Camp Pendleton is first to train young infantry Marines for a new type of fight

All the squads of young Marines at Camp Pendleton’s School of Infantry knew was their training scenario had them tossed from a Navy boat to swim 300 meters to the shore of an island.

Achieving the mock invasion set in the South China Sea as a group was up to them.

Dressed in full combat gear, they pushed through the water. Stronger swimmers went ahead to secure and set up sentries, while some swam back to help Marines who were struggling. By thinking and working together they successfully completed their mission.

The exercise was among the last this group of 138 Marines was evaluated on during their 14th and final week of a new course being piloted for them to become infantry Marines and earn the title of rifleman. Teamwork is a key element as the Marine Corps tries to develop infantry Marines with more varied skills, students are now learning information in bits and pieces and then translating the information in action – using as much brain as brawn, officials said.

  • A U.S. Marine with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, holds onto his pack while conducting a 300-meter squad swim as part of the capstone exercise for the Infantry Marine Course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 28, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jeremy Laboy)

  • U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, make their final movement as part of the last event of a five-day capstone exercise for the Infantry Marine Course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 30, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jeremy Laboy)

  • U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 A.J. Pasciuti, the battalion gunner for Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, crosses the smoky finish line for the final movement of a five-day capstone exercise for the Infantry Marine Course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 30, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jeremy Laboy)

  • A U.S. Marine with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, takes an exam as part of the capstone exercise for the Infantry Marine Course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 28, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jeremy Laboy)

  • U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, take simulated artillery fire during the last event of a five-day capstone exercise for the Infantry Marine Course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jeremy Laboy)

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And, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger sees the watery Indo-Pacific with its small island chains as one of the future regions where the Corps will likely be needed, necessitating a change to how young Marines are taught so they can work more with the Navy versus in recent decades spent in the deserts with the Army.

In this new course debuted on the West Coast, infantry Marines were trained to swim for the first time. By the end, and just in time for the amphibious exercise, 90% had shown they had the necessary skills to survive in deep water.

“In the beginning, my swim skills weren’t very good,” said Lance Cpl. Tyler Haar, of Temecula.  “But the way they designed it, you got what you put into it. Each week my skills got progressively better and in the end, I had no second doubt.”

The swim component also follows recent new protocols instituted after an amphibious assault vehicle sank during a July 30 training exercise off San Clemente Island. Eight infantry Marines and a Navy corpsman died. Several Marines had poor swimming skills and were not trained to get out of a sinking vehicle, an investigation said.

“This is totally different than how we trained for the last 70 years,” said Lt. Col. Walker Koury, an infantry Marine who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and headed up the pilot.

“We need to make sure they are confident in every way in the water,” said Koury, also a platoon commander during the 2004 First Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. “Coming in on an AAV or Osprey is the old way. The idea now is we can toss them into the water and we have a Marine that is flexible. We don’t train them to a specific thing; we train them to be confident for anything.”

The newly-minted riflemen platoons will be kept together as units to maintain their new-found cohesion but sent to infantry units across the Marine’s three divisions.  In June, a second pilot will start and will include three women who graduated on Thursday, May 6, in the first integrated recruit class at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

Feedback on the students’ success at Camp Pendleton’s school and another on the East Coast will be reviewed before the program is finalized next year.

Developing the curriculum

To create the new course, instructors tuned the curriculum to skills that this new generation of Marines already has.

“We recognize our students are no longer Millennials; they’re Gen Z Marines and we looked at what makes this generation tick,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 AJ Pasciuti, the school’s battalion gunner, said of working with Koury to develop the course. “They are faster, more capable, more adaptive than any previous generation because they are more connected to the world.

“From infancy, they’ve had more thrown at them and they can adapt,” he said. “We just gave them bits of information and told them how to do it and they go along.”

By breaking the Marines into small squads, there was more ownership among the members. Students had pride in their leader and the sergeants had pride in the trajectory of their students.

“We made small teams of people who trust each other,” Pasciuti said.

Classroom use was minimal.

After instruction on a topic, students were given complex situations to test their skills. Providing itemized gear lists and marching from location to location are gone.

During the first nine weeks, Marines were taught individual skills such as weapons manipulation, land navigation and radio communication. The next four weeks tested their new knowledge as the students worked in squads and patrolled complex terrain, fired weapons and practiced maneuver tactics.

For Lance Cpl. Aaron Carrera, of Riverside, the training really made sense.  He had been partway through an earlier course before he was plucked to participate in the pilot.

“With smaller teams, everyone understood why we were shooting the way we were,” the 19-year-old said. “Guys that were better moved aside and let others who were struggling get more time.”

And, along with being taught the standard M27 rifle, students learned how to operate multiple weapons including machine guns and anti-tank missiles.

“The idea is that if only 12 guys are on an island, they’re all proficient on all weapons,” Koury said.

Final review

For their final test, students had to string together everything they learned over the past 14 weeks.

The capstone event began with a 72-hour force-on-force operation. Here students used their tactics to patrol and fight against a thinking, breathing enemy.

“In the past, we operated in an environment where we were absolutely superior,” Pasciuti said. “Mistakes that we got away with then – with help from air superiority or nearby coalition forces – we might not be able to get away with in the future. This teaches tactical prowess to out-think and hunt your enemy.”

Following the recon and attack missions, students had just three hours before getting ready for the amphibious assault exercise.

Pfc. Jake Sanchez, of La Mirada, was somewhat confident.

“I grew up surfing at the beach,” he said, adding that the swim component was his favorite. “It’s important because we need to be versatile on land and in the water in case of a mishap.”

But when Sanchez got into the pool, with all his gear, he said he realized the experience would be a lot different than hitting the waves on his board at San Onofe State Beach.

“I didn’t think it would be that hard,” he said.

The week ended with a 32-kilometer trek.  As squads neared the finish line, yellow-greenish smoke surrounded them and emerging from it they looked in disbelief to see tables set up with chow.

“That day, we were slayed,” Haar said. “We were sitting at our tables enjoying our meals and the regimental commander came out and quoted the Jungle Book: ‘For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.’”

“That really put it into perspective,” Haar said.

For, Koury who will retire later this year after 20 years in the Marines, this opportunity stands out as a highlight.

“We’re dinosaurs passing the torch,” he said. “It’s an awesome experience.

“These guys are way better trained than the Marines I led,” he said. “The future fight will be much more complex.”

Matriarch of “first family of surf” Juliette Paskowitz dies at age 89

Juliette Paskowitz was a surrogate mom to thousands of would-be surfers, kids from across the country who showed up through the years to ride waves at San Onofre State Beach.

Paskowitz, who with husband Dorian created what’s believed to be the mainland’s first surf school back in 1972, died on Monday, May 3. She was 89.

As the wife of “Doc” Paskowitz, who died in 2014 at age 93, and mother of nine children raised in a 24-foot trailer on the remote sands just south of San Clemente, Juliette Paskowitz was the loving nurturer during the family’s well-known adventures – documented in the 2007 film “Surfwise.”

They were dubbed by the New York Times as “the first family of surf.”

Paskowitz home-schooled her children during their early years in Hawaii and then later when they set up their surf school at San Onofre and when they went on the road across the country after the summer surf season so Doc could tend to people in need.

  • Doc Paskowitz shares a laugh with his wife, Juliette Paskowitz at the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente in 2014. (File photo: By David Bro/ SCNG Contributing Photographer)

  • Several members of the Paskowitz family came out to see their father, Doc Paskowitz, seated at center, speak at the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente in 2014. From left, Grandson Isaiah Paskowitz, sons, Israel Paskowitz, Jonathan Paskowitz , wife Juliette Paskowitz, Joshua Paskowitz, and daughter, Navah Paskowitz. (File photo: DAVID BRO, SCNG CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER)

  • A family photo of Juliette Paskowitz.

  • Members of the Paskowitz family, known as the “first family of surfing,” answer questions from the audience during an opening reception at The Surfing Heritage & Culture Center in 2016. (File photo: NICK AGRO/SCNG)

  • A Paskowitz family portrait from the film Surfwise on display at The Surfing Heritage & Culture Center in San Clemente as part of an exhibit about Dr. Dorian Paskowitz and his family. (FILE PHOTO: NICK AGRO/ SCNG)

  • Doc Paskowitz along with his wife, Juliette Paskowitz, in photo with their grandson, Dorian Paskowitz, 5, of San Clemente in 2014. (File photo: DAVID BRO/SCNG)

  • Juliette Paskowitz accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her husband Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz in 2015. (Photo courtesy Steele/SIMA)

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Doc Paskowitz, a Stanford University-trained physician, never took anything for his medical services, his way of giving back.

“She never complained. Here’s a doctor who never charged for his services. He never charged and he wanted us to be the lowest on the totem pole,” said son Abraham Paskowitz. “She lived a very simple life, never with any extravagance ever.”

When Juliette Paskowitz accepted a posthumous SIMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 for her husband, she told the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association audience she always “thought he would be something someday. He was too amazing.”

A family photo of Juliette Paskowitz.

Paskowitz had her own successes.

Born Juliette Emilia Paez in 1932 in Long Beach, one of eight children, she became an accomplished opera singer from Long Beach State. She once sang for the Roger Wagner Corral.

Son Joshua Paskowitz, the couple’s youngest, recounted how a music director once told her she’d never get a job because of her Mexican heritage.

“She was such an incredibly gifted singer,” he said. “That energy she put in her music, that passion that lifted her to that level of excellence, is exactly what she did with her family.”

In 1958, she met Doc Paskowitz while working in Catalina.

Since his mother’s passing, Abraham Paskowitz said people have been reaching out from around the world, many who rode their first waves while visiting the family’s surf camp.

“These kids would just stay the whole summer with us,” Abraham Paskowitz said. “Her role was she was camp mom, she kept everyone in line, it was amazing.”

Paskowitz, most of all, taught all her children the importance of family, they said.

“The importance of loving recklessly, giving so much of your heart and soul to your partner and children and never looking back. Never thinking it would have been nice to get a job and a house,” Abraham Paskowitz said. “She gave away everything to be with him.”

Joshua Paskowitz said his mom’s strength informed his own perspective of women. She was tall and powerful, stoic and dignified, he said.

“She radiated such natural strength and authenticity,” he said. “The strength there was so real.”

And she allowed Doc to live his legacy.

“She gave him the opportunity to be the great person he ended up being. It was to the benefit of a lot of people, he saved a lot of lives and inspired a lot of people and had a lot of people choose to take less and give more because of his example,” Joshua Paskowitz said. “Mom was the engine for that. Mom was the practical person who allowed that magic to exist. She was the fire in his world.”

Several members of the Paskowitz family came out to see their father, Doc Paskowitz, seated at center, speak at the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente in 2014. From left, Grandson Isaiah Paskowitz, sons, Israel Paskowitz, Jonathan Paskowitz , wife Juliette Paskowitz, Joshua Paskowitz, and daughter, Navah Paskowitz. (File photo: DAVID BRO, SCNG CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER)

Most of all, she taught all her children, as well as everyone she met on her life’s journey, to really love, he said. “She was a truly authentic example of what the word ‘mother’ means.”

Paskowitz is survived by sons David, Jonathan, Abraham, Israel, Moses, Adam, Salvador and Joshua and daughter Navah, their spouses, 27 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to Paskowitz’s charities of choice: The Ed Asner Family Center, teafc.org/donate, and Surfers Healing, surfershealing.org.

OC beaches closed by sewage spills in 2020 among fewest seen in 33 years

There were fewer beach closures because of sewage spills in 2020 than has typically been seen the last three decades, according to a released recently report by the OC Health Care Agency.

The agency’s ocean, harbor and bay report, which comes out every two years, gives an analysis of water quality data and how it impacts public uses, comparing to a 20-year period and also incorporating historical data dating back to 1987.

“I think it’s terrific they do this report. It’s so important to not just monitor our beaches, but to make sure the public is aware,” said Pete Stauffer, environmental director for the Surfrider Foundation.

There were 88 sewage spills reported in 2020. The 33-year average is 191 spills per year and in 2019 there were 123. The peak of spills was in 2003 with 408 and there has been a steady decline since.

In 2020, only 2% of the spills reported required the ocean, harbors or bay waters to be closed – only twice was the ocean declared closed. The majority of sewage spills, about 62%, happened because of a sewer line blockage.

The report ties into what the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation has been advocating for on a federal level across the nation, Stauffer said. “I think it really underscores the importance of beach monitoring programs, to know when it’s safe to recreate at the beach.”

This year, Surfrider has been highlighting with its advocacy the number of sewage spills and the importance of maintaining wastewater infrastructure to collect and treat sewage to protect public health, he said.

“It’s great to see the trend of decrease in sewage spills over time,” he said. “I think the sewage system management plans they’ve been implementing have been effective, it would seem. It also does point to the continual need to invest and update wastewater infrastructure.”

Sewage spills occur when wastewater transported via underground pipes overflows through a manhole, clean-out drain or broken pipe. Blockages in pipelines have been responsible for an average of 62% of all beach closures since 1999, the report notes.

Sewage spills can cause health hazards, damage homes and businesses, and threaten the environment, local waterways and beaches. Untreated sewage has high levels of disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

But the report also analyzes other impacts to water quality at area beaches and harbors.

In 2020, eight rain advisories were issued that totaled 49 days. Rain advisories happen when bacterial levels are elevated and can cause illness to swimmers, surfers and divers.

The coronavirus pandemic also made it way into the 2020 report.

There were three COVID-19 impacts included in the report: access to data, a change in sewage spill sources and more PPE use, Lauren Robinson, supervisor for the OC Health Care Agency’s Water Quality Program, said in an e-mail.

“Although COVID-19 caused a major disruption to everyday life in 2020, it posed only a minimal disruption for beach sampling,” she noted. “We observed several stations that had reduced accessibility when the ‘Stay at Home’ orders were issued.”

The pandemic also affected the ways and locations water was used and wastewater was produced, she said, with an increase in private property sewage spills observed – although both the overall number of sewage spills and closures resulting from sewage spills declined, she said.

“It was of upmost importance to keep both the public and staff safe and informed,” she said. “Staff wore additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the Water Quality Lab employed additional COVID-19 prevention methods when receiving and processing the samples.”

Last year, more than 7,600 ocean, harbor and bay water samples were collected and about 23,000 analyses were performed to determine the results for three indicators: total coliform bacteria, fecal coliform bacteria and enterococcus, used for compliance purposes.

The total number of “beach mile days” (which takes into account the distance of beaches closed and for how many days) posted for Orange County beaches for the reporting period from April 1 to Oct. 31, 2020, because of violations for bacteriological water quality standards, was 60.4. From 2000 to 2012, the average of 205.2.

Excellent bacteriological water quality was recorded at Huntington City Beach, Crystal Cove Beach, Dana Point Beach and Capistrano Bay District Beach monitoring locations.

The beach areas in 2020 that exceeded four beach mile days between April 1 to Oct. 31 were Seal Beach/Surfside/Sunset (5.97), San Clemente City Beach (6.53) and Doheny State Beach (12.4).

The annual report does not set goals, make recommendations or offer advice; rather, its authors say it provides data for use by government officials, public agencies, environmental groups, concerned citizens and other interested parties.

“In addition, this report provides a foundation for future projects aimed at assessing the health of Orange County’s ocean, harbor and bay waters.”

Miramar Air Show has been canceled again this year

The Miramar Air Show – known as the largest display of military aircraft in the nation – has been grounded one more year by concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The show, which often draws more than half a million guests, was planned for Sept. 24-26 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Col. Charles Dockery, commanding officer of MCAS Miramar, suspended this fall’s event and instead planning will start for 2022.

“There are a great many risks involved with a gathering on the scale of our air show,” he wrote in a statement on Thursday, May 6. “MCAS Miramar has always prioritized our community’s safety throughout the pandemic, beginning the moment we hosted evacuees from Wuhan to our daily operations delivering national defense, and this decision is no different.”

This year would have marked the air show’s 60th year. It traditionally includes both static displays of aircraft from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force and the civilian world, as well as live flying demonstrations.

A highlight is always the Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron.

Huntington Beach city officials recently said the famed jet team has already confirmed it will participate in The Great Pacific Airshow hosted along the shore there. That show is currently planned for the first week of October and will feature historic warplanes and others who will fly daredevil stunts over the Pacific Ocean.

Were those Navy SEALs spotted just off Capistrano Beach near Dana Point Harbor?

A gray, stealth-looking vessel with an American flag drew the interest of people out on a whale-watching charter at an early stage Wednesday, May 5.

The watercraft was spotted concerning half a mile from Dana Point Harbor, simply off Capistrano Beach.

Speculation at initial went to whether recent reports of panga watercrafts along the Southern The golden state coastline may have drawn police or groups from the Department of Homeland Protection off Orange County waters or if it was an independently had vessel. There are a number of civilian boat proprietors with military-looking vessels in Newport Harbor.

However, Orange Region Constable Department Harbor Patrol Capt. Gary Lewellyn confirmed with his deputies in Dana Point Harbor that the unique procedures craft come from the Navy SEALs.

He said SEALs routinely come up from San Diego. “Typically they provide us a heads-up if they’re looking for dock space.”

In 2017, a team of similar-looking boats had some individuals thinking they were part of the Mexican Navy in spite of at the very least among the vessels having a UNITED STATE flag in position. Later on Navy authorities validated that Navy SEALs had made a quick stop inside the harbor.

On Wednesday, officials from the Naval Unique Warfare command validated the boat was what’s called a contender craft attack, which is an assistance vessel to SEALs and special operations. The craft is just one of three made use of by unique operators; it is light sufficient to be loaded right into an armed forces freight airplane and went down into the sea.

“The craft was doing a routine transportation in between bases and was component of a scheduled unit training occasion,” Chief Petty Policeman Grant Probst, a spokesman for NSW, stated. “From the picture, it appears like there was marginal staff aboard.”

He was uncertain if those on board were SEALs or craft crewmen.

As for mistaking the craft for something civilian-owned, Navy Capt. David Russell claimed, “Watercrafts we’re making use of today most likely would not be available on the open market.”

Russell confirmed marine special warfare groups often educate off Southern The golden state, “to plan for releases and objectives all over the world.”

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