Fairchild Air Force Base got an early Christmas gift this week, courtesy of the taxpayers and the U.S. Senate. The Air Force Survival School located on the West Plains base will get an extra $8.2 million in the coming year to build a new Resistance Training Center.
The money is in the military construction bill signed this week by President Bush. But the project wasn’t in Bush’s original defense budget, nor was it part of a military spending plan put together by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., helped add it to the Senate spending proposal, and the project stayed in the compromise budget the two chambers worked out. On Thursday, Murray toured the base and the building to be replaced, which she described as “old, dilapidated and lacking modern equipment.”
“We’re sending these men and women out, and they need the best training and equipment we can provide,” she said. Updating base facilities is also important to avoid any suggestion of closure in future years, she added.
All Air Force flight crews receive survival training at Fairchild.
Remorseful rapist sentenced to 12 years
A 26-year-old man who kidnapped and raped a young woman while she tended bar at a Spokane Valley tavern was sentenced Thursday to at least 12 years in prison.
Gary Wayne Austin Jr. pleaded guilty Oct. 12 to first-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault. A parole board may keep Austin in prison for the rest of his life if it finds him still dangerous.
Austin told Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins he has looked down on rapists with disgust, “and to now be part of that society troubles me greatly.”
The victim said in a written statement that she believes Austin is “a troubled man,” and hopes he will get help in prison. But, she said, “I’m wondering when I will feel safe again. When will I stop feeling so dirty?”
Court records indicate Austin raped the woman as she was closing up the Corner Club Tavern, 2208 N. Park Road, at 2 a.m. on Aug. 12. Then he took her tip jar as well as $1,200 from the till, tied her up and drove her to Coeur d’Alene, raping her again along the way.
After an unsuccessful attempt to rent a motel room in Coeur d’Alene, he continued east and was approaching Missoula when he started feeling sorry and took the victim back to Spokane Valley. He returned all the money when he released her near the Corner Club.
Assistant public defender Jeff Compton said Austin was drunk when he began the uncharacteristic crime spree. Austin’s previous convictions, in Alaska, are for fourth-degree assault and drunken driving.
Injured soldiers now eligible for compensation
Soldiers who were maimed or paralyzed during military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are now eligible for payments up to $100,000 depending on the injury, according to a statement from the office of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.
Also, military servicemen and women will now be automatically covered for such injuries by the Servicemembers’ Group Life insurance as a result of an amendment Craig attached to the $81 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill, which passed Congress earlier this year, a spokesman for the senator said Thursday.
“As Christmas approaches, this should be welcomed news by those who have given so much on behalf of all of us,” said Craig, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.
The payments apply to qualifying service members regardless of whether their wounds were suffered in combat. Payments also will be made to beneficiaries of wounded service members who have died.
As of early November, 15,568 U.S. military personnel had been wounded in action in Iraq and 652 in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Three Washingtonians change pleas to guilty
A jury was selected and testimony was about to begin in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday when three Washington residents changed their pleas to guilty, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Raymond L. Haddon, Julie Perrigo-Haddon and Rick Perrigo, all from Anatone, will be sentenced Feb. 21.
Haddon and Perrigo were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering to conceal the source of drug trafficking profits, the release said. Perrigo-Haddon was charged with failing to report a felony.
The trio will forfeit a home in Anatone, an SUV, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a bulldozer and other items reportedly purchased with money stolen from a drug dealer.
81st Brigade to be honored Saturday
Washington Army National Guard soldiers from the 81st Brigade will be honored Saturday at the Spokane Arena, the Guard announced.
The 1:30 p.m. ceremony will recognize individual soldiers from B Battery, 2nd Battalion of the 146th Artillery for their service in Iraq, as well as their families and the community for their support of the unit’s deployment, according to a Guard news release.
Of the 4,000 soldiers who served in the 81st Brigade during the largest deployment of the National Guard since World War II, about 3,200 were from Washington. Nine soldiers from the Brigade died during the yearlong deployment.
The brigade returned to Fort Lewis last spring.
Man who jumped in Spokane River used alias
A man who jumped into the Spokane River earlier this week while trying to elude police gave them a false name to police, and it was later reported by the media, officials said Thursday.
He told officers his name was Levi Stang, Spokane Police Department spokesman Dick Cottam said. The man police arrested was actually Michael J. Burgess.
Burgess, who also uses the aliases Crack Pipe Mike and T Bone Burgess, was booked into Spokane County Jail for eluding and first-degree possession of stolen property, Cottam said.
Sex offender nabbed at Spokane apartment
A sex offender wanted in Western Washington was apprehended late Wednesday, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said.
David Michael Kreienbrink, 24, was caught by Spokane police at an apartment in the 1700 block of West Mallon Avenue, sheriff’s spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan said in a news release.
Kreienbrink was wanted on a warrant issued in Pierce County for escaping from community custody and one from King County for failing to register as a sex offender, Reagan said.
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