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Ohio stepfather, son deploying overseas on same day

A Huber Heights family with strong military ties will send two members into a combat zone

Ellie Carr said Wednesday her husband and son, both members of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, are preparing to deploy Saturday to Afghanistan and Iraq. 

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Ellie Carr’s husband, 1st Sgt. Robert Carr — expected to be promoted to the rank of sergeant major this week — will head to Afghanistan, while her son, Pfc. Dustin McReynolds, will take off for Iraq. Both will be gone for a year.

“We found out first my husband was deploying to Afghanistan,” Ellie Carr said.

She said her son enlisted in 2016 and completed basic training in January -- this will be his first deployment.

“It worried me a little bit at the time because I really didn’t want … my son being so new in the military, I was worried about him,” Ellie Carr said.

Ellie Carr said some of that worry has since subsided after meeting her son’s chain of command.

“They’re a great group of people; I’m thrilled he’s going with them,” she said.

During the next year, Ellie Carr said she’ll be going through major life changes as well.

She quit her job of 10 years working in logistics to enroll full-time in nursing school. She said it’s been a dream of hers.

“This will definitely keep me busy,” Ellie Carr said. “It’s just going to be me and my dog,” Lexi, a miniature Australian Shepherd.

Robert Carr, who previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, and McReynolds are just two of more than 2 million military service members who have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.

“It makes me proud,” Ellie Carr said.

She said her family has a strong military history. Her father, who recently died, retired from the Army after 25 years, she said.

“It was natural,” she said, of her son joining the military. “If you’ve never been around it, it’s different. Military families are unique.”

Ellie Carr said holidays will be the toughest part of her husband and son deploying, especially because her immediate family is out of state.

Come Saturday, “The emotions are going to be running crazy. I’ve been trying to be strong,” Ellie Carr said.

The family plans to Skype and write letters to stay in contact. And Ellie Carr said her son will be getting plenty of deliveries of Airheads and Zebra Cakes.

Military K9 gets final honor as partner drapes remains in American flag

An unsung military hero has received a final honor

Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith found out that his former partner-turned-pet was going to have to be put down.

Bodza was paired with Smith during a deployment in 2012 to Kyrgyzstan. But while Bodza was a working dog, meant to keep his partner and national interests safe, Smith considered his partner a gentle giant.

"He was trained to bite, but I swear he only did it to make people happy. He had no interest in the world of hurting anyone," Smith told Inside Edition.

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When Bodza was retired from service two years later, Smith's superior had a surprise for him.

"They went out and put a bowl, a brand-new leash and two collars, and they put (Bodza) at the back of my Jeep. I got to take him home the same day he retired," Smith said.

Smith noticed last year that his companion wasn't doing well. 

He thought a case of hip dysplasia prevented the dog from being able to jump into his vehicle. But he eventually realized that Bodza was in pain and wasn't able to easily walk, Inside Edition reported.

Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. Smith made the decision to put Bodza out of his misery.

That day came last week.

"I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, 'I'm going to miss you'," Smith said.

When his bosses found out what was happening at the veterinarian’s office, they went there to give Smith and Bodza their support.

Then asked staff for a special honor: the building’s American flag to drape over Bodza to honor him for his service. 

A soldier drapes an American flag over his former military dog partner's body after he is put down. https://t.co/hw7m0UNQqT pic.twitter.com/VFRw9PU6lq— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) March 7, 2017

"The worst thing you can do is not to recognize these dogs for what they are. For these guys to do this for a dog they've never even met... he got a good sendoff that day," Smith told Inside Edition.

Marines accused of sharing nude photos of female colleagues, reports say

Hundreds of United States Marines are under investigation after allegedly sharing photos of nude service women and veterans, multiple media outlets are reporting.

According to the New York Daily News, the Marines may have shared hundreds or even thousands of nude photos in a private Facebook group since Jan. 30. The Center for Investigative Reporting reported that "more than 2 dozen women" were featured in the photos, which included their names and ranks.

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“There is no place for this type of demeaning or degrading behavior in our corps,” Sgt. Major Ronald Green told CBS News. “Let me be perfectly clear: No person should be treated this way. It is inconsistent with our core values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.”

The War Horse is the first organization to make the news of the photos public. According to reports, a female corporal was photographed bending over to pick up equipment, and the photos drew several explicit comments on the Facebook group.

Some of the photos reportedly were shared with consent, while many were intended to be private.

The Marine Corps reportedly has fired a government contractor who shared the initial link to the images.

Photo appears to show veteran lying on ground while waiting at North Carolina VA

A couple posted photos on Facebook and said veterans waited for hours in pain inside the Durham VA Medical Center.

Stephen McMenamin, a former U.S. Marine, was there for treatment, and said his wife took the pictures because she "found it upsetting."

McMenamin said a veteran who was lying on the ground was using his bag of medication for a pillow after being denied an available reclining chair.

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"The nurse started yelling at him, telling him he can't do that," McMenamin said. "He's, like, 'I can't get up and I won't get up. I will be here until you can see me. Can I please have a blanket?'"

The Facebook post from McMenamin's wife, Hanna McMenamin', was shared more than 80,000 times.

McMenamin said they started hearing from other veterans and their families.

"All these people, and it was, you know, it's been kind of heartbreaking," he said.

The hospital's chief executive nurse responded and told McMenamin that the matter is being investigated.

Rep. Robert Pittenger said this just reaffirms his push to hold Veterans Affairs employees more accountable.

"It’s absolutely tragic,” he said. "It’s frankly reflective of what we've seen from the VA, and that’s why I sponsored last year and this year, the VA Accountability Act."

The commander of the Veterans Foreign Wars North said things in the state have improved drastically, but if an investigation confirms what is depicted in these photos, then the staff responsible should be fired.

"There's no question about it. I mean, there's no acceptable reason why this should have happened," Cmdr. Doug Blevins said.

Hanna McMenamin said in an update to her original Facebook post that "the VA is very unhappy that we have posted this photo and it has been seen around the country. They have asked us again to remove this photo, claiming one of the participants does not want this posted. They claim to have told him his face is blocked out. I am not sure that they actually told him that, and I am sure they did not mention he is not identifiable."

Durham VA Medical Center Director DeAnne Seekins issued the following statement Monday:

We take seriously any allegation of poor service. I was made aware of a regrettable incident that occurred in our Emergency Department over the weekend and am thankful someone cared enough to share the incident with us. Our mission is to provide the highest level of health care to Veterans, so upon learning of the incident, I took swift action. The employee was immediately removed from patient care pending the results of an internal review. It is an honor to serve America's heroes and actions that do not align with our core values will not be tolerated. We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality care to the Veterans we serve and being responsive to our patient's needs. Veterans deserve nothing less.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Seekins said he picture is not a reflection of the care her hospital provides. 

"We really do everything that we can to ensure that our veterans are treated with dignity and respect," Seekins said.

She has worked for the VA for more than 30 years and said that when she heard about the post, she immediately took action, reaching out to two of the three veterans in the photo.

"One veteran specifically said to me, 'I don't want anything to harm the Durham VA because they care for me,'" Seekins said. 

Seekins said the staff member involved will return to work but will be moved to administration, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Remains of missing Marine killed in Vietnam War heading home after 48 years

After almost 50 years, the remains of a missing Marine who was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War are coming home.

The remains of Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. William Ryan, known as Billy, were found last year after a decades-long search and they were positively identified through DNA testing, according to the Bergen Record.

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The New Jersey native’s plane was hit by enemy fire on May 11, 1969 and crashed along the southern border of Laos.

Ryan held one of the most dangerous jobs in the military as a radio intercept officer on an F-4B fighter jet, and after two years of training, he deployed to Vietnam in August 1968, according the newspaper.

Ryan’s son was just 3 months old when he left for Vietnam.

“I always knew my dad died in the crash, and that’s what my mom told me,” Michael Ryan, 48, told the paper.

“What she didn’t tell me is that part of her held out hope that maybe she’d see his face again.”

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here 

The family was notified last month of the identification of Ryan’s remains by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency at the Pentagon.

Ryan will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony scheduled for May 10.

Soldiers told they are losing child care because of hiring freeze

Some U.S. soldiers serving overseas have been told that they are losing their child care.

A letter sent Wednesday to servicemen and women at Army Garrison Wiesbaden in Germany said all part-day preschool and day-care programs would close. The letter from the base’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Todd Fish, said: "This closure is a result of staff shortage due to the federal hiring freeze."

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"President Trump should be embarrassed about the way his actions are impacting our men and women in uniform," said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

A government-wide hiring freeze was one of Trump’s first actions in office. There are supposed to be exemptions for critical positions. In a Feb. 1 memo, the Pentagon singled out child care for military personnel as being eligible for exemptions.

Kelly Hruska of the National Military Family Association said parents at Fort Knox received a similar letter.

"No parent wants to worry about their child," Hruska said. "And so this just adds additional stress." An Army spokesman said that after those letters were sent to service members, the Pentagon approved exemptions for child-care workers at the bases. 

"With those approved exemptions, hiring actions to fill those child care vacancies can begin," said Nate Allen, an Army spokesman.

Allen said his office has not heard of any other bases or installations that have cut or eliminated child-care services because of the hiring freeze.

Former Army major general demoted, used government card for strip clubs, investigators say

A senior military aide who was fired during an investigation into allegations that he used his government credit card to pay four-figure bills at foreign strip clubs has been demoted and will retire as a one-star general, U.S. Army officials said last week.

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Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter fired his senior military assistant, Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis, in November 2015 after allegations of misconduct surfaced. In a statement released to the Army Times, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said Lewis misused his government and travel credit card to pay for personal expenses, lied to officials about the misuse and "engaged in conduct unbecoming of an officer on multiple occasions."

He was demoted to brigadier general, the Army Times reported.

In a 50-page report released in October 2016, Army officials said they found evidence that Lewis charged more than $1,000 on his government card at a club in Seoul, South Korea, from which military personnel had been forbidden because of its ties to underage drinking. The club, Candy Bar, is in an area known as "Hooker Hill," officials said.

When confronted with the expense reports, Lewis said he had no explanation for the charges, according to the report. After he returned from Seoul in April 2015, officials said he lied to military authorities and the bank and claimed that the charges were fraudulent and unauthorized.

He again used his government-issued expense card in October 2015 while visiting the Cica Cica Boom club in Rome. The club was described as "an establishment with signage advertising 'sexy show,' 'fans club' and 'lap dance,'" in the DODIG's report.

Lewis admitted that he drank "more than moderation" over a 3-hour span and said that after he danced with several local women he was unable to use his personal debit card to pay the $1,755 bill he had racked up. He went back to his hotel room with a Cica Cica Boom club employee to get his government card.

"I left (the club) with a big bill and they wanted to make sure I came back and paid it," Lewis said, according to investigators said. "It had to be put on my government card in order to have this bill cleared."

The report also detailed several inappropriate interactions Lewis had with women, including one late-night incident in his hotel room when he was drinking with a female enlisted service member who later told investigators he tried to kiss her.

Lewis denied the bulk of the allegations in a rebuttal through his attorney.

Lewis had shot up the promotional ladder, and his job with Carter stemmed from their close professional relationship. He had served as an aide to Carter when Carter was deputy defense secretary.

The IG report portrayed Lewis as a senior officer who often went out alone on overseas trips. It said his behavior concerned some staff members and at times was a topic of conversation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

President Trump slams Chelsea Manning for remarks about President Obama

President Donald Trump called Chelsea Manning an “ungrateful traitor” on Twitter early Thursday, after a column by Manning criticized former President Barack Obama.

"Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!" Trump tweeted.

Before leaving office, Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year sentence for sharing classified information to WikiLeaks when he was a U.S. Army private known then as Bradley Manning.

"The one simple lesson to draw from President Obama's legacy: do not start off with a compromise," Manning wrote in an op-ed in The Guardian. "They won't meet you in the middle. Instead, what we need is an unapologetic progressive leader."

The column went on to say, "Barack Obama left behind hints of a progressive legacy. Unfortunately, despite his faith in our system and his positive track record on many issues over the last eight years, there have been very few permanent accomplishments."

Manning was convicted in July 2013, of violations of the Espionage Act, among other offenses.

Air Force loosens tattoo restrictions for airmen

A rule that required airmen to have no more than 25 percent of their body parts covered with tattoos has been amended by the Air Force.

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The previous rule said "Air Force members (were) not allowed to display excessive tattoos that would detract from an appropriate professional image while in uniform," but the armed forces branch announced updated guidelines Tuesday.

"As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified airmen as possible, we periodically review our accessions policies," said Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James. "In this instance, we identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality. As a next step in this evolution, we are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms."

The Air Force lifted the 25 percent coverage rule for the chests, backs, arms and legs for airmen and prospective servicemen. They'll also be allowed one single-band ring tattoo on one finger on one hand.

Air Force field recruiters said recent data shows that almost half of contacts, applicants and recruits as having tattoos, according to the official U.S. Air Force website.

"We are always looking at our policies and, when appropriate, adjusting them to ensure a broad scope of individuals are eligible to serve. These changes allow the Air Force to aggressively recruit talented and capable Americans who until now might not have been able to serve our country in uniform," said Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody.

All tattoos that are obscene or associated with sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination are still prohibited, as are tattoos on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and/or scalp.

The new tattoo policy will be effective beginning Feb. 1.

A new #Tattoo policy is here! We are also taking other steps to continue to allow the best to become #Airmen. https://t.co/XP9z0ABK4f pic.twitter.com/byicmZxKfz— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) January 10, 2017

Teen falls to his death sledding down slide at closed Wisconsin water park

A Florida teenager has died in a bizarre accident at a closed water park in a resort area in the Wisconsin Dells.

The teen and two other juveniles snuck into the Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park Wednesday night, according to Lake Delton police. The trio then slipped into a restricted area and climbed to the top of a water slide. While trying to sled down the snow-covered slide, the boy got caught in the snow and tumbled off the ride while trying to free himself, police said.

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He fell 35 feet to the ground and died at the scene.

The teen’s family was vacationing in the area, staying at a nearby resort for the holidays.

 

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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