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Maine Colonel Honors Fallen Soldier
Chief of staff ran in Boston Marathon in memory of Soldier killed in Afghanistan
12 June 2014
COL Jack Mosher, chief of staff for the Maine National Guard, completes the Boston Marathon in honor of CPL Andrew Hutchins, who died in Afghanistan. Hutchins' daughter, Allysa, hugs Mosher after the race. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Angela Parady.)
"A lot of people run a marathon every day," says Colonel Jack Mosher, Chief of Staff for the Maine Army National Guard, as he sits in his office overlooking the entrance to Camp Keyes, ME. "Every day, you wake up, you put your shoes on, and you live your life. For me, running marathons is a way of demonstrating my resilience, but in my life, a lot of the marathons I have run have never been on a trail or on the road. They were me, sitting alone in a room thinking my way through some of the problems in my life, that we all have to face."
Mosher has laced up to run over 25 marathons. That doesn't include his ultra marathons or trail runs. In 2009 he started running as a way to cope with the difficult times he was facing in his own personal life, and he has never stopped.
The well-being of Soldiers and their families is often on his mind during those runs. Shortly after Mosher began to find his own inner peace with running, Corporal Andrew Hutchins, a native of New Portland, ME, died in Afghanistan.
Only 20 years old, Andrew was a military policeman serving with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, KY. He left behind his wife and high school sweetheart, Heather, who was pregnant with Andrew's daughter, whom he would never meet. Mosher ended up sitting behind Heather shortly after Andrew's death at an event at the Governor's house and was able to take some time to talk with her.
"I think [Heather] and Andrew are emblematic of all our men and women that step forward from every street, every corner, every hamlet and every farm in Maine to serve their country. I run for Andrew and I run for his family. I think he was a great person, and his wife, Heather, [is] an amazing person," says Mosher.
That's why Mosher decided to run the 2014 Boston Marathon in Andrew's memory.
Read the rest of the story here . . .
152nd Component Repair Company Cooks Compete for Coveted Connolly
09 June 2014
Spc. Stephen Cobb and Spc. Derek Gause, cooks for the 152nd Component Repair Company, Maine Army National Guard prepare broccoli parmesan and garlic bread for soldiers and national judges during the first stage of the Phillip A. Connolly Competition. The June event was the first step in a long road to the national level competition. Judges will base their decisions off of the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence standard, and rank the 152nd amongst all of the other competing teams. A success will move them to the national level competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Angela Parady.)
Soldiers from the 152nd Component Repair Company help themselves to salad after picking up a hot meal prepared for them by four cooks within the unit striving to move on to the national level for the Phillip A. Connolly Competition. Even though the unit is a component repair and maintenance company that works primarily on electronics equipment, light-medium tactical vehicles and heavy equipment, they still have to have the capabilities to feed their soldiers. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Angela Parady.)
"Today we have a pretty decent sized menu," said the staff sergeant. "We have spaghetti and meatballs, and my personal favorite: chocolate pudding. There is salad, fruit, apples, some parmesan bread. It's a pretty decent meal for being out in the field. "
Soldiers from the 152nd Component Repair Company, Maine Army National Guard are competing in the 47th Annual Phillip A. Connolly Awards Program. As part of the competition they have to prepare a meal in a field environment. Which means setting up stations where hands can be washed, soldiers signed in, meals eaten, utensils washed and a fully functional kitchen is present.
This is the Army's ultimate cooking competition, which began in 1968 and is one of the few competitions where all Army components, active Army, Reserves, and National Guard, compete against one another. Mess sections from units across the country compete in order find the best Army cooking operations, and this time it's the 152nd who are being put on display.
"We are putting together food for 60 soldiers to simulate an event where we were on alert and facilities were not available," said Staff Sgt. Crystal Ryder, an administrative sergeant, tasked with heading up the field sanitation team for the event. "So we are setting up for that, we've got our finest cooks cooking the food out here and our sanitation team working the safety side of it, ensuring the cleanliness of the food going in and out."
Sgt. 1st Class Tom Gordon is the food operations sergeant for the 152nd. The Waterville native emphasized that even though the unit is a component repair and maintenance company that works primarily on electronics equipment, light-medium tactical vehicles and heavy equipment, they still have to have the capabilities to feed their soldiers.
"We have to be able to feed our soldiers so they can continue the mission," he said. "A hot meal sustains them. It gives soldiers a good break in the middle of their day to collect their thoughts and to get together and see how things are going. On a hot day like today, it gives them the nutrition to replace things like salt and what not they may be sweating out, and it's good for morale."
Ryder, who lives in Augusta agreed, and praised the four cooks who had been sweating it out on the first 90-plus degree day of the year, in the kitchen for nearly two hours to get everything ready for the soldiers.
"If soldiers aren't fed, they aren't going to work," she said. "That's just how it is. I think these guys are doing an awesome job, a terrific job. They are using the resources they have and putting a great meal together. I know there are some people out there who can't cook in their own kitchen anything as good as some of these meals will be. Soldiers need their energy, and they need their food. Without food, they don't have energy, and we need energy to be mission capable. Food is very important."
The soldiers, who will cook the same meal as other units competing for the Connolly Award nationwide will be tested on their ability to meet field food safety requirements, the accuracy of their headcount, the appearance and attitude of the food service personnel, and timeliness. According to Gordon, that's not all.
Read the rest of the story here . . .
Maine Sappers Seek to Surpass the Standards
07 June 2014
Sgt. Matt Tower of the 251st Engineer Company (Sappers), calls in a unexploded ordnance report from a field radio, while his squad provides security during an IED training lane on June 7, at the Bog Brook Training Site in Gilead, Maine.(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Adam Simmler.)
"Practice makes perfect, and we train as we fight," said Spc. Jeff Shock, a combat engineer with the 251st Engineer Company (Sappers). For the Soldiers of the 251st, that makes for an exciting lineup of training for their June drill weekend, June 7 and 8 at the Bog Brook Training Site in Gilead, Maine.
"Normally, we do improvised explosive device training, route clearance lanes and demolitions," said Shock."This is the first time we've done CBRN stuff."
CBRN, or Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear, is the term used to describe the steps and procedures to deal with a wide array of hazardous materials that could be found on a battlefield.
On Saturday morning, every soldier, from the newest private, to the company commander, rotated through the CS gas chamber. The chamber is filled with a form of tear gas, and is used to reinforce the importance of being proficient with a protective gas mask.
"Sometimes it's hard to see in the mask," said Shock. "being aware of your environment is extremely important; so you need to keep your head on a swivel."
After the CS chamber, their situational awareness was put to the test on an IED lane where soldiers worked as a team to detect, report, and neutralize a series of simulated explosives hidden along a road.
"During CBRN training and while we're patrolling, my role as a leader is to make sure everyone knows what their job is, and that everybody is staying in their sector and scanning," said Sgt. Matt Tower a combat engineer with the 251st. "I want to make sure that everybody maintains situational awareness, at all times, so that if someone spots an IED, we can react appropriately."
"I find this training exciting, because I know that as a National Guard member, I have my civilian job and I have my military service here," said Tower. "One weekend a month, believe it or not, I do look forward to it because I get to do something different, something that excites me and gets me going.
Over the rest of their June drill period, the soldiers from the 251st will conduct day and night patrols, obstacle courses and other crucial warrior tasks.
Shock comments, "The administrative drills are mandatory and have to get done. But this is our job, and to be good at your job, you have to keep doing it. Practice makes perfect and we train as we fight."
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