Defense Update: Images of Our Military – Part II

As promised – and I am sure much-awaited :) — this is Part II of weekend images of our military.

Above: A sniper team scans the area outside of a leaders’ shura from a rooftop in the village of Baki Tanna in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Jan. 30, 2013. The soldiers are assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.

Chris Geradine secures a BQM-167A drone to a crane during a training run near Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Geradine is missile retriever diver assigned to the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rachelle Elsea)

Marines fly MV-22B Ospreys while conducting the squadron’s largest flight ever in Jacksonville, N.C., Feb. 20, 2013. During the flight 10 aircraft took off and landed together, and six aircraft conducted air-to-air refueling. The Marines are assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365.

U.S. Marines and sailors drag a boat into position after coming ashore during a bilateral boat raid as a part of exercise Cobra Gold 2013 in Hat Yao, None, Thailand, Feb. 15, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood

Navy sailors watch as an F/A-18C Hornet approaches the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Pacific Ocean, Feb. 13, 2013. The Vinson is underway conducting precision approach landing system and flight deck certifications. The hornet is part of the Strike Fighter Squadron 113.

U.S. soldiers and airmen offload a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from a C-5 Galaxy aircraft on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Feb.

Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Wilson gives the “good to go” hand signal to his crew manning the fuel flow on an HC-130 to provide a forward area refueling point to an UH-60 Black Hawk on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Jan. 30, 2013

Paratroopers move out of the way after they hook an M119A2 105mm howitzer to a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training on Fort Bragg, N.C., Feb. 8, 2013. The paratroopers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Servicemen and their daughters hit the dance floor during “A Night in the Spotlight,” the San Diego Armed Services YMCA Father and Daughter Dance in San Diego, Feb. 16, 2013. More than 450 military fathers attended the 7th annual event. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class James R. Evans

The next two images are somewhat out of context but are of a personal nature to me. I trust our readers will indulge me.

After nearly 50 years of public service, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be leaving us as soon as the U.S. Senate can find the resolve and responsibility to confirm Senator Chuck Hagel as his successor.

Panetta has been, in my opinion, a great Secretary of Defense, a great Director of the CIA, a great civil servant and a great American. I thank him for his service and wish him all the best.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and his golden retriever, Bravo, visit the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in MacLean, Va., Feb. 14, 2013. Panetta is preparing to retire after nearly 50 years of public service.

A couple of weeks ago it was the 40th anniversary of the release by the North Vietnamese of 591 American prisoners of war. It would take 54 C-141A Starlifter flights to bring these heroes back to American soil between Feb. 12 and April 4 1973 as part of ”Operation Homecoming.”.

My family and I were privileged to be present on the flight line when one of those flights arrived at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. It was an unforgettable, emotional experience.

I have not seen much coverage about this anniversary and plan to write about it shortly.

Newly freed prisoners of war celebrate as their C-141A aircraft lifts off from Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Feb. 12, 1973, during Operation Homecoming. The mission included 54 C-141 flights between Feb. 12 and April 4, 1973, returning 591 POWs to American soil. U.S. Air Force photo

All photos and captions: Department of Defense

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist