Military News

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Airpower integration in Yama Sakura 63

by Capt. Cody Chiles
Fifth Air Force, Director of Public Affairs


12/18/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan  -- U.S. Army and Air Force service members united with Japan Ground and Air Self Defense Forces at Yokota Air Base to bilaterally coordinate ground operations and control airspace in support of Yama Sakura 63 in Sendai, Dec. 6 to 13, 2012.

For the first time, 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, Fifth Air Force, Northeast Army of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force and Japan Air Self Defense Force service members operated in JASDF's Air Defense Command's Bilateral Air Operations Coordination Center at Yokota Air Base.

The 5th BCD was sent to Yokota by U.S. Army Pacific as the Army force liaison for the Yama Sakura Joint Force Air Component Commander; their objective, provide seamless Army-Air Force integration for operations, plans, intelligence, aid defense, airlift and airspace management.

"We gave the JFACC a comprehensive picture of both air and ground operations to ensure the best command and control decisions are made," said Col. Stephen Myers, 5th BCD commander. "Partnering here at Yokota also allowed us to successfully strengthen bilateral relations."

In addition, the utilization of the newly constructed BAOCC allowed American and Japanese service members to exchange ideas, tactics, techniques and military experience.

The BAOCC was used as a command and control center during Yama Sakura. While there, service members utilized real time three-dimensional mapping to overlay ground and air requirements and restrictions; and generated bilateral air tasking orders to achieve air superiority.

"One of our objectives was to effectively clear airspace to ensure friendly forces could fire artillery without putting friendly assets in danger," said Myers. "I worked with the Air Force last year, and we determined the new BAOCC at Yokota was the best location for the BCD at this year's exercise. The exercise was extremely successful."

ADC's Headquarters moved to Yokota AB in March of 2012 to improve bilateral contingency planning, training and intelligence sharing with Fifth Air Force.

This year was the first time Fifth Air Force played an active role in Yama Sakura. Fifth Air Force absorbed the roles, responsibilities, mission and personnel from 13th Air Force, Detachment 1, after 13th Air Force's deactivation in September of 2012.

'Tis the season to be there for your wingman

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


12/18/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- As the holiday season hits full swing, some Airmen might not be filled with the expected holiday cheer that comes with a season of celebrations. The holiday blues can affect anyone and knowing the signs and being a good wingman could potentially save someone's life.

"A common warning sign that people may notice in their close friends is when there is a sudden and unusual change of behavior," said Airman 1st Class Brixon Tumaneng, 35th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician. "So when you start to notice these subtle changes, you may want to ask them how they are doing."

According to the 35th Medical Group Mental Health Clinic, the top factors associated with suicide in the Air Force are relationship problems, financial problems, criminal acts, a history of alcohol abuse, and military legal problems. Service members may be even more susceptible to those stressors during the holiday season because they may feel secluded from their friends and family which could trigger feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and even suicidal thoughts.

Understanding the signs of distress in yourself and others will help you know when to seek help.

The signs that might indicate someone needs help include feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, agitated behavior, being more angry or irritable than usual, isolating oneself and withdrawing from friends, family and co-workers, having no appetite or eating more than normal, having difficulty sleeping or spending too much time in bed, feeling tired all the time, losing interest in work and other normal activities, talking about death or suicide and almost any unusual or abrupt change in behavior.

"The first thing we want to do when our wingman is depressed is talk to them and find out what is going on, because if we just use our judgment and assume things we don't know exactly what is going on," said Tumaneng. "After that, you could offer them help and point them to resources that we have on base."

Where you or your wingmen would like to go for help is completely up to personal preference, but readily available resources are friends, someone in your chain of command, chaplains, the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, the Mental Health Clinic, the Family Advocacy Program and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program.

Tumaneng also said that if you feel like your wingman is just not having a good day, they may just need someone hang out with them. You know, to just be there for them.

"When you ask your fellow Airmen their plans and involve them in yours, it creates a world of difference," said Airman 1st Class Aubrey George, 35th Medical Support Squadron outpatient records technician. "Sometimes we find ourselves hesitant to ask or to involve other Airman in our plans, and we may be hesitant to involve ourselves when asked, but creating those opportunities creates a strong Air Force family and it makes the holidays more enjoyable when we're this far from home."

Nationals Pitcher Stammen Meets, Praises Overseas Troops

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Dec. 18, 2012 – There aren't many people who would volunteer to go to a war zone thousands of miles away from the safety of home to visit strangers during the holiday season.

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Craig Stammen, far right, a right-handed starting and relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals baseball team, talks to a joint group of U.S. troops as his teammate, pitcher Ross Detwiler, and Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks look on, during a USO show at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Dec. 14, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Yet each year the USO enlists accomplished actors, musicians, sports figures and other celebrities who want to give something back to the million-plus Americans serving in the U.S. military.

Craig Stammen, a right-handed starting and relief pitcher for Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals franchise is one such person, willing to venture into the unknown for the sake of giving back, as he eagerly joined Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on this year's annual USO holiday tour.
“Coming over here we didn't know what to expect,” Stammen said. “You guys make us feel really good about coming over here. We don't consider ourselves celebrities but you guys treat us like [we are].”

Stammen was candid when asked about his motivation for leaving his fiancée to travel overseas and meet service members, Defense Department civilians and their families.
“Well, for me, it's just [about] meeting all the troops, meeting my fellow Americans,” he said. “Meeting guys that are almost exactly like me except they’re in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force [or] the Marines.”
Of course, not many people can throw 91 to 94 mph fastballs, like Stammen, a North Star, Ohio, native, can.

“It's kind of neat to interact, hear things about where we're from … and chat about it, like home,” he said.
Stammen expressed his appreciation to the troops as he took the stage to share his story.

“We appreciate everything that you do. You guys inspire me to keep doing what I'm doing, and to appreciate what I'm doing back at home even more,” he said.“I'll be thinking about you guys as long as I live,” Stammen added.

USO Wraps Up Annual Holiday Tour Show in Germany

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART, Germany, Dec. 18, 2012 – Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, hosted the final stop of this year's USO holiday tour show here yesterday on behalf of the chairman, the tour's sponsor.


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Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, hosts this year’s final USO holiday tour show on behalf of the chairman at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, Dec. 17, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Battaglia attended the show with his wife, Lisa. Service members’ wives, husbands, sons and daughters attended the event to see their favorite celebrities.

This year’s USO holiday tour show featured Washington Nationals Major League Baseball players Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen; Matt Hendricks from the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals; comedian Iliza Schlesinger, winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing and country music singer Kellie Pickler and her band.

And USO President Sloan D. Gibson and Shane Hudella of “Defending the Blue Line,” an organization that donates hockey equipment to military families, accompanied the tour show.

“It was certainly a different sort of demographic, and dynamic [when compared] to the other shows that were more troop oriented because they were in-country, in Afghanistan,” Battaglia said. “So, I think it provided the entertainers and athletes another side of their U.S. armed forces overseas, and [they saw] that protection and defense of the nation doesn't only come from the service member.
“It also comes from the sacrifice of the family, having to serve overseas and away from home as well,” he added.

Lisa Battaglia, a former Marine herself enjoyed the family aspect of the final show.

“I liked it a lot, because most of the time we see the military members,” she said. “I know they truly appreciate the USO, but [I enjoyed] being able to see these young kids out there, able to enjoy what's going to be a great holiday season … [and] let their hair down and hang out with their friends.

“I think it was great, and a nice ending to the tour,” she added.

The sergeant major deemed the USO tour a hit, with stops coming in Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and two stops in Germany -- Stuttgart and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“It was a great success,” he said. “Just having the opportunity to witness troops across the [area of responsibility] -- Afghanistan and beyond -- with smiles on their faces especially around this time with Christmas.

“You know, with a comedian telling a joke, or singing a country song that may be one of their favorites, or a sports fanatic getting an autograph or a handshake from one of the athletes,” he continued. “Just seeing a smile on their faces is pretty invaluable, and it accomplishes the USO's mission, writ large, with providing morale to the troops.”

The USO holiday tour’s entertainers came all the way from the U.S. and maintained a strenuous schedule, the sergeant major said.

“The [itinerary’s] ruggedness was only driven by trying to get them to as many [bases] as we possibly can, even if we had to split them up to see as many troops as we could so they could have that face-to-face engagement,” Battaglia said.

“Nobody wants to watch this on AFN,” he added. “They want to see it in person -- that was the objective, that was the goal, and it was accomplished.”

December 18th in Naval History

  • 1902 - Admiral of the Navy George Dewey receives orders to send his battleship to Trinidad and then to Venezuela to make sure Great Britain and Germany's dispute with Venezuela was settled by peaceful arbitration not force.
  • 1944 - Adm. William Halsey's 3rd Fleet encounters a typhoon northeast of Samar. Destroyers USS Hull (DD 350), USS Monaghan (DD 354) and USS Spence (DD 512) sink, while 21 other ships are damaged.
  • 1965 - The River Patrol Force is established in Vietnam.
  • 1965 - Helicopters from Helicopter Squadron 11 on USS Wasp (CVS 18) pick up crew and capsule of Gemini 7 after picking up the crew and capsule of Gemini 6 two days earlier.
  • 1967 - Operation Preakness II begins in Mekong Delta.
  • 1972 - Mining and bombing of North Vietnam resumes with Linebacker II Operation.

Army Investigating Fort Myer Child Development Center


Officials from the U.S. Army announced today they have begun an investigation of personnel procedures at the Army’s Child Development Centers after a review of personnel records at the Fort Myer CDC found “derogatory information” contained in the background of a number of its employees.

“The safety of the children under our care is our most important responsibility,” said Col. Fern Sumpter, garrison commander at Fort Myer.  “The quality of their care and safety has been and will continue to be our most important priority.”

In October, the Army’s Installation Management Command replaced the CDC’s management team following concerns received about facility leadership.  A subsequent review found background issues with a number of employees.  Not all the workers were directly responsible for child care.

 “Out of an abundance of caution, we removed those employees and temporarily closed the facility, moving students to the Cody CDC (also located on Fort Myer),” Sumpter said.  “An investigation was ordered to determine whether background checks were properly done at the time these employees were hired, and whether required procedures were followed.  That investigation has just begun.”

Fort Myer officials also empanelled a Program Review Board to review the background files of about two dozen employees to determine whether they should be terminated.  The Center’s Child Youth Coordinator and deputy were both reassigned while those investigations and reviews are underway.
 
Following the initial findings at Fort Myer, Secretary of the Army John McHugh directed an Army-wide review of management and procedures at child care centers, and review of compliance with those policies and procedures.

“It’s a fundamental responsibility to ensure the highest quality of care for the children of our men and women in uniform, many of whom rely on us to care for their children while deployed,” he said.  “These initial findings are not only troubling, they are unacceptable, and we will make certain that adequate policies and procedures are in place, and that they are strictly followed and fully enforced.”

MCPON Makes First Visit to Naval Air Station North Island

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephen Votaw, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(AW/NAC) Mike D. Stevens visited Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) Dec. 14.

This marked Stevens' first visit to NASNI since assuming the role of MCPON earlier this year.

"It is always good to be back at North Island," Stevens said. "In 2000 I got here as a senior chief petty officer stationed on the flight line with one of the helicopter squadrons and at that time all I was worried about was the next deployment and taking care of my guys.

"I never imagined I would ever be back here as MCPON," said Stevens. "I am very happy that I can be here today and can learn what I can do to help you as we all work together to continue to make this the greatest Navy in the world."

MCPON used the visit to discuss topics impacting today's Navy and the Sailors who make it run. He also highlighted his "Zeroing in on Excellence" initiative.

"My initiative provides us with a universal theme we can apply to our respective positions without distracting from or adding to our existing individual roles," said Stevens. "The initiative provides a solid framework around which we can build sound and lasting readiness."

Stevens also highlighted areas such as deployments and uniforms before opening the floor to a question-and-answer session with the Sailors.

Fleet engagements are intended to provide senior leadership with a frontline assessment of Sailors and what they are doing in the fleet.

X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Completes First At-Sea Tests



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor DiMartino, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed its first at-sea test phase aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Dec. 18.

The first aircraft of its kind aboard a Naval vessel, the X-47B was put through myriad trials designed to assess the viability of an unmanned system's operation aboard a carrier.

Among the multitude of tests, the X-47B was towed using carrier-based tractors, taxied on the flight deck via its arm-mounted control display unit (CDU), and had its digital engine controls tested within environments pervaded by electromagnetic fields.

"The system has performed outstandingly," said Don Blottenberger, program manager for the N-UCAS Program Office (PMA-268). "We've learned a lot about the environment that we're in and how compatible the aircraft is with a carrier's flight deck, hangar bays and communication systems."

"We validated our capabilities on an aircraft carrier," said Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman's program director. "We gained a lot of knowledge that we could never have gotten anywhere else except on a carrier. It was perfect for the team. We demonstrated the program's maturity and our team's ability to interact with Sailors and the ship, which was one of the most important things for us to do."

Mackey said data collected from the aircraft's performance throughout its two-week test period aboard Truman will contribute to future unmanned aviation programs.

Although the X-47B, as a demonstration aircraft, will never be put into production, Blottenberger said Sailors may one day see similar aircraft aboard ships.

"There are a lot of people aboard Truman that will take this experience with them," said Blottenberger. "I think that all of this interest will help different programs both manned and unmanned. Hopefully, its impact will benefit future technologies."

Sailors aboard Truman were offered working experience with the X-47B as crew members directed the aircraft on the flight deck and handled it in the hangar bays.

Lt. Cmdr. Larry Tarver, Truman's aircraft handling officer, said his experience with UCAS-D during its testing was very interesting.

"I believe our Sailors integrated with the system very easily," said Tarver. "Getting Sailors to help out and participate was very easy as everyone was curious and excited to work with it. Apart from those minor differences, the aircraft moved much like any other carrier-based aircraft while taxiing under its own power."

Tarver said he believes aircraft like the X-47B will easily fit into a carrier's environment in the future.

"Moving the UCAS-D around with a spotting dolly was very similar to how we move other aircraft," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Daniel Colon, a supervisor in air department's V-3 division aboard Truman. "Being the only carrier to have experience with this system so far, I am proud to be among the first Sailors to test this aircraft. I know my whole team feels the same way."

Blottenberger attributed much of UCAS-D's success to the Truman crew's open communication and support.

"Approximately 40 percent of our test team onboard had never been on a Navy ship before," said Blottenberger. "I think it was eye-opening for the team to see the complexities involved in running and organizing a ship effectively. The Truman has been outstanding. There are countless examples of support from a list of Sailors too long to count from almost every department on board. I could not imagine a better experience for the test team."

Capt. S. Robert Roth, Truman's commanding officer, said Sailors benefitted equally from N-UCAS's embark.

"There was obvious curiosity about the aircraft and tremendous enthusiasm from the entire crew to be part of the revolutionary testing," said Roth after an event honoring the partnership built between Team Truman and N-UCAS. "These tests were the perfect match of a crew that knows the environment and the operation of aircraft at sea and a team with impressive new technologies. Our crew has taken great pride in being part of Naval aviation history."

Mackey, a retired Marine with more than 20 years of experience, said he loved being back aboard a Naval vessel to work with Sailors.

"Every minute of the underway was an opportunity to see how far the Navy has grown," said Mackey. "It's awesome to see the caliber of today's warriors. It's been a great experience for me aboard Truman."

With X-47B's deck testing completed, Blottenberger said the aircraft will return to Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River for further testing and is scheduled to embark another carrier in mid-2013.

"I'm a believer that this is only the beginning," said Blottenberger. "We're taking UCAS-D into next year with what we learned aboard Truman. We are planning to get it back on a carrier to complete catapult launches, arrested landings and aerial refueling tests. There is a lot ahead for our program and a lot of hard work behind us. I look at Truman as the beginning of future unmanned integration with the fleet."

DDG 1000 Program Successfully Integrates Deckhouse



From Team Ships Public Affairs

BATH, Maine (NNS) -- The Navy's next generation destroyer, the future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), completed a major ship milestone with the successful lift and integration of the deckhouse on to the ship's hull Dec. 14.

The 1,000-ton deckhouse was fabricated by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Gulfport, Miss., and delivered to the Navy in October 2012. The deckhouse was then transported to Bath, Maine for integration with the ship's hull, which is under construction at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

"This is a major milestone for the program as this ship construction progresses," said Capt. Jim Downey, DDG 1000 class program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. "The successful integration of the deckhouse and hull is a testament to the tremendous design and planning efforts that were instrumental to this program."

With the successful lift and integration of the deckhouse, 9 of 9 ultra units are now on land level at BIW.

"The industry government team meticulously planned the 100' static lift of the deckhouse and translation of the 610' hull into position under the deckhouse," said Downey. "The deckhouse was then lowered into position and the resulting ship moved back into the construction position on the land level facility. Working with our industry partners, we look forward to delivering this highly capable ship to the Fleet."

Construction on DDG 1000 began in February 2009 and is currently 80 percent complete, with ship launch and Christening planned for 2013. The ship is scheduled to deliver in 2014 with an initial operating capability in 2016. Zumwalt will be 610 feet in length, have a beam of 80 feet, displace approximately 15,000 tons, and will have a crew of 130 officers and sailors plus an air detachment. The deckhouse, which is built from steel and composite materials, is 155 feet long and over 60 feet high and will house the ship's bridge, radars, antennas and intake and exhaust systems.

Progress on the DDG 1000 Zumwalt class guided missile destroyers continues to go very well, with all three ships now under construction. Construction on the second ship of the class, Michael Monsoor, began in 2010 with delivery planned in 2016. DDG 1002, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, is expected to deliver to the Navy in 2018.

The multi-mission DDG 1000 is tailored for sustained operations in the littorals and land attack, and will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces.

As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships, an affiliated PEO of the Naval Sea Systems Command, is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all major surface combatants, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft.

Purple Heart Society meeting teaches thankfulness for veterans organizations

Commentary by Lt. Col. Paul Birch
4th Operations Support Squadron


12/18/2012 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- The North Carolina chapters of the Military Order of the Purple Heart invited the 4th Fighter Wing to send a representative to their state-wide meeting in Goldsboro, N.C. the first weekend in December. As that representative, I was honored to address the assembled chapter representatives and state organizational leadership of this national organization that dedicates itself primarily to ensuring proper care for wounded warriors.

Our generation of service members injured in combat enjoys unparalleled care and support throughout our society. It is easy to lose sight of just how much an organization like the Military Order of the Purple Heart does for wounded veterans. My time with them made me reflect on how much support returning veterans over the past decade received not just from the government, but from volunteer organizations and citizens. Though wounded veterans face serious challenges upon their return to civilian life, from a recent historical viewpoint now is a good time to be a veteran. This is particularly true in communities like Goldsboro who are ardent supporters of their local bases and the men and women who serve.

Pondering the breadth of our support made me realize that this has been a cyclic phenomenon in the United States. Although we are a generation removed from the Vietnam conflict, the memory of veterans spurned and scorned upon homecoming still appears vividly in the press, at meetings of veterans' groups, and other forums. How did our country get there? How did we, in bridging the generation between World War II and Vietnam, go from welcoming veterans with open arms and thankful adulation to jeering them and worse? Most importantly, will the cycle continue, returning us to those dark days?

I hope the answer is an emphatic "no." A primary difference within our society since the Vietnam era is that most are able to separate those who voluntarily serve their country from their political viewpoints about the conflicts in which these people serve. This beginning of this sentiment is captured by the bumper sticker "I support the troops," completed by the unstated second half: "...no matter what I might think about the war." This healthy framework for public discourse avoids personal attacks against service members while allowing reasonable debate about national interests and political motivations. It is this collective emotional maturity more than anything else that allows veterans to enjoy the gratitude of their nation for their service independent from political polarization or interest group overtones.

The other way we can hope to keep alive the current favorable state of affairs is through organizations and events that keep alive the memories of what has happened in the past. The next time I see the MOPH float in the annual Veterans' Day parade, I'll have a better appreciation for what that organization stands for and why it is important. The same sentiment applies to visiting The Vietnam Wall Memorial and other reminders of those who provided national service whether the nation's business was popular or not when they served.

While proud of my service and my small contributions, I am somewhat self-conscious at events honoring veterans or military service members. Several other active duty Airmen have shared the same sentiment. Above all else, we would like the attention to go toward veterans who have finished their military careers and those who were wounded or killed in the line of duty. But I think seeing the MOPH meeting a few weeks ago helped me see a bigger part of the reason for these events and may temper some of my typical unease. Having veterans visible and honoring their service does a collective good for society in the way it makes us think about and deal with armed conflict. This is especially important as our nation fights and wins its conflicts with an all-volunteer force.

At the next Veterans' Day parade, I'll proudly honor the sacrifices of veterans with a renewed sense of purpose. And I'll have the example I witnessed at the Military Order of the Purple Heart meeting to thank for that.

Thank you to the ladies and gentlemen who have earned the Purple Heart for their selfless service to our great nation.

Neal assumes command of 188th Maintenance Group

by Senior Airman John Hillier
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office


12/13/2012 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- With a hulking A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthog" at his side, Lt. Col. Anderson Neal Jr. assumed command of the 188th Maintenance Group at a ceremony in at the 188th Fighter Wing Dec. 2.

"We're excited that Lt. Col. Neal is here," said Col. Mark Anderson, 188th Fighter Wing commander. "Lt. Col. Neal recounted several times growing up when others went out of their way to tell him what he couldn't do. Instead of lowering his expectations, he used these doubters as motivation to achieve. His leadership and devotion, in concert with the finest group of maintainers in the world, will carry him through any obstacles in his path."

Colonel Neal began his military career as an F-4 Phantom crew chief with the 188th Maintenance Group in May 1985. He said it was the roar of the F-4 Phantom that got his attention and led to his decision to join the 188th.

"Chief [Master Sgt.] Hershel White escorted a potential recruit out on the flight line, just outside the hangar doors," Colonel Neal said. "Then they fired up one of those F-4 Phantom jets, and I said, 'Where do I sign up?'"

As he thanked the many friends and family members in attendance, Colonel Neal called this event one of the most special and humbling days of his 27-year military career.

"I am the same person as crew chief A1C Neal that began his career 27 years ago," said Colonel Neal. "But now I am responsible for the successes and failures of maintenance. With your help and support, Col. Anderson and our operators can continue to count on us. You are an outstanding group of motivated Airmen. I hope to see that one of you is the 188th Maintenance Group commander one day."

Colonel Neal previously served as director of maintenance, Arkansas National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, Camp Joseph T. Robinson, North Little Rock, Ark.

Colonel Neal enlisted in May 1985 with the 188th Fighter Wing as an Airman 1st class. He completed Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and subsequently began technical training in aircraft maintenance (crew chief), Sheppard AFB, Texas, where he also served as senior student leader (red rope). He received his noncommissioned officer certification in April 1988.

Colonel Neal attended the Academy of Military Science, McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Knoxville, Tenn., and was commissioned in 1989 as a transportation officer. In 1990, he completed the Reserve Officer Transportation Training Course at Sheppard AFB, Texas.

Colonel Neal completed Squadron Officer School by correspondence in 1994. In 1996 he was assigned officer-in-charge of the 188th Management and Systems Office in supply until January 2001, when he was assigned as chief of supply until April 2001.

Colonel Neal assumed command of the 188th Maintenance Squadron in April 2001 and served until 2005. He was activated with the 188th for one year in support of Operation Noble Eagle following the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
Colonel Neal served as Inspector General for the 188th Fighter Wing from December 2005 until being assigned as Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, 189th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, Ark., in March 2007.

"This is my guard family," Colonel Neal said. "They are why I and others have answered our state and nation's call one weekend a month and numerous other days of the past 27 years. It's because we are the Air National Guard."

Panetta, Dempsey Mourn Hawaii Senator

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2012 – The Defense Department’s top civilian and military officials issued statements paying tribute to U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, who died at age 88 yesterday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the senator’s life “embodied the essence of the American Dream and the heroism of the greatest generation.”

"A World War II veteran of the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, his display of leadership and valor in a gun battle that cost him his arm rightfully earned him the Medal of Honor,” Panetta said. “His determination to recover and his extraordinary career that followed continue to inspire wounded warriors today.

“In the U.S. Senate,” the secretary continued, “he was one of the most stalwart and effective advocates of the Department of Defense, and a relentless champion of our men and women in uniform and their families. I was honored to have the opportunity to work closely with him when I served as a member of Congress, and in the Clinton and Obama administrations.”

Inouye’s legacy will endure in the better quality of life he helped to bring to generations of service members and their families and the people of Hawaii, and for his contributions to a stronger national defense, Panetta said. “The thoughts and prayers of all of us at the Department of Defense are with the Inouye family in this time of grief and remembrance," he added.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Inouye “exemplified the role of servant-leader, both in and out of uniform, and served as a role model for so many Americans.”

“As a member of the greatest generation, he gave what many would consider the best years of his life to oppose tyranny in Europe, where he received the Medal of Honor while serving with the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment,” the chairman said. “After losing his arm, he could have finished his service to our nation, but that was just the beginning.”

While serving in the Senate since 1962, Dempsey said, Inouye was a friend to the military and to those who have served the nation in uniform. “His tireless efforts on support for our veterans, particularly in health care and education, will greatly benefit thousands of military service members and our families for years to come,” he said.