Guard leaders face tight budgets, high ops tempo

GREENVILLE – An increased operational tempo and a dwindling military budget pose dual challenges for leaders of the S.C. National Guard, said Maj. Gen Bob Livingston, the adjutant general.

Despite the challenges, it is important that all units maintain a high level of readiness and relevance, Livingston said in presenting his vision and strategic plan for 11,000-member S.C. Guard at three-day strategic planning conference than ended Sunday.

“Members of our organization are to be ready, relevant, resilient and responsible,” said Livingston. “My unit commanders should have their troops and equipment readied to the point that they should be able to walk up to me, tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘I’m ready to go’. We still have to fight for proper force structure to remain relevant for the good of the state and the nation.”

Since 9/11, the country has asked a lot of the military and their families. This often included deploying National Guard soldiers and airmen to combat zones, requiring them to spend months at a time away from their homes and families.

“We need to do a better job of identifying issues so that we can help our people,” Livingston said.  “Thorough resiliency training, our troops can get the help that they need and can look out for one another.”

In the past, the SCNG has worked from the top-down, meaning information moved from commander, down to other officers and senior enlisted and finally to junior enlisted soldiers.

“But bottom-up is how we are going to make this resiliency piece work,” said Livingston. “Troops will be trained to look out for one another.”

Livingston also insisted that the Guard remain responsible for its people, families and the environment.

“The SCNG exists to serve the needs of our nation and our state,” said Livingston.

The planning conference also included break-out sessions for all Major Subordinate Command (MSC) leaders, where specific goals and challenges were discussed.

“The MSC break-out sessions provide the opportunity for unit leaders to refine the adjutant general’s goals as it pertains to their area of responsibility,” said 1st Lt. Michael Haley, the strategic plans and training officer with the 59th Troop Command. “This allows the opportunity for us to create a well-defined written plan to become most efficient with maxim performance.”

Members of the 251st Medical Company discussed the importance of providing commanders with a list of best practices and are working on a preventative health program.

Incoming commander for the 59th Troop Command, Col. Roy Van McCarty, told his staff: “The words of our mission should be put into words that everyone can understand. Every soldier has to be able to see it and believe it.”

In addition to the Army and Air Guard, the conference included members from the South Carolina State Guard.

“The mission of the State Guard is to support the governor and the adjutant general in the event of a state emergency,” said Maj. Joe Ellers, training cadre with the State Guard. “The adjutant general expects the same from the State Guard as he does from the National Guard.”

The conference concluded Sunday with MSC leaders reporting to Livingston with detailed action plans for the areas that they plan to improve. A common theme with each command was their budget and competition for time and resources. But part of this weekend’s purpose was to find ways to alleviate the stress of these issues and concerns.

“We have a clear plan of where we’re going,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Williams, commander 169th Fighter Wing, “because we want to be the best F-16 fighter wing in the Air Force, not just in the Guard.”

Although this conference was an opportunity for commanders and leaders to collaborate and strategize about their unit’s future, another purpose is to quickly get this information to junior soldiers and airmen.

“This is great for us to focus on, but it really matters to get this information down to the airmen (and soldiers),” Williams said. “We’re going to keep focusing on the family readiness and resiliency programs so everyone will always be 100 percent ready.”

Unit commanders, first sergeants, officers and key enlisted members from South Carolina attended the conference.…

Army leaders claim body armor effective, saves troops’ lives

By JIM GARAMONE, American Forces Press Service

Special to South Carolina Military News

WASHINGTON – No American service member or civilian ever has deployed to the combat theater with defective body armor, Army officials stressed Thursday.

“I am not aware of any incident downrange where the body armor failed to protect against a round it was designed to defeat,” said Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, one of the Army’s top acquisition officials.

“There is nothing more important in Army acquisition. There’s nothing more important to our Army than soldier protection or soldier safety,” Phillips said during a Pentagon news conference. U.S. forces have the best body armor in the world, he added.

The Army procures body armor for all services and Defense Department civilians. A DOD Inspector General Report on seven contracts between 2004 and 2006 looked at the way the Army tested body armor during that period and what the service could do to improve it, he said.

“All of the recommendations from that report have been implemented,” Phillips said. “We won’t come to full closure until October this year, when we finish the final recommendations.”

Service members are the best judge of the body armor and helmet issued today, said Army Col. Bill Cole, the project manager at Program Executive Office Soldier, adding that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines issued the armor “have high confidence” in its protective properties.

The Army will continue to improve all equipment for service members, Phillips said. “We can always improve our processes, and we can always get better,” said the general added. “As we learn about better ways of testing, it is important we will implement those changes.”

During the period of the report – 2004 to 2006 – the Army did not test how body armor responds when exposed to fungus and to altitude. The Army asked to be excused from those tests so the service could rush the life-saving enhanced small-arms protective plates to service members, Cole explained.

The bottom line is that absolutely no one has been sent downrange with defective equipment, Phillips said, and the Army continues to test new equipment and to pull body plates from inventory to run tests.

“Time and time again, we’ve shown these plates stop the most stressing bullet in theater,” Cole said. To protect deployed service members, he added, would not disclose what round that is.

During the test, the Army fires the bullet at the plates at a speed that far exceeds the muzzle velocity or the normal weapon. “Again and again, they stop the enemy bullets they were designed to stop,” Cole said.…

Charleston Marine is all ears tracking enemy movement

By Cpl. TOMMY BELLEGRADE, 2nd Marine Division

Special to South Carolina Military News

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (Aug. 18, 2011) – Marine Corps Cpl. Austin Barton, of Charleston, keeps his “ear to the ground” here as he monitors enemy activity to inform and safeguard his fellow service members.

Barton serves as the combat operations center watch chief with the 2nd Marine Division’s intelligence section here,

barton Charleston Marine is all ears tracking enemy movement
Marine Corps Cpl. Austin Barton is the combat operations center watch chief in the intelligence section for 2nd Marine Division in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde)

analyzing activity in the division’s area of operations and briefing the intelligence section. He also acts as a liaison to ground commanders.

“I focus on what is going on in the battle space on a constant basis — where the enemy is, where they are attacking,” Barton explained. “I have to analyze that and provide [an] operational picture to the intelligence section. While doing that, I also provide an intelligence picture to the operations side.”

Barton was recognized as his battalion’s noncommissioned officer of the 3rd quarter for fiscal 2011, but he had built a reputation for being a stellar Marine before deploying to Afghanistan in February, said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Richard Pinner, the collections chief for the division’s intelligence section.

Knowing this, Pinner said, Barton’s supervisors wanted him to assume high-profile tasks and responsibilities typically reserved for much higher-ranking Marines.

“He was put in the combat operations center, which is not a desirable billet; however, it’s something that has to get done,” said Pinner, who hails from Pensacola, Fla. “He was performing the duties and tasks of a lieutenant.”

Barton, 22, has served in the Marine Corps for five years. He is a former rifleman who switched to the intelligence field when he re-enlisted. His infantry experience, Barton said, has given him an ability to see through the eyes of Marines on the ground without actually being there, a skill that prepared him well for the intelligence field.

“Understanding what [the infantryman] is looking for and understanding what they’re seeing on the battlefield without actually being there aids you significantly when trying to provide an intelligence picture,” he said. “[It] really helps, because you have the opportunity to speak from both sides and bring that middle ground when ideas don’t meet.”

Barton’s job proficiency and leadership ability are well known in the intelligence section, said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Joseph Timoteo, the division’s intelligence operations center watch officer.

“Corporal Barton is the most intense and enthusiastic Marine that I’ve met in the [intelligence section],” said Timoteo, a Philadelphia native. “The longer he’s been here, the more enthusiastic he’s become about his job. Then he pushes that off on others, and it’s refreshing to see.”

Barton said his drive to perform comes from his love of being a Marine in what he believes is the pinnacle of any Marine’s career — being deployed.

“My motivation comes from being out here [in Afghanistan],” he said. “Being deployed is the greatest part of [a Marine’s] career, because that’s when [they] are really affecting the rest of the world.”…

WWII hero, Medal of Honor recipient Col. Charles Murray dies

Related article: Community mourns hero

Related video: Col. Murray’s ETV testimonial

Special to South Carolina Military News

Medal of Honor recipient Col. Charles P. Murray Jr. died Friday, Aug. 12, in Columbia. Col. He was 89.

Col. Murray received his Medal of Honor on July 5, 1945, in Salzburg, Austria. The award was presented by Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Keyes, commanding general of U.S. II Corps.

Col. Murray was cited for displaying “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” in action against the enemy by commanding Company C, 30th Infantry, displaying supreme courage and heroic initiative near Kayserberg, France, on Dec. 16, 1944.

While leading a reinforced platoon into enemy territory, Murray, who was then a first lieutenant, fired from an exposed position, disorganizing the enemy ranks and forcing their withdrawal. He then moved with his patrol to secure possession of a bridge and construction of a roadblock, capturing enemy troops while sustaining injuries.

During the eight-month period from October 1944 to May 1945, Murray also received the Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with first Oak Leaf Cluster and French Croix de Guerre with Silver Gilt Star for Valor.

Col. Murray was a long-time fixture in local military circles, a frequent participant in Veterans Day and patriotic holiday events, and recipient of numerous honors.

One award was presented in December 2009 when American Legion Post 6, where he had been a member for three decades, renamed its banquet room after Col. Murray.

Getting Col. Murray to agree to the accolade took some selling.

When first asked if he would accept, Col. Murray suggested there were other members of the Legion more worthy.

Post commander Doyle Tipton, though, insisted.

“He’s involved in everything that has to do with the military around Columbia,” Tipton said of Col. Murray. “He’s a very honorable man who loves the military and does what he can … for our veterans.”

Col. Murray, wearing the star-shaped Medal of Honor with a blue ribbon around his neck, smiled as well-wishers reached to shake his hand and offer congratulations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time over the years in this room,” said Murray, who moved to Columbia in 1970 when he was assigned to Fort Jackson. “Wedding receptions have been held here and banquets, too. This is just a great, great honor.”

The hall, though, is not the first building to bear Murray’s name. In Wilmington, N.C., where he was raised, there’s a middle school named after him.

On that night in December, Col. Kevin Shwedo, who was then Fort Jackson’s deputy commander, presented Murray with the Order of St. Maurice, recognizing his lengthy support of the Army infantry.

“Since his retirement he has been probably one of the most active and visible members of the community,” said Shwedo, who later retired from the Army and now serves and director of the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Col. Murray attended military functions locally as well as around the state, Shwedo said. Murray also made frequent trips to Fort Stewart, Ga., to visit his old unit, the 3rd Infantry Division, when it deploys, Shwedo added.

“He’s a man still serving his country,” Shwedo said at the time of the presentation.

Survivors include Col. Murray’s wife Anne, son Brian of Fort Payne, Ala., and daughter Cynthia Anne Murray of Roswell, Ga. Another son, Charles P. Murray III died in 2004.

Friends may visit with the family from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at Dunbar Funeral Home. A memorial service will be conducted 3 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church. Col. Murray will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

There are 84 Medal of Honor recipients alive today, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, headquartered in Mount Pleasant.…

McEntire alerts neighbors it could get noisy during Ranger training

Special to South Carolina Military News

McENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE – Overnight military exercises conducted at McEntire Joint National Guard Base Aug. 14-17 might arouse the concerns of surrounding communities. The Eastover base has issued advance notice to its neighbors and areas as far away as Camden that increased air traffic and noise are likely to accompany the special training.

The South Carolina Air National Guard base is hosting soldiers from Fort Benning’s 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as well as Army and Air Force special operations units from Florida and Kentucky. To make the exercise as realistic as possible, participants will use training ammunition and a number of low-flying rotary and fixed-wing aircraft during late-night and pre-dawn combat scenarios.

This is a routine exercise, conducted periodically to maintain high levels of readiness for the military personnel involved. Thorough safety surveys and risk assessments are conducted before and during exercises of this nature.

Brig. Gen. Scott Williams, commander for McEntire’s 169th Fighter Wing, said: “We are proud to be one of the few military installations with the ability to host such important training for our Army and active-duty Air Force colleagues. We also are extremely sensitive to the concerns of our neighbors and have taken every measure to reduce the amount of noise generated overnight. We appreciate the understanding and support of the surrounding community during the exercise.”

The 75th Ranger Regiment is a lethal, agile and versatile special operations force that conducts forcible entry operations and special operations raids across the entire spectrum of combat. Tough, realistic military exercises help provide a decisive edge during real-world missions.…

Ill-fated mission targeted Taliban leader, ISAF commanders say

KABUL, Afghanistan ( Aug. 8, 2011) – An ill-fated Aug. 6 mission that ended in the deaths of 38 Afghan and U.S. service members when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed was targeting a Taliban leader in the Sayyidabad district of Afghanistan’s Wardak province, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command officials reported today.

The helicopter reportedly was fired on by an insurgent rocket-propelled grenade while transporting the U.S. service members and Afghan commandos to the scene of an engagement between ISAF and insurgent forces, officials said.

The U.S. service members on board included five aircrew members and 25 personnel from the U.S. Special Operations Command, they added.

The operation began as a security search for a Taliban leader responsible for insurgent operations in the nearby Tangi Valley, officials said. After commencing the search, the initial security force on the ground observed several insurgents armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers and AK-47 assault rifles moving through the area.

The security force and insurgents exchanged small-arms fire, resulting in several enemies killed. As the insurgents continued to fire, the combined force on the ground requested additional forces to assist the operation. Those additional personnel were in-bound to the scene when the CH-47 carrying them crashed, killing all on board.

Immediately following the crash, the forces already on the ground broke contact with the insurgents and moved to the crash site to secure the scene and search for survivors. Additional security elements deployed from a nearby forward operating base to augment the search and security efforts.

An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the crash.…

Posted in ISAF   

Air Guard’s Operation Homefront heads up back-to-school giveaway

By S.C. Air National Guard Public Affairs

Special to South Carolina Military News

Operation Homefront joined forces with the SCANG’s Airmen and Family Readiness Program to distribute backpacks full of school supplies during August UTA.

Operation Homefront is a national non-profit organization provides emergency financial and other assistance to families of military members and wounded warriors. The state chapter of the organization helped the South Carolina Air National Guard equip its families for the coming school year, as part of the national Back-to-School Brigade initiative

In addition to the backpacks (loaded with calculators, pens, pencils, erasers, glue, loose-leaf paper, composition books, binders and more), nine participating families took home Lexmark printers through a drawing. The printers were also donated by Operation Homefront. More than 200 families received school supplies and each backpack was valued at about $15.

Children of McEntire service members who attended the event and SCANG airmen also experienced a rare, up-close look at a pair of beams from World Trade Center Tower One. This educational display was a timely reminder of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11terrorist attacks. The World Trade Center beams will become a permanent part of the First Responders Memorial under construction at the Columbia Convention Center.

Dan Hennigan, U.S. Army retired, brought the beams to McEntire. He answered questions about the beams to SCANG members who stopped to see them outside the dining facility. He was accompanied by Chris Lange, an Air Force veteran and current Lexington County firefighter.

Shane Clark, 11, called the back-to-school giveaway “pretty cool. I got paper, folders, pencils and a lot of other stuff,” said Shane, son of Senior Master Sgt. William Clark. “We got supplies so we don’t have to go shopping at the stores.”…

Fort Jackson to hold inaugural “Run for the Fallen”

By Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office

Special to South Carolina Military News

Fort Jackson will join a host of other organizations
across the country Aug. 20 at 8 a.m., as it holds its inaugural
“Run/Walk for the Fallen” at Hilton Field’s softball complex to honor
fallen soldiers and their families.
The Run for the Fallen is an annual event held throughout the United

States to help bring awareness to fallen soldiers. This year Fort
Jackson will honor its Fallen Soldiers with its first 5k run/walk for
their sacrifices to our country. The public is welcome to participate
and sign up may be completed online at: The registration form should be sent to: Survivor Outreach Services, 5450 Strom Thurmond Blvd Room # 223, Fort Jackson, SC 29207 before Aug. 12. Late registration
will be available at Hilton Field from 7 to 7:45 a.m. the day of the

“I want to ensure that we bring awareness through recognizing, honoring,
and showing respect to fallen soldiers, particularly the ones from South
Carolina, with a 5k awareness run/walk. The goal is to complete a safe
and successful event while honoring our fallen soldiers and their
families,” said Maj. Gen. James M. Milano, commanding general.
The Directorate of Army Community Service and Survivor Outreach Services developed and planned the 2011 run and plan for it to be an annual
event. DACS will provide bibs for participants with the name of a South
Carolina Fallen Soldier (there are 245 to date) to include active duty,
reserve and National Guard who has died while on active duty since Sept.
11, 2001. Bibs will also be provided for runners who desire to run for
fallen comrades not from South Carolina.

All Fort Jackson units/activities are encouraged to participate in this
event and it is also open to the public. The Soldier Support Institute
is providing 245 service members to represent each South Carolina fallen

According to the “Run for the Fallen” website, last year, there were
over 8,300 participants in 45 states and two countries, running a
combined total of over 49,000 miles in remembrance of those fallen in
Iraq and Afghanistan.

The website states the event began June 14, 2008, when a small team of
runners ran across America to raise awareness about the lives of those
service members who fought, to activate their memories and keep their
spirits alive, to support organizations that help wounded veterans and
the families of those killed, and to aid the healing process for those
Americans whose lives have been affected by the war.
For more information about Fort Jackson’s run/walk, contact Leslie
Smith, SOS Coordinator, at (803) 751-4867/1103 or email her at

Myrtle Beach, SC Biker Awarded $2.76 For Injuries and Suffering

After a long jury trial and much debate, a man from Myrtle Beach, SC was awarded over $2.7 Million for injuries he sustained in a crash with a United States Air Force Bus.  The crash was tragic and both the driver and the passenger sustained numberious injuries including massive burns to his body, arm injuries, leg injuries, shoulder injuries, and also a mild traumatic brain injury.  The US Air Bus bus and the motorcycle crashed causing the bike to fly into the air and catch fire.  Both the driver and passenger were thrown from the vehicle over the bus and landed on pavement.

The accident occured on a dual lane highway located nearby to an Air Force Base in Mytrle Beach, South Carolina.  The bus itself was making a left hand turn from a stop sign and pulled into the intersection where it struck the motorcycle in a side impact collision.  If you would like more information regarding this automobile accident, please visit the attorney’s website.

There was a 10 day trial after a settlement could not be agreed upon.  The offer that the US government offered was $100,000.  The actual discover for the case lasted many years and there were reviews from various medical experts, accident re-constructionists, and other professional experts.

The driver was awarded $2.75 for the massive injuries that he sustained and the passenger on the bike was also awarded $800,000.