Three area soldiers deploying to Puerto Rico to assist with hurricane recovery

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

An advance team from the 285th Medical Company (Area Support) and the 137th Signal Company board a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus, Ohio to deploy to Puerto Rico. The Soldiers will be conducting logistical and operational assessments prior to the remainder of their units' arrival, in support of hurricane relief efforts. Video courtesy of the Ohio National Guard.

Three area soldiers and their Ohio Army National Guard medical unit are scheduled to deploy to Puerto Rico this week to assist with the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, according to a press release. +

TRENDING: Tropical Storm Nate develops, takes aim at Gulf

Spc. Will Mauntler of Troy, Spc. Adam Lemaster of Franklin and Sgt. Joshua Taylor of Middletown are all members of the 285th Area Support Medical Company, based in Columbus. An advance party of 30 soldiers left Tuesday, and the main body is expected to depart Thursday night from Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus.

TRENDING: Should bump stocks, trigger cranks be illegal in Ohio, U.S.?

The Newark-based 137th Signal Company will accompany the 285th ASMC on the mission.

Three area soldiers and their Ohio Army National Guard medical unit are scheduled to deploy to Puerto Rico this week to assist with the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

The medical company is capable of providing medical support such as trauma health care, preventive medicine consultation, optometry support, mental health consultation and ground evacuation of patients. 

The signal company can provide communication capabilities with mobile satellite, electricity, 

telephone, internet and video conferencing, and information technology services.

Hurricane Maria, which slammed into Puerto Rico in late September, has left 34 dead and more than 90 percent of the island’s residents without power and other resources. 

Currently, the Ohio National Guard has more than 30 Airmen from the 200th Red Horse Squadron, from Port Clinton, and the Springfield-based 269th Combat Communications Squadron in the U.S. Virgin Islands assisting with the recovery efforts. In all, there are more than 100  Ohio National Guard members supporting hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Wreaths adorn local veterans’ graves on National Wreaths Across America Day

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 6:58 PM

Volunteers placed wreaths on the tombstones of veterans as part of Wreaths Across America day Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. Every December volunteers take part in the project at 1,200 cemeteries.

On National Wreaths Across America Day, wreaths were lain across the graves of veterans across the country, and in Dayton.

Among veterans’ graves adorned with wreaths are those at the Dayton National Cemetery at the Dayton VA Medical Center, 4400 W. Third St.

>> New veterans ID card could be shown to retailers, VA says

Each December the mission of wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and 1,200 other locations in the nation, at sea and abroad is to remember, honor and teach.

Large turnout of people participated in National Wreaths Across effort at Woodside Cemetery

Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com.

Air Force picks new Thunderbirds leader after former commander removed

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 2:20 PM


            The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds arrived at the Dayton International Airport in June, but canceled appearances at the Vectren Dayton Air Show after a team jet mishap injured a pilot. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
            Ty Greenlees
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds arrived at the Dayton International Airport in June, but canceled appearances at the Vectren Dayton Air Show after a team jet mishap injured a pilot. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

The Air Force Thunderbirds have a new leader after the prior commander was fired from the high-profile post.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, a Long Island, N.Y., native who served as the team’s operations officer this year, will take over as commander of the team that flies six F-16 Fighting Falcons in aerial formations at air shows and events around the country.

Walsh replaces Lt. Col. Jason Heard, who was removed last month after Heard led “a highly successful show season,” but his commanding officer “lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style,” an Air Force statement said.

An Air Force spokeswoman said in a Nov. 30 email Heard continued to serve in a “non-supervisory position” with the 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The Thunderbirds are based there.

RELATED: Air Force Thunderbirds leader removed from job

The Air Force did not elaborate on specifics behind the firing, but an Air Force spokesman on Wednesday said in an email the incident was “unrelated” to a Thunderbird jet mishap in June in Dayton.

On June 23, a two-seat F-16D fighter jet slid off a wet runway in a rainstorm and flipped into a grassy area at the Dayton International Airport, injuring Capt. Erik Gonsalves, the No. 8 Thunderbird pilot and team narrator. A team member who was a passenger in the two-seat F-16D was not injured. The jet was on a single aircraft “familiarization flight.”

Gonsalves spent several days at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton and was later transferred to another medical facility for ongoing treatment. He rejoined the team based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, as narrator later in the season.

After the incident, the team canceled weekend appearances at the Vectren Dayton Air Show.

RELATED: Excessive speed blamed for Thunderbird crash in Dayton

In an accident investigation report released in November, the Air Force said excessive speed and landing too far down the runway contributed to the mishap that destroyed the $29 million fighter plane.

Walsh, a former F-16 weapons tactics instructor, has served with the Thunderbirds for two years. Along with leading the team’s aerial demonstration flights, he will be in charge of the management of 140 team members.

The aviator has more than 2,600 flying hours in the cockpit, the Air Force said.

The Navy’s Blue Angels are scheduled to appear at the Dayton Air Show next June.

Retaliatory culture has not changed in military, ex-prosecutor says

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 4:35 PM


            In this May 15, 2017 file photo, Air Force Academy Cadets pass in review after Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin assumed command of the AFA cadet wing at a ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
In this May 15, 2017 file photo, Air Force Academy Cadets pass in review after Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin assumed command of the AFA cadet wing at a ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Former female Air Force Academy cadets who withdrew after they said they faced retaliation when they reported they were sexually assaulted shows a need for a culture change throughout the military, a former prosecutor said.

“What it says about the climate is that despite all the military’s promise that they are taking this seriously and they are there to support survivors, the reality is that when a person is sexually assaulted in the military and then (reports it), whether they are at the academy or whether they are on active duty, the odds are that their career is going to be over,” said Don Christensen, president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders and a retired colonel who was a chief Air Force prosecutor.

“They’ll be subjected to pervasive retaliation both by their peers and by their superiors,” he said.

During a six-month investigation, CBS This Morning reported Monday it interviewed more than a dozen current or former cadets who said they faced retaliation after they reported sexual assaults to the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Two of those interviewed Monday were women who were cadets but dropped out, and two current cadets whose identities were disguised. One of those interviewed said while she was subject to continued harassment after filing a report, her alleged attacker graduated at the prestigious school that produces Air Force officers.

Wright-Patterson assaults rise

Last month, the Defense Department released data for every major U.S. military installation in the world that showed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base had 30 reports of sexual assaults in 2016, nearly double the number from the previous two years. The Miami Valley base, which has an estimated 27,000 employees, recorded 17 assaults in both 2013 and 2014 and 19 cases in fiscal year 2013.

RELATED: Sexual assaults reported at Wright-Patt doubles in the past two years

The Defense Department data also showed the Air Force Academy had a higher number of sexual assaults than any other Air Force installation. The service academy had 44 reports in 2016, the Pentagon reported.

“Number one, they need to change the culture,” Christensen said. “This isn’t just the Air Force Academy, this is all the service academies.

“The military, as with anything they address (about) this issue, is more empty promises,” Christensen said. “On the one hand, they tell Congress that they’ve got it. On the other hand, behind the scenes, they support the people that have committed the rapes and force out the survivors.”

Meade Warthen, an Air Force Academy spokesman, told this outlet academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria’s would give a response to the investigation Tuesday on CBS This Morning. Warthen also sent this statement:

“What I can tell you in the interim, is that the Air Force Academy is deeply concerned by the allegations regarding the treatment of sexual assault victims at the Academy,” the statement said. “Dozens of professionals like Special Victims Counselors, Mental Health Professionals, Victim Advocates and more dedicate themselves day in and day out to the service of caring for the victims of this horrible crime. But the Academy is also focused on the root cause and believes creating and sustaining a climate of dignity and respect is absolutely essential to ending the scourge of sexual assault. One assault is too many and we will never rest until the number is zero.”

Retaliation complaints

Christensen cited a Department of Defense investigation that showed one in three women who have filed a sexual assault report leave the military within a year. Further, he said, about 60 percent of those who have said they experienced harassment or assault reported instances of retaliation since 2010.

RELATED: 32 sexual assaults reported at Wright-Patt AFB in 4-year period

“It’s not getting any better,” he said. “It’s probably getting worse and the retaliation is as bad as ever. The leadership knows about the retaliation and does nothing about it. That to me is their inability to speak out strongly and to hold people accountable. It sends a clear message to survivors, report at your own peril.”

In a statement last month, Wright-Patterson responded to the sharp increase in reported assaults.

“We cannot identify any significant trends in the increase,” spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in a Nov. 20 email. “While each case has its own unique attribute, the number is not indicative of the number of assaults that occurred at Wright-Patt. There are many factors that go into the numbers; including some cases accounting for more than one incident.

“We’re dedicated to fostering an environment of respect by standing against anyone who commits sexual assault and supporting survivors, whenever and wherever it may have occurred,” the statement said.

Christensen has said in his more than two decades of military judicial experience the “vast majority” of reported assaults occurred on or near the installation where they were first recorded.

2016 Air Force installation sex assault cases

U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.: 44

Kadena Air Base, Japan: 37

Ramstein Air Base, Germany: 36

Travis Air Force Base, Calif: 34

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.: 33

Wright-Patterson: 30

Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.: 27

Source: Department of Defense

Air Force Marathon chooses drone as ‘official’ aircraft of 2018 races

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 10:13 AM


            The MQ-9 Reaper drone will be the “official” aircraft of the 2018 Air Force Marathon. CONTRIBUTED
The MQ-9 Reaper drone will be the “official” aircraft of the 2018 Air Force Marathon. CONTRIBUTED

The MQ-9 Reaper drone has been chosen as the “official” aircraft of the 2018 Air Force Marathon, a series of races that draw thousands of runners across the nation and other countries to the Miami Valley.

This marks the second time the Air Force has chosen an unmanned aerial vehicle as the aircraft for the contest.

RELATED: Hypersonic research could lead to future spy drone

In 2009, the MQ-4 Global Hawk, a reconnaissance drone, was the first, according to the Air Force.

The Air Force marathon has drawn more than 15,000 runners in recent years, who compete in full- and half-marathons, and a 10K race at Wright-Patterson and a 5K race at Wright State University.

RELATED; Drones, lasers, hypersonic weapons will be ‘game-changers’

The Reaper will be featured on runners’ medals and T-shirts. The marathon is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2018.