Military News

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Going for the gold: Langley hosts Special Olympics

by Staff Sgt. Ashley Hawkins
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/16/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.  -- "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

This is the oath of the World Special Olympics, in which more than 4 million athletes compete in 170 countries every year to win the gold.

This year, Langley Air Force Base hosted the 12th annual Virginia area 22 Special Olympics for the Tidewater region Oct. 13. More than 400 athletes competed in volleyball, bowling and soccer.

An opening ceremony was held before the games began to welcome everyone and showcase the lighting of the torch.

U.S. Army Col. Jayne V. Jansen, 633rd Air Base Wing vice commander, attended the opening ceremony, and welcomed all participants to the event.

"We are proud to have been your host for more than 20 years," said Jansen. "Your combined effort makes the Olympics possible."

During the games, approximately 70 Joint Base Langley-Eustis personnel volunteered as referees and score-keepers, and presented awards to the local athletes as they reached their goals.

"The military have always been a big part of the program," said Helene Flick, Special Olympics Virginia, Area 22 coordinator. "They help in any way they can. All we have to do is ask and they respond with respect, and give all they can to the athletes and anyone else who needs their help."

According to Doug Faber, Langley AFB Special Olympics event coordinator, the local event is required for the athletes to qualify for the state games. Once they succeed, they will move on to the national, then the international levels.

"Special Olympics means a lot," said Flick. "First of all it gives the athletes a chance to compete just like anyone else. It also gives them a chance to meet other athletes around the country and the world. In all, the Special Olympics program is one for learning and competing in competitions and having respect for others."

This event was the second of five local sporting events geared toward competing at the state level, which will ultimately lead to the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2015.

Pacific Thunder gets jump start at Osan

by Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
18th Wing Public Affairs

10/15/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- For the fifth straight year, 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadron Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, have teamed up with the 25th Fighter Squadron here to kick off Exercise Pacific Thunder 2012.

The two-week exercise, focused entirely on combat search and rescue operations, began Oct. 11 and is scheduled to wrap-up Oct. 25.

Last week, 31st and 33rd RQS Airmen flew from Kadena to Osan to meet up with the 25th FS, equipped with four HH-60 Pave Hawks and their crews, a team of pararescuemen, a Survival, Evade, Resistance and Escape (SERE) specialist and all the equipment needed to conduct CSAR training.

"The reason we do (Pacific Thunder) is to practice our primary mission which is combat search and rescue on the Korean Peninsula," Tech. Sgt. Justin Schramm, 33rd Rescue Squadron A flight chief, evaluator aerial gunner and squadron superintendent for the exercise. "With that, we are validating the tactics, techniques, and procedures, and the ability to integrate with the 25th Fighter Squadron's A-10's and perform an actual, no kidding, rescue mission."

The exercise provides the rescue squadron Airmen with a much-needed training environment that prepares them for real-world scenarios.

Although the 25th FS and the two RQSs are the main players for the exercise, there are 13 other units lending a helping hand to ensure that the exercise is successful.

Schramm said the exercise is slightly different from what they have done in the past because it includes a total force package with all the units working together to carry-out realistic scenarios from "shoot down to recovery."

"There's actually two aspects to this exercise," Schramm said. "Aspect number one is where we validate capabilities on a semi-daily basis here on the peninsula to actually detect and move upon a downed aircraft - whether it is U.S. or ROK (forces).

"The other big part of it is the information flow," he continued. "Identifying that there is a downed Airmen and getting the whole picture, and then getting that information flow to the RESCORT package so we can go out and perform the pickup. (That) is the end game of this whole exercise."

Schramm said the exercise is a great way to keep the Airmen current on combined training requirements for high-end mission capabilities and they are using Pacific Thunder as a final training opportunity for the rescue teams before an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

"The part that I look forward to the most about these exercises is being able to see the change in confidence in both our young pilots, flight engineers and aerial gunners when they are a part of something like this and see the end game successfully executed," Schramm said. "They come out with that confidence of 'I've been a part of something like this, I've seen how it's supposed to work and I can do this in real life.'

"I know that our young guys here will be able to take their experiences here and apply them when they're down range," he continued. "I think they'll come to see that certain things will come much easier to them than they thought it would, just because of the training."

One Airman from the 33rd RQS explains that although he's extremely excited about his first deployment as an aerial gunner, he knows that the training he'll receive from this training will be invaluable.

"I'm excited about being able experience more realistic scenarios and learn my job on a much more tactical level," said Airman 1st Class Michael Schlemmer, who's been an aerial gunner with the 33rd RQS for a little more than three months. "There's only so much you can learn from books, and with so much experience throughout our squadron I know they will help prepare me as much as possible for upcoming deployments."

AFSOC Airmen past, present recognized at 2012 Air Commando Association banquet

by Mike Martin
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

10/16/2012 - FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Airmen from Air Force Special Operations Command received Air Commando Hall of Fame honors and Air Commando Association awards during the 2012 ACA banquet Oct. 13 at the Emerald Coast Conference Center.

The five retired Air Commandos inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame were Gen. Charles R. Holland, Maj. Gen. Robert B. Patterson, Col. Stephen R. Connelly, Col. Charles G. McMillan and Chief Master Sgt. Gordon H. Scott.

"I do not accept this honor on behalf of myself," Holland said. "I accept this on behalf of all you who made this happen.

"It's the dedication, the mission and the passion that make AFSOC what it is today. "

Air Commandos are inducted into the hall of fame for contributions they have made to AFSOC and the Air Commando community.

Awards received included Commando Medic of the Year, Intelligence-Surveillance- Reconnaissance Commando of the Year, AFSOC Squadron of the Year, and the ACA Leadership Award.

The ACA Leadership Award recognizes outstanding performers who have made the most significant contributions to mission accomplishments as determined by their respective commanders.

The following Airmen were selected for awards:

Commando Medic of the Year - Staff Sgt. Kyle Klapperich, 724th Special Tactics Group

ISR Commando of the Year - Tech Sgt. Jeffrey Tourne, 11th Intelligence Squadron

AFSOC Squadron of the Year - 24th Special Tactics Squadron

ACA Leadership awards recipients include:
Tech Sgt. Benjamin Arnold, 193rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Tech Sgt. Christiaan Becker, 919th Operations Support Squadron
Capt. Garrett Bridges, 1st Special Operations Squadron
Staff Sgt. Patrick Budenski, 352nd Special Operations Support Squadron
Capt. Taryn Council, 321rd Special Tactics Squadron
1st Lt. Eric Cranford, 1st Special Operations Maintenance Operations Squadron
Maj. Gregory Crew, Data Masked
Tech Sgt. Stephen Critten , 1st Special Operations Squadron
Capt. Jacob Duff, 15th Special Operations Squadron
Capt. James Finucane, 24th Special Tactics Squadron
Capt. Chad Flann, 19th Special Operations Squadron
Staff Sgt. Alan Hailey, 33rd Special Operations Squadron
Tech Sgt. Phillip Hamre, 58th Training Squadron
Tech Sgt. Joseph Helper, Special Tactics Training Squadron
Tech Sgt. Randy Hoppock, 5th Special Operations Squadron
Capt. Brian Maclean, 3rd Special Operations Squadron
Capt. Phillip Miller, 319th Special Operations Squadron
1st Lt. Seth Pate, 11th Intelligence Squadron
Capt. Matthew Plasterer, 193rd Special Operations Squadron
Tech Sgt. Jason Ragan, 24th Special Tactics Squadron
Tech Sgt. Cielito Saxe, 58th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Tech Sgt. Daryl Seward, 19th Special Operations Squadron
Tech Sgt. Jason Shaffer, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron
Staff Sgt. Oviett Tillery, Data Masked
Tech Sgt. Jeffrey Tourne, 11th Intelligence Squadron

For more information and to view pictures from the event, visit the ACA website at

AF officials releasing enlisted quarterly assignment listing

by Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

10/16/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force officials are releasing the enlisted quarterly assignment listing, or EQUAL, on Oct. 22 for the July to September 2013 overseas assignment cycle.

Enlisted Airmen must update their assignment preferences by Nov. 1 and they will be notified of their assignment selections by Nov. 16.

"We are accelerating the release of the EQUAL list to allow us time to complete the overseas assignment cycle before the Military Personnel Data System upgrade in December," said Michael Kiel, Air Force Personnel Center integrated assignment, applications and training chief. "If Airmen do not update their assignment preferences by Nov. 1, they will not be considered as volunteers for the overseas assignments advertised on EQUAL."

EQUAL posts upcoming assignments by Air Force Specialty Code and rank. Airmen are instructed to review, prioritize and list their assignment preferences based on the EQUAL list. Airmen can update their assignment preferences on the virtual Military Personnel Flight application and view the EQUAL list on the myPers website at Active duty Airmen on temporary duty during the EQUAL advertising period can contact their nearest personnel support office for assistance.

The Air Force is upgrading and transferring MilPDS to the Defense Information Systems Agency's Defense Enterprise Computing Center, and the upgrade project is scheduled to take about 23 days to complete. During this period, MilPDS will not be available.

MilPDS is the primary records database for personnel data and actions that occur throughout every total force Airman's career. MilPDS is also used to initiate Airman pay actions, maintain Air Force accountability and strength data, and support a host of interactions with other Air Force processes and systems that rely on personnel data.

Reserve and Guard members will receive specific instructions from the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Reserve Personnel Center concerning how the MilPDS upgrade will impact their personnel programs. More information is available on the ARPC public website at

Officials will continue to release additional information and guidance to the Air Force's manpower, personnel, services and pay communities and total force Airmen to continue to educate them on how the service will perform critical personnel and pay tasks during the MilPDS upgrade.

For more information about the EQUAL list or MilPDS upgrade, visit the myPers website at

Medical Civilians Experience Boot Camp Rigors

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 16, 2012 – A cadre of 12 medical experts in traumatic brain injury and psychological health fell in line with boot-camp Marines here to experience the rigors of military training, first hand.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
From left, Navy Lt. Jessica Snyder, audiologist, and Celene Moorer, assistive technologist, of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., attempt to catapult themselves over an obstacle course apparatus during their day of boot camp at Parris Island. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The mostly civilian team from the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., ranged from doctors and audiologists to arts and recreational therapists and a pharmacist. By team approach, these experts treat service members with severe cases of TBI and post-traumatic stress syndrome – the two signature wounds of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To enhance their study and treatment of service members, the team went through a full day of Marine Corps boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, last week to understand one of the most stressful events in a military member’s life, according to Joshua Stueve, NiCOE spokesman.

The first morning began when a drill instructor boarded the civilians’ bus and began shouting orders at them and ordered them to stand in formation. She then rushed them through “the silver doors” where they ceased to be civilians and became Marine Corps recruits, she told them.

Team members quickly learned to shout out, “Yes ma’am!” “Aye ma’am!” “No ma’am!” to the drill instructor who worked them over for the first half-hour.

At dawn, the team climbed, swung from and inched their way along obstacle courses, shot M-16s at a firing range, and later spoke with recruits during lunch in the mess hall.

Instructors took a wealth of questions from the medical team. How are recruits taught to drag a body? How are the injured saved? What if recruits fail? What happens if they fall from the obstacle course into a moat? How many recruits don’t make it and why?

The team witnessed martial arts maneuvers, water survival skills and tromped through isolated woods to watch recruits on their last make-it-or-break-it exercise to becoming a Marine: a grueling, 54-hour simulated combat environment known as “the Crucible.”

The medical team learned during their own basic warrior training that recruits are on the move constantly with little food, water or rest. They rappel down 60-foot ropes and are taken captive, exposed to noxious gas, and put in critical decision-making roles to evaluate them as qualified Marines.

“I’ll be able to bring that core understanding back [to NiCOE] and integrate it into my treatment plans,” said Julie Liss, the pharmacist. “I can tell the Marines, ‘I know you made it through the Crucible, and this journey might be your Crucible again.”

Liss said being able to share common experiences with her patients helps treatment.
Tony Panettiere, a neurologist and retired Navy doctor, said he was impressed with the training Marines receive.

“They’re all designed to weather the stresses that come against them, and press on regardless of how much they’re hurting, whether psychologically or physically, because there are other Marines who count on them,” he said.

While drill instructors shout at recruits for 12 weeks to prepare them for military readiness through discipline, responsibility for themselves and others, recruits also develop confidence and leadership skills, the medical team learned.

They learned the importance of the creed, “never leave a Marine behind,” and the Corps’ engrained ethics of honor, courage and commitment, they said.

“The stress created here helps them cope in combat,” a drill instructor told the group during an orientation.

Because Marines are depend on each other, Panettiere said, that might be why they’re hesitant to seek medical treatment for significant injuries.

“They might not know what their limits really should be before we can get them back into a better state of health,” he suggested.

Panettiere said he learned how resilient the recruits are.

Celene Moorer, an assistive technologist, is new to the military medical environment. She said the boot camp experience made her realize why the Marines she sees at NiCOE are sometimes hesitant to share information about their medical conditions and limitations.

“I now have a better understanding of where it starts in terms of ‘OK, you need to be this strong person and never give in,’” she said. “I think I can adjust my approach in dealing … and empathizing with the service members. It gave me a different perspective by going through the process.”

Panettiere added that even as a retired Navy doctor, he’d never seen boot camp Parris Island-style. “That’s why I wanted to see where they all start from,” he noted.

Understanding their code of honor and courage to always be responsible also impressed Peter Brooks, a primary care physician.

“As a civilian, I have great respect for them when I see what’s involved,” he said. “The other piece is we try to integrate a therapy connection with service members and speak in context. Being sensitive to the military culture confirms that approach.”

Later the first day, the NiCOE team visited Naval Hospital Beaufort, S.C., where Marine recruits and other service members are treated.

NiCOE members gave a presentation on what their interdisciplinary teams can do for those with TBI and post-traumatic stress in four weeks, in addition to their research and education into those signature wounds of war.

The second day of the team’s visit to Parris Island began with observing the colors and meeting the commander, Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds, the first female commander of the installation. They also attended a graduation ceremony on the parade field of 509 new Marines.

“I think service members will appreciate that we took the time to see what they go through,” Moorer said. “And they might be a little more trusting, giving us information. It benefits both parties in the long run.”

F-35: Newest fighter much more than just 'stealthy plane'

by Marine Corps Cpl. Daniel Wetzel
Defense Media Activity

10/16/2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The engines roared overhead as an F-35A fell into formation. Although this is a basic maneuver for the test pilots, the possibilities for combat environments created by these elite aircraft working together are anything but mundane.

The F-35, which features three variants to be used by the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, is a single-seat aircraft capable of stealthy operations, equipped with an enhanced computer technology system. The Marine Corps B variant is also capable of performing short takeoffs and vertical-landings while maintaining the conventional operations of other airplanes.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program started in 1997. The program includes plans to replace the Air Force's aging F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II, the Marine Corps' short takeoff, vertical landing AV-8B Harrier and dogfighting and air-to-ground attacking F/A-18 Hornet and the Navy's stock of legacy Hornets.

"The F-35 is a fifth-generation fighter; but it's more than just a stealthy airplane," said Marine Corps Col. Art Tomassetti, a pilot who has been with the JSF program since 1998. "It goes beyond stealth and low observable capability. It brings together everything that today's computer and digital age can bring to how the airplane flies and how it's maintained."

The F-35 is an ideal combination of stealth, sensor fusion and a robust digital flight control system making it, not only easy for a pilot to fly, but easy to identify and engage targets in the battlespace. Along with ease of flight, the F-35 also allows pilots greater situational awareness.

"When you look at the F-35, you can't look at it as a single airplane against another single airplane," Tomassetti said. "You have to look at a group of F-35s working together, then you really get to take advantage of what the F-35 brings to the battle space. The ability of the airplanes to use a variety of sensors to gather information and share the information they gather between planes is truly incredible."

With the F-35, pilots can access information about possible targets and threats from supporting F-35 aircraft via data links, which allows them to see more and identify more of what is happening in the battle space, Tomassetti said.

Currently, the military is only training seasoned pilots on the new airplane at Eglin Air Force Base.

When new pilots are allowed into the program, they will find themselves in a unique training environment along with enlisted aircraft maintainers and mechanics from all three branches of service and also coalition partners from several foreign nations.

These service members will learn how to operate and maintain the F-35 through a digital training environment. This kinetic learning system allows the learning to occur through touching and doing, rather than seeing and hearing.

"The fact that we're starting with the same airframe, same formations, same weapons capabilities, I think that already puts us at a better starting point when we show up to a combat theater together," said Lt. Col. Lee Kloos, squadron commander for the 58th Fighter Squadron, of the integration of forces with the F-35.

Kloos, who has more 2,100 hours flying the F-16, said having the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy field the same airframe allows a common frame of reference for pilots regardless of service.

The aircraft is also a joy to fly, Kloos said. Despite the advanced technology and complexity of the aircraft, it's a very easy aircraft to fly, and basic pilot actions remain the same as in any fighter aircraft.

"Pull back on the stick and the trees get smaller, push forward and the trees get bigger," Kloos said.  It is a stable and well-balanced plane designed for today's generation who grew up playing video games, he said.

Comparatively speaking, the F-35 has a clean cockpit. Instead of a multitude of switches inherent of many aircraft, the F-35 has two touch screens with interfaces similar to a tablet computer.

For the maintainers, things are a little tougher.

"I was working on the F-15 C and D models," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Reed, F-35 A maintainer. "The F-35 is a completely different aircraft. The technology is challenging at times."

Since the F-35 is still in operational testing, the maintainers and pilots work through all the bugs together. On a continuous basis, personnel are testing the aircraft in new maneuvers and capabilities. Once these are monitored and assessed, the pilots are cleared to perform them in their daily flight operations.

"Today our training consists of the basics of takeoff, landing, navigation and basic formation as we wait for the flight clearance to expand and allow us to train specific mission sets," Tomassetti said.

Air Force maintainers, the first service members to work on the F-35, use the maintenance side of the computer to do preventative diagnostics and pinpoint possible problems.

With the pilots and maintainers working together, the Air Force and Marine Corps have flown hundreds of training sorties since their first flight in 2011. They continue to fly daily to bring the F-35 A, the Air Force's conventional landing and take-off variant, F-35 B, the Marine Corps' STOVL variant, and F-35 C, the Navy's carrier-based variant, closer to combat operations.

Airmen Missing From Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of two servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be buried, as a group, with full military honors.

Air Force Col. Wendell Keller of Fargo, N.D., and Capt. Virgil K. Meroney III of Fayetteville, Ark., will be buried as a group, in a single casket representing the crew, on Oct. 19, in Arlington National Cemetery.  Meroney was interred individually on June 9, in his hometown.

On March 1, 1969, Keller and Meroney were the crew of an F-4D Phantom II aircraft that crashed while carrying out a nighttime strike mission in Khammouan Province, Laos.  Nearby U.S. aircrews reported seeing the aircraft hit by enemy fire.  No parachutes were seen after the aircraft was hit.  Heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts. 
From 1994 to 2011, joint U.S.-Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) teams, led by Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted several investigations and excavations of the crash site in Khammouan Province, Laos.  The teams located human remains, military equipment, a military identification card, and aircraft wreckage of an F-4, including an engine data plate and radio call-sign plate.  During the 17 years of investigations, analysts evaluated the material evidence and the accounts of more than 40 eyewitnesses to confirm the information correlated with the crew’s loss location.

To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including dental comparisons and radiograph comparisons.

Today, 1,655 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.  The U.S. government continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover Americans lost during the Vietnam War.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at or call 703-699-1169.

ACC commander stresses continued focus on readiness

by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/16/2012 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- Providing ready combat airpower for any contingency in an uncertain budget environment was the main theme during the Air Combat Command leadership visit to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Oct. 10 and 11.

Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of ACC, and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Parsons, ACC command chief, toured several base facilities and talked to Airmen of all ranks. Their budget message was trumpeted loudly: it's not about doing more with less.

For the Mountain Home Airmen who often proclaim themselves 'Gunfighters,' the mission is paramount and will never falter.

"We prepare mission ready Gunfighters to provide dominant combat airpower to meet the Nations' call ... anytime and anywhere," said Col. Christopher Short, 366th Fighter Wing commander, adding that the wing prepares Airmen to defend both U.S. and Republic of Singapore interests.

Though skeptics may say accomplishing the Air Force mission under budget constraints would prove difficult, Hostage remained optimistic, stating, "We traditionally do our best during crisis."

Hostage urged group commanders to keep their eye on the ball and stay engaged with what's really important.

"Don't get distracted by the budget and fiscal climate, rather stay focused on providing operational combat airpower," said Hostage.

The general, command chief and Kathy Hostage met with groups of Airmen and spouses from several squadrons, and saw local cost-saving efforts firsthand.

One stop on the tour was to the 372nd Training Squadron, where Master Sgts. Clay Christensen and Jeremiah Carley and Staff Sgt. Rodney Arzuaga explained how their organization saves thousands of flying hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The 372nd TRS uses five retired F-15A Eagles as training dummies to teach hundreds of maintenance students multiple aspects of F-15 aircraft maintenance.

"Using old jets versus (full-mission-capable) jets allows our students to get the same hands-on training they'll apply to real-world maintenance, while keeping FMC jets on the line and in the skies," said Arzuaga. "By doing so, we give roughly 2,000 flying hours back to the (operations group) and save a ton of money."

More flying hours equals better-trained pilots. Whether those pilots are facing an adversary in air-to-air combat or providing close-air support for the combined-joint effort in places like Afghanistan, airpower equates to saving comrades' lives and defeating the enemy.

Pilots and Air Force officers play a significant role in sustaining dominant air power. However, leadership comes from all levels, and Parsons stressed to a class of future leaders at the Airman Leadership School that their decisions could mean life or death for the Airmen they lead.

"Readiness is about taking care of Airmen," Parsons said. "If you send your Airmen to a major theater of combat and they're not ready to fight, they probably won't make it home. Readiness has to be our top priority."

After a breakfast with Hostage and Parsons, one junior Airman from the 366th Component Maintenance Squadron reflected on how deeply the general and command chief's messages resonated with him.

Not deterred by a shrinking fiscal budget, Airman 1st Class Jason Stackens, 366th CMS precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, said he'll now be more focused on doing his part to help.

"General Hostage pointed out that they look at what is exorbitant when making cutbacks and that the mission-essential items will still be readily available," said Stackens. "As enlisted Airmen I believe that it is essential that we stay focused and know that decisions are being made in our best interest within the limits given."

Stackens sees a smaller budget has the potential to make his job more strenuous, but vowed to strive to alleviate that by putting more effort toward reducing resources and eliminating waste.

"These are small task that we can do individually to start affecting the Air Force in a way that will benefit us immediately," Stackens said.

The commander's message was clear: Gunfighters and Airmen across ACC need to put their money into the things that are most important and take a close look at what isn't mission essential for future cuts because as service members, ACC needs to be able to respond anytime the nation calls.

'Army Wives' producers, writers gain insight from JBLM families

by Kamryn Jaroszewski
62nd Airlift Wing

10/16/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Reality met television last week when producers and writers of the hit Lifetime television show, "Army Wives," met with Joint Base Lewis-McChord families to discuss their experiences, Oct. 10.

The crew travels to one military post a year for story ideas, and this visit marks their first to a joint base.

Jeff Melvoin, the show's executive producer, said season seven will see changes to the cast and storylines.

He said he wants to bring in Air Force families and that the fictional Fort Marshall will be joining with an Air Force base to form a joint base.

To offset the "officer-centric" storylines of past seasons, Melvoin said he would like to feature enlisted families, especially those with school-aged children.

To gain insight into that facet of Air Force life, the crew had dinner with some Air Force families and discussed how deployments, moving and day-to-day life affect them.

In the joint base storyline, Melvoin said he wants to focus more on the commonalities between the Army and Air Force and less on the differences.

"This show will continue to be about the sacrifices, rewards and friendships among military spouses," he said.

Melvoin, along with story editor Bill Rinier and supervising producer Karen Maser, got a good look at what life is like as an Air Force wife.

"I'm just fine," said Corinthia Hall, the wife of Staff Sgt. Quincy Hall, in reference to how she is handling her husband's deployment.

She said she embraces her "me time" and makes the most of the opportunities to reconnect with her friends.

"When [Quincy] is home, I'm the wife, the mother. I cook the meals and take care of the house and I love it," she said. "But when he's gone, I can go out with my friends more and that's really nice."

Melvoin said it was nice to see such a positive attitude regarding deployment and wants to focus stories on that aspect in future episodes.

Melvoin asked the group what differences they've experienced with joint basing.

Holly Allen, wife of Airman 1st Class Justin Allen, spoke of a combat injury her best friend's husband, a Soldier, sustained.

"He lost his right leg. I guess as an Air Force wife, you just don't think it's going to happen. I never really thought about it," Allen said. "But it's so much more close to me now. This injury has changed their lives and mine too."

Ashley Kropp, wife of Staff Sgt. Michael Kropp, and a fan of the show, said she could relate to specific storylines of the show, particularly with one of the characters named Denise.

"When Denise had her baby, that was me. Here I was, eight months pregnant. My husband was gone and I'm sobbing watching 'Army Wives' because Denise was going through the same thing," Kropp said. "And she had her baby on webcam, which I did too. I felt that was a very realistic part of the show."

Melvoin hinted at what may come in future seasons of the show.

"Some familiar faces may not be back," Melvoin said, remarking the actors' contracts were up after six seasons. "A new team will emerge."

Before leaving, Melvoin commented on how much he gained by speaking with the families.

"We come here to meet with you because every year it's helpful to find new material," he said. "It's our job to tell your story."

Team McChord completes 500th Deep Freeze mission

from 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/16/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings, deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as part of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, completed a milestone event when they flew the 500th C-17 Globemaster III Special Assignment Airlift Mission into Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, Oct. 14, 2012.

ODF is a joint service operation in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program and provides airlift support for the National Science Foundation's scientific research by transporting NSF cargo and personnel to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. C-17 crews from McChord Field use Christchurch International Airport in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a base of operations.

The C-17, flying under the call sign "ICE 11," touched down on Pegasus White Ice runway Sunday, carrying NSF personnel and cargo to the icy research outpost. Upon conclusion of that mission, C-17 aircraft from McChord Field had transported a total of more than 40,000 passengers and nearly 45 million pounds of cargo to Antarctica in support of ODF since 1999.

"We are extremely proud of this milestone; 500 missions is a significant accomplishment," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd AW commander. "Team McChord's support to the National Science Foundation is an important and rewarding mission."

Another milestone set with this mission is that all 500 ODF missions have been completed without mishap.

"To have safely flown 500 missions in this unique environment is a great operational accomplishment for the C-17 aircrews and maintenance teams of the 304th EAS," said Lt. Col. Brent Keenan, 304th EAS commander. "Knowing that during these missions we have directly contributed to the advancement of scientific research and provided a lifeline to the isolated continent is a great feeling.

"I look forward to flying the next set of 500 missions," Keenan added.

"I cannot be more proud of Team McChord and what they do for this nation and the U.S. Air Force," said Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th AW commander. "Across the board, this total force works together not only during conflict but during peacetime."

A total of 48 missions are scheduled for the 2012-2013 season of ODF, which is scheduled to be completed in March 2013.

Face of Defense: Admin Marine Knows Job’s Impact on People

By Marine Corps Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., Oct. 16, 2012 – The cornerstone of administration is behind a desk, making keystrokes and mouse clicks that affect Marines’ pay, living arrangements and food -- in other words, their livelihood.

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Administration personnel chief Marine Sgt. Sean A. Walker serves the more than 40 Marines attached to the naval command. Photo by Marine Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken.

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Marine Corps Sgt. Sean A. Walker, a native of Port Lavaca, Texas, an administration personnel chief at Fleet Readiness Center East here, serves the more than 40 Marines attached to the naval command. Because the center is a standalone unit, Walker said, he is required to have a much broader spectrum of knowledge of the administrative field than he’d normally need.
“It was challenging initially,” he acknowledged. But by being the catch-all for Marines’ administrative needs, he said, he is able to build much more of a one-on-one customer service relationship.
“I see most of these guys every day, they’re not just a number,” he said. “I’m able to tailor the support I need to provide for the individual.”

Building those relationships with the Marines is what he enjoys the most about his job, Walker said, but the traveling opportunities aren’t bad, either.

"We are literally worldwide assignable,” he said. “I’ve been to Bangkok, Thailand, the Great Wall of China, Singapore and Germany.”

But while he’s here, Walker said, he will continue to make sure that pay, housing and food don’t worry the Marines at Fleet Readiness Center East.