military

David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons

Fort Campbell is closer to breaking ground on an alternative energy project that will build the largest solar array in the state. 

Last week, project coordinators received the green light to break ground in two weeks’ time which will see installation of 5,814 solar modules on 25 acres generating over 2,466 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.  

Ft. Campbell Resource Efficiency Manager Dewayne Smith says the base’s electric utility, Pennyrile Rural Electric Co-op, is fronting the capital costs which will be paid back through the energy savings.  The array will generate a 5 megawatts capacity, alleviating some of the base’s 31 megawatt average monthly demand.

It's also part of a initiative under the American Renewable Energy Act requiring 25 percent of government installations’ power to be produced by renewables by 2025.  For Fort Campbell, those renewables include the solar array as well as a 20 megawatt biomass-burning plant.

A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is coming to Hardin County this week as part of a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the war.

The traveling wall contains all of the names of U.S. military personnel killed during the war, and will arrive in Radcliff on Thursday. Event organizer and Vietnam veteran David Cowherd says the replica wall offers a chance for those who haven’t seen the Washington memorial to pay tribute to those who died, as well POWs and MIAs.

“They served there with us, and they are in some case family members and really close friends. So it helps with some of the healing, in my view,” said Cowherd, who served in the Navy during the war in southeast Asia.

The replica wall will be on display in Radcliff from Thursday through Sunday. Area schools are bringing students to see the wall, and a candlelight service honoring Hardin County natives killed in the Vietnam War is being held Saturday night.

Vietnam War veterans are invited to a Sunday afternoon group photo shoot in front of the traveling wall.

A Daviess County roadway is being renamed in honor of the county’s first Vietnam War casualty.

The state is designating ten miles of Kentucky 144 as the SP5 Charles Francis Millay Memorial Highway.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports a ceremony will be held Saturday morning at St. William Catholic Church in Millay’s hometown of Knottsville.

Millay was 23 and on his second tour of Vietnam when the helicopter he was in was shot down over the southern providence of Binh Dinh in 1965. He died along with eight others aboard the helicopter.

Millay served as a crew chief and door gunner with the 145th Airlift Platoon.

A motorcycle escort will ride through St. William Cemetery, where Millay is buried, to pay tribute to him. A 21-gun military salute and the playing of taps will conclude the ceremony.

Ft. Campbell

A two-state coalition of local governments and chambers of commerce is planning to lobby against looming personnel cuts at Fort Campbell.

The sprawling military base on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line is facing a potential reduction of half its 32,000 payroll as part of sequestration in the Department of Defense’s budget. The Fort Campbell cuts were one of the possible scenarios outlined in a June 2014 Army report.

The reduction would also have a strong negative economic impact on surrounding communities.  

In January, Hopkinsville's city council sent a letter urging Congress to block the possible reduction at the base.

The joint partnership includes the governments of Montgomery and Christian County, Clarksville and Hopkinsville city governments, the Hopkinsville Chamber of Commerce and the privately-funded Aspire Clarksville Foundation. The group has hired Cassidy & Associates to maximize Fort Campbell's exposure in Washington ahead of the DoD's decision.

A WKU graduate believed to have been held as a prisoner of war longer than any other Kentuckian has died at the age of 85.

The Courier-Journal reports Col. Dewey Lee Smith of Louisville passed away this week while on vacation in Alabama.

Smith served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. The plane he was flying was shot down June 2, 1967, over North Vietnam.  Smith was captured and held as a P.O.W. for nearly six years until his release on March 4, 1973.

He was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart.

Smith was commissioned a second lieutenant through the WKU Air Force ROTC program in 1953, and joined active duty later that year. He also played on the WKU football team.

More than 1,500 western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee residents gathered at Fort Campbell Tuesday night to share concerns about potential cuts.

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live.

Ft. Knox

Veterans and their dependents are being encouraged to attend a military jobs fair at Fort Knox Thursday. The Hardin County military post is hosting about 70 organizations that are looking to hire veterans and their spouses.

Jake Hutchings is director of the group Civilianjobs.com, which is overseeing the event. He says veterans should be prepared to explain how their military service can translate into success at a corporate workforce.

“How do you take that 15-year, 20-year career—or even a five-year career with a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan--and compartmentalize that down to two minutes of, ‘hey, this is what I’ve done in the service, these are the skills I’ve learned, and this is the value I bring to your organization’? So if there’s a veteran out there listening, that’s the first place to start.”

Hutchings says many civilian employers have come to appreciate the leadership and technical skills many veterans possess. Hutchings is himself a veteran, and says employers are seeking out veterans out of respect, not pity.

Basetrack began as a place for embedded journalists to post photos. Later it became a social media site where families could keep up with their troops in Afghanistan. Now it has transformed again, into a new way for the most recent generation of veterans to tell the story of their service and survival.

Report: Obesity Often Keeps Kentuckians From Serving in Military

Oct 7, 2014
U.S. Army

A new report shows that many young adults in Kentucky are ineligible for military service due to obesity.

Retired Army Major Gen. Allen Youngman presented the report, "Retreat is not an option for Kentucky," during the Southern Obesity Summit Monday in Louisville.

Youngman says being overweight is the leading medical disqualifier for military service in Kentucky.

Combined with factors like lack of education and having a criminal background, Kentucky’s disqualification rate is 73 percent, three points higher than the national average.

"They don't have to be in perfect shape when they come in but to pass a certain point it's been demonstrated over and over again that it would be doing them a disservice and a disservice to the military to  put them into uniform and expect them to meet the standards," said Youngman.

Obesity doesn't just affect potential recruits.  Youngman says there was a 61 percent increase in obesity among active duty members between 2002 and 2011.

Vietnam War-era veterans and their families are being invited to Kentucky's first major event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs says the event is set for Sept. 25 at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort. The names of Kentucky's 1,103 fallen soldiers in Vietnam are carved into the base of the memorial.

Guests will include Gov. Steve Beshear, Medal of Honor recipient Don Jenkins and Joe Galloway, author of "We Were Soldiers Once."

The event is part of the national 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration, which runs through 2025.

Soldiers Biking for Health

Sep 17, 2014

About 20 soldiers from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox who've been wounded or injured or who are ill are riding bicycles from one post to the other this week.

Warrior Transition Battalion physical therapist Rebecca Murphy is one of the event coordinators. She says while the soldiers will be pedaling the 164 miles, their cadre and chain of command will be with them, pedaling alongside them.

Murphy says biking gives soldiers obvious health benefits of physical activity and positive social interaction with other riders. She says it also relieves stress.

U.S. Army

One of the state’s leading veterans advocates is imploring state lawmakers to create a new position to connect the rising number of female veterans across the state with new services designed for them.

There are about 30,000 female veterans in Kentucky. But Margaret Plattner, a retired Lt. Col. with the National Guard and the deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, says just under 2,000 of them have applied for benefits.

She says  that the number of homeless female veterans in Kentucky, about 250, is growing faster than that of their male counterparts, and they suffer from domestic violence trauma in greater numbers than men.

Plattner implored a panel of lawmakers in Frankfort to create a position  for the state to bridge the gap.

Ft. Knox

Hardin County area business and political leaders are in the final stages of an effort to stave off proposed cuts at the Fort Knox military post.

The Army has said Ft. Knox could lose up to 4,100 soldier and civilian jobs if maximum cuts are implemented in 2016. That would be on top of the 3,500 positions already eliminated with the inactivation of the Third Brigade Infantry Combat Team, which is winding down operations by the close of this year.

Under the worst-case scenario facing the post, $500 million in payroll would be lost if the latest cuts become a reality.

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