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Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Joint Base Lewis-McChord includes the merger of the former Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base and supports more than 40,000 active, Guard and Reserve service members as well as 15,000 civilian employees.

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Many JBLM soldiers cheer decision to allow women in combat

photoJOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD — They wear the same uniform and take the same oath.

Soon, they will be able serve in the same positions.

Many women serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington applauded the Defense Secretary Leon Panett’s decision Wednesday to lift a ban on women serving in into combat roles.

Heidi Olson, an enlisted soldier stationed at JBLM, said many women have already served in combat, fighting right alongside their male counterparts  But It was just never official.

Now, women who want to serve in combat will finally get the chance officially.

“We don’t have to do the backdoor way of getting into combat zones,” Olson said. “Now it’s official that we can go in and attempt to do infantry if we meet the physical requirements, and I think for me personally, I’m thoroughly excited for the opportunity.”

Olsen, a Purple Heart award recipient, is already dreaming of serving in the Army Special Forces.

“It’s a chance to break down barriers and to start chipping away at a path for future generations for females in the military,” she said.

Other soldiers agreed the decision to allow women in combat was a step forward.

“I think it’s just recognition of what you’ve been doing,” 1st Sgt. Marcia McGee said. “Women are already out there on the front doing everything the males are doing.”

There are more than 4,000 female soldiers stationed at JBLM. The changes will not be enacted until 2016. The details of the plan are expected to be released in May.

SGT David J. ChambersJOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD – Army Sgt. David J. Chambers, 25, of Hampton, Va., a member of the 4th Stryker Brigade based at JBLM, was killed Wednesday in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

“The Army said they were on an unmounted patrol and they hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device)  and Dave was killed,” Chambers’ mother in Hampton, Va., said. “They took him to Kandahar, but they couldn’t save him, he died, and he’s on his way home for good.”

Chambers was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. His unit is assigned to Headquarters, 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He arrived at JBLM in October 2011 and was deployed to Afghanistan in November.

Since joining the military in 2009, Chambers’ awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal with 3rd oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 1 campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Driver’s Badge.

SoldierJOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — A local soldier has received thousands of emails from love interests around the world.

There’s only one problem:

He’s not looking for love.

Major Gordon Hannett, stationed at JBLM, said online fraudsters are posing as the Major and soliciting money on his behalf. Hannett said someone claiming to be him scammed more than 300 woman into thinking they were talking to the major, and would get the women to send money on his behalf. The woman send the scammers money, Hannet said, and then contact him asking him what went wrong with their transaction.

“Women will send $2,000, $3,000, $10,000,” Hannet said. “I’ve heard of women cleaning out their entire retirement accounts to send to these guys, these scammers.”

Hannet said scammers use fake dating profiles and pictures to trick women into sending money for the chance to meet. A quick search for Hannett shows two false Facebook accounts featuring his real picture. Hannet has no idea how the accounts were set up.

Shannon Smith is senior council at the Attorney General’s Office. Several scams involving wire transfers to men claiming to be soldiers occur each year, Smith said. Though it’s a well known problem, little can be done to stop them.

“Often times when you send your money overseas, there’s nothing anybody can do to get your money back because our office doesn’t have the ability to chase people down overseas,” Smith said.

Major Hannett is now making it his mission to fight the scams and warn others about the crooks.

“They’re the lowest of the low,” he said.  “They’ve preyed on retirees and widows. They take their money. It’s just awful.”

The FBI is aware of many online dating scams and features online resources for those hoping to fight the fraud.

Visit these sites for more information on how to fight scams:

JBLMJOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD – The Department of Defense confirms a Stryker Brigade soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord has been killed while serving overseas.

Pfc. Markie T. Sims, 20, of Citra, Florida died December 29 in Afghanistan. Sims was assigned to the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan.

According to his military records, Sims was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon and NATO Medal.

No funeral arrangements have been released yet.