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Author: TriSec    Date: 01/29/2019 10:49:38

Good Morning.

When it is time for us to exit this Earth, we hope it will be surrounded by friends and family, in a dignified manner. Our lives to be celebrated and remembered by those who loved us.

In Kileen, Texas recently, an aged veteran of Vietnam passed on with no next-of-kin, and nobody stepping forward, despite the best efforts of the V.A. hospital where he passed.

Not willing to give up, the hospital posted on its social media account about the upcoming funeral, and around 1,000 people made the effort to attend.

The funeral of an unaccompanied veteran in Killeen, Texas, was attended by more than 1,000 people -- including hundreds of bikers -- after a cemetery put out a call on social media asking strangers to come pay their respects.

The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery asked the public to attend Air Force Veteran Joseph Walker’s funeral on Facebook after failing to reach any of his family members or friends.

“We have the distinct honor to provide a full military burial for unaccompanied United States Air Force Veteran Joseph Walker on MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery," the post read. "If you have the opportunity, please come out and attend. We do NOT leave Veterans behind.”

According to Douglas Gault, chief onsite representative of Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, more than 1,000 people answered the call.

Luis Rodriguez heard about Walker’s service, and passed the funeral information to Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, a motorbike riding club he belongs to. He also contacted a local news station to spread the word.

After ABC station KVUE broke the story, Rodriguez said the invitation “took off like fire. Next thing you know we’re sitting here with thousands.” Senator Ted Cruz, CNN anchor Jake Tapper and Congressman John Carter all shared the invitation and support on their social media accounts.

“This was the biggest service we have seen to date,” Gault told ABC News.

This was no prop, no exploitation, no commercialization of our veterans...just a community coming together to do the right thing.

Moving on, with the government shutdown over for a brief time, things are getting back to normal. Here in Boston, all our national park areas were back in business yesterday. We've also got a Coast Guard station right here in the North End, and those folks are getting their back pay.

Some Coast Guard families began receiving back pay Monday while bracing for the possibility that another government shutdown Feb. 15 could again leave them scrambling to cover bills and put food on the table.

In Oregon, Stacey Benson, whose husband has served 19 years in the service, said back pay from the 35-day government shutdown was in her family's account Monday morning.

Coast Guard officials said they are working to deliver back pay by Wednesday to all of the more than 42,000 Coast Guard members affected by the longest government shutdown in history.

Benson, who helped start up "Be The Light" food banks for struggling Coast Guard families during the shutdown, said the food banks essentially closed Sunday, after President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday opening the government for three weeks while Congress and the White House seek agreement on funding for a border wall.

However, Benson said that volunteers are "making arrangements" to restart the food banks "just in case" the government shuts down again Feb. 15.

"If it happens, we're prepared for the worst," she said.

At the food bank in Astoria, Oregon, Benson estimated that 50,000 to 70,000 pounds of goods had been collected for distribution, including "pounds and pounds and pounds of ground beef and huge bags of dog and cat food."

The shutdown strained donors' resources to the point they're asking for donations themselves.

Brett Reistad, national commander of the American Legion, said efforts by the group to assist Coast Guard families had essentially drained the veterans organization's Temporary Assistance Fund.

"I've been in the Legion 38 years," he said in a phone interview, "and I've not experienced an instance like this.”

Reistad added that the Legion was reaching out to supporters to replenish the fund.

They'll probably need to replenish that fund sooner rather than later - February 14th isn't that many days away, and thus far there has been no further motion on resolving the crisis. We'll probably do it all over again.

Finally today, file this one under "Who Knew?" You're probably aware that after the Air Force, the United States Navy bears a large number of aircraft, most based on carriers and supporting naval operations out at sea. But believe it or not, it's actually the Army that has the most number of aircraft after the Air Force. You may be surprised to learn that the Army also maintains a fleet of watercraft. It's unclear from the story about the nature of these boats, but they appear to be primarily landing craft and other small watercraft. Nevertheless, they bear the name of the Army instead of the Navy.

The Army's little-known but sizeable maritime fleet may be facing cuts, as the service considers eliminating dozens of boats and forcing hundreds of reservists out of their jobs in the next two years.

The service's watercraft deliver supplies, assist in dive operations and land troops on beachheads during combat operations. But many of those boats are aging, costly to maintain and require upgrades to keep up with modern warfare, according to government reports.

The Army is mulling plans to shutter its National Guard and Reserve component watercraft units, according to a PowerPoint slide deck dated Jan. 8, obtained by Stars and Stripes. The plans come amid warnings of a looming crisis in the military's transport fleet necessary for carrying troops, equipment and supplies at a time when China and others are spending more on coastal warfare capabilities.

The Army confirmed that a formal analysis of its fleet inventory is underway.

"The Army is assessing its watercraft program to improve readiness, modernize the force and reallocate resources," spokeswoman Cheryle Rivas said via email.

Soldiers concerned about the cuts told Stars and Stripes they have been briefed on the proposed reductions.

Last June, Army Secretary Mark Esper decided that the Reserve would "divest all watercraft systems," according to the January briefing. This was prepared in part by Maj. David Finn, chief force manager for the New Orleans, La.-based 377th Theater Sustainment Company, which oversees most of the Reserve's boats.

The unit could see eight of its watercraft units and civilian maintenance facilities shuttered under the proposal, which would affect at least 746 positions, according to the slides. The move would reduce the size of the regular Army's seagoing capabilities and "potentially eliminates" all Reserve and National Guard Bureau watercraft systems and support, according to one slide.

It would also halt maintenance spending as well as curtail recruitment and training for mariners until a final decision is made on the disposition of the craft.

Reserve units operated 27 of the Army's fleet of 105 vessels, according to a statement from last July.

It should come as no surprise though...after all, the United States is one enormous military-industrial complex, so the lines among the branches have been muddled for quite some time.


20 comments (Latest Comment: 01/29/2019 21:30:07 by livingonli)
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