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In The News
The last week in July showed a sizeable slowdown in the increase of coronavirus cases among service members, from a peak of more than 4,000 cases in one week earlier in the month.
With a total of 27,536 infections as of Friday morning, Defense Department officials have attributed the rapid rise in cases to increased testing and community transmission in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, which set records for new numbers of cases throughout the month.
“We’ve not seen any widespread evidence that what’s occurring in the 18-to-24 demographic is because they’re not following the rules,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon said Thursday, announcing that young people in the military were showing a slightly higher infection rate than American young adults.
The services saw a 15-percent rise in cases in the last week, or 3,593 new diagnoses. The leveling off came after July 24′s numbers showed major increases of the rate of new infections in the Air Force (58 percent), Marine Corps (55 percent) and National Guard (41 percent).
Those increases corresponded to surges within states with large numbers of those troops, namely Florida, Texas and California. In addition to local governments relaxing stay-at-home orders in those states, the services have also opened up non-essential travel in Texas, though Florida, Michigan and California remain the only closed states.
The Army has named the five members of the independent panel that will soon review the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, Texas, in the wake of Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s murder and her family’s claims that she was too intimidated to report allegations of sexual harassment by a fellow soldier.
The five civilians named to the panel are: Chris Swecker, an attorney and former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; Jonathan Harmon, a prominent trial attorney; Carrie Ricci, an associate general counsel at the Department of Agriculture; Queta Rodriguez, a regional director of a nonprofit organization that helps veterans transition into civilian careers, and Jack White, an attorney who has expertise in government investigations.
“I commit to providing a complete and thorough review of the command climate at Fort Hood and to follow the facts wherever they lead,” said Swecker, who will lead the panel.
“The Army is committed to taking care of our Soldiers, civilians, families, and Soldiers for life, and this independent review will explore the current command climate and culture at Fort Hood,” said McCarthy in a statement announcing the panel.
McCarthy announced the review two weeks ago following a meeting with members of the League of United Latin American Citizens and two members of Congress to discuss the issues surrounding the investigation into Guillen’s death.
WP-ORG is in the middle of a COVID-19 abbreviated Fund Drive 47. The drive will close on August 12. If you’re inclined and able to contribute, please don’t delay. http://www.west-point.org/donate/
Seldom do I get to talk to all of you, and I have questions!
WP-ORG was conceived and built by grads as a gift to the West Point community. WP-ORG exists to serve. Over the past 25 years WP-ORG’s service offerings have been adjusted as the needs of its members have evolved. Looking to the future, your guidance is essential. We are poised to make some changes.
As we consider new ways to be valuable to the West Point community, we can attempt to put ourselves in your various shoes and dream up what you need; but it’s probably more effective to just ask you. Reply to this message and tell us where you’d like to see us focus effort.
1) How can WP-ORG more effectively help classes, societies and parent clubs maintain and build on the relationships forged at the Academy? For example:
- How can WP-ORG help build a lasting record of your class history/culture? Every class has a story…
- What sort of support can WP-ORG provide that would make it easier for you to manage your society?
- How can WP-ORG help strengthen your society?
- How can WP-ORG better support continuity of parent club management as officers rotate?
- What resources are Parent Clubs lacking that WP-ORG might provide?
2) Do you already have an idea and the skills to bring it to life but are looking for support and an existing stable infrastructure for build out?
3) Do you have coding and development skills you’d like to put to use for the benefit of West Point grads and parents everywhere but no specific project on which to work?
Got a great idea? We’d love to hear it! Want to help build WP-ORG? You have no idea how we LOVE the smell of a volunteer!
Replies go to WP-ORG’s feedback address.
Thank you, as always, for your constant support.
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Officials have not said whether the death is considered suspicious
Another soldier has been found dead near Fort Hood, the third body of a soldier to be discovered near the U.S. Army base in Texas within the past month.
Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, was found unresponsive July 17 in the vicinity of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Fort Hood officials said on Tuesday. Stillhouse Hollow Lake is a reservoir located in Bell County and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District.
Officials have not said whether the death is considered suspicious. The Bell County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident.
“The Black Knight family is truly heartbroken by the tragic loss of Private Mejhor Morta,” said Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong, commander of 1st Brigade 5th Cavalry. Regiment. “I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.”
A video clip circulating on social media appears to be proof the U.S. military can’t stress weapons safety enough. But the former soldier who posted it says it’s all a joke — albeit one that triggered an Army criminal investigation.
The short clip, posted on TikTok and reshared by the Twitter account @RecruitingTruth, shows an Army specialist locking the slide of an M9 9mm pistol to the rear to ensure it’s clear and then placing it in front of another soldier, who is recording the video.
“Here you go, Sergeant; it’s clear,” the specialist says, turning his back and walking away.
The other soldier shows the camera a magazine apparently loaded with live ammunition, inserts the magazine into the pistol, then picks the weapon up and releases the slide forward to chamber a live round.
The first woman to lead an Army component has assumed command of the Army Reserve and received her third star.
Newly minted Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels has been in the Army for more than three decades, previously serving as a division commander and the chief of staff for Army Forces Command. She also held leadership roles under U.S. Africa Command and the U.S. mission in Iraq.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville spoke Tuesday during her assumption of command ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“It’s a special day because not only will Jody become the first woman to serve as the chief of the Army Reserve, but she’ll also be the first woman to lead an Army component,” McConville said during the live-streamed ceremony.
Daniels assumes command as the Army at large continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Restarting collective training, modernizing the reserve as the Army crafts its new multidomain operations doctrine and retaining talent were lines of effort she intends to pursue during her tenure.
“I want foster a mindset of teamwork, continuous learning and growth, with a particular focus on junior talent so they have a desire to continue to serve and to lead,” Daniels said. “This culture of teamwork will be essential to shaping our future.”
It’s safe to say the past several months have brought unprecedented upheaval in our lives. Covid-19, varying stages of lockdown and social distancing orders have left many feeling isolated from friends and family.
West-Point.Org was founded to facilitate communication between grads. Over the years its offerings have expanded beyond just email listservs and its audience now includes academy parents and the greater West Point community. Even after all these years, the key reason for WP-ORG’s existence remains COMMUNICATION.
Now, more than ever, we need each other. Founders Day has been cancelled, society and club meetings have been called off, as have dinner parties, happy hour gatherings after work, and traditional summer travel. When so many other doors to community gatherings are slammed shut, WP-ORG is a constant open line of communication, strengthening the Long Gray Line. A backdoor, encouraging the West Point family to grip hands as we always have – to reach out, to touch base, to reconnect with each other.
In addition to Class listservs for grads and the various forums for parents, you may find one or both of this lists interesting to participate in:
wp-forum (graduate only list)
political-soapbox (open to all members)
Please be mindful that opinions can be expressed “forcefully” on both forums, so participation in these communities is not for the faint of heart. You can be assured, however, that you will be challenged intellectually.
West-Point.Org also hosts websites for many West Point Classes, Societies and Parent Clubs. If you need a new website built for your Class, Society or Club, please feel free to contact us at <firstname.lastname@example.org> We are here to help you!
Remain positive. Send a note to say hello. Be there for each other. West-Point.Org has provided the platform; your donation keeps it running.
Please contribute if you can: https://secure.west-point.org/donate/.
for WP-ORG Advisors
A soldier who officials say saved “countless lives” by driving his vehicle into a gunman who was shooting at people on a busy bridge near Fort Leavenworth, Kan., has been awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism.
Retired Master Sgt. David Royer was presented the medal last week for his actions on Centennial Bridge, which links Kansas and Missouri, in late May, when he saw a man get out of a vehicle and start shooting.
“I assessed the situation very quickly, looked around and just took the only action that I felt I could take,” Royer said. “I accelerated my truck as quickly as possible and struck the active shooter and pinned him underneath my truck.”
The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to a member of the armed forces who, while serving with the Army, distinguishes themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. It is the Army’s highest and most prestigious peacetime award for valor.
WASHINGTON — The Army became the first military service to surpass 7,000 coronavirus cases as of Monday, less than a week after reaching 6,000 cases, according to the Pentagon.
The Army had 683 more soldiers test positive for the coronavirus since Friday, bringing the number of soldiers infected to 7,282, according to the Pentagon’s cumulative coronavirus case chart.
The Army saw 1,480 more cases among its soldiers between July 13 and Monday, according to the Pentagon. If the Army were its own state, it would have had more cases than 14 states and the District of Columbia during the last 7 days, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
The Army was not able Monday to provide information on what is causing the surge in cases.
AUSTIN, Texas – Plans to build the first phase of an $11 million mounted warfare museum at Fort Hood, Texas, have been approved after nearly 10 years of planning, fundraising and designing, the foundation spearheading the facility announced.
The National Mounted Warrior Museum, which is slated to open in 2022, will feature the story line of America’s warfighting from the Revolutionary War to the conflicts of today.
Construction will take about a year and could begin as early as September, said Bob Crouch, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and vice president of the National Mounted Warfare Foundation, which has led efforts to build the museum. Fort Hood officials will make the final decision on when crews can begin work.
WEST POINT – Four of the cadet candidates who arrived on campus at the United States Military Academy on Sunday to begin cadet basic training tested positive for COVID-19 and will spend their first weeks either in isolation or quarantine on campus.
Lt. Col. Robert Kinney confirmed Monday that the four cadet candidates, who were screened as part of their reception day on Sunday, will be isolated for 10 days or quarantined for 14 days on campus while their classmates begin their West Point careers with four weeks of cadet basic training.
Asked Monday if there were more cases, the public affairs office declined to state a number. Answering for the office, spokeswoman Cheryl Boujnida wrote: “Less than 1% of the cadets have tested positive. Those who tested positive were immediately moved into isolation and will participate in Cadet Basic Training tasks virtually until they can rejoin the group.”
Boujnida said the rapid test is administered by a nose swab and processed by a diagnostic device on campus. While awaiting results, which take two to three hours, the new cadets are socially distanced and required to wear a mask.
We hope that each of you continue to be safe and secure during this COVID-19 outbreak and are focusing on the things most important to you at this time.
In April, we sent out an email to let you know that we were delaying the start of our semi-annual fund drive due to the impact of the virus to each other and the economy. WP-ORG operates on donated funds collected every six months from those that find value in the services we provide grads, societies, parents clubs, and other friends of our nation’s oldest military academy. The donated funds from the October 2019 fund drive theoretically ran through March 2020 and we would have normally started Fund Drive 47 in April. However, WP-ORG chose to buckle down, examine every expenditure, and stretch our dollars as far as possible – just as many of you were doing.
We feel that we need to start that fund drive to keep WP-ORG continuing its mission. WP-ORG also understands that many of our members may not be in the position to donate at this time, but some are. For those that are not in a position at this time, that is understandable and we want to emphasize that no one is required to send in any money in order to utilize our email lists, web sites, and other services. WP-ORG has — and always will be — funded by donations from those that have seen value and have the funds to spare during that six-month budget cycle. We help each other carry the load.
Here is what we plan to do:
(1) We will publish our original April – September 2020 budget.
(2) Instead of sending weekly emails until the goal is met, we will instead send four (4) weekly messages to our entire membership asking for donations.
(3) WP-ORG will close the fund drive after those four weeks and operate until October on the monies that we raised.
(4) In October, we will start the next fund drive as we normally do, with the hope that the pandemic situation — and its economic repercussions — has improved.
Please donate if you can at https://secure.west-point.org/donate/. We’re here to serve in any capacity that we can.
Warren Hearnes ’89
for WP-ORG Advisors
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++++ IMPORTANT LINKS ++++
Donation page linking to all payment methods (credit card, check or PayPal): http://www.west-point.org/donate/
By credit card:
By check, please indicate class year and affiliation:
23802 Oscar Road
Spicewood TX 78669
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After entering Donation Amount, login to PayPal account. On next screen, please click on “Add special instructions to the seller”; enter class year and affiliation, and comment if you wish.
Fund Drive Donation Report, sorted by WP-ORG member group, etc.: https://secure.west-point.org/donate/report/
What is WP-ORG & Why Donate?: https://www.west-point.org/why_donate/
IRS Letter Confirming WP-ORG 501(c)(3) Status: https://www.west-point.org/publications/501SUMMARY.PDF