Capt. Lindsay Heisler receives 2019 Nininger Award for actions in Afghanistan

WEST POINT, N.Y. — In Capt. Lindsay Gordon Heisler’s mind she was just doing her job.

From the moment she began training as an Apache pilot following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy in 2012 it had been ingrained in her that her job was to keep the ground forces safe.

Flying 500 to 1,000 feet above the forces operating on the ground, she and her copilot were in constant contact with the friendly forces as they “watched their six” for enemy combatants.

After deploying to Afghanistan in April 2015 as a first lieutenant for nine months, the operation schedule had become routine. Most nights out of the week were spent on missions protecting helicopters infiltrating ground forces and then watching over the Soldiers as they executed their objective.

Eight months in, an enemy contact or two a night was not out of the ordinary so when their mission on Dec. 5, 2015 required her and her copilot to clear out an enemy fighting position it was just another mission on a long deployment.

When a few hours later, with the Chinook helicopters inbound to pick up the ground force, they were forced to engage with a second enemy fighting position it was still like countless other missions they had flown in the proceeding months.

Then, seconds before the Chinooks touched down to pickup the Soldiers on the ground, the world erupted with enemy fire coming from every direction. Surrounded by mountains on three sides and the desert across the border into Pakistan on the fourth, Heisler and the second Apache flying that night along with the Chinooks and the Rangers on the ground were suddenly under attack from what they would later learn were eight different enemy positions.

“None of the pilots who are there had seen anything like it before,” Heisler said. “I picture like Star Wars where you picture laser beams. It looks like that under your night vision goggles. It really accentuates any light you see so there are tracers of enemy fire everywhere.”

There was no time to think. While communicating with the forces on the ground and the other helicopters in the air Heisler and her copilot, Warrant Officer 2 David Woodward, sprang into action and began fighting back. They placed themselves between the ground force and the incoming fire and worked to keep the enemies’ heads down long enough for the Chinooks to land, pickup the Rangers and takeoff.

Anywhere they heard shots coming from they engaged. That was their job. To make sure the ground force got out safely and made it home alive.

“I don’t remember thinking a lot,” Heisler said. “We were just pulling the trigger because that’s what we knew we had to do to make sure that they got out of there.”

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Army sergeant charged in West Point crash that killed cadet

Staff Sgt. Ladonies P. Strong, who was charged Sept. 13, was driving the 2.5-ton Light Medium Tactical Vehicle.

By Minyvonne Burke

An Army sergeant faces multiple charges including involuntary manslaughter in connection with the June rollover crash near a West Point training site that killed one cadet and injured almost two dozen others.

Staff Sgt. Ladonies P. Strong was charged Sept. 13 with one specification each of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, prevention of authorized seizure of property and reckless operation of a vehicle, a U.S. Army spokesperson said. Strong was also charged with two specifications of dereliction of duty.

The charges are in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Army spokesperson said. Strong is assigned to Task Force 1-28 in Fort Benning, Georgia. TF 1-28 could not immediately offer a comment on the charges.

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Despite opposition, USC board hires retired general Caslen, USMA 1975, as school’s next president

A divided University of South Carolina board of trustees voted Friday to hire retired Army Gen. Robert Caslen as the school’s next president.

After a rare contentious meeting, the board rejected protests from faculty, some students and several politicians in choosing Caslen, the former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The vote was 11-8. One board member abstained.

A crowd of roughly 128 students, alumni and faculty who had gathered in the Pastides Alumni Center, where the board met, began chanting “shame” minutes after the board voted.

Caslen was aware of the opposition to his candidacy and has pledged to meet with his critics and listen to them.

“I want to engage with my critics in the faculty and the students and take their advice,” Caslen told The State. “They’re valued members of the university and it’s important they realize that I see them that way.”

Asked how he felt to be named USC’s next president, he said, “I’m honored. I’m very grateful for those who put their trust in me.”

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Astronaut Anne McClain, USMA 2002, Returns from Space Station Mission

NASA astronaut Anne McClain and two of her Expedition 59 crewmates returned to Earth from the International Space Station Monday, landing safely in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. EDT (8:47 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, local time) after months of science and four spacewalks aboard the microgravity laboratory.

McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency launched Dec. 3, 2018. They arrived at the space station just six hours later to begin their 204-day mission, during which they orbited Earth 3,264 times traveling 86,430,555 miles.

After post-landing medical checks, McClain and Saint-Jacques will return to Houston and Kononenko to Star City, Russia.

The Expedition 59 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into small devices that replicate the structure and function of human organs, editing DNA in space for the first time and recycling 3D-printed material.

McClain, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and native of Spokane, Washington, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 8 minutes on her mission into space.

Saint-Jacques, also on his first space mission and only the sixth Canadian astronaut to perform a spacewalk, joined McClain on her second outing, which totaled 6 hours and 29 minutes. Kononenko, on his fourth mission, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 46 minutes, bringing his career total to 32 hours and 13 minutes spread over five spacewalks.

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Esper (USMA 1986) heads to NATO during first week on the job as top Pentagon official

Mark Esper will spend his first week as acting secretary of defense in Belgium.

Late Wednesday evening, the Pentagon announced that Esper, who was tapped this week to replace Patrick Shanahan as the department’s top official, will travel to NATO for next week’s defense ministerial.

“As previously announced, Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark Esper, will become the Acting Secretary of Defense on Monday, June 24 at 12:01 a.m. He will travel to the NATO Defense Ministerial in Brussels, Belgium later that week,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman wrote in a statement.

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Mark Esper USMA ’86 Named Acting Secretary of Defense

Mark T. Esper is a 1986 graduate of West Point, where his classmates included Mike Pompeo, now the secretary of state. He was an Army infantryman who fought in the gulf war. He went on to work for a conservative think tank, then as a lobbyist for one of the nation’s largest military contractors.

And on Tuesday he was abruptly elevated from his job as Army secretary to be acting defense secretary, becoming the third person to lead the Pentagon under President Trump.

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West Point Finally Getting Statue of Gen. Ulysses Grant, Class of 1843

23 Apr 2019Military.com
By Richard Sisk

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is finally getting a statue of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, one of its most famous graduates, who led the Union to victory in the Civil War.

It will be unveiled Thursday by the 18th president’s great-great grandson, Ulysses Grant Dietz, an art curator at the Newark Museum in New Jersey. The statue, by sculptor Paula Slater, presents a hat-less Grant in his four-star general’s uniform.

The 7.5-foot statue of Grant, who stood about 5-foot-8 in life, was made possible by what West Point described as a “generous donation” from the family of Robert A. McDonald, class of 1975, a former Department of Veterans Affairssecretary.

The unveiling marks the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of Grant’s inauguration as the 18th president. He served two turbulent terms during the “Reconstruction” era, West Point said in a news release.

Statues of three other generals and West Point graduates — Dwight Eisenhower (class of 1915), Douglas MacArthur (1903) and George Patton (1909) — are already in place on the academy’s grounds, but plans for one of Grant did not get underway until the House Armed Services Committee recommended it to the Army in 2016, according to the release.

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the 2019 State of the Union Address

Buzz Aldrin [USMA 1951] saluted after being introduced by President Donald Trump at the 2019 State of the Union address, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at the Capitol in Washington. During the speech, President Trump said: “In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the Moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin.”

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