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Published: Saturday, September 16, 2017 @ 3:57 PM
WEST JEFFERSON — A Navy sailor who was one of 10 who died aboard a guided missile destroyer was remembered at funeral services Saturday as one who was a steadfast friend, a sailor who took on extra duties without complaint and who made others laugh easily.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob “Jake” Drake served as an electronics technician aboard the USS John S. McCain when a tanker and the warship collided in the South China Sea near Singapore last month, according to the Navy. He was 21 and was engaged to be married.
At a memorial service days from his birthday, Navy shipmates wearing white dress uniforms from the McCain and boot camp, and friends who spoke shared memories and told stories of their fallen friend and colleague to dozens of mourners who both laughed and cried at Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Rafferty, 28, drove more than nine hours from Norfolk, Virginia, to speak at the service of his fellow shipmate with whom he attended boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill.
“Whenever you go through boot camp, you get really close,” said Rafferty, who attended the funeral with fellow Navy sailor Connor Gaul, who also drove from Norfolk. Rafferty said Drake was a “great kid” to whom everyone was drawn to make friends.
“He had a unique personality,” said Gaul, 22, now a sailor aboard the USS George Washington. “He could make anybody laugh in any situation.”
Nearly two dozen members of the Patriot Guard gave a final salute of the flag-draped casket inside the funeral home. Navy sailors acted as pall bearers for their shipmate’s return home.
Nan Hays, of Marysville, didn’t know Drake but drove in from Marysville to pay her respects with two fellow Blue Star mothers with sons or daughters in the military. She said they wanted to support the family.
Friends remembered him as “fun and smart” and creative, someone who loved the color pink and cats and going to a cat cafe in Japan, where the McCain was stationed.
“Drake was a loved guy,” friend Josh Ewing said.
On a rainy Tuesday, hundreds of people, many holding American flags, lined the streets of West Jefferson as Drake’s remains were returned to his home state. His body was flown to Columbus and a procession was escorted to West Jefferson for memorial services and full military honors Saturday.
Vicki Germann, a West Jefferson resident, was among those who stood to pay their respects at the sailor’s homecoming this week.
“He supported us,” German said then. “This is the least I can do — is stand out here, grab a flag and wave it.”
The 2013 graduate of Triad High School in North Lewisburg had joined the Navy in part to travel the world and was stationed at Yokosuka, Japan. He was assigned about the McCain for nearly two years.
Some 400 people turned out for a candlelight vigil held in Lewisburg while the sailor was missing, said Mayor Cheryl Hollingsworth.
“He was just a wonderful young man, which is indicative of the community,” she said Saturday. “… It’s just a very patriotic community. We’re just so sorry that Jacob died. It was just a tragic, tragic death.”
According to the Navy, the McCain and an oil tanker collided Aug. 21 near Singapore. The crash ripped open a hole on the left side of the warship’s rear hull just above the waterline and flooded crew berths, machinery and communication rooms. Five other sailors were injured.
The collision was the fourth to strike the U.S. Pacific fleet within a year and led the Navy to order a temporary pause in operations. In June, seven sailors were killed aboard the USS Fitzgerald when a collision with a container ship in the Sea of Japan caused significant damage and flooded sleeping quarters, according to reports. The Navy relieved of command the top three senior leaders aboard the ship after the deadly crash.
After the accident involving the McCain, a 7th fleet admiral was relieved of his duties. The latest crash led congressional leaders to schedule a hearing into finding the cause of the incidents.
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 10:39 AM
DAYTON — The Dayton VA Medical Center nursing home earned one star out of five in the most recent quality rating system, according to the Dayton VA.
Cleveland and Cincinnati received two stars while Chillicothe received a one-star rating, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Nearly half, or 60 of the VA’s 133 nursing homes received a one-star rating, the newspaper reported.
The results were disclosed after USA Today and Boston Globe obtained the internal VA reports, officials said. On average, VA nursing homes scored worse last year then their private sector counterparts on nine of 11 key indicators, including rates of anti-psychotic drug prescription and residents’ deterioration , officials said.
The VA nursing home system overall compares “closely”with private nursing homes despite caring for typically sicker patients,
VA officials reportedly told USA Today.
Sixty VA nursing homes saw improvements in their ratings over last year, and only one had a “meaningful decline” VA spokesman Curt Cashour told the newspaper.
A request for comment was left with a Dayton VA spokesman Monday.
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Published: Saturday, June 16, 2018 @ 10:12 AM
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Foreign military sales at a Wright-Patterson agency are likely trending to a “new norm” of about half of last year, according to the leader of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate.
Brig. Gen. Greg Gutterman, outgoing leader of AFSAC at Wright-Patterson who retires next month after three years in the top spot, projected sales of about $13 billion to $14 billion – although figures won’t be final until later this year.
In 2017, sales nearly tripled compared to the prior year, reaching $27.5 billion, driven by the $13.4 billion sale of 36 F-15 jets to Qatar.
Overall, the United States expects to deliver $61.4 billion in foreign military sales by the end of the fiscal year, according to the State Department, compared to $41.9 billion last year.
Some of the big ticket pending sales included 34 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Belgium for $6.5 billion, 14 F-16s to Slovakia at a cost of $2.9 billion and six C-130 aircraft to Germany at a cost of $1.4 billion, according to the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency.
As China has aggressively expanded its military presence in the South China Sea, and North Korea has — until the most recent Singapore summit-brokered deal — threatened war with the United States, Japan and South Korea, arm sales have spread throughout Asia, Gutterman said.
In the Middle East, the threat of the Islamic State has fueled sales, also, he said.
“The global environment is certainly creating a little bit of demand,” he said.
Now and in the future, sales to foreign countries of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker were expected to be big boosters, he said. So, too, are demands for drone and munitions.
One defense analyst said the United States weapons export process is “slow and bureaucratic” compared to foreign competitors.
“It’s a global market and we have competitors in that global market who are willing to move very quickly,” said Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and a senior fellow of the International Security Program at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Security.
The commercial market is often a faster alternative for some weapons buyers for items such as small drones, he said.
A leading defense industry organization has called for a speed up in the export “review, approval and advocacy” process to grow the U.S. defense industrial base.
“Our industry is competing against our adversaries in a global defense marketplace where every export opportunity is a zero-sum, time sensitive competition with an enduring impact on American influence, security and our defense industrial base,” a May 29 letter from Aerospace Industries Association officials said to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The State Department recently announced a push to speed up conventional arms transfers as part of a push to tie economic security to national security needs.
Speeding up wait times
AFSAC has been under an Air Force directive to shorten wait times for customers.
“The foreign military sales process is not broken, but it is certainly burdened,” Gutterman said.
The agency’s workforce made significant gains in cutting down wait times in recent years, he said.
Gutterman, 52, the second longest-serving AFSAC director who’s next assignment in civilian life will be writing books at his Beavercreek home, focused on improving communication and accountability among different agencies with oversight of foreign sales and reducing customer wait times.
“The way that we communicate has been formalized and in the past it was really the power of the personalities,” he said.
In the most recent statistics released, AFSAC reported the time from when a foreign request is received to acceptance has dropped from nearly 151 days in 2016 to 88.5 days in fiscal year 2017.
In more complex cases, such as the sale of a fighter jet, the time between when an offer is received and acceptance has dropped from 228 days in fiscal year 2016 to less than 203 days in 2017, AFSAC has said.
Delivery of a major weapons system, such as an F-16 fighter jet, may take four or five years.
Published: Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 12:12 PM
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 4:59 PM
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — An actor in the Hollywood film Memphis Belle will be at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to see the real Memphis Belle on Saturday.
Matthew Modine, who played a pilot in the film and whose uncle, Wylder Modine, was a World WarII B-17 bomber pilot, will sign autographs between 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
He’ll also speak at 4 p.m. the Air Force Museum Theater before a showing of the 1944 film “Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress.”
After 13 years of restoration, the iconic B-17 Memphis Belle was rolled out in a new exhibit at the museum May 17, 2018, the 75th anniversary of the completion of its 25th and final combat mission over Europe. The four-engine Boeing-built bomber was the first to finish 25 missions and return to the United States on a celebrated war bonds tour.
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 9:53 AM
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force’s top leadership brass was at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base this week in an annual closed-door gathering known as Corona Top.
Air Force officials were tight lipped on the meeting this year,set to end Thursday, but the event focused on strategy, acquisition, science and technology and innovation, according to Air Force spokesman Michael Martin.
Wright-Patterson is a key hub for the Air Force as headquarters for the Air Force Materiel Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
“Wright Patterson Air Force Base is a logical venue because so much of the needed expertise is resident there,” said Loren B. Thompson, a Virginia-based defense industry consultant. “Some insiders consider Wright-Patt the best base that the Air Force owns.
Thompson said the issues debated behind closed doors likely included “plans for ‘multi-domain’ warfare that require coordinated Air Force operations in the air, in space, and on the electromagnetic spectrum; concern about growing threats to U.S. space systems; and the status of major developmental programs such as a new tanker and bomber.”
Maurice McDonald, Dayton Development Coalition executive vice president of aerospace and defense, said having the future of the Air Force strategized at Wright-Patterson makes sense.
“Many of the missions of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are about the future of the Air Force and that truly corresponds to the activities at Corona,” he said.
The event draws, which draws heavily on support from the base, was at Wright-Patterson in 1999, 2003 and every year since 2006.
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