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Archives: Oct. 2012

Oct.
29th

Here they come: Homecomings picking up at JBLM as 3rd Brigade’s tour winds down

Small groups of troops are making their way home from southern Afghanistan, signaling the near end of a deployment for more than 3,500 soldiers in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

The soldiers coming home now mostly represent advance parties from a yearlong deployment that began for most of the brigade’s subordinate units in December. It’s going to take several weeks to more than a month before you’ll see all of the 3rd Brigade back home in the South Sound.

Familiar faces are replacing the 3rd Brigade in Kandahar and Zabul provinces. Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry

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Oct.
24th

Double amputee JBLM soldier returns home to a hero’s welcome in Alabama

A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who lost both legs to a mine in Afghanistan five months ago made his first trip to his Alabama hometown last week and received a hero’s welcome.

Hundreds of people greeted Spc. Josh Wetzel in Glencoe, Ala. on Friday. Many have been following his progress at his Prayers for Josh Wetzel Facebook page and in local media reports around Alabama.

Check out this account in the Birmingham News, and this one in the Gadsden Times.

“This is probably one of the best days of my life,” Wetzel told them outside the Veteran’s

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Oct.
24th

New design adds 20 tons, tracks to the wheeled Strykers seen at JBLM

The manufacturer of the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles that make up the backbone of the Army’s fleet at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is unveiling new models of at a conference this week, including ones that would have run counter to their initial purpose as a rapidly deployable medium weight infantry carrier.

General Dynamics is pitching the new models as a path for the Army to improve its vehicle fleet without spending billions of dollars designing new options.

One of the new models is a tracked Stryker that weighs some 42 tons – 22 tons more than an off-the-floor, basic Stryker

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Oct.
23rd

Bayonet! Army ceremonies revealing role for new division HQ at JBLM

I haven’t heard anyone sing the 7th Infantry Division song yet, but Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s newest command is starting to flesh out its place in the Puget Sound military community.

The newly reactivated 7th Infantry Division took leading roles in recent weeks at memorials to fallen soldiers and the deployment ceremony for the Afghanistan-bound 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Those troops now belong to the 7th ID.

These gestures reveal that the 7th ID will be as integral to Lewis-McChord as units like the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

At Fort Bragg, the 82nd often is the dominant

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Oct.
18th

Sen. Murray nudges Panetta to speed up Pentagon review of PTSD diagnoses

Sen. Patty Murray today nudged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to provide more information about what resulted from his call for a military-wide review of post-traumatic stress diagnoses.

Panetta called for that review in the wake of a controversy last winter at Madigan Army Medical Center in which veterans complained that a forensic psychiatry team at the hospital changed their post-traumatic stress diagnoses in such a way that soldiers received fewer disability benefits. Some veterans feared the hospital was changing diagnoses to save money.

The Army has since reviewed hundreds of cases of soldiers who passed through Madigan, revising some diagnoses to post-traumatic

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Oct.
18th

JBLM Stryker brigade told to “get the job done, come home safely” as it leaves for Kandahar

Clare Weeks had her hands full juggling two toddlers Thursday at a Joint Base Lewis-McChord deployment ceremony for her husband’s brigade. She knows she’s in for more of the same over the nine months Capt. Collin Weeks will spend in Afghanistan with the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

“I don’t think it hit me yet,” she said. “It will.”

Weeks joined hundreds of Army families at Lewis-McChord’s main parade ground Thursday to send off about 3,000 troops in the 4th Brigade. Its deployment could be the last major mission for a Lewis-McChord brigade in Afghanistan if NATO follows through on

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Oct.
16th

Report: JBLM soldier was killed in suicide attack with Afghan security leader

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who was killed by an enemy bomb Saturday might have died in an insider attack carried out with a suicide vest, according to reports in the Tampa Bay Times and The New York Times.

Spc. Brittany Gordon, 24, reportedly died with an American contractor, the deputy intelligence director for Kandahar providence, two of his bodyguards and another Afghan intelligence employee.

Republican Rep. Bill Young of Florida told the Tampa Bay Times that Gordon was killed in a suicide attack.

“It is not one that was planted as a mine. The person was wearing

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Oct.
16th

The ice keeps calling: McChord teams make 500th C-17 trip to Antarctica

Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord call their annual assignment supplying researchers in Antarctica their most dangerous noncombat mission. For the 500th time, they made that trip safely in a C-17 Globemaster III to an outpost near the bottom of the planet.

The Air Force today crowed about the achievement for McChord Airfield’s 62nd Airlift Wing and 446th Reserve Airlift Wing. McChord teams have been supplying scientific research at McMurdo Station since 1997. They’ve been using a fleet of C-17 s since 1999.

“Knowing that during these missions we have directly contributed to the advancement of scientific research and provided

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