Military News

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Dempsey Thanks Service Members, Families in Pacific Northwest


By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott A. McCall
Navy Public Affairs Support Element Northwest

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2012 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thanked service members and their families from various commands in the Pacific Northwest during a town hall meeting held yesterday on Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor, Wash.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosts a town hall meeting with service members and family members on Naval Base Kitsap, Wash., Oct. 3, 2012. DOD photo by D. Myles Culle
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the more than 300 people in attendance he believes that by working together, they will be able to help the country through any challenge it faces.
 
"The foundation is so solid that we're going to be fine,” Dempsey said. “If you don't remember anything else I say, remember two things: One, thank you for your willingness to serve. And I mean you plural and cumulatively, that's those of you who wear the uniform and those of you who support those who wear the uniform. The second thing is, if you stick together, then we'll be fine."

The highest ranking U.S. military officer said he was very impressed by today’s men and women in uniform.

"We're going to be okay because of you," he said. "I've never met young men and women ... who are so impressive in your intellect, your energy, your dedication, your resilience, your enthusiasm, your optimism, and as long as you keep that by the way, and continue to trust each other we'll get through whatever the world can throw at us."

The chairman took time to thank the family members of a sailor currently deployed on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, which had returned in March from a seven-month deployment to the Gulf region only to deploy again in August, four months earlier than expected.

"We turned [Stennis] around pretty quick," said Dempsey. "We had to do that because we had some challenges in the Gulf region, as you know, and we really needed that extra little touch of America that only an aircraft carrier brings."

During the town hall, Dempsey also spoke about issues affecting all branches of the U.S. armed forces, noting that the military is currently going through a period of transition.

"We're transitioning from a force, especially the ground component, which has been extraordinarily committed to focus like a laser beam, really, on Iraq and Afghanistan and conducting deployments one year on, one year off and that tempo will slow," he said.

Dempsey said another transition the military faces is one from bigger to smaller budgets.

"The Navy and Air Force have done quite a bit of resizing over the last decade or so, and they are not going to do much more resizing, but the Army and Marine Corps will over the next five years to seven years," he said. "And those folks will pass into civilian life, and we need to pass them properly into civilian life, and that's a big transition."

Dempsey also fielded questions from the audience, ranging from issues that affect all branches of service to Navy-specific  issues to issues that affect personnel stationed in the Pacific Northwest.

Some of the topics discussed included the Defense Travel System, privatized housing, manning, suicide awareness, military retirement, and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.

"It was pretty good, he was a good speaker," said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Neal, an electronics technician assigned to Submarine Group 9. "He talked about a couple of the issues, and I was able to get up there and ask him a couple of questions. I really appreciate him taking his time."

Spangdahlem, Davis-Monthan earn top lodging honors by Debbie Gildea Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., took top honors in the 2012 Air Force Innkeeper Award competition, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced today. Annually, Air Force and commercial lodging professionals evaluate nominated organizations for customer service, housekeeping, financial status, facility management and support activities, selecting the best small (285 rooms or less) and large lodging programs. Small Category Innkeeper Award Spangdahlem, with 256 rooms, earned the small category award, exhibiting excellence in every criteria area, said Col. Thomas Joyce, director, AFPC Services Directorate. “Spangdahlem has developed programs and activities to provide Airmen with quality care and facilities, but the team is also working to ensure employees maintain that positive attitude that sets them apart,” said Joyce. “They are breaking ground and setting the example for facilities throughout the Air Force.” Adding pampering to essentials, Spangdahlem manages a professional massage and spa program, which earned $35,000 last year. Teaming with the United Service Organizations and the Frankfurt Airport, Spangdahlem’s team took care of 667 stranded passengers, and without missing a beat, hosted 126 no-notice groups as well. To ensure traveling warriors are able to maintain fitness and resilience levels, staff volunteers constructed and relocated guest fitness rooms, and helped themselves as well when they built two employee washrooms. Leadership’s focus on employee energy and motivation resulted in a lodging Olympics pitting the competitors against Ramstein’s lodging teams to identify the gold medal customer service provider. Team spirit competitions also enabled employees to create contests, identify winners and establish awards. Large Category Innkeeper Award Davis-Monthan, with 298 rooms, swept the large category competition with attention to detail, aggressive self-inspection program and exceptional customer service, representative of their motto “always Innkeeper ready.” “The Davis-Monthan mystery guest program is not only a fun way to ensure that every customer gets VIP treatment,” said Joyce, “but also helped prepare them for such unexpected guests as President Obama following the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The team not only rose to the occasion for every visit, they exemplified our wingman philosophy and commitment to caring for Airmen.” In addition to hosting the president and his staff, Davis-Monthan welcomed international military members, aircrew enroute to global destinations, and Air Show Heritage Flight guests, each of whom were treated with the presidential courtesy, dignity and respect, Joyce said. Small and large category Innkeeper Travelers award winners, presented to lodging employees who exhibit peerless professionalism, attitude, customer service and job knowledge, were also named. Small Category Travelers Award Whisper Maxwell, Offutt AFB, Neb., was named the small category 2012 Innkeeper Travelers Award winner, and the large category winner is Hong Tak Kim, Osan AB, Republic of Korea. Maxwell, previously an F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., guest services representative, transferred to Offutt in January 2011. After an hour orientation, she was off and running, said Joyce, who called her the “ideal team member.” With the goal of becoming a lodging manager, she pursued training in every department and completed formal hospitality, front desk and communication course. “Ms. Maxwell is energetic, determined and success-oriented, and she’s a consistent guest favorite with an extensive list of kudos and accolades,” Joyce said. “Her can-do attitude is setting the example for peers and superiors alike!” Large Category Travelers Award Kim, a source of continuity in the ever-changing environment of an overseas lodging facility, is the go-to guy for all general and Osan-specific lodging issues, said Joyce. “Not only does he have the experience and longevity to serve as a natural continuity of operations advisor, he is a source of guidance and support in a lightening-paced environment. Mr. Kim is the cornerstone at Turumi Lodge,” said the colonel. As a natural liaison between U.S. and Korean employees, Kim works daily to foster a family environment where every team member is valued for their contributions. As a businessman, he keeps his eye on the bottom line and expertly produced and managed a budget focused on mission and customer needs. “He consistently makes guests and coworkers feel as if they are home, and his professionalism, positive attitude and selflessness are defining characteristics we look for when considering Travelers Award candidates,” Joyce said. Award winners will receive their trophies and certificates during ceremonies conducted by their installation commanders. AFPC leadership representatives will also attend each ceremony. “What our lodging professionals do every day to care for Airmen has far greater impact than simple numbers can convey. When Airmen travel, they are far from the comforts and security of home, but our lodging folks work to ease that separation and uncertainty. They provide transitioning Airmen with a home away from home, and that is beyond price,” said Joyce.



by Debbie Gildea
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas
– Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., took top honors in the 2012 Air Force Innkeeper Award competition, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced today.


Annually, Air Force and commercial lodging professionals evaluate nominated organizations for customer service, housekeeping, financial status, facility management and support activities, selecting the best small (285 rooms or less) and large lodging programs.

Small Category Innkeeper Award
Spangdahlem, with 256 rooms, earned the small category award, exhibiting excellence in every criteria area, said Col. Thomas Joyce, director, AFPC Services Directorate.

“Spangdahlem has developed programs and activities to provide Airmen with quality care and facilities, but the team is also working to ensure employees maintain that positive attitude that sets them apart,” said Joyce. “They are breaking ground and setting the example for facilities throughout the Air Force.”

Adding pampering to essentials, Spangdahlem manages a professional massage and spa program, which earned $35,000 last year.

Teaming with the United Service Organizations and the Frankfurt Airport, Spangdahlem’s team took care of 667 stranded passengers, and without missing a beat, hosted 126 no-notice groups as well. To ensure traveling warriors are able to maintain fitness and resilience levels, staff volunteers constructed and relocated guest fitness rooms, and helped themselves as well when they built two employee washrooms.

Leadership’s focus on employee energy and motivation resulted in a lodging Olympics pitting the competitors against Ramstein’s lodging teams to identify the gold medal customer service provider. Team spirit competitions also enabled employees to create contests, identify winners and establish awards.

Large Category Innkeeper Award
Davis-Monthan, with 298 rooms, swept the large category competition with attention to detail, aggressive self-inspection program and exceptional customer service, representative of their motto “always Innkeeper ready.”

“The Davis-Monthan mystery guest program is not only a fun way to ensure that every customer gets VIP treatment,” said Joyce, “but also helped prepare them for such unexpected guests as President Obama following the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The team not only rose to the occasion for every visit, they exemplified our wingman philosophy and commitment to caring for Airmen.”

In addition to hosting the president and his staff, Davis-Monthan welcomed international military members, aircrew enroute to global destinations, and Air Show Heritage Flight guests, each of whom were treated with the presidential courtesy, dignity and respect, Joyce said.

Small and large category Innkeeper Travelers award winners, presented to lodging employees who exhibit peerless professionalism, attitude, customer service and job knowledge, were also named.

Small Category Travelers Award
Whisper Maxwell, Offutt AFB, Neb., was named the small category 2012 Innkeeper Travelers Award winner, and the large category winner is Hong Tak Kim, Osan AB, Republic of Korea.

Maxwell, previously an F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., guest services representative, transferred to Offutt in January 2011. After an hour orientation, she was off and running, said Joyce, who called her the “ideal team member.” With the goal of becoming a lodging manager, she pursued training in every department and completed formal hospitality, front desk and communication course.

“Ms. Maxwell is energetic, determined and success-oriented, and she’s a consistent guest favorite with an extensive list of kudos and accolades,” Joyce said. “Her can-do attitude is setting the example for peers and superiors alike!”

Large Category Travelers Award
Kim, a source of continuity in the ever-changing environment of an overseas lodging facility, is the go-to guy for all general and Osan-specific lodging issues, said Joyce.

“Not only does he have the experience and longevity to serve as a natural continuity of operations advisor, he is a source of guidance and support in a lightening-paced environment. Mr. Kim is the cornerstone at Turumi Lodge,” said the colonel.

As a natural liaison between U.S. and Korean employees, Kim works daily to foster a family environment where every team member is valued for their contributions. As a businessman, he keeps his eye on the bottom line and expertly produced and managed a budget focused on mission and customer needs.

“He consistently makes guests and coworkers feel as if they are home, and his professionalism, positive attitude and selflessness are defining characteristics we look for when considering Travelers Award candidates,” Joyce said.

Award winners will receive their trophies and certificates during ceremonies conducted by their installation commanders. AFPC leadership representatives will also attend each ceremony.

“What our lodging professionals do every day to care for Airmen has far greater impact than simple numbers can convey. When Airmen travel, they are far from the comforts and security of home, but our lodging folks work to ease that separation and uncertainty. They provide transitioning Airmen with a home away from home, and that is beyond price,” said Joyce.

Disc golfer ends second 50 states tour at Fairchild

from 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/3/2012 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash.  -- An aerospace ground equipment technician with the California Air National Guard completed his second disc golf tour of the 50 U.S. states at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Oct.1.

Tech. Sgt. Larry C. Kirk, from the 144th Maintenance Squadron in Fresno, Calif., started his first disc golf tour at Fairchild 10 years ago.

Kirk traveled more than 13,000 miles by vehicle during the period of July through Oct. This time around Kirk said the tour was to promote disc golf and be an ambassador for the sport.

Disc golf was known as Frisbee golf in its early years and has evolved over the last 35 years. It is played much like traditional golf however instead of using a ball and club, players use flying a disc. The discs used are capable of being thrown 800 feet and today disc golf is growing in popularity nationwide and is played professionally.

Since Kirk started playing disc golf he has played more than 470 disc golf courses across the nation.

The rules of disc golf are pretty much the same as those used in golf, Kirk said. Nine or 18 "holes" are the usual game, though sometimes 27 holes are played. While "holes" is a term carried over from golf, the actual target is more of a basket, surrounded by hanging chains that intercept the disc, allowing it to drop down into the basket below.

"Disc golf is great! It is very fun to play and good for you," said Kirk, who took up the hobby in 1978 and says helps him to pass his physical training test.

Fairchild is home to a nine-hole disc golf course located in Miller Park.

"It takes a lot of practice, but you can enjoy it at any level," Kirk said. "It's a gentleman's sport, like golf."

He also touts the sport as a great family activity.

"It's perfect for families; it is something they can do together," he said, recalling from the start it was a sport he enjoyed sharing with his sons.

I am a "fanatic," I want to promote disc golf. I love it," he said.

[Editor's note: Nick Stubbs, MacDill Air Force Base Thunderbolt editor contributed to this article]

305th Airman to perform at AMC Icon singing competition

by 2nd Lt. David J. Murphy
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


10/3/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- A Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst representative will sing in the upcoming Air Mobility Command Icon singing competition at the Scott Club on Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Oct. 25.

Staff Sgt. Oliver Dagum, 305th Aerial Port Squadron training instructor and Tulsa, Okla., native, won his chance during the local AMC Icon competition Aug. 16 here. Although he took third place, Dagum is moving to the next round because the second place winner, Senior Airman Benjamin Florez, 305th Aerial Port Squadron ramp specialist or "port dawg," is deploying around the same time-frame as the competition.

"If I were to go I would want my mind to be totally in it and not someplace else," said Florez. "So I decided to give it to someone else because I want their mind to be totally into it."
Florez sang "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys, during the AMC Icon competition.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Dagum. "I'm going to be singing 'Ain't No Sunshine' by Chris Allen, the song I sang during the local competition. Before the event I plan to work on my showmanship and practice the song."

Contestants will compete for $2,000 in cash prizes and the winner will receive a special invitation to audition with the Air Force Tops in Blue. The event will also feature the Air Force Band of Mid-America
.
"Hopefully my experience singing for Tops in Blue in 2008 will help me in the competition," said Dagum. "I'll probably use the money toward music-business classes if I win."

St. Louis media personalities: "Smash," from The Smash Band, and FOX 2's Mandy Murphey will join Dr. Stella Markou, director of vocal studies at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, as returning judges for the 2012 event. New judges include Jim Cornelison, opera performer and full-time national anthem singer for the Chicago Blackhawks, and J. Rome, winner of the ABC show "Duets," are scheduled to join the judging panel.

Dagum will compete with participants from Air Force bases throughout AMC to include:

- 1st Lt. Nicole White representing Scott AFB, Ill.
- Master Sgt. Jason Shamis representing Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
- Tech Sgt. Sonya Bryson representing MacDill AFB, Fla.
- Tech Sgt. Doug Boren representing McConnell AFB, Kan.
- Staff Sgt. Tiry Crane representing Little Rock AFB, Ariz.
- Senior Airman Desiree Scarver representing Travis AFB, Calif.
- Airman 1st Class Duawana Robinson representing Dover AFB, Del.
- Airman 1st Class Abigail Foster representing Fairchild AFB, Wash.
- Airman 1st Class Andrew Hicks representing Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

The competition is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Scott Club. The first 250 people will receive complementary Icon t-shirts.

Face of Defense: Father, Son Reunite in Southwest Asia

Air Force Senior Airman Bryan Swink
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Oct. 4, 2012 – Finding time to travel home to their families can be a challenge for many service members, due to the sporadic movement and occasional deployments a military life can bring. It is a much larger challenge, however, when two family members in different branches of service try to reconnect.


Click photo for screen-resolution image

It had been a year since Air Force Master Sgt. Niihau Ramsey has seen his son, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brad Ramsey, until luck brought them together here.

The two reconnected at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing when Brad -- a Seabee -- traveled through Southwest Asia during his redeployment back home to Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss., after spending eight months at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. During his deployment, Ramsey performed preventive and corrective maintenance on civil engineer support equipment.

"I found out about a month ago our unit might be coming through here on our way home, and really hoped everything would work out so I could spend some time with my dad," said Brad, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11. "There were a few hiccups along the way, but luckily it worked out."
Deployments aren't unusual for either of the Ramseys, who have five deployments between them. Niihau, mission support flight superintendent for Detachment 1 of the 609th Air Communications Squadron, is here for a bit longer than a normal six- or 12-month deployment. He is permanently stationed here for a two-year tour.

"Being here for so long without my family is tough," said Niihau, who's nine months into his tour. "What a great opportunity this has been, because I don't know when I will see him next."

The two have spent a week socializing in the evenings and even watched the NFL season-opening game as the two cheered on their favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, as they beat the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants.

The most memorable moment for the father-son duo was logging onto Skype and reconnecting with Niihau's wife and Brad's mom, Amy, who lives in Cameron, N.C.

"It was great for all three of us to be connected together," Niihau said. "I know it meant a lot to her to be able to communicate to us at the same time."

Deployments can be a challenge for any family, but when an opportunity arises to reconnect and bond, the Ramseys said, they make the best of it. Sometimes the sporadic movement of the military life can work out for the best.

Texas Team Lassos Top Prize in Emergency Medical Technician Contest

A contingent of Air Force and Navy instructors from the Department of Defense Medical Education and Training Campus in Fort Sam Houston, Texas captured the top prize at the 2012 Emergency Medical Technician Rodeo held Sept. 22 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., home to the 27th Special Operations Medical Group.

Five EMT instructors from METC’s Basic Medical Technician Corpsman Program competed against eight other U.S. military medical teams.

“Taking first place in a competition where the best medics and corpsman were sent to compete from all over the United States and abroad means a lot to the caliber of personnel we are surrounded by on a daily basis here at METC,”  Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class and member of the winning group, Jeffery Leemauk said.

Other members of the unit representing METC’s basic medical Technician Corpsman Program included Air Force's Staff Sgt. Robert Rangel, Tech. Sgt. Dahlia Gonzalez, Staff Sgt. Brett Wolfe and Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Luis Rodriguez. METC’s team had over 40 years of knowledge and forward deployment medical experience combined according to Rangel who served as the team’s coach.
This is the sixth year for the military competition where EMT teams test their skills in various events that simulate scenarios from medical trauma to water rescues.

This year, the EMT Rodeo competition added several new events to assess skills and knowledge including a water rescue competition and a commando challenge which evaluated the competing teams’ abilities to carry litters while low-crawling through a mud obstacle course.

“I am proud to be able to say today that we were not only champions of the 6th Annual EMT Rodeo, but proof that positive steps are being made to an overall integrated medical community,” Leemauk said.
The Medical Education and Training Campus is a Department of Defense joint service military medical training campus at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with a mission to train the world's finest medics, corpsmen, and techs, supporting the ability of the U.S. to engage globally.

AFSPC officials launch 2012 CFC campaign

by 1st Lt. Connie Dillon
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs


10/4/2012 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Headquarters Air Force Space Command's Combined Federal Campaign kicked off here Oct.3, giving military and federal employees the opportunity to donate to more than 3,000 local, national, and international charities.

Lt. Gen. John E. Hyten, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, addressed the command on the opportunity to donate. "Everybody who lives and works here at Air Force Space Command, we ought to consider ourselves lucky. We live in a beautiful place, we have amazing work that we do and not everybody in this world is that lucky. We need to remember that," said Hyten. "I think that we all have a responsibility, one way or the other, to try and figure out how we are going to give back."

Also in attendance were representatives from more than 70 local charitable organizations supported by the CFC. These charities are representatives of the thousands who rely on annual contributions to support their cause. All CFC charities are diligently screened to meet CFC eligibility and they provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.

The CFC of the Pikes Peak Region will run through Dec. 15 and is the annual fundraising drive on behalf of the charities for the military and federal employees within Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and most counties that make up Southern Colorado. This area represents approximately 44,000 military and civilian employees at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Fort Carson, Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Postal Service, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and a host of other federal agencies operating within the region.

According to Maj. Jason Esquell, Capt. Christopher McMillian, and Master Sgt. John Mackey, CFC representatives, they are expecting to meet this year's goal of $219,000 in pledges.

"With all the events that have happened this past year, such as the Waldo Canyon fire, I think that the need to give and the simple realization that your luck can change at any given moment in time...is going to be toward the forefront of people's minds," said McMillian. "As a result, we might be more willing to give as a community because we've seen the benefits of just these types of campaigns."

McMillian explained how the CFC makes donating easy by offering options to donate either online, by visiting www.cfcnexus.org, or by traditional hard-copy pledge sheets.

"By making it easier for our donors to give, I believe we can step up those participation numbers and by virtue of that, step up the volume of the gross donation," he said.

CFC representatives will make contact with 100 percent of their unit members to talk about the CFC and the opportunity to donate.

"Our goal is to have 100 percent contact that very first week and then very close and careful follow on, to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to give," said McMillian. "We are making our expectations clear, we are eliminating barriers to success, and we have a very motivated and talented staff of project officers and key workers who care about this, and we have every intention of exceeding our goal."

"Headquarters Air Force Space Command has held the record for the top fundraiser for CFC for the last several years for the entire Pikes Peak region, which includes the Air Force Academy, Buckley and Schriever," said Mackey. Last year the CFC of the Pikes Peak region raised $2,608,766, and of those pledges, $209,000 was from AFSPC Headquarters.

437th Airlift Wing honors its history

by Airman 1st Class Tom Brading
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs


10/3/2012 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Veterans from the 437th Troop Carrier Group, the predecessor of the 437th Operations Group, and their families, traveled from all corners of the United States to Charleston, S.C., for their final reunion Sept. 28, at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base.

The 437th TCG, flying C-47 Skytrain transport units, played a vital role during the early morning hours of D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the remainder of World War II. During the Normandy campaign, the group towed and released glider planes, as well as carried troops, weapons, ammunition, rations and other supplies for the 82nd Airborne Division.

The group began their reunion tour at the C-47 Skytrain static display across from Bldg. 16000. Afterward, they were welcomed to the base by Col. Al Miller, 437th Airlift Wing vice commander, followed by an opportunity to tour the inside of a C-17 Globemaster III. The veterans also viewed flight equipment and observed demonstrations conducted by the JB Charleston Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

"It was great to see all the World War II veterans and hear what they thought of my job," said Airman 1st Class Amber Taft, 628th Air Base Wing EOD apprentice. "It was also very interesting to hear all their stories. I'm amazed at what they did for our country and also to see how things have changed since those days."

The group finished their tour by hosting an open panel discussion at the JB Charleston - Air Base Theater, where audience members had an opportunity to ask questions and peer deeper into the veterans' first-hand experiences during World War II.

The men all experienced different aspects of war during their years in service, but they are still bonded by years of friendship. As they sat on stage answering questions, audience members could sense the pride the men felt about their service and sacrifices from 60-plus years ago. The veterans also mentioned how great JB Charleston - Air Base looked compared to the bases they served at during their time in the military.

"The men on stage with me were the best group of fellows you'd ever want to serve with," said Don Wallace, former lieutenant and C-47 pilot. "And now, here we are after all these years, on stage."

"We're in awe of the heritage you all left to us," said Capt. Brent Anderson, 437th AW deputy chief of plans, as he addressed the veterans during the panel discussion. "It was your honorable tradition of bravery that we proudly carry on today."

"You (the 437th TCG veterans) are, and will always be, the bookend of the 437th AW," said Col. Al Miller, 437th AW vice commander. "What you did during World War II is what the Air Force has built upon worldwide."

Miller added that the sacrifices made by the veterans during World War II laid the foundation for what has become the best Air Force in the world. For that reason he thanked the men for their time and service to their country.

McConnell AMC finalist for 2013 CINC Installation Excellence Award

by Staff Sgt. Abigail Klein
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- McConnell is Air Mobility Command's finalist for the 2013 Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award.

As AMC's finalist, McConnell will go on to compete against nine other bases to earn the Air Force nod for the award.

To compete for the award, a detailed report was submitted by each base in AMC. McConnell was then visited by the Installation Excellence Selection committee, who evaluated the base and Airmen in September 2012.

The CINC IEA was created in 1984. It recognizes the efforts of the people who operate and maintain DoD installations and who have done the best with their resources to support the mission. The award encourages environments that promote innovative and creative ways of enhancing base-level services, facilities and quality-of-life.

The 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, Col. Ricky Rupp, had this to say:

"We are honored to be selected as AMC's nominee! This recognition is a tremendous achievement for McConnell Airmen, their families and our civic partners. It represents all the phenomenal teamwork between the 22nd ARW and our Total Force partners, the 931st Air Refueling Group and the 184th Intelligence Wing. It's a huge win for McConnell and the Greater Wichita Area."

During the board's visit, McConnell personnel provided briefings and demonstrations to highlight innovative programs that help create and sustain superior operations and accomplishments.

In the past year, McConnell ceremoniously opened the Total Force Maintenance Facility, a work center that embodies the Air Force's Total Force Initiative by sharing resources between active duty and Air Force Guard and Reserve components including aircraft, crews, maintenance and support.

"This recognition speaks volumes about the total force effort that makes up Team McConnell," said Col. Mark Larson, 931st Air Refueling Group commander. "Colonel Rupp and the 22nd ARW have fully embraced Total Force Integration and have taken great measures to ensure the active duty and reserve components here work together seamlessly to achieve shared success. It is truly a pleasure to work with him and his team as our host unit."

To become AMC's finalist, various quality-of-life improvements for junior Airmen were noted during the inspectors visit.

The AMC benchmarked program, The Den, was created by the chapel as a unique Airman-focused program, offering a place for Airmen to socialize while participating in different programs daily after work hours.

Airmen were also considered when McConnell's Fitness Center hours were extended to accommodate more Airmen's schedules. The football and soccer field near the fitness center was also renovated with state-of-the-art materials including new bleachers, player and coach benches to accommodate intramural football and soccer sports, said Tech. Sgt. Shad Winter, 22nd Force Support Squadron fitness center sports director.

"If you feel you are part of a family and cared for," said Senior Airman Justin Gassner, 22nd Medical Operations Squadron health service management, "[With the quality-of-life here] it is so much easier to strive for the best. Living up to the core values is easier to do if you have the leadership that supports you."

Green initiatives made on base were also showcased to the inspectors.

A fuel-savings plan, which will potentially save the AMC more than $470 thousand annually, was developed here at McConnell and earned recognition from the Air Force's Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program.

Another example of McConnell's initiatives were found in the addition of the boom operator weapons system trainer. The state of the art trainer helped cut fuel costs by more than $6,000 an hour, by replacing traditional KC-135 Stratotanker sorties which average almost $49,000 for an eight hour mission.

McConnell's relationship and impact on the community were also analyzed by the inspectors.

In 2012, McConnell's community outreach was expanded even further with the induction of 15 community members into the Honorary Commander's Program. The HCC program gives local community leaders the opportunity to participate in special events, programs and activities sponsored by a McConnell Squadron or group. The program is designed to benefit the military and its civilian partners by as they share ideas and learn from each other.

"McConnell AFB is an incredible asset to Wichita and to Kansas," said Pat Gallagher, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce government relations manager and a McConnell Golden Eagles member. "I am thrilled to hear that the base has been chosen as a finalist for this prestigious award; it is an honor richly deserved and one that I fully expect will result in a win."

As AMC's finalist, McConnell has the potential to win $1 million as an incentive award to invest in the Airmen's quality-of-life. To win the award, McConnell will undergo another inspection later this year

Army National Guard Soldier Pleads Guilty in Connection with Fraudulent Recruiting Referral Bonus Scheme

To Date, Nine Individuals Have Pleaded Guilty in Ongoing Investigation
 
WASHINGTON – An Army National Guard soldier pleaded guilty today in the Western District of Texas for her role in a bribery and fraud scheme that caused approximately $54,000 in losses to the Army National Guard Bureau, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Specialist Stephanie Heller, 37, of Wharton, Texas, pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information charging her with one count of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud.  The criminal information was filed on Sept. 26, 2012, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The case against Heller arises from an investigation involving allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging bribery and fraud scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses.  To date, the investigation has led to charges against nine individuals, all of whom have pleaded guilty, including Heller.

According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc., to administer a recruiting program designed to offer monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard.  Through this program, a participating soldier could receive up to $2,000 in bonus payments for every person whom the participating soldier referred to join the Army National Guard.  Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account.  To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.

According to court documents, Heller enlisted in the Army National Guard in approximately July 2008.  Heller admitted that, between approximately August 2009 and April 2011, she agreed to pay two Army National Guard recruiters for the names and Social Security numbers of at least 28 potential Army National Guard soldiers.  Heller further admitted that she used the personal identifying information for these potential soldiers to claim that she was responsible for referring these potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard, when in fact she had not referred them.

As a result of these fraudulent representations, Heller collected at least approximately $44,500 in fraudulent recruiting bonus payments, approximately $21,000 of which she gave to the two Army National Guard recruiters who facilitated the fraudulent scheme.

The charge of bribery carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the monetary gain or loss.  The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.
Heller’s sentencing has been scheduled for March 1, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in San Antonio.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya Jr., Brian A. Lichter and Sean F. Mulryne of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.  The case is being investigated by agents from the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of the Major Procurement Fraud Unit, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Operation Deep Freeze main season begins

from Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica

10/4/2012 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- The U.S. military recently kicked off the 2012-2013 season of Operation Deep Freeze, the Department of Defense's support of the U.S. Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation.

The operation began with C-17 Globemaster III operations Sept. 29 and will continue with LC-130 Hercules operations beginning Oct. 18.

Operation Deep Freeze involves U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army and Coast Guard forces providing operational and logistical support of the NSF's scientific research activities in Antarctica.

This support is provided by the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica, led by Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. JTF-SFA coordinates strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical deep field support, aeromedical evacuation support, search and rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling and transportation requirements.

Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, is the staging point for deployments to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, a key research and operations facility for the USAP.

Operation Deep Freeze is unlike any other U.S. military operation, according to officials. It is one of the military's most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment. The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has therefore provided support to the USAP since 1955.

Active duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army and Coast Guard work together as part of the joint task force. This team continues the tradition of U.S. military support to the USAP and demonstrates the United States' commitment to a stable Pacific region, officials said.

Airlift for Operation Deep Freeze involves active duty and Reserve C-17 support from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; LC-130 support from the New York Air National Guard; sealift support from the U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command; engineering and aviation services from U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command; and cargo handling from the U.S. Navy.

AD Airmen can pass education benefits to dependents



by Debbie Gildea
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas
– More than 86,000 active duty Air Force members have transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits to dependent family members since the benefit transfer program was implemented in August 2009.


However, many who did so were unfamiliar with the process and ended up in a difficult situation, while others want to transfer benefits but hesitate to do so because of commitments that come with the program.

Understanding how the transfer of education benefits program works starts with understanding who is eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, said Master Sgt. Joseph Cummings, AFPC education services advisor.

Anyone on active duty for at least 90 days from Sept. 9, 2011 through today (with honorable service disposition) is eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Benefit amounts vary depending on how long a member served after 9/11, and what kind of education they seek (i.e., undergraduate degree, graduate degree or certification program). Members have 15 years after retirement to use their benefits.

Being eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, however, does not mean an Airman is eligible to transfer those benefits.

The Air Force program is tied to retention, so only those on active duty after Aug. 1, 2009 are eligible for TEB. In addition, Airmen must have at least six years of service (active duty and/or selected Reserve) as of the date of election, and they must agree to an additional four-year active duty service commitment, said Cummings.

“We frequently get applications from members who are about to retire, but that could be too late unless you are willing and able to commit to another four years,” said Cummings. “Eligibility is an issue because if you’re approaching your high year of tenure, you may not be able to commit to four more years. Advance planning is critical,” said Cummings.

Eligible members who want to transfer their benefits must also understand the application process and ensure they accomplish required tasks on time.

“Some people thought they applied but they didn’t sign the statement of understanding, so their application didn’t go through. Others didn’t follow through on Total Force Service Center instructions within the 14 day window and their application expired. Some applicants never received their instructions from the TFSC because their email address was wrong,” Cummings said. “When you apply, it’s important that you double check all the information to ensure it’s accurate and follow the instructions you receive from the TFSC. If you don’t get approval confirmation from the TFSC, you may have missed something in the instructions.”

Another common problem occurs for applicants who transfer all of their benefits to a single dependent.

Benefits are transferred in month increments, so an Airman with 36 months of education benefits can transfer all 36 months to a single dependent, equally among all dependents, or only a month to each, as they choose. Then, if something in their life changes, they can adjust the number of months each dependent receives.

“If you transfer all your benefits to one child and that child chooses to not use them for whatever reason, you won’t be able to transfer them to anyone else. Your only option will be to retrieve your benefits and use them yourself, which you can always do later anyway. If you want to make sure one of your dependents can later use the benefit, you probably need to make sure when you apply for the program that you transfer at least one month to each dependent,” Cummings said.

Many Airmen who intend to use the benefit themselves after they retire or separate don’t apply for TEB. In some cases, Cummings said, that has sad consequences.

“We get calls from Mortuary Affairs at Dover (Air Force Base, Del.) sometimes. It’s already a sad situation if Dover’s calling, but it’s really heartbreaking if a member who died didn’t transfer any benefits to a dependent,” he said. “You know, you can always retrieve the benefits for yourself later, but if you aren’t here later, it’s too late to for your dependents to be able to use your benefits.”

Members who transfer benefits and voluntarily separate before completing the four year commitment may have to repay the government for any benefits already used by their dependents, and dependents would not be able to use the remainder of the benefits, so members who plan to separate or retire should carefully consider the implications before applying for TEB. However, TEB is a perfect opportunity for members who plan to reenlist or make the Air Force a career, said Cummings.

“If you’re planning to stay in for the next four years or more anyway, then the active duty service commitment isn’t really a factor,” he said. “Plus, if something happens that prevents you from fulfilling that commitment, like a medical discharge, your dependents will likely still be able to use the transferred benefits and you won’t have to repay the government for benefits they already used.”

Eligible Airmen can apply for TEB through the MilConnect website at www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect, or through the virtual MPF self service actions section, accessible via the myPers website or the Air Force Portal.

“If you decide to apply, remember that all actions including submitting the signed statement of understanding must be accomplished within 14 days of applying. If you don’t complete all actions, your application will be rejected and you will have to start over later,” Cummings said. “And, ADSC dates are not retroactive to the first application attempt, so if you decide to reapply a year later, that’s when your service commitment will begin.”

For more information about the Post 9/11 GI Bill and transferring education benefits, go to myPers at https://mypers.af.mil, and enter “Post 9/11 GI Bill” or “9083” in the search window. Information is also available at the MilConnect Website under the frequently asked questions tab. Potential applicants can also send questions to Cummings and the AFPC education services team at afpc.dpsitedu@us.af.mil.

35th Fighter Wing reaches 2012 flying hour quota

by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/4/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- While sitting in the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, Capt. Ruben Amezaga, 14th Fighter Squadron C-Flight commander, glanced at the clock as the sun lowered and its pinkish-orange glow signaled the end of another day at Misawa.

Unfortunately for Amezaga, it wasn't like any other day. It was the last day for the base to close out their flying hour program for the fiscal year 2012, Sept. 26, 2012, to be exact. On top of that, Amezaga's jet was scheduled as the last aircraft to touch down on the runway. Suffice to say he was a bit pressured to make sure he completed his mission according to plan.

"I kept checking the clock, focused on making the deadline. I just kept thinking to myself, I've got to land on time," said Amezaga.

The Pacific Air Force flying hour program has a set number of sorties or flying hours for each pilot. This number is assigned to ensure they are combat ready and F-16 mission capable. The program allows pilots to fly over their allocated flying hours, but not under them. Being unable to fulfill set flying hours means the loss of money and hours, which will be reallocated to another fighter wing.

"Perfectionism is just part of who we are," said Amezaga, with modest pride shortly after landing the jet.

Maj. Robert Carden, 35th Operations Support Squadron wing scheduling flight commander, stated he was just as proud as the pilot.

"I owe everyone a thank you. It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork to do our job and to keep the program working smoothly," said Carden.

The U.S. Air Force allotted the 35th Fighter Wing $54,042,400.00 for its Flying Hour Program, roughly an average of $8,000.00 per hour of air time that is used to maintain combat capabilities of the pilots, Airmen and aircraft. It's because of this money and the Airmen' s and pilot's mentality that they closed out their flying hours with 4,400 sorties flown and 6,700 hours of flight time generated from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012.

"Not only are the pilots being pushed to maintain their combat capability, but maintainers and support agencies are keeping up with their combat proficiency through their own aspect training," said Carden.

From the moment the jets' wheels leave the ground to when they touch down onto a runway and everything in between, maintainers are using that time to keep up their training.

"It's one big cycle; money equals training equals mission readiness," said Carden. "Basically, we get money from the government, Airmen and pilots get the training they need to maintain their combat capabilities and homeland security is ensured. Without this program, homeland security could be threatened."

Press Secretary Calls Syria's Actions 'Wrong, Deplorable'



By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2012 - The United States stands with its NATO ally Turkey in Ankara's response to a Syrian cross-border mortar attack that killed five Turkish civilians yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

During a news conference, Little said Defense Department officials are outraged by the Syrian government's actions along the Turkish border.

"We hope that this doesn't escalate into a broader conflict; we hope that the situation de-escalates," he said.
Turkey responded to the attack with artillery fire directed against Syrian military targets.

"It is absolutely inappropriate, wrong and deplorable for the Syrian regime to conduct this kind of activity along the border, which has led to the loss of life of Turkish civilians," Little said.

NATO officials released a statement following an emergency meeting called after the cross-border incident, saying "the alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law."

It is time for Bashar Assad and his regime to step down, Little emphasized during today's news conference.
"They continue to kill innocent civilians in Syria, and it's time for the Syrian people to be able to determine their own future in a country that's free of this kind of brutality," he added.

Little said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has not had any contact with Turkish officials since the incident, but that Pentagon leaders "respect the inherent right of self-defense displayed by Turkey."

According to media reports, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay announced today that Syria had admitted responsibility for yesterday's mortar shelling and apologized for the deaths, pledging "such an incident will not occur again."

Sister-service PME provides valuable joint tool

by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
Air Force Public Affairs Agency


10/4/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- As part of a career broadening opportunity, a new nomination and selection process to attend sister-service enlisted professional military education (EPME) courses has been established for senior non-commissioned officers.

"The significance rests with the transformation from a first-come, first-served process to one that incorporates deliberate development and a return on investment," said Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Horn, the chief of Air Force Enlisted Developmental Education. "We owe it to both our Airmen and our Air Force to put this level of rigor into our developmental processes."

To be eligible for sister-service senior NCO courses, Airmen must not only be nominated by their unit, but must also meet the specific criteria of the applicable service. The package must then be submitted through a board process at the unit's major command, where the first cut is made.

From there, packages are sent to an Air Force-level board that determines the selectees who are given final approval by the chief master sergeant of the Air Force. This year the Air Force-level board is scheduled for Oct. 10, and if all goes well, it will be benchmarked as the new selection process.

For Master Sgt. Michael Noel, the chance to attend a joint EPME course was invaluable.

"I wanted a different PME perspective," said Noel, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs office superintendent of force management. "I was really interested to see how other services (work), to see what kinds of issues they talk about when it comes to leadership and management. We all have a common goal to be effective leaders. So, I wanted the challenge of going somewhere else and finding out what I can learn from it. I jumped at the opportunity to attend the Marine advanced course."

Noel attended the U.S. Marine Corps Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy Advanced Course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., which is one of the approved classes Air Force senior NCOs can attend in place of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy. The course also provides the joint tools needed to become an effective senior enlisted leader.

"Sister-service EPME opportunities provide our Airmen with a perspective that is critical to today's joint warfighter," Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy said. "We're operating more and more in the joint environment, so it makes sense to train and educate that way. This helps us understand our joint partners better."

That joint partnership is exactly what sister-service members hope for.

"I think it's really important for Air Force senior enlisted management, like Master Sergeant Noel, to come here and actually see the type of leadership training we get, to get a better flavor for what we do, especially now that we get more joint," said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Simmons, from Company I Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion in Hawaii. "He's assimilated right in with the group. It's been great to have him here."

Noel's biggest piece of advice for other senior NCOs in the joint-EPME environment is to have the "right mindset, to go in with an open mind and be willing to listen to those other perspectives."

Other joint PME courses include the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas; the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy at Newport, R.I.; the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy at Petaluma, Calif.; and the U.S. Marine Corps courses also located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Butler, Japan.

DOD Releases the Western Hemisphere Defense Policy Statement



"In the Western Hemisphere a remarkable transformation has taken place.  Countries are doing more than ever before to advance peace and security both within and beyond their borders," Secretary of Defense Panetta said.  "Their efforts and vision provide the United States with a historic opportunity to renew and strengthen our defense partnerships in the region." 

The Department of Defense released today the DoD Western Hemisphere Defense Policy Statement.  The statement explains how the January 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance will shape DoD engagement in the Western Hemisphere.              

The statement also describes DoD defense policy goals of promoting mature, professional national defense institutions; fostering integration and interoperability among partners; and promoting hemispheric defense institutions

Panetta to Visit South America, Brussels

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will leave tomorrow on a weeklong trip to South America and Europe, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little briefs reporters at the Pentagon, Oct. 4, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The secretary will visit officials in Peru and then participate in the Defense Ministerial of the Americas in Uruguay, Little said. The secretary will then fly to Brussels for a regularly scheduled meeting of NATO defense ministers.

The trip will reaffirm the U.S. military’s commitment to strengthening partnerships around the world, Little said.

“In Peru, Secretary Panetta will have the opportunity to meet with President [Ollanta] Humala [Tasso], and he will meet separately with Minister of Defense Pedro Cateriano,” the press secretary said.
Peru is a strong ally in the region. “The U.S. cooperates with the Peruvian military on a range of activities, exercises, and training,” Little said. Panetta will discuss ways to deepen the U.S.-Peruvian bilateral defense relationship in the areas of counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and humanitarian operations.

In Uruguay, he will have the chance to confer with Western Hemisphere counterparts and meet bilaterally with defense leaders from seven nations, including those from the host country, Little said. “The emphasis of those discussions will be on strengthening partnerships and working with other nations to build their capacity to contribute to regional and international security efforts,” he added.

Panetta will look to lay the groundwork for closer security cooperation with Uruguay on areas of common concern. “Given that schedule, it is fitting and timely that today the department is releasing a Western Hemisphere defense policy statement,” Little said.

The statement, Pentagon officials said, will guide the U.S. approach to defense cooperation across the region, recognizing that the Western Hemisphere nations have a growing capability and willingness to contribute to security efforts within and beyond their borders.