22 October, 2019 05:58

Good morning, Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Tuesday, October 22, 2019, which is Clean Up the Earth Day, Eat a Pretzel Day, International Stuttering Awareness Day, National Nut Day, and Smart is Cool Day.

Today in American Legion History:

  • Oct. 22, 1934: The American Legion National Convention in Miami, Fla., is conducted in open air. Policy and legislative direction on the adjusted compensation bonuses, an issue that has divided the Legion, is the convention’s most pressing concern. Future National Commander Harry Colmery, who would later draft the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, leads a committee to forge new legislation, approved at the convention, to call for the federal government to fully and immediately pay the bonuses, bonds to compensate veterans for their wartime service, due to mature in 1945.

Today in History:

  • In a televised speech of extraordinary gravity, President John F. Kennedy announces on October 22, 1962, that U.S. spy planes have discovered Soviet missile bases in Cuba. These missile sites — under construction but nearing completion — housed medium-range missiles capable of striking a number of major cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C. Kennedy announced that he was ordering a naval “quarantine” of Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from transporting any more offensive weapons to the island and explained that the United States would not tolerate the existence of the missile sites currently in place. The president made it clear that America would not stop short of military action to end what he called a “clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace.”
  • 1975: Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, is given a “general” discharge by the air force after publicly declaring his homosexuality. Matlovich, who appeared in his air force uniform on the cover of Time magazine above the headline “I AM A HOMOSEXUAL,” was challenging the ban against homosexuals in the U.S. military.
  • 1965: In action this day near Phu Cuong, about 35 miles northwest of Saigon, PFC Milton Lee Olive III of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, throws himself on an enemy grenade and saves four soldiers, including his platoon leader, 1st Lt. James Sanford. Olive, a native of Chicago, was only 18 years old when he died; he received the Medal of Honor posthumously six months later. The city of Chicago honored its fallen hero by naming a junior college, a lakefront park, and a portion of the McCormick Place convention center after him.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • Stars & Stripes: mseaveywith “Remove” in the subject line. If you have received this from someone who forwarded it and would like to be added, email mseavey.

    Stars & Stripes: Problems facing military spouses are ‘an issue of national security,’ Brookings panel discussion concludes
    By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES | Published: October 21, 2019
    WASHINGTON — Matters that impact military spouses, such as unemployment, need to be part of national security discussions because of how they can undermine the nation’s volunteer military force, a panel of experts concluded Monday during a discussion at a Washington, D.C., think tank.
    “If we don’t get this right, the cracks in the all-volunteer force model are going to become big chasms. And I think things fall apart,” Michael Haynie, executive director at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, N.Y, said to an audience at the Brookings Institution.
    Unemployment is an ongoing problem for military spouses due to the elements that make up military life, such as frequent moves and living far from family and career networks. These factors can have a negative impact on career opportunities for spouses.
    In 2017, the most recent year for data, the unemployment rate for civilian military spouses was 24%, according to a Defense Department active-duty spouse survey released in February. The current unemployment rate for the United States is 3.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    For a military move, many spouses are forced to quit their job and face long periods of unemployment after relocating, according to a 2017 report, “Military Spouses in the Workplace,” by the Hiring Our Heroes military spouse program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The report also found spouses with college degrees “face the highest rates of unemployment and the most difficulty finding meaningful work.”
    “Spouses say the greatest challenge in seeking employment as a military spouse is companies not wanting to hire someone who may be moved,” the report states.
    Whether military families can make it on one income is a concern as the cost for things such as education and housing have outpaced inflation, according to Holly Petraeus, the former assistant director for service member affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an Army spouse for more than 37 years to retired Army Gen. David Petraeus.
    “I cringe when I see people piling up debt that is going to impact their entire lives,” she said.
    Though the military often invests money and education into service members, some of them still end up leaving because of the lack of job opportunities for their spouses, said Elizabeth O’Brien, the senior director of the Hiring Our Heroes military spouse program.
    “It absolutely, by our definition, becomes an issue of national security if after the Army has invested almost over a million dollars in my spouse, that we decide to walk. And now he’s gone,” she said as an example.
    “Eighty-one percent of military spouses and their service members have discussed the possibility of leaving the service, with the availability of career opportunities for both spouses cited as one of the top deciding factors,” according to the Hiring Our Heroes report.
    The impact of the issues concerning military families also trickles down to their children. During the past decade, Haynie said data has shown that military families are increasingly less likely to recommend military service to their children than they were five years ago.
    According to Blue Star Family’s 2017 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, done in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, 60% of military families that year were unwilling to recommend service to their children.
    “That should tell us something thing and it should scare us,” he said.
    Many military recruits come from military families. At the 2018 Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting, Dee Geise, the chief of the Army’s Soldier and Family Readiness Division, stated 61% of soldiers come from families where a parent, grandparent or sibling has served, according to an Army news release.

    Military Times: US has already pulled 2,000 troops from Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Miller says
    By: Diana Stancy Correll | 23 hours ago
    The U.S. is already cutting down the number of troops it has stationed in Afghanistan, according to the commanding officer of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and US Forces – Afghanistan.
    Army Gen. Austin Miller said Monday approximately 2,000 U.S. troops had left Afghanistan in the past year, the New York Times reports. That means there are approximately 12,000 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan — a decrease from the roughly 14,000 that were previously stationed there.
    The decrease is not connected to a formal withdrawal order, but instead is occurring as troops wrap up their tours in Afghanistan. Those troops leaving the country are then never replaced, U.S. and Afghan officials told the New York Times.
    Officials did not disclose further information; however, the New York Times reports that an Afghan official approved the move.
    Miller’s remarks come days after Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters traveling with him to Afghanistan on Saturday that a withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be “conditions based.” However, he said the U.S. believes only 8,600 troops are necessary to keep up current counter-terrorism operations.
    “With regard to a withdraw of forces, as we’ve always said, that it’ll be conditions based, but we’re confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our [counter-terrorism] operations, if you will,” Esper said.
    “​But all that — again, we think a political agreement is always the best way forward with regard to next steps in Afghanistan,” Esper added.
    When pressed whether the troop reduction would happen with or without a peace deal with the Taliban, Esper said he didn’t “want to get ahead of the diplomats on that front.”
    Peace negotiations with the Taliban crumbled in September after a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders at Camp David was canceled. President Donald Trump said that he called off the meeting after a U.S. soldier and 11 others were killed in a Taliban car bomb attack.
    Before the peace negotiations were dismantled, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad shared a draft of the U.S.-Taliban agreement with Afghan leaders. The plan would have required the U.S. to withdraw approximately 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan 135 days after signing the agreement, according to the Associated Press.
    The U.S. has had troops in Afghanistan since Oct. 2001 because the Taliban provided a safe haven for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

    Associated Press: Truck driver indicted on 23 counts in deaths of motorcyclists in NH crash
    By ASSOCIATED PRESS | Published: October 21, 2019
    LANCASTER, N.H. — A pickup driver accused of causing a collision that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire has been indicted on 23 charges saying he negligently caused the deaths and was under the influence of one or more drugs at the time.
    Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of Springfield, Mass., is to be arraigned by video on Nov. 5. He has been jailed without bail since the June 21 crash in Randolph.
    A Coos County grand jury handed up indictments Thursday on seven counts of negligent homicide, seven counts of negligent homicide-driving under the influence, seven counts of manslaughter-reckless, one count of driving while intoxicated, and one count of reckless conduct. If convicted of all charges, Zhukovskyy could face up to 378 years in prison. He previously has pleaded not guilty.
    A message was left with Zhukovskyy’s lawyer Monday.
    The negligent homicide-DUI charges accuse Zhukovskyy of driving under the influence of a controlled drug or drugs at the time of the crash. The manslaughter charges accuse Zhukovskyy of driving recklessly and swerving across the center line on Route 2.
    In August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that a toxicology report showed Zhukovskyy was positive for an unspecified drug that made him incapable of driving safely when his pickup crossed the center yellow line and crashed into the motorcyclists, members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club.
    Zhukovskyy also said that he reached for a drink on the passenger side of the truck just before the crash, according to the report. That violation was labeled as “inattentive driving.”

    Associated Press: 3 Fort Stewart soldiers died when vehicle fell from bridge during training, general says
    By: Russ Bynum, The Associated Press | 14 hours ago
    FORT STEWART, Ga. — Soldiers were training in darkness when their armored vehicle fell from a bridge and landed upside down in water below, killing three of those inside and injuring three others, the commanding general of Fort Stewart said Monday.
    Maj. Gen. Antonio Aguto struggled to hold back tears at a news conference as he read the names of the soldiers who died Sunday during a training exercise hours before dawn.
    "It is hard enough when you lose one soldier," Aguto said. "But when you lose three at one time, that pain is amplified. And we are really feeling and sharing that pain."
    The Army identified the soldiers who died as Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Jenkins, 41, of Gainesville, Florida; Cpl. Thomas Walker, 22, of Conneaut, Ohio; and Pfc. Antonio Garcia, 21, of Peoria, Arizona.
    The soldiers belonged to the 1st Armored Brigade of the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division. Aguto said the deadly crash happened shortly before 3:30 a.m. Sunday as the brigade was training for a rotation early next year at the Army’s National Training Center in California.
    Six soldiers were riding in a Bradley fighting vehicle in a training area of the sprawling Army post southwest of Savannah when it "rolled off a bridge and was submerged upside down in a stream," Aguto said.
    Aguto and Michael Barksdale, the Army’s lead investigator on the crash, declined to give further details such as how far the vehicle fell and the depth of the water. The Army is conducting autopsies to determine how the soldiers died. Investigators from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, expect to take up to four weeks before giving Fort Stewart commanders a preliminary report, Barksdale said.
    Three other soldiers in the vehicle were injured. Two were treated and released from an Army hospital the day of the crash. The third remained hospitalized Monday with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening, Aguto said.
    The training exercise being conducted early Sunday had been planned and rehearsed ahead of time, Aguto said. And while the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor swept across southeast Georgia late Saturday and early Sunday, Aguto said there had been no severe weather warnings and the storm’s rain and winds had already passed before the crash occurred.
    At least 12 Army soldiers have died in nine training accidents across the U.S. in 2019, including the crash Sunday at Fort Stewart, according to the Army Combat Readiness Center, which investigates fatal accidents.
    "The training is tough, realistic and we train for all sorts of conditions no matter where we would go," Aguto said. "You would expect us to do that. And that was the case in this instance."
    Aguto said Fort Stewart would plan a memorial service for the soldiers who died. Jenkins recently finished his 18th year in the Army and was a veteran of two tours in Iraq.
    Walker and Garcia, roughly 20 years younger, had never deployed overseas. Walker enlisted in 2016, while Garcia joined the Army last year.

    Associated Press: Historic discovery: Researchers find second warship from WWII Battle of Midway
    Caleb Jones, Associated Press | Published 10:55 a.m. ET Oct. 21, 2019 | Updated 1:07 p.m. ET Oct. 21, 2019
    MIDWAY ATOLL, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands – A crew of deep-sea explorers and historians looking for lost World War II warships have found a second Japanese aircraft carrier that went down in the historic Battle of Midway.
    Vulcan Inc. director of undersea operations Rob Kraft and Naval History and Heritage Command historian Frank Thompson reviewed high-frequency sonar images of the warship Sunday and say its dimensions and location mean it has to be the carrier Akagi.
    The Akagi was found in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument resting in nearly 18,000 feet of water more than 1,300 miles northwest of Pearl Harbor.
    The researchers used an autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV, equipped with sonar to find the ship. The vehicle had been out overnight collecting data, and the image of a warship appeared in the first set of readings Sunday morning.
    The first scan used low-resolution sonar, so the crew sent the AUV back to get higher-quality images.
    “I’m sure of what we’re seeing here. The dimensions that we’re able to derive from this image (are) conclusive,” Kraft said. “It can be none other than Akagi.”
    The vessel is sitting in a pile of debris, and the ground around the warship is clearly disturbed by the impact of the ship on the seafloor.
    “She’s sitting upright on her keel, we can see the bow, we can see the stern clearly, you can see some of the gun emplacements on there, you can see that some of the flight deck is also torn up and missing so you can actually look right into where the flight deck would be,” Kraft said.
    The find comes on the heels of the discovery of another Japanese carrier, the Kaga, last week.
    “We read about the battles. We know what happened. But when you see these wrecks on the bottom of the ocean and everything, you kind of get a feel for what the real price is for war,” said Frank Thompson, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C., who is aboard the Petrel. “You see the damage these things took, and it’s humbling to watch some of the video of these vessels because they’re war graves.”
    Until now, only one of the seven ships that went down in the June 1942 air and sea battle – five Japanese vessels and two American – had been located.
    The crew of the research vessel Petrel hopes to find and survey all lost ships from the Battle of Midway, which historians consider a pivotal victory for the U.S. in the Pacific.
    The battle was fought between American and Japanese aircraft carriers and warplanes about 200 miles off Midway Atoll, a former military installation that the Japanese hoped to capture in a surprise attack.
    U.S. forces, however, intercepted Japanese communications and were waiting. More than 2,000 Japanese and 300 Americans died.
    The expedition is an effort started by Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft. For years, the crew of the 250-foot Petrel has worked with the U.S. Navy and other officials around the world to locate and document sunken ships. It has found more than 30 vessels.
    Kraft says the crew’s mission started with Allen’s desire to honor his father’s military service. Allen died last year.
    “It really extends beyond that at this time,” Kraft said. “We’re honoring today’s service members. It’s about education and, you know, bringing history back to life for future generations.”

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