Tag Archives: military

Remains of TN WWII soldier found in France, being returned home

News release from Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of Private First Class Cecil E. Harris of Shelbyville. Harris was serving with the 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division on January 2, 1945 when his platoon was holding a defensive position in Dambach, France near the German border during World War II. The platoon came under attack and had to make a hasty withdrawal. When the platoon was able to regroup, fellow soldiers realized PFC Harris was missing. He was 19 years old.

The United States Army Graves Registration Command (AGRC) investigated Harris’ loss with no success. In September 2013, an official from the American Battle Monuments Commission notified the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) that a French national had located the possible grave of an American serviceman in the Alsace Region of France, near the city of Dambach. The grave was on a hilltop, under a large rock with a crude engraving of a cross and the letter “H”.

The JPAC recovery team excavated the burial site and found PFC Harris’ identification tag, also known as ‘dog’ tags, military items used by American service members during the time period of 1940’s and human remains that were later confirmed through DNA samples and dental records to be Harris.

“Cecil Harris is a Tennessee and American hero and it is fitting that he finally be laid to rest with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery,” Haslam said. “We join the Harris family in recognizing the loss of a young Tennessean who gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War II and hope they feel pride and a measure of peace.”

“Although it is difficult to reach such a somber conclusion, we are grateful the Harris family will have some closure regarding our fallen hero,” Grinder said. “PFC Cecil Harris deserves our recognition, respect and commitment to remember his service to our country and state.”

Harris is survived by his former wife Helen Cooke of Chattanooga, son William Edwin Harris of Mountain City and sister Janice Carlton of Shelbyville.

The body of PFC Harris will arrive at McGhee Tyson Airport on Wednesday, August 27 at 11:06 a.m. Media will be staged at Gate 5 and should be in place by 10:30 a.m. Media questions regarding staging for the arrival of remains should be directed to McGhee Tyson Airport Vice President of Public Relations Becky Huckaby.

The funeral service for Harris will be held at Red Bank Baptist Church at 4000 Dayton Boulevard on Friday, August 29 at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) in Chattanooga. Media may attend, but interview requests must be submitted through the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs for family consideration.

Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 in honor of PFC Cecil Harris’ ultimate sacrifice. Harris will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).

Harris posthumously received the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal. He also received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.

TN law enforcement stocking up on military surplus equipment ($63M worth this year)

Law enforcement agencies across Tennessee got almost $30 million worth of military surplus equipment through two federal programs last year — tripling the previous year’s haul – and this year, the amount doubled again and Tennessee pulled in equipment worth $63 million.

So reports the Tennessean, adding that those big gains have ranked Tennessee among the top 10 military surplus states in recent years. Altogether, Tennessee law enforcement programs have received more than $321 million in federally-purchased equipment since 1993. The supply has increased as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wound down.

Amid the bonanza for Nashville and bordering counties: 10 mine-resistant trucks and four other armored vehicles, more than 300 assault rifles, and a smattering of helicopters, boats, trucks and tractors.

Across the state, some 41,000 items, ranging from the high-tech and the lethal to the peculiar, have padded police inventories. Unicoi County got enough brass instruments to start a marching band — two saxophones, a flugelhorn, four sousaphones and more — while neighboring Washington County got the state’s single priciest item, a $5 million communications system.

Putting military might into the hands of police raises some alarms for experts like Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City officer and prosecutor and a law and police studies professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

“I would give all the cautionary notes. I would give all the reservations,” he said. “It’s obviously going to be a very difficult issue to navigate through.

“But I think most Americans don’t necessarily mind supportive-type equipment, like helicopters. Defensive stuff, I think, may not look good, but there’s probably a case for some of this armor to be worn.”

Governor, commissioner mourn death of TN soldier in Afghanistan

News release from state Department of Veterans Affairs:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder regretfully announce the loss of Tennessee soldier Staff Sergeant Daniel Tyler Lee of Crossville. Lee was posthumously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Lee was assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was fatally shot while on patrol in the vicinity of Wazghar Parwan Province, Afghanistan on January 15.

The 28-year old soldier served more than five years in the United States Army. According to family members, Lee grew up in Kentucky but moved to Tennessee in 2005.

“Danny Lee was a beloved son, brother, husband and new father,” Haslam said. “The State of Tennessee grieves with the Lee family and recognizes his ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

“Staff Sergeant Lee’s loss and brave sacrifice are felt across our state and country,” Grinder said. “We pause to remember the family he leaves behind and his fellow service members who continue to serve in harm’s way for all of us.”

Lee is survived by his wife Suzanne and son Daniel of Surprise, Arizona as well as his parents Daniel and Francis Lee of Covington, Kentucky and sister Jamie Hahn.

Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, January 25 in honor of Staff Sergeant Lee’s ultimate sacrifice. Lee will be buried at Mother of God Cemetery at Fort Wright, Kentucky on Saturday, January 25.

Lee will posthumously receive the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal.

Staff Sergeant Lee will also posthumously receive the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Rep. Shipley now colonel and commander

News release from Tennessee State Guard:
KNOXVILLE – The 3rd Regiment of the Tennessee State Guard has a new commander installed in ceremonies conducted in Nashville. Colonel Tony Shipley, an Air Force veteran with experience as a battle planner in Desert Storm, will lead the volunteers in the 24-county region of northeast Tennessee. He was promoted from lieutenant colonel to colonel in conjunction with his assignment as 3rd Regiment Commander.

“The primary purpose of the State Guard is to help our fellow Tennesseans,” said the newly promoted commander. “It is the true spirit of being a volunteer. I am enthusiastic about this new challenge.”

As an element of the Tennessee Military Department, the Tennessee State Guard supports and assists the National Guard, Air Guard, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency by training volunteers to help coordinate activities in the event of natural or man-made disasters. All its activities are coordinated by the Adjutant General of Tennessee at the direction of the governor. The TNSG has four operational headquarters located in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.
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Cooper testifies on predatory lenders targeting military personnel and families

Tennessee’s attorney general was among those testifying Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation about predatory lenders taking advantage of those serving in the military.

Excerpt from an Army Times story on the proceedings:

Consumer protection laws are not protecting U.S. troops and their families from a combination of predatory lending practices and aggressive debt collection, key lawmakers said Wednesday.

Federal and state officials responsible for regulating lenders warned that a combination of outright lawbreaking and skirting around the edges of consumer protections requires both better financial education for service members and better laws.

…There is no line predator businesses won’t cross, said Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr., who related an “egregious example of abusive conduct”: a company that for seven months attempted to collect money from the bank account of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq after being tortured and beheaded.

Tennessee ultimately won a default judgment against the company, which sold electronics to service members at high prices and at high interest rates. All collections were stopped, all debts canceled and the service members were allowed to keep the computers and other equipment they had purchased, he said.

Cooper warned that stopping such businesses is not easy. “Defendants in this and other cases who prey on our men and women in uniform will go to great lengths to stay in business because it is very lucrative,” he said.

TN shutdown rundown: It’s over for military employees, just beginning at Oak Ridge

National Guard employees back at work
More than 1,500 military technicians and other support staff for the Tennessee National Guard returned to duty Monday after U.S. Department of Defense officials concluded the Pay Our Military Act allowed them to resume their jobs, according to the News Sentinel.

The workers, whose pay came from federal funds, had been furloughed without pay for nearly a week due to the federal government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

“These are the people who actively support our normal day-to-day operations,” said Maj. Randy Harris, spokesman for the Guard. “The majority of our technicians are back to work.”

The ranks of the laid-off included nearly 300 mechanics, boom operators and other technicians — the people who kept the base running and the planes flying — at Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson. The base employs a total of about 1,300 full-time and part-time workers and serves as home to the 134th, to the 119th Command and Control Squadron and to the 230th Air Cavalry Squadron.

At Fort Campbell…
Clerks are restocking the shelves of the Fort Campbell commissary, the post hospital is again fully staffed and the civilian workforce of 8,000 is back to full strength, reports WPLN.

The Pentagon decided over the weekend furlough rules didn’t have to keep so many people off the job. A town hall meeting scheduled for Monday night was cancelled after most employees were recalled. The furloughs turned out to be more bark than bite for civilians, who should end up being paid for their days off.

Among military families, there have been very real fears from the reduced services. Tina Armstrong – whose husband is an Army refueling specialist – says she was worried she wouldn’t be able to get a short-term loan offered through the military.

“Right now, we have our car in the shop,” she said Monday. “With everything shut down, if I need help, I’m in trouble.” There are still some reduced services on Fort Campbell.

For instance, under Pentagon rules, the post’s spokesman says he isn’t supposed to do recorded interviews. Also soldiers who have orders to move between posts are being told to stay put for the time being.

Beginning at Y-12
Thousands of Y-12 employees were told Monday that the plant has been ordered to begin an “orderly shutdown” because of the federal budget stalemate in Washington, D.C., reports the News Sentinel.

That apparently means that furloughs will begin in the near future, although B&W Y-12 — the government’s managing contractor at the nuclear weapons plant — did not immediately provide details of the jobs plan.

In a message to employees, Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer said the actions were necessary in order to maintain the plant in a safe and secure status, given the continued uncertainty over funding.

The Oak Ridge plant received its shutdown order from Bruce Held, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the semi-independent part of the U.S. Department of Energy that oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons plant. Y-12’s sister plant, the Pantex warhead assembly/disassembly plant in Amarillo, Texas, also received shutdown orders.

“I recognize this is troubling news and that it may likely have a significant impact on you and your family,” Spencer said in his message to Y-12 employees.

“We can only hope that the need for furloughs will be averted or that they will be short-lived.”

Army to close ROTC programs at ETSU, TN Tech, UT Martin

The Reserve Officers Training Corps programs at the University of Tennessee-Martin, East Tennessee State University and Tennessee Tech are three of 12 to be closed by August, 2015, the U.S. Army has announced.

The announcement has brought complaints at all three Tennessee institutions. The Johnson City Press reports that U.S. Rep. Phil Roe and state Rep. Matthew Hill have pledged to oppose the ETSU closure.

Roe said a lack of graduates from the program was cited as a reason for the closure of the program, but said no one ever came to campus to evaluate the ROTC cadets. He plans to take the lead on arguing for the Army to keep this program as well as other programs.

He will include the staffs of senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, if not the senators themselves.

“As Yogi Bera said, ‘It ain’t over till it’s over.’ And although they (the Army) said there’s no appeal here, I disagree with that. It’s worth fighting for and we’re going to do that.”

Excerpt from WBBJ-TV’s report on the UT-Martin closure:

The school still has plenty of questions, and plans to push to keep the program.

“We don’t know everything that went into the reasoning for this, so we hope to find that out I guess over the next two years and we plan to see what we can do to maintain the program,” said school chancellor Tom Rakes.

Below is an excerpt from a Tennessee Tech news release (full text HERE:
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TN National Guard furloughs 1,500

News release from Tennessee National Guard:
NASHVILLE, TN – Today’s government shutdown leaves more than 1,500 Tennessee National Guard military technicians and contract employees throughout the state on unpaid furlough.

Major General Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General notified employees last week of possible furloughs beginning on October 1, 2013.

“This is an across the board furlough effecting essentially every military technician and contract employee in the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard,” Haston said. “There is no question that this will cause serious hardships on our employees and degrade our ability to conduct operations, but even with the government shutdown, our remaining Soldiers and Airmen will strive to continue to meet the challenges and ensure the security of our state and nation. Our Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) and Tennessee State employees will continue to work and maintain essential operations of the Military Department.”

Tennessee Vietnam MIA’s body recovered, returned for burial

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — The bodies of two men killed in Vietnam are being buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The remains of Maj. Howard V. Andre Jr. of Memphis, Tenn., and Maj. James E. Sizemore of Lawrenceville, Ill., will be buried Monday.

Sizemore and Andre were on a night reconnaissance mission during the Vietnam War when their A-26A Invader crashed on July 8, 1969, in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos. Both men’s remains were unaccounted for until April.

Teams from the United States and Laos excavated the crash site, recovering personal effects and military equipment.

Related (and belatedly posted) news release from Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced September 20-26, 2013 as POW/MIA Recognition Week. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Defense announces the identification of Major Howard V. Andre, Jr. of Memphis who has been missing in action since July 8, 1969.

Major Andre and Major James E. Sizemore of Illinois were on a night armed reconnaissance mission when their A-26A Invader aircraft crashed in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos during the Vietnam War. Both men died in the crash but their remains were unaccounted for until April 2013. The Air Force pilots will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors on September 23 at Arlington National Cemetery. They were classified as missing in action for nearly 44 years.
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Alexander Likens Reelection Effort to ‘Overwhelming Force’ Military Operation

Excerpt from a Politico article on how Republican U.S. senators – Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander being a prime example – are working diligently to assure they don’t face a serious primary challenger in 2014.
“I’m running a Colin Powell military operation, which is assemble an overwhelming force, focus on a single target and have the stomach to see it all the way through to the end,” Alexander said in an interview.
The recent Washington controversies are giving the senators a unique opportunity to woo the right — whether it’s McConnell’s rhetoric against the Internal Revenue Service, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) railing at the White House for its handling of the Benghazi attacks or Alexander slamming Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for soliciting private donations to help with the implementation of Obamacare, comparing the situation to the Iran-Contra scandal.
And some of the senators are finding ways to push issues in Washington that resonate back home, including last week, when the Senate passed a McConnell-Alexander plan they called the Freedom to Fish Act targeting federal restrictions along a river their states share.
…Alexander ended the first quarter of 2013 with $1.8 million in cash and has stepped up his fundraising considerably since then. Last month, he pulled in $430,000 at a dinner at the Chattanooga home of his fellow GOP senator, Bob Corker, just days before a Nashville fundraiser pulled in $1 million more. Alexander later secured an additional $530,000 at a dinner on May 2 in Memphis, officials said.
…In this race, Alexander clearly recognized a primary as his biggest threat and wasted no time locking up support within his own ranks. Less than a month after the 2012 elections, Alexander had awarded campaign chairmanships to every Republican in the congressional delegation except Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who was ensnared in a sex scandal. Other big name Republicans in the state who could give him a serious scare in a primary were added as well, including Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Alexander even won the endorsements of the 13 living past GOP party chairs in Tennessee.
“He said if it’s necessary he would get some who were deceased, too,” Corker quipped.
With some charm and back-slapping, Alexander is also trying to ensure no state legislator emerges against him, either. After the state legislative session earlier this year, Alexander hosted a Nashville reception for state GOP lawmakers. And that came after he addressed the GOP-dominated Legislature with a red-meat speech attacking Washington mandates