Soldiers and Super Heroes

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In the DMA studio, bringing the news to a global military audience. Photo courtesy of DoD News.

When we think of the word “military”, serious words like discipline and precision come to mind. What probably doesn’t come to mind are words like creative arts and comics. U.S. Army Sergeant Luther Washington embodies all of these words.

At first glance, Washington is your average, talented Broadcast Specialist. He works as a news anchor for Department of Defense News, headquartered on Fort Meade, Maryland. The job requires him to take usually-boring press releases from the Pentagon and repackage them for a military audience. It all happens in front of a camera, under very bright lights.

“It was scary as first. I’d never been on camera, never read a script,” said Washington. “I took a lot of notes and did a lot of practice runs, and I’m doing ok.”

He’s doing more than ok. Washington is widely-considered to be the best anchor in the department. His ease in the lime light and natural speaking rhythm make him the go-to guy for the news. His success, however, is his curse.

“To be honest, it’s not really where I want to be,” he said. “I want to be shooting and editing video. My ultimate goal is to become a filmmaker.”

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Washington at his cubicle. Are those super hero Pez dispensers on the left? Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

He laments in private that he’s dying to unleash his creative side. That creativity overflows at his cubicle, where an oasis of colorful action figures adorn every possible space.

“I was the child of a single mom, dad wasn’t around,” Washington said. “My mom worked a lot so I was alone a good amount. So it’d be nighttime and I’d be in the dark, all alone with my flashlight in bed but I had Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men to keep me company.”

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Batman watches Washington’s back while he works. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

A lifetime of reading comics hasn’t made him into a fiction snob, though. He still has fun with the films that inevitably follow, even if they’re not accurate to the source material.

“One of the cool things is he’s into old school and new school,” said Petty Officer Lyle Wilkie, one of Washington’s coworkers. “He can enjoy a film based on a comic and not tear it apart. He’s very knowledgeable but shares it in a positive way.”

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Washington displays his favorite comics. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

For now, a transfer into the Creative Services section of DoD News is out of Washington’s reach, but it may be a smart move for the military to unleash the beast.

Defense Media Activity triumphs as Staff Judge Advocates stay winless

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Opening tipoff, the only time the game was tied. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

The bad dream just wouldn’t end as SJA found themselves behind and struggling to keep up in a 59-37 loss to DMA on Feb. 11.

The status of these two teams couldn’t be more different at the halfway point of the regular season. While the Staff Judge advocates watched their last chance at a .500 record fade, 1st place Defense Media Activity celebrated as the current rulers of the league.

Only several fans were in attendance at the Murphy Field House gym but the stands could’ve been full with all the noise generated by DMA. They seemed more motivated from the start, forming a circle and clapping a rhythmic beat as they waited for the opening buzzer. With 21 points, DMA Power Forward Darien Kenney continued to be a key to victory.

“We came out here and we did exactly what we said we would do. We were hyping each other up. At the end of the day it’s all about the team, putting ourselves together and scoring points,” Kenney said.

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An exhausted SJA defense can only watch as Kenney sinks another two-pointer on his way to an impressive 21 points. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

The size of each team probably made an impact as well. DMA has a 13-man roster and was able to substitute fresh players every few minutes. The opposing SJA players were forced to play nonstop, as their team only had the minimum of five.

The defeat was softened by the fact that the Judges, who work together, experienced bonding through shared trauma. SJA’s John Cheney kept a positive outlook as he caught his breath after the game.

    “We just keep working on our teamwork, getting better. We need to get faster than everyone else. It doesn’t always work but there’s always the next possession,” Cheney said.

The Judges get their best shot at a win this season when they face the team from the Navy Information Operations Center. With only three wins, NIOC has struggled to score points lately.

Defense Media Activity faces the 5-2 Vikings next week. It’s safe to say that DMA is on everyone’s minds and they’ve got a fat red target on their backs.

For more information on league standings visit www.quickscores.com/ftmeadesports.

 

 

Can Staff Judge Advocates terminate Defense Media Activity’s league dominance?

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The clock’s ticking for the legal warriors of SJA when they take on first-place DMA and their public affairs squad this Thursday at Fort Meade’s Murphy Field House.

The winless Staff Judge Advocates shouldn’t be picky about who they beat, but a victory here would be extra sweet. They must still feel the sting of the 38-24 smack down Defense Media Activity handed them two weeks ago. Thursday’s game marks the halfway point of the season, and the last chance for SJA to salvage a winning record. DMA is fighting to keep their number one playoff spot.

DMA Power Forward Darien Kenney, with 13 points in their last outing, will be a key to success.

“We need to come out and communicate, hustle and play hard. That’s what it’ll take to win this game. We have a lot more heart than most teams out here,” he said.

The Fort George G. Meade intramural basketball league consists of 18 teams, split between division I and II, with a 12-game regular season. The top six teams from each division go to the playoffs. Each team represents a command on the base.

Created over 20 years ago, the league is funded by the department of Morale Welfare and Recreation. The importance of healthy competition was summarized by league organizer, Sports Specialist Beth Downs:

“The big thing is for the units and squadrons to come out and have camaraderie and friendly competition. It’s good to get PT while taking your mind off the day-to-day work, which can be pretty stressful.”

It’s free to watch but a CAC card is required for entrance to the building. Game time is Feb. 11, 6:30pm.

For more information on league standings visit www.quickscores.com/ftmeadesports.

Look Fantastic in a Navy Working Uniform

 

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Not sure what we’re supposed to be blending in with..

So you’ve enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Great, but now you’re panicking because you have no idea what you’re doing. The idea of wearing a uniform (that’s not from Applebee’s) is a little scary. Your recruiter assured you everything would be explained at boot camp but who wants to try to figure it out while some Recruit Division Commander (RDC) is yelling at you?

This How To article will give you five tips on how to stand out in your main threads, the Navy Working Uniform (NWU). Learn these rules and learn to love them. Trust me, it’s much better this way.

OVERVIEW

#1: cover

#2: t-shirt

#3: belt

#4: blousing straps

#5: boots

Cover cardboard
My well-used cardboard cover stiffener. Look how saggy the cover is without it. Shameful!
#1: Forget everything you know about “hats”

First of all, you’ll be calling them covers in the Navy. Don’t let a superior hear you call it a hat. There are two important things about Navy covers, and they’ll both probably go against what you know.

1. Do not fold the bill. If you just have to, you can fold it a little bit but use the below photo as a guide and don’t go past it. I  keep mine almost totally straight.

2. The front of the cover, where the rank insignia is, should be stiff and vertical, not saggy and conforming to the skull’s shape.

Yes, you will look like Elmer Fudd.

 

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The cap should have a stiff, vertical front. A little bit of bill fold is ok.

This petty officer has a cover that shows she gives a damn about her professional appearance.

 

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A tight collar brings the entire uniform together.
#2: Get real snuggly with your t-shirt

The only part of the NWU’s t-shirt that is seen is at the neck. That’s why you have to make it perfect. Take a look in your closet and I guarantee you’ll find at least one shirt with a floppy neckline. Don’t let this one get bent out of shape. Here’s how to do it:

1. Wear it a size too small. It’s not as crazy as it sounds! You’ll get used to it quickly and the tight neckline will be worth it when the boss giggles in delight.

2. Strip the right way. When you take the t-shirt off, pull it over your head by grasping it on your back instead of on the neck. This will keep the shirt looking good for much longer.

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We can wear different belts but this’ll be issued to you at boot camp.
#3: Embrace the blast from the past

These belt buckles were HUGE in the 80s. Also, I hate them. There’s a couple of quick things to know about these stunning beauties.

1. Males thread the belt clockwise around the waist, women counterclockwise.

2. Shine the buckle when you shine your boots. it only takes a minute but many Sailors forget and get busted during uniform inspections.

 

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I’ve lost at least ten sets of these.
#4: Leave your ego at the door and love the blousing straps

Scroll back up to the top photo and look at his ankles. See how the pants looked like they’re tucked in to the boots? The pant legs have been wrapped up in blousing straps. If you dressed like this as a civilian you’d probably get some stares.

We do this in the military because in combat you don't want 
your pant legs getting caught on something.

PRO TIPS:

1.  Fold your pant leg between the third and fourth eyelets on the boots.

2. Strap up while sitting and then while standing. Notice the difference in where the pant leg ends up.

 

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This kind of shine is your get out of jail free card.
#5: THE HOLY GRAIL: Shine your damn boots!

This cannot be stressed enough. After haircut/shave, this is the number one thing your superiors will look at. If you want to seem like a super badass Sailor, but deep down you’re clueless, at least get this right.

You’ll fool everyone.

There are several schools of thought on the best polish method but here’s two things you can do to shine in this area.

1. POLISH OFTEN AND WHILE BOOTED. Do a “for real” 30-minute shine one day, then do a quick touch-up every day after you get dressed. If you keep up with it, it’ll only take about five minutes to get the shine back to the “for real” status.

2. DON’T JUST SHINE THE TOES. Many Navy Chiefs and officers will notice if you have the backs and sides shined up so get it done.

———-

It’s definitely weird to put this uniform on for the first time. You’ll be a scared Navy Recruit, a guppy swimming in a sea of sharks. Relax, with this guide you’ll be a much smaller target.

Best of luck to you and I’ll see you in the fleet!

DISCLAIMER: This is not a complete guide to the NWU. There are many basics that you will learn. Hit me up with any questions and check out these websites for more information.

All Hands Magazine
Naval Personnel Command
Navy official blog