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Shorts #8

National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, April 18, 1997 –  

Joint Missile Defense Office Opens

The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization formed a joint program office for the National Missile Defense Program April 1.

This organization will provide management oversight for the National Missile Defense Program sites from the Army, Navy and Air Force. The joint program office will be accountable for the design, development and demonstration of a national missile design system to defend the United States from ballistic missile attack by 2003, if it is deemed such a threat exists.

Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Cosumano will lead the office, reporting to Air Force Lt. Gen. Lester L. Lyles, Ballistic Missile Defense Office director. Lyles also acts as the DoD ballistic missile defense acquisition executive. Paul Kaminski, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, instructed the Ballistic Missile Defense Office to introduce a joint program office "because the development of an national missile defense capability is truly a combined effort, requiring cooperation and comprehension from the military services, industry and DoD agencies." (DDI)

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World War II Site Becomes Wildlife Refuge

WASHINGTON —- The U.S. Navy and Fish and Wildlife Service dedicated the island of Midway -- site of a pivotal World War II battle -- as a national wildlife refuge April 3.

Navy Secretary John Dalton, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Bonnie Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy William Cassidy and Fish and Wildlife Service Director John Rogers journeyed to the island 1,250 miles northwest of Honolulu to take part in the ceremony.

The Navy has run Midway since 1903. It is now open to the public. (DDI)

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Navy Names Ship After Army Hero

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Navy John Dalton has named the latest strategic sealift ship after a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Army Pvt. George Watson of Birmingham, Ala.

Watson was one of seven African-American soldiers who received the Medal of Honor in February 1997, more than 50 years after World War II.

In 1943, Japanese bombers sunk Watson's ship in Porloch Harbor, New Guinea. He remained in the water and helped other soldiers to safety. He died when the ship sank and he was caught in the undertow.

Army Secretary Togo D. West Jr. said "that by naming this ship after an Army Medal of Honor recipient, the secretary of the Navy has created a lasting monument to an American hero. Pvt. Watson gave his life in the defense of our nation; now this ship will continue that legacy of selfless service and dedication."

National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego will build the roll on/roll off cargo ship. The USNS Watson will be 950 feet in length with a 105-foot beam and will displace 62,000 tons when fully loaded. The ship will be capable of sustaining speeds up to 24 knots. (DDI)

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DAYTONA USA Celebrates Armed Forces Month

WASHINGTON -- Service members stationed or vacationing in South Florida this May will see special discounts at one of America's premier auto racing attractions.

DAYTONA USA, "The Ultimate Motorsports Attraction" at Daytona International Speedway, will honor the armed forces by offering discount admissions to the park and tours of the NASCAR raceway during May.

During the observance, service members can purchase $12 tickets to the raceway entertainment center for $8. The $18 DAYTONA USA combo ticket -- admission to DAYTONA USA and a 30-minute speedway tour -- will be $12. The discount is good for all military personnel and one guest. Tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $6 each. There is no charge for children under six.

DAYTONA USA features a variety of exciting hands-on activities and live shows geared toward all levels of racing enthusiasm. Guests can change tires in a timed pit stop competition, design and video test their own race car, broadcast a famous race finish and much more. The Daytona 500 ThunderRound-Sound movie presentation, starring some of NASCAR's finest drivers, puts guests in the driver's seat in a side-by-side race to the finish. The attraction will also feature a temporary outdoor display of military equipment.

Attraction hours in May are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with speedway tours running 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather and track schedule permitting).

For more information on DAYTONA USA's armed forces month activities, call (904) 947-6800. Readers should scan the pages of this paper and others for more special promotions for service members. (From a release)

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