organizations, Army and Marine bases and VA medical centers across the country to deliver the Resilient Warrior Program to veterans, active-duty personnel and military families in need. The initiative also partners with military colleges to create a new generation of more resilient officers.
Over 340 published studies document the effectiveness of TM.
Another technique is tai chi, a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.