Apr 15

Highway 62 Death and Injuries to Twentynine Palms Marine Base

We just talked about the statistics for Highway 62. The headlines read: Desert base, deadly highway.

SINCE 2007, MORE MARINES FROM THE TWENTYNINE PALMS MARINE BASE HAVE DIED BACK HOME THAN IN THE WAR-TORN MIDDLE EAST

The Desert Sun reported on the military deaths that had taken place between 29 Palms Marine Corps Base and Palm Springs on Highway 62.  There’s a whole lot of nothing and a few small towns.

“…at least 27 other Marines who have died in off-duty vehicle accidents while stationed in Twentynine Palms since 2007. Five additional Marines who were visiting from other bases also died in the desert surrounding Twentynine Palms during this time period. Together, these fatalities represent more than 10 percent of all Marine off-duty vehicle deaths (305), since 2007, according to the Naval Safety Center.

The Twentynine Palms Combat Center is uniquely isolated: No other Marine base on U.S. soil places so many service members so far from major cities. The desert towns around the base are small, with few options for entertainment. Palm Springs is the closest hub for dining, night life, music, art or shopping, but the resort city sits about an hour from the base, an alluring oasis at the end of a long desert road.

That road is Highway 62, often called Twentynine Palms Highway, a 151-mile route that runs through the Mojave Desert from the Coachella Valley to the Arizona border. A dozen Marines have died on this road since 2007.”

Map of Military Deaths 29 Palms on Hwy 62 Highway 62 Death and Injuries to Twentynine Palms Marine Base

 

The report goes onto detail that many more Marines die at this base, then overseas.

“Vehicle crashes are a large part of what makes this desert more dangerous for off-duty Marines than virtually every other Marine base in the United States, with fatality figures that rival war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2007, the base in Twentynine Palms has suffered more non-hostile deaths, like car crashes and suicides, than war fatalities. Sixty service members from the base have died in war zones in the Middle East, but 64 have died on American soil, mostly in the High Desert, while either stationed or training at the base.”

This road is traveled by many to get the Palm Springs, the closest metropolitan area. We learned that 5 more people were seriously injured in a head-on collision and several were air lifted to hospitals on this same highway.

A drunk driver and her passenger struck and injured a Marine Corps family, including their infant daughter, near Joshua Tree.

Chris Angela and Dakota Highway 62 Death and Injuries to Twentynine Palms Marine Base

Photo from Go Fund Me website

According to a GoFundMe website, “All their family are in Georgia, and they are in California in the hospital, all three of them. Angela and Dakota are on life support. If you knew Angela, a lot call her Angel, then you know what an angel she is. She would give you the shirt off her back, even when she needed it most.

Any monetary donation will be GREATLY appreciated, and is needed, to help family transport from georgia to california, but most off all please PRAY for Gods healing mercy on this family”

If you are in a position to help this Marine Corps family or would like to donate, click here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones. 

Apr 13

How the Proposed DoD Budget Cuts Affect Military Families

How the Proposed Budget Cuts Affect Military Families How the Proposed DoD Budget Cuts Affect Military FamiliesLast week our senior enlisted leaders delivered testimony to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel regarding the proposed DoD budget and its impact on military families.  As a 12 year military spouse who has served on the homefront, I felt compelled to provide my perspective after hearing their testimony and to offer a counterpoint to the arguments I heard from DoD.

Years of living this military lifestyle filled with stressful moves to unknown duty stations and seeing the cost of war up front and personal, it was integral that our families have a thoughtful, engaged, online community for conversation to take place.  Simply said, I created USMC Life to do just that.

Today’s conversation centers on the impact of the proposed DoD cuts which is devastating to the retention and morale of our armed forces. What is even more worrisome, is the random chopping away of benefits without waiting for the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission to release their findings about where the changes (if needed) should occur. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 12

Marine Corps Boot Camp Stories: The Drawl Remembers When

the drawl remembers when marine corps boot camp stories 235x300 Marine Corps Boot Camp Stories: The Drawl Remembers Whenshitcan”: [shit’kǣn]   A highly offensive term for the act of discarding an object or objects of an unpleasant nature, of no value or of inferior quality. Origin unknown but possibly an old U.S. Marine Corps term.

I have often wondered why in my “autumn years”, as some wag defined as getting old, that I am able to recall some incidents in inestimable detail that took place a half-century or more ago, yet I cannot remember where I put my shoes the night before. Odder still, to recall one of these ancient incidents requires only the smallest hint to one of our senses to trigger the memory.

This phenomenon came to pass last week when my wife and I were on our foray for weekly groceries at Walmart. I stood patiently by while she was trying to make up her mind over which brand of peanut butter she preferred when I heard clearly a man’s heavy Southern drawl in the next aisle over; “Now whaa do we need one o’ thim thangs?”  The single word  ‘Why’ (‘whaa’) breached decades of dust over a dormant scrap of memory from 50 years before.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 11

SgtMajor of the Marine Corps Issues Statement to Marines

Sgt Major Barrett has issued a statement to his Marines about his testimony on the Hill after reading our open letter. How do you feel about his response?

Check out our follow up post to the article featuring Sgt. Major Barrett discussing our open letter with the Marine Corps Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 10

An Open Letter to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Michael P. Barrett

An open letter to Sergeant Major Barrett Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps regarding his testimony on April 9 2014 on proposed budget cuts. 203x300 An Open Letter to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Michael P. Barrett

4.14.14 Update: The Marine Corps Times recently interviewed Sergeant Major Barrett regarding my open letter below. Discover my response to that article here.

Sir,

Let me start with stating that I have a lot of respect for you. I think you are without a doubt, one of the best Sergeant Majors this Corps has seen. But I’m greatly disheartened by your testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel yesterday.

I read the Marine Corps Times article with the following:

“Barrett’s comments came in contrast to his counterparts in the other services, who conceded to senators that lower pay raises, scaled-back commissary offerings and smaller housing stipends would be problematic for many servicemembers.

Instead, Barrett argued that the lower quality of life would be beneficial to Marines.

“I truly believe it will raise discipline,” he said. “You’ll have better spending habits. You won’t be so wasteful.”  … “In my 33 years, we’ve never had a better quality of life,” Barrett said. “We’ve never had it so good.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 08

Camp Lejeune Marine Gate Guard Dies from Gunshot Wound

Lance Cpl. Mark N. Boterf 300x300 Camp Lejeune Marine Gate Guard Dies from Gunshot WoundUpdate from Stars and Stripes, “Marine officials said the shooting was likely due to a negligent discharge on the part of the suspect, who has not yet been publicly identified by investigators since the investigation is still ongoing. According to Joe Kennedy, special agent-in-charge for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service Carolina Field Office, his agency is working with the Legal Service Support Section on Camp Lejeune on drawing up charges against the Marine. Kennedy said no official charges have been filed but that they are “forthcoming” against the Marine. Kennedy said there is no time table on when the charges will be filed.”

Lance Cpl. Mark N. Boterf, 21, of Crowley, Texas, died April 8 after receiving a single gunshot wound to the chest while on sentry duty at Camp Lejeune’s Main Gate. He was assigned to 2nd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group aboard Camp Lejeune. He was temporarily assigned to Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune as a Marine sentry.

Born on December 18, 1992, Boterf joined the Marine Corps in August 2012. He joined 2nd Radio Battalion in 2013, served as a Special Intelligence System Communicator (MOS 2651) and was promoted his current rank on October 1, 2013.

His awards include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal. Lance Cpl. Boterf has no deployment history.

LCpl Mark Boterf has a twin brother named Mike who is also a Marine as reported by a Mississippi newspaper. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 08

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps’ Opening Statement to Congress 4.9.14

An open letter to Sergeant Major Barrett Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps regarding his testimony on April 9 2014 on proposed budget cuts. 203x300 Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Opening Statement to Congress 4.9.14

Click to read my open letter to the Sgt Major of the Marine Corps regarding his subsequent testimony how budget cuts will affect families.

Our war-fighter readiness: being most ready, when our nation is least ready. Care for our wounded, ill, and injured and our family care programs, preserving strong families, transition readiness, returning quality citizens, after their selfless service. Combatting social ills, prevention, accountability, treatment and resiliency. And maintaining our facility sustainment, restoration, and modernization for our billions of dollars worth of infrastructure.

Today I report more than 37,000 Marines are forward deployed, forward engaged, shaping, training, and deterring aggression around the globe. Supporting all six geographical combatant commanders. We are providing our nation the capability to contain crisis, build a gap, or hold the line.

We may be done with Afghanistan this year, but those that we have been fighting are not done with us. At our core, the Marine Corps is the nation’s crisis response force and fulfilling this role is our top priority. We’ve met and continued to meet our obligations in current conflicts, emerging crises, and steady stayed operations. To that point and most recently, your Marines’ efforts have saved lives, provided much needed relief, and evacuated over 19,000 victims ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan.

Our special purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response successfully executed a non-combat evacuation operation in south Sudan and provided reinforcements to other US embassies. We have participated in hundreds of theater security cooperation activities with the armed forces of more than 50 partner nations. The 13th, 22nd and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are afloat and they stand ready as a rapid response force capability providing stability in their area of responsibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 06

5 Easy Steps to Building Better Relationships

5 easy steps to building a better relationship 300x273 5 Easy Steps to Building Better RelationshipsNo matter the relationship, communication is key to building them up or breaking them apart. Many of us believe that simply being present and talking to one another makes us effective communicators. The reality is that communication is an art. An art of give and takes; speaking, listening and body languages.

Communication is the key in any capacity.Here’s some easy ways to integrate skills into your life to become a better communicator:

Be Genuine

Ditch the preconceived misconceptions and be genuine with others. If you aren’t genuine, it can hinder you from fully opening up. Try to understand where the other person is coming from and empathize with their points of view, lack of doing so can create unnecessary conflict.

Don’t confuse opinions for fact, it is easier to misconstrue but may allow for a disconnect in the conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 04

Marines Chase Down Protesters Dishonoring American Flag

Screenshot of flag Marines Chase Down Protesters Dishonoring American Flag

Screenshot taken from video of incident.

Two Marines witness protesters waving the American flag hung upside down in a demonstration in Albuquerque. The Marines run after the motorcycle to confront them, when they quickly speed away and drop the flag on the ground. The Marines pick up the dropped flag and walk away.

They’re quickly approached by another individual, who is quite possibly another protester, and begins to address the symbolism of the upside down flag to the Marines. The response received is, “I don’t give a f**k what the symbol is. We serve our f**king country and that’s bulls**t.” Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 03

US Boosts Marine Force in Romania for Crisis Responsiveness

Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base US Boosts Marine Force in Romania for Crisis Responsiveness

Marines and sailors with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division assigned to Black Sea Rotational Force 14 hike around the perimeter of Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania March 28, 2014.
SCOTT W. WHITING/U.S. MARINE CORPS

WASHINGTON — The United States is sending 175 more Marines to Romania to extend the U.S. military’s ability to respond to crises around the region, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Nearly 300 Marines are already present on a rotational basis at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base as part of the Black Sea rotational force. The newly arriving troops, set to depart in coming days from Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force headquartered in Moron, Spain.

The Marine unit — which will increase in size from 500 to 675 troops — is tasked by U.S. Africa Command, but could be used elsewhere in the region if needed, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters Wednesday.

The move is unrelated to the recent confrontation between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, he said.

“We’ve been planning on sending these 175 to Romania for the last several months,” Warren said. “The reason is positioning forces in different locations allows greater flexibility. It’s strictly an operational decision.”

The United States has sought authorization to add up to 600 additional troops the approximately 1,000 now stationed at what the U.S. military calls the MK Air Base in Romania.

By Chris Carroll, carroll.chris@stripes.com

Stars and Stripes, Twitter: @ChrisCarroll_

 

 

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