Tuesday, November 13, 2012

36th Wing IG beefs up preparation for CUI

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

11/13/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 36th Wing Inspector General's office conducted pre-exercise briefings at the base theater here, Nov. 4.

The goal for the briefings was to get Andersen Airmen focused and ready for the coming operational readiness exercises, leading up to the combined unit inspection in May 2013.

"We gear towards seeing the areas we can improve on, not just for exercises but for real-world operations," said Capt. Damian Pardue, 36th Wing IG inspections officer in charge.

During the briefing, Maj. Jason Dillon, 36th Wing IG, shared some counsel on what Airmen need to learn and keep in mind during the exercise.

"Get educated about the phases, be ready and always act with a sense of urgency," he said. "If you don't know, ask an exercise evaluation team or a white cell member. Ask questions, be careful and don't wait until it's too late."

Aside from emergency postures, Major Dillon also said that it is imperative that the Airmen are aware of the instructions, operational plans and their unit's designed operational capability statements.

"We tried to have schedules that cater to everyone, including night shift," said Captain Pardue. "We've also had a lot of positive feedback. This is just the start of making things better as we go."

The purpose of the briefing was to ensure that personnel at all levels know what to anticipate and how to respond to announcements and warnings during the exercise. The briefing provided Airmen important information for exercises to include exercise focus, proper donning of personal protective equipment, alarm conditions and easier ways to understand the base sector map.

"There's a lot of information pushed out in these briefings," said Captain Pardue. "We touch on the concepts that would help the Airmen accomplish their tasks seamlessly. We also had emergency management come in and brief us on alarm conditions, shelter in place and more."

In the coming exercises, the IG team aims to create a more robust pre-exercise training. Along with continuing the refresher briefings, IG plans to add hands-on training on particular tasks weeks prior to the exercises.

"We want to include hands-on training in certain areas, such as post-attack reconnaissance sweeps, so that the Airmen can actually have the feel of how to go about procedures and how to conduct such tasks correctly," said Captain Pardue.

Though much emphasis has been placed on exercises, especially with the upcoming CUI, all the preparation and posturing is intended to prepare Airmen to respond to real-world scenarios.

"I've heard people say that the goal is to be ready for the exercise and the inspection, and that is true, but the ultimate goal is to be ready for the mission," said Captain Pardue. "We have to be ready to fight the fight and carry out our contingency tasks when called upon."

Service members across Okinawa observe Veterans Day

by Airman 1st Class Hailey Davis
18th Wing Public Affairs

11/11/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- It's a cool November morning on Okinawa, Japan, and as the rest of the Island stirs around them, it seems as though time stands still as Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and even veterans from wars long ago gather for a ceremony at the 18th Wing headquarters building to observe Veterans Day Nov. 12.

As the sun rises over the building, Kadena Honor guardsmen and Junior ROTC members stand at the base of the flagpoles. A Marine bugler stands to the left of a formation of Marines, preparing to perform Reveille and Taps during the ceremony.

Veterans Day is a day dedicated to the men and women who have served and are currently serving around the world for the freedoms and liberties of all American citizens.

"The flag stands for peace, honor, truth, justice and freedom," said Master Sgt. Quincy Harper, 18th Munitions Squadron first sergeant and master of ceremonies, as he explains the significance and of the American Flag during the ceremony. "It has been placed in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter. It is flown at half-staff to honor our military members."

In the distance, the sound of a U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk can be heard making its way to the field just beyond the flagpoles.

"The flag has flown in every battle of every war for more than 200 years," the first sergeant continued as members of the 33rd and 31st Rescue Squadrons get into position and prepare to present the American flag which represents so much. "It has flown in Valley Forge, Gettysburg and Shiloh. It was waived at Okinawa, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and it is being waived right now in Afghanistan and Iraq."

As the Pave Hawk hovers over the field, 31st RQS pararescuemen rappel from the helicopter, carrying the American flag for presentation to the Kadena Honor Guard.

"Every year in November we come together on this day to celebrate the accomplishments, the sacrifices and the lives of the people who have served this great nation in the armed forces, the Army, Air Force, Navy and the Marines," said Barbara Turner, veteran and University of Phoenix director of Academic Affairs. Dr. Turner spoke at the ceremony regarding her experiences in the military and the sacrifices she made during her career.

Established as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson Nov. 11, 1919, he said, "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory."

Though the day was founded to honor veterans of World War I, more than 400,000 American service members soon gave their lives in World War II. President Dwight Eisenhower later changed the day to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all veterans from all U.S. conflicts, past and present.

"It means a lot more now that I'm actually a veteran and have had friends that have given the ultimate sacrifice downrange," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Mott, a 31st RQS pararescueman. "It's important to take a day to remember those guys and honor the sacrifice that they made and honor those who have put themselves in harm's way and are willing to pay that sacrifice."

Once the flags had been raised, and speakers gave their remarks in honor of veterans both past and present, Brig. Gen. Matthew Molloy, 18th Wing commander, Don Allen, Okinawa American Legion commander and Dennis Provencher, Okinawa Veterans of Foreign Wars commander, placed the POW/MIA wreath at the base of the flagpoles and rendered salutes as the bugler solemnly performed TAPS.

"In retrospect, most of us are unaware of the differences we made or the lives that we touched, great or small, we left our mark," Turner said. "The choice we made and the legacy we live continues to live on in the men and women who serve today and to those that will serve in the future."

Andersen utilizes Social Norms to battle alcohol abuse

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

11/13/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Team Andersen was selected to participate in an Air Force-wide study called the Social Norms project here in October. All permanent party, active-duty Airmen ages 17 to 24 were required by the 36th Wing to participate in an educational session on personal drinking habits and perceptions of drinking among peers.

The Social Norms project is an Air Force-wide initiative designed to revamp the way to deter substance abuse. The goals are to enhance resiliency and improve mission readiness by preventing alcohol misuse. This is accomplished through using anonymous survey information provided by servicemembers to understand the culture with regards to alcohol at Andersen.

In the past, substance abuse was largely discouraged through scare tactics. From parking a wrecked car by the main gate, to publicizing offender's units or running ads depicting driving under the influence, agencies used fear in order to get the point across.

"Although such tactics may serve a purpose, they are not as effective as social norming," said Capt. David Shwalb, Andersen Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager. "Social norming is about changing the drinking culture on base by correcting Airmen's misconceptions about what is normal."

The Social Norms project is now included in the 36th Wing commander interest items. Every base has a committee of representatives from various agencies -Family Advocacy, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office, Chapel, Equal Opportunity and more - called the Integrated Delivery System, who meet to discuss Airmen's needs.

For younger Airmen overseas, transitioning from adolescence into adulthood isn't a simple process. Being thousands of miles away from home while also learning a new job and adjusting to the operations tempo of the active-duty Air Force, the transition can be even trickier.

"Younger individuals are considered to be at a higher risk for alcohol abuse due in part because drinking is new to them," said Captain Shwalb. "Controlling alcohol consumption and understanding your tolerance is a learning process. Most people, if they choose to drink, will learn how to drink responsibly."

"A lot of Airmen believe that the norm is to drink excessively," he continued. "This isn't to say that people don't drink or that some people don't drink excessively, but realistically, based on many years of research, most people drink responsibly, if they choose to drink at all."

Captain Shwalb said that misconceptions occur largely because people assume the most memorable and salient behaviors, such as ideas like "that one group of guys" or "that crazy dorm." These misconceptions can influence people's behaviors as they adjust their own drinking to what they think is normal. Challenging and correcting these misconceptions can help individuals shift their behaviors towards actual norms.

Alcohol abuse and dependency are different problems, and the diagnostic criteria for these can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. On the other hand, the causes of alcohol abuse and dependency are harder to pinpoint.

"People drink for many different reasons: for fun, to lower social inhibitions, cultural norms or customs, self-medication, peer pressure and more," said Captain Shwalb. "However, certain characteristics may be linked to higher risk for alcohol dependency and abuse tendencies, such as family history of substance abuse, depression and other mental health problems."

Along with ADAPT's efforts, Airmen can actively promote the prevention of alcohol dependency for both themselves and their peers by approaching it on a proactive and interpersonal level.

"The most important thing Airmen can do to actively promote ADAPT and the prevention of alcohol misuse is to drink responsibly, encourage their peers to do the same and not be afraid to be themselves," said Captain Shwalb. "If you don't want to drink a lot, then don't. People don't need excessive amounts of alcohol to enjoy life. "

Defense Officials Preview ‘Better Buying Power 2.0’ Initiative

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2012 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter today unveiled a proposed new phase of the Defense Department’s “Better Buying Power” initiative that since 2010 has shaped the department’s acquisition arm to “do more without more.”

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter offers opening remarks as he introduces Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, to brief Pentagon reporters about the Defense Department’s “Better Buying Power 2.0” initiative, Nov. 13, 2012. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Carter told reporters during a Pentagon briefing that when he, as undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, and then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced the first round of “efficiencies” aimed at trimming defense spending, Gates “foresaw, correctly, that the days of ever-increasing defense budgets were coming to an end.”

Better Buying Power, introduced in September 2010, was the acquisition contribution to the efficiencies initiative, Carter said.

“It was directed at the $400 billion that the department spends annually on goods and services, … to get more capability for the warfighter and more value for the taxpayer by obtaining greater efficiency and productivity in defense spending what economists call ‘productivity growth,’” he explained.

Now, after planning for a $487 billion decrease in spending over the next decade, the department will incorporate some lessons its members have learned since 2010 when it rolls out the final version of Better Buying Power 2.0 early in 2013, Carter said.

The deputy secretary said hundreds of examples exist of Defense Department acquisition executives putting the Better Buying Power principles into practice. “Each of these examples shows what we can achieve if we rededicate ourselves to acquisition best practices,” he added.

Carter then handed the briefing off to Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. Kendall noted the department’s proposed plan for the updated initiative will be open for review and comment for two months before a final version takes effect.

Kendall described the seven broad focus areas for the new defense buying initiative:
-- Achieve affordable programs;
-- Control costs throughout the product life cycle;
-- Offer incentives for productivity and innovation in industry and government;
-- Eliminate unproductive processes and bureaucracy;
-- Promote effective competition;
-- Improve tradecraft in acquisition of services; and
-- Improve the professionalism of the total acquisition workforce.

Kendall noted the new version includes some 36 initiatives grouped under those seven headings. In some cases, he said, they replace the original 23 initiatives in five focus areas.

“It turns out that defense acquisition is a pretty complicated subject,” he noted. “And there aren’t easy, simple solutions that are going to … reform acquisition and make everything … better overnight with one or two policy changes.”

Lack of productivity -- both in government’s bureaucratic processes and in industry “cycle time” – is one complicated area the acquisition chief said he thinks a lot about, and which carries over from the original 2010 initiative. Cycle time, he said, translates into “how long it takes us to get products to the field” – and he added that he’s “very unhappy” with the answer.

“It’s taking much too long, as far as I’m concerned,” Kendall said. “And I have several efforts under way to try to understand what the root cause of that is.” Delays can occur at many stages, he noted -- in setting and changing requirements, in testing, and even in production.

“Is industry not as agile as it once was? There are a number of possible causes there, and it’s probably some combination of them all, together. … But I would definitely like to reduce cycle times,” he said.

The new effort brings new approaches, but the same aim, to defense acquisition as 2010’s Better Buying Power initiative, Kendall said: to give troops fighting the nation’s wars the best equipment, and to get good value for every taxpayer dollar.

Kendall said he sees results from the two-year-old effort, but he echoed defense leaders’ statements for months past when he warned that such progress, and any plans to achieve deliberate cost savings, will wither if the Budget Control Act’s sequester mechanism takes effect in January.

Sequestration would trigger an additional $500 billion in across-the-board defense spending cuts over the next decade if Congress fails to agree on an alternative.

“It’s a horrible way to take money out [of the defense budget],” he said. “It really flies in the face of everything we’re trying to accomplish here.”

Valley resident earns wings as 'Airman for a Day'

by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

11/9/2012 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A nine-year-old Spokane Valley, Wash., boy, who has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and undergone almost two years of chemo therapy, had the opportunity to visit Fairchild Nov. 2 thanks to a program started by base's company grade officers council.

The "Airman for a Day," Trevion Worthy, was the second youth to participate in the program at Fairchild. Children like Tre get a break from challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. For Tre, these challenges come in the form of an aggressive cancer of the white blood cells. He is in the last phase of his treatment with one and a half years to go.

The math-loving 4th grader said he can't get enough of school and following treatment said he's begged his mother, Maegan Chandler, to go back. He enjoys football, soccer, baseball, basketball, swimming, tubing, camping, fishing and wants to try snowboarding this winter.

"He's been through so much and to see his high level of enthusiasm through all this is inspirational," Maegan said. "This was just awesome, because he actually got to try out things hands on; I'm really impressed and glad this program exists."

Tre and his mom visited several areas around base including aerospace physiology, the fire department, the survival school, the flight simulator, a KC-135 Stratotanker and the air traffic control tower. He talked with a diverse group of Airmen and even met a few with a personal connection to his story.

"My sister-in-law is fighting cancer," said Lt. Col. Matt Albright, 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace physiological training flight commander. "She's stayed involved in life much like Tre has, but it's amazing for how young he is, his involvement [in life] hasn't faded."

But the colonel wasn't the only one who shared their personal connection. A survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist took special care in ensuring Tre had a great time and shared his own story as well.

"This event hits home for me," said Airman 1st Class Casey Blackmon, 336th Training Group SERE specialist and who's sister was diagnosed with cancer when he was four-years-old.

Blackmon said even though he was young, the impact of his sister's ailment has influenced his decisions since. He said it was great to see how strong and funny Tre was despite his condition saying, "He's a good little kid too."

While touring the survival school, Col. William Thomas, 336th TRG commander, shared his experience as a cancer survivor as well as recognizing Tre for how resilient he's been so far.

As "Airman for a Day," Tre was issued a custom-sized Airman battle uniform, a second lieutenant's flight suit, an explosive ordnance disposal ball cap and various patches and challenge coins from people at each location he visited.

"The virtual reality parachuting training was my favorite," said Tre, a video game connoisseur. "I felt like I was actually falling from the sky and trying to land on the ships."

For this parachuting training, the survival school equipped Tre with his own harness and strapped him into the simulated parachute, with directional cords, giving him complete control of his direction as he tried landing on a Navy aircraft carrier.

The visit to Fairchild inspired him to the point he's considering joining the Air Force one day.

"When I grow up, I want to become a pilot," Tre said with a smile.

"Words cannot express my overwhelming gratitude," Maegan added. "This all is just amazing to me. I am elated."

But Maegan and Tre weren't the only ones who enjoyed the day.

"Being able to connect with kids like Tre through this program is very rewarding," Albright said. "Having a positive attitude influences everyone around us, especially those dealing with something like cancer. So I'm happy to have been a part of this. Tre is a very special kid."

Military leave carryover extension expires Oct. 1

by Debbie Gildea
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

11/9/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- Unless approved for special leave accrual, active-duty and Active Guard Reserve members who have more than 60 days of leave must use it or lose it by Oct. 1, 2013, when the temporary leave carryover extension provision expires, Air Force Personnel Center officials said today.

The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision that allowed members to carry up to 75 days of leave forward to the new fiscal year in response to limited leave opportunities tied to deployments and other mission requirements, said Senior Master Sgt. Kreig Cressione, AFPC Special Programs Branch Chief.

"It's possible that the provision could be extended, but Airmen shouldn't count on that. Members must plan ahead to ensure they're able to use their excess leave," Cressione said. "Supervisors need to be aware, as well, so they can work to deconflict leave in their work centers.

"Airmen who do not have more than 60 days also need to be cognizant of the change," Cressione said.

Between now and the end of fiscal year 2013, active-duty members will earn 2.5 leave days per month, so an Airman with more than 30 days of accrued leave today could be over the limit by Sept. 30, 2013.

Some reserve members will be affected as well, said Lt. Col. Belinda Petersen, Air Reserve Personnel Center public affairs.

"Although traditional Air Reserve Component and active-duty personnel programs differ slightly, AGR members accrue leave the same way active-duty members do, so the extension expiration will affect them," Petersen said. "Some people may not be aware of the difference between traditional Reserve and AGR, so if you're affected, it's a good idea to make sure your supervisor and coworkers are aware."

Excepted from the use-or-lose rule are those with approved special leave accrual.

"SLA approval is for members who couldn't use their leave because of national emergency, crisis, catastrophe, or national security situations," said Cressione. "SLA isn't granted when Airmen choose not to take leave under those conditions, but when they are unable to do so."

Airmen who have been approved for SLA, depending on their location and situation, could be authorized to carry as much as 120 days for as long as four years.

"Most Airmen won't be able to carry that much excess leave for that long," he said. "Airmen on active duty who are entitled to hostile fire and imminent danger pay are generally authorized to carry excess leave, but it isn't automatic, they have to request it."

For SLA approval, Airmen must submit a request to the unit commander. Deployed members must identify themselves to the Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team, and the PERSCO team will notify their home station military personnel section for action.

"If you don't have approved SLA, you can only carry 60 days into the next fiscal year, though," Cressione said. "So don't wait until the last minute to plan your leave."

Research Shows Three Misperceptions Prevent Employment of “Wounded Warriors”

Army collaborates with Society of Human Resource Management to inform HR professionals and debunk the myths about hiring Veterans

Alexandria, VA – As part of Warrior Care Month, the Army is unveiling the “Hire a Veteran” education campaign. Research recently conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management revealed three key obstacles impacting veteran employment.  The campaign will debunk these roadblocks, and includes a 10-minute informational video and online employer toolkit that can be found at www.WTC.army.mil/employers.

The Army Warrior Transition Command will host a press conference on Monday, November 19 to discuss the findings and unveil the new resource materials.

WHO:  Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop, Warrior Transition Command commander,  Jeff Pon PhD, Society of Human Resource Management, Tim Isacco, COO, Orion International
WHAT: Warrior Care Month, Interview opportunities, Broadcast quality B-roll footage and educational video
WHEN:  Monday, November 19, 9:00am
WHERE: National Press Club, 529 14th Street, Washington, DC 20045 / Metro Center metro stop
To view press conference online, register online – http://wirestream.tv/customer/wip/2012/wtc-nov-19/

RSVP: Liz Deakin (deakin_elizabeth@bah.com, 703-325-0433)

The U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command (WTC) is a major subordinate command under the U.S. Army Medical Command.  WTC provides oversight for the Warrior Care and Transition Program that is implemented at the Army’s 29 Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) where more than 10,000 wounded, ill and injured soldiers receive complex medical care for more than six months. At WTUs each soldier develops a personalized comprehensive transition plan with short- and long-term goals in six domains: physical, social, spiritual, emotional, family and career. Currently, 9.7 percent of WTU soldiers were wounded in combat; however, 87 percent previously served in combat at some point in their Army careers. To learn more, visit www.WTC.army.mil or follow the event on Twitter at http://twitter.com/armyWTC and #hireaveteran

Airmen finding safer ways to airdrop supplies, purify water for disaster victims

by Roger Drinnon
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

11/13/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- No one wants to injure a civilian when parachuting-in life-saving supplies. But the reality is that so-called humanitarian airdrops carry inherent dangers, as massive bundles must be dropped into disaster areas, sometimes putting people on the ground at risk.

"With a typical humanitarian airdrop bundle of food and water, you're looking at a lot of weight, so it's a challenge to find a safe drop zone that gets the supplies near the people without risk of the bundle injuring someone on the ground," says Lt. Col. Tom Lankford, who is the chief of tactics for Air Mobility Command's operations directorate.

Enter an innovative idea: individual packets weighing only ounces that can flutter to the ground harmlessly enough that a disaster victim might even be able to catch one out of the air.

How to make this innovative idea work was the focus of mobility Airmen who met recently as part of the Airlift Tanker Association symposium in Anaheim, Calif., Nov. 1-4. Exploring this radical transformation at the conference were Air Force and Army experts like Lankford who understand the intricacies of humanitarian relief operations.

One such method involves individual foam packages called Humanitarian Operations Packaged Essentials, or HOPE, packages.

Lankford said inside each HOPE package contains 6 ounces of water or an energy bar - enough to help sustain a person during a humanitarian crisis. He said the goal would be to drop 125,000 HOPE packages - enough to cover a city - from a C-17 in one aerial pass.

"HOPE packages only weigh six ounces," said Lankford. "We've conducted tests to ensure they fall to the ground much slower - there's no danger of injury to someone on the ground."

Also in development is the Hydropack - a rather remarkable package that someone can drop in dirty water, wait for the built-in filtration bag to soak up the dirty water, and in minutes get a safe, drinkable liquid similar to a sports drink.

"Experiences in relief operations like Operation Unified Response in Haiti showed us people are far more desperate to get water versus food in the opening hours a disaster situation," said Lankford. "Hydropacks not only allow us to get water safely to those in need, but also to get it right to them, so they don't have to go to a (distant) drop zone, which could be dangerous."

Lankford said the United States Agency for International Development, also known as USAID, is the lead Federal agency for delivering humanitarian assistance to other countries. AMC and joint service partners are working with USAID to see if HOPE packages and Hydropacks can be incorporated into humanitarian relief operations around the globe.

Businesses Affirm Support of Reserve Component Employees

From an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve News Release

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 13, 2012 – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency, announced that representatives from the Associated Builders and Contractors, Coca-Cola Refreshments, McDonald’s Corp., Safeway Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have signed or will sign statements of support for their National Guard and reserve employees in honor of Veterans Day.

The statement of support is a pledge that demonstrates an employer’s commitment to uphold their legal responsibilities as a military employer, to value the characteristics and skills service members contribute to the workforce, and to identify opportunities to support Guardsmen, reservists, veterans and their families.
The following national organizations have held or will hold statement of support signing ceremonies with senior Defense Department officials during the weeks surrounding Veterans Day:

-- McDonald’s Corp.: Nov. 7, corporate offices, Oak Brook, Ill.
-- Coca-Cola Refreshments: Nov. 8, corporate offices, Atlanta.
-- Wal-Mart: Nov. 12, corporate offices, Bentonville, Ark.
-- Associated Builders and Contractors: Nov. 13, Austin Hilton Hotel, Texas.
-- Safeway Inc.: Nov. 15, corporate offices, Pleasanton, Calif.

In addition to the signing ceremony at its corporate office, Wal-Mart will also extend the statement of support signing initiative to 10 regional locations across the nation.
Signatories of the statement of support make the following pledges:
-- We fully recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act.

-- Our managers and supervisors will have the tools they need to effectively manage those employees who serve in the Guard and reserve.

-- We appreciate the values, leadership and unique skills service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to hire Guardsmen, reservists and veterans.

-- We will continually recognize and support our country’s service members and their families in peace, in crises and in war.

“Supportive employers have been absolutely critical to ensuring our Guard and reserve members have been ready to respond to the unprecedented national security demands of the last decade,” ESGR Executive Director Ronald G. Young said. “By signing these statements of support, these industry leaders are sending a powerful message that they value their military employees’ service to our nation and are firmly committed to supporting Guardsmen, reservists and veterans in times of peace and conflict. We are grateful for their support.”

Since Sept. 11, 2001, almost half of the more than two million Americans who have gone to war have been Guardsmen and reservists. As recently as Hurricane Sandy, men and women of the National Guard and reserve components were called from their civilian lives to work alongside first responders and participate in search and rescue missions. The support of America’s employers has provided these citizen warriors with stability, predictability and peace of mind.

ESGR was established in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging the employment of Guardsmen and reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

Stavridis: New Aviation Element ‘New Step’ for U.S., Poland

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2012 – Lauding the standup of a new aviation detachment in Poland last week as “a new step in the U.S.-Polish military relationship,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis said it exemplifies the two militaries’ growing cooperation, which has extended from combat in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan to European missile defense.

In his blog post today, Stavridis, NATO’S supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, heralded the first full-time presence of U.S. service members in Poland. The new 10-person aviation detachment, based at Lask Air Base, will support combined fighter and transport operations as they are joined by up to 200 visiting airmen conducting quarterly training rotations.

“The idea is to keep a small number of our U.S. airmen ‘on the ground’ in Poland, while we rotate in F-16 [Fighting Falcon jets] and C-130 [Hercules] transport aircraft for mutual training together,” Stavridis wrote.
Beginning next year, rotational deployments of U.S. military aircraft for at least two weeks at a time will expand existing opportunities for “a rich mix of bilateral, NATO and multilateral exercises and training,” he noted.

“In a sense, this deployment celebrates over two centuries of Polish-U.S. defense cooperation,” the admiral said. He recalled the story of Count Casimir Pulaski, the Polish nobleman who helped the fledging U.S. military was it was being organized during the American Revolution. Pulaski is remembered as the “father of the American cavalry,” and died from wounds suffered in the Battle of Savannah.

Stavridis also recognized Polish troops’ courage during World War II as they fought alongside U.S. soldiers to liberate Europe from the Nazis.

The new deployment builds on this long history, Stavridis said, bringing together the two nations’ technology, tactics and, most importantly, their people.

“As we all know, personal contact trumps everything; especially with strong, historic allies like Poland,” he wrote.

Stavridis, Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet and U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen D. Mull were joined at the Nov. 8 activation ceremony by Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, Chief of Staff Army Gen. Mieczyslaw Cieniuch and Air Force Commander Gen. Lech Majewski.

“I am truly proud of the way our defense cooperation has focused on looking to the future to ensure we are prepared for the threats and challenges our countries will face,” Chollet said during the ceremony. “As we move together into the future, we expect more U.S. boots to follow as we establish a NATO ballistic missile interceptor site at Redzikowo in 2018.”

The U.S. aviation detachment “also sends a clear message to allies and partners that the U.S. remains committed to European defense and to the principle that we are indeed ‘stronger together,’” Chollet said.

McConnell Reservists return from deployment

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

11/12/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- More than 50 Airmen from the Air Force Reserve 931st Air Refueling Group have returned home from a deployment Nov. 11-12.

The final collection of Airmen arrived here this afternoon after completing more than two months of serving as part of the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The primary duty of the 90 EARS is to fly refueling missions supporting C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft coming in and out of the area of operations. The air refueling mission acts as a "force multiplier" by allowing the cargo aircraft to land and offload at locations down range without having to land for refueling.

"I'm extremely proud of our performance," said Lt. Col. Michael Moeding, a member of the 931 ARG who served as commander of the 90 EARS for the duration of his deployment. "Going in, our goal was to make the squadron better than how we found it, and I'm confident that we did that in all areas."

The returning deployers were greeted by friends and family on the flight line, as well as several members of 931 ARG leadership. For the Citizen Airmen, the reception was well worth the more than ten-hour flight to get back to McConnell.

"It's an honor to deploy and serve my country, and I'm very proud to do that," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Norris, a refueling boom operator assigned to the Group's 18th Air Refueling Squadron. "But it doesn't matter where you go; the best part of any deployment is when you finally come home."

Niagara Airmen take part in Veterans Day ceremonies

by Master Sgt. Kevin Nichols
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

11/11/2012 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Three Niagara Airmen were key participants in a Veterans Day ceremony in the Town of Cambria, N.Y. Nov. 11. The ceremony commenced at 11 a.m. -- 94 years to the hour when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, November 11, 1918.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Zimmerman, 328th Airlift Squadron, was the featured speaker for this event that also included a flag fold ceremony by Niagara Falls Air Base Honor Guard Tech. Sgt. Jermell Motley and Senior Airman Latosha Cain.

Numerous members of the 914th Airlift Wing spent this Veterans Day weekend participating in remembrance ceremonies throughout western New York.

McConnell Reservists get involved while deployed

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

11/11/2012 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- When members of the Air Force Reserve 931st Air Refueling Group deployed to serve as part of the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron here, the mission before them was simple: support ongoing U.S. Operations overseas by flying air refueling missions of cargo aircraft coming in and out of the area of operations.

However, once arriving in country, it soon became clear to the Airmen that an entirely different mission awaited them--one that was less about what was going on 30,000 feet in the air and more about what was happening right outside the gates of the base.

"Our flight schedule has been light enough that we have had some down time," said Lt. Col. Michael Moeding, a Reservist assigned to the 931st Air Refueling Group and commander of the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. "That down time left us with a choice. We could either get in trouble or we could get involved. And our Airmen chose to use that time positively to reach out and truly connect with the local community."

With a slower than expected operational tempo, the Airmen of the 90 EARS have gone far beyond the typical experience of simply going outside the gates of the base to shop for souvenirs in Incirlik Village. Instead, they have used their off-duty time to actively seek out opportunities to get involved and help the local population.

"Some of our Airmen have been volunteering at a school for the deaf and blind," said Senior Master Sgt. Willie Tucker, 1st Sgt. for the 90 EARS. "They have gone there several times to help out with the kids. They help clean up the school, do gardening work, and play with the kids."

"As soon as you go through the gates of the school, the kids just swarm you," said Senior Airman Michelle Horter, administrative specialist for the 90 EARS. "They are so happy to have people there. We brought them soccer balls, sidewalk chalk, candy, just whatever we could think of to give them some enjoyment. We do arts and crafts with them and go outside and play with them."

In addition to volunteering, the Airmen of the 90 EARS held a fundraiser to help purchase a much needed hot water heater for the school as well.

"They don't have any hot water," said Horter. "It wasn't a concern during the summer months, but it's getting colder here now. Many of the students there live on campus, and it was a concern for them to not have hot water during the winter."

To help out, the members of the 90 EARS held a movie night fundraiser, and members donated funds toward the cost of the water heater. By the end of the evening, the group had collected enough money to purchase a new water heater for the school.

Members of the squadron also used their off-duty time to volunteer at a local children's hospital.

"We do what we called 'Joy Therapy'," said Horter. "We go to the hospital and put on these silly outfits and dress up like pirates or clowns and make balloon animals, play guitars and sing songs and play with the kids. We can't speak their language, but just the interaction with them is amazing."

Tucker said the squadron has reached out to the community in other ways as well. Recently, the 90 EARS gave a tour of their operational headquarters to a group of local teachers, and then gave the teachers a tour of one of the squadron's KC-135 Stratotankers.

"They loved it," said Tucker. "It was a great way for us to connect with the people here."
A few weeks ago, members of the squadron participated in one of the customs of the Muslim "Feast of Sacrifice" holiday, known as "Kurban Bayrami" in Turkey. The holiday celebration includes the sacrifice of animals, with the meat being given to the poor. Airmen from the 90 EARS donated funds to purchase a sheep and then distributed the meat from the animal to the needy in the community.

"It was a way for us to show goodwill through Turkish culture," said Moeding. "We weren't pushing the religious part of the holiday, but rather focusing on the charitable part. We wanted to do something nice for the community by participating in one of their customs."

"To see our Airmen get involved and reach out like this, it's been awesome," said Tucker. It shows that the members of the U.S. Air Force truly do care about the people in the places where we serve. It's great for the Turkish people see that in our Airmen, and our Airmen are having a great experience at the same time."

Moeding said he is very proud of how the Airmen of the 90 EARS have made the effort to develop a strong positive relationship with the local population.

"It really leaves a positive impression," he said. "The people of Turkey are tremendously supportive of us, and developing these relationships can only serve to strengthen the incredible partnership we have with them."

Horter said that reaching out makes coping with the pain of missing friends and family during a deployment much easier.

"It's amazing how you can find your family in these people. You find the love and good. You go to the children's hospital and there is one language barrier, and at the school for the deaf there are two. But you discover that despite that, the underlying language is love and compassion and laughter, and it's just the most amazing thing."

And, she said she hopes Airmen who deploy to this location in the future will make the effort to find the same language of love.

"It's so important to make that effort to reach outside the gates of the base, through the barbed wire and get involved with these people here," she said. "If you never reach out, you'll never get to see the beauty of it."

Mobility Airmen blanket East Coast for Hurricane Sandy relief

by 2nd Lt. Alexis McGee
JB MDL Public Affairs

11/8/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Air Mobility Command Airmen forged a bridge between the West and East Coasts during the early morning hours Nov. 5 to distribute blankets that would make their way to Hurricane Sandy victims.

The 7,800 blankets began their journey at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where they were loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III and flown to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., for the next stages of the blanket distribution.

More than ten Airmen from the 305th Air Mobility Wing here and the 445th Air Wing from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, worked to unload the C-17 that arrived at 2:22 a.m. at JB MDL.

Airmen stacked the boxes onto 12 pallets on the flightline. The blankets were staged and ready to go on the flightline inside the boxes that were bound with plastic wrap and cargo netting. There the boxes remained for the morning shift to arrive at 6 a.m. to take action and load them onto trucks heading to the Federal Emergency Management Agency team on Lakehurst here.

"It is amazing to see the number of moving pieces that go into delivering disaster relief cargo," said Maj. Edward Hogan, 305th APS commander. "From consolidating and palletizing operations to on- and offloading trucks and aircraft, a tremendous number of people come together to make cargo movement an expediently executed reality, end-to-end."

Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Chin, 305th APS traffic management craftsman, from West Haverstraw, N.Y., and Senior Airman Woodrow Taliaferro, 305th APS traffic management apprentice, were the two 305th APS Airmen assigned to load the flatbed trucks with the assigned loads. The two Airmen coordinated with the vehicle driver, Tech. Sgt. Bytron Sneed, 87th LRS vehicle operator, to coordinate the blanket loading.

"Helping the Hurricane Sandy victims is very important," said Sneed, a Dallas, Texas, native, who recently switched to the night shift to help with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. " I escorted the FEMA teams on base when I was working the day shift so even if I played a small role, I still feel like I helped."

Sneed said he hadn't experienced a hurricane so close to home and he sympathized with the hurricane victims.

"I can only imagine what the victims closer to the shore are going through," he added.

Sneed and his counterpart, Staff Sgt. Teddy Rivera, 87th LRS vehicle operator, drove the vehicles to the side of building 1757. Airmen with the 305th APS then transported the pallets by forklift to position them on the flatbeds for transportation.

Taliaferro assisted in loading the forklifts with pallets on the flight line. He guided the forklift driver to the pallets to ensure they were safely picked up for transportation. Taliaferro said he's working a lot of extra hours to assist with the hurricane efforts, but was quick to point out that the extra hours he is putting in are making a difference.

"The faster we get these pallets loaded, the faster we can get them out to people who need them," the Oakdale, Tenn., native said.

This was Taliaferro's first hurricane experience and even though he personally suffered little damage from the hurricane, he recognized the importance his job is making in the big-picture hurricane recovery effort.

"Even one body helps," he said. "Even if you're not doing the biggest thing, just helping out a little bit counts."

Taliaferro was not the only Airmen who recognized the impact the mobility Airmen are making on those in need.

"It is gratifying to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy because you know immediately that the supplies are going out to help people," said Senior Airman Michelle Morson, 305th APS air transportation craftsman.

Morson is a native of Hampton, Va., and was one of the APS Airmen who drove a forklift to assist in the effort.

Airmen and civilians with the 87th LRS took the reins after the trucks were loaded to set out for the next leg of the blankets' long journey. The vehicle operators transported the winter necessities nearly thirty miles to the Lakehurst side of JB MDL.

"It's good that even we, as active-duty service members, are able to help out in the recovery efforts and it's not just limited to service members in the National Guard," said Staff Sgt. Charles Ladnier, 87th LRS vehicle operator.

Ladnier is a native of Greenbelt, Md.

The trucks arrived at a truck dock and warehouse at Lakehurst where 305th APS Airmen and civilians unloaded the cargo.

Tech. Sgt. Terry Johnson, 305th APS traffic management craftsman and native of Gansvord, N.Y., worked with Master Sgt. Sam Charles, 305th APS traffic management craftsman, to move the pallets inside the warehouse, remove the cargo netting and wrap and transport the goods to the four semi-trucks that were awaiting the load.

Commercial truck drivers transferred the boxes of cargo to the FEMA staging ground to await direction on when to deliver the much-needed supplies to the final location.

In fewer than 24 hours AMC Airmen completed an entire revolution of getting critical cargo loaded, transported and offloaded on the opposite coast where it was distributed to those who have faced a tragedy. These Airmen served as an integral link for people who needed their assistance most.

A Day In The Life: APEX

11/13/2012 - Senior Airman Christopher Brandenburgh (right), 8th Expeditionary Aerial Maintenance Squadron aerial port expeditor, and Airman 1st Class Manuel Espino, 8th EAMS ramp services technician, unload a pallet off a C-17 Globemaster III onto a K-loader Nov. 6, 2012. The aerial port expeditor program, known as APEX, provides aircrew members with more crew rest time and the ability to focus on missions. Because of this extra time off for the aircrew, the 8th EAMS APEX program has facilitated an average of two and half more missions each month across the area of responsibility. Brandenburgh is deployed from the 721st Aerial Port Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and is a native of Dunedin, Fla. Espino is deployed from Charleston AFB, S.C and is a native of Plainfield, Ind. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Swink)

The electrician

by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen
108th Wing

11/9/2012 - BRICK, N.J. -- New Jersey Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Carl Hilpl is standing with the rest of the electric crew in the parking lot of the Ocean County Medical Center in Brick, N.J.

The temperature has fallen to 33 degrees and the rain is turning to snow. Nor'easter Athena will soon be dumping snow, rain, high winds and tidal surges on an area already hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.

It's day 10 of the New Jersey National Guard's mobilization for Hurricane Sandy.

Hilpl along with Tech. Sgt. Nate Worthy and Staff Sgts. Robert Jentsch and Pete Tomos, all aircraft electricians from the 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, have been called out to fix a generator at the hospital.

Normally, these Airmen work on the electrical systems of a KC-135R Stratotanker air refueling aircraft.

Yet, when the state of emergency came, they worked just as well fixing electrical systems in shelters, schools hospitals- wherever their skills were needed.

This is the nature of the National Guard.

When they arrive, the team of citizen-Airmen find out that emergency personnel called them to take care of light pole are afraid it will fall on the surrounding tents during the upcoming Nor'easter.

Since Hilpl and his team have come on duty, they have been hooking up generators and making sure they were compatible with existing electrical systems.

At the Long Branch Middle School shelter, their work kept the lights on.

Before arriving at the hospital, Hilpl was able to get the gas-fired generator at Veterans Memorial Middle School in Brick working.

But it isn't just about generators. At one point, Hilpl went out to check on the power at the home of an elderly couple. The husband was suffering from leukemia and the wife has cancer. Hilpl discovered that the wife was running out of life-giving oxygen.

For the next several days, every 12 hours, Hilpl took new oxygen tanks to their home.

Not part of his training as an aircraft electrician, but certainly a duty as National Guardsman.

Back at the hospital a cutting torch is brought in. Hilpl and team have removed the cover at the base of the light pole and he begins to cut the bolts off.

After they finish, Hilpl, Worthy, Jentsch and Tomos will climb into their up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle and move on to the next generator.

Keeping New Jerseyians from going into the dark.

Joint base aids local Hurricane Sandy victims

by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wilson
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

11/9/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst's professional organizations such as the First Sergeants' Council, Top 3, 5/6 Club, Air Force Sergeants Association and others are currently collaborating to centralize the joint base's efforts to provide aid and humanitarian relief for local communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

"Right now we are matching the needs of the community with our capabilities," said Senior Master Sgt. Vincent Lommen, First Sergeants' Council president. Lommen added that all of the organizations on the joint base were working together to coordinate requests, volunteers and supplies to provide one point of contact requestors could work with.

"So far, we have had several requests to provide help to (more distant communities) and we are going to provide as much assistance as we can, but we really want to focus our efforts on our more immediate neighbors. As of right now, we are looking for opportunities; the base's Emergency Operations Center is helping us to determine what local communities need our help."

Joint base partners can expect to start seeing calls for assistance through email and respective chains of command in the near future, Lommen said, but he emphasized each unit's first sergeant is the best point of contact to find any additional information.
Members who are ready to provide immediate assistance to those impacted by the hurricane can help now by contacting the American Red Cross through the disaster services department at (732) 493-9100.

"We are asking people to donate clothing, financial aid, store-prepared meals and any other unused items they wish to donate," said Gayle Lynch, a Red Cross volunteer on JB MDL. She added that the ARC is not accepting meals cooked in personal homes, due to safety concerns and the organization accepts only new clothing.

Lynch said there was a significant influx of people into Red Cross shelters she supported in the local area, with many people coming from Ocean and Burlington counties. National volunteers have since replaced the local chapter volunteers at these chapters, freeing the local workers to focus on more direct efforts for their respective communities.

The Dix Red Cross organization here provides military support services to the members of the joint base. Lynch noted that Red Cross donations should be coordinated with the regional American Red Cross in Tinton Falls, N.J., and not the local Red Cross organization on Dix. Military members stationed in the continental United States and Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico in need of Red Cross support can call the Armed Forces Emergency Services toll free at (877) 272-7337.

Reserve wing builds bonds with Alamo City

by Tech Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

11/8/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- More than a dozen community leaders were inducted into the 433rd Airlift Wing Honorary Commanders Program at the Gateway Club on Lackland Air Force Base Nov. 3.

The Honorary Commanders Program pairs "Alamo Wing" leadership with local area business and civic leaders. The outreach program is designed to educate civilians about 433rd AW activities and most importantly, the Air Force Reserve and its vital role in the national defense. They meet periodically during their tenure for activities including luncheons, tours, orientation flights, and other special on- and off-base events.

"If you haven't been around the military much, the experience is gonna blow you away. It is absolutely awesome how much you learn from us and what we learn from you," said , in his welcome address to the inductees.

Lt. Col. John Martino, 733rd Training Squadron commander, will continue to work with his returning Honorary Commander Mark Frye, the Government Program Manager at Port San Antonio.

"Part of our connection is that both of us graduated from Ohio State, and both majored in geology. What is funny is when we got connected last year, we had no idea we would be connected," Martino said. "This is a great program. It is a win-win for the wing, for the community and for the honorary commanders. They learn more about what we do, and we get to give them feedback we don't receive otherwise. We can tell our story, and not from the commander' s standpoint. I am talking from the lowest ranking Airman. And that is where Mark likes to get involved,"  Martino said.

Bill Wilson, a new inductee, who is the director for the Texas Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Military Installations, is excited to be a part of the program.

"Being a part of this, even if it is honorary, is a great chance to engage in the side of the military that I don't know a lot about. I am interested in learning what the top commanders do all the way to the enlisted Airman are involved with at the 433rd.

Tino Duran, owner and publisher of two local bilingual newspapers, is also known as the godfather of Spanish media. For him, getting involved in the program is a great opportunity to share the Citizen Airmen experience.

"This program is going to provide an insight into what you do. Once I get into it, I want to write about it. I am praying this gives me a profound insight into what you do, then I can verbalize it in writing for the general public in San Antonio. I am looking forward to being part of the experience," Duran said.

"As a civilian you often don't get to see what the military is doing in their missions. It's exciting that we get know that and share it with our friends and family," said Gary Cram, president of a local roofing company that bears his name. "I am looking forward to fulfilling my oath," he said.

After a pinning-on ceremony, the group took an oath as honorary commanders.

"Those words mean a lot to us," said Col. Jeffrey T. Pennington, 433rd AW commander. "The burden of command carries a lot responsibility. This experience will blow you away when you see the men and women behind the operations and what they do, it will raise your confidence and your pride in knowing that this nation is well defended."

Dover Reserve unit earns Raincross Trophy

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

11/9/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- The 512th Airlift Wing here was named the recipient of the 2011 Raincross Trophy Nov. 7 as part of the 4th Air Force Senior Leaders Conference in Riverside, Calif.

The honor, bestowed by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, recognizes and celebrates the outstanding accomplishments and commitment of the best wing in 4th AF. The Reserve wing here topped 17 other units for the win.

"The first thing I did was send (Col. Randal L. Bright) a message of congratulations for the hard work and leadership before me," said Col. Raymond A. Kozak, who assumed command of the 512th AW in June.

Upon Kozak's return to Dover AFB, he held an all-call today, where he congratulated members of the wing personally and explained the significance of the Raincross Trophy.

"Being new to 4th Air Force, you might not know the significance and gravity of the award," he said. "It's a big deal, and this is big news."

During his address, he unraveled the meaning behind the name of the award, the Raincross, stating it is the symbol of the city of Riverside, where March Field is located. March Field, which is also known as March Air Reserve Base, is where 4th Air Force is headquartered with its units spanning 16 states, including Hawaii.

"I appreciate him taking the time out to explain it," said Tech. Sgt. Shana Wallace, a wing member who had never heard of the Raincross Trophy before. "Considering the fact the 512th (AW) has only been in 4th Air Force a short amount of time, this award says a lot about what we have done and what we can do."

During the one-year nomination timeframe for the 2011 Raincross Trophy, the 512th AW flew more than 215 missions in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn; excelled in formal inspections; and received more than 25 major awards ranging from the Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award to Air Force Reserve Command Financial Management and Comptroller Organization of the Year.

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, the chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of the Air Force Reserve Command served as the keynote speaker at the 14th Annual Raincross Dinner. Jackson has been in command of the AF Reserve for about three months.

"What a great way for General Jackson to get to know the 512th (AW)," said Kozak during his all-call. "He's new on the job, and he sees first-hand how your efforts have won this very prestigious award.

"I congratulate you and thank you very much," said Kozak. "I didn't want to sit on it, so I called you all here, so you can be especially proud of yourselves on this Veterans Day Weekend."

AF Reserve commander visits ARPC

11/9/2012 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- The Air Force Reserve Command's highest ranking officer talks with Col. Pat Blassie, commander of the Air Reserve Personnel Center, here today. Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, visited ARPC during his trip to visit several reserve units in Colorado. Also in the photo are Col. Damon Feltman, General Jackson's executive officer, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Wong, ARPC Command Chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mr. Quinn Jacobson)

Reservists honored during NFL's 'Salute to Service'

by Maj. Shannon Mann
916th Public Affairs Office

11/13/2012 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- Veteran's Day this year fell directly on a Sunday and the NFL wasn't going to let this opportunity to say 'thank you' pass them by.

For two reservists from the 916th Air Refueling Wing, Veteran's Day 2012 is a holiday that will be with them for a lifetime.

Tech. Sgt. Brian Nash and Maj. Erin Karl were in the Bank of America Stadium on Nov. 11, 2012. Both were invited by the Carolina Panthers to participate in Operation Gameday.

Nash, a reservist with the 916th Security Forces Squadron, was nominated for the experience because of his actions while deployed to Afghanistan in late 2011 and early 2012.

Nash was honored by the Carolina Panthers with front row tickets to the game and a meet-and-greet with team players. In addition, Nash was one of a handful of military members that led the team onto the field at the start of the game.

"The experience more than exceeded my expectations," said Nash. "I felt like a rock star all day."

While the overall experience was amazing, Nash was most impressed with the Panthers tight end, #88 Greg Olsen.

"This guy came up to us and wanted to personally shake all of our hands and talk with us," said Nash. "He thanked us for our service and took pictures with each of us. He has an infant son who was just allowed to come home from the hospital this week after having two life threatening surgeries and he was taking time to talk with me and his fans."

The day was made even more special for Nash and the 916th Air Refueling Wing, in the fact that Maj. Erin Karl, deputy chief of public affairs, was selected to sing the national anthem for the game.

"Singing at an NFL game, especially on a day that honors those in uniform, was a dream come true," said Karl. "The energy in the stadium was electric, supportive, and patriotic. I loved every minute of it."

Karl sang in front of more than 70,000 fans and timed the anthem with a flyover provided by F-15s from the Louisiana National Guard.

While the four-ship of fighters drowned out her final notes, she was more than happy to share the spotlight.

"The best part, to be honest, was having a few of my notes drowned out by the F-15 flyover," Karl said. "I like being the center of attention, but being upstaged by a show of our air superiority was really fantastic."

Nash echoed her sentiments about it being the best part of the day.

"I would have to say that standing on the 50-yard line saluting with personnel from all the armed forces, listening to Maj. Erin Karl singing the national anthem, and having four F-15's fly over at the end was the best I felt all day," said Nash.

Both Karl and Nash thanked the USO of North Carolina and the Carolina Panthers for the experience of a lifetime.

"I have always been thankful to the USO for its continued support of the troops," Nash said. "After this experience I have vowed to volunteer more with the USO and get the word out to my family and friends about how important it is to support this organization."