Military News

Friday, November 09, 2012

Dempsey Begins Trip to South Korea, Australia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska, Nov. 9, 2012 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey stopped at this central Alaska base on his way to South Korea today.

In Korea, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will meet with U.S. troops, Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, and his South Korean counterpart, Gen. Jung Seung-jo.

Dempsey will mark Veterans Day at the 8th Army Memorial at Yongsan. The memorial remembers the sacrifices of the men and women of the 8th Army during the Korean War.

More than 36,500 American died in the Korean War, which was fought from 1950 to 1953. The 8th Army remained there as part of the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea.

Dempsey will move on from South Korea to participate in the Australia-United States ministerial consultations in Perth, Australia.

US STRATCOM commander addresses Global Strike Challenge symposium

by Kate Blais
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


11/9/2012 - SHREVEPORT, La -  -- The commander of United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Offutt AFB, Neb. spoke to competitors and attendees of the third-annual Air Force Global Strike Command Technology and Innovation Symposium at the Shreveport Convention Center Nov. 7.

In his speech, Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler gave a brief history lesson to the crowd, tracing the lineage of Global Strike Command and telling Striker Airmen about their heritage and its legacy in Strategic Air Command (SAC).

SAC was unique, serving as both a combatant command and an Air Force major command.

General Kehler likened Air Force Global Strike Command to the descendent of both STRATCOM and SAC.

"I know your parents, so I know, because of your parents, who you are," Kehler said, "and I know what kind of job you can do."

Kehler addressed the best of the best from in the missile, bomber, helicopter, maintenance and security forces fields and highlighted the importance of testing their skills against others.

"Competition makes us better," he said. "It's why we are the global force that we are today. We know that we have to compete to get better, and this is where that all comes together."

According to Kehler, this year the Secretary of Defense published a new strategic document, "Priorities for the 21st Century," and while no command is specifically mentioned, Global Strike and USSTRATCOM play vital roles in the execution of missions described in the document, such as maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and projecting power despite anti-access and area denial challenges.

"Ours is a mission that every other combatant commander relies on," Kehler said. "From the extreme demands of nuclear deterrent operations to continuous bomber presence to precision strike in global ranges, your contributions are critical."
The general described the complex global security environment of the 21st century and the evolution of deterrence, mentioning that, "today [deterrence] must deal with all strategic threats, not just nuclear threats."

When briefing joint forces, Kehler mentioned that he often shows slides with different views of aircraft and asks his audience to identify each plane. When showing a slide of a B-52, he asked the crowd what, in their opinion, they thought the bomber did.
"Army guys say, 'it provides close air support,' or, 'it got me out of a jam,'" Kehler described. "I have yet to have any audience say, 'that's a nuclear deterrent bomber.' Bombers have 10 years of combat experience and that really shows the true value of air power and significance of the long-range strike platform that this command manages so well."

Global Strike's responsibility to organize, train and equip is vital to USSTRATCOM's ability to perform the mission directly handed down from the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense, Kehler said.

"STRATCOM provides the deterrent foundation for every other military mission; if someone needs to reach out and touch someone at global distances they turn to STRATCOM," he continued. "I simply pick up the phone for the superbly trained and capable Air Force Global Strike Command, and the end result is that somewhere an enemy of the United States is intimidated or in extreme cases, eliminated, promptly and accurately."

As the "foundation of America's strategic deterrence," Kehler said, "We take this business of deterrence seriously and will not accept anything less than perfection."
"I have no doubt that the men and women of Air Force Global Strike Command will continue to meet the challenges of the future," he said. "After all, I know your parents."

After Winter Storm Athena, 'big and fast' National Guard Sandy response continues full bore

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

ARLINGTON, Va. (11/09/2012) – As the two states at the epicenter of Superstorm Sandy’s damage absorbed a cruel second blow from a nor’easter, the National Guard continued round-the-clock missions to alleviate suffering.

“We were tracking Winter Storm Athena and prepared forces for possible further evacuations, shelter operations and rescues,” said Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. “We have a very deep bench of troops, capabilities and equipment to draw on nationwide through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.”

More than 6,600 Army and Air National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and –Airmen from 12 states were distributing fuel and providing communications, security, shelter, debris removal and transportation support this morning.

"We had to be ready to respond big and fast – so the National Guard deployed in multiple states, creating ground task forces in advance of Hurricane Sandy,” Grass said. That “big and fast” response continued in full force today.

Citizen-Soldiers and –Airmen helped hand out more than 1.6 million meals, 747,396 bottles of water and 100,000 blankets to affected residents in New York alone through this morning. Meanwhile, West Virginia was just one example of a state where Guard members were helping their own communities with food and water distribution and power generation and route clearance even as they also sent generator assessment teams in mutual aid to New Jersey and New York.

The National Guard is providing Defense Department support to civilian authorities in a whole-of-government response to assist state, local and federal agencies.

In New Jersey and New York, National Guard dual-status commanders – Army Brig. Gen. James Grant and Army Brig. Gen. Michael Swezey – are coordinating active duty, National Guard and Reserve force recovery efforts.

“The dual-status commander concept is a tremendously powerful tool for responsiveness, command and control, continuity of operations and coordination that is providing greatly improved communication, collaboration and coordination in domestic responses,” Grass said.

In each affected state, the National Guard is responding as directed by the governor to support civilian authorities. At the federal level, the National Guard Bureau is engaged with partners such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Defense Logistics Agency to match National Guard capabilities nationwide with community and state needs.

Through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, governors can draw on thousands of additional National Guard troops from other states, with all of the training, equipment and capabilities they offer.
National Guard members from Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are all at work in New Jersey and New York, where they are providing supply, transportation, security and other support. Forty-seven National Guard chaplains from 12 states are helping residents, first responders and service members.

After more than a decade of domestic and overseas operations in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the National Guard stands at a historic peak of readiness and capabilities. “America’s investment in the National Guard as an operational force is paying tremendous dividends right here at home,” Grass said. “Many are seasoned combat veterans who bring their training and dedication to service to a critical domestic mission. They are saving lives, protecting infrastructure and helping these injured communities on a path back to normalcy.”

States are engaged in an extraordinary level of teamwork centered on the worst-affected areas:
  • Air National Guard C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster, C-27J Spartan and C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft from 16 units hauled more than 558 tons of water, food, equipment and supplies in 34 airlift missions. Almost 1,000 Air National Guard members from 12 states are delivering water, food, blankets, shelter materials, rescue personnel, power generators, utility trucks, high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles – commonly known as Humvees – high-wheeled trucks and boats.
  • Army National Guard C-23 Sherpa military transport aircraft ferried supplies and personnel to affected areas.
  • Six Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and four CH-47 Chinook helicopters from five states converged on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, a staging point to support search and rescue and survey team movements and aerial reconnaissance.
  • National Guard Joint Incident Site Communications Capability systems delivered to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s cell at Bennett Field and to the 42nd Infantry Division at Camp Smith, N.Y., are providing enhanced communications.
  • Connecticut Guard members distributed 515,135 bottles of water, 204,624 Meals-Ready-to-Eat, 3,950 blankets and 4,698 tarpaulins.
  • New York Guard members assisted Hudson Valley Electric identifying downed power lines, supported crews repairing electrical grids and distributed critical power repair assets, in addition to conducting door-to-door wellness checks in high-rise apartments, hauling debris and distributing food, water and blankets to residents confronting harsh cold and a second storm in darkened homes served by a damaged infrastructure.
  • In New Jersey, Guard members who have evacuated almost 7,000 stranded residents also distributed meals, water, blankets, cots, towels and 93,229 gallons of fuel and assisted with power generation. Guard members provided tents and mobile kitchen trailers to shelter and feed emergency management personnel and provided transportation.
  • West Virginia Guard members distributed 891,648 bottles of water, 173,376 Meals-Ready-to-Eat and 21 pallets of pet food.
Residents understood the whole-of-government teamwork: “Thank you … police, fire, utility, National Guard” someone sprayed on a boarded-up building at the entrance to Long Beach Island, N.J.
“Thank you for making it possible for all to vote,” someone tweeted as the election was underway Tuesday. “We salute you!”

Another tweet, typical of the appreciation expressed in person and through social media: “Thanks to the Guard for what you do and every day that you do it.”

As the Hurricane Sandy response continued, other Guard members remained tasked with force and key asset protection, Counterdrug operations and the Southwest border mission, among other domestic operations, while more than 33,000 supported overseas operations Wednesday, including in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Djibouti, Guantanamo Bay, Honduras, Kuwait and the Sinai peninsula of Egypt.

Puerto Rico Guard lends a hand to Missouri during earthquake exercise

By Jennifer Archdekin
Missouri Army National Guard

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (11/9/12) – The Missouri National Guard has been conducting a national-level earthquake exercise, known as Vigilant Guard, under the scenario that a massive quake struck the New Madrid fault line.

Nearly 200 Puerto Rico Guardsmen landed at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base on Sunday in St. Joseph to perform search and rescue missions near Columbia for the drill.

The exercise not only increased training for those involved, but added an element of realism to the event. The unit's arrival in St. Joseph allowed the 1-129th Field Artillery, headquartered in Maryville, to operate a joint reception, staging, onward movement and integration site, which is used to
process out-of-state troops and incorporate them into the overall mission.

"This trains us to be able to respond to any kind of natural disaster, to get the communication and the process up to speed, so that way we can integrate the full force coming in for the mission at hand," said Staff Sgt. Kermit
Simmerman of the 129th Field Artillery.

Simmerman said his unit wanted to make sure they are tracking all personnel coming in, along with the type and amount of equipment they are bringing, so Missouri can best utilize everyone.

"It keeps us fresh on those skills, so that way when it does happen … we're prepared to be able to receive those units as they come in, so we can make the best use of the time that we have and the resources that the other states are providing to use," said Maj. James Knickerbocker, executive officer with the 129th Field Artillery.

The overall earthquake training has been a joint effort, which was made evident as both Missouri Guard Soldiers and Airmen served as ambassadors to the Army and Air Guard troops from Puerto Rico.

"It's all about being joint from now on," said Lt. Col. Alfredo Pagan, commander of Company C, 1st of the 65th Infantry CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, Puerto Rico National Guard. "It's not the Army by itself, it's not the Air Guard by itself, it's joint."

Pagan added that during Vigilant Guard his troops' missions, with regard to search and rescue, compliment their state and federal missions

"We're doing something for the country and for cities," said Pagan. "It's something that motivates my guys to do something more than just being an Airman or a Guardsman. I've got guys that are trained and equipped to do search and extraction, I've got guys trained to do recon at the site, plus, Ialso have a unit, a command and control unit, within the unit."

The exercise, which began Saturday, Nov. 3, operates under the knowledge that public utilities have been disrupted and there is wide-spread infrastructure damage across the entire region due to the earthquake. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, along with their civilian and federal partners, have been responding to the notional state-wide natural disaster.

Sandy rescues: 'That is why I joined the National Guard," Soldier says

By Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav
Massachusetts National Guard

NEW YORK (11/9/12) – “When we saw it coming down, we couldn’t believe it,” said Rose Miller, 85, recalling how Hurricane Sandy battered the Rockaway section of Queens.

Rose and her husband Leonard Miller, 95, lived in a house one block from the roiling Atlantic Ocean. “It was scary,” she said.


“Well, you better get out today,” said 2nd Lt. Michael Nuttall, platoon leader, 2nd platoon, 772nd Military Police Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard, as he stood in the  family’s second-floor apartment. “When it rains again there’s going to be a little more flooding.”

Nuttall and some of his men had been stationed at a nearby Catholic church that was being used as a distribution point for residents to receive aid. Spc. James Maltais, a military police officer in Nutall’s platoon, was helping to distribute some of the aid when a woman approached him.

“She said she had two elderly … in-laws stuck in their upstairs apartment and couldn’t get out down the street,” said Maltais. “The street was all blocked with trash and debris; they weren’t going to be able to walk out of there.”

The woman was Alice Miller, Rose and Leonard’s daughter-in-law. She and her husband Jeff lived in the downstairs apartment.

When the warning went out that residents should leave before Hurricane Sandy reached shore, Leonard Miller refused to leave. He had grown up in his house. So Leonard, Rose, Alice and her husband Jeff rode out the storm in the house.

“We lost our cars,” said Jeff, who walks with a cane, “we were basically stranded.”

For over a week they lived in their home, with no heat or electricity and survived on what supplies they had and what they could receive from the local distribution centers. When they heard that a storm was supposed to hit the area late Tuesday or early Wednesday, Alice went to look for help.

Maltais found Nuttall and briefed him on the situation. They quickly went into the church and asked to borrow some shovels. Alice gave the Guardsmen directions to the house and went to find her vehicle. After gathering another military police officer, Spc. Joseph Pollini, the three set out to the house. 

The street was filled with debris and the sand from the beach had been piled over four feet high in some places. A large front-end loader from the city’s sanitation department was slowly making its way down the street, piling the sand on the sides of the street.

Nuttall approached the driver, explained what they were trying to do and asked if he could clear part of the Miller’s driveway so the residents could evacuate. As the truck driver began the slow process, Nuttall and his men waited for Alice before entering the house to evacuate Rose and Leonard.

“Her eyes lit up when we walked into the room,” said Nuttall, “she was so happy to see us.”

After a brief conversation, Pollini and Nuttall took Rose and Leonard’s bags downstairs while Maltais stayed with them in their apartment.

“These folks really needed our help. It was cold in there,” Maltais said. “They were bundled up. They definitely needed our help. Both of them told me that they thought that they were going to die there, that they were going to freeze to death there. So getting them out of there, keeping their spirits up … telling them that ‘you know what, this may be bad but it will get cleaned up and that things will get back to normal; just give it time.’ It made me feel good to see them smile and realize that this isn’t the end of days for them.”

Alice entered her own home to gather her husband and their belongings. While they were inside, the front-end loader cleared enough of the area in front of the home that the Miller’s vehicle was able to enter the sand-filled driveway.

After seeing how the piled sand made walking the short distance from the front steps of the Miller’s house for anyone, let alone an elderly couple who both needed canes to walk -- Pollini grabbed discarded cabinet doors and other pieces of wood that had been damaged and began to construct a walkway.

When everything was in place, Pollini helped Leonard down the steps and toward the vehicle. 

Together he and Nuttall carefully helped Leonard into the vehicle across the back seat.  Maltais helped Rose toward the vehicle and together he and Pollini gently helped her in.

“This is too much work,” said Rose, “maybe I should stay.”

No, said the Soldiers, you are two thirds of the way in.

Eventually Rose made it into the vehicle, but before the door closed she insisted on taking each one by the hand and thanking them.

“Stay well,” said Rose, “be safe.”

After the Miller’s had left; Nuttall, Maltais and Pollini headed back to distribute more relief supplies.
“You know what?” Nuttall said to Maltais and Pollini, “That right there is why I joined the National Guard.”

Hurricane Sandy knocks EC down, not out

by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wilson
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center


11/9/2012 - JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- The U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center was prepared for Hurricane Sandy when the superstorm made landfall on Oct. 29 in southern New Jersey. What the organization was not expecting was the level of damage the storm caused to the building or the impact the damages would have on courses and programs conducted here.

However, one thing was clear from the outset - training would go on. Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Mahoney, the superintendant for the Expeditionary Center Commandant's office, which is in charge of all training operations at the EC, explained that many "outside-of-the-box" solutions had to take place to conduct operations immediately after the storm and into the next weeks.

"We continued training despite losing all power for six days and having the phone switch destroyed by a downed power line," he said. "Our folks found alternate locations for training, strung temporary electrical distribution for the barracks, and our information technology folks obtained a tactical phone system as a temporary fix. All the while, the 421st Combat Training Squadron was preparing equipment and supplies for possible FEMA assistance. Leadership within the Expeditionary Operations School is still part of the relief effort coordination."

Master Sgt. William Lonergan, manager for Combat Airman Skills Training pre-deployment course conducted by the 421st CTS, said cancelling the class that started Nov. 6 was not an option. Additionally, CAST instructors normally use time before classes to prepare but instead found themselves scrambling to assist other EC courses ongoing during the hurricane.

"We had our equipment prepped for CAST prior to the storm making landfall, so we really didn't anticipate many problems," he said. "A lot of our instructors came in to help other courses so we had members build a shelter for (Phoenix) Raven students due to the power outage to the EC campus, we placed emergency lighting in the hallways of buildings for student safety in the dorm and classrooms, and delivered and set-up generators to provide heat and lighting to the K9 facility."

According to the EC registrar's office, the center had 11 classes on the ground training with 241 students the weekend before the hurricane arrived. Two courses postponed training but started again later this week, and the anti-terrorism level 2 course was cancelled.

"Some classes ended that Friday, and the students had already left. In addition, the CAST Judge Advocate course students arrived that afternoon with 12 additional students bringing our total on the ground at JB-MDL before Sandy to 253," said Greg Hannon, Registrar director. "We currently have 155 total students in residence right now."

In addition the students attending the courses at joint base MDL, the Expeditionary Center is conducting three courses at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., one at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., one at Sheppard AFB, Texas, and one at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Hannon said.

Veterans Awarded Overdue Bronze Star Medals



By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., Nov. 9, 2012 – As the nation approaches Veterans Day, observed Nov. 11, two former service members -- one from World War II, the other from the Vietnam War -- were awarded their long-awaited Bronze Star medals in a ceremony at the Defense Information School here today.

Keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland had worked to ensure that former Army doctor Capt. Charles E. Rath Jr. and former Army medic Spc. 4 Charles Shyab received their medals.

Mikulski presented the awards to the veterans, along with flags that had flown over the U.S. Capitol, at the ceremony.

Misplaced paperwork was the cause of Rath waiting 67 years and Shyab 44 years for their medals.

Rath, 93, said his Bronze Star was approved in 1945. Shyab’s Bronze Star for valor was authorized in 1968 after he saved many American soldiers’ lives and was wounded on Chu Moor Mountain in Vietnam near Ho Chi Min Trail.

“This Veterans Day and every day, we are thankful for the service and sacrifice of all our veterans and their families,” Mikulski said. “Our veterans who fought for our freedom shouldn’t have to fight for the recognition they have earned. I went to work to cut through the red tape and break through the bureaucracy to give these two heroes the long-overdue honor they deserve.”

“Here at the Defense Information School,” she continued, “we’re demonstrating that a grateful nation never forgets.”

Mikulski described the ceremony as “very poignant and well-deserved.” Shyab and Rath, she added, “deserve these medals, but also our gratitude.”

Rath said he was drafted into the Army as a doctor during World War II following his internship. His Bronze Star citation noted his meritorious achievement in support of the 63rd Infantry “Blood and Fire” Division’s drive through Central Europe.

From mid-February 1945 until the end of the war, the 63rd Infantry Division made a path of “blood and fire” from Sarreguemines through the Siegfried Line to Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Gunzburg and ending in Landsberg, Germany, at the end of April 1945 when the division was pulled from the line for a much-needed rest, according to the history of the 63rd Infantry Division.

Shyab, 68, said he was in one of three companies ordered to ascend Chu Moor Mountain, where Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia meet. They faced a battalion of enemy forces.

“We were in [the enemy’s] backyard,” he said of the fight that April day in 1968. “Once they found out we were there, they started mortaring us and when our place went over to drop a 500-pounder, they used that noise to mortar us and that’s when I got wounded.”

Shyab said the soldier who got him safely to a helicopter for evacuation never made it back to his foxhole.

Thirty men were killed in action during that firefight, Shyab said, another 70 were wounded and 15 were evacuated off the mountain.

Shyab said he doesn’t recall how many lives he saved that day.

“The men we lost will always be remembered,” he said during the ceremony.

IAF teams with Charleston for C-17 maintenance training

by Senior Airman William O'Brien
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs


11/9/2012 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Indian air force has begun sending about 100 airmen to Joint Base Charleston to receive instruction from the 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 5, on how to operate the 10 C-17 Globemaster IIIs they recently purchased.

"The Indian air force purchased the C-17s and they need the training because these Indian airmen are going to be the ones standing up the initial C-17 unit (in India) and we were nominated to be the schoolhouse that teaches them," said Tech. Sgt. Paul Higgins, 373rd TRS Detachment 5 electrical environmental instructor.

The 373rd TRS Detachment 5's mission is to provide aircraft maintenance to the Department of Defense and its allies.

"We are learning the basics of the aircraft as well as the technical manual, which is quite helpful in learning the part numbers and other technical aspects of the C-17," said Indian air force Junior Warrant Officer Prakash Chand.

Each specialty-specific class has four students. The length of the course varies by specialty, but usually lasts about four to six weeks.

"We teach across the board" said Higgins. "Every specialty we have on the C-17, we are teaching here. We have electrical environmental, communication, navigation and general crew chief functions, just to name a few."

The training includes classroom time as well as hands on work where the new maintainers apply the skills they learned in the classroom on simulation training aircraft.

"What we're learning here is going to help us to be able to maintain the C-17 aircraft in India," said IAF Junior Warrant Officer Ranbir Singh Rana. "We have very good and experienced instructors and very good communication with them. We are catching on very quickly and when we have questions, they are able to clear up things quickly."

The IAF expects to receive their 10 C-17s in June 2013. India paid $4.1 billion for the aircraft, which is expected to replace their IL-76 fleet.

The C-17 provides the Indian air force with a payload of 164,900 pounds and can take off from a 7,000-foot airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles, and land on a small, austere airfield with runways of 3,000 feet or less. The C-17 is equipped with an externally blown flap system that allows a steep, low-speed final approach and low-landing speeds for routine short-field landings.

The first group of students is slated to graduate Nov. 8.

Hawaii-based wounded warriors visit Alaska for care

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs


11/9/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Alaskan mid-October weather is surprisingly nice as a man stands face to face with a moose. In most cases, such a situation could easily become dangerous. Both appear introverted and timid, keeping some distance. The man turns his back on the large animal, which then approaches him. It rests its head on his shoulder and the invisible barrier between them breaks.

The impact is significant; the man is a Soldier visiting an Alaska reindeer farm as part of a trip arranged by his unit in Hawaii.

Wounded warriors from Tripler Army Medical Center's Warrior Transition Battalion-Hawaii medical command visited JBER's Warrior Transition Battalion-Alaska to receive care only the final frontier could provide.

The visiting group included five Soldiers from the WTB-Hawaii, based out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. They visited Oct. 19 to 29.

"I thought the climate difference would be a lot worse, but the whole time it was really nice," said Army Master Sgt. Jimmy Keen, WTB-Hawaii Operations noncommissioned officer. "The skies were clear so it was beautiful. For me, the adrenaline and the excitement kept me warmer. I don't know how I would do if I was there for a whole three years, but there was never a time when we were cold during our visit. Sergeant Buzzatto provided a good packing list, and everywhere we went they had additional clothing and were able to keep us dry and warm and keep us comfortable."

Army Master Sgt. Charles Buzzatto, Soldiers and Family Assistance Center Army liaison, was putting together something, which had never been done before.

"This is the first time it's ever been done in Army history for the purpose of rehabilitation and healing," Buzzatto said. "We've never done a partnership to exchange wounded warriors from one Warrior Transition Battalion to another. We essentially created our own Project Odyssey trip."

Project Odyssey is a branch of the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization.
"The program is designed to provide a trusting environment for wounded warriors to rehabilitate using nature and recreational opportunities," said Al Giordano, deputy executive director of WWP. The organization has no official connection with the WTB-Alaska and WTB-Hawaii network.

Buzzatto said he saw the advantages to the project and put the concept into practice using Alaska's unique environment. The Soldiers visited a number of locations across the Last Frontier, including Palmer and Wasilla. They rode on horseback and ATV's, went fishing and fed and petted reindeer, buffalo and moose.

"It's basically events we set up for healing, for both physical and psychological healing," Buzzatto said.

Buzzatto, a native of Pittsburgh, explained events like fishing are helpful, because the opportunity teaches the patient how to continue living through their challenges.
The SFAC Army liaison made sure their schedule took full advantage of the visit. Among the most memorable events was a visit to a reindeer farm in Palmer, where the manager opened the facility to give them a private tour.

"The reindeer were standing far off at first," Keen said. "Then we got feed and they came right up to us."

Buzzatto said Project Healing Waters in Homer was the most important event they did.
"For us here at JBER, they are a constant supporter of our wounded warriors," the liaison said. "They took them on a completely paid for trip down to Homer where they learned fly fishing, and how to tie flies."

He explained that for many wounded warriors - for example those missing fingers, a hand or an arm - learning how to do things like tie flies through the disability is especially rehabilitative.

The trip wasn't all recreation. The mission of the WTB is to help wounded warriors transition, whether it's back into military duty or into separation for college or a job.
"We also did career-progression plans," Buzzatto said. "It's basically a goal-setting class. When you process in as a wounded warrior, you have to plan goals for when you get out of the military, whether that's college or a job."

Once the class was finished, the group went back into recreation with a class on archery techniques.

The events during their visit were sponsored by programs including Alaska Healing Hearts, Project Healing Waters and the National Wild Turkey Foundation.

The second visit, and the first time WTB-Alaska wounded warriors will visit Hawaii with similar goals, will take place in November.

"We're looking forward to showing the WTB-Alaska our beaches and ocean," Keen said. "We will do things like get them participating in a luau from setup to finish, and get them certified in scuba diving and surfing. The scuba diving is taught by the Handicap Scuba Association of America. It's for paraplegics and people in wheelchairs. It's really a tremendous program for military."

Lieutenant takes up marathoning, wins Marine Corps race

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs


11/7/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARD, Alaska -- The air was cool and breathing was challenging as Air Force 1st Lt. Caitlin Oviatt's legs continued pumping Oct. 12, putting more and more distance behind her and bringing the finish line ever closer.

The wind was perhaps the most difficult challenge she faced; many flights and special events were shut down due to Hurricane Sandy, but the runners endured.

She was a member of a three-person team at the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

They were competing against every branch of service - and they won the All- Service Championship for the Air Force female division.

"I've been very humbled and honored to represent the Air Force in that way," said Oviatt, a native of Aurora, Colo. "The women on the team are eccentric; they're really talented runners. I'm the youngest on the team, so I see a lot of what I would like to become as a runner and an officer, so it's a really good opportunity."

Once selected to represent the Air Force in the sport, athletes run the Air Force half-marathon. Successfully completing that, the lieutenant got to continue onto the next race.
"They pick the top three females and males from the team and then you go and run at the Marine Corps Marathon," she said. "We just got back from it and we won the All-Service Championship, which is a big deal, so it's pretty cool. Our female team beat all other services; the Navy, the Army, the Marines; they were all there and we beat them. We got a medal and championship trophy.

"That was in Washington, D.C., in the hurricane; the winds were nuts. It didn't make for an easy weather condition to run a marathon, so we really had to work hard. We duked it out. My husband and some of the other team got stuck there because the flights were cancelled. So you can run a marathon, but they'll cancel your flight. That was pretty interesting."

While she'd always enjoyed running, she only recently decided to go for marathons.
"I was selected to be on the Air Force marathon team," the 773rd Army materiel management flight commander said. "I've done two marathons in my entire life; I decided to get into marathon-running this past year. It's actually worked out pretty well.
"There's something about running; I was always fairly decent at it," she said.

The sport has deep meaning to the marathon winner.

"There's a spiritual effect to running," she said. "It allows calmness in my life and my thoughts; how I start my morning. I get up every day at 4 a.m. to get in my runs before work at 6:30 or 6:45, rain, shine or Alaska snow. I do lots of treadmill running if I have to. I just love that drive."

It takes a lot of devotion, she said, but it's worth it.

"In distance running you have to put in a good amount of base mileage to build your endurance," Oviatt explained.

"Build those long-distance muscles. You also need to have speed, so you do have to incorporate the track workout, speed workout, interval workout, as well as your distance training. You can go as short as 800 meters to one-mile repeats and as long as a 20-mile run."

Marathon running isn't the only sport Airmen can choose to be a part of. Military members do, however, need to apply for it.

"You have to put your times down, why you want it, you send it in and have you get your command to bless it and give you the go," she said. "Mine was interesting because I didn't have any marathon times, everything was half marathons or shorter distance
races, but they thought it was fast enough to qualify for it so I put those down, got on the team. I've run two marathons since."

Despite her beginning, Oviatt has been an optimist.

"I'm just getting started," she said. "I'm hoping to just keep getting faster and, over time, all this crazy morning training will pay off. I'm just keeping positive.

"My mileage right now is about 60 miles a week. I'd like to do more but there's only so much time in the day and my number one responsibility is being an officer, tried and true.
"You can't necessarily run as much as you want, which is totally OK. I've been running half marathons, just cutting the time down; I'm at about 1:25 right now, that's an hour and twenty-five minutes. I want to get that down to about 1:20."

In terms of distance, a half-marathon is 13.1 miles, and a marathon is 26.2 miles.
Oviatt said the future is looking bright; she loves running in Alaska.

"We're training for the cross-country championships right now," she said. "There's a little downtime so the body can recover from the marathon. Then starting to revamp the training again, it's pretty exciting stuff. Alaska's a great place to run.

"I remember the first 19-mile run I had out here; it was out on the flight line area. I had a face mask on, and when I got home my husband pulled it off and I had this huge frostbite on my chin; the life of a runner. Alaska is extreme; you have to dress for the climate. You need some tough athletes, that's for sure, but it's been a really good experience."
The Air Force lieutenant has placed herself in position to promote joint operations professionally as well as in her athletic training and competition.

"I'm the first ever Air Force officer leading an Army materiel management flight," she said proudly. "I got out and ran with [Army] Maj. Gen. [Michael X.] Garrett and his staff. I was the only Air Force out there, the only one in Air Force gear while they're in their Army gear running and pacing and talking with General Garrett. That was probably one of the coolest experiences I've ever had with running. General Garrett really runs nine miles three or four days a week, so it was really cool to pace with him."

For those interested in running, the championship marathon-runner also teaches at the Health and Wellness Center.

"I was working with the HAWC to teach running classes on base," she said. "No
matter if you're running for 15 minutes or your mile and a half, no matter the distance you're running, it's making the choice to go out and better yourself.

"I'm a firm believer in fitness, especially in the military," she said. "Down the road, I have some big dreams and big goals and maybe running will allow me to do that. It's all about that balance in life."

Bilateral Keen Sword exercise begins

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


11/9/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Airmen from across Misawa Air Base are teaming up with their Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts in support of a Japan-wide, two week long exercise that will run from Nov. 5-16, 2012.

Keen Sword is the twelfth flagship joint-bilateral field training exercise since 1986 involving United States military forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces.

During the exercise, servicemembers will practice responding to a wide range of realistic combat scenarios. These situations include defense of the region and reacting to a simulated contingency situation affecting Japan.

American and Japanese military leadership guarantee that the scenarios being executed in the next few weeks are not in preparation of immediate defensive or offensive operations. The planning for this year's bilateral program began a year ago, so it is not connected to any particular area of the world, nation or existing political and geographical situations.

"Misawa's role in this exercise is to lead the integration efforts with JASDF," said Col. Samuel Shaneyfelt, 35th Operations Group commander.

Not only does the exercise allow Airmen to improve their combat readiness skills, but it also helps build bilateral confidence and strengthen working relationships between the two militaries.

"It's an incredible opportunity to personally work with our Japanese counterparts and strengthen our relationship," said Capt. Matthew Hoyt, 13th Fighter Squadron Keen Sword officer. "Not only does this gives us a chance to test tactics together, but allows us the opportunity to share cultures and insight into one another's operating styles. If we build that camaraderie now, then one day, when it's time to defend this country together, we'd have already solidified that trust between us."

Some of the challenges that will surface during the exercise are the differences in language and combat tactics.

"Although American and Japanese air forces run things relatively the same, there are some differences in tactics and weapons system," said Lt. Col. John McDaniel, 13th Fighter Squadron commander. "Learning to integrate and maximize each others' strengths and minimizing the weaknesses are all part of fortifying our working relationship."

Shaneyfelt agreed with the 13 FS commander and added that he was eager to see how well the two militaries work together during the exercise.

"We'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks," said the Shaneyfelt. "I'm really looking forward to it."

For questions regarding U.S. training and personnel, refer to U.S. Forces, Japan Public Affairs at (04)2551-5924. Any questions regarding JASDF training and personnel, refer to the Japanese Joint Staff Office Public Affairs at (03) 5366-3111, ext 30052.

F-35 celebrates 500th sortie as program grows

by Maj. Karen Roganov
Eglin Air Force Base Public Affairs


11/6/2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force's premier fighter, the F-35 Lightning II, surpassed its 500th sortie only 16 days after reaching the 400 mark and only 238 days from the beginning of the program.

Maj. Matthew Johnston of the 58th Fighter Squadron completed the 500th combined sortie for both the F-35A and F-35B at the 33rd Fighter Wing Nov. 2, marking a continued progress in sortie generation rates since the wing started flight operations March 6.

"On Friday during our F-35A operational utility evaluation we hit the 500th flight in 16 days from the prior 400th combined sortie flown on Oct. 16," said Col. Andrew Toth, commander for the 33rd Fighter Wing. "This is significant progress forward since it took 123 days to achieve the 100th combined sortie on July 12."

"The joint team is focused on safe and effective flying to stand up their unit's future operations and the increased amount of sorties and quicker turnaround time to maintain and turn jets is a simple byproduct of this."

According to the maintenance squadron commander, the number of Air Force maintainers continues to grow as the program progresses. "When we first started F-35A flying you could count the uniformed maintainers trained on the system on one hand," said Maj. Maurice Lee, commander, 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "Now we have more than 100 Air Force maintainers trained up.....I am very proud of their legacy aircraft expertise and newly-learned F-35 skills."

While the Air Force's A variant of the Lightning II was the jet flying the 500-sortie milestone, the Marine Corps' B variant has been the other part of the team effort progressing the multi-role fighter forward for joint and partner nation fifth-generation air power.

"Both services' efforts are a precursor to training other services and allies at the world's only F-35 Integrated Training Center," said Toth.

Currently two pilots from the United Kingdom are gearing up to begin classes in aircraft familiarity and simulator training at the F-35 Academic Training Center along with almost 20 Royal Air Force and Royal Navy maintainers who began through their country's first courses Oct. 1.

"And next spring the Navy's F-35 C variant will begin contributing to the sortie successes," said Toth, who besides spearheading the joint and international efforts at Eglin, is also flying weekly joint strike fighter sorties.

The multi-role joint strike fighter is the centerpiece of the Defense Department's future precision attack capability, designed to penetrate air defenses and deliver a wide-range of precision munitions. It offers increased interoperability and cost-sharing across three of the U.S. services and coalition partner nations. Eglin is home to the largest fleet of F-35s at any DoD base with 22 jets.

. 100th combined sortie - July 12 - accomplished in 123 days
. 200th combined sortie - Aug. 24 - accomplished in 44 days
. 300th combined sortie - Sept.21 - accomplished in 30 days
. 400th combined sortie - Oct. 16 - accomplished in 25 days
. 500th combined sortie - Nov. 2 - accomplished in 16 days

Chaplains Support Sandy Relief Operations


By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 9, 2012 – National Guard chaplains are providing support as part of Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery operations.

"The chaplains are providing religious services and prayer for recovery teams," said Air Force Chaplain Brig. Gen. Alphonse Stephenson, director of the National Guard joint chaplaincy at the National Guard Bureau and Air National Guard assistant to the Air Force chief of chaplains. "They're providing on-the-spot counseling and encouragement to not only military personnel but to everyone who is affected."

Many of the chaplains who have responded are from the New Jersey and New York areas, which provides for a greater connection to the communities affected by the storm, Stephenson said.

"They're from the community and they put on the uniform and report to where they are supposed to be and then they go right back out into the community again," he said.

And while chaplains in the affected areas are primarily there to support military members, they have ministered to non-military members as well, Stephenson said. One way they have done this is by engaging with members of the local clergy.

When it comes to providing support, "a chaplain just doesn't say no," Stephenson said. "There is no such thing."

For Stephenson, a New Jersey native, the storm affected him personally and he found himself providing support to his 89-year-old father in the days after the storm.

"He lives on the Jersey Shore and his lights were out," Stephenson said. "Thank God his house was standing and everything else was fine, but his power went out."

After eight days without power, Stephenson said his father was beginning to feel frustrated and somewhat overwhelmed.

"I said to him, 'You were in World War II in seven invasions and right now you're sitting in Brick Township, N.J., with a house where the power is out. How tough is that?’" Stephenson said. "And he said, 'Ya know, you're right.'”

“And I think that's what the chaplain has to do -- put it in perspective," Stephenson added.
Putting things in perspective is one way that chaplains work to provide hope and encouragement for those they support, Stephenson said.

"The presence of the chaplain is to bring hope," he said. "That's our best product, our most important product. I think the cross or tablets or whatever religious insignia is on the uniform of the chaplain, it's a symbol of a trusted agent."

And from the chaplain’s perspective, Stephenson said, that mission of providing hope is the same whether it's responding to a Hurricane Sandy-type event or as part of the overseas or warfighting mission.
"It's approached with the same vigor," he said.

And in a disaster situation such as Sandy, chaplains provide an essential element, Stephenson said.

"I think the chaplain's presence is absolutely necessary in these situations," he said.

And being there, he added, is part of the chaplain's mission.

"We are spiritual strength, wherever needed, whenever required," Stephenson said.

Pentagon Provides Sandy Response Update


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2012 – The Department of Defense is a fully integrated partner in the federal, state, and local response to Hurricane Sandy and the northeaster that swept through the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States, defense officials reported today.

DOD still maintains significant capacity in the region to provide emergency temporary power and pumping capability and to distribute fuel, food, cold-weather clothing, and other comfort items as requested by civil authorities.

DOD's response to Hurricane Sandy continues, officials said. Significant updates over the past 24 hours, as of 11 a.m. EST, include:

DOD:
-- U.S. Northern Command has nearly 4,000 personnel supporting Hurricane Sandy relief operations in the affected area.
-- Air Force teams completed unwatering operations at Rockaway Wastewater Treatment facility, and East School in Long Beach, N.Y., and provided teams to support fire departments conducting unwatering operations in Breezy Point, N.Y.
-- Army divers repaired the pier system at Caven Point, N.J. Additionally, divers continue to assist the New York City Fire Department unwater the PATH tunnel at the World Trade Center and unwater the Long Beach High School and Recreation Center, N.Y.
-- Marines continued assessments with Army engineers in Far Rockaway, N.Y., and pumped 90,000 gallons of water from apartment buildings there. About 750,000 gallons were pumped from affected homes and parks in Breezy Point, N.Y.
-- Navy dive detachments continue to support the World Trade Center site and Marine Corps pump teams are assisting pumping operations at Breezy Point.
-- Helicopters from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are transporting and relocating generators in the area at the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Navy Seabees and Marine personnel restored the beach at Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook; and supporting debris clearance operations at locations in Bayonne, N.J. and the Battery, N.Y.

Defense Logistics Agency:
-- More than 1.8 million gallons of fuel have been delivered to FEMA distribution points in the New York/New Jersey region. Nine generators were delivered to the Army Corps of Engineers to power apartment buildings in New York City. Seven more generators and seven transformers are en route. Seven additional generators have been provided to the New York City Housing Authority.
-- Contracts are in place to support waste water clean-up, hazardous material removal, and debris removal operations. Two contracts have been awarded for 330 roll-off dumpsters and 34 trucks for overland trash hauling. In the last 48 hours, 2.5 million pounds of debris have been removed.

Army Corps of Engineers:
-- More than 500 generators are now staged at forward locations.
-- A total of 570 power generation and restoration taskings have been received. Five-hundred forty-five assessments have been completed, three are in progress and 22 are not yet started.

National Guard:
-- There are 6,618 National Guard personnel from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and West Virginia assisting in response and recovery efforts across their affected states.
-- The following states are supporting the response efforts through Emergency Management Agreement Compacts: Florida, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
-- Forty-seven chaplains and chaplain’s assistants are providing trauma intervention/counseling, shelter visitations, worship services and other support.
-- There are 3,237 New York National Guard personnel on state active duty supporting relief operations in New York. Guardsmen have distributed 1,439,654 meals from 21 points of distribution sites since Nov 1. Fifty personnel are supporting Red Cross shelters at six sites in sites in Nassau County, N.Y. Guardsmen are also sorting and distributing donated goods from the Javits Center and delivering them to three points of distribution sites.
-- There are 1,957 New Jersey National Guard personnel on state active duty supporting relief operations in New Jersey. Since Nov. 1, the guardsmen distributed 12,590 blankets, 1,740 cots and 3,648 towels. Since Nov. 2, they also have distributed 93,229 gallons of fuel to emergency responders from four distribution points in support of FEMA and DLA. The New Jersey National Guard is providing tents and mobile kitchen trailers to shelter and feed emergency management personnel. Guardsmen continue to assist civil authorities at state-run shelters with transportation, meals, water and power generation in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, at the Jersey City Armory, and in Glen Gardner borough. Unarmed Guardsmen are providing safety and security support to law enforcement agencies in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
-- The West Virginia National Guard has 364 personnel on state active duty conducting community assessments; medical evacuations; snow and debris removal; and food, water and generator distribution.

Transcom Strives to Preserve Capacity to Meet Future Needs


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Nov. 9, 2012 – There’s no rest for the weary at U.S. Transportation Command. After 11 years of balls-to-the-wall operations -- moving service members and their equipment in more than a million deployments and sustaining them and other forces around the world -- Transcom is already working to drum up new business to cushion the expected post-war slump.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
An Air Force C-5B Galaxy delivers a Southern California Edison utility company vehicle to Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., to support relief efforts after Superstorm Sandy devastated the region, Nov. 1, 2011. U.S. Transportation Command depends on the viability of organic assets as well as those of its commercial partners to support Defense Department missions, particularly during crises. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael O’Halloran
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
That’s the job of the new Enterprise Readiness Center here, which achieved initial operational capability in late September and will be fully operational by Jan. 1.
 
Its mission, in a nutshell, is to keep Transcom’s organic assets -- military planes, cargo ships and trucks -- as well as those of its commercial partners busy, even as wartime operational demands drop off, Navy Rear Adm. Andy Brown, the command’s director of strategy, policy, programs and logistics, told American Forces Press Service.

There’s nothing altruistic about it, said Air Force Col. Edward Koharik, who runs the new center. Simply stated, Transcom won’t be able to support future military requirements if it allows the capabilities it relies on to erode.
It’s a little-known fact that the U.S. military couldn’t keep up with the massive transportation and logistics demands without its commercial partners.

Many have entered into formal agreements with Transcom, promising to dedicate additional aircraft, ships, cargo space or other transportation or logistical support as needed to meet wartime requirements. In return, they get first priority for contracts.

The problem, explained Koharik, is that as the United States draws down operations in Afghanistan, the volume of material it moves is expected to drop by about two-thirds.
That will reduce Transcom’s transaction business from about $14 billion yearly to pre-9/11 levels between $6 billion and $7 billion, Brown estimated.

That will leave commercial partners with excess capacity, Koharik recognized.
“The bottom line is, we have some challenges facing us as we draw down in Afghanistan,” he said. “We understand that the commercial partners that we have out there have sized their fleets to support our efforts over the last 10 years. They have made business decisions supporting this.”

“And as we see the diminishing business out there for them -- from Transcom, the services and the combatant commands -- we have identified the need for a coordinated effort to work through this drawdown of business,” Koharik added.

Even while it’s still being staffed, the Enterprise Readiness Center is busy engaging with two groups to approach the issue. Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, the Transcom commander, reached out to the command’s commercial partners during a recent National Defense Transportation Association conference, urging them to share best practices and become part of the solution.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise Readiness Center staff has put on its marketing hat, tapping into Transcom’s current customer base with hopes of increasing it through better, less expensive services.

Koharik said he’s convinced there are many customers and transportation requirements out there that Transcom can support. With a high operational tempo over the past decade, the command hasn’t had to go looking for work. In many cases, other government agencies and even Defense Department entities went elsewhere to get their shipments moved.

But with capacity coming available, Transcom now has the ability to fill the need, Koharik said. The goal is to do so by attracting organizations not already using the command’s services through lower rates, increased reliability and old-fashioned customer service.

“This is a matter of us becoming the transportation provider of choice. And that is what we are about doing a better job of,” said Garth Sanginiti, chief of the Distribution Process Owner Support Division within the command’s Acquisition Directorate. “We want people to say, ‘You know, Transcom can get me what I want, when I want it, where I want it at a price I can afford.’”

Fraser has made a big emphasis on reducing overhead within the command. That, in turn, will lower the cost Transcom charges its customers.

With the entire command committed to finding more cost-efficient ways to provide services, the Enterprise Readiness Center is considering new pricing structures and determining whether Transcom can offer DOD rates to other government customers, Sanginiti said.

Meanwhile, Transcom is marketing its capabilities to DOD customers “who in the past several years have found ways not to use us,” and to new customers throughout the interagency, he said.

For example, Koharik and his staff are discussing ways the State Department can leverage Transcom’s transportation and logistics infrastructure in Afghanistan as the mission there transitions to a State Department lead.

“Instead of building something new, they could use our commercial partners and the transportation operations we already have in place,” Koharik said.

The Enterprise Readiness Center is also exploring ways to use Transcom’s partners to make more deliveries for the Foreign Military Sales program. The command currently carries only about 13 percent of that business.

The staff also is approaching agencies that currently roll delivery costs into their contracts. If those agencies separated out their transportation requirements, Transcom and its partners could support them.

“There are lots of opportunities like that out there for DOD,” Sanginiti said. “It’s a matter of identifying them and letting people know that we can help and letting them know how.”

The success of these efforts will have far-reaching impact, particularly in the event of a future natural disaster or any other contingency operation, he said.

Without sufficient organic and commercial capability -- and the trained, experienced crews, ground handlers and other personnel that support it -- Sanginiti questioned what will happen when the next major requirement comes down. It could leave the United States hard-pressed to properly respond to the next crisis, he said.

“This is really bigger than the DOD needing us to be able to surge,” Sanginiti said. “It is the nation.”

Hurricane relief mission hits home with N.J. Reservists

by Shawn J. Jones
514th Air Mobility Wing public affairs


11/8/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- After a historic hurricane battered New York and New Jersey, Airmen from across the country leaned forward to answer the call for help, but for the Airmen of one Reserve wing, those calls for help were coming from friends, family and neighbors.

Most of the Airmen assigned to the 514th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., live in or near the areas most devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Their knowledge of the hurricane is firsthand. Some watched flood waters bubble through their floorboards. Others watched stalwart trees snap like twigs. Most lost electrical power, and many lost much more.

Those who escaped the worst of the hurricane, were left wondering how best to help. One of those Airmen was Tech. Sgt. Ryan Jackson, a loadmaster with the 732nd Airlift Squadron.

"Feeling personally overwhelmed with so much loss and help needed, I felt I could make the greatest impact by doing what I was trained to do: load and transport vehicles, personnel and equipment via cargo aircraft," he said.

Jackson and four other Airmen from the squadron volunteered to fly hurricane relief missions. Their first relief mission was to Phoenix, Ariz., Nov. 2, to pick-up and transport 67,000 pounds of resources to help restore electrical power.

The Airmen loaded and chained two large boom trucks into the cargo hold of their C-17 Globemaster III. The crew then flew the trucks and their drivers - both from a Phoenix-based electrical utility company - to Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y. From there, the drivers took the trucks to Long Island, N.Y., where they were used to repair downed power lines.

The relief mission was a departure from the aircrew's usual mission of ferrying troops and equipment back and forth from the Middle East and Afghanistan. One of the air crew's pilots, Capt. Holly Nelson, said she understands the significance of her regular duties, but the relief mission was special because the hurricane had hit so close to home.

"It was rewarding to help people on home soil and to help provide immediate relief that can help Americans directly," she said.

Although mobility Airmen have had an essential role in recovery efforts, they haven't been acting alone. They've joined fellow service members in working side-by-side with many federal, state and local mission partners.

Capt. Corey DeWaters, a pilot who flew with Nelson and Jackson, said he feels fortunate to play a key role in the total relief effort.

"It's great to live and serve in a country that cares enough about its citizens to do whatever it takes to help, regardless of cost or difficulty, and that has the resources to bring immediate relief to those suffering," he said.

Ohio Reserve C-17s complete 9th Hurricane Sandy relief mission

by Lt Col Cynthia Harris
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


11/7/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Airmen from the 445th Airlift Wing here completed their ninth Hurricane Sandy relief mission Nov. 7, transporting four heavy-duty off road pickup trucks and two trailers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst N.J.

"The C-17 is the perfect cargo aircraft for this type of mission. We are able to quickly reconfigure to accommodate almost any type of cargo, fly to where that cargo is and get it to where it needs to be," said Capt Aaron Port, C-17 pilot. "We are happy to aid in providing relief to those areas affected by Hurricane Sandy."

A total force team of active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Command Airmen are working side-by-side with federal, state, and local mission partners to ease suffering and assist in the Nation's recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

The unit began its support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts when they departed Wright-Patterson AFB Nov. 1 to transport 26 Southern California Edison utility company workers and five utility vehicles from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. to Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y. The passengers and cargo helped to restore power to the affected region.

The 445th Airlift Wing responded within hours of being tasked by the Force Generation Center to support Hurricane Sandy. On Tuesday, Oct. 30, the Force Generation Center and Air Force Reserve Command at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. asked the 445th Airlift Wing if crews were available to support Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts. The morning of Nov. 1, 445th aircrews were alerted and flew to March ARB that evening.

"The men and women of the 445th stand ready to assist when and where needed. We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to serve those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Our Airmen were ready within a moment's notice to transport much needed personnel and equipment. I'm glad we're able to make a difference," said Col. Michael Major, 445th Airlift Wing vice commander.

Before dawn the morning of Nov. 2, another C-17 from the 445th Airlift Wing departed Wright-Patterson AFB for Phoenix, Ariz. to pick up cargo for transport to Stewart ANG Base, N.Y. This mission transported 15 passengers, three utility trucks and a water pump truck.

The unit has performed a total of nine missions from Nov. 1 to Nov. 7. Cargo and personnel were transported from various bases on the West Coast to Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y., Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. and John F. Kennedy International Airport, N.Y.

"For Mobility Airmen, it is simple: we are here to answer the call when it comes, whether across the globe or here at home," said Gen. Ray Johns, Jr., commander, Air Mobility Command. "In this critical time we stand ready to meet the needs of our nation and fellow Americans."

PGA Tour honors Luke Airmen

by Tech. Sgt. Meredith Mingledorff
944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/8/2012 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- The PGA Tour treated members of the 944th Fighter Wing to a special Military Appreciation Day at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz., Nov. 3-4.

Airmen from Luke AFB provided an honor guard, singer, guest speaker, and F-16 flyover for a crowd of more than 12,000 at the Desert Mountain Club.

Ian Knight, Executive Director, Charles Schwab Cup Championship opened Military Appreciation Day with kind words about the military and specifically thanked the U.S. Air Force for their attendance at the event. "The PGA Tour appreciates our U.S. military personnel and feel it is important to show our support for this heroic group," he said .

Senior Airman Melinda Charlton, 944th Force Support Squadron, sang the national anthem as members of the Luke Honor Guard presented the colors.

"It was such an honor," said Charlton. She was also impressed with the timing of the flyover by the 69th Fighter Squadron, who flew a two-ship formation over the 9th green.

"Their timing was perfect!" exclaimed the young singer.

"Perhaps we should have the U.S. Air Force run our golf tournaments," joked Knight at the event. "Have you ever seen better timing?"

The crowd agreed with cheers of joy and support. "We never get to see that," remarked an on-looker. "Wow!"

Col. Jose Monteagudo, 944th Fighter Wing commander, thanked the crowd for their support and the PGA Tour for their invitation to the tournament.

"The generosity of the PGA Tour, Charles Schwab, and Desert Mountain have shown to our uniformed members and their families with this Military Appreciation Day is overwhelming," said Monteagudo.

"We thank you for this amazing opportunity," remarked the colonel. "I encourage those of you in attendance today to speak with our men and women in uniform and find out what makes them so special. Serving can be hard to do, but it is support like this that reminds us what we are fighting for and makes it that much easier to fight the hard fight."

Four military members chosen to announce PGA Tour professionals as they approached the 18th hole. One of them was Staff Sgt. Teresa Killeen, 944th Mission Support Group contracting specialist. Killeen said Freddie Couples is her favorite. "I've been golfing for about a year now and I think Couples is great" said Killeen. She got to shake her golf idol's hand on the 18th green after working a deal with fellow hole announcers so she could be the last one to pull the flag on the 18th green Sunday.

Killeen got a photo with Couples, and many others in uniform got handshakes and praise from Couples and other PGA pros who thanked them for their service.

"What an amazing day for our military personnel and the 944th Fighter Wing," said Monteagudo. "I just wish we could have stayed longer."