FOB Tacoma

NOTICE: FOB Tacoma has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved FOB Tacoma.
Visit the new section.

Archives: July 2009

July
31st

Bennitt to face involuntary manslaughter charges at court martial

Pvt. Timothy E. Bennitt, the Fort Lewis soldier whose 16-year-old girlfriend died after an overdose of prescription pills in his barracks room, will face involuntary manslaughter and drug-related charges in a general court martial, the post announced Friday.


Bennitt faces a maximum of 82 years in prison, reduction in rank, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge from the Army if convicted. A date for his court martial has not been set.


The charges stem from the death of Leah King, a student at Lakes High School, in Bennitt’s barracks room Feb. 15 on North

Read more »

July
31st

Madigan plans major expansion

Officials at Madigan Army Medical Center hope to break ground soon on a center specializing in women’s and children’s medicine, the largest expansion of the Fort Lewis hospital since 1992.

The $205 million facility would be the first of its kind in the military and one of just a few such centers that would focus on care for both women and children anywhere in the United States, the chairman of Madigan’s obstetrics and gynecology department said this week.

“The No. 1 business at (Department of Defense) hospitals is deliveries and all the care related to that,” Col. Peter Nielsen said. “So the idea of putting in what place what women need and what children need – I thought it just made sense.”

The new facility would measure about 140,000 square feet cost $205 million. It would provide an array of services, including obstetrics, women’s oncology, gynecology, breast disease, infertility, endocrinology, a neonatal intensive care unit and child psychiatry.

And by moving some services to the new building, it would create about 70,000 square feet of floor space in the main hospital, said Michael Carico, Madigan’s chief of operation and maintenance.

The new building – the largest addition to Madigan since the new hospital building opened in 1992 – is still several years away. Pentagon officials are still finalizing the 2010 fiscal year budget; included in it is a $2 million earmark U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., added to fund the planning and design.

Read more »

July
31st

They all start as equals at Warrior Forge

Alyson McWherter walked back to her barracks room and sank into her bed. She was physically, mentally and emotionally spent. Her feet throbbed. Her shoulders ached. She hadn’t slept well in days.

Three days earlier, a fellow ROTC cadet died during night training; she was part of the search team sent into the forests of Fort Lewis early in the morning to search for him.

Two days of land-navigation exercises followed, one at day at one at night. She and other cadets were sent into the forest with a map and compass and told to find a series of checkpoints. The pressure was omnipresent: How a cadet performs can determine if he or she will receive the job they want, or even if a spot on active duty awaits them.

The three grueling days earlier this month had pushed the 21-year-old to her limits.

“That’s when I was like, ‘It’s either buck up now or go home,’” said McWherter, who graduated from the Operation Warrior Forge annual ROTC assessment course Friday at Fort Lewis.

One month earlier, life was good. McWherter and her University of Washington softball teammates were partying in Oklahoma City, soaking up every ounce of glory that comes with a national title. McWherter was a junior, and her teammates were already talking about a repeat next season.

But all that mattered little when Warrior Forge began. Her instructors didn’t care about her softball success and her history with Fort Lewis – she was born on post and her father later commanded an infantry battalion there. She was another cadet, running on too little sleep and learning how to administer first aid, protect herself from nerve gas or planning and executing an assault on a mock city – all part of the 29-day course that produces 70 percent of the Army’s second lieutenants. (The remainder graduate from West Point or are commissioned through Officer Candidate School.)

Read more »

July
31st

What units are arriving?


I’ve received a few e-mails about what units of the 81st Brigade Combat Team will arrive Saturday afternoon. Here’s the list, conveniently ripped off from the Washington National Guard’s Web site:


Alpha and Bravo companies, 181st Brigade Support Battalion

Headquarters company, 81st Brigade Combat Team

Headquarters company, 81st Brigade Special Troops Battalion

Charlie and Echo companies, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment


Hotel Company of 1-161 is also returning home Saturday, but those soldiers will land at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane.


(Photo by Scott Fontaine/The

Read more »

July
31st

Another look at the Battle of Wanat


The battle of Wanat, Afghanistan, has been receiving some critical attention lately. The Pentagon’s Inspector General has opened an investigation into whether troops had proper supplies, equipment and aerial surveillance.


Today, the Seattle Times wades into the issue with a well-researched, well-written report. (The Times presumably gave it a second look because one of the casualties that day was Cpl. Jason Bogar of Seattle.)


(Photo by Janet Jensen/The News Tribune)

July
30th

Skagit County soldier killed in Afghanistan

An Army Special Forces soldier from Skagit County was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire.


Chief Warrant Officer Douglas M. Vose III of Concrete was serving in Kabul province with 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group. He is the 316th service member with Washington ties – either stationed in the state, a resident or a native – to die in war since the 2001, and the eighth this year.


The 38-year-old Roseburg, Ore., native served in the Army since April 1989. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two

Read more »

July
30th

Another 81st arrival expected Saturday

Another 250 members of the 81st Brigade Combat Team are coming home Saturday.


The homecoming ceremony will follow the routine of Wednesday’s homecoming, the first for the 3,500 Washington National Guard unit. A charter plane will land at McChord Air Force Base, and a homecoming ceremony in Wilson Gym at North Fort Lewis will follow.


Additional arrivals to McChord and Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane continue over the next two weeks.


“I am honored to welcome the soldiers home after their long sacrifice and time away from their families,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement.

Read more »

July
30th

New garrison commander has history at Lewis

The man who will run daily operations of Fort Lewis is no stranger to the area: Col. Thomas Brittain’s first assignment as a second lieutenant in 1987-90 was at the Army post.

“It seems like familiar ground, but it really has changed a lot since then,” Brittain said minutes after he replaced Col. Cynthia Murphy as Fort Lewis garrison commander Tuesday.

The garrison commander manages the maintenance and construction of Fort Lewis and the Yakima Training Center, overseeing an array of responsibilities like public works, maintenance of community facilities and emergency services.

It’s a busy time to take the job: Current construction projects total about $290 million, and another $1.7 billion in construction is planned. Early next year the post will merge with McChord Air Force Base, part of a military-wide joint basing effort – the topic of his thesis at his most recent assignment, as a student at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania.

Read more »