Entries in Navy (31)


Navy Crew Helps Out in Amazing Ravine Rescue

Comstock/Thinkstock(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) -- A Navy construction crew passing by the scene of a horrific wreck joined forces with emergency rescue workers to keep a mangled BMW carrying a California mother, her 10-year-old daughter and 10-week baby from slipping off a bridge and plunging into a 100-foot deep ravine.

The vehicle dangled off the bridge Thursday after being rear-ended by a tractor-trailer, which broke through the concrete barriers and fell into the creek bed. The truck driver was killed.

Santa Barbara County, Calif., Fire Department rescue workers had been trying to pry Kelli Lynne Groves and her children out the car when the Navy Seabees were driving by with their equipment.

“They all got out and wanted to know if they could help maybe with traffic or something else,” California Highway Patrol Officer Danny Maher said. “They had a large forklift with them. … It was actually just good luck on our part.”

The forklift held the car steady until the county workers were finally able to free the family. The three were airlifted to Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital where the baby girl, who had been in a car seat, was treated for minor injuries.

“I think that car seat saved her life,” Maher said.

Sage Grove, 10, was upgraded from critical to serious today and the girl’s mother was listed in fair condition today, a hospital nursing supervisor told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Navy Fighter Pilot Implicated in Coronado Murder-Suicide

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(CORONADO, Calif.) -- A Navy fighter pilot is implicated in the shooting deaths of three others and himself in Coronado, Calif., according to new information released by authorities Wednesday.

Police say that John Robert Reeves, 25, is the only one of the four to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his death is ruled a suicide, while the three others are classified as homicides.

Reeves, an F-18 Navy pilot who was sharing a home with fellow pilot David Reis in Coronado, died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, police said. Reis, 25, along with his sister Karen Reis, 24, and a third man, Matthew Christopher Saturley, 31, all died of shots to their heads, chests, and torsos, police said.

The shooting took place around 2:30 a.m. on New Year's Day after the foursome had been out celebrating the holiday in San Diego bars, sources told ABC affiliate KGTV. Neighbors called police after hearing shots ring out, and police arrived to find the four bodies, police said.

A next-door neighbor, Don Hubbard, said that police told him it was a murder-suicide and that a weapon had been recovered. Police would not confirm that it was a murder-suicide, but said that there was no outstanding suspect.

Police said they are continuing their investigation.

Tom Reis, the father of the two siblings killed, said David Reis was an F-18 pilot who had just taken his first official flight in December, while his sister was a recent graduate of the University of California-San Diego and a volleyball coach.

"We don't know the circumstances," Reis said. "We don't know what happened. We only know that they're no longer with us."

Reeves' family was not able to be reached for comment.

The shooting is the second mysterious incident to happen in the typically quiet beach community in six months. The condo home where the four victims were found is not far from the Coronado mansion of Jonah Shacknai, whose girlfriend Rebecca Zahau was found hanging, nude, in July, two days after his 6-year-old son suffered a fatal fall while under her care.

Authorities ruled her death a suicide, but a pathologist hired by Zahau's family said later that he had doubts she killed herself.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Petraeus Retires, Warns Against Military Cuts

DoD photo by Cherie Cullen(WASHINGTON) -- On a sunny parade ground field at Fort Myer, near Washington, D.C., General David Petraeus’ storied 37-year Army career came to a close Wednesday.

“I have been privileged to serve in the arena together with America's finest, its men and women in uniform, as well as with its finest diplomats and civilian officials and innumerable coalition partners,” Petraeus told an audience of officials, colleagues, classmates, and friends as honor guards from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard looked on.

The man who literally wrote the book on how America fights its wars left his post as the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in July and will take over next month as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

That book, The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, was the cornerstone of the strategy Petraeus implemented at the helm of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been credited with turning around the situation in both theaters. The book even became a bestseller.

“Only Dave Petraeus could take a military manual and make it a great stocking stuffer,” quipped Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his tribute to the outgoing general.

Mullen praised Petraeus as “the gold standard for wartime command in the modern era” and likened his leadership to military giants like Grant, Pershing, Marshall, and Eisenhower as “one of the great battle captains of American history.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn heaped on the praise.

“No one has played a more important role leading this new generation on the battlefield than the man who stands before us today,” he said.

At a ceremony filled with the pomp and circumstance befitting a four-star general, Petraeus dedicated the bulk of his remarks to thanking everyone who helped him along his career, from his wife Holly to the soldiers he served with.

Many of Petraeus’ classmates from the West Point class of 1974 were on hand for the ceremony. Before it began, they huddled together to cheer for “Peaches! Peaches Peaches!” which was Petraeus’ childhood nickname.

Petraeus did offer one final piece of advice before taking off the uniform for the last time: a blunt warning about major cuts to military spending.

“As our nation contemplates difficult budget decisions, I know that our leaders will remember that our people, our men and women in uniform, are our military, and that taking care of them and their families must be our paramount objective,” he said.

“We have relearned since 9/11 the timeless lesson that we don't always get to fight the wars for which we are most prepared or most inclined. Given that reality, we will need to maintain the full-spectrum capability that we have developed over this last decade of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” Petraeus said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Fighter Jet Reported Missing over California Coast

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shawn J. Stewart/ReleasedUPDATE: The U.S. Coast Guard tells ABC News that the two people aboard the missing Marine Corps fighter jet have been recovered after search and rescue teams heard the duo calling for help from the water.

The two have been lifted to safety and are being transported to the Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego for treatment.  The extent of their injuries is not yet known.

A field of debris was spotted in the water, but there is no indication yet of what caused the accident.

(SAN DIEGO) -- A U.S. military fighter jet is missing over the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Navy reported the missing F/A-18 Hornet Wednesday night at 10:30.  They told the San Diego Coast Guard that the aircraft was last spotted 58 miles southwest of Point Loma in San Diego.

The Coast Guard has diverted two cutters, and has deployed a C-130 Hercules aircraft and a helicopter to search the scene and assist in rescue efforts if needed.

The USCG told ABC News that the fighter jet belongs to the Marine Corps and that it flew out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Army Tours of Duty Expected to Drop to 9 Months

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Defense officials confirm that the U.S. Army will announce Friday that its troops will no longer be serving year-long combat deployments as they move towards nine-month tours of duty.

The Army has been studying the change for some time and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey had advocated the change when he was the commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. The timeline for implementing the change is unclear.

The announcement should ease the stress of soldiers who've had to endure the longest combat deployments among the military services. At one point, during the surge in Iraq in 2007, Army units were serving 15-month deployments.

Marines serve seven-month combat tours and have seven months off between their next deployments. For sailors, ship deployments last a minimum of six months and some serve nine-month deployments depending on ship rotation schedules. Air Force personnel serve a minimum six-month deployment.

Currently, Army soldiers are supposed to get at least two years off in between overseas combat deployments, what's known as "dwell time." In a June interview with the Army Times, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said the Army was looking at increasing dwell times to three years, but that it might take until 2014 for such a change to be fully implemented.

It’s unclear if there will be a dwell time announcement Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sailors Who Buried Bin Laden Return Home

Alex Stone/ABC News(SAN DIEGO) -- The sailors who buried Osama bin Laden at sea returned to their home base in San Diego on Wednesday.

It was a tearful scene as the USS Carl Vinson made its way into port, carrying the sailors who for six and a half months were deployed in the Pacific Ocean and Arabian Sea.

Children and wives held signs at the port: "Welcome home Daddy," read one. "Come meet your son," said another.

Many of those who disembarked Wednesday did so with extraordinary anticipation -- waiting for approximately two dozen of the sailors were spouses carrying newly-born children whom the men had yet to meet in person.

Roy Dye, who works on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, was met by his wife and newborn son, Nicholas.

"I've seen pictures of him but nothing compares to seeing him in person," Dye said after meeting his 4-month-old for the first time on Wednesday. "It's amazing."

Dye couldn’t talk about operational details of the trip but said it was an honor to be a part of the al Qaeda leader's burial.

"Right now it's a very exciting time for America," Dye said. "It's an exciting time for the Navy."

In May, a team of Navy SEALs killed bin Laden at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. His body was buried at sea at an undisclosed location.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Memorial Day Outrage: Feds on Lookout for Fake War Heroes

Jupiterimages/LiquidLibrary(WASHINGTON) -- As millions of Americans honor the service and sacrifices of veterans this Memorial Day, the FBI said it will be busy keeping a close eye out for reports of "frauds" who don fake medals and tell tales of false heroism in hopes of taking advantage of honest patriotism.

While at any particular time the FBI is investigating from 15 to 30 cases of people illegally posing as American war heroes, the Bureau said public veteran celebrations, like the parades taking place across the nation Monday, are ripe targets for impostors.

"They're going to come out of the woodwork," Don Shipley, a private watchdog and former U.S. Navy SEAL, told ABC News. "This is like Christmas for a phony."

Wearing a service medal or claiming to be a medal winner is illegal under U.S. law in most cases and in the past five years alone the Department of Justice has charged dozens of people for violations -- including five so far this year.

In addition to FBI investigators, private veteran watchdogs like Shipley and Home of Heroes founder Doug Sterner say they receive thousands of tips about questionable military service claims, especially on patriotic holidays.

"We always see them come out in droves on Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the Fourth of July and I don't expect this year will be any different," Sterner said.

Following the fame garnered by the U.S. Navy SEALs after the successful operation that killed Osama bin Laden in early May, the number of fake SEAL cases skyrocketed, Shipley said.

"U.S. military medals are symbols of heroism, patriotism, and honor," the FBI said in a statement to ABC News. "The FBI is proud of the men and women who have served our country dutifully. Those who impersonate veterans or wear an unearned military medal are frauds and demean what the medals are meant to honor."

Despite several convictions for fakers in past years, a group of U.S. congressmen is pushing to expand the law under a new version of the Stolen Valor Act, which would make it illegal for anyone to benefit in any way from lying about military medals -- from getting a free beer at a bar to season sports tickets.

A previous iteration of the Stolen Valor Act, passed with overwhelming congressional support in 2006, made it illegal for anyone to wear a medal or claim they had been awarded a medal when they had not. However, that law was ruled unconstitutional by one appeals court last August after one man who pleaded guilty to falsely claiming to be a decorated Marine said it violated the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

"What this bill would do is that it makes it more of an anti-fraud bill," said Congressman and U.S. Army Reserve Col. Joe Heck, who sponsors the Stolen Valor Act of 2011. "It says if you lie about your military service in order to gain something of value then you have committed fraud. I think it will close the constitutionality loophole that has caused problems for the original law.

"I find it really deplorable that individuals would try and capitalize on other American service to their nation," he said.

Shipley said he strongly supports Heck's bill and he believed other veterans would as well.

"There's got to be a line drawn somewhere," he said. "Not just for the young Army guys and young Marines, but the parents, the kids, the wives -- they [the impostors] are stealing honor from all these people."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blue Angels Commander Steps Down After Leading Risky Maneuver

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- The leader of the Navy's celebrated Blue Angels flight team is stepping down after admitting to leading jets in an "unacceptably" low-altitude stunt.

Navy Cmdr. Dave Koss volunteered to be relieved of his duties after admitting days following a performance at Lynchburg Regional Air Show on May 22, that the movement he carried out "had an unacceptably low minimum altitude" and was not in accordance with airborne standards, according to a statement from the Naval Air Forces.

"This maneuver, combined with other instances of not meeting the airborne standard that makes the Blue Angels the exceptional organization that it is, led to my decision to step down," Koss said in the statement.

Even though the maneuver went off without injuries and all members of the Blue Angels Team landed safely, after a safety review several of the team's shows were cancelled, including a midweek show at the U.S. Naval Academy and performances scheduled over the Memorial Day Weekend.

This Blue Angels also canceled scheduled performances at the Rockford Airfest June 4 and 5, and at the Evansville Freedom Festival Air Show June 11 and 12.

In the meantime, according to the statement, the Blue Angels were to stay in Pensacola, Fla., for more training and air show demonstration practice.

Safety issues are not new for the esteemed flying team. Thousands watched on April 2007 when a Blue Angels' jet crashed during a South Carolina performance. The Beaufort, S.C., crash killed one pilot and injured other members of the team.

In 2004, Lt. Ted Steelman suffered minor injuries after being ejected when his aircraft struck water one mile off Perdido Key in Florida. The accident was the result of engine and structural damage.

Koss will be replaced by Capt. Greg McWherter, who was the previous Blue Angels' commanding officer, for the duration of the season.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pakistan Returns Secret US Helicopter Wreckage

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The wreckage of the secret stealth helicopter that was abandoned by U.S. Navy SEALs during the mission to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan is back in U.S. government hands, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

The Pakistani government, which has held on to the remains of what experts believed to be a highly modified Black Hawk helicopter since the May 2 raid, returned "what's left of the whole thing" including a large tail section to U.S. officials over the weekend, said Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman. The helicopter is being held in an undisclosed location.

The helicopter made a hard landing after it clipped a wall during the mission to kill bin Laden and was abandoned by the SEALs -- but not before the special operations team attempted to destroy it with explosives. In the days after the raid, the tail section and other pieces of debris -- including a mysterious cloth-like covering that the local children found entertaining to play with -- were photographed being hauled away from the crash site by tractor.

Aviation experts said the unusual configuration of the rear rotor, the curious hub-cap like housing around it and the general shape of the bird are all clues the helicopter was highly modified to not only be quiet, but to have as small a radar signature as possible.

In the days after the raid, U.S. officials asked for the helicopters return, but Pakistani officials said they were interested in studying it and suggested the Chinese were interested as well. One Pakistani official told ABC News earlier this month, "We might let them [the Chinese] take a look."

A U.S. official said then he did not know if the Pakistanis had offered a peek to the Chinese, but said he would be "shocked" if the Chinese hadn't already been given access to the damaged aircraft. Lapan did not say whether or not there is evidence the Chinese had been allowed to see the pieces of the helicopter before it was returned to the U.S.

The Chinese and Pakistani governments are known to have a close relationship. Last month Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif concluded a trip to Beijing, afterwards telling Pakistan's local press that China was Pakistan's "best friend."

The Department of Defense has not officially commented on the nature of the aircraft and a senior Pentagon official told ABC News in the days after the raid the Department would "absolutely not" discuss it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Navy Scraps Rules on Gay Marriages After GOP Protest

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Navy has abruptly reversed course on new guidelines that would have eventually allowed same-sex couples to wed on its bases -- with Navy chaplains performing the ceremony -- after "don't ask, don't tell" is officially repealed.

In a memo released late Tuesday, chief Navy chaplain Mark Tidd said his previous instructions, part of the military's ongoing effort to revise its policies before lifting the ban on openly gay service members, were "suspended until further notice pending additional legal and policy review and interdepartmental coordination."

A Navy spokesman declined to elaborate on reasons for the move. But it follows mounting pressure from a group of 63 congressional Republicans who objected to the policy change in a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus late last week.

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Calif., who is leading the opposition, plans to introduce an amendment to a House armed services bill that would bar Pentagon employees -- or facilities -- from being used for marriage ceremonies not recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Navy had said allowing gay service members to exchange vows in base chapels and other places used to celebrate marriage was consistent with federal law so long as the ceremonies occurred in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

"Legal counsel has concluded that, generally speaking, base facility use is sexual orientation neutral," Tidd wrote in a memo April 13.

Navy chaplains could also officiate in marriage ceremonies if they're consistent with their religious beliefs and comply with state and local laws in which they are performed, he said.

How to handle same-sex marriages by service members is one of several issues the Pentagon is weighing as it prepares to put in place a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which President Obama signed into law in December. The policy is still in effect until 60 days after Obama and the Pentagon certify the armed forces are ready for the change.

Officials expect certification could happen as soon as this summer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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