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Restaurant at The Greene awards $5,000 scholarship to daughter of Beavercreek USAF veteran

The Asian restaurant bd’s Mongolian Grill will donate $5,000 in scholarship funds to a Beavercreek family for use by a U.S. Air Force veteran’s daughter who is a freshman at Ohio State University.

The check will be presented at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at the bd’s Mongolian Grill at The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek.

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The bd’s Mongolian Grill chain and its fellow Mongolian Concepts brands Genghis Grill and FlatTop Grill raises money for Folds of Honor, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational scholarships to spouses and children of fallen and disabled U.S. service-members.

Megan Kafka is the daughter of retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel Robert S. Kafka, who served for more than 20 years under Operation New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Sea Signal, and Operation Support Justice IV.

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 “Folds of Honor wouldn’t be able to provide scholarships to these deserving families if it weren’t for the generous support of extraordinary companies like bd’s Mongolian Grill,” Chick Linski, senior vice president of the Folds of Honor Foundation, said in a release. “We are extremely excited with the outcome of this partnership. No one deserves this money more than the Kafka family.” 

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From Oct. 29 through Veterans Day on Nov. 11, guests at create-your-own-stir-fry bd’s Mongolian Grill locations supported Folds of Honor by purchasing $2 pin-ups to display in the restaurants. Guests were able to write-in who they “dedicated” the pin-up to (Active, Veteran or Family Member). And on Veterans Day, each bd’s location donated 10 percent of food sales to local Folds of Honor chapters. Mongolian Concepts raised more than  $43,000 for Folds of Honor through this year’s campaign. 

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Folds of Honor’s scholarships support private education tuition and tutoring for children in grades K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and dependents. Founded in 2007 by Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard who served three tours of duty in Iraq, Folds of Honor is proud to have awarded more than 20,000 scholarships in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. For more information or to donate in support of a Folds of Honor scholarship, visit www.foldsofhonor.org.

>> Daytonian of the Week: Matt Boosalis, founder and owner of his namesake bakery-cafe

Group flies large Confederate flag along North Carolina interstate

The Sons of Confederate Veterans have placed a 20-foot-by-30-foot Confederate flag along I-40 in North Carolina.

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The group is flying the flag in eastern Burke County because it believes the University of North Carolina is trying to hide the toppled Confederate statue, Silent Sam, by placing it inside a building.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans erected the flag to honor those from Burke County who fought in the Civil War.

The organization said it will place huge flags along major highways in North Carolina for every Confederate memorial removed in the state.

“This is our repercussion for this,” Burke Tigers Sons of Confederate Commander Elgie McGallird said. “As long as they keep desecrating and taking our memorials down, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”

 

North Georgia town readies for return of Korean War veteran’s remains

Cpl. Terrell J. Fuller went missing in Korea in 1951. Two years later, the U.S. Army presumed him dead. 

On Thursday, his remains come home and on Saturday, what would have been his 88th birthday, he’ll be buried in his native Tocca.

“It’s closure to the family,” said his great-niece, Amy Hix. “It’s just a wonderful homecoming to have him come home and be buried on American soil.”

Fuller’s remains arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 7:15 a.m. Thursday and there will be a private honor-guard ceremony in a hangar. After that, the procession will travel north via Interstates 85 and 985, then Hwy. 123 into town, taking Broad, Doyle and Pond streets on the way to Acree-Davis Funeral Home. 

Hix’ son, Will Grafton, currently serving in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort Stewart, will escort his great, great-uncle’s remains.

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“Pretty much the entire town of Toccoa will line the streets and welcome him home,” Hix said.

The procession is expected to arrive in the north Georgia town between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Area Scout troops, veterans groups and other organizations are expected to assemble in downtown Toccoa and along the 985 overpasses along the procession route.

The public visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home, and the Saturday burial service will be private.

Rev. Jerrell Beatty will officiate on Saturday.

“It’s just an honor,” he said. “I appreciate anyone who serves this great country we live in. Freedom is not free. Somebody had to pay the price, and one of those were Cpl. Fuller.”

We’re working to find out more about Fuller, who was about 20 when he entered the service. The Atlanta Constitution’s war coverage at the time noted him a few times.

“Pfc. Fuller is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Fuller,” an article from Sept. 30, 1953 reads. “His mother said last night he was captured in February 1951 and that she was notified in March of that year that he was officially missing in action. Pfc. Fuller attended school in Toccoa. His father is a farmer. Besides the parents, there are a brother, Cosby, and two sisters, Ruby and Myrtle Lou Fuller. The soldier entered the service in August 1951. He is 23 years old and unmarried.”

Hix said there are no living relatives in Toccoa, and isn’t sure who might have known him. Fuller was her mother’s uncle, but she never knew him and remembers his name being mentioned rarely, and in hushed tones, when she was growing up. 

Fuller’s remains were recovered years ago, but only recently identified with DNA testing.

“It’s amazing. When I got the phone call from my mother stating all of this I was just like, what?” Hix said. “For 67 years of no answers and then all of a sudden his remains are in Hawaii.”

And soon, they’ll be home.

Military brides in Dayton can get a free wedding dress this week

A local organization is giving away wedding dress for military brides this week.

The third annual Marry Me Military for all military brides will take place on Sunday, May 27 in the Grand Ballroom at Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn. The event, offered by the United Service Organizations -Central and Southern Ohio, is open to 75 brides from noon to 3 p.m. The event has provided military brides with more than 300 free bridal gowns.

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Each bride can bring two guests. To be eligible for a complimentary wedding dress, brides must be an active duty, guard or reserve military member getting married, or the fiancé of an active duty, guard or reserve military member. If their military member is deployed, they must bring a copy of his/her orders and a short letter of introduction, along with their confirmation e-mail to be granted access to the event.

“We are excited to be able to provide wedding dresses to our military brides on their special day,” said Mia Walthers, center manager of WPAFB USO. “Often funds are low for our military members, so providing a new gown is one way our USO can show support to our new brides and help offset the expenses of the wedding. In the past, several brides told us they would have never been able to afford a dress like the one they got at the Marry Me Military events.”

Deadline to register is May 25.

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What is the ‘mother of all bombs,' and what does it do?

The U.S. on Thursday dropped the most powerful conventional bomb in its arsenal on Nangarhar, Afghanistan. 

The bomb, known in military ranks as “MOAB,” or the “mother of all bombs,” was used Thursday for the first time in combat, though it was developed in the early 2000s.

U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, ordered the bomb dropped, according to reports. The target was believed to be ISIS tunnels and personnel in the Achin district of Nangarhar.

"This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K," he added, using the U.S. military's acronym for the IS affiliate.

According to The Associated Press, the U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday.

Here’s what we know about the MOAB.

What is its name?

The bomb’s technical name is GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb. It became known in military circles as the “mother of all bombs” because of its size and power.

Who makes the bomb?

It was designed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and is manufactured by McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma.

How big is it?

The MOAB is 30 feet long and has a 40.5-inch diameter. The bomb weighs 21,715 pounds. The warhead weighs 18,739 pounds.

How is it dropped?

It is delivered by a C-130 Hercules military transport plane. It’s basically pushed out of the back of the massive plane. It is attached to a parachute.

What kind of blast does it produce?

The “blast yield” of MOAB equals 11 tons. It has a blast radius of 1 mile, meaning that it demolishes everything within 1 square mile.

When was it developed?

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast was developed in 2003. The bomb was developed in only nine weeks to be available for use in the Iraqi War. 

It has been tested only twice, both times at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle.

How many are in existence?

According to the Air Force, 15 units were made at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. One of those was moved to the Persian Gulf in 2003.

When have they been used in combat?

The first and only time that one has been used in combat was on Thursday in Afghanistan. 

Does it penetrate the ground to blow up tunnels?

No. It is an “air-blast” bomb, meaning that the bomb explodes in the air and the blast from the weapon does the damage.

Is the U.S. the only country with the MOAB?

Yes. There have been reports that Russia developed a “father of all bombs” after news of the MOAB broke. It is said to be four times more powerful than the MOAB.

 

Air Force unveils image of top secret stealth bomber

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The Air Force has revealed an image of the B-21, a highly secretive, next-generation stealth bomber designed to replace an aging fleet of older planes flying missions around the world.

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James unveiled the illustration Friday for the first time at an Air Force Association convention in Orlando, Florida.

“We have an image. We have a designation, but here’s what we don’t have,” she told the audience. “We don’t yet have a name.”

James called on airmen and others to suggest names for the stealthy aircraft under development it had previously been known simply as the Long Range Strike-Bomber, or LRS-B.

“The main reason for releasing this picture is to make the program real for legislators, who, up to now, have seen it as kind of an abstraction or concept rather than a concrete item,” said Loren B. Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute and a defense industry consultant.

The Air Force could buy between 80 to 100 of the Northrop Grumman bombers, which resemble the bat-winged B-2 Spirit.

Costs are not finalized, but the program could reach up to $80 billion by one estimate when research and development and procurement are factored in.

Designated as the first “21st century bomber,” the B-21 eventually would replace the workhorse B-52 Stratofortress, first flown in the 1950s, and the swing-wing B-1 Lancer, launched in the 1980s. The new bomber jet would join the fleet in the mid-2020s.

Congressional legislators will scrutinize the secretive bomber, because the Air Force cannot afford all the new weapons programs targeted in future years, Thompson said.

“The Air Force is trying to bolster the case for its new bomber in a Washington political culture that is suspicious of anything secret,” he said. “Sen. John McCain’s statement this week that he would oppose open-ended funding of the bomber’s development underscores the political challenge the Air Force faces.”

McCain, R-Ariz., is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The new design corrects issues with the B-2 that rendered it more detectable in some situations, Thompson added.

“The only thing an adversary can learn from looking at this picture (of the B-21) is that most of their existing radars are going to be useless in being able to detect it,” he said.

The B-21 design was chosen over a rival Boeing and Lockheed Martin team to build the next generation jet. Boeing filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office last year over losing the contract, but the GAO this month upheld the Air Force selection of Northrop Grumman.

The Air Force also bypassed the Fighters and Bombers Directorate, headquartered at Wright-Patterson, and gave oversight of the secretive plane’s research and development to the Rapid Capabilities Office in Washington, D.C.

The new stealth bomber would be built to fly from the continental United States and penetrate increasingly sophisticated air defenses of potential adversaries, Air Force officials have said.

“What you see in the artist’s rendering released by the Air Force is all the electronic items that will help make the plane lethal and survivable — items like an agile radar, passive sensors and a jamming system,” Thompson said.

Florida couple's mission is to help veterans

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Howard “Scrappy” Johnson knows how to take charge — and when to simply follow orders.

During a military career in which he was highly decorated, Johnson rose to the rank of colonel in the Air Force and flew scores of bombing runs during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Johnson also trained pilots in World War II and set a world altitude record in 1958 by soaring 91,249 feet in an F-104A Starfighter.

But when it comes to Joint Mission, a nonprofit organization that provides home furnishings for veterans and their families, it’s Johnson’s wife of 28 years, Elena, who is running the show.

“I’m just the secretary,” cracks the 95-year-old Johnson, who joined his wife for the kickoff of the organization Sunday during the annual Veterans Day Parade down Clematis Street in West Palm Beach. To promote the project, Elena and Scrappy rode on a 75-foot float flanked by veterans.

Scrappy may be the war veteran, but the vision for Joint Mission came from Elena, 85, a charming, energetic Italian-born mother of five who ran consignment shops in Royal Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens with her husband for decades before selling the businesses last year.

“My dream was to dedicate the rest of my life to veterans,” Elena Johnson said.

Johnson was looking for a philanthropic venture a few years ago when she and Scrappy gifted $1,700 to a local homeless veteran and his family, who were living under a bridge. The Johnsons’ generosity got the veteran and his family into a home and allowed them a new beginning. They’ve been thriving ever since, the Johnsons said.

“It made so much difference for that one family,” Elena Johnson said. “It was overwhelming. We had to get more involved.”

Enter Joint Mission.

Working with the local branch of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the organization is already making a difference. The group recently outfitted the homes of three veterans, including one belonging to Bruce Rynearson, of West Palm Beach.

After serving more than four years in the Air Force and seven years in the active reserves, Rynearson earned a degree in management informational systems and enjoyed a successful professional career until he “fell on some bad times.” Rynearson, 53, said his problems revolved around “personal stuff” but admits they led to him becoming homeless before he was able to “dig myself out of a hole.”

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Rynearson’s plight was brought to the attention of the Johnsons, who provided his unfurnished home with bar stools, lamps, a couch, wicker chairs and other necessities.

“They’re amazing people,” Rynearson said. “To be that age and to be that sharp and strong mentally and to want to give back to veterans, it’s a very godly thing.”

Even though she was born in Italy, Elena Johnson has been connected to the U.S. military much of her life. Her first husband, Walter O’Brien, was an Army sargeant major who died at age 37 of lung cancer. Four of their five children served in the military.

Elena, an interior designer, and Scrappy, then a cattle rancher who was also widowed, met in Texas and married in 1990.

After running their consignment shops — True Treasures — for most of their married life, the Johnsons have taken up a new project to keep them busy.

“We want to dream big,” Elena Johnson said. “But because of our age, time is against us. We have to work right now. Fast.”

Since selling their businesses, the Johnsons have invested more than $60,000, time and effort into Joint Mission. Elena said they hope to open a warehouse to store donated furniture. For now, the Johnsons are using their Palm Beach Gardens home as a base of operations.

Rynearson said he’s grateful for the Johnsons and their help.

“It’s been a godsend,” Rynearson said. ” Now I can have my mother over. She’s 93 and now I have a nice place for her to sit.”

Freedom’s Call celebration returns

How to go

Attendees may enter through one of three gates:

  • Springfield Pike in front of the Air Force museum.
  • Spinning Road gate at the intersection of Spinning and Airway Road.
  • Armory Gate on Harshman Road between Springfield Pike and Airway Road.

Attendees also may park in Lot 20 at the Nutter Center at Wright State University where RTA buses will be shuttling between the museum grounds and the university campus every 10 to 15 minutes between 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., according to organizers.

Wright-Patterson also bans glass bottles, charcoal, gas or hibachi grills; pets or illegal substances, and knives and guns.

For additional information log onto Wright-Patterson’s Freedom’s Call website at: http://www.wpafb.af.mil/freedomscallcelebration/index.asp.

Reduced last year to fireworks because of budget cuts and blown off course and canceled two years ago because of a storm, Freedom’s Call returns Friday to Wright-Patterson with booming pyrotechnic displays and music.

Organizers hope the annual celebration, which has drawn tens of thousands in prior years, may draw 50,000 people on the grounds of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, said David Egner, director of special operations at Wright-Patterson.

“This is really exciting that we are back to the Freedom’s Call this year,” said Col. Cassie B. Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing commander.

Fireworks on the grounds last year drew about 20,000 people, Egner said.

The event was once known as Freedom’s Call Tattoo.“Tattoo” was dropped from the name because it didn’t really showcase military air power, as those events are known to air forces around the world, according to Barlow.

For this year’s show, a C-17 Globemaster III will fly over, she said.

More than 100 volunteers will help run the festivities. The gates open at 4 p.m. Musical performances are set from the St. Andrew’s Pipes & Drums, This Side Up and the Kate Hasting Band.

At 9 p.m., there will be an oath of enlistment ceremony for military recruits.

The Air Force Band of Flight will perform at 9:15 p.m. Fireworks are set to launch at 10 p.m., according to base spokesman Brian Brackens. K99.1 FM will simulcast music while the fireworks burst.

The grounds will have a children’s play area and food vendors.

Sponsors subsidize the show, but this year’s $35,000 budget has been significantly cut from previous years. Gone will be a giant stage and speakers, among other expenses, Barlow said.

“We recognized that it’s a fiscally restrained environment,” she said.

WWII Vet Pee Wee Martin

WWII Veteran Jim Martin talks about his Normandy experience with the 101st Airborne.
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