November 25, 2015

National Guard restructuring should provide more opportunity (AUDIO)

Adjutant Gen. Daryl Bohac speaks at a news conference with Gov. Pete Ricketts

Adjutant Gen. Daryl Bohac speaks at a news conference with Gov. Pete Ricketts

The first major restructuring of the Nebraska Army National Guard in 20 years will give Guard members more opportunity, especially in western Nebraska.

Adjutant General Daryl Bohac says the Nebraska Guard decided to reorganize after the Army moved away from Battlefield Surveillance.

“I think one of the most exciting things about this is the opportunity for our soldiers,” Bohac tells reporters during a news conference.

The 67th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade of Lincoln will become the 67th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

Western Nebraska, once only transportation units, will diversify, providing more opportunity for Guard members, according to Bohac.

“I would put it to you this way, there are only so many people that are interested in being truck drivers and so by having greater opportunity, greater range of opportunity in western Nebraska, that’s good for us,” Bohac says. “But, we’re doing that across the state.”

Roughly 1,100 Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers from units in 16 Nebraska communities will be affected: Lincoln, Omaha, Beatrice, Columbus, York, Hastings, Kearney, Grand Island, Mead, O’Neill, Broken Bow, North Platte, McCook, Sidney, Scottsbluff, and Chadron.

The Nebraska Army National Guard outlines the changes:

· The transition of the Lincoln-based 67th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade into the 67th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade;

· The addition of a new engineer battalion headquarters in Columbus;

· The replacement of the Kearney-based transportation battalion headquarters with a brigade support battalion headquarters;

· The transition of Kearney’s transportation company into distribution support and field maintenance companies;

· The transition of the transportation company in Chadron and Scottsbluff into a military police company. Scottsbluff will also see the addition of a new field maintenance company detachment;

· The transition of O’Neill’s chemical company detachment into a field maintenance company detachment;

· The addition of a new military police company detachment in Grand Island;

· The transition of York’s transportation company detachment into an engineer company detachment;

· The addition of a new Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment and a Military History Detachment in Lincoln;

· The deactivation of the Mead-based Detachment 2, 165th Quartermaster Company with the remaining Rigger Soldiers reorganized into the 515th Rigger Support Team at the Mead Training Site;

· Some slight changes to the Lincoln, Hastings, Mead, and Beatrice-based 1-134th Cavalry Squadron with the addition of a new Cavalry Support Company in Lincoln;

· The transition of an engineering detachment and a brigade support company detachment in Hastings into a new Engineering Forward Support Company.

Bohac says the changes will enhance the Guard’s readiness for state and national emergencies.

The changes will begin in early January and should take three years to complete. The Nebraska National Guard has 3,600 members, about 200 fewer than authorized by the Army.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Veterans Park dedicated in Papillion today

It was a special Veterans’ Day in Papillion as the city and the Community Foundation dedicated Veterans Park this morning. Bad weather didn’t keep a crowd from gathering to honor those who served our country. They gathered inside a large tent to hear a number of speakers and observe a moment of silence.

Veterans Park includes two honor walls with the names of 230 veterans from Sarpy County. It also includes new sidewalks and flag poles.

This was just one of several Veterans’ Day events throughout Nebraska. Congressman Brad Ashford attended a service at American Legion Post 1. Governor Pete Ricketts will speak at 2 p.m. at a service at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Bellevue.

Veterans continue to serve, as volunteers (AUDIO)

Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, speaks at the National Veteran Corps pinning ceremony

Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, speaks at the National Veteran Corps pinning ceremony

A number of veterans continue to serve their country, this time as volunteers.

Today is the day to honor those who have served in the military.

“They don’t join the military to pass time. They join the military to protect our freedoms, to fight for us, to the end,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Spencer attended a ceremony hosted by Gov. Pete Ricketts in his Capitol hearing room Tuesday to recognize veterans who have continued their serve to Americans as AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers. Both CNCS and ServeNebraska sponsored the event.

Members of the National Veteran Corps make up many of the five million Americans serving in the two groups. The ceremony in Lincoln was one of nearly 200 National Veteran Corps pin presentations across the country this November, honoring those who continue to serve the country.

Gov. Pete Ricketts "pins" Gloria Cotton, an Air Force veteran who serves at Bellevue University through the Lutheran Family Services VetSuccess AmeriCorps program

Gov. Pete Ricketts “pins” Gloria Cotton, an Air Force veteran, who serves at Bellevue University through the Lutheran Family Services VetSuccess AmeriCorps program

Some of the services benefit veterans. Last year, national service members throughout the United States served nearly 800,000 veterans and military members in VA clinics and hospitals as well as veteran service organizations.

Spencer said veterans deserve our thanks.

“But it is really an honor to take the time this week to thank our veterans for what they do and, also, their family members,” Spencer said.

Though she said they served, not for our gratitude, but for love of country.

“But, I tell you, they do appreciate it when we take the time to say thank you.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Marines: unfamiliar route might have led to fatal copter crash in Nepal

UH1 Huey

UH1 Huey

The U.S. Marine Corps is releasing its report into the cause a helicopter crash in Nepal last spring which killed a Nebraska native and five other Marines during an earthquake relief mission.

Dustin Lukasiewicz, 29, a native of Wilcox, was piloting the helicopter when it went down in a rugged mountainous area on May 12.

A report by a Marine investigation team determined that the mishap was likely caused when the crew decided to take a more direct, but unfamiliar route after picking up injured civilians from a remote village to fly back to Kathmandu.

The report further revealed that rapidly developing clouds or rising air currents may have caused the crew to lose visual reference with the terrain with the aircraft impacting the ground.

The investigation report says the last radio communication received from the helicopter crew was about 40 minutes before the mishap, so it’s impossible to know exactly what may have occurred or what factors may have influenced the crew in deciding on their chosen flight path.

The investigation further revealed that the pilots and crew were fully experienced, physically fit for their assigned task and that mechanical failure or maintenance malpractices were not contributing factors to the mishap.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Nebraska Marine pilot killed while delivering aid to be honored in Nepal

20130227-usmc[1]A Marine pilot from south-central Nebraska who died while on a humanitarian relief mission in Nepal will be honored by that country.

Twenty-nine-year-oldof Wilcox died on May 12th when his helicopter crashed while delivering supplies to earthquake victims.

On Friday, a room at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal will be renamed in honor of Lukasiewicz and five other U.S. Marines who were aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash.

According to a press release from the Marines, the name of the Heritage Room in the Marine House at the embassy will be changed to Vengeance Hall in honor of the six marines who died while performing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of Joint Task Force 505.

By Brent Weithorn, KXPN