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Archives: Oct. 2012


Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in custody at JBLM awaiting hearing on Afghan killings

For the first time since he was taken into custody seven months ago, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is back at Joint Base Lewis-McChord awaiting a pretrial hearing on charges that he murdered 16 Afghan civilians during his deployment with a local Stryker brigade.

Bales, a former Lake Tapps resident and father of two, had been in confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. since the Army sprinted him out of Afghanistan following the March 11 killings. An Army spokesman confirmed that he arrived at Lewis-McChord’s Regional Confinement Center Monday evening.

He is expected to have a two-week pretrial hearing beginning Nov. 5

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Two JBLM soldiers killed Saturday in separate IED attacks, DOD announces

Two Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers were killed in Afghanistan Saturday in separate enemy attacks with handmade explosives, the Defense Department announced today.

Spc. Brittany Gordon, 24, of JBLM’s 572nd Military Intelligence Company was killed in Kandahar Province.

Sgt. Robert Billings, 30, of JBLM’s 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment died from wounds he suffered in the Spin Boldak District in Kandahar Province near the Pakistan border.

Family members had announced Spc. Brittany Gordon’s death this weekend to local media in her hometown, St. Petersburg, Fla. She is the daughter of St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Cedric Gordon and his

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Veteran JBLM Army Ranger shot to death in Afghanistan firefight

A veteran Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army Ranger was shot to death in a “heavy firefight” in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province Friday, the Defense Department announced today.

Sgt. Thomas MacPherson, 26, of Long Beach, Calif. was serving on his fifth deployment with Lewis-McChord’s 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

MacPherson leaves behind his wife, Claudia, and son, Brayden, of Tacoma, as well as his parents, Troy and Diona MacPherson of Long Beach.

MacPherson’s battalion deployed in June for its 15th combat assignment since 2002 to Iraq or Afghanistan. MacPherson served on one deployment to Iraq; this was his fourth in

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JBLM Stryker commander outlines an “advise and assist” mission for his troops in Afghanistan

The next Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade to fight in Afghanistan plans to leave 1,000 of its soldiers at home as a “readiness reserve” in case its mission advising Afghan partners changes during its deployment.

“I don’t need everyone for this mission” at first, said Col. Mike Getchell, commander of more than 4,000 soldiers in the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “They’ll continue to train so they’re ready to serve when they’re called to do it.”

Getchell is heading into Kandahar Province over the next two months with his most seasoned soldiers. He’s drawing on veterans and high-ranking leaders initially

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Panetta describes cyber attacks on U.S. utilities, showing urgency of new role for WA Guard

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s call to arms on cyber security Thursday highlights the urgency of the Washington National Guard’s effort to get its citizen soldiers to work protecting utility and municipal digital networks.

Panetta in a New York speech described efforts by foreign organizations to gain control of domestic computers running electric, chemical, water and transportation networks.

“We also know they are seeking to create advanced tools to attack these systems and cause panic, destruction and even the loss of life,” he said.

“An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger

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What does an “enduring presence” in Afghanistan mean for JBLM?

Last week, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey visited the Puget Sound and described the “enduring presence” he sees for American forces in Afghanistan after the planned 2014 drawdown of most Western troops.

Does that mean Joint Base Lewis-McChord should expect major deployments to Afghanistan for years to come?

It does not seem likely based on what we’ve been hearing recently from commanders at the base.

I Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Robert Brown and 7th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza each stressed the likelihood for missions in the Pacific in the next

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Anti-war veteran groups conducting outreach campaign near JBLM this week

Veteran advocacy groups that want to end the war in Afghanistan are conducting an outreach campaign near Joint Base Lewis-McChord this week to connect soldiers with information about how to become conscientious objectors.

Veterans for Peace and March Forward! pegged their “Our lives, our rights” campaign to the upcoming deployment of Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, Infantry Division, which expects to leave soon with up to 4,000 soldiers for a nine-month mission in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province.

The advocacy groups say the war does not deserve the life of another soldier because it suffers from a long-failed strategy

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Soldier from Gig Harbor to be laid to rest next week in Lakewood

Funeral services are set for Staff Sgt. Orion N. Sparks, the soldier from Gig Harbor who was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 26.

Sparks, 29, is to be laid to rest at noon on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Mountain View Funeral Home, 4100 Steilacoom Blvd. SW, in Lakewood.

The Defense Department reported that Sparks was killed when an insurgent wearing a suicide vest detonated the device near his patrol
in Pul-E Alam of Afghanistan’s Logar Province. Sgt. Jonathan A. Gollnitz, 28, of Lakehurst, N.J., also died in the blast.

Sparks was serving with the 173rd Airborne

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