Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Former Army Cadet Captures Paralympic Silver Medal

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

LONDON – Many Paralympic athletes participating in the 2012 Paralympic Games here have overcome diseases, injuries or other afflictions. But not many have suffered through a combination of all of those factors and still rose above them to experience success in their chosen sports the way Jennifer Schuble, a former cadet and three-letter varsity athlete at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., has been able to.

The former Army cadet suffered a traumatic brain injury during hand-to-hand combat training at the academy. She later was involved in a car accident in which her right arm was crushed and her TBI was exacerbated. In a final challenging blow, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004.

Schuble, now a two-time Paralympian, spoke to American Forces Network here yesterday about the thrill of winning her second medal Sept. 1 at the Olympic Park's Velodrome and the electrifying crowd.

“It's just amazing hearing all the noises, screaming and roaring,” she said. “This is the loudest crowd I've ever raced in. And it's a sold-out crowd. It's just so amazing -- all these people, [and] they're screaming for us. It's just an environment that [brings excitement. People are wearing ear plugs [because] it's so loud in here. It's just like, ‘Wow!”

Schuble won her silver medal in the in the 500-meter time trial paracycling event, an event in which she earned the gold medal during the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

“I knew I had to time the [starting] gate just right,” she said. “I had to get out fast. [I knew] I could jump it after all the false starts that happened earlier by other competitors throughout the week, and I timed the gate just right and went out like a rock star. I had the fastest lap, and I was holding on for dear life. I rode the fastest lap I've ever rode. It wasn't a gold medal round – I didn't defend my gold title – but still, Sarah [Storey of Great Britain] rode a great ride.”

Schuble said she’s pleased with her silver medal, and that she also has a bronze medal to add to her accomplishments, earned with her teammates in yesterday’s team sprint cycling event.

Although she has faced many mental and physical hurdles, Schuble has demonstrated the ability to continuously adapt and overcome the challenges of her disabilities.

“What helped me get through this is I set goals for myself,” she said. “I keep looking forward. I don't look back. And that's what kept me focused.”

Schuble noted she's been working in the gym to improve her balance and coordination. “That's what's kept me healthy and my disease in check,” she said.

Along with her resilience in overcoming her disabilities to be a successful Paralympic athlete, Schuble has applied her drive to academics as well. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a master's degree in production operation research, and she works full-time as an engineer for Mercedes-Benz Corp.

Although she didn't defend her gold here, Schuble said, she is satisfied with her performance after training for the last four years.

“I didn't get my Paralympic gold medal in the 500, but I got a silver, and I rode a personal best,” she noted. “So, I mean, to get two medals so far in the [2012] Paralympic Games, and I still have two more events, I can't be more happy.”

F-35B Completes First Airborne Engine Start Tests

By Victor Chen, F-35 Integrated Test Force Public Affairs

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NNS) -- The F-35 integrated test force announced the completion of a major prerequisite test for in-flight performance on the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Sept. 4.

BF-2 completed the first air starts, which test the ability of the F-35's propulsion system to restart during flight. Verifying the restart capability of the propulsion system is part of the initial flight test program for the F-35 and a prerequisite for high angle-of-attack testing, scheduled to start next year.

"High alpha, or angle-of-attack tests, are important for us to fully evaluate the aircraft's handling characteristics and warfighting capability," said Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matthew Kelly. "Maximizing the performance of the airplane around the very slow edges of the flight envelope is probably some of the most challenging testing we will conduct. After we get through it, we'll know a lot more about how this aircraft will perform during combat within visual range."

Using multiple restart methods during the tests, BF-2 successfully completed a series of 27 air starts at various altitudes Aug. 15.

To execute air start testing, the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River ferried BF-2 and an F/A-18 chase aircraft from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 to the F-35A testing facility at Edwards AFB.

"At Edwards, we have a unique testing range, which provides ideal and controlled conditions for completing air start testing. The Edwards range is comprised of 20,000 square miles of airspace, and has 65 linear miles of useable landing area on Rogers and Rosamond Dry Lakes, if required during engine out testing," said Lt. Col. George N. Schwartz, commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and government site director. "In addition, we've recently completed air start testing on the F-35A, so we're able to share some of our expertise with the Pax team as well."

The core of the F-35B's propulsion system is the F135 engine, capable of more than 40,000 pounds of thrust.

"The F135 continues to power a successful flight test program," said Roy Hauck, Pratt & Whitney site lead at the F-35 Patuxent River ITF. "The aircraft and its integrated systems demonstrated intentional flameout and successful recovery scenarios during air start flight tests, and BF-2 and the team did a great job."

A team of approximately 60 ITF and VX-23 personnel provided engineering and maintenance requirements for the events.

The detachment to Edwards from NAS Patuxent River overlapped with a busy summer flight testing schedule.

"In the past two months, we've sent detachments to Edwards and Lakehurst [N.J.], and maintained a full-tempo test schedule here," said Navy Capt. Erik Etz, director of test for F-35 naval variants at NAS Patuxent River. "The team of military, government and industry personnel rallied to make all the events happen, and they can be proud of their accomplishments."

The F-35B is the variant of the Joint Strike Fighter designed for use by U.S. Marine Corps, as well as F-35 international partners in the United Kingdom and Italy. The F-35B is capable of short take-offs and vertical landings to provide air power from amphibious ships, ski jump aircraft carriers and expeditionary airfields. The F-35B is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River prior to delivery to the fleet.

Wisconsin Guardsmen honored as one of America's finest

By Capt. Joseph Brooks
130th Public Affairs Detachment

A Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldier was recently recognized among the best Soldiers and Airmen in the country as part of the 2012 Outstanding Soldier and Airmen of the Year banquet.

1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar, of Howards Grove, Wis., who competed in the Best Ranger Competition earlier this year, was a member of one of the Best Ranger Teams in the National Guard - which was reason enough to be recognized Aug. 22 at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel's grand banquet room in Washington, D.C

Plocar, of the Appleton-based 2-127 Infantry Battalion, and his teammate, Capt. Robert Killian of Colo., were 6th place finishers of the Best Ranger Competition. Also recognized were Sgt. Mark Fuggiti of Pa., the Best Solder of the Year, Sgt. Matthew Howard of Ark., the Best Non-commissioned Officer of the Year, Sgt. 1st Class Craig Wester of Ariz., the Best Recruiter of the Year, were honored for the Army National Guard. Staff Sgt. Matthew Madiar of Ill. and Sgt 1st Class Zachery Philips of Ore., 3rd place finishers in the Best Ranger Competition could not be present but were honored for their outstanding achievements.

Senior Airman Michael McCaffrey of Wash., the Best Airman of the Year, Tech. Sgt. Jacob Scott Curtis of Ill., the Non-commissioned Officer of the Year, Senior Master Sgt. Luke Thompson, the Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year, Master Sgt. Fred Hudgins Jr. of Ariz., the First Sergeant of the Year, Master Sgt. Jeffrey Lamarche of N.Y., the Best Honor Guard Program Manager of the Year and Staff Sgt. Carrie Kline of Ind., the Best Honor Guard Member of the Year were honored for the Air National Guard. 

The event was organized to honor the top performers in the National Guard for the year in multiple specialties and positions. The soldiers and airmen each earned their title through extraordinary performance and individual achievement throughout the year and represent the best from the National Guard.

Gen. Craig R. McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, the guest speaker for the evening congratulated each of the awardees for their accomplishments, dedication and the examples the set for the for the national guard.

The enlisted personnel received special remarks from the enlisted leadership of the National Guard for their setting the example for the thousands of enlisted soldiers and airmen of the National Guard.

" (These winners) have notably carried on the Guard's traditions of defending for over 300 years", said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, Senior Enlisted Leader for the National Guard Bureau.

Jelinski-Hall noted that too often these soldiers and airmen say that they were just doing their job.

"Extraordinary Americans," she repeated throughout her speech commending the Outstanding Soldiers and Airmen of the Year 2012. "Ready to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan or any four corners of our country."

Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Burch, Command Sgt. Maj. Of the Army National Guard, explained the Army's Best Warrior and Best Non-commissioned Officer Competition to the audience. He expressed all the trials and tribulations of the various phases of the completion to a multi force audience of Army and Air National Guard. He congratulated Fuggiti and Howard for their ability to persevere and excel throughout the daunting competition.

Burch congratulated Howard, the Best Recruiter of the Army National Guard, for his accomplishment in recruiting and retention. Burch said that it the efforts of great recruiters that keep the Army strong.

Burch went on to congratulate the Best Ranger team. This was the first time in the history of the competition that the National Guard had two teams to place in the top ten in this competition.

Burch concluded by saying, "I am proud to be standing beside and being part of the Army National Guard with them. Continue to strive for excellence, be yourself, believe in yourself and don't be afraid to go for your dreams because dreams become goals."

Jelinski-Hall quoted Douglas MacArthur when she was explaining the amount to leadership the winners carry with them, "He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent."

The banquet guests were treated to a special performance by the U.S. Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and an intermission performance by the U.S. Air Force Strolling Strings. Usually reserved for presidential banquets and for honoring foreign dignitaries, these two groups played for the banquet receiving a standing ovations for their performances.

The event culminated with address by Gen. Craig McKinley, the 26th Chief National Guard Bureau and Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. McKinley stated that he was proud to speaking at this event in one of his last official ceremonies as National Guard Chief.

"Tonight is all about the airmen and soldiers, our enlisted force," said McKinley about the night's events. "We are so blessed in the National Guard to have an outstanding enlisted force that give us, the officer corps the opportunity to lead."

McKinley's praise of the enlisted force continued pointing out the values of the civilian acquired skills from the first National Guard soldiers more than 300 years ago and the tradition that lives on today. He praised the enlisted corps and the senior enlisted advisers that have been there for him throughout his career.

After McKinley spoke, the awards to the outstanding soldiers and airmen were presented. Each of the awardees was called individually to receive a minuteman statue that symbolized the outstanding achievements and dedication of the service members.

The banquet is not the end for Fuggiti and Howard, the Army National Guard Best Soldier and Best Non-commissioned Officer. The two soldiers go on to compete against active duty and reserve soldier in the Army-wide completion.