Command spotlight: Edgewood Chemical Biological Center|
A tenant of the Rock Island Arsenal for more than 30 years, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Rock Island, focuses on providing sustainment solutions linked to chemical and biological defense.
ECBC-RI is one of two research, development and engineering centers at the Arsenal.
The center's main mission is to provide engineering expertise and life-cycle services to solve chemical and biological challenges for soldiers.
ECBC-RI provides technical and engineering sustainment support for chemical and biological items fielded to soldiers; provides information-technology support to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, including operation of an on-call help desk; supports product manager sets, kits, outfits and tools through a collaborative relationship with the Arsenal in equipment manufacturing and design; and assesses and monitors the ability of the manufacturing sector to provide equipment to troops.
ECBC-RI has a workforce of 88 employees and a fiscal-year 2012 operating budget of $20 million. Since 2005, ECBC-RI has employed 115 student aides from local colleges and universities.
From China to the Arsenal: An intern's journey
An intern from China now working at the Rock Island Arsenal has defined love against all odds by moving to America, which changed her life and career plans.
While most Minority College Relations Program interns range in age from 21 to 25 and are undergraduates or recent graduates, Yuan White is twice that age and already has her master's degree.
Ms. White, who is married to a retired soldier, earned her master's degree in business administration, with a concentration in logistics and supply-chain management, from Alabama A&M University.
She is serving as an intern at Army Sustainment Command, working in resource management.
Originally from Beijing, Ms. White moved to Huntsville, Ala., in 2003 after meeting Randell White while she was working for the Chinese government as a senior engineer and team leader.
She had lived in China for more than 30 years.
Mr. White served as an Army noncommissioned officer for 20 years and retired in 1996. After retiring, he worked as a computer technician in California.
"We were working on a fisheries quality system, and we needed many computers to support the new system," Ms. White said. "His company was a business between the U.S. and China. He traveled to China if they needed him."
Over the course of three years, he visited his future wife in China while he was working for the company.
When they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, they had to work through the immigration process.
"Because of 9-11, it was a very slow process with immigration because of the staff shortage," Ms. White said. A process that normally would take three to six months took three years.
Before moving to the U.S., Ms. White quit her job in China and changed her career plans to follow her heart.
"It took three years for us to finally be together, from the day he asked me, 'Would you marry me?'" she said.
The Whites have been married 10 years.
The MCRP internship for Ms. White means an opportunity to not only gain experience but also to support the Army.
"The Army's is a part of my family; I want to give back to the organization," she said.
Graduating with a 3.8 grade-point average, White was urged by the dean of her department to seek a doctoral degree in accounting, but she decided to apply for the internship instead.
This semester, the MCRP accepted six recent graduates and seven undergrad students. The interns receive a biweekly stipend, housing, and transportation to and from work.
Ms. White said she has thoroughly enjoyed her internship.
"I'm older, but I've learned so much from the other interns. Their cultures and their different backgrounds have taught me so much," she said.
After this internship, Ms. White plans to move back to Alabama to look for a job and start a family.
— Submitted by Jasmine Phillips, ASC Public Affairs
Enjoy lunch, beer dinner and more
Arsenal Island Golf Clubhouse re-opens for lunch service: Tuesday. The clubhouse will resume its normal hours of operation: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays. New menu items include an Italian panini, fried-egg sandwich, the BG burger (topped with ham and a fried egg) and the pick-two lunch combo (your choice of a half sandwich, salad or soup).
Beer Pairing Dinner: 6 p.m. Friday at the Arsenal Island Golf Clubhouse. Featuring seven courses paired with Bent River Brewery beers. The cost is $50 per person. Call 309-782-4372 to make a reservation.
Graduation parties at the Arsenal Island Golf Clubhouse: Reservations are now being accepted for this unique, historically significant and centrally located venue. Catering and banquet staffs are available. Call the catering manager at 309-782-4372 or go to arsenalislandgolf.com.
Administrative Professionals Day Buffet: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. April 24 at the Arsenal Island Golf Clubhouse. The buffet will feature salads, soups and sandwiches for $9.75 per person. Call 309-793-1601 for more information.
Spring Vendor Fair: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 24 and 25, Building 60 (Heritage Hall). Vendors will sell a variety of gift and decor items. Call 309-782-5890 for more information. The flier is available at goo.gl/FYxj4.
Ghost Hunters Dinner and Tour of Quarters One: 7 p.m. April 26. A prime-rib dinner at the Arsenal Island Golf Clubhouse will be followed by a tour of Quarters One, led by the Rock Island Paranormal Society. During the tour, Paranormal Society representatives who have spent hours searching the residence for signs of paranormal activity will share accounts of the mansions' haunted history. Cost is $40 per person. Call 309-782-4372 to make a reservation. The flier is available at goo.gl/Jgktz
Holocaust survivor tells story of Nazi persecution
He had a happy early childhood; as a European Jewish boy during World War II, he lived through and survived the Nazi Germany invasion of his homeland, the Netherlands; and he eventually moved to the United States to begin a new life. But like all those who survived, he went through hell.
Now Joseph Koek is telling his story of a 12-year-old boy's life turned upside down after the German army invaded his country on May 10, 1940. Four days later, the Dutch forces surrendered to an overwhelming force that plunged the world into World War II.
"I was the middle child of a wonderful Jewish family," Mr. Koek said at the Rock Island Arsenal's observance of the Holocaust, an Army-wide annual event organized locally by the Army Sustainment Command Equal Opportunity Office. "I had a wonderful early childhood."
This year's observance theme designated by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was "Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs." April 7 through today were designated as "Days of Remembrance" in memory of the victims of the Holocaust and in honor of the survivors, rescuers and liberators.
There are "not enough words to thank the combined forces who liberated us," Mr. Koek said of the Allied forces in 1945.
Mr. Koek said his mother was a manicurist and his father a custom tailor. It was rare, he said, to have both parents working back then. But, he said, his parents were determined to make sure the family had food on the table.
In 1942, his parents received a letter from authorities stating they were to report to a train station en route to a "work camp."
Unbeknownst to him or his sisters, Mr. Koek's parents had been planning for this day to get their children out and into the care of resisters. "Next day, I was leaving home with a resistance guide. I never see my parents again," he said.
His parents also went into hiding, but they eventually were caught and deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz, "where they were murdered," Mr. Koek said.
Mr. Koek got separated from his sisters and was living on a farm. Those who housed him described him to the Nazis as a distant cousin visiting from Amsterdam.
While on the farm, he broke his leg in 1944, and he spent about two months in a hospital. The Nazis came to the town where the farm was located, he said, and they killed anyone who had been hiding others.
When he was released from the hospital, the underground moved him to another home in northern Holland with a new family, where he attended school in a two-room building.
On June 6, 1944, the feeling of hope was a possibility. Mr. Koek and others learned via a BBC radio broadcast of the Allied invasion to liberate France and the rest of Europe under Nazi control.
After the liberation, Mr. Koek spent six years living in a Jewish orphanage, where he was reunited with his sisters. That's when he learned the fate of his parents.
Accompanying Mr. Koek to this and other recent speaking engagements in the Quad-Cities area was his son, Steven. This was the first time, Steven said, that he has traveled with his dad to his speaking engagements.
"It's taken years off his life," Steven said, meaning his dad is younger for sharing his story with the public. "He's a rock star."
Koek has been doing this for about eight years, sometimes twice a week. He is a member of the Illinois Holocaust Museum Speakers' Bureau.
Asked if he ever watches movies or television shows about World War II and the Holocaust, Mr. Koek said not very often. "I've been there."
— Submitted by Jon Micheal Connor, ASC Public Affairs
Program helps returning soldiers find jobs
FORT BLISS, Texas — As the mission in Afghanistan draws down, and more Reserve and National Guard Soldiers return to their civilian lives, many soldiers face challenges on the home front.
Veterans face higher unemployment rates than non-veterans, with the youngest of veterans, ages 18 to 24, experiencing a 30.4 percent jobless rate in October 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Army has put an increased emphasis on increasing the transitioning soldiers' ability to obtain jobs, job opportunities and education. As part of a continued effort to ensure soldiers succeed outside the service, a newly passed federal law requires Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers to attend the Veteran's Opportunity to Work/Transition Assistance Program.
First Army Division West's 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, a division of First Army Headquarters, Rock Island Arsenal, and the Directorate of Mobilization and Demobilization recently began implementing the training as part of the 14-day demobilization process for all redeploying Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers.
The program focuses on identifying soldiers who are returning from deployment and facing unemployment. The five-day program includes briefings from representatives of the Army Career and Alumni Program, Army Community Service, Army Continuing Education Service, Veteran's Affairs, and Department of Labor.
Soldiers receive materials and information on programs such as the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force and the Secretary of the Army Transition Policy, which encourage civilian employers to employ veterans. Soldiers also receive training on how to build a competitive resume and how to access numerous federal and state programs aimed at assisting soldiers with the transition out of active military service.
Since the introduction of the program at Fort Bliss, 294 soldiers have received the training, and 246 of them are currently employed.
— Submitted by Sgt. 1st Class Vicente Pantoja and Staff Sgt. Philip Davis, 3-410th Engineer Battalion, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West
Virtual training helps prepare soldiers for combat
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — When soldiers are training for combat, realism plays a key role in ensuring they are prepared.
First Army Division East trainers, a division of First Army Headquarters, Rock Island Arsenal, immerse soldiers completely in scenario-based training using the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer, a virtual training system.
"Instituting virtual training for military personnel to experience a variety of wartime scenarios is a cost-effective and time-efficient way to experience the real thing," explained Sgt. 1st Class Jonnie Horne, an instructor with 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry Regiment, 174th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East.
The RVTT can be formatted to provide basic convoy awareness for non-combat units or configured to a special-forces training level by adding sister simulators to mimic helicopters. Rotations can last as little as an hour and as long as six hours, said Bret Bussman, principal training and development specialist for the RVTT.
In the trainer, soldiers can hear the "ping" of simulated shots fired at the vehicle. They feel their seats jolt during a simulated bomb explosion, and the kick of a fired weapon. Surround screens depict civilian vehicles, people and animals in a 100-square-kilometer radius. Time can be set for day or nighttime operations. The screens also show the correct geographical area.
"It is total immersion with surround screens," said Mr. Bussman. "The database is as close as they can get to real areas from eastern Afghanistan to the Pakistan border."
The virtual simulators don't replace field training, but they do allow soldiers to get familiar with what they'll be facing without expending fuel, ammunition, or equipment. Deploying service members can train multiple times on the same concept without the limitations of an actual field environment.
"We can train three or four units per day, versus one in the field," said Mr. Bussman, a 20-year retired Army veteran. "There are no limits."
"For example, getting helicopter assistance for some training requires coordination three months in advance and a lot of money," he said. "We just create air support in the simulation trainer. There is no added cost to units."
"Whether it's marksmanship, combat lifesaving or convoy operations, virtual simulators are a sustainable training aid," said Sgt. 1st Class Horne. "They provide realism before going out to the field."
— Submitted by Anita VanderMolen, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Moline, IL Details
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