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Sailors, Marines and U.S. Coast Guard personnel deployed aboard ships will be able to phone home for free during the holidays.

The Navy Exchange Service Command and AT&T are providing $10 prepaid phone cards to ships under way this month.

The Navy Exchange will pass out about 21,000 cards during the holiday season, the Navy Exchange Service Command announced this week.

Thirty various ships out to sea with AT&T Direct Ocean Service will get the cards.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to all the men and women who are serving our country,” Jennie Virden, a Navy Exchange personal telecommunication specialist, said in a statement.

Blue Angels recruiting for '06 team

The Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, is looking for enlisted sailors to join the team for the 2006 season.

The application deadline is April 1, 2005, according to a November Navy memo sent to the fleet. The normal tour length is 36 months.

Applicants must meet a list of requirements to be accepted. For example, sailors must have a spotless record and have no physical readiness test or body fat failures in the last 36 months.

Interested candidates also must receive their commander’s endorsement to be considered.

Selection results will be announced June 2005. Those selected will leave their current command in October and report to the squadron in November.

The flight demonstration team performs in air shows across the United States annually and is based in Pensacola, Fla.

For more information, click on NAVADMIN 261/04 online at

3rd ID loads up for deployment

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division is loading up two of the Military Sealift Command’s largest ships for its upcoming deployment to Iraq.

The Fort Stewart, Ga.-based division’s gear is being loaded onto the USNS Sisler and USNS Seay at the port in Savannah, Ga. The equipment includes nearly 2,250 wheeled and tracked vehicles, 40 helicopters and more than 300 containers of equipment.

The 3rd ID was one of the lead units in the ground offensive for Operation Iraqi Freedom and is expected to return to Iraq for its second rotation over the next few months. It is also one of the Army’s newly updated divisions with four “modular” brigades instead of three.

Two of the brigades, according to an Army news release, will deploy this winter under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division in north-central Iraq. The remainder of the division will deploy soon after with a Louisiana Army National Guard unit to a different part of Iraq.

Military Sealift Command operates more than 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships and moves 95 percent of the military equipment and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces.

U.S. Navy patrol rescues fishermen

A U.S. Navy patrol aircraft helped rescue eight United Arab Emirates fishermen whose small boat sank off the coast of Bahrain.

A P-3C Orion from Patrol Squadron 9 — along with a pair of Bahrain police helicopters — immediately responded to a distress call and searched for the fishermen on Nov. 27, the Navy’s 5th Fleet reported. The patrol and reconnaissance aircraft searched an area of 60 to 70 square miles for the dhow, according to Lt. j.g. Brian Hirte, the P-3C Orion tactical coordinator. A half hour later, members of the P-3C found a cooler and some life vests.

That spot helped Bahrain search-and-rescue teams find the eight fishermen floating in a raft nearby. Rescue swimmers helped retrieve four of the fishermen, while a helicopter plucked the remaining fishermen from the water.

The Navy plane helped coordinate the rescue among Bahrain air traffic control, two Bahrain police helicopters and a Qatari helicopter.

Patrol Squadron 9 is deployed to the Persian Gulf region from its home base in Hawaii.

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