Saturday, October 25, 2014

Military, Washington Wizards Join Efforts to Feed the Needy



By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2014 – Members of the U.S. military joined players for the Washington Wizards and area students yesterday to prepare more than 1,000 meals for needy children and families.

The project was one of the first events of the military’s “Commitment to Service” initiative with the NBA, which is focused on building a culture of service by meeting the needs of local communities.

“It’s about bringing Americans together in a way that will both serve our military and serve our community,” said ReneC. Bardorf, deputy assistant secretary of defense for community and public outreach, as she oversaw the preparation of meals at the giant warehouse that is the Capital Area Food Bank.

The “Commitment to Service” initiative aims to build stronger and more compassionate communities through projects such as this one. DoD officials also credit collaboration with the NBA, including its “NBA Cares” program, as well as USA Basketball’s “Hoops for Troops” for providing ways to assist service members as they transition from the military.

“The NBA has been wonderful to us over the last 13 years as we’ve gone through these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now … we feel like the relationship has evolved to one where we’ll go out together and partner with one another to serve our communities and empower those in the community to serve with us,” Bardorf said.

Gen. Larry O. Spencer, Air Force vice chief of staff, was among members of the military on hand for today’s event, which he described as another way in which those in uniform can work with the NBA to show appreciation.

“They’re committed to basketball, we’re committed to national defense,” Spencer said “Both of us have a little different focus but there’s one thing we have in common: we both want to give back to the community.”

The Wizards’ Garrett Temple agreed. He said, “With the hunger issue, it’s such a big thing not only in D.C. and the nation but worldwide so helping out is definitely a big deal.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Misawa Airmen bring smiles to local orphans

by Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez-Domitilo
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - SHICHINOHE, Japan -- Fifteen Airmen from Misawa Air Base, Japan, visited more than 25 orphaned children at the Biko-en Children's Care House in Shichinohe, Japan, Oct. 18.

The Airmen made the 14-mile trip to the orphanage to donate school supplies to elementary-aged children at the care house and interacting with the children, playing indoor and outdoor games such as American classics "Duck, Duck, Goose" and "Heads Up Seven Up."

"The children were very receptive," said Airman 1st Class Iman Massey, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron operations manager and supply drive coordinator. "Even though there was a language barrier between us, it didn't stop us from having a good time."

This was the first time the Airmen, who are part of the base's First Four Organization, have worked with the orphanage, but they don't plan on it being their last. Massey said the idea initially came about after a noncommissioned officer from Misawa's 35th Maintenance Squadron told her about their involvement with the orphanage.

"By doing events like this, we can help the morale of not only Airmen but the Japanese community as well," Massey explained. "We can help strengthen relationship between the two communities while helping more Airmen get involved and embrace the culture off-base."

Massey was happy with how the event turned out and added her favorite part was seeing how excited the children were when receiving their gifts.

"Just being able to see their faces light up when they went through their backpacks, and how they showed each other what they got, was really awesome," Massey said.

For Senior Airman Christopher Russo, 35th Dental Squadron oral surgery technician, the chance to make a difference in the children's lives convinced him to come and support the event.

"I don't typically volunteer for much, but when I saw that it was helping out orphans, I really wanted to be a part of that," he said. "You can tell they really don't have much, and it means a lot to them to receive the school supplies."

He said he was also happy to see the smiles in the children's faces as they presented them with the backpacks.

The Airmen are now talking about how to expand their visits into an event the whole base can get involved in.

"I would like to thank everyone who helped collect school supplies and helped me set this event up, as well as all of those who came out to spend time with the children and help hand out the school supplies," Massey said. "I'm excited to continue to work with the staff at the orphanage and plan other events with these children in the future."

McDew talks people, vision

by Senior Airman Charles Rivezzo
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- General Darren McDew, Air Mobility Command commander, addressed a gamut of questions during a Q-and-A session Oct. 16 at Travis Air Force Base as part of his first official visit since assuming command of AMC in early May.

With wide-spread changes and undertakings occurring across the enterprise, the open forum offered Travis Airmen the unique opportunity to voice their comments and concerns to AMC's highest ranking Airman.

While McDew addressed questions ranging from force management concerns to the future of the enlisted performance report to contingency operations on the horizon, his overarching message to the audience of service members and their civilian counterparts was simple - "Thank you for what you do."

"Generals like Cassidy, Fogleman and Ryan would be just as proud of the Airmen today as they were the Airmen they commanded," McDew said. "That's what makes me proud to be the AMC commander ... it's what makes me get up in the morning, put my uniform on and stand a little straighter.

"My Airmen get an inordinate amount of praise from combatant commanders for what they do every single day," he continued. "We get the chance to contribute in ways that other people can only dream of and I am extremely humbled when I get to stand up and say, yes, that is an AMC Airman."

What appeared to resonate with the audience were the commander's vision of the mobility Air Force and its Airmen.

"Without mobility, we would just be a pretty incredible CONUS military force," he joked. "Mobility is airpower, and I love the fact that it is used in the same sentence."
"Mobility is airpower," he reemphasized.

Delving more in-depth into the grass-root efforts of mobility airpower, more specifically Travis' role to the mission of Global Reach, McDew didn't hold back his thoughts on what the capabilities of the men and women here present to the strategic AMC and Air Force vision.

"Travis is unique in all of AMC as well as throughout the Air Force primarily because of its size and scope of its mission," he said. "The unique combination of C-5 Galaxies, C-17 Globemaster IIIs and KC-10 Extenders masterfully complete the aerial refueling and airlift mission sets.

"When Travis was founded back in 1942, it was right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and it was based because of its strategic location and access to the Pacific," he added. "That very access remains even more powerful today and I see that positioning as being a great thing for Travis and our ability to use the base as a launching point to the Pacific. As we get that strategy more sound ... Travis is going to play a big part."

To conclude the Q-and-A session McDew reiterated his capstone message.

"I've got to thank the members of Team Travis," McDew said. "We picked Travis to host our civic leaders. These are great influencers around this country that speak about and for our Air Force and I wanted them to come to Travis to see AMC in action and you absolutely wowed them."

RQ-4 Global Hawk leaves Misawa, flies south for winter

by Airman 1st Class Patrick S. Ciccarone
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Editor's note: Names have been left out of the article due to security concerns. After temporarily nesting here for the summer, two remotely-piloted RQ-4 Global Hawks returned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The Global Hawks arrived in May, marking the first time the aircraft landed in Japan.

During its stay, the remotely piloted aircraft was able to complete numerous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and showcase its capabilities uninhibited.

"While at Misawa, we flew June, July, August, September and October without one weather loss," one of the RQ-4 Global Hawk pilots said. "There were days we flew when other manned aircraft could not."

At Misawa, the Global Hawk achieved two milestones -- it was the first unmanned aircraft to be flown out of Japan and was also the first RQ-4 to fly an operational mission out of a joint-use civilian and military airfield.

"Combining and coordinating civilian Japanese airline traffic with military entities isn't typically done anywhere," the assistant director of operations for Detachment 1 said. "This proves that remotely-piloted and manned aircraft can operate on the same airfield together despite the variety of their missions or purpose."

After submitting a flight plan, the RPA was able to fly in the same manner as manned aircraft, without any additional restrictions. This was also the first known U.S. unmanned aircraft to perform a "file and fly" due to the close working relationship between the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's air traffic control team and the Global Hawk pilots. This proved the Global Hawk's ability to work with other aircraft in the vicinity, including Japan Airlines.

"While we were here, there were thousands of flights consisting of both JAL and military aircraft, with hundreds of thousands of passengers flying," the Det. 1 commander said. "We safely integrated with them daily without any incidents."

The Global Hawk's presence at Misawa AB has also proven to be successful at strengthening our ties with Japan.

"The Japanese were the most courteous, polite and helpful group of people I have worked with," the Det. 1 commander expressed. "We got to work with a coalition partner, and we're looking at possible operations in the future with them by combining mutual needs."

Due to popular demand, the RPA was featured at the annual Misawa Air Fest as a static display and garnered immense attention by both the public and Japanese government officials.

As for the future of the Global Hawk returning to Misawa - - one could say it's in the air.

"I believe the Global Hawk will probably come back to Misawa," the Det. 1 commander mused. "The 35th Fighter Wing was very happy to support our mission. We'd love to come back."

18th AF goes big on retrograde operations

by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
18th Air Force Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- As part of the continuing retrograde operations in Afghanistan, 18th Air Force has begun using C-5M Super Galaxies to move equipment out of the war zone.

The C-5M is a strategic airlifter that is not typically used in a tactical role.

The use of the C-5M in Afghanistan is an innovative use of a non-traditional tool to solve what is really a mathematical problem. The Air Force only has so many C-17s to carry cargo out of Afghanistan, only so much time to do it in, and competing demands on its capabilities. Using C-5Ms can relieve some of the demands on the C-17 force which has seen increased taskings as a result of Operations Inherent Resolve and United Assistance.

"We had oversized cargo in theater that needed to move to a staging base, but the volume was such that the C-17s were having trouble keeping up," said Maj. Francisco Flores, 618th Air Operations Center Theater Direct Delivery division. "When you add the competing demands on the C-17s, retrograde started to fall behind."

On paper, the idea to use C-5Ms makes sense. If a C-17 that can carry one Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle  is good, a C-5M that can carry five is better, but using a strategic airlifter in a tactical role comes with its own set of challenges that had to be overcome. Among them, Flores said, is looking beyond a C-17 mindset.

"Theater Direct Delivery, by nature, is a tactical division," Flores explained. "The C-17 is the standard. We hadn't executed the C-5 mission before. So we had to adjust the planning mindset."

Part of that adjustment meant reaching out to the logistics personnel in Afghanistan and telling them about the aircraft's capabilities. The result was a C-5M mission breaking a max cargo weight record, lifting off from Afghanistan carrying more than 280,000 pounds, the equivalent of about 11 school buses.

"With the C-5M," Flores said, "We ran out of room in the aircraft before we reached the max weight."

Education on the C-5's capabilities was not the only challenge. Using a strategic airlifter, designed for long, transcontinental flights and pushing it into a tactical airlifter's role can create stresses the aircraft was not designed for.

"Using it tactically means a shorter cycle," said SMSgt. William March, Air Mobility Command Logistic Operations logistics management specialist. "Components are being used more frequently than they would be on a longer transoceanic flight."

Designed to fly one long eight-to-10 hour flight per day, these C-5Ms are flying three short flights per day into expeditionary air bases. That's three times the stress on components such as the landing gear.

"We've never seen a C-5 used like this," March added.

March's division looked ahead and prepared for any maintenance and logistics contingency that could develop from the unorthodox use of the C-5M.

"We made sure we had the right mix of personnel and equipment at these air bases and made sure they had more of it," March said. "And we're always looking for ways to improve the process."

The C-5Ms are doing well in their new role as tactical airlifters. Since the mission began in August, C-5Ms crews have flown more than 70 sorties out of Afghanistan, carrying 381 vehicles and more than 460 other pieces of equipment.

"It's proven to be a workhorse," Flores said. "It does the job very well. It moves a large amount of cargo in a short amount of time."

"We have changed the face of airlift," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Diaz, 385th Air Expeditionary Group Detachment 1 commander. "In the past 50 days, we've been able to fly more than 70 missions moving more than 12 million pounds of cargo, well exceeding expectations."

Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, 18th Air Force commander, said using the C-5M to take demands off the C-17 fleet is a reflection of the command's ability to innovate in order to solve mobility problems.

"This is what innovative Airmen look like," he said. "These crews and aircraft are proving themselves every day.

Luke EOD Airmen endure Operation Enduring Training

by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Braving the elements and other tough situations can either make or break a warrior.

Explosive ordnance disposal Airmen from Luke Air Force Base and Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, worked together at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, for war-zone scenario training Oct. 7 through 10.

The exercise began with a UH-60 helicopter dropping off the newest EOD Airmen to the Gila Bend training range.

"The primary mission of Operation Enduring Training is to provide insight into a deployed setting for our newest Airmen," said Staff Sgt. Michael Garrison, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD training coordinator. "Many of these Airmen haven't been to a war zone, so we created an environment where they were able to participate and learn."

The first day out at the range started off with a bang - literally.

With the teams working together, a main line of detonation cord branching off to 25 unique demolition shots was formed within 90 minutes. The ordnance used for this phase was semtex explosives, C-4 and basic sticks of dynamite set up for a wide range of explosive effects for learning purposes.

That afternoon the six teams spent three hours doing transition drills and learning combat training techniques. Eight targets were set up on a mountainside at distances of 50 to 400 meters to gain real-world experience on the ballistic drop of the rounds fired.

Later in the night as the teams were resting for the next day of operations, a round of simulated ground bursts were thrown around the camp to disturb their sleep and simulate the type of stress they would receive in a war zone.

After a restless night, the teams woke to pouring rain and began their operations without hesitation. Their operations consisted of four scenarios including a homemade explosives laboratory, a combat life-saving problem, a vehicle-born improvised explosive device problem and a passive infrared initiated directional fragmentation charge scenario.

"During these ops we focused on mounted operations," Garrison said. "Basically, the teams had to work from their vehicle, giving them more gear and options."

After the scenarios were completed the teams returned to camp to settle in and began resting for the next fully loaded day of operations. But the silence and relaxation lasted only for a few moments before the next round of simulated ground bursts were thrown into camp.

Once all the teams were awake, a few of the Airmen about to become team leaders were taken out for a night-time operations drill using night vision goggles.

"We hiked up a mountain toward the location where the simulated fire was coming from and found mounted rockets with suspicious characters around them," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Kim, 56th CES EOD technician. "The point of the exercise was to enhance team leader skills while gaining experience in clearing a suspected point of origin from an enemy attack."

During the last operations day the weather cleared up, giving the teams a morale boost. The teams hiked out and began their dismounted operations. At each location the teams were given scenarios and items to use to assess each training mission. This time, each team had to work with what they could carry on their backs while dealing with a direction-focused fragmentation charged ordnance cache in a cave on a mountain top, command wire improvised explosive device and a booby trapped IED.

After all the scenarios were completed, the six teams joined together and discussed the events of each day, sharing knowledge and techniques.

"Operation Enduring Training was extremely successful," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Alvarez, 56th CES EOD team leader. "Word on the street is that we provide the best and realistic training that our guys have gotten, and that goes from the most experienced Airmen all the way down to the least experienced. This type of training wouldn't have been possible without the Barry M. Goldwater Range. Their support made our training what it is today."

New 19th AF commander outlines way ahead

by Dianne Moffett
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- Maj. Gen. Michael A. Keltz formally becomes the 19th Air Force commander in a ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Oct. 24.

Keltz' assumption of command of the 19th Air Force, authorized Oct. 1, 2014, marks another milestone for Air Education and Training Command and its flying education and training program for the Air Force, other services, and the nation's allies.

In 2011, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley directed a cost-cutting reorganization of the Air Force and deactivated 19th AF and other numbered Air Forces by merging air operation centers.

Nineteenth Air Force's mission is to execute operational-level command and control of all formal aircrew flying training missions within AETC and provides world-class Airmen to the Combat Air Forces and Mobility Air Forces. The 19th AF provides operational control and administrative authority to support the training of world-class aircrews, air battle managers, weapons directors, Air Force Academy Airmanship programs, and survival, escape, resistance, and evasion, to sustain the combat capability of the United States Air Force.

Keltz said a major difference between this 19th AF and its predecessor is the addition of a permanent Reserve technician, Brig. Gen. Stephen "Fritz" Linsenmeyer, as the vice commander. Nineteenth Air Force will benefit from the leadership and capabilities of Linsenmeyer, who exemplifies the founding principles of the Air Force's Total Force concept.

In addition to a one-star vice commander, 19th AF will also have a command chief with an "outstanding track record" as former wing command chief at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, said Keltz.

"Chief Master Sgt. Robert Boyer is a tremendous guy," said Keltz. "He is a great mentor and has tremendous experience. As a dedicated chief for 19th AF, he can now help Chief Tapia [Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, AETC command chief] provide the Air Force with the best-educated and best-trained Airmen in the world."

While 19th AF utilizes experienced leadership to mentor junior leaders, it also implements emerging equipment and methodologies to instruct the next generation of trainees.

On leveraging new technology, the general said there are a number of advances to include electronic flight bags, tablets and digital media to enhance flying training, but the real advance involves high-fidelity simulator training.

"The quality of students is superior because of the high-fidelity simulators," Keltz said. "This allows the trainer to teach the tasks repetitively which are validated in the air. It's the ground-based training system that will make or break the next generation of pilots."

Another point the general makes about flying training technology is advancement on the future T-X, which he said will take the Air Force's flying training program even further.

"The T-38 is 1950's technology. It teaches pilots how to land century-series aircraft," said Keltz. "None of our tactical aircraft, such as the F-16, F-15 or the F-22, fly or land like that. The T-X training system will serve as the bridge from the T-6 Texan and produce pilots ready for fifth-generation fighters."

In addition, Keltz said the T-X trainer meets the full category range of flying training simulators, including simulation training for the F-35 Lightning II.

According to Keltz, approximately 50 to 75 women annually go through the recruiting sources at the Air Force Academy or Officer Training School but are denied the opportunity to fly because they are too short to operate the T-38.

"In the last 20 years, statistically speaking, that's 1,000 women who were exceptional leaders who could have made a significant impact," said Keltz. "We have zeroed-in on this issue, and are making strides in diversity in the Air Force.

"The new trainers will help prevent the elimination of almost 30 percent of female students," Keltz said. "Due to anthropometrics of not being able to meet rotor rudder pedals, the T-38 is just not suitable for all female student pilots."

Another advantage of the 19th AF is the Uniform Code of Military Justice authority that comes with "G" Series orders. Keltz said he can better advocate for the 16 flying training wings, which includes active, Air National Guard and Reserve wings, totaling more than 32,000 Airmen and 1,350 aircraft, and provide solid mentorship to young wing commanders.

"We tried the directed efficiencies two years ago. But when you have wing commanders and nothing in between them and a four-star commander, we found there was something missing," said Keltz.

The activation of 19th AF allows AETC flying wing commanders the ability to enforce non-judicial punishment or an Article 15 with the AETC vice commander as the appellate authority instead of the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Keltz said.

"The NAF reinforces proper oversight and relieves some of the dual-role responsibilities of the AETC commander," Keltz continued. "We can fully focus on the mission of flying training."

With a dedicated numbered Air Force like the 19th, AETC will provide mentorship, leadership, and first-class flying training to the next generation of aviators. The 19th AF will be a benchmark for all Airmen who want to receive exceptional pilot, aircrew and maintenance, combat systems operator, and RPA aircrew training, said Keltz.

RAF Mildenhall Airman makes a name for himself on X Factor UK

by Senior Airman Kate Maurer
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Young U.S. Air Force Airmen are stationed all over the world and when at their home station are usually given the freedom to be reclusive "dorm dwellers" or indulgent in the local community. One young Airman decided just eating local cuisine or making local friends wasn't enough - he wanted to be famous.

Airman 1st Class Charlie Martinez, 100th Force Support Squadron force management apprentice, tried out for and made it on the British television singing competition, X Factor United Kingdom.

The 20-year-old from Orlando, Florida, has only been in the Air Force for a year and as a force management apprentice he spends a lot of his time processing evaluations, awards, classifications and decorations for other Airmen - putting them in the spotlight.

"I love singing!" exclaimed the Florida native. "And I wanted to finally get my face out there."

He arrived at RAF Mildenhall in January 2014 and his X Factor journey began just months later in April. Although it started as pure amusement, Martinez realized that if he was ever going to take his singing from the shower to the stage, he would need to do something about it.

"It's a long process," Martinez said. "It's probably a lot longer of a process than most people think."

Being in the military, Martinez had to start his X Factor process by making sure that everything he was doing, could do and could say was in the best interest of the Air Force, so the first step was to receive approval and media training from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs before even trying out. He then received much higher clearance and more training as he made it farther and farther in the competition.

"I even had to sing for my commander before she would let me go," Martinez said referring to the former 100th FSS commander, Lt. Col. April Dwyer.

He added that the process involves performing a series of auditions before ever seeing the on-TV judges.

"I got past phase one, then two, then boot camp," Martinez said. "And before I knew it, I was in the top 15 males of the whole competition."

Martinez said he couldn't have done it without the Air Force's help, referring to what he has learned in his time serving. One thing he pointed out was his sense of professionalism.

"I mean, I called Simon 'sir,'" Martinez exclaimed. "No one does that! Then he said 'You don't have to call me sir' to which I automatically replied 'Yes sir.'"

The Air Force also taught him to be resilient and to be confident in his craft. He said that this was a stressful journey and he couldn't have stuck through it while still performing his duties as an Airman if it wasn't for his family, friends, coworkers and squadron leadership supporting him all the way.

"This experience definitely helped me get out of my comfort zone," added Martinez. "I just want to thank the Air Force for building me up."

Aside from the nerves brought on from singing in front of four famous judges, thousands of people and TV cameras, the Airman mentioned the British culture was probably his biggest challenge. He said everyone else there seemed to know what the audience and judges wanted to hear but when he read the list of songs available to him for what ended up being his last round, he had to choose one of the few that he even knew of - "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys. He was then voted off the show but kept a positive attitude.

"I know what I'm capable of, so it didn't stress me out too much," Martinez said. "It's just unfortunate that it's on TV."

Yet again he exercised his resilience, saying that he stayed humble throughout the whole experience and if it was meant to be, it would've been.

"Everyone falls at some point but you just have to pick yourself back up," Martinez said.

He says it'd be worth looking into trying out for Tops in Blue, an all-active duty USAF special unit of entertainers, so he can incorporate his love for singing and the Air Force.

The Airman went from serving his country to representing it as he obtained a multitude of social media followers and is still spoken about as the American Airman that beautifully sang Enrique Iglesias' Hero in Spanish at his audition.

"Like I said, I know what I'm capable of," Martinez said. "This is just the beginning."

Laughlin lieutenant saves life

by Joel Langton
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It was just another trip to Wal-Mart for 2nd Lt. Joshua Nelson when he popped in to grab some fish hooks for a family trip to the lake this past Spring. Little did he know that a quick shopping trip would turn into so much more.

The West Virginia Air National Guardsman was walking to the Hunting and Fishing section when he heard a woman say, "Stop, put it down!"

"I could tell she was stressed and she sounded frightened," said Nelson. "I looked into the aisle, and this young man had a knife to a woman's stomach."

According to police reports, the young man was mad at his mother, who he had a knife to, because she wouldn't buy him a gun.  Nelson told his wife Brittany to go alert the store manager and call the police.

Nelson, who has a concealed weapons permit stepped up beside the woman.

"I put my hand on my pistol where he'd notice, and then I stepped in between them," said Nelson. "I kept demanding he hand me the knife. I wanted him to see only one option. As I was standing beside that lady, I felt like I was responsible for her life. I was going to do whatever I had to do to protect her."

Then, according to the police report, Nelson went from trying to stop a murder to trying to stop a suicide when the assailant turned the knife on himself.

Nelson pointed to his training and the Air National Guard and previously in the Marine Corps as helping him talk the young man down.

By this time, several Wal-Mart employees had joined Nelson's effort. "When he handed me the knife, he turned like he was going to just leave," said Nelson. "We told him he needed to have a seat and wait for the police to arrive."

"It was the most surreal five minutes of my life while waiting for the police," said Nelson. He added that throughout the entire event, he was never scared.

"I just relied on all of the training I've had," he said.

This event was just another storied chapter in an almost Hollywoodesque life for Nelson. He's gone from working in coal mines, to the Marine Corps, back to the mines, and today, when he's not refining his flying skills, he serves in the West Virginia legislature as a delegate.

The former Liberty University student body president points to his grandfather for his love of flying and the Founding Fathers for his passion to serve his nation and state.

"My grandfather would take me up and let me steer his single engine airplane," said Nelson. "Today, every time I take off, I think about two things; one, my grandfather and two, I can't believe the Air Force is letting me do this."

He's trying to serve just like the Founding Fathers. "They set such a great example and I don't want to compare myself to them in the sense of their sacrifice and wisdom, but I do want to follow their example and serve however I can."

When Nelson graduates Oct. 24, he will be serving like the Founding Fathers never dreamed as he flies C-130s around the globe for the WVANG's 130th Airlift Wing.

Then and now: Olympic cyclist to marathon runner

by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/24/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- "Thousands of people stood in the stands, cameras flashed from every angle and people were screaming at the top of their lungs because it was the Olympics," he said. "I get goose bumps every time I think about standing in that line, anxious, but also nervous, waiting to compete.

"Then all I heard was: 'Representing Canada, Gianni Vignaduzzi,'" he said with a smile.

Gianni Vignaduzzi, 31st Security Forces Squadron operations liaison, was a cyclist in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games, in which he represented his home country, Canada.

Born in Montreal, Vignaduzzi's parents emigrated from Italy to find work. Growing up in Canada, Vignaduzzi tried his hand at hockey and other sports, but at the age of 14 he fully committed to cycling, following in his father's footsteps.

Showing the same passion his father once had for the sport as a competitive cyclist in Italy, Vignaduzzi joined a local cycling club and in 1984, competed in his first big cycling race, the Junior World Championships in France.

"The other sports helped me with my coordination, and ligaments, which made me become more flexible," he said. "It also didn't hurt that I obtained team spirit and a competitive edge as well."

Vignaduzzi's competitiveness and dedication in the junior division elevated him to the next level -- amateur. After competing in the 1987 Union Cyclist International Track World Championship, a competition that recognizes world champion cyclists, he was ranked 8th in the world as an amateur.

"My father told me how hard I had to work for this sport," he said. "There was a lot of time, dedication and commitment that went into my training that got me to 8th in the world."

Now ranked, Vignaduzzi was invited to represent his home in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Although his team did not place, he says the experience is what he will remember forever.

"For [my cycling team] the Olympics were just another world championship for us," he explained. "We had world championships every year, but the difference was the amount of exposure the Olympics brought us."

Vignaduzzi continued to race with a Canadian team as an amateur before signing a professional contract with an Italian team, a day after the 1992 Olympics. This kept him in Italy permanently.

After competing in the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) and Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland), but never reaching the Tour de France, he moved on. Still driven to compete, this time the competition is more against himself in a different sport - marathon running.

"Cycling is more against you and the rest of the pack, while marathon racing is you against yourself and the clock," he explained. "There are competitors in running marathons, but overall you are competing against yourself."

Now at the age of 48, the Italian-Canadian will soon reach his 20-year anniversary working at Aviano and continues to share his story with his fellow SFS Airmen, to remind them of the importance of their work.

"Keeping active as an Airman and knowing what to eat is very important to performing at your maximum level," the former Olympian said. "Remember that food is the fuel for your mind and body, and putting bad stuff into your body isn't helping."

Vignaduzzi says Aviano is a perfect location for people who want to exercise because it is a natural gym; it has hills, flats and high mountains where people can bike, run, hike or cycle.

"Don't always run on a treadmill, especially when you have a whole new culture to experience," he explained. "When I run, I see farmers plowing their land, beautiful houses, vineyards and locals going to get groceries on their bicycles. That keeps running interesting. It clears my mind and makes the run physically challenging while also, making it spiritually and mentally fitting for me."

While he always suggests running and cycling as a great way to keep active, Vignaduzzi also encourages those around him to make sure that whatever they do, make it something they are enthusiastic about.

"Like I said before, the greatest moment for me was representing my country," he said. "It took me eight years of training to represent for that one time, whereas for service members, they put on that uniform and get to represent their nation every day."

US and Philippine Seabees Further Cooperation



By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Lowell Whitman, 30th Naval Construction Regiment Public Affairs

PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- The 30th Naval Construction Regiment (30th NCR) hosted Navy Seabees from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during a bilateral exchange between the two naval construction forces Oct. 13-22.

Key Philippine Seabee leaders in attendance included AFP's Naval Construction Brigade commander, Commodore Elmer Carrillo, commanding officers of naval combat engineering brigades, and other staff.

The engagement encompassed a broad range of U.S. Naval Construction Force capabilities throughout California, showcasing assets from Naval Base Ventura County, Fort Hunter Liggett and San Diego. The Philippine Seabees attended briefs and went on tours of Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1, 30th NCR, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303, Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC), Civil Engineering Corps Officer Candidate School (CECOS), Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering (CSFE), Naval Facilities and Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Expeditionary Warfare Center (EXWC), and NAVFAC Southwest.

Members of NMCB 5 demonstrated their capabilities for the Philippine Seabees while conducting their field-training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett. Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 demonstrated offload of cargo and amphibious landings with the Improved Navy Landing System (INLS) during Exercise Pacific Horizon 2015 at Camp Pendleton.

"It opened up awareness among the staff on the possibilities of how to enhance the capabilities of the Seabees and how it can best be applied to amphibious operations and support the Marines, and of course other aspects that will further improve the functions of the Seabees," Capt. Benito Ante, director, Philippines Naval Safety Office, said of the exercise.

The visit saw its beginnings in 2012, during travels by Capt. Rodney Moore, former commanding officer of 30th NCR. Ante, brigade operations officer at the time, expressed an interest to Moore in continuing previous exchanges that occurred between the two engineering forces in 2004 and 2009.

"During [Exercise] Balikatan it is usually the enlisted men who engage the U.S. enlisted men," said Ante. "But, when officers are able to engage the staff, it enhances coordination, [and] will facilitate and expedite collaboration during bilateral activities."

Exercise Balikatan, meaning "shoulder-to-shoulder" in Tagalog, is an annual bilateral exercise involving members of the AFP and U.S. armed forces. Its goals are to develop crisis action planning, train, promote interoperability, and conduct joint humanitarian and disaster relief projects.

Beyond Balikatan however, 30th NCR has a presence in the Philippines year-round, with currently ongoing schoolhouse and Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development building projects on the island of Cebu (among others).

"The Philippines is a critical country for our strategic importance and we want to continue our key leader engagements so that when we operate in that theatre we have a great working relationship," said Cmdr. Roberto Alvarado, chief staff officer of 30th NCR.

Both Alvarado and Ante characterized the relationship between U.S. and Filipino Seabees as strong, amicable, and very open to discussion.

The 30th NCR provides operations control over naval engineering forces throughout the Pacific, Southwest Asia, and the western United States in response to combat commander and naval component commander requirements. They serve an integral part of the Naval Construction Force and accomplish major combat operations, theatre security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, disaster recovery, and phase zero requirements across the Pacific area of responsibility.