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Military News Briefs for the week ending July 28, 2000

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2000 – (This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending July 28, 2000)

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DEFENSE OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE PLAN TO REPLACE FOOD STAMPS

Service members who qualify for food stamps -- and some who don't -- may soon get debit cards to use in commissaries, DoD officials announced July 28.

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told reporters at the Pentagon that the DoD-issued cards would be credited with a fixed monthly value based on the user's rank and family size. The plan needs congressional approval. Cohen said the idea already has support from members of the House and Senate armed services committees.

Cohen called the cards necessary because Agriculture Department food stamp rules create an inequity between service members by counting housing allowances as income but not the value of base family housing.

The debit cards would end the inequity by not counting housing allowances as income, DoD officials said. This probably means more service members would receive cards than currently receive food stamps -- but it's fair, they said.

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MARINES BLAME CHAIN OF ERRORS FOR OSPREY CRASH

Like “links in a chain,” many things went wrong in the April 8 crash of an MV-22 Osprey that killed 19 Marines, Marine officials said.

Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, chief of Marine Corps aviation, told Pentagon reporters that the primary cause of the crash was the Osprey pilot descended too quickly -- 250 percent the acceptable rate. Other contributing factors include an unexpected 8- to 15- knot tailwind and crew deviations from their flight plan, which put them 2,000 feet higher than expected.

While trying to descend and take up position behind his leader, the Osprey pilot suffered a rotor stall and loss of lift. His recovery attempts worsened the situation and he crashed, McCorkle said.

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PRESIDENT THANKS, CAUTIONS U.S. TROOPS ON OKINAWA

President Clinton thanked U.S. service members stationed in Okinawa, Japan, for their service, but reminded them they must be good neighbors to the Okinawans.

Clinton, on the island for the G-8 summit, told service members July 22 at Camp Foster Marine Base that they are the reason Asia is at peace.

U.S.-Japanese relations have been rocked by misdeeds of American service members. The most heinous was the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by service members five years ago. Earlier in July, a Marine was arrested for allegedly molesting a 14-year- old girl while she slept at her home, and an airman was detained in a hit-and-run accident. Both incidents sparked demonstrations against U.S. presence on the island.

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NAACP BESTOWS AWARDS ON DoD, COAST GUARD PERSONNEL

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People presented top service awards to eight uniformed members and two civilians recently at its 25th annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards dinner in Baltimore.

Winners of the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award were: Army Maj. Gen. Robert L. Nabors, Navy Dr. (Cmdr.) Linda A. Murakata, Marine Corps Maj. Don M. Thanars, Air Force Maj. Sherry L. Stearns-Boles, Army National Guard Maj. Richard Donnell Kingsberry, Air National Guard 2nd Lt. Pamela Denise Townsend, DoD civilian Shirley L. Fields, retired Coast Guard Vice Adm. James C. Card and Coast Guard civilian Houston "Jerry" Jones.

In a special tribute, Adm. James M. Loy, Coast Guard commandant, received the NAACP Meritorious Service Award from Julian Bond, president of the organization's national board of directors. The NAACP cited Loy for "championing equal opportunity, affirmative action, civil rights and public service in the Coast Guard."

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NORTH KOREA REPATRIATES 12 SETS OF REMAINS

The remains believed to be of 12 American soldiers missing since 1950 were returned to the United States July 22. A joint U.S.- North Korean team found the remains about 60 miles north of the capital of Pyongyang. The area was the scene of fierce fighting between U.S. and Chinese forces in November 1950.

The remains are believed to be those of men who fought with the 1st Cavalry Division, the 2nd Infantry Division and the 25th Infantry Division. This brings the total to 54 sets of remains repatriated from North Korea since the effort started in 1996, said Larry Greer, a spokesman for the POW/MIA office. Five sets of remains have been identified and 10 others are in the final stages of identification, DoD officials said.

"Chances of identifying virtually every one we find are pretty good," Greer said. "If, however, we need to use mitochondrial DNA (to identify remains) and cannot find a family link to a GI, it may make identifications more difficult."

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