February 9, 2016

Plans are in the works for a Nebraska Vietnam War Honor Flight

Patriotic Productions is in the process of organizing their first Nebraska Vietnam Veterans Honor Flight to Washington D.C. Co-founder Bill Williams says they just announced the event earlier this week and the applications from veterans are pouring in. In the first few days they received 60 applications and Williams says even a few people have knocked on his door to hand them in personally.

Williams says as in past honor flights they are selecting combat veterans only. He says, “D-Day, June 6th, Monday is the day that we picked.  We have one plane and can take about 140 combat veterans on that.  We have a second plane on hold if the donations come in and there is enough interest.  I think the interest is there because of the applications that have come in already.

The veterans will tour Washington D.C. with the trip centering on the Vietnam Memorial. Since 2008, 1,500 Nebraska World War II and 600 Korean War veterans have participated in honor flights at no charge to them.

Williams says honor flights are funded through donations. He says to make it happen they need $130,000.  For details on the honor flight and for information on making donations, log on to patrioticproductions.org.

Photo from Nebraska Korean War Veterans Honor Flight, 2014.

 

Worries about Offutt AFB future spark work on federal and state level (AUDIO)

An OC-135B Open Skies aircraft takes off from Offutt Air Force Base./U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger

An OC-135B Open Skies aircraft takes off from Offutt Air Force Base./U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger

Efforts are being made both on the federal and state level to insure Offutt Air Force Base remains at its current force strength.

Offutt Air Force Base employs 10,000 military and civilian personnel with an estimated economic impact on Nebraska exceeding one billion dollars annually.

And it serves as a source of pride for our state, according to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.

“The president landed at Offutt Air Force base when he visited Omaha. President Bush went there immediately after 9/11 by the way,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Fortenberry has assembled an Offutt Air Force Base Task Force. The task force will oversee the Defense Department design and construction of a new runway to replace Offutt’s aging runway.

Fortenberry is the Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

Congressman Brad Ashford says enough money was placed in the military budget during the budget agreement reached at the end of the year to pay for a new runway at Offutt.

Air Force One arrives at Offutt Air Force Base August 13th/U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger

Air Force One arrives at Offutt Air Force Base August 13th/U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger

Work is also underway at the state Capitol to support Offutt.

State Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue sponsors LB 754, a bill that would create a commission to protect and grow military assets, saying Nebraska cannot afford to become complacent about Offutt.

“I think that is a very serious concern. We want to make sure we are not complacent and we’re being proactive and intentional,” Crawford tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We’re competing against other states that are also being very proactive and intentional about recruiting these missions.”

Crawford says the 55th Wing needs to stay busy to keep Offutt viable as an Air Force Base.

Offutt plays a vital role in the nation’s defense as the home of the U.S. Strategic Command, known as STRATCOM. Still, here is a level of concern about Offutt as an Air Force Base, mostly due to that old runway, which Fortenberry calls antiquated, saying it is in disrepair. Also, Fortenberry says the Air Force is looking for savings, because it has 30% excess inventory. He says it is vital Offutt is placed in a competitive position so it isn’t considered a candidate for the budget chopping block.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [1 min.]

Nebraska native killed in Afghanistan honored in New York City

The remains of New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm are transferred from a C-17 to a hearse during a ceremony on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 at Stewart Air National Guard Base by members of the 105th Airlift Wing. /U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lee Guagenti

The remains of New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm are transferred from a C-17 to a hearse during a ceremony on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 at Stewart Air National Guard Base by members of the 105th Airlift Wing. /U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lee Guagenti

A Nebraska native has been honored during a New York City funeral Mass after being killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Joseph Lemm, a native of Beemer, was among six United States service members killed in a suicide attack near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan four days before Christmas.

Hundreds of uniformed police officers attended the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Lemm was a New York City police detective. Lemm served as a technical sergeant in the New York Air National Guard.

Thousands lined the streets outside the Manhattan cathedral to pay their respects as the flag-draped casket passed by.

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton posthumously promoted Lemm to first grade detective.

A moment of silence was held Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in Lemm’s honor at a New York City Police Department graduation ceremony for nearly 1,200 new officers.

Lemm served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.

Nebraskan among 6 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan

A Nebraska native was among the six United States service members killed Monday in a suicide attack near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.

45-year-old Tech. Sgt. Joseph Lemm died when a motorcycle loaded down with explosives rammed into a joint patrol of NATO and Afghan military. The explosion also wounded two other Americans and one Afghan soldier.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility.

The motorcycle targeted a foot patrol moving through a village not far from the base, located about 30 miles north of Kabul.

A coalition of government forces has been fighting the Taliban for control of a strategic district in a southern province.

A report released by the Pentagon warned that security in Afghanistan would deteriorate as a “resilient Taliban-led insurgency remains an enduring threat to U.S., coalition, and Afghan forces, as well as to the Afghan people.”

The United States has a little under 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. Combined with NATO forces, there are about 13,000 foreign troops aiding the Afghan military.

Latest incarnation of the USS Omaha to set sail tomorrow (VIDEO)

USS OmahaThe U.S. Navy will christen its newest warship to be named for a Nebraska city at 10 AM tomorrow during a ceremony in Mobile, Alabama.

The USS Omaha is an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, or LCS. It’s 418 feet long with a crew of about 75.

The ship is designed to be very fast and maneuverable with non-traditional lines, helping it to evade radar.

Warren Buffett’s daughter, Susie, an Omaha philanthropist, will give the traditional order to: “Man our ship and bring her to life!”

This is the 4th time a U-S Navy ship has been named after Nebraska’s largest city. The first Omaha set sail in 1872. The second was a light cruiser that served with distinction in World War Two. The most recent Omaha was an attack submarine, decommissioned in 1995.