On Patrol

Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

Roosevelt Readiness

August 21, 2014, 7:21PM

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt launches a rolling airframe missile in the Atlantic Ocean. The test focused on its combat readiness and its ability to defend against anti-ship cruise missiles and other asymmetric threats. U.S. Navy photoThe aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt launches a rolling airframe missile in the Atlantic Ocean. The test focused on its combat readiness and its ability to defend against anti-ship cruise missiles and other asymmetric threats. U.S. Navy photo

Cycle polo? What in the world is cycle polo? That's a thing? These are questions Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson, a 673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight fuels service center controller, is accustomed to hearing.

A passionate competitor in the sport, MacPherson said he is happy to explain.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson jockeys for the ball with Zachari Tate during a cycle polo game last month in Anchorage, Alaska. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson jockeys for the ball with Zachari Tate during a cycle polo game last month in Anchorage, Alaska. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright However, what the Hoboken, New Jersey, native sometimes leaves out is the fact he has world-class talent, as demonstrated by his recent qualification to compete in the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships in Montpellier, France, this month.

Bike polo is played in more than 30 countries, and it grows in popularity each year.

MacPherson qualified to compete in the world championship after competing in the North American Hardcourt regional qualifier in July. His team was one of the top 16 qualifiers to advance to the world championship.

For some people, the word polo might conjure up images of English gentlemen on horseback wielding oversized clubs -- playing what looks to be a hybrid version of hockey and golf. That's not far off the mark, MacPherson said.

However, the game of polo has evolved and taken on many forms since the late 1800s. One of the more popular iterations of the sport is known as "hardcourt," typically played on a street hockey rink.

"The best way to describe it is three-on-three hockey," MacPherson said. "You put the ball in the middle, somebody counts down, and one person from each team sprints [to the ball] in what's called a joust, and after that, you try to put the ball in the goal."

Read more here.

Awe-Sprey

August 20, 2014, 7:05AM

An MV-22 Osprey launches from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island in the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility, on Aug. 16. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Lindahl An MV-22 Osprey launches from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island in the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility, on Aug. 16. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Lindahl

All in a Day's Work

August 18, 2014, 1:53PM

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Petrofsky uses a flashlight as he performs maintenance on the exhaust system of a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Petrofsky uses a flashlight as he performs maintenance on the exhaust system of a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez

Sunlit Shapes

August 15, 2014, 6:12PM

U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrea Delosreyes inspects the boom with Airmen 1st Class Christopher Morgan and Jacob Manuel before an in-air refueling mission over Iraq. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrea Delosreyes inspects the boom with Airmen 1st Class Christopher Morgan and Jacob Manuel before an in-air refueling mission over Iraq. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

Over the Boardwalk

August 14, 2014, 8:44PM

Airman Austin Daniel flies with the Raiders Demonstration Team in his Yak-52 demonstration aircraft for the "Thunder Over the Boardwalk Air Show" over Atlantic City, N.J. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht Airman Austin Daniel flies with the Raiders Demonstration Team in his Yak-52 demonstration aircraft for the "Thunder Over the Boardwalk Air Show" over Atlantic City, N.J. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht

Highway Patrol

August 12, 2014, 11:54AM

U.S. soldiers provide security during a patrol along Highway 1 one in Afghanistan's Parwan province. The soldiers, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, patrolled for 12 hours. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. George Huley U.S. soldiers provide security during a patrol along Highway 1 one in Afghanistan's Parwan province. The soldiers, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, patrolled for 12 hours. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. George Huley

Hot Topics for August 12

August 12, 2014, 9:24AM |

U.S. and Australia to sign 25-year deal for Marines in Darwin (Marine Corps Times)

U.S. Said to Send 100 Air Missions Daily Over Iraq (Bloomberg)

Why F/A-18F Super Hornets dropped the first U.S. bombs in Iraq (Washington Post)

Program for homeless vets gets $300 million infusion (USA Today)

Vets everywhere can log on to virtual job fair (Military Times)

High-Wire Act

August 11, 2014, 6:34PM

Marines participate in recruiting commercials in Southern California, July 31, 2014. Crews filmed the Marines on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jericho W. Crutcher Marines participate in recruiting commercials in Southern California, July 31, 2014. Crews filmed the Marines on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jericho W. Crutcher

U.S. air operations in Iraq reflect a commitment to relieving the humanitarian issue in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region and to protecting American personnel, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

Kirby discussed the situation in Iraq with Chris Cuomo on the CNN program “New Day.” The admiral is in New Delhi with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Two U.S. F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near the regional capital of Irbil today. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located, Kirby said in a statement earlier today. Yesterday, U.S. aircraft dropped food and water to thousands of people seeking refuge on Mount Sinjar to escape ISIL fighters.

Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby “We’re committed to two things,” Kirby told Cuomo. “One is trying to relieve the humanitarian issue there on Mount Sinjar, and of course being prepared and ready to conduct airstrikes to protect American personnel … in Irbil and potentially even in and around Baghdad.”

The airstrikes also will try to help Iraqi security forces, the admiral added, “as they go after the ISIL threat inside their country, to their people [and] to their sovereignty. Ultimately, this is an Iraqi fight.”

Throughout the country, Kirby said, the fight is not uniform.

On the humanitarian emergency for the Yezidis on Mount Sinjar, the problem is one for the international community to help in solving, the admiral said. “The international community has … responded with some humanitarian assistance, the government of Iraq provided some humanitarian assistance, [and] we're chipping in to that effort as well,” he added.

Kirby said President Barack Obama was clear in his remarks last night that the world must attend to the behavior of the ISIL terrorists.

“These ISIL terrorists are simply brutes,” the admiral said. “They're thugs. They're murderers. They have no regard for human life or human dignity. And it's not just Christians or the Yezidis they're threatening.

“We do believe they pose a threat not just to Iraq, but to the region, and they do have aspirational desires to threaten western targets, to include the United States and American citizens,” he continued. “There's no question about that. … And our focus is helping the Iraqis deal with this threat inside their country and in the broader region.”

The U.S. military focus on the region has intensified over many weeks, he said, with an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activity over Iraq, assessment teams on the ground, advisors working in joint operation centers in Baghdad and Irbil, and now conducting air operations.

“The United States is not just standing by idly,” Kirby said. “We are working very hard on this. There is a sense of purpose and urgency here. But … this is ultimately an issue the Iraqi government has got to come to grips with and solve, and the Iraqi security forces have got to continue to step up against this threat.”

Dirty Dog

August 7, 2014, 1:13PM

Cirque, a service dog for Ohio Task Force 1, goes through a decontamination procedure at the hands of his handler, Craig Veldheer, after searching for survivors during Vibrant Response at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, Indiana. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John HealyCirque, a service dog for Ohio Task Force 1, goes through a decontamination procedure at the hands of his handler, Craig Veldheer, after searching for survivors during Vibrant Response at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, Indiana. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John Healy

Nov. 4 is Election Day and it’s approaching quickly. No matter where you are stationed, registering to vote and getting your absentee ballot is easy.

Use the State Guidelines Interactive Map here, or visit FVAP.gov, to find out how to register and get your absentee ballot. Select your state or territory of legal residence on the map to get started. Most importantly, you must print the form, sign it, and send it to your state according to your state’s rules. Online registration is not allowed.

Those who chose to vote will not have to figure out the process alone – more than 13,000 unit voting assistance officers are on the job throughout the military. Unit voting assistance officers are located in every unit, both stateside and overseas, according to FVAP director Matt Boehmer.

Statement from Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene's family, and the families of our soldiers who were injured today in the tragic events that took place in Afghanistan. These soldiers were professionals, committed to the mission. It is their service and sacrifice that define us as an Army. 

Our priority right now is to take care of the families, ensuring they have all the resources they need during this critical time.

We remain committed to our mission in Afghanistan and will continue to work with our Afghan partners to ensure the safety and security of all coalition soldiers and civilians."

Wing Walker

August 4, 2014, 3:58PM

U.S. sailors prepare for flight operations on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the East China Sea. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Seaman Everett AllenU.S. sailors prepare for flight operations on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the East China Sea. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Seaman Everett Allen

The USO, in partnership with Team Red, White and Blue, held a leadership seminar in Estes Park, Colorado, on Aug. 3 to encourage veterans to use their unique skills to improve their communities.

Held during a rock-climbing camp 7,522 feet above sea level, J.J. Pinter, director of operations for Team Red, White and Blue, led the seminar emphasizing leadership and effective communication.

Team Red, White and Blue’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

The organization has more than 100 chapters, Pinter said, noting they are located in every state and in 10 countries with only nine employees. Volunteer leaders make up the bulk of the organization’s personnel.

To open the training Pinter asked a simple question -- does the country have enough leaders?

“Reading the news and what’s going on in the world, does anyone think that we have a surplus of leadership?” he asked. “Does anyone think that’s the case? That’s one of the reasons we’re talking about this.”

Pinter noted a recent leadership survey among veterans where they “unanimously” said they “still wanted to be leaders and they still wanted to lead after they got out of the service.”

“So it just makes sense,” he said. “We’ve got all of these veterans that still want to continue leading, and some of them have the leadership skills to do it and some of them don’t.”

That’s another reason to do seminar like this one, Pinter said, “because we want to help equip veterans to be better leaders.”

“We want to make our organization better, but we want to make our country better at the same time,” he said.

“And we want to make veterans better,” Pinter continued. “During the course of this thing, [if] you take one thing that you can go back to your job with and make you a little bit more efficient after we’ve talked about it … that’s a win.”

During the leadership seminar, Pinter combined definitions of leadership from the 18 veterans in attendance with examples they’ve experienced throughout their lives and careers.

“Team Red, White and Blue goes out of its way to try to find people,” he said, “and try to develop people who can be good local leaders for us.”

“We want to build stronger leaders because we want to have a strong organization and stronger communities,” Pinter said. “You know who’s going to do this? Veterans are going to do this.”

Pinter pointed to the generation of Americans known as the Greatest Generation as inspiration for leading the nation.

“Those guys fought and won World War II and Korea,” he said. “They came back and became titans of industry and leaders of our country for the next 50 years, right?”

They grew up in the Great Depression, Pinter said, and then they went and accomplished many great things

“There’s not a single reason our generation of veterans can’t do the same thing,” he said. “We’re at the tail end of the two longest wars our country has ever fought right now, and smaller pools of people have fought those wars than before.”

“Think about all that leadership experience,” he said. “There’s no reason that you can’t go back in your communities and be the leaders that our country is drastically needing.”