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Vietnam captain recalls trick that faked the enemy, saved lives and earned Medal of Honor
Army Capt. Paul “Buddy” Bucha faked out the enemy while leading a motley crew in Vietnam.
The Medal of Honor recipient was hailed as a hero after he made North Vietnamese fighters believe his 187th Infantry Regiment was much bigger than it really was. The combination of bravery and cunning helped him earn the nation's highest military honor, an award bestowed upon him by the president.
In 1967, Bucha — who graduated from West Point and earned an MBA at Stanford — arrived in Vietnam and was given a squad filled “with the rejects of all the other units,” including writers, intellectuals and men who had served time in military prison, he said.
“We were called the 'clerks and the jerks,'" he recalled. "We were a few smart guys and a lot of badasses … considered the losers of all losers.”
But as a company commander new to Vietnam, "I, too, was a loser,” Bucha recalled fondly years later. “So we were sort of meant for each other.”
"They ended up being a very disciplined, proud, and frightening force," he said.
On March 16, 1968, soon after the Tet Offensive, Bucha's 89-man company took part in a counterattack designed to push the North Vietnamese away from Saigon.
A helicopter dropped his team into an enemy stronghold, and for two days they destroyed camps and fortifications.
On March 18, after they found a clearing and resupplied, Bucha directed his troops to push into the jungle, where it was getting dark.
After a week of intense international competition, the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games drew to a close here yesterday with a medal ceremony and a concert, followed by fireworks.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley reminded the audience that the competitors, representing the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard, Marines, U.S. Special Operations Command and the United Kingdom armed forces, were the best of the best.
“This is a tough competition,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize what this competition means. First of all, you had to walk the hallowed grounds of the battlefield or you had to get injured or sick in the service of your nation. That alone makes you the best of the best.”
Milley noted that the Warrior Games competitors had earned their places at the games by competing against a field of 2,000 to 3,000 other athletes at regional and service-level trials in track and field, swimming, shooting, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling and wheelchair basketball.
President Barack Obama will award Lieutenant Colonol (Ret.) Charles Kettles of the U.S. Army the Medal of Honor for leading a platoon of UH-1Ds, or Huey helicopters, to provide support for an army rescue, which included a lone mission, after an enemy ambush on U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War, in 1967.
Kettles, 86, is credited with saving the lives of 40 soldiers and four of his own crew members, according to a White House statement released on Tuesday. After leading several trips evacuating the wounded, he returned in a lone mission in his helicopter without aerial support. In comparison, in the Army’s modern arsenal of weapons, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter typically flies in pairs for support.
“We were already 15 feet in the air, but we decided to go back and get the others,” Kettles told The Detroit News in 2015. “The helicopter was already overweight and it flew like a two-ton truck, but we were able to get up in the air and get everyone to safety.”
He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, and after congressional action last December that removed a ban of the Medal of Honor from being awarded after five years, the Medal of Honor will be awarded to Kettles after almost 50 years since the mission.
The president will award Kettles the medal in a ceremony on July 18.
Kettles was drafted in the Army in 1951 while in college as an engineering student. He served in Korea, Japan and Thailand before leaving.
In 1963, as the U.S. became more involved in Vietnam, he volunteered for active duty. Kettles retired in 1978. His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross and the Legion of Merit.
William Reynolds breezed past the finish line first in his 100-meter race at West Point, down the hill from where he once marched as a cadet and a dozen years since the attack in Iraq that cost him part of his left leg.
Reynolds, 35, is a competitor in the Warrior Games, the military’s annual adaptive sports competition, held this year through Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy. For Reynolds, the games rekindle the sense of camaraderie he felt before the 2004 roadside bomb attack in Baghdad. And running full-out with a prosthetic sends a positive message to the soldiers he patrolled with as a young Army officer, he said.
“They put me in a medevac vehicle, and the last time they saw me, they didn’t know if I was going to live or not,” Reynolds said between races. “And for them to fast-forward 10 years and I’m out here running again, almost as fast as I could with two legs, competing at a high level and I’m physically fit, I think that’s really mentally healing for them to see that I’ve made it through and I’ve battled back.”
The Warrior Games are run by the Department of Defense for injured or ill service members and veterans. Athletes who lost limbs compete against others with cancer or traumatic brain injuries. Some 270 athletes have been competing at West Point since last week in events including cycling, archery and wheelchair basketball.
The competition was a homecoming for Reynolds, who graduated from the academy in 2002.
He said his training and discipline are the same as when he was a competitive gymnast as a West Point cadet. The big adjustment was learning to run when he didn’t have the sensation of his left foot hitting the ground anymore. Though doctors tried for years to save his leg, it was amputated above the knee in 2013.
Reynolds retired from the Army in 2007 and works as a consultant in Bethesda, Maryland. He brought his wife and four young children to West Point to watch him win several races Thursday. He also has competed in the Invictus Games, an international competition similar to the Warrior Games.
Lpath, Inc. (NASDAQ: LPTN), the industry leader in bioactive lipid-targeted therapeutics, has been awarded a $1.45 million two-year grant by the Defense Medical Research and Development Program (DMRDP), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). This grant will support the study of Lpathomab for the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Lpath is working with Professor David Yeomans, Ph.D. of Stanford University's Department of Anesthesia on this project and he will serve as co-principal investigator.
This DoD grant will fund preclinical studies designed to evaluate the ability of Lpathomab to alleviate pain following neurotrauma, and to confirm the potential efficacy of Lpathomab as previously demonstrated by Stanford University researchers in an animal model of TBI pain.
Roger Sabbadini, Ph.D., Lpath's founder and co-principal investigator on the TBI project, commented, "Lpath is grateful to the DoD for recognizing the significant value of funding further development of Lpathomab. We believe our novel approach of targeting bioactive lipids holds great promise, and this is validated by the financial commitment from the DoD's DMRDP."
Lpath has recently completed a Phase 1a double-blind, placebo-controlled, single ascending dose study to evaluate the safety and tolerability of Lpathomab in healthy volunteers. Lpathomab was tolerated at all doses tested, and no serious adverse events or dose limiting toxicities were observed.
Dario Paggiarino, M.D., Lpath's senior vice president and chief development officer commented, "Now that Lpath has successfully demonstrated safety and tolerability of Lpathomab in healthy volunteers, we anticipate testing Lpathomab in patients with neuropathic pain. The preclinical demonstration of Lpathomab's potential efficacy in TBI pain could support another important indication for further investigation."
While attending Airborne School, U.S. Army Capt. Justin Decker knew instantly that something felt different during his third of five jumps required to earn the coveted airborne “Jump” wings. At first he adopted the ‘ignore it and it’ll go away strategy,’ until the pain eventually became too great. It wasn’t until sometime later that an MRI revealed one of his vertebrae had slipped out of position. “I simply did not think it was as bad as it turned out to be,” said Decker.
Immediately after surgery Decker stated that he felt better, but soon thereafter the pain returned. It turned out that the vertebrae itself was continuing to grow and was pressing into a nerve. A second surgery ensued, attempting to arrest the bone growth. It was unsuccessful. Today, Decker and his doctors are foregoing, for as long as possible, the undertaking of yet another surgery.
Having twice been assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, Warrior Transition Unit, Decker has witnessed tremendous growth in WTU adaptive sports opportunities. During his first WTU assignment, in 2008, he was forced to go out on his own in acquiring a recumbent bicycle. By the time of his second assignment to the WTU, a full-fledged cycling group had been established. “So I joined up with the group, pulled my bike out of storage and got back on it after a five-year hiatus,” Decker said. “On that very first day it all came back to me. That’s really what spring-boarded me into adaptive reconditioning.”
After advancing through Army Trials Decker, is competing in his first Warrior Games, being held at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, June 15-21.
Decker says that he had always been an avid cyclist but, at the WTU, he was also introduced to wheelchair racing, though, after having tried it for the first time he swore he’d never do so again. “I only went around the track twice and every part of my body hurt, especially my arms,” said Decker. “I didn’t know what I was doing at all.”
Defense Secretary Ash Carter discussed the importance of establishing and maintaining security networks with partner nations to confront global threats during a speech to the Center for a New American Security here today.
Carter focused on the security networks the United States has forged in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and in Europe.
Overall, such networks enable nations to act together to deter conflict, provide protection and meet transnational threats such as terrorism, the secretary said. “Now, security networking does differ across regions,” he added, “and that makes sense, because each has its own unique history, geography, politics and security needs.”
Networking for Security
The Asia-Pacific networks are based on weaving together bilateral, trilateral and multilateral relationships into a larger, regionwide network, Carter said, noting that there has never been a regionwide security arrangement there in the past.
“In the Middle East and North Africa, we’re leading coalitions and networks to address key security challenges like [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and other terror groups, and to counter Iran’s malign influence,” the secretary said.
In Europe, the United States is working within the NATO alliance to bolster deterrence, handle unregulated migration and confront threats in new domains.
“In each region, the basic principle is the same,” Carter said. “We’re bringing together like-minded partners to enhance cooperation and build and strengthen connections,” he said. “And in each region, the network needs a networker -- a nation and a military to enable it.”
Connections take many forms, the secretary said. “For one, we’re sharing information, including intelligence, in new ways, to allow our militaries to communicate better and in real time so that we can work together seamlessly and quickly,” he told the audience. “More and more, we’re leveraging persistent rotational forces that allow us to project presence without the requirements of permanent footprints.”
The U.S. Army Reserve transportation management coordinators, of the 385th Transportation Detachment, Fort Bragg, North Carolina traveled across the country to participate in Combat Support Training Exercise 91-16-02 at Fort Hunter Liggett, California. These Soldiers walk, talk, and perform at the same level as their active duty counterparts, with one exception: They also have full-time civilian careers.
As the largest U.S. Army Reserve training exercise, CSTX 91-16-02 provides Soldiers with unique opportunities to sharpen their technical and tactical skills in combat-like conditions. Soldiers from the 385th put their civilian lives on hold for this three-week exercise to report for military duty and provide transportation movement control to units at Tactical Assembly Area Schoonover.
“The Soldiers stop the vehicles, ask for trip tickets and log the time,” said Staff Sgt. Araina McCormick, from Fayetteville, N.C.
A seemingly simple task, this job keeps track of the times Soldiers depart and return from missions. Whether in a training scenario or a combat zone, this is a critical point in the movement control process, providing information about which personnel or vehicles may be missing, and for how long.
The duty these Soldiers perform is essential for the safety and success of CSTX, and positively affects each Soldier's personal and professional development when they bring what the U.S. Army Reserve has taught them back into their civilian lives.
For Spc. Jahvar Billings, from Pembroke, North Carolina, that means utilizing the discipline and time management skills the Army has given him into his life as a full-time student.
Heat, humidity and wicked thunderstorms forced organizers of the 2015 Warrior Games to juggle schedules and work overtime to ensure the safety of all athletes, but little could dampen the spirit of sports as 270 athletes competed for 527 medals in Quantico, Virginia, June 19-28.
The Army team smoked the competition, earning the grand prize of the games, the Chairman's Cup, by bringing home 162 medals, including 69 golds. Taking second place for the second year in a row, the Marine Corps team earned 105 medals, including 47 golds.
Air Force came in third in the medal count with 87, followed at their heels by the British team, with 85. Special Operations Command athletes earned 45 medals, while the combined Navy and Coast Guard team took home 43.
With his service hosting this year's games, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford praised the athletes for their indomitable spirit — for adapting and for overcoming the challenges they have faced during illness, injury and recovery.
Hack the planet? Tough. Hack the Pentagon? Easier, but still fairly tough. Yet, that didn't stop more than 250 hackers from taking part in the Department of Defense's first-ever bug bounty program. The pilot, which ran from April 18 to May 12—less than a month—netted 138 vulnerabilities that the Defense Department determined to be "legitimate, unique and eligible for a bounty."
Though the bug bounty program ended up costing the federal government around $150,000, officials believe it was money well spent.
"It's not a small sum, but if we had gone through the normal process of hiring an outside firm to do a security audit and vulnerability assessment, which is what we usually do, it would have cost us more than $1 million," said Ash Carter, Secretary of Defense, as reported by the DoD.
The Department of Defense seems pleased by the results, as it also announced that it's now planning to expand its bug bounty program and introduce other policies designed to help bolster DoD security. That includes the creation of a new vulnerability disclosure policy that will allow anyone to submit information about potential vulnerabilities in DoD systems, networks, applications, or websites.
"Next we will expand bug bounty programs to other DoD Components, in particular the Services, by developing a sustainable DoD-wide contract vehicle. Lastly, we'll include incentives in our acquisition policies and guidance so that contractors practice greater transparency and open their own systems for testing – especially DoD source code. With these efforts, we will capitalize on Hack the Pentagon's success and continue to evolve the way we secure DoD networks, systems, and information," reads an announcement from the Department of Defense.
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