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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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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Santa Fe students recall gunman’s chilling words, getting shot during carnage

Students at a Texas high school continue to grapple with the aftermath of a school shooting that left 10 of their classmates and teachers dead.

Confessed teen gunman Dimitrios Pagourtzis taunted his victims as he made his way through Santa Fe High School Friday with a .38-caliber handgun and a shotgun, one witness said.

“He was playing music, making jokes while he was doing it,” survivor Trenton Beazley recalled Monday on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” “Every time he would kill someone he would say, ‘Another one bites the dust.’ “

Beazley – one of more than a dozen students wounded in the hail of bullets fired by the 17-year-old Pagourtzis – said someone finally told him a bullet grazed him after he helped a female classmate who had also been shot.

Santa Fe sophomore Rome Shubert didn’t realize a bullet went through the back of his head until he was almost 300 feet away from the school.

“I was running and I looked down and noticed a little blood on my shirt,” he said in a separate interview with “GMA.” At first he believed “it was somebody else’s and somebody told me I had been shot in the back of the head.”

But Shubert miraculously survived without any bullet fragments going into his head, and was able to make it to his baseball game the next day.

“The bullet went through the back of my head and through the side of my head,” he said. “If it had been anywhere else, upside down or diagonal I could have been paralyzed or killed.”

The pitcher, who’s committed to the University of Houston, said he decided to play on Saturday with the victims’ initials on his wrist to “give a little feeling of hope.”

“I just want to be out there for all my friends and show them that I’m still there with them,” he said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for the entire state to have a moment of silence Monday at 10 a.m.

Funerals began Sunday for some of those killed in the massacre, with a service for Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh at a mosque in Stafford, Texas.

Rome Shubert’s mother, Sheri, told “GMA” on Monday that she expected her son’s suburban Houston school would eventually fall victim to a shooter.

“Sadly I did,” she said, blaming a disregard for people with mental illness. “I felt like it’s a pattern with these shootings, and nothing has changed after each one of them. We debate gun control, then we’re numb and it goes away. And then there’s another shooting.”

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© 2018 New York Daily News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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