NEWS
Amy Bushatz

Congress upgrades award for hero killed at COP Keating

More than nine years after the Battle of Kamdesh claimed eight lives and left 27 injured, a soldier killed there received a posthumous medal upgrade Dec. 15, 2018, to the nation's second highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

Army Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos, 27, had been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions at Combat Outpost Keating, the location of the assault by Taliban insurgents that led to one of the bloodiest battles of the war in Afghanistan."

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NEWS
Matthew Cox

Navy ships more ready for war, but submarine backlog continues

Senior U.S. Navy officials in December 2018 sought to reassure lawmakers that the service's staggering backlog for ship and submarine maintenance is improving despite having 17 warships out of service in 2018.

Seeking to dispel what GAO Defense Capabilities And Management Team Director John Pendleton called "a wicked problem for the Navy" at a joint hearing of the Senate Armed Service Committee subcommittees on Seapower and Readiness and Management Support, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, said ships are going into drydock and getting out of shipyards, but more-utilized vessels, like aircraft carriers, take priority over submarines.

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NEWS
Oriana Pawlyk

New Defiant helicopter probably won't fly in 2018

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant helicopter program will miss its first scheduled flight tests due to "minor technical issues" discovered during ground power tests, officials involved in the program revealed Dec. 12, 2018. The tests were originally scheduled for 2018.

While the aircraft "has been completely built," discoveries were made in recent weeks during Power System Test Bed (PSTB) testing, said Rich Koucheravy, Sikorsky director of business development for future vertical lift. Sikorsky is partnered with Boeing Co. on the project.

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NEWS
Richard Sisk

Coast Guard wants cutters to get these high-tech drones

All Coast Guard National Security Cutters should have ScanEagle drones aboard and available for launch to boost high seas surveillance and aid in drug interdictions and arrests, according to Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz.

Commanders who have used the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System, or UAS, have told him, " 'I don't ever want to sail without ScanEagle again,' " Schultz said Dec. 7, 2018, at the National Press Club. "I'd like to see every national security cutter have one on the back."

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NEWS
Sean Mclain Brown

Combat veteran addresses homelessness with tiny homes

When former Army Cpl. Chris Stout saw his fellow veterans struggling with homelessness, he set out to solve the problem by going small — really small. Tiny, even.

On Veterans Day, 2015, Stout and three other combat vets started the Veterans Community Project (VCP), a non-profit that builds communities of tiny homes, providing a host of services for veterans.

During a 2005 combat tour in Afghanistan Stout was wounded and transitioned back to Kansas City, Missouri. Like many wounded warriors, he struggled with physical and mental injuries. He knew that he felt better when in the company of other veterans and, for a short time, worked as a veteran counselor connecting vets to services they needed. But it wasn't enough.

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NEWS
Oriana Pawlyk

Neglected maintenance and corrosion caused deadly KC-130 crash

A corroded blade that came loose on a Marine Corps KC-130T transport aircraft at 20,000 feet above Mississippi caused the deaths of 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman in 2017, according to a Marine Corps accident investigation released Dec. 6, 2018.

The propeller blade — improperly maintained by Air Force maintenance crews in 2011 and later overlooked by the Navy, according to officials — set off a series of cascading events that would cut the aircraft into three pieces before it fell to the ground on July 10, 2017, in a LeFlore County field, officials wrote in the investigation.

"Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex failed to remove existing and detectable corrosion pitting and [intergranular cracking] on [Propeller 2, Blade 4] in 2011, which ultimately resulted in its inflight liberation," investigators wrote. "This blade liberation was the root cause of the mishap."

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NEWS
Matthew Cox

Marine Corps punishes 2 pilots for their sky penis

The Marine Corps has punished two aviators who flew their aircraft deliberately to draw a giant penis in the skies over California's Salton Sea.

The Oct. 23, 2018 incident resulted in the West Coast Marine Corps training squadron launching an investigation into the flight pattern of a T-34C aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101.

"Two Marine Corps aviators were administratively disciplined following the completion of an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding an Oct. 23, 2018 irregular flight pattern that resulted in an obscene image," said Maj. Josef Patterson, a spokesman for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

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NEWS
Matthew Cox

Special operators may lean harder on conventional forces

The nominee to lead U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) told lawmakers Dec. 4, 2018, that the unrelenting pace of operations may force the elite organization to pass some missions off to conventional combat units.

Army Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of his nomination process to assume command of SOCOM, said he believes it has an "adequate" number of personnel but needs to avoid taking on missions that conventional forces are capable of handling.

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NEWS
Richard Sisk

Before his death, Bush did a final, touching favor for Pence's son

Vice President Mike Pence recalled Dec. 3, 2018, how he asked a last favor from an ailing George H.W. Bush in August 2018 on behalf of his son, Marine 1st Lt. Michael Pence — never expecting that the former president would be able to comply.

The young Pence had just made his first tailhook carrier landing on the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush, earning his wings as a Marine pilot. Could the former president please autograph a photo for his son?

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