Four Twentynine Palms Marines from 1st Battalion, 7th Marines were decorated for heroism in Afghanistan during a ceremony yesterday aboard the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center. First Lt. Kenneth Conover III and Sgt. Kenneth Rick were awarded a Silver Star for their leadership actions, while Staff Sgt. Joshua Brodrick and Sgt. Nicholas Brandau were awarded a Bronze Star with a combat “V” for their actions in the firefight. The awards are from a six-day operation in June 2012 during which 1st Platoon, Company D, were attacked by Afghan insurgents. Two Marines were killed during the battle, another seriously injured. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at the awards ceremony, and says uncommon valor was a common virtue…

Then-2nd Lt. Kenneth Conover III, 1st platoon commander for Dog Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, speaks to local Afghan children on May 19, 2012. A month later, Conover led a six-day operation in Qaleh-ye Gaz, during which his platoon engaged 'waves of enemy fighters.' (Cpl. Mark Garcia / Marine Corps)

Then-2nd Lt. Kenneth Conover III, 1st platoon commander for Dog Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, speaks to local Afghan children on May 19, 2012. A month later, Conover led a six-day operation in Qaleh-ye Gaz, during which his platoon engaged ‘waves of enemy fighters.’ (Cpl. Mark Garcia / Marine Corps)

Lance Corporal Steven Stevens was killed June 22, 2012, as he was sweeping a landing zone in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for a medevac for another injured Marine in his unit. His Lieutenant, Kenneth Conover, said two of his fellow Marines, Sergeant Kenneth Rick and Sergeant Nicholas Brandau, immediately went to his aid. “The two sergeants immediately rushed out after him and picked him up and brought him back inside of our little patrol base that we had set up.”

Lieutenant Kenneth Conover led his platoon through the six days of fighting, in which another Marine, Lance Corporal Niall Cortisears, was killed, and shot out an enemy position with an AT-4 rocket.

SSgt Joshua Brodrick was honored with a Bronze Star with Combat V at an awards ceremony at the Combat Center Tuesday, February 18, 2014.

His staff sergeant, Joshua Brodrick, led his platoon in a counter attack against insurgents, forcing them to withdraw. For these actions and others, Brodrick and Brandau were awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” yesterday, and Conover and Rick were awarded the Silver Star.

Staff Sergeant Brodrick was modest about his heroic actions, though. “It’s not for us. It’s for the Marines that we did not bring home with us.”

Sergeant Brandeau, who left the Marine Corps last October, was a little uncomfortable being singled out for the honor. “The Marine Corps infrantryman, what they do on a daily basis, what they’re willing to do on a daily basis, they fight for the guy that’s right next to them. That’s what Dog 1 did. That’s why I’m super humble to be in front of everybody for all the actions of Dog 1. They’re willing to put their life down for all of us, every single member of Dog 1 would have done the same thing and we did lose two of them.”

Sergeant Rick echoed Brandau’s sentiments. “We wear this for Marines, not for us. It’s for remembrance of them.”

Lt. Gen. John Toolan pins a Silver Star onto the uniform of Sgt Kenneth Rick during an awards ceremony at the Combat Center Tuesday, February 18, 2014.

Leading the ceremony recognizing the four Marines was Lt. Gen. John Toolan, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at CampPendleton. The Marines were sent in at night by helicopter to Qaleh-ye Gaz, which Toolan described as “a bedroom community for bad guys. But the Marines of Dog 1 “took away the soft life for them,” and it’s because of “their initiative, courage, undaunted judgment and dedication to duty” during the six-day battle that these four Marines were being honored Tuesday.

Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Conover pins a Silver Star medal onto the uniform of his son, Lt. Kenneth Conover III during an awards ceremony on board the Combat Center Tuesday, February 18, 2014.

Lieutenant Conover said he was grateful to the Marines he led into battle. “I couldn’t have been set up better with better Marines. I always think of those men I took into combat.” Conover’s father, Sergeant Major Kenneth Conover of Education Command in Quantico, Virginia, was proud to be at Tuesday’s ceremony and pin the Silver Star on his son’s uniform.

“I know what the Silver Star means. I was able to read the citation and all the witness statements. I was able to picture the battle in my head. It’s a great honor that my son was part of that. He’s a fine leader and a good man. All those guys were heroic. They stood up in the middle of chaos and kept cool and continued to lead their men. When Marines are wounded and killed, you have to keep going to get the rest out safely. They showed great leadership.”

Three of the four Marines who were honored during an awards ceremony on board the Combat Center Tuesday, February 18, 2014. From left, (former) Sgt. Nicholas Brandau, who was awarded a Bronze Star with Combat V; Sgt, Kenneth Rick, and Lt. Kenneth Conover, who both were awarded a Silver Star.

1st Battalion, 7th Marines will be heading back to Afghanistan in about a week and a half.More photos can be seen on Z107.7’s FaceBook page, Morongo Basin Broadcasting.


The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory until 10:00 tonight. West winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, with gusts to 50 mph are expected with winds increasing this morning, peaking during the afternoon, then decrease this evening. Winds this strong can make driving difficult due to blowing dust and dangerous crosswinds, especially for high profile vehicles. Strong winds over desert areas could result in briefly lowered visibilities to well under a mile at times in blowing dust or blowing sand. Drivers of motorcyles, vans, campers, trailers, and any high-profile vehicle should be alert to the danger of these winds, especially when driving along north-south roads.


The Morongo Valley Community Services District Board meets in regular session tonight. A new general manager and volunteer nominees will be approved. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has an overview of the meeting…

At tonight’s regular 7 p.m. meeting of the Morongo Valley Community Services District, directors are expected to approve an employment contract with incoming CSD general manager, Donna Munoz. Also up for approval are standing committee volunteer nominees who will serve one to two-year terms. In other business, the board is expected to nominate one of the directors to serve as the Special District’s member on the Local Agency Formation Commission. Those actions and others follow regular reports and items on the consent agenda. It all happens in the Covington Park Multi-Purpose Room.


Reach Out Morongo Basin’s 10th Annual Parade of Homes, held Sunday, was heralded as “a wonderful success” according to Executive Director Robin Schlosser. Schlosser said that 210 parade goers enjoyed the homes and raised $9,000 for Reach Out Morongo Basin’s community programs. She added, “The pit stop at Park Rock Cafe was a huge hit with delicious food, live entertainment by Celtic Curse and a silent auction.” Visitors from as far away as Los Angeles and San Diego toured Perry Hoffman’s Tile House and Casa Grande in Twentynine Palms; the Desert Lily Bed and Breakfast, and Bobby Furst’s FurstWorld in Joshua Tree; and in Yucca Valley, Jimm and Joann Peterson’s Double J Ranch, and The Willows, owned by Sanford Berlove and Anja Homburg. Schlosser thanked all the homeowners for opening their homes on the tour, those who bought a ticket for the tour, and the sponsors and volunteers who made the event a success, Z107.7 was a co-sponsor. Funds raised help Reach Out continue its work recruiting, training and matching volunteers with seniors and disabled neighbors for visiting, shopping, personal business help, minor home repairs and medical transportation.


The Yucca Valley Town Council met in a busy session last night. They gave block grants to the Town, worked on appointment and rotation issues, and came up with names for the new senior housing project. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was there and files this report…

After an hour of reports and presentations—meeting Miss Yucca Valley and her court, hearing from So Cal Edison, recognizing Diane Olson of the Planning Department as Employee of the Quarter, and saying farewell to Sheriff’s Captain Rich Boswell who is retiring—the Yucca Valley Town Council finally got down to business at its regular meeting last night. The Council voted to allocate $50,000 in Community Development Block Grants to playground improvements at Jacobs Park, and $70,000 toward targeted code enforcement in the Town, with the understanding that in two or three years, it will phase out the code enforcement grants and return to more traditional funding. The Council then refused to pass a recommendation from staff and an ad hoc committee to change the way planning and parks commissioners are appointed.  The Council did tweak the rotation process for mayor, declaring once a council member is in the queue for mayor, the rotation does not change based on the number of votes received in an election. The Council voted 4 to 1, with Dawn Rowe voting no, to shuffle funds around to pay back money it had borrowed for Essig Park improvements. Rowe voted no on principle, saying she was against the Town spending money it didn’t have in the first place. Council members forwarded the names “Town Senior Village” and “Dumosa Senior Village” to the developer to choose as the name for the new senior housing project.


Sky’s The Limit and Joshua Tree National Park will explore the desert’s dark secrets during a lecture and presentation Saturday. Park Ranger Sarah Jane Pepper will talk about “The Dark Side of Joshua Tree National Park” and the animals that come out after the sun goes down, and how light pollution affects nocturnal creatures. Telescopes will be focused on the night skies, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own telescopes or binoculars, along with chairs, water and snacks, and warm clothing. The event begins at 6 p.m. this Saturday evening at the Sky’s the Limit observatory, on Utah Trail, just north of the Park Entrance in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7222, or visit the STL web site at


The Joshua Basin Water Board will consider giving themselves a raise tonight and are expected to formally hire Curt Sauer as the General Manager. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…

At tonight’s regular meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District, the board of directors will likely approve an employment contract with incoming general manager Curt Sauer. In other business, the board is expected to nominate one of the directors to serve as the Special District’s member on the Local Agency Formation Commission. And finally, directors will consider an increase in their own compensation; if approved, it will be the first increase since December 2008. Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the District office on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.


More than water is transparent at the Hi-Desert Water District. The District announced yesterday it had received the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence by the Special District Leadership Foundation. The certificate is awarded to special districts that fulfill eight requirements, including ethics training for all board members, conducting open and public meetings, and filing financial reports with the state comptroller in a timely manner. In addition, Hi-Desert Water District fulfilled 15 website requirements, including posting board agendas, minutes, its budget, and the most recent financial audit on its website.


The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets in regular session tonight. A look at social media presence, a mid-year budget review and a wastewater budget are all on the agenda. Managing Editor Tami Roleff takes a closer look…

After the 2014 Miss Yucca Valley Court is introduced to the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors at its meeting tonight, the Board will hear a presentation on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Other items on the agenda include an overview on the District’s online and social media presence, followed by a mid-year budget review. The directors will be asked to adopt a resolution prohibiting the use of septic systems and other means of sewage disposal after the Town’s waste water project is completed. And finally, the Board will be given a presentation and update on the waste water reclamation project. The meeting will be held at 6:00 at District offices at Inca Trail and the Highway in Yucca Valley.


Yucca Valley High School is proud to announce that both boys and girls basketball and soccer teams qualified for the CIF playoffs, which begin this week. All four teams will be in action this week, and we are especially happy to announce that the Trojan boys basketball team will host the St. Francis Golden Knights in a first round CIF playoff game tonight  at 7:00pm in the Trojan gym.