Ohio National Guard deploys more troops to hurricane ravaged Caribbean

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 1:02 PM


            Air Force Reserve firefighters board a Wright-Patterson based C-17 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Sept. 12, 2017, as they head to south Florida for Hurricane Irma relief efforts. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
Air Force Reserve firefighters board a Wright-Patterson based C-17 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Sept. 12, 2017, as they head to south Florida for Hurricane Irma relief efforts. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

The Ohio National Guard has sent more than 100 airmen and soldiers to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in a growing U.S. troop presence that has reached 11,000, according to the Defense Department.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm Sept.19 with winds up to 155 mph, knocking out power and causing widespread destruction. That followed a glancing blow from powerful Hurricane Irma less than two weeks before Maria unleashed havoc in the Caribbean.

Some leaders in Puerto Rico have urged a faster U.S. response because of the dire situation many on the island of 3.5 million U.S. residents face without food, water, medicine and power. U.S. authorities have pledged to deliver whatever aid is necessary.

This week, the Ohio Air and Army National Guard sent 80 troops to the U.S. territory.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 hurricane relief efforts expected to fly for weeks

Thirty Ohio guardsmen flew to the island Tuesday to prepare for the arrival of other troops and assess logistical demands, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Beougher, a Guard spokeswoman in Columbus.

Twenty Air National Guardsmen from both the 178th Wing in Springfield and the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, which flies C-130 cargo planes, transported a mobile kitchen trailer to the U.S. territory on Wednesday.

On Thursday, 30 Guardsmen with the Columbus-based 285th Area Support Medical Co. left for Puerto Rico to offer medical assistance

In the Virgin Islands, Ohio troops included six Air National Guardsmen with the 269th Combat Communications Squadron in Springfield who deployed a month ago.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 flies Indiana rescuers to Puerto Rico after hurricane

Twenty troops with the Port Clinton-based 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operation Repair Squadron (RED HORSE) were sent to the Virgin Islands on Sept. 13.

The Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has flown more than 650 passengers and transported more than 1.3 million pounds of relief supplies since late August to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The C-17 wing transported the aid to disaster zones after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck within three weeks. The unit has sent 13 reservists to Florida and Georgia to support hurricane relief work, also, according to Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, a wing spokeswoman.

Wright-Patterson Medical Center deployed three, three-member medical teams to Puerto Rico, one of which remains on the island, according to Wright-Patterson spokesman Daryl Mayer.

Through Thursday, the U.S. military reported it’s delivered to Puerto Rico 7.3 million meals, 5.3 million liters of water, 22,000 cots, 11,000 tarps, 278 generators and more than 100 field trucks and drivers.

RELATED: When hurricanes strike, Wright-Patt crews have taken to the air

The U.S. naval hospital ship Comfort with 250-patient beds arrived at the island Tuesday, according to the Pentagon.

Defense Department leaders have said the demand for humanitarian assistance is significant and slowed the deployment of U.S. troops to overseas missions.

Miami Valley veterans chosen for Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:30 AM


            Richard V. Reynolds CONTRIBUTED
Richard V. Reynolds CONTRIBUTED

Three Miami Valley veterans are among 20 statewide chosen as the newest inductees into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

The two Air Force veterans and a former Marine include:

* Blanche Aviles Casey, 73, of Beavercreek, a veteran of both the Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War era who became a federal servant after serving 30 years in the Air Force.

Casey is a member of the Greene County Veterans Service Commission, and serves on the Greene County transit board, according to the state. She’s a member of veterans’ service organizations and won recognition awards for her extensive involvement in public service.

RELATED: Two local WWII veterans mark 100th birthdays

* William E. DeFries, 57, of Clayton, a Marine Corps veteran who is a small business owner, philanthropist, and mentor, among other roles.

DeFries acts as a mentor at the Ohio Veterans Treatment Court in Montgomery County for veterans suffering substance abuse or mental illness, according to the state. Among a wide range of community public service, he has offered jobs to the unemployed at his restaurants and organized fund raisers through community service organizations for young adults involved in athletics, art and academia, the state said.

RELATED: WWII 75 years later: 101-year old Dayton man relives Doolittle Raid

* Richard V. Reynolds, 68, of Beavercreek, a retired three-star Air Force general, was a past chairman, president and CEO of the Air Force Museum Foundation Inc. He led a nearly $41 million fund raising campaign to add a fourth hangar at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force that opened last year and is part of the fund raising effort to build a $6.5 million Fisher House at the Dayton VA Medical Center campus.

Among other post military work, Reynolds co-founded Air Camp Inc., for Dayton elementary and middle school students in the region.

The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame will induct its newest members Nov. 9 in Dublin, Ohio.

Local group leading ‘Convoy of Hope’ for relief aid to Puerto Rico

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 7:08 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 8:28 PM


            Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees collected hurricane relief aid for Puerto Rico. CONTRIBUTED
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees collected hurricane relief aid for Puerto Rico. CONTRIBUTED

Members of PACO, who include Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees, and several businesses have gathered more than 100 pallets of hurricane relief aid items to ship to Puerto Rico, still reeling from Hurricane Maria, an organizer says.

“The Dayton community came through big time,” said Tony Ortiz, an organizer for the Puerto Rican, American Caribbean Organization (PACO) who coordinated with area businesses and base employees to roll out a “Convoy of Hope” — five semi-tractor trailers filled with aid that left Wednesday.

RELATED: Ohio National Guard deploys more troops to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico

“This is a great feeling,” said Ortiz, an Ohio Attorney General employee who is the diversity liaison to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London, Ohio.

Food, water, and cleaning supplies were among items collected, he said. “You name it, it was there,” Ortiz said. “People came out in droves to help.”

The truck will head to a Convoy of Hope warehouse in Missouri and be shipped from there to Puerto Rico, he said.

“We’re all affected by it so we’re trying to do all we can,” he said.

Ortiz, who has family who live in Puerto Rico, said his relatives were “surviving” after Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. territory, the second since Hurricane Irma sideswiped the island weeks before the latest powerful storm caused widespread damage.

RELATED: Wright Patt hurricane relief flights expected to fly for weeks

His family remained without power and lacked food and water, he said.

“Everything’s wiped out,” he said. “All of them lost their business. They’re just stuck up in the mountains living off the mountain.”

The Convoy of Hope is collecting aid though out Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland, he said. People in those cities are continuing to work with the convoy project, but their participation has not yet been confirmed.

The need remains great: Less than 20 percent of island residents have had their power restored since the storm and the death toll has climbed to nearly 50.

As many as one million Puerto Ricans do not have clean water to drink and many hospitals continue to operate on generator power as the tropical heat soars.

— WHIO-TV’s Kate Bartley contributed to this report.

Middletown soldier killed in Fort Jackson military accident to be laid to rest

Published: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 7:26 PM

Private Timothy Ashcraft was a 2017 graduate of Amelia High School in Clermont County.

UPDATE @ 11 a.m. (Oct. 16):

A Middletown U.S. Army soldier killed in a military accident early this month at Fort Jackson in South Carolina will be laid to rest Monday.

Funeral services for Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft will be held at 2 p.m. in Middletown at Wilson-Schramm-Spaulding Funeral Home, 3805 Roosevelt Blvd.

A visitation will be held prior to the funeral from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

According to his obituary, Ashcraft attended Mayfield Elementary and Middletown Middle School in Middletown. He then went to West Clermont school district to finish his education. Timothy also attended Live Oaks, where he was studying to be a welder. 

Interment will be held at Woodside Cemetery.

INITIAL REPORT:

A U.S. Army soldier from Southwest Ohio was killed Friday after he was struck by a military vehicle while in formation.

Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft, was one of two soldiers who died in the incident that injured six others at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, according to the military. The other killed was identified as Pvt. Ethan Shrader of Prospect, Tenn.

Ashcraft was a 2017 graduate of Amelia High School in Clermont County, our news partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are thankful for his dedication and service to our country,” according to a statement released by the West Clermont Local School District. “His impact ... will not soon be forgotten.”

U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson said the Army will thoroughly investigate what caused the military vehicle to crash into the pedestrians.

“We are continuing to support everyone affected by this tragic event,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the Army will thoroughly investigate the cause of the fatal crash.

The six injured were privates Emmett Foreman of Daleville, Alabama; Hanna new of Cartersville, Georgia; Benjamin Key of Cookville, Tenn.; Alan Kryszak of Clarksville, Tenn.; Cardre Jackson Jr. of Laurel, Maryland; and James Foster of Macon, Ga.

DoD: Springboro soldier killed in Niger in attack by Islamic extremists

Published: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 1:35 AM
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 5:39 PM

More details revealed about Niger attack where local solider was killed

UPDATE @ 5:45 p.m. (Oct. 11): Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of Springboro and the other U.S. soldiers killed in Niger were victims of an attack by Islamic extremists, the Department of Defense tells the Associated Press.

EARLIER REPORT (Oct. 7)

Family and friends of 39-year-old Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson remember the Springboro soldier after he was killed in a terrorist ambush in Niger. 

Staff Sgt. Johnson was killed during a joint operation between U.S. and Nigerian forces near the border of Mali. The Associated Press reported that he and three others were killed by enemy fire after an ambush. Around 40 and 50 extremists ambushed in vehicles and motorcycles, attacking the patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. 

RELATED: Remembering 43 area servicemen who died on active duty since 2002

Jeff and Teena Baldridge are neighbors of where Staff Sgt. Johnson’s family used to live, and saw soldiers outside, looking for Johnson’s mother. 

"We knew when they said that -- we knew who it was and we knew where he was," Teena Baldridge said. 

"Jeremiah was doing what he really wanted to do, he really wanted to be an NCO (non-commissioned officer) in the United States Army," Jeff Baldridge said. Baldridge is also a retired Air Force veteran. 

CRIME: Clark County animal shelter burglarized, supplies stolen

Political leaders also shared their condolences, including U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Gov. John Kasich tweeted “My heart goes out to Jeremiah’s family. Rest in peace, Staff Sergeant.”

Staff Sgt. Johnson is survived by  a wife and two children. His funeral service will be held sometime within the next week at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.