• Follow on Facebook

  • what-to-do-media
  • RSS W2DM

  • puako-general-store
  • air-tour-kauai
  • Cheneviere Couture
  • PKF Document Shredding
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • 10% Off WikiFresh

  • Say When

    April 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Mar    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

  • Recent Comments

New York National Guardsmen to Test NASA Space Capsule Recovery System in Hawaii

Forty-five members of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing are heading to Hawaii, Feb. 27, to participate in a joint NASA and Defense Department mission to evaluate recovery techniques and gear that will be used to recover NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the next generation of American space vehicle.

Navy divers and other personnel in a Zodiac boat secure a harness around a test version of the Orion crew module during Underway Recovery Test 5 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, Oct. 28, 2016. Members of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing will participate in a mission in Hawaii designed to test space capsule recovery techniques and equipment, although they will not work with a capsule simulator like this one. Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans. NASA photo

The team of 45 airmen is made up of pararescuemen; combat rescue officers; survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists; and other support airmen assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing’s 103rd Rescue Squadron based here.

Pararescuemen are trained to rescue downed aviators behind enemy lines and from land and water environments. Each pararescue airman undergoes two years of training that includes extensive medical training as well as training in parachute jumping, scuba diving and survival skills.

The pararescuemen are experienced in dropping fully stocked rescue boats to recover personnel.

The New York Air National Guardsmen will work with experts from NASA, the Air Force and the Department of Defense Human Spaceflight Support Office in developing techniques for air-dropping gear needed to recover the crew from an Orion screw module and fit the floating spacecraft with special equipment.

The New York airmen will conduct airdrops and practice helping astronauts out of the spacecraft, providing medical assistance if necessary. The jumps will help NASA and the military test a number of systems and procedures for future launches.

While the 106th airmen will be testing recovery equipment, they will not be working with an actual or simulated Orion capsule.

Experienced Airmen

This is not the first time the New York Air National Guard has been involved in a spacecraft recovery mission.

The 106th Rescue Wing provided a rescue support package at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, which is located adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center, for 109 of the Space Shuttle missions. The mission of the National Guardsmen was to rescue astronauts who were forced to abandon their spacecraft during the launch sequence.

“We are pleased to be partnering once again with NASA and the Department of Defense on manned space travel. This exercise is one of many steps the 106th will take to ensure the successful recovery of our nation’s astronauts should the need arise. This will further demonstrate the versatility and tremendous capability the Airmen of the 106th possess,” said Air Force Col. Michael Bank, the commander of the 106th Rescue Wing.

“The personnel of the 106th Rescue Wing are professionals who have proven themselves in both combat and here at home, “said Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony German, the adjutant general of New York. “We’re pleased that they can lend their expertise as NASA plans for the continued exploration of space.”

To the Moon and Beyond

Orion is designed to take Americans back into deep space — defined as the moon and beyond.

The spacecraft resembles a larger version of the Apollo space capsule which took men to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. Like the Apollo command module, the Orion spacecraft is designed to ‘splash down” in the ocean instead of landing on a runway like the Space Shuttles, which flew 135 times between 1981 and 2011.

Unlike the Apollo capsules, the Orion crew module is designed to be reusable and will house two to six astronauts instead of three.

An unmanned Orion flew in 2014. The next launch of the spacecraft is due in September 2018. That three-week long mission to the moon and beyond was originally to be unmanned by NASA has announced they are studying whether or not a crewed mission can be conducted.

The deployment of the 106th personnel is part of the Sentry Aloha series of air operations exercises hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard each year.

NASA’s objectives for the mission are to:

  • Test the best way to mark the spacecraft’s location in the water;
  • Test configurations for airdropping recovery equipment;
  • Practice the inflation of a “front porch” which would be used by astronauts exiting the spacecraft; test the stabilization collar which will be placed on the Orion capsule before recovery; and
  • Test storage capacity for equipment on land.

Tulsi Gabbard Visits Hawaii Island Kūpuna and Native Hawaiian Veterans

This morning at the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program recognition luncheon in Kona, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) visited with some of the 1,129 kūpuna who serve Hawaiʻi Island communities through the county’s Elderly Activities Division. She spent time visiting with seniors, delivered remarks thanking them for their service, and answered questions about her work in Congress. Last year, kūpuna volunteers on Hawaiʻi Island gave 97,815 hours in service at more than 140 different public and private non-profit agencies.

Photos via: Ilihia Gionson.

In Waimea today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met with Native Hawaiian leaders who are focusing on farming, food security, and sustainability for the homestead land they live on. The Waimea Nui Community Development Initiative is a sustainability project on 61 acres of Hawaiian Homestead land that includes a community ag park with farm lots for small farmers and a post-harvest facility. Soon, small farmers will be able to participate in a community equipment program and training through the College of Tropical Agriculture and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The congresswoman also met with several constituents, including a group organized by Father John Schroedel that has been actively supporting the Orthodox Diocese of Aleppo.

Hawaiian-Born Daughter Becomes Commander, Navy Region Southeast

Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar assumed the duties and responsibilities as Commander, Navy Region Southeast during a change of command ceremony aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida Feb. 23.

Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar

Bolivar was born in Hawaii and raised in various locations in the Western Pacific by traditional Filipino parents Ted Cereno Bolivar, from Nabua in the Philippine province of Camarines Sur and who retired as a Chief Petty Officer from the United States Navy, and Virginia Dolor Bolivar of the Philippine province of Pangasinan.

Bolivar graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in oceanography. She also holds a Master of Science in management from Troy University.

In 1988, following her second tour, Bolivar was accepted to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal / Diving and Salvage Community as a special operations officer.

Bolivar has served in various leadership positions aboard five Navy ships, as well as commanding officer of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1. She has served in numerous positions in the Commander, Navy Installations Command enterprise, including a tour as the CNIC chief of staff and commander, Navy Region Northwest.

Most recently, she served as commander of Joint Region Marianas from August 2014 to January 2017, where she held multiple positions including U.S. Pacific Command/Defense Representative Guam-Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands-Federated States of Micronesia-Republic of Palau; Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas; and Commander, Task Force West.

As commander of Navy Region Southeast, Bolivar will be charged with providing support and guidance for 18 installations within the Southeastern United States as well as the Caribbean. The regional command is responsible for shore activities, including each installation’s standards of performance, anti-terrorism and force protection, disaster preparedness, safety, joint services, financial management, public affairs, state and local government liaison, environmental protection and legal affairs.

Families Reunite as USS Hopper Returns to Pearl Harbor Today

The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) returned home from a 180-day independent deployment to the Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific, and Indian Ocean, Feb. 21.

While deployed to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleets, the ship and crew of more than 330 Sailors, assigned to Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 9, conducted presence and maritime security operations and integrated with six different Combined Task Forces while independently deployed.

While on station in the Arabian Gulf, Hopper joined Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 for integrated operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“This was an incredible deployment which saw six different Task Forces, which means six different missions and operations, some of which were ‘firsts’ and set new precedents on what is expected from an independent deployer,” said Cmdr. J.D. Gainey, Hooper’s commanding officer.

Under the operational control of 7th Fleet, Hopper conducted routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities with allies and partners to enhance regional security and stability.  Hopper also participated in the 13th iteration of the Royal Australian navy’s premier multinational maritime Exercise Kakadu.

The exercise provided an opportunity for regional nations to participate in a wide variety of maritime activities, from humanitarian assistance and search and rescue operations to high-end maritime warfare scenarios.

“It was our turn to stand the watch, forward and deployed, and we did so with aggressive excellence in every mission placed before us,” Gainey added. “This crew absolutely rocked; mission complete.”
Hopper is a multi-mission ship with ballistic missile defense, air warfare, submarine warfare, and surface warfare capabilities; designed to operate independently or with a carrier strike groups, surface action groups or amphibious ready groups.

The ship is homeported in Pearl Harbor and is part of Naval Surface Forces and U.S. 3rd Fleet.

For more information please visit the ship’s website: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg70

Hawaii Delegation Introduces Legislation to Protect Drinking Water and Improve Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility

The Hawai‘i congressional delegation introduced legislation to ensure the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meet their obligations to the State of Hawai‘i to protect drinking water and improve the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oahu.

Inside one of the Red Hill fuel tanks.

“The EPA, the Navy, and the State agree that protecting the aquifer that supplies Oahu’s drinking water is essential,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “Our bill firms up that commitment into federal law by making sure the agencies responsible for improving Red Hill have the federal funding they need to implement the actions that are agreed to.”

“Red Hill is critical military infrastructure and we want the Navy to succeed in successfully remediating environmental concerns associated with past fuel leaks above Oahu’s aquifers,” said U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01). “Working together, this will be a win-win for military readiness and Oahu residents.”

“Completing the necessary infrastructure upgrades at Red Hill Fuel Facility will safeguard our water and environment, while also protecting a critical asset to our national security,” said U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i). “Providing budget flexibility and conducting strict oversight of EPA and DOD’s progress towards meeting their commitments is an appropriate way to stretch a short supply of critical federal dollars.”

“These fuel storage tanks sit above aquifers that provide drinking water for up to 30% of Oahu’s residents,” said U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “It’s essential the Department of Defense commit the necessary resources to eliminate any threat these tanks pose to our most precious resource – water.”

The legislation, written and introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, ensures the Navy, DLA, and other federal agencies charged with protecting Oahu’s drinking water from fuel leaks follow a set of actions the agencies agreed to take following the January 2014 leak of jet fuel from the Red Hill facility. The Navy’s investigation of the January 2014 leak determined that it was the result of contractor error. In September 2015, the Navy, DLA, and EPA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent/Statement of Work (AOC/SOW) with the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Health (DOH). That agreement establishes a roadmap for how the Navy and DLA will protect Oahu’s drinking water from future fuel leaks by making improvements to Red Hill, including the fuel tanks. The bill requires the Department of Defense, which includes the Navy and DLA, and the EPA to include the necessary funding in their respective budgets to make the improvements identified in the agreement.

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Coast Guard Rescues 7 People in Two Separate Incidents in Less Then 12 Hours

Six people were rescued by the Coast Guard Thursday evening after their 34-foot sailing vessel grounded while entering the Keehi Channel off Honolulu.

To listen to or download mayday audio click here 

A Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point safely hoisted the people from sailing vessel Malia and took them back to the air station.

“We are very proud of our search and rescue assets and that we could assist these six people in distress safely and efficiently,” said Lt. j. g. Victoria Lacefield-Rodriguez, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Our crews are always ready to respond to emergent search and rescue.”

Watchstanders from the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received notification at 6:43 p.m. from the vessel’s crew hailing mayday on VHF channel 16.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu launched, but upon arriving on scene was only able to get within 30-yards of the vessel due to shallow water.

The RB-M crew remained on scene until the helicopter crew arrived and successfully hoisted the six people.

There have been no reports of injuries or pollution. The owner of the vessel will work with Sector Honolulu personnel to develop a salvage plan.

In a second incident in less then 12 hours, the Coast Guard rescued a mariner in distress near the Kalaupapa Lighthouse off Molokai early Friday morning, less than 12 hours after rescuing six boaters from a grounded sailing vessel off Oahu.

Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur | The captain from the 22-foot sailing vessel Harmony B stands with an MH-65 dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point, following their rescue off Molokai, Feb, 17, 2017. Coast Guard responded to a mayday call from the mariner that was made on VHF channel 16.(U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

A Coast Guard MH-65 dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point safely hoisted the 52-year-old man from his homemade 22-foot fiberglass vessel the Harmony B.

“We are very pleased to have brought seven people to safety overnight,” said Petty Officer 1st Class William Cusic, a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “This is what our crews train for and their dedication to our search and rescue mission paid dividends.”

Watchstanders from the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a mayday call at 1:43 a.m. from the master of the Harmony B hailing on VHF channel 16.

The master believed his anchor was no longer holding and was concerned that the weather conditions would push his vessel onto the nearby rocks.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched the dolphin crew and crew of Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB 1336).

At 3:08 a.m., the dolphin aircrew was on scene safely hoisting the man aboard and took him back to the air station. No injuries were reported.

On scene weather was reportedly 18 mph winds with 7-foot seas. The master will work with Sector Honolulu personnel to develop a salvage plan.

 

Gabbard-Backed Bill to Expedite Veterans Claims Process Passes House

Legislation cosponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) to streamline the veterans claims process unanimously passed the House today. The bipartisan WINGMAN Act (H.R.512), which would allow congressional offices to directly access information on behalf of a constituent without having to go through a middle-man at the VA bureaucracy, now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

In a speech on the House floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“One of the things I appreciate most about the job that I have to represent Hawaiʻi’s Second District is to be able to respond to and provide assistance to the hundreds of veterans from across my state that contact our office every single year. They call to ask for help with things like compensation and pension issues, healthcare, mileage reimbursement—especially for our veterans who live on the neighboring islands where they don’t have a VA clinic on island—education, home loan benefits, and more. This is a responsibility as a Member of Congress and as a fellow veteran that I take very seriously.

“Right now, if a veteran contacts my office for assistance, we are required to go directly through the Congressional Liaison at the VA. We act as veterans advocates to try to get answers for them on things that they haven’t been able to get answers on and things they haven’t heard back on.

“Too often, we’re faced with bureaucratic layers within the VA and a slow turnaround that leaves congressional staff, like mine and my colleagues’, jumping through hoops to access basic but critical information on behalf of our veterans and their families. At times, we have waited for months to get answers from the VA on behalf of a Hawaiʻi veteran for something that should be a quick turnaround, like a status update.

“This is unacceptable, and it’s why I’m proud to cosponsor the WINGMAN Act, legislation introduced by my friend and colleague Ted Yoho of Florida, which allows us to cut through the red tape and ensure that our certified caseworkers within our offices can provide quicker, more efficient and effective service to our veterans. It would help streamline the veterans claims process by allowing congressional offices, on behalf of our veteran constituents, to directly access the status of pending claims, rating decisions, statement of the case, and more.

“I urge my colleagues to support this common sense legislation, so that all of us working here in the people’s house can better serve our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our communities and our country.”

Background: The WINGMAN Act would streamline the veterans claims process between congressional offices and their constituents by eliminating the requirement to use the VA as a middle-man. Under WINGMAN, certified constituent advocates would be able to directly access the status of pending claims, medical records, rating decisions, statement of the case, supplementary statement of the case, notice of disagreement, and Form-9 files within a reasonable amount of time, without having to go through a middle-man at the VA.

Each year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office helps hundreds of veterans get assistance from the VA and other federal agencies. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “office hours” to help constituents, including veterans, with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

WWII Tuskegee Airman Colonel Charles McGee Packs Them in at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor and 400 guests paid tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and the vital role they played during World War II with a special “WWII Tuskegee Airman Hangar Talk” by decorated WWII Tuskegee Airman Pilot Colonel Charles McGee. The event commemorated African American History Month.

Colonel McGee fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and holds a record for one of the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in United States Air Force history. Colonel McGee began his military service as one of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 332nd Fighter Group. The Tuskegee Airmen were pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country during WWII. His career in the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force spanned 30 years and three wars, where he flew 409 aerial combat missions. During his military career, Colonel McGee was awarded the Legion of Merit with Cluster, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal (25 times).

Also honored at the Hangar Talk was WWII Tuskegee Airman Philip Baham. Baham served as a crew chief for the 337th Composite Group at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Baham is a dedicated volunteer at Pacific Aviation Museum, sharing his story with visitors as a greeter in the lobby of Hangar 37.

The day before, on Friday, February 3, more than 250 Honolulu students in grades 6—12 were invited and attended another Museum presentation geared towards youth entitled, “In His Own Words,” presented by Colonel McGee.

“It was such an honor to have a veteran pilot of Col McGee’s stature and distinction speak with us,” said Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff.

Prior to 1940, African Americans were prohibited from flying for the U.S. military. Even in light of extreme racism, African Americans fought to defend their country, which led to the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of WWII. Their dedication to defending the freedom of all Americans and their acts of heroism paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. Tuskegee Airmen completed more than 1,500 missions.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bill to Expedite Veterans Claims Process

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced support today for the bipartisan WINGMAN Act (H.R.512), legislation that would streamline the veterans claims process between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and congressional offices that process claims on behalf of veterans and their families.

Tulsi Gabbard at Hawaii County Civil Defense

“It’s my honor to serve the hundreds of Hawaiʻi veterans that contact my office each year for help. However, slow turnaround and thick layers of bureaucracy at the VA too often leave certified congressional staff jumping through tedious hoops to access critical information on behalf of veterans and their families. At times, we have waited for months to get a simple answer from the VA on behalf of a Hawaiʻi veteran. This is unacceptable. The WINGMAN Act would cut through the red tape and allow congressional offices to provide quicker, more efficient service to our veterans,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: The WINGMAN Act would streamline the veterans claims process between congressional offices and their constituents by eliminating the requirement to use the VA as a middle-man. Under WINGMAN, certified constituent advocates would be able to directly access the status of pending claims, medical records, rating decisions, statement of the case, supplementary statement of the case, notice of disagreement, and Form-9 files within a reasonable amount of time, without having to go through a middle-man at the VA.

Each year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office helps hundreds of veterans get assistance from the VA and other federal agencies. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “office hours” to help constituents, including veterans, with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Announces She Will Personally Reimburse Cost of Trip to Syria

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced today she will personally reimburse the cost of her trip to Syria.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has stated that she will personally cover the costs of her Syria trip.

Though the trip has met every requirement of the House Ethics Committee, the congresswoman has decided to reimburse AACCESS-Ohio for the trip because it has become a distraction from the important issue at hand—do the American people want their taxpayer dollars to continue to be used in support of militant groups working hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and ISIS in the effort to overthrow the Syrian government? Contrary to baseless claims in the media, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is beholden to no one in the region, her views on the situation are her own, and her determination to seek peace is beyond question.

Background: As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017 to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people. For more information on the trip, click here. Earlier this year, the congresswoman introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), legislation that would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS, or other terrorist groups.

Veterans For Peace Endorses Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorist Act

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement today after Veterans For Peace announced endorsement for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608):

Tulsi Gabbard in Puna after Tropical Storm Iselle

“Those who have seen and experienced war firsthand share a unique appreciation for the need for peace. From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has and continues to wage wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. I am grateful to have the support of Veterans for Peace for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, and for their work to prevent the United States from continuing to pursue counterproductive, interventionist wars,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“As veterans we took an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States. The threat to the Constitution comes not from Russia, China or ISIL but from within the walls of Washington D.C. where the Congress and the Executive branch have enmeshed the country in ongoing unnecessary, illegal and unconstitutional wars. As Veterans For Peace we seek to restrain our government from intervening, overtly or covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations,” said Barry Ladendorf, President of Veterans For Peace. “Certainly, the U.S. government should not be supporting regime change wars nor directly or indirectly supporting known terrorist organizations, proxy groups and their allies to violently overthrow established governments. We also thank Rep. Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War, for introducing this important bill, Stop Arming Terrorist, which Veterans For Peace proudly supports and for her recent important fact finding trip to Syria,” continued Ladendorf, who served as a naval officer during the Vietnam War.

Background: Veterans For Peace is a global organization of Military Veterans and allies whose collective efforts are to build a culture of peace by using their experiences and lifting their voices. The network is comprised of over 140 chapters worldwide whose work includes: educating the public, advocating for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars.

The bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608) is cosponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Yoho (R-FLY), and Garrett Thomas (R-VA), and endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America, the U.S. Peace Council, and Veterans For Peace.

The legislation would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to directly or indirectly support terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS or those working with them. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA backed-Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980’s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria from using U.S. funds to directly or indirectly support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups. The bill achieves this by:

  1. Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists or groups working with terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
  2. Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
  3. Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
  4. Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  5. Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Returns From Syria with Renewed Calls: End Regime Change War in Syria Now

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) returned to Washington, DC after a week-long visit to Damascus, Aleppo, and Beirut to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people. She heard stories of suffering, pain, courage and hope from people all across the country.

Tulsi Gabbard meets with Syrian religious leaders in Aleppo, led by Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, and joined by Archbishop Joseph Tabji of Maronite Church of Aleppo, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir of the Arab Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Aleppo, and others. Each called for peace, and an end to foreign support of terrorists who are trying to rid Syria of its secular, pluralistic, free society. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

She met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protests in 2011, widows and family members of Syrians fighting alongside groups like al-Qaeda, as well as those fighting on the side of the government.

Tulsi Gabbard visits with Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian workers at the Jibreen shelter, housing nearly 1,400 families who fled mostly the eastern part of Aleppo City. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

The Congresswoman also met with Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners, and more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these women at the Barzi Community Center. Many of these women have husbands who are fighting on opposite sides of the war, but who find friendship and empowerment together in their daily sewing classes. They have hope to be able to provide for their family and take care of their children. When asked, “Where is your husband?” many reply, “He is lost.” Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement upon her return:

“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.

“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.

“The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) is a twice-deployed combat veteran who has served as the United States Representative for Hawaiʻi’s 2nd congressional district since 2013. As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to Lebanon and Syria as part of a delegation led and sponsored by the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS)–Ohio. The 7-day trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee, as required by House rules, and was not taxpayer funded. The trip included visits to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017. Other members of the delegation included former Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his wife, longtime peace advocates Elie and Bassam Khawam, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s husband, Abraham Williams.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these children at a shelter in Aleppo. Their families fled the eastern part of the city. Many of these children have only known war, loss and hardship. Their families’ only wish is for peace. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Earlier this year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), legislation that would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA backed-Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980’s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria by ensuring U.S. funds are not used to support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other terrorist groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups. The bill achieves this by:

  1. Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
  2. Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
  3. Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
  4. Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  5. Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.

Coast Guard Rescues 3 Boaters From Sunken Vessel Off Big Island

Three boaters were rescued by the Coast Guard after their 48-foot sailing vessel Bobo Link sank two and a half miles off of Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Wednesday.

Three boaters were rescued by the Coast Guard after their 48-foot sailing vessel Bobo Link sank two and a half miles off of Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Jan. 18, 2017. The crew of the USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336), homeported in Hilo, safely recovered the men from their life raft and transported them to Kawaihae Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Rescued are three Big Island residents:

Steven Jenkins, 48-years-old, owner and operator of the Bobo Link
Brandan Jenkins, 23-years-old
Nathan Gibson, 43-years-old

The crew of the USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336), homeported in Hilo, safely recovered the men from their life raft and will transport them to Kawaihae Harbor.

The Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB-1336) USCG photo by PA3 Jacquelyn Zettles

“We cannot stress enough the importance of carrying and properly registering an emergency positioning indicating radio beacon which is ultimately what saved the lives of these men,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Peterson, a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center. “While the men also were able to contact emergency services personnel via cell phone, we strongly recommend boaters carry a working VHF radio in the event that cell service in unavailable.”

At 1:48 p.m., watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a hit from a registered EPIRB.

Minutes later, watchstanders at the Sector Honolulu command center received a relayed call from the Hawaii County Fire Department notifying them that a sailing vessel, with three persons aboard, sank off of the Big Island.

Sector Honolulu diverted the Kiska crew already on patrol in the area to the scene where an HCFD helicopter crew was to provide oversight until they arrived.

No injuries were reported.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Hosts WWII Tuskegee Airmen

On February 3 and 4, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor will pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and the vital role they played during World War II with special presentations by decorated WWII Tuskegee Airman Pilot Colonel Charles McGee to Hawaii’s youth and the public.

On Friday, February 3, 10 – 11 am in the theater, teachers are encouraged to bring their students, in grades 6-12, to a presentation geared towards youth entitled, “In His Own Words,” by Colonel McGee. Colonel McGee fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and holds the record for the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in the United States Air Force history. Colonel McGee began his military service as one of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 332nd Fighter Group. The Tuskegee Airmen were pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country during WWII. Colonel McGee’s career in the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force spanned 30 years and 3 wars, where he flew 409 aerial combat missions. During his military career, Colonel McGee was awarded the Legion of Merit with Cluster, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal (twenty-five times).

Admission is free for this youth presentation, and funding for bus transportation to the Museum will be provided for school groups who register in advance. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly advised. To register, contact 808-445-9137 or email Education@PacificAviationMuseum.org.

On Saturday, February 4, Colonel McGee will once again be the featured speaker at a “Hangar Talk” in the theater, 11am to 12 noon. This event is open to the public.

Also present at the Hangar Talk will be WWII Tuskegee Airman Philip Baham. Baham served as a crew chief for the 337th Composite Group at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Baham is a dedicated volunteer at Pacific Aviation Museum, sharing his story with visitors as a greeter in the lobby of Hangar 37. Access to the Hangar Talk is free with Museum admission, free to Museum Members, and free for Navy League members with I.D. For more information, call 808-441-1007. Discounted tickets are available online at www.PacificAviationMuseum.org.

Prior to 1940, African Americans were prohibited from flying for the U.S. military. Even in light of extreme racism, African Americans fought to defend their country, which led to the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of WWII. Their dedication to defending the freedom of all Americans and their acts of heroism paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. Tuskegee Airmen completed more than 1,500 missions.

Both events are being held in conjunction with Black History Month.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located on Historic Ford Island, where bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Visitors to the Museum can see remnants from that day of infamy, including the 158-foot tall, red and white iconic Ford Island Field Control Tower, Hangars 37 and 79, and bullet holes in Hangar 79. Through its preservation and restoration of World War II fighter planes and accompanying artifacts in the Museum’s historic hangars, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor shares the story of the vital role aviation played in America’s winning of World War II, and its continuing role in maintaining America’s freedom.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history. Contact: 808-441-1000; Marketing@PacificAviationMuseum.org.

Coast Guard, Local Responders Searching for Overdue Diver Off Big Island

Coast Guard and Hawaii Fire Department are searching for an overdue diver off Pohoehoe Beach, Big Island, Sunday.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew  launched and is searching the surrounding areas. The crew from USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336) is also en route to assist in the search.

The Hawaii Fire Department is also searching with helicopter, rescue boat and ground crews. An Urgent Marine Information Broadcast has been issued alerting mariners in the area to keep a sharp lookout and report any sightings to the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center.

Anyone with information that may help locate the diver is asked to contact the Sector Honolulu command center at 808-842-2600.

The initial call was made to Hawaii Fire Department by a good samaritan who is an experienced diver. The good samaritan said the man was caucasian, looked to be in his early 20s, about 150 pounds with red hair. He is reportedly wearing blue board shorts and a white rash guard with blue lettering. The man was last seen at 12:40 p.m. leaving the beach to swim out to the farthest rocks with fins, a mask, diving gear and a back up regulator.

The good samaritan watched since the diver was going out alone, did not have a float or any safety gear and noticed, based on experience, the diver only had enough air for a maximum of 80 minutes. After two hours, the good samaritan reported the diver overdue to Hawaii Fire Department who relayed the report to watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center at 2:11 p.m.

Weather conditions are currently reported as 10 mph winds with waves at 2 feet and approximately 6 miles of visibility.

Veterans Treatment Court Celebrates 22 Successful Graduates

The Veterans Treatment Court of the First Circuit (Oahu) held its fourth graduation ceremony on January 13, 2017.  Friends and supporters gathered in the Supreme Court courtroom to congratulate the six U.S. veterans who graduated from the intensive two-year program.

First Circuit Veterans Treatment Court Presiding Judge Edward H. Kubo, Jr. (left) congratulates a veteran of the program’s January 2017 graduating class. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Matthew K.H. McCarville, an Associate Vice President at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (right), served as the distinguished speaker for the First Circuit Veterans Treatment Court’s fourth graduation ceremony.

Twenty-two veterans have now successfully completed the First Circuit program since it was initiated by Judge Edward Kubo in 2013.  Over the past four years an increasing number of attorneys have heard about the Veterans Treatment Court and submitted applications for their clients to be referred to the program.  Hawaii now has Veterans Treatment Courts on both Oahu and Hawaii Island (Third Circuit).

Soldiers returning from war have demonstrably higher rates of co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, pain, and substance use disorders (SUDs) than the general population.  Often, these issues are compounded by family strife, unemployment, and homelessness, ultimately leading to incarceration.

A 2016 study published by the Community Mental Health Journal found that veterans who participate in veterans treatment courts experience significant improvement in housing, relationships and social connection, overall functioning and well-being, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and mental and emotional health.

The Veterans Treatment Court takes a holistic approach to helping veterans by providing them with the resources and treatment they need to regain their health, obtain steady employment, and return to being law-abiding citizens so they may enjoy the freedoms they helped protect.

Each program participant has undergone extensive treatment and counseling, which includes frequent urinalysis, meetings with probation officers, and court appearances.  Many of the services rendered to these veterans were provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at no cost to the state of Hawaii.

Participants have also been assisted with finding housing and employment.  Their graduation celebrates their success in achieving a clean and sober lifestyle and a chance for a successful future with a job and other opportunities.

“I’d like to thank the staff from the U.S. Vets and Sand Island Treatment Center for their role in Veterans Treatment Court,” said Judge Edward Kubo.  “I’d like to also recognize the volunteer veteran mentors, who are an integral part of this program’s success.  These men and women understand the difficulties our program participants are facing, and walk alongside them throughout the process of recovery.  Veterans Treatment Court is a team effort, and that’s what changes lives.”

USS Michael Murphy to Begin Western Pacific Deployment

USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) is scheduled to depart Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for a regularly-scheduled deployment with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region on Friday, Jan. 13.

USS Michael Murphy (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman/Released)

Michael Murphy will deploy with a crew of approximately 320 Sailors and a detachment of MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 37, the “Easyriders,” based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, who trained for months to earn deployment certification.

“The crew has worked tirelessly in preparation for this deployment, said Cmdr. Robert A. Heely, Jr., commanding officer, USS Michael Murphy. “Team Murphy will be challenged with diverse mission sets within the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. Their resiliency will be tested, but they are up to the task and are ready to perform as part of Carrier Strike Group One.”

While deployed, the Carl Vinson CSG will remain under U.S. 3rd Fleet command and control, including beyond the international dateline which previously divided operational areas of responsibility for 3rd and 7th fleets. Third Fleet operating forward offers additional options to the Pacific Fleet commander by leveraging the capabilities of 3rd and 7th Fleets. This operational concept allows both numbered fleets to complement one another and provide the foundation of stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.

“Our forward presence contributes to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea, as well as furthers operational training and enabling the exchange of culture, skills and tactical knowledge,” said Rear Adm. James W. Kilby, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.  Third Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and embarked Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 1 deployed from San Diego, January 5 with Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).

The Carl Vinson CSG deployed with approximately 7,500 Sailors and will focus on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.  The strike group assets will conduct bilateral exercises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to include anti-submarine warfare, maneuvering drills, gunnery exercises and visit, board, search and seizure subject matter expert exchanges.

Senator Kahele Invites Public to His Last Landing with Hawaii Air National Guard

Tomorrow, Sunday, January 8th 2017, Senator Kai Kahele will command his final flight back to Hilo with the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, where his flying career began in 1992 as an 18 year old student pilot at Benchmark Flight Training.

Senator Kahele has told me that this is open to the public and folks will be able to check out the C-17 in person. He is estimated to arrive at 10:00AM and will have the C-17 Globemaster III on display for the public until 11:15AM.

Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Major Kahele was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 2001. He earned his USAF pilot wings at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi in 2002 and has flown numerous aircraft in the USAF to include the T-37, T-38, F-15, C-130 and C-17. He is a veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and has accumulated over 3000+ hours of worldwide military flight time. He has commanded numerous USAF combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of the USAF Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal & USAF Commendation Medal.

“Mahalo to my HIANG 204th airlift squadron ‘ohana for a great pau hana Saturday before my C17 final flight tomorrow back to where it all started…Hilo” stated Sen. Kai Kahele tonight on his Facebook page

Children, friends, family and aviation enthusiasts are invited. Participants will get to view the cockpit and the entire aircraft as well as talk to an F-22 Raptor Pilot and other C-17 pilots and loadmasters about how to become a United States Air Force military pilot and pursue a USAF career.

**Bring your kids and family to Hilo airport tomorrow morning at 10:00AM to check out the C17 Globemaster** (Old Hilo Airport Tower/Cargo Terminal by NAS Swimming Pool)

Cameras are welcome and please bring your families!

Gabbard-Cook Reintroduce Bill Encouraging Employers to Hire More Veterans

Today, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Paul Cook (CA-08) introduced the HIRE Vets Act of 2017. This bipartisan bill, which was previously introduced last Congress, passed the House with unanimous support in November 2016, but did not pass the Senate before the end of the year.

The legislation would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create an award program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Roughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every single day, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans that have returned home since 9/11. While we’ve taken some important steps to encourage employers to hire more veterans, more than 400,000 veterans across the country are still unemployed today. Through their service, veterans develop unique skills, experiences, and leadership training that make them especially valuable to employers. The HIRE Vets Act incentivizes employers to hire veterans, and recognizes employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees. I encourage our colleagues to join us in passing this bill unanimously again to move this support for our veterans and employers forward.”

Rep. Paul Cook said, “The HIRE Vets Act is an opportunity for Americans to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment, and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a twice-deployed combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. She continues to serve as a Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

Feature Commentary: A ship, a crew, the sea and a $7 billion fishery

U.S. Coast Guard photos and story by Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooers

The sea and sky are dark. One fades into the other. The bright deck lights of a foreign fishing boat are the only horizon reference. Roughly 70-feet in length, at two miles away, the boat appears as a dot. “Set LE Phase 1,” rings out over the 1MC, the ship’s on board intercom system.
I’m aboard the mighty warship Sequoia, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam – America’s westernmost territory. Out in the Philippine Sea, standing on the buoy deck I can feel the ship roll gently under my feet as we transit toward the fishing boat.
It’s 2000 hours, the sun has long since set, but I can still feel residual heat from the metal decks and bulkheads of the ship radiate up at me. The moist sea air wraps around me in a wet bear hug and I can feel my body armor secured over my t-shirt cling to me. Droplets of sweat escape from my hairline under my helmet. We’ve been over the plan, briefed the evolution, attempted to hail the vessel master in Mandarin and English, done our risk analysis to assess complexity and overall safety and now it’s time to go.

The sound of the water is interrupted by the unmistakable mechanical hums and chirps of outboard engines. The cutter’s small boat, piloted by a boatswain’s mate, comes alongside the buoy deck prepared to take us aboard and transport us to the fishing boat.

One by one the boarding team goes over the side: four Coast Guard members and an Australian Fisheries Management Authority officer; Lydia Woodhouse. The ship is running nearly dark. A faint red glow can be seen on the bridge. The running lights of the small boat wink at me red and green. It’s my turn. Senior Chief Petty Officer Ryan Petty, who runs the deck force, stands next to the Jacob’s ladder. A flashlight in his hand with a red lens lights the flat orange rungs of the ladder as they knock against the black hull and leads to the water and the small boat more than 10 feet below.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Brett Malone, a damage controlman and boarding team member, part of a joint boarding team from the buoy tender USCGC Sequoia (WLB-215) commence a horseshoe around the longline fishing vessel Chi Chih Ching No. 21 to conduct boarding in the Palau exclusive economic zone Sept. 5, 2016. The boardings were conducted under a U.S. Coast Guard and Palau bilateral agreement with additional support from the Marine Forces Pacific and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

I step gingerly onto a bitt on Sequoia’s deck just below the gunwale, adjacent to where the ladder is secured. I heave myself over the side and onto the ladder, a vice-like grip on the top of the gunwale. “Snaps, over the side!” calls Petty into his radio up to the bridge. The small boat rises and falls with the swell beneath my feet. Nearly to the bottom, the boat drops just as I let go of the ladder. The hand of a boat crewman and engineer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Peterson, grabs the loop of my backpack. “Snaps in the boat,” calls Petty.
Continue reading