CPT Florent “Flo” Groberg

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Retired U.S. Army Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg was born in Poissy, France, May 8, 1983. Groberg became a naturalized U.S. citizen, Feb. 27, 2001, and graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md., in June of the same year.

In May 2006, Groberg graduated from University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. Groberg entered the Army in July 2008 and attended Officer Candidate School and received his commission as an infantry officer, Dec. 4, 2008.

In November 2009, he deployed to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Lethal, with responsibility for the Pech River Valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. Upon returning home in June 2010, he continued serving as a platoon leader until he was reassigned as an infantry company executive officer from October 2010 to November 2011. He was then assigned as the brigade personal security detachment commander for 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. He deployed again to Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in February of 2012, with Task Force Mountain Warrior. He was promoted to captain in July 2012.

On the morning of Aug. 8, 2012, U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg served as a personal security detachment (PSD) commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior in Asadabad, Afghanistan. As the patrol advanced toward the governor’s compound, they reached the choke point along the route, a small bridge spanning a canal feeding the Kunar River. The patrol halted near the bridge as two motorcycles approached from the opposite direction. The motorcyclists began crossing the bridge, but stopped midway before dismounting and retreating in the opposite direction.

As the patrol observed the motorcyclists, Groberg also spotted a lone individual near the left side of the formation, walking backwards in the direction of the patrol. The individual did not cause immediate alarm as there were other local civilians in the area.

However, when the individual made an abrupt turn toward the formation, Groberg rushed the suspect and shoved him away from the patrol. Groberg then immediately confirmed the individual was wearing a suicide vest, and with the help of Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, a fellow Soldier with the PSD, grabbed the suicide bomber, physically driving him away from the formation and down to the ground.

While on the ground, the bomber’s explosive vest detonated. The explosion caused a second suicide bomber, who remained hidden behind a small structure near the road, to detonate his vest prematurely. Most of the blast of the second bomber’s suicide vest went straight into a building, adjacent to the patrol.

Groberg’s actions disrupted both bombers from detonating as planned, saving the majority of lives he was charged with protecting. As a result of his actions, Groberg sustained the loss of 45 to 50 percent of his left calf muscle with significant nerve damage, a blown eardrum, and a mild traumatic brain injury. Groberg spent his recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from August 2012 through May 2015. He was medically retired from Company B Warriors, Warrior Transition Battalion, as a captain, July 23, 2015.

We honor you, Florent Groberg.

(#Repost @army.mil)

 

VADM H. Denby Starling, II

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Vice Adm. (ret) Starling began his last assignment as commander of Navy Cyber Forces at its establishment on Jan. 26, 2010. There he was responsible for organizing and prioritizing manpower, training, modernization and maintenance requirements for networks and cryptologic, space, intelligence and information operations capabilities. He concurrently served as commander Naval Network Warfare Command, where he oversaw the conduct of Navy network and space operations.

Starling is a native of Virginia Beach, Va., and was commissioned through the University of Virginia NROTC program in 1974. He was designated a naval flight officer in March 1975 and a naval aviator in March 1983, flying the A-6 Intruder with the Black Falcons of Attack Squadron (VA) 85, the Golden Intruders of VA-128 and the Milestones of VA-196.

Outside of the cockpit, Starling served on the staff of Medium Attack Tactical Electronic Warfare Wing, Pacific, as a student at the Naval War College, where he graduated with highest distinction and as the commissioning executive officer of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). His first flag assignment was to NATO in Northwood, U.K., as the assistant chief of staff, Operations, Intelligence and Exercises, for the Commander in Chief East Atlantic/Commander Allied Naval Forces Northern Europe.

Starling commanded VA-145 aboard USS Ranger (CV 61) during Operation Desert Storm, USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Carrier Group 8/George Washington Carrier Strike Group and Naval Air Force Atlantic.

Starling’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (5), Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Combat V (3 Individual/ 3 Strike/Flight), Navy Commendation Medal (3/2 with Combat V) and the Navy Achievement Medal.

(#Repost @Navy.mil)

LTG H. Steven Blum

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Lieutenant General (Ret.) H STEVEN BLUM served over 42 years in uniform, capping a dynamic career as the first National Guardsman to serve as a Deputy Combatant Commander. As Deputy Commander, U.S. Northern Command, he fundamentally reshaped how Americans and the U.S. military think about, prepare for, and conduct operations for homeland defense, homeland security, and defense support of civil authority. In two terms as Chief, National Guard Bureau, he transformed the National Guard from a Cold War strategic reserve into an agile, 21st century operational force capable of joint and expeditionary warfare and flexible response to a broad range of civil and humanitarian contingencies. He was responsible for deploying over 50,000 National Guardsmen in response to Hurricane Katrina, the largest, fastest, and most effective military response to a natural disaster in U.S. history. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Blum has commanded a Special Forces Detachment, an Infantry Battalion, and two brigades. As Commanding General, 29th Infantry Division, he deployed over 6,500 citizen-soldiers from 21 states to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He simultaneously served as Commanding General—Multinational Division (North) in Operation JOINT FORGE, leading a Russian airborne brigade, a Turkish Army brigade, and a Multinational Nordic-Polish brigade. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Blum currently serves as Executive-in-Residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Division of Public Safety and Leadership. He is also Managing Director and Practice Lead for Sitrick & Company, a world-renowned crisis communications organization. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Blum is a frequent consultant for private and government organizations on planning, training and disaster response.

We honor you, Steven Blum.

(#Repost @US Army War College)

Col Eileen Collins

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As a young child, Eileen Collins loved to sit with her dad in the family car and watch airplanes take off and land. The roar of the powerful engines and the grace of the aircraft as they seemed to float in the air always held excitement and enchantment for the young daughter of Irish immigrants. That love of flying would lead the Air Force colonel to be honored as the first woman to command a space shuttle mission, STS-93, in July of 1999, and place the NASA astronaut into the history books.

Colonel Collins joined the Air Force in 1979 and served as a T-38 flight instructor until 1982. From 1983 to 1985 she was a C-141 Starlifter aircraft commander and instructor pilot. She was assistant professor of mathematics and T-41 instructor pilot at the Air Force Academy from 1986 to 1989 and graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School in 1990. While attending the Test Pilot School, Collins was selected by NASA for the astronaut program and became an astronaut in July 1991. In 1995 Col. Collins became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle and in 1999 she was the first woman shuttle commander. She has over 5,000 hours in 30 different types of aircraft and has spent over 537 hours in space.

“I was very excited and happy,” said Collins, who applied for both a pilot and mission specialist slot with NASA. “But even though I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life, it really didn’t sink in until I graduated. I knew that there had never been a woman shuttle pilot before. Now, I’d be the first.”

After four successful shuttle missions, Collins retired in 2006. “I do miss being in space,” she said, “but I flew four times, and all four missions were very busy because you’re constantly working and under stress. You have a mission; your boss is the people of the country and you don’t want to disappoint the people. Usually toward the end of the mission, you can let your hair down a little bit because the primary mission’s done and everything is put away. That was when you could put your face against the glass, stretch out your arms, and you don’t even see the ship around you, just the Earth below, and you feel like you’re flying over the planet.”

We honor you, Eileen Collins.

(#Repost @Military.com)

CW3 Doris “Lucki” Allen

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CW3 Doris “Lucki” Allen served as a WAC during the Vietnam War. Early in her military career, she asked for a transfer out of a dead end job in public relations at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, and went to the Army Language School in California because “it was the only place they would send me.” CW3Allen had encountered a typical problem women faced in the workplace during the 1960s. She was good at her job, so her supervisors did not want to lose her; however, they did not want to promote her either. “Had I gone out with my boss,” she said later, “I might have been promoted.” But because she spoke a foreign language (Spanish) and the Army needed linguists, she was able to devise an escape route that did not compromise her dignity.

Allen left the Army Language School with a working knowledge of French, trained in military intelligence, and ultimately ended up in Vietnam stationed at Long Binh from 1967-70. She recalled, “As a senior intelligence analyst in Vietnam, I was recognized for having been responsible through production of one specific intelligence report, for saving the lives of ‘at least’ 101 U.S. Marines fighting in Quang Tri Province.” In an interview, she said that she initially had difficulty getting her chain of command to take her report seriously. If she had not been persistent and pushed her report forward, it would have been buried.

We honor you, Doris Allen.

(#Repost @The Women’s Memorial)

Col Gail S. Halvorsen

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Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, or, “The Berlin Candy Bomber” served as a catalyst for this operation. As America geared up for the looming world war, Halvorsen was awestruck with the planes he saw flying while he labored on his father’s sugar beet farm in Tremonton, Utah. With a dream for flight, Halvorsen applied for and was accepted into a pilot-training program. The attack on Pearl Harbor prompted him to join the Army Air Corps, and he trained on fighters with the Royal Air Force. Reassigned to military transport service, Halvorsen remained in the service at war’s end. He was flying C-74 Globemasters and C-54 Skymasters out of Mobile, AL, when word came in June 1948 that the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin.

During the 15-month airlift (Operation Vittles), American and British pilots delivered more than 2 million tons of supplies to the city. But it was Halvorsen’s decision to airdrop candy to children (Operation Little Vittles) that clinched an ideological battle and earned him the lasting affection of a free West Berlin. Today, Halvorsen is affectionately known by Berliners and many around the world as as the Candy bomber (“Rosinenbomber”), Uncle Wiggly Wings (“Onkel Wackelflugel”) and the Chocolate Pilot.

As an aside, I had the privilege of being honored with Gail at the Utah State Capitol for the Cold War Victory Medal on August 29, 2017.  Gail’s first reaction when this photo was taken as his signature was to do a “thumbs up!”  So, that’s what we did!

We honor you, Gail Halvorsen.

(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson and #Repost @wigglywings)