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September 6, 2014 at 1:30pm

Armed Forces help Seattle Seahawks kick off the 2014-15 NFL Season

Washington National Guard receives high-fives before unveiling the Seattle Seahawks' new 80-foot Vince Lombardi Super Bowl banner. Photo credit: Gary Lott

The Seattle Seahawks are World Champions, and now, in part with the military's help, have the banners up in CenturyLink Field to prove it.

The team made the military an integral part of its NFL Kickoff celebration Thursday as members from each branch took part in the National Anthem and the Super Bowl banner presentation as well as reenlistment and promotion ceremonies.

"The Seahawks and our fans recognize the essential role and amazing service provided by America's military personnel," said Seattle Seahawks Community Relations Vice President Mike Flood. "We're proud to feature service members from all branches as we display the World Championship banner and begin the 2014 NFL season."

The amount of inquiries for support has increased significantly with the Seahawks' super success. However, the organization continues to involve the military throughout the year - even in one of the most popular games of the entire NFL season. In fact, support is increasing.

"That effort will continue every year because it's our opportunity and duty to give back," Flood said. "Our coaches, players and staff have a year-round dedication to partnering (with) service members and supportive causes."

>>> U.S. Navy member LCDR Jay Hyler shows off the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Championship Ring before his on-field promotion ceremony before the NFL Kickoff game against the Green Bay Packers Sept. 4. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ballesteros is all smiles during his re-enlistment ceremony on the field of the Seattle Seahawks during their military pre-game celebration Thursday. Photo credit: Gary Lott

Flood and Seahawks Fan Development Assistant Director Armando Mejia lead the critical relationship between the Seahawks organization and the military. They work with bases throughout the Pacific Northwest to create new ideas every year, such as the 80-feet high Super Bowl banner, which was held by members of the Washington National Guard during the Seahawks NFL Kickoff game against the Green Bay Packers Sept. 4.

"It was really neat to see them unfold the Super Bowl banner in rehearsal, and it sent the message that we finally did it," said Spc. Josh Medford, JFHQ, 2-146 Artillery, Washington National Guard, prior to the game. "I've got a pretty critical role in the presentation, as I'm the one who grabs the flag by the top and walks it all the way down to the bottom."

>>> Fireworks burst into the sky as 50 members of the Washington National Guard hold a brand new 80-foot Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy banner during the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl celebration. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>>Pop sensation Ariana Grande joins members of every service branch to sing the National Anthem before the Seattle Seahawks took on the Green Bay Packers. Photo credit: Gary Lott

Along with an on-the-field presence of the military this season, the Seahawks are also implementing a #SeahawksSalute campaign, which will feature photos of deployed service members demonstrating their "12th Man" spirit.

>>> Various members of military branches hold up a camouflage "12s" Flag during various military pre-game ceremonies. Photo credit: Gary Lott

The Seahawks organization is using the popularity of social media to enhance its connection between "12s" and the team, to include the military.

"One of our most recent programs is the Seahawks adopted military unit," Flood explained. "The Army was our first, in 2012, then the Air Force was last year, and now the Coast Guard will carry the football and "12 Flag" for 2014."

The selected unit participates in special team events and carries the "12 Flag" to locales worldwide throughout the season.

During the summer, the Seahawks made it a priority to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the "Heroes of 12 Tour" to bases across Washington state, to include last year's adopted unit at the 446thAirlift Wing.

"We made it a point to begin the Lombardi Trophy tour at military bases to demonstrate our appreciation for the selfless service they give to America," Flood said. "It was a pleasure for us to see the smiles of thousands of service members at every base on the trophy visit."

A large part of the #SeahawksSalute program success relies on servicemembers.

Medford said the Seahawks Salute is both important and fun. Thursday's game was Medford's first Seahawks event, but he's done similar salute ceremonies for both the Sounders and Mariners.

A variety of military involved events took place throughout the NFL Kickoff game.

"During our break ... we actually got a chance to watch Pharrell during his rehearsal," said Medford.  "He actually came right over and gave us high-fives and posed in several pictures for us."

Entertainment wasn't the only thing taking place on the field before the big game, however.

Now Navy Lt. Comdr. Jay Hyler was promoted directly on the field before the game and even had the honor of having his daughter pin on his new rank.

"It was such an honor to have my daughter alongside of me while I get promoted," Hyler said. "It's her first game ever, and she even got to try on a Super Bowl Ring.  How amazing is that?"

Along with Hyler's promotion, Army Capt. Paul Ballesteros re-enlisted during the pregame ceremonies.

"This is my home state, so it means a lot to me to re-enlist indefinitely," said Ballesteros, who has been a Seahawks fan since wearing a Steve Largent jersey when he was only 5 years old.

"I feel great about this event," he added. "This shows me that the Seahawks work well with the Army by providing amazing opportunities for a homegrown soldier such as myself to do something like this."

It's hard to forget one's first-ever NFL game.  It will be especially hard for Tech Sgt. Matt McKenna, who's stationed on the McChord side of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

It was his first Seahawks game, and he found himself standing only a few feet from pop sensation Ariana Grande while she performed the National Anthem.

McKenna recently received a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for his ground combat heroics in Afghanistan in 2012.

"It's incredibly humbling to receive this honor," he said of being awarded the medals. "It's really recognition of the team's work and combined efforts with the Army on one pretty tough day."

Stories such as McKenna's show the importance of supporting, showcasing and allowing the military to be a part of every Seattle Seahawks home game.

"We may not be able to touch everyone through Seahawks programs, but we will do our best to honor those who have given so much for the freedoms we enjoy," Flood said.  "We remain committed to dozens of programs that strive to help military personnel, veterans and their families."

September 6, 2014 at 12:13pm

7th Infantry Division names new headquarters in honor of Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Harrison during ceremony

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Harrison gives a speech at the dedication of Harrison Hall, the 7th Inf. Div.'s new headquarters named in his honor. Harrison is known not only for his military exploits, but his role in the community. Photo credit: Kevin Knodell

Friday marked the dedication of Harrison Hall, the 7th Infantry Division's new headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Harrison Hall is named after retired Lt. Gen. William Harrison. Harrison is well known in both the military and local communities. After leaving the service he became an influential community leader and politician, being elected the first mayor of Lakewood after its incorporation.

"We honor his contributions not only for the military but for the community," said Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell, the commander of the 7th Infantry Division as he addressed the audience.

Harrison was born in Pembroke, Kentucky on July 2 1933. He joined the Army in 1954 and was a career officer. His career took him around the world. He served in West Germany, Iran and Vietnam. While in Korea he led two companies of the 7th Infantry Division, and would later be the divisions' commanding general. In the U.S. he served in several staff positions at installations around the country, including I Corps at Fort Lewis. He retired from the Army in 1991.

>>> Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell, commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division, speaks during the dedication of the Division's new headquarters, Harrison Hall. Harrison Hall is named for Lt. Gen. (ret) William Harrison, who was the ceremony's guest of honor. Photo credit: Kevin Knodell

After leaving the military, he had several posts in government and the private sector, serving as an advisor to the governor of California. He eventually co-chaired the Lakewood incorporation effort and was elected to the city's first city council in September 1995. He was elected the city's first mayor one month later.

Since then, he's been an instructor at Pierce College and currently sits on the Pierce College Foundation board. He also serves on the boards of the Lakewood YMCA, USO Puget Sound Area, the Pierce County Mental Health Oversight Board and countless other organizations.

>>> Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commanding general of I Corps, speaks at the dedication of the 7th Infantry Division's new headquarters. Photo credit: Kevin Knodell

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commanding general of I Corps, thanked him for his service and ongoing support of the military, mentioning to the audience that Harrison has attended nearly every ceremony they've had.

When it was his turn to speak, Harrison was helped to the podium by his son, Lanza and Ferrell. The old soldier spoke softly into the microphone as he reflected on his service in uniform, and beyond. He specifically addressed those soldiers who were preparing to leave the service. "There truly is life after the Army," he told the crowd.

>>> Canadian Brig. Gen. Carl Turenne shakes hands with Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Harrison after the dedication of Harrison Hall, the 7th Infantry Division's new headquarters named in his honor. Photo credit: Kevin Knodell

After the ceremony, attendees came up to shake hands and chat with Harrison. One of them was Brig. Gen. Carl Turenne, the Canadian army officer serving as the deputy commander of I Corps.

"It's an honor to be part of this team," he told The Ranger after chatting with Harrison.

Turenne said Harrison's career and his contributions to the military and his community sets an example to soldiers everywhere. "You want to emulate a guy like Lt. Gen. Harrison," Turenne said.

September 4, 2014 at 11:45am

Army Surgeon General suspends Brig. Gen. John M. Cho, commander of Western Regional Medical Command at JBLM

This just in from Sharon D. Ayala, director, Directorate of Communication and Executive Services, Western Regional Medical Command ...

Western Regional Medical Command, Fort Lewis, Wash.: Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho, The Army Surgeon General and U.S. Army Medical Command Commander, suspended Brig. Gen. John M. Cho, the Commanding General, Western Regional Medical Command (WRMC), located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., effective Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 pending the outcome of an inquiry centered on the command climate of the organization. Lt. Gen. Horoho will assign an interim commander of the WRMC for the duration of the suspension. The Army remains committed to ensuring we have the right leaders in place to lead our organizations which provide high quality medical care to our Soldiers, their Families, and our Retirees.

August 26, 2014 at 11:56am

I Corps mechanics assist 191st Inf. Bde. and Idaho Army National Guard at the Orchard Combat Training Center

Spc. Mark R Richards, a mechanic with 1st Corps’ headquarters support company, removes a starter from a Humvee during a during an exercise at the Orchard Combat Training Center, Id., on Aug. 15, 2014. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Adam C. Keith

Mechanics from 1st Corps' Headquarters Support Company are spending the month of August supporting the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, an Idaho Army National Guard unit, and the 191st Infantry Brigade, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, during a training rotation at the Orchard Combat Training Center, located just outside of Boise, Idaho.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jose A. Yanes, the 191st Brigade's maintenance technician, said the mechanics were needed to help augment his unit's maintenance capabilities.

"When the 1st Corps' soldiers arrived, we really didn't know what to expect, but they have been nothing but a great help to us," he said.

Yanes said the mechanics work has been vital because the units at the training areas are running 24-hour operations, so they have been working 12-hour shifts keeping the brigade's vehicles in working order.

"The Humvees are the main means of transportation for the observers, coaches, and trainers out here. They use these vehicles up to 20 hours a day and they have limited time to refit," he said. "When they come in here we have to fix any issues and get (the Humvees) on the way as quickly as possible."

>>> Spc. Chris J. Vetter, a mechanic with 1st Corps' headquarters support company, removes a starter from a Humvee during a during an exercise at the Orchard Combat Training Center, Id., Aug. 15, 2014. Vetter is part of a group of 1st Corps mechanics working around the clock to support the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, an Idaho Army National Guard unit, and the 191st Infantry Brigade during their training rotation at the OCTC. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Adam C. Keith

Sgt. Carlos Villa Jr., a heating and air conditioning technician with HSC 1st Corps, said the mechanics have also had the chance to perform six recovery operations while at the training area as well as cross train with each other.

"To be honest, I think I learn a lot more from my soldiers out here than they learn from me," he said. "Tomorrow we are going to swap out an engine in a Humvee and that's something I've always wanted to learn how to do; so I'm excited about that."

Villa said he also appreciates the time that being out in the field gives him to get to learn more about the soldiers he works with on a daily basis.

"One of the biggest things out here is the time we have to bond with other soldiers in our unit," said Villa. "Back in garrison you don't really have that opportunity all of the time, but over here you have 12 hours to talk and get to know each other."

Yanes said thanks to the efforts of the mechanics, the operational readiness rate for the 191st has been steady at over 98 percent.

"The 191st would be dead in the water if they weren't here; they are a great asset to have," added Yanes. "They are well motivated and have been doing nothing but great work."

August 25, 2014 at 6:53pm

Arrowhead soldiers and 62nd Airlift Wing airmen move quick at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Soldiers with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, load onto a C-17 aircraft during a training exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 21. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

As they sat inside the troop holding area, you could tell it had been a long two days. Now they were waiting to wrap up the last event to prove that all their practice and hard work had paid off. All they needed to do was load their Stryker vehicles onto C-17 aircraft and it was mission complete.

Soldiers with Company A, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, took part in a combined training exercise with airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 21-22.

The event was designed to test the readiness and quick response of the soldiers as they paired up with airmen.

The two-day event began with a pre-dawn phone call from leaders to their soldiers informing them that it was time to go. They then assembled and checked their equipment. soldiers who stayed in the barracks closed out their rooms and those with vehicles turned them in to the storage lot.

>>> U.S. Army Sgt. Kierra Ivey, an administrative clerk with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, takes part in a readiness training exercise at JBLM, Aug. 21. The event was designed to allow a platoon-sized group of Soldiers to practice going through the steps leading up to a short-notice deployment. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

From there they went through the motions of a short-notification rapid deployment as they readied their gear and moved it to the airfield to be loaded onto an aircraft.

This event was the culmination of months of hard work and rehearsals that began at the ground floor.  

"We started at the basic level," said 2nd Lt. Clayton Shillings, a Houston native and platoon leader with A Co. "Every soldier was qualified on their respective weapon system. After that we went to Yakima (Training Center) for two weeks. We went into team live fire and each team was certified."

The training progressed through squad, platoon and company levels before the soldiers returned to JBLM. They then began their practices for this particular event.

"There was a whole bunch of rehearsals," said Capt. Bradley Goodyear, a York, Pa., native and A Co. commander. "We did rehearsals at the division, brigade, battalion and company levels. We did tabletop exercises; we actually did a terrain model all leading up to this."

The training and drills were all designed to help soldiers and leaders feel confident about the process.

"If the first time you do it is the actual call to go to war, the chances of something happening that you are not prepared for are high, so we do rehearsals to prepare ourselves...to work out any kinks," Goodyear said. "The more and more we do this, the more little things we find that we can tweak to make the whole process more efficient."

The practice beforehand helped the soldiers progress quickly through the two days worth of training events as they continually outperformed set timelines.

"It definitely paid off," Shillings said. "Everything went very smoothly to the point where we had more downtime than we thought we would. What that insures is that every level - including our own - is that we can tell we are ready to go, all our weapons systems will work when we get there, none of our night vision equipment will be broken when we arrive and everything is mission capable and we are able to execute whatever is given to us at the time."

>>> U.S. Army soldiers with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, and airmen with the 62nd Airlift Wing, load a Stryker vehicle on a C-17 aircraft during a training exercise at JBLM, Aug. 21. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

Although the training was just a test for the soldiers, it opened their eyes to all the work that goes into getting an infantry unit off the base.

"I've never really been deployed," said Pfc. Erik Kanthak, a Cincinnati native and medic with A Co. "I've been to Yakima a few times and did the (National Training Center) thing. I think it made us more ready, more aware of what we need to do. I think with this training, now we will be able to do it even faster if we need to."

The soldiers weren't the only ones training during the event.

"I think the entire process will go faster now because the civilians and Air Force, those guys had more practice," Shillings said. "They had a lot of hand on training with some news guys that the Air Force was training while we were doing this operation and those guys took a while to get the Strykers tied down exactly right, which was good because they needed the practice, and I think now they've got it down to the point where they can be faster next time and everything will go smoother."

As the soldiers loaded the final Stryker and took their seats on the C-17, they knew that two days of hard work and months of training beforehand had paid off.  They are fast and ready for any mission that comes their way.

Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor is with the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.

>>> A U.S. Air Force airman with the 62nd Airlift Wing guides a Stryker vehicle onto a C-17 aircraft during a training exercise at JBLM. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

August 22, 2014 at 3:08pm

5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment cases colors at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Lt. Col. Ian Bennett and CMS Michael Murphy, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, case the unit’s colors during a deployment ceremony this morning. Photo credit: J.M. Simspon

The 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment cased it colors this mornings in a well done ceremony as it prepares for a nine month deployment to the Middle East.

The unit is part of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade, which is commanded by Col. Tim Kehoe.

The battalion is no stranger to deployments. 

Over the past seven years, the unit has served multiple tours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

"This day has been a long time in coming," said Lt. Col. Ian Bennett, the battalion's commander to approximately 300 soldiers assembled in front of him.

"It is time, and we will add another chapter to ‘First Round's' history."

The 5-3 is steeped in tradition and history.

The origin can be traced back to the late 1700s when it was part of the 2nd Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers.  As to its unique motto of "First Round," that was earned at the start of the Civil War when Battery D - the forerunner of the battalion - fired the first shot at the Battle of Bull Run.

The battalion is also credited with beginning the tradition of playing Taps over the grave of a fallen comrade.

"You are well prepared for what lies ahead," commented Brig. Gen. Paul Bontrager, deputy commander, 7th Infantry Division.

"You will do the hard work of our nation, and your efforts do make a difference."

August 20, 2014 at 11:32am

Mud Men of the 617th Engineer Company

Here is the 617th Engineer Company's plan. Courtesy photo

Although it is located 40 miles from where the 617th Engineer Company is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of the 555th Engineer Brigade, soldiers have been hard at work on the Mud Mountain Dam Road Improvement Project for the last month.

Mud Mountain Dam protects the lower White and Puyallup River valleys from flooding. It is also open to recreational use along the White River (near Mt. Rainier) so that visitors can picnic, hike, bike or even ride horses all in view of the large dam.

The work has involved improving a two-mile stretch of road adjacent to the Mud Mountain Dam near Enumclaw, from adding a ditch to aggregate distribution to road compaction. 

That being said, while the 617th Engineer Company is equipped with the soldiers, capability and the time to handle the Mud Mountain project, it was only through a partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) from the Seattle district that the resources and task became available. 

The project, which was planned primarily at the company level and executed at the platoon level, has been underway since July 21 with direct USACE coordination. Throughout the process, there have been approximately 10 to 15 soldiers remaining onsite at a time with organic assets, rotating in and out in weeklong increments.

"This is the first time that we've partnered with the USACE in the two years I've been here," said 1st Lt. Alexander Sackmann, who has been serving as the project manager to ensure that the soldiers have what they need to complete the mission.

"We are a horizontal construction company, so this is crucial to our training and in line with our skills, but we don't always get this sort of opportunity," Sackmann continued. "We cannot do many construction projects around JBLM due to how densely populated it is."

"It was real-world training in open area so we're capable of doing so much more," agreed Staff Sgt. John Thompson.

Best of all, the improvements that have been made will allow for the safe transfer of salmon when they run upstream this season, according to Thompson.

"We want to continue the partnership in the future with the USACE because they have been great to work with throughout the project," Sackmann explained, citing USACE team members Rick Emry, Dan Johnson, Sam Stables and Mike Bartholet, specifically.

The project is on track to end Aug. 22 when the spillway access road improvement is finalized.


Major transition for the 555th Engineer Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

August 20, 2014 at 9:51am

Kitsap Stampede rodeo includes salute to military Aug. 21, donation to Fisher House

John Michael Montgomery performs tonight at the Thunderbird Arena directly after the Extreme Bull Competition.

Get ready to hold on to your (cowboy) hats. The annual Kitsap County Fair and Stampede kicks off today with five days of carnival rides, critters, deep-fried dough concoctions, a wide array of sure-to-please entertainment and much more.

The "stampede" part of this extravaganza is a series of rodeo events including an Extreme Bull Competition today followed by a concert performance by country singer John Michael Montgomery.

Three days of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) pro rodeo action kicks off with a special salute to the military at 7 p.m., Aug. 21.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fisher House Manager Jodi Land will be on hand to accept a donation of $5,000 courtesy of the Kitsap rodeo committee, which will also honor other local service members prior to the start of the action.

"We are so grateful for the generous support that will be used to provide a 'home away from home' for our military service men and women and their loved ones receiving care at Madigan Army Medical Center," Land said.

The JBLM Fisher House is one of 63 similar houses around the world. It provides a comfortable, safe place for ill and injured service members and their families to stay for up to six months at no charge. 

The Fisher House donation comes as part of National Wrangler Patriot Night, a year-round program that raises funds to support U.S. military veterans and their families.

"We have a high level of pride and respect for individuals serving in the U.S. military who show heroism every day in an effort to protect our country," said Phil McAdams, president of Wrangler Specialty Apparel, on the program's website. "This is our chance to give back to those veterans who have suffered injuries fighting for our country's safety and freedom, and to their families who have lost a loved one while on duty." Since it began in 2009, the Wrangler National Patriot program has donated more than $750,000.

"A local committee will raise money for a local veteran's charity, and they will match it up to $2,500," explained Dennis Wood, a volunteer on the Kitsap Stampede rodeo committee. "We get to pick the charity, and it stays in our area. Then we go out and raise money - at least $2,500 - so they will match it."

During the past six months or so, the Kitsap Stampede rodeo committee has been raising funds for the JBLM Fisher House. Three silent auctions, a comedy night at a local tavern and a barrel race all brought in more than the required $2,500, Wood said.

The all-volunteer committee is made up of many veterans or those affiliated with the military, said Wood, a retired Navy master chief who has been in the area since 1985. "So there are a lot of people really attached to it."

In addition to the check presentation and service member recognition, Wrangler is providing hats to the first 500 veterans at Thursday's rodeo kick-off event along with National Patriot program bandanas. Active duty and retired service members and their dependents with valid military ID, along with first responders, get in to the fair and rodeo that day for just two bucks.

So dust off those cowboy boots, dig out your best cowboy hat and head up to Kitsap this week for some world-class rodeo action.

KITSAP COUNTY FAIR AND STAMPEDE, Aug. 20-24, 1200 NW Fairgrounds Road, Bremerton, tickets start at $11, children 5 and younger free, http://www.kitsapgov.com/parks/fairgrounds/pages/fair_information.htm.

August 18, 2014 at 6:06pm

Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosts Deuces Wild Triathlon

A rider rushes out of the transition area during the JBLM Deuces Wild Triathlon at Shoreline Park Aug. 16, 2014. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin

More than 175 athletes and challenge-seekers, civilian and military alike, gathered at Shoreline Park on Joint Base Lewis-McChord to tackle the JBLM Deuces Wild Triathlon Aug. 16.   

This year the triathlon event featured two distances, the sprint and Olympic, with individual and team categories. The race was split into a 500- or 1500-meter swim, a 14- or 25-mile bike ride, and a 5 or 10k run. 

"We hold these events as a fun, safe way to get the community involved and to offer a building block for those athletes looking to compete in officially sanctioned races," said Lizza Lockett, JBLM Morale, Welfare and Recreation intramural sports coordinator.

Locket said JBLM averages eight races per year, with a few extra races scheduled for this year, and that the feedback from the participants is always quite positive. She is hopeful that even more people from JBLM and the surrounding communities will come out to support the events.     

"The base has beautiful, natural scenery; for instance, the lake here, and bike routes that take you all over - people can discover things they didn't even know existed when they're participating in our events," she said.

>>> Participants in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Deuces Wild Triathlon surface after a 500-meter swim at Shoreline Park at Lewis North on Aug. 16, 2014. Next up for these competitors was a 14-mile bike ride and a 5k run. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin

For 1st Lt. Andrew Webster, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, the race was a reintroduction to a hobby he fell in love with while attending West Point.

"People are intimidated by triathlons because it's three different events, but really, I feel like they're not as challenging as they seem and more fun than you'd think. Once you actually complete one or two, it almost becomes addictive because you want to push yourself a little bit harder," said Webster. Webster won the sprint distance triathlon, finishing with a time of 1:06:49.

He said to train for a triathlon he did interval work in the pool, on the bike and on the track. He also combined longer bike rides with shorter distance runs to get his legs used to running after coming off the bike.

"[Triathlons] are a good tool to get yourself in better shape. With three different events, you can cross train and not wear your body down as much as if you were concentrating on one discipline," he said. "And it's a great way to spend a Saturday because you meet a whole bunch of people who have similar interests as you and get a workout in."

>>> Amanda Rodgers, of Kitsap County, participates in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Deuces Wild Triathlon. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin

For others, it was their introduction to JBLM. Amanda Rodgers, a civilian athlete from Kitsap County, said it was her first race on a military installation, and that she enjoyed how the route took her past different military armament.

"A lot of people I know are either in the military or retired from the military, and they had done this race before, which is how I heard about it. I didn't know what to expect, but the bike route was really fun," said Rodgers. Rodgers, who is recovering from an injury, finished first in her age group for the sprint distance with a time of 1:13:22.

Rodgers said that she felt sometimes women assumed triathlons are more of a male sport, but she recommended female athletes interested in triathlons do research to find all-female training groups. She said races are also a great place to network and build community ties.

The next JBLM race is the Salmon Run & Bake Sept. 13 at McChord Field. To learn more about the race and to view the results of the triathlon, visit http://jblmmwr.com/races.

>>> 1st Lt. Andrew Webster, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, races up a hill during the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Deuces Wild Triathlon at Shoreline Park at Lewis North on Aug. 16, 2014. Webster, a West Point grad, won the sprint distance event with a time of 1:06:49. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin

August 16, 2014 at 9:11am

Museum of Glass sets up Hot Shop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion

Spc. Jans Ruiz and Staff Sgt. Jose Munoz work on a piece of glass art as part of the Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program put on by the Museum of Glass. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Working with 4,500 degrees of blue flame can be therapeutic.

"This is a great program," explained Lt. Col. Jeff Mosso, commander, Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB). "We are the only WTB in the country to have this type of therapy, and this program continues to grow along with our partnership with the Museum of Glass."

Welcome to the Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program presented by the Museum of Glass.

Last week, the Tacoma-based museum brought for the first time its Mobile Hot Shop to Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion and set up a portable shop in the unit's courtyard.

Soldiers and their families had the opportunity to watch demonstrations and work with flame and glass in the pursuit of art and healing.

>>> The Museum of Glass' glassblowing program offers JBLM's Wounded Warriors an opportunity for hands-on glassblowing and life skills for transitioning to civilian life. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"Who would've thought glass is so malleable," said Sgt. 1st Class James Wolfe as he shaped a glass bead. "I'm looking forward to more classes!"

Unique to the event, several children will be selected to take part in the Museum's Kids Design Glass and watch their drawings be transformed into three dimensional glass sculptures.

The Museum's affiliation with JBLM began about a year ago when artist Dale Chihuly initiated contact through his sponsorship of Military Day at the Museum.

Since then, more than 1,500 soldiers and their families have enjoyed hands-on activities, glassblowing demonstrations and gallery experiences.

"These soldiers are the fastest learning students we've met," said Greg Owen, Hot Shop Heroes program coordinator. "Their focus and direction is very impressive."

The glassblowing program offers soldiers a number of benefits to include improved dexterity, fine motor coordination and core strength.

"The activity here is one of mindfulness and teamwork," explained Erin Carpenter, a recreational therapist with the WTB.

"The soldiers have to focus on one thing at a time, as they work together, much like they do in the military, to create something. They also leave with a sense of accomplishment."

As Carpenter talked, Spc. Jans Ruiz and Staff Sgt. Jose Munoz worked together to shape a piece of molten glass into a Popsicle.

As they turned and sniped away at the glass, they received encouragement from one of the museum's instructors.

"You guys are doing a great job," commented Rich Langley. "This is starting to look really good."

Nearby on a table, Ja'Dirah and Jo'Siah Howard drew pictures with the hope of seeing their drawings becoming pieces of art.

"This is a wonderful program for them and for me," commented their father, Master Sgt. Marvin Howard, a wounded warrior. "Just great."

>>> As Master Sgt. Marvin Howard watches, his children Ja'Dirah and Jo'Siah Howard draw pictures that may be created into glass art as part of the Museum of Glass' Hot Shop Heroes: Healing With Fire program. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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