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May 23, 2014 at 3:45pm

Clover Park School District receives Department of Defense Educational Activity grant

Do you think the Clover Park School District bugs out early for Memorial Day Weekend? No, they do not. Just received good news from Gary Sabol, the community relations manage for the district:

Clover Park School District has received a Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA) grant to improve K-12 student achievement at Lakewood Career Academy, Lakes High School and Woodbrook and Mann Middle Schools. The funds will focus on math and science achievement utilizing technology and engineering methods and provide teachers with professional development opportunities in science, engineering practices and computer science. The grant is also intended to improve each student's sense of community, personal responsibility and well-being through further development and expansion of positive school culture-building programs. Teachers will also receive training in positive school culture-building programs. This is the fourth DoDEA grant the district has received.

"These grants have been helpful in improving academic and support services to the district's military-connected student population, strengthening relations between schools and families and cementing the partnership between the district and Joint Base Lewis-McChord," said Maria Flores, supervisor of curriculum and instruction.

The funding of the three-year, $1.755 million grant begins June 15 and runs through August 2017.

May 22, 2014 at 1:45pm

Defusing Defeat: 3rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion competes for national recognition

Staff Sgt. Michael Frechette, 3rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, explains one of the challenges soldiers faced in the EOD Team of the Year Competition. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The four plastic yellow jugs with the red tops have fuses running out of them.

Leaning next to the jugs was a canister full of nuts and bolts.

These were bombs of the homemade variety, and they all had to be defused.

"It's going to be a long day for the team that has to work this cache," said Staff Sgt. Michael Frechette, 3rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, as we stood in an underground bunker on Range 101.

"And if they make one mistake a buzzer will sound, meaning they made a mistake."

If the bombs were real, the mistake would be fatal.

"These teams have to be very careful and thorough," explained 1st Lt. Aaron Stutts as we left the bunker.

"It's what makes this competition as intense as it is."

Over the past several days, the 3rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion has been conducting an intensive ordnance disposal and military skills competition.

The battalion is assigned to the 71st Ordnance Group at Fort Carson, Colo.

>>> Four simulated bombs wait for a three-soldier team to defuse during the EOD Team of the Year Competition. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Over the past several months, the battalion has been conducting team and individual-level military training to prepare for the competition.

The competition's events include a physical fitness test, a 10-mile ruck march, a casualty evacuation from a minefield, an improvised explosive land, an unexploded chemical ordnance lane, a suicide vest situation and weapons marksmanship.

"It is intense, no doubt about it," commented 1st Lt. Kurt Peterson, the battalion's public affairs officer.

"These soldiers are repeatedly put to the test."

Three teams of three soldiers faced one different problem after another.  On each challenge their skills were judged and points tallied.

The team with the most points would win the competition and move on to Fort Carson to compete in the 71st Group competition.

"The team that goes on to represent JBLM on the national level, and that speaks of us," Stutts said.

May 21, 2014 at 3:47pm

Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosts Memorial Day ceremony, participates in community memorials

The Ranger and Northwest Airlifter newspapers, with cover the Army and Air Force at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, are shipped off to the press every Wednesday around this time. It also happens to be the time Joint Base Lewis-McChord Public Affairs Office sends us news releases. This week, the PAO alerts us to JBLM's involvement on Memorial Day. Let's take a look. ...

Joint Base Lewis-McChord will honor the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the United States with a Memorial Day ceremony Monday, May 26, at 11:30 a.m. at the base cemetery, the Fort Lewis Cemetery.

Read more...

May 21, 2014 at 12:10pm

JBLM roller derby team Bettie Brigade adds live rock and roll to its May 24 bout

The Bettie Brigade consists of soldiers, veterans, military spouses and DOD civilians. They moved off JBLM in hopes of reaching out to more civilian fans. Courtesy photo

Ready to rock and roll?

You can help support JBLM's roller derby teams - Bettie Brigade and its junior varsity squad JBLM Bratz - by attending this Saturday's double-header, then staying to celebrate with live and local rock bands.

The team, who have recently moved their headquarters off base to the "Bettie Bunker" in Lacey, need to raise money to support their new home - meaning they need to add bathrooms and emergency exits. Currently, port-a-potties are set up outside the front door.

"Being a non-profit organization,we depend on our fundraising events, skater dues, as well as donations to make improvements to our practice space," said Melissa Garibay, aka Miley Virus, skater with Bettie Brigade.

So what better way to throw a fundraiser then with live music? Mach Society, Buffalo Skies and Mosquito Hawk will rock for the rollers in an after-bout party that includes a meet and greet with the skaters, food and drinks.

Costumes are encouraged to support your favorite era: '80s neon or l'90s grunge.

Tickets are $10 from your favorite Bettie or through Brown Paper Tickets, or $12 at the door. Kids 8 and younger are free.

The concert is $5, or free with attendance to the bout.

JBLM BETTIE BRIGADE MAY-HEM INTERLEAGUE BOUT, doors open at 5 p.m., wheels roll at 6 p.m., music starts at 9 p.m., Saturdfay, may 24, Bettie Bunker, 5700 Lacey Blvd, Lacey, $5-$12, website

LINK: Words and photos from a previous Bettie Brigade bout

May 18, 2014 at 8:47am

Words & Photos: JBLM celebrates Armed Forces Day 2014

Army veteran and retiree Rick Tweddell spends some time in the stocks. "My wife likes this idea," he quipped. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Ethan Starr's interest was piqued.

"I'm interested in explosive ordinance disposal," he said as his friend, Cody Whitman, helped him into a protective suit.

"I think I would like to serve in the Army."

One of several thousand visitors, Starr had found the nation's 64th Armed Forces Day celebration at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to his liking.

"It's good to get a glimpse of what soldiers do," Starr continued.

Begun on Aug. 31, 1949 by then Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, Armed Forces Day allows the military to highlight its service members and their equipment to the general public.

It is also a day to honor and acknowledge soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines for the service they provide.

>>> Thousands attended the nation's 64th Armed Forces Day celebration at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>> With the help of some face paint, Patrick Provencio began to look like a Ninja Turtle. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>> Members of the Washington Civil War Association fire a 10-pound Parott Cannon during a Civil War reenactment at Memorial Stadium. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Highlighting events at JBLM's Memorial and Cowan stadiums yesterday were historical displays, carnival rides, a variety of foods and drinks, a climbing wall, music and entertainment, a 10K Volksmarch and Civil War reenactments.

"It's really a fun day," commented Army veteran Rick Tweddell moments after being freed from some stocks used as a form of punishment in the 1700s.

"It is good that the Armed Forces are remembered and supported by the public."

>>> Brooklynn Yeates takes the controls of a MH-60 Helicopter during Armed Forces Day festivities at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>> Eric Haines - the One Man Band - entertained visitors to Joint Base Lewis-McChord with his music and singing. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

May 16, 2014 at 4:58pm

Ride in Remembrance raises funds to honor fallen 2-2 SBCT soldiers at JBLM

Sgt. 1st Class Matt Collins, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment prepares to ride 60 miles during the "Ride in Remembrance" fundraiser put on by the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund and Northwest Harley-Davidson, May 16. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

On his Saturday morning walks through Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Memorial Park, Col. Louis Zeisman pauses to honor the base's fallen heroes

"My family and I walk through here," the commander of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, recently said.

"It's a way to remember, and we treat it as a place of honor."

In the park are monuments honoring the 3rd and 4th Stryker Combat Brigade Teams, 42nd Military Police Brigade and the 555th Engineer Brigade.

What Zeisman does not see is a memorial honoring the brigade he commands.

That will soon change.

"Currently, our memo to build a memorial is at the Pentagon," he said.

Comprised of two tall pillars of granite, the names of the fallen will be etched in stone. In between the pillars will be a bench with footsteps walking away.

"When you see the footsteps walking off by themselves, it touches everybody," Zeisman added.

>>> More than 200 bikers rolled by the diagram showing the memorial 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund want to build to honor those lost in Afghanistan. Photo credit: J.M. Simspon

The brigade deployed to Afghanistan on two separate occasions.

Some history is in order.

5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed in 2009 thru 2010.  Thirty-seven soldiers did not come home. 

In 2010, 5th Brigade reflagged as the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.  It deployed to Afghanistan from 2011 thru 2012.  Eight soldiers lost their lives.

The memorial will honor the fallen from the brigade's two deployments to Afghanistan as well as those who died in training.

Leading the effort to build the memorial is the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.

Connie Dotson, wife of 2nd Brigade's top enlisted soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Dotson and the chairwoman of the fund, said the organization has worked for over a year to raise funds.

"We've got $13,000 in the bank," she said this morning as more than 200 motorcycles roared to life at the Northwest Harley-Davidson in Lacey.

The daylong event also featured food, music and a number of vendors. All proceeds went to fund the memorial.

"We need $60,000 to complete the memorial and fly the family members of those lost out here for the dedication," Dotson explained.

The granite for the memorial has already been delivered. All the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund group need is to receive an OK from the Department of Army and finish its fund raising.

"I'm confident we will make our goal," Dotson said.

"We expect to have the memorial finished by May of next year."

>>> Pfc. Kevin DeJesus, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, holds up his shirt before the "Ride in Remembrance," May 16. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Dubbed "The Ride in Remembrance," hundreds of motorcycle riders - most of whom active duty or veterans riding Harley-Davidsons - and thousands of soldiers, family members and community leaders showed up to support the fund raising.

"It's an honor to be here today and ride in support of the memorial," said Sgt. 1st Class Matt Collins, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, as he fired up his Harley.

"No one should be forgotten."

For more information about 2nd Brigade's memorial and fundraising efforts, visit www.lancerfund.org.

May 16, 2014 at 9:10am

JBLM 1st Special Forces honors fallen soldiers

Deputy Commander Col. Max Carpenter pays tribute to fallen soldiers during a Memorial Day observance at 1st Special Forces Group Headquarters at JBLM, May 15. Photo credit: Gail Wood

In a somber tribute to the soldiers who have died fighting with the 1st Special Forces Group, Col. Max Carpenter thanked the fallen for their ultimate sacrifice for freedom during an early Memorial Day service at 1st SFG Headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, May 15.

He reminded everyone that freedom isn't free.

"Let us all remember that our nation is the greatest nation because we have warriors who know that freedom has a cost," Carpenter said, reading from a speech from Col. Bob McDowell. "And that the cost is worth paying if it means that our families and our nation remain free."

After Carpenter's speech, Master Sgt. Tad Duvitt then read the 22 names of the Green Berets who have died fighting in the war against terrorism since 9/11. A bell was rung as each soldier's name was read. 

"Rather than mourn, we celebrate," Carpenter said.

There were two families of the soldiers killed in action present at the 45-minute ceremony at the black granite Memorial Wall for the fallen 1st Special Forces Group.

Carpenter, the deputy commander of the 1st Special Forces, reminded everyone that a country's freedom never comes with guarantees.

"Ron Reagan once said that freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction," Carpenter said. "We did not pass it along to our children in our bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them for them to do the same."

To the families present, Carpenter, reading from McDowell's speech, said "we'll remain forever in your debt for your sacrifice." McDowell, the commander of the 1st Special Forces, was on assignment in the Philippines and couldn't attend the memorial service.

There are 177 names on the Memorial Wall, which include soldiers from 1st Special Forces who died in Vietnam. Twenty-two of them died in the past decade in the war against the Taliban.

"On this wall to my left are the names of the sons, husbands and brothers," Carpenter read. "They provide an eternal example of what is good and right in our nation. Men who have done more than give their life for their nation. They have given their life so that others may remain free."

That standard, Carpenter said, is what the soldiers from the 1st Special Forces in formation at the ceremony should carry on without them and fulfill the mission of freedom. Carpenter praised the fallen soldiers who all raised their hands and volunteered to do what others wouldn't.

"They stood tall and placed themselves into positions to protect those who couldn't protect themselves," Carpenter said. "As this war comes to an end for the majority of our forces, we know the sacrifices made by those who wear the green and red beret of the 1st Special Forces will go on." 

After the reading of the fallen soldiers' names, two men dressed in kilts playing bagpipes played several songs, including "Amazing Grace." As the bagpipes were played, gun fire at a distant firing range on base could be heard, a subtle reminder that there will continue to be other challenges facing the freedoms of this country and the need for other sacrifices.

"In addition to never forgetting these men, we owe these men that we will remain vigilant against our nation's adversaries," Carpenter said. "We owe these men to live life to the fullest, to cherish our God, our families, our teammates with all that we have in our finite time on this earth."

May 15, 2014 at 11:20am

JBLM gives back to retirement community

Any military retiree, regardless of their branch of service or where they presently reside, as well as dependents and surviving spouses, are welcome to come out on Friday and take advantage of the pooled resources at the Military Retiree Appreciation Day (RAD).

Joint Base Lewis-McChord will host the annual event from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 16, at the American Lake Conference Center, located on JBLM North. The first RAD was held over 20 years ago and it has grown exponentially since then, especially with the joint basing.

"This day is set aside to give back to the retirement community. You were important, you are important and you are going to continue to be important to the military," said Alex Silva, JBLM's Retirement Services Officer. "We appreciate them and the active duty military appreciates them."

Read more...

May 11, 2014 at 11:33am

593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command hosts first annual triathlon

I Corps Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Ken Dahl gets ready to ride 90K during the 593rd’s first Rest Assured Challenge Triathlon, May 10.

Training for and competing in a triathlon can become habitual.

And a lot of fun.

Just listen to what one person had to say about Brig. Gen. Kurt Ryan, commander of the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), understanding of such events.

"He likes to push people to be their best," commented Maj. Virginia Supanick as she prepared.

"It's a habit with him; he wants the best for the individual soldier and for the team."

The 593rd provides deployable mission command to support joint forces, coalition forces and civil authorities; supports sustainment, theater opening, and opportunities to enable freedom of action in the Pacific Command's area of operations in support of land operations.

The unit's motto is "Rest Assured."

Combat readiness based on mentally and physically prepared soldiers - to say nothing of a sense of teamwork and high morale - is key to the success of the 593rd.

To that end, the unit hosted it first annual "Rest Assured Challenge" triathlon at Soldiers Field House yesterday. More than 120 individuals and 44 teams participated.

>>> Sgt. 1st Class Francis Famlarcano, 47th Combat Support Hospital, gets ready for a 500-meter swim, 90-kilometer bike ride and 3 mile run. Photo credit: J.M. Simspon

>>> Two participants in the "Rest Assured Challenge" 593rd Triathlon compete in the 500-meter swim. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"This is a great message about physical fitness and teamwork," said Maj. Gen. Ken Dahl, I Corps' deputy commander, moments before beginning the challenge.

"For some of us it got us out of bed," he added with a hearty laugh.

"I've done bicycle rides and runs before, but the swim is new to me," he added.

"I plan to finish by Tuesday," commented 1st Sgt. Scott Taub, 42nd Military Police Brigade, to more laughter.

"Seriously though, we're out here to set an example, to show what we can do."

>>> Maj. Margarita Dunlap, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, laces on her bike riding shoes.  "I will meet the challenge to do all three events," she commented. Photo credit: J.M. Simspon

>>> One of the over 300 participants in the "Rest Assured Challenge" 593rd Triathlon heads out for a 90 kilometer bike ride.  He had already swum 500 meters and would run 3 miles to complete the event. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

A 500-meter swim, a 90-kilometer bicycle ride and a 3-mile run comprised the challenge. The order and distance of the three events were deliberately chosen to mirror the numbers "593."

For many of the soldiers participating, the event represented their first attempt at competing in a triathlon.

"I have an interest in this challenge," said Capt. Chad Peabody, 42nd Military Police Brigade as he pinned his number to his shirt.

"This is my first one, and I am anxious to see how I do."

For one soldier, the challenge represented a good warm-up for other triathlons he hopes to compete in.

"I've been doing triathlons for the past six or seven years," Master Sgt. Kris Rick, Task Force Raider, said.

"I'll use the swim as a warm-up, the bike ride as a work out, and the run as a cool down," he said with a smile.

Here is the list of the individual and team winners:
Top Male and Fastest Male Officer - Maj. Eric Reid
Top Female and Fastest Female Officer - Cpt. Allison Anderson
Fastest Male NCO - 1st. Sgt. Kristopher Rick
Fastest Female NCO - Sgt. Brittany Dufour
Fastest Male Soldier - Spc. Ryan Mitchell
Fastest Officer Team - Lt. Katie Whitmore, Maj. Jason Critzer, Cpt. Floyd White
Fastest Enlisted Team - Sgt. 1st Class Robert Edwards, Spc. Corey Sigmund

May 9, 2014 at 10:52am

Military Retiree Appreciation Day at JBLM May 16

What's better than a Armed Forces Day at Joint Base Lewis-McChord? JBLM hosting a Military Retiree Appreciation Day the day before. ...

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash - Joint Base Lewis-McChord will host its annual Military Retiree Appreciation Day event Friday, May 16, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at American Lake Conference Center, on JBLM Lewis-North. Event officials are expecting approximately 2,500 military beneficiaries to attend.

Military Retiree Appreciation Day events include:

  • Madigan Healthcare System Health Fair - opens at 7:30 a.m. for blood sugar and cholesterol testing (requires blood draw, 12-hours fasting before test), blood pressure checks (no caffeine or tobacco for 3 hours prior). Participants should bring vaccination records for review. The fair will also feature informational exhibits and information about Tri-Care medical and dental benefits and other social support services.
  • ID Card issuance and replacement - Retirees and family members enrolled or eligible for enrollment in DEERS can update information and replace military ID cards at the event (bring DD214, Marriage Certificate, Divorce Decree or Death Certificate and two forms of identification if needed to verify eligibility).
  • Legal Assistance Station - information and no-fee preparation of wills; general, special, or medical powers of attorney, and answers to legal questions provided by I Corps and JBLM Staff Judge Advocate's Office.
  • Vehicle Registration - Retirees may register vehicles for use on base at the on-site registration table (bring valid proof of insurance card, state registration, state driver's license, and military ID card). Information about firearms registration will also be available at this station.
  • VA Benefits Review - Washington Dept. of Veterans Affairs will host a Compensation Review Station for veterans who wish to initiate or seek an increased disability rating, Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), or determine eligibility for new or expanded benefits created by recent changes in federal law for retirees with service-connected disabilities (bring DD214 and information about any other VA benefits received).
  • Veterans Information Expo - Booths representing state and federal, and non-profit agencies will be staffed by employees and other individuals knowledgeable about benefits and services their organization has available for military retirees.

About this blog

News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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