AW2 Soldier Inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

By Tania Meireles, WTC Stratcom

MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth (left) was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame March 17.

MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth (left) was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame March 17.

AW2 Soldier MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation for her extraordinary dedication, valor, and patriotism. The Foundation honored her at their Second Annual Symposium and Hall of Fame Luncheon in Washington DC, March 17.

Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, former U.S. Army helicopter pilot, double amputee, and recipient of many distinguished service awards, including a Purple Heart, an Air Medal, and an Army Commendation Medal. She is currently the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

The Hall of Fame awards are presented to women who have contributed extraordinary service to the Army and any individual who has made exceptional contributions to women in the Army. The U.S. Army Women’s Foundation is a center for education, national network for today’s Army women, and advocate for telling the history of Army women.

MAJ Tammy Duckworth, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, showed off her freefall flying skills with members of the Golden Knights on February 6, 2010.

MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth (center) showed off her freefall flying skills with members of the Golden Knights on February 6, 2010.

AW2 Soldier Wins Adventurer of the Year Award

By Tania Meireles, WTC Stratcom

We would like to congratulate AW2 Soldier LTC Marc Hoffmeister for his recognition as a winner of National Geographic Adventure Magazine’s Adventurer of the Year Readers’ Choice Award. He received an amazing 20,000 votes to tie with another adventurer.

Hoffmeister was quoted as saying, “This goes beyond personal recognition. It’s what the team did to get up the mountain. I’m pretty humbled, let’s just put it that way.”

Hoffmeister will be interviewed by the DODLive Bloggers Roundtable about his achievements at 1 p.m. EST on March 18. Please visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bloggersroundtable/2010/03/18/us-army-bloggers-roundtable-adventurers-of-the-year to listen in.

In December, the AW2 Blog did a two part profile on Hoffmeister about his Operation Denali climb and his nomination as an Adventurer of the Year honoree by National Geographic Adventure Magazine.

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.

AW2 Soldier Honored during Women’s History Month

AW2 Soldier SFC Juanita Wilson accepted the Senate Resolution on behalf of each woman who has served in the U.S. Military.

AW2 Soldier SFC Juanita Wilson accepted the Senate Resolution on behalf of each woman who served in the U.S. Military.

By Marvin Fields, AW2 Advocate

Recently I was invited by AW2 Soldier SFC Juanita Wilson to Capitol Hill. SFC Wilson was being honored there at the Joint Service Women’s History Month Observance. I was flattered that she invited me to witness such an amazing moment in her life.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California presented SFC Wilson with the Senate Resolution on behalf of the accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices of each woman who has served in the U.S. Military. SFC Wilson lost her left arm in 2004 after an improvised explosive device (IED) hit her convoy in Iraq.

During the event, she said, “I wouldn’t have thought that six years down the road, someone would be thinking about me,” expressing her surprise of being asked to accept the Resolution.

She spoke of Family, medical care, and the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) as supporting factors in her life. After the event, we discussed her future plans for the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course in Fort Lee, VA.

I am humbled by her enthusiasm for the Army and continuing to serve. Thank you SFC Wilson for inviting me to travel on this prestigious journey with you.

AW2 Veterans Make A Big Impression At Paralympic Games

By COL Jim Rice, AW2 Director

AW2 Veteran Andy Soule won America’s first medal of the 2010 Paralympic Games and America’s first Paralympic biathlon medal.  He earned the bronze in men’s sitting 2.4km pursuit biathlon (Photo courtesy of Joe Kusumoto Photography).

"It felt just incredible," said Andy Soule in an interview immediately after the race. "I've had World Cup wins and World Cup podiums before, but there's nothing quite like this, in this atmosphere, in front of a crowd here with everyone watching." (Photo courtesy of Joe Kusumoto Photography)

I’m not surprised at all to see AW2 Veterans already emerging as stars of the 2010 Paralympic Games. While all AW2 Veterans are resilient, it’s wonderful to see these two incredible Veterans achieving greatness.

On Friday, AW2 Veteran Heath Calhoun carried the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony, an incredible honor for any athlete, and especially for a Veteran who has already sacrificed so much for our country. Heath lost both legs above the knee while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he will compete in Alpine Skiing later this week.

“It’s an incredible honor to be able to carry the American flag – it’s something that I believe in,” said Heath in a video on the U.S. Paralympics Web site. “If I win a medal and they raise the American flag, I will be crying. The national anthem means a lot to me – I was injured for what that flag stands for.”

If that weren’t enough, AW2 Veteran Andy Soule made history on Saturday by winning America’s first medal of the 2010 Paralympic Games and America’s first Paralympic biathlon medal. He earned the bronze in men’s sitting 2.4km pursuit biathlon, and said it was a “dream come true.” Andy is also a double amputee who served in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Congratulations to Andy for your medal and to Heath for carrying the U.S. flag, and good luck to you both and to all the athletes as you compete throughout the rest of the week.

AW2 Veteran Andy Soule Wins First U.S. Medal in 2010 Paralympic Games

By BG Gary H. Cheek

On Saturday, I was excited to learn that AW2 Veteran Andy Soule had won the bronze medal in the men’s sitting 2.4km pursuit biathlon – America’s first medal of the 2010 Paralympic Games and America’s first ever medal in Paralympic biathlon. Andy finished 5th in the qualifying heat, but his perseverance and determination helped him pull through and win the bronze.

Andy volunteered to serve in the Army after 9/11, and he deployed to Afghanistan through Operation Enduring Freedom. He lost both his legs due to an IED [improvised explosive device] explosion. As he recovered, Andy realized the importance of staying active and quickly hit the slopes to learn how to ski.

“Sports have been absolutely fantastic for me,” said Andy in an interview immediately following the race, “for making me active and giving me something positive to do. I’m happy and this is a dream come true. For anyone facing a disability, life goes on and there’s still plenty of living to do.”

Andy’s success story is an example for all wounded warriors, not just on the slopes of Whistler Olympic Park, but throughout his recovery and transition. He decided to keep moving forward with his life, and look at him now.

Way to represent the Army, Andy! And good luck to you and your four other Veteran teammates competing this week.

AW2 Weekly Digest March 8-12

  • AW2 Soldier SGT Daniel Biskey was featured in an Union-Tribune article about the Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care center at San Diego Naval Medical Center.
  • AW2 Veterans Joe Bowser and Michael Cain were featured on NBC Nightly News in a story on wounded warriors using hockey to move past injuries.
  • AW2 Veteran and Alpine skier Heath Calhoun, featured on ESPN, carried the flag for the U.S. Paralympic Team at the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games.
  • AW2 Soldier CW2 Romulo Camargo, featured in Navy Times, received assistance from the expanded Homeowners Assistance Program. He was also featured in Army News in a story about his friends and comrades giving him a custom motorcycle for Daytona Bike Week.
  • AW2 Soldier SFC Joeseph Kapacziewski, featured in Air Force Times, attended the Vail Veterans Program to ski in Colorado.
  • AW2 Veteran Latoya Lucas, featured in PR Newswire, was named a 2009 Tony Snow Public Service Award Recipient for her strength, courage, and unwavering desire to help others that allowed her to triumph and serve as an inspiration to her fellow wounded warriors.
  • AW2 Veteran Andy Soule, featured in USA Today, competed in cross-country skiing and biathlon in the 2010 Paralympics. (Congratulations on winning the broze medal.)
  • AW2 Veteran Luke Wilson, featured in the Oregonian, joined the Paralympic Torch Relay and is hoping to compete at the 2014 Paralympics.

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.

AW2 Veteran Joe Bowser Inspires New Federal Employees

By Sarah Greer, WTC Stratcom

AW2 Veteran Joe Bowser competes in the 2008 Standing Amputee Hockey World Championships.  Bowser is currently training for the 2010 championships in April.

AW2 Veteran Joe Bowser competes in the 2008 Standing Amputee Hockey World Championships. Bowser is currently training for the 2010 championships in April.

Last week, I had the privilege of hearing AW2 Veteran Joe Bowser address approximately 200 new hires at the Defense Contract Management Agency. The group had heard from a wide range of speakers on topics like acquisitions regulations and DOD policies.

When Joe Bowser walked in, the crowd offered a long standing ovation. Joe told his story, focusing on April 12, 2004, the day he was injured by 122mm rocket after leaving the phone tent, where he had just checked in with his children.

“I went from screaming for help to wondering how am I going to get back to my unit,” said Joe. “How would I tell my kids I got hurt?”

Within a few days, Joe had been routed out of Iraq, through Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and ultimately to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he received most of his treatment. On April 23, eleven days after his injury, Joe’s doctors gave him a choice.

“They said we could salvage the leg, but I’d have pain and walk with a brace for the rest of my life. Shrapnel had gone through my foot and shattered the bone,” Joe explained. “Or I could have it amputated and do everything I used to do before. I wanted to play hockey again, so I told him to take it off.”

These days, Joe plays hockey every chance he gets, and you can watch a recent news story about Joe below. He even told the crowd he was planning to play that evening. In 2008, he played on the U.S. National Amputee Hockey Team and won a silver medal at the Standing Amputee Hockey World Championships. Now, he’s training for the 2010 championships at the end of April.

“My wife calls herself a hockey widow,” he joked. “Since my PT [physical therapist] pushed me back on the ice in 2005, I’ve stopped focusing on what I can’t do and turned to what I can do. I never thought hockey would bring me this far.”

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked Web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein.  For other than authorized activities, such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.

AW2 Weekly Digest March 1-5

  • AW2 Soldier PVT Joshua Lindsey was featured in Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article about the community and a nonprofit organization coming together to build him a house.
  • AW2 Veteran Shannon Meehan, featured on CNN, discussed post-traumatic stress disorder and his current endeavors.
  • AW2 Veteran Pedro “Pete” Perez, featured in the Herald Tribune, is more hopeful today than at any time since his injury day because of a yellow Labrador retriever.

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.

AW2 Veteran Receives Purple Heart from BG Cheek

By Ayandria Barry, AW2 Advocate

(L-R) BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander, AW2 Veteran Mike Timm, and AW2 Advocate Yan Barry at the Purple Heart ceremony.

(L-R) BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander, AW2 Veteran Mike Timm, and AW2 Advocate Yan Barry at the Purple Heart ceremony.

On April 4, 2004, in Sadr City, Iraq, AW2 Soldier SGT Mike Timm’s platoon had just returned from patrolling in the city and within 10 minutes there was a call for the entire Forward Operation Base to load up. He wasn’t clear on what the mission was but within minutes they were loaded up and moving out of the base in a convoy. SGT Timm was in the back of a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV), when they were told that they were going to rescue a patrol that had taken fire and was pinned down in the city.

On the way to rescue them, many of the roads were blocked by makeshift road blocks and tire-fires. As SGT Timm’s patrol made a turn a few blocks from the objective they came under heavy fire, and he was the first of many to be hit. A bullet went through his left forearm and entered his right forearm, blowing out an inch of bone and leaving him unable to use his hands. The next few minutes were horrible as he lay on his back unable to do anything while his fellow comrades were under fire. After what seemed like forever they started moving and he was hit again in his right knee, leaving it peppered with shrapnel. To this day, he is still seeing doctors to remove the shrapnel that pierced his leg.

On January 7, 2010, AW2 Veteran Mike Timm was presented his Purple Heart in a ceremony performed by BG Gary Cheek, Commander, Warrior Transition Command. As Mike’s AW2 Advocate, I worked with the Army Awards Section to ensure this Soldier’s award was rceived. I helped review his records and get the proper documents to the Awards Branch and on August 26, 2009, he was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries received in the attack that ended his military career.

When BG Cheek presented the Purple Heart during the ceremony at the Warrior Transition Command, Mike said, “Before today I did not feel like I was still a part of the military, today I know that I am still a part of the Army Family and it feels good.”

Seeing Mike receive his Purple Heart was a great experience for me. Being the daughter of a Soldier that was killed in Vietnam, I was proud to be in attendance to personally see the Soldier receive his Purple Heart.

A New Leader with a Unique Vision

CPT Scott Smiley and his wife Tiffany with their two kids.

CPT Scott Smiley and his wife Tiffany with their two kids.

By Lee McMahon, WTC Stratcom

Today, CPT Scott Smiley takes command of the West Point Warrior Transition Unit. I had a chance to talk with him and his wife, Tiffany, about their thoughts on the upcoming change of command and their future. CPT Smiley is not only becoming a leader of Warriors in Transition, he is a wounded Soldier himself. CPT Smiley was severely injured in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq on April 6, 2005. As a result he lost his sight. This has not stopped him, or his Family, from moving towards their goals and continuing to serve in the Army.

Mrs. Smiley, what was your reaction to learning that your husband would take command of the West Point Warrior Transition Unit?

I was excited for him because we were looking at what our next steps would be. He had been going thru the process of talking to the branch manager and doing all the right things to get promoted. He knew he wanted a company command if he could get that opportunity given his unique case.

CPT Smiley, have you had a chance to develop goals for the WTU?

My leadership mentality is communication — communication on all different levels and with not only the WTU cadre but also with the Warriors in Transition. I want to know what they think their goals should be and what our goals as a unit are. In my mind, communication is the key aspect in allowing me to properly lead the Soldiers.

Mrs. Smiley, will you be teaming up with your husband for any tasks for the WTU?

I would love to. Scotty wants me to help out where I can. I don’t know what the opportunities are but I plan on being there, and supporting the Army as a whole. I feel like I’ve been there in a sense so I will help out where I can because we’re kind of a team.

CPT Smiley, how will you motivate Warriors in Transition?

Being an example is the best way that I have learned over the years to be an inspiration. I definitely mean that in multiple ways. For myself specifically, I was in the Medical Hold Company at Fort Lewis so I can relate to today’s Warriors in Transition. When the Soldiers realize that I was in their position, I can show them that I was motivated to not just sit by. I wanted to set goals for myself and I was inspired to continue on active duty. Also, being the example visually by the story I have and by setting those goals, that’s how I motivate—by being better than what you are at that time.

Mrs. Smiley, what are your goals as a Family for the future?

Scotty always jokes that he makes a five year plan but it never happens. That’s what he was doing when this comes up. His mission is to stay in the Army and serve soldiers where he can. He believes he is here for a reason and he will command this company and do what he can to make it a better place.

CPT Smiley, what do you say to a wounded warrior who is questioning his or her future?

It’s not just for wounded Soldiers, for anyone and everyone going thru tough times, I say we all go through them. My story and my life can be used as an example, losing my sight, being told you’ll never see again. I’ve been through tough times. For myself it’s having faith, I’ve been a Christian my entire life, it’s God who supported me, having my wife to support me, that’s what got me through.

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