Mark Your Calendars: LA Fleet Week at the LA Waterfront Returns Labor Day Weekend

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Fleet week celebration at the harbor

Plans for the fourth annual LA Fleet Week on the LA Waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles are shaping up for Labor Day Weekend.

The multi-day celebration of our nation’s Sea Services spearheaded by the LA Fleet Week Foundation  and Port of Los Angeles kicks off Friday, Aug. 30th and will feature even more fun and new adventures that the whole family can enjoy—and for free!

Back by popular demand will be the signature LA Fleet Week public ship tours, where visitors can see active U.S. military ships up-close and have the unique experience of interacting with active US Navy and Coast Guard personnel in their working environment. This year, all public ship tours over the Labor Day Weekend will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, with no pre-booked online reservations required.

In addition to the aerial flyovers and the many military displays and demonstrations that have wowed crowds in the past, this year’s event will also feature live jumps from the Leap Frogs, U.S. Navy Parachute Team, which will jettison into the event from military aircraft above. Also new this year will be an obstacle course competition between teams from across Southern California. A high school robotics competition will return for its second year on the roster of weekend activities.

LA Fleet Week fan favorites will also return, including the Galley Wars culinary competition presented by Princess Cruises, a kids’ STEM Expo sponsored by Boeing, a First Responders Village, a Veteran’s Village sponsored by Wells Fargo and other family-friendly exhibitions. Sign-ups for the 11th Annual 5.3-mile “Conquer the Bridge” Labor Day morning race over the Vincent Thomas Bridge are also available here.

Rounding out the weekend will be live entertainment on the Main Stage throughout the four-day event. Popular big-name bands and evening headline acts are slated to be announced later this month.

About LA Fleet Week®

LA Fleet Week® is a multi-day celebration of our nation’s Sea Services that takes place on the LA Waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles. Now in its fourth year, the event has become a Southern California end-of-summer tradition over Labor Day Weekend that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

LA Fleet Week is organized by the LA Fleet Week Foundation, in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles. Other LA Fleet Week 2019 sponsors include the Ahmanson Foundation, Ambassador Frank Baxter / Alliance Alice Baxter Ready School, Anchor Brewing Company, Annenberg Foundation, AT&T, Blue Shield of California, Boeing, Chevrolet, Clear Channel, Collier Walsh Nakazawa LLP, Delta Airlines, Humana, KRLA, LA County Veteran Peer Access Network, LA Department of Water and Power, Marathon Petroleum, Outfront Media, Paramount Pictures, PepsiCo, Phillips 66, Princess Cruises, Providence Little Company of Mary, Qualcomm, Rancho LPG, Sailor Jerry Rum, Verizon, Wells Fargo, West Coast Beverage, and Westrec Marinas. For sponsorship information and opportunities call 310-971-4461.

For the latest updates on LA Fleet Week 2019, sign up for news announcements at LAFleetWeek.com, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @LAFleetWeek, or locate us using the official hashtag: #LAFleetWeek.

Military Makeover with Montel Williams Renovates Family Home of Late Chris Hixon, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Athletic Director in Parkland, FL, and 27 Year Navy Veteran.

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Military Makeover logo Montel Williams and Chris and Debra Hixon

U.S. Navy veteran Chris Hixon, a 27-year veteran (5 active, 22 reserve) who served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, sacrificed his life on February 14, 2018, when the Athletic Director ran into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and tried to save the lives of students by disarming an active shooter.

Hixon is survived by his wife Debra and their two sons, Thomas and Corey.

Debra, also the  daughter of a Navy veteran, has been a teacher for 29 years, serving as a Magnet Coordinator at South Broward High School’s Marine Science Maritime Magnet Program and cares for her special needs son, Cory, who was a big part of the makeover. Cory’s room was inspired by his love for prayer and church.

“He loved being American and serving his country, and he instilled it in his students,” Debra said. Chris Hixon received Military Funeral Honors before he was laid to rest at the age of 49 at the South Florida VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth, FL, on Feb. 21, 2018.

In partnership with major national and local brands, the Military Makeover team comes prepared with building supplies, designs, furniture, gifts and much more from the generous partnerships cultivated by the show.

Additionally, volunteers will be invited to participate and lend a hand in support of the Hixon Family during the renovation of the home they shared for 28 years.

The first episode airs on February 14th at 7:30am EST, the second year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stone Douglas High School.

All aired episodes can be found at militarymakeover.tv/

Navy to name new aircraft carrier for African American WWII hero

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Doris "Dorie" Miller pictured in his Nvy uniform

The US Navy will name a new aircraft carrier after Doris “Dorie” Miller, a decorated African American World War II veteran who defended Pearl Harbor during the 1941 attack on the Hawaii naval base, making it the first aircraft carrier to be named after an African American.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly made the announcement Monday during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national holiday commemorating the life of the slain civil rights leader.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller manned an anti-aircraft machine gun aboard the battleship USS West Virginia “until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship,” according to a Navy biography, which said he “had not been trained to operate” the weapon. Miller said he believed he shot down a Japanese plane during the attack, the biography said. The following year, Miller received the Navy Cross, the highest medal awarded by the Navy, becoming the first African American to receive the honor.

“Dorie Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation,” Modly said. “His story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue to stand the watch today.”

The aircraft carrier to be named after Miller will also be the first one named after an enlisted sailor, Modly added. Miller fought in the Pacific Theater until November 1943, when the ship he was assigned to was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo. He was listed as missing for a year and a day before being presumed dead on November 25, 1944, according to his biography.

In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller also received the Purple Heart Medal and the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, as well as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal, according to the Navy. In 1973, a Knox-class frigate was named in honor of Miller, but was later decommissioned in the 1990s.

Continue on to CNN News to read the complete article.

Sailor Spotlight! Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole

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Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole

SAN DIEGO – Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole, from Anaheim, Calif., assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), participates in the E-7 Navy-wide advancement exam.

Bonhomme Richard is in its homeport of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary DiPadova)

The men and women in the U.S. Navy are deployed around the clock and ready to protect and defend America on the world’s oceans.

Source: outreach.navy.mil

Army Green Berets earn over 50 combat awards — including three Silver Stars — in Afghanistan

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Deputy Commander Col. Steven M. Marks salutes a 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier during a ceremony at the chapel on Eglin Air Force Base

Dozens of Green Berets received valor awards, including three Silver Star medals, in a recent ceremony meant to highlight the bravery and dedication that members of 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) showed during a recent Afghanistan deployment.

In addition to the trio of Silver Stars — the military’s third-highest personal award for combat bravery — officials also presented seven Bronze Stars for valor and 17 Army Commendation medals. The 27 valor awards were presented during the ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., officials said.

“This is a reminder that even in the modern age, warfare is still about courage under fire,” said Col. Steven M. Marks, deputy commander of 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), in a 7th Group statement. Marks presented the medals at Eglin’s Liberty Chapel.

The unit’s soldiers also earned 21 Purple Hearts during the combat zone deployment, a 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) spokesman told Stars and Stripes.

The decorations were awarded to the soldiers of 7th Group’s 2nd Battalion for actions during a six-month deployment in late 2018.

The Bronze Star is for acts of heroism of a lesser degree than the Silver Star, which is awarded for acts of gallantry of a higher degree than those meriting any other U.S. combat decoration except the Medal of Honor or service crosses. The Army Commendation medal ranks below the Bronze Star.

Pictured above: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2019, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) Deputy Commander Col. Steven M. Marks salutes a 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier during a ceremony at the chapel on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after presenting him a medal for valorous acts during the battalion’s recent deployment to Afghanistan. Liberty chapel on Jan. 9. Jose Vargas/U.S. Army
JOSE VARGAS/U.S. ARMY

Four Green Berets who had earned additional valor awards — two Bronze Stars and two Army Commendation medals — were absent. Twenty-six soldiers earned valor awards, with five of them earning two valor awards and six earning both an award for valor and the Purple Heart for being wounded in action.

“The valor we are recognizing today happened at the most tactical level — face to face fighting, close quarters combat, hand grenade-range,” Marks said.

The 7th Group statement did not provide details of the specific acts that were recognized, which occurred during a war that has largely faded from public view during which most offensive operations are carried out by shadowy commando units.

A relative few U.S. troops, typically special operations forces, have gone into combat or served on the front lines in Afghanistan since 2014, often as part of unilateral or joint operations with their Afghan counterparts during separate U.S. counterterrorism mission.

During 2nd Battalion’s deployment from September 2018 to February 2019, some 14,000 U.S. troops were deployed to the country, most as part of a NATO mission training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces for battling a Taliban insurgency against the Kabul government.

Continue on to Stars and Stripes to read the complete article.

Defense Department expands commissary access to more military members

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Commissary building

The New Year brought new perks for some military members and their families.

The Department of Defense expanded shopping privileges at its commissaries to a number of new groups, including Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, all veterans with service-connected disabilities and individuals approved as the primary family caregivers of eligible veterans.

The expanded eligibility went into effect Jan. 1.

Other patrons authorized to shop at commissaries by the Department of Defense include active duty, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, 100 percent disabled veterans and authorized family members.

Commissaries are discounted grocery shopping facilities located on bases. By law, the shop is required to deliver savings to shoppers, based on prices negotiated with manufacturers. Baseline savings are typically expected to be just shy of 24 percent.

Shoppers are subject to a 5 percent surcharge but no state and local food-related taxes. The surcharge is used for store upkeep and construction.

In addition to commissaries, newly eligible military personnel will also have access to military service exchanges, golf courses, bowling centers, recreational lodging, RV campgrounds, movie theaters and other facilities.

According to the Department of Defense, eligibility is limited because it does not have the infrastructure to handle an influx of more than 15 million additional veterans to the facilities.

Not only did the new year bring new benefits for some veterans, it also brought higher pay for service members.

Continue on to Fox Business News to read the complete article.

Paws of War Helps American Soldiers Bring Home Dogs from the Middle East

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U.S. Soldier is holding up his rescue dog for a picture

Being deployed to Afghanistan can be dangerous and stressful for our service members. Some of these service members rescue stray dogs and befriend them. When it’s time to head back to the United States, the last thing they can think of is leaving the dog behind to fend for itself. One soldier, Sgt. Dominick, is desperate to bring his dog, Jonsey, back home with him.

“After these dogs are rescued, they develop a special bond with our service members. These dogs will not leave their side and become very attached and loyal,” explains Dori Scofield co-founder of Paws of War. “There’s no way they can leave them, so we do everything we can to help them bring the dog home with them. We need all the support we can get from the public in order to be successful with these efforts.”

Army Sgt. Dominick, who is stationed in a remote area of Afghanistan, first spotted Jonsey when the starving puppy was eating burnt trash outside of his camp. He took the puppy in, fed him, and the whole unit fell in love with him, which brought them joy. He named him Jonsey, and the dog grew to feel like a part of his family. Now that he will be heading back to the United States, he can’t bear to leave him behind.

Stray dogs in Afghanistan have a very rough life and often times are subjected to cruelty. Desperate to bring him back home with him to live out his life and be a part of his larger family, he turned to Paws of War for assistance. The organization has a program in place that helps service members bring their dog home after being deployed to the Middle East. While they are always quick to help do what they can, they can’t do it alone.

In order for Paws of War to be successful at bringing a dog back to America from Afghanistan, they work with Nowzad, the only official animal shelter in Afghanistan, and get financial support from public donations. There’s a lot that goes into bringing a dog back to the U.S., including quarantine, all of which comes at a high cost.

If you would like to help, please donate here:pawsofwar.org/donate. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs please visit pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance to active, retired, and disabled military members. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation visit its site at: pawsofwar.org.

THE LAST FULL MEASURE—Coming to theaters January 24!

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The Last Full Measure movie promo poster

THE LAST FULL MEASURE tells the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (also known as a PJ) medic who personally saved over sixty men.

During a rescue mission on April 11, 1966, he was offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone heavily under fire, but he stayed behind to save and defend the lives of his fellow soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, before making the ultimate sacrifice in the bloodiest battle of the war.

Thirty-two years later, respected Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastien Stan) on a career fast-track is tasked with investigating a Congressional Medal of Honor request for Pitsenbarger made by his best friend and PJ partner on the mission (William Hurt) and his parents (Christopher Plummer & Diane Ladd).

Huffman seeks out the testimony of Army veterans who witnessed Pitsenbarger’s extraordinary valor, including Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), Burr (Peter Fonda) and Mott (Ed Harris). But as Huffman learns more about Pitsenbarger’s courageous acts, he uncovers a high-level conspiracy behind the decades-long denial of the medal, prompting him to put his own career on the line to seek justice for the fallen airman.

Watch the trailer!

Directed by Todd Robinson
Written by Todd Robinson
Starring Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt with Ed Harris and Samuel L. Jackson, co-starring Peter Fonda, LisaGay Hamilton, Jeremy Irvine, Diane Ladd, Amy Madigan, Linus Roache, John Savage, Alison Sudol and Bradley Whitford

The True Story Of ‘1917’ Is Part Of Sam Mendes’ Family Lore

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The World War 1 movie poster promoting 1917

In Sam Mendes’ 1917, two British soldiers in World War I sprint through the hellish maze of trench warfare and across no man’s land to deliver an urgent message. It’s a film full of technical marvels set against the backdrop of a very real war, but the particulars of 1917 are based on a true story even more specific than that. It turns out that the story is also part of Mendes’ family history, though he didn’t learn about the event that inspired his film until almost 60 years after it happened.

The film follows soldiers Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) in real time after they’re tasked with reaching the front lines to tell battalions they’re walking into a German trap. If they fail, up to 1,600 men could die, including Blake’s brother. If they succeed, well… they’re still soldiers stuck in World War I — a war in which men died by the thousands to gain mere meters of land.

Mendes’ grandfather Alfred Mendes was 17 when he enlisted in the war. Though he would later become a writer and novelist, Sam didn’t hear the story of his time in the war until decades later, when Alfred was in his 70s and decided to open up about his teenage years in the war. “There was one particular story he told us of being tasked to carry a single message through no man’s land in dusk in the winter of 1916… And that stayed with me,” Mendes told NPR. “And that was the story I found I wanted to tell.” Apparently, Alfred’s small stature suited him perfectly for the dangerous task. “[Alfred] ran 5 and a half feet, and the mist used to hang at about 6 feet in no man’s land, so he wasn’t visible above the mist.”

Alfred would later write an autobiography detailing the full history of his dangerous mission. It was 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. Alfred was a member of C company, which along with A, B, and D companies, were sent to the area to maintain pressure against the crumbling German front. The Allied forces wanted to do so by pushing back at the German 4th Army, but rainy weather had turned the battlefield into its own form of hell. As Alfred put it, “The Ypres Salient was a marsh of mud and a killer of men… an area into which countless shells plunged destroying whatever tree, plant, bush, or grass there was and left behind a surface of moon-like desolation, many shell craters as traps for sucking in live men and drowning them — to this sector we came in 1917.”

The change in landscape didn’t change Allied leaders’ plans at all, and all companies led an assault charge forward. It was a disaster. The expected counterattack never came and the charge failed, but worst of all, C company lost track of A, B, and D. The Battalion Advanced Report Centre needed data to plan any next moves. They sent a message: “Report on four companies urgently needed.” Alfred’s captain asked for one man to volunteer to run through the deadly battleground, make contact with each company, and return with the information. Alfred volunteered.

Continue on to The Bustle to read the complete article.

2020 Virginia International Tattoo—Stories of the Greatest Generation

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Virginia Tattoo coming in April promo poster

NORFOLK, VA. – Virginia Arts Festival has announced the 2020 dates for its 24th annual Virginia International Tattoo. The largest spectacle of music and might in the United States, the Virginia International Tattoo offers an astounding display of inspirational military music, majestic massed pipes and drums, show stopping drill team maneuvers, colorful and elegant dancers, and much more. Each year’s Tattoo is different, with new performers from across the globe, new themes of honor and patriotism, and new sights and sounds to amaze you. Our 24th annual Tattoo, set for April 30-May 3, 2020, will feature over 1,000 performers from eight different countries–don’t blink or you might miss something!

The 2020 Virginia International Tattoo promises to be one of the most moving ever, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and honor the courage and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation. With stirring music, historic photos and video, tributes from U.S. military bands, and special appearances by veterans, we will remember and celebrate the men and women who changed the course of history, not only for the United States but for the world.

Tickets are on sale now and available at vafest.org, by phone at 757-282-2822, or in person at the Virginia Arts Festival Box Office located at 440 Bank Street, Norfolk, VA 23510.

What is the Tattoo?
Presented annually as part of the Virginia Arts Festival, the term Tattoo evolved from a European tradition dating back to the 17th century when Low Country innkeepers would cry “Doe den tap toe!” – “Turn off the taps!” as the fifes and drums of the local regiment signaled a return to quarters.

The Tattoos seen across the world today refers to a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands. Each Tattoo is influenced by the culture of the country they represent.

Fans of these massed spectacles of music and might flock to the world’s great Tattoos: the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland, and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Canada. But the greatest Tattoo in the United States, and rivaling the largest in the world, is the Virginia International Tattoo.

Attending the Virginia International Tattoo
When: Thursday, April 30, 7:30 pm
Friday, May 1, 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 2, 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 3, 2:30 pm
Where: Scope Arena, 201 E. Brambleton Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia

Sailor takes over duties as Chief of the Boat aboard U.S. Navy submarine

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Master Chief Sonar Technician (Submarine) Michael Wangen II pins his replacement abaord Navy ship

SANTA RITA, Guam – Master Chief Sonar Technician (Submarine) Michael Wangen II, pins Senior Chief Yeoman (Submarine) Matthew Zwan, right, from Garden Grove, Calif., as his relief as the Chief of the Boat aboard the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) on the pier following a deployment.

Topeka is one of four forward-deployed submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen out of Apra Harbor, Guam.

Source: Navy Outreach

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey J. Hockenberger)