Man believed to be oldest living American World War II veteran celebrates his 110th birthday

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Oldest World War ll veteran sitting in wheelchair receives birthday card from womens' singing group

A man believed to be the oldest living American to have served during World War II celebrated his 110th birthday Thursday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Family, veterans, and current military service members joined Lawrence Brooks at the museum, where the celebrated with cupcakes and a musical performance by the Victory Belles trio.

Born in 1909, Brooks served as a support worker in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion, a majority African-American unit stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war. He reached the rank of private first class.

He was the servant to thee white officers in the battalion, the museum said in a press release.

The supercentenarian is a father to five children and five step-children.

He had an exhilarating brush with death

In an interview with the museum, Brooks recounted a story of riding in a C-47 cargo plane from Australia to New Guinea. The plane was loaded down with barbed wire but “one of the motors went out on it,” he said.

To lighten the plane, those aboard threw much of the cargo into the ocean. Brooks threw the boxes out of the plane like his life depended on it: there were only enough parachutes on the plane for the pilot and the co-pilot.

Brooks said he joked to the aircraft’s pilot: “If he’s going to jump, I’m going to grab him.”

Thankfully, he didn’t have to resort to drastic measures.

“It was a scary moment,” he said. “But we made it.”

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Brothers Keep Family Tradition of Army Service

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Three Stovell brothers pose for photo at their training site in Saudi Arabia, 26 June 2019. From left to right: Staff Sgt. Daniel Stovell, Staff Sgt. Daryl Stovell, and Sgt.1st Class Davin Stovell. All three work as training instructors for the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command's Military Assistance Group that advises the Saudi Ministry of Interior. Called MOI-MAG, the DoD program teaches Saudi security forces how to defend their country's critical infrastructure sites like ports, airports, bridges, oil pipeline and refineries. (U.S. Army photo by Richard Bumgardner)

By Richard Bumgardner, USASAC

In 2018, when Sgt. 1st Class Davin Stovell saw a job posted on the Army’s Tour of Duty website, he knew it was tailor fit, not only for himself, but also for his two brothers, Staff Sgts. Daryl and Daniel Stovell.Pictured from left, Staff Sgt. Daniel Stovell, Staff Sgt. Daryl Stovell and Sgt. 1st Class Davin Stovell.

“It was like the advertisement was a list of our qualifications and life experiences,” Davin said, who, like his three brothers and two sisters, grew up as military kids.

The three Stovell brothers, full-time members of the Los Angeles Police Department, who were once in the National Guard and now Army Reserve, applied and were soon accepted.

Davin, who enlisted as an active-duty Army infantryman in 1995, and his brothers, who joined post 9/11, follow a proud military family tradition and legacy of service to the Army.

Five generations of the Stovell family tree have worn Army colors, starting with their great-grandfather, the first Stovell to wear an Army uniform. Their grandfather served in Korea, and their father, Donell Sr., did two combat tours to Vietnam.

A fourth older brother is in the Army Reserve, and their older sister is deployed overseas with the Mississippi National Guard. The family has not only served in the Army but has also served in every Army component.

Altogether, the five generations have completed nine combat tours, with more on the way before their duty to country and service in the Army is complete.

Davin, Daryl and Daniel are serving as military training advisers, assigned to Security Assistance Command’s Ministry of Interior-Military Assistance Group, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As a subordinate organization of USASAC, MOI-MAG’s mission is to build partner readiness that ultimately enhances regional security.

Collectively, the three brothers have already given more than 80 years of public service: 53 in the military and 26 as police officers with the LAPD. And they’re not done yet.

The MOI-MAG program is the only program in the world where a U.S. Department of Defense organization has a train-and-advise partnership with another country’s Ministry of Interior. One of the primary missions of MOI-MAG personnel – who are Army reservists – is training the Facilities Security Force that protect the country’s civil structures and facilities, much like what the U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security does.

For the Stovell brothers, teaching defensive techniques to a partner force is natural fit. All are trained drill instructors. All have backgrounds in infantry. All have served on deployments in places such as Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, Panama, Germany and Australia. Altogether they have served four combat tours in Iraq.

“Ultimately, it will make the FSF soldiers better at what they do,” Davin said. “We’re trying to give them as much training as we can; training like how to handle a weapon, reflexive fire, clearing a building, establishing a checkpoint, how to do a patrol, conducting vehicle searches at an entry control, and even how to protect themselves if they are physically attacked.”

For Watson, having three brothers, all highly experienced noncommissioned officers, on his team is an interesting story, but he said, “I think what makes it a better story is that the three brothers that I have working for me are fantastic instructors; they are doing an extraordinary job of making FSF soldiers better at what they do.”

Source: army.mil

World’s First Black Fighter Pilot Honored at Museum of Aviation

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Eugene Bullard statue at museum of aviation

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Before the Tuskegee Airmen blazed the trail for black military pilots, there was Columbus, Georgia, native Eugene Bullard.

During World War I, while fighting for France, he became the world’s first black fighter pilot. Last week, on what would have been his 124th birthday, hundreds of people honored him at the Museum of Aviation.

A life-sized bronze statue of Bullard was unveiled. Harriett Bullard White, his cousin, became emotional when she saw it.

She was 11 years old when he died and remembers him well. She has been to France many times to visit places related to his service.

“He was, for us, a giant hero,” she said. “No one ever heard of him outside of our family, it seemed, but he was our hero.”

She was among 22 family members from around the country who came for the ceremony, along with five original Tuskegee Airmen. White said it means a lot to the family.

“This is incredible,” she said. “My heart is just so touched from this recognition. He has left a legacy that’s incredible for us, as a family, and now to have the state love him and cheer him on and present the statue. … My happiness and excitement is so big right now.”

Bullard was born in Columbus in 1865, but racial tensions led him to run away from home at an early age, according to a history presented at the ceremony. He took odd jobs along the East Coast, then stowed away on a freighter to France. He joined the French Army when World War I broke out and was in some of the worst fighting. He was severely wounded.

After his recovery, he couldn’t join the infantry again but was given the chance to be a pilot. He went on to have at least two confirmed kills of enemy aircraft. He was awarded 15 medals. German enemies nicknamed him “The Black Swallow of Death.”

He was denied the chance to fly in the U.S. military because of his race. He also fought briefly for France in World War II and returned to the U.S. after he was injured. He died of cancer in New York in 1961. In 1994, President Bill Clinton posthumously made him a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

Col. Brian Moore, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing at Robins Air Force Base, said Bullard was a hero in many ways.

Continue on to Military.com to read the complete article.

LA’s Only National Cemetery For Vets Is Finally Taking New Applications After More Than 40 Years

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Mebers of the color guard at a military funeral service

For the first time in decades, veterans and local military families have access to a final resting place alongside fellow servicemembers in the city of L.A.

The Los Angeles National Cemetery, closed to new burials since 1978, is once again accepting applications for interment.

“It’s fantastic, and I’m starting to tear up a bit, because I know what it means to the veterans and their family members,” said cemetery director Tom Ruck.

The openings are thanks to a newly expanded columbarium, a series of thick concrete walls with niches to store cremated remains, which opened Oct. 1. As property values climb and space for below-ground burials becomes scarcer, the Department of Veterans Affairs is building more of these high-density memorial structures in cities around the country.

For myriad personal and religious reasons, the columbarium option is not for everyone. Angeleno families who choose a casket burial will still have to drive to Riverside or Bakersfield for the nearest veterans cemetery with room to accommodate new applications.

The L.A. National Cemetery, first put to use in 1889, is home to servicemembers from conflicts dating back to the Civil War. It houses roughly 90,000 graves between Brentwood and Westwood, just east of the 405, north of Wilshire Blvd.

Moviegoers may recognize the solemn white stone markers dotting an immaculate green lawn; film shoots sometimes use the setting as a substitute for Arlington National Cemetery.

The new columbarium niches are behind UCLA’s Jackie Robinson baseball stadium on the West L.A. Veterans Affairs campus, across the freeway from the main cemetery.

The first phase of expansion includes space for about 10,000 veterans, their spouses and qualifying dependent children. The ultimate project should nearly double the capacity of the entire cemetery to 180,000.

Veterans have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for burial in a national cemetery, including being discharged with status other than “dishonorable.” Niche, marker and site upkeep are free of charge, but cremation must be arranged and paid for independently.

Ruck said that applicants can’t reserve specific columbarium niches. “We can’t take reservations,” he said. “We just can’t.”

He expects a bit of a rush from years of pent-up demand. After 40 years of “no vacancies” at the local veterans cemetery, Angelenos who may be holding on to remains in an urn at home can find them a permanent resting place in the new structure.

“I can tell you that there’s a whole lot of people who have mom, or dad or uncle or brother in the closet, just waiting for this to happen,” Ruck said. “We’re going to be able to take care of them with dignity, with honor and with pride.”

Continue on to LA ist to read the complete article.

Getting a haircut at Sport Clips Haircuts now through Veterans Day can Help A Hero

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Sport Clips Help-A-Hero campaign poster

Getting a haircut now through Veterans Day will support service member and veteran scholarships as a part of Sport Clips Haircuts annual “Help A Hero” campaign that kicks off in stores October 14, 2019.

The Help A Hero Scholarship program is designed to reduce the burden of college, graduate and technical school tuition often needed to pursue post-military careers and is administered by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW). The goal this year is to raise $1.5 million toward scholarships in the more than 1,800 Sport Clips Haircuts stores across the country.

In just six years, 1,450 military and student veterans have been awarded Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarships with the nearly $6.5 million donated to date by Sport Clips Haircuts, its clients and product partners. These scholarships provide up to $5,000 of assistance per semester to help cover the cost of tuition and fees for service members and veterans in the rank of E-5 and below.

“I used my G.I. Bill benefits to obtain my B.A. and even the first three semesters of my M.A. before exhausting my benefits,” says Christopher Mynatt, a U.S. Navy veteran. “The VFW and Sport Clips are the reason I will never have to pay for school out of pocket.”

“These scholarships are making a difference in the lives of so many who have served our country in the military. Right now, there are 165 student veterans attending colleges and certification programs here in the U.S. with the aid of Help A Hero Scholarships,” says Gordon Logan, Sport Clips founder, CEO, Air Force veteran and VFW Life member. “Whether it’s graduate school or beauty school, it’s an honor for us to be able to thank those who serve by helping them toward the degrees and certifications to pursue civilian careers.”

“Our student veterans can face a lot of adversity while pursuing higher education,” said William “Doc” Schmitz, VFW national commander. “With the help of Sport Clips Haircuts and its generous patrons, we’re so pleased to have the opportunity to ensure the financial burden is alleviated during an already stressful time in these veterans’ lives.”

Many locations are also offering free haircuts to service members and veterans with valid military identification check here for participating stores and store hours. Anyone can support the cause by making a donation when checking out at a Sport Clips location. On Veterans Day, November 11, the company donates an additional dollar for every haircare service to the scholarship program, which added more than $100,000 to the total last year and will be even higher in 2019.

About Sport Clips Haircuts

Sport Clips Haircuts is headquartered in Georgetown, Texas. It was established in 1993 and began franchising in 1995. The sports-themed haircutting franchise, which specializes in haircuts for men and boys, offers online check in for clients, and is ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the “Fastest-Growing Franchises’ and #17 in its “Franchise 500.” There are more than 1,800 Sport Clips stores open in the U.S. and Canada. Sport Clips is the “Official Haircutter” of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), offers veterans preferential pricing on haircuts and franchises, and was named a “2018 Best for Vets: Franchises” by Military Times. Sport Clips provides “Haircuts with Heart” through its annual Help A Hero fundraiser that has contributed $7.5 million to the VFW; national partnership with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants; and other national and local philanthropic outreach. Sport Clips is a proud sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR drivers Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Indy Car driver Sebastien Bourdais, and partners with numerous NCAA and professional sports teams. To learn more about Sport Clips, visit sportclips.com.

About The Veterans of Foreign Wars

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally-chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.6 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in 6,200 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit our website at vfw.org.

U.S. Navy celebrates 244th birthday; 5 things to know about the powerful military force

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U.S. Navy ship pictured off the coast

Salute to the United States Navy, which celebrated its 244th birthday on Sunday.

Founded on October 13, 1775, the US Navy describes itself as the “largest, most advanced, and most lethal fighting force the world has ever known.”

In 1972, nearly 200 years after its founding, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt designated October 13 as the Navy’s official birthday.

He ordered the day to be celebrated to “enhance [the] appreciation of our Navy heritage” and encourage “pride and professionalism in the Naval Service”

Here are five things to know about the U.S. Navy:

It’s the country’s second naval fleet

The Continental Congress established the Continental Navy at the beginning of the American Revolution. Its main purpose was to disrupt British supply ships.

On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress purchased two armed vessels to attack British ships and prevent them from reaching soldiers in the colonies.

Congress passed a resolution creating a committee to oversee the purchase and manage the small, but growing, fleet.

After the US won its independence in 1783, the Continental Navy was disbanded and its remaining ships were sold. Its officers and sailors returned to civilian life.

Before long, the young country began facing threats from pirates and others wishing to disrupt its seaborne commerce. To defend its interests, Congress moved to reestablish a naval fleet. President George Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 creating a permanent standing US Navy. The Navy was run by the Department of War until Congress established the Department of the Navy in 1798.

It’s the largest navy in the world

Today, the US Navy is the largest naval force in the world.

It boasts more than 330,000 active-duty personnel, and an additional 100,000 on ready reserve, according to the U.S. Navy.

The Navy hosts an impressive fleet of 290 battle force ships. Its fleet consists of aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, cruisers, littoral combat ships, destroyers and submarines.

The Navy describes its submarines as “one of the most lethal weapons in the nation’s arsenal” and says they navigate the world’s seas unseen carrying out secret missions.

It names ships after states and national heroes

In 1819, Congress gave the duty and responsibility of naming ships to the Secretary of the Navy.

It’s not an easy as just picking a name. In fact, there’s a long list of rules and regulations that must be followed. For example, all first-class battleships, those armed with 40 guns or more, must be named for the states, and not for any city, place or person until the names of states have been exhausted, according to Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). The Navy, however, no longer has any battleships in its ship inventory.

Fortunately, the secretary can rely on others for help. Each year, NHCC compiles a list of possible names. The recommendations are based on research and suggestions from military personnel and the public.

It’s a huge honor for a ship to be named after a person. The tribute is usually reserved for naval leaders and national figures who are considered heroes of war or made extraordinary achievements in peace. The Navy’s newest ship, the latest model of destroyer, is the USS Zumwalt, named after that admiral that designated its birthday.

Its SEALs aren’t named for the animals

Navy SEALs are the US Navy’s special operation force. They’re adept at navigating the seas but aren’t named after the semi-aquatic marine mammal that shares that skill.

SEAL stands for Sea, Air and Land — all the places the elite force carries out missions.

In 1961, Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, then serving as chief of naval operations, authorized the creation of SEAL teams to carry out unconventional operations, including capturing or eliminating high-level targets and intelligence gathering.

Sailors hoping to be a SEAL must successfully complete arduous training, including “Hell Week” in which candidates endure a week of constant stressful training with little sleep. Each year about 1,000 candidates start SEAL training, but only 200-250 actually complete it, according the Navy.

It really does have an NCIS

NCIS isn’t just a hit TV show. It’s an actual law enforcement agency.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is the civilian federal law enforcement agency that investigates crimes, prevents terrorism and protects secrets for the Navy and Marine Corps.

Continue on to Fox News to read the complete article.

Arlington Chosen as Site for National Medal of Honor Museum

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Medal of Honor Museum finalist announcement

Following a nationwide search, Arlington has been selected as the location for the first ever National Medal of Honor Museum. The foundation behind the museum made the recent official announcement.

Arlington beat out Denver, which was also named a finalist city.

“Arlington, Texas is the optimal location to build America’s next national treasure – the National Medal of Honor Museum,” Joe Daniels, President and CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, said in a statement. “All of us at the Museum were simply overwhelmed with the enthusiasm, warmth and level of commitment of those involved, who have worked beyond expectation to have the Museum come to Texas.”
Daniels also noted that 70 Medal of Honor recipients have lived in the region — and that Texas is home to nearly 1.8 million veterans and active duty military.

The museum will be built on land between E-sports Stadium Arlington and Globe Life Park, in the heart of the city’s entertainment district.

City leaders, museum officials, and other dignitaries will hold a formal press conference Friday, where they’ll reveal more details about the project.

“Arlington, Texas is honored to be entrusted as the home of the National Medal of Honor Museum,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said in a statement. “Located in the heart of our nation, we look forward to commemorating the stories of the 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients to educate, inspire, and motivate our youth to understand the meaning and price of freedom. We are excited and humbled to provide a national platform to spread this message throughout our great country.”

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest and most prestigious military award, given only to service members who have distinguished themselves with acts of valor during combat.

Since it was first awarded in 1863, only 3,505 service members have ever received the Medal of Honor.

Continue on to NBCDFW News to read the complete article.

Airman Who Was Traveling to Receive Heroism Award Nonchalantly Saves a Choking Baby on the Way

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Airman Kenneth O'Brien stands in uniform

This real-life “Superman” has pulled off every courageous stunt in the books; he has rescued people from a burning car; served on the president’s security team; and he was one of the divers who saved the team of Thai soccer players last year.

Not only that, he had been on his way to receive a medal for his heroism earlier this month when he saved a choking baby on an airplane.

U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Kenneth O’Brien is always humble about his acts of heroism, but he was only recently recognized for his valor after he was selected as one of 12 other Airmen who were named the 2019 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

“I was shocked and never thought I would win,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien had been on an airplane with his family from Okinawa to Dallas to receive the award when he noticed that a 1-year-old child had started to choke. After another passenger failed to clear the blockage in the baby’s throat, O’Brien quickly stepped in to perform CPR and back thrusts. One minute later, the baby had regained consciousness.

O’Brien, who returned to his seat and continued to check on the child throughout the flight, said: “I’m thankful that the child is ok and that I was able to help when the family needed support. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

Nevertheless, reporters and military officials have hailed the airman for his consistent talent for saving people’s lives.

“I can’t decide if he’s Superman or Mayhem (the guy on the insurance commercials),” joked Lieutenant General Jim Slife in a Facebook post.

“He’s on the President’s security detail during his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un,” he continued. “He pulls a person from a burning car in Korea. He saves a Thai Navy SEAL during the Thai cave rescue mission. During that mission, he’s the furthest American in the cave, successfully rescuing the Thai [soccer players] who’d been trapped for days.

“So, he’s rightfully recognized as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. AND THEN… on his flight back to the states from Okinawa last weekend for the AFA Convention to be recognized, an infant starts choking and stops breathing. Our man OB leaps into action, clears the breathing passage, resuscitates the kid, hands him back to the parents, and then goes on about his business.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

From Suicide to Success: Assuaged Cofounder and USMC Disabled Veteran is Fighting for Others with PTSD

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Thane and wife Cynthia with Randy Jackson

Despite the hardships, Cynthia Murphy feels blessed to be a military wife for the past 13 years and counting.

The tragic events of 9/11 inspired her husband Thane Murphy to join the USMC while residing in Canada. Before starting boot camp in the United States, he was homeless, living in his truck and showering at 24-Hour Fitness.

Unfortunately, his service was cut short when he sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury during a vehicle accident while on-duty. Despite fighting to stay in the military, he was honorably and medically discharged. He felt incredibly lost during the transition back to civilian life.

In the midst of his challenges, Cynthia also was suffering from depression and chronic disease attributed to her craniofacial condition, Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare genetic cranial facial birth defect that causes abnormalities of the face and skull. Her story is one of insecurity and at times, social torment. To date, she has endured 16 medically-necessary reconstructive plastic surgeries.

Thane and Cynthia were both having trouble communicating, which often led to volatile, verbal fights. Thane, unable to work, increasingly felt abandoned, especially when Cynthia was at work or school. The idea of her becoming the breadwinner had left him feeling depressed and defeated as a man.

It wasn’t easy for Cynthia to watch her husband suffer from PTSD, agoraphobia, and paranoia. It was unnerving for her to see his loaded 9mm handgun attached to him for regular perimeter checks (even in the shower). He was angry, manic, and suffering from insomnia. Cynthia felt heartbroken and helpless. She didn’t know how to fix the broken pieces.

On August 9th, 2012, Cynthia arrived home from work to find Thane pacing back and forth while erratically beating himself in the head with a loaded gun. He was irrationally convinced that she had been dishonest. Horrified, Cynthia dropped to her knees sobbing and pleading with him while simultaneously on the phone with his mother and 911. It broke her heart to see him taken away in handcuffs to a state mental health facility and booked as a 5150.

During his stay, he had no family members visit him, except for Cynthia. However, Thane didn’t want to see her, he wanted a divorce. His family feared his rage. While they never feared for their own safety, they did fear for his own.

The movie Concussion starring Will Smith, depicts the behavior of someone suffering with the same type of head injury as Thane. This traumatic event led Thane and Cynthia to healing and building a stronger marriage. They reversed many physical and mental illnesses caused by excessive prescription drugs and contaminated food and water supplies. Our flawed health-care system led them to find a better way of caring for their physical and mental wellbeing.

Thane selflessly used his military settlement funds to build their free, award-winning iOS app and website Assuaged ® with their celebrity developer Creative27 (iHerb & Dr. Dre’s Beats app). Their proprietary wellness technology is founded on the passion to share guided information with others, so they can help people suffering from chronic disease and disabilities, both seen and unseen.

Cynthia is a craniofacial disability activist, aspiring model, creative writer on The Mighty, and graduate student finishing a second Master’s degree in Public Health. Thane is a private celebrity chef who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Purdue University, specializing in Nutrition. He is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Holistic Medicine.

Thane and Cynthia are immensely thankful for their supporters. Their charitable investment has accrued immense value as a digital product and service to others in need of optimal wellness.

Military mom surprises daughter at Mehville elementary school

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military mom surprises daughter

A family is reunited after a military mom surprised her daughter at school.

Katie Herrell, a Chief Warrant Officer with the U.S. Army, has been stationed at Ft. Gordon, GA for the past four months. Her daughter, Brooke Powers, is a 4th grader at Blades Elementary School.

“Brooke was kind of bummed that I couldn’t make the 9/11 ceremony,” Herrell said.

“I thought, ‘what better way to make it up to her than surprising her when I come home.’”

Herrell contacted Brooke’s teacher to get the ball rolling on the surprise.

She drove through the night to arrive at school Wednesday morning, then slipped into Blades Elementary’s ‘Boomer the Bobcat’ costume to surprise Brooke during the morning announcements.

“There were some times that I missed my mom,” Brooke said after the big reveal. “There have been some times where I was just happy that she was doing a good thing for the country.”

Continue on to Melville School District to read the complete article.

Seaman Earns Military Excellence Award at Recruit Training Command

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Kade Stepan sits in front of U.S. Flag in his Navy uniform

By Alan Nunn, Recruit Training Command Public Affairs

Seaman Recruit Kade Stepan, a native of Mosinee, Wisconsin, graduated as top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, Division 348, earning the Military Excellence Award on September 20.

Stepan said he was surprised and excited upon learning he had received the MEA.

“Winning the MEA means that I am off to a very good start to my career in the Navy,” Stepan said. “I will continue to do my very best and show my commitment to the Navy.”

The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed him at the pinnacle of today’s newest sailors. Stepan was awarded a flag letter of commendation for his achievements.

Stepan, 19, is a 2019 graduate of Mosinee High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, Badger Boys State and a three-sport athlete who graduated in the top 10 percent of his class.

Stepan said his love for his country spurred his decision to join the Navy.

“I joined the Navy over the other branches because I feel it is the most necessary branch of U.S. military in regard to national defense,” Stepan said. “I also believe the Navy offers more opportunities for its members.”

Stepan credited his Recruit Division Commanders, Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Jessica Barnes, Culinary Specialist 1st Class Darius Binion, and Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Sean Tracy for their leadership and guidance.

“Chief Barnes highly motivated me,” Stepan said. “Chief Barnes is very passionate about the Navy. He would show it every day and always pushed me and my shipmates to be the best sailors we could be. However, I cannot excluded my other RDCs, who also motivated me to be the best sailor possible.”

Stepan said the toughest part of boot camp was being away from his family.

“My family means everything to me and leaving them to join the Navy was very difficult,” Stepan said. “I eventually overcame this when I got my first phone call and talked to my father, Tad Stepan, who told me to keep pushing and that my last name should be all I need to push me through boot camp.”

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 35,000 recruits are trained annually at RTC and begin their Navy careers.

Stepan is assigned the rate of electrician’s mate (nuclear).

After graduation, Stepan will attend Electrician’s Mate Nuclear Field “A” School in Charleston, South Carolina. Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) operate and maintain Naval Nuclear propulsion plants and associated equipment. They supervise and administer Naval Nuclear propulsion plant operations, and thoroughly understand reactor, electrical, and mechanical theory involved in the operation of the nuclear reactor, steam plant, propulsion plant, and auxiliary equipment.

Source: outreach.navy.mil