Monday, October 22, 2012

Deployed maintainers keep the 'Herc' fit to fight

by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2012 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Every day, thousands of coalition service members operating in Afghanistan rely on the C-130 Hercules to enable their operations; to meet this requirement, the men and women who operate this venerable tactical airlift workhorse rely on a team of maintainers who keep the "Hercs" ready to fly.

Maintainers with the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's C-130 Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Bagram Airfield are charged with daily maintenance and repair of the Hercules fleet to enable 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron operations.

The maintainers work long hours to ensure the "Hercs" are ready to transport people and supplies throughout Afghanistan.

"This plane moves troops, mail, pallets, water, antennas... pretty much anything you can think of, this plane moves it. The C-130 is one of the most versatile aircraft the United States military has," said Staff Sgt. Brett Clayton, a 455th EAMXS C-130 Crew Chief.

Between missions, maintainers feverishly perform pre and post-flight inspections on the aircraft. The work is a constant challenge and keeping the aircraft ready for its missions is no small task.

"It takes an unbelievable amount of work from about 80 people," said Clayton. "It takes us about 10 hours to get an aircraft ready to fly; from the time it lands after its last flight to the time it's ready to fly again."

According to the maintainers, the C-130 is a dependable machine; however, given that the current models stationed at Bagram were built during the 70's, they still require regular upkeep.

"These are pretty reliable aircraft; however, they are older so there's quite a bit of maintenance behind the scenes that people don't always see," said Senior Airman William Ahlquist, a maintainer with 455th EAMXS.

C-130s must be brought into a maintenance hangar after 270 flight hours for a more thorough inspection called a "Home Station Check."

The HSC is a complete tear-down inspection of the C-130 in which maintainers carefully examine every component of the aircraft, looking for wear and tear to make sure the aircraft is safe for flight.

Clayton has high standards for Airmen when it comes to keeping his "Herc" in peak condition. And he knows the team will deliver.

"Follow the tech data, always do the right thing, have integrity, and be safe. Because everything we do out here is very dangerous," said Clayton. "My guys are the best in the world."

For the Airmen who keep these aircraft in operation, the sight of C-130 taking flight can be a thrilling experience and a reminder of their impact on the fight.

"You tend to get goose bumps every once in a while, because you know that you're helping make that airplane fly," said Ahlquist

Gen. Craig McKinley retires after historic National Guard career

By Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens
Florida National Guard

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (10/22/12) - Gen. Craig R. McKinley spent the past 14 years serving in the nation’s capital, but returned home to northeast Florida Oct. 19 to celebrate his nearly 40-year military career with the people he served with the longest.

“On behalf of all the men and women who make up our National Guard – about 460,000 nationally – I’m deeply honored to be back in my home state of Florida and honored to have the commander and chief of the Florida National Guard retire me today,” McKinley said.

Flanked by his friends, family and peers, McKinley received the Governor’s Medal of Merit from Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cross from the adjutant general of Florida, Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr., during a formal retreat ceremony on the parade field of the historic St. Francis Barracks in St. Augustine.

McKinley, a Florida National Guardsman, made history at the beginning of this year when he became the first National Guardsman  to serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was not the first time, however, that he set a “first.”

McKinley was also the first National Guardsman to head the National Guard Bureau as a four-star general. He also made history in 1991 when he took command of the Florida National Guard’s Fighter Interceptor Group, becoming the youngest group or wing commander in Florida Air National Guard history.

The elevation of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff was a significant step in recognizing the importance of the National Guard to the safety and security of the nation.
“It is a great tribute to the Senate Armed Services Committee for realizing these last 12 years of men and women in the National Guard serving alongside our active components to give us an opportunity to be at the table where decisions are made,” McKinley said.

McKinley received his commission in 1974 as a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program at Southern Methodist University. He joined the Florida National Guard in 1980 as a T-23 and F-106 alert pilot. He has served in numerous assignments in flying and operations, as well as command positions at group, wing, sector and field operating agency levels.

During his career, McKinley rose through the ranks to prestigious achievements, but it was his 18 years in Florida that formed the foundation for his future successes. Many in the Florida Air National Guard today served and flew alongside McKinley and remember his contributions and legacy in the organization.
“This is an historic day for the Florida National Guard,” Titshaw said. “We are all very honored and appreciate the fact that Gen. McKinley chose to come back and retire where his heart is and where his root is back here in Florida.”

Like many who retire after a long and successful career, the day held mixed feelings for McKinley.
“It’s a tough day, it’s a bittersweet moment,” said McKinley. “But all of us know when we put on the uniform there will come a day when we have to say goodbye. Today’s that day for me and I couldn’t have been more proud to be here.”

Have a plan; save your career

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Kee
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/19/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- In July, Senior Airman Stephen Nubin made a choice that would affect the rest of his career. After coming back from a night downtown with his friends, he decided to drive home. He drove on base and decided to pull over when he got to clothing sales.

However, the damage was already done. He was stopped by Security Forces and was issued a field sobriety test. He didn't pass.

Eventually, he was charged with driving under the influence and was demoted to his new rank, A1C, put on restriction to base for 45 days and given extra duties for the same time period.

"My biggest regret was putting my friend who was in the car with me in danger, along with others who were out that night and possibly risking their lives," said Nubin.

Whether it's coming home after a party downtown or coming back from a friend's house after a night of drinking, having a plan can save you from making the decision to drive and jeopardize your career while affecting the safety of yourself and others.

Take it from Pvt. Bryan King, former Army specialist, who drove home and hit a snow bank. Once Security Forces took him back to file the report, King was issued a field sobriety test. He also failed.

King said that he is glad that it was a snow bank that stopped his car and not another person, because it could have been a lot worse.

When considering getting behind the wheel after drinking, think about the affect it could have on others. If you hit someone and injure them or take their life, is it something you want to live with for the rest of your life?

Putting yourself in that position should never be an option. Consequences, whether career ending or not, are sure to follow if the choice is made.

Having a good plan is the first step in preventing a DUI, and as long as you stick to your plan, DUIs can be avoided.

"I had a plan and didn't follow the plan and because of that, I won't be in the military much longer," said King.

If your plan does fall through, there are many resources on base to help you so you can have a new plan: a safe ride home. With resources such as Americans Against Drunk Driving and Kichi Taxi Service, there is no reason to get a DUI.

Kichi Taxi always has multiple taxis lined up at the Exchange parking lot on the weekends, while A2D2 is one phone call away. By calling A2D2 at 226-2232, you can get a safe ride home free of charge.

"There are a lot of services on base and if you don't have any money, there are free ways to get home," said King. "Even a 20 dollar cab ride is a lot cheaper then what you could possibly pay for with a DUI."

U.S., ROK showcase skills during 2012 Air Power Day

by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/21/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Osan Air Base opened its gates to more than 65,000 visitors during Air Power Day Oct. 20 and 21.

More than 22 aircraft from around Pacific Air Forces were on display while the ROK's premiere demonstration team, the Black Eagles, took to the skies to exercise their combat flying capabilities in eight T-50 training aircraft.

"This is a great opportunity for us to share what we do with our community, neighbors and friends," said Col. Patrick McKenzie, 51st Fighter Wing commander, during opening ceremonies. "We have an incredible line-up. The Black Eagles are a fantastic demonstration team."

The show featured aerial demonstrations from A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, a C-17 Globemaster, a ROKAF F-15K Eagle, a T-50 Golden Eagle, a U2 Dradonlady, and a KC-135 Stratotanker. Visitors were also shown a military working dog demonstration, dancing and music from the Korean-American Partnership Association, and a Combat Search and Rescue team mission later in the day.

On the ground, spectators could see an up-close view of a first-time visitor, the F-22 Raptor, and other aircraft like the MV-Osprey and the CH-47 Chinook.

"Putting all of this together started back in May," said Capt. Callous Quinby, 51st Operations Support Squadron wing training chief who was in charge of bringing the aircraft to the peninsula. "People had a chance to come out and see things they normally wouldn't, and they can see how well we work with the ROK Air Force."

The Black Eagles brought cheers from the crowd and seemed to be a fan favorite.
"I liked when the planes flew right over us," said Sun Pak, referring to the Black Eagles demonstration.

Despite the busy schedule of events and numerous food booths lining the flight line, the air show's focus was on the partnership between the U.S. and ROK.

"Our relationship with the Republic of Korea Air Force is amazing," said Chief Master Sgt. Brendan Criswell, 51st FW Command Chief. "This is air power at its finest."

Osan’s fighter squadron gives back to Singapore

by Lt. Col. Jack Harman
51st Fighter Wing Chief of Safety

10/22/2012 - Paya Lebar Republic of Singapore Air Base -- Airmen from the 36th Fighter Squadron, from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, teamed up with the Republic of Singapore for a combined exercise designed to sharpen air combat skills, but also found time on the ground to raise more than $9,000 for the visually handicapped Oct. 13, 2012.

The 36th FS is currently deployed to Paya Lebar Republic of Singapore Air Base to participate in Exercise Commando Sling, an annual training exercise for U.S. and Republic of Singapore Air Force units that improve operations at non-U.S. bases, and promote closer relations between U.S. Air Force and RSAF Airmen.

However, when not participating in the exercise, Osan Airmen dedicated time to raise money and build relationships with the local community, explained Lt. Col. Jason Cockrum, 36th FS commander. Guided by team leaders, Senior Airman Candice Griffin, Staff Sgt. Trevor Bell and Airman 1st Class Mark Morris, the 'Fiends' were able to work with the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped, the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home, and Blind Faith during International White Cane Day to raise money and strengthen the relationships with the country.

"Forty-three U.S. military members volunteered 336 hours to the event," said Harman, the 36th FS event organizer. "However, the true measure of the 36th FS contribution rests not in the numbers, but in the connections made between service members and local citizens. Squadron members assisted visually handicapped persons, assisted with game stalls, and created balloon sculptures with children from the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home."

White Cane Day is an annual international event honoring the spirit of those who are blind or have limited vision. Singapore celebrated the event with a carnival and festivities that included singing, entertainment, game stalls, balloon animals, as well as the sale of handicrafts and plants.

Squadron members also participated in activities designed to increase visually impaired awareness, directed traffic, assisted in sales and clean-up post festivities, Harman explained. Capt. Tyler Smith, Staff Sgt. Cody Martin, and Senior Airman Josh Frye assisted visually handicapped persons and served as excellent U.S. Air Force role models. Airman 1st Class Mark Morris and Senior Airman Francisco Lara created balloon sculptures alongside disadvantaged children from the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home.

"The mission of the 36th Fighter Squadron, whether at home with our Korean allies or deployed to enhance our partnership with Singapore, is to support United States objectives with military means," Harman explained. "Occasionally, this translates to military members utilizing their free time to interact with the local population. For the 36th FS, that interaction led to an improved understanding of the Singapore community, greater appreciation for our visually handicapped and strengthened relations with a strategic partner."

"We had an amazing experience here," said Cockrum. "The Fiends even brought a taste of America to the event with donated muffins, apples, and Texas chicken."

Service Members, Vets Celebrate Military Legacy of Women

Army News Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 – Hundreds of active-duty women and veterans turned out Oct. 20 at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery to celebrate the legacy of more than 2.5 million women who have served in the nation's military.

Former WACs, WAVEs, WMs, WAFs and SPARS shared with their active-duty counterparts in the contributions women have made to the U.S. military that are enshrined at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, dedicated by President Bill Clinton on Oct. 18, 1997.

While WIMSA serves as a memorial to all of America's service women, Wilma L. Vaught, president of the Women's Memorial Foundation, said she doesn't consider it a museum, though the building does contain a gift store and features numerous artifacts and photographic exhibits.

"This is more than a memorial; it's an educational center meant to tell the story of women in the military from the American Revolution through Iraq -- it was an opportunity to tell the story of women's service individually and collectively," said Vaught, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1957 and went on to retire as a brigadier general in 1985 as one of only seven women serving as general or flag officers in all of the services at the time.

Vaught said WIMSA was also created because many women going back to World War II felt they never received recognition for all they did -- from the nurse corps of the Army and Navy to the Army Air Corps WASPs who delivered fighter and bomber aircraft across the country. WIMSA also honors all women who served overseas during conflicts such as those who served with the Red Cross, USO and Special Services.

"They deserved recognition, because they changed the military and they changed life in America for women [and] because they stepped out and did things women hadn't done before. … They created a new day for women," she said. "Many of today's military women go through the memorial and realize for the first time what women in the military did before them.

"We stand on the shoulders of all these women who met up with all kinds of obstacles and barricades and they overcame them," Vaught added. "Today, they can say, ‘I can have a career, I can have the opportunities for education, I can have a family and be in the military, when they couldn't stay in the military if they were pregnant."

The afternoon ceremony included memories from active duty or retired speakers from each service branch who told the stories of why they served and the challenges they faced at the point in history in which they joined.

Speakers included Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary of veterans affairs for benefits and a retired brigadier general, whose military career started when she graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1980 -- the first class to include women. Too many women veterans just fade away, she said, not thinking too much about their service after they leave the military.

She encouraged women veterans to stand proudly and declare themselves veterans, and did so herself. No fewer than 10 other women stood and joined in the declaration.

Keynote speaker Jessica L. Wright, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, was the Army National Guard's first woman CH-47 Chinook aviator. She began her association with the Army by enlisting in 1975, obtained her bachelor's degree and retired as a major general in 2010 after commanding the Pennsylvania National Guard.

"There's not a better or [more] fitting place to pause and reflect on those contributions than here at the Women's Memorial.” She said. “It is a wonderful testament of the power of women in the service to our country. This monument honors the legacy and the proud and distinguished service of women. With every passing day, there is a new and enthusiastic group of young women who join the list of forbearers that we honor here today. They have the same determination and courage that runs through our current serving women that was in our predecessors."

WIMSA Foundation officials hope to have 250,000 women veterans in the memorial’s historical record by the end of the year. Vaught said they're just 301 shy that figure, and that she's confident the foundation will reach its goal.

What she's less sure about, she said, is raising the $3 million needed annually to meet payroll and maintenance of the 33,000 square-foot education center. She said the memorial has an average of about 150,000 visitors a year. "Not too bad a number,” she added, “but I had hoped that given there's about 4.5 million who visit Arlington every year, we would see about 500,000 visitors. I think that would solve our economic problems."

Odierno Shares Views on Military’s Relationship With Media

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 – The biggest challenge in the relationship between the military and the media is working together in an uncertain environment in an age of instant communication, the Army’s chief of staff said here Nov. 19.

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno shared his views on military-media relations in remarks and a question-and-answer session with about 60 journalists attending the 10th annual Military Reporters and Editors Conference.

“As we move forward, and as I look at what’s going on around the world, the ability to communicate instantaneously is only going to get faster and faster and faster, and the ability to report is going to get faster and faster and faster,” he said. “And, the pressure requirements on you and as well as me to understand the environment on what’s going on is going to become more important as well. You have to get the story in quickly to be able to publish what you think you’re seeing.”

In this fast-paced environment, Odierno said, it is inevitable that first reports out will be wrong about 50 percent of the time, due to a variety of circumstances. He said it is up to the military to follow up on those first reports by getting the most accurate information back out to the reporters as the facts become known and available.

“This requires a good interchange, strong relationships and trust to do that,” he added. In his experience, the general said, that bond of trust does exist.

“A large majority of [media] people I’ve associated with over my 36 years in the Army have been very professional,” Odierno said. “I don’t ever remember a time when that trust was broken, and I think that’s important. And, I really, really do appreciate that, and that’s the kind of relationship we want to continue as we move forward.”

Trust works both ways, he added. The military must provide reporters with all the correct facts they need for their stories in a timely manner, he said, and must rely on reporters, in turn, to maintain operational security.

“Off-the-record sessions were some of the best sessions I’ve had with reporters,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to discuss what’s on my mind, and they discovered and discussed things with me that I didn’t know that enabled me to do my job better.”

Odierno said the Army must continue to reach out to the media.

“We’re going to engage and outreach with you and have a relationship with you here, overseas, during training events, no matter where it is, during tough problems and good problems,” he said. “We’re going to build a relationship and work together to get you the right facts so your stories are reported accurate, important and cutting-edge.”

The Army’s relationship with the media has evolved in positive ways, Odierno said, as it now works more closely with reporters and is evolving away from the embedded approach, in which reporters cover warfare with a specific unit. “I think sometimes the media feels trapped,” he explained, “because the military says when and where they go and don’t go.”

The media are moving around more and building networks, he added, but safety and security considerations sometimes will require reporters to embed with units.

Odierno said he has genuine positive feelings for the media.

“As corps commander in Iraq and then Multinational Force Iraq commander, I was impressed with the heroism [of the media] as I watched many people operate, putting their own personal safety at risk, to deliver news to people back in the United States. I learned to respect that,” the general said.

The chief of staff admitted that his own efforts to report the news have been less than successful. He said he’s had a Facebook page since he served in Iraq, but that his audience is mostly internal. He has had more success reaching an audience outside the Army, he said, with the recent launch of his Twitter account, @GenRayOdierno.

The question-and-answer session touched on a variety of topics, including the new U.S. defense strategy that focuses on the Asia-Pacific region. Odierno said the Army is establishing programs of multilateral engagements throughout that region, including training exercises and humanitarian missions. It is crucial to build more transparency with China, he added, and he held out the possibility that some multinational exercises could include China.

He also touched on the Army’s professionalism.

“We have a battle-hardened, battle-tested leader capability that will give us an advantage as we look and adjust to the future,” he said, adding that the Army will need these leaders as it adjusts to a more complex world environment.

“What we ask our captains and our lieutenant colonels today is a lot harder than what I had to do when I was a captain or lieutenant colonel, because the world is more complex and difficult, and the challenges they’re going to face are more difficult,” he said. “They’re adaptive leaders who mix the science and art of war together to come up with the right solutions at the right time.”

Officials Improve Process for Transition to Civilian Life

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 – Officials from the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments participated in a panel discussion here Oct. 19 on efforts to prepare service members for the transition to civilian life.
Danny Pummill, director of VA/DOD liaison for Veterans Affairs, and Susan S. Kelly, director of DOD’s Transition to Veterans Program Office, explained the new Transition Assistance Program during the 10th annual Military Reporters and Editors Conference.

"This isn't your death-by-PowerPoint TAP from the 1990s," Pummill said, referring to a side-intensive one-day seminar for transitioning service members in days gone by. "[The new TAP] is well planned and thought out.

"[TAP] is an adult, interactive learning environment similar to college, with small-group [discussions], as well as one-on-one-counseling,” he said. “It used to be we had a classroom of upwards of 350 people. Now, our max is 50, and spouses are encouraged to attend."

A number of pilot studies were conducted over the past year, Kelly said, including with the National Guard and reserves.

"We found that the needs of singles separating from a first tour were different than, say, a career soldier with a family getting ready to retire,” she said. "We also found that each of the services have different cultures and 'personalities.’ For example, soldiers and Marines respond to [information] differently than a roomful of airmen."

The new TAP will feature pre-separation classes ranging from health care, life insurance and disability to higher education, vocational training and home loans, Kelly said, and other parts of the VOWS Act will be implemented in phases through 2014.

By the end of 2013, Transition Goals-Plans-Success, known as GPS, will replace TAP, Kelly said. She explained that GPS is a classroom and one-on-one session with service members and their spouses to formulate a plan, including a detailed budget.

The plan could be vocational training or college, she explained, in which case the service member would meet with a representative from that institution and begin the paperwork process. Service members wanting to start a business would meet with a representative from the Small Business Administration to go over the feasibility of their business plan and funding resources.

For those wanting to enter the private or government sector workforce, she said, career planners would assist with resume writing and job searches, and meetings could be arranged with subject-matter experts in the targeted occupational fields. Service members also would have a “Plan B” in place in case something didn't work out.

Other aspects of the plan include meetings with counselors to focus on the social and psychological factors, which Kelly said are just as important to transitioning service members because they are used to living in a structured environment and need to be better prepared to be on their own.

Kelly said special efforts are being made to reach out to Guard and reserve service members to ensure they are getting all the assistance they need. For those living far from military installations, she said, transition teams would be sent out, and some training that otherwise would take place in a classroom could be done in a "virtual classroom" setting.

By the end of 2014, service members will prepare for transitioning "across their military life cycle," Kelly said. In other words, training programs with timetables will be formally instituted as soon as a service member enters the military. "In addition to being 'military ready,' they will now be 'career ready,'" she added.
The transition effort established by the VOW Act is a joint effort of the Defense Labor, VA, and Education departments, along with the Small Business Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and the White House Domestic Policy Council.

"If someone told me six government agencies would come up with a plan, I wouldn't have believed it would work,” said Pummill, who served in the Army for 34 years. “I've been meeting with them for a year now, and we're working things through.

"It's a model for how government agencies can get together and share manpower and resources and do the right thing, in this case for service member, and this is best plan possible to take care of our service members," he added.

Dyess' readiness tested during ORE

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- For three days the Airmen of Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, were tested on their ability to deploy personnel and assets to a deployed location in support of combatant commanders during an operational readiness exercise Oct. 15-17.

During this exercise, known as a Phase I ORE, Dyess was evaluated on the wing's ability to prepare and mobilize from peacetime readiness to a wartime posture on short notice. Areas evaluated included command and control, deployment processing, employment readiness, information operations and force protection.

This particular exercise was unique from other OREs the wing has done in the past.

"We wanted to try and make it as real as possible and demonstrate the wing's capability to respond to real world tasking and work through real-world requirements," said Maj. Eric Arnold, 7th Bomb Wing chief of inspections. "Our goal was to focus on how we would execute a mission if tasked in real-time with an emphasis on satisfying real world requirements."

The exercise was a preparatory event for an October 2014 operational readiness inspection and gave wing leadership an opportunity to observe the state of readiness of the base's ability to rapidly deploy to a downrange location.

"The ORE gave our personal an opportunity to work through processes they don't do during day-to-day operations," Arnold said. "When it comes to these types of exercises there is a significant increase in the level of complexity and synchronization needed for all personnel to be able to pull together and fulfill a larger requirement like an ORI or an operational deployment for a contingency requirement."

Arnold said that while the exercise was successful in itself, it also created a foundation for other learning opportunities in the future.

"All indications point to the fact that everything went very well," he said. "We had a few issues here and there, but when we do these types of exercises, that's exactly what we are trying to identify. We want to see where the problems are and create a solution for them."

Arnold added that while Team Dyess performed well, consistently preparing and training will be the key to not only perform well in the upcoming ORI, but also to maintain a state of readiness for any contingency operation in the future.

Recruits join AF Reserve at mixed martial arts event

by Master Sgt. Veronica Aceveda
512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/19/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- A group of men and women from all over Delaware joined the Air Force Reserve during a mass enlistment ceremony Saturday night at Delaware's first professional Mixed Martial Arts event inside the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.

Inside a caged ring, friends and family of the recruits along with hundreds of MMA fans witnessed the Dover Air Force Base Honorguard present the colors and the national anthem sung by a trio of  uniformed Airmen from the base .

The enlistment ceremony featured 12 enlistees, ages 18 to 37, taking the oath of enlistment, signifying the start of their AF Reserve career in the 512th Airlift Wing here.

"Making the pledge to defend our nation is a monumental milestone and something they'll always remember," said 512th AW Commander Col. Raymond A. Kozak, who administered the oath during the MMA's half-time show. "It was an honor to perform this ceremony before such a large audience, and it was an added bonus for these new Airmen to witness the patriotism of the crowd through their applause and cheers."

To enhance the 512th AW's event this year, Ben Henderson, the current Ultimate Fighting Championship Lightweight champion attended the event, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. The base honor guard also presented the colors, and a trio of singers in service dress uniforms performed the national anthem.

The mass enlistment ceremony was part of a nationwide effort to hold enlistment ceremonies throughout the Air Force Reserve Command in October.

Enlisting into the Air Force Reserve is similar to enlisting in the active-duty Air Force.  Reservists receive many of the same benefits as the active-duty Air Force but have the flexibility to train and serve near home, attend college full time or maintain a civilian career.

8th EAMS Airmen deploy in support of downed Black Hawk

by Senior Airman Bryan Swink
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Two Joint Inspectors from the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron were tasked with an invaluable mission in September - to forward deploy to a remote forward operating base in Afghanistan and help with the inspection and movement of a downed UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Tech. Sgt. Peter Feliciano Jr. and Staff Sgt. Micah Hallman, 8th EAMS Air Transportation joint inspectors, are part of the joint inspection team that rallied up with UH-60 Army counterparts at FOB Chakhcharan Sept. 17. Chakhcharan is a town and district in central Afghanistan, which serves as the capital of Gwhor Province. Chakhcharan is a NATO controlled FOB that is operated by the Lithuanian Army.

"This FOB is located in a valley surrounded by two villages," said Feliciano. "We knew there was an element of risk involved because this location was no stranger to enemy sniper fire."

After the arrival, the JI team assessed the damaged UH-60. The Black Hawk experienced a hard nose landing, smashing the nose cone and bottom of the cockpit rendering the brakes inoperable.

"The ideal situation would have been to have the aircraft recovered and airlifted out by a (CH-47) Chinook helicopter," said Feliciano, deployed from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. "But because of the weight of the Black Hawk and the elevation we were currently at, this wouldn't be possible."

The team's next option was to prepare the Black Hawk to ensure all hazardous material and cargo were properly secured so it could be loaded in a C-17 Globemaster III to be transported to an airfield and flown out for repairs.

"Even though some structural damage was sustained in the crash, the Black Hawk's struts were mechanically sound, which is important for raising or lowering the helicopter to meet airframe height requirements," said Hall man, deployed from Pope Air Field, N.C.

The JI team assessed the overall status of the UH-60 and deemed it airworthy to be transported on the C-17. The Blackhawk was then prepped and readied for onward movement. The team's quick and efficient work got them in and out of the FOB in a day and a half.

Even though the successful mission was over and they were on their way back to their squadron, a tenant unit to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, the excitement didn't end for Hallman.

His brother, Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hallman, is assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers at Kandahar Air Field where Micah traveled through. The two, hadn't seen each other in almost a year. They were able to connect and spent a day hanging out and playing pool before Micah returned to the 8th EAMS.

"The reward of not only getting our mission accomplished at FOB Chakhcharan, but to spend time with my brother was worth the risk," said Hallman. "This was a great mission and I'm glad I was a part of it."

Airman, Marine teach ethics to local students

by Maj. Brent J. Davis
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/19/2012 - LIBERTY, Ohio -- Members of Youngstown Air Reserve Station are helping local students prepare for adult life.

Junior Achievement Mahoning Valley invited members of YARS to support their ethics outreach to Liberty High School October 18.

U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer 4 Emiliano DeLeon, an inspector instructor with YARS' Landing Support Equipment Company and former boot camp drill instructor was up to the task of mentoring the youth.

"Whenever I have the opportunity to influence kids for the better, I take advantage of it," said DeLeon. "My emphasis there was not to recruit, but to stimulate discussion with regards to ethics," he concluded.

Air Force Reserve Staff Sgt. Kalee Lint, a development training flight program manager with the 910th Airlift Wing, has been working for about two years with recent high school grads to prepare them for life in the Air Force Reserve.

This is Lint's second year working with high school students under the Junior Achievement Ethics outreach program.

DeLeon and Lint taught ethics to Patricia Depp's first three classes at Liberty High. 

"I think the kids really enjoyed it. They liked the scenarios. They were fairly relevant," said Depp.

"Meeting with the speakers was a lesson in ethics as well as a lesson in courtesy for the students," she concluded.

31st annual WEPTAC conference

by Lt. Col. Christine Rhodes
162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/18/2012 - 10/18/2012 - TUCSON, Az -- Warfighters from throughout the U.S. will be gathering for the 31st annual Weapons and Tactics conference Oct. 22-26 here at the Tucson International Airport, home of the conference hosts Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center, the 162nd Fighter Wing, and the 355th Fighter Wing.

This year's theme is "Persistent Conflict - Enabling the Warfighter" as the focus will be on the rapidly expanding missions of the Air Reserve Component and its warfighters.

During the week-long conference, more than 600 ARC members will assemble for the event to attend briefings and discussions throughout the base. There will be 27 different working groups with specific breakouts to discuss the tactical development and modernization planning for the future of their respective airframes.

The conference will conclude with an executive meeting and out brief of their findings to Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the Air National Guard, and Lt. Gen. James Jackson, the commander of the Air Force Reserve.

"The major benefit of WEPTAC is that it defines the warfighters requirements from a bottom up perspective bringing in weapons officers and tacticians from across the ARC," said Col. Richard Dennee, the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center commander. "They spend three days discussing what their needs are from a warfighter view to help them do their job better down the road."

Previous WEPTAC conferences have produced positive results for the future based off of input from the conference, field representatives, Major Command staffs, System Program Offices, and industry.

"We take those requirements and test them to make them a reality in the future," said Dennee. "These results are seen anywhere from six months to a couple years after the conference."

The WEPTAC conference is a chance for 162nd FW members to interact with other warfighters also engaged in current operations. This allows the wing to share its mission, weapons and tactics knowledge with other important players within the ANG operational loop.

"The 162nd Fighter Wing benefits from this process because of their 59 maintainers who support the [Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center] mission," said Dennee. "They provide a direct daily support that helps the war effort. The wing's pilots are sometimes asked to fly with [Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center] to support testing missions along with A-10 pilots from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base."

"We appreciate the teamwork and partnership with [the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center], the National Guard Bureau, ARC and all who which support our critical mission," said Col. Michael T. McGuire, the 162nd FW commander.