From the Armed Forces

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 4, 1997 | Go to article overview

From the Armed Forces


- Navy Petty Officer Third Class Drake Hernandez, whose wife, Tomorrow, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lude Leos of Elgin, has arrived in the Arabian Gulf with Sea Control Squadron 32, embarked aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, the lead ship of the USS George Washington Battle Group. President Bill Clinton ordered elements of the battle group to the area in response to raising tensions there.

Hernandez is one of more than 5,000 Sailors and marines aboard the carrier who will be called on to participate in any contingency operations which may be ordered. Iraq's refusal to allow entry of members of the U.N. weapons inspection team have caused increased tensions over compliance with U.N. sanctions imposed after the Gulf War in 1991.

Hernandez's squadron flies the S-3B Viking, a multi-purpose jet aircraft capable of locating and destroying enemy submarines, long-range surveillance of shipping, air-to-air refueling, and other strike missions as required.

Aircraft carriers like USS George Washington are forward deployed around the world to maintain a U.S. presence and provide rapid response in times of crisis, or tension, as in the present instance. They serve as a highly visible deterrent to would-be aggressors and, if deterrence fails, offer the most versatile and powerful weapons available.

The 1990 graduate of Mather High School of Chicago, joined the Navy in December 1990.

- Marine Cpl. Michael J. Hagans has completed a six-month deployment with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), embarked aboard the ships of the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

Hagans' unit deployed in April as part of the USS Kearsarge ARG, which includes the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce and the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall.

During the deployment, Hagans participated in the evacuation of more than 2,500 American citizens from Sierra Leone, conducted jointly with French, Nigerian and Sierra Leone surface combatants. Hagans' ship was also involved in several multi-national exercises designed to challenge communications, increase task force and unit readiness, and provide desert-like training for Marines.

Hagans' unit is an expeditionary intervention force with the ability to rapidly organize for combat operations in virtually any environment. MEUs are composed of more than 2,000 personnel and are divided into an infantry battalion, an aircraft squadron, a support group and a command element. With the combination of these teams, Hagans' unit supplies and sustains itself for either quick mission accomplishment or clearing the way for follow-on forces.

The 1994 graduate of Harry D. Jacobs High School of Algonquin, joined the Marine Corps in August 1994.

Hagans is the son of Anthony and Melissa L. Pizzuto of West Dundee.

- Marine Pvt. LeDon A. Hill recently completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Dept, San Diego.

Hill successfully completed 12 weeks of training designed to challenge new Marine recruits both physically and mentally.

Hill and fellow recruits began their training at 5 a.m., by running three miles and performing calisthenics. In addition to the physical conditioning program, Hill spent numerous hours in classroom regulations, combat water survival, marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat and assorted weapons training. They performed close order drill and operated as a small infantry unit during field training.

Hill and other recruits also received instruction on the Marine Corps' core values - honor, courage and commitment, and what the words mean in guiding personal and professional conduct.

Hill and fellow recruits ended the training phase with The Crucible, a 54-hour team effort, problem solving evolution which culminated with an emotional ceremony in which the recruits were presented the Marine Corps Emblem, and were addressed as "Marines" for the first time since boot camp began. …

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