Sub Base marks 76th anniversary of Navy’s victory over Japanese fleet at Battle of Midway

The mission of the submarines, including the one J. Deen Brown was on, was to form a semi-circle southwest of Midway to ensure that Japanese transport ships loaded with thousands of soldiers and equipment couldn’t reach and invade the island.

In recent years, Brown, 95, of Oakdale, has been the sole Battle of Midway veteran at the Naval Submarine Base’s annual commemoration of the event. Navy officials and a small crowd on Monday marked the 76th anniversary of the three-day battle, recognized as the turning point of World War II in the Pacific

“I feel sometimes like maybe I’m being a little spoiled. But it is an honor and I do appreciate very much the attention and consideration I’ve received,” said Brown, who turns 96 on Friday.

The battle, which started at 4:30 a.m. on June 4, 1942, happened six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After Pearl Harbor, Japanese commander Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto wanted to lure what remained of the American fleet to Midway and destroy it, then invade and use the island as a base for attacking Hawaii.

“Our nation and Navy’s response was just as forthright,” said Capt. Paul Whitescarver, commanding officer of the base, explaining that on June 4, 1942, U.S. aircraft flying from three aircraft carriers – USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown – attacked and sunk four Japanese carriers, which had attacked Pearl Harbor.

“By June 6, 1942, Admiral Yamamoto and his Japanese forces were forced to withdraw,” Whitescarver said.

The battle was not the most challenging for submarines – that would come later in the war – but Brown and the rest of the crew assigned to the USS Trout (SS 202) had to frantically prepare the submarine to head to Midway. The submarine only had two working engines because it had been damaged two months earlier while supporting the Doolittle Raid, the first U.S. air raid to strike the Japanese home islands.

“We didn’t anticipate having to go to Midway,” Brown said. “It came as a very, very quick surprise.”

The submarine was getting ready to receive a radar system, cutting edge technology at the time, and had to repair the other disassembled engines while underway to Midway in rough seas with “a rolling and tossing ship,” Brown said.

Midway laid the foundation for the ultimate end of the war, Whitescarver said, noting that D-Day, when Allied troops invaded Normandy, France, two years after the Midway battle, was a “cornerstone to that end” and marks its 74th anniversary on Wednesday.

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© 2018 The Day (New London, Conn.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Palestinians are flying ‘fire balloons’ into Israeli territory, report says

Palestinian protestors are sending flaming helium balloons into Israeli territory during the “March of Return” protests in Gaza, following similar stories last month of burning “incendiary kites” being flown and injuring protestors.

The tactic has resulted in thousands of acres of valuable farm land and nature preserves being burned, the Times of Israel reported.

The helium balloons outfitted with flaming material attached to a long string have been used for at least the last month and a half, but the tactic has more recently picked up traction. Approximately 4,300 acres of land have already been burned as a result of more than 250 fires during the last two months from both balloons and kites.

For now, the Israeli military says that it has yet to come up with a way to combat the threat of the flaming objects. Originally, a pilot program utilizing drones to shoot down the objects was in practice, but ultimately deemed a failure, Israel’s Kan TV said. Instead, Israel must resort to preparedness and a rapid response when fires do break out.

The biggest problem, authorities said, is that the fires have destroyed valuable farm land along with more than half of Isreal’s nature reserves. Farmers are tasked with digging out borders surrounding the fires in order to starve the flames out and save some of the land, and around 2,470 acres of parks and natural reserves have also been destroyed just in the last few weeks.

On Saturday, some 74 acres of the Carmia nature reserve burned in one of the largest individual fires since the start of the protests. The damage claimed one-third of the park’s total land area, and Israel’s Hadashot news reported that the blaze was likely started by a fire balloon.

Approximately 620 acres of Jewish National Fund forests have also burned, according to a spokesperson for the organization.

The fires will likely cost Israel millions of dollars in damages, with the Tax Authority estimating that the farmland alone will need more than $1.4 million to recover. The money will be paid out from the government’s fund for damage caused by terrorist activity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced that the government would withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority to cover the costs. The decision was met with some criticism by analysts who pointed out that the PA does not control the Gaza Strip, and punishing the PA for Hamas’ actions would likely encourage Hamas to continue with its fire-enduing tactics rather than stopping them.

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Sailor wins again at Japan’s grueling Iron Dog competition, which Navy says is like CrossFit for handlers and canines

A Yokosuka master-at-arms has won U.S. Forces Japan’s Iron Dog competition for the second year in a row.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ashly Lester and her dog, Ttibor, recently competed against 17 other working-dog teams from across all services in the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Forces, the Navy announced Friday.

The service described the May 17 challenge at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo as a series of “grueling tasks that to outsiders may seem more akin to a CrossFit competition or Ironman race.”

Canine competitors sniffed for explosive odors over three floors of a tower, extracted suspects from cars and ignored distractions like gunfire to complete handlers’ commands. Handlers completed physical tasks, including dragging 200-pound mannequins 50 meters and carrying their more than 80-pound dogs up eight flights of stairs.

The handlers’ veterinary skills were also tested through pretend situations such as helping a dog with an open chest wound or one that’s in shock. Lester said these skills translate directly to the battlefield.

“We are trained in basic veterinary skills so that if we were down range on a mission and something goes wrong, we’re not just sitting there asking ‘What do I do?’” she said. “We can at least do something [to help] until we can get the dog emergency care.”

Though it was the second year in a row that Lester took home the win, it was the first year for young Ttibor to compete. Lester used a different dog last year, but said she was impressed by how well the 2-year-old brown and blonde dog performed.

“He was doing things he hadn’t done before and he was doing them fluidly,” she said. “I was just so happy with him.”

Master-at-Arms Master Chief James Meares, who manages the military working dog program at U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., commended Lester, according to the Navy statement.

“Lester took the right ingredients for success: hard work, patience, perseverance and the fighting spirit of the Navy,” he said. “I know this achievement will inspire those around her.”

Lester said competitions such as Iron Dog pushes handlers and their dogs toward excellence.

“I know every rate says this about the Navy, that they have the best job, but I really love this job,” she said. “I think most of us that are in this program have the personality where we want to compete and we want our dog to be the best. And that’s just a good group of people to be around because you’re always pushing one another in some facet to be better.”

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Access the Citizens’ Voice e-Edition on your computer or smart device in its original print format. Home delivery subscribers can read it free! Digital Only Subscription Read the digital e-Edition of The Citizens’ Voice on your PC or mobile device, and have 24/7 access to breaking news, local sports, contests, and more at citizensvoice.com or on our mobile apps.

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US ‘openly supports’ terrorists in Syria: Turkish FM

The United States “openly supports” the militants of PYD and YPG, which are the wings of the terrorist organization PKK in Syria, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, the Turkish media reported May 31.

The FM noted that instead of fighting terrorists in Syria together with Turkey, the United States preferred cooperation with them.

“A state claiming that it is fighting with terrorists, can’t support them,” said Cavusoglu.

The FM also noted that Turkey is the only country that is fighting terrorists in Syria.

Earlier, Turkey’s president also accused the US of providing military support to the PYD and YPG terrorists in Syria

On January 20, the Turkish armed forces launched the Operation Olive Branch together with the Free Syrian Army in the Syrian region of Afrin.

On August 24, 2016, units of the Turkish Armed Forces began the Operation Euphrates Shield against militants of the “Islamic State” and with the support of the Syrian opposition liberated the border town of Jarablus in Northern Syria, as well as the city of al-Bab.

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© 2018 Trend News Agency (Baku, Azerbaijan)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Calling all hunters: Everglades National Park wants you to kill its Burmese pythons

Faced with an unrelenting spread of invasive Burmese pythons that have mostly wiped out marsh rabbits, bobcats and other small mammals, Everglades National Park is doing something for the first time in its 70-year history: opening park borders to paid hunters.

On Thursday, Superintendent Pedro Ramos announced plans to team up with state wildlife officers who last year began hiring hunters to kill the voracious snakes.

“We’ve been chasing this problem trying to find a solution and frankly we ran up against a wall over and over again,” he told the Miami Herald. “That history requires us to be open-minded and flexible.”

Adding the park to territory already being patrolled by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and South Florida Water Management District hunters will open up the epicenter of the python invasion to hunters’ cross-hairs more than two decades after they first appeared.

But the move is not without controversy.

In 2015 when Ramos agreed to allow volunteer hunters into the park for the state’s popular Python Challenge, backlash from an environmental group prompted him to scale back participation to all but a few permitted trappers.

The National Park Service bans sport hunting in parks, but not managed removal of unwanted wildlife. Rock Creek Park, north of downtown Washington, has been holding a contentious hunt to cull deer since 2013 to save the park’s native plants. About 75 areas managed by the National Park Service covering more than 50 million acres allow hunting, which sometimes causes confusion over rules in parks.

The park has also allowed the Swamp Apes, a volunteer group of military vets, to trap snakes for about a decade.

But competition with paid programs for hunters appears to be driving down participation: In the last year just 70 or so snakes were caught inside the park compared to about 200 snakes during each of the previous two years, said chief biologist Tylan Dean.

After years of failed efforts — including snake-sniffing dogs and tagged Judas snakes — Ramos said it’s time for more aggressive tactics.

“This to us is clearly not hunting in a national park. This is a serious effort to bring people who want to help us with this problem get these things out of the park,” he said. “It is a program aimed at removing an exotic species that is having some very deep negative impacts on this landscape.”

It’s also an attempt to learn more about their habits, he said, and slow a spread that in 2016 reached the northern Florida Keys for the first time. The snakes are so difficult to detect, and marshes so impenetrable, that even determining their numbers remains difficult, said Kristin Sommers, the state’s exotic species coordinator.

“The low range would be tens of hundreds and the high range would be hundreds of thousands,” she said.

South Florida may never be free of the snakes, but managed hunts in recent years have shown promise. Last year, the wildlife commission and the University of Florida brought snake hunters from India for a month-long pilot project that bagged 14 pythons in two weeks, including a 16-foot female carrying dozens of eggs. The water management district’s paid hunt topped 1,000 last week.

Authorized hunters will be vetted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission and need to meet a handful of qualifications including proof that they’ve legally bagged at least three pythons. Hunters will also earn the same rate paid to district hunters: minimum wage plus $50 for every four-foot snake and $25 for each additional foot.

They will be given access to almost every corner of the park at all hours, but will not be allowed near visitors including the Coe Visitor Center and Anhinga Trail, while the park is open.

The park hopes to get hunters started as early as July and eventually have up to 120, which would triple the number of volunteers now trapping snakes.

“Using current technology to eliminate pythons is impossible, so we’ll try to eliminate as many as we can,” Ramos said. “Maybe some day we’ll find a way to really get the upper hand.”

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© 2018 Miami Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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UK contractor to pay $20 million to settle lawsuit claiming it overcharged US Navy

U.K. contractor Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company intentionally over-billed the U.S. Navy under contracts for ship husbanding services.

The marine services contractor violated the False Claims Act, the U.S. Department of Justice announced this week.

Inchcape provided ships with food and other survival items, waste removal, telephone services, ship-to-shore transportation, force protection services and local transportation to U.S. Navy ships.

The Navy ships were located at ports in southwest Asia, Africa, Panama, North America, South America and Mexico.

The lawsuit alleged that from 2005 to 2014, Inchcape submitted intentionally inflated invoices for goods and services, and in some instances even double billed.

“Federal contractors may only charge the government for costs allowed by their federal contracts. The Department of Justice will take action against contractors that knowingly submit inflated claims to the armed forces — or any other agency of the United States — as those inflated claims wrongfully divert taxpayer dollars,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said: “We trust contractors supporting our warfighters to act with the utmost integrity and expect them to comply with their obligations to bill the government as called for by their contracts. This settlement reflects our Office’s strong commitment to holding accountable those who violate these fundamental principles, no matter where they may be located.”

“This settlement demonstrates that the Department of the Navy will continue to hold contractors accountable for the agreements they make to supply our fleet. The Department expects strict adherence to higher standards within the Department and expects the same from its contractors,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said.

Jeremy Gauthier, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) D.C. field office, said: “Fraud is an abuse of the system that siphons resources away from the American warfighter. NCIS will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold responsible those who would put personal gain above corporate integrity.”

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