Military News

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mass enlistment welcomes newest Rescue Reservists

by Tech. Sgt. Peter Dean
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- October 3 will be forever ingrained in the mind of 10 young citizens; for that was the day they began their military careers, transforming them from citizens to Citizen Airmen. Family and friends gathered on the 920th Rescue Wing's flight line to support and witness as the Citizen Airmen entered the next chapter of their lives.

Staged in front of the Wing's transportation of choice, a HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter and a HC-130P/N King refueling aircraft, 920th wing commander Col. Jeffrey Macrander administered the Oath of Enlistment.

These young men and women entered into the only Rescue Wing in the Air Force Reserve. The wing is charged with rescue, both in combat and in humanitarian missions. Regardless of their Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) in the wing, they are rescue and their skill sets are critical in the wings ability to complete its mission. The 920th completes more than 20 percent of the combat rescues throughout the world and has saved more than 3,000 lives.

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

Alamo Wing Airmen return from deployment

433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/27/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Twenty-five Air Force Reserve Airmen from the 433rd Security Forces Squadron returned from Saudi Arabia on Oct. 25.  While deployed, the Alamo Wing Airmen were responsible for providing integrated defense, emergency response, and combat support for the base, which houses military and host-nation tenant agencies.

The Airmen will in-process back into the unit and receive time with their families before heading back to duty and civilian careers.

Rescue Wing Airmen brace for Hurricane Sandy

by By Capt. Cathleen Snow
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- As Hurricane Sandy crept up the Atlantic coastline here blowing a mix of sand, rain and salt mist, 920th Rescue Wing Maintenance Airmen stuffed the wing's six HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters inside an aircraft hangar here to protect them from storm.

"A damaging wind warning was issued earlier," said Staff Sgt. Charles Washington, range weather forecaster, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. While Hurricane Sandy isn't expected to exceed a Category 1, the largest threat is in effect with sustained winds at 34 knots until 5 a.m. Saturday.

It will be the closest to Patrick at 185 miles east at 8 p.m. tonight, he said.

Although no flying was scheduled within the 920th RQW today, maintenance Airmen took precautions by policing light loose items in and around the flightline, in addition to mooring down the 920ths five HC-130P/N King fixed-wing aircraft by fastening chains to the tail, nose and wings to steel rings embedded into the ramp.

"We worked with the 920th Logistics Readiness Flight to put away deployment gear for the upcoming Readiness Exercise," said Chief Master Sgt. Armand Barrett, logistic superintendent, 920th Maintenance Operation Flight, in addition to the normal precautions.

Long before the storm's eye neared, maintenance Airmen drug one Pave Hawk out onto the open aircraft ramp to perform avionic systems operations checks. In between rain bands they huddled inside the aircraft during some of the more gusty conditions to, "get some work done today," said the Chief.

Regional emergency responders conduct exercise with Patriot Wing

by 2nd Lt. Andre J. Bowser
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/23/2012 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- More than 125 representatives of regional hospitals, municipal and emergency workers, as well as Patriot Wing members converged on the base Oct. 21 for a National Disaster Medical System exercise.

Deploying C-5 aircraft, a helicopter and a parade of ambulances, among other emergency vehicles, exercise participants worked feverishly shuttling mock patients through the various stages of the mass casualty exercise. The scenario involved a natural disaster in a neighboring state with countless injured patients transported by U.S. Air Force medical airlift from the disaster incident to a patient reception team at Westover.

"It takes 25 agencies to do what we're doing here today," Springfield's Emergency Preparedness Director Robert Hassett told the emergency responders from around the region, including officials from Mass. Veterans Affairs, Red Cross, and emergency responders. "Today is all about the process and our focus is on administration and logistics of transporting medical patients safely," he said.

To that end, Hassett said communication between the countless participating agencies was key.

Beverly Hirschhorn, a member of the Medical Reserve Corps, said the opportunity to interact and work with the other agencies was a huge benefit to the exercise.

"We got a sense of how we could fit in a larger response and learned flexibility in terms of taking any role we are requested to do," she said, adding that participants "got a fantastic sense" of the variety of people and agencies necessary to successfully respond to a disaster.

Rows of ambulances from across the region idled outside the Base Hangar, standing by to drive to participating area hospitals where medical staff would practice receiving simulated patients.

Inside the base hangar, dozens of stretchers were lined up in rows with inflatable medical patients resting on the gurneys, their ailments and vital statistics described on paper affixed to the puffed-up bodies.

In all, 48 "patients" were treated and stabilized before being transported to hospitals in all four Western Massachusetts counties -- well within the required six-hour window that's federally mandated.

But Hasset told exercise participants that the exercise was about much more than shuttling medical patients.

"Imagine you're sent hundreds of miles away from home for a medical issue in an emergency," he started, describing the "need to care for the whole person."

In a real-world incident, a mobile kitchen would be deployed and sanitary items would be provided to patients, Hassett said. The Red Cross was on hand providing some creature comforts to participants, including hot soup from a year-old mobile pantry.

Westover is one of two ports of entry in the state for medical patients evacuated from a neighboring state. The other port is Boston's Logan International Airport.

Roger Johnson, director of VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System and the federal coordinating officer for the exercise, said the training event was a chance to brush up on skills and to ensure that agencies were ready should the real thing happen.

"Our responsibilities as local, state and federal participants are to care for all patients needing our assistance as if they were our own neighbors," he said.

Participants in the regional exercise included the Department of Veterans Affairs, the City of Springfield Office of Emergency Preparedness, the Hampden County Medical Reserve Corps, American Red Cross, 11 area hospitals, area emergency medical response units, and units assigned to Westover and the Massachusetts National Guard.

Pride in ownership: Reserve aircraft maintainers help keep McConnell's fleet flying

by 1st Lt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Senior Airman Michael Moore doesn't technically own an airplane. Moore, a crew chief assigned to the Air Force Reserve 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here, hasn't quite saved up the capital required to purchase a private jet. But if you ask, he will tell you he feels like he owns an entire aircraft fleet.

"When I'm off work and just out driving around town and I look up in the sky and see one of them flying, I know that's one of my jets," said Moore. "When I see them take off and fly, I know that I helped to make that happen."

Moore is a "knucklebuster," part of the team of maintainers here responsible for accomplishing the endless array of tasks required to keep McConnell's fleet of 50-plus-year-old KC-135 Stratotankers flying.

As a member of the 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, he spends the vast majority of his work day on the flightline, braving the elements and constantly checking to ensure the mission readiness of each jet. In fact, long before pilots and aircrew members climb the ladder to the cockpit, aircraft maintainers have been hard at work running extensive checklists to ensure the plane is ready for takeoff.

"We arrive at the jet an hour or two before the aircrew just to double check everything," said Staff Sgt. Carlton Creary, a crew chief assigned to the 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "We look the tires, the brakes, the hydraulics, the fuel, make sure the engines are serviced, that all the pressures look good--we double-check everything. When the aircrew comes out here and they run through the flight controls, we have to make sure that when they turn left that side is going to come up properly. We have to make sure the rudder is going to kick properly for them. It's our job to make sure everything on that jet is in working order before they get going."

Creary said the work doesn't end there. Aircraft maintainers are also responsible for inspecting and maintaining an aircraft when it returns from a mission as well.

"We clean it up and really do a detailed inspection," said Creary. "If it just came back from a deployment to the desert, we check to make sure there is no damage or erosion that might have happened because of the sand. We check the landing gears, the flight services, the wings and the ailerons. We look for structural and skin damage. We make sure the interior is good, that the floorboards are good and that nothing is missing. We basically take care of the plane so that it's ready to fly again."

That strict attention to detail is appreciated by the individuals who operate those aircraft at 30,000 feet above the earth's surface.

"When the aircraft is ready for flight, most of the internal systems are completely inaccessible to the crew," said Lt. Col. John Stansfield, a pilot assigned to the 931st Operations Support Squadron. "I can't take the plane apart piece by piece to inspect it before I fly. Therefore, the only way I have of knowing if the critical systems have been inspected and are ready to go is by looking at what has been signed off on in the maintenance records. When I accept an aircraft, I am betting my life and my crew's lives that what the maintenance book says has been done has in fact been done."

It's a responsibility aircraft maintainers don't take lightly.

"I have to make sure that the jet is ready every time," said Moore. "I'm sending my guys up there in that jet and for them to be safe, I have to make sure everything is in working order."

"It's a huge responsibility," said Creary. "You don't want to have something go wrong during the flight. You have to take pride in your work and accept the responsibility for the aircrew because ultimately, their lives are in our hands."

While it takes plenty of effort to keep the fleet flying, Creary said the KC-135 is an extremely durable and dependable aircraft, even at more than 50 years old.

"You would think as old as these planes are that we would have more issues to deal with," he said. "Every once in awhile we have one that requires a little bit more TLC, but for the most part these jets are very good and are extremely reliable."

Creary said that for the aircraft maintainers, it's a point of pride to ensure that McConnell's tankers always safely and successfully accomplish their mission. And he said no matter how many times he sees a KC-135 thunder down the runway and take flight, the sight never gets old.

"Sometimes we stop after we launch an aircraft and watch as it takes off from the flightline," he said. "There's a lot of pride there, to know that we did that. We made that happen. It's a good feeling."

AF seeks Vanguard award nominees



by Gloria Kwizera
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas
Air Force officials are seeking nominees for the 2013 Noncommissioned Officers Association Vanguard Award.

The award annually recognizes one enlisted member from each of the uniformed services for acts of heroism that result in saving someone’s life or preventing serious injury. The act must have occurred between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012.

The act must be a voluntary action initiated by the nominee and not a result of directions or orders. It must also have been a legitimate attempt to save a life or prevent serious injury to another person or people.

Each major command, field operating agency and direct reporting unit may nominate one person in each category.

Organizations and base-level personnel must contact their MAJCOM, FOA or DRU for applicable suspense dates and additional information regarding nomination procedures. Nominations are due to the Air Force Personnel Center by Jan. 28.

Northcom Supports Government’s Storm Response Efforts


From a U.S. Northern Command News Release

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Oct. 29, 2012 – U.S. Northern Command is poised to provide Defense Department support to Federal Emergency Management Agency, tribal, state and local response efforts due to Hurricane Sandy.

Part of Northcom’s defense support of civil authorities mission directs the command to plan and anticipate actions that it may need to take to support civil authorities.

Support efforts include:

-- Defense Department activation of defense coordinating officers and defense coordinating elements to support FEMA Regions 1, 2, and 3, with coordinating elements from Regions 4, 7, and 9 providing additional surge support to Regions 1, 2, and 3;
-- Northcom has identified active duty deputies to deploy in support of designated dual-status commanders, and is currently working with officials from Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. These active duty deputies facilitate active duty force employment under dual-status leadership should active duty assets be required.
-- Northcom has placed the following defense support of civil authorities forces on 24-hour “Prepare to deploy” status in response to anticipated FEMA requests to mitigate or respond to effects of Hurricane Sandy: light- and medium-lift helicopters; medium- and heavy-lift helicopters; pararescue teams; information awareness and assessment aircraft; Tactical Common Data Link; Rover video receiver systems; and fixed-wing aircraft.
-- Northcom is deploying joint regional medical planners to the regions.
-- Northcom has activated Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; and Dover Air Force Base, Del., as incident support bases for staging federal support equipment and supplies. Fort Devens, Mass., has been designated a federal team staging facility.
-- The Air Force Northern national security emergency preparedness directorate deployed emergency preparedness liaison officers to assist civil authorities in preparing for relief efforts.
-- Air Force Northern officials deployed joint air component coordination elements to Philadelphia, Boston and Trenton, N.J.
-- Northcom’s Joint Personnel Recovery Center, in support of Air Force Northern’s joint force air component commander, is pre-positioning search and rescue forces.
-- All Defense Department installations have been directed to offer support to local community requests for assistance, including providing staging and bed-down for utility recovery teams assigned to restore power.

Local youths become honorary Juvat pilots

by Staff Sgt. Tong Duong
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/29/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Junior and high school students from eight different institutions became honorary pilots at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea Oct. 24, 2012.

An annual event, the pilot for a day program allowed Korean students a closer look at the base's flying mission and the 80th Fighter Squadron.

Hosted by the 80th FS "Juvats," the youth first visited the air traffic control tower to see how it operates. They then went to the F-16 Fighting Falcon simulators to experience flying and landing jets.

"Being able to sit in and fly the F-16 was awesome," said Song DaBin, Jeonbuk foreign language high school 11th grade student, when asked what her favorite part of the tour was.

At their next stop, a "SERE" specialist explained aircraft egress and survival, evasion, resistance and escape procedures. While hanging from a harness, students were able to apply their SERE training in a virtual reality parachute simulator.

Airmen at the 80th FS life support allowed the group to try on pilot gear before heading to the flight line to view the jets.

At one of the hardened aircraft shelters, the students were given a tour of the jet before taking a group photo with 80th FS pilots.

Col. John Pearse and Lt. Col. Leslie Hauck III, 80th FS commander, dropped by to present each honorary Juvat pilot a certificate and patch, before taking off for their training flight.

For 1st Lt. Josh Arnall, 80th FS pilot, being able to interact with the students and to learn more about their daily lives and the community were the benefits of the tour.

"It works out great on both ends," Arnall said. "We brought them on base to show them not just the F-16 Fighting Falcons flown over their towns, but a lot of them enjoyed seeing what and how we do it."

Some even expressed military interest.

"One of my dreams is to become a (Republic of Korea) fighter pilot," Song said. "When I wore the flight suit, it seemed like it may come true someday. It made me happy and proud of myself," she said.

JB MDL gears up for Hurricane Sandy

by 2nd Lt. Alexis McGee and Airman Sean Crowe
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST -- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst units began gearing up for the potential arrival of Hurricane Sandy with an Emergency Operations Center stand-up Oct. 26 here.

The representatives collaborated to determine the precautions base officials must take to prepare the installation for the approaching tropical wind system.

Tracking the storm and providing updates to joint base leadership and key personnel has been one of the 305th Operations Support Squadron weather flight's primary duties throughout the last few days.

"The large, long-lasting storm is expected to yield heavy rain and high winds," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Cothron, 305th OSS weather forecaster.

The weather flight is not the only unit at JB MDL Hurricane Sandy promises to keep busy.

The EOC is the command and control section for the joint base. The center is responsible for coordinating activities and efforts for this crisis and educating our planners on the hurricane's potential to impact the joint base, said Steve Robertson, JB MDL Emergency Management Office flight chief.

Unit representatives presented hurricane preparedness concepts, many mentioned lessons learned from last year's hurricane and how they were incorporating the lessons learned into planning for Hurricane Sandy.

Joint base planners left nothing on the table, even discussing how best to secure static displays, which include aircraft and Humvees, while the 87th Security Forces Squadron prepared to have individuals ready to respond when called upon.

Once EOC personnel determine requirements, the representatives go back to their units and begin executing hurricane preparations, Robertson added.

Airmen with the 87th Civil Engineer Squadron were dispatched to clean storm drains, place sandbags and drive sweeping trucks through the streets of JB MDL to remove debris from the curbs and gutters.

A key concern for the emergency management team is the safety of service members and their families and the joint base's ability to disseminate information and preparedness tips to the base populous.

'Effective communication during an emergency situation is critical to our success and ability to minimize the storm's impact,' said Robertson. 'Our Joint Base Public Affairs team is postured and ready to inform the joint base community with key information and tips on how to prepare for Hurricane Sandy.'

Preparedness tips include setting freezers and refrigerators to the coldest temperature, securing any outdoor objects that could become flying debris in the hurricane, avoiding driving through flooded areas and preparing battery-powered flashlights and radios.

'Families should have a communication plan set up in case they are separated from one another," said Robertson. "Families should also know where to meet loved ones after the storm and who they can call outside their area.'

Robertson also mentioned that texting may be a viable communication option during and after the storm since texting capabilities are sometimes available when phone calls may not be.

Pre-storm concerns were not the only issues discussed during initial planning for Hurricane Sandy. Officials also brought up post-storm advice, encouraging the JB MDL community to use caution when driving due to the number of fallen limbs and trees that may be present after the storm.

Six days in; life's already warmer

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


10/29/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Throughout the base, six boiler plants are strategically located and manned by Japanese locals at all hours. On Oct. 23, 2012, the employees opened the valves and began distributing steam through the lines on base and the heat has been warming up base resident's homes for the past six days.

"With the steam pressure applied to the distribution lines, it means people can turn on the heat in their homes," said Master Sgt. Christopher Cluff, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron operations infrastructure superintendent.

With the temperature steadily dropping, this is good news for housing and dorm residents. Based on Misawa's history with harsh winters, it will not be long before the electric blankets and Snuggies just won't cut it anymore. But, before you begin cranking up the heat, please remember that keeping base infrastructures toasty costs approximately $25,000 a day.

Also, according to the 35 CES resource management flight, the money collected from conserving heat could be used to fund other Air Force needs.

"If everyone does a little bit to cut back on consumption it would help out significantly with the Air Force costs," added Cari Schroeder, 35 CES resource efficiency management. "If we brought that money back to the Air Force, we might not have so many budget cuts."

Some ways to save on heat consumption include:

· Keeping the heat at 20 degrees Celsius or below.
· Turning off the heat when nobody is at home.
· Leaving the curtains open during the day, which lets natural light in to warm the room and closing the curtains at night to help keep the heat inside.
· Wearing extra layers of clothing.

By practicing these heat-saving tips, future home owners can make saving money for their utility bill second nature.

"If you get in the habit of conserving energy while in the military, it may become easier for you to save money when you're back in the civilian world," said Schroeder. "Following any one of these tips could easily help you save $20 a month."

Refraining from leaving doors and windows open for an extended period of time is another way to conserve heat. As mentioned before, $25,000 is working hard to warm your home, said Capt. Reid Touchberry, 35 CES chief of plans and programs.

"Like my momma always said," added Touchberry. "We're not heating the outside, so keep the doors and windows closed."

Schroeder and Touchberry believe, whether it's keeping a job or making momma proud, there are many reasons to conserve heat.

For heating complications and questions on conserving energy, the resource management suggests calling the CE costumer service hotline at 226-WORK.

Regional emergency responders conduct exercise with Patriot Wing

by 2nd Lt. Andre J. Bowser
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/23/2012 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- More than 125 representatives of regional hospitals, municipal and emergency workers, as well as Patriot Wing members converged on the base Oct. 21 for a National Disaster Medical System exercise.

Deploying C-5 aircraft, a helicopter and a parade of ambulances, among other emergency vehicles, exercise participants worked feverishly shuttling mock patients through the various stages of the mass casualty exercise. The scenario involved a natural disaster in a neighboring state with countless injured patients transported by U.S. Air Force medical airlift from the disaster incident to a patient reception team at Westover.

"It takes 25 agencies to do what we're doing here today," Springfield's Emergency Preparedness Director Robert Hassett told the emergency responders from around the region, including officials from Mass. Veterans Affairs, Red Cross, and emergency responders. "Today is all about the process and our focus is on administration and logistics of transporting medical patients safely," he said.

To that end, Hassett said communication between the countless participating agencies was key.

Beverly Hirschhorn, a member of the Medical Reserve Corps, said the opportunity to interact and work with the other agencies was a huge benefit to the exercise.

"We got a sense of how we could fit in a larger response and learned flexibility in terms of taking any role we are requested to do," she said, adding that participants "got a fantastic sense" of the variety of people and agencies necessary to successfully respond to a disaster.

Rows of ambulances from across the region idled outside the Base Hangar, standing by to drive to participating area hospitals where medical staff would practice receiving simulated patients.

Inside the base hangar, dozens of stretchers were lined up in rows with inflatable medical patients resting on the gurneys, their ailments and vital statistics described on paper affixed to the puffed-up bodies.

In all, 48 "patients" were treated and stabilized before being transported to hospitals in all four Western Massachusetts counties -- well within the required six-hour window that's federally mandated.

But Hasset told exercise participants that the exercise was about much more than shuttling medical patients.

"Imagine you're sent hundreds of miles away from home for a medical issue in an emergency," he started, describing the "need to care for the whole person."

In a real-world incident, a mobile kitchen would be deployed and sanitary items would be provided to patients, Hassett said. The Red Cross was on hand providing some creature comforts to participants, including hot soup from a year-old mobile pantry.

Westover is one of two ports of entry in the state for medical patients evacuated from a neighboring state. The other port is Boston's Logan International Airport.

Roger Johnson, director of VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System and the federal coordinating officer for the exercise, said the training event was a chance to brush up on skills and to ensure that agencies were ready should the real thing happen.

"Our responsibilities as local, state and federal participants are to care for all patients needing our assistance as if they were our own neighbors," he said.

Participants in the regional exercise included the Department of Veterans Affairs, the City of Springfield Office of Emergency Preparedness, the Hampden County Medical Reserve Corps, American Red Cross, 11 area hospitals, area emergency medical response units, and units assigned to Westover and the Massachusetts National Guard.

Missing for 46 years, Air Commando laid to rest

by Capt. Kristen D. Duncan
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.  -- An Air Commando who died when his C-123 flare ship was shot down over Ahn Khe, Vietnam, was laid to rest Friday at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Texas.

The 310th Air Commando Squadron loadmaster, Airman 1st Class Jerry Mack Wall, 24, was killed when his plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed into the central highlands, May 18, 1966. Until recently Wall, who was one of five crew members, was listed as Missing in Action.

In an intense recovery operation, three of the other airmen's remains were recovered shortly after the crash by soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. The flight engineer, Bill Moore, remains missing.

"I thought there was a possibility Jerry and Bill were still alive," said retired Senior Master Sgt. Gary Thomas, a volunteer with Wall's unit. "That situation stuck with me for my whole life."

That situation involved a small, tight-knit group of aircrew volunteers from various backgrounds. Thomas, a first sergeant with the 14th Munitions and Maintenance Squadron, spent a few months with Wall. Wall trained Thomas and several others as "flare kickers" loading the 200 or so, 27 lb. flares.

"Jerry was so cool and calm, he was one heck of a guy," Thomas said. "He had already been into battle and was highly trained. When I first trained with him, it really shocked me to go into battle, and when he started going over how those flares could blow up and kill us... There's a lot of heroism in the 310th Air Commandos."

The night of the fateful crash, Thomas was scheduled to fly, but was sidelined due to an ear infection. The lead scheduler, Master Sgt. Raymond C. Jajtner took his place.

Thomas said everyone knew the danger of flying those missions, loaded with highly flammable magnesium flares. Wall's flight was hit with a 40mm round according to witness statements.

"When you're in combat and when you make friends, even if it's for a very short time, it's a real brotherhood," Thomas said. "It never goes away."

Air Commandos provided combat air patrol and airlift to the soldiers, delivering ammo, food, supplies and troops. They also flew out wounded and killed in action GI's, as well as prisoners, but one of the most harrowing jobs was the "candlestick" mission. During those missions, loadmasters and flare kickers would load, unload and drop hundreds of flares from the skies over southern Vietnam, illuminating the enemy.

"It was a firefight, the Vietcong loved to attack," he said. "We had B-52s dropping bombs right outside our wings, ground artillery coming up, everybody is unloading. It got to be like the 4th of July, but of course you were scared."

According to the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office, since 1973, the remains of more than 900 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command conducted an investigation mission in June 2007 and identified a site that was recommended for recovery. In March 2011 and March 2012 JPAC conducted recovery operations at the site and recovered human remains and material evidence at the site, according to the press release.

For more than a decade the United States has conducted joint field activities with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover the remains of missing Americans, according to their website. Throughout those countries, teams continue to investigate crash and burial sites, as well as interview locals to gain additional knowledge. Today, more than 1,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the conflict.

""I'm so very proud of my nation that persevered for so long in searching for my father's remains," said Lea Ann Wall McCann. "It's been a long journey home."

Thomas and several of Wall's family members greeted the flag draped casket when it arrived to San Antonio Wednesday, aboard American Airlines Flight 497. Passengers on the plane watched from their windows as the fire department honored the flight with a water cannon salute and as the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Honor Guard carried Wall's remains to an awaiting hearse.

"Everyone involved in making this happen has been wonderful to our family, from the sergeant who escorted his body to San Antonio, to the VA and the VFW, to the color guard," Wall said.

Navigating the election season

by Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs Office

10/29/2012 - Robins Air Force Base, Ga. -- Editor's Note: Adopted from an article written by Ian Carrier, 914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

During election season, Airmen should remember they are an important part of the political process even away from home.

In an effort to ensure the Department of Defense does not influence national elections, there are regulations in place for members of the Armed Forces.

Members may:

- Vote and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the military. These personal opinions should not be made at the work place, to subordinates, in a government vehicle, or while on government duty.

- Make monetary contributions to a political organization, party, or committee favoring a particular candidate or slate of candidates, subject to limitations under Title 2, United States Code, Section 441a and Title 18, United States Code, Section 607.

- Encourage others to exercise their voting rights, as long as such promotion does not constitute the use of their official authority or influence to interfere with the outcome of an election.

- Sign a petition for specific legislative action or a petition to place a candidate's name on an official election ballot, if the signing does not obligate the member to engage in partisan political activity and identifies the member as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Armed Forces.

- Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing their personal views on public issues or political candidates as long as such action is not part of an organized letter-writing campaign or solicitation of votes. If the letter identifies the member as being a part of the Armed Forces, it should clearly state that the views expressed are individual views and not those of the Air Force or DOD. Airmen should not use their military status to influence others on political activities.

- Display political bumper stickers on their private vehicle, but may not display them on government or official vehicles. Airmen should ensure that these bumper stickers do not violate other rules such as EEO, discrimination, or disparage government officials in accordance with base regulations.
The following activities are prohibited by the Joint Ethics Regulation, DOD Regulations, Air Force Instructions and federal law. Violation of these rules may result in criminal penalties or disciplinary action.

Members may not:

- Use their official authority, influence, or use government resources including e-mail, to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, encourage votes for a particular candidate or issue or ask for political contributions from others.

- Participate in any radio, television or other program or group discussion as an advocate of a partisan political party or candidate, or attend partisan political events as an official representative of the Armed Forces.

- Solicit or engage in fundraising in federal offices, facilities or military reservations for a partisan political party, cause, or candidate.

- Participate in any organized effort to provide voters with transportation to the polls, if the effort is organized or associated with a partisan political party, cause or candidate.

- Under Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, military officers may not publicly disrespect or undermine certain elected officials, federal secretaries or congress.

- Partisan political activities are actions that show support for a particular political party or candidate. For example, an Airman may not participate in a rally supporting a candidate, work for a candidate's election committee, run for elected office, appear in a political advertisement or otherwise officially support a candidate while in uniform or as a representative of the Armed Forces.

For more information, members should contact their unit-voting representative or their servicing legal office.