S II -I I. S S II *~ I
A AT Journal-
Tro e ...... a! wayto fy 4t T
Fighting the good fight
Navy Command Master Chief
JTF Guantanamo CMC
The definition of success at Joint Task Force Guantanamo is most
likely dissimilar to almost any other command in the armed forces. Our
primary mission effecting the safe, humane, legal and transparent care
and custody of more than 200 detainees seems quantifiable enough.
To that end, the JTF team unarguably delivers spectacular results every
day a dramatic testament to all of you who serve so professionally.
But there are other more abstract measures at play here as well. It's
no secret that our activities are scrutinized meticulously and relentlessly
in political, military and media circles around the globe. A Google search
of "prison, Guantanamo" reveals nearly 3.4 million hits in 0.22 seconds.
In that equation, the implication that this is a prison is almost as profound
as the large number of hits. By comparison, a similar search of the more
accurate "detention facility, Guantanamo" produces less than half a million
results. Semantics maybe . but an outward indication that there are
a lot of people paying attention with drastically different takes on
Vague perceptions and groundless myths about JTF GTMO
have unfortunately taken root over eight years. So much so, in
fact, it's tempting to believe our efforts are in vain ... that no
amount of integrity or compassion or restraint can truly impact
opinion or policy. That's decidedly incorrect. Distinguished
visitors depart Radio Range in lock-step, overwhelmed by
your honor and ideals. News outlets desperately cling to
ancient anecdotal references for taglines because nothing
has happened in years to impugn the current conditions of
detention. One day at a time, through deliberate actions
and solid virtue, you drag the legacy further from fallacy
and closer to truth.
This is noble and strategically vital, if unglamorous,
work achieved shift by shift, process by process, in the
unflattering, unending glare of a public spotlight. Get it right,
and nobody pays much attention; but get it wrong, and we find
ourselves back on the front page. Those are difficult working
conditions for anybody. Understanding the volatility of our
battlefield is a huge element of readiness here. The smallest
details, insignificant at one moment, can quickly become the
start of something much more substantial ... a fact validated
each day in the Battle Update Brief and countless other strategy
sessions aimed at identifying issues before they develop into
opportunities for our adversaries.
Precision, forethought and communication are crucial
elements of everything we do from complying with standard
operating procedures and collecting intelligence to hosting
media and escorting detainees because they emphasize
discipline and eliminate distraction. No one pretends the minutia
of day-to-day routine is scintillating, but hopefully everyone
understands it's absolutely essential in this business. We hear
"focus" and "complacency" and "vigilance" from so many
directions, the words themselves sometimes induce daydreaming.
Get past the monotony, though, and absorb the message both for
your welfare and team success.
The holy month of Ramadan is finished. January 22,2010, looms
on the horizon as an unknown variable. Between now and then,
anxieties may manifest themselves through behavioral changes on
both sides of the wire. It is imperative that everyone understands
their roles and the specific guidance governing procedures, and
prudently executes according to instruction. This is not necessarily a
news flash, but certainly a point worth repeating if we hope to achieve
success across the entire spectrum both concrete and abstract.
As always, your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Keep
fightin' the good fight. O
PAGE 2 1 THE WIRE
TROOPER-TO-TROOPER I FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
Army Sgt. 1st Class Tomas Carreras, JTF property book office non-commissioned officer-in-charge, explains some details of an
order to Master Sgt. Luis Velazquez, the JTF property book officer. JTF Guantanamo photo by Army Spc. April D. de Armas
April D. de Armas
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Everyone deployed to Joint Task Force
Guantanamo needs equipment, supplies and
transportation to complete their mission.
So, where does all that stuff come from?
Who keeps track of all the necessary tools
these units or commands need to perform
their daily tasks?
The answer to these questions is the JTF
property book office. They have the overall
responsibility to ensure everything used by
the JTF, from computers to government
vehicles, is properly accounted for.
Army Master Sgt. Luis Velazquez, the
JTF property book officer, said he leads his
three-man team in accomplishing this task.
"We all work very hard to make sure
everyone has what they need and that it
is appropriately accounted for, so when
new equipment is needed we can get each
unit the proper items in a timely manner,"
Velazquez said. "Our motto is 'customer
With 28 accounts and more than $35
million in assets under management, the
property book office stays very busy.
"Sometimes we work long hours, but it
is worth it," said Army Sgt. Raul Fuster, a
property book clerk. "We take care of a lot of
important things for everyone and I learn a
lot about the needs of the different sections."
They also have the responsibility for
approval of all new equipment and supplies
requested by each command attached to the
JTF, while looking for ways to cut costs.
"We have a warehouse full of equipment,
furniture and supplies, so when purchase
requests come in from the different
commands, we can determine if we can
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 I MISSION
supply the requests from the warehouse
or if the items really need to be ordered,"
Velazquez said. "This helps the overall
JTF mission by cutting down on waste and
ensuring fraud and abuse are not a factor.
It also helps save money that can be used
in other areas."
Each command helps the property book
office by providing mandatory physical
inventory reports quarterly, along with a
sensitive item report every month.
"We are very strict with each command
when it comes to these reports, but it is very
important," Velazquez said. "The physical
inventory reports have helped lower the
overall financial liability for those who are
responsible for each item."
Because of the unique responsibilities
of the JTF property book office, challenges
are somewhat different than what offices on
other military installations that do not work
in a joint-service environment might face.
"My biggest challenge is working with
many different branches of the military
and learning what each branch needs to
complete their mission," Velazquez said.
"With more than 23 years of service in the
Army National Guard, this is the first time
I have worked in a joint environment like
this. However, it has been a great learning
experience for all of us in the office."
Another way the staff takes care of the
JTF is through its supply of meals ready-
to-eat, extra water and backup equipment
needed in the event of an emergency created
by inclement weather.
"We make sure each command has
access to emergency water, food and
equipment for their Troopers in the event
of a hurricane or other bad weather that
may hit Naval Station Guantanamo Bay,"
The maintenance of warehouse
inventory, along with the emergency
supplies needed by JTF commands, is one
aspect of thejob done by Army Sgt. 1st Class
Tomas Carreras, JTF property book office
"When we have bad weather, commands
come to me to get supplies that will take
care of their Troopers," Carreras said. "We
are committed to working together to ensure
JTF commands are fully supplied and
are able to continue their missions while
deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo
The Troopers at the property book office
said they enjoy their jobs and will continue
to work together to ensure their mission
flows as smoothly as possible, which in
turn will help the entire Joint Task Force
THE WIRE I PAGE 3
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class
Sharay L. Bennett
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
While on deployment, Troopers have a lot to
hours are long, the work load is heavy and the resi
great. The last thing they expect is for legal proble
Issues outside of work can wreak havoc on the n
lead to a decrease in work performance and lack o
Instead of thinking about the job at hand, Troop
about their troubles. This is a
disaster waiting to happen and
that's not what the personnel at
Joint Task Force Guantanamo's
legal assistance office want.
With the services the legal
assistance office provides,
Troopers are able to keep their
minds on the mission at hand.
Paralegals at the JTF legal office provide a var
such as legal research, general and special power of
sale, notarization, assistance in preparing immigra
and information on the Servicemembers' Civil I
office also advises on consumer financial issues
law, as well as provides federal income tax filing
those deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
The JTF legal office serves not only Troopers, bi
contractors and their families. The office works c
naval station legal office to provide a full range of 1
the many people at Naval Station Guantanamo Ba
"It's a convenient service for those who wo
Task Force," said Army Sgt. Timmy Dawson, a p
don't have to drive to the naval station side of tl
Paralegals can provide most legal services, e
PAGE 4 I THE WIRE
counseling. That's where the legal office's officer-in-charge, Army
Maj. Maria Hidalgo, an attorney, comes in.
Hildalgo, who also holds a civilian job as an attorney, has
expereince in a wide range of legal issues. When first arriving at
attend to. The her job, she looked for ways to improve the assistance that is given
ponsibilities are to Troopers.
ms to arise. "We want the Troopers to receive the best service that we
erves. They can can provide them," said Hidalgo. Hidalgo and her staff assist
f concentration. in providing not only legal counseling but help with the legal
ers may worry paperwork Troopers might need to provide to the court, as well as
assisting Troopers with filing the
It is our goal that no one leaves this paperwork.
While the office assists with
office without receiving the best all types of issues, one of the
rvics that w an p vid most common issues they deal
services that we can provide. with involves family law
with involves family law.
Army Maj. Maria Hidalgo "Many of the guards come
here on their days off after
working long shifts," said
iety of services Hidalgo. "We want to be able to help them right away to take some
attorney, bill of of their stress away."
tion documents While most things can be handled by walk-in, establishing
Relief Act. The wills, trial defense, immigration, child support, custody and some
and bankruptcy other in-depth legal counseling may require an appointment.
g assistance for "It is our goal that no one leaves this office without receiving
the best services that we can provide," said Hidalgo.
it also civilians, The office also provides spanish-language services for Troopers
losely with the who need documentation in spanish.
egal services to For help with basic legal services or other legal issues that may
y. arise, Troopers should visit the JTF legal assistance office.
irk at the Joint "We like to give peace of mind," said Dawson.
aralegal. "They The legal assistance office is located in the Trooper One Stop,
he island to get building 1451.For more informationorto schedule anappointment,
contact them at ext. 8110 or 8117. The naval station legal office
xcept for legal can be reached at ext. 4692. O
MISSION I FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
3[0 0 7 0I
Army Staff Sgt. Rene Salazar directs the Warfighter competitors during their training prior to the Military Police
Warfighter Competition. JTF Guantanamo photo by Army Staff Sgt. Blair Heusdens
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Troopers from Joint Task Force
Guantanamo's 5259 Military Police
Battalion recently returned from the 13th
annual Army Warfighter Competition
where the three-person team placed 25th
out of 42 teams from around the globe.
The competition, which was held at Fort
Leonard Wood, Mo., from Sept. 15 through
Sept. 19, pitted the best of the best Military
Policemen in the U.S. Army against each
other in a battle of physical endurance and
Army Sgt. Steve Jones, Pvt. Terrance
Robinson and Pvt. Levi Arrowood
represented the 525h in the four-day
event. Sgt. Samuel Nobles and Pvt. Jessie
Pendleton were alternates for the event, in
case someone was to get injured.
Prior to the event, the team of five
trained for two months after competing in a
"We had a two-day tryout," Jones said.
"We competed in an obstacle course, and
then an extended [physical fitness] test."
After being selected to the team, they
started training on military police-related
tasks and rigorous physcial training.
"I was sleeping one night, and then I got
woken up at midnight, I was told to ruck-up
and get ready to go on a road march," Jones
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 | MISSION
said sorrowfully. "I am not a big fan of being
woken up in the middle of the night to do a
15-mile ruck march."
Jones, who extended his stay for a few
months at the JTF to participate in the
event, was honored to be part of this event.
Throughout the competition, Soldiers
participated ina physical fitness assessment,
and completed various obstacle courses
and challenges, as well as weapons
qualifications, military skills competitions
and even water survival tasks.
"Events like these continue to push
military policeman to higher standards,"
Jones said. "It is a great way to challenge
yourself and fellow [Troopers]."
A Humvee push, ammo can loading, and
200-plus-pound dummies to carry around
were among the physically demanding
events, which tested the abilities of the
military policemen over four days. A written
exam tested the MP's practical knowledge
following the physical events. The
competition is based on a point system.
It wasn't all glorious for Jones and his
"We had some challenges along the way,"
Jones confessed. "There was one event when
I almost wanted to quit. It was the 16-mile
road march with a 65-pound rucksack."
The physically-demanding event was on
the last day of the competition, meaning it
was after several other physically exhausting
events. The team went on to finish third in
the road march. It was the team's best finish
in an event.
Robinson found the 50-foot warrior tower
in the physical endurance course to be the
most challenging, due to a fear of heights.
With cheers of support from his team, he
was able to face his fear and complete the
"I didn't want to let my team down, and I
wanted to make the 525th proud," Robinson
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Raines,
the senior enlisted leader of the JTF's Joint
Detention Group, accompanied the Soldiers
to the competition.
"All of the teams there were winners,"
said Raines. "[The team] represented the
525th extremely well as an organization."
The 525'h Troopers placed 25th overall in
the competition, but took away more than just
the satisfaction of representing their unit.
"It is something very challenging and
very rewarding," Robinson added. "It was a
"In the end, it was worth it," Jones
continued. "It was a lot of fun. I would do
It is the 68th Military Police Corps
Anniversary this year. The Warfighter
Competition kicks off the anniversary week.
The 525th, in honor of the 68th anniversary,
will have run 68 miles in the last couple of
months, and will celebrate the anniversary
Sept. 25. Q
THE WIRE I PAGE 5
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Fall sports kicked off last week with the
start of Morale, Welfare and Recreation's
flag football season at Naval Station
However, if slant routes, zone defense
and spread formations are not your things,
have no fear.
Troopers looking for another sport to
participate in have to wait no longer, as
the Captain's Cup volleyball league got
underway Sept. 21, at G.J. Denich Gym.
"It is exciting to finally get out and
play volleyball," said Army 2nd Lt. Nicole
Lopez, a player for the women's team,
Sparkle Monkeys, a team comprised of
civilians and Troopers.
This season of Captain's Cup volleyball
is also ushering in a women's division
that has been lacking in past volleyball
"Since I got here in January, there has
not been an all-women's league available.
So, getting the chance to go out and play
volleyball with just women is really
fantastic," said Lopez.
Lopez is no stranger to the volleyball
court, having played beach volleyball
since she arrived at Joint Task Force
"I know a lot of my teammates from
playing beach volleyball on Saturdays,"
said Lopez, who also played volleyball at
Michigan Technical University.
Of course, you don't need an extensive
background playing organized volleyball
to enjoy the competitiveness of the sport.
Air Force Staff Sgt. William Roberts,
captain of the Hawgs, has been involved in
volleyball for many years and put together
a team comprised of members from the
474t Expeditionary Civil Engineering
"There are a lot of guys on our team that
are playing volleyball for the first time here
at GTMO," said Roberts, who has played
on teams sanctioned by the U.S. Volleyball
Roberts was very optimistic about his
team and their effort after they finished
their first game.
"The guys have really played hard; and
for not getting a chance to practice before
our first game, I think we did pretty good
out on the court," said Roberts.
The six-on-six league has 10 teams
signed up for the fall league, seven in the
men's division and three in the women's.
The league is scheduled to run through the
first part of November, which includes a
post season tournament.
Games are played Monday, Tuesday and
Thursday nights beginning at 6 p.m. All
members of the Guantanamo community
are encouraged to attend and enjoy a little
If you have any questions regarding
volleyball or other MWR sports, call the
sports office at ext. 2113. 0
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Giannina
Gutierrez, a member of the 525th
Military Police Battalion women's
volleyball team, sends the ball back
over the net to the Sparkle Monkeys.
Gutierrez's team played hard, but
came up short losing both games
to the Sparkle Monkeys, Sept. 22 at
Naval Station Guantanamo Bay's G.J.
Denich Gym. JTF Guantanamo photo
by Army Staff Sgt. Blair Heusdens
LOCAL SPORTS I FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
PAGE 6 1 THE WIRE
'I ] I
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
As of late, romantic comedies have
caught a lot of heat, upon which critics
blame everything from lack of chemistry
to an endless parade of predictable plot
developments. The honest truth is that
regardless of the negative press, the "rom-
com" perseveres and continues to rake in
admirable amounts of cash at the box office,
and thankfully, never fails to disappoint its
viewers: an audience looking for on-screen
sentimentality, sensuality and the whole
knight-in-shining-armor extravaganza with
the added bonus of prop falls and tongue-
in-cheek perverse humor gets just that.
Following this familiar yet fulfilling format,
"The Ugly Truth" excels and exceeds the
standard in all the right places.
Created by Australian film director,
Robert Luketic from such blah comedies as
"Monster in Law" and "Legally Blonde,"
this latest laughs and loves mixture boasts
a slightly recognizable cast of rom-com
regulars such as "Grey's Anatomy" alum
and "27 Dresses" star Katherine Heigl and
"P.S. I Love You" hunk Gerard Butler.
The awkward intro sets the tone for the
flick, as morning news show producer and
obsessive compulsive control freak Abby
Richter (Heigl), demonstrates how not
to behave on a first date. Dating pointer
number one: producing a background
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 I MOVIE RECON
check and crossing off truthful answers
teeters on the line between paranoid flake
and all around stalker.
After the disappointing date, she calls
into a brutally honest and crude talk show
titled "The Ugly Truth" and is bombarded
with accusations about her deteriorated
love life by a swaggering tool of a man,
Mike Chadway (Butler).
Anonymously humiliated, she had no
intentions of ever having to actually meet
the verbally-abusive host. Unfortunately,
in true Murphy's Law style, she is forced to
hire the very same arrogant, misogynistic
and all-around sleaze ball in order to boost
her show's ratings.
Arguments over tact vs. entertainment
heighten tensions between the two which
eventually transform into feelings of desire
when Chadway attempts to loosen up the
prude with his overtly-sexual, show-as-
much-skin-as-possible pointers to help her
nab the man of her dreams.
While the premise of the movie is the
inevitable pairing of the unlikely couple,
the journey toward the predictable chick
flick ending is full of laughs, especially
an updated version of "When Harry Met
Sally" unforgettable restaurant scene. If
you're looking for something innovative
and fresh, you should probably stick with
new age dramas and high-ticket action
flicks, but for a pleasant revision of an old
idea that tickles until the very end, "The
Ugly Truth" is mighty satisfying. 0
THE WIRE I PAGE 7
Guantanamo Bay's Hispanic
American Heritage Association
kicked off Hispanic Heritage
Month with a celebration at the
Windjammer Ballroom, Sept.
The formal event included
dinner, dancing and live
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Naval Sation Guantanamo Bay's
Hispanic American Heritage Association
kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with a
celebration at the Windjammer Ballroom,
The 2009 HAHA Dinner Dance was
a formal event featuring Hispanic food,
dance and cultures.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeffery
Ronchaquira has been the president of the
HAHA for approximately one year. He
said the goal of the event was to celebrate
different Hispanic cultures and the
contributions Hispanic Americans have
made to the country.
"We wanted to start off Hispanic
Heritage Month with a celebration of our
many cultures that can be appreciated
by everyone in Guantanamo," said
Ronchaquira. "This event is a chance for
the GTMO community to get together and
have fun, and for people to see what the
Hispanic community is all about."
The event was attended by Navy Capt.
StevenBlaisdell, Naval Station Guantanamo
Bay commanding officer, and Army Brig.
Gen. Rafael O'Ferrall, deputy commander
of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
In his remarks, Blaisdell praised the
contributions of Hispanic Americans, both
past and present.
"Our nation would not be this strong
without the contributions of Hispanic
Americans," Blaisdell said. "Tonight, and
throughout the month, we increase our
awareness and appreciation of Hispanic
Ronald J. Gardner, Guantanamo Bay
Cuban community assistance program
manager, was the guest speaker. Born in
Guantanamo City, Cuba, Gardner migrated
to the United States with his family in 1990.
He served in the U.S. Navy and, in 2007,
arrived at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay,
a place his grandparents called home for
In his speech, Gardner recalled the
wonder he and his family experienced
upon first arriving in the U.S. and spoke of
the opportunities he was afforded because
of his family's move. He encouraged pride
in Hispanic American culture.
"As we celebrate together tonight,
Hispanic Americans take pride in our
culture and our heritage," Gardner said.
Doraima Alvarez, secretary of the
HAHA, said the event was just the start of
celebrations for Hispanic Heritage Month
"We wanted to start out with a big event
to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and
to get everyone involved," Alvarez said.
"Everyone is invited to join us all month
long. We are planning a bunch of events for
everyone to get together and have fun."
Alvarez said the goal of the HAHA is
to encourage everyone to join the Hispanic
community at Guantanamo and to learn
about what they have to offer.
"Everyone in Guantanamo Bay works
very hard. We want everyone to come to
our events and enjoy themselves. We are all
family here," Alvarez said. 0
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
PAGE 101 THE WIRE
-. I -gl
eii S S.G -el[
treats prepared with
0 6 6 0 y -ilo, d ates
and powdered- sugar
-are m used
Army chaplain joins Troopers
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Joint Task Force Guantanamo and Naval Station Guantanamo
Bay Muslim personnel celebrated the end of Ramadan, Sept.
19, with the observance of the three-day festival, Eid ul-Fitr.
Ramadan, one of the most important observances in Islam when
Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, is not complete without the
Army Maj. Abdullah Hulwe, a Muslim chaplain, visited
GTMO on a mission to support Muslim Troopers and civilians
during their spiritual journey from Ramadan through Eid ul-Fitr.
"It's like Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas all in one. It is about
spirituality and community, gifts, dressing nice, praying together,
the whole package. Coming together is a joyful time, and brings
joy to the heart and soul," said Hulwe.
Observers of Islam joined as a congregation for special Eid
ul-Fitr morning prayers and a festive meal at the naval station
chapel's mosque room. Traditionally, after the prayers, people
visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances and some pay visits
to cemeteries as a way of connecting and remembering where
they have come from.
"Because Muslims are all over the world, each ethnicity brings
it's own foods from all over the world. It's like a worldwide
festival," Hulwe said.
It would be easy to get caught up in the festivities, enjoying
the food and celebrating the end of the month-long fast, but
Chaplain Hulwe used this time to refocus the congregation. He
put the celebration into perspective for the attendees, after the
Eid prayer by asking those present what they had learned during
Ramadan. His talk focused the followers on the long-term purpose
of both Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr and encouraged them to keep
the principals and focal points of Islam in their minds past the
celebration and into the new year.
Noor Mohamed, a Joint Task Force Guantanamo civilian
contractor, understands the concept Hulwe is talking about as he
shares his experience of Eid ul-Fitr. "It's not a celebration about
Ramadan being over, but that you had the strength and support
from God to be able to do it," he said. Mohamed explained what
fasting during Ramadan meant to him and the memories of not
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 I NEWS & INFORMATION
having what most people take for granted like food and water.
"You have a memory of your whole entire life, when you had
food, and when you did not. It is emotional and hard to forget,"
said Mohamed. This point of view helps him to continue to reach
out to other people as part of his spiritual path. "When you sit
down to a meal, it reminds you of the people who don't have
what you have." This, Mohamed says, encourages him to give to
Selfless giving, or charity, is a large part of Ramadan and a
quality that is focused on especially during Eid ul-Fitr. Mohamed
sees his Ramadan observances as a part of selfless giving,
humility and honoring his own spiritual journey. It's what he sees
as "charity and remembrance."
"We are all equal, the rich, poor, kings, and workers, we all
fast. It's about discipline and putting yourself on the same level
as others and putting yourself in the shoes of the have nots,"
Of course, charity can be sponsoring a family or giving money
to the poor, but as Mohamed notes, charity is not about money,
but rather acknowledging others. "The best charity is not always
money; the best charity is a smile, asking how your day is going.
It comes from inside," Mohamed said.
Getting information about Islam out to other Troopers is
another way to share and give to others. This has been the focus
of Hulwe's visit during this time of celebration. Hulwe says he
is happy to share information about practices of Islam. "It helps
both the Muslims and those of other faiths, to understand," he
said. Hulwe sees his sharing as, "giving insight, as well as sight."
This unique perspective helps keep him going. The wonderful
part Hulwe said, "is when both sides can see that their values and
concerns are exactly the same, everyone wants good things for
their family and for themselves and [everybody] wants to help."
More than one billion people around the world, including nearly
5,000 active duty and reserve-component U.S. military members,
are estimated to be followers of Islam, coming from all over the
world including China, Indonesia, the Philippines, United States
and the Middle East.
It is rewarding to work as "a bridge between one [religion]
and the other, and to clarify the cloud hanging over the Islamic
faith, and to see that the cloud is not black anymore, but actually
shining," Chaplain Hulwe said. O
THE WIRE I PAGE 11
Army 2nd Lt.
525th Military Police Battalion
Look up in the sky. It's a bird... it's a
plane... it's a UAV? No, actually, it's a
remote control helicopter flown by Army
Sgt. Charles Verax of the 525t Military
Police Battalion. Frequently some of Naval
Station Guantanamo Bay's large open fields
provide the perfect venue for practicing
and honing RC helicopter flying skills. But
what's an Army Engineer like Verax doing
flying model helicopters?
Ever since 1997, when Verax was
first rated as a private airplane pilot, his
fascination with flying has led him down
the road to fulfilling his dream of becoming
a helicopter pilot. Having logged more than
255 hours of flight time in various types of
aircraft, when he deployed to Iraq it meant
he had to find another way to stay sharp in
the cockpit. Unable to fly while downrange,
he turned to remote control helicopters
which have a control style that compares
favorably to full-sized airframes.
Just like playing a musical instrument,
developing muscle memory takes much
practice. If a helicopter pilot wishes to
maintain the vital skills and hand-eye
coordination necessary for rotary wing
flight without deterioration, a suitable
substitute must be found.
Verax cautions those who say that RC
helicopters are just toys, "Make no mistake;
a remote control helicopter is not a toy. They
PAGE 12 I THE WIRE
are very expensive and complex small scale
aircraft that are extremely difficult to fly. In
the wrong hands, an RC helicopter could
cause some very serious injuries. This is
why their manufacturers always warn that
they are not toys."
The higher quality models all come as
kits in hundreds of pieces that have to be
built. Once built, the electronics have to be
installed and set up correctly. Conversely,
remote control airplanes even if not put
together exactly right, might still fly. RC
helicopters must be close to perfect or they
will be uncontrollable.
After returning from Iraq last year, Verax
set out to attain his helicopter license. With
the money he saved while on deployment,
he accrued 50 hours of flight training, 10 of
which were solo. A 135-mile commute from
Kansas to Boonville, Missouri, however,
meant that Verax was unable to complete
his FAA helicopter practical exam and
check ride prior to deploying to GTMO.
Since his arrival in GTMO six months
ago, he says he missesbeingableto fly. "This
is a really nice base with some awesome
Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities
and activities. The snorkeling in GTMO's
beautiful clear waters and mountain biking
have been great. It is way better than the
bases in Iraq. Since MWR no longer has a
flying club here like they did in the [1990s],
I've essentially been grounded during my
time here," said Verax.
Remote control helicopters are
expensive, but nowhere near as expensive
as renting a helicopter. The Schweizer
300C helicopter, on which Verax did a
majority of his training, rents for $310 an
hour. For him, flying RC helicopters is not
just a useful tool, but also an investment to
keep up skills flying full size helicopters.
"The collective and tail rotor pedals are
simplified on the RC helicopter's controls.
But the cyclic stick controls exactly the
same as the full-sized helicopter," said
Verax. "This is why an RC helicopter is
a very useful means for a helicopter pilot
who cannot fly for a while."
Verax also points out that there are
actually people who make money with
RC helicopters by using them to do aerial
photography and survey work. Other
remote control pilots earn money through
sponsorships from manufacturers and
compete professionally by doing extreme
aerobatic maneuvers and demonstrations
at air shows. The military also uses RC
aircraft and spends billions of dollars on
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to gather
intelligence and actively engage enemies
on the battlefield.
Flying isn't just a hobby for Verax. You
can tell by walking into his room where the
tops of his two dressers look like the deck
of an aircraft carrier. There, he proudly
displays six flight capable RC helicopters
with their blades folded back.
His laptop-based flight simulator is also
a vital tool. "The simulators do an excellent
NEWS & INFORMATION I FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Gino, a hospital corpsman with Joint Task Force Guantanamo's Joint Medical Group,
administers a flu vaccination to a JTF Trooper inside Camp America, Sept. 16. JMG personnel staff the Joint Troop
Clinic as well as the detention hospital inside Camp Delta. JTF Guantanamo photo by Army Sgt. Carmen Gibson
"An X-ray technician. It's "I would be a B
a specific task and also pilot because(
because you're in a relaxed mysterious airc
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 I VOICE OF THE FORCE
THE WIRE I PAGE 13
525th MP chaplain
S I heard of a counselor once that would have people show up for their
appointments, and for the first 20 minutes or so, he would direct them
to the alter for prayer. He required them to first talk to God about their
problems. He found that many people would not need to talk to him
after a good healthy prayer session.
Hearing this caused me to wonder if the same was true for the people
I talk to. I have found that it is true, so one of my newly acquired skills
is to listen for God. As people come into my office to talk, vent, rant or
rave, I have begun to listen for where God is in their situation. Many
more times than not, I cannot find Him.
What I have found myself doing is reminding people that there
is a God, and He does love them and is intimately interested in their
dilemma. In essence, I put God back into their situation. I have found
many a burden lifted when people realize that they have indeed left God
out of their equation. I help them put God in His place.
Everyone has a throne in their life. Who is sitting on yours?
For many people it is themselves and it doesn't take long for them to
realize that they just don't have what it takes to deal with everything life
throws at them. God's perspective is perfect, so it is infinitely better than
ours. We see a mountain, He sees on top, behind, beside, underneath
and in the mountain. He is better equipped to lead and guide us in the
best way. Add to that His precious promises, like all things working out
for the good to those who love the Lord, He will never leave or forsake
you and He will never suffer you to be tempted beyond your ability to
pass the test and with the test always comes a way out.
You are precious to Him: So like the precious metals or stones that
are brought from the ground, yield to the Master Craftsman as He begins
to bring out the best in you. He ought to be on the throne of one's life for
He is a good, kind, loving and very capable God. 0
Is, 6 ^ .......V ^
6:30 a.m. Mass
Sunday: 9 a.m.
Sunday: 6 p.m.
Wednesday: 7 p.m.
Spanish Catholic Mass
Sunday: 5 p.m.
at NAVSTA Chapel
PAGE 14 I THE WIRE
Sunday: 11 a.m.
LIFE & SPIRIT I FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
JTF Trooper pursues his dream of flight
VERAX from 12
job of replicating remote control
helicopter flight and are the absolute best
way for anyone interested in learning
how to safely fly an RC helicopter to start
out," said Verax. "The nice thing with the
simulator is that you don't have to do any
maintenance and crashes don't cost you any
money. You just hit the red reset button and
start flying again. Without a flight simulator,
most people get frustrated and give up
altogether because it's such a challenging
and expensive hobby to learn."
He encourages other troopers who fly or
those interested in the hobby, to seek him
out for some "hangar flying" and he offers
to help any enthusiasts out in any way that
Verax plans to complete his FAA
helicopter license and then take his career
to the next level by submitting a warrant
officer packet for Army flight school. The
next time you see Verax flying one of his
helicopters around GTMO, you'll know
he's practicing for a dream that is much
bigger than that little bird buzzing around
up in the sky. 0
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 15 MINUTES OF FAME
THE WIRE I PAGE 15
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