Friday, October 26, 2012

Red Cross awards Reservists for being good Samaritans

by Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/25/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Airman 1st Class Micah Myers said he never expected more than a "pat on the back" from his supervisor when he and Senior Airman Andrew Moser helped save a Lakewood citizen's life earlier this year. However, the 36th Aerial Port Squadron Reservists got a little more than a pat when they were awarded the American Red Cross Good Samaritan Award by the Rainier Chapter in Tacoma, Wash., Oct. 24.

The Citizen Airmen earned the award for putting their first aid training into action by rescuing a man, who suffered from a seizure and head trauma in Lakewood, June 2. The two Airmen were driving home after finishing their military duties when they saw the man seize up and fall to the ground. They made a U-turn and proceeded to assist.

"Instincts told me to stabilize his head, make sure he had a pulse, and was breathing," said Moser, who received first aid training when he was on the ski patrol and again when in the military. "Then we treated him for shock and tried to keep him comfortable for when he regained consciousness."

"We did what needed to be done," Myers said. "I didn't expect anything more than a pat on the back from our supervisor or something."

Air Force recognizes PACAF team

by Staff Sgt. LuCelia Ball
PACAF Public Affairs

10/26/2012 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- A Pacific Air Forces team was recently recognized when they were awarded the Gen. George C. Kenney Award for Lessons Learned Sept. 17, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

The award was presented to the 5th Air Force and the then-13th Air Force Detachment 1 Lessons Learned Team by Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, PACAF commander, Mr. Sandy Schlitt, Air Force Association chairman of the board, and Dr. Jacqueline Henningsen, director for Studies & Analyses, Assessments and Lessons Learned, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, during the AFA and Space and Technology Exposition.

The team earned their award for actions taken during Operation TOMODACHI, named in support of the Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief Response to the Japan 9.0-magnatude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that ravaged parts of the country on March 11, 2011. The operation consisted of elements from the Department of Defense, Department of State, Government of Japan, U.S. Government relief agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations.

"There were actually two efforts taking place during the operation, one with the folks that were deployed to Yokota Air Base, Japan, and one with the staff here," said Lt. Col. Kyle Novak, PACAF Chief of Analyses and Assessments Division. "The Kenney Award primarily addressed our efforts at Yokota."

In addition to providing assistance to the country as it dealt with catastrophic loss of life and extensive property damage, and significant challenges imposed by the radiological incident at the Fukishima nuclear power plant, the Air Force managed the evacuation of family members from Japan during a U.S. Government-directed Non-combatant Evacuation Order.

The Lessons Learned Team played an important role in the capture, dissemination and incorporation of lessons learned that enhanced the knowledge and expertise of the DoD, DoS and the U.S. Pacific Command with regards to radiological consequence management, voluntary assisted departure, airlift operations and improved HA/DR planning for future crises.

The team's efforts were enhanced by the direct support received from the entire Air Force Lessons Learned community, ranging from Headquarters Air Force to other Major Commands, in particular Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command and PACAF Numbered Air Forces.

"We were pretty elated to receive the award," said Mr. John Trifonovitch, PACAF Division Chief, Analysis and Assessments. "This operation was a total Air Force effort that produced results. To be recognized at the Air Force level emphasized and acknowledged
the effort we put in."
The award was presented to the following team members: Brig. Gen. John Raymond, then 5th Air Force vice commander; Col. Stuart Lum, then-5th AF director of staff; Col. Yvette Quitno, then-5th AF/A2/6; Col. Marc Reese, then-13th AF Det. 1 commander; Col. Martin Winkler, then-5th AF/A3/A5, Lt. Col. Kyle Novak, 13th AF/A9, Maj. David Caswell, 7AF/A8/A9, Dr. Robert Sligh, 5th AF historian and Mr. Mark Reid, 13th AF/A9.

Celebrity Chef Energizes Naval Air Station Jax Flight Line Cafe

By Lt. j.g. Kevin Wendt, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- A celebrity chef from the Food Network show, "Restaurant: Impossible," displayed his cooking prowess at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) Flight Line Cafe, Oct. 24.

With a galley full of resources and a crew of culinary specialists (CS) at his disposal, Robert Irvine set about bringing to life his version on one of the most basic meals, pizza.

The event, sponsored by the NAS Jax Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) and Lighthouse Foods (a company that distributes some of Irvine's line of foods), was put together as a fun training event for the CSs at the Flight Line Cafe.

"It's really great to have Chef Irvine here to provide creative training to our crew," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Teresa Culliper, food service officer of the NAS Jax Flight Line Cafe. "Not only is he here to promote training, but he is making a full set of pizzas that will be served for lunch."

Irvine assigned members of his own cooking crew and other CSs to make homemade pizza dough and sauce. He also took the time to mentor Sailors with his inventive cooking ideas.

"I thought it was a great experience for everyone. It's exciting to meet such an experienced culinary professional who is also has his own cooking show," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Ray Johnson of the NAS Jax Flight Line Cafe.

As the dough and sauce neared completion, a different twist was applied to the event: a friendly pizza-making competition. Splitting up the CSs into four teams, Irvine briefed the Sailors on the rules.

"From the time you get your pizza dough, you'll have 30 minutes to come up with an idea for an original pizza. Get creative, but keep it simple. You should be able to come up with something that is both tasty and healthy. I don't want to see just red sauce, cheese and pepperoni," Irvine said.

As the Sailors went to work, the tension in the kitchen was high as they rushed to complete their pizza ideas within the allotted time. In the meantime, the Flight Line Cafe assembled a team of four judges, including Irvine, his wife, Gail Kim, President of Lighthouse Foods Billy Hashey and Cmdr. Tom Dailey, FLC executive officer.

Thirty minutes seemed like 10, but each team finished their pizzas with flying colors and presented them to the judge's panel. As the judges munched on the platters served to them, they evaluated each team based on taste and creativity.

Ultimately, the team from the Naval Station Mayport Oasis Galley claimed first place. The team's pizza included a combination of spinach, onion, bacon, basil and scrambled eggs, lightly topped with cayenne pepper.

After the awards were presented and Irvine posed for photos with all the CSs who competed.

"I was a cook in the Royal Navy for 10 years, and I know how important what all of you do is to the morale and welfare of the military. Thank you for the effort and hard work, and for the service you provide every day to the men and women who serve with you."

ASN Garcia Visits Prairie View A&M NROTC Unit

From Houston Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Consortium

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (NNS) -- Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower & Reserve Affairs, the Honorable Juan M. Garcia III, visited the Prairie View A&M Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit, Oct. 24.

During his visit to the campus, Garcia visited with midshipmen, as well as Dr. Danny Kelley, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and University President Dr. George C. Wright.

"You are the future leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps," said Garcia. "The training you receive here will prepare you for the challenges you will face in the fleet."

The Prairie View A&M University NROTC Unit is one of the units that make up the Houston NROTC Consortium. The NROTC unit at Rice University is another university in the consortium. Midshipmen from the University of Houston, Houston Baptist University, and Texas Southern University are also members of the consortium. An NROTC consortium is formed when two or more host units are located geographically close to one another. NROTC courses and professional instruction are held on both campuses and the units can share resources as the Navy and Marine Corps deem appropriate in order to maximize available funds and promote program consistency.

Captain Will Fitzgerald, commanding officer of the Houston NROTC Consortium, reminded the midshipmen of the importance of Secretary Garcia's visit.

"As you can imagine Secretary Garcia had many, many competing requests for his time - and he chose to come and talk to us this morning," said Fitzgerald. "That's how much he values who you are and what you are doing."

Garcia was in Houston as part of the Houston Fleet Week going on 21-28 October. He is the highest-ranking Navy official to visit the Prairie View A&M NROTC Unit.

"This is a tremendous honor for our unit," said Midshipman First Class Samantha Stepp. "The Assistant Secretary of the Navy Juan Garcia offered his wisdom on the impact of newly commissioned officers, especially with the extremely sensitive situations the fleet faces. His presentation re-emphasized the power and influence the United States Navy and Marine Corps maintains throughout the world."

The NROTC Program was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty and loyalty, and with the core values of honor, courage and commitment. The Prairie View A&M NROTC Unit was established in 1968 and the Rice University Unit was established earlier in 1941. In 1993 the two Units formed the Houston NROTC Consortium.

Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., manages all initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes overseeing NROTC units at 75 colleges and universities which also have cross-town affiliations with more than 85 additional academic institutions.

There are more than 5,300 midshipmen, officer candidates and MECEP members currently associated with an NROTC unit at colleges and universities throughout the country.

Scott Airman named 2012 Air Mobility Command Icon

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

10/26/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- There were lights, cameras and plenty of action.

The stage was set for a rock star...or in this case nine Air Mobility Command rock stars performing for AMC Icon Oct. 25 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

A Scott AFB 1st Lt. Nicole White took home the grand prize of $1,000 and the title of 2012 AMC Icon. Additionally, White also earned the opportunity to audition for Tops in Blue in San Antonio, Texas.

"It was such an honor to represent Team Scott and I am so thankful to bring home the prize," said White.

Staff Sgt. Tiry Crane, from Little Rock AFB, Ark., took the second prize of $600.

"Musically, this was the best experience of my life so far," said Crane.

Coming in third, Tech. Sgt. Doug Boren from McConnell AFB, Kan., took home $400.

"The competition was amazing, anybody could have won, but I feel blessed to have placed," Boren said.

This year's judges were J. Rome, former Airman and winner of ABC's singing competition show Duets; Jim Cornelison, Chicago Blackhawks' national anthem
soloist and Band of Mid America honorary commander; Smash, from the Smash Band; and Dr. Stella Markou, University of Missouri-St. Louis Vocal Studies director.

Starlifter, the Band of Mid-America's rock band, provided live accompaniment for each contestant.

Other performers included:
-Tech. Sgt. Sonya Bryson from MacDill AFB, Fla.
-Staff Sgt. Abigail Foster from Fairchild AFB, Wash.
-Staff Sgt. Oliver Dagum from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
-Senior Airman Desiree Scarver from Travis AFB, Calif.
-Airman 1st Class Andrew Hicks from Grand Forks AFB, N.D.
-Airman 1st Class Duawana Robinson from Dover AFB, Del.

Master Sgt. Jason Shamis was selected for AMC Icon from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., but returned home to welcome his second daughter.

Texas Reservists return from Saudi Arabia

by Master Sgt. Julie Briden-Garcia
301st Fighter Wing

10/25/2012 - NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas -- He was the strong and silent type. He never said a word. As he stepped off the plane, his eyes searched for his wife and children, spotting them waiting at the bottom of the stairs. He walked unwaveringly to greet them after being deployed for six months. Kneeling down, Staff Sgt. Barry Tate, 610th Security Forces Squadron member, scooped up his daughter in one arm and hugged his son tightly in the other ... never saying a word, but all the time, fighting back the tears that now streamed down his face.

More than 50 deployed members from the 301st Security Forces Squadron, part of the 301st Fighter Wing, and 610th Security Forces Squadron, here, returned from a six-month deployment in Saudi Arabia on Oct. 25. These men and women were responsible for conducting base security operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"This is really nice. I'm just glad to be back home and not having to deal with all that dust," said one Airman between hugs.

There were more than 100 family members and friends who arrived at the base in the dark hours Thursday morning. A buzz of excitement filled the air as they waited to greet their loved ones and comrade-in-arms -- one of those was Maj. Jason Jewert, 301st Security Forces Squadron commander.

"As always, the men and women of the 301st SFS did a great job while deployed. They make me proud of the privilege to work with such a patriotic group of Airman."

Putting a homecoming reception together has many pieces to the puzzle. One of those pieces is the Key Spouses program, a volunteer-based program giving family members who are left behind a friendly voice to communicate with.

"Some of us have walked in their shoes and understand the pain of separation," said Dori Miller, 301st Fighter Wing Key Spouses program volunteer, "and it's a joy to watch these families reunite after so many months apart.

"As Key Spouses, we have the privilege of contacting the deployer's families throughout their separation to offer love and support. We call mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, fianc├ęs and spouses. 'Family', to us, means who you carry in your heart, not just who is listed in DEERs (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System)."

With hugs and high-fives completed, security forces and family members headed to the hangar to pick up their bags and start some well deserved down time before hitting the grindstone once more.

Dover Reservists meet Medal of Honor recipients

by Senior Airman Joe Yanik

10/25/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Two Medal of Honor recipients met with approximately 50 Airmen for a question and answer session Oct. 14, at the 512th Operations Group auditorium here.

The two distinguished Vietnam War veterans, Marine Col. Harvey C. Barnum Jr. and Army 1st Lt. Brian M. Thacker, addressed what they said is one of the most important strengths today's military possesses.

"We have the best joint trained force ever," said Barnum, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs under the George W. Bush administration. "The Guard and Reserve came out of the background and are part of the team. I just think the military force we have is the strongest ever, because we are one team, one fight."

Barnum added the challenge for military leadership today is to maintain the close collaboration among active-duty, Reserve and Guard components.

Barnum and Thacker then discussed several topics they said were important challenges that need to be confronted in today's military: suicide, sexual assault, care for injured veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder and employment for veterans who have separated from the military.

Thacker said suicide has always been an issue for Veterans Affairs, where he had spent his career before retiring in 2002.

"But, we've met every challenge head-on, and that is the reason the military is called on all the time to do anything," said Barnum. "We're the only ones who are trained, with the leadership, with the discipline."

In attendance was Maj. Scott Kissler, a C-5 Galaxy aircraft commander and flight evaluator with the 709th Airlift Squadron. "I think they had some very good words of wisdom to pass along to all of us who are fighting today's wars," said Kissler, who has flown numerous missions in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. "Their experiences, I think, help and guide us with what we go through."

"It has been a heavy and hard lift," said Thacker about the role the Reserve has played in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I hope it's over before too long. Thank you for the time you've put in."

When not visiting military bases, the distinguished visitors speak to non-military audiences
as well.

"I believe the future of our country lies in the hands of our youth," Barnum said. "They are the future leaders."

He and Thacker visit schools around the country promoting a character development program that emphasizes life-long skills such as self-expression through writing.

"(Writing) is a fundamental skill that will enable you to go to many different career paths," said Thacker. "And, kids need to understand that."

Before Barnum and Thacker left the Q and A session to attend the retirement ceremony of a friend, Master Sgt. Anthony Boyle, a 709th AS flight engineer, they described the wartime circumstances that led to them receiving their medals.

To hear the account of actions taken by Thacker that led to him receiving the MoH, click here

To hear the account of actions taken by Barnum that led to him receiving the MoH, click here.

ORE brings reserve, active-duty Airmen together at JB MDL

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

10/25/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- A group of six players act as upset civilians gathered outside the gate of a simulated base during an exercise Oct. 15 here. The group is acting like protestors who are unhappy with the Air Force being in their country.

Fire department and security forces personnel arrive on scene to provide assistance if the protestors get out of hand. At the same time a vehicle carrying a simulated improvised explosive device drives to the entry control point. The driver and passengers then exit the vehicle and detonate the IED.

Two of the passengers from the car act as gunmen, and simulate opening fire on the base. Another actor portraying a shooter enters from the opposite side the installation around the same time. Security forces engage with both sets of attackers and are able to drive them off, allowing members of the base return to work.

This was one of many scenarios executed during the operational readiness exercise Oct. 10 through 17 here.

The week-long event was a joint effort between reserve Airmen from the 514th Air Mobility Wing and active-duty Airmen from the 87th Air Base Wing and 305th Aerial Port Squadron.

This ORE is designed to prepare service members for the upcoming April operational readiness inspection here. The exercise also gives command staff personnel a chance to understand and observe the readiness of their Airmen and how they would fight in a deployed environment.

The ORE and the ORI take service members through the process of a deployment, starting first with the mobility phase, followed by the deployment and employment phase and concluding with the redeployment and demobilization phase.

"The ORE is an evaluation of our preparedness," said Lt. Col Tony Polashek, 514th AMW deputy operations group commander. "It tests our ability to deploy and operate efficiently in a deployed environment."

Polashek acted as the operations group commander for the Crisis Action Team during the exercise and was second-in-command to Col. Michal Underkofler, 514th AMW wing commander.

The event featured a number of different scenarios, or injects, that challenged service members in every field. Injects ranged from missile and chemical attacks to interview requests and gas spills.

"We faced pretty much the entire gamut of what our first sergeants see when we're deployed," said Underkofler. "Everybody was engaged, solving problems seen in a real-world environment and addressing multiple simulated challenges at one time. Even with the challenges of a home-station ORE everyone was fully engaged."

A home-station ORE or ORI takes place at a unit's home base while a fly-away takes place at the center designed specifically for operational readiness training or at another accommodating base.

"The difference between a fly-away and home-station ORI is that one provides an isolated and realistic training area, while the latter requires nonplayers to continue to work alongside players," said Underkofler. "The benefits of having a home-station ORI are that we are saving the taxpayer money and are keeping service members near their home and family."

Fly-away OREs and ORIs can take place at one of four CRTCs across the U.S. A training center is located at Air National Guard bases in Gulfport, Miss.; Alpena, Mich.; Savannah, Ga.; and Camp Douglas, Wis.

The Air Force is able to save money on gas, lodging and other expenses by keeping both people and aircraft local, said Underkofler.

"We are acting as a test bed for home-station ORIs within AMC," said Underkofler. "If we are successful in April, this could be the way AMC handles evaluations in the future."

The Exercise Evaluation Team judges a unit's performance for success or failure. The EET constantly observes service members as they execute their missions, taking notes and providing feedback. At the end of an ORI, a base can earn one of four rankings: outstanding, excellent, satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

"We are working to ensure they are in compliance with their mission essential task lists, their functional areas and their individual tasks," said Robert Scherer, 87th ABW chief of exercise services. "We also evaluated attitude, sense of urgency, leadership, team work and compliance with their (ability to survive and operate) tasks."

Attitude was one area where service members excelled, said Chief Master Sgt. James J. Whitley, 514th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent.

"Attitudes were great, everyone was very positive," said Whitley. "They wanted to do it and they wanted to do a good job."

The exercise was a success in that it identified areas were the units both performed well and needed improvement, said Scherer.

"As the exercise progressed, everything got better," he added. "We still have a long way to go but, generally, people did improve and we expect to see even more improvement."

Units will have the opportunity to test their abilities again during the second ORE in January.

"We appreciate the patience and support of all here at JB MDL who helped with this home-station ORE and will help with both the second ORE and the ORI," said Underkofler.

DOD, Other Agencies Monitor Hurricane Sandy

American Forces Press Service
 WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2012 – The Department of Defense and other federal agencies are keeping a close eye on the progress of Hurricane Sandy, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Earl Brookins, left, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Trauis Pattillo load sand bags onto a truck in preparation for Hurricane Sandy in Norfolk, Va., Oct. 26, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Billy Ho

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“We're obviously closely monitoring the storm,” Little told reporters at the Pentagon. The department, he added, is currently coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard.
“We stand ready to assist the potentially impacted states across the Northeast should they require assistance,” Little said.

Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane with winds upwards of 75 miles per hour, is currently off the eastern coast of southern Florida, moving north. The storm has prompted the governors of Maryland and Virginia to declare states of emergency today, National Guard Bureau officials said.

Little said the department anticipates it will activate and deploy a defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating elements in support of FEMA regions throughout the Northeast.

More than 45,500 National Guard soldiers and airmen, he said, are ready and available to assist governors within seven states and the District of Columbia to respond immediately to Hurricane Sandy if needed.

“It's important to recognize that this has the potential to be a dangerous storm, including in the National Capital Region,” Little said. “I'd encourage everyone to heed the instructions of their local emergency managers, as well as review their hurricane checklists and evacuation plans as the storm approaches the East Coast.”

At this time, Little said, no aircraft, ships or personnel have been relocated out of the storm's projected path.
“But I've heard that local commanders along the East Coast, particularly Navy installations in the Hampton Roads area, are starting to prepare their assets in the event they need to evacuate them,” Little said. “There are standard operating procedures, of course, for movement of assets during storms of this kind.”

Network 56 gets the gold: Base enlisted group earns presidential award

by Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/26/2012 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  -- The Network 56 organization was presented the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Gold Level) during an Oct. 12 ceremony at the Northern Lights club here.

Network 56 earned the gold level recognition thanks to 1,086 hours of community service. The group volunteered for 70 events from November 2011 to September 2012, generously helping charitable organizations and causes throughout the surrounding community, including Airmen Against Drunk Driving, Toys-for-Tots, Relay for Life, the Salvation Army and the North Country Food Bank in Crookston, Minn.

"Grand Forks Air Force Base has a long and proud tradition of volunteer service," said Chief Master Sgt. David Carlson,319th Air Base Wing's highest ranking enlisted service member. "This award is just further proof of the caliber of Airmen we have on this base."

The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals, families and groups that have achieved a certain standard - measured by the number of hours of service over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime.

"This award means a lot to the Network 56 members - it's truly an honor to receive such a prestigious award, because we accomplished this together," said Tech. Sgt. Byron Ball, Network 56 president. "The NCOs here have given a lot of their time to positively impact the community and we made history as the first to be presented this award at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

"We hope this award inspires all E-5 and E-6 private organizations across the Air Force to truly do things to make a difference in their communities and not just for an EPR (Enlisted Performance Report) bullet," Ball said. "Our motto is, 'NCOs Making A Difference,' and the Warriors of the North can say we did that."

Editor's note: Network 56 is a nonprofit professional military organization for enlisted service members in the pay grades of E-5 through E-6. For more information about the group and their community volunteer activities, visit their Facebook page.

Airman saves residents from fire

by Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/26/2012 - TUCSON, Ariz. -- A Staff Sgt. from the 923rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., rescued nearby residents after a fire broke out in a house close to his own Oct. 16.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Cacopardo, 923rd AMXS aircraft electrical and environment systems craftsman, was driving home from his night shift to get some rest before a scheduled appointment. He came across a woman outside trying to fight flames that had broke out in her garage with a fire extinguisher.

"I asked her if she needed help with anything," said Cacopardo. "She said she had nine patients in the house. I had asked her what kind of patients she was talking about, she told me 'paraplegics and mentally ill'. I immediately went inside and pulled them out. And just as we were getting the last person out is when the fire department showed up."

After extinguishing the fire, Cacopardo was taken home and questioned by the police.

"I was a little nervous," Cacopardo said. "I thought I was going to be in trouble, the way they were asking questions. Asking who I was and exactly what happened."

After the fire incident, he still continues to keep in contact with the group.

"I check on them at least once a week," Cacopardo said. "I stopped by the day after as I was heading out to go to a bowling tournament just to see how they were doing."

The incident made the sergeant a well-known name in the 923rd AMXS.

"Everyone keeps telling me that I'm a hero," Cacopardo said. "I'm like an honorary fire fighter in my squadron. The first day I came back, I got called in and there was a crew chief that yelled 'Hey, can you fireman carry me back outside the gate?!' Personally, I don't feel like a hero. I was just in the right place at the right time. "

National Guard Troops Prepare for Hurricane Sandy

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

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2012 – The National Guard Bureau has yet to receive requests for assistance, but is prepared to respond if needed to the expected arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said today.

“We are monitoring Hurricane Sandy closely and coordinating with our federal, state and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response,” Army Gen. Frank J. Grass said in a news release.
“Currently, there are no state or federal requests for National Guard assistance, but rest assured the National Guard is poised and ready to provide proven responders and capabilities,” Grass said.

Sandy, currently a Category 1 hurricane with winds upwards of 75 miles per hour, has prompted the governors of Maryland and Virginia to declare states of emergency today, National Guard Bureau officials said.

According to the officials, more than 61,000 National Guard personnel along the Eastern Seaboard will be available for duty, if and when, Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.

The Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and District of Columbia National Guard units are coordinating with authorities in the event Sandy makes landfall as predicted, officials said.

The New York National Guard Joint Operations Center will go to full staffing Oct. 28 and New York National Guard representatives will be manning the State Emergency Management Center over the weekend, according to New York National Guard officials.

The New York Army National Guard is planning for the deployment of an immediate response force on Oct. 29 of about 250 soldiers, officials added.

Army Maj. Gen. Patrick A. Murphy, the New York National Guard’s adjutant general, has asked the governor's office to request that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta appoint Army Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of the 53rd Troop Command, as a dual-status commander for this event.

This status allows Swezey to command both National Guard and active duty reserve troops if the governor decides to request the assistance of federal assets.

Along with their efforts, Delaware National Guard officials said, the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has nurses and medical technicians on standby, while the Air National Guard is moving all flyable equipment out of the storm’s path over the weekend, Delaware National Guard officials said.

Army National Guard units will shelter their helicopters until the storm passes and will provide support as needed, Delaware National Guard officials said.

Grass said the National Guard Bureau is part of a collaborative effort to help citizens that could be affected by the hurricane.

“We are joined in a cooperative effort … with a single set of objectives -- to save lives, preserve peace and civil order, and support recovery efforts,” he said.

(The Delaware and New York Public Affairs offices and Air Force Maj. Gary Arasin contributed to this story.)

US Fleet Forces Sets Sortie Condition Alpha, Ships Getting Underway

From U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) ordered all U.S. Navy ships in the Hampton Roads, Va., area to set Sortie Condition Alpha Oct. 26 in preparation for an upcoming sortie as Hurricane Sandy travels up the East Coast.

Adm. Bill Gortney, USFF commander, has directed ships to sortie between this afternoon and early tomorrow morning.

USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) will sortie from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va.

The following ships will sortie from Naval Station Norfolk: USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), USS Monterey (CG 61), USS Anzio (CG 68), USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Gonzales (DDG 66), USS Mahan (DDG 72), USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Gravely (DDG 107), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Nicholas (FFG 47), USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201), USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), USNS William McClean (T-AKE 12).

USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Taylor (FFG 50) and USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) are already underway in the USFF Area of Responsibility.

"Based on the current track of the storm, we made the decision to begin to sortie the fleet," said Gortney. "The current timeline allows them enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm."

The Navy orders a sortie during potentially extreme weather conditions to reduce the risk of significant damage to ships and piers during high winds and seas.

Some ships will not get underway, due to various maintenance availabilities, and are taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage. Commanding officers have a number of options when staying in port, depending on the severity of the weather. Some of these options include adding additional mooring and storm lines, dropping the anchor, and disconnecting shore power cables.

As a precautionary measure, Commander Navy Installations Command ordered all installations in the Hampton Roads area to set Tropical Cyclone Condition Three as Hurricane Sandy is forecast to bring high winds and rain to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Tropical Cyclone Condition Three means destructive winds of greater than 50 knots associated with a tropical system, are expected within 48 hours.

A variety of information is available in support of family readiness during hurricane
season including:

- Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System,, which provides a standardized method for the Navy to account, manage and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected and/or scattered by a wide-spread catastrophic event.

-U.S. Fleet Forces planning preparedness Web site to help families with hurricane and destructive weather planning,

- State of Virginia Emergency Management,, which has many resources for planning and preparing emergency kits, developing evacuation plans and addressing specific special needs for children, the elderly and others.

- Virginia Department of Transportation Hurricane Evacuation Guide,, which provides more detailed information for preparing for a hurricane, hurricane evacuation and public shelters in Virginia.