Saturday, April 25, 2015

Volley, set, match: McConnell Airman "set" to attend Air Force volleyball camp

by Senior Airman Colby L. Hardin
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Even at a young age, she knew that she belonged on the court.

Airman 1st Class Abby Neel, 384th Air Refueling Squadron commander's support staff, has been playing volleyball since she was in the sixth grade. Following in her sister's footsteps she knew that volleyball was the perfect way to put her 5'9 height to good use.

Neel, a Colorado Springs, Colorado native, was selected to attend the All-Air Force volleyball camp this upcoming May.

"I expect these tryouts to be very intense," said Neel. "I think they'll try to tear us down as physically and mentally as they can during the first couple of weeks."

Neel has always been one of the better players on the court when playing volleyball. After high school, she received an academic scholarship and invitation to play at Johnson and Wales University in Denver.

After joining Team McConnell in 2013, Neel has played intramural volleyball every season here on base. She also donates some of her free time to playing off base playing recreationally and coaching children's volleyball.

"I applied for the [Air Force] team last year but I wasn't chosen," Neel said. "The application form was very descriptive, I needed to provide statistics, references and tournaments that I've played in to show my experience. Luckily, this year my application looked a little better, and I was selected."

Even with the experience of playing most of her life, Neel knows that she is in for something she has never experienced before. Her soon to be coach, offered some advice to Neel.

"[She needs to] be physically and mentally prepared upon arrival," said Lani Kekahuna, Air Force women's volleyball team coach, in an email. "Leave work and home issues all behind, there is zero tolerance for 'me' players."

During the tryouts, the players will go through eight hour practices, five days a week, starting May 4 - 28. Approximately 12 Airmen were chosen to tryout for the 10 available slots on the team. After being selected for the team, they will move on to play against other military branches in Detroit, for the 2015 Armed Forces Women's Volleyball Championship.

22nd MDG mighty medics participate in Ultimate Caduceus 15

by Senior Airman Trevor Rhynes
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Members of the 22nd Medical Group, and units from across the U.S., participated in Ultimate Caduceus 2015, giving them the opportunity to conduct aeromedical evacuation training, April 16 - 18, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Louisiana Air National Guard hosted the exercise, which involved evacuating more than 200 dummies, people and simulated patients via a C-130 Super Hercules in the event of a hurricane.

"It was a hurricane evacuation exercise, so we practiced evacuating patients from local hospitals to areas like Arkansas, Oklahoma and other inland areas," said Tech. Sgt. Monique Roberts, 22nd MDG unit deployment manager. "They were being brought from local hospitals and were staged in a disaster area staging facility while they awaited transportation from an aeromedical evacuation crew on a C-130. We staged them, tracked all relevant information through our tracking database, then brought them to safer locations."

Roberts left the training having seen exactly what happens after a request for transport is submitted.

"I haven't seen what happens after I build the request to move a patient out of a disaster-stricken area," Roberts said. "I know how to request getting someone evacuated, but now that I've been there, I know how the mission to evacuate them gets put together."

For one member of the team of eight, it was his first experience performing his job at different location.

"It was the first time I had ever been (on a temporary duty) so it was a really cool experience for me," said Senior Airman Justin Hilty, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace medical technician. "I get a lot of training here, but I don't always get to put it into practice. I got to use litter carrying experience and load someone into the back of a C-130, which I had never done before."

In groups of 20, patients were dropped off in ambulances or busses, then were processed through a tracking database and, when available, sent off to a different location.

"My favorite part was being in the middle of everything," Hilty said. "Having the busses drop off 20 patients at a time and having six to eight people there, ready to help get the patient where they needed to go. It felt good figuring everything out. It moved nicely."

Roberts said this exercise was very beneficial and that it will help set up additional training exercise in May.

"It was good to see this exercise because next month we'll be participating in training where we'll be receiving patients that were evacuated out of an area," Roberts said. "It was interesting to see what happens on the front end of an evacuation since we'll be doing the back end work soon."

McConnell leader earns prestigious award

by Airman 1st Class Tara Fadenrecht
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- A McConnell Airman recently won the 2014 Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award.

Lt. Col. Stephen Matthews, 22nd Operations Group deputy commander, received the prestigious award for demonstrating excellence in leadership during his time as the 349th Air Refueling Squadron commander.

The award is named after Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Air Force Capt. Lance P. Sijan, a fighter pilot who evaded the North Vietnamese for six weeks after being shot down in November 1967. He was later captured and died as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The award recognizes the accomplishments of officers and enlisted members who have demonstrated the highest quality of leadership in the performance of their duties and personal lives.

"He's a completely selfless leader," said Col. Jennifer Uptmor, 22nd OG commander. "His attention to the core values that the Air Force embodies; service before self, excellence in all you do, those were the things I first noticed about him."

As the 349th ARS commander, Matthews directed 344 overseas contingency operations, 241 higher headquarters missions and helped lead his team to numerous wing and group-level award wins.

Matthews credits the leaders he's had in his life for helping him get where he is now.

"Everybody from parents and friends to coworkers and mentors [has impacted me]," he said. "I think back to a lot of the squadron and flight commanders I had when I was younger. I can never pay them back for some of the opportunities they gave me, but I can pay it forward."

It's that very philosophy that keeps him motivated to be the best leader possible every day.

"For me, it's about growing people and helping them become more than they think they can be," said Matthews. "It's about helping folks remember that we serve something bigger than ourselves."

Netting keeps birds away from flightline, aircraft

by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Out of all the bird strikes that occurred at Scott Air Force Base last year, 24 percent of them involved cliff and barn swallow birds.

The United States Department of Agriculture partnered with the 375th Safety Office April 15 to cover the bridges on the flightline with netting to deter birds, specifically cliff swallows, from making the area underneath the bridges on the flightline their nests.

Kevin Wedemeyer, USDA Wildlife Specialist, said, "The main focus is to mitigate wildlife hazards to aviation and to protect the airport and the aircraft from wildlife strike hazards."

A bird strike is an aircraft collision with a bird that can cause some type of damage. It can cause aircraft to abort a landing or a takeoff, and in severe cases it can cause an aircraft to crash and harm people.

USDA members along with Airmen from the 375th Safety Office and the Air Traffic Control Tower assisted in the wildlife exclusion. Netting covered underneath the entire bridge. During the process more than 20 people held down the net in place while it is was being properly secured.

Wedemeyer said, "Putting the netting up in that area will keep them from that area to nest, and hopefully they will relocate somewhere else off the airfield and reduce the risk that they present."

The strikes from these birds caused a large amount of time and manning to inspect the aircraft for damages and related issues.

The USDA also provides other forms of wildlife exclusion and habitat modification to eliminate any conflicts between Scott and the wildlife. USDA is here to keep people, animals, and the Air Force's assets protected and safe.

Another project the USDA is planning to work on in the future is to mitigate the thousands of black birds that fly through this area every fall and spring season. These birds cause aircraft to operate with restricted schedules. They are working to eliminate the roost that is located a few miles south of Scott. If that happens successfully then the risk that they have to the aircraft will be reduced significantly.

USSTRATCOM Commander observes Buckley's capabilities, engages service members

by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski
460 Space Wing Public Affairs

4/21/2015 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, visited Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., April 20, to view firsthand the missile warning mission for which the base is recognized.

Haney toured Buckley AFB's facilities and observed their missile warning operations. He also held an all hands call, where he emphasized the importance of their role in overcoming current and future strategic challenges and took questions from Team Buckley members.

"You are a big part of my war fighting mission," said Haney. "You're a big part of my ability to prevent, detect, and deter a strategic attack against the United States of America or our Allies."

Col. Michael L. Jackson, 460th Operations Group Commander, saw Admiral Haney's visit to Buckley as an exceptional opportunity for the base to showcase its capabilities.

"Admiral Haney is an absolute pro at space capabilities across the board," stated Jackson. "He's our nation's leader for space capabilities. For him to come here is an incredible opportunity for him to see what our wonderful professionals in the space arena are doing. This mission is one of the most important missions in his entire portfolio, if not the most important mission."

Jackson also explained how an opportunity to directly interact with the USSTRATCOM commander is valuable for Airmen and leaders alike.

"We get to directly explain to him the wonderful mission we do, the manner in which we do it, the challenges we overcome every single day and the partnerships we rely upon every single day to get this incredible mission of missile warning done," said Jackson.

50 SW earns Omaha Trophy

by Senior Airman Naomi Griego
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Admiral Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander, presented the 2014 Omaha Trophy to the 50th Space Wing for their distinct and outstanding contributions to global operations April 21, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

This is the third time in five years the wing has received the award. Not too shabby of a record to say the least, considering the award's magnitude.

"You should know and appreciate how important the [Schriever] missions are to the mission of USSTRATCOM and to the United States of America," said Haney. "We depend on space to such a big degree in our ability to operate all around the globe."

Haney expressed his gratitude towards the wing's ability to provide assured access to and assured capabilities within the space domain.

"My message to you is keep up the momentum, keeping in mind just how far we still must go," said Haney. "Know how thankful I am that you are on the team."

Col. Bill Liquori, 50 SW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Lavon Coles, 50 SW command chief, received the award on behalf of the wing, and acknowledged the need to continue being high speed.

"Thank you for coming out here, not only to present us with this trophy, but to spend the day with us," said Liquori. "On behalf of this team, we are proud to be honored with this trophy. And we will remember to keep on running."

The Omaha Trophy, which dates back to 1971, celebrates USSTRATCOM's premier intercontinental ballistic missile wing, ballistic missile submarine, strategic airlift wing and global operations (space/ cyberspace) unit. Those who are recognized demonstrated the highest standards of performance in support of USSTRATCOM's diverse missions.

Wolf Pack Airmen dedicate community garden

by Tech. Sgt. George Maddon
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Wolf Pack members added the final touches to the Wolf Pack Garden with a grand opening  ceremony in front of the Sonlight Inn April 22.

Volunteers have been steadily working on the garden since March 14, with the official dedication ceremony culminating their efforts with an official ribbon cutting and planting the garden's first fruits and vegetables. "We originally planned to open the garden before Earth Day," said Lt. Col. Dwayne "Shepherd" Jones, 8th Fighter Wing chaplain. "When we realized that Earth Day was just around the corner, we decided to postpone the official opening because it would be more meaningful to do it that day."

The first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, saw the participation of 20 million Americans from all walks of life, and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement.  Forty-five years later, more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

"I think Earth Day is really symbolic," said Shepherd. "We, as stewards of the Earth, are planting and giving life and creating great opportunities for the Wolf Pack."

Before the idea of having a Wolf Pack Garden sprung to life, a small 5-by-5-foot enclosed area containing a few herbs sat in front of the Sonlight Inn. After the addition of two 13-foot expansions with a base of gravel and soil, the garden now fits over 150 plants.

"It started just as a small square box in the middle and now we have something that looks real nice," said Capt. Jordan Kieliszewski, 8th Medical Operation Squadron mental health element chief. "I'm pleased with how it looks and the help and support that we have received.  A lot of people over the last month have contributed so much to make this happen."

Komang Goins, Kunsan's Sonlight Inn director, coordinated volunteers to start the garden and will also organize helpers to maintain it.

"We need to focus on the next steps," said Goins. "About every two weeks we'll have to coordinate to have people tend the garden by weeding, watering and preparing for the harvest in the fall."

Although there is more to be done, the work accomplished so far has caught the eyes of many on base.

"People have passed by the garden and I've been watching and waiting for it to come to this moment," said Shepherd. "The Wolf Pack can see life growing and what we, as a community, have done.  It's very therapeutic and it's contagious in promoting healthy living."

Tech. Sgt. Crystal Ballard, 8th FW command chief executive assistant, agreed that gardening is relaxing, but has even more meaning at Kunsan.

"Events like this are great because it allows the Wolf Pack to come together and be a part of something bigger than themselves," said Ballard. "It also fosters teamwork and creativity."

The community garden was spurred by Bill Goins, 8th MDOS health promotion program coordinator, who proposed it as an initiative to promote healthy eating at the Wolf Pack.

"It has been a long journey to see this project come to fruition," said Goins. "It is very satisfying to receive the support that we have seen, and I just hope it adds another layer of improved resilience for Airmen at Kunsan."

If you would like to take part in helping build Wolf Pack Garden, contact the 8th FW Chapel at 782-4300.

Australians and Americans work together to deliver the mission

by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Scott Air Force Base Airmen recently worked hand-in-hand with the Royal Australian Air Force from the 36th Squadron, Brisbane, Australia, to deliver support equipment for Australian troops operating in the Middle East.

Prior to the Australians arriving, the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron received the tasking from the 618th Air Operations Center (TACC) a week in advance of their arrival and immediately got to work manifesting and inspecting the cargo.

RAAF Flight Lt. Nick Tickner, 36th Squadron C-17 pilot, said, "The equipment that we're taking always makes a big contribution to the operations out in the Middle East. Whatever equipment that we need is usually a very high priority."

Staff Sgt. Mark Tully, 375th LRS Air Transportation Journeyman, said, "This was the smoothest process I've seen. We came together as a joint force and managed to keep the mission going."

The 375th LRS ensured that the equipment was ready to be used down range and were able to load the cargo as soon as the Australian C-17 landed.

Corporal Keely McDonald, RAAF 36 Squadron C-17 Flight Attendant, said, "We work together so often that we seem to work well as a team, which helps us with other operations as well. I think our bond is pretty strong."

Tickner also affirms the coalition and said, "We have a close-knit working relationship with the U.S. and a great interoperability capability between our two countries."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Face of Defense: Aircraft Maintainer Saves Air Force $5 Million

By By Air Force Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle
99th Air Base Wing

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev., April 24, 2015 – Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dennis Hertlein is an avionics, electro-environmental and propulsions systems expert. But he’s not your average specialist flight expediter -- his expertise has saved the Air Force $5 million.

Hertlein, assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, worked with teams to complete modifications and upgrades to Nellis Air Force Base’s F-16 fleet locally, rather than having to send them to a depot. The idea decreases costs and increases aircraft availability.

Specifically, he helped upgrade five F-16s with an advanced electronic countermeasure system. Hertlein also aided in developing the Tulsa [Oklahoma] Air National Guard [Base’s] identification friend-or-foe system upgrades and helped identify an engineering error during electronic warfare management system modifications on 22 Ohio Air National Guard F-16s.

“I went TDY out to Toledo, Ohio, to see how the Ohio Air National Guard performed their upgrades and use the lessons learned for out upgrades here,” Hertlein explained. “The Tulsa ANG came here TDY to assist us with our upgrades. We worked with their personnel to ensure that our modifications went smoothly.”

Attention to Detail

After the upgrade, there are still three separate systems -- threat warning, jamming and electronic countermeasures -- but now have one centralized control. Hertlein said threat detection was increased by 80 percent, due to the easier user interface of the centralized control.

“We worked hand-in-hand with engineers from Hill Air Force Base [Utah] while modifying the jets,” Hertlein said. “While going over wiring schematics, we noticed that two wires were going to interfere with an upcoming upgrade, and it needed to get sorted out.”

Hertlein’s attention to detail prevented future system failures stemming from the interference caused by the wires.

Hertlein insists he was just doing his job.

“The upgrades come in a packet that tells us what to do,” he said. “The engineers will do it on one jet, [and] then they give us instructions on how to do it. A lot of it is just learned over time through experience and working with it constantly.”

Technical Expertise

Hertlein’s former supervisor, Air Force Master Sgt. Maximilliano Heredia, said he was impressed by Hertlein’s meticulous work ethic.

“He didn’t need too much encouragement,” Heredia said of Hertlein. “You have to know your people’s strengths and weaknesses. I knew he would be perfect for the job. The entire documentation of the modification was error-free, from aircraft forms to the maintenance databases.

“He’s a hard-driven NCO who drives his airmen as hard as he drives himself to get the mission done,” Heredia continued. “His attention to detail and technical expertise is what sets him apart from his peers.”

Heredia also said he encourages airmen with potentially great ideas to not be afraid to come forward with them and to chase their ideas down, just as Hertlein has done.

AF Aid Society helps Airman overcome

by 1st Lt Alicia Wallace
45th Space Wing

4/24/2015 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Staff Sgt. Kevin Waters, 45th Civil Engineer fuels and water maintenance technician, was faced with a difficult situation that anyone could find themselves in just this past year.

He was returning to Florida after a family vacation in Texas with his wife, his 3-year-old and 8-month-old sons.
"We generally only plan a vacation financially for once a year," said Waters. "One week after returning to the base, we were notified that my wife's mother had passed away."

Waters' mother-in-law had been battling a few terminal medical conditions for the past five years, and every year they had made an effort to visit her when they took their family vacations to Texas. Waters and his wife have known each other since grade school, and the loss of his mother-in-law hit him hard.

"This past year, we weren't able to see her due to a scheduling conflict; and when we heard the news, I knew I would be taking my entire family back to Texas so we could do a ceremony," he said.

Waters immediately started researching options to pay for the trip back to Texas as well as seek out ways to pay for his wife's sibling's travel fees to attend the ceremony from Wisconsin and California.

"I considered the Falcon Loan, but I was doing my best not to accrue more debt. The Air Force Aid Society gave me a grant. It helped relieve so much of stress I was already feeling," said Waters.

The Air Force Aid Society, one of the programs sponsored by Air Force Assistance Fund, paid for Water's travel, food and lodging fees. Additionally, the first sergeant's council provided financial assistance and his squadron put together a money pool.
"If anyone is ever in the same situation I was in, I recommend they take the same steps. They should notify their shop lead, superintendent or rater, and then speak with their first sergeant. The first sergeant has a list of agencies that are able to assist you," said Waters.

The Air Force Aid Society provides emergency assistance as well as educational grants and programs that support spouses and provide childcare. All active duty and retired military Air Force, Air Nation Guard and Reserve on extended active duty orders over 15 days, and spouses and dependent age children of deceased Air Force personnel are eligible. Airmen and eligible family members may apply online or in person at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

"I am so grateful for all the support I received from AF Aid Society and the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron. I don't think I could have made it through this hard time without them," he said.

Always Ready

by Senior Airman Sean D. Smith
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

4/21/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 5th Bomb Wing's mission of nuclear deterrence is fundamentally built on readiness -- the capability to deploy assets quickly and effectively if the need arises. One means of measuring the wing's readiness is the on-time takeoff rate.

"In March, our on-time takeoff rate was 85 percent," said Capt. Michael Taddy, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer. "That's the kind of rate that we expect to see in the summer months. Common sense can tell you that this job is much harder when it's cold, so those numbers in winter are really strong."

Readiness is only achievable through the efforts of dozens of units, and effective synergy between those units is key to good exceptional performance.

"You hear stories about disagreements and people not talking to each other, but you don't have that here at Minot," said Maj. Thomas Witkowski, 23rd Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations. "People get each other what they need."

"This is one of the best working relationships that I've seen between maintenance and operations," Taddy said. "And it doesn't stop there. Flyers and maintainers, the Logistics Readiness Squadron, fuels - different units and squadrons, one team. People work together."

He also credits the wing's Flying Hour Program with helping to optimize operations.

"We changed our schedule a little bit," Taddy said. "Allowing us to get to the jets sooner and have them ready for the next sortie."

One key to great performance in winter is working around the environment, or if circumstances demand it, falling back on raw fortitude.

"There are times when we have to deal with the elements," said Master Sgt. Joel Hoeffner, 5th Munitions Squadron armament flight chief. "That can be challenging sometimes with older equipment, but our Airmen are dedicated, and they always persevere regardless."

"There are certain thresholds of cold that can affect our ability to do our job," Taddy said. "If you can't have your hands on the aircraft, you can't fix the aircraft. We've been able to overcome that. It takes a certain caliber of Airman to be out there in negative 32 degrees."

The theater of nuclear deterrence is an intrinsically high-stakes environment; the driving force that motivates the 5th is the gravity of the mission.

"Without the deterrent mission, the world would be a much more dangerous place," Witkowski said. "We're here to keep us or anyone else from having to employ these weapons. If the day does come, then nothing's more important than being prepared."

Recent months have shown that the wing's evolving strategy of readiness is working, measured by dropping attrition rates. Attrition is the result of unforeseen circumstances that can reduce the number of sorties flown.

"In February it was 5.1 percent attrition," Taddy said. "Historically it's around 17 percent. We're much more focused and efficient."

Witkowski believes mission performance comes from healthy and positive units.

"We have a really good set of commanders," he said. "And they're creating a tremendous environment. It feels like a good place to be."

Taddy credits the efforts of the men and women doing the job, regardless of the weather.

"Number one is always the people," he said. "That's always going to be number one."

Troops conduct biannual 'ammo barge' mission

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Twice a year, millions of pounds of explosives and ammunition travel north through Pacific waters in a biannual migration designed to resupply military installations across Alaska.

"The ammo barge" is the casual term for it; but there is nothing lackadaisical about the attitudes of the service members in charge of making this operation happen.
"It supplies all the munitions from the pistols the gate guards use at the gates to the precision-guided missiles the F-22's fly around with," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Dunlavey, a munitions stock control manager with the 477th Maintenance Squadron.

They are equipping a state larger than most countries, and more than twice the size of Texas, with enough ammunition to defend its soil and its citizens. What's more, they only have two shots a year to do it.

This year, the ammunition shipment began arriving April 15. Nine trucks toting 21 containers of ammunition - weighing between 20,000 and 40,000 pounds - will arrive on base, said Tech. Sgt. Jessica Evenson, noncommissioned officer in charge of munitions accountability for the 3rd Munitions Squadron.

The operation also supplies Fort Richardson, Fort Wainwright, Eielson Air Force Base, and Air Station Kodiak with the munitions they need; more than 200 containers total.

The force driving the logistical muscle needed to resupply units with this much ammo is actually quite small - the expenditure report.

"Expenditure reports come from each individual unit that uses them around base," said Dunlavey. "As soon as they expend munitions, they have two days to get with us to show exactly how much they [used]."

Based on those expenditure reports, allocations are set up for the various units around base, Evenson said.

"We check all of our accounts and see what their allocations are for the next two to three fiscal years," Evenson said. "We compare that with their past expenditure rates. If they've only expended 30 percent, then we won't order as much, since we can support the mission with our assets on hand."

"We work with units all over base to make sure the assets they have recorded are still correct," Evenson said.

Dunlavey, Evenson and their colleagues amass these reports over the years, and when it comes time to order a new ammunition shipment, they track how much each unit has actually expended over a five-year period before placing their order.

"The barge is a bit larger this year than it has been in the past, because we are not only receiving new ammunition," Evenson said. "We are also exporting any unserviceable assets we have taking up room in our stockpile."

Many of the assets on the C-17 Globemaster IIIs and F-22 Raptors can expire.

When they do, new assets are provided, and the expired ones are sent to facilities in the Lower 48 to be refurbished or disposed of properly, Evenson said.

"We have three [shipping containers] worth of outbound munitions this time," Evenson said. "That was several munitions shipments we needed to send through the transportation management office channels so they could accomplish their mission before the munitions leave this base."

"It's always tense when you get a lot of units together like this," Dunlavey said. "It's always a big deal; the wing commander knows about it, so we always have a lot of visitors.

"But it's our time to shine."

When the barge arrives in port at Valdez, the containers are offloaded and shipped to either JBER or Eielson Air Force Base.

Upon arriving at the destination base, the trucks are checked in by security forces, transportation management, and munitions personnel.

"When they pull up to the gate, we have accountability Airmen and transportation management Airmen waiting with security forces," Dunlavey said. "TMO has to inspect the seals on the containers to make sure there's been no tampering with the trucks."

Then the trucks are escorted to the bomb dump and unloaded by contracted forklift operators as Airmen congregate at a safe distance, waiting to open the containers.

"Then our munitions inspection personnel take over and they rip out the innards of the [container]," Dunlavey said. "Such as high explosive bombs, egress items, small arms, flares, etc."

The group of Airmen standing by with bolt cutters, power tools, and crowbars is suddenly gone, replaced by the sound of creaking seals, cracking wood, and the clamor of forklifts.

"Then they are inspected, and if they pass," Dunlavey said. "They are stored [for] all of our accounts on base to use."

Behind every bomb, every rifle, and every detonator, there is a munitions person; there's no such thing as a one-click purchase when dealing with high explosives.

"It doesn't matter how many guns or how much aircraft we have on base," Evenson said. "If we don't have any munitions, nobody is going to be able to accomplish their mission."

Last MC-130P Combat Shadows in Pacific retire

by Airman 1st Class Stephen G. Eigel
18th Wing Public Affairs

4/22/2015 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- The 17th Special Operations Squadron sent off the final two MC-130P Combat Shadows in the Pacific Air Forces to retire April 15 here.

The 17th SOS highlighted the beginning of the MC-130P Combat Shadow retirement with one final formation flight on Oct. 16, 2014 at Kadena but now they have sent their last ones to the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

"Today is bittersweet as we say goodbye to these amazing aircraft," said Lt. Col. Nathan T. Colunga, 17th Special Operations Squadron navigator and commander. "I have spent less time in the MC-130P than most, only 11 years, but these aircraft have executed every time we've truly needed them to over the last 50.  The MC-130P's legacy will not be forgotten as we mark this historic moment in the lineage of the 17th SOS, Air Force Special Operations Command and the Combat Shadow community at large."

The Pacific-based Combat Shadows alone have supported more than a dozen named operations. From combat missions in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom to humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations across Asia, the Combat Shadow left its mark in special operations history.

"I have flown in the MC-130P since 2000, and it has taken me to all corners of the globe in peacetime and in combat," said Maj. Curtis P. Reinhart, 17th SOS navigator. "The Combat Shadow has been the workhorse of AFSOC and it will be emotional flying it to its final resting place.  I'll be sad to see it go, but it has earned a well-deserved retirement."

From providing helicopter air-to-air refueling to conducting long-range support of Special Operations Forces, the MC-130P Combat Shadow has provided a critical service to the U.S. military for nearly 50 years.

The MC-130P Combat Shadows built with 1960s technology are being replaced by the new MC-130J Commando II with cutting edge technology.

Drinks, dialogue: Encouraging respect through discussion

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- More than 50 Airmen attended Drinks and Dialogue, an open forum aimed at encouraging honest communication and respect amongst Wolf Pack members here April 18.

Created and hosted by Staff Sgt. Brandi Howard, 8th Medical Operations Squadron ambulance services technician, the quarterly event provides Airmen an opportunity to give feedback in a retribution-free environment, covering a wide range of topics including sexual assault, domestic abuse, relationships and culture.

"I wanted to break down the barriers of conversation by having a guided discussion to help foster a more respectful environment," Howard said. "Having events like this benefits us at Kunsan because we're in such a small environment here, and yet we still don't really talk. We may converse with our friends and our coworkers, but sometimes it's hard to be honest with the people we're closest with."

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Johnson, 8th Medical Support Squadron Tricare operations and patient administration flight chief and Drinks and Dialogue co-host, said many Airmen at Kunsan can benefit from attending events that value and encourage sincere feedback and interaction amongst attendees.

"There will always be differences, but it's important to address different issues and listen to one another without judgment because we can utilize these skills in and outside of work," Johnson said. "This specially applies to Airmen of the Wolf Pack as we are all in a foreign country with a different culture than what we're used to."

In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the candid forum was also an opportunity for the Kunsan Sexual Assault Theater Group to promote awareness and prevention through acted-out skits demonstrating realistic scenarios, including domestic abuse involving a married couple, sexual assault involving alcohol and work-place sexual assault.

"This voluntary event asks people to talk about things most people aren't comfortable talking about in a formal setting," said Capt. Claudia Santos, 8th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "Here, Airmen have the chance to discuss topics that are in the back of their minds, but are rarely addressed directly, as well as see and react to existing issues involving sexual assault and domestic abuse as acted out by the Kunsan Sexual Assault Theater Group."

Aimed at not only demonstrating how assaults can occur, but also eliciting emotions from the crowd, the performances tied into additional discussions on personal relationships at home and in the work place.

"Being open with each other and having conversations like this is crucial in creating a climate of dignity and respect, whether it be here at Kunsan or within society at large," said 1st Lt. Earon Brown, 8th Fighter Wing deputy chief of public affairs and alternate SARC. "We're all different people with different backgrounds, and bringing everything to the table is another way we can address beliefs and perceptions that can lead to misunderstandings, abuse or sexual assault. At the end of the day, talking honestly with one another can go a long way."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SFC Ron Albert: Officially the safest NCO in USARAK

by Capt. Richard Packer
2d Engineer Brigade PAO

4/23/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Sgt. 1st Class Ron Albert is the 2014 winner of the Director of Army Safety Risk Management Award.

A member of U.S. Army Alaska's 2d Engineer Brigade, Albert recently returned from deployment to Afghanistan with his brigade headquarters.
That is where he showed his safety mettle as a construction manager on Bagram Airfield.

With the assembly of more than 3,000 wooden buildings and other temporary structures over 13 years of continuous conflict, Bagram Airfield was likened to a "Frankenstein" by top commanders due to the way it had been pieced together over the course of the war.

In preparation for the Resolute Support mission and the right-sizing of International Security Assistance Forces - Afghanistan's largest base, the engineers on Bagram were under tremendous pressure to tear down wooden barracks, offices, gazebos, patios and most other wooden structures.

Everything demolished by military engineers saved America the cost of paying contractors to do the work later.

With this pressure to work swiftly came the added risk of accidents and injury.

"Engaged leaders are the key to reducing our most prevalent cause of Army mishaps - human error," said Ron Andree, the U.S. Army Alaska safety manager who deployed with the brigade and submitted Albert for the award.

This is where Albert proved his safety value and expertise.

He was responsible for overseeing site safety and adherence to standards for thousands of deconstruction projects.

He supervised the safety of vertical and horizontal deconstruction projects for five modular Army Reserve and National Guard engineer construction companies.

The main effort was deconstruction using heavy machinery and hand tools - work which is commonly associated with higher risk for personal injuries.
"On the average day we'd have approximately 22 deconstruction sites being worked by about 180 Soldiers. They were operating cranes, excavators, loaders, tractor-trailers, dump trucks; all kinds of heavy machinery," Andree said.

"They were tearing down buildings, massive tension fabric structure tents, earth-filled barriers and moving concrete T-walls and bunkers to better protect coalition forces from enemy attacks," he said.

Every project was different. Each one had to be individually evaluated for whether heavy equipment could be maneuvered through areas congested by buildings to expedite the deconstruction or whether the project would be done by hand.

"I've been in the Army for 23 years and deployed five times. I've always been around construction equipment. With these heavy machines, if Soldiers aren't careful then it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt," Albert said. "I believe every accident is preventable. If safety is a priority, if leaders are engaged in having proper techniques and procedures in place, then any accident can be prevented."

For Albert, taking care of Soldiers is the best job in the Army.

According to his philosophy, leadership doesn't happen from behind a desk.

He said he believes if Soldiers are out working in the heat, dust and grime, then those directly responsible for their safety should be out there with them.

"Teaching and training younger NCOs is the most important part of a good safety program," Albert said. "The first-line supervisors, the leaders on the ground working beside Soldiers, they are the ones who are going to enforce standards, make sure Soldiers are wearing their protective equipment and are following the safety procedures set by commanders."

Albert has seen many Soldiers hurt throughout his career because someone cut corners by neglecting safety standards.

He said he believes in the Army's risk management program and knows it can save lives when properly applied to operations.

"Risk assessments are just a piece of paper if they aren't followed and enforced. That's how people get injured," Albert said. "I wasn't going to let that happen on my worksites. Our unit made safety a priority at every level and went the whole deployment without having any serious injuries. That's all the proof I need that risk management works."

Albert has not yet been officially presented the award. Director of Army Safety, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Farnsworth, expressed his interest in flying to Alaska to give the plaque to Albert personally.

JBER Airman named Alaska bodybuilding champion

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Clink, clink, clink.

Marble falls to the floor as the sound of hammer on chisel reverberates through an empty room, empty except for the artist, his tools and his masterpiece. He takes a step back to analyze his creation with critical eye. He's been working on this project for years. To the outside world, it appears flawless. To him, it's nowhere near ready. He's pressed for time. There is a showing in the next few days. This will have to do for now. He hopes it is good enough.

Such was the mindset of Airman 1st Class James Jones, 673d Communications Squadron cyber systems operator, as the days drew closer to his first ever bodybuilding contest: The 2015 National Physique Committee Alaska State Championships on April 4. He spent more than a year preparing, chiseling at his physique slowly but surely every day. Hundreds of hours in the gym, a diet that would drive many people insane and an entire lifestyle designed to push his body to its maximum potential, would be validated or destroyed by a panel of judges when all his hard work was unveiled under bright stage lights.

Cue the lights and the music. Jones went through mandatory pose after mandatory pose as his body was critiqued. A panel of judges examined his work and compared it to his competitors, looking for the slightest flaw. The result was not only a first place clear-cut victory in his middleweight class, but a landslide victory in the overall men's category, becoming the youngest person in the contest's history to win the title and only the second ever to win it in his first try.

In competitive bodybuilding, contestants' physiques are judged on size, shape, symmetry and definition. For many top-tier bodybuilders, their champion physiques are built through years, often decades, of work. Many are in their early to mid-30s. Standing 5 feet, 7 inches and weighing 165 pounds at 21 years old, Jones was just hoping for a high placing in his first-ever competition. He got that and then some.

"I hit all my mandatory poses and then we waited for the judges to tabulate their scores," Jones said. "My heart was pounding. Of course, it seems like they drag out the announcement forever. Then, I heard my name called, that was amazing! All the time and money I put into this ... it let me know everything I put into this was all worth it. It was one of the best feelings in the world."

With more than a year's worth of work culminating in a few brief moments on a stage, Jones was not without worry or retrospection. Did he do everything he could have to create the best possible version of himself?

"When I saw the other competitors, I realized many of them were a lot bigger than me," Jones said. "I was a little worried. I felt they could win on sheer size alone. However, the biggest guy can be big, but if he isn't lean it does him no good. You also have to be lean and symmetrical. I knew I had good proportion, and thankfully it resulted in a win."

Jones said when people view his contest photos, he is humbled by the praise. He is often asked "How can I look like that?" However, few people are prepared for his answer. The hundreds of hours in the gym is the easy part. The hard part comes in the thousands of hours spent outside the gym.
Bodybuilders typically structure their year in two seasons: offseason and competition or "cutting" season. The offseason is spent bulking and competition season is spent trimming down. Just as in sculpting, it is better to start with too much material than not enough.

For Jones, a typical offseason day sees him rise at 2 a.m. to drink a protein shake, before going back to bed. He sleeps until 5 a.m. Breakfast follows as soon as he awakes. It's the first of six meals, not counting his shake, which he'll eat.

"Right now, I'm eating 350 grams of protein a day and 400 to 500 carbs," Jones said. "I eat every two to three hours. That's a very difficult thing to do. You spend time preparing all that food. You spend time eating all that food. You're carrying Tupperware containers of food everywhere you go."
Jones said another common question he gets is, "Hey, what supplements do you take?"

"I don't mind sharing that with people, but even if I tell you, supplements only represent a very small percentage of what you're going to need to do to be successful. You still have to eat the right food in the right amounts to make gains in the gym."

Jones said the hardest part of bodybuilding is the long-term rigid discipline the sport demands.

"The biggest challenge is consistency," Jones said. "You have to eat your meals every day. You can't skip a meal. If you skip one, it's going to show. Starting a year out, I knew I had to get every training session and every meal in. If I lost, I didn't want it to be because of something I could have prevented through discipline."

According to Jones' coach and trainer, George Hartley, Jones' ability to discipline himself sets him apart from many competitors.

"James is driven beyond his years and has an exemplary work ethic," Hartley said. "I believe his time in the service has helped him mature in ways other men his age don't have until their thirties in the civilian world. He understands bodybuilding is a lifestyle and becoming a great bodybuilder is something that takes years of training and discipline."

Jones shared that while he is self-motivated and possesses tremendous drive, he wouldn't be able to do it without two secret weapons in his bodybuilding arsenal: his personal faith and his family life.

"One of the main reasons I was able to accomplish my goals of competing was because of my faith in God and amazing support from my wife, Emily," Jones said. "She helped me cook my meals when I was physically drained and provided constant motivation throughout the final weeks, letting me know 'It's almost over.'"

The discipline and attention to detail Jones exhibits in his personal life has a direct correlation with his workplace performance, where his leadership recognizes him as a leader among his peers.

"His level of professionalism is top-notch and unsurpassed," said Master Sgt. Aaron Hazen, 673d Communication Squadron network operations section chief. "He is one of those Airmen you can assign a task to and not have to worry or follow up. Airman Jones doesn't linger on what he can't do; he finds what he can do and runs with it. We've been able to assign him responsibilities normally reserved for noncommissioned officers. He will go far in his career and in bodybuilding if he stays the course."

Having conquered the top bodybuilding event in the state, Jones is hoping to use the momentum of his success to propel him to greater heights. He has his sights set on the 2016 Emerald Cup in Washington.

"The Alaska competition qualified me to go do this bigger show in Washington," Jones said. "If I place high enough, it will set me up to eventually earn a pro card. That would officially make me a professional and that's a big deal."

Currently, Jones is still considered a novice, having competed in a National Physique Committee event, which is considered to be the amateur league for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness organization. The IFBB is recognized throughout the world as the premier bodybuilding organization, drawing an overwhelming majority of top-tier athletes. Winning at the Emerald Cup and a subsequent national-level competition would award Jones professional status with the IFBB.

"Once that happens, you start talking about being put in magazines, supplement and clothing line endorsements, not to mention being recognized as being in the top percentages of bodybuilders in the world," Jones said. "It would be a dream come true."

In addition to the gratification Jones receives seeing his hard work rewarded with a title, he also gets personal fulfillment from being able to positively influence people around him through bodybuilding.

"Bodybuilding opens a lot of doors," the state champion said. "I get to meet new people, make new friends and have an impact on their life. After I won this show, I had a promoter for one of the high school bodybuilding shows ask if I would come guest pose at their competition. For me, that is awesome to be able to reach out to high school kids and help motivate them to achieve their goals."

Air Force family adapts through deployments, PCS moves

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

4/23/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- There are roughly 1.9 million U.S. military children worldwide who face unique challenges while their parents work to keep the mission going. Some were born into the military; some had to adapt to the life. They all silently live with their parents' decision to serve.

The Andres family faces the same challenges as any other military family has dealt with - constant moves, temporary duty (TDY), training or other aspects of military life that might mean their parent isn't always present in theirs.

Devin, now 16, was 3 years old when his father decided to join the military to provide a better future for them. He said he doesn't remember much at that age and isn't bothered by the military lifestyle.

As the eldest child of Liezl and Master Sgt. Tony Andres, 773d Civil Engineer Squadron section chief of requirements and optimization, the parents explained to Devin that his father would be gone for a while as he was gearing up for his first TDY.

Liezl was pregnant with their second child, Malia, when Tony left. Dealing with Devin and a pending birth, Tony's parents went to Kadena Air Base, Japan, to help Liezl and Devin.

"When his dad left, I noticed that he started having a temper and not wanting to do anything," Liezl said. "I was just glad my in-laws were there to help me out with Devin and Malia."

It was not long after Malia was born that Tony came back and Devin started to help out more around the house and taking the time to play with his sister.

"Devin's personality turned around when he knew his dad was home," Liezl added. "There was a time when Devin would not leave his father's side. If he didn't see Tony, he would look for him around the house."

In 2005, they welcomed their third child, Keoni, before Tony's first deployment to Afghanistan. Tony's parents returned to Kadena to help Liezl with their grandchildren.

"When Tony deployed, Devin started to isolate himself and refused to play outside with his friends. He just wanted to be in his room, not wanting to be bothered," Liezl said.

"Malia was just an emotional wreck. Every time she remembered her dad, she would ask where he was and would start crying because he was not home. Keoni was just a baby, so he never went through that phase."

Though Liezl tried to get the children involved in base events, deployed spouses dinners or a family night at Tony's squadron, she said it was not the same without him, but their family tried to make it work.

Now, their children are older and have a better understanding of the military and their father's frequent absences, they are better able to handle the stress and support each other, Liezl said.

"It doesn't bother me now, because I got used to him leaving," Devin said. "[When he is gone] we try to communicate with him as much as we can through Skype."

The Andres children said they adjust easily when their father is out the door and normally fall into a routine.

"I consider myself the 'fake dad'," Devin added. "When he leaves, I make sure that my brother and sister do their homework. Once in a while, I try to cook for them because mom can get a little stressed out when he is gone."

As the children bantered back and forth, Malia and Keoni agreed Devin's cooking is not as good as their dad's.

"My dad makes good steak," Keoni, age 8, said.

Malia said she misses seeing her dad's shiny bald head around the house when he is gone.

"Sometimes, I envy kids who don't have to say good bye to their dad all the time," Devin said. "Even though he tries to be there as much as he can, I miss that constant father figure."

They are not only used to their dad leaving, but they are used to leaving themselves. The Andres family has moved four times thus far.

"I miss trying out different food," Keoni said.

The children all agree they enjoy traveling, but hate saying good bye to their friends.

"Sometimes it's hard, because when you move, you're the new kid on the block," Keoni said.

Tony, who was also a military child, said moving is never easy. However, the communication and transitioning to a new location is a lot better than when he went through it with his parents.

"Believe it or not, I used to write letters to my friends in Hawaii and Japan," Tony said while looking at his children.

"There was no social media or webcam chat back then, so I wrote letters. It might have taken a while, but it allowed me to convey the message with my own personal touch."

Regardless if it was Tony or his family enduring another move or deployments, one thing they will always have is each other, even if it has to be long distance. They each play a part in serving their country.