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Keystone Light Making an Impact Photo by UT2 Vuong Ta

This can be seen any day in Afghanistan. More photos on page 16


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CNO, MCPON visits with Seabees By MCC Terrina Weatherspoon

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy(MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick D. West Jan. 22 visited Seabees deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan to talk about the current status and future goals of the Navy. The CNO and MCPON as well as Vice Admiral Dirk Debbink, Chief of Navy Reserve, and Master Chief Ronnie Wright, Navy Reserve Force Master Chief, are on a 14-day trip to speak to Sailors in Afghanistan and Iraq and other bases in the Central Command. Task Force Keystone, one of the largest engineering efforts in Afghanistan and led by the Third Naval Construction Regiment, brought out several Task Force members to meet the CNO and MCPON. They set up a display of route clearing equipment and brought out the Task Force Mine Dogs, so as to show the CNO and MCPON Keystone Light Making an Impact

Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West talks with HM1 Starla Martin, Third Naval Construction Regiment, on his recent trip to KAF. This visit was part of a 14-day trip to speak to Sailors in Afghanistan and Iraq about the current status and future goals of the Navy.

the total scope of operations being performed by Seabees and their engineering partners in Afghanistan. After the visit, Sailors from across KAF were invited to an all-hands call with the CNO and MCPON where the CNO discussed the current situation in Afghanistan, funding

VIP: Cont’d on page 3

COMMANDER

Capt. Donald Hedrick CHIEF STAFF OFFICER

Photo by UT2 Vuong Ta

Cmdr. Jeff Pierce COMMAND MASTER CHIEF

CMDCM (SCW) Neal Beard PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER

MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon This can be seen any day in Afghanistan. More photos on page 16

issues and future plans of the Navy. Afterward the duo took questions from the more than 300 Sailors in attendance. Questions ranged from pre-deployment medical screenings to Purple Heart Award protocol.

ASSISTANT EDITOR

CM2 (SCW/FMF) Chris Gilmer

The Keystone Light publication is designed with the intent to inform family members of recent activities of their Seabees in Afghanistan. None of the material within should be used for any other purpose. The opinions expressed within are not necessarily the views of the U.S. Navy nor the Department of Defense.


Keystone Light VIP: Cont’d from page 2 “It was a great experience for me,” said Legalman Master Chief Karen Colaiacovo, the legalman for 3NCR. “It rejuvenated me and made me even more proud to be here serving my country during what is obviously a crucial time.” “Our Sailors are the best they’ve ever been in the history of our Navy right here, right now,” said West. “You are doing an exceptional job and you need to know that.”

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Chaplain’s Corner By Cmdr. Lewis Dolan, Chaplain, 3NCR

Keep The Course: While I was still in seminary, I began to explore the option of joining the Navy by way of the Chaplain Candidate Programs Officer (CCPO) program. This program allows seminarians who are currently enrolled in advanced-degree programs to “test drive” this type of ministry. Chaplain Candidates are commissioned as ensigns and are allowed to engage in some forms of ministry while under the direct supervision of a Navy Chaplain. After 17 days of orientation, the 52 chaplain candidates of my class were farmed out to Navy and Marine units in the Norfolk, VA area and to Great Lakes Naval Station. I was assigned to the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69). After spending about 1 ½ weeks onboard the “Mighty Ike” the ship was scheduled to get underway for about two weeks of carrier qualification operations off the Virginia and North Carolina capes. While making my rounds, I was up on the bridge watching the upcoming operations. In a conversation with the Officer of the Deck, he explained to me the stations on the bridge, keeping track of the ship’s track and other occurrences. It was “keeping the ship on track” that caught my attention. He told me that if a Nimitz-class carrier is allowed to stray one degree off course for one hour, the ship would be about one mile off its “center of course.” Obviously the basic math tells the rest of the story. For each hour of no course correction, the ship could eventually be way off course. There are many parts of our lives that have a similar occurrence and danger around them as well. We don’t usually get up one morning and say, “I’m going to get into a huge financial debt,” or “I’m going to totally blow it with my spouse,” or “I’m going to become an alcoholic,” or “I’m going to totally lose my connection with God.” Rather, we allow a slight drift to come into our financial management, our relationship with our spouse or children, and without course corrections in our lives we find that we are so far off of center line of our

Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

life’s course that it seems as if we will never get back. So how do we remedy this situation in our own lives? Again the answer for this comes from how we keep our naval ships on course. With the ships, we use a central system that is objective in its nature. Satellite feed enables us to know where our ships are at any given time, and it lets us know when we are off course. Constant checking against this measuring system allows us to make course changes and stay close to centerline. For our lives, there are standards that enable us to check our course and those standards let us know when we’re off centerline and what we need to do to adjust course properly. The Bible is one such standard. Listening to the counsel of wise people is an additional source. Remember that you aren’t going working through life’s challenges on your own. God’s Word reminds us that if you ask, you will receive, and this also includes life challenges. *Editor’s note: This will be the last issue of the Keystone Light. I want to thank all of the families for being so supportive during this deployment.


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Petty Officer in the Keystone spotLight

*Seabee gets ASE certification By MCC(SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

When was the last time Tom, Dick or Harry worked on your vehicle? Probably more often than you’d like, or like to admit. The goal for most repair shops is naturally to get business, and the Automotive Service Excellence board has commercialized itself to reach out to you the consumer and give you the peace of mind, that if Tom, Dick or Harry is working on your vehicles, then rest assured, he is certified. And you can add Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Christopher Gilmer, currently deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, with the Third Naval Construction Regiment, to that list of certified individuals. He recently passed his sixth certification test and is only two exams away from being recognized as a Master Mechanic. “This means I am nationally recognized, on an industry standard, as being extremely proficient in the automotive field,” said Gilmer. “These certifications drive mechanics to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals, and how automobile systems all work together, as opposed to merely recognizing that a particular part is broken and needs to be replaced.” Gilmer studied for these tests as he would any other test, but said he knew that when it came down to it, it would be his practical experience that mattered most. “Having had to prepare and gain the additional knowledge base required to achieve these certifications definitely enables me to be a better Construction Mechanic,” said Gilmer. “This is especially important in the Navy, where sometimes we need to make things work when lives are at stake in an expeditionary situation, where just grabbing a brand new part off of the shelf and changing it is not an option.” This certification is not just important to the Navy, but perhaps even more so, in the civilian world. As a Reservist, Gilmer is a member of both. “Automotive service centers look highly on these certifications because having certified technicians helps

Photo by MCC Terrina Weatherspoon

CM2 (SCW) Christopher Gilmer bring business into the shop,” said Gilmer. “These certifications also help speak upon my experience and knowledge level, opening doors to more advanced job positions and leverage bargaining power on my behalf for larger salaries.” Gilmer has two more exams to take in order to achieve his master Level Certification. He plans on ACE: Cont’d on page 20


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Chief in the Keystone spotLight My name is William Devereaux Crozier, the Devereaux comes from my great, great, great . . . uncle, Robert Devereaux who was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth for treason and a broken heart. Errol Flynn portrayed him in Elizabeth and Essex. Bette Davis portrayed the Queen, and Vincent Price was that cad, Raleigh. I am married to the artist, Julia Crozier. In May we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary. I have three daughters, Alice, Bridgette, and Theresa. I teach religion at Cotter High School, a small Catholic High School in Winona, MN. I live on a small acreage overlooking the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. My dad was a sailor and joining the Navy was always in the back of my mind, but life was very busy and I never got around to enlisting. When I was 35 I saw a classified ad about an exciting life and seeing the world with the Navy Reserve. I think I was the easiest enlistment that my recruiter ever had. I spent nearly a year at the Reserve Center in Dubuque, Iowa before I completed Advanced Paygrade School in New Orleans. I didn’t even know what my rate was when I first showed up. I just knew I was a Data Processor. Eventually I found out I as a DP3. I served with the AS-31 HUNLEY and the LST 1185. When the DP rate was merged with RM I became an RP and transferred to Fleet Hospital. Since then I have served with REDCOM North Central, the 4th FSSG, 1st FSSG, Center for Naval Leadership, the RPCS Bill Crozier Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center, 4th MAW, and now 3NCR. It’s been a lively career, although I still I have never had the opportunity to work up to the haven’t seen much of the world except for the desert. deployment with a large group and serve as a functioning unit. I have enjoyed this opportunity. I also want to What are your hobbies? My hobbies include complete my SCW qualifications. I would have liked to writing, especially poetry, vegetable gardening and see more of the country, but that’s life. backpacking—I plan to go for a week-long hike in the Grand Canyon in May. What are your words to live by? We have two mottos in our family: “Nothing’s fair.” And “There’s always

Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

What are your goals while deployed? I have always deployed with just myself and my Chaplain before;

Crozier: Cont’d on page 17


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Officer in the Keystone spotLight I was born in Washington State but raised up in Texas. Growing up was fairly uneventful until around age 17. I decided to drop out of high school and enlist in the Marine Corps. My Dad talked me out of this and offered a more prudent solution. The solution saved me and has been the foundation for all the successes I’ve been exposed to in life to date. So with that I went to The Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas, and finished out high school. They put me in situations that built my confidence up. Once that fire was lit, I never looked back. I realized I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to. I went to college at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas, and received a degree in History with a minor in Military Science. After commissioning and training at TBS in Quantico, Va., I was trained as a Field Artillery Officer and reported to Okinawa, Japan, where I lived for two years. I got off active duty a few years later and entered the Marine Corps Reserves with the thought that I would only do a few more years of it then get out completely. Well, 25 years later I’m still here. One never knows where their lives will lead. As for my civilian job, I’ve been a Dallas Police Officer for about 16 years now. It’s kind of funny, when my Dad found out I was hired by Dallas to be a police officer he said that I’m just not happy unless I’m getting shot at. Well, that’s not completely true but he definitely had some elements of prediction there. With three wars and the battles of the streets of Dallas under my belt, I realize he could see what I didn’t at the time. What are your hobbies? My hobbies are rifle shooting, guitar playing, mountain climbing and wine vineyard cultivation. I’m working on my Sports Pilot license at the moment as a Student Pilot, so it’s a fun hobby to fly from time to time. What are your goals while deployed? When I informed my Mom I was going back to the war, my Mom asked me why I was going back at this point in my career.

Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

Lt. Col. Stace Hayward I had already been in two other wars in my career. I could have gotten out of the Marine Corps last year and had planned on doing that. But then 1NCD asked me if I could go with 3NCR to Afghanistan. I had to think about what I could realistically offer and what could I contribute before I accepted the request. I told my Mom that I think I could pass my knowledge and career experiences to the point that it could possibly save lives in the end. Though she didn’t like it, with that as an answer, she understood and accepted my decision. So, my goal was to save the lives of the Seabees in a combat operational environment if possible. I’m bating 100% on that at the moment. This is good. Officer: Cont’d on page 17


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R-4 Dept. in the Keystone spotLight

MCC: Keeping everything moving How many people are in your department and who are they? We have a staff of five. CM3 Amanda Shaffer, CM2 Nick Seiber, LS2 Silbert Dyer, CM1 Scott Fancher, CMCS (SCW/FMF) Jose del Rosario What is the goal/mission of your department? The goal of our department is to move people and supply expediently and efficiently. Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

and we have to scramble. But any good quarterback know when scrambling stay on your feet on look down field, just don’t get sacked! Another challenge is being able to provide the resources to man MCC 24/7. There is tremendous attention How does your department benefit to detail required to compile the Task Force Keystone? We arrange statistical data and stay on top of our travel for the personnel assigned to movements as well as those of our TF Keystone and facilitate getting subordinate units. One more thing: the various classes of supply moved. The 12MPH speed limit! We even help units outside TF Keystone by arranging their travel. How many different things are you responsible for? We are What is the hardest thing your responsible for only two things: department deals with? Constant inter-theater movements and intrachanges when working with fixed theater movements. Inter-theater schedules, weather and retasking. movements involve the strategic We are agents utilizing applications planning and moving of units in and and systems the actual travel out of theater. Some units require providers set. Sometimes the needs more assistance because they just of our users do not mesh with what have more stuff. Some units are our providers are willing to give spread out and we need to figure What is the best thing about your department? The best thing about are department is our camaraderie; it is a key essential. Together, we have shown we can weather any storm or climb any mountain.

how to reconstitute them. The intratheater movements are what most see us doing on a daily basis. We need to get people out to support projects and get supplies out. That’s the easy answer because the staff has various applications on all three computer systems that they have to use on a daily basis just to arrange travel. And each Regional Command is set up differently so how to move people in RC-South is not the same as in RC-Southwest, RC-East or RC-North. So for the THIRD NCR and 1/2 of our subordinate units we are working intra-theater travel on a daily basis. We also train our counterparts in the subordinate units on the intratheater aspect. The Army is not familiar with the Marine process and we also have Air Force units so sometimes there are hurdles.


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Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

Seabees and Army Engineers are currently working in conjunction with French Candadians to construct Route Hyena. The route will allow for better access into the area.

Seabees, Canadians merge on road build operations in the Horn of Panjwa’I. The horn is a populated strip of Seabees and Army Engineers land that sits between the Arghandab from Task Force Keystone, led and Dowrey Rivers. The terrain is by the Third Naval Construction irrigated and serves as an agricultural Regiment (3NCR) in Kandahar, hub for the Kandahar province. Afghanistan, are currently working Improving the route will in conjunction with the 2nd Royal allow better access into the area, Canadian Regiment (2RCR) out of especially when the Arghandab Quebec, Canada, to construct Route River floods during the winter rainy Hyena. season, cutting off fording sites into The improved route will provide the Zhari District. The roadway a ground line of communication that will allow local farmers to better will benefit both civilian and military access markets in Kandahar City Story by MCC Terrina Weatherspoon

and beyond. The new road will better connect the local populace to the Panjwa’I District Center, also located along Route Hyena, showing the Panjwa’I populace a strong Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) presence in the area and that control is no longer in the hands of Taliban. The route will also provide critical resupply to new Combat Outposts being constructed by Army Hyena: Cont’d on next page


Keystone Light Hyena: Cont’d from last page and Navy Task Force Keystone Battalions in the Horn of Panjwa’I in support of coalition efforts to clear and hold the area. Although the route is a Canadian lead project, and the Canadians have an engineering effort in Afghanistan, they do not have the assets needed for this type of job, nor the equipment, said Equipment Operator 1st Class Matthew Kreamalmeyer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40. “There just aren’t enough of them in country. So once again, Seabees are answering the call.” As a US and NATO command, 3NCR supports all Battlespace Owners in Regional Commands South, Southwest, and West with Direct and General Support. The 2RCR Battle Group is another supported commander under Task Force Kandahar and RC(S), said Lt. Cmdr. David Platz, Current Operations for the Third Naval Construction Regiment. The Canadians are currently the main effort of engineer support in RC(S). “Working with the Canadians has been a great opportunity for both our Army and Navy engineers; we have been at the ground level of their planning efforts, ensuring that our engineer concerns are heard and integrated into their overall battle plan,” said Platz, who has been working with the Task Force Kandahar Engineer Regiment since September to ensure 3NCR’s support of the Battlegroup’s operations is coordinated and successful. “We had been looking for an opportunity

Page 10 to partner with the Canadians on a project; this operation has presented exactly that.” “The opportunity to work with the Canadians has been great,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class David Meyer, NMCB 18. “Although it is hard to communicate with them because they speak French, they have done their best to make us feel welcome and provide the best security they can while we build this route.” “There has been great cooperation and everything has gone very well,” said Sgt. Patrick Auger, 2RCR Battlegroup. “All of us are looking at the same goal. The same end state. It has been a great opportunity for me and my guys to interact with and get to know some U.S. Troops.” “Communication has been a barrier, but there are a few of us who speak relatively good English, so people get routed to our direction a lot,” said Auger. “Fortunately, the American’s know what we want, and they are experienced with this sort of thing and are very professional. At this point we are just providing security and making it as safe as possible for them to operate.” Canadian Sappers are clearing IEDs to set the stage for follow-on construction efforts. The job is truly a team effort. Canadians lead the way by using a Badger to drive down the centerline of the route. The Badger armored engineering vehicle is designed to provide engineer support to mechanized combat forces. Seabees from Battalions 18

and 40 come up behind the Badgers with dozers and clear from right to left of the centerline, making a 21-meter wide road with 30-meter fields of fire. From there, the 864th Engineering Battalion, which also falls under Task Force Keystone, finishes up by laying gravel over the road. The local environment has posed engineering challenges to the construction of the new road, especially when the route deviates from the existing center line to avoid villages and mosques. The high water table creates an unstable platform for both the road and the construction equipment. Canadian and US engineers have solved this problem through the use of two soil stabilization techniques, geo textile fabric and mixing in portland concrete cement. “Everyone has their role to play and it doesn’t matter what service you are in, or even what country you are from,” said Kreamalmeyer. “You get the job done.”

Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon


Keystone Light

Pay it Forward pays off

they had available to them. When she compared there humble means For some, a trip off base in to the bulging shelves in her unit on Afghanistan might be adventurous Kandahar Airfield she came up with or exciting. For some it might be an an idea. opportunity to see what Afghanistan Pay it Forward, a project to push has to offer. For IS1 Crystal Hoel, care packages from KAF to other a Reserve Component intelligence FOBs and COPs in the area, was analyst with the Third Naval born. Construction Regiment, currently “The “Pay it Forward” program deployed to Kandahar, it was a provides fellow service members shocking realization. with donated items, which are hard When the Mechanicsburg, to acquire in remote COPs and Penn., native visited the forward FOBs,” said Intelligence Specialist operating bases and combat outposts Chief Mark Agostini, 3NCR’s intel she was saddened to see how little chief. “My goal for the project was simply to share what we didn’t need with those that could put it to good use,” said Hoel, who is also a middle school language arts teacher. Doing for others has always been important to Hoel. “As a very young child, my grandmother took me with her to deliver food to elderly shut-ins through a program called Meals on Wheels,” said Hoel. “Growing up, I was very involved in a variety of volunteering opportunities through church, school, sports and scouts activities. Later as an adult I found volunteering in the community was the

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Story by MCC Terrina Weatherspoon

Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

Photo by MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

fastest way for our family to become familiar with a new area and meet people. As my children –three of which have or are currently serving in the military - grew, they too, were involved. Their favorite horror story to tell anyone is the story of making 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Wednesday mornings during one summer vacation. But they will smile while sharing the ‘torture Mom put us through’ story because they know the sandwiches went to homeless children in poorer regions of the county.” “Petty Officer Hoel is highly dedicated to the mission and personnel,” said Agostini. “She spearheaded this program on pure initiative. A Chief is only as good as the people that work for and with them. I am lucky and blessed to have her working in my shop.” Hoel, who is a middle school language arts teacher, also teaches her students about the importance of giving. Forward: Cont’d on page 20


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Dental going to the Dogs

By MCC (SW) Terrina Weatherspoon

Christmas Day brings many great things. However, it brought a total of three root canals to two very unhappy Army service members deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Both males had significant erosion and wear around their teeth and gums – most likely from chewing on their cages. Luckily Christmas also brought Lt. Cmdr. Sholi Rotblatt, the dental officer for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 26, to the hospital on Kandahar. He knew that on Christmas there would probably be a skeleton crew at the hospital, and being Jewish, he decided to give his Christian counterparts some time off. He was volunteering his time at the facility when two Explosive Ordnance Disposal Dogs with tooth aches were brought in to the Role 3. “The endodontist (root canal specialist) on duty asked if I’d like to help him examine the dogs,” said Rotblatt. “It was a new experience definitely.” The dogs were sedated and X-rays were taken. It was determined that root canals were needed. One of the canines required two, while the other dog only needed one. “The endodontist began working on the root canal right away,” said Rotblatt. “The other dog required a bit more work so we took him into the dental operatory. While he was being worked on, I asked his handler

Lt. Cmdr. Sholi Rotblatt cleans the teeth of a mine dog. Rotblatt hopes to do more of this kind of work during his tour in Afghanistan with NMCB 26.

if I could clean his teeth afterward. He said that would be a great idea.” Rotblatt, who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., and drills at Camp Pendleton, was nearly retired when he decided to join the Reserves. “After September 11th I realized that American’s were not accustomed to that type of hate,” said Rotblatt. “My parents were both holocaust survivors and they taught me what it was like when someone truly hates you, and how to overcome it. It was my duty to join the military and like my parents did, fight against that hate.” Now the 58 year old finds himself in the thick of things deployed to Afghanistan, working from a connex box and in the mouth of (Sea)bees, and now beasts.

“I’m getting more out of this experience than I’m giving,” said Rotblatt. “Especially working with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Dogs. I truly believe they are doing some amazing things out here. When the vet brought the dog in she talked about extracting a tooth, but we were adamant about not needing that to be done. The dogs need all of their parts; they need everything. They are saving lives, the least we can do is save their teeth.”


Keystone Light

Happy New Year!!

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Any Day in Afghanistan


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Any Day in Afghanistan

Top right: Outside of Combat Outpost Tarnak we were greeted by Camels, a lot of them, just walking through the desert like they belonged there. Oh wait, they do. Bottom left: It always astonishes me that these children are not afraid of our weapons or us. They mostly just want to smile and wave. Middle right: The Commodore photographed this guy on a bike right in the middle of our operation. Bottom right: Two brothers herding their sheep.


Keystone Light Crozier: Cont’d from page 6 dessert.” On a higher level I try to complete the big four in the gospel: Love God with all my heart, mind, and soul; love my neighbor as myself; carry my cross; and don’t be afraid/be of good cheer/let not your heart be troubled—they all fit together as one big attitudinal statement. Can you give me a brief description of what you do? Much of my work here has been based on leading the RPs and CAs who fall under 3 NCR. I also work in the chapel, which is usually more of a junior RP activity, but it has been good to keep me grounded in my roots. I am usually the senior enlisted at the Ramp ceremonies, which put me in charge of a multinational/ multiforce group of chaplains. Additionally I have headed up the Chief’s Mess flag fundraiser and GMT.

Page 17 Obviously, I owe it to my parents who set my direction in life. But more specifically, I owe my military success to a LCDR whose name I forgot, who told me during my first months of drilling as a reservist, “Be proactive.” I think it was the first time I had ever heard the word “proactive” used in a sentence. It has always been the driving force behind my Navy career. Also I owe success to Chief Woodhouse who was always guiding and ready to give me opportunities to succeed. Once as I was running on some errand, he told me, “Slow down, you’re going to make Chief.” Not that chiefs are slow, but he was expressing confidence that I would become a chief without knocking myself out. You can achieve a lot more if others let you know you can.

To whom do you owe your success and why?

If you could have done anything else, what would it have been? I wouldn’t do anything else because then I wouldn’t be me. I used to want to be other people when I was a kid, but I like myself. So I want to be me, not that I can’t be a better me, but I think we are all working on that.

Officer: Cont’d from page 7

efforts.

What are your words to live by? I have two sayings I’ve kind of lived by over the years. The first is, “At the end of the day no matter what happened that day, as long as you’re standing on two feet when the sun sets, you had a good day.” The other one is, “The world can take everything away from you but one thing, your honor.”

To whom do you owe your success and why? Facing many failure situations in life has made me stronger. My success to this point in my career has come from mere luck & “hard headedness.” This is driven by a never ever quit mind set. I think I got this mostly from my Dad. When growing up he would see and allow me in many cases to fail in erroneous personal decisions in life rather than step in and protect me from facing failures. He did this because he wanted me to learn that if you fell down in life that you can pick yourself back up, survive and advance forward once again. I feel there are many in the world today that don’t have this experience thus they don’t know how to adapt to adversities when this may happen later in their lives.

Can you give me a brief description of what you do? It’s kind of an abstract job position of sorts. Many in the Seabee community still scratch their heads on this a bit. I am the Tactical Military Advisor to the Commodore. Yeah, what does that mean? OK, Seabees operate within the Maneuver Commanders Battle Space area of operation. I assess the Maneuver Commanders COA’s and operational intent in the battle space then sync them up to the Seabee mission execution in support of those operations. I advise our Commander what the Maneuver Commanders trying to accomplish from the kinetic perspective and then how best to support him as well provide force protection input in concert to our Seabee

If you could have done anything else, what would it have been? Ha ha ha.....ok....ready for this one? I always wanted to be a Forrest Ranger since I was a kid. I love the outdoors, nature, and the mountains.


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Seabees assist after suicide bomb

By MCC Michael Watkins

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB) 40 and 18 helped provide medical aid and assisted in the recovery of the bodies of six Army Soldiers killed Dec. 12by a suicide car bombing in Kandahar Province. Active duty Seabees from NMCB 40’s Air Detachment and Reserve Component Seabees from NMCB 18 assigned to building small combat outposts (COPs) for Army and NATO Forces, responded along with the Army’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to a loud explosion near their base in Sangsar, the historic birthplace of the Taliban. “We were about 15 minutes from stepping off to head out to our project site to continue building up the force protection measures and that is when we heard the explosion,” said Builder 1st Class Steven Maldonado, NMCB 40’s project site leading petty officer. “We felt the ground

Photo by MCC Mike Watkins

The Seabees continued working despite a suicide car bombing that killed six Soldiers at the site seven days before.

shake and the shockwave from the blast went through us,” Maldonado said. “Within a minute, that is when I was told that our project site had been hit

by a VBIED (Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device) and there were at least six toeight casualties.” Maldonado, along with NMCB 18’s Equipment

Operator 1st Class Ed Vandenburgh, Equipment Operator 3rd Class James McKinley (augmented to NMCB 18 from Construction Battalion Mobile Unit 303) and Chief Hospital Corpsman Jeffrey Coslett, an active duty individual augmented to NMCB 18 from Surface Warfare Medical Institute located at Balboa Naval Hospital, responded with the QRF to the project site located approximately 1,000 meters away. The VBIED had detonated alongside a mud building structure that was being occupied by both US, and Afghan National Army (ANA) Soldiers in order to provide security to the open project site. The building collapsed killing six Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 502d Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team 101stAirborne Division (Air Assault) and wounding many others. “There was chaos everywhere when we 40: Cont’d on next page

Around the Task Force


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40: Cont’d from last page

Photo by MCC Mike Watkins

Active duty and reserve component Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalions 40 and 18 secure and fortify a combat outpost in Diwar, Afghanistan.

arrived on the scene,” said Coslett. “We started treating the wounded right away and were receiving the casualties as they were being pulled from the rubble,” he said. Shortly after their arrival on scene, a secondary attack from small arms fire began, Coslett said. “We started taking fire almost right away,” said Coslett. “The Army and ANA responded with suppressive fire and rocket propelled grenades. They even called in an air strike. We just stayed focused on treating the patients. We all came together and really worked as a team,” said Coslett. “At first we were digging the bodies out by hand,” said Maldonado. “Then we used the excavator to knock down the north wall to help get the rest out,” he said. “There were bullets being fired at us but all we could think about was trying to get those guys out of the rubble hoping they might have a chance,” said Maldonado. “I’ve been to a Disaster Recovery School before but nothing really prepares you for this,” he said. “It’s back-breaking work.” Maldonado said as soon as all the personal belongings

and sensitive items were recovered, the rubble from the collapsed building was then used to continue to fill the large HESCO barrier perimeter around the new COP. This COP is one in a series being built by the Seabees in efforts to push the Taliban insurgents further south away from Kandahar, said Lt. j.g. David Sayer, NMCB 40. “Putting these coalition strong points in place minimizes the freedom of movement for the Taliban,” said Sayer. “We’re taking advantage during the off fighting season to build these COPs so that when the fighters come back in the spring, we will have control of the land,” said Sayer. “This goes back to the Seabee roots like in World War II where we pushed out and held our ground,” he said. “We need more training on building these combat outposts under fire and with a real combat mindset,” said Maldonado. “We can’t take this type of work lightly,” he said. ‘What we do and the timeliness we do it in saves lives.” Maldonado and his team are being recommended for the Combat Action Ribbon, said Sayer.


Keystone Light Forward: Cont’d from page 11 “Because the middle school child is typically rather self-centered, as any parent can attest, I try to encourage students to look beyond their own lives, and volunteering programs provide that opportunity,” said Hoel. “The key is finding a cause that matters to you. I started a program at my middle school my first year, called Valentines for Veterans, which is now done annually.” Hoel is hoping her Pay it Forward program will continue long after she is gone. However, she knows that nothing good comes without a few obstacles and the Pay it Forward program was no exception. “The biggest obstacle was establishing reliable contacts to get the stuff pushed forward,” said Hoel. “I sent a flurry of emails out to a bunch of contacts looking for people who could help me get the boxes to where they needed to go. I also physically knocked on a few chapel doors.” The Chaplains from HHC 1225 Sustainment Brigade, 864th ENG must have heard opportunity knock, and he answered. “I am thankful to the 864th and to some of the folks in the regiment. The intel shop team has contributed their labor and the donations received from everyone have been overwhelming! Hearing that they guys at FOB Wilson were ‘fighting’ over Butterfingers from a large package, along with feedback from 864 has shown me that the program is ACE: Cont’d from page 5 completing them in the spring. He must also retest or recertify every five years to prove that his knowledge skill sets and experience is adapting with the technology curve as the automobile industry evolves over time. “It feels really good to have finally become ASE certified,” said Gilmer. “I feel as though becoming certified gave me absolute direction in which to focus my career and enhance my personal life to its maximum

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Petty Officers Ferguson, Housten, and Hoel prepare boxes for the Pay it Forward program.

definitely a success and we are all making a small, yet meaningful difference for our fellow service men and women.” potential.” So the next time you drop your car off, look past Tom, Dick and Harry, and find Chris. He’s the guy with the ‘ASE’ patch on his right arm.

If you would like to see someone in the spotlight, please send your request to terrina. weatherspoon@afghan.swa.army.mil


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