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Archives: Aug. 2009

Aug.
31st

Brown describes drawdown logistics

I Corps’ Brig. Gen. Heidi Brown has been in the news a lot lately, mostly because she’s tasked with overseeing the logistics of withdrawing troops and equipment from Iraq. The Associated Press caught up with Brown, a Texas native, for a story that moved across the wire last night.

From the story:

First out, Brown said, will be the early withdrawal of an Army combat brigade of about 5,000. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said a brigade would leave by the end of the year, months ahead of schedule, if violence in Iraq did not escalate beyond current levels.

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Aug.
31st

Local links, Aug. 31

It has been a tough couple of weeks for the local military community.

Seven soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, including six from Fort Lewis’ 5th Stryker Brigade. Our front page Saturday carried two stories about the war coming home to our local communities. Reporter Brent Champaco, photographer Lui Kit Wong and I were at the funeral of 1st Sgt. Jose S.N. Crisostomo of Spanaway. And reporter Steve Maynard talked to the parents of Pfc. Dennis M. Williams, a Federal Way native killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Stryker.

Our executive editor, Karen Peterson, used

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Aug.
29th

Electronic eyes on the battlefield

Gunmen fire on American troops in Iraq. The soldiers pursue, but they can run into problems if the terrain is unfamiliar. Landmarks are confusing. They focus on the wrong building. Or they get turned around in the urban setting.

Now, a communications system that two Fort Lewis Stryker brigades are fielding in Iraq aims to provide leaders with more real-time information – and a better chance of tracking insurgents.

The Tacticomp system can link soldiers on the ground with commanders back at the operations center, using troops’ geographical coordinates and live video from cameras soldiers carry or from drone aircraft circling overhead.

The information streams back to computers inside the Stryker vehicle and to the unit’s tactical operations center.

Soldiers carrying the device can send texts to each other or broadcast a message in an ad-hoc chat room. And the ability to send video or still photos to the operations center can be used to verify identities of targets.

Tacticomp is part of the Army’s continuing emphasis on technology for its Stryker brigades, which blend infantry training with the ability to make quick, precise strikes on enemy positions.
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Aug.
28th

Slain FWay soldier worried about future

From News Tribune reporter Steve Maynard:

The father and the wife of a Federal Way native killed in southern Afghanistan said Friday he realized his life was in danger.

Pfc. Dennis M. Williams, 24, was one of four Fort Lewis soldiers killed when a bomb detonated near their vehicle Tuesday.

“I lost a special son who knew he was in harm’s way,” Dan Williams said about his son.

Dan Williams and Maria Williams, the soldier’s wife, were in Delaware Friday to watch the arrival of the soldier’s casket at Dover Air Force Base.

“We feel like we just lost our whole world,” said Maria Williams, while boarding a plane to return to Seattle.
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Aug.
28th

‘Pues adios, Joe, adios, adios’

crisostomofuneralTo fellow soldiers, Army 1st Sgt. Jose Crisostomo was a war-tested veteran who proudly served his country.

To Chamorros, he was a leader of the relocated Guam community who did everything from organizing fiestas to raising youth scholarship money.

To his family, he was Papa. And now, the man known to most everyone as Sinbad, is their “angel.”

“Papa, my heart hurts knowing you won’t be alive,” his teenage granddaughter Amalia said Friday during a tearful memorial service at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church in Spanaway, her grandfather’s flag-draped casket a few pews away. “Hu guiya hao, papa. (I love you.)”

Crisostomo died Aug. 18 when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan, less than two weeks before his 60th birthday.

The veteran and native of Inarajan, Guam, re-enlisted for active service early last year, and had recently chosen to do another tour, his family said.

The longtime Spanaway resident first joined the Army in 1969 and had served almost 25 years before retiring in 1993. Most recently, he served with the International Security Assistance Force.

“My father loved the military,” said Tricia Crisostomo-Meyers, his daughter.

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Aug.
28th

Wife: Hallett ‘always put the needs of others before his own’

The wife of Capt. John L. Hallett III, who was killed Tuesday in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, released photos and a statement on behalf of herself and their three children: Jackson, Bryce, Heidi.

“Captain John Louis Hallett, III, was an amazing father, devoted and joyful husband, thoughtful son, loving brother, and inspiring friend,” Lisa A. Hallett said. “John possessed incredible work ethic and inspirational integrity. He would always put the needs of others before his own. He was a patient teacher to our

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Aug.
28th

446th squadron ‘pumped up and ready to go’

About 40 civil engineers assigned to a McChord Air Force Base reserve unit left Friday for Iraq.

The members of the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron will perform maintenance – like repairing electrical and plumbing fixtures – on military bases across Iraq. The unit will also train Iraqi counterparts.

The airmen are expected to return in spring 2010.

This is the first mobilization for the unit – which draws airmen from across Washington and beyond – since 2007. The deploying electricians, plumbers, masons and carpenters are rated as masters in their civilian careers, according to a McChord press release.

“This is

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Aug.
28th

New admiral coming to Bremerton

Bremerton-based Navy Carrier Strike Group Three will receive a new commander, according to the Pentagon:

Rear Adm. (lower half) Joseph P. Aucoin will be assigned as commander, Carrier Strike Group Three, Bremerton, Wash. Aucoin is currently serving as deputy director, Air Warfare Division, N88B, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Mark A. Vance, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral, will be assigned as director, Programming Division, N80, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Vance is currently serving as commander, Carrier Strike Group Three, Bremerton, Wash.