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Las Vegas Veteran Hero Gifted New Truck

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taylor winston

By Debbie Gregory.

Hero is a word that gets tossed around a lot. By definition, a hero is a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities. Heroic deeds are often performed by members of the military, veterans and first responders. The events at the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert shooting saw no shortage of heroic actions that saves hundreds of lives.

Marine veteran Taylor Winston was one of those heroes. Winston commandeered a utility truck he found with the keys in it, and over the course of two trips, ferried some 30 people to the hospital. The only reason he didn’t make a third trip was because emergency crews were on scene at that point. “I think a lot of my training in the military helped me in the situation,” Winston said.  And he brushed off the title of “hero,” as heroes often do.

Heroes never spring into action for reward or notoriety. But sometimes, that’s exactly what they get.

And thanks to B5 Motors, a Gilbert, Arizona car dealership, Winston has a new truck of his own.

B5 Motors launched a social media campaign to find Winston.

“Most of us would have ran and never came back,” said Shane Beus, owner of B5 Motors “His military training allowed him to think in a split second what to do.”

On Monday, October 9th, in an act of unbelievable good corporate citizenship, the dealership posted a Facebook Live video showing Winston driving away from B5 Motors in his new, silver truck.

“My message is that I hope people will recognize the heroism in him and others and become selfless,” Beus said. “It’s kinda what America is about, helping others.”

And it has been reported that Winston will be selling his current vehicle and donating the proceeds to victims of the shooting.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Band of Brothers in on Gender Reveal for Fallen Soldier

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gender

By Debbie Gregory.

The wife of a Fort Bragg soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in August had a lot of help when it came time to reveal the gender of the baby she is expecting in March.

Brittany Harris, pregnant with the couple’s first child, called upon her late husband’s band of brothers to pull the popper and reveal a sea of pink confetti. The men of the 82nd’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team couldn’t have been happier.
On August 2nd , Spc. Chris Harris died in Afghanistan, one of two soldiers from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne killed when an IED struck their convoy near Kandahar.

Earlier this month, Harris’ brother soldiers, who are still deployed downrange, posted a video welcoming  Christian Michelle Harris to the company, as soon as she arrives.

Pfc. Joel Crunk, who served with Harris, posted the video to his YouTube account. “August 2 2017 Chris Harris laid down his life for our country. His newly wed wife was expecting their first child,” Crunk wrote. “The reveal is in Afghanistan with the men who fought by his side. We are happy to welcome the new member of our company.”

“Spc. Christopher Harris was an extraordinary young man and a phenomenal Paratrooper,” said Col. Toby Magsig, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat team.

Harris joined the Army in Oct. 2013, and was killed, along with Sgt. Jonathon Hunter, on their first deployment.

Brittany said, “Everyone that I’ve met, before Chris passed and after, if they’re in the military, they’ve treated me like actual family or royalty, actually.”

Christopher Michael Harris’ daughter, Christian Michelle, will have no shortage of “uncles” who will always have her six.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

First Female Marine Officer Leads Assault Amphibian Vehicle Platoon

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Mariah Klenke

By Debbie Gregory.

Second Lt. Mariah Klenke has made history.

On Tuesday,  October 3, the Camp Pendleton Marine became the first female to graduate from the Marine Corps Assault Amphibian Officer Course and earn the military occupational specialty (MOS) of assault amphibian officer.

Klenke was the first woman to start the course since the Pentagon nixed its ban on female troops in combat roles in late 2015.

Klenke’s first duty station will be with the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion with the 1st Marine Division.

“We cannot overlook the historic nature of this day,” Col. Dan Yaroslaski, commander of the Assault Amphibian School, told the graduates, family, friends, commanders and instructors at the ceremony.  “The Marine Corps has been through the process of integration. We can stop talking about integration. This is who we are. We have set the standards every Marine has to pass. There has been no distinction between male and female.”

The demanding 12-week amphibious assault officer course is designed to produce platoon leaders who command assault amphibious vehicle crews. Klenke learned gunnery marksmanship, water survival skills and offensive and defensive operations, both on shore and deep inland.

Previous to her service, Klenke attended and graduated from the University of Tennessee, where she played collegiate soccer, holding her own with her male counterparts.

Klenke said that her toughest challenge came during amphibious operations training, when she completed up to four missions daily.

“We operated pretty much all day. We got a couple of hours of sleep and then went back to operating the next day,” she said.

“I’m excited to finally get done with the course and onto the fleet,” she said after the graduation ceremony

As for women thinking about a career in the corps, Klenke said anything is possible.

“If you think you can do it, you can do it,” she said. “There were hard times in the class, but hey, I got through them. I’m nothing special. I just did my job and if you work hard you can get through it.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Russia Used Social Media to Spread Propaganda to Veterans and Troops

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russia hack

By Debbie Gregory.

British researchers say they have evidence that Russia targeted U.S. military veterans and active-duty troops via social-media, especially Twitter, to spread anti-government propaganda in the spring before the presidential election.

The study by Oxford University traced the reach of three websites, Veteranstoday.com, Veteransnewsnow.com, and Southfront.org, known to have shown ads and posts linked to the Russian government.

The content led to “significant and persistent interactions” on Twitter over a one-month period, with a theme of news to undermine faith in U.S. democracy.

According to Philip Howard, a professor of internet studies who led the research, the study uncovered an entire ecosystem of junk news about national security issues that is deliberately crafted for U.S. veterans and active military personnel.

“It’s a complex blend of content with a Russian view of the world — wild rumors and conspiracies,” Howard said.

The Oxford study categorized 12,413 Twitter users and 11,103 Facebook users who had messages that referenced or carried content from one or more of the Russian-linked websites from April 2 to May 2, 2017.

On both Twitter and Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages. Many were automated accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages seconds apart,  and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names

News from the study’s findings comes after Facebook revealed that Moscow purchased online ads that specifically targeted presidential swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Specific demographic groups were also targeted in an attempt to influence the presidential election.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the extent and the success in which Russia disseminated false news or further fanned inflammatory reports.

Given the powerful role of social media in political contests, understanding what Russian did will be crucial in preventing similar attacks in the 2018 congressional races and the 2020 presidential election.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Navy Tech Jeffrey Thomas Awarded Silver Star

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jeffrey thomas

By Debbie Gregory.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas has received the Silver Star for his actions during a deadly 10-hour firefight with Islamic State militants that helped his fellow sailors navigate a minefield.

On September 20, 2017, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran recognized Thomas for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Today we recognize the heroic actions of individuals and the legacy of their teammates. This recognition is well deserved, and it’s an acknowledgment of bravery, training, and dedication to team and country,” said Moran.

On Oct. 20, 2016, while conducting combined clearance operations, Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas exited his vehicle as bullets, rockets and mortar rounds targeted his unit. Thomas swept the area for explosives just after a roadside bomb struck another vehicle, mortally wounding a sailor. His actions allowed medics to get through the minefield and reach injured sailors to provide critical care.

“No one who was present on the 20th of October knew better than Jeff the dangers he was facing,” said Navy Cmdr. Geoff Townsend, the commander of Thomas’ unit. “After the EOD supervisor, a friend and mentor, was mortally wounded, Jeff knowingly exposed himself to hazards in order to protect the lives of his teammates and brothers in arms, and secure a [medical evacuation] for his wounded teammate. His actions that day saved the lives of his teammates and exceeded all measures of selflessness and devotion to his country.”

While the Navy declined to identify the sailor who died in the attack, the Pentagon previously announced Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, 34, was killed in action by an IED in Iraq on the same date, and Finan was an EOD technician assigned to the same unit as Thomas.

Also honored were Lt. Morgan Dahl, who received the Bronze Star with “V” for valor, and  Senior Chief Petty Officer Jon Hamm who was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat “C.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

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