November 26, 2010

Martha Meeker - Joint Base Charleston

Nov. 23, 2010: Jim Geffert introduced the speaker mentioning that the base has over 21,000 employees and that Martha had been in the Air Force for 23 years. The base is one of only 12 joint bases in the world and that it is a model base around the world. Col. Meeker began by saying that: "It is our goal to not just be a presence in the community, but to be a part of the community."

Some statistics that she quoted are that the base is 23,000 acres or 37 square miles in size. There are 38 miles of railroad and 14 miles of shore line. The base is the largest employer in the low country. They have 3 miles of runway. It is the Army's busiest delivery battalion. 79,364 people are supported by the base. The payroll is $4.36 billion annually. Their budget is 172 million. They've done $373.1 million in major construction. She said that she sees herself and her role as much like that of a mayor ... she promotes the base and gets to brag about it.

Four major organizations are under her leadership as well: The nuclear Navy training command starts here in Charleston at the old shipyard; They house the Navy munitions command center; They house the corrections facility, of brig., where they make an effort to re-habilitate prisoners; The average rate of recidivism in society is 70%, whereas at the brig. it's only 25%; SPAWAR communications systems, providing advanced communications technology and logistics in every military vehicle used today. Those systems are installed here in Charleston.

Other stats. she quoted are that 35% of all military materials go through Charleston ports or the airport. Also, much of the military's materials and supplies are stored in Charleston. We have the #1 airlift operation in the world. The C-17 was born in Charleston and more of those planes are located here than anywhere else in the world. Recruitment is up. Over 800 attempted to get into the Air Force last year and did not get in. They and others are attempting to do so again this year.

Col. Meeker said that she is dedicated to making the base the best that it can be. To do so, she has developed a three prong strategy: Develop a master plan for the weapons station; Award $100 million in contracts in 2011; Develop an enhanced use lease system.

Col. Meeker has also developed a program entitled: "Carolina Canines for Veteran's"
* 30,000 veteran's have been wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan.
* 200+ veteran's with PTSD are on a wait list for a dog.
* Having a dog is considered to be a medical treatment.

Respectfully submitted by William Christian, Keyway Committee


November 19, 2010

McLean tells "A Marine Story"

Nov. 16, 2010 - Bestselling author Jack McLean described to Rotarians how he started Harvard in 1968 as the college's first Vietnam veteran following a tour of duty that had interludes of ferocious combat.

At Harvard just two weeks after being discharged, McLean found registration "simply manageable, almost quaint."

Registration was in Memorial Hall, a building erected to remember Union soldiers who died in the Civil War.

"There didn't seem to be any sentiment to remember those who died in Vietnam," he recalled. "Few sons of Harvard would serve, let alone die, in Vietnam."

McLean said he quickly learned how his combat service in a war increasingly unpopular was perceived.

"Few, if any people, at Harvard cared about military service. I barely mentioned it."

After a successful business career, McLean got in touch with his company commander some 25 years after being discharged. The experience and emotion generated from the contact led to an effort put the war in perspective. He and his captain also decided to find surviving members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

Ten years later, McLean wrote "Loon: A Marine Story" to memorialize the company and his fallen comrades. Medal of Honor winner and Rotarian Jim Livingston, who introduced McLean and served around the same time in another Marine unit, described McLean's memoir and his "baptism under fire."

"'Loon' refers to the mountain landing zone where the climactic three-day battle of the book occurs, where, as Jack tells it, 'for those three days in June 1968, Charlie and Delta companies were the war in Vietnam.'"

McLean, who answered several questions about the process that spurred him to write the book, signed copies after the meeting.

Prior to his talk, Peg Eastman of Military Assistance Providers asked Rotarians to support its "Be a Buddy" program to help active-duty service members, veterans and their families have successful reintegration into the community following their overseas duty. More:

Rotarian Tom Sweeny also told members that a Veteran of the Month would be honored on Nov. 30.

Submitted by Andy Brack, Keyway Committee

November 12, 2010

Play Hard and Play to Win - The Citadel Basketball Program

Nov. 9, 2010: Rotary member, Ed Vaughan introduced today's speaker, the Citadel's new head basketball coach, Charles "Chuck" Driesell with a brief personal and professional bio. Born and raised in Maryland, Chuck attended the University of Maryland where his father, Charles Grice "Lefty" Driesell, was the head basketball coach. Chuck was a four-year letter winner and Academic All-ACC. Ed noted Chuck's coaching highlights including winning seasons at James Madison, Marymount University and Maryland.

Chuck began his presentation remarking on the 2 main differences between and Maryland and Charleston: the weather and the color blue. Charleston's warm weather has been a confusing adjustment as cold weather always meant basketball season in Maryland. But with a closet of new blue shirts and elimination Terrapin red, there's no question Bulldog basketball season is days away.

Chuck's relationship with The Citadel began years ago as a high school senior weighing the options of Bulldogs versus Terrapins. Ultimately, the idea of uniforms and early mornings convinced Chuck to attend Maryland. 29 years later, he has inherited a team of uniformed, early rising basketball players. A team, he believes, has the discipline and skill to deliver a winning season.

The Citadel's rising starts include Cameron Wells, a Citadel senior and "special player", Zach Urbanus , the all-time leader in Citadel 3 point history and Austin Dahn, a "smart player" predicted to have a "break out year." Chuck explained that with the combination of Wells, Urbanus, Dahn and "pick up players," his "inside - out" system will deliver success. The "pick up players" are 5th year eligible transfer students who have the crucial size to play with their backs to the basket. Their addition to the team is invaluable as Chuck noted, "you can't teach size."

Chuck's "play hard, play to win" mentality and excitement for the season and his players was evident as he encouraged the audience to attend their 13 home games and fill the Field House's 6,000 seats. Chuck's 16 players are only part of his team; his newly hired staff provides the discipline and role models each player needs to apply the "play hard, play to win" attitude for their lives on and off the basketball court.

During the Q&A session, Chuck answered the following questions:

Q: Best game you ever watched? A: When Jordan scored 61 points at the Boston Gardens.

Q: What will the team look like next season? A: 8 seniors lost in 2011 but 7 freshman gained in 2010

Q: Difference coaching military players? A: 1) Manage time; 2) Work around player's schedules; and 3) Watch health and weight of players who have less sleep than the average college student

Q: Community involvement? A: The players and coaches are only "a phone call away" and are always willing to speak at schools, organizations, etc.

Q: Family relocated? A: Yes, living in Mt. Pleasant with one daughter at Wando and one at Laing.

Q: Difficult adjusting to a "football town"? A: No, you find out what you have and sell it hard, and I've been pleasantly surprised.

Reported by Teal Van Saun, Keyway Committee

November 2, 2010: Fred Tetor, Retired Mt. Pleasant Fire Chief, and a ten year Hunley restoration volunteer gave us both photos and facts about this amazing historical artifact. By great fortune a George Cook photo from the 1860's was used to create an accurate painting of the submarine, in 1863, a painting so detailed it has provided valuable information for the restoration team.

With Charleston under almost total blockade the Hunley's task was to stop the frigate Housatanic which was blocking the remaining channel opening. The blockade was starving the city and creating incredible inflation of the price of everything. Using a long spar torpedo, the Hunley rammed the frigate causing the magazine to blow and the ship to go down in minutes. What happened next is still a mystery. The Hunley disappeared, and was not seen again until 1995.

In the years of restoration much has been learned about the corrosion of metal that has been under the sea. Using x-rays and computer reconstruction images, along with the 1863 painting, many things that were inside the ship have been found, including dozens of buttons, a diamond brooch, a diamond ring, and the famous gold coin carried by Lt. Dixon.

The restoration is funded by Friends of the Hunley, ticket admission sales, and the support of Clemson University which has already developed research techniques about corrosion which will have world wide application. The next step is to rotate the sub into an upright position exposing a side yet unseen and un-worked. The electronic drying process is expected to take another 4 to 5 years. Eventually the sub will be visible out of its water container. Answers to questions from the audience gave the following information:

Still unknown is exactly why the Hunley sank.
There is no design information about the next generation of the Hunley class sub.
The Federal and State governments are no longer supporting the project.
Its permanent museum location is expected to be the old officer's club at the Navy Base.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee