Military News

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More than 7,400 National Guard members responding to Hurricane Sandy

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau


10/30/2012 - ARLINGTON, Va. (10/30/2012) -- More than 7,400 Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen had been mobilized in 11 states to respond to Hurricane Sandy by 4:30 a.m. today and more were on the way.

National Guard assistance to local first responders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency included support at evacuation shelters, route clearance, search and rescue and delivery of essential equipment and supplies.

The focus of National Guard missions was quickly shifting to recovery in the aftermath of the storm.

The governors of 12 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia had declared a state of emergency because of the storm, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone even as it made its way further inland and continued to wreak havoc: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

Guard members were assembling and staging in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia, according to the National Guard Coordination Center, which monitors the response spearheaded by the states.

In Connecticut, Guard members were responding to evacuation security support and high-wheeled search and rescue missions. High-wheeled vehicles were supporting civilian authorities in Maryland. In Massachusetts, a National Guard Civil Support Team was on stand-by for a possible hazardous materials response. In New Jersey, Guard members were assisting state police. In New York and Pennsylvania, they were assisting state emergency managers. In Virginia, Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen were assisting with debris removal.

Each affected state was monitoring, assessing and responding as needed, and National Guard Bureau officials were monitoring and coordinating from the federal level.

Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, briefed President Barack Obama on the National Guard response in support of state, local and federal agencies as part of a FEMA briefing on Sunday.

On Monday, Grass was in dawn-to-dusk meetings with senior National Guard leaders, FEMA officials, the adjutants general and the secretary of defense, among others, to monitor and respond to the storm that has affected millions of Americans. That all-out effort was continuing this morning.

"We had to be ready to respond big and fast - so the National Guard ramped up in multiple states this weekend preparing to support local, state and federal civilian authorities," Grass said. "We are part of a whole-of-government response to support state, local and federal agencies tackling the effects of this storm."

National Guard officials were ready for the possibility of state requests for mutual aid. Emergency Management Assistance Compacts - ratified by Congress and law in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands - allow states to provide mutual aid if needed.

"Additional Army Guard forces, from outside the immediate hurricane affected states, are prepared to meet gaps in essential functions, if requested," said Army Lt Gen William E. Ingram, Jr., director of the Army National Guard.

"Through mutual assistance agreements, Army National Guard ground and aviation task forces, from neighboring FEMA region states, are ready to meet gaps in mission command, medical, communications, logistics, transportation, engineering, civil support, maintenance, security and aviation," he said.

In just one example of states helping states, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the Wisconsin National Guard stands ready to assist civilian authorities supporting Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in the impacted regions.

"Wisconsin's outstanding National Guard is ready to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy," Walker said. "As our nation braces for this massive storm, Wisconsin is hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. If resources are needed, Wisconsin stands ready to deploy the National Guard for assistance."

Some help was coming from the opposite side of the country: A Nevada National Guard 152nd Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft and crew departed Monday for Moffett Field, Calif. to pick up a rescue boat, truck and several Guardian Angel Pararescue Airmen from the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard.

The aircraft and load were scheduled to depart the airfield near Sunnyvale, Calif., later Monday for Charlotte, N.C., to assist with relief efforts. The 152nd, called to duty by the Air National Guard Readiness Center Crisis Action Team, was expected to arrive in North Carolina late Monday.

States were indicating early today that all needs were currently met.

The National Guard Bureau is monitoring the situation closely and coordinating with state, federal and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response, Guard officials said. The National Guard - the nation's first military responder - supports the FEMA response and that of U.S. Northern Command, among other agencies.

More than 85,000 National Guard members are available to assist civilian authorities in potentially affected states in support of relief efforts. Available National Guard resources include almost 140 rotary-winged aircraft to perform search and rescue, reconnaissance and personnel or cargo-carrying missions.

Critical equipment available from the National Guard also includes 75 zodiac boats, 3,125 high-water vehicles, 43 Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units, 3,535 generators and 726 debris-clearance vehicles.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta agreed with the governors of Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to appoint dual status commanders as Hurricane Sandy approaches, according to Defense Department reports.

Dual status commanders can command both federal and state National Guard forces. This special authority enables them to effectively integrate defense support operations and capabilities requested by governors. Panetta is prepared to quickly agree to similar requests from other states, the Defense Department reported.

Governors warned of heavy rain, extensive power outages, significant flooding and dangerous conditions, according to National Guard Coordination Center reports.

A state of emergency typically mobilizes resources to local governments that otherwise are restricted to state use only and suspends regulations that would impede rapid response. It also empowers emergency managers to use all available resources and personnel as deemed necessary.

The Nevada and Wisconsin National Guard contributed.

Luke Security Forces Squadron ruck to defeat disease

by Airman 1st Class Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- To show support for one of their own, members of the 56th Security Forces Squadron participated in the Scottsdale "Walk to Defeat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis," a fundraiser for those battling Lou Gehrig's disease Saturday.

The Thunderbolts walked in honor of retired 56th Security Forces Squadron Master Sgt. Evelyn Proctor, who was medically retired after she was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, according to Staff Sgt. Jessica Keller, 56th SFS Military Working Dog handler.

Proctor's story began May 10, 2010, at a march for police week, when she started to lose movement in her upper and lower extremities. She said at that time she didn't know she had ALS and was referred to a neurologist. One year later in June 2011, she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

The disease causes damage to the nerves, muscles and affects the nerve cells in the brain. Currently, there isn't a cure for it, she said.

For Proctor, life changed drastically within a short period of time.

"It's hard for me since I used to be active, and I was at the peak of my career," Proctor said. "This disease has changed my perspective on life and how I live my life."

Today, she uses a cane to walk and sometimes needs to use a wheelchair.

"My husband and family provide me with 24-hour care," she said. "My lifestyle has changed completely because I can't cook or care for myself, but God has given me the strength to wake up every morning and continue my fight with this disease."

Proctor lives each day not knowing what the future holds for her health, but because of her career as an Airman she is considered family by many at Luke.

"She has been a true mentor and friend to the members of the 56th Fighter Wing since her arrival to Luke in September 2001 and she is like a sister to me," said Jerold Haupt, 56th SFS chief of standardized evaluations.

Known for her giving heart while on active-duty, Proctor also took on an active role in Operation Thunderbox as a coordinator for five years.

"She took the lead on building Operation Thunderbox and helped ensure that deployed Thunderbolts receive care packages from home," Haupt said.

Through Proctor's generosity and willingness to give to others, she's inspired 56th SFS personnel to give back by raising money for the ALS foundation, which funds patient care and supports research for those with ALS.

"We did this fundraiser and walk in support of this amazing woman," Keller said. "Additionally, we also did this in order to show community awareness and moral support for those battling ALS."

As part of the fundraising, the 56th SFS wore rucksacks on the three-mile walk in Scottsdale to show the strength Proctor has shown them, Keller said.

"We had to smoke ourselves on the ruck or else we knew she would probably have us training all day," Keller said.

Even through her recent tribulations, Proctor still finds a way to be thankful for the people in her life.

"I have two families, the family I was born into and my military family," Proctor said. "There are no words that can express how much this walk meant to me. I am so grateful for their support and owe each and every one of them. They make me want to continue the fight and not give up."

Virginia, D.C. Guard Members Provide Post-storm Aid

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia National Guard

SANDSTON, Va., Oct. 30, 2012 – Virginia National Guard members assisted Virginia State Police, emergency response organizations and citizens across the commonwealth today as part of Hurricane Sandy response and recovery operations.


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Virginia National Guard soldiers from Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct reconnaissance patrols in Suffolk, Va., Oct. 30, 2012. Virginia National Guard photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne
  

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And, in the nation's capital today, about 150 members of the District of Columbia National Guard are providing hurricane response aid, assisting with street closures, damage assessment and emergency response as well as manning traffic control points. District officials have asked the National Guard to provide support through Nov. 4.
 
Meanwhile, about 650 National Guard members in Virginia provided high water transport, debris reduction and reconnaissance patrols.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Oct. 28 authorized an increase of Guard personnel to 750. Additional personnel have been alerted for possible duty and will be held in reserve for possible future missions.

Specific National Guard accomplishments across the Commonwealth of Virginia include:
-- In Winchester, Guard members assisted Virginia State Police with clearing a large tree blocking access to a police fueling station.

-- In Norfolk, Guard members provided high water transport to help firefighters take a resident to the hospital and two people to shelter. They also conducted reconnaissance patrols to assess road accessibility, damage assessments and helped motorists in need.

-- In Fredericksburg, Guard members provided traffic control to assist State Police and local emergency service personnel at the site of an accident involving an overturned tractor trailer. Guard members also provided military rations to hungry people in a disabled vehicle waiting for the arrival of State Police assistance. Virginia Guard soldiers also cleared debris from an exit on I-95 and helped two motorists get back on the road.

-- In Onancock, Guard members conducted missions to transport 14 people to shelters and transported six firefighters.

-- In West Point, Guard members conducted a debris reduction mission and a reconnaissance patrol to assess route accessibility. They also conducted damage assessments and offered assistance to motorists.

-- In Portsmouth and Richmond, Guard members conducted reconnaissance patrols to assess route accessibility, conducted damage assessments and offered assistance to motorists in need.
The District of Columbia National Guard contributed to this report.

Palmar EOD Preliminary Schoolhouse dedicated

by Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Airmen attending the Explosive Ordnance Disposal preliminary course at Sheppard will always have a trusted mentor to look to for inspiration as they take their first steps toward becoming part of the EOD community.

The 366th Training Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Disposal preliminary course schoolhouse was dedicated to the memory of Tech. Sgt. Rick Palmar Oct. 26 in a ceremony in front of Sheppard members, family and friends.

Palmar, who entered the Air Force in 1997, passed away while on active-duty in December, 2009. At the time of his passing, he was assigned as an instructor at Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal, part of the 366th TRS Detachment 3, located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Building 1719, located at the Sheppard training annex, was renamed "The Palmar EOD Preliminary Schoolhouse" during the ceremony.

During his remarks to the family, Brig. Gen. Michael Fantini, 82nd Training Wing commander and head of the official party, spoke about using Palmar's inspiration as another way to help execute the wing's mission of producing world-class EOD technicians on a daily basis.

"This is an opportunity for us to continue to utilize the Palmar family to execute the mission of the 82nd Training Wing and the United State Air Force," said the general. "This building will be used to train and inspire Airmen every day...embracing Rick's values of passion and professionalism."

Palmar's wife LaDeane, who attended the ceremony along with daughter Makayla, described the attributes that made her husband unique.

"Rick was a dedicated father, husband and EOD troop," Mrs. Palmer said. "He loved being in EOD...he was a great team leader and mentor. If it needed to get done, it would get done."

Mrs. Palmer also relayed how her husband found his true calling as an instructor.

"I remember when he got the assignment to be an instructor at NAVSCOLEOD, how nervous he was," she said. "It didn't take long to see Rick had found his true calling as an EOD instructor."

Tech. Sgt. Roger Hughes, 366th TRS EOD instructor who served with Palmar at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., served as the narrator for the ceremony. Hughes related stories on a personal level about the type of leader Palmar was.

"Ricky was loved and respected by his peers," he said. "It didn't matter whether it was a real-world operation or just training, he led by example and made sure safety was at the front."

At the end of the ceremony, Palmar's daughter released a balloon with a message for her father before a sign naming the school was unveiled by Lt. Col. James Beam, 366th TRS commander, and Mrs. Palmer.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Palmar's sister Michelle, nephew Chris and cousin Leroy, along with LaDeane's parents Dan and Faye Gately.

Sheppard Airmen spring into action; save woman from burning car

by Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs


10/29/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The July 4th holiday had been fun for Senior Airman Gil Campos and Airmen 1st Class Juan Vanegas and Chris Leon. After spending the day in Dallas watching an FC Dallas professional soccer game, they had made the two-hour drive back to Wichita Falls and Sheppard Air Force Base, where the trio are stationed.

The end of the day feeling was quickly replaced with a sense of urgency and duty when the three spotted a vehicle just off a local freeway that had crashed and was on fire.

"Chris (Leon) was driving and saw the accident first," said Vanegas, an awards and decorations technician with the 82nd Force Support Squadron. "We pulled over right away and jumped out of the car and ran as fast as we could to the car hoping nobody was inside."

While Vanegas and Leon were in a dead sprint to the burning car, Campos, 82nd FSS personnel systems manager, dialed 9-1-1 to get emergency services support to the scene as quickly as possible.

As soon as Vanegas and Leon, a knowledge operations manager with the 982nd Training Group, got close to the vehicle, they realized their worst fears were coming true.

"We saw a female sitting in the front seat looking dazed and in a semi-conscious state," Leon said. "Juan (Vanegas) helped me get her out of the car. After that we made sure we got her out of danger's way as the tires began to explode and the fire began expanding underneath the hood of the car."

The woman in the car, Christine Cooper, was in shock and hurt.

"I was just sitting there in the car," Cooper said. "My mind was clouded with pain and I didn't realize I needed to get away from the car."

She vaguely remembers being removed from the vehicle and whisked to safety by the Airmen.

When Cooper regained her sense of awareness, she was lying approximately 100 feet away from her car, which was engulfed in flames and listening to a voice telling her everything was going to be ok and that help was on the way.

The voice she remembers as "strong, reassuring...safe". The voice belonged to Leon, who made sure to keep Cooper occupied while Vanegas helped treat her for shock symptoms.

Cooper also suffered a broken right wrist and a leg injury in the accident.

On Oct. 19, the three Airmen and Cooper got the opportunity to meet each other for the first time since the night of the accident.

"They (the Airmen) were very polite and respectful," Cooper said. "I thanked them for saving my life. Nobody goes up to burning cars and saves people, but they did."

Once she found out the three men who had helped her were Airmen at Sheppard, Cooper said it all made sense.

"My grandfather retired from Sheppard," she said. "Once I found out those men were military, I knew right away why they did it. Their training, their instincts...that's what makes this nation and our military so great."

The Airmen were equally excited to meet Cooper.

"It's wonderful that she's doing so well and recovering," Campos said. "We're happy that everything has worked out for the best."

Reserve aircraft maintainers help keep McConnell's fleet flying

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


10/30/2012 - 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."

Coast Guard Rescues 14 ‘Bounty’ Sinking Victims


By Christopher Lagan
U.S. Coast Guard Compass Blog

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2012 – During an Oct. 29 U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue operation associated with Hurricane Sandy, 14 people who'd abandoned the sinking HMS Bounty tall ship were rescued from life rafts in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C.


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A Coast Guard rescue swimmer approaches one of two lifeboats Oct. 29, 2012, where the crew of HMS Bounty sought shelter after abandoning ship in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C. Screenshot from U.S. Coast Guard video
  

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The search continues for two people who remain missing from the Bounty’s crew.
 
The owner of the 180-foot, three-mast tall ship HMS Bounty, a replica of the original British transport vessel built for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando, contacted Coast Guard Sector North Carolina after losing communication with the crew late Sunday evening.

The 5th Coast Guard District command center in Portsmouth, Va., subsequently received a signal from the emergency distress position indicating radio beacon registered to the Bounty confirming the distress and position.

A Coast Guard search airplane was launched from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., Sunday evening which established communication with the Bounty’s crew upon arriving on scene. The vessel was reportedly sinking in 18-foot seas accompanied by 40-mph winds.

By the time two Coast Guard rescue helicopters dispatched from the Elizabeth City station arrived on scene Oct. 29 at approximately 6:30 a.m., the 16 crew members had reportedly divided among two 25-man lifeboats and were wearing cold weather survival suits and life jackets. Air crews located and rescued 14 of the 16 crew members.

The HMS Bounty is reportedly sunk but the mast is still visible.

A Coast Guard search airplane and two rescue helicopters are searching for the two remaining crew members with Coast Guard Cutters Elm and Gallatin en route to assist with the search.
 

Mission Essential Personnel quickly starting recovery operations

436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/30/2012 - Dover Air Force Base, Del. -- Dover Air Force Base has weathered the storm and quickly entering the recovery phase. Colonel James Mercer, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander, has lifted the driving restrictions on Dover AFB for mission essential personnel only.

All group and squadron commanders are requested to instruct their recovery team and facility manager members to proceed to their designated on-base facilities. The teams will inspect their facilities, resources and the base for damage sustained by the storm. The commander's intent is to recieve aircraft by tomorrow.

Currently, Dover AFB is scheduled to return to normal operations by 7:30 a.m. Oct. 31.

Remember, Level 2 Driving Restrictions are in effect for the State of Delaware and will remain in effect until further notice. No motor vehicles should be operated on any road unless operated by essential personnel.

Delaware State Police will permit all military and civilian members to transit to-and-from Dover AFB for official duties. Service members stopped by the DSP should communicate their mission-essential status to the officer.

Tankers find shelter in Midwest

by Senior Airman
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- As the East Coast prepares for Hurricane Sandy, six KC-135 Stratotankers from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakenhurst, N.J., relocated here for shelter from the storm Oct. 27.

"We are McGuire's primary base," said Senior Airman Victoria Carrero, 22nd Air Refueling Wing command post controller. "All bases have a plan and a primary base they go to during emergency conditions."

The remaining JBMDL KC-135s were evacuated to other bases with available space.

As of Oct. 29th at 1:53 p.m., Hurricane Sandy was a Category I storm with maximum sustained winds of 92 miles per hour, with possible higher gusts.

Officials with the National Hurricane Center have warned that the combination of high winds, storm surge and high tide could result in flooding in coastal areas. If the storm collides with arctic air moving from the north and an early winter storm moving from the west, Sandy could potentially turn into what some weather officials are calling the "perfect storm."

Although the threat is not directly on McConnell's homefront, the base is ready to assist.

In response to previous Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav, Air Mobility Command tasked more than 1,500 sorties to support relief efforts, and Mobility Airmen moved nearly 25,000 passengers, more than 3,600 patients, and delivered nearly 6,500 short tons of supplies to and from the Gulf Coast.

McConnell's mission is to provide global reach by conducting air refueling and airlift where ever and when ever needed. This includes supporting fellow AMC bases in humanitarian missions.

"As America's Mobility Airmen, we are here to answer the call when it comes, in response to natural or manmade disasters," said Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, 18th Air Force commander. "Our Airmen are watching Hurricane Sandy 24 hours a day, preparing to deliver to those in need."

National Guard responds to Hurricane Sandy, monitors tsunami

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau


10/29/2012 - ARLINGTON, Va. (10/28/2012) -- As more governors declared states of emergency in advance of Hurricane Sandy, the National Guard stood ready to respond to the aftermath of the storm.

It was a busy weekend for the National Guard Coordination Center here, as a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck British Columbia, Canada, late Saturday triggered tsunami warnings in Alaska and Hawaii and advisories in California and Oregon.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie declared a state of emergency. The Hawaii National Guard's Joint Operations Center was activated. The tsunami warning was downgraded to an advisory early today.

Meanwhile, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia were among jurisdictions declaring a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

The National Guard Coordination Center was reporting 369 Guard members already activated in Delaware, North Carolina and Virginia as of this afternoon. With events moving rapidly on the ground, the numbers of Guard members and states were expected to increase.

"The National Guard is the hometown team," said Army Staff Sgt. Wayne Woolley of the New Jersey National Guard. "Soldiers and Airmen live in these communities, and they are eager to help and want to keep their fellow citizens safe."

The National Guard Bureau is monitoring the situation closely and coordinating with state, federal and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response, Guard officials said. The National Guard - the nation's first military responder - supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency response and that of U.S. Northern Command, among other agencies.

More than 61,100 National Guard members are available to assist civilian authorities in potentially affected states in support of relief efforts. Available National Guard resources include almost 140 rotary-winged aircraft to perform search and rescue, reconnaissance and personnel or cargo-carrying missions.

In addition to the hurricane and the tsunami, on Sunday National Guard members were supporting the Department of Homeland Security in the four Southwest border states, conducting Counterdrug operations in multiple states, providing force protection in California and key asset protection in New York and supporting civilian authorities in the aftermath of natural disasters earlier this year in two states.

National Guard Civil Support Teams were also supporting major sporting events in six different states, and more than 24,000 Army and Air National Guard members were serving in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Djibouti, Guantanamo Bay, Honduras, the Sinai Desert and other overseas locations.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta agreed with the governors of Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to appoint dual status commanders as Hurricane Sandy approaches, according to Defense Department reports.

Dual status commanders can command both federal and state National Guard forces. This special authority enables them to effectively integrate defense support operations and capabilities requested by governors. Panetta is prepared to quickly agree to similar requests from other states, the Defense Department reported.

Governors warned of heavy rain, extensive power outages, significant flooding and dangerous conditions, according to National Guard Coordination Center reports. Guard officials at the center are monitoring Hurricane Sandy and the National Guard response in each state.

A state of emergency typically mobilizes resources to local governments that otherwise are restricted to state use only and suspends regulations that would impede rapid response. It also empowers emergency managers to use all available resources and personnel as deemed necessary.

Emergency Management Assistance Compacts - ratified by Congress and law in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands - allow states to provide mutual aid if needed.

DOD Releases Military Intelligence Program Appropriated Top Line Budget for Fiscal 2012

The Department of Defense released today the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) appropriated top line budget for fiscal 2012.  The total request, which includes both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, is $21.5 billion.

The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP.  No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.

Docs work together to find a cure, get recognized

by Airman 1st Class Mariah Tolbert
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2012 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- An Airman from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., has been chosen to present his research.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Christian Lyons, 4th Medical Operations Squadron commander, will present his research on a patient with a potentially deadly side effect of ankylosing spondylitis, a rheumatogical disease, and how he, along with his coworkers, successfully placed a KC-135 pilot, stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath who was affected by the disease, back on flying status.

Lyons was first confronted by the affected pilot approximately three years ago when his lower back pain prevented him from doing his daily activities and kept him grounded. After an initial assessment of the pilot's condition, Lyons knew something more was going on.

"As a provider, whether you're working in family health, mental health, physical therapy or another clinic, you never quite know what's going to walk in the door," Lyons explained. "So when this young pilot who was a previously fit and active gymnast walked in, I knew he was going to need some further work given his ankylosing spondylitis, but I didn't know I would be facing a more concerning ligament instability issue in his cervical spine. I didn't know I would be looking at his neck and find something scary that could cause him to face death sooner if he didn't do something to stabilize that part of his spine."

Lyons identified the condition as Atlantoaxial Instability, which is due to weak ligaments, causing the top two vertebrae segments to loosen with excessive movement available to these bones, which lay very close to the brain stem and spinal cord. Using close coordination with flight surgery, radiology, and an off base rheumatologist, the team of providers confirmed the diagnosis and intervened immediately.

"A normal spine is like a chain link fence where all those links can move pretty well," Lyons described. "Usually with ankylosing spondylitis, as in the pilot's lower back, the vertebrae are like rusted links, where they stick together, sometimes fuse, and overall, don't move so well anymore. However, in this pilot's neck, due to the weakening ligaments, his vertebrae moved excessively to the point of pretty significant danger."

Loose ligaments made the pilot susceptible to a potentially life-threatening injury. When ligaments required to hold the vertebrae together become loose, a piece of second vertebra of the spine, called the dens, can push into the spinal cord resulting in death.

"By working with his flight surgeon and a radiologist, we were not only able to identify the condition early, but also act early enough to prevent future injury and restore this flyer's function," Lyons said. "We were able to coordinate using the international medical systems of Her Majesty's Health Services in the United Kingdom, to provide a rheumatology consult as well as gain a second confirmation of his condition with a military radiologist in California, employing the medical technology of teleradiology to view his films and make a definitive confirmatory diagnosis for him."

Using special medications to improve the pilot's freedom of movement in his lower back, and physical therapy to correctly train the muscles to stabilize his neck, the pilot was able to return to flying status. In 2010, he competed in the Marine Corps Marathon and according to Lyons, the pilot continues to fly missions and compete in racing events to this day.

"The most important parts of this case study is that it reinforces the need to look at the whole patient when they come in to be treated. Also, it vividly shows how powerful a multidisciplinary approach to health care can be," Lyons said. "This is something we do a very good job of in the Air Force Medical Service and in the Department of Defense Health System as a whole."

This research is not the first time Lyons has been recognized by AMSCON. Lyons previously conducted a case study involving young Airmen with lumbar vertebra fractures which made the spine unstable. This injury caused many Airmen not to deploy, or even be returned from deployment. However, in as little as six visits involving intense electrical stimulation to the lower back muscles, the Airmen were able to continue all functions related to their duties with significantly less pain enabling deployments to proceed.

"We are very fortunate to have Lyons," said Col. Leslie Claravall, 4th Medical Group commander. "From my perspective, he exercises a lot of forethought, and then takes the initiative to tackle any issue. I could not be more proud of him. He stays current as a trusted and outstanding physical therapist by allotting time in his schedule to take care of patients while excelling in his primary role as the commander of the 4th MDOS."

Lyons will present his case study at AMSUS, where he hopes his presentations will inspire other clinicians and serve as a good example of medical provider teamwork.

"I am very humbled at the opportunity to present at this national conference," Lyons said. "It is a great opportunity, and I hope that it excites other people about doing research, no matter what clinical field it is in."