Military News

Friday, January 29, 2010

Soldier Missing in Action from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial.

Army Specialist Lawrence L. Aldrich will be buried in his home town of Fort Worth, Texas tomorrow.

On May 6, 1968, Aldrich was a member of a search-and-clear mission in Binh Dinh Province in what was then South Vietnam. He was last seen with two other Americans engaged in a battle with enemy forces while manning a M-60 machine gun position. An air strike was called in, but one of the bombs inadvertently landed on Aldrich's position, killing the three soldiers. Members of his unit later recovered the remains of the two other men, but Aldrich could not be found.

In July 1992, a joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam team traveled to the province to investigate the loss. They interviewed a local citizen who remembered a large ground battle in the area in May or June 1968. He took the team to a location where he indicated the remains were buried, but an excavation in 1994 found no evidence of a grave or remains.

Vietnamese officials unilaterally investigated the case in 2006 and interviewed two villagers who recalled finding a body of an American after the battle and burying it where it lay. A second joint investigation in 2007, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, recommended another excavation based on the information provided by the Vietnamese.

The excavation in March 2009 unearthed human remains and other non-biological evidence. The identification of the remains was confirmed by matching the remains with Aldrich's dental records.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 29, 2010

AIR FORCE

Lockheed Martin Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded an $85,400,000 contract which will modify the spacecraft integration and test contract for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program to include tasks associated with revising the launch dates for Flight 19 and Flight 20 and rephrasing of the contract consistent with the revised launch dates. At this time, no money has been obligated. SMSC/DMSP, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04701-02-C-0003, P00157).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Ga., was awarded a $78,727,830 contract which will exercise Option Periods 4 and 5 to purchase initial spares for new and existing base requirements; readiness spares packages; consumable readiness spares packages; support equipment for inventory control point; support equipment for existing bases; program and management data; technical and engineering data; engineering drawings; financial management data; logistics support data; technical manual contract requirement; reliability and maintenance program; engineering support services on and off-site; defensive system support service on-off-site; technical manual page development Category I illustrated parts books; and flight manual replacement page. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 657 SESS, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8625-06-C-6456).

Sierra Nevada Corp., Sparks, Nev., was awarded a $32,658,504 contract which will provide consoles for integration on the MC-130W aircraft. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 667AESS/SYKA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8629-09-C-2445).

Raytheon Missile Systems Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $23,684,516 contract which will replace obsolete parts within the guidance section data processor module and modify the supporting missile hardware and software architecture as required to continue production of the existing missile systems. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 695 ARSS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA8675-09-C-0052, P00011).

Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc., El Segundo, Calif., was awarded a $21,000,000 contract which will provide a change order to the Wideband Global Satellite Communications to integrate, test, and store the 1.5 ship-sets of xenon-ion propulsion systems hardware procured. At this time, $14,000,000 has been obligated. MCSW/PKW, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8808-06-C-0001,P00070).

JGB Enterprises, Inc., Liverpool, N.Y., was awarded a $10,357,818 contract which will provide for the basic expeditionary airfield resourceswater distribution system which draws water from a natural source, and purifies, stores and delivers the water while maintaining sufficient water pressure, quantity and quality for an entire forward-deployed base in austere locations. At this time, no money has been obligated. 642 CBSG/GBKBB, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8533-10-D-0006).

Kachemak Research Development, Inc., Logan, Utah, was awarded a $9,774,048 contract which will provide for robotics research in support of AutoScan 31G for robotic perimeter security applications. At this time, $5,000 has been obligated. 325 CONS/LGCB, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA4819-10-C-0009).

Thales-Raytheon Systems, Fullerton, Calif., was awarded an $8,013,209 contract which will provide interim contract support for the battle control system-fixed program. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 850 ELSG/PK, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (FA8722-10-C-0001).

General Dynamics System Development and Integration Services, Inc., Fairfax, Va., was awarded a $7,428,767 contract which will provide the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System program office with the following integration support: systems engineering, integrated scheduling, network infrastructure modernization, configuration management, site activation, baseline management support, and field integration support. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 950 ELSG/KG, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (F19628-01-C-0047, P00089).

NAVY

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $75,979,777 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide sustaining engineering services, integrated logistics management services, configuration management services, and incidental materials in support of the T/AV-8B Harrier program. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed in November 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $8,912,427 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-10-D-0002).

Chugach World Services, Inc.*, Anchorage, Alaska, is being awarded a $23,542,485 modification under previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N40192-09-D-9000) to exercise the first option period to perform housing operations and maintenance and change of occupancy maintenance services in the U.S Territory of Guam for the Commander, Naval Forces Marianas. The work to be performed provides for management and housing operations to maintain and repair family housing units, bachelor housing units, Navy Gateway Inns and Suites (NGIS); and provide any services, maintenance, and change of occupancy maintenance in both vacant and occupied family housing units, bachelor housing units, and NGIS units. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $130,657,546. Work will be performed at various naval housing areas on Guam, and work is expected to be completed Jan. 31, 2011. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas, Guam, is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., Seattle, Wash., is being awarded a $16,523,267 cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) to conduct studies and analyses for the acoustic processor technology refresh and capability analysis planning effort for the P-8A Poseidon multi-mission aircraft. Work will be performed in Anaheim, Calif. (83 percent), and Seattle, Wash. (17 percent), and is expected to be completed in July 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River Md., is the contracting activity.

Eastern GCR, LLC*, Pinehurst, N.C., is being awarded a $10,351,322 modification under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N40080-05-D-3002) to exercise Option 4 for small business base operating support services at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Webster Outlying Field, and Solomons Recreation Center. The work to be performed provides for services including custodial services, pest control services, grounds maintenance, street sweeping, snow removal, and transportation. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $45,556,148. Work will be performed at Patuxent River, Md.; St. Inigoes, Md.; and Solomons, Md. Expect work to be completed by January 2011. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

BMT Syntek Technologies, Inc., Arlington, Va., is being awarded a $9,924,836 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and development activities associated with advanced power systems and analysis. BMT Syntek will support the research and development of various alternative technologies associated with advanced power system management and analysis as part of the development of the Next Generation Integrated Power System (NGIPS). BMT Syntek will also perform system-level performance analyses of NGIPS architectures and their associated components and shall analyze the impact of the projected performance on ship mission equipment and performance. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va. (60 percent), and Severna Park, Md. (40 percent), and is expected to be completed by January 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via Broad Agency Announcement; 24 proposals were solicited and 22 awards have been made. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-4212).

ARMY

Rapiscan Systems Inc., Torrance, Calif., was awarded on Jan. 26, 2010, a $25,162,861 firm-fixed-price contract for the non-intrusive inspection systems-fixed, rail and mobile. Work is to be performed in Baghdad, Iraq, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with six bids received. Joint Contracting Command- Iraq/Afghanistan, Baghdad, Iraq, is the contracting activity (W91GY0-10-C-0005).

M.R. Pittman Group, LLC, Harahan, La., was awarded on Jan. 25, 2010, a $19,565,240 construction firm-fixed-price contract for the Bayou Segnette Pumping Station Nos. 1 and 2, fronting protection and modifications, in Jefferson Parish, La. Work is to be performed in Jefferson Parish, La., with an estimated completion date of July 5, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with nine bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-10-C-0040).

BAE Systems, Inc., York, Pa., was awarded on Jan. 26, 2010, a $15,696,037 firm-fixed-price contract for the quantity of 620 automatic fire extinguishing systems kits for the Bradley which is a component of the Bradley urban survivability kit. Work is to be performed in York, Pa., with an estimated completion date of July 21, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Contracting Center CCTA-AHLA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-G-0005).

Cajun Constructors, Inc., Baton Rouge, La., was awarded on Jan. 26, 2010, a $14,512,548 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of a continuous line of hurricane flood protection across the discharge basin at Belle Chasse No. 2 Pumping Station on the east side of the Algiers Canal. Work is to be performed in Plaquemines Parish, La., with an estimated completion date of May 28, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with eight bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-10-C-0039).

Walton Construction, Inc., Harahan, La., was awarded on Jan. 26, 2010, a $13,632,740 firm-fixed-price contract to construct a vehicle recovery course to include eight miles of paved tank rail, general instruction building and class rooms at 2,215 square feet, vehicle maintenance instructional building at 3,300 square foot, mire training stations, field training exercise training site, low water crossing, and organizational vehicle parking. Work is to be performed in Fort Benning, Ga., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 12, 2011. Four bids were solicited with four bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District, Savannah, Ga., is the contracting activity (W912HN-08-D-0016).

AAI Corp., Hunt Valley, Md., was awarded on Jan. 26, 2010, a $13,046,030 firm-fixed-price contract for the purchase of one SHADOW unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for the U.S. Marine Corp. The SHADOW UAS provides flexible and responsive near real-time reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition; battle damage assessment; and battle management support to Army ground maneuver commanders. Work is to be performed in Hunt Valley, Md., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, CCAM-AR-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0023).

Venegas Engineering Management and Construction, El Paso, Texas, was awarded on Jan. 25, 2010, a $9,399,782 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of the Fort Bliss brigade staging area complex in El Paso, Texas. This project includes repairing War Road and intersections/curves/turning lanes at Dona Ana Base Camp and the repair/resurfacing of the roadway and shoulders. Work is to be performed in Fort Bliss, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 25, 2011. Bids were solicited on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with eight bids received. U.S. Army Engineering District, Fort Worth, Texas, is the contracting activity (W9126G-10-C-0002).

Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc, Columbia, Md., was awarded on Jan. 25, 2010, a $7,028,034 firm-fixed-price contract for the theater provided equipment refurbishment of 140 family of medium tactical vehicles. Work is to be performed in Kuwait with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2010. Bids were posted on the World Wide Web with four bids received. TACOM Contracting Center, Warren, CCTA-ATB-D, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-07-D-0136).

Eagle Rock Underground, LLC, Phoenix, Ariz., was awarded on Jan. 25, 2010, a $5,604,221 firm-fixed-price contract to expand ambulatory care at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cheyenne, Wyo. Work is to be performed in Cheyenne, Wyo., with an estimated completion date of July 28, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 16 bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha, Neb., is the contracting activity (W9128F-10-C-0008).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Aloha Petroleum, Ltd.*, Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded a minimum $7,505,293 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance are throughout Hawaii. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The proposal was originally Web solicited with eight responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2012. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-1252).

Woodward FST, Inc., Zeeland, Mich., is being awarded a maximum $5,864,700 firm-fixed-price contract for injector assembly. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There were originally two proposals solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 30, 2011. The Defense Logistics Agency, Oklahoma City, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (SPRSTA1-10-C-0032).

Kentucky Airmen move relief supplies through Dominican Republic


By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

(1/28/10) - As relief supplies and support continue to pour into Haiti, the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Operations Group has been one of the key elements that has helped to ensure a steady flow of supplies and equipment into the areas that need them. Operating out of Barahona, Dominican Republic, the unit has set up an airfield to alleviate some of backed-up air traffic bound for the overwhelmed Port-au-Prince airport.

By doing that, the unit has been able to oversee the safe movement of cargo into the airfield where it is then moved by flatbed trucks across the border and into Haiti, said Air Force Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, public affairs officer for the Kentucky National Guard, who is with the unit in Barahona.

“So far we have moved approximately 575 tons of supplies, medical equipment, actual live donor organs and plasma into the Haitian area,” said Hilbrecht.

The unit has also assisted with getting supplies off of U.S. Navy vessels docked at nearby ports.

“We have helped facilitate the movement of (equipment from) some of the Navy’s roll-on roll-off equipment that has come through,” said Hilbrecht. “There has been a lot of hospital equipment that is required at some of the facilities and clinics deep into Haiti. We’re working in tandem with the port to ensure that all supplies get out as fast as they can to where they need to go.”

That means consolidating convoys from both the sea and airport.

“We’re working together to create one big convoy that our team of security forces are escorting across the border,” said Hilbrecht.

When the unit first arrived, the airfield required some setting up before planes could land.

“The airport has been closed for 12 years … we had it opened up and we are now running 24-hour operations,” said Hilbrecht, adding that even after re-opening it was initially closed to night operations because of a lack of runway lights.

Prior to the arrival of the 123rd COG, an assessment of the airfield was done by personnel from U.S. Southern Command and Air Mobility Command to ensure it was suitable for the types of aircraft that would be sent in.

“That assessment was made and that ensured that the tarmac or the runway was able to sustain the heavy aircraft as they landed, that the runway was long enough and the ramp where we are actually off-loading the equipment was wide enough to do our job,” said Hilbrecht.

Within two hours of arriving, the unit had in-bound aircraft landing at the airfield, he said.

“Once we got here, we were able to quickly off-load our generators,” he said. “We came in with three trucks and we were able to take out all the equipment we needed to and set up night time operations.

“From there, we set up communications with the tower to ensure we knew who was coming in, and then we had all our ramp operators and heavy lifters ready for the first planes that came in two hours after we arrived.”

The size and scale of the aircraft that have been landing—mainly C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules—took many who live in the area by surprise.

“At any given time, we could have two C-17 aircraft on the ramp,” said Hilbrecht. “It has definitely brought a lot of the townspeople out as they were not anticipating that large of an aircraft ever on this airfield.”

The ability to land a large aircraft in the Dominican Republic has made a difference in getting supplies to Haiti.

“I know we’re making a big difference, specifically when it comes to giving the flow and the dissemination of the much-needed material into the country,” said Hilbrecht.

The location of the airport, roughly 30 miles east of the Haitian border, has allowed cargo and relief supplies to be brought into outlying communities that have been affected by the earthquake, but may not be accessible from the Port-au-Prince side.

“The road conditions from the east to the west are not as dire as the roads going from the west to the east,” said Hilbrecht. “Coming in from the east makes a lot more sense because most of those roadways are a lot more operable and traversable. And from there we can get into the areas and clinics that happen to be farther out to the east (from Port-au-Prince) anyway.”

The airport has also had UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Puerto Rico Army National Guard’s Company A, 1st Battalion, 111th General Support Aviation staging for medical evacuation missions.

“There are approximately 20 women and children that came from the Puerto Rico Army National Guard Black Hawks two days ago and those people are right now getting the medical care they need,” said Hilbrecht.

Hilbrecht described conditions at the airfield as austere and said that though he served with the Army in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, what prepared him most for this mission—now called Operation Unified Effort—was responding to state missions in Kentucky.

“We’ve had some natural disasters in Kentucky over the last year or so, to include an ice storm last February that pretty much took out (power to) 700,000 houses and homes,” he said. “The part of it that I was not expecting during a routine ice storm was how desperate people could get. There were some parts of Kentucky where they were really in harm’s way and trying some makeshift ways to heat themselves.”

The roughly 50-person Kentucky contingent is scheduled to remain in place for about 120 days, said Hilbrecht, who added there is nowhere else he’d rather be.

“It’s been one heck-of-a fulfilling operation here,” he said.

Wisconsin agencies comes together to serve state's newest veterans

(1/20/10) - As about 3,200 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers, who deployed with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, return from Iraq this month, one mission remains - and a team of state agencies are working to give Soldiers the tools they need to complete that mission.

To ensure success on this front, the Wisconsin Service Member Support Division joined forces with the state Department of Workforce Development and the state Department of Veterans Affairs, along with several other agencies, to help returning Soldiers and Airmen understand what rights and benefits they have earned as veterans - in particular, education, employment and health care, and the opportunity to file service-related Veterans Administration disability claims before leaving active duty.

This collaboration is a natural outgrowth for the SMSD, created in 2009 as required by Congress to combine the Badger Yellow Ribbon program, Wisconsin National Guard Family Program Office and the Joint Family Support Assistance Program (JFSAP).

Run by the Wisconsin National Guard, the SMSD offers help previously available through a variety of programs through one office to families and employers of service members from all components, both active duty and reserve.

Jeffrey Unger, the transition assistance advisor for Wisconsin's Department of Military Affairs, said many benefits veterans have earned go unused. Beginning Thursday (Jan. 14), he moderated "Wisconsin Day," a detailed presentation to veterans back in the state less than 24 hours from a deployment to Iraq, acquainting them with their benefits. These briefings are considered crucial for returning service members.

"We want to make sure we introduce veterans to the core programs and services that are basically life-altering," he said.

Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen returning from overseas deployments have been briefed on such benefits in the past, during their demobilization as well as periodic "reintegration" sessions in the year following the end of their active duty tour.

The idea for this type of presentation, Unger explained, was modeled after a similar effort last summer at Fort McCoy for the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the Washington Army National Guard.

"Reports from unit commanders [are] that this is the way to go," he said.

Mike Hallquist, a representative with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), spoke to 32nd Brigade Soldiers about job security in an uncertain economy.

"Your employer cannot discriminate against you because you served your country," he explained.

Soldiers have a right to return to the same or similar job at the pay rate they would have received had they not deployed, Hallquist said, and if they have been released due to downsizing at their job, they have a right to know their seniority status with the company to determine if their release would have occurred had they not deployed. These rights are spelled out under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act or USERRA.

Hallquist cautioned Soldiers that they have certain responsibilities, such as providing their employers with adequate notice of their upcoming deployment and returning to work within 90 days following the end of that deployment.

If the Soldier believes he or she has been treated unfairly by their employer, they are obliged to contact their chain of command, and then contact ESGR along with the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS).

If the complaint has merit and ESGR gets involved, "then it's the U.S. government versus your employer," Hallquist said. "You can guess who will win that one."

Ken Grant, a representative from the state Department of Workforce Development, spoke to Soldiers about various workshops offered to help those without jobs reenter the workforce. "In these tough economic times, we want to make sure you're the best prepared job applicant," Grant said. "We'll also do all that we can to help you get the right job skills. We want you to be the best prepared and the best qualified."

Ray Perez, from the state Department of Veterans Affairs, outlined federal and state veterans' benefits available to returning Soldiers. Some of these include the Wisconsin G.I. Bill, veteran education grants, assistance to needy vets, retraining grants, veteran homes and cemeteries, and the "Mission: Welcome Home" program.

"Listen up, guys - you're duly entitled," he said. "You're eligible for these benefits, but more importantly, you've earned them."

Rebecca Boehlke spoke about Military OneSource, which provides a vast array of services to veterans and non-veteran service members alike. These run the gamut from free counseling sessions for family issues, programs for weight loss and stress relief, financial counseling, and free tax preparation with a professional service through Military OneSource.

1st Lt. James Khile, the rear detachment chaplain for the 32nd Brigade, spoke to Soldiers about enrichment programs offered by the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and administered by the chaplain program. There are programs for marriage enrichment (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program, or PREP), single enrichment (Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge, or PICK) and family enrichment. These weekend events are not counseling, but workshops to strengthen relationships and make wise relationship choices.

Jean Bardeen, a military Family Assistance Center representative, spoke about Wisconsin's Service Member Support Division. "If you take nothing else away from today, know that we are the portal for all the agencies here today," she said.

Capt. Mike Brandt, the state behavioral health officer for the Veterans Health Administration, spoke compellingly about post-traumatic stress disorder - what it is, and what it is not.

"What most people come back with is not PTSD, but resiliency," Brandt said. "A war zone is a prime place to build resiliency - opening your mind, doing what is necessary for the mission and the Soldiers around you. And that will serve you well in civilian life."

PTSD, he explained, is first a physical phenomenon, a chemical reaction in the brain that affects how one feels. It is caused by repeated exposure to horrifying events accompanied by adrenaline, he said.

"In a combat zone that can happen on a daily basis," Brandt said. "The brain is not built to handle that amount of adrenaline."

As a result, those with PTSD release adrenaline inappropriately. This can mean reduced problem-solving ability as well as anger-management issues. PTSD also can result in high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel and psoriasis. Early treatment is crucial, he said, as delaying treatment translates into lengthier treatment.

"Every one of you have changed from the war zone - not everyone in a negative way," Brandt said. "Many of you have resiliency.

"The only barrier between you and mental health is you," he continued. "You will get information on where to get help. Don't put it off."

Arctic rescue Pavehawk-style


By Senior Airman Cynthia Spalding
3rd Wing Public Affairs

(11/20/09) - The rescue squadrons here participate in training missions five days a week, day or night and in temperatures often below freezing.

"Our primary rescue mission is to rescue a fighter pilot if he ever had to eject from his aircraft," explained Lt. Col. Rick Watson, an HH-60G Pavehawk evaluator pilot with the 210th Rescue Squadron. "However, because we also belong to the governor of Alaska, our second mission is to provide services to any civil aircraft accident."

Kulis is home to three rescue squadrons. Each supports and relies on the others to carry out their respective missions. The 210th Rescue Squadron fields six HH-60G Pavehawk helicopters, a highly specialized search-and-rescue variant of the more well-known Blackhawk. The 211th Rescue Squadron flies four HC-130 Hercules, a variant of the normal C-130 tactical airlift plane that has been modified for search-and-rescue operations and aerial refueling. Rounding out the trio is the 212th Rescue Squadron, which supplies pararescuemen and combat rescue officers for the missions.

The rescue squadrons remain on alert around the clock, every day of the year. In the course of a typical year, the squadrons conduct about 160 rescue missions. Of these, 75 percent are injury reports and 25 percent are missing person reports.

Before picking up the patient and making the save, most missions start with a phone call for help. The 11th Rescue Coordination Center -- another 176th Wing unit, this one located on Elmendorf Air Force Base -- then makes a call to the search-and-rescue director of operations who organizes the rescue.

Once the decision is made that the Pavehawk is the best rescue platform for the mission, and coordination is made with pararescuemen, combat rescue officers, pilots and aircraft maintainers, then the rescue mission is launched.

The versatility of the Pavehawk allows it to adapt to a wide range of rescue missions, from those involving typical hikers and hunters to those involving civil aircraft accidents.

"Due to our air-refueling capabilities we are called on by other military branches to help out," said Lt. Col. William Sullivan, the chief of standardization/evaluation from Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Headquarters. Located at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, PACAF is the 176th Wing's parent unit.

Sullivan recalled a mission for which the U.S. Coast Guard asked for support because their aircraft could not travel as far out to sea as could the Air Guard's Pavehawks, which completed the mission by refueling in mid-air six times along the way.

The refueling capability also had a major impact on a mission to rescue the crew of the Cougar Ace, a Singaporean freighter that began taking on water south of Adak Island. Traveling more than 1,200 miles from Anchorage down the Aleutian Chain, the search-and-rescue helicopters completed several in-flight refuelings.

The Pavehawk can operate up to an altitude of 14,000 feet without oxygen assistance, and its crews routinely use night vision goggles to extend their mission capabilities to nighttime operations.

The Pavehawk normally carries a six-man crew, comprising two pilots, a gunner, the flight engineer and two pararescuemen. While deployed, Pavehawk crews carry out missions that include helping Army Special Forces who've been injured and cannot continue on with their units.

Overseas rotations usually last three to six months. Rescue crews from Kulis also deploy to assist with search-and-rescue operations in the aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

"All of us are in the Air Force for different reasons. For me, it has always been about the job satisfaction of being part of a team that is in some way making a difference," said Sullivan. "Regardless of the nature of the conflict or the situation at hand, participating in both combat and civil rescue missions offers me the sense of fulfillment on a routine basis.

"I feel extremely humbled and honored to have this opportunity to perform this mission with the men and women of the Alaska Air National Guard."