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1. Honor Flight taking veterans by the thousands to D.C.. Final numbers are still being tallied from Honor Flight Network’s 2012 flying season, which ended in November, but it’s possible the Springfield-based nonprofit flew its 100,000th veteran to the nation’s capital this year to visit the war memorials they never thought they’d see.
2. 2012: A big year for the Big E. The retirement of the USS Enterprise closed a chapter for the U.S. Navy and capped a lucrative construction and maintenance contract for Newport News Shipbuilding.
3. Declassified CIA documents shed light on secret Navy mission in Cold War. In late 1971, the Navy brought the deep-diving submersible Trieste II and several support ships out to a spot 350 miles north of Hawaii to retrieve Scripps Institution of Oceanography “instrumentation” from the ocean floor. That was the cover story.
4. Body of ISAF soldier found in southern Afghanistan. Afghan police found the body of Georgian soldier Sgt. Giorgi Kikadze on Saturday in southern Afghanistan after he had been reported missing Dec. 19, according to a statement from the Georgian ministry of defense.
5. How badly will budget cuts hurt troops, DOD civilians? DOD could hit the entire civilian workforce of more than 700,000 full-time employees with furloughs to make the 10 percent across-the-board cuts. After that, sometime in early spring by March or April, the Defense Department would have to move to reduce its peacetime operations.
6. Rose Parade float represents military dog monument. In a cavernous warehouse, Rose Parade volunteers were recently painting and clipping flowers as they rushed to complete their float in time for New Year’s Day festivities. But all activity paused when the star of the decorated stage arrived. That would be Lucca, a German shepherd-Malinois mix who lost a paw to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan while on her third combat tour.
7. Slain Vietnam vet posthumously awarded Silver Star. Ben Snowden enlisted in the Army in 1954 at age 17. Twelve years later, he was on his third tour of duty in the Vietnam War when he was killed by machine gun fire while trying to rescue several soldiers under fire in Laos.
8. Marine takes down burglar in his parent’s Wash. home. After two dangerous tours in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl. Alex Pohle confronted a new threat on the home front: a burglar in his parent’s Spokane Valley home.
9. Louisiana Veterans Affairs Secretary Retires, Deputy Secretary To Serve As Interim. New Orleans Times-Picayune “Louisiana Secretary of Veterans Affairs Lane Carson is retiring after four years on the job,” and Gov. Bobby Jindal “has appointed current Deputy Secretary David LaCerte to head the Department of Veterans Affairs on an interim basis.” Carson was “the first Vietnam veteran elected to Louisiana’s House of Representatives” and “was appointed as head of the department in 2008.” Jindal called Carson “a Louisiana hero” and “noted that during his tenure he ensured every parish had a Veterans Affairs Service Office, expanded eligibility at the state’s five veterans homes, added two new veteran’s cemeteries in the state and developed a business initiative aimed at providing employment opportunities for veterans.” LaCerte is a Marine veteran of Afghanistan.
10. Tumor Boards May Add Little To VA Cancer Care. Reuters A new, multi-year study of records at 138 VA medical centers suggests that tumor boards routinely used at US hospitals may not make as much difference in patient care as expected. Senior study author Dr. Nancy Keating of Boston’s Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and her team detailed their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. They said their research found that only seven of 27 standards of quality and patient care processes were affected by the tumor boards, and some of the effects were not always positive. Stanford School of Medicine’s Dr. Douglas Blayney, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the Journal, cautioned that hospitals should consider how the impact of the tumor boards might change with such developments as telemedicine, which could put remote patients and physicians in touch with experts with specialized cancer knowledge.