Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Brig. Gen. Harris visits McConnell Reservists

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

12/11/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Brig. Gen. Stayce D. Harris, the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, 18th Air Force, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., paid a visit to the Airmen of the 931st Air Refueling Group here today.
Harris is visiting McConnell along with the 18th Air Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Darren W. McDew.

Harris spent the day touring 931st facilities on base and received briefings from Group leadership.

At the conclusion of the day, Harris held an all-call for 931st members, where she spoke to them about the important role of the Air Force Reserve, the future role of the Air Force Reserve, and answered several questions from Group members.

Dobbins employee honored as ultimate wingman

by Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten
94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/11/2012 - MARIETTA, Ga. -- The 94th Airlift Wing director of Airman and Family Readiness was honored on Nov. 15 at the Cobb Energy Center for her dedication to the Dobbins community and giving freely her time to any Airmen, or their families, who are in need.

Angela Pedersen, the only civilian honored thus far, was recognized along with several Service members of varying rank and career fields for being ultimate wingmen to those around them.

Twin brothers, David Waldman and Lt. Col. Robert Waldman, co-founders of the Wingman Foundation hosted, with Verizon Wireless, the dinner ceremony which also featured songs by country artist Ansel Brown and stories of our military's heroes.

"Tonight is about honoring these special honorees that are receiving this award," said Robert "Waldo" Waldman. "It's more about honoring our military. It's about strengthening the ties that exist between the military and civilian and business communities. Together as one, united, we can better serve each other and the United States of America."

Pedersen and Airman and family readiness supports the 94th AW mission directly by offering pre-deployment, deployment, & reunion support to Airmen and their families. Pedersen also manages the Key Spouse Program and the Dobbins Emergency Fund.

Commander Describes NATO Transformation Efforts

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 12, 2012 – Partnerships, education and training are indispensable for NATO, the organization’s supreme allied commander for transformation said here today.

French Air Force Gen. Jean-Paul Paloméros spoke at a media roundtable during the 2012 Chiefs of Transformation conference hosted by his command.  The event brings together hundreds of NATO, partner, industry and government agency professionals who strive to leverage work across the alliance by sharing best practices and expanding collaboration among the nations.

Paloméros described Allied Command Transformation efforts as an evolving endeavor rooted in collaboration and coherence with a focus on efficiencies and innovation.

 “We are deeply involved in the heart of the U.S. military forces, which is good because we get a great opportunity for common connections, engagement and training,” Paloméros said. “We know that what we build today will be indispensable for the future, and what we don’t build today [we’ll need] for the future.”
The hub of transformation across the alliance, partner nations, military, government, non-government agencies and academia, Allied Command Transformation gleans and interprets information to identify opportunities to not only keep pace, but stay proactive in an ever-changing security environment, Palomeros said.

“We are here to share our experience and our vision,” he said. “[The command] works to supply the forces with the support they need [in] their respective challenges and tackle that in a wide and open way, not only from the military perspective, but with a comprehensive vision, approach and solutions.”

The general touted strategies such as Smart Defense and the Connected Forces Initiatives as avenues to increase collaboration and buffer against the inevitability of increasing financial austerity throughout the world.
Funded by participating nations, Smart Defense, he said, is an initiative encompassing 24 multi-national projects across logistics, munitions, aviation training and maritime capabilities and more to deliver improved operational effectiveness.

The Connected Forces Initiative helps develop the framework and interoperability by bringing a human-centered approach to the table, Paloméros said.

“Partnerships are the focus of these initiatives and we need to ensure we have consensus and share ideas from the very highest levels down,” he added.

The successes of major joint and coalition training exercises, such as one currently in progress at the Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway, may be the most visible solutions in establishing a collective vision of NATO’s future operating environment, Paloméros said.

“We are able to fulfill the task in this very important exercise preparing the staff and the forces for their Afghanistan engagement,” he said. “We take the best out of every nation committed within NATO, including the partners, [and] the best is possible.”

Paloméros characterized the challenge of maintaining relevance in a post-Cold War and post-Afghanistan environment as a “difficult but sensible question” in terms of NATO’s future, particularly after 2014 when many troops are projected to return from deployments.

“The perception of this world could be different from one country to the other in NATO and this is … the reality,” Paloméros said. “We are here to give coherence to these different visions and propose a common perspective for the alliance, as far as the military answer to those challenges.”

The general said recent summits in Chicago and Lisbonyielded useful discussion and solution-driven brainstorming for effectively steering NATO’s endeavors to maintain peace -- all while balancing political and military aspects with the consensus of 28 countries.

“This is the role of NATO: preparing itself for future challenges, being there, being relevant and making sure we coordinate that with the partners and coordinating that with partners.Presence is part of prevention,” the general said.

Paloméros added that despite NATO’s successes, the need to continually pursue balance remains.
“We [need to] keep focusing on the priority shortfall areas and the minimum capability requirements of NATO,” Paloméros said. “We are working on a day-to-day basis to ensure that every country can participate in NATO according to its own national priorities, perspectives, sensibilities and qualities.

The general did not dismiss the importance of cyber defense, intelligence, surveillance and response and information technology, particularly through distance learning, a critical component of training throughout the alliance.

“I see that as very promising in how we tackle the issue of cyber defense in NATO,” Paloméros said. “We are going in the right direction in keeping the overall deterrence policy of NATO clearly set up in the Chicago defense package.”

In the long run, the alliance, as with many government organizations, can only plan based on the projections and assumptions of resources, so fostering fruitful discussions between politicians and military leaders to better understand crucial requirements is key.

“That’s why we are here … for the countries; they are the stakeholders that provide us with the human resources and the budget,” Paloméros said. “Every country adopts its own vision with their economic and financial perspectives, [and] we will try to find any opportunity for connection between the different forces.”

Couple share life, enlistment oath together

by Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/7/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- A husband's desire to support his wife's decision to enlist turned into a double enlistment when he raised his hand to join the Air Force Reserve as well.

Eric and Ashlee Todd enlisted together Nov. 30.

The decision was sparked after a visit with AF Reserve Recruiter Master Sgt. Charles Loftland in Tukwilla, Wash. Eric originally went to support his wife, but support turned to enthusiasm after listening to Loftland. The Seattle couple left the office with a commitment to become Citizen Airmen.

"I had often thought about joining the Air Force, but I never really had the courage," said Eric, a coordination center officer with the Transportation Security Administration in SeaTac, Wash. "Ashlee encouraged me to believe in myself. Sergeant Loftland made the Reserve sound so appealing, I felt it would be a perfect fit."

Loftland said initially, Eric had no intention of joining the Reserve, but as he started explaining the Reserve mission and the benefits of being a Reservist, Eric started coming around.

Ashlee, a student at Argosy University in Seattle, said being in the Reserve together will help make their marriage grow even stronger.

"It'll help him better understand what I'm going through, because he's doing it to," she said. "We'll be able to relate to each other a lot better. When one of us has to deploy, the other one will understand the pains better, and it'll be that much easier to go, because we'll both know what it takes to deal with it."

Eric said being in the military together will allow them to share the same lifestyle. "If only one of us was in the Reserve and the other wasn't either, she or I would feel sort of 'left out.' With us both going in, we can support each other more in our activities and we can appreciate and share what we've learned each new day," he said.

Ashlee will enter the Reserve as an Airman with the 36th Aerial Port Squadron here. "I would like to see myself integrating it with my military career."

Eric chose the emergency management career field with the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron here.

"I wanted to do something where I could respond in emergencies," he said. "I've always wanted a job where I could help people. I'm kind of a dispatcher at my civilian job, so I wanted to be a responder in order to help, while staying out of harm's way."

Ashlee said she was influenced to join by some of her former coworkers were also Reservists.

"When I worked for TSA, I saw all these other amazing people with military backgrounds," she said. I figured,' you know what? I'm going to school right now. I want to serve, and I'm a big fan of volunteering.' In my own way, the Reserve is how I'd like to give back."

A march to remember

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- As the sun began to rise on a chilly West Texas morning, Dyess Airmen loaded up their 50-pound ruck sacks prior to a four-mile march led by the 7th Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit Nov. 29.

The ruck march raised esprit de corps and awareness for the sacrifices made by Air Force EOD technicians throughout the last decade. Members from the EOD flight carried dog tags with the names of 20 Air Force EOD technicians who have been killed in action.
"The ruck march was a portion of our EOD safety day, which is an Air Force-wide event that takes place annually in November," said Capt. Mark Sakai, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit.

According to a memo signed by Lt. Gen. Judith A. Fedder, Logistics, Installations and Mission Support deputy chief of staff, the importance of our EOD enablers in the current counter-IED environment cannot be underestimated and the toll on the EOD career field has been significant.

Since 2005, the Air Force has lost 20 EOD Airmen in combat operations. An additional 15 have been seriously injured and more than 110 EOD Airmen have received one or more Purple Hearts.

"The EOD safety day is a critical opportunity for these Air Force warriors to take a strategic pause to reflect on those EOD Airmen who paid the ultimate price since the war began in addition to the many who have been wounded," said Lt. Col. Michael Harner, 7th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

After the ruck march, they continued the day by reviewing past cases and scenarios where fellow Airmen were injured or lost their lives.

"It is important for EOD technicians to review the ways in which other Airmen were injured so they can learn how the enemy is operating in order to increase the technicians' battlefield survivability while on future deployments," Sakai said.

The following day included breakfast with family members and briefings from the Base Chapel and Airman & Family Readiness Center, and a briefing on PTSD.

"These days allow the team to come together across the Air Force with support from medical and chaplain personnel to enhance their resiliency with our families since they continue to deploy every six months into very austere environments," Harner said. "These warriors put themselves at ultimate risk each time they respond to their nation's calls, whether CONUS, downrange or U.S. Secret Service support. They live by the motto of 'Initial Success or Total Failure.' This day allows them to concentrate on how they can achieve this safely and effectively."

Operation Christmas Drop 2012

 by Senior Airman Carlin Leslie
36th Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - Senior Airman Carlin Leslie -- Members of the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan,  air drop deliveries to Pingelap Island and Mokil Island on the second day of Operation Christmas Drop, Dec. 12, 2012.

Each year OCD provides aid to more than 30,000 islanders in Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. This year is the 61st anniversary of OCD, making it the longest running humanitarian mission in the world. In total, there are eight planned days of air drops, with 54 islands scheduled to receive humanitarian aid.

Cookie Caper brings the goodies

by Airman 1st Class Kia Atkins
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The smell of 31,800 cookies emanated from the Misawa Club Complex as Cookie Caper volunteers packaged up cookies to be delivered to single, unaccompanied service members by their first sergeants, Dec. 11, 2012.

"I think the Cookie Caper is great," said Senior Master Sgt. Randy Farless, 35th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant. "It gives the single, unaccompanied service members at Misawa a taste of home. It's like a thank you for the sacrifices they make the whole year."

With help from the Defense Commissary Agency, the cookie baking process was streamlined as they opened their doors to Cookie Caper volunteers to use their ovens to bake as many cookies as they could in a day.

"The agreement was that participants needed to come with their cookie dough prepared and we would provide the work space, tables, baking sheets and of course the oven," said Matthew Whittaker, Defense Commissary Agency commissary officer. "Three groups signed up for a three hour time slot, and they came over with tons of homemade cookie dough and were prepared to crank out some cookies."

And crank out cookies they did. At the commissary alone, volunteers baked 1,968 cookies, which added to the base's total of 31,800 cookies.

"The holidays are such a family-oriented time of year and it's hard being so far away from home, so I think this is one small way for us to come together and be a big family and spread the holiday cheer," said Terri Laurent, Cookie Caper chairperson.

A Reservist looks back at Haiti after the Earthquake

by Lt. Col. James Bishop
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.
-Haitian Proverb

Nearly three years after Haiti's lethal earthquake, and the 439th Airlift Wing's humanitarian response, I visited the recovering country.

On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, with the epicenter just 15 miles west of Port-au-Prince, killing more than 300,000 and leaving about one million homeless. Within three days, the 439th Airlift Wing flew emergency supplies to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., to transport to Port-au-Prince as part of Operation Unified Response.

I traveled on leave with my nephew, Dr. Ben Fredrick, President of Thriving Villages International and head of the Global Health Center at Penn State Hershey. For 12-14 hours each day, Ben met with politicians, health workers, nuns, priests, Kazaks (a sort of justice of the peace), teachers, patients, and more to provide access to clean water, basic health care, nutrition and education in the remote coastal area of Pestel. He finds any way he can to save and improve lives in some of the most impoverished villages in the western hemisphere.

I'd read about Haiti and given money to help. But visiting was fundamentally different. As the time drew near, a sense of dread crept over me. Anything I read about Haiti said the small republic held layers of danger for visitors. Since the 2010 earthquake, the U.S. State Department has maintained a travel warning for cholera and urges people not to travel to Haiti for "nonessential" trips. If there was no revolt going on, as in 2004, or natural disaster, there were kidnappings, lack of medical care, even nasty intestinal infections from a stray sip of local water. But the cholera epidemic, which broke out after the earthquake and has killed 7,500 so far, scared me most.

We arrived Oct. 6 in Port-au-Prince. The city is a sensory assault. Car horns blare, goats bleat and roosters crow. Porters elbowed in and grabbed our bags, then asked for more than the five dollars apiece we gave them. Outside the airport's gated walls, the markets are strewn with garbage. I saw one tall, well-dressed man carrying a dead chicken by the feet. Police and ambulances are rare. The well-dressed beauty of the Haitian people stands in stark contrast to the dusty shoes and fly-covered meat for sale in the market. Haiti seems a contradiction of beauty and ugliness.

That night we were preparing for the long trip to our main destination: the remote area of Pestel on the southwest side of the island. Evens, the Haitian translator, Eliab, the driver, "Dokté Ben" and I pulled into a "National" gas station to exchange dollars for gourdes, the Haitian currency, and to fill up for the trip. A man wearing navy blue pants tucked into combat boots stood by the door holding a shotgun.

We pumped $100 worth of gas into our red Toyota 4-Runner. Afterwards, I heard an animated discussion in Creole between our driver and the attendant. Then we drove off without paying. The man clutching the shotgun watched us go. I asked Evens what we were doing.

"We're going to exchange the dollars at another station where the rate is better and then return to pay him."

"He trusts us to come back?" I asked.

"He knows we will. If we did not come back, he would lose a month's salary," Evens said, settling the matter for him. Basically, we wouldn't do that to a brother, he said. That was the first of many lessons: in Haiti, other people matter. A lot. In the midst of the smell and rubble that still isn't fully cleared away, we saw the hope of something solid in Haiti.

The next morning, Sunday, we left at 5:30. We passed people in the pre-dawn, women walking in crisp white dresses and men in bright shirts, ties, and dark pants, and busloads of people dressed for church. We heard loud singing from one the many churches we passed, and for the next seven hours we heard singing resonate from roadside churches.

Three hours into the trip, we picked up Sonny, my translator, and continued into the mountains. (Haiti - Ayiti - means "land of high mountains" in Creole.) Just before we reached the crest of the mountain pass, the paved road ended and became a rocky, washed-out riverbed.

Traveling in the mountains was bone-jarring but beautiful. Lush mountains rose beyond other mountains until they disappeared into the horizon. We passed small houses with coffee beans drying in the front yard. Young children lugged water jugs up the mountain pass.

In the small mountain town of Duchity, we stopped to buy bananas from a roadside vendor. Later, Ben told me that the town had an outbreak of cholera the previous week.

After three hours of dodging rocks and the fast-moving, brightly-colored buses that zoomed by, we reached the coastal village of Pestel and we put up at Madam Jacques, a house-hotel. She ran her generator for an hour - there is no electricity in town unless you produce it yourself - and we went to bed, if not to sleep.

At night the sounds resonated through our open rooms. The dogs have ganged up on one yipping mongrel tonight. There's music and laughing a few feet away. The roosters that run in the town start their calls around 2:30 a.m. Others reply.

During the day, smells permeate the heat. My own body odor. My companions'. The acrid smoke from thousands of slow-burning charcoal fires Haitians use for cooking. The clean ocean smell and the smell of the forest after a rainstorm.

The next morning, after a breakfast of seafood, homemade juice, and plantain, Ben told me, "When Haitians pray and say thank you for our daily bread, they're literally thankful for their daily bread in a way we can't know."

He went off to meet with 19 trained health care workers. They are the core of what makes his organization effective. Instead of setting up a clinic and waiting for people to come, Ben hired people from Pestel who go into the area's 240 remote villages and distribute Vitamin A and deworming drugs. They also do immunizations and measure children's upper arms for signs of malnutrition. Not only do workers reach 7,000 village kids in a way no blan - white person - could, but the jobs pump essential income into the local economy.

On Monday, I interviewed Elmina, a 26-year-old mother of five who lives in the mountains above Pestel. Sister Fidelis, the hero-nun who came to Pestel in 2001 and stayed, doing everything she can to improve life in Pestel, brought me to their tiny house.

While Elmina's younger children laughed and played in front of their tin-roofed house made of interwoven stalks, measuring no more than 10 by 20 feet, she spoke about her life. She's able to send three of her kids to school, which costs 250 gourdes a year - $6.25 American. Though she hasn't been able to pay for school, the nuns and teachers still let them come.

They rise at 6 a.m. "Sometimes we eat breakfast," she told my translator. "When we have it." "What do you eat?" I asked.

"Anything, whatever we find," Elmina said. "Plantain." They drink rainwater from an old cistern at a relative's house during the wet season. When it's dry, she walks for two hours to get water.

Her situation sounds tragic, but it would be a distortion to call Elmina anything but happy. She breast-fed her two-month-old daughter while she spoke. "Even though I don't have money I don't let it get myself down too much."

For entertainment, Elmina said she tells jokes with her family, sings, dances, and does homework with her daughter.

I asked what her favorite time of day is.

"I like the whole day," Elmina said. Then added, "Noon. Because then I pray."

On Tuesday, we went to the nearby island of Grande Cayemite, which is also part of the Pestel region. Sanon Fleury, one of the 19 medical workers, proudly showed us his small house on the beach, which he built with money he earned working for Thriving Villages. He had someone scurry up a tree, drop coconuts, and cut them apart with a machete for us.

Grande Cayemite Island held the sharpest contrast of my trip. Children swam in the ocean, laughing and waving. On a porch, men played dominoes, shouting so loudly I thought a fight was breaking out. At the island village of Boucan Philippe, pigs and goats grazed - and defecated - near pools of standing water while people walked by barefoot.

"See that?" Ben said, pointing to pebbles of goat feces near the water. "That's a recipe for disease."

At Point Sable on the island, we saw one child with the swollen head characteristic of hydrocephalus. Ben knelt by the crying boy, rubbing his head. He explained to the mother that her son would have to travel without her to the hospital, undergo a long procedure, and stay for up to a year in recovery. "I can't promise, but if you want I can try to make this happen. Do you want me to try?"

"Oui." Soft voice. "Yes."

Later, Ben told me, "I hate it when things happen to children. I just hate it. I don't know God's will in everything. But I know Pestel should have clean water. I know the children should have food and education. These are no-brainers."

Ben's white skin and tall frame assures that he is noticed. As we left Anse a Macon, an island village of about 3,500 people, Simon, a lanky man in his 30s, approached Ben, upset. He said the village needs help.

"What are your biggest needs?" asked Ben.

A clinic, a school beyond the 5th grade, Evens translated. "He says that a 34-year-old died in childbirth in a dugout canoe on the way to Pestel for medical help." The baby survived; the father takes care of him.

A crowd had gathered. Simon was talking and gesturing loudly.

In the center of town, a school building sits unused because there is no teacher. It was built in 1986.

"Do any charitable organizations or churches help?" asked Ben.

"Okenn. Okenn," Simon said in Creole. "None. None."

At Pointe Sable, the third island village we visited, while Ben met with medical workers, I took a photo of Parchouco and Jean-Kerry smiling widely, arms around each other. Parchouco had lost his left leg during the 2010 earthquake and moved to the island from Port-au-Prince. I had expected to see the poverty and the tragic situations, had braced myself for it, and I was still shocked. I hadn't expected the smiles, the ubiquitous laughter and games.

We rode back to Pestel in a yellow fiberglass boat. On the way back to the mainland, Ben told me, "I think it's important professionally and spiritually to get way out of your comfort zone. None of this is anywhere near my comfort zone." As if on cue, a crackling thunderstorm started pummeling the shore right where we were headed.

"Will we make it before the rain?" we asked.

"We'll make it," the captain said, smiling.

"Before the rain?"

"No, no. We'll get wet."

Between lightning cracks, the captain said some of the beached boats we see along the shoreline were abandoned by drug runners being chased by the police. "They just ditch the boat and run," he said, and gestured to his own boat, "This is one."

On Wednesday I visited Dr. Seneque Phillippe. He's the town's only doctor, and until recently the only doctor for the 240 towns and 70,000 people in the greater Pestel region. His clinic employs 25 staff, one other doctor for HIV cases, and four nurses.

"When health care was free, we saw 100 people a day. Now it varies," he said. "People can't pay." The day before we spoke, Dr. Seneque had seen a young man brought in from the island with a skin infection. He had no money, no parents. He gave the man medicine, then sent him home with food.

"I'm not rich," he told me. "In this community, there is only one social class: poor. If I were a materialist, I would have stayed in Mexico or moved to Port-au-Prince."

I wish I could introduce you to the principal at St. Clare school in Carrefour Citron who said only three of his six teachers receive a small salary. "This caused teachers to suffer a lot," he said. "Teachers do not consider themselves working here but doing a service to the community. Still, they need a small salary to survive." I wish I could introduce you to Evens Lanot, who manages the projects in-country for Thriving Villages International. He speaks seven languages, has gone to law school, and donates his salary to the orphanage where he volunteers.

We visited Nelson, a 17-year-old heart patient who had lived with Ben and his wife in Pennsylvania while recovering from heart surgery. The bioprosthetic heart valve surgeons had implanted six years earlier was failing. He would need another. It was a hard conversation. The surgeon wanted to put in a metal heart valve, but that would mean taking strong blood thinners and being closely monitored for the rest of his life, which would be difficult in America and impossible in Pestel. When we were preparing to leave, they offered us lunch. It would have been an insult to refuse. But the risk of intestinal infection was high. We both got hit hard by that evening. Stomach cramps, diarrhea, sleepless night. It hurt, and we had good medicine. The next day, Ben excused himself from a meeting, passed out in the bathroom, then returned to finish the meeting.

Beauty and ugliness mingled in each area we visited. In Port-au-Prince, magazine-model good looking people in bright clothes stepped over garbage in the dusty streets. In Pestel, the calm expanse of ocean reached the village of Point Sable, where malnourished children sat on porches.

On our return to Port-au-Prince, we passed the presidential palace, still in ruins from the earthquake. Evens said that the cleanup and the economy are moving forward.

"Is it as good as pre-earthquake levels," Ben asked.

"I think it's better than it was just before the earthquake," Evens said. "But there's still a long way to go."

Coming back to the U.S., I experienced reverse culture-shock, glad to see paved highways, indoor plumbing and reliable electricity. At first, I was hesitant to drink tap water again.
Stuck in traffic around New York City, I found myself wondering which is the true Haiti: the happy people and beautiful land, or the dire poverty and substandard health care?
Remarkably, from the little I've seen, it's both.

Osan celebrates opening of new enlisted club

by Senior Airman Kristina Overton
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- After being postponed seven months due to unexpected delays, Osan Air Base finally opened the doors to the new enlisted club Nov. 30 starting with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Col. Sean DeWitt, 51st Fighter Wing vice commander, began by thanking everyone in attendance and to those who put so much effort into the development of the facility. Chief Master Sgt. Brendan Criswell, 51st FW command chief, gave closing comments.
"As one door closes, another one opens," Criswell said. "In 1965, the Challenger was opened, which was the oldest enlisted club in the Pacific Air Force. Today we are opening our new enlisted club."

The $17 million, 3600 sq. ft. facility was built to replace the aging Challenger Club on base. The new facility includes a quiet lounge, gaming area, sports bar, pool tables, and multi-purpose room that acts as a dining area, night club or venue for official functions.

"These walls, the food and the drinks, mean nothing without the enlisted corps that's inside," Criswell said. "This club will be the home of enlisted heritage, past and future. This will not just be a home to just eat and drink; this will be a home for enlisted fellowship, to celebrate the good times and the bad times, the best and the worst."

The grand opening featured live music, karaoke, games, giveaways and a buffet that featured a variety of meats, fruits, cheeses, and other appetizers.

"I like the new facility and look forward to seeing what they do with it," said Senior Airman Carl Sanders, 607th Support Squadron communications focal point technician. "This is one of the things that will help people look at life from a different perspective and not get complacent being stationed in a remote location. It reminds people that we're not just in a 'war zone' and it's not just the job. We can come to facilities like this and get away."

Feature: First sergeant reflects on her year at Kunsan

by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- For Master Sgt. Jennifer Wampler, her year with the 8th Operations Group was the greatest experience she could have asked for as a first sergeant.

Listening to her talk about her Airmen, it's obvious she's proud. Watching her interact with them, it's obvious she cares. Hearing the questions she asks them, it's obvious she has taken the first sergeant adage "My job is people" to heart.

"How's your son doing? When is his next checkup?" "How is your shoulder feeling today?" "I'm glad that emergency leave situation got figured out for you."

A medic by trade and with experience as a maintenance squadron first sergeant, Wampler wasn't sure what to expect from the operations world.

"I didn't know what operations were responsible for ... I just knew that jets got in the air," she said. "I know now they are the pulse of any base. There are so many facets the OG encompasses. It's such a dynamic mission and the Airmen are always prepping for any possibility.

"Knowing the 8th OG Airmen here have made me more proud of what I do," she added. "It's amazing how much work they do."

Although Wampler was at first overwhelmed by having to immerse herself in the hugely different mindset of the 8th OG, she threw herself into it.

She knows the details of all 14 Air Force specialty codes that fall within the group and how each contributes to Kunsan's never-ending "Take the Fight North" mission.

She knows the frequency at which airfield management measures snow, the intricacies of radar controllers' schedules and the limitations of Airmen on flying hours.

Being at Kunsan, a remote short tour where Airmen aren't accompanied by families, gave Wampler even more time and reason to get to know her people so well.

"The operations tempo at Kunsan is so high, but because there are no outside distractions I've been able to really focus on the Airmen," said Wampler. "We're unaccompanied here and so your people become your family for a year. It's all about forming great relationships with the Airmen and getting to know them better."

During a last-day visit to her units, her interactions showed those relationships.

"She is the best first sergeant I've had in my six-year career," said Staff Sgt. Layne Medlock, 80th Fighter Squadron aviation resource management NCO in charge.

"Without her, I wouldn't have made it through the last four months in this position," said Medlock, who was pulled to fill a higher-ranking slot when a master sergeant was reassigned because of humanitarian reasons. "The word 'approachable' more than sums it up. I called her at least weekly needing help and she always came through."

A fellow senior NCO agreed, saying Wampler's involvement during her time here was a big help.

"She is everywhere all the time," said Master Sgt. Aniya Lamyotte, 8th Operations Support Squadron radar approach control assistant chief controller. "'Involved' is an understatement. She goes as far to know all our operating initials, which don't correspond with our actual names.

"During our initial meeting, I told her to expect a lot of questions from me," added Lamyotte. "As a newer senior NCO, it's good to know we have a first sergeant who will help you through anything, good or bad. It's been great having her guidance and friendship."

And for Wampler, this is what her year has been about - building a strong foundation so her Airmen know they can approach her about anything.

"I care about every single one of these people," said Wampler. "Being a good first sergeant is about being part of a good support system. I've learned so much from the OG and being a part of them has been an unforgettable experience."

Deployed Holloman warriors surprised with STEP promotion

by Senior Airman Siuta B. Ika
49th Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Two Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Airmen who are currently deployed to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, received news Dec. 4, that under the Air Force's Stripes for Exceptional Performers program, they were to be immediately promoted to master and technical sergeant.

For Tech. Sgt. Amanda Jones and Staff Sgt. Joseph Sapikowski, the notification of their promotions were a complete surprise - to them and their families.

"I got a call from Chief Patrie earlier today, and he asked me if I wanted to be part of a teleconference," said Gwen Beverly, Jones' mother. "He and (Col. Andrew Croft, 49th Wing commander) picked me up at the front gate, and on the way, colonel Croft was telling me about the ruse they were planning, and Chief Patrie had to stop him and say, 'Time out, she doesn't know about the promotion. So I found out about her promotion on the ride from the gate about 15 minutes before we called her."

The plan, devised by Croft and Patrie, was to make both Jones and Sapikowski think that they were in trouble for separate incidents back at Holloman AFB.

"We've got a serious complaint from a customer who wants to have a talk with you to try and put this (network control center) issue to rest as quickly as we can, so ma'am go ahead with your complaint," Croft said over speakerphone.

With Jones waiting for the impending complainer, her mother couldn't help but smile.

"Amanda, it's your mom," Beverly said. "There are 20 people here that want to know why you're out of uniform."

After a brief pause, Croft spoke to Jones again.

"Tech. Sgt. Jones," the wing commander said. "Effective immediately, you are now a master sergeant in the Air Force."

After Croft gave Jones the news, the wing conference room erupted in applause as Jones burst into a jubilant hysteria. After the new master sergeant gathered herself, she thanked everyone in attendance before hanging up the phone.

Next up was Sapikowski. Like Beverly, Sapikowski's wife, Staff Sgt. Angela Sapikowski, 49th Force Support Squadron, was also kept in the dark until arriving in the wing conference room, just minutes before contacting the two STEP promotion recipients.

"Staff Sgt. Sapikowski," Croft said. "I've heard that there's been some problems with the SRT team since it stood up ... Apparently this happened a little while ago but I've just been briefed on it. We've got a complainant here and she wants to address a couple of issues."

Like Jones, Sapikowski remained silent on the other side of the phone line.

"Hi honey, this is your wife, and about 20 people here want to know why you're out of uniform," Angela Sapikowski said.

After Croft informed Sapikowski that he was now a technical sergeant, his wife spoke to him again.

"This is going to be a good Christmas," she said. "I'm so proud of you. You really deserve it."

After Sapikowski thanked everyone and hung up the phone, Croft spoke to all of the commanders, first sergeants, and family members in attendance.

"This is the first time that I've ever been involved in a STEP promotion as a commander," Croft said. "I want to thank you all for coming here, because this lets them know what they did is important and we care about them."

Croft also spoke about the significance of being STEP promoted.

"I think one of the most important things is that this only happens to a very small percentage of Airmen," he said. "Our base only gets two per year out of the 3,300 or so, so we're talking about well less than one percent. And the fact that the two folks that got STEP promoted in our wing are both deployed shows that some of our best Airmen and hardest workers are down range. They absolutely deserve this honor and their Holloman family congratulates them."

552nd ACW members receive 12th AF awards

by Darren D. Heusel
Tinker Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Six Airmen from geographically separated units which fall under the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., have been recognized by 12th Air Force with the highest awards for achievement in cyberspace operations.

Thomas Kuja, with the 728th Air Control Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., has been lauded with the Gen. John P. Jumper Award.

Two other members of the 728th ACS also received awards: Lt. Col. Danielle Folsom was recognized as the Cyberspace Operations Officer of the Year in the field grade officer category, while Staff Sgt. Justin Hein was lauded as the Cyber systems Operations Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Baird and Staff Sgt. Matthew Ochoa, both members of the 726th ACS at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, were honored as the Radio Frequency Transmission Systems NCO of the Year, and Ground Radar Systems NCO of the Year, respectively.

Also receiving recognition from the 729th ACS at Hill AFB, Utah, was 1st Lt. Spencer Johnson. Lieutenant Johnson was recognized as the Cyberspace Operations Officer of the Year in the company grade officer category.

These individuals will now represent 12th Air Force at the Air Combat Command-level competition.

"We are extremely proud of our award-winning Cyber warriors," said Col. Greg Guillot, 552nd ACW Commander. "To be selected as the best in 12th Air Force is a high, and well-deserved, honor for each winner.

"We wish them luck as they compete for Air Combat Command honors."

The Grinch won't steal Beale's Christmas

by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Santa Claus taxied into Dock 6 riding in a themed U-2 Dragon Lady for the Children's Holiday Party, and chased away the Grinch while more than 1,500 members of Beale Air Force Base, Calif., lined the entry control point Dec. 8.

After exiting the aircraft painted with holiday nose art, Santa was surrounded by Beale youth eager to great the jolly elf.

"I haven't been to a better Christmas celebration during my 23 years in the Air Force," said Maj. Lance Myerson, 9th Maintenance Squadron commander. "My family had an incredible time, and we can't thank the organizers enough."

More than 75 volunteers from Beale and the surrounding community provided face painting, pictures, crafts and food, while the Wheatland High School band played holiday music throughout the event.

"It is important that we give children a special holiday, especially those who currently have parents deployed during the Christmas season," said Master Sgt. Shane Griego, the event organizer from the 9th Maintenance Squadron. "The challenges that military children have to deal with are things most kids don't have to experience. Having parents deployed to combat environments or being uprooted from schools and friends can be very taxing during any time of the year."

Each child received a gift donated by local businesses and Toys for Troops. Griego said planning for the event started in September, and the volunteers have been wrapping gifts since Halloween. More than 1,500 gifts were wrapped and distributed.

"The volunteers from the base and the Toys for Troops organizers are the key to this event," Griego said. "Today was a great success and this party will be even bigger next year because of everyone here."

Asking the question: SFS helps local families

by Staff Sgt. Katie Gar Ward
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- As he drove through local neighborhoods, he noticed that despite the chill in the air, neighborhood children were riding bicycles and playing outside without wearing coats.

He stopped his vehicle, got out and asked one of the children why.

"I don't own one," the child said. The reply bothered the man, leaving him with a strong desire to help the local children.

This need for basic items prompted Staff Sgt. Justin Olson, 633rd Security Forces Squadron Community Policing patrolman, to head up a coat drive to benefit the local community, which ran from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30. More than 200 coats and miscellaneous clothing items were collected and donated to Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodgings and Provision, or "H.E.L.P," Incorporated.

Although this isn't the first time 633rd SFS has hosted a coat drive, Olson said it's been the most successful year, due to a change in collection strategy. Collection boxes were placed at multiple locations throughout Bethel Housing, instead of at one central location as in years past.

"This year we brought the drop-off locations to the people," said Olson. "People were even moving and said they had coats to donate, so we would go to people's houses and pick up the coats. The fact that we made it so easy to donate is what really brought us to success."

In addition to collecting coats and other clothing items, this year the drive also included books and magazines. That portion of the drive ran from Nov. 1 through Nov. 20, and garnered more than 200 donations, which will be given to local schools and the U.S.O.

Not only does a drive like this benefit local families, it is also a way to reach out to the community, said Tech. Sgt. Jerard Holton, 633rd Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Community Policing at Bethel Housing.

"Our job is the community itself," Holton said. "Our primary focus is the security of the residents out here, the base and this extension of the base. Secondary to that is actually making contact with the community, being involved with everyone out here and trying to branch out to other parts of the community outside of Bethel Housing."

According to Olson, coordinating a collection has a lasting effect on the surrounding community, and is a great way to foster relationships.

"The more we help out our community around us, the deeper roots we set in with the community and the civilians that support the base," he said. "It's a good tool."

No matter how big or small the donation is, Holton said anything a person could give would make world of difference to a family in need, and in turn, benefit the community as a whole.

"We give back to the community outside the military family," said Holton. "They then give back to the folks within our community. It's a big circle, and we encourage people to get involved in the circle and pay it forward."

As seen through the efforts of the 633rd Security Forces Squadron Community Policing team, asking a question and caring enough to follow-through with the answer can spark an initiative to benefit hundreds of local families. This strengthens the relationship between military and civilian communities, and ensures everyone stays warm this winter.


Give the Gift of Life Long Learning

WILMINGTON, NC – Consider giving the gift of exploration with one of the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA’s Life Long Learning Programs (Hidden Battleship, Firepower Program, Power Plant and Design and Damage Control).  These stimulating events will provide lasting memories with opportunities to learn and see the Battleship in various capacities.  Choose from one or all four programs as each explores different facets of the Ship.

Hidden Battleship
January 12, 2013 (also offered October 12, 2013)
Times: 8:30 – 12:30 pm, 1:30 – 5:30 pm
$50 per person.  $45 for Friends members or active military.
For the explorer at heart, bring a friend and join us for a unique, behind-the-scenes tour of un-restored areas of the Battleship. The four-hour tour consists of small groups with guides. Guests explore the bow (officers' country and boatswain locker), third deck (Radio II, brig, after gyro, storage rooms, ammunition handling, Engineer's office, torpedo area), Engine room #1, and climb inside the fire control tower to the top of the ship. The Azalea Coast Radio Club will be in Radio II to explain their work on the ship's radio transmitters. It’s the tour that brings out the “Indiana Jones” in all of us, without the snakes!

The tour is limited to ages 12 and older and limited to 40 participants per time slot. It is not appropriate for those who have difficulty climbing narrow ladders or over knee-high hatches. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Choose between a morning (8:30 – 12:30) or afternoon (1:30 – 5:30) tour. Registration and payment are due by the Thursday prior to the tour.  Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

February 16, 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
$95 per person.  $85 for Friends members or active military.
Learn about and explore the Battleship's 16-inch and 5-inch guns from the gun houses to the ammunition loading compartments; the 40mm and 20mm guns, and the weapons that they replaced (1.10 and 50 caliber guns). The finest guns are of little use without the means to direct their fire accurately at the target. Presenters will discuss the various types of fire control equipment (directors/optical range finders, radar, computers) and how main and secondary battery plotting rooms and the combat information center operated. Participants will enjoy a lively, engaging, in-depth program with presentations, hands-on experience, and serious exploration for adult learners.

The program is for adults only (ages 16 and up) and limited to 40 participants. It is not appropriate for those who may have difficulty climbing narrow ladders. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Registration and payment are due by Thursday, February 14, 2012. Event is $95; $85 for Friends of the Battleship or active military. Program includes a box lunch. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

Power Plant
March 16, 2013
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
$65 per person.  $60 for Friends members or active military.
Calling all Navy engineering enthusiasts! Join us for an in-depth program on the Battleship's power plant. Learn in detail about the ship's eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers, four sets of General Electric turbines and reduction gears, steam and diesel powered service turbo generators, along with electrical distribution, water distillation, and steering mechanisms. Our program features classroom presentations and behind-the-scenes tour of engineering spaces. Discover what it took to propel a 36,000 ton heavily armored battlewagon bristling with massive firepower and 2,300 fighting men across the Pacific.

The program is for adults only (ages 16 and up) and is limited to 40 participants. It is not appropriate for those who have difficulty climbing narrow ladders or over knee-high hatches. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Registration and payment are due by Thursday, March 14, 2012. Event is $65/$60 for Friends of the Battleship or active military. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

Design & Damage Control
May 18, 2013
Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
$55 per person.  $50 for Friends members or active military.
As the first of the 10 fast battleships which served in WWII, NORTH CAROLINA paved the way for those battleships that followed.  In this four-hour program, participants will explore the ship and engage with experts on ship design. Topics include surviving a torpedo strike, fires, and loss of power; thwarting magnetism and unwanted waters from flooding; from shoring and shifting fuel oil to triage of casualties and effective communication. An interesting and insightful afternoon awaits inquiring minds.
The tour is limited to ages 16 and older and limited to 48 participants. It is not appropriate for those who have difficulty climbing narrow ladders or over knee-high hatches. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Water and light snack provided. Registration and payment are due by Thursday, May 16. Program is $50/$45 for Friends of the Battleship or active military. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.
The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supporting, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship's Store, donations and investments. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River.   Visit or follow us on and for more information.

Sequestration And Fiscal Cliff Fears Drive Belt Tightening In Military Families, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behavior Index® reveals half of middle-class servicemembers are cutting back on everyday spending

FORT WORTH, Texas – As the year-end fiscal cliff deadline approaches, military personnel are increasingly worried about their financial futures – and they are taking actions to shore up their household finances.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that two thirds of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are not confident that Washington will be able to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff that kick in on Jan. 1 unless Congress intervenes.

“The fiscal cliff is a major concern for servicemembers and their families,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Roughly seven in ten believe that a failure to resolve the fiscal cliff stalemate will mean an increase in their taxes and a slowdown in job growth. Two thirds of survey respondents fear the U.S. economy might slip back into recession.”

Concerns are also running high regarding the federal budget cuts known as sequestration, with men and women in uniform expecting to see their family finances impacted in a number of ways. Half of households anticipate a reduction in their military retirement benefits and increased responsibility for healthcare costs. They expect to see cuts in:

           Personal expense benefits for housing, clothing and food (40 percent).
           Educational benefits (32 percent).
           Discretionary income for non-essentials (31 percent).

Career concerns are high, too. Almost three out of ten military families (28 percent) believe that sequestration will mean they are less likely to be promoted and more likely to experience early separation. An early forced exit from the armed forces is seen as a serious financial threat, with almost nine out of ten survey respondents hoping to qualify for a traditional military retirement by completing at least 20 years of service.
“While the looming fiscal cliff deadline has been making the headlines, military families may be even more troubled by the spending reductions that are already in process,” Spiker said. “Defense downsizing will affect one-sixth of the military, impacting retirement pay and benefits. Promotion rates will decline. The result is an uncertain future for many military families.”
Notably, military families are responding to the fiscal cliff and sequestration with a variety of belt-tightening actions. Almost half are cutting back on everyday spending. Other changes include:

           Increasing the amount of savings (28 percent).
           Decreasing the aggressiveness of investments (20 percent).
           Moving investments to cash (9 percent).
           Starting to work with a financial planner (5 percent).

“Working with a financial planner is a particularly smart move,” Spiker said. “Families who work with a financial coach are more likely to spend less, save more and pay down debt in their pursuit of financial security. And they feel better about their finances 
than those without a planner. Our research consistently indicates that military families who work with a financial coach are more likely to feel financially secure and confident in their ability to retire comfortably. We anticipate increasing demand from military families for financial planning assistance over the coming year.”

About the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®
Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.
Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.