Metro-East News

Roger That: Iraqi forces searching for radioactive material stolen last year

Iraqi security forces are searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material stolen last year, according to an environment ministry document and seven security, environmental and provincial officials who fear it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State, according to Reuters.

The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went missing in November from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford WFTN, the document seen by Reuters showed and officials confirmed.

A spokesman for Iraq’s environment ministry said he could not discuss the issue, citing national security concerns.

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A decorated Army sergeant who protected an Afghan boy from a child molester could find out any day whether his actions will end his career in the military, according to Military.com.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, a Green Beret with an 11-year Special Forces career, was stationed in Afghanistan in 2011 when the boy's mother came to him and said she'd been beaten and her son raped by a local police commander. Martland and another soldier summoned the police official and, when the man laughed at them, threw him off the base. Martland and Daniel Quinn were both disciplined for their actions.

Last year, amid military cuts, the Army Human Resources Command recommended Martland be discharged in part based on his disciplinary record, but an official decision by U.S. Army brass is expected by March 1.

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The Pentagon told the Russian military where U.S. Special Forces are located in Syria with the hope that Russian aircraft will steer clear of that area and not risk bombing American service members, top military officials said Thursday.

The disclosure reveals an expanded level of military–to-military communication and cooperation between the two countries beyond the basic “memorandum of understanding,” or MOU, that was signed in October and focused on safety protocols for air crews operating in Syrian air space.

“We provided a geographical area that we asked them to stay out of because of the risk to U.S. forces,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters Thursday.

“This was a step we took to try to maintain their safety in a dangerous situation and this was a request that we made to the Russians outside the scope of the" memorandum of understanding, Cook said. “Up to this point, [the Russians] have honored this request.”

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Seventy-five years ago today, Gen. Benjamin O. Davis (who was a captain at the time) reported to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama with 12 black aviation cadets to begin flight training.

Davis went on to become the first African-American general officer in the United States Air Force. On December 9, 1998, President Bill Clinto promoted Davis to the rank of four-star general. During World War II, Davis commanded the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers on air combat missions over Nazi-held Europe. Davis flew 60 missions in P-39, Curtiss P-40, P-47 and P-51 Mustang fighters.

The Tuskegee Airmen’s exemplary performance and coolness under fire helped pave the way for President Harry Truman’s historic Feb. 2, 1948 order to desegregate the entire U.S. military.

In celebration of Black History Month, three surviving members of Tuskegee Airmen visited the Pentagon during a meet and greet hosted by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James on Feb. 16.

Retired Col. Charles McGee and former Cadets William Fauntroy Jr. and Walter Robinson Sr. shared stories and insights about their lives as Tuskegee Airmen and as civilians after they left the military.

“I had a breadth of understanding of what could be, because I had accepted the training and the discipline,” said Robinson, who went on to be the first black postal manager in Washington, D.C.

The Tuskegee Airmen were not just flyers but also radio operators, navigators, bombardiers, aircraft maintainers, support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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