Military

A homeless shelter for women veterans in Fayetteville is getting a makeover. The ABC reality television program "Extreme Makeover Home Edition," selected the shelter run by former Navy officer Barbara Marshall. Her organization Steps-n-Stages works to house women vets in the home. It will be renovated by a company called Blue Ridge Log Cabins. The show has also partnered with the USO of North Carolina to organize a food drive for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Renee Lane is director of the Fort Bragg Center of the USO of North Carolina. She says there will be a big food drive this Sunday in Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville.

Battle of Bentonville
UNC-Chapel Hill, NC Collection

  The site of the bloodiest battle in North Carolina history is now the location for a memorial to confederate soldiers. A ceremony tomorrow afternoon will recognize a long lost graveyard at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. Derrick Brown is the assistant manager of the facility. He says an old photo and some new technology helped find the area where confederate soldiers were buried. 

Marines at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville have a new facility to train for their biggest threat in Afghanistan: roadside bombs.

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are responsible for nearly 80 percent of combat deaths in Afghanistan. The Marine Corps says Camp Lejeune's new training facility will ensure Marines are as prepared as possible before going into harm's way.

North Carolina military bases are on a heightened level of security after Osama bin Laden's death this week. Top commanders directed all U.S. military installations to a status called Force Protection Condition Bravo. It's the middle level of a five-stage security system. The order came Sunday morning, before President Obama announced American forces had killed bin Laden. Camp Lejeune spokesman Nat Fahy says marines and sailors are taking basic steps to ensure safety.

Wake County is hosting a networking fair today for organizations that support military personnel and their families. County leaders say the event is designed to develop stronger ties between local military groups. Randy Marsh is chair of the Wake County Military and Veterans Resource Coalition.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are due at a celebration for 40 expectant mothers at Camp Lejeune this morning. The visit is part of a 2-day national tour and comes a day after Mrs. Obama announced a new initiative to support military families. The non-profit Operation Shower is hosting the event. LeAnn Morrissey, creator of Operation Shower, says she started the group as a way to give back to those wives whose husbands are fighting overseas.

A new project aims to give combat veterans and their families some rest and relaxation on the beach. Kevin McCabe is one of the founders of the Cape Hatteras Wounded Warriors project. Its main goal is to provide Purple Heart recipients with vacation getaways on Hatteras Island. McCabe says the idea was born out of a desire to give something back to those who have served their country.

Harrier at night aboard USS Kearsarge
26th MEU

Marines from Camp Lejeune are part of the coalition conducting air-strikes on Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit joined attacks yesterday. Officials said they were successful in destroying military targets near Bengazi. Marines in the 26th began their deployment by aiding refugees of massive floods in Pakistan last August.

Ten people were injured in an explosion on Fort Bragg last night. The injured are eight marines and two navy personnel. Marine staff sergeant Jayson Price says the explosion happened during a routine spring exercise called “Rolling Thunder.” The exercise uses live ammunition including 155 millimeter howitzers.

"The cause of the incident is under investigation and the regiment remains in a check firing status, meaning they’re not firing until safe training can resume," Price says.

A community college in Jacksonville is seeing a number of its students struggle with the effects of traumatic brain injuries. School administrators at Coastal Carolina Community College held a presentation this week to get the word out to students about the help available to them. The proximity to Camp Lejeune and the large veteran population means a number of students have suffered injuries in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Christopher Sabin, the college’s Director for Veterans Programs, says many students hide their problems:

A fair being held at Fort Bragg today will focus on resiliency. The first-ever “Resiliency Fair” is a chance for soldier and their families to learn about some of the support services available at the sprawling Army post. Master Sergeant Jennifer Loredo says resiliency is an important part of being a soldier:

"Being able to bounce back from an event that happens in your life and either grow from it or move forward. Soldiers and family members and people in general really can always work on improving their resilience, and so that’s kind of what this is about."

battleshipnc.com

A relic of World War II and source of pride for North Carolinians is getting some much-needed repairs. The Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington will have work done on its hull starting in April. But people will be able to tour the ship as the work is taking place.

Spokeswoman Heather Loftin says it's an opportunity for a new generation to experience history in the making:

defense.gov

New barracks at Fort Bragg will improve the way the fort treats wounded soldiers. That's according to officers with the fort's Wounded Warrior Battalion. They say the building will consolidate operations from nine facilities to one. Major Dennis Small is the executive officer of the battalion. He says the new barracks advance a recovery process that already works.

Family and friends of America's fallen soldiers and civilians lost since 9/11 will be among the attendees at a ceremony on Fort Bragg today. Base officials are unveiling a monument honoring the dead this afternoon. Sergeant Major LaMonte Caldwell is participating in the event. He says its very personal for him:

 "I've lost a total of 11 soldiers that worked for me in my command and then also the fact that 36 was injured or maimed during the last operation that was in Afghanistan."

A North Carolina woman is beginning her sixth year chronicling every U.S. military casualty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Caroline McKinley lives near Camp Lejeune. She posts stories about every soldier killed on her website, Freedom Remembered.  McKinley says the site is particularly useful for soldiers still serving in Afghanistan and Iraq:

211 Fort Bragg-based paratroopers return home from Afghanistan tonight. Two batteries from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 18th Fires Brigade are scheduled to arrive just after midnight. Colonel Al Shoffner, Commander of the Brigade, says their primary mission was to provide support fire for maneuvering forces in the eastern part of the country.

Officials at Fort Bragg are holding a town hall meeting tomorrow for military families who have babies. Military investigators have been looking into a series of ten unexplained infant deaths on base since last year. So far they haven't found an environmental link, and they're waiting for consumer product safety results.

Tom McCullom is a spokesman for the base:

Members of the Fort Bragg based 82nd Sustainable Brigade arrive home later today. About 100 soldiers are making the trip after serving for a year in Afghanistan. Military officials say the group handled getting supplies to soldiers throughout the embattled country.

Sergeant First Class Jason Allgood says today's reunion comes just in time for the holidays:

Three soldiers at Fort Bragg received medals today for their bravery during a recent deployment to Afghanistan. Sargeant First Class Marius Orhon received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and Sargeants Erik Crouch and Ryan Schloesser both received Bronze Star Medals with Valor. Crouch is a medic who performed valiantly after his group was attacked by Taliban. Major Matthew Ziglar is the company commander.

reenactment
nchistoricsites.org

State and local officials are unveiling new artifacts today at the Alamance Battleground near Burlington. The items were found over the past year by archeologists, historians and volunteers. Bryan Dalton is the manager of the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site. He says discoveries include musket and cannon shot and other items.

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