military | KUOW News and Information

military

Col. Kenneth Trzepkowski, chief of palliative care at Madigan Army Medical Center, unfolds one of the handmade quilts donated to the hospital for the palliative care patients.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Caring for the nation's veterans at the end of their lives can be a complex task. Service members — especially combat veterans — can struggle with guilt, abandonment and regret.

The Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs are working to help them. At one Army hospital in Tacoma, its mission is to make those last days meaningful.

It's impolite to stare. But when it comes to severely injured soldiers, maybe we don't look enough; or maybe we'd rather not see wounded veterans at all.

Courtesy of George Patterson and Dave Cable

Lt. James Patterson, better known as Kelly, is missing in action.

Patterson went MIA 48 years ago, after his plane was shot down near Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

Brig. Gen. Viet Luong sits on a case of MREs, the soldiers' daily meals. He's inside a cavernous hanger at an Afghan army base outside the southern city of Kandahar.

A couple dozen American and Australian soldiers lounge on green cots lining the sides. Banners of U.S. military units hang on the walls. Between the troops is a 6-foot-tall shipment of Girl Scout cookies.

Luong's job is to train the Afghan military to fight a guerrilla force, the Taliban. But he's willing to talk about another guerrilla war, long ago.

Children aboard this World Airways DC-8 jet were evacuated from Vietnam on April 2, 1975, shortly before the fall of Saigon and two days before the first official Operation Babylift flight. One child was Thanh Jeff Ghar (center, lying by a window), 12.
Photo as exhibited at the Presidio's Operation Babylift: Perspectives & Legacies exhibition at the Officers' Club, courtesy of the AP

It was April 2, 1975, and flight attendant Jan Wollett was at a bar in Saigon. Her flight crew had been told they wouldn’t board passengers that day – they would carry children out of Vietnam instead.

Wollett lined the floor of the plane with blankets because it had no seats. During takeoff, every adult had their arms around the youngest children, she says.

A view inside the Washington National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility on Joint Base Lewis McChord in February. As Congress cuts $500 billion from the Defense Department budget, the National Guard and active Army are competing for the same dollars.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Inside the hangar at Washington state's Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Army National Guard mechanics are busy maintaining a neat line of Blackhawks.

Some of the Washington Guard's Chinook helicopters have flown in every war since Vietnam and they have the bullet holes to prove it.

Lisa Pauley was a volunteer at an Adventist hospital in Hong Kong. Joyce Wertz Harrington, a fellow nurse, photographed their 30-hour journey.
Courtesy of Joyce Wertz Harrington

Jeannie Yandel talked with historian Jeremi Suri about Operation Babylift, the U.S. government's program to airlift as many South Vietnamese babies -- orphans in addition to other babies -- out of South Vietnam as possible before the North Vietnamese troops arrived. 

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The suicide rate among recent veterans is about 50 percent higher than non-veterans with similar demographics. But a study published Wednesday found that deploying to a war zone didn't necessarily increase a service members’ suicide risk.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's attorney released details of his captivity in Afghanistan after the Army charged him Wednesday with desertion.

The home town of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is quiet Wednesday now that the former P.O.W. is charged with desertion.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009, after he walked off his military outpost in southeastern Afghanistan. In a controversial move and five years after his capture, the Obama administration cut a deal with the Taliban, securing Bergdahl's release in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees who were being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

The Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho with desertion, intent to shirk duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering soldiers' safety. Bergdahl could face a life sentence.

On Monday night KUOW reporter Patricia Murphy received a frantic call from her sister in New Jersey: “YOU’RE ON THE F*&%ING DAILY SHOW!” she said.

And sure enough, Trish’s low, distinctive voice was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in a segment titled, “Doctor When.” The story was about the Choice program, a Veterans Affairs initiative to curb wait times and travel times for veterans in remote areas.

Watch the clip:

It's a recent morning out in California's Mojave Desert, and Marine Lance Cpls. Paula Pineda and Julia Carroll are struggling to pick up and maneuver Carl. He's a 220-pound dummy, and a stand-in for a wounded Marine.

Carroll's knees buckle for a moment, but as a dusty wind picks up, the two women pull Carl off their light armored vehicle. They carry him to safety, careful not to let his head drag on the rocky ground.

Both women are out of breath.

Pineda is 5 foot 2. On the back of her helmet is a piece of masking tape with the words "Mad Max."

Gloria Hoeppner holds her VA choice card with husband Earl Kornbrekke at their home in Friday Harbor, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Gloria Hoeppner, 89, is a Navy veteran who lives with her husband in the San Juan Islands. To see a doctor, she usually has to take a ferry from her home on Friday Harbor. It can take hours.

In the dry and craggy hills of California's Mojave Desert, Capt. Ray Kaster tries to shout over the din of a machine gun to be heard by Alpha Company, the unit of Marines he's working with during a month of rigorous instruction at Twentynine Palms training center.

A still from the trailer for "Kill Team."
YouTube

Marcie Sillman talks with filmmaker Dan Krauss about his new documentary, "The Kill Team." The film features the story of Private Adam Winfield, who attempted to warn the military of war crimes against innocent civilians in Afghanistan. He later plead guilty to involvement in a killing and was sentenced for three years in prison.

Our guest on this episode of Speakers Forum is David J. Morris, a war correspondent, former Marine and PTSD sufferer.

Morris served as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in the 1990s, but did not see combat then. He went on to work as an embedded journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004 he was nearly killed when a Humvee he was riding in hit an IED.

Fishing boats on Puget Sound
Flickr Photo/Canopic (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Sixty years ago, in the middle of the night, a Navy ship struck a small fishing boat in Puget Sound. The Santa Maria was from Tacoma, and three fishermen on board died. The deaths of three working men made front-page news, and their widows sued the Navy, but it looked like they would get nowhere, until a sound saved the day for them.

The World War II-era Japanese battleship Musashi was sunk by U.S. warplanes on Oct. 24, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the war's largest naval battles. Despite numerous eyewitness accounts at the time, the location of the wreckage was never known. Until now.

The Navy uses EA-18G Growlers in electronic warfare.
Flickr Photo/U.S. Pacific Fleet (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Washington state has told the U.S. Navy it can’t use state land to conduct electronic-warfare training on the Olympic Peninsula.

The state Department of Natural Resources gave no reason for the denial, simply saying in a letter that the agency preferred not to partner on the project.

The Navy wants to use mobile electronic emitter trucks on 15 sites on the Olympic Peninsula. The trucks would emit electromagnetic signals for Navy pilots in radar-jamming planes to detect.

Sam Heron is a student and veteran at the University of Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

President Obama asked Congress Wednesday to formally authorize military force to fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. But student veterans attending the University of Washington have mixed opinions about a renewed military presence in the Middle East.

Barack Obama in Virginia, 8/2/2012
Flickr Photo/Barack Obama (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with U.S Congressman Jim McDermott about a new resolution from President Obama which seeks authorization to use military force against ISIS.

The "rock pile" is a popular spot for recreational diving and fishing.
Courtesy of Howard Cunningham

The Navy plans to build a new pier and support buildings on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, to the chagrin of some locals. One of the proposed sites is right on top of a popular recreational diving and fishing spot.

The $16 million plan includes three proposed sites along the 3-mile sand spit that separates Port Angeles from the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

Veterans Affairs Puget Sound will get $22 million over the next two years and plans to hire more than 120 additional medical personnel for specialties like mental health and geriatric care. 

The money is part of more than $15 billion set aside by Congress to fund the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. The bill is designed to help veterans access health care more quickly. 

Smoking tobacco
Flickr Photo/Laurence Currie-Clark (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Washington state considers raising the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 -- the highest in the country. Plus: deflated footballs, deflated employment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Seattle’s cutest mobster and a sad farewell to talking about the Kalakala ferry. 

Bill Radke’s guests this week include KUOW reporter Deborah Wang, Crosscut’s Knute Berger, Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times and KUOW reporter Patricia Murphy.

USS Michigan moored at Fleet Activities Yokosuka for a scheduled port visit during a deployment to the western Pacific Ocean in September 2010.
Flickr Photo/US Pacific Command (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The USS Michigan, stationed at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, will be the first submarine to allow enlisted women to serve onboard. 

It’s part of the Navy's plan to have women perform 20 percent of the jobs on mixed gender subs by 2020. The Navy began allowing female officers on subs three years ago. 

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

It was standing room only at times as around 500 people turned out to voice their concerns to Army leaders about possible cuts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Wednesday night. 

The base has more than 27,000 active duty soldiers and 13,000 civilians. The cuts as proposed would eliminate up to 90,000 positions worldwide. For JBLM, that could mean up to 11,000 soldiers and civilians out of work.

Officials at JBLM say the cuts will likely happen this fall after a decision by the Army in late summer.

The barracks in the controlled monitoring area at JBLM are usually used for housing summer ROTC programs.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

As the Army reduces its force, officials are holding listening sessions around the country to get feedback, including one in Lakewood, Washington, on Wednesday.

The Pentagon is in the process of reducing the active-duty force since the draw down in the Middle East.

The cuts as proposed would eliminate up to 90,000 positions across the force. For Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle, that could mean up to 11,000 soldiers and civilians out of work. The base has more than 27,000 active duty soldiers and 13,000 civilians. That's about a quarter of the jobs connected with the base.

Pages