“Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack’d with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.” 
― Alfred TennysonIn Memoriam

[1] Aviation Electrician’s Mate Airman Seth Orourke, a plane captain assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, gives thumbs up to the pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet after completing start-up of the aircraft on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 21 DEC 2011).

[2,3] Members of the flight deck crew direct a F/A-18C Hornet from the Mighty Shrikes of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94 to a catapult on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class George M. Bell, 10 JUN 2013.)

[4] An F/A-18F Super Hornet waits to launch from the waist catapults on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 17 DEC 2011).

 [5] An F/A-18 Hornet launches from the flight deck during night operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 11 JAN 2012.)

Navy suspends search for missing Hornet pilot, presumed dead

(From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 13 SEP 2014. Source.)

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - After an extensive search, the Navy today has ended search-and-rescue efforts for the pilot of one of the F/A-18C Hornet aircraft that crashed Sept. 12 approximately 250 nautical miles off the coast of Wake Island.

The pilot assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 has been presumed deceased.

"This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community," said Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. "We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy."

The identity of the pilot will not be released until the family notification process is complete.

Navy units involved in the search-and-rescue efforts included USS Carl Vinson, USS Bunker Hill, USS Gridley, USS Sterett, and USS Dewey, along with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 and P-8s from Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 5 in Guam.

The two F/A-18C aircraft, one assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and the other assigned to VFA 113, had launched from the flight deck and were in the process of proceeding to their initial stations when they apparently collided approximately seven miles from the ship.

One pilot was recovered by helicopter shortly after the crash and transported to USS Carl Vinson for medical care. The rescued pilot has since been released from medical facilities aboard the ship.

VFA 94 and VFA 113, both based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, are part of Carrier Air Wing 17, assigned to the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Two Navy Hornets crash in Pacific Ocean
An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 22 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor K. Mendoza, 30 MAY 2011.)
From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 12 SEP 2014:
WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - Two F/A-18C Hornet jet aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 17 embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson crashed early this morning local time, while operating at sea in the western Pacific Ocean.
The initial report is that the two aircraft are assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113.
One pilot was rapidly located and returned to Carl Vinson, and is currently receiving medical attention. Search efforts continue for the second pilot.
The search for the second pilot includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley, along with helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.
The two F/A-18C Hornets have not been recovered.
All remaining airborne aircraft were safely recovered onboard.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are currently underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. High-res

Two Navy Hornets crash in Pacific Ocean

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 22 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor K. Mendoza, 30 MAY 2011.)

From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 12 SEP 2014:

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - Two F/A-18C Hornet jet aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 17 embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson crashed early this morning local time, while operating at sea in the western Pacific Ocean.

The initial report is that the two aircraft are assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113.

One pilot was rapidly located and returned to Carl Vinson, and is currently receiving medical attention. Search efforts continue for the second pilot.

The search for the second pilot includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley, along with helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.

The two F/A-18C Hornets have not been recovered.

All remaining airborne aircraft were safely recovered onboard.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are currently underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Retired US Navy SEAL fights for transgender acceptance.
(Article via CNN, 13 AUG 2014. Source.)
Despite 20 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL, including 13 tours of combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kristin Beck says her struggles for acceptance and respect as a transgender American represent her most difficult mission.  Beck is a highly-decorated veteran who once stood atop Saddam Hussein’s palace, trained in special tactical warfare, and served on SEAL Team 1, SEAL Team 5, and SEAL Team 6 as Senior Chief Christopher Beck of the U.S. Navy.
Executive produced by Herzog & Company (HCO) in association with Easy Day Media Group, LADY VALOR: The Kristin Beck Story, is produced by Mark Herzog and Christopher G. Cowen, and directed by Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog.  The two-hour film will premiere on CNN/U.S. on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm Eastern.
In 2013, approximately 18 months after her retirement from active service, Beck was the first person to come out publicly as a transgender former Navy SEAL in an extended profile on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° – surprising friends, colleagues, and family.  She also disclosed her identity on LinkedIn.   While many around her have been supportive, some have expressed more bigotry than she ever expected.
“CNN Films is proud to have commissioned such a unique and important film.  LADY VALOR is a powerful statement on our preconceived notions and prejudices of transgender Americans.  Kristin Beck is a dynamic individual, whose outspoken voice allows us a deeper understanding of such an emotionally intense, personal transformation,” said Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide.
During the film, Beck also returns to her college, Virginia Military Institute, for her 25th class reunion.  Gazing out onto a football field, she points to the men and women participating in the game activities and says: “some of us need to have a little different journey.  That’s what we defend.  That’s what all these young men right here defend.”
LADY VALOR premiered as an official selection of the SXSW Film Festival and has since been an official selection at Hot Docs, Outfest Los Angeles, The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and Frameline38 festivals in 2014.  LADY VALOR will be available, in simulcast on Sept. 4, through CNNx for iPad, as well as through “Watch CNN” via www.CNN.com, and CNN’s mobile applications.   The two-hour film will also encore on CNN/U.S. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm Eastern.
Beck’s personal reflections and more information about her active duty service will be published via www.CNN.com/ladyvalor before the premiere of the film on CNN/U.S.  More information about LADY VALOR may also be found by visitingwww.LadyValor.com and by following @CNNFilms and @theLadyValor via Twitter. High-res

Retired US Navy SEAL fights for transgender acceptance.

(Article via CNN, 13 AUG 2014. Source.)

Despite 20 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL, including 13 tours of combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kristin Beck says her struggles for acceptance and respect as a transgender American represent her most difficult mission.  Beck is a highly-decorated veteran who once stood atop Saddam Hussein’s palace, trained in special tactical warfare, and served on SEAL Team 1, SEAL Team 5, and SEAL Team 6 as Senior Chief Christopher Beck of the U.S. Navy.

Executive produced by Herzog & Company (HCO) in association with Easy Day Media Group, LADY VALOR: The Kristin Beck Story, is produced by Mark Herzog and Christopher G. Cowen, and directed by Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog.  The two-hour film will premiere on CNN/U.S. on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm Eastern.

In 2013, approximately 18 months after her retirement from active service, Beck was the first person to come out publicly as a transgender former Navy SEAL in an extended profile on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° – surprising friends, colleagues, and family.  She also disclosed her identity on LinkedIn.   While many around her have been supportive, some have expressed more bigotry than she ever expected.

“CNN Films is proud to have commissioned such a unique and important film.  LADY VALOR is a powerful statement on our preconceived notions and prejudices of transgender Americans.  Kristin Beck is a dynamic individual, whose outspoken voice allows us a deeper understanding of such an emotionally intense, personal transformation,” said Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide.

During the film, Beck also returns to her college, Virginia Military Institute, for her 25th class reunion.  Gazing out onto a football field, she points to the men and women participating in the game activities and says: “some of us need to have a little different journey.  That’s what we defend.  That’s what all these young men right here defend.”

LADY VALOR premiered as an official selection of the SXSW Film Festival and has since been an official selection at Hot Docs, Outfest Los Angeles, The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and Frameline38 festivals in 2014.  LADY VALOR will be available, in simulcast on Sept. 4, through CNNx for iPad, as well as through “Watch CNN” via www.CNN.com, and CNN’s mobile applications.   The two-hour film will also encore on CNN/U.S. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm Eastern.

Beck’s personal reflections and more information about her active duty service will be published via www.CNN.com/ladyvalor before the premiere of the film on CNN/U.S.  More information about LADY VALOR may also be found by visitingwww.LadyValor.com and by following @CNNFilms and @theLadyValor via Twitter.

Shooting into the sun.

[1] Sailors aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) re-qualify on 9mm pistols during small arms live fire on the flight deck.

[2] Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Maria Kristine H. Villanueva, a native of Temecula, Calif., fires a 9mm pistol on the flight deck of the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) during a small arms live fire qualification. 

Comstock is on a scheduled deployment with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group to promote peace and freedom of the seas by providing deterrence, humanitarian aid and disaster response while supporting the Navy’s Maritime Strategy in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

(U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lenny LaCrosse, 14 AUG 2014.)

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Naval aviators do it in the dark.
An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542, Aviation Combat Element assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) performs a vertical landing on the USS Bonhomme-Richard as part of a carrier landing qualification exercise. The 31st MEU regularly conducts carrier landing qualifications to maintain mission readiness as the Pacific’s only forward deployed MEU.
(USMC photo by Cpl M.S. Oxton, 31st MEU Combat Camera, 26 AUG 2012.) High-res

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Naval aviators do it in the dark.

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542, Aviation Combat Element assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) performs a vertical landing on the USS Bonhomme-Richard as part of a carrier landing qualification exercise. The 31st MEU regularly conducts carrier landing qualifications to maintain mission readiness as the Pacific’s only forward deployed MEU.

(USMC photo by Cpl M.S. Oxton, 31st MEU Combat Camera, 26 AUG 2012.)

Blue Hole.
U.S. Navy divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two (MDSU 2), and Belize Coast Guard divers swim along during a dive at Belize’s famous Blue Hole. The MDSU 2 divers are working together with their Belizean Coast Guard counterparts as part of Southern Partnership Station 2014. Southern Partnership Station 2014 is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America and the Caribbean. U.S. military teams work with partner nation forces during naval-focused training exercises, military-to-military engagements and community relations projects in an effort to enhance partnerships with regional maritime activities and improve the operational readiness of participants.
(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brett Cote, 13 JUL 2014.) High-res

Blue Hole.

U.S. Navy divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two (MDSU 2), and Belize Coast Guard divers swim along during a dive at Belize’s famous Blue Hole. The MDSU 2 divers are working together with their Belizean Coast Guard counterparts as part of Southern Partnership Station 2014. Southern Partnership Station 2014 is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America and the Caribbean. U.S. military teams work with partner nation forces during naval-focused training exercises, military-to-military engagements and community relations projects in an effort to enhance partnerships with regional maritime activities and improve the operational readiness of participants.

(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brett Cote, 13 JUL 2014.)

Highway to the danger zone.
An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 prepares to launch from the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Chris Cavagnaro, 7 JUL 2014.) High-res

Highway to the danger zone.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 prepares to launch from the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Chris Cavagnaro, 7 JUL 2014.)

Scenic overlook.

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Combat Squadron (HSC) 14 flies by Kauaʻi during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.

 (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon E. Renfroe, 3 JUL 2014.)