Navy Seaman Apprentice Andrew Strommen, son of Janet Puentes of Largo, participated in Cobra Gold 2010 in Utapao, Thailand, the largest multilateral military training exercise in the Pacific region. Sponsored by the Royal Thai Supreme Command and U.S. Pacific Command, Cobra Gold is conducted throughout Thailand. This year's participants were Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and, for the first time, South Korea.
"I serve as an administrator for the (computer) network and also the go-to guy for tech support," said Strommen, who is an information system technician with the Commander Expeditionary Strike Group 7, Okinawa, Japan.
Created in 1982, Cobra Gold is an important symbol of the U.S. military's commitment to maintaining peace and security in Asia, providing realistic training and improved efficiency through military coordination and operations testing.
Service members work on their tactical skills and test their ability to operate in a joint, multinational environment. These range from amphibious assaults to engineering and medical humanitarian and civic assistance projects geared toward improving the quality of life in Thailand. They also practiced noncombatant civilian personnel evacuation operations used during disaster-relief needs.
"This exercise is important because it builds a strong relationship among all the countries involved," said Strommen, who graduated in 2006 from Lafayette High in Mayo.
The following military personnel graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
Air Force Reserve Airman Chad F. Calhoun, son of Timothy Calhoun of Clearwater. He is a 2006 graduate of Lakewood High, St. Petersburg.
Air Force Airman Brianna M. Johnson, daughter of Brenda Nichols of Clearwater. She is a 2009 graduate of Dunedin High.
Air Force Airman Jessica N. Thomas, daughter of Daniel and Sharon Thomas of Tarpon Springs. She is a 2007 graduate of Tarpon Springs High.
The airmen completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.
Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in an applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.
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Marine Corps Pvt. Justin R. Giroux, grandson of Paul and Margurite Giroux of Largo, completed 12 weeks of basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C.
In addition to a physical conditioning program, Giroux and fellow recruits spent numerous hours in classroom and field assignments which included learning first aid, uniform regulations, combat water survival, marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat and assorted weapons training. They performed close order drill and operated as a small infantry unit during field training.
They also received instruction on the Marine Corps' core values of honor, courage and commitment.
The training phase ended with the Crucible, a 54-hour team effort in which recruits are presented the Marine Corps Emblem and addressed as "Marines" for the first time in their careers.