The U.S. Postal Service has released its annual guidelines to
make sure service members receive their presents and care packages
in time for the holidays.
To help get packages on their way, the Postal Service is
offering a $2 per box postage discount on its largest Priority Mail
Flat Rate box at $15.45, for mail being sent to APO/FPO/DPO
(Air/Army Post Office, Fleet Post Office and Diplomatic Post
Office) destinations worldwide.
Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes are available at no cost at either
local Post Offices, or ordered online at shop.usps.com. Postage, labels
and customs forms can be printed online anytime using Click-N-Ship
To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by Dec. 25, send
cards and packages to military APO/FPO/ DPO addresses no later than
the dates below. overseas no later than the mailing dates listed
An explosive ordnance disposal soldier removed a grenade
from a man's leg in an ambulance outside of the University of
Alabama Hospital in Birmingham on Oct. 11.
Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink from the 789th EOD Company, based
at Fort Benning, Georgia, received a call from the Birmingham
Police Department bomb squad around 1 a.m.
Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink removed a grenade from a man's leg in an ambulance outside of the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham on Oct. 11. Courtesy photo The police sought Mensink's
advice to determine what kind of explosive item was stuck in the
"From the initial X-ray, it looked like a 40mm grenade," said
Mensink, a 27-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran from Seale,
Explosive was a military round
Once the police discovered that the explosive was a military
round, Mensink and his EOD team were called to support a team of
federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on scene. The
agencies involved included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives, the FBI, the Alabama State Bureau of Investigations
and the police departments of Birmingham and Jasper, Alabama.
Escorted by Alabama state troopers from the Georgia-Alabama
state line, the team left Fort Benning at 4:15 a.m. and arrived at
the hospital two hours later. The man was isolated inside the
ambulance behind barricades more than 30 feet from the hospital
with two paramedics who volunteered to stay with him.
On his first trip into the ambulance, Mensink discovered that
the grenade was lodged so deeply in the man's thigh that it exposed
his femoral artery.
Mensink returned to the ambulance with a doctor who volunteered
to make an incision in the man's leg, while a paramedic stood by
with tourniquet in case the man's artery was damaged. Another
paramedic monitored his vital signs.
Mensink then carefully removed the grenade from his leg.
Paramedics rushed the man into the hospital. Officials said the man
had no permanent damage.
Find out what happened next
Airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base,
Germany, loaded a C-130J Super Hercules with needed supplies and
launched their first mission yesterday to West Africa in support of
Operation United Assistance.
U.S. Africa Command is working with the U.S. Agency for
International Development to deliver much-needed support. Part of
Africom’s effort is the tactical theater airlift provided by the
86th Airlift Wing, whose airmen are eager to do their part in the
Excited to support mission
“We’re super-excited to get down there and help as much as we
can,” said Air Force Capt. Brian Shea, 37th AS aircraft commander.
“The 37th AS is a key component in Africom’s mission to establish
an air bridge for the operation. This mission is big for the 86th
AW and our squadron.”
The United States is sending troops and material to treat
patients, build field hospitals and is also training health care
Although the 37th AS team expects to be on the ground in Liberia
for only a few hours, Shea was confident his team was well prepared
to handle any anticipated medical concerns, including receiving all
required vaccinations and medical clearance to participate in
missions throughout Africa.
“We’re not expecting to have any issues going into the theater,”
Shea explained. “We’ve been briefed and trained on how to handle
any medical concerns if need be.”
While this may be the first flight out of Ramstein to provide
cargo support to OUA, the 37th AS is anticipating a consistent
airflow requirement to assist with cargo and personnel transfer in
and out of areas in need.
“I’m proud to be part of a mission like this,” said Air Force
Staff Sgt. Kevin Byrne, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying
crew chief. “I’m ready to get down there and do some good
The U.S. will continue to respond quickly and safely with
African and international partners to help end the Ebola outbreak
as soon as possible.
The U.S. Navy celebrated the 60th anniversary of the
commissioning of USS Nautilus and the birth of the nuclear Navy
Sept. 30 in a ceremony aboard the historic ship in its home at the
Submarine Force Museum and Library in Groton, Conn.
It was Sept. 30, 1954, when the submarine community took the
first step in shifting from diesel-driven engines to those powered
by the collision of atoms, an evolution that eventually resulted in
the all nuclear-powered submarine force of today.
Retired Rear Adm. Jeffrey Metzel, left, fourth commanding officer of the nuclear powered submarine USS Nautilus, speaks with Submarine Force Museum docent Norman Kuzel during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the boat's commissioning. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tim Comerford"A lot has been said about the
teamwork it took to make the Nautilus. That hasn't changed. That
same teamwork is needed when building subs today, and that role
continues today with the Ohio replacement program." said Adm. John
Richardson, Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion
The possibility of nuclear-powered vessels was just a dream in
1946 until the successful development of a nuclear propulsion plant
by scientists and engineers at the Naval Reactors Branch of the
Atomic Energy Commission. The program was driven to completion
under the leadership of then-Capt. Hyman G. Rickover, widely-known
as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy."
Many in attendance at the ceremony recalled their service
onboard Nautilus as the pinnacle of their Navy careers and shared
their fondness for Vice Admiral Eugene "Dennis" Wilkinson, the
ship's first commanding officer. Wilkinson passed in 2013, but
still left some words of wisdom for the crowd.
"In Dennis Wilkinson's words 'They may make em' better, but they
will never be the first,'" said retired Capt. Ray Engle, a young
officer at the time of the commissioning.
Henry Nardone Sr., 92, was a project officer on Nautilus. He
said working on the nuclear-powered submarine was the highlight of
his 12 1/2-year naval career. He started as a "fresh-caught"
lieutenant junior grade when the keel was laid in August 1955 and
was there through her commissioning into the Navy on Sept. 30,
1954. As a civilian, he was in charge of her first major overhaul
in 1973 at Electric Boat where he was manager of the overhaul
"It was the most significant assignment I had in the Navy, and
the one I enjoyed the most," Nardone said from his home in
Westerly, just a few miles from Groton. "I couldn't ask for a
better assignment for myself or my career. Not only was it the
highlight of my career, but the highlight of the submarine service
in the country. It was one of the most significant events in
submarine design construction ever and changed the whole world of
“It’s been a long journey.”
That short sentence spoken by Lois Pope is an understatement of
the highest order. But on October 5, the 16-year odyssey to build
the American Veterans Disabled for
Life Memorial will come to a close when the nation’s first
permanent public tribute to disabled vets is dedicated in
Pope, who spearheaded the effort, is quick to point out that the
struggle to build the memorial was not hers alone.
Lois Pope, right, along with Gary Sinise, center, and former VA Secretary Gordon Mansfield participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial in November 2010. Courtesy photos“We had some rough days, but we
all had such tenacity and determination to make it happen,” said
Pope, a former Broadway actress and singer. “No man is an island
and it took a lot of help from a lot of other people who were
Pope’s interest in building the memorial was sparked by a visit
to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1997.
“I stopped to place my hand on my cousin’s name,” she said,
referring to a relative whose name appears on the black granite
wall. “Beside me, a multiple amputee struggled to lay a bouquet of
flowers below a buddy’s name.
“When I turned to leave, I asked a park ranger if he knew where
a memorial to disabled veterans was. He took out a map and said
there wasn’t one.”
That was all the inspiration she needed to embark on a long-term
quest to build a memorial that recognizes the service and sacrifice
of nearly 4 million living disabled veterans, their families and
Located on a triangular, 2.4-acre site about 1,000 feet from the
U.S. Capitol, the memorial features a star-shaped fountain which
flows into a reflecting pool. Adjacent glass panels and bronze
sculptures “display the universal story of disabled veterans’ pride
of service, trauma of injury, challenge of healing and renewal of
purpose,” according to a press release.
Pope said that she wants the memorial to inform, remind and
educate the public about disabled vets. “I want everybody to know
about their courage, the sacrifices – they made sacrifices for our
liberty,” she said. “The cost of war isn’t over when the guns are
silent. [Veterans] come home and they have to battle every
It was a different kind of battle for Pope and her team at the
Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation as they worked to get
the memorial constructed. It took years of planning, designing and
fundraising – taxpayer funds cannot be used to build monuments –
before breaking ground on the site in November 2010.
Now just days away from the Oct. 5 unveiling, Pope says the
public is invited to attend the dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. on
Sunday in Washington. It’s free to attend, but registration is
required. For more information, go to http://www.avdlm.org/dedication.
An aerial photo of the memorial shows it under construction in August.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Seth Pena, a highly decorated tactical air
control party member who is noted for calling in coordinated close
support airstrikes that killed up to 70 Taliban members in one
fight, sat down with a crossbow draped across his lap and a target
25 meters in front of him, reminiscing about the night that changed
his life forever.
"I have gone on multiple deployments, defeated the Taliban; I
never thought another American would do this to me," he said.
One night while Pena was riding his motorcycle, a drunk driver
ran a red light and crashed into him. As Pena was flung from his
bike, the driver attempted to flee, but was apprehended by a
service member who witnessed the incident.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Seth Pena readies his compound bow to strike a target 25 meters away in San Antonio, Sept. 14, 2014. Pena will compete at the 2014 Warrior Games, taking place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, in Colorado Springs, Colo. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Ellis Pena doesn't remember the event.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury, multiple broken bones and
fractures, and he lost a lot of blood. He died immediately at the
scene, but was resuscitated once medical personnel arrived.
"I actually died twice," Pena said with a sobering tone. "I also
died in the helicopter ride to the hospital. The doctor had all my
co-workers come into my hospital room, and they started screaming
my name. Miraculously, my heart started pumping again."
Pena was in a coma for 20 days before he regained consciousness.
The doctor told the nurses and his family not to mention that his
left leg was amputated. Because Pena had suffered severe brain
trauma, the doctor explained, he was unsure how he would accept the
"One day as the nurse came in to bathe me, she said that she
wanted to show me something," Pena said. "She removed the wrap and
I could see my leg was gone. I mean I knew my leg and ankle was
hurting and in a lot of pain, but I had no clue until she showed
Six months later, Pena was able to leave the hospital and was
transferred to the 59th Medical Wing Patient Squadron at Wilford
Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland,
"The patient squadron has been awesome," Pena said. "I remember
when the general in charge came to greet us during the grand
opening. You can tell that he really cared about the wounded
Pena described how coming to the patient squadron marked an
incredible milestone with his treatment. "Instead of being an
inpatient, you are treated as an outpatient where you get to do
your own thing," he said.
While interacting with others in the patient squadron, Pena
acquired a new hobby to occupy some of his free time. He started
practicing archery for hours each week. "I injured my right elbow
when I fell and they had to freeze it, so I started practicing with
my left," Pena said. "I now shoot left-handed and am more accurate
Pena has become so accurate that he has been selected to compete
in the 2014 Warrior Games, taking place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 in
Colorado Springs, Colorado. He will compete with other elite
athletes from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard
and special operations.
"The amount of stuff that had to happen in order for me to still
be here -- quick-responding emergency crew, dying twice and waking
out of a coma after 20 days -- my odds of surviving were as slim as
winning the lottery," Pena said. "I thank God I'm still here. I got
some adversity now, but I'm learning to live with it."