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U.S. Flag Goes Missing from Iwo Jima Statue


QUANTICO, Va. — Something symbolic was missing from one of our community’s most recognized statues Monday.

The U.S. Flag was removed from the Iwo Jima statue outside Quantico Marine Corps Base. A replica of the original Iwo Jima statue that stands at Arlington National Cemetery, the sculpture stands outside the main entrance to the base and can prominently be seen by passersby on U.S. 1, Joplin and Fuller roads.

Quantico Base spokesman 2nd Lt. Matthew Rojo told Potomac Local News why the flag was missing:

“The flag was taken down this morning when we noticed a crack in the statue’s hand which provides the upper support for the mast. Facilities is looking into what needs to be done to reinforce the hand.”

We don’t know how long repairs to the statue are expected to take.

The Island of Iwo Jima was the site of where, in 1945 during World War II and a fierce fight with Japanese soldiers, U.S. Marines raised the flag at the highest point of the island. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped an iconic photo of the flag raising.

The photo has also been used for the inspiration of the design for the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico.

Stafford Supervisor Takes Issue with Military Vehicles on 610

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Have you seen military vehicles traveling on Garrisonville Road lately?

Several Marines were using light armored vehicles, known as LAVs, when training at Quantico last weekend. Some drivers, including Garrisonville District Supervisor Laura Sellers, noticed the LAVs using Va. 610 (Garrisonville Road) to transport Marines to the training sites.

Sellers noted seeing the LAVs during a discussion about the Quantico Joint Land Use Study which, among other things, talks about the need for military personnel to use Va. 610 to transport vehicles to the western portions of Quantico, where many of the base’s muntions ranges are located.

“It doesn’t’ happen often, but just last week I have a question about what that does to our roads. If they’re going to be out there are they going to make sure 610 is going to be taken care of,” asked Sellers. “There’s wear and tear on the road, and it’s a heavily-traveled road.”

Quantico officials point out that the LAVs are “road ready” and use pneumatic tires, not tank tracks; the same kind of tires you would find on any truck. As more Marines return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is the potential that even more training will be conduced on base to warfighters can maintain their training.

But the military vehicles, like large trucks, are heavy, and vehicle weight is something that Virginia State Police monitor at places like truck weigh scales along interstate highways.

“Weight matters, and tanks are not light,” Stafford Rockill District Supervisor Cord Sterling chimed in.

Sterling also serves on Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board with whose entire mission is highways and transportation.

Base officials say Stafford residents shouldn’t be alarmed to see the LAVs on Va. 610.

“Tactical vehicles are designed to support military and humanitarian missions and as such will look different from something you would drive off the showroom floor at a dealership. But as far as contact with the road and impact on infrastructure are concerned, most military vehicles are similar to their civilian counterparts,” said Quantico spokesman 2nd Lt. Matthew Rojo. “Also, because safety is one of our top priorities it important to mention that each military driver is specially licensed to operate their vehicles to ensure the roads are safe for all who share them.”

Officials from Stafford County who worked on the Joint Land Use Study told Sellers and Sterling that more discussion needs to take place between the county and the base, and that Stafford County could provide some type of escorts for the military vehicles during evening hours when traffic on Va. 610 is lighter.

There has also been discussion about building a road on the base itself so vehicles wouldn’t have to use Va. 610 at all, but there is currently no funding for such a military thoroughfare.

Quantico’s Maxwell to Help Commemorate James Madison’s Birthday

QUANTICO, Va. — Col. David Maxwell, the commanding officer at Quantico Marine Corps Base, will lay a special wreath commemorating the 262nd birthday of President James Madison.

Maxwell will attend the celebration honoring the 4th U.S. president at Madison’s Virginia home, Montpelier.

The Marine Corps Band from Quantico will also perform.

Here’s more information from a statement from the Marine Corps Base:

The Marine Corps Base Quantico Marine Band will be performing at the ceremony, while the Base Color Guard escorts the base colors and the national ensign. An Honor Guard will also be present, in the form of a firing squad, presenting a 21-gun salute to the former commander-in-chief.

Madison is known as the “father of the constitution” for his role in developing the U.S. governing document.

The ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Montpelier. The gates to the historic property open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Admission on Sunday is free.

Maxwell returned form serving in Afghanistan in February 2012 and was named commander of Quantico Marine Corps Base shortly thereafter. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1988.


Updated: Quantico, Stafford HAZMAT Crews Find No Leak


A Freon detection unit at a building on Quantico gave a false alarm this morning prompting a HAZMAT response.

Some 40 to 50 people who were inside the building at the time of the alarm were evacuated, but all were let back inside the building after officials deemed it was safe, according to Quantico Assistant FChief Palermo said.

Fire and rescue crews from Stafford County and Quantico responded to the call while crews from Prince William County helped to “backfill” a Quantico fire station while crews were on the scene, according to Quantico fire and emergency services assistant chief Dwayne Palermo

Rescue crews spent one hour and used standalone gas detection devices to check for leaks and none were found.

No one was injured and a work order has been placed to fix the malfunctioning alarm system.

10 a.m. 

Fire and rescue crews from Prince William and Stafford counties were sent to Quantico this morning for a report of a HAZMAT.

We’re working to find out more information about what is happening on the base. A Quantico spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Emergency crews were told to use MCB 3 to gain access to the HAZMAT area, one of several roads located on the base.

 Photo credit: File photo

Suspected Poacher at Work at Quantico, Police Investigate

QUANTICO, Va. — The body found sprawled in bloodied snow off Application Trail in Training Area 8 of Marine Corps Base Quantico had been shot, beheaded and skinned. The body cavity was still warm when authorities arrived at the scene in the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2013.

It was the carcass of a buck, shot with a rifle in an archery-only zone and most likely shot from the road. Along with the head, the backstrap — the choicest cut of meat — had also been removed.

“That’s the nastiest type of poaching there is,” said Euel Tritt, head of conservation law enforcement for the base. “What a waste. You’ve got 50 pounds of meat that the buzzards eat.”

It’s also an offense that carries heavy penalties and, in the case of a Marine, can end a career.

Read more in the Quantico Sentry.

Telegraph Bridge Reopening Planned, Will Reconnect Quantico with U.S. 1

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QUANTICO, Va. — A new bridge that will connect the west side of Quantico Marine Corps Base with U.S. 1 is nearly complete.

The reconstructed bridge carries traffic via Telegraph Road over Interstate 95 onto a portion of the base where the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is located, as well as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Work to rebuild the bridge began this past spring.

More in a press release:

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced that the new Telegraph Road Bridge, which crosses over I-95, near Marine Core Base Quantico (MCBQ) is in its final stage of construction. Crews are completing finishing work on the new bridge deck, as well as the fencing.

The bridge will remain closed to traffic until early February 2014 to accommodate a MCBQ construction project at the nearby Russell Knox Building. MCBQ will use the Telegraph Road corridor (specifically areas west of the bridge on Quantico property) for staging and the safe delivery of concrete beams to the construction site at the Russell Knox Building. Truck deliveries may occur 24 hours a day using Telegraph Road, Tallmadge Road and Russell Road, but will not be crossing the bridge.

Drivers will continue to follow current detour signs to U.S. Route 1 or Russell Road in order to access I-95 or Telegraph Road. Drivers should continue to expect an additional five to eight minute delay during peak travel times.

Construction of the new Telegraph Road Bridge began last April, at which time the old bridge was closed and demolished. The bridge spans over I-95 and the future new Express Lanes.

Study: Soundproofing New Homes & Schools, Limited Growth Critical to Quantico Sustainability

QUANTICO, Va. — Military officials want local governments to require better sound protection in homes and other structures built around Quantico Marine Corps Base.

In a new Joint Land Use Study, or JLUS, released today by Quantico and Stafford County, base officials cite creating new sound attenuation standards as one of eight critical needs facing operations at the crossroads of the Marine Corps, as well as future development around the military installation.

The new guidelines would need to be put in place for new homes, churches, and other public buildings. The study specifically cites putting guidelines in place for a new Moncure Elementary School to be built in North Stafford near the base’s boundary line.

Noise from demolition ranges on the base the frequently produce loud booms that rattle windows, and that been known to shake whole houses, which often lead to complaints from area residents.

Quantico also wants more input and review authority when it comes to approving new development around the base. For that, the study recommends a Military Influence Area overlay district where base officials can review development plans for construction both on and off the base. The district would include Stafford County’s heavily-populated Garrisonville Road corridor, as well as sliver of land in Prince William County near where the county’s school division headquarters are located. An implementation of such a district could limit the density of neighborhoods, building height, as well as cell phone towers, so structures don’t interfere with military aircraft.

If the military impact plan would be placed in effect in the rural area along Va. 610 west of Joshua Road in Stafford County, buildings like hospitals, assisted living facilities, day cares, commercial or industrial areas, medium to high density residential develop, as well as sports centers or outdoor amphitheaters would not be permitted.

According to the study, soundproofing existing homes near the base could cost as much as $10,000 per home but the cost is only slightly higher when soundproofing new home construction. The JLUS also discusses the option of a mandatory written real estate disclosure where the seller of any property in the Military Influence Area would warn residents of the high noise potential from the base.

Transportation improvements at Quatnico’s Fuller Gate, which provides access to the base near the intersections of Russell Road and U.S. 1, and sits east of Interstate 95, are also identified as critical in the short term. The base wants to work with local governments to acquire additional rights of way to widen Russell Road and existing ramps that carry traffic from the 2-lane facility to the 4-lane U.S. 1 that bridges the gap between Prince William and Stafford counties, according to JLUS findings.

Russell Road is also the gateway to the 719,000, $323 million Russell-Knox Building sitting west of I-95. The building is now home to some 6,000 federal workers whose jobs were moved to Qauntico following a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure action.

The study was completed by Quantico and Stafford County, along with Fauquier and Prince William counties. New growth in these areas could bring increased noise complaints to the military, and could “compromise the overall mission viability” for the base.

Quantico injects $5.9 billion into the local economy and is linked to 46,490 jobs, according to the study.

Storm Postpones Quantico’s JLUS Land Study Public Meeting in North Stafford

QUANTICO, Va. — Those wanting to know more about the future of development near Quantico and surrounding areas will have to wait a bit longer.

Inclement weather was forced officials to postpone an informational meeting for the Quantico Joint Land Use Study, or JLUS, originally scheduled tonight at the Hilldrup Moving and Storage Facility, until next week. The new meeting time is 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, at Hilldrup Moving and Storage.

The study examined areas in Prince William, Stafford, and Fauquier counties and is expected to present ideas and suggestions on how best to center development in these counties with the Quantico Marine Corps Base in mind.

Two other JLUS presentations are scheduled, one in Fauquier County on Wednesday at the Old Cedar Run Rescue Squad Building at3558 Catlett Road in Catlett, and in Prince William inside the County Government Center’s Development Services Building

at 5 County Complex Court, Room #202 in Woodbridge.


Findings of Quantico Growth Study to be Presented

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — A joint land use study at Quantico has been underway as the region examines how to better grow with the crossroads of the Marine Corps in its back yard. Now that commission will present its findings.

The joint land use study, or JLUS, has examined localities in Stafford, Prince William, and Fauquier counties, probing future development that is planned near the boundaries of the Marine Corps Base. The study will also help to determine what future activities will be planned at Quantico.

“The community-driven JLUS has documented existing and future operations at MCB Quantico, as well as current and planned land use and development-related proposals in Stafford, Prince William, and Fauquier Counties, near the base’s boundaries,” stated a press release.

A set of actions derived from the JLUS will be presented at three upcoming workshops in each respective county.

More in a press release:



Presentation at 7:30 PM

Hilldrup Moving & Storage 4022 Jefferson Davis Highway Stafford, VA 22554



Presentation at 7:30 PM

“Old” Cedar Run

Rescue Squad Building

3558 Catlett Road

Catlett, VA 20119



Presentation at 7:30 PM Development Services Building

5 County Complex Court

Room #202

Prince William, VA 22192

Stafford County was the lead jurisdiction for the JLUS. Panels from all three impacted jurisdictions participated in the study.

Bald Eagles Thrive at Quantico

QUANTICO, Va. — The bald eagle was chosen as the United States’ emblem, a symbol of strength, majesty and freedom, in 1787, but its relationship with the American people was uneasy for almost another 200 years, until its population dwindled to the point that a bald eagle sighting became a rare treat.

Now that bald eagle numbers are back on the rise, and that relationship is again being put to the test, Marine Corps Base Quantico finds itself in a region that ties together three different populations of the birds from as far as Canada and Florida.

“The Potomac [River] is a critical area for eagle conservation,” said Jeff Cooper, nongame bird coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, noting that the raptors are drawn to brackish tidal waters by an abundance of prey, from the shad that spawn there to the blue catfish that were introduced to Virginia’s tidal waters in the 1970s, to the waterfowl that winter there.

Though the regal-looking bird is now generally regarded with a sort of awe, founding father Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that the bald eagle is “a bird of bad moral character” and “a rank coward.”

Farmers, too, have had their differences with this symbol of U.S. sovereignty and freedom.

“Raptors in general, in the old days, were just considered vermin, and they were shot by the thousands,” Cooper said, noting that this continued into the 1960s and ’70s. Add to this the effects of DDT, which was banned for use as a pesticide in 1972 due to its damaging effect on bird eggshells, and by the 1970s, there were only about 30 breeding pairs of bald eagles in all of Virginia.

After being placed under the protection of the precursor to the Endangered Species Act in 1967, the bald eagle was delisted in 2007, and Cooper said Virginia is now home to about 730 breeding pairs.

Many more of the birds, however, make certain areas of the commonwealth their seasonal home, and Quantico is at the center of one of those bald eagle “concentration areas.”

As waters around Florida warm up in the summer, many of the fish head north, and the eagles follow, Cooper said. “So, for eons, there’s been a migration northward to the [Chesapeake] Bay area, where there’s a much more accessible food source and a more abundant fishery.”

These summertime visitors begin to arrive around early May and peak in mid-June and July, Cooper said. They return home in the fall, and around December, bald eagles from New England and Canada begin to arrive, peaking in late January and early February. Their numbers vary depending how harsh the winter is.

Like many species, eagles found in northern climes are noticeably larger than their subtropical counterparts, and the wintertime migrants tend to feed on ducks and geese, as well as fish and whatever else they can find.

During both summer and winter, the visiting birds flock to the tidal waters of the Potomac, Rappahannock and James rivers, as well as locations across the bay. There, they gather in six different “concentration areas.” One of these runs from Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Va., north to Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, with Quantico right at its center.

Cooper said the migrant birds are enough to cause a several-fold increase in the local population, with more than 750 bald eagles between Dahlgren and Fort Belvoir, on both sides of the Potomac, during the peak months.

However, Quantico also has its own resident bald eagle population. This year, there are three active nests documented on the base, said Tim Stamps, head of the base Natural Resources Section. In recent years, there have been four, but the pair that occupied a nest near Lunga Reservoir appears to have moved elsewhere this year. Stamps said it’s possible they’re still on the base.

“Sometimes eagles will move from one tree to another, and then they come back the next year,” he said.

The base got its first documented bald eagle nest in 1984, and a second nest was found in 1996. In 2000, the third pair built the nest near Lunga that now appears to be empty.

Bald eagles live 30 to 35 years in the wild, so they can occupy a nest for an extended period.

Their construction is not difficult to spot. “An eagle nest is just a huge mass of sticks in the fork of a tree,” Stamps said, adding that they can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

One of the three active nests is on the southern shore of Chopawamsic Creek, in Officer Candidates School Training Area 3, and another is on Quantico Creek near the Geiger Ridge neighborhood. The third is not far from the Single Marine Program House on Neville Road.

In addition to a nearby food source, Stamps said, bald eagles like to nest in tall trees in continuous, mature forest. All this makes the main side of the base, as well as neighboring areas, inviting locations. “I’d say the food supply and habitat are really of high quality,” he said.

The base makes some accommodations to nesting bald eagles, although Stamps said nests generally have not been in high-use areas. During the nesting season, which officially runs from Dec. 16 to June 1, activities are restricted within 200 meters of an occupied bald eagle nest. For Quantico, this means hunting is not allowed during that period at Blind 1, which is near the nest on the shore of Chopawamsic Creek.

How a nest is treated depends in part on who got there first, Stamps said. If eagles build a nest near an existing building, human activities continue more or less as normal. But if there’s a nest where the base wants to build something, construction must halt during the nesting season.

The Marine Corps Air Facility has nest maps so pilots can avoid flying within 1,000 feet of an active nest, and the facility also has a bird airstrike management plan, but Stamps said there still have been a few collisions with bald eagles in recent years.

People and bald eagles are likely to begin colliding in other ways as the big raptors’ numbers continue to grow.

Since the mid-1990s, Cooper said, the area’s resident bald eagle population has been doubling every seven years, a trend that continues today. Between Dahlgren and Washington, D.C., there is a nest every mile or so along Route 1, with more and more nests appearing on the edges of neighborhoods and runways, he said.

Base Officials Warn of Brazen Computer Hack Scheme

QUANTICO, Va. — Officials at Quantico report someone may be trying to get unauthorized access to the Navy’s secured internet service, or NMCI.

In a statement, base officials said some users have received a phone call from the would-be hackers warning them that their computers could crash, that remote access to their machines will be required to stave off any problems.

More in a press release:

There have been reports of Navy NMCI users receiving a telephone call purporting to be from a member of an HP/NMCI Windows 7 support team. The caller typically says that problems such as event viewer errors have been detected on your NMCI workstation that will cause it to crash. The individual will direct you to a web link ask you to allow remote access to your computer inorder to fix the problems.

This is NOT a legitimate call, it is an attempt to gain unauthorized access to NMCI resources via a technique commonly referred to as social engineering. When successfully utilized social engineering is a very effective technique for hackers since it allows them to bypass multiple layers of security and gain direct internal access to a computer network using the credentials of a legitimate user.

If you receive a call similar to the one describe above:

1) Do not go to the web link or allow remote access to your NMCI seat.

2) Hang up the phone, do not attempt to engage the caller in conversation or

provide any information about yourself, your NMCI seat, your job, etc.

3) Report the incident to the Information Assurance Officer (ISMO) at and provide any information you can remember about the call.


Heightened Security in Place at Quantico after Navy Yard Shooting

QUANTICO, Va. — Heightened security measures are in place at Quantico tonight following a mass shooting in Washington.

Thirteen people were shot and killed this morning at the Washington Navy Yard in the Nation’s Capital most deadliest day since the Air Florida crash in 1982.

The gunman, identified by police as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, of Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the victims, according to police.

All this prompted an increase in security at Quantico tonight.

More in a press release:

Due to the ongoing incident at the US Navy Yard in Washington, DC, Marine Corps Base Quantico has implemented heightened security measures as a precaution which may slow traffic accessing the MCBQ. All personnel should be reminded to immediately report any suspicious activity to (703) 432-EYES (3937) or

In addition to Marines and the home for the Corps’ Officers Candidate Training School, Quantico is home of the FBI Academy and houses a primary training ground for the DEA.

Marines Can Leave for Careers, Degrees & Return to Service

QUANTICO, Va. — The Marine Corps has announced a pilot program that allows certain career Marines to temporarily leave active duty while retaining their grade, time in grade and full health benefits.

The Navy has had a Career Intermission Pilot Program since 2009, and Marine Corps Administrative Message 418/13, signed Aug. 23, 2013, announced that the Corps is opening up a similar program through 2015.

“The long-term intent of this program is to provide greater flexibility in career paths of Marines in order to retain valuable experience and training of Marines who might otherwise permanently separate,” the MARADMIN states.

Under the program, up to 20 enlisted Marines and 20 officers could be approved each year from 2013 to 2015 to go into the Individual Ready Reserve for periods of up to three years. A stated requirement that Marines apply for the program between six and nine months ahead of time, though, may make it unlikely that anyone will go on hiatus in 2013.

While on intermission, Marines will retain their full benefits and also receive a stipend of one-15th of their base pay.

Those who avail themselves of the program will be required to return to the service at the end of their inactive duty and serve at least two months for each month they were away.

“It’s going to take some planning and serious consideration to apply for this program,” said Gunnery Sgt. Bryant Lodge Jr., assistant operations chief of enlisted retention at the Manpower Management Enlisted Assignments Branch of Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “I don’t think it’s a quick, easy decision.”

He said a Marine who wants to finish a degree or gain professional experience to bring back to the Marine Corps might consider using the program.

Cmdr. Angela Katsen, who, as head of the Navy Office of Diversity and Inclusion, managed the Navy’s CIPP from July of 2011 to July of 2013, said the most common reasons sailors have used the program have been related to family, travel and, especially, education. She said the program has gained popularity, both among sailors asking to use it and senior personnel suggesting it as a retention tool, but is still used at only about half its capacity.

“We’re allowed to have 20 officers and 20 enlisted each year, but we’ve never maxed out at that amount,” Katsen said.

She said the program is used about equally by officers and enlisted sailors, as well as by men and women.

The Navy renewed its career intermission program in 2012, still as a pilot because not enough sailors have returned from their intermissions for officials to analyze the impact on promotions and other factors, Katsen said. Only about half a dozen have taken their break and returned to active duty, but one officer was promoted shortly thereafter, in a “seamless transition,” she said.

“Four years into it, it’s already been a very positive experience.”

However, the program is not for everyone.

No Marine can participate in the Corps’ CIPP before serving the first term of service, and on the enlisted side, it’s only open to grades E6 and E7. Marines are not eligible if they can’t complete the ensuing obligation due to service limitations, mandatory retirements or enlisted career force controls.

“The program targets mid-level officer and enlisted (E-6/E-7 and O-3/O-4), as these are often the ranks that are making personal decisions regarding staying in the Marine Corps until retirement or separating to pursue personal or professional goals,” said a written statement from Manpower and Reserve Affairs officials.

Enlisted Marines in a training pipeline and officers who have not been career designated are ineligible, as are Marines under investigation or with records of disciplinary action in the previous two years, or who are indebted to the government. Aviation officers with more than a year of active duty service obligation or aviation retention pay cannot apply, and neither can Marines currently receiving a critical skills retention bonus or fulfilling obligated service as a result of a bonus. Marines may, however, opt to receive the first installment of their bonus after completing their intermission.

For those who are approved for an intermission, an allowance will be paid for travel to and from one residence.

After the hiatus, if a Marine can’t return to active duty due to physical or security clearance requirements or other eligibility issues, the Navy can recoup the value of whatever benefits that Marine received while in the Individual Ready Reserve.

The need to stay fit is one reason that, although Marines in the IRR are not required to participate in monthly drills, Lodge recommended they do so. He also noted that attending monthly drills is a way to keep abreast of Marine Corps practices. “That way, you’re not that far behind when you go back in,” he said.

Lodge said he didn’t think the obligation to lengthen terms of service would deter most career Marines, but he said any intermission should be carefully considered and used wisely.

“You need a mature Marine who knows what they’re doing, who knows their future intentions and aspirations,” he said.

‘Tank Farm’ Stirs Interest, Raises Funds for Wartime Museum

NOKESVILLE, Va. — For the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne, life during World War II wasn’t easy.

For starters, each American paratrooper in the division weighed about 150 pounds, but the amount of equipment they needed to carry with them on their jumps doubled their weight even before time they climbed onto the airplane.

The equipment: guns, grenades, even a bazooka that used a dangerous electrical charge to fire its ordinance, it was a dangerous load to bear.

“When you fired this weapon with its electrical charge, it has a tendency to make the warhead blow up,” said re-enactor Robert Hubbs of Stafford.

Hubbs and many other re-enactors and living historians took questions Saturday from those who wanted to know more about what life in war is like.

They came to the Tank Farm in Nokesville, and annual demonstration featuring tanks, military trucks, guns, and several other working artifacts that will make up the Americans in Wartime Museum slated to be built behind a Kmart store in Dale City.

The annual event is designed to showcase the belongings of the museum, as well demonstrate the hardware’s military might.

There were also live shows on Saturday displaying the talents of military working dogs from Fort Belvoir, as well as simulated gunfire, and a flamethrower, which showed first hand the horrors of warfighting, in addition to the re-enactors and living historians.

The event also serves as an opportunity to raise funds of the museum to fund construction of the planned facility on a 70-acre site along Interstate 95 in Dale City.

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[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Quantico Teachers Spared Furloughs

QUANTICO, Va. — Teachers and students at Quantico will head back to class Tuesday without looming furlough days.

Quantico Middle High School has been spared the brunt of federal sequestration that had teachers eyeing mandatory furloughs of up to one day per week. Those furloughs would have kept students outside of the classroom.

Several other schools like  Quantico, including a school at Dhalgren’s Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, and DoD schools in 11 other states, have been spared the cutbacks. The Department of Defense’s Education Activity Office that oversees the schools did not respond to several requests for comment on this story.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner praised the decision to keep children in the classroom and teachers working.

“This is phenomenal news for military families, students and teachers at our base schools at Dahlgren and Quantico, who should not have to suffer because of Congress’ inability to get its fiscal act together,” said Warner in a press release. “Furloughing classroom teachers and shuttering entire schools right at the start of a new school year would have put unreasonable pressures on our military families, and imposed even more challenges on these educators. Our nation’s fiscal situation requires shared sacrifice, but our service members and our military families already bear the brunt of that sacrifice every day.”

Quantico Middle High School has just over 300 students enrolled on its campus. It made national headlines in 2011 when First Lady Michelle Obama came to the school as a commencement speaker for the graduating class.

Marines Encouraged to Invest in Family Health

QUANTICO, Va. — If a Marine and their spouse are gravely injured in an accident and are in need of long-term care to help with daily activities like bathing or eating, the Marine will likely receive some assistance through Veterans Affairs if they served during any wartime. The spouse, however, will be left to pay out of pocket.

TRICARE offers skilled nurses to handle medical rehabilitation, but they do not offer long-term care to assist with basic activities, which is why Ivette Bennett, life skills trainer with Marine Corps Family Team Building program, encourages military families to have a plan. To help families understand the financial aspect of long-term care, the MCFTB program held a “Who Pays” workshop July 31, at the Religious and Family Services Annex.

Most people don’t consider long-term care insurance until they are between the ages 55 and 65 years old, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. However, Bennett said anyone who has experienced a traumatic accident or has taken care of a chronically ill relative knows the importance of investing in a policy early.

“Having a plan eases the financial burden on family members, which can be expensive and can diminish the quality of life for a caregiver,” Bennett said.

Starting early also allows a person to potentially cut cost of their policy. Stephen Ingalls, long-term care insurance agent at Genworth Financial and workshop instructor said, most insurance companies will offer discounts for age and good health.

Bennett said the goal of the workshop wasn’t to solicit insurance companies, rather to provide people with tools to develop a plan to keep their independence throughout their lifetime and prevent becoming a burden on family members.

Participants were advised to find an insurance professional, decide how much coverage they can afford and find out what health discounts are available. They were also told to think about the cost of long-term care where they currently live and where they plan to retire. Length of coverage depends on personal preference, but the average long term care need is around three years, no more than five.

Monthly cost can vary, but Ingalls said whether someone purchases a small policy or a large extensive one, not doing anything shouldn’t be an option.

“Around 70 percent of people over age 65 will need some type of long-term care services during their lifetime,” Ingalls said. “Therefore, a small policy is better than no policy.”

As important as it is for people to set aside money for emergencies and for the future, the instructor suggested individuals consider the same concept with their personal health.

“Basically, a long-term care plan is like a savings account for you in case something happens,” Ingalls said.

— Writer:

Quantico Gets First Offices Since Town Incorporated in 1927

QUANTICO, Va. — For the first time the town was incorporated in 1927, Quantico has an office all to its own.

Mayor Kevin Brown said the town will rent space at 337 5th Avenue in the town, which is the only municipality in the U.S. completely surrounded by a military base.

Current plans show town staffers moving into the new buidling by the end of August, with the new office being open to the public by September. The new office will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and residents will be able to conduct daily business such as paying water bills, applying for permits, and pay taxes.

The town agreed to pay $200,000 for the space, and will use interest only owner financing for up to 3 years to allow the town additional time to find the best long term financing. The new office comes after the town’s old offices in an old Bank of America were shuttered once a new owner bought the building and decided not to lease space to the town.

More in an email from Mayor Brown:

According to my recent conversation with former mayor Mitchell Raftelis in the past several town residents allowed the town to use privately owned office space for a large portion of the town existence.

In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Raftelis provided office space to the town free of charge for fourty-nine years from 1958 to 1999. In 1999 the town moved locations and began to “rent” office space from the Bank of America branch in town.

Bank of America was also extremely generous to the town… allowing the town to “rent” nearly 1000 sq ft of office space for $10 (ten dollars) a year… an arrangement that changed to allowing the town to use the space for simply cutting the grass.

However, when the Bank of America branch closed in early 2012 the building was sold and the new owner was not interested in renting the space to the town. The town was forced to move its office to the town’s community center while we looked for a long term solution. A business owner informed me that a building advertised for rent was also for sale at which time I contacted the owner and began to discuss purchasing the property. Once the purchase price was negotiated, with help of Councilman Russell “Rusty” Kuhns, I recommended the purchase to the town council and they voted to pursue acquiring the building. I would like to personally thank the town council for making such a great decision that will benefit the town well into the future.

The Town of Quantico had 410 residents, when the 2010 Census was taken.

Quantico Special Olympic Games Open to Prince William, Stafford Families

QUANTICO, Va. — About a year ago, Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Jedding, a religious program specialist at Marine Corps Base Quantico, was trying to come up with a different kind of community outreach event. He had just arrived at the base.

“I wanted to get away from the norm of homeless shelters and animal shelters,” he said. The Special Olympics came to mind, as he has an aunt with Down syndrome who has participated in the games, so he sent out a few exploratory emails.

What he didn’t know yet was that Special Olympics Virginia had just received a grant from the Department of Defense to coordinate activities for families connected to the military. Jedding put the base’s Exceptional Family Members Program in touch with the local Special Olympics, and the idea quickly gained momentum.

“It was kind of a perfect storm of events,” said Monique O’Neil, who runs Quantico’s EFMP.

Now, she said, a Special Olympics track and field meet is scheduled for Sept. 7, 2013, at Butler Stadium. Weekly practices for the event will begin July 13, also at the base stadium. The games are open to Marine Corps families connected to EFMP throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, as well as families in Prince William and Stafford counties.

It will be the first Special Olympics event on the base since a baseball game about 12 years ago, O’Neil said.

“We’re hoping this will be the start of an ongoing relationship with Special Olympics and, hopefully, more grants to keep it going,” she said.

“We want this eventually to become a local program under our area, so we would be offering as many programs as we can right there at Quantico,” said Peggy Van Lowe, area coordinator for the greater Prince William area of Special Olympics.

Van Lowe said organizers hope to have somewhere between 60 and 100 athletes, ages 5 and up, participating in the September track meet, as well as the practices. “The event is actually the culmination of the training this group of young people will be going through over eight weeks,” she said.

Events, modified from actual Olympic track and field competitions, include a long jump, a beanbag shot put, 25-meter and 50-meter run/walks, an obstacle course, a shuttle run, a goal kick and a hula-hoop triple jump.

Van Lowe said the track meet will rely on a buddy system, with a volunteer working with each athlete and other volunteers working at the eight stations.

“The athletes love the competition, and it shows what they can do, rather than focusing on what they can’t,” she said. “This really gives them an opportunity to strut their stuff.”

“You see their capabilities — you don’t see them as a diagnosis,” O’Niel said. “You see them doing it, and it’s awesome.”

The Quantico High School Junior ROTC will present the colors before the national anthem is sung and the athletes march onto the field, she said. “We’re going to turn Butler Stadium into a mini-Olympic village.”

About a year of planning and paperwork has gone into the event.

“This was actually my main goal while I’m here at Quantico,” Jedding said. In the future, he said, he hopes to coach Special Olympics bowling at Little Hall and bring events like basketball and bocce ball to the base. But a lot of logistics are involved.

“We’re jumping in at the shallow end to see how the water is,” he said. “If it’s good, we’ll dive into the deep end.”

Registration for athletes and volunteers is available at the EFMP House on Neville Road. Practices will be from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday from July 13 to Aug. 31.

O’Niel said the practices are important for participants.

“Our children have special needs,” she said. “They need to get acclimated to the location. They have to know the routine.”

The track and field meet will run from 9 a.m. to noon, Sept. 7.

VRE Searching for Coffee Vendor at Quantico

QUANTICO, Va. — Want to run your own coffee shop and sell train tickets? There may be an opportunity for you at the Quantico Virginia Railway Express station. The commuter railroad wants to talk to interested people about setting up shop at the train station that sits just outside the “crossroads of the Marine Corps.”

VRE is looking for a company to run a full-service coffee shop, offer food, sell train tickets, and maintain the restrooms, between 5 and 9:30 a.m., and between 3 and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on holidays when the trains don’t run.

The contract for the current vendor at the station, the Coffee Club Cafe has been there since 2008, and their contract later extended.

“The 2010 extension is set to expire this year and that is why we are taking it back on the street again to solicit interest in this operation,” said VRE spokesman Mark Roeber.

Vendor service at the station dates back to 2005 when the Whistle Stop Cafe opened at the Quantico Station. Similar vendor service is also offered at the Woodbridge station, and it too is operated by the same people who operate the Coffee Club Cafe in Quantico, said Roeber.

Whether or not the business is profitable, the rent is affordable.

“As to profitability, I can’t really speak to that because I don’t know the actually amount of business going through the doors on a daily basis. I will say that the rent we charge is so minimal, and we then provide revenue commission to the vendor based on their tickets sales at the station so there clearly is the opportunity to make money,” said Roeber.

Applications for potential vendors at Quantico are due to VRE no later than 1 p.m. July 24.

Furlough Will Be Felt Across Quantico Base

QUANTICO, Va. — The impending furlough of Department of Defense civilians will have an impact on virtually all customer and family services offered aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

On May 14, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the furloughs as a result of the federal budget sequestration that included a $37 billion dollar cut to the DOD budget for the current fiscal year. Letters were sent to civilian employees in late May and early June to inform them of the reduction in work and pay.

Between July 8 and Sept. 20, civilians, with a few exceptions, will have to take one day of unpaid leave each week, for a total of 11 furlough days. Based on that arrangement, Quantico agencies have planned the following changes to accommodate a 20 percent reduction in civilian workforce during the furlough period:

Defense Commissary Agency: Commissary closed Mondays.

Base Schools: Schools closed Mondays, Aug. 26 and Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30.

Naval Health Clinic Quantico: No physical therapy services Fridays for dependents and retirees – active duty only. Dental readiness appointments and urgent dental care only available Fridays; no dental services at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico or The Basic School on Fridays.

DEERS ID Card Center: Closed Fridays.

Bowling Center: Closed Sundays, beginning July 7.

All Points Travel: Reduction in Tuesday hours to noon to 6 p.m.

Recreation, Information, Tickets and Tours: Reduction in Tuesday hours to noon to 6 p.m.

Base Theater: Closed for events Mondays and Saturdays, July 7 to Sept. 30. Movie schedule unaffected.

Auto Hobby Skills Center: Closed Wednesdays.

Marina: Closed Mondays.

Barber Physical Activity Center: Reduction in weekday hours to 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Family Advocacy Program: No community outreach events Friday through Sunday; limited community outreach Monday through Thursday.

Prevention and Education Program: No programs Fridays, reduced flexibility to schedule evening outreach programs.

Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center: No counseling services same day as consultation with Naval Health Clinic staff. Possible impacts to group counseling schedules, prevention outreach, prevention command training and early intervention.

Vehicle Registration: Closed Fridays.

Traffic Safety Branch: Closed one day per week; day to be determined.

Semper Fit Administrative Office: Reduced coverage, longer wait period for scheduling events, reduction in commercial sponsorship.

Regional Contracting Office: Closed Fridays.

Base Comptroller Offices: Military personnel only one day a week, alternating between Friday and Monday.

Quantico Takes on the Frankenfish

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Several Snakehead fish were caught in the Potomac River today at Quantico Marine Corps Base as part of a first-ever tournament to rid the invasive fish from the waters. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

QUANTICO, Va. – A gloomy day took a favorable turn for those participating in the first Snakehead Fishing Tournament at Marine Corps Base Quantico. Shawn Mahood, a Stafford County resident, says he caught a snakehead that he estimates to be 8 or 9 pounds – and it wasn’t giving up without a fight.

“It’s just the biggest, baddest thing out there so that’s what you want to catch,” said Mahood. “It was very feisty. I actually thought he was going to break my line.”

The Marines joined in on the fight against a new invader — the Asian snakehead, a cross between an eel, fish, snake and a piranha that some say threatens the indigenous fish in local waters. Participating groups, individuals and volunteers from the conservation volunteer program, united to celebrate a day of fishing, barbequing and fun in the sun.

However, Mahood, along with many of the other participants and Marines, said that it is the joy of fishing and being outdoors that captured interest, not to eliminate the snakehead completely from the local waters.

“A lot of people think that they’re garbage and want to eradicate them, but I don’t think they’re doing the damage to the ecology that many say that they are,” said Manhood.

Janette Freitas, a resident from Prince William County, says the event was a good idea to promote fishing and enjoying the outdoors. She belonged to one of the winning teams, the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

“I think it’s interesting that people are so worried about snakeheads when you can come here and fish and see these other species that are native to this area so obviously they’re not killing everything.”

Frankenfish’s bad reputation 

Quantico Maj. Russell Strange said that the snakehead has gotten a bad reputation but because the species is fairly new, not much academic research is available.

“It’s definitely invasive; however, it’s not as bad as people first thought it was,” said Strange. “It can survive almost any brackish waters and that’s the only thing keeping it out of the bay right now. Individuals find that they’re actually great sporting fish and awesome for catching; Many bass fishermen appreciate the fight that these fish put on.”

Over 20 teams as well as individuals participated alongside the Marines to enjoy a day of fishing and other eventful activities taking place the base. June 7 to 9 marks free fishing weekend in Virginia, so fishing licenses were not required to participate. Boats were launched from the Chopawamsic and Quantico creeks beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday and ran until 3 p.m. Snakeheads weren’t the only species being hunted, however. Weigh-in tournament winners were encouraged to reel in Gar, Carp and Catfish as well.

Base Commander Col. David Maxwell, who was in charge of initiating the idea of the tournament, says that he was pleased with the turnout of the event.

“Since [the snakehead] is an invasive species and they’re trying to manage the species here, maybe this is the way to do it and have some fun as well to go along with it,” said Maxwell.

Fishing with bow and arrow

While many anglers used the traditional rod and reel method to capture their fish, many of the fish were actually caught with an archery tackle. The “Ironwoods” team, including Daniel Breeden, from Prince William County and Bobby Breeden, from Stafford County, mostly used bow and arrows to capture their fish, with their weigh-in totaling at 254 pounds.

“From what we’ve seen with the numbers is that they’re here and they’re not going away,” said Strange. “A tournament like this is not going to rid all of the waters of the snakehead; the fish is very adaptable and can live in very shallow waters. The great fear was that everyone thought they were going to eat the ecosystem away.”

Frankenfish on the menu

Recently, however, snakeheads are the ones getting eaten. Many restaurants along the East Coast have begun offering the fish on the menus.

“I’ve eaten them and they are fabulous,” said Strange. Tony & Joes Seafood Place and Nicks Riverside Grill in Georgetown recently offered the so-called “Frankenfish” on their menu as a temporary dish. More restaurants around the Washington D.C. and Annapolis area are continuing to expanding the seafood options to include snakehead.

At the tournament wrap-up, Steve Morris holds the prizewinning snakehead at a whopping 10.18 pounds, just 7 pounds shy of the17-pound, 6-ounce record caught in the Potomac River last week.

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