Military News

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Operation Santa Lock-up

by Airman 1st Class Taylor Curry
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


12/4/2012 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Operation Santa Lock-up was a fundraiser held Nov. 30 to benefit Operation Warmheart and the Defenders Association.

Members of Fairchild called in to put out an "arrest warrant" on their fellow wingman to be put into a simulated jail. The amount of time spent in jail was determined by the amount of money donated to the fundraiser.

Team McChord commemorates 20th anniversary of C-141 accident

by Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


11/30/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Team McChord Airmen, civilians and retirees gathered Nov. 30 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 13 Airmen who were killed when two C-141 Starlifter aircraft collided over north-central Montana.

The ceremony took place at the C-141 memorial site in between the 4th and 8th Airlift Squadron buildings on McChord Field. It began with an invocation provided by Chap. (Lt. Col.) Matthew Franke, 627th Air Base Group chaplain.

"We gather here this morning to remember the 13 McChord Airmen of the 4th, 8th and 36th Airlift Squadrons, who died on the night of November 30, 1992, in the skies over northern Montana and to remember and honor those Airmen who have served our nation, who sacrificed so much for our freedoms," said Franke. "God, we feel a great pain in our hearts for the friends and families of our fellow Airmen, friends for whom this day is a yearly reminder of a great loss, families across America who suffer the void of their missing loved ones. They, too, have borne the heavy burden of freedom."

Franke then read the names of the fallen; Capt. David Sielewicz (Newport, N.H.), Capt. Jimmy Lee Jenkins (Marietta, Ga.), Capt. Mark Elster (Shelby, Tenn.), Capt. Edward Parent, Jr. (Hamburg, Penn.), Capt. Banks Wilkinson (Forest City, Ark.), Capt. Kevin McGuire (Langhome, Pa.), 1st Lt. Edward Hoyle III (Marshfield, Mass.), Tech. Sgt. Peter Osterfeld (Port Townsend, Wash.), Tech. Sgt. David Young (Carmel, Ind.), Staff Sgt. Terrence Miyoshi (Honolulu, Hawaii), Staff Sgt. Monte Bissett (Lacey, Wash.), Senior Airman Wilbert Brown III (Galveston, Texas) and Airman 1st Class George Anthony Moreland (Lakenheath Village, England).

Following remarks from leadership, McChord Field Honor Guard members presented a wreath for the memorial site and played "Taps." The ceremony ended with a moment of silence.

Many of the individuals who were stationed at then-McChord Air Force Base came to pay their respect and stayed after the ceremony to reflect on the tragic day.

"It's still sad," said Scott Vipond, a captain at the time. "They were all young and I knew all 13 of them. I was really close to Dave and Jimmy Lee, but we were all a close-knit family."

Some who couldn't make the ceremony still remember the day and the Airmen who were involved.

"At the (pre-flight) briefing everyone was very relaxed and jovial," said retired Col. Jeff Cain, who was training that night.

Cain was the operations officer of the 8th AS then and flew one of the four aircraft that participated in the air refueling training that tragic day.

"The formation consisted of aircraft number one and number two from the 36th AS, I flew number three for the 8th AS and number four was manned by the 4th AS," he said.

Sielewicz, who was the lead, briefed that the formation could rejoin after air fueling was completed by using station-keeping equipment (function to electronically identify surrounding aircraft) or visual reference, he explained.

"On the AR (air refueling) track it was a rather dark night, no moon, above an overcast, but smooth and clear visibility," Cain said.

The refueling portion began and after receiving a signal from aircraft number two, Cain proceeded to move forward for his turn.

"As I was about a half-mile from the tanker [air refueling aircraft], a bright light illuminated the cockpit and I thought it was my navigator fooling with his map light," he continued. "The navigator sat directly behind the AC (aircraft commander) seat, and as I turned to my left to tell him to knock it off, I saw a huge fireball and pieces of burning debris coming out of this explosion.

"I immediately turned around to look at the tanker to make sure I wasn't going to hit him. Once I got my bearings, I asked number four where he was and if he had a visual on me. He assured me that he did and then we briefly discussed what we thought had happened. After a few interplane radio calls to number one and two, we sadly accepted what happened."

Looking back after 20 years, Cain said that he will never forget the Airmen involved and the events that happened that tragic night.

"These crew members were professional, enthusiastic and loved to fly," he said. "Serving their country was an honor; flying the C-141 was a privilege. They had seen the Berlin Wall come down, the people of Kuwait get liberated and were always ready for the next tasking. I have missed them ever since and will always try to make a difference to honor their sacrifice. They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten."

The C-141s were conducting a refueling training exercise when they collided at approximately 8 p.m. Eleven of the victims were assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron (now part of Pacific Air Forces), one was attached to the 8th AS and one to the 4th AS.

CSAF directs Air Force-wide inspection

12/5/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Commanders across the Air Force will conduct health and welfare inspections starting Dec. 5 to emphasize an environment of respect, trust and professionalism in the workplace.

The health and welfare inspection is a tool routinely used by unit commanders, command chiefs, and first sergeants.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III tasked commanders during the Nov. 28 Wing Commanders Call to examine their work settings and ensure Airmen at all levels consistently apply standards of professionalism and respect across the service.

"Over the past months, I've discussed with our commanders, leaders and supervisors about the importance of pride and performance," said Welsh. "When Airmen work in a setting that is consistent with our core values of integrity, service and excellence, they perform with honor and distinction - they deserve nothing less. Anything short detracts from that pride and cripples mission effectiveness."

The purpose of this inspection is to reinforce expectations for the workplace environment, correct deficiencies, and deter conditions that may be detrimental to good order and discipline. Commanders will look for and remove unprofessional or inappropriate items that hinder a professional working environment.

"This is about commanders being commanders," Welsh said. "The underlying principle for the inspection is our core values, and the bottom line is that it's the right thing to do."

U.S., South Korea Participate in Nuke Deterrence Exercise

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012 – U.S. and South Korean defense and diplomatic experts will conduct a tabletop exercise examining nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula beginning tomorrow, a Pentagon official told reporters today.

Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico will host 40 U.S. and South Korean officials for the extended deterrence exercise, which will look at deterrence methods in response to a nuclear threat scenario, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

This is the second exercise of its type. The first was at U.S. Strategic Command in 2011. It is held under the auspices of a bilateral committee formed in late 2010 to discuss alliance response in the event of a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Little said.

Exercise participants will look at concepts, crisis decision-making and the requirements of employing extended deterrence assets in response to a nuclear threat scenario, he said.

“The exercise demonstrates that extended deterrence for the ROK is credible, capable, and enduring, by fostering the joint study of deterrence challenges and by identifying opportunities for cooperation and collaboration,” Little said.

The exercise supports the development of the tailored bilateral deterrence strategy against North Korean nuclear and weapons of mass destruction threats, and demonstrates the “unwavering” U.S. commitment to South Korea, said Army Maj. Cathy Wilkinson, a Pentagon Press Office spokesperson. The idea, she said, is to maintain credible and effective deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.

The exercise has nothing to do with current tensions created by North Korea attempting to launch a satellite, Wilkinson said.

Any North Korean missile launch is a provocative act that runs counter to United Nations Security Council resolutions, she said. The resolutions require Pyongyang to stop all ballistic missile programs and to reestablish a moratorium on missile launches, Wilkinson said.

Guardsmen Continue U.S.-Mexico Border Security Duties

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012 – As many as 300 National Guardsmen will remain deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border for another year as part of a border security partnership between the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, according to a statement released by DHS today.

The deployment is part of a newly extended agreement to strengthen security and facilitate legitimate trade and travel, the statement said. National Guardsmen operate in support of some 18,500 U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents along the southwest border, enhancing surveillance through the use of air assets and state-of-the-art detection and monitoring capabilities including aerial observation, photo imagery and communications support.

In the statement, DHS credited DOD support for the arrest of nearly 20,000 illegal immigrants and the seizure of more than 100,000 pounds of marijuana since March.

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said more than 330,000 illegal aliens have been apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border during the first nine months of this year, and more than two million pounds of marijuana and 6,000 pounds of cocaine have been seized.

In 2010, President Barack Obama authorized the temporary deployment of the National Guard along the southwest border to assist law enforcement with the interdiction of illegal aliens, drugs, weapons and money coming from Mexico.

Through Airmen's Eyes: Airman creates important database program

by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
436th Airflift Wing Public Affairs


12/5/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) -- When an expensive contract on an Air Force aircrew flight equipment database program was not renewed, bases across the world had to find local solutions to fill the void. Some had to turn to time consuming spreadsheets or paper records.

At Dover Air Force Base, Del., one Airman created a solution to the problem.

The Flight Equipment Automated Records System, or FEARS for short, was created by Airman 1st Class Chris Sharlow, 436th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, to track the 12,383 Aircrew Flight Equipment items at Dover AFB.

He had created something similar on a smaller scale during a deployment in 2011.

"My leadership knowing that I am pretty computer savvy, asked me if this was something I could do," he said.

The FEARS program can be used to track all inspections done on the equipment, and all of the vital information about the items, like serial numbers, can be inputted. The system also tracks all of the base's aircrew members and the items that have been issued to them. Queries can be easily run to find the necessary information and it tracks the work done by all of the aircrew flight equipment technicians.

Sharlow said the previous program was extremely hard to use and was very time consuming. He said his main goal of the project was to create something everybody could use.

"Everybody is not good with computers," he said. "In FEARS, everything is laid out simply for those who are not technologically inclined."

Computers have been a passion for Sharlow since he was a young child.

"My grandmother bought her first computer in 1992, and I have been fascinated with them ever since." the native of Colton, N.Y., said. "I love building computers and downloading programs and tinkering with them to see how they work."

The Airman worked at a company providing computer technical assistance by phone before joining the Air Force. He is halfway toward earning his bachelor's degree in information technology.

Despite his expertise in computers, Sharlow still had a steep learning curve in developing his database program. He tried unsuccessfully to create FEARS in a few different programs, but he was foiled by network security issues. He got the break he needed when someone in his leadership chain mentioned a database creation program already loaded on government computers.

"I had never used Microsoft Access before being tasked with this," he said. "I had to get a few how-to manuals and do a lot of internet searches, but I was up to speed quickly and the program fit our needs well."

The Airman was pulled out of the shift schedule and put to work solely on creating FEARS. After more than 500 hours of coding, the program was completed. With that hurdle done, he had to input all of the flight equipment data and inspections which he said was the most time consuming process of creating his data program.

In a mere 40 days, the database was up and running. It has been a vast improvement over the old program, said Tech. Sgt. Michael Rosatone, 436th OSS production superintendent for aircrew flight equipment.

"It has increased the effectiveness of our section by 100 percent," the native of Pittsburgh, said. "The old system required a lot of time to update. This one is much more user-friendly and takes a lot less time to use."

The sergeant said in addition to its mission effectiveness, the program is also a great supervisory tool. He said he can use it to easily track the work done by the Airmen in his section. The database is also a great source of metrics for Enlisted Performance Reports and award packages.

Rosatone said the creation of FEARS is a good example of how off-duty education can be a benefit to the Air Force. He said the program was completed well ahead of schedule and has run a lot smoother than the previous database program.

Sharlow is not resting on his laurels following the successful launch of the database program. He is working on a version 2.0 of FEARS that will be more aesthetically pleasing. He said it makes him feel good to contribute to his team in such a positive way.

"I love how I helped improve a daily part of my coworkers' day here," he said. "We are a great team here and I just wanted to do my part."

Tinsel Town reigns in holiday season

by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs


12/4/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- From beneath umbrellas and hooded coats, service members and their families brought in the holiday season with the annual Tinsel Town holiday festival at the Schilling Community Center Dec. 1.

Despite dark skies and a constant Okinawan drizzle in the air, the event gave a merry light to the crowd with games, children's rides, concessions, prize giveaways and concerts by several bands including country music star Trace Adkins during his USO tour.

"It's an annual event that's been going on," said Katy Larson, Schilling Community Center director. "It may not have had the Tinsel Town name, because it's kind of evolved over the years, but traditionally there's always been a tree lighting ceremony."

Larson, who's been on the island since mid-2011, said events like Tinsel Town are important to give service members a little taste of home and family fellowship, despite being stationed so far from home.

"For the active duty military and their family members, the (Department of Defense) civilians and the (DoD Dependent School) teachers, we are so far from home and it's just a kick off to the holiday celebration," Larson said. "Large events like these are about giving back to the community. To me, that's what's important."

Larson said the event featured roughly 65 separate vendors, organizations, crafters and volunteers from on- and off-base facilities, promoting a positive relationship with service members and the local community.

Larson said, "I know in the last two years we've really tried to provide activities that provide not only the slice of home, but even infuse some of the Okinawan culture."

The Schilling Community, which has historically featured parades and other surprises over the years, fully intends to host Tinsel Town again next year.

ARC LIGHT marked beginning of B-52 involvement in Vietnam

by Air Force Global Strike Command History Office

12/4/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the B-52's involvement in the Vietnam Conflict up to Operation Linebacker II. The 40th Anniversary of Linebacker II takes place Dec. 18-29.

By 1972, the war in Vietnam had persisted for more than eight years, characterized by a gradual, but massive buildup of U.S. forces. That massive buildup began in April 1965, with the highly-publicized event of U.S. Marines wading out of the sea and onto the beaches of Da Nang, South Vietnam. Concurrent to this, and to support those ground forces, the Air Force deployed a portion of its tactical fighter-bombers to air bases located in South Vietnam and later Thailand. However, prior to this and in a less publicized move, Strategic Air Command (SAC) deployed its first contingent of B-52s to the tiny island of Guam in support of what became known as Operation Arc Light.

Strategic Air Command had always harbored a residual conventional capability with its bombers, but it was not until the early 1960s that its leaders began planning for limited war capabilities, a capability that called for conventional weapons rather than nuclear. After several tests in the spring of 1964, SAC declared a small portion of its B-52F fleet ready for conventional combat and in February 1965, deployed 30 of the conventionally-laden bombers to Andersen Air Base, Guam. The crews, who hailed from Mather and Barksdale Air Force Bases, planned to strike targets located in North Vietnam.

Despite preparation, after arrival, SAC quickly relegated the crews to six-hour alert commitments rather than sending them into combat. For the next few months, those crews continued to study contingency strike folders that contained both Phuc Yen airfield and Haiphong harbor as targets. But, as the United States delayed using the B-52, the North Vietnamese improved air defense systems. With the addition of sophisticated Russian-made surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) the probability of using the B-52 against targets in North Vietnam diminished. In the meantime, the 2d Bomb Wing rotated home replaced by the 7th Bomb Wing.

However, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Forces in South Vietnam, was convinced that the B-52 could fill a void that the tiny, tactical fighter-bombers could not. In the same month that the B-52s arrived at Andersen, he began lobbying for the big bombers to pattern-bomb the Viet Cong who had been operating in South Vietnam. After much debate, that included strong hesitation on SAC's part, on June 18, 1965, the B-52 entered combat as part of Operation Arc Light.

On that day, 30 bombers (15 from the 7 BW and 15 from the 320 BW) took off from Andersen headed for a target located in South Vietnam and measuring about one mile by two miles square. Earlier, weapons technicians had loaded twenty four of the B-52s with 51 750-pound general purpose bombs while the remaining six carried 27 1,000-pound semi-armor piercing bombs internally and the normal 24 750-pounders externally. In all, the 30 bombers carried 1,530 bombs into combat.

Unfortunately, that first mission was fraught with difficulty. It began with tragedy when two of the B-52s collided, killing eight of the crew while another was declared as missing-in-action. Next, another bomber with mechanical malfunctions could not receive fuel from an orbiting KC-135 and had to return to Guam. Lastly, prior to arriving at the target, several aircrews realized they would not be able to release their weapons due to mechanical malfunctions. Nonetheless, the remaining B-52 crews entered the target area and released 1,299 bombs.

A quick survey by allied recon teams found little to no damage in the target area and few dead. The press immediately focused on the unorthodox use of a strategic bomber drawing the analogy of "using a sledge hammer to kill gnats." But, while the criticism tended to focus on the costly B-52 air-to-air collision, the military considered the mission a success. Historians later wrote, "that the B-52's mission was to harass the VC, to disrupt his normal activities, to permit him no respite from danger even in his jungle redoubts, and to wear him down psychologically."

However, in the months that followed, while B-52 crews continued to harass the Viet Cong, they eventually accepted a new mission, a mission to directly support the allied ground forces. This began in November 1965 during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, the first major encounter of the war between U.S. Troops and the North Vietnamese Army. But later in December, B-52 crews also supported the Marines during Operation Harvest Moon.

By the end of 1965, SAC's 30 bomber force had increased its monthly sortie rate to roughly 300 and by the end of 1966 more than half the B-52 strike requests came from field commanders. The Air Force had convinced ground commanders that the Cold War nuclear bomber could be used as a conventional juggernaut. So it came as no surprise when General Westmoreland requested that the Air Force produce 800 B-52 sorties per month and to reduce the time it took to get to the target.

Of course the immediate answer to producing more sorties was to expand Andersen and increase the number of bombers to 70. However, the bombers would still be 2,500 miles away from the targets in Vietnam. In November 1966, SAC increased the B-52s at Guam to 50 and began producing 650 sorties per month. However, SAC later deployed an additional 11 B-52Ds and met the 800 sorties per month. This did not immediately solve the time on target issue, but eventually, the United States built a second Arc Light base at Thai Navy airfield at U-Tapao on the Gulf of Siam. It began initially as a shuttle bombing base where B-52 crews would take off from Andersen, fly their missions, recover and rearm at U-Tapao, and then fly another mission and return to Andersen.

In 1969, the Air Force upgraded U-Tapao to a main operating base. It was closer to the targets reducing the mission times by two thirds as those launched from Guam, and therefore reducing the time to get to the target. In addition to Andersen and U-Tapao, in February 1968 as north Vietnamese launched its Tet Offensive, SAC began staging bombers at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.

During the Tet Offensive, two North Vietnamese divisions of about 20,000 men cut access to Khe Sanh and trapped 6,000 US Marines and South Vietnamese rangers. To support the besieged ground troops, SAC increased its monthly sortie rate to 1,800 and on an average day, sent 60 B-52s to pound the enemy carpet-bombing a 1.2-mile strip, which created havoc among the besiegers. Westmoreland later stated that "The thing that broke their backs was basically the fire of the B-52s".

In a short amount of time during the war in Vietnam B-52 crews transformed the airplane from a Cold War nuclear bomber to a close-air-support juggernaut. B-52 crews provided support to ground forces, harassed the Viet Cong, and wrote a new chapter in the bomber's history.

Citizen Airman honored with Medical Award

by Maj. Elizabeth Magnusson
944th Fighter Wing


11/28/2012 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- For the second time in two years a member of the 944th Fighter Wing has been awarded the Outstanding Reserve Officer Assigned to a Ground Medical Unit. This year, Maj. Heleno Souza, a physical therapist with the 944th Medical Squadron received the honor.

"Maj. Souza is a selfless Airman who is dedicated to the success of each and every one of his Airmen," said Lt. Col. Alfred Rossum, chief of Hospital Services. "He constantly demonstrates the highest standards of professionalism so it was no surprise to us that Maj. Souza was selected for the award."

Souza's civilian job is as a Wound Healing and Limb Preservation program coordinator in Tuba City, on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in Arizona.

"I was really caught by surprise when I received the news," said Souza. "When you compete with thousands of outstanding military professionals, and when you win an award of this caliber, it makes you realize that what we do as Citizen Airman makes a significant difference in people's lives. I feel honored to receive the award and to represent our 944th MDS, 944th FW and 10th Air Force members."

Souza is originally from Brazil and grew up in Rio De Janeiro. He served in the Brazilian Air Force before coming to the United States with the goal of working with Native Americans.

"Military life is in my blood, it's a tradition in my family," said Souza. "I started as enlisted member in the Brazilian Air Force at the age of 17. During medical school I finished my residency at the Air Force Hospital in Rio De Janeiro Brazil."

"In 1994 I was invited to work in the USA under work visa. After one week in the US, knowing only enough English to say yes and no, I tried to get in the U.S. Air Force," continued Souza. "However, I was told that I had to get a 'green card' first. It took me three years to go through the legal process, but I finally got my green card. I went back to a USAF recruiter and said, 'I have my green card, can I join the Air Force?' but I was turned down again. The recruiter told me I had to be a U.S. citizen to join the Air Force.

After five years of paperwork and many visits to the immigration office, Souza finally became a U.S. citizen and 18 months later received his commission in the Air Force Reserve.

"Maj. Souza is such an asset to the 944th MDS, the 944th FW and the U.S. Air Force," said Rossum. "He significantly enhanced and contributed to the development of the drug demand program here at the wing. Meanwhile, he established the Wound Care Program at Fort Benning, Ga., and at the Brazilian Navy Hospital in Salvador; actions he feels increases sister service and international relationships."

In September 2011 Souza was awarded the Honorary Knight award, Cavalry Regiment Col. Enyr Cony dos Santos (RCECS) for program development by the Rio De Janeiro Military Police in Brazil.

"I am extremely proud to be an American," said Souza. "This is the country that I choose to live and die for. I am teaching my sons about the sacrifice that our prior generations made for all of us to be here today. I am grooming my children to continue my legacy in the USAF. I want them to be ready to answer our nation's call, to be proud of our heritage, to be wingmen, leaders, and warriors; to be American Airmen."