Military News

Monday, October 15, 2012

Motorcycle Mentorship Program encourages safe enjoyment in the saddle

By Capt. Aaron Roman
5th Armored Brigade, Division West

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (10/12/12) – As temperatures drop sharply here around this time of year, many of the ‘Coyotes’ of Division West’s 5th Armored Brigade are considering putting their motorcycles into winter hibernation.  Even so, the bikers of the brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 361st Combat Support Regiment

augmented their recent battle assembly weekend by completed their motorcycle safety ride for the quarter as part of the unit’s Motorcycle Mentorship Program.
The purpose of the program is to establish voluntary installation-level motorcycle clubs where less experienced riders and seasoned riders can create a supportive environment of responsible motorcycle riding and enjoyment.

Coyote Motorcycle Mentorship Program Manager Master Sgt. Richard L. Sagness organized the event for the unit’s motorcyclists.

 “The MMP’s goal is to bring together both new and experienced riders and promote responsible fun, education and safety to the dozens of riders in our unit,” Sagness said.

 Sagness began his MMP with a safety class, followed by an inspection using the ‘Tires and Wheels, Cables and Control, Lights, Oil and Fluids, Chassis and Sidestand’ – or T-CLOCS – pre-ride checklist, and delivered the final instructions before they took off on their final scheduled obstacle course and safety ride.
 Sagness and MidAmerica Motorplex Inc., a local power sports business and civilian motorcycle organization, provided training on an obstacle course designed to emphasize safety, teach control and increase performance measures for the Soldiers while on their motorcycles.  The use of local training facilities enhanced the unit’s abilities to provide realistic and appropriate training for the Soldiers.

 “It’s nice to see the unit’s focus and commitment to safety. Any day is a good day when our Soldiers can concentrate on the overall safety of riding their motorcycles,” Bravo Team Platoon Sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Sean P. McLaughlin said.

The next event of the day was a 100-mile round trip ride to the city of Mitchell that encompassed all types of riding – group, urban, country and staggered. Sagness rode along with the motorcyclists during the road trip observing their riding techniques, their negotiating while in traffic and on the open road and their overall safety procedures.

“I like our motorcycle program, said Staff Sgt. Jeris Timmermans, Bravo Team squad leader.  “It brings the unit together and we get a chance to go over new safety guidelines and ride together.  The combination of experience and knowledge here is great to see, and we have fun doing it.”

Niagara holds enlistment ceremony during War of 1812 bicentennial events

by Master Sgt. Kevin Nichols
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/14/2012 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- A mass enlistment ceremony of civilians into the United States Air Force Reserve was held in Lewiston, N.Y. today during the town's bicentennial commemoration event - Battle of Queenston Heights, the first major battle of the War of 1812.

The enlistment ceremony directly preceded a cannon bombardment reenactment of a battle that took place exactly 200 years ago on October 13, 1812.

Enlistees had the unique opportunity to be sworn in at the location and on the anniversary of an event which holds a significant place in our nation's history.

Federal law requires that everyone who enlists or re-enlists in the Armed Forces of the United States must take the Oath of Enlistment. The Oath of Enlistment is administered by any commissioned officer to any person enlisting or re-enlisting for a term of service into any branch of the military.

Typically this oath is administered by a junior officer, and on special events such as this it can be given by commanders and generals. The Commander of the 914th Airlift Wing, Col. Allan Swartzmiller, administered the oath of enlistment to a group of nine new Airmen while War of 1812 reenactors from the 1st Lewiston Militia provided the colors for the ceremony.

"I'm extremely proud of these fine men and women who have taken a step forward and are answering the call to serve their nation," said Col. Swartzmiller. "They will join the ranks of other Citizen Airmen who are the finest, highly trained, and motivated aerospace force in the world. We also appreciate the continued support from their families, the community, and employers in Western New York."

Yellow Ribbon 'ties' Reservists, families to support resources

by Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Moody
446th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs


10/14/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- The next Air Force Reserve Regional Yellow Ribbon Training Event is scheduled Dec. 14-16 in Orlando, Fla.

This casual event is intended to set up an elegant and relaxing venue for the whole family, which includes fun-filled activities, referral information, education, vendor booths, and interactive breakout sessions that span the concerns and issues faced by Reservists and their loved ones before and after a deployment.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a Department of Defense effort to promote the well-being of Reservists and National Guardsmen, and their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. Through Yellow Ribbon events, service members and loved ones connect with many resources such as TriCare and Military One Source before, during, and after deployments.

"To qualify for this program, you must have received a call to active duty for 90 days or more within a 12-month period that resulted in separation from your family during the tour," said Chief Master Sgt. Karilyn Graham, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant and 446th Airlift Wing Yellow Ribbon representative. "Reservists wishing to attend may bring their spouse and children, and single Airmen may bring parents, siblings, or their designated individual. Those attending will be placed on orders, so their hotel cost, travel and meals will be reimbursed at the government rate."

Yellow Ribbon has helped many Citizen Airmen and their families, like Joni Garrelts and her husband Tech. Sgt. John Garrelts, with the 86th Aerial Port Squadron, here.

"We found the events to be of great interest," said Joni, a stay-at-home mother from Springfield, Ore. "We attended two and learned from both events - something that will be of use to both of us and even to our children. We encourage all Reservists and their families to attend these events whenever they have the opportunity. The children are able to relate to others who are going through, or have gone through a deployment and share their experiences."

Garrelts said she would encourage everyone to attend a Yellow Ribbon event and ask questions about what to expect and where to turn for help while the military member is deployed.

"These events are not only informative and helpful, they are also fun - they offer the opportunity to get away from home for the weekend and connect with others who have experienced (or are about to experience) a deployment whether it's the first or just one of many," said Garrelts. "My husband and I came away from these events with plenty of information and knowledge that will aid us in post deployment benefits, going back to school, and connecting with other Reservists and family members to know that our experiences were not unique and others had some of the same experiences we had while he was deployed. We learned from the briefings and returned home with a small library of information."

Yellow Ribbon programs often include workshops for finance, communication and general legal advice as well as support from resources like the Red Cross, MetLife-Dental and educational benefits.

Reservists interested in attending the next Yellow Ribbon event should email the AFR Yellow Ribbon Program office at afrc.yellowribbon@us.af.mil or call 478) 327-1041 DSN: 497-1041.

Pacom Chief Encourages Closer U.S.-India Security Ties

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2012 – In his first visit to India as commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III encouraged a closer defense relationship between the United States and India in which they address shared interests to promote long-term regional security and stability.


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Ambassador Marc Wall, right, U.S. Pacific Command political advisor; U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell; and Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, meet with Indian Defense Minister A.K Antony and his staff at the India Ministry of Defense in New Delhi, Oct. 11, 2012. Deepening security ties and military interoperability between the two nations underlined Locklear's visit to India. U.S. Pacific Command photo by Army Staff Sgt. Carl N. Hudson
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Locklear emphasized the U.S. interest in taking its relationship with India to the next level during meetings with Defense Minister A.K. Antony, Chief of Integrated Defense Staff Vice Adm. SPS Cheema and other officials in New Delhi.

“Building a strong military relationship with India builds understanding and deepens established ties that will contribute to the larger Asia-Pacific region,” Locklear said during an Oct. 12 roundtable discussion at the Observer Research Foundation think tank following the sessions.

Locklear, who made a priority of developing the U.S.-India strategic partnership when he took the helm at Pacom in March, noted the two countries’ common values and their mutual interest in a secure environment that promotes stability and allows economies to grow.
He emphasized the impact of globalization, which has increased the importance of sea lanes as a conduit of global commerce and the free flow of information in cyberspace.
“The economic system is so interlocked that a disruption of the flow of … goods that disrupts the economy, in and of itself, is a security threat,” the admiral told a Hindustan Times reporter.

But globalization also has given rise to terrorist structures and groups conducting illicit activities no longer limited by national borders, he noted. That demands closer cooperation among regional nations so they can work together to support their shared concerns, Locklear said.

“We’re seeing an environment that demands more multilateralism,” he said. “A regional environment utilizing strengthened partnerships and alliances will uphold long-term diplomacy, security and prosperity.”

Locklear noted a “quite productive” effort to increase compatibility between the U.S. and Indian militaries, particularly in the maritime domain. But he encouraged closer future cooperation in two additional areas: counterterrorism and disaster response.

“I believe that where we have the most to gain in interaction is counterterrorism,” he said. “We both have similar concerns, not just about counterterrorism in the immediate area of any one country. It’s the spread of that terrorism, and its ability to upset the security environment in a way not productive for the future.”

Locklear also recognized the value of regional collaboration to provide better responses to natural disasters and reduce suffering. “Militaries have a role in being able to respond early and jump start [that response],” he said. “I believe the United States and India share a very similar perspective on the importance of that.”
To improve their ability to work cooperatively, the admiral acknowledged the need to increase technology-sharing. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta made that point when he visited India in June, and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter re-emphasized it during his follow-up visit to New Delhi in July.

“When it relates to our defense trade initiatives, there needs to be some streamlining, with more efficiency in it,” Locklear agreed. “Certainly the timelines and bureaucracies on both sides need to be streamlined.”
He applauded efforts both countries are making in that direction, recognizing that increasing compatibility benefits the entire region.

“We … need the Indian military to have the very best equipment it can,” Locklear said. “It is in the best interest of Pacom, and I believe of the security of the Asia-Pacific region, for the United States and our partners and allies in this region to be able for us to come together in a military way and be able to operate together effectively when necessary.”

Asked about China’s role, Locklear emphasized the importance of engaging positively with China as it emerges as a regional and global power and leader.

“If you step back and look at the strategic rise of China, it shouldn’t be unexpected that as China rises in both economic and military power, they will start to have a greater influence on their neighbors and the region in which they live, and eventually, on the global environment,” he said.

“The question is, ‘How do we as a global community … attempt to allow China to … become a productive member of the security environment?’” Locklear said. “India and the U.S. share that as a common concern, and it should be a common objective.”

The alternative, he said, is not good for anyone. Historically, turmoil has occurred when emerging powers like China entered into mature security environments that included a superpower like the United States. “In the past, we haven’t had a lot of success with that happening without conflict,” Locklear said.

“But today, the stakes are different. The world population is much more interlocked than in the past,” he said. “We must see a future where China emerges productively and is contributing to a secure, peaceful environment and is not on the outside, looking in, or vice versa.”

(Army Staff Sgt. Carl N. Hudson of U.S. Pacific Command contributed to this article.)

Face of Defense: Las Vegas Native Cooks for Sailors, Marines

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Karen Blankenship
Amphibious Squadron 11

PHILIPPINE SEA, Oct. 15, 2012 – Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Latrice Walker, a Las Vegas native, is serving aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga while on deployment in the Western Pacific.

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Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Latrice Walker chops vegetables in the ship's galley aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga, Sept. 16, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Karen Blankenship
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
As a culinary specialist, Walker is responsible for providing the ship’s crew and embarked Marines with three meals a day.

Walker said her rise through the ranks from seaman recruit to a third class petty officer has involved a lot of hard work.

“You have to do the grunt work,” she said. “I’ve worked in the chief’s mess and the wardroom. I’ve also worked as a damage control petty officer. I’ve pretty much done everything.”

Walker said that the fact that she stays busy throughout the day is her favorite part of her job.

“We work throughout breakfast, lunch and dinner,” she said. “You’re never confused about what you’re going to do. Your day is pretty much taken up until it’s time for you to get off.”

The 21-year-old sailor said she joined the Navy to take advantage of the educational benefits. She is attending Central Texas College and hopes to become an optometrist and open her own practice. Meanwhile, she’s enjoying the travel that’s part of Navy life.

“I like the fact that we visit all these countries,” she said. “We go from Guam to Thailand. I’ve also been to Palau and Saipan. I like traveling, meeting new people, seeing new things and experiencing the different cultures.”

Tortuga is part of the forward-deployed Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

Silver Star represents 44-year closure for KIA Airman's family

by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Rojek
Air Force News Service


10/15/2012 - HOUSTON (AFNS) -- "Promise me you're going to find out what happened to him."

All Lillian Calfee wanted to know was the fate of her only son.

On March 11, 1968, Lillian was told by her daughter-in-law, June Calfee, that her son, Master Sgt. James Calfee was missing in action. He was part of a secret mission in Southeast Asia, and his family was given no other details. The Calfees clung to the word "missing," holding out hope that James would be found and returned to them. Even after they were told his status was changed to "killed in action - body not recovered," Lillian waited.

But 10 years later, James still had not returned and the family still had no answers. Just before she passed away in 1978, Lillian turned to Debra Morris, her granddaughter. She asked Debra to continue the search for answers, to find out what James was doing and what led to his possible death.

Little did Debra know, that promise would lead to more than three decades of research, allowing her to learn more about her uncle and the hero no one knew he was.

COMMANDO CLUB

For his actions at Lima Site 85 in Laos on March 11, 1968, Master Sgt. James Calfee will be recognized at a ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 15.

The ceremony, which surrounds a memorial to the 19 Airmen of the 1st Combat Evaluation Group who were killed in action, comes after Morris' more than 30 years of research to determine what exactly happened on the mountain that fateful day.

Though his name is already on the two-year-old memorial, Calfee's medal was recently upgraded from a Bronze Star with Valor to a Silver Star. Base leaders have updated his information on the memorial as well as the information of fellow Lima Site 85 team member Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger, whose medal was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

As part of the 1st CEVG, both men were in a select group of Airmen sent to Laos in November 1967 to man a top secret radar site atop the 5,500-foot Phu Pha Thi ridge. It was officially called Lima Site 85, but was known as Commando Club, according to Emerson McAfee, a former member of 1st CEVG. The equipment at the site, which included a tactical air navigation system and a TSQ 81 radar bombing control system, allowed the Air Force to conduct all-weather bombing runs into North Vietnam.

Though Calfee had extensive knowledge of these systems, he was at first told he had a medical condition that made him "not eligible for worldwide duty," according to Air Force documents.

"He begged his commander (Lt. Col. Gerald Clayton) to get him on this mission," Morris said, recalling a conversation she had with Clayton. "He ended up getting a waiver that let him go. That's how dedicated he was."

The Geneva Accord of 1954 did not allow for a U.S. military presence in Laos, so the men assigned to the mission were "sheep-dipped": "discharged" from the Air Force and "hired" as Lockheed contractors. That was what their families and friends were told, too, though some didn't believe it.

"Prior to his death, James was able to come home (in late January 1968)," said Robert Arrington, Calfee's friend and brother-in-law, who had also served in the Air Force. "We were riding around an Air Force base and James would not tell me what he was into. I told him on the way home that he's in over his head."

Calfee wouldn't hear of it, though, telling his family that what he was doing would end the war in Vietnam. He "honestly, truly believed that," Arrington said. However, he also told Arrington and his sisters Frances Arrington and Rosalie Bacica that he was "probably not coming back."
Unfortunately, his prediction would prove true.

ENEMY AT THE GATES

According to official reports, the North Vietnamese Army began launching attacks near Lima Site 85 as early as December 1967. They slowly moved closer and closer to the site, attacking local pro-government forces and clearing out supply lines. The NVA finally attempted an air attack directly on Lima Site 85 on Jan. 12, 1968, dropping mortar rounds they had converted into "bombs" through tubes in the floor of their AN-2 Colts, according to the Project CHECO Report, a once top secret document that was published in August 1968. Both attacking aircraft were shot down.

Ground attacks directly on the site began at the end of January and increased to the point where the men of Lima Site 85 were directing airstrikes around the mountain for self-preservation. The Airmen at the site were technicians - from radar to power production - and not fully combat trained, said William Husband, Lima Site 85 survivor, during an interview in 1986. They weren't even supposed to have weapons on the site as they were "civilians." However, CIA agents responsible for the site's safety and protection gave the men some M-16s, a new rifle at the time.

"I guess they felt sorry for us or something," said Husband, who was a power production staff sergeant assigned to the site. "One day the rifles were there, and some of us knew how to use them and some didn't."

Husband said Calfee and Etchberger helped train the technicians on how to use the M-16s. There wasn't an opportunity to conduct live fire training, however, until the early morning hours of March 11, 1968. By then, it wasn't a training exercise, but a fight for their lives.

DIGGING

At first all Calfee's family was told was that he was missing in action. Then, in April 1970, the family received a condolence letter from President Richard Nixon. Still, because of the nature of the mission, they weren't told what exactly happened. And that's all they wanted to know.

After Lillian's request, Debra Morris began her search for the story of her uncle's final hours.

"My family didn't know anything; there weren't any books, it was just a matter of hunting for stuff periodically and every once in a while you'd get a hit on something," said Morris, a retired school teacher. "But I couldn't find anything about my uncle. I just kept digging and digging and digging."

She went from perusing libraries to surfing the Web, and found information on the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office. The family had not received updates from the government for 15 years, and she wanted to know if anyone was even still looking for Calfee.

"I sent an email, 'Can you please put our family back on your mailing list?,'" Morris said. "It was two seconds and I got something back from the guy: 'Where are you and where have you all been?'"

Thankfully, their mistakenly being taken off the mailing list was quickly fixed and the family received the updated information. Though the news didn't include Calfee being found, they did get information on meetings for families of prisoners of war and missing in action Airmen. This led to finding information on conventions at which former 1st CEVG members and Lima Site 85 survivors were present.

The difficulty in locating information stemmed from the formerly top secret nature of the mission. From the beginning, the Airmen of Lima Site 85 were not allowed to talk about the mission, and they were not even supposed to know who was on the other shifts working on the mountain.

The four Airmen who survived the attack on Lima Site 85 were re-assigned, therefore, did not even see each other or speak about events of March 11, 1968, until years later, said Morris. Even the families of the 11 men killed on the mountain top that day were not allowed to meet or talk to one another.

"We were told we would never know who the other people were and we were told we'd never talk to them," said Francis Arrington.

Morris, however, found out about a Lima Site 85 families meeting in Kentucky a few years ago.

"I emailed this guy and told him, 'We've never been allowed to meet any of the other families,'" Morris said. "'Could we maybe come to this, compare some stories?'

"They were more than happy to have us," she continued. "They thought we had dropped off the face of the Earth."

Through meetings like this, she heard stories from Lima Site 85 members, including survivors of the March 11 attack, former Air Force Staff Sgt. John Daniels and Capt. Stanley Sliz. And, though they only met briefly, the family had also talked with Clayton, the commander of Lima Site 85.

"They had heard bits and pieces of this story of what actually happened on the hill (where Calfee was at the time of the attack)," Morris said. "Of course, by this time there was nobody alive who could tell us, 'Yes, this is what actually happened.'"

Through further research, she found the William Husband interview. He had given the interview to retired Maj. Donald Metzger, who was planning on writing a screenplay based on the events at Lima Site 85. His story explained in part what happened at the top of the mountain. However, the official reports that were out at the time only told the story of what happened at the side of the mountain, Morris said.

"No one ever spoke of the events at the top," she said. "Those on top couldn't see over the side, and those on the side could not see what was happening to those on the top.
"It was dark, and there were people who were throwing grenades over from the top of the mountain, but there was somebody who was still shooting," Morris continued. "And through this story we found, it appeared to be James."

AT THE TOP

According to Husband, the men at Lima Site 85 began hearing gun fire sometime before midnight March 10, 1968. Their resident CIA agent told them the enemy was closing in on the airstrip and it was decided that evacuations would take place in the morning, at daylight. The men put on their combat vests and grabbed their weapons. Sliz and his crew decided to attempt to rest over the side of the mountain, while Calfee and his crew, including Husband, were at the top operating the radar bombing control system and maintaining equipment.

At about 3 a.m., according to the Project CHECO Report, NVA commandos had scaled the side of the mountain and then opened fire on the operations building. Upon hearing small arms fire, Calfee and Tech. Sgt. Patrick Shannon accompanied Lt. Col. William Blanton out through the front door of the operations building in what appeared to be an attempt to produce his civilian identification. All three men were shot at point blank range, killing Shannon and Blanton immediately. Calfee was hit in the face and upper chest, Husband said, but managed to crawl under the operations building with his weapon.

From that position, Calfee continued to fire on the enemy to defend the site, according to his Silver Star citation. His actions drew some of the enemy forces away from the team over the side of the mountain, allowing five Airmen to reach the rescue helicopter. Etchberger, Sliz, Husband and Daniels reached the first helicopter, but Etchberger was shot and died en route. Staff Sgt. Jack Starling hid among the dead and was rescued later that morning.

"I can only comment on what I saw," Husband said. "Calfee was the hero."

CLOSURE

After finding Husband's side of the story, Morris presented this new information to a DPMO analyst two years ago. Comparing all the evidence as more and more information became declassified, the analyst was able to determine that, according to a timeline he developed, it must have been Calfee firing at the top of the mountain.

Calfee and the other 10 men who died at Lima Site 85 were given the Bronze Star medal in 1983 - with the Valor device issued in 1984. However, based upon the discovery of Calfee's actions, Morris, with the aid of Delton Kayga, began to push for Calfee's medal to be upgraded.

"We started campaigning hard," said Kayga, Robert and Frances's son-in-law. He and Morris sent letters to the Air Force along with local and national politicians and newspapers. "I wanted James' gallantry in battle and heroism to stand out, and I wanted his four sisters to feel that pride."

Their campaign eventually led them to William Brown, Air Force Evaluation and Recognition Programs Branch chief. They traveled to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, to meet with Brown about one year ago, bringing their boxes of documents to present their case.

"I told the family I could not guarantee anything, but I was already slotted to go on a trip to the D.C. area and I would take their information and see what I could do as far as getting it before the proper approval authority," Brown said.

Brown then discovered the family was missing one key factor: According to Title 10 of the U.S. Code, they needed a congressional request. Morris and Kayga took the case to Rep. Ron Paul, who agreed with the medal upgrade and sent the request through the proper channels.
Finally, the request was approved by Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, the citation was signed and Paul presented the Silver Star to the family in a private ceremony at his office in Lake Jackson, Texas, Aug. 16.

"I wanted to make sure we didn't overlook one of our fallen veterans, which is why I reached out," Brown said. "We can't meet with every family to assist in that way, but I think this was a unique case given the circumstances behind it."

The family, though grateful that they've finally learned so much about Calfee and were able to get him the recognition he deserved, still feel that it's all bittersweet. What Morris said she wants to avoid is people forgetting about the other men who died on the mountain with her uncle.

"They all died up there," she said. "It wasn't just one person."

It's with that mindset that the family still attends 1st CEVG and Lima Site 85 meetings. They still search for information on what happened on the mountain. They still fight to have the story of Lima Site 85 told.

Because of her grandmother's request, Morris learned that Master Sgt. James Calfee was a hero. She learned about his dedication, his bravery and his death. But more than that, she learned to never give up.

Future Airmen reach new heights during mass enlistment at Dobbins

by Senior Airman Christina Bozeman
94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/13/2012 - DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- With microphone in hand, Col. Timothy E. Tarchick, 94th Airlift Wing commander, looked up to the top of the Dobbins Air Reserve Base control tower and shouted "You're in; congratulations!"

Tarchick just swore in 19 of the newest enlisted trainees of the U.S. Air Force Reserves. This was the first time ever utilizing the tower to perform an enlistment.

"You've all made a big decision," said Tarchick. "You will gain new skills, meet new people and travel to many new places; all while serving this great nation of ours."

After the ceremony, the newly enlisted came down from the tower to join their families on the ground.

Brittaney Ellis, a graduate of Hiram High School in Cobb County, will attend Dietary Therapy technical training after Basic Military Training and become a member of the 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron.

"I loved it," Ellis said, after enlisting from atop the tower. "I participated in JROTC during high school. I feel like this is a good experience."

Ellis's mom, Brenda Smith, was touched by the ceremony.

"I am overwhelmed," said Smith. "That was a beautiful thing."

Sidnie Moore, another trainee, graduated from Kennesaw Mountain High School in Cobb County. He will attend Pest Management technical training and join the 94th Civil Engineering Squadron.

"My dad was a Marine for 16 years," Moore said. "He always enjoyed the military; there seems to be a lot of benefits of joining."

Moore's mom, Stephanie Moore, was present at the ceremony.

"We loved it," said Moore. "We're very proud of him!"

Chief Master Sgt. Wendell L. Peacock, 94th Airlift Wing command chief, commended parents and friends for sharing such a milestone in the trainees' lives.

"The career opportunities in the Air Force Reserves have expanded far greater over the years since I enlisted," said Peacock. "Our new trainees have made one of the most important, and fulfilling decisions of their lives."

Change of command embraces tradition, innovation for Air Force Recruiting Service

by Tech. Sgt. Andy Stephens
Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs


10/15/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Brig. Gen. John P. Horner succeeded Brig. Gen. Balan R. Ayyar as commander, Air Force Recruiting Service in a change of command ceremony at the enlisted club here on Oct. 11. The new commander expressed enthusiasm for his new assignment and credited the hard work and resourcefulness of Air Force recruiters worldwide for continuing to recruit quality Airmen for the world's greatest Air Force.

"I'm both excited and humbled to be entrusted with command of the Air Force Recruiting Service," Horner said. "This is a wonderful organization where leadership is absolutely dependent on teamwork and empowering our recruiters -- some of the most gifted, most inspired people in America's Air Force."

Horner cited the active duty and civil service workforce at San Antonio for their role in supporting more than 1,200 recruiting offices that span from Ramstein Air Base, Germany to Hometown, America. He stated his commitment to upholding the tradition of AFRS - to be the most agile, effective and professional recruiting force in the world.

Horner described the drive for recruiters to balance the innovations of marketing with the steadfast, traditional values of the Air Force that remain appealing to not just the next generation of Airmen, but their families. The pressure on recruiters to find the right skill set for these future Airmen requires balancing the needs of the service with the attributes of the recruit in a challenging new era of national service.

"Whether you are recruiters or support staff, we have all been entrusted to find America's best and brightest and inspire them into service," the general said. "We're going to face many of the same challenges we have before, but this command will always be supportive of its personnel because of the demands that are asked of them. For us, people are our mission. Any new challenges will be met with that trademark dedication and perseverance that motivates tomorrow's Airmen to service today."

While AFRS has traditionally focused on recruiting the best and brightest enlisted applicants who have no prior military service into more than 150 enlisted career fields, AFRS also recruits officer candidates in a variety of unique skills sets such as chaplains and physicians. The command is responsible for accessing 100 percent of the enlisted force, 90 percent of the Air Force's health profession officers, approximately 16 percent of today's overall officer corps and 100 percent of Air Force chaplains. These numbers represent an annual accession average of more than 27,000 enlisted members and 1,000 officers every year.

Horner's previous assignment was at the Pentagon as the Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Capabilities, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. Among his duties in that assignment, he directed and managed Air Force remotely piloted aircraft and their associated air, space and cyberspace systems.

With today's Air Force recruiting focusing on Airmen well versed in the science, technology, engineering and math of the new technologies, Horner's knowledge of the demands and requirements of cutting-edge technology will translate to how recruiters can reach out and motivate future Airmen.

Horner is the 32nd commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service, which was established in 1954 as the 3,500th U.S. Air Force Recruiting Wing. The name was officially changed to the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service on July 8, 1959. The command has maintained a San Antonio presence since 1965 at what is now Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

Cuban native proud of American citizenship, National Guard service



October 15, 2012
By Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the top enlisted Soldier with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was five years old when his parents fled communist Cuba on one of the last Freedom Flights in April 1968.

"My dad was working for a bakery company," Conde said. "They made Cuban bread and pastries. A couple of years after Fidel [Castro] took over, my uncle's company was taken away from him. At that time, my dad was asked to become part of the local communist party. He refused, saying he wasn't a political kind of person. Within a month he was fired."

With few options available, Conde's father went "underground," buying and selling different goods, all the while his family worried that he would be sent to the grueling sugar cane fields. Conde said his parents applied to leave Cuba to provide better opportunities for their children.

"My dad was 48, and my mom was 42 when they left," Conde said. "They basically left everything they'd worked for in Cuba. They didn't get money for their house or their car - they left with nothing. I'm 49 - if I had to start all over ... it brings you back to reality."

Conde's family settled in south Florida's Cuban community. After graduating high school in 1980, Conde attended college in Minnesota, joining the Minnesota Army National Guard in 1983.

"What drove me to join the National Guard was I was going to school and that would give me some extra cash - but that was only 20 percent of it," Conde said. "I looked at the opportunities this country has given me, all the freedoms and liberties you get. Many of us don't understand, I think, what it means to be an American, to live in the U.S. How do you give back? Military service is the way I chose."

Conde moved to Wisconsin in 1986 and joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard at that time, where - except for a short stint with the Florida Army National Guard in 1991-92, he has exercised strong leadership in his assignments. As the command sergeant major for 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, he deployed to Iraq from 2005-06 for a convoy escort mission. In April 2009 he deployed to Afghanistan with an Embedded Training Team, and five months later was assigned to Regional Support Team-North Afghanistan as the senior noncommissioned officer for the Afghanistan National Security Forces development and infrastructure growth.

Living in River Falls in northern Wisconsin has coaxed the Cuban accent mostly out of Conde, but his heritage remains.

"I am who I am," he observed. "Cuban people are very hard-working and passionate about what they believe in. That's part of my Cuban heritage."

Conde said he is frustrated by comments about lack of opportunity.

"This is the land of opportunity," he said. "If you look long enough and work hard enough, you'll succeed."

That opportunity exists for everyone, Conde emphasized.

"There are great people in America, no matter what heritage they are," he explained. "We Americans need to understand that while there are differences and differences are good, we are better as a nation when we fully engage and understand what all heritages bring to the nation. Diversity means we understand what everybody can bring to the organization.

"I'm proud to say I was born in Cuba and earned the right to be an American citizen," he continued. "I'm proud of my service to this country."

DOD Official Praises Vet Employment Program

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2012 – A senior defense official took part today in the announcement in New York of a new hiring program that aims to train and place 100,000 veterans in advanced manufacturing and related jobs by 2015.

John R. Campbell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for warrior care and transition policy, joined officials from General Electric, Alcoa, Boeing and Lockheed Martin as they announced a partnered effort with the Manufacturing Institute to fast-track veterans into manufacturing jobs or skills training.

The “Get Skills to Work” program, according to GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, seeks to match veterans with some of the more than half-million unfilled high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States. Veterans, a million of whom are expected to leave service in the next four years, have the teamwork skills and personal values to make them successful in manufacturing, he said.
The program will offer veterans an online skills assessment and badging system for those who are already qualified for high-tech manufacturing jobs, and will train other veterans through partnerships with community colleges and technical training schools in 10 states, Immelt noted.

GE officials said the first class of veterans will enroll in January at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in Ohio, near GE Aviation’s manufacturing hub.

Additional training sites will open throughout 2013, officials said, in Fort Worth and Houston in Texas; Schenectady, N.Y.; Greenville, S.C.; Durham, N.C.; greater Los Angeles; and Evansville, Ind. Program details are available online at http://getskillstowork.org.

Campbell, a Marine Corps veteran who served from 1967 to 1970, is the Pentagon’s senior official responsible for ensuring that wounded, ill, injured and transitioning service members receive high-quality services, including the tools they need to re-enter civilian life successfully.

“Something very interesting happens when a veteran enters the workplace,” he said. “I call it the vet effect: leadership, teaming, personal values that course through a company’s DNA. Something really magical happens.”

Campbell said that when he left the Marine Corps and took a job with J.P. Morgan, he didn’t have to worry about proving the value of his military experience – the company’s chairman and several other senior executives also were veterans, he noted.

“It’s much different today,” he added.

“When 1 percent of this country is serving or is connected to the military,” Campbell said, “and we have so many that don’t really know there’s a war, … it’s really incumbent on programs like ‘Get Skills to Work’ to show what these terrific young men and women … [are] capable of doing.”
He noted the Defense Department partners with the departments of Veterans Affairs, Labor, Education, and Homeland Security, along with the Office of Personnel and Management and the Small Business Administration, on the redesigned Transition Assistance Program, called Transition GPS.

The government agencies involved are working to make Transition GPS “a new program that is really going to be 21st century in its thinking and … its outreach,” Campbell said. He noted VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta are both “committed to making sure veterans are ‘career ready,’ and their departments are also involved in spouse employment efforts

“On some days, I think we’re doing all we can; other days I think we can do more,” he said. Public-private partnerships such as “Get Skills to Work” can help target specific manufacturing needs in communities with large veteran populations, he added.

Through Airmen's Eyes: Retired Airman recalls first AF flight over North Po

by Retired Col. Maynard E. White
46th Reconnaissance Squadron commander


10/15/2012 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- (Editor's note: This "Through Airmen's Eyes" story is a first-person account of what some aeronautical experts claim is the first airplane flight over the geographical North Pole. The flight took place in 1946, just as the Cold War was beginning. "The only thing that stood between the Soviets and their dream of world domination was a basically undefended United States," wrote Ken White, the son of retired Col. Maynard White, in an article about the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron. It is with this mindset that this mission took place.)

The morning after my talk with Gen. Curtis LeMay on Oct. 16, 1946, a 46th Reconnaissance Squadron F-13 with tail number 521848 made an extended long-range flight to the geographic North Pole.

We had heard that Richard Byrd had flown over the North Pole in 1926, so we assumed that this was the second time in history that an American airplane was flying over the pole. Our flight was not a mission with a specific purpose, but one of pioneering for the purpose of exploration and research. Dr. Paul A. Siple, military geographer and scientific advisor to the Research and Development Department of the Army General Staff, and Robert N. Davis, operations analyst from Strategic Air Command, accompanied me as special observers on the flight.

Capt. Lloyd G. Butler's crew had been selected for this particular mission. As was routine with all missions of the 46th RS, all personnel on the crew were photographed prior to flight and radio silence was observed immediately following retraction of the landing gear. This flight was particularly interesting for the crewmembers; not only because it was the unit's first flight to the North Pole, but also because our two visitors were considered to be brilliant in their respective fields. Paul Siple sat in the nose of the aircraft encircled by a panorama of Arctic landscape, while Bob Davis monitored Lt. "Whit" Williams' grid navigation procedures. I sat on my usual folding chair over the nose wheel well, monitoring radio communications and crew coordination.

As we flew over the Brooks Range between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Point Barrow, we were presented with an awesome view of unconquered wilderness. The low October sun lent an amazing beauty to the surroundings, with the knife-edged pastel purple shadows of the mountains streaking across the soft blue landscape. I mused that such beauty tranquilizes the spirit and brings about a frame of mind that anticipates rather than fears what lies ahead.

We were still aware of the danger, however. While crossing the coast of the polar sea, we saw a lagoon 12 miles southeast of the Inuit settlement of Barrow where the humorist Will Rogers and his pilot, Wiley Post, had met their fate a number of years earlier. I remember that this point in the flight stirred our emotions and made us wonder why that tragedy had to happen here, of all places.

I again found that the leg over the polar ice cap seemed to be a different experience on each flight, offering scenery that was dramatically different from what a pilot was used to seeing. If fear of the Arctic's immensity wasn't one's predominant emotion, it was easy to become mesmerized. Some days a crew was surrounded by various types of clouds extending to the distant horizon, making them feel as though they were on a stage encircled by scenery that was constantly being changed in slow motion by invisible stagehands. Then the floor of the "stage" would develop fissures, and then cracks, which quickly grew until they reached as far as the eye could see. It was as if a river had cut through a stark, barren landscape. In a short distance, this river (called a lead) narrowed and its sides merged, creating walls of ice perhaps 50 feet wide and 30 feet high where the plates of ice crushed together. Where the ice crushed downward, a large depression would be left, which would fill with water.

After all our work on earlier flights, I felt as if this particular flight went very smoothly. The hours passed quickly for those not observing the scenery. Williams was constantly working on his grid navigation. Siple, too, was working with figures and using his astrocompass. We were on the meridian to the pole only a fraction of the time, but we were constantly correcting to course. We had finally attained precision navigation using the Grid System of Navigation. The course corrections became much more rapid as we approached the pole. I went back to the navigator's station to see how they were doing.

Williams pulled on my sleeve to direct my attention to the radarscope and announced, "We are over the pole, now!" over the interphone as Lt. Dwayne Atwill took our photograph at that precise moment. We flew a little beyond the pole and the pilot banked around to the left while Siple, Davis and I had a group picture taken with Williams as we flew over the pole a second time. Then the pilot banked right, and we saw beneath the plane a depression where a lead had terminated exactly at the pole. That was as close to a "visual confirmation" as we would get.

It never crossed my mind that we might have made history that day until sometime later when I viewed this flight in perspective. This flight, perhaps more than any other, proved the workability of the Grid System of Navigation. It was only now that we could fly throughout the Arctic and know where we were at all times. We could teach these procedures to other SAC units, enabling the command to no longer be limited to the mid-latitudes, but to become the global deterrent force capable of keeping the peace throughout the Cold War. The techniques we refined were also applied to the development of "black boxes" by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which would enable world aviation to routinely fly the transpolar routes. We didn't know it at the time, but we made the whole world navigable.

We couldn't have made this flight with any precision at all without using the Grid System of Navigation, which made all our efforts in the Arctic and beyond possible. It was the very preciseness of this system that made it possible to know we were over the pole when we were. We were the first flight in history to do that. Previous polar flights navigated with the less accurate Bumstead Compass or sextants alone and did not benefit from a form of navigation as accurate as the Grid System of Navigation. This flight was eventually recognized in a 1992 television program about America's greatest achievements as one of the ten greatest accomplishments of the United States within the last 50 years.

The accomplishment of developing the Grid System of Navigation also prompted Gen. Carl Spaatz, the first Air Force chief of staff, to state that the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron was "one of the great units of aviation history, and I rate their work as the greatest single air achievement since the war." Spaatz nominated me as the Air Force's candidate for the Collier Trophy for the greatest contribution to aviation during 1947.

It is now also a matter of record that Ken Jezek, former director of the Byrd Polar Research Center, has acknowledged the fact that due to the "navigational uncertainty of the early ages," referring to Byrd's flight, this 46th RS flight, with the precision of the Grid System of Navigation and results verifiable by radar photography, unavailable on earlier attempts, "would have been the first with the technical and aircraft capability to really know they made it."

‘Feds Feed Families’ Breaks Donation Record

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2012 – The Defense Department's 2012 contribution to the “Feds Feed Families” campaign surpassed all expectations, Paige Hinkle-Bowles, deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said Oct. 12 during an interview with American Forces Press Service.

More than 2 million pounds of nonperishable food items were donated by DOD agencies during this year's campaign, she said, a record amount for the department.

Feds Feed Families is a governmentwide campaign sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council. The total contribution across all agencies was more than 7 million pounds, Aimee Scanlon, the Defense Department's champion for Feds Feed Families, said.

Across government, participation in the program continues to grow, she said, noting that this year’s contributions amounted to an increase of more than 2 million pounds over last year.
"I think that we are fortunate in DOD to have an opportunity to be one of the leaders in this [program]," Scanlon added.

Nationally, more than 300 food banks received donations through Defense Department contributions to Feds Feed Families, Hinkle-Bowles said.

"In the national capital region, we partnered with the Capital Area Food Bank and served 700 food pantries in the D.C., Virginia and Maryland area," she said.

The program provides nonperishable items to families during the summer, providing a critical buffer when children might not have access to school lunch programs, she said. "That is one of the big benefits," she added.

"We're very appreciative of everyone's support, across the total force" she said. "It's a great way to show our support to the communities where we serve."

While several people contributed extraordinary amounts of food items, Hinkle-Bowles said, every little bit helps. "For everybody who helped, we really appreciate the support."

Hinkle-Bowles said that about a third of this year's collections came through donations at commissaries -- a partnership she noted helps the program reach beyond active duty service members and into the retiree population.

In addition to donations, the Defense Department provided logistical support to other government agencies to help in transporting foodstuffs, Hinkle-Bowles said.

The campaign runs annually, usually from June through August, but anyone looking for ways to support the community outside the campaign period can find resources at the Feds Feed Families website, Scanlon said.

"It's really been amazing that, even after the campaign has ended, I've gotten a lot of inquiries about staying engaged and continuing to help," she said. "It definitely has sparked and encouraged a lot of spirit of giving."

Airmen support monthly clean-up around local community

by Senior Airman Andrea Salazar
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/14/2012 - MIZUHO TOWN, Japan -- Volunteers from Yokota met up for the monthly Mizuho, Japan Clean-up hosted by the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron on Oct. 11, 2012.

Every month, about 11 volunteers from around base help the local community by picking up bottles, cans, cigarette butts and other assorted garbage along the walkways, roads and parking lots of Mizuho.

"It's not often I get to volunteer with the community, but I saw an e-mail sent out through the Yokota's First Four and decided to sign up," said Senior Airman Jacob Saceda, 374th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman. "It felt rewarding to help out and hear 'arigato,' from a few Japanese locals as we were passing by."

Airmen involved in the event continue to support, keeping the streets of Mizuho clean and free of debris. The clean-up efforts largely serve as a way to get Airmen into the community and meet their neighbors, putting a face to the Airmen of Yokota.

After cleaning up, volunteers head over to the local recycling plant to sort out the collected trash. Since 2005, the 374 LRS has supported the monthly Mizuho Clean-up project with over 800 military members, collecting nearly 4,000 pounds of trash each year.

"The Mizuho cleanup is an excellent way for Yokota to partner with our local neighbors and make a positive impact on the environment," said Master Sgt. Scott Hunkins, 374th LRS Fuels Operations section chief. "We are also showing a presence to the motorists that drive by and hopefully make them think twice before throwing their garbage out along the roadway."

Base loans revolutionary artifacts to national park

by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


10/10/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- In a ceremony here Oct. 3, Col. Lester A. Weilacher, 66th Air Base Group commander, handed over several Revolutionary War artifacts to Nancy Nelson, Minute Man National Historical Park superintendent.

The artifacts, including several musket balls, a shoe buckle and a knife, were uncovered during three extensive archeological digs that started in the 1990s and wrapped up in the mid-2000s.

"The Air Force has a cultural resource program that can evaluate historical significance," said Don Morris, Civil Engineering installation asset manager. "Because of Hanscom's proximity to Revolutionary War battles, we invited the group to come out and survey the area."

The base is located near the site of a significant battle called Parker's Revenge. The "second battle of Lexington" took place the day the Revolution started on April 19, 1775, around 1:30 p.m. as the British were returning to Boston along the Battle Road. Capt. John Parker led the Lexington militia to the western town line, seeking revenge for the casualties that morning on Lexington Green.

The archeologists used grids and magnetometers, plus dug some pits to uncover the historical objects.

"On the first hour of the first day of the dig, they uncovered a musket ball," said Morris. "After that, the team thought this would be a rich field of artifacts. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, but they still found some items."

The archeologists staged their equipment in the parking lot of the former Air Force Research Laboratory library and mostly searched south of that area. One day, one member decided to head west and almost immediately picked up something on the magnetometer.

"I went out to check on the crew before leaving one day," said Morris. "One guy called me over to take a look at something he'd found. It was still in the dirt and just looked like a chunk of rust. He wanted to leave it in the mud, so he marked it with two sticks and came back to check it out the next day. It turned out to be a knife from the battle."

Once the crew felt the search was over, the items were sent to two different forensic labs to be X-rayed and cleaned.

"The X-rays even revealed how the knife was made by a blacksmith," Morris said.

Now, the objects will be loaned to the national park, located just on the other side of the base fence.

"I'm honored to turn these objects over to the park so they can be enjoyed by everyone," said Weilacher.

It is good timing for the park to receive these artifacts, as well. It is embarking on its own archeological investigation. Volunteers from the Lexington Minute Men recently cleared a piece of land to prepare it in hopes of recovering more items from the Parker's Revenge battle.

In the meantime, the national park will store the items and prepare them for eventual exhibit and display.

"We will take photos and also put them on the Web for everyone to see," said Terrie Wallace, park curator.

And that's what the park mission is all about.

"At Minute Man National Historical Park, over one million visitors come each year to explore the battlefields and learn about the opening day of the Revolution," said Nelson. "These artifacts will help to make a tangible connection to the story of that crucial day."

U.S. Continues to Send Nonlethal Aid to Syrian Opposition

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2012 – The United States will continue to funnel nonlethal aid to the Syrian opposition, and urges the international community to unite against Bashar Assad’s regime, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

The State Department is providing $100 million worth of nonlethal aid to those seeking to overthrow Assad. The opposition in Syria rose after protestors brought down long-term regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

“The people of Syria are being brutalized by the Assad regime,” Little told reporters. The United Nations estimates that there are 30,000 dead in Syria from the fighting between the Assad regime and the opposition. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the country, and hundreds of thousands more are displaced within Syria.

Tensions in the region have escalated, with Jordan and Turkey hosting most of the refugees. Syrian regime forces have fired into Turkey, and the Turks have responded in kind.

Little called on the international community to do more to isolate the Assad regime. “What this points out is the need for greater international consensus on how to move forward on Syria,” he said. “We have called on the international community to unite, and those efforts have been stymied.”

U.S. policy is to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime and to provide humanitarian assistance. “That’s the right course of action at this stage,” Little said.

The United States will work with all nations who want to see the Assad regime go, the press secretary said. “That’s where the focus needs to be,” he added. “Others in the international community don’t quite see eye-to-eye with us and our allies and partners, and I hope that at some point we see greater coherence.”
The Defense Department is working closely with Jordanian government officials to help them build their country’s capacity to deal with the refugee crisis, Little told reporters. “We are very concerned about refugee flows into Jordan,” he said. “We’re concerned about [chemical and biological warfare], along with our Jordanian allies. We’re working closely with them to monitor the [Syrian] CBW sites.”

Predators, Reapers take flight and break flying record

by A1C Michael Shoemaker
49th Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- The 29th Attack Squadron, 9th Attack Squadron, and the 6th Reconnaissance Squadron set a non-combat record October 2, by flying six MQ-9 Reapers and four MQ-1 Predators simultaneously during a training mission at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

The 29th ATKS, 9th ATKS and the 6th RS recently increased their training capacity to 10 lines. A line consists of the aircraft, a ground control station and all maintenance and flight personnel required to keep an aircraft airborne. This capacity ensures they are capable of meeting U.S. Air Force remotely piloted aircraft aircrew training requirements. These three squadrons train all U.S. Air Force MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircrew members.

Col. Kenneth Johnson, 49th Operations Group commander, said, "In the last year alone, the work the operations and maintenance RPA teams accomplish every day has grown by two-thirds, from six to 10 lines."

This is in accordance with Gen. (ret.) Norton Schwartz, former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, who said that ultimately, he believes it is conceivable that the majority of aviators in the Air Force will be flying remotely piloted aircraft.

Capt. Andrew [last name withheld due to operational security concerns], an MQ-9 pilot at the 9th ATKS who participated in breaking the record said, "I'm just one person out of the dozens it takes to make this record possible. I share in the pride of my fellow squadron mates and maintenance folks who have done a lot of work to get us here. It's also a testament and validation to the direction of the Air Force. The role of RPAs is only going to increase."

The record-setting training flights were manned by 10 crews composed of instructors and students, both pilots and sensor operators. The typical flight time for an RPA is around eight hours, and multiple training missions are flown during that time.

Johnson said, "We finally have the physical capacity to accomplish our mission to increase programmed flight training and develop the best possible RPA crew members."

Holloman AFB serves as the gateway to the RPA career field as the Air Force's premier training base for RPA pilots and sensor operators.

Holloman mourns the loss of Military Working Dog

by Airman 1st Class Colin Cates
49th Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- Holloman Air Force Base members said their goodbyes to one of their own at a memorial service that rendered full military honors to a 49th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Oct. 11.

Roky/M628, a 5-year-old German Shepherd, died immediately following a demonstration Oct. 2 at Holloman AFB. The cause of his death has not been determined at this time.

"Military Working Dog Roky was my friend, my comrade, my wingman and my partner," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Secondi, 49th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler. "MWD Roky showed love to many, I just happened to be the one chosen to interact with him daily as his partner and handler."

Roky arrived at Holloman AFB in Sept. 2010 and was certified as a patrol and narcotics working dog.

"While deployed, Roky found more than 10,000 grams of illegal narcotics from a combined 90 different finds," said Staff Sgt. Michael Haeberle, NCO in charge of military working dogs. "During Roky's time assigned to the 49th SFS and deployed, he conducted approximately 1,000 random anti-terrorism measures, along with over 400 hundred hours of foot patrol."

In addition, Roky had a large role in many outreach events, which helped build the connection between Holloman AFB and the local community, said Haeberle.

"He loved to perform in demonstrations, I could see how excited he got when it was time to perform," Secondi said. "Roky never failed to put a smile on my face and those he worked with."

Roky also assisted the first sergeants' and commanders' drug enforcement policies on base by conducting 10 dorm sweeps that located eight different illegal substances during those searches, said Haeberle.

"I have been in this program since 2003, and I have spent enough time to know a very talented dog when I see one," Haeberle said. "I am going to say Roky is the top of the line, I have never seen a dog like him."

Like all other active-duty members, Roky was provided full military honors, which included presentation of the colors, playing Taps, a flag-folding ceremony and a three-volley firing party.

"The loss of Roky is a blow to our squadron, the Air Force and the United States of America to lose such a valuable asset," Secondi said. "He was one of the most loyal and compassionate friends I had and the loss of Roky will never be forgotten in my mind."

'Fastest man alive' celebrates 65 anniversary with re-enactment

by Senior Airman Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2012 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, celebrated the 65th anniversary of his ground breaking event with a re-enactment at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Oct. 14.

Yeager was serving as a test pilot and flying the experimental Bell X-1 named the, "Glamorous Glennis," Oct. 14, 1947, when he successfully broke the sound barrier.

"Up until that time we weren't able to do it," Yeager said. "Finally, in Oct. 14, 1947, we succeeded, and that opened up the doors of space to us."

Yeager's re-enactment flight began when he and the aircraft's pilot, Capt. David Vincent, 65th Aggressor Squadron pilot, flew an F-15D Eagle to 45,000 feet over Edwards AFB, Calif., and at 10:24 a.m. broke the sound barrier again.

"It was the greatest moment of my life so far," Vincent said. "It's like being with Christopher Columbus when he discovered the new world or like being with Orville and Wilbur Wright on the first flight."

Vincent said Yeager hadn't lost a step and pointed out landmarks over Edwards AFB.

"It was a smooth flight today," the general said. "I'm very familiar with the area and got a good view."

Yeager finished his day with a meet-and-greet with Nellis Airmen followed by a question and answer segment.

"I want to thank you all at Nellis," Yeager said. "The F-15 is my favorite airplane, and that's why I came here to fly it."

Yeager enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces Sept. 12, 1941. Later he was accepted to flight training in the flying sergeants program and, upon completion, was promoted to flight. Yeager demonstrated his flying skill during World War II when he became an, "ace in a day" after downing five enemy aircraft in one mission.

"What I am, I owe to the Air Force," Yeager said. "They took an 18-year-old kid from West Virginia and turned him into who I am today."

Dos and don’ts for Airmen during this political season

by Maj. Jennifer Clay
Air Force Global Strike Command Judge Advocate


10/15/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- With the 2012 general presidential election only weeks away, please in mind that special ethics rules apply to active-duty Airmen regarding their political activities.

The purpose of these rules is to ensure the Department of Defense does not influence our nation's electoral process. Violation of these rules can have serious consequences and could result in criminal or administrative penalties. As an Airman, you should be familiar with what you can and cannot do regarding political activities. The following is a quick reminder of the basic rules:

As an Airman, you may:

· Register, vote and privately express your opinions on political candidates and issues (but not as a representative of the Armed Forces).
· Make monetary contributions to a political organization.
· Encourage other military members to exercise their voting rights, however, you may not attempt to influence or interfere with the outcome of an election. Also, you may not encourage subordinates to vote for or against a particular issue or candidate.
· Sign a petition for specific legislative action or a petition to place a candidate's name on an official election ballot. You may not identify yourself by rank or duty title.
· Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing your personal views on public issues or political candidates, if such action is not part of an organized letter-writing campaign. You may not identify yourself by rank or duty title. If the letter identifies you as being on active-duty status (or if you are otherwise reasonably identifiable as a member of the Armed Forces), the letter should clearly state that the views expressed are your individual views and not those of the Air Force or DOD.
· Display a small bumper sticker on your private vehicle.

The following activities are prohibited by the Joint Ethics Regulation, DoD Regulations, Air Force Instructions and federal law. Violation of these rules may result in criminal penalties or disciplinary action. As an Airman, you may not:

· Use your official authority, influence or government resources including e-mail, to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, encourage votes for a particular candidate or issue or ask for political contributions from others.
· Participate in any radio, television or other program or group discussion as an advocate of a partisan political party or candidate.
· Solicit or fundraise in federal offices, facilities or military reservations for a partisan political cause or candidate.
· Display a large political sign, banner or poster (as distinguished from a bumper sticker) on the top or side of a private vehicle.
· Participate in any organized effort to provide voters with transportation to the polls if the effort is organized by a partisan political party or candidate.
· Attend partisan political events as an official representative of the Armed Forces.
· Display a partisan political sign, poster, banner or similar device visible to the public at one's residence on a military installation, even if that residence is part of a privatized housing development.
· Under Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, military officers may not publicly disrespect or undermine certain elected officials, federal secretaries or congress.


Partisan political activities are actions that show support for a particular political party or candidate. For example, an Airman may not participate in a rally supporting a candidate, work for a candidate's election committee, run for elected office, appear in a political advertisement or otherwise officially support a candidate. Earlier this year, an Army reservist was reprimanded for appearing in uniform on CNN to support a presidential candidate. This is just one example of what not to do.

For more information please review AFI 51-902 or contact your local legal office.