Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Face of Defense: Flight Engineer Reaches 10,000-Hour Milestone

By Air Force Senior Airman Ross M. Tweten
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 8, 2008 - A flight engineer with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing's 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron surpassed 10,000 flight hours during a KC-10 Extender mission March 29. Senior Master Sgt. Robert Fisher, a St. Petersburg, Fla., native home-stationed at McGuire
Air Force Base, N.J., ended his landmark flight with 10,003 hours.

"The most difficult part about achieving this milestone is just being around long enough to do it," he said with a chuckle. "It feels excellent to be among such a rarified group of people."

The 10,000-flight-hour community is small, and achieving this milestone is all about longevity, he said. Fisher has been flying the line since 1986. He has been in the air as a flight engineer on the C-141 Starlifter and the KC-10 Extender, and has served in operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

"When I first came into the
Air Force, there were a lot of 10,000-hour crew members around, and I thought, 'Wow, I'd like to do that,'" Fisher said. "But as the years went by, I felt like I'd never get there because, well, our airplanes fly much faster. So I figured 5,000 would be nice. Then, after I reached that, I figured I could probably do about 7,500."

Fisher continued to exceed his goals and reset them. "So, when I passed 8,500, it finally hit me that I was really close to my goal of 10,000, and that maybe I could do this, so here I am."

Air Force Lt. Col. Tim White, 908th EARS commander, said most flyers accumulate 3,000 to 5,000 hours in the span of a career.

"For Sergeant Fisher to eclipse 10,000 hours is a reflection of great dedication to the mission and the art of flying," he said. "If one were to fly around the world for 10,000 hours, he or she would circle the planet over 300 times, or go back and forth to the moon nine times. Sergeant Fisher is one of the greatest assets in the KC-10 community, and his work ethic speaks for itself."

Fisher has had a long bird's-eye view of much of the globe, and he gives most of that credit to the
Air Force.

"I've been really lucky in my life, in that the
Air Force has given me the opportunities to see a lot of really excellent places and travel the world," he said. "When I enlisted in '81, the recruiter said, 'Hey join the Air Force, see the world,' and the Air Force has kept up its end of the bargain on that one."

"I'd like to say that I've given the Air Force all these wonderful things," he continued, "but to be honest, the
Air Force has given Bob Fisher way more than Bob Fisher has given the Air Force."

Air Force Senior Airman Ross M. Tweten serves with 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)



Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminals LLC.,
Orange, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $32,000,000 firm fixed price, cost reimbursement contract for services and facilities to receive, store and ship turbine and aviation fuel. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. This proposal was originally electronically solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is Jun. 17, 2013. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-C-5808).


British Aerospace Systems & Armaments, L.P., Armament Systems Division,
Minneapolis, Minn., is being awarded a $31,610,052 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5464) for procurement of FY08 MK 14 MOD 2 Canisters, including packaging, handling, storage, transportation equipment, and FY08 Reconfigurable Coding Plug Assemblies. MK 14 canisters for the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, store, safely transport, and enable loading of Tomahawk missiles into MK 41 Vertical Launching Systems aboard DDG-51 Class and CG-47 Class ships. Work will be performed in Aberdeen, S.D., and is expected to be completed by Jun. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.


Angel Staffing, Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, is being awarded a contract for $13,274,805. This action will provide for Nurses (RNs, LVNs, and CNA's), estimated quantity 247, at Willford Hall Medical Center, Lackland,
Air Force, Texas. At this time $13,274,805 has been obligated. Lackland AFB, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA3047-08-D0012).

Terma North America Inc., of Warner Robins, Ga., is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $8,369,746. This action provides for repair of USAF and FMS AN/ALG-213 components managed by Combat Sustainment Group at Robins AFB, Ga. At this time $0 has been obligated. Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8540-08-D-0003).


Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Co., Bedford, Mass., was awarded on Apr. 7, 2008, a $17,503,997 cost-plus-fixed-fee, level-of-effort contract for FY08 Patriot Engineering Services contract option award for 134,472 man-hours of effort. Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA., (72.65 percent); Andover, MA., (12.73 percent);
Huntsville, AL., (7.87percent); Burlington, MA., (4.49 percent); El Paso, TX., (2.06 percent); Norfolk, VA (0.20 percent). The estimated completion date is Jan. 31, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. The contracting activity is the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL. (W31P4Q-04-C-0020).

Family Support Network Helps Families During Marine Deployments

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 7, 2008 - Dealing with a loved one's deployment can be difficult. But for
Marine families based thousands of miles from home, the challenges might seem even more daunting if not for an active family support network in place to help them. Here at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, home to more than 11,000 Marines and sailors and their families, the Marine Corps Family Team Building program plays a critical role in helping families through multiple deployments.

Historically a volunteer-based effort, the program now benefits from a recent Headquarters
Marine Corps decision to create permanent, paid positions at every Marine base to ensure consistent, continuous family support programs throughout the Corps, explained Xiomara Bowes, the program's director.

Marine Corps dedicated other expanded resources to the program, as well, introducing broader family support efforts. "We have supplies; we have equipment; we have office spaces; we have facilities," as well as additional child care and extended-hour training programs, Bowes said.

Now, she said, the program can provide additional services and training, not only to spouses, but also to children of deployed Marines and sailors, as well as their parents and extended families. "It opens it up for more training opportunities, more learning opportunities to just get through the challenging lifestyle," she said.

But even with this seven-person paid staff, Bowes said the network couldn't serve the families of about 1,700 currently deployed
Marines without a vast volunteer network. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force's 2nd Battalion is deployed now, and the 1st Battalion is preparing to deploy later this year.

"We're busy when it comes to deployments, especially with the times we are in," Bowes said. "There's simply no way we could provide the support families need by ourselves, without the commitment of our volunteers."

Bowes described the far-reaching efforts she said are particularly important here, because there's no way to hop into the family car and drive home, and airline tickets home cost hundreds of dollars.

"There's a sense of isolation for many of them," said Bowes, a
Navy wife herself who understands the challenges deployments bring. "When you're here in Hawaii and your family is Montana, it's not like you can get on a plane and go to Montana."

The isolation can be particularly difficult for younger spouses experiencing their first deployment, she said. The average
Marine here is 19 to 20 years old, and about 25 percent of the base population is married.

Even spouses able to pick up and fly home during the deployment can run into a quandary, explained Cheryl Roy, the base's readiness and deployment support trainer and wife of a 30-year
Marine who recently retired. If they leave their base housing for more than 90 days, they're required to give it up to the next person in line for housing and to get back on the waiting list when they return.

Their medical benefits can transfer with them, but change because the family is moving from a base outside the continental United States to one within CONUS. And if they have pets, they have to consider the quarantine requirements on their return to Hawaii, Roy said. "It's not an easy move; even if they decide to do that, it has challenges, as well," Bowes said.

These factors, she said, make a solid family support network especially important.

Spouses often seek out the Family Team Building staff to help them deal with a particular problems, but get something far more important, Roy said. "I think what they're looking for and what we're trying to give them are possibly two different things," she said, "because they come looking for services, and we want to teach them how to take care of themselves. And if you look at each one of our programs, you'll see that the commonality is in teaching them and educating them in different ways to do just that."

Training programs are offered on base and online, and they run the gamut from courses that promote personal development such as
communication skills and financial awareness to those that develop career skills.

"Our focus is on empowering them. We're building resiliency," Bowes said.

"It's always going to be up and down. It's just the nature of being in a military family. ... There are constant changes to our lifestyle," she said. "And so because of that, what we want to build is resiliency so they can accept change, transition from one thing to the next, and never skip a beat. ... We want to help build resiliency so they can get through those challenges.

The LINKS program -- better known by its acronym than its full name: Lifestyle Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program -- is a vital part of this effort, Bowes said. She described LINKS as "
Marine Corps 101," a program that teaches families about the Marine Corps and its traditions. This, she said, helps build pride among family members and helps them better understand the culture they live in and how it operates.

LINKS also covers topics ranging from how to read a leave and earnings statement, to what services are provided on base and where to go for them, to an overview of Hawaiian culture and language.

The base's programs also help families understand the family dynamics that take place before, during and after a deployment. Roy pointed to a seven-stage emotional cycle that begins up to six weeks before the Marine's departure and continues up to 12 weeks after the homecoming -- each stage involving emotional ups and downs for the family.

"We want to teach them about the emotional cycles of deployment, so they understand and are prepared for the emotional roller coaster," she said. The Family
Team Building program's offerings span the full deployment cycle, from pre-deployment briefings to prepare families for what's ahead to support groups during the deployment to a warrior transition briefing that helps redeploying Marines transition back to their roles at home.

To help families reach out to each other and give them a little fun during the deployment the base also sponsors an active Operation Homefront program, said Louise Yeager,
Marine Corps community services area coordinator. Each month, the program offers a free event for families of deployed Marines and sailors: a bowling day, pool party, picnic, or visit to the local Tiki Island amusement park.

"The families really look forward to these events," Yeager said. "It's a chance for them to have fun, but also to get together with the other family members for sharing and support."

As the
Marine Corps Family Team Building program helps families, it's also helping improve the Marines' readiness for their deployments, Bowes said.

If the family is not ready for a deployment and not stable enough to handle the deployment -- to be alone, to be without the second parent -- then the Marine can't go off and do his job," she said. "A
Marine has to be able to go out and concentrate solely on what the mission is. ... We have found that, in order to have mission readiness, you also have to have family readiness. They actually correlate."

A distracted
Marine puts his or her entire unit at risk, Roy said. "And we can't have that, because we want our Marines and sailors to come home. That's why we're so committed to this program. We believe in what we're doing. We believe in our mission to help them achieve their mission."