A U.S. Navy corpsman is being lauded as a hero for saving a toddler who nearly drowned in a pool at the Bituon Beach Resort in the Philippines, according to a military news release Saturday.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Thomas, a corpsman with Naval Construction Battalion Forty, is in the Philippines for Balikatan 2009, an annual exercise.

According to the release, Thomas helped clear the water from 19-month-old Maria Fe Issabelle Fernandez’s lungs after she wandered away from her family and fell into a swimming pool on April 6.

"I held her in my arm and gave her back thrusts to force the water out of her," Thomas is quoted as saying in the release.

"We are so thankful to him for what he did," Maria’s grandfather, Manuel Inventor, said. "I realized soon after, had it not been for the U.S. forces being here in the first place, my granddaughter would not still be here."

NMCB-40 is in the Masbate province to construct a well as part of Balikatan.

University gets new contractThe University of Phoenix graduate-level education military contract was renewed last week in the Pacific.

The school provides both graduate business (MBA) and graduate education programs for U.S. troops and their spouses in classrooms on site, according to a university news release.

The programs are offered at:

Kadena Air Base on Okinawa;Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Yokota Air Base, Camp Zama and Misawa Air Base in mainland Japan;Osan Air Base, Camp Humphreys, Yongsan Garrison and Daegu in South Korea; and GuamU.S., Mongolia wrap up drillsThe U.S. military and Mongolia wrapped up Gobi Wolf on Friday, a three-stage exercise aimed at sharpening mutual disaster response, according to a news release by the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.

The exercise included a train derailment scenario on a major railway artery in Mongolia.

"This exercise provides a great opportunity for the U.S. and Mongolia to learn from each other, such as different response techniques and inter-agency coordination within their respective disaster management systems," Greg Flick, head of COE’s Disaster Management unit, was quoted as saying in the release.

Gobi Wolf’s first phase, held March 2-6, focused on incident command training for senior and mid-level planners. A "table top exercise" took place March 30 to April 3, while the railroad scenario was executed last week.

COE, which reports directly to Pacific Command in Hawaii, directed the exercise with Mongolia’s National Emergency Management Agency. Partners included the Alaska National Guard, the U.S. Army War College, the Asia Foundation, the Institute for Strategic Studies, Mongolia Railroad and the Mongolia Department of Transportation.

Health decisions event at ZamaThe Camp Zama Legal Assistance Office will host National Healthcare Decisions Day on Thursday to highlight the importance of preparing general and medical powers of attorney and living wills.

Legal help will be available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. outside the Post Exchange near Burger King.

Soldiers and families can put preferences in writing and appoint someone to make decisions about life support and their affairs should they become incapacitated, base legal officials said in a news release.

Contact Zama’s Legal Assistance Office at DSN 263-4698 for more information.

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