Ohio sailor among 7 killed aboard USS Fitzgerald, US Navy says

Published: Sunday, June 18, 2017 @ 7:53 PM

Bodies of sailors killed in crash off coast of Japan found

An Ohioan was among the seven casualties found in flooded berthing compartments of the USS Fitzgerald following the collision with a Japanese merchant vessel.

The U.S. Navy Sunday identified the sailors killed as:

  • Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio

RELATED: Ohio sailor killed in crash near Japan was to retire soon

  • Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Virginia
  • Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, California
  • Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Connecticut
  • Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas
  • Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, California
  • Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Maryland

Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. Navy divers found seven sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship in the busy sea off Japan (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)(AP)

The sailors’ remains were found when divers gained access to the compartments on Sunday that were damaged when the destroyer and Phillippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal collided, the U.S. Navy stated in a release issued Sunday evening.

The incident remains under investigation.

4 soldiers killed in ambush: Where is Niger and what are U.S. troops doing there?

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:39 PM

4 Soldiers Killed In Ambush In Niger

Questions remain in the aftermath of an ambush attack on a group including U.S. Army soldiers in Niger that left four American service members dead on Oct. 4.

>> Read more trending news

Defense Department officials said Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29 and Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, were killed in an attack during an advise-and-assist mission in southwestern Niger.

Johnson was from Springboro, and is survived by a wife and two children. 

The circumstances that led to the attack remain under investigation.

The American military operation in Niger is one of about 20 in Africa and part of the U.S. Africa Command, according to NPR. The command is aimed at building military relations with African nations and other key players in the region. It began operations in 2007.

Here is what we know about Niger and U.S. military presence in the country:

Where is Niger?

Niger is a landlocked country in western Africa, bordered by Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria and Libya.

The country became independent from France in 1960. Political instability and a series of military coups followed.

Is Niger generally safe for Americans?

The U.S. State Department in April issued a warning for Americans traveling in Niger to stay away from “locations frequented by Westerners” and to keep to hotels with armed Nigerien security officers because of the risk of terror attacks and kidnapping threats against Westerners.

“Niger’s southeastern border with Nigeria and east of Maradi are poorly controlled,” State Department officials said. “Boko Haram and several factions affiliated with ISIS have conducted cross-border attacks into Niger. The government of Niger has increased its security forces in the border areas, but the situation remains unstable and travel is not advised.”

What about for soldiers – is it generally safe?

Despite the threat of violence, officials said the Oct. 4 deaths were the first American service members to be killed in combat in Niger.

“I think clearly there's risk for our forces in Niger,” said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff. “Any time we deploy full forces globally, we will look very hard at the enablers that need to be in place in order to provide security for them. And that ranges from the ability to pull them out if they are injured, to the ability to reinforce them at the point of a fight if they … need reinforcement. We look at all those things and evaluate on a continual basis.”

How big is the American military presence there?

Officials with the Defense Department said this month that about 1,000 troops in the region work with about 4,000 French service members. The U.S. military has had some presence in the country since 2012, according to CNN.

What are U.S. soldiers doing there?

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said U.S. armed forces have been working for years with West African nations to combat the threat of terrorism.

The Army soldiers killed in the Oct. 4 attack were assisting with Nigerien security force counterterrorism operations about 125 miles north of Niamey, the country’s capitol city, according to thee Defense Department.

“We’re providing refueling support, intelligence support, surveillance support,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said. “But also we have troops on the ground. Their job is to help the people in the region learn how to defend themselves. We call it foreign internal defense training, and we actually do these kinds of missions by, with and through our allies.”

4 soldiers killed in ambush: Where is Niger and what are U.S. troops doing there?

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

4 Soldiers Killed In Ambush In Niger

Questions remain in the aftermath of an ambush attack on a group including U.S. Army soldiers in Niger that left four American service members dead on Oct. 4.

>> Read more trending news

Defense Department officials said Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29 and Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, were killed in an attack during an advise-and-assist mission in southwestern Niger.

The circumstances that led to the attack remain under investigation.

The American military operation in Niger is one of about 20 in Africa and part of the U.S. Africa Command, according to NPR. The command is aimed at building military relations with African nations and other key players in the region. It began operations in 2007.

Here is what we know about Niger and U.S. military presence in the country:

Where is Niger?

Niger is a landlocked country in western Africa, bordered by Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria and Libya.

The country became independent from France in 1960. Political instability and a series of military coups followed.

Is Niger generally safe for Americans?

The U.S. State Department in April issued a warning for Americans traveling in Niger to stay away from “locations frequented by Westerners” and to keep to hotels with armed Nigerien security officers because of the risk of terror attacks and kidnapping threats against Westerners.

“Niger’s southeastern border with Nigeria and east of Maradi are poorly controlled,” State Department officials said. “Boko Haram and several factions affiliated with ISIS have conducted cross-border attacks into Niger. The government of Niger has increased its security forces in the border areas, but the situation remains unstable and travel is not advised.”

What about for soldiers – is it generally safe?

Despite the threat of violence, officials said the Oct. 4 deaths were the first American service members to be killed in combat in Niger.

“I think clearly there's risk for our forces in Niger,” said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff. “Any time we deploy full forces globally, we will look very hard at the enablers that need to be in place in order to provide security for them. And that ranges from the ability to pull them out if they are injured, to the ability to reinforce them at the point of a fight if they … need reinforcement. We look at all those things and evaluate on a continual basis.”

How big is the American military presence there?

Officials with the Defense Department said this month that about 1,000 troops in the region work with about 4,000 French service members. The U.S. military has had some presence in the country since 2012, according to CNN.

What are U.S. soldiers doing there?

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said U.S. armed forces have been working for years with West African nations to combat the threat of terrorism.

The Army soldiers killed in the Oct. 4 attack were assisting with Nigerien security force counterterrorism operations about 125 miles north of Niamey, the country’s capitol city, according to thee Defense Department.

“We’re providing refueling support, intelligence support, surveillance support,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said. “But also we have troops on the ground. Their job is to help the people in the region learn how to defend themselves. We call it foreign internal defense training, and we actually do these kinds of missions by, with and through our allies.”

Reports: President Trump to Widow of Fallen Soldier, He Knew "What He Signed Up For"

Doctors who treated Pulse victims prepared Las Vegas hospital for mass shooting

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 5:03 AM

Doctors Of Pulse Victims Prepared Las Vegas Hospital Staff

Doctors who worked on victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting in June, 2016 were in Las Vegas discussing what they learned with doctors.

>> Read more trending news

The doctors from Orlando Regional Medical Center were in Las Vegas two weeks before Sunday’s deadly concert mass shooting.

“The horror of their tragedy was so similar to ours,” said Dr. Gary Parrish, ORMC medical director of the emergency department.

At Pulse nightclub in June 2016, 49 people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in Orlando.

More than 50 were killed Sunday night and hundreds of others were injured at a country concert in Las Vegas when a gunman at Mandalay Bay hotel opened fire.

Parrish ran ORMC’s department on the night of Pulse, and two months ago he spoke to Nevada’s only Level I trauma center UMC in Las Vegas.

Parrish said that he shared his experience from the moments, days, even months after the massacre at Pulse.

>> Las Vegas shooting: Remembering the victims

"What I told them was they need to be prepared for the rest of the story,” Parrish said.

Parrish said every major hospital trains for mass casualty events, but he wanted medical staff in Las Vegas to know what he felt his team wasn't quite ready for.

"The patient identification process. The family reunification process,” Parrish said.

He said the damage caused by higher velocity firearms doesn't compare to a typical gunshot wound.

"I have no doubt those injuries were more severe than they might otherwise see,” Parrish said.

Parrish said the experience sticks with him and likely always will. He knows Las Vegas doctors and nurses will understand that soon, too. He just hopes sharing his story helped them cope a little better with their own.

"I tell them, I hope it never happens again. But the reason they're interested in having some of our staff there is because we all have a sense that it's very likely this may happen again,” Parrish said.

Military to get guidelines for Trump transgender ban 'soon,' reports say

Published: Thursday, August 24, 2017 @ 10:12 AM

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) talks to Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis as they watch the Inaugural Parade from the main reviewing stand in front of the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald J. Trump was sworn in today as the 45th president of the United States.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) talks to Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis as they watch the Inaugural Parade from the main reviewing stand in front of the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald J. Trump was sworn in today as the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The White House is expected to give the Defense Department the authority to bar transgender people from enlisting in the U.S. military in the coming days, one month after President Donald Trump announced the ban on Twitter, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The White House memo would also give Defense Secretary James Mattis discretion over whether transgender troops can stay in the military, based on a service member’s ability to deploy, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Journal was the first to report on the memo Wednesday night.

The guidelines would give Mattis six months to enforce the ban, The New York Times reported. An unidentified source told the newspaper that the contents of the memo were not finalized as of Wednesday night.

In a statement obtained by CNN, Pentagon officials said they had yet to receive formal guidance from the White House on how Trump’s announced ban would work.

"The (Defense) Department continues to focus on our mission of defending our nation and ongoing operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect," the statement said.

>> Related: Joint Chiefs: Transgender policy won't change until Pentagon gets it in writing from Trump

Gay and lesbian service members have been able to openly serve in the military since 2011, according to NPRCurrent Department of Defense policy allows for transgender people to serve openly and says individuals “can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals.”

Trump announced the ban in a series of tweets last month.

“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” Trump wrote on July 26. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

The announcement came as a surprise to military leaders and politicians. In a letter to top military officials, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, wrote that there would be “no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

>> Related: Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military

Estimates on the number of transgender troops in the military vary, although a 2016 report from the Rand Corp. estimated that as many as 6,300 transgender service members are on active duty.

Trump: Transgender People Won't Be Allowed In The Military