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Category: Military

Boat with drugs crashes on beach near Vandenberg AFB

Authorities on Thursday were investigating the crash of a boat loaded with narcotics on a beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Base officials said they would release more information shortly about the crash, which reportedly occurred just north of Wall Beach.

It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries or arrests.

But authorities said Vandenberg officials had "secured the area" and were continuing to investigate and "search for potential suspects."

Officials did not discuss the quantity or type of narcotics found on the craft. Base personnel were told to avoid the area and contact base security right away if they see suspicious people or activity.

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Congressman renews efforts for Medal of Honor for fallen Marine

At the grave of Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta at the Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, his mother, Rosa, and sister, Karen, grieve. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) is renewing his efforts to have the Medal of Honor awarded to a Marine from San Diego killed in combat in Iraq.

In 2008, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ruled the actions of Sgt. Rafael Peralta did not merit the nation's highest award for bravery. Last December, Gates' successor, Leon E. Panetta, declined to overrule the decision, although he noted Peralta's courage and faithful service.

But Hunter, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine officer, hopes the new defense secretary, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, might overrule Panetta and Gates and upgrade the Navy Cross awarded to Peralta for his bravery during the battle in Fallouja in November 2004. Hagel, Hunter noted, served in combat in Vietnam as an Army enlisted man.

The congressman is circulating a proposed resolution among other legislators favoring the Medal of Honor for Peralta, 25, a Mexican immigrant who enlisted on the day he received his "green card" and was killed during a house-clearing mission.

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2 San Diego-area defense contractors convicted in bribery scheme

Hawkeye
Two defense contractors and a corporation have been found guilty of being part of a fraud and bribery scheme involving phony payments for the repair of military aircraft at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado.

Robert Ehnow and Joanne Loehr, owners of Poway-based companies, were convicted Monday of showering Navy officials with gifts and cash in exchange for millions of dollars in payments for work supposedly done on planes at the Fleet Readiness Center. Loehr's firm, Centerline Industrial Inc., also was convicted.

Among the gifts were retail gift cards, flat-screen television sets, luxury massage chairs, model airplanes, bicycles costing thousands of dollars and home repairs. The cost of the bribes was hidden within bills submitted to the Navy, according to prosecutors.

The verdicts, delivered after a federal jury deliberated for two days, brought to 11 the number of people convicted as part of the scheme, including five former Navy employees.

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Marine killed in Afghanistan remembered for his warrior spirit

Davis1A Marine from Camp Pendleton killed in combat was honored at a memorial service in Afghanistan for his "warrior spirit" and "can-do attitude."

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Davis, 34, was killed Feb. 22. A motor transportation chief, Davis was serving as a liaison to light infantry troops from the Republic of Georgia.

Saturday's memorial at Forward Operating Base Shir Ghazay in Afghanistan was attended by Georgian soldiers as well as Davis' fellow Marines. He was buried Saturday in his hometown of Kayenta, Ariz.

Davis "will always be remembered for his warrior spirit, can-do attitude and fighter-leader mentality,” Marine Maj. Rudy Salcido said at the service in Afghanistan, according to an account of the ceremony released by the Marines.

Salcido said Davis "provided us with the greatest gift: his leadership. ... The fight goes on, just like Staff Sgt. Davis would have wanted it."

Davis, a Navajo Indian, is survived by his wife and son. A veteran of combat in Iraq, Davis is the 14th Navajo to die while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, according to tribal leaders.

"He was a true warrior," Staff Sgt. Ronaldo Jumbo, a Navajo who served with Davis in Iraq and is now a drill instructor at the boot camp in San Diego, told The Times.

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Photo: Sgt. Scott Cody pays his respects at a memorial service for Staff Sgt. Jonathan Davis in Afghanistan. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps

Marine killed in skydiving accident was decorated combat veteran

The Marine killed during a parachute training accident in Perris was a highly decorated combat veteran from Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Marine Corps announced Thursday.

Sgt. Caleb Medley, 26, of La Junta, Colo., died this week when he plummeted to the ground in Perris in southern Riverside County. Medley was an assistant radio operator with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

He had received two combat Action Ribbons for having been under fire and returned fire.

The Riverside County coroner's office had said previously that he was from Burlington, Colo.

Medley crash-landed in the 2000 block of Goetz Road on Tuesday afternoon, the Riverside County Fire Department said. The skydiver was among a group of Marines who were conducting training, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

He sustained traumatic injuries, according to the coroner’s office. Sgt. Lisa McConnell said Tuesday that the Marines from Camp Pendleton were at the popular skydiving spot for a military training exercise.

The incident was reported about 3 p.m. as a "skydiver down," the department said in a statement.

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Marine who died in Perris skydiving accident identified

A Camp Pendleton Marine who plummeted to his death Tuesday afternoon during a parachuting training exercise in Perris was identified Wednesday as Caleb Medley, 26, of Burlington, Colo., according to the Riverside County coroner’s office.

Medley crash-landed in the 2000 block of Goetz Road on Tuesday afternoon, the Riverside County Fire Department said. The skydiver was among a group of Marines who were conducting training, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. He sustained traumatic injuries, according to the coroner’s office.

Sgt. Lisa McConnell said Tuesday that the Marines from Camp Pendleton were at the popular skydiving spot for a military training exercise.  The incident was reported about 3 p.m. as a "skydiver down," the department said in a statement.

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Cuts at Coronado repair facility could hurt readiness, Navy says

Workers at the Fleet Readiness Center at North Island Naval Air Station work on an M-60 Seahawk helicopter. Credit: U.S. NavyAs automatic cuts in the federal budget draw near, military officials are warning that reductions in maintenance of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft at a repair facility in Coronado could undermine combat readiness.

The Navy has already reduced its operations and maintenance budgets "to preserve overseas and forward-deployed readiness to the maximum extent possible," officials said.

But if the so-called sequestration takes place, reductions in flying hours and aircraft maintenance will be required at  North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado as well in Cherry Point, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla.

The Coronado facility repairs, maintains and overhauls air-frames and components for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

A year's worth of sequestration could mean a reduction of 124 work assignments and 478,000 workhours, officials said.'

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Photo: Workers at the Fleet Readiness Center at North Island Naval Air Station work on an M-60 Seahawk helicopter. Credit: U.S. Navy

Remains of Korean War soldier arrive at LAX

The remains of a soldier from California who died at the age of 18 in the Korean War arrived at Los Angeles International Airport early Wednesday morning and will be returned to his family, 62 years after he was reported missing in action.

The remains of Pfc. Roosevelt Clark of Arvin will be buried Friday in Bakersfield, KTLA-TV reported. Clark was was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950, while fighting with the 35th Infantry Regiment in North Korea.

Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of human remains, believed to be those of 200 to 400 U.S. servicemen. Documents turned over with the remains indicated that some were recovered from the area where Clark was believed to have gone missing in 1950.

Scientists identified Clark’s remains using dental comparisons, as well as DNA, which matched Clark’s aunt and uncle.

“It means so much to us,” Clark’s cousin told KTLA-TV on Wednesday. “We are just overjoyed that he’s coming home and that we have some closure.”

Clark attended Bakersfield High School, where he played on the football team. He dropped out in April 1950, during his junior year, to join the Army.

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L.A. County honors World War II Marines who broke racial barriers

As part of Black History Month, Los Angeles County honored a group of U.S. Marines who broke down racial barriers.

About 20,000 black recruits were trained as Marines at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina during World War II. The U.S. House of Representatives awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to the Montford Point Marines in 2011.

Los Angeles County officials presented scrolls to members of the local chapter of the Montford Point Marines Assn. at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Supervisor Don Knabe, who made the presentation, said the Marines "loyally served our nation in the face of prejudice and discrimination."

Montford Point Marines William "Jack" McDowell of Long Beach, 85, who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars during his 23-year career as a Marine, and Vaughan Whitworth, 88, of Los Angeles, who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, accepted the award.

Association chapter president Larry E. Michael Johnson, who joined the Marine Corps in 1972, thanked the Montford Point Marines for paving the way for him.

"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be who I am today," he said.

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Marine from Camp Pendleton dies during combat in Afghanistan

A Marine from Camp Pendleton has died during combat operations in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Davis, 34, of Kayenta, Ariz., died Friday in Helmand province, long a Taliban stronghold. Davis was a motor transport operations chief assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 32nd Georgian Liaison team, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division.

Davis enlisted in 1997. He had also deployed to Iraq. In Afghanistan, he was assigned to assist a NATO contingent from the Republic of Georgia.

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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