Aircraft from more than a dozen military units will be operating in northern Michigan over the next several weeks as part of a major training exercise involving military personnel from Canada, Latvia, Poland, Australia and 20 states’ military forces. Northern Strike is unique in that it combines both air and ground combat capabilities in one training exercise. “Northern Strike allows us to train the way we fight,” said the exercise director, Michigan Air National Guard Lt. Col. Matthew Trumble. “When we deploy to a combat theater, ground and air assets work closely together to accomplish their objectives. This exercise simulates operations in a counter insurgency environment, similar to situations the U.S. military has been involved with over the past several years.” More than 3,000 Soldiers, Airmen and Marines will participate in the fourth annual Northern Strike exercise, based primarily at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. Live fire exercises involving small arms, mortars, artillery and aerial munitions will take place on Camp Grayling from July 20-31. While each Northern Strike exercise has its share of distinguished visitors, this year is unique in having the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, scheduled to visit on July 27th. “Having the chief visit demonstrates the impact Michigan is having on the national stage”, said Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and adjutant general for the Michigan National Guard. “We look forward to showing off the capabilities of the Michigan Guard during his stay.” Aircraft scheduled to participate in the exercise include Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, KC-135 Stratotankers, A-10 Thunderbolts, C-130 Hercules, E-8 JSTARS; and Army UH-60 Blackhawks, CH-47 Chinooks, UH-72 Lakota and the RQ-7 Shadow. A number of the aircraft will be staged at the Alpena CRTC during the exercise, while others will fly in from their home station for specific training missions. Army ground forces participating in the exercise include infantry, armored cavalry, reconnaissance and signals units. The significant size of Camp Grayling (147,000 acres) allows the ground forces to maneuver while employing a variety of tactical weapon systems to include M-4 rifle, M240B machine gun, 60mm and 81mm mortars and M-777, 155mm howitzers. While the exercise focuses […]
BY SAMANTHA MACK Michael Stephens wrote a poem while in the hospital in 1968 during the Vietnam War (see sidebar). This act of creativity began his lifelong journey to personal healing. Michael was drafted into the U.S. Army on Sept. 7, 1967. He worked up through the ranks in the jungle of Vietnam and became a squad leader, a Sergeant E5. “It was a stressful situation,” Michael said. “I was wounded in Vietnam. I saw my friends’ body parts get blown off of them. I saw them die, and I was one of the lucky ones that made it alive. To this day, I still have survivor guilt and nightmares. It was a bad war, a waste. “Back home, protestors were marching at the White House against the soldiers. I was very angry. I had to vent that anger, so I wrote ‘Soldier Alone,’” he added. Michael served his country for two years before coming home. After fully recovering from his wounds in Vietnam, he went to Grand Rapids Junior College (now Grand Rapids Community College) and then transferred to Grand Valley State University to study physical education. Teaching physical fitness was an obvious choice for him. “I was always active,” he said. “I worked out and took Judo and karate lessons as a young boy. When I was in the service I became a squad leader and led the soldiers in physical fitness. Afterward, I wanted to teach children to take care of themselves physically, and I wanted to push health and nutrition on them. Plus, focusing on physical education and health helped me forget the war and move on with my life.” Since Michael could only find part-time work as a physical education teacher and had previous experience in the construction business in high school, he started Stephens Properties. He buys, fixes, and either sells or rents out homes. The best part of this job is that he sells homes to young people, particularly couples, for reasonable prices. “I want to give them a chance. The banks ask for 20 percent down on the purchase of a home. I offer them just five or 10 percent down with low monthly payments,” he said. Michael still works part-time in the real estate business and […]
Navy Seaman Recruit Emily N. Angstman, daughter of John E. Angstman of Rockford, recently graduated from Operations Specialist School with honors. During the course at the Center for Surface Combat System Unit, Great Lakes, Ill., Angstman learned to operate surveillance and search radars, recognize and identify electronic signals, control aircraft approach devices and operate electronic navigation systems. Studies are designed to prepare operations specialists for duty in a shipboard combat information center or at a shore-based fleet training center. Angstman is a 2010 graduate of Sparta High School.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas R. Sizemore recently graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force. Sizemore earned distinction as an honor graduate. He is the son of David Sizemore of Cedar Springs and Kimberlee Norman of Rockford. The airman is a 2006 graduate of Kent City High School.
Army 2nd Lt. Kevin D. Carrier has graduated from Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga., and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. During the 12 weeks of training, the officer candidate received “basic soldiering” instruction in leadership, professional ethics, soldier team development, combined arms tactics, weapons defense, combat water survival, squad drill, intelligence, field training exercises, day and night land navigation, confidence obstacle course, common core tasks, communications, staff and general military subjects, and physical fitness tests which include three-, four- and five-mile runs, and foot marches between 5-12 miles carrying rucksacks. The candidate is tested on leadership skills and team work abilities required of a commissioned officer. Students learned to utilize acquired skills to function in “leader and follower” positions in squad and platoon sized elements, and evaluated in various leadership garrison positions while in a stressful and demanding field environment. Carrier is the son of Meg Hackett of Rockford. He is a 2004 graduate of Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008 from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.