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Category: Local communities

June
12th

DOD IG wants more tests on Boeing-made sub-hunting jets before Navy pays for full production

A new Defense Department Inspector General report urges the Navy to slow down on its purchases of a submarine-hunting jet that Boeing manufactures in the Puget Sound.

The Inspector General wants the Navy to supervise more testing to ensure that P-8A Poseidon jets will reach a required 25-year lifespan “without succumbing to structural fatigue” before committing to a  full-rate production contract. The IG says the Navy had planned to consider that contract next month.

So far, the Navy has ordered 24 P-8A jets and it has begun assigning them to Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida. Over time, the

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June
10th

Clover Park schools on JBLM safe from defense furloughs but bracing for cuts to come

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is getting one break that most other military installations are not receiving this year in the Pentagon’s plan to furlough its civilian workforce for 11 days this summer

Lewis-McChord’s schools are staying open full time despite the furloughs because they’re managed by Lakewood’s CloverParkSchool District.

Elsewhere, the Defense Department plans to shut schools on military bases for five days this fall so employees can take their unpaid days off.

We’re publishing more about Lewis-McChord’s furlough plan in Tuesday’s newspaper. The base has more than 10,000 civilian employees who generally will be compelled to take Fridays

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June
7th

Soldier from Olympia recovering at Walter Reed from critical wounds in Afghanistan

Sgt. Luke Cifka left for Afghanistan this past spring determined to return home to his wife and infant son.

He’s back in the states with family, but not in the way he wanted.

The 26-year-old soldier from Olympia suffered critical injuries during a patrol in Logar Province on May 31. He’s at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland at the beginning of what his wife describes as a “long road ahead” of rehabilitation.

“We’re very, super, super lucky that as serious as his injuries are, he’s still alive,” said his wife, Kait Cifka, 23. The family did not

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May
23rd

Plan your Memorial Day observances with this look at the weekend’s events

A busy weekend of Memorial Day events is just around the corner in Pierce and Thurston counties. Here’s a look at the weekend’s ceremonies culled from community groups, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sunday

  • Key Peninsula Veterans Aisle of Honor, 1 p.m., VaughnBayCemetery, the cemetery is located at the corner of 100th Street Kp N and 186th Avenue Kp N, Vaughn. 253-884 9852. Signs will be posted from State Route 302. The formal ceremony begins about 1 p.m., but flags will be on display from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Yelm Cemetery Memorial Day

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May
16th

JBLM’s wartime growth was fifth fastest across entire military, new GAO report shows

A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows that the number of civilian and military employees at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has increased by almost 64 percent since 2006, a pace that marked the fifth-fastest clip for any domestic military installation.

The base added about 20,600 civilian and military employees in that period, giving it a payroll of some 52,800 service members and civilians as of last year.

Lewis-McChord caught the attention of the GAO for a report looking at military bases that added or lost significant numbers of service members in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round.

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May
14th

South Sound DOD employees still facing furloughs, but new plan calls for fewer unpaid days off

Thousands of Defense Department employees in Pierce and Thurston counties are still facing the likelihood of unpaid time off this summer, but not as much as the Pentagon initially proposed.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday released a plan requiring about 680,000 civilian employees across the country to take 11 furlough days through the end of September.

The furloughs are scheduled to begin July 8 unless Congress allocates money to prevent the spending reduction, meaning workers will take off about one day a week for three months.

That’s down from an initial Pentagon furlough proposal that would have mandated 22

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April
25th

“Six months is long enough:” Accelerating drawdown has Stryker soldiers coming home early from Afghanistan

Sgt. Ryan Ellenberger’s 2-month-old son left him speechless.

He held the baby for the first time Thursday in a Joint Base Lewis-McChord gymnasium when the soldier came home from his Stryker unit’s shortened tour in Afghanistan.

Tears welled up in Ellenberger’s eyes. His wife, Summer, leaned over to give him a long kiss.

Their ecstatic expressions conveyed far more than they could express out loud.

“It’s amazing. Words can’t describe it. I just can’t,” he said as he held Ryan Jr. with the baby’s eyes fixing on dad’s.

Their reunion took place four months earlier than the family expected when

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April
23rd

Attorneys for Kandahar massacre suspect Staff Sgt. Robert Bales must declare mental health defense by late May

Attorneys for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians last spring are approaching a deadline at the end of May to declare whether they intend to use a mental health defense at his court-martial.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ faces the death penalty on charges that he slipped out of his combat outpost by himself twice in the early hours of March 11, 2012 to murder the civilians in their homes and to wound six more noncombatants. He allegedly burned some of the corpses, and reportedly returned to his base wearing a sheet like a cape.

His

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