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New Headstone at Arlington for Marine Private Who Fell on Last Day of WWI

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At the far end of Arlington National Cemetery, where many of the “doughboys” of World War I rest forever in Section 18, a small ceremony on Veterans Day marked the placement of a new, corrected headstone for a Marine private who fell on the last day of battle.

For nearly a century, the headstone for Pvt. Joseph Otto Turley recorded his date of death as Nov. 2, 1918. But it was a tragic mixup at the end of the war; Nov. 2 was actually the date that Turley’s brother, Tom, also a Marine private, was wounded.

“He never had a funeral where any of the family attended,” former Marine Lance Cpl. Garrett Anderson, who fought in the second battle of Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, said of his great uncle, who was known as “Otto” and died at age 24.

“We just knew this had to be done,” Anderson said of the new headstone that includes Turley’s correct day of death.

He died Nov. 12, 1918, a day after the armistice ending World War I took effect.

“I don’t doubt his end must have been horrific,” Anderson said of Otto Turley, who was mortally wounded by machine gun fire on Nov. 11, 1918, and died in a field hospital the next day.

“Knowing it was wrong just kinda’ stuck in our craw,” Dennis Anderson, Garrett’s father, said of the incorrect date on the tombstone. The headstone had stood uncorrected since 1921, when Otto Turley’s remains were disinterred from a cemetery in France and reburied at Arlington.

The family was from Auburn, Washington, and none came to the reburial or ever visited to notice that the date was wrong.

Garrett and Dennis Anderson never found out about their relative in Arlington until a great aunt, Averill Raymond, died in 2006 and they found letters she kept in an old trunk. They revealed the story of three Turley brothers — Otto, Tom and Jess — who all joined the Marines on Dec. 11, 1917.

Dennis Anderson said he later received a phone call from Garrett.

“I think we’d better find out about Uncle Otto,” Garrett Anderson had said.

They began checking records and started a search that took them to the World War I battlefields of France and then to Arlington, where they were stunned to find the date was wrong. Officials at Arlington quickly agreed to a new headstone once they were presented with documentation.

At the graveside ceremony Sunday, Staff Sgt. Danny Venora, 27, of West Hartford, Connecticut, a member of “Pershing’s Own” U.S. Army Band, played Taps.

Marine Maj. Matthew Bronson, who as a lieutenant was Garrett Anderson’s commanding officer in Fallujah with 1st Battalion, Third Marines, joined in the tribute to another Marine of the “Great War.”

“I’m just pretty impressed,” Bronson said, with the persistence of the Andersons in getting the record corrected.

In his remarks, Dennis Anderson noted the horrific rate at which Americans fell in battle in World War I from the time they first entered the trenches in June 2018 until the end of the war on Nov. 11.

The official statistics show that more than 116,000 Americans were killed, but only about 55,000 fell in combat. The rest died of the Spanish flu epidemic, Dennis Anderson said.

“Their rate of death was the same, ultimately, as the British, the French and the Germans — 2,500 a week, 10,000 a month,” he said.

After arriving on the Western Front in June 1918, “[The three Turley brothers] would have experienced every month, for five months, their own personal Gettysburg. Because that was the scale of those fights, that’s how people were cut down,” Dennis Anderson said.

Just before Ventura played “Taps,” Garrett Anderson read from one of the poems of British 2nd Lt. Wilfred Owen, who was killed on Nov. 4, 1918.

“I have perceived much beauty

In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;

Heard music in the silentness of duty;

Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.”

— Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com.

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Camp Lejeune High School Recovering After Nov. 1 Fire

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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — It has been more than a week since Lejeune High School was impacted by a fire that caused a significant damage to a portion of its roof and residual water damage to several key classrooms. And the school’s principal Eric Steimel has finally had a chance to reflect on the events of that evening and ongoing restoration efforts.

“I had went home, which is a 30 minute commute and by the time I got back, I arrived to a parking lot full of blinking lights,” recalled Steimel. “Camp Lejeune Fire department immediately extinguished the blaze, and as soon as that was over they were committed to removing smoke and water from the building. Without their efforts it could’ve been a lot worse.”

Camp Lejeune and Jacksonville fire departments personnel had to evacuate several people from the building, and fortunately, there were no reports of injuries.

According to on-scene officials, the fire started around 5:45 p.m. in an electrical closet above the band room in the southeast corner of the school, causing fire damage to it and the roof above as well as water damage from sprinklers in the auditorium, a theater classroom and the band classroom.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. the assistant principal Dana Sutherland, Col. Scott A. Baldwin, acting commander, Marine Corps Installations East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Steimel were escorted through the building by Chief Christopher W. Parker with Fire & Emergency Services Division on Camp Lejeune to assess damage, according to Steimel’s official after-action report.

Several Camp Lejeune schools were also damaged earlier this year by Hurricane Florence.

Camp Lejeune School District Superintendent Mr. Todd Curkendall quickly started a comprehensive health inspection of the school the following morning after the building was cleared, while Steimel said he toured the building with base officials to determine necessary requirements for recovery efforts.

“We’ve had the fire department, Base Safety, industrial hygiene, and they’ve been very active in making sure that air quality is appropriate, and that the fire alarm systems are back at full capacity,” he said. “We concerned ourselves with indoor air quality, the integrity of the fire alarm system and determining residual hazards.”

The school has had to relocate the theater arts classroom as well as the band classroom for a minimum of four weeks, and students have had to make up the canceled school day, on top of those missed during Hurricane Florence and Michael.

“We have put together a plan to move forward to reclaim some of that instructional time,” explained Steimel adding that the school is still in the process of accounting for damage to furniture, equipment, and instructional supplies.

He says the school remains committed to preventing any negative impact to student activities and athletics despite damage to the gym floor, and Steimel states that scheduled activities are still happening, just in new locations.

“I don’t like the fact that we are in tough times between the hurricane and the fire, but one of the things that continuously impresses me about this community is that, when there are tough times people bond together, and the best truly comes out,” reflected Steimel “It really makes a difference, it makes a difficult job a lot better.”

Camp Lejeune’s Deputy Commander Col. Scott Baldwin praised Steimel’s ability to react and his overall commitment to the school.

“Mr. Steimel is repeatedly able to quickly assess a situation, understand the importance of the event, and develop a safe and effective plan to address the issue,” he said. “In this event, he understood the requirement to ensure the hazards were fully mitigated before bringing teachers and students back to the school, and quickly moved on implementing a recovery plan. He always has the best interest of his staff, students, and parents in mind.”

According to Chief Parker, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Military.com added to this report.

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Maintenance Errors Preceded Horrific WC-130 Crash That Killed 9

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The Air Force WC-130H aircraft veered to the left on the runway, almost rolling into the grass before the crew was able to get it airborne.

The pilot quickly made the decision to return to the Georgia airfield they had just departed. The pilot directed the shutdown of engine one, operating on the remaining three.

“Coming back,” the pilot repeated five times over the next 30 seconds.

Investigators said that within those few seconds the pilot improperly applied nine more degrees with the left rudder, “which resulted in a subsequent skid below three-engine minimum controllable airspeed, a left-wing stall, and the [mishap aircraft’s] departure from controlled flight.”

No other “meaningful direction” was given to the crew other than an order to “brace” just before impact.

The plane was airborne for two minutes overall before it crashed down into Georgia State Highway 21 roughly 1.5 miles northeast of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, killing all aboard.

A newly released mishap report determined that the WC-130 crash that claimed the lives of nine members of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard earlier this year was largely due to pilot error. But troubling engine and maintenance issues documented in the aging aircraft raise more questions about the cause of the catastrophic May 2 mishap.

Related content:

The WC-130, which belonged to the 156th Airlift Wing, Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, had recurring issues with its first engine, according to the Aircraft Accident Investigation

Board Report released Nov. 9. The issues were documented a month before the aircraft’s final flight, as well as the day of the deadly crash.

The report, authored by Brig. Gen. John C. Millard, ultimately concluded that the aircraft crashed due to pilot error.

The crew should have more closely followed emergency procedure and called for immediate action after discovering one of the aircraft’s engines was malfunctioning, Millard said. Instead, the malfunction led to loss of control of the plane, causing it to crash, the report found.

Experts who spoke with Military.com, however, pointed out that lapses in maintenance deeply disadvantaged the crew even before the aircraft left the runway. The plane, which had been in service more than 50 years, was on its final journey to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona when it went down.

“The engine malfunction is most definitely large factor and I would say the catalyst for the events that unfolded,” said an Air Force instructor pilot who flies a mobility aircraft and agreed to speak to Military.com on background about the report’s findings. “It appears the [report] narrowed in on a particular piece of the engine (the valve housing assembly) which had intermittent issues with [revolutions per minute] over its lifetime with multiple different engines.”

Nine died in the crash: Maj. José R. Román Rosado, the pilot; Maj. Carlos Pérez Serra, the navigator; 1st Lt. David Albandoz, a co-pilot; Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravisini, a mechanic; Master Sgt. Mario Braña, a flight engineer; Master Sgt. Eric Circuns, loadmaster; Master Sgt. Jean Audriffred, crew member; Master Sgt. Víctor Colón, crew member; and Senior Airman Roberto Espada, crew member.

The Air Force ordered an immediate investigation into the accident. Days later, after Military Times published an in-depth report showing that military aviation accidents have increased over the last five years, the service directed its wing commanders to hold a one-day pause in order to conduct a safety review with airmen, assessing trends and criteria that may have led to the recent rash of crashes.

Unsolved Maintenance Problems

The newly released investigation shows that the plane was cleared for flight even though the recorded oscillation data of the plane’s outermost left engine did not match its intended performance.

The WC-130 made its ferry flight from Puerto Rico to Savannah, Georgia, on April 9. And the flight crew operating the [mishap aircraft] “experienced an RPM issue with engine one, and reported the incident for troubleshooting and repair,” the report said.

While the crew found a fix, maintainers struggled to replicate both the in-flight operations and the solution the pilots used to better understand the what went wrong. They found they couldn’t recreate the crew’s original solution, which was to switch “on the propeller governor control to mechanical governing,” to see if that rectified the issue, it said.

According to post-mishap interviews, during a second maintenance engine run, the “mishap

maintainers observed engine one produced 99% revolutions per minute,” the report said.

But the digital flight data recorder (DFDR) said otherwise.

The DFDR indicated “engine one never reached sustained RPM above 96.8% and had significant oscillations between 95% and 98%,” it said.

The Air Force investigators said that when performing an engine run, the [technical order] requires a range “of 99.8% to 100.02% RPM, as displayed on a precision tachometer, to verify an engine is operating properly at 100%.2.”

The maintainers, who failed to use a precision instrument, missed a chance to diagnose a fluctuating, weaker engine.

“Good enough” mentality

The maintainers should have noted these red flags, the instructor pilot who spoke with Military.com said.

“The maintainers… failed to properly conduct the inspection of the engine,” the instructor pilot said. “The crew likely would have never stepped to the aircraft that day, at least not without the engine being verified to have reached the required power threshold, versus over 2 percent lower than the minimum.”

In the report, maintainers are faulted for having a “good enough” mentality about the aircraft’s condition.

Twitter user @MikeBlack114, a self-identified Air Force aircraft maintenance officer, also faulted the “good enough” mentality as a reason mistakes were made in a tweet thread. Furthermore, leadership should have paid better attention, he said.

“I’ll let someone with wings address the aircrew piece, but the mx [maintenance] portion is almost unfathomable,” Black said in a Twitter thread. “If you’re in a leadership position of an organization involved with flying and you aren’t uncovering the skeletons (believe me, they’re there, just a question of how severe they are) you aren’t looking hard enough.”

Another problem, according to the report, was the maintainers observing the aircraft did not use a tachometer to justify the data.

The report noted that they had conducted the engine test runs without the instrument because the compatible adapter plug to connect the precision tachometer to the aircraft was not available.

“During the engine runs and without the use of a precision tachometer, [mishap maintainer one] and [mishap maintainer two] knew that 100% RPM was the speed the engine should operate at, but believed 99% was sufficient to conclude their maintenance because of the wider gauge range provided in the [technical order],” the report said. “Thus, the mishap maintainers never corrected the engine one discrepancy and did not resolve the RPM issue.”

On May 2, engine one’s RPMs once again revealed an anomaly.

During takeoff, engine one’s RPMs fluctuated and couldn’t be stabilized when the first mishap pilot “advanced the throttle lever into the flight range,” according to the report.

“Engine one RPM and torque significantly decayed, which substantially lowered thrust,” investigators added.

While the banked turn the pilots made into the failed engine “was well below the minimum air speed needed for proper control of the aircraft, the [mishap aircraft] did still have enough airspeed to maintain flight,” the report said.

“The crew put the aircraft in a disadvantageous energy state by rotating (lifting off) 5 knots early and failing to accelerate as required by the procedures,” the instructor pilot said. “Unfortunately, this was not an unrecoverable situation by any means, and one crews in all airframes train to regularly.”

The reason for the initial flight in April was to conduct routine in-tank fuel cell maintenance in Georgia. The 165th Airlift Wing at Savannah Air National Guard Base had the means to do this, unlike the Puerto Rico Guard’s 156th Wing.

Puerto Rico’s facilities sustained substantial damage during Hurricane Maria and could not offer the maintenance at home station, the report said.

Transparency needed

Although Adjutant Gen. Isabelo Rivera, the commanding officer of the Puerto Rico National Guard, said at the time of the crash the aircraft was more than 60 years old and one of the oldest C-130s in the fleet, its history and maintenance record say otherwise.

The aircraft, tail number 65-0968, rolled off the assembly line in 1965 as a standard C-130E, its records show.

“Sometime in the early 1970’s, it was converted to a WC-130H for use in weather reconnaissance (the “W” designation indicates the weather modifications),” the report said.

The engines were also “upgraded from T56-A-7 to the T56-A-15 at that time (which changed the “E” designation to “H”),” it said.

The aging aircraft life was extended because the wing had been expected to change missions. But that transition never came.

The fiscal 2016 budget “initially divested the six WC-130H aircraft from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard “and provided direction to move the 156th Airlift Wing to the RC-26, a manned Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform,” the report said. “However, this direction did not prove viable, as there was no requirement for a manned ISR mission in the United States Northern Command Theater.”

Millard, the investigator, said in the report there were no outstanding time compliance technical orders that would have restricted the plane from from flying.

Still, there should have been more transparency, the instructor pilot said.

“As an aircraft commander, there’s a ‘trust but verify’ mentality with the maintenance crews, but our knowledge is limited. So when a crew chief hands me the signed forms,” he said, “I have to trust those procedures and previous discrepancies have been fixed in accordance with the maintenance technical orders.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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Army Holds Off Air Force 17-14, 11th Straight Win at Home

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WEST POINT, N.Y. — Fullback Darnell Woolfolk rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown, Kelvin Hopkins Jr. scored on a 6-yard run, and Army held off service academy rival Air Force 17-14 on Saturday.

It was the 11th straight victory at Michie Stadium for Army (7-2), which stayed in the running to keep the Commander in Chief’s Trophy, emblematic of supremacy among the three service academies. Army won the trophy last season for the first time since 1996 and can retain it with a victory over Navy next month. Air Force (3-6), which beat Navy 35-7 a month ago, is 33-14 in Commander in Chief’s Trophy games against Army since the trophy was first awarded in 1972.

Air Force had won 18 of the previous 21 in the series against the Black Knights, but one of those Army victories was 21-0 last year at Air Force. That loss snapped a school-record, 306-game scoring streak by the Falcons dating to 1992.

The Falcons were unable to score in the first half with Isaiah Sanders at quarterback, fell behind by two scores, and couldn’t recover despite a late rally. The Black Knights secured the victory when Donald Hammond III was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-3 play at the Army 40 with under 2 minutes to play.

Hammond had replaced Sanders to start the third quarter and quickly hit Marcus Bennett for 31 yards into Army territory, but the drive ended when the Falcons were called for an illegal block on a fourth-and-3 play and had to punt.

Hammond had completions of 17 yards to Geraud Sanders and 13 yards to Marcus Bennett late in the third quarter, but the Falcons turned the ball over on downs when a fourth-down pass by Hammond attempt fell incomplete.

The Falcons finally caught a break when safety Jeremy Fejedelem got a hand on a punt by Army’s Nick Schrage and it traveled just 4 yards to give Air Force a first down at the Army 34 and they capitalized. Hammond scored from the 1 two plays after converting a fourth-and-1 play to cut the lead to 14-6 with under a minute to play in the third. Jake Koehnke’s point-after try hit the left goalpost and stayed out.

Senior John Abercrombie kicked a 30-yard field goal with 8:35 left to complete a 13-play drive that took 7:19 off the clock on a gusty day and gave Army a 17-6 lead midway through the fourth.

Undaunted, Hammond drove the Falcons 75 yards in 10 plays to pull within a field goal. The drive was kept alive by a pass interference call against Army on a third-and-10 play. Cole Fagan’s 30-yard catch-and-run set up Joseph Saucier’s 6-yard touchdown run off a pitch. Saucier also converted on the 2-point try to make it 17-14.

THE TAKEAWAY

Air Force: The Falcons are faltering in the Mountain West Conference at 1-4 and have to win their final three games to qualify for the postseason. At least two of the games are at Falcon Stadium.

Army: The Black Knights have now beaten service academy rivals Air Force and Navy two straight times. Another victory over Navy in December will give Army the upper hand again in the annual three-way series.

NO GAMBLE

Trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun elected to punt on fourth-and-2 just inside Army territory. The Black Knights converted three times on fourth down to up their season total to 29 conversions in 32 attempts.

UP NEXT

Air Force hosts New Mexico next Saturday.

Army hosts FCS foe Lafayette next Saturday.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Air Force Identifies Airman Stabbed to Death Outside Yokota Air Base

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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Air Force officials have identified an airman stabbed to death Friday outside the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.

Master Sgt. Nicholas Vollweiler, 35, was stabbed with a knife at his home just outside Yokota’s east gate in the city of Tachikawa and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, multiple Japanese media reports said.

Vollweiler was assigned to the 374th Security Forces Squadron, according to an Air Force statement issued Sunday.

A woman identifying herself as Aria Saito, 27, an office worker from Tokyo’s Koto ward, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police spokesman said. Police were expected to upgrade the charge to murder.

“I stabbed a man I was dating with a knife, aiming at his right neck,” Saito told investigators, according to Japanese broadcaster TBS. She also said the incident happened after “break up talk got complicated.”

Col. Otis Jones, 374th Airlift Wing commander, called Vollweiler “a truly valued airman” who will be “dearly missed by our community.”

“His family, friends, fellow defenders, and all of the Yokota community are in our prayers during this heartbreaking time,” Jones said in the Air Force statement.

Pennsylvania television station WNEP reported that Vollweiler was a graduate of Pleasant Valley High School in the Poconos. His cousin, Lou Romeo, a photographer with the station, described him as a hero in the report.

“The first day he put on that uniform, he knew what he wanted to do,” Romeo said. “I regret not facing him one-on-one and looking in his eye and shaking his hand and saying thank you for serving and protecting us.”

The Air Force will continue to work with Japanese police to investigate Vollweiler’s death, the Air Force statement said.

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Fired Reserve Leaders Created Fearful Environment for Marines, Probe Shows

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Three Marine leaders who were fired from their Reserve command last year failed to address low morale and a poor command climate, caused in part by the mistreatment of at least one unit member who was dealing with a medical issue, according to an investigation obtained by Military.com.

Col. Morgan Mann, Sgt. Maj. James Boutin and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert Hoy were relieved of their duties in October 2017 by Lt. Gen. Rex McMillian, then-commander of Marine Forces Reserve. Mann was the 25th Marine Regiment’s commanding officer, Boutin served as inspector-instructor, and Hoy was a personnel officer.

Mann has remained in the Marine Corps Reserve and is now assigned to the Inactive Ready Reserve, Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a spokesman for MARFORRES, told Military.com. Hoy is also still in MARFORRES and currently assigned to Reserve Base Support, he said. Boutin retired from the Marines on June 1.

McMillian lost confidence and trust in the Marines’ ability to command and lead members of regiment, which is based out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts, according to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The investigation was launched after a complaint was filed about the unit. When the investigator was conducting interviews, several Marines said they did not want to include criticisms of their command in written statements, citing concerns about career fallout or creating more tension in the workplace.

“I found this to be indicative of an underlying fear of retribution from leadership,” the investigating officer wrote.

Command leadership were also found to have mishandled a Marine’s medical case with “reckless indifference,” after the person was ordered to return to duty against doctor’s orders. The investigating officer found that the mishandling of that incident was brought about by a host of factors, including a lack of basic leadership, a lack of moral courage, poor communication and an extremely high operational tempo.

Despite two command-climate surveys and a preliminary inquiry into a hostile work environment that “documented a significant volume of problems,” according to the investigation, Marines in the unit felt that no improvements were being made.

“I received multiple comments to the effect that ‘all these surveys and all these investigations don’t make a difference anyway,’ ” the investigating officer wrote.

Members of 25th Marines complained of too much work that was unevenly distributed inside the Reserve command, according to the report. Senior staff noncommissioned officers were not present and didn’t contribute to the success of the unit, it said. There was poor communication, little concern for Marines’ well-being, and a drive to accomplish the mission that came with the threat of formal counseling or adverse fitness reports, the investigation states.

“Several Marines spoke of sleeping at the unit and working through many weekends due to operational requirements, funerals, community-relations events and drill weekends,” the investigator wrote. “… Additionally, recommendations for improvements were dismissed by leadership.”

‘A Pattern of Negative Leadership’

When a November 2016 command-climate survey of about three dozen full-time active and active-Reserve Marines showed a significant trend of low morale and dissatisfaction, leaders held a town hall meeting to address the results.

“However, there is no record of a formal corrective action plan,” according to the report.

About six months later, a second command-climate survey found the trend applied to a wider pool of Marines within the regiment when about 125 respondents also reported low morale and dissatisfaction.

In both surveys, according to the investigation, Marines reported extremely long duty hours, too much work to be accomplished with on-hand personnel, a disregard for staff members’ recommendations, and a lack of time for military occupational specialty training.

“Several statements from Marines indicated widespread low morale and a pattern of negative leadership and intimidation,” the investigating officer wrote.

Several key billets were gapped when some 23 members of the regiment participated in a deployment to Central America with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command from March through November 2017.

One leader, whose name was redacted in the report, said they were aware of the morale problems in the unit and were “systematically addressing the issues.”

That included improving training during drill weekends; conducting fresh command-climate surveys; directing reinstatement of a unit professional military education program that allowed the staff to build camaraderie while exploring local history; and responding quickly to allegations of a hostile work environment by directing a preliminary inquiry into the claims.

Some of these measures have been effective, according to Hollenbeck.

“There are indicators of improved command climate within the Regimental Headquarters, as reflected in a recent (Oct 2018) Organizational Climate Survey,” he said in a statement. “One focus area of the survey is equal opportunity/fair treatment; it specifically addresses inclusion, discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual harassment retaliation. In each of these categories, the unit scored above both the service and the unit type (infantry) average.”

Hollenbeck added that the unit continues to run at a high operational tempo.

“But the ability of the unit to manage all requirements has improved by an infusion of new and additional personnel, as well as a leadership focus on maintaining a positive command climate and enabling the balance of work and non-work (family) requirements,” he said.

The investigation also found that a lack of formalized procedures led to confusion on roles and responsibilities between the battalion’s headquarters company and regimental staff. That led to confusion about who should’ve been notified about a Marine’s medical condition, which the investigating officer found had been mishandled.

In that case, two staff NCOs were told to make a health and welfare visit to a Marine’s residence to instruct them that the command was directing them to return to duty. On the way there, “both SNCOs expressed misgivings to each other about the appropriateness of this directive,” the investigation states, “but continued with their mission with a stated assumption that the ‘colonel’ gave this order.”

If the Marine didn’t return to duty, at least one of the staff NCOs told them, they’d be charged with “unauthorized absence,” despite that going against doctor’s orders.

The investigating officer found that members of the command handled the situation with “callous disregard for the Marine’s health and well-being.” The two staff NCOs also “displayed a lack of leadership and moral courage by executing the duty-status notification order that they both judged as wrong,” the report states.

As a result, the officer recommended that the personnel with 25th Marines receive additional training about dealing with Marines’ medical situations. The investigating officer also recommended that the regiment publish guidance to clear up confusion on duties, authorities and chains of command, along with a policy letter on basic leadership principles, emphasizing morale and welfare of their Marines.

Hollenbeck said the unit had received a new senior enlisted Navy medical professional over the last year to provide guidance on the handling of medical issues.

“Orders stipulate that a service member’s commanding officer bears overall and final responsibility for the well-being of each member of the unit; it is the responsibility of unit Navy medical professionals to ensure that appropriate information is conveyed to the commanding officer to ensure he/she effectively carries out their responsibilities in all medical matters,” Hollenbeck said.

As a result of problems and concerns identified in the October 2017 climate survey, he said, the command team led several unit-wide discussions to improve unit functions and cohesion.

“Additionally, the command took a number of steps to improve information sharing, and to better designate roles and responsibilities, including the publication of letters of instruction for each month’s drill period that detailed commander’s intent, the concept of operations, and specific roles and responsibilities,” he said.

The current commander of 25th Marines, Col. Justin Dunne, published a letter on leadership that reinforces Marine Corps leadership traits and principles, Hollenbeck said, in keeping with the investigation’s recommendations.

“Additionally, the command has made a concerted effort over the course of the last 12 months to emphasize fair and equal treatment, to bolster unit cohesion, and to establish a positive command climate,” he said.

— Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@ginaaharkins.

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Ex-Marine Gunman Never Sought Help from VA, Wilkie Says

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The Marine veteran of Afghanistan blamed for a killing rampage that left 12 dead in a California bar never sought help from the Department of Veterans Affairs for post-traumatic stress or any other mental condition, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said Friday.

However, he said the shootings late Wednesday in Thousand Oaks, California, at the Borderline Bar & Grill suggest the department needs to do more outreach to troubled veterans.

“The veteran in question was not in the VA system, so we don’t know what his status was, what his mental condition was,” Wilkie said following an address at the National Press Club on his first 100 days in office.

He was responding to a question on President Donald Trump’s remarks earlier Friday calling Ian David Long, a 28-year-old former Marine corporal, a “very sick puppy” who was probably suffering from PTSD after deployment to a combat zone.

Wilkie said he had no information on Long’s condition, but noted he is working with the Pentagon to “try to catch the signs” of mental health problems “before a veteran leaves the service.”

He cited VA figures showing that about 20 veterans take their own lives daily, and 14 of those never asked the VA for help. “We have to get those people into our system,” Wilkie said. “I need help in finding our veterans who are not in our system” and may be suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injury.

Earlier, Trump said on the White House lawn before departing for Paris to attend World War I centennial events that Long was “a very sick puppy. He’s a very, very sick guy.”

“Not too many people knew about it but, now that they’re looking, they’re starting to see he had a lot of problems, a lot of trouble,” Trump said of Long, who apparently killed himself after opening fire on bar patrons with a handgun.

California authorities have yet to establish a motive for the shootings or say that Long had a mental condition, but Trump indicated that he might have been a veteran who came home troubled after a deployment.

“Look, it is a problem. It is a disastrous problem,” he said, according to videos posted by several news outlets. “It makes you sick to look at it. But he was a very, very mentally ill person.”

Trump said that post-traumatic stress may have been a factor in the shootings.

“Well, he was a war veteran. He was a Marine. He served time; he saw some pretty bad things,” he said. “And a lot of people say he had the PTSD, and that’s a tough deal.”

Trump did not cite sources for his claims about Long’s mental health.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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Slain Marine Vet Would Have Tried to Help Shooter if He Could, Friend Says

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An hour and change before Dan Manrique’s life was brutally cut short in a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California Wednesday night, he had been in a meeting with fellow members of veterans organization Team Red White and Blue, brainstorming about how to improve community within the group and connect better with veterans in need.

So when Rudolph Andrade, a Team RWB chapter captain for Los Angeles, got a text message the following day asking if Manrique had been in the vicinity of the shooting, Andrade’s first response was reassurance.

“Dan was with me last night when all this happened,” Andrade said he replied.

Days later, the shock of processing the loss of Manrique, a close friend as well as a teammate, is still setting in for him.

In fact, there were at least three members of Team RWB at the scene of the horrific shooting that claimed 12 lives, according to Andrade and postings on the Team RWB Ventura County Facebook page: Manrique, on full-time staff for the group as the Pacific Regional Manager; Justin Meek, a promoter at the bar killed in the shooting, who’d reportedly planned on joining the Coast Guard after college; and Fernan Diamse, another chapter member who made it out alive, but sustained a cut on his arm from broken window glass in his effort to escape.

Andrade, who like Manrique is a veteran of the Marine Corps, said the two men bonded quickly when they met in 2014 through the veterans organization, despite a gap in their ages.

“I’m 45; he was 33. But he was never like a kid,” Andrade said. “He was really soft-spoken. He was always calm. He was more mature than anybody his age.”

According to service information released by the Marine Corps, Manrique served from 2003 to 2007, reaching the rank of sergeant. A field radio operator, he’d deployed to Iraq from aboard the amphibious assault ship Bataan in 2007.

Andrade said he served from 2002 to 2010 as a tank mechanic, deploying to Iraq from 2007 to 2008. He also left the Corps as a sergeant.

“It’s funny because I looked at his service, and said, ‘Dude, we were in a lot of the same places,'” Andrade said.

One of the first events they participated in together, Andrade said, was an overnight camping trip for Team RWB, where they ended up huddling over concerns about a sensitive situation involving a member.

“I could always talk to Dan, and I knew it was a safe place,” Andrade said.

The friendship quickly blossomed beyond their work in the organization. They bonded over their love of the LA Dodgers and started attending baseball games together. Eventually they hatched a plan to visit as many baseball stadiums as they could throughout the United States. They’d made expeditions to San Francisco and Oakland, Andrade said, and had more trips in the works.

Both men had dedicated significant personal resources to serving other veterans in need. Manrique had previously worked at a local medical center helping veterans with mental diagnoses and drug dependency. Andrade assists with outreach to homeless veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

So when Andrade found out that the apparent shooter, Ian David Long, was also a veteran of the Marine Corps, he was certain of one thing.

“I know that if the shooter — it’s hard to even say he’s a Marine, it hurts — If Dan and I knew this guy needed help, we would be like, ‘hey, dude, what can we do for you,'” Andrade said. “We clicked with veterans fast, quick. Dan would have helped this guy.”

While he has tried to avoid reading news reports, Andrade also expressed disbelief about a narrative that has gained traction, that Long suffered from post-traumatic stress due to his military service, and it motivated his violent actions.

“A lot of people say he had the PTSD,” Trump told reporters Friday. “It’s a big problem. People come back, that’s why it’s a horrible thing. They come back, they’re never the same.”

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has said Long never sought help at the VA; any clinical diagnosis remains unclear.

There was a Marine who did have PTSD in that bar, Andrade said: Manrique himself.

Marines with PTSD, ok yeah, you know, Dan had it, I have it. You don’t go do that s***,” he said. “You take care of your s***, you deal with it … I know what I’ve been through and I know what my friends have been through, and we’re dealing with it.”

The Ventura County Chapter of Team RWB has planned a memorial run in honor of Manrique on Veterans Day.

“I was talking to my dad yesterday; my dad is a Marine Vietnam vet,” Andrade said. “I said, this is the kind of guy you want your son to grow up and be like. … Dan was a brother.”

— Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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In-Flight Emergency Led to Jet Crash in Ukraine that Killed US Pilot

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An in-flight emergency caused a Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jet to crash last month during Exercise Clear Sky, killing both an American and Ukrainian pilot, the head of the Ukrainian air force said Thursday.

The Su-27UB Flanker-C, which was on a routine flight as part of the U.S. Air Force-led drills, experienced “an emergency situation that brought it to a catastrophe,” said Colonel-General Sergii Drozdov, commander of the Ukraine air force.

Lt. Col. Seth “Jethro” Nehring, a fighter pilot with the California Air National Guard‘s 194th Fighter Squadron, out of the 144th Fighter Wing, and Col. Ivan Petrenko, deputy commander of the East Air and chief of aviation from Ozern Air Base in Zhytomer, Ukraine, were killed in the Oct. 16 crash.

“The Minister of Defence of Ukraine assigned the investigation board, and now the investigation board is ongoing,” Drozdov said through a translator Thursday at the Pentagon.

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He noted the U.S. Air Force is also investigating and observing the Ukrainian investigation “openly.” The incident occurred in the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ukraine.

Drozdov visited the Defense Department to meet with his counterpart, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. The two highlighted the progress made during the exercise last month at Ukraine’s Starokostiantyiv Air Base, despite the fatal crash.

“The exercise showcased the strong bond between the U.S. and Ukraine, and how far the Ukrainian air force has come in their paths toward NATO interoperability,” Goldfein said during a press event.

On Thursday, they took it a step further, outlining a five-year plan to expand future cooperation between their air forces, they said.

“Russia’s aggression is not simply a matter for Ukraine,” Goldfein said. “It’s a threat to the region, to Europe, to the United States, to the stability of international order.”

He added, “If there’s one message I want to get through loud and clear, it’s that America remains steadfast in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and for its territorial integrity.”

Last month’s exercise — which marked the 25th anniversary of the longstanding State Partnership Program between the California Guard and Ukraine — was designed as a stepping-stone to understanding higher-complexity flight operations, officials told Military.com. It was intended, they said, to enable Ukraine to integrate with other partners to keep up its slow but steady military flight achievements.

Drozdov said the goal is to deter forces that have been flowing into the eastern part of the country since Crimea’s seizure in 2014.

Additional integration with U.S. forces would help stifle Russia’s gains, he said.

When asked if future planning includes training the Ukrainian air force how to counteract Russian forces aerially in the eastern region, Goldfein said, “It does.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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Marine Killed in California Shooting Was Leader in Veterans Organization

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One of the 12 people murdered in a mass shooting inside a bar in Thousand Oaks, California Wednesday night was a Marine veteran who worked full-time helping other vets find community.

Leaders of the veterans support organization Team Red White and Blue confirmed that Dan Manrique, a full-time staff member was among those who perished in the horrific shooting. Task and Purpose first reported that Manrique was among those killed.

“We are heartbroken to confirm that Dan Manrique, Pacific Regional Program Manager for Team RWB and Marine Corps veteran, was one of the victims of the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks last night,” the organization announced in a statement. “Dan’s life was dedicated to serving others, during his military career and beyond. We at Team RWB are keeping all those impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers.”

According to Manrique’s official biography, he served in the Marines as a radio operator with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 2007, he deployed to regions in the Middle East with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Team RWB is focused on helping veterans regain community following their military service through physical and social activity.

Bana Miller, the public relations director for the organization, told Military.com that Manrique had become connected with the ground in 2012 and had become a chapter captain for Ventura County, California in 2014.

“He found the same sense of connection there that many of our Eagles do,” Miller said, using the organization’s name for its members. “His life was really dedicated to serving others.”

Miller said amid the shock and grief, plans were already taking shape for the group to memorialize Manrique.

“We are going to be sharing that information on our website and focusing on making sure that Eagle nation comes together in a compassionate way that leads to individual and community healing,” she said. “And we’re going to be honoring Dan’s memory.”

Currently, the Team RWB website features an “In Memoriam” section about Manrique, with an address where those who wish to do so can send condolences to the family.

According to media reports, at least one other Marine in the Borderline Bar and Grill that night survived the shooting. Brendan Kelly, who had previously survived the deadly 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, escaped Wednesday night uninjured, helping other people find cover in the chaos, local channel ABC7 Chicago reported.

It came to light Thursday that the shooter himself, Ian David Long, who took his own life after the rampage, was also a Marine veteran. According to military records provided by the Marine Corps, Long was a machine gunner who reached the rank of corporal and deployed once to Afghanistan.

In a message shared on Twitter Thursday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller sent a clear message that Long had no claim to the honorable title of Marine any longer.

“Heartfelt condolences to those suffering from the tragic & senseless act of violence #ThousandOaks,” he said. “That ex-Marine’s despicable actions run counter to what the vast majority of veterans are rightfully known for: serving w/ honor then making positive contributions to society.”

— Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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