Vice President Pence to speak at West Point’s graduation

Vice President Mike Pence will be the commencement speaker at West Point’s graduation this month.

Pence will speak at the U.S. Military Academy’s graduation ceremony for the class of 2019 on Saturday, May 25.

It will be Pence’s second visit to the academy, but his first time as graduation speaker, West Point said on Monday.

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US plans call for up to 120,000 troops if conflict begins with Iran

The Pentagon has drafted plans to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event Iran launches an attack on U.S. forces in the region or restarts its nuclear weapons program, the New York Times reported.

The updated military plan, which was presented by Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan at a meeting of President Donald Trump’s top aides last week, comes as tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen following what officials citing classified intelligence said were signs of possible threats to U.S. forces or interests in the region. It is not clear whether Trump himself has been briefed.

The size of the force — 120,000 troops is roughly the number the U.S. used to invade Iraq in 2003 — has shocked some officials inside the Trump administration, the Times reported on Monday, citing unnamed national security officials.

On Monday, Trump also issued a warning to Iran when asked by reporters about the prospects of regime change. “We’ll see what happens with Iran,” Trump said at the White House. “If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”

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UAE says 4 ships targeted by ‘sabotage’ off its coast

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates said Sunday that four commercial ships off its eastern coast “were subjected to sabotage operations,” just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets aired false reports of explosions at a nearby Emirati port.

Emirati officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the sabotage or say who might have been responsible. However, the reported incident comes as the U.S. has warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

Tensions have risen in the year since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran’s economy into crisis. Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.

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This week in Congress: Defense, VA nominees moving ahead

A week after President Donald Trump announced his new nominee to lead the Defense Department, the commander-in-chief’s pick to take over the second highest role in the Department of Veterans Affairs will have his confirmation hearing before the Senate.

James Byrne, who has served as the acting VA deputy secretary since last August, will testify before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday. His wait to formally take over the job he has been doing has been nearly twice as long as that of Patrick Shanahan, who has been acting defense secretary since Jan. 1.

Together, the moves represent Trump filling two significant military and veterans vacancies, an issue that has raised concerns among lawmakers.

Also this week, Defense Department Comptroller David Norquist will again testify before the House Armed Services Committee on the military’s efforts to reform its financial practices and pass an audit, a promised goal of administration officials.

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Soldier who went missing during Korean War accounted for, DoD says

BOSTON — A soldier from Massachusetts who went missing during the Korean War has been accounted for.

The remains of Army Sgt. George R. Schipani, of Somerville, Massachusetts, were identified in January, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Monday.

Schipani’s unit was involved in the Battle of Unsan and he was reported missing in action as of Nov. 2, 1950.

After the war, returning American prisoners said Schipani had been captured and died in a POW camp in February or March 1951. Based on that information, Schipani was declared dead.

Remains returned to U.S. authorities that couldn’t be identified were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Schipani’s remains were disinterred last July and identified using dental, anthropological and chest X-ray comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.

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Army returns to World War II look with new uniforms

The U.S. Army is in the process of rolling out a new service uniform that harkens back to its World War II attire, The New York Times reported Monday.

“We went back and asked, when is the most prominent time when the Army’s service to our nation was universally recognized, and the answer came very quickly,” Daniel A. Dailey, the sergeant major of the Army, told the Times. “That victory, that impact on the nation, is still felt today by the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of the ‘Greatest Generation.’”

The planned uniform change was first announced in November, and the garb has since been put to use in field tests with recruiting battalions and some other troops. The Times reported that the Army plans to give the uniforms to all soldiers starting in 2020.

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Trump pardons former US soldier who killed Iraqi prisoner

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has pardoned a former U.S. soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner, the White House announced Monday.

Trump signed an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, for former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, of Oklahoma, press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone after killing a suspected al-Qaida terrorist in Iraq. He was paroled in 2014 and had been scheduled to remain on parole until 2024.

A military court had sentenced Behenna to 25 years in prison. However, the Army’s highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled Behenna’s claim of self-defense, Sanders said. The Army Clemency and Parole Board also reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible.

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Dying US soldier fighting for the right to sue military over medical malpractice

Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal survived three combat deployments to Iraq and even an enemy bullet through the chest. But now the dying Purple Heart recipient says he’s enduring one of the toughest fights of his life: the right to sue the U.S. government for medical malpractice.

“This isn’t about the money. This is about accountability. You can’t say whoops and play with people’s lives and say nothing can be done,” Stayskal, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, told Fox News. “Right now, I am being deprived of my rights as a U.S. citizen. An inmate can sue for medical malpractice, but as a member of our military, I cannot.”

The now 37-year-old’s ordeal began in January 2017 as he was preparing to head to dive school and was ordered to have a CT scan, given the wound he suffered in Iraq about 13 years earlier.

“I was having a little trouble breathing, some coughing and wheezing but I passed the test just fine,” he recalled.

Only his symptoms quickly started to become worse.

The ensuing six months, Stayskal said, brought a series of medical mishaps, including being misdiagnosed with pneumonia, shuffled among a variety of doctors and dismissed from the emergency room — despite having a notable mass on his lung, throat bleeding and excruciating pain.

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WP-ORG: A career serving those who served

Each week during our fund drive, one of us sends you a message intended to re-introduce you to who we are, and what we do at WP-ORG:
http://www.west-point.org/donate

This is my week, and I write with pleasure. I decided to go back through the years to view my old messages to see how my thoughts may have evolved.  They haven’t.  I feel the same today as I did when I came to WP-ORG in 1998, when WP-ORG was the only place a cadet parent could come to learn about the Academy. We knew virtually nothing about the Academy, and when our new cadets were marched out of view, and the doors closed, there was a void where information could have been. That’s where WP-ORG came in. Through WP-ORG, we learned about the history of West Point, and what sort of training our sons and daughters were receiving. WP-ORG fostered pride and a true love for the Academy. It wasn’t long before I was actively working with WP-ORG, and became one of WP-ORG’s two employees.  The only change from my words of years past, is that my daughter, USMA class of 2002, is a PA in the Army, and is quickly winding down to her retirement, because she already had almost a year of Army service under her belt before she received her congressional appointment.

Working with WP-ORG, I am able to serve people who have served our country. USMA grads, their parents, and occasionally Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard members who use our services. You served us, and for 21 years, I have served this community in a small, but grateful capacity. Why do I work for WP-ORG? Because I have an honest love for the community we serve. I spend my days connecting you with our services to the fullest.  Between managing our feedback address, answering the phones to assist with questions or concerns, tutoring moderators, assisting with website queries, maintaining and adding articles of interest to our main page, creating eulogy pages, and reading every eulogy written on those pages to prevent spamming and defamation of our departed Warriors, my personal mission is to bring life to WP-ORG’s mission statement. In short, to unite you with your class, your sports interests, your friends, and the Long Gray Line. My hands and heart are deeply rooted in WP-ORG and you. We charge no fee for our services, with the exception of small fees connected to the online registration and payment sites we offer. Currently, we provide almost 30,000 USMA grads, parents, and friends of West Point with email lists, web pages, and other forms of online services.

In reading my own messages, spanning many years, I commented about what a blessing West Point and WP-ORG have been for me.  In one of my messages I wrote: “I have stood in the area between the barracks of West Point and in the sally-ports. I have heard the rumblings of cadets going to and fro as the sun rises over the Hudson, just as they have for over 200 years. I am not a graduate of West Point, but I have seen into the heart of the Academy through their eyes and their words. I have touched the bricks in the attic of the 1st Division and read a thousand names and class years on those bricks. I have searched for crawlspaces in closet panels, used for spirit missions. I’ve held a map to the steam tunnels in my hand that has been used by cadets on a mission (called moles), and I have read the words and poems of old graduates, and graduates long dead. I have gone through boxes of photos, poems, and letters in the library archives. I thumbed through a textbook that Patton wrote notes in. I have slept in homes on Professor’s row, and in other homes on post. I have had coffee in the kitchen of the Superintendent, and attended a meeting with every Professor who could attend, in the Commandant’s office. I have had the honor of speaking with Generals and diplomats. I had the great honor of being a guest at the 50th reunion of the class of ’51, a class of which I am a honorary member. I have known many of the people whose names are now etched in stone in the cemetery. I visit them sometimes. Yes, I have experienced the handshake that comes from the shadows as I explored secret places within West Point. We have visited military installations all over the U.S. and even spent a few weeks at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All of this, because one young Private applied to her Congressman for an Academy appointment, brought her parents to R-day, and mostly, because of WP-ORG”.  I still stand by those words.

I commented years ago that GEN Douglas MacArthur’s speech is often played on my computer, as it reminds me of who I am working for. “Duty. Honor. Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points…”.  I recently listened to his speech yet again.  I understand the silence as the cadets listened in awe that day.  His words are powerful, and showed his love for West Point, for its graduates, and for the Army.  I marvel at how my own love for the institution has exponentially grown through the years, and how I never tire of the phone conversations I have with graduates and parents.

It is my hope that as a working part of WP-ORG, I can show appreciation for the blessings that have been given to me simply by doing my job. I work along side of Megan, a ’64 class daughter that any graduate would be proud of. The two of us carry out the day-to-day work that continues to serve this community. We work hard, because we care about those we serve.

WP-ORG is beginning the 5th week of our fund drive, and because of the generosity of our members, we are at at 82% of our goal.  If you have donated, we greatly appreciate your donation. If we serve you with one of our email lists, web pages, or if you have used our registration and payment sites, we hope you have found value in our services.  Your donations allow us to continue our work.  Even a small amount helps, and we hope you can help us bring this fund drive to a quick and successful conclusion.

With appreciation and respect,
Dian Welle
WP-ORG INC

Our main page has been completely revamped: http://www.west-point.org
Fund Drive 45 Donation Link: http://www.west-point.org/donate
Fund Drive 45 Budget: http://www.west-point.org/budget/
Fund Drive 45 Report: https://secure.west-point.org/donate/report/

Donations by check should be sent to our NEW address:
WP-ORG (new address)
c/o Megan Klein
23802 Oscar Road
Spicewood, TX 78669

Passenger video shows people lining up on plane’s wing after crashing in river at NAS Jacksonville

By: Josh Replogle, The Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A passenger shouted “Watch out! Watch out!” as other passengers and crew members cautiously walked out on a wing of the Boeing 737, just moments after it had landed at a Florida military base, crashed through a stone seawall, and ended up in a river.

Another passenger shouted, “Baby coming through!” and a man can be seen holding an infant in his arms as he walks along the other passengers in yellow life jackets getting drenched by rain.

The cell phone video from passenger Darwing Silva captured the immediate, uncertain moments after the chartered jet from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, landed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and ended up in the St. Johns River on Friday night.

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