Iwo Jima: Where uncommon valor was a common virtue

August 4, 2009
On Feb. 17, 1945, Marines invaded a small island in the Pacific Ocean, defended by 22,000 Japanese Imperial soldiers. During the month-long battle, almost every Japanese soldier would be killed, and the devil dogs would suffer approximately 26,000 casualties – making it one of the biggest battles in the history of the Marine Corps.

Service members from various units aboard station visited the island of Iwo Jima to remember past heroes and get a better understanding of the battle, during a battle site study group, Jan. 14-15.

“It is important to know where we’ve been in order to get where we are going,” said Gunnery Sgt. Rob L. Warmbir, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting material chief and native of Canon City, Colo.

During the visit, the Marines broke off into different groups to explore the island. Many went straight to the top of Mount Suribachi, where “old glory” was raised, while others explored the black sands, where the “old breed” Marines first landed.

“It was epic for me,” said Warmbir. “I have been back East and walked along Gettysburg and the Vietnam memorial. But when I went to those places, I wanted to be by myself – because it is such a personal thing. Being in a small group and being with Marines, makes it much more special and I still had time to myself and not be overcrowded with a bunch of tourists.”

During the trip, the Marines were able to sleep under the stars and lay on the same ground where Marines fought and died during the battle.

“I had a little bit of trouble sleeping,” said Warmbir. “I was thinking about, not ghouls and goblins, but how many Marines had died there and how small I felt looking up at the beautiful starry night. It made me feel small and insignificant. I felt like a tourist in an honorable place.”

In the morning, the service members met on top of Mount Suribachi to enjoy the sun rise and see where the Marines raised the flag, which was captured in Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph.

“Being at the top and seeing the famous plaque that says ‘uncommon value was a common virtue,’ – was surreal to me,” said Warmbir. “I taught that as a drill instructor, and to actually be there and put my hands on what I had taught to countless recruits is huge.”

After climbing up Mount Suribachi and seeing where the flag was raised, the service members explored the rest of the island. There were a lot of sites to see, including tunnels and old cannons. Many of the Marines felt that exploring the tunnels was one of the most interesting parts of the trip.

“Going in the tunnels was the best part … it was like a maze,” said Lance Cpl. Drew L. Wright, station commanding officer’s driver and native of Wheat Ridge, Colo. “It was crazy to think this is where so many enemies hid during the battle, waiting to kill Marines.”

The service members left Iwo Jima, thinking about their experience and what they had learned. On the plane ride back, it was common to hear a Marine say, “Iwo Jima was awesome,” and how they would remember the trip for the rest of their life.

“I had a blast, I would do it again in a heart beat,” said Wright. “It is such a limited experience. Not that many people get to go to Iwo Jima and climb Mount Suribachi.”



Iwakuni Marines explore Japan’s capital

August 4, 2009
With a population of over eight million residents, this city is home to both Japanese culture and history. With areas like Shibuya for shopping, Roppongi for partying, and the Imperial Palace; this city is a must for anyone who travels to Japan.

Station Marines and sailors visited one of the most populated cities in the world, Tokyo, during a Single Marine Program trip, July 12 through 18.

“I was looking for ideas to give Marines and sailors a chance to see the many culture sites through out Japan like Miyajima, Kintai Castle and Shuhodo caves,” said Jay Stovall, SMP coordinator. “The logical choice was to visit the largest city and capital of Japan. The trip was an extension of the SMP’s parameters of providing constructive recreation that was originally designed and guided by single Marines themselves. From south Japan, we don’t get many opportunities to seize some of the sites in Tokyo and Mount Fuji.”

During the week-long visit, the service members stayed at the New Sanno Hotel, which is located in the Azabu residential area of Tokyo. The luxurious hotel offers services to military personnel and their guests. It is in walking distance from the local train station, which networks around Tokyo.

“The hotel was awesome, we had great service,” remarked Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronnie Nix, station adjutant clerk and native of Maplesville, Ala. “I felt like I was a millionaire staying in a very expensive hotel, like in a Hilton.”

During the trip one of the first places the service members visited was, Disneyland. The fun-filled amusement park offers a cozy and child-like atmosphere for everyone, no matter what age. Though out the day, it was common to hear a Marine burst out and say, “Let’s go check out this ride, it was one of my favorites when I was kid.”

“Disneyland was pretty good, it was a little different than the one back in the states, but for the most part, they seemed to have the same things,” said Lance Cpl. Mathew T. Weigand, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron air traffic controller and native of Ventura, Calif. “Disneyland is always a good time, it’s for kids, but at the same time, it has all of the characters that you grew up with. Even as an adult, it gives you that idea that you can go back to childhood and just hangout. One of my favorite rides is ‘It’s a small world.’ It’s been a tradition ever since I was a kid. Being in Tokyo I had to go on it.”

After a day of walking around with some of America’s most famous cartoon characters, it was time for the service members to change it up a little bit by experiencing some of the culture and history behind the capital of Japan. The group visited Kamakura, which is located in Kanagawa Prefecture. While walking around the many temples, shrines, and historical monuments, the Marines and sailors learned many interesting facts about the area and the history surrounding it.

“It reminded me of the old Japanese architecture in the movie ‘The Last Samurai,’” said Weigand. “Even though that movie takes place a long time ago, all of the buildings looked exactly the same as in the movie.”

On the last day of the trip, it was time to check off one of the many obstacles on every adventurers check list, Mount Fuji. The volcanic mountains towers 12,388 feet above the sea, and has been awing artists, admirers, and climbers from all over the world for centuries. For the service members it was a challenge, which tested them both mentally and physically.

“Mount Fuji gets really challenging when you get to the high altitudes and the oxygen is really low. You have to stop frequently just to catch your breath,” said Nix. Not being able to see the top is kind of discouraging. But once you get to the top, you’re glad you did it. It is a once in a lifetime thing, how many people do you know from your hometown who will be able to say, ‘I climbed Mount Fuji.’ There’s not that many people who can. Plus you got the Fuji stick to prove it, with all of the stamps on it.”

On the 12-hour bus ride back to their home in Iwakuni, the Marines and sailors were able to reflect on the past five days, dazed after the visit to one of the biggest and interesting cities in Japan. Not only will they have stories to tell their friends back in Iwakuni, but will have them for the rest of their lives.

“I’ve been to a lot of places and every time I go somewhere new, I sit there and think to myself, I can’t believe I am getting paid to do this,” smiled Nix. “I grew up in Alabama and if you would have told me I was going to climb Mount Fuji, I would have been like, what’s Mount Fuji? But now that I have done it, it’s like wow, not too many people get to do that in their lifetime.”

Age old business now a punishable offense

August 4, 2009
MCAS IWAKUNI, Japan — Military leaders now have something new in their arsenal to combat a medical and moral detriment to service members.

According to a new provision to the Manual for Courts-Martial, which was set into motion Nov. 15, patronizing a prostitute is now a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“Under the UCMJ, it has always been illegal to prostitute oneself, now it is an offense to patronize a prostitute,” said Capt. Adam J. Workman, prosecutor and native of Salt Lake City. “The new provision is good for morality, health and national security.”

The new provision makes the offense punishable by up to one year in jail and a dishonorable discharge.

In the past, patronizing a prostitute was prosecuted under the general article 134 of the UCMJ which covers good order and discipline.

“The new provision makes patronizing a prostitute an official offense,” said Workman.

There are many reasons the new provision has been established. It is not only morally and medically detrimental to service members but the business also supports crime. 
“Recently, authorities have linked a connection between prostitution and our enemies,” said Workman. “The money generated by prostitution ends up in the hands of organized criminals and ultimately terrorists.”

Not only has the criminal underground in prostitution been a problem, DoD has also taken a stand against human trafficking.
According to a government report in 2003, an estimated 800,000 people worldwide are trafficked across borders each year. Many of the victims are forced into prostitution and sexual exploitation.
“Human trafficking is criminal and deprives the victim of their rights and dignities as a human being,” said Navy Lt. Joseph D. Reardon, Marine Aircraft Group 12 Deputy Chaplain and native of Kansas City, Miss. “Human beings are treated as mere tools.”
Even with all of the criminal reasons to outlaw prostitution, morality is also a factor.
“Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person that engages in it,” added Reardon. “Prostitution reduces the person to an instrument and is outside the sanctity of the love between a husband and wife.”
Since prostitutes tend to have a large number of sexual partners, there are many health risks involved.
“There are significant medical consequences to human trafficking and prostitution,” said Navy Cmdr. Michael M. Jacobs, MAG-12 Surgeon and native of Anaheim, Calif. “There are a number of viral and bacterial diseases that are transmitted through sexual contact, even with protective measures. Among others, sexually transmitted diseases include HIV, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital warts and molluscum.”

Sexual exploitation and prostitution not only affects the customers but also the prostitutes who many times are forced into the job.

“Don’t think for one minute these women are not being harmed,” said Jacobs. “Marines and sailors who patronize prostitutes inflict psychological and emotional trauma on another human being.”


Rare air-combat training success for Iwakuni squadron

August 4, 2009


Imagine being upside down in the cockpit of a roaring jet flying 500 miles per hour. While in this acute state, you are shooting at a massive tow banner at a couple thousand feet away. The speeds involved, margin for error and split-second timing make target practice a very intense experience every single time.

That’s what training was like for pilots from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (All-Weather) 225, a MCAS Miramar unit assigned here as part of the six month unit deployment program, during high air-to-air gunnery training here Dec. 19-21.
“In tow banner training, one aircraft flies with a target banner attached to a long cable while four other aircraft fly a circular pattern around the banner and shoot at it,” said Maj. Gregory I. Smith, VMFA(AW)-225 assistant aviation mechanics officer.

“We don’t get to shoot the gun in an air environment very often,” said Capt. Kirk J. Bush, VMFA(AW)-225 pilot and native of The Dalles, Oregon. “Being able to do this type of training allows us to train like we fight.”
While high in the skies over the Sea of Japan, the pilots took chase and used the banner for target practice for the M-61A1/A2 Vulcan 20 mm cannon.
“Shooting the gun is amazing,” said Bush. “It gets your heart beating.”

During the shootout, each pilot received 400 rounds to blaze through the banner, even though the Vulcan cannon is capable of shooting 4,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute.

“Very few aircrews that squeeze the trigger don’t have a smile creep across their face as they hear the cannon go off,” said Capt. Richard J. Allain, VMFA(AW)-225 flight officer and native of Niceville, Fla.

The training not only helped out the aircrews in the skies, but also Marines on the ground.
Every morning of the exercise, ordnance Marines on the ground attached the 1,500 foot tow cable to the back of the leading aircraft.

“One of the hardest parts is cable assembly,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin C. McCormick, VMFA(AW)-225 ordnance supervisor. “You have to check every portion of the cable to make sure it is perfect. We have to make sure the tow banner doesn’t fall off or breakaway on take off.”

Once the banner was attached and checked, the aircraft took off dragging the tow banner along the runway.

“It’s cool to be able to watch the tow banner make it off the runway,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Krenz, VMFA(AW)-225 ordnance technician and native of Boise, Idaho. “It’s gratifying to see something you work on actually do what it is supposed to do.”
Once the adrenaline rush went away, the Marines went over everything that happened and considered the training a success.

“The exercise was a safe and successful evolution,” said Allain. “The aircrews were able to fly the pattern and employ the weapon system effectively.”

“Being able to see the banner come back with bullet holes is very motivating,” said Krenz.

Have Guns, Will Travel

August 4, 2009

With a blanket of bullets zipping over their heads and the sound of enemy mortars getting closer and closer, ground forces realize there is only one way out: Fly in the “big guns.”

“We are pinned down. We need close air support now,” said a shaky voice over the radio.

“Copy that. We’re on our way,” was the reply.

A few minutes later, two helicopters in the distant sky came flying in — ready to engage the enemy.

Then two quick, yet earth shaking booms sounded. Then there was silence.

This combat situation paints a picture of how Marines on the ground can utilize close air support to help repel an enemy’s assault.

To help prepare for such a scenario, Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, dubbed the “Gunrunners,” train in one of their mission essential tasks – offensive air support with the UH-1N “Huey” helicopter.

“It’s that centerpiece of what we do to support the (Marine Air Ground Task Force),” said Capt. Ryan T. Roche, HML/A-269 future operations officer. “It’s probably not a bad feeling when a young Marine on the ground, who’s in need of close air support, sees or hears rotors coming over his shoulder to apply more pressure to the threat.

“We’re like a flying weapons company in support of the guys on the ground,” added Roche, a native of Jacksonville, N.C. “We are Marines flying for Marines on the ground.”

One of the weapons the “Huey” uses in their training exercises is the LAU-68 rocket launcher. Each individual rocket launcher can hold up to seven 2.75 inch rockets.

“It’s motivating and exciting to shoot the rockets,” said Roche. “It really opens your eyes when those rockets come off. It’s like throwing a mortar at something.”

Another option in the “Huey’s” arsenal used to suppress the enemy is the M-240D machine gun. The crew-served weapon, manned by a crew chief, is capable of shooting 650 to 950 rounds per minute.

“It’s empowering. There is really nothing else like it,” said Sgt. Corey Lee, a HML/A-269 crew chief and native of Sturgis, Mich. “What’s better than getting behind a gun? We’re getting paid to fly around and blow stuff up. I bet a civilian would pay $10,000 to do a (close air support) flight.”

Cpl. Cody J. Nyegaard, a vehicle commander with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, knows firsthand about having helicopters back him up in combat.

“It’s definitely helpful, because they could see a lot more than we could,” said Nyegaard, a native of Silverton, N.J. “They have the firepower to back us up if we ever need it and they scare the enemy. The enemy tends to keep their heads down and not shoot at us when there is a helicopter right above them. It’s good to know someone in the sky can see farther down the road than we can.”

With squadrons like the “Gunrunners” around, Marines on the ground have reassurance someone is providing support from above.

“We respect the guy on the ground who has a rifle against his shoulder and is moving forward,” said Roche. “There’s no better place than to be right over his shoulder trying to help him.”

Winger to grunt:Sergeant drops wrench, picks up rifle, fulfills career ambition as infantryman

August 4, 2009

“Who here really wants to be at Marine Combat Training?” asked an MCT instructor to his students.

“I do sergeant,” said a private. “This is infantry training.”

“Are you serious,” the sergeant said laughing. “If you are really interested in the infantry, you should switch over to Infantry Training Battalion.”

Fifteen minutes later, the young devil dog is standing in front of the commanding officer with a request to switch to the infantry.

“Son, you are telling me that you would rather miss out on a possible $60,000 a year job coming out of the aviation side of the Marine Corps to give it all away and go into the infantry,” said the commanding officer.

“That’s correct, sir.”

“Get out of my office,” the commanding officer replied.

“Roger that, sir,” said the young Marine with an about face.

Six years later …

Despite his failed attempt earlier in his career, Sgt. Kristopher R. Poole has finally achieved his dream by laterally moving into the military occupational specialty field of 0311 – rifleman.

“It was like, I’m finally home, kind of like a big welcoming committee,” said Poole, who sports a drill instructor high and tight. “The whole mentality of it is awesome, it’s like I have other people who think like me.”

Poole, who joined the Marine Corps during 2001, was triggered to enlist after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A week after the attacks, he was on the phone with a Marine Corps recruiter.

“I made a promise to myself when I was a young kid during the Gulf War that if I was ever of age and we ever went to war again, I was going to join the Marine Corps,” said the Midland, Texas, native.

While working in the Marine Corps for six years as a CH-46 helicopter mechanic, Poole never really felt totally satisfied, but he still did the best he could. The 5-foot-9-inch Marine deployed once to Okinawa, Japan, and twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“This is rocket science, so to speak,” said Poole with a loud voice. “I couldn’t work under the hood of my car before I joined the Marine Corps, but now I can build a jet engine.”

As a mechanic in the aircraft wing, Poole quickly gained respect from his fellow Marines. He lives by the motto, “Respect is the hardest thing to gain, but the easiest thing to lose.”

“He is extremely motivated and has respect from everyone,” said Sgt. Frank J. Depalma, a tank technician with Company F, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, and who previously worked with Poole at Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29 as a CH-46 helicopter mechanic. “He would always stop and take his time to sit down with anybody and help them out personally or professionally. That’s just the way he is.”

Even while turning wrenches in the Wing, he always had a love for the ground side of the Corps. From conducting an above standard level of physical training to asking his Marines questions ranging from land navigation to weapons systems, his heart has always been for the Marines on the ground.

“My mind set wasn’t always aviation, it was the ‘whole package’ as a Marine. I didn’t want to be just a ‘maintenance Marine,’” said the rifle expert. “I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my passion.”

Poole graduated from ITB April 1, and is scheduled to report to 3rd Bn., 9th Marine Regiment, when it activates in May. His ITB instructors said that even though he is a senior sergeant coming from the Wing, he has the perseverance and dedication to lead Marines well in the infantry.

“He is highly motivated and was excited about training,” said Sgt. Matthew D. Ayers, Company D, ITB, instructor. “He made my job easy by having a sergeant in a platoon of privates. It was almost like having another instructor around.

“He has a lot of experience under his belt and he’s going to bring a lot to the table in his new unit,” added Ayers, a native of Alexandria, Va. “There’s no reason why he won’t go straight to a squad leader’s billet.”

Poole, a career Marine planning on serving 20 to 30 years in the Corps, said his favorite part about the “gun club” is the camaraderie and brotherhood.

“You don’t have to know a Marine to know he is a Marine. You can tell by the way he walks, by the way he talks, and by the way he presents himself in the room,” said Poole, who runs a perfect physical fitness test.

“You could be a thousand miles away from any military base and as a Marine you can spot another Marine and what’s the first thing you do?” he asked. “Buy him a beer. Who else does that? We are the biggest and the oldest fraternity in the world.”

Poole lives and follows the words he has tattooed on his side, “For those who lived the good life, those who fought the good fight and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, you will never be forgotten. Semper Fidelis.”

“That’s for my brothers. That’s not for me,” said the 155-pound Marine. “We honor the fallen, we honor the past, present and the future. We honor them all.

“We’re a band of brothers, it’s not just some movie title, it’s the truth,” added the motivated sergeant.

Jesse Cox and the Quest for Answers

August 4, 2009

At first glance, he wouldn’t seem like the type of guy who would ride his motorcycle from North Africa to South Africa.

After hearing him talk in his humble voice, he wouldn’t seem like he gets his kicks by climbing 200-foot cliffs or that he is a former Marine crew chief who used to soar through the skies in helicopters.

And after learning about his past adventures, you wouldn’t guess his day job.

Jesse Cox is a missionary with the Navigators, an international, interdenominational, non -profit organization, dedicated to helping people navigate spiritually and promote his religion.

He uses his past experiences and love for other people to mentor young men and women who wear the uniform he once proudly wore himself.

Jesse was originally born in Lafayette, Ind., but later in his childhood he moved to Kenya so his dad could work there as a professor and later as a missionary.

Eventually he made it back to the states to attend high school, but after a year in college he decided he wanted more in life; he wanted to go back to the continent he loves. He did the unthinkable, what most people would only dream – ride his motorcycle from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe.

“I thought I would find happiness and fulfillment by chasing these crazy cool adventures,” said Cox. “My motorcycle trip in Africa was like an initiation trip. It was a definitive time for me when I went from a boy to a man.”

During the summer of 1998 there was a civil war between the Eritreans and the Ethiopians. He tried to get into Eritrea on his motorcycle, but was turned away by soldiers wielding AK-47s at the border.

“We were in a place called Mekelle up in northern Ethiopia and about a week after we left it got air raided,” said Cox. “It was some of the most terrifying times of my life.”

One night sticks out the most in the back of his mind.

“I got separated from the group and my motorcycle broke down,” said Cox. “I basically spent the night shivering between a bush and a rock in the middle of nowhere in the highlands of Ethiopia. I had no idea where my group was. It was a huge faith-building time for me. I was 20 years old and I didn’t worry about too much.”

When he returned from his trip, he met a friend who also returned from a trip of his own to a little place called Parris Island. After seeing his friend in uniform, Cox knew exactly what he had to do.

“He told me how great his experience was and just kept talking it up,” said Cox. “I knew they were the baddest of the bad. I felt like it was my next big adventure. It was something I wanted to be a part of.”

While serving his time in the Corps, he was stationed here in New River with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadrons 464 and 463 as a CH-53 ‘Super Stallion’ crew chief. During his five years of service, he also flew helicopters in places like Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines.

“I would sometimes work on helicopters for 12 hours a day,” said Cox. “I realized early on that I didn’t want to give my life to big chunks of metal.”

Cox made it clear that relationships are the most important things in his life. The Marine Corps was a large part of that.

“I had a great experience in the Marine Corps. I wouldn’t give that up for the world,” added Cox. “I learned so much about leadership and responsibility.”

Many who get out of the Marine Corps, think about getting a job or using the GI Bill to go to college. But that wasn’t for Cox. He needed another adventure and embarked on a five-month backpacking trip across Europe.

“It was a trip of a lifetime,” said Cox. “When we were in Europe for five months, we only paid for five nights of lodging. Every other night we stayed in city parks, golf courses, the country or the mountains. We saw all sorts of stuff.

“Everything was stripped from me,” added Cox. “My life was reduced to where I was going to sleep that night and what I was going to eat or where I was going to find water. It brought simplicity into my life.”

After his European adventure, he decided he wanted to continue to offer leadership and guidance to Marines and sailors.

“I take the Gospel on base to Marines and sailors and just ride alongside of these younger guys and help them with some of the deep questions that I had in life,” said Cox. “We teach them how to make good relationships and help them to help themselves.”

Cox holds a Bible study every Wednesday night at his house. While feeding their guests with talk about life, Cox and his wife, Katy, also make sure they have a home-cooked meal.

“I have experienced what they are experiencing,” said Cox. “In a sense I am an insider. My wife and I love serving Marines. When I was in the Marine Corps it was the greatest thing to be invited over to someone’s house and get a home-cooked meal, I like to do the same thing.”

One of the Marines in the group, Lance Cpl. James P. Johnson, a crew chief student at Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204, enjoys hanging out with Cox and attending the study.

“He’s an awesome guy, I learn something new every time I go to his bible study,” said Johnson, an Athens, Penn., native. “He did what everyone else just dreams about doing.”

With his past experiences and humble personality, Cox makes a great friend for Marines and sailors in Jacksonville.

“It is better than any other adventure,” said Cox. “I wouldn’t be doing what I do if I didn’t have a love for Marine and sailors.”

‘Angell’ walks among us

August 4, 2009

MCAS NEW RIVER, N.C. — “Help,” cried a stranger moments after running a small child over with his truck.

No verbal answer came … only action.

The child’s father sprinted from his house and through his yard to assess the situation. He saw something no father wants to see – his four-year-old son lying on the pavement without a pulse and not breathing.

His wife, 18-weeks pregnant, was on her knees, crying and screaming for him to not let her baby die.

He administered two breaths, checked for a pulse, gave chest compressions and then more rescue breaths. Emergency Medical Services arrived to find the child breathing.

At the hospital, his wife put her arms around him. She thanked him for saving her child.

For his actions, the Red Cross awarded Gunnery Sgt. Shawn D. Angell a Certificate of Merit during an award ceremony at the Rotary Community Center in Bluffton, S.C., Aug. 21.

“The award is a very big deal,” said Mike Kelley, Red Cross Health and Safety Services director. “Our whole mission at the Red Cross is to save lives. Our motto is, ‘Together we can save a life.’ It’s all about sustaining and saving lives. It’s very important we recognize individuals for that.”

Angell was able to save his son because of all the training he received when he was a water survival instructor and a drill instructor. The Red Cross recognized him because he volunteered his time with the Red Cross and is also as a certified Red Cross life guard.

“I was an instructor at Parris Island teaching all of this,” said Angell. “I was in charge of teaching all of the Marines life-saving skills and cardiopulmonary resuscitation and was the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the pool deck. I ensured all life-saving skills were on key, so when it came time to useit on my son it was second nature.“Personally I don’t think it is that big of a deal. (The award) isn’t for

glory,” added Angell, who is currently the Marine Heli-copter Training Squadron 302 maintenance control room NCOIC. “I’m just glad he is alive.”Timothy is fine now. Angell said he doesn’t

care about the award. He is just glad that his son is alive. He just did what any other father, Marine or drill instructor would have done in that situation.

Bowling alley snack bar serves Master Gunny Burger

August 4, 2009

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. – “This is a tasty burger,” is a famous quotable line by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie “Pulp Fiction,” after he takes a bite out of a Kahuna Burger.

Now, if only Samuel could have tried the Master Gunny Burger at the Station bowling alley snack bar.

For under $5, a customer will get a drink, fries and a Master Gunny, which includes a toasted bun, hamburger meat, ham, bacon, egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo. It’s a smorgasbord of breakfast and lunch items fused into one giant sandwich.

“I come here a lot and I enjoy a wide variety of food that they serve here,” said Staff Sgt. Bradford Thurlow, a Master Gunny fan. “You get the most bang for your buck with the Master Gunny. It’s not the healthiest, but that’s why we PT (physical training).”

The Master Gunny Burger was created back in 1997 by Lee Walker, the Bowling Center manager, and Sallie Petteway, the Snack Bar assistant manager. The duo come up with ideas or get requests and then test their food creations themselves, before giving the Station a go at it.

“At first we test tried the Master Gunny, we loved it,” said Petteway, who is a native of Edenton, N.C. “My first thought was how big it was and how will people be able to fit into their mouths?”

The name derives from the one of the highest enlisted ranks in the Marine Corps – master gunnery sergeant. The rank itself is three stripes up, four stripes down with a bursting bomb in the middle.

“The name of the burger is pretty cool. It’s stacked, just like the rank,” said Thurlow. “A master gunny sergeant has been there and done that. It’s kind of like the sandwich, because it has it all.”

The staff put a lot of quality and attention to detail into their Master Gunny Burger. Walker explained that her and her staff do not skimp out on their food because they want their burger to look as it tastes and taste like it looks.

“There are not too many other places who cook hamburgers on a grill,” said Walker, a native of Dallas. “The grill keeps the burger juicy. We use better and fresher food. Why go out in town and get a burger that has been sitting on a burner for an hour, instead of coming here and a getting a better, fresher burger.”

The Snack Bar serves approximately 150 to 300 patrons a day – making it one of the most popular places to chow down during lunch. They work like little bees during their busiest hours from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – and yet still keep the quality strong.

“Especially on ‘pay day,’ its gets really crazy in here,” said Petteway. “Sometimes I have seen people order two sandwiches. It’s a lot of hard work – we don’t cook the food ahead of time and let it sit, we cook it after it’s ordered.”

If Samuel ever tasted the Master Gunny in real life, he would probably remark, “Mmm…Mmm… This is way tastier then that Kahuna Burger.”

91-year-old Afghan receives German check-up

August 4, 2009

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan – Ninety-one years ago, Amanullah Khan was the King of Afghanistan and Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States. World War I had just ended, yet the Third Anglo-Afghan War raged in Afghanistan and Din Muhammad was born.

Ninety one years later he is still alive and is one of the oldest Afghans living in Afghanistan; a country where the average livespan is 44-years-old according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact Book.

The native of Mazar-e-Sharif was treated for asthma and coughing at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Medical Facility at Camp Marmal Feb. 2, becoming the oldest Afghan to be treated at the facility.

“He has improved since treatment,” said German Navy Maj. Klaas Oltmanns, Camp Marmal Medical Facility physician and native of Oldenburg, Germany. “In comparison to western countries, he is doing fine as a 91-year-old man.”

During his lifetime, Muhammad spent his first 20 to 30 years farming the land of Mazar-e-Sharif and later opened up his own restaurants and coffee shop.

“A long time ago, foreigners came to my shop and left their baggage in my care while they travelled around Afghanistan,” Muhammad proudly recalled.

The wrinkles on his face show a history of Afghanistan. One wrinkle from the Russians, another wrinkle from the Taliban and another from the insurgency.

“I want a calm situation,” he added. “Everybody wants that for their own country, and I do too. I want the whole world to feel this feeling.”

He has seen a lot in his long life and now he sees ISAF, which is assisting the Afghan government in extending and exercising its authority and influence across the country, creating the conditions for stabilization and reconstruction.

“I have good memories of ISAF,” he added.

Muhammad credits, “Physical activity, working on a farm, and not thinking too deeply about everything,” for his long life.

He says he hopes to live to be at least a 100, and now he spends most of his time studying the Koran and history books. “When I read stories about the past, I can relate to it,” he added.