Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reserve rescue units converge for multifaceted training

by Staff Sgt. N. Daniel Delgado
304th Rescue Squadron Public Affairs

7/30/2013 - PORTLAND, Ore.  -- Reserve Airmen from the 304th Rescue Squadron at Portland International Airport, Ore.; the 943rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.; and the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., conducted rescue training operations July 27, 2013 in the Portland, Ore., area. The 304th RQS and 943rd Rescue Group are geographically separated units of the 920th RQW, which is Air Force Reserve Command's only combat search-and-rescue wing.

Due to the diverse nature of the rescue mission, these Reservists are required to maintain operational readiness for any environment in the world--from mountain tops to ocean depths, the scorching desert to frozen terrain--as well as a broad range of different aerial platforms. This diverse readiness requirement poses a challenge, but because the 920th RQW is dispersed among three different regions, training together offers the ideal solution.

"We have the rescue triad right now, so it's a big deal," said Capt. Brent Watts, an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot with the 943rd Rescue Group. "The tankers provide us fuel, they jump PJs (pararescuemen), and then we'll swoop in and pick them up. So it's nice to see all assets working together, to see the whole big picture and see how the complete CSAR (combat search-and-rescue) mission ties together."

During the training, a 920th RQW HC-130P/N King aircraft conducted high-altitude airdrop missions with 304th pararescuemen over Beaver Oaks, Ore., while two Pave Hawk helicopters conducted water operations in the Columbia River, near Rooster Rock State Park, Ore. Maj. John Graver, 304th RQS director of operations, was one of the Guardian Angels conducting water training.

"We have a couple currency items that are related to flying on helicopters: methods that you can get on and off a helicopter--other than just walking on them--using ropes, cables, ladders, et cetera," Graver explained.

He said the team set up a rescue scenario and pushed a Zodiac boat out of the helicopter. The boat was tethered with a belay line so the crew could control its descent into the river.

"The team then got to the boat, inflated it, and then motored over, picked up the survivor, and linked up with another boat to do a trans-load from a slower boat to a bigger boat equipped with a heater, monitors, and other medical gear," Graver said.

After the water training was complete, the HC-130 and HH-60s met near Mount Hood, Ore., to practice aerial refueling maneuvers near mountainous terrain. Training together is essential, as the geographically separated units have varied assets and capabilities.

"Training here gives a total encompassment of our training missions and our currencies that we have to maintain," said Command Chief Master Sergeant Timothy M. Bianchi, 920th RQW. "We basically got a lot of the 304th set with one shot, just in one day's mission. We greened-up Davis-Monthan with the aerial refueling, we greened up Patrick with the mountainous terrain flying, and we greened-up our GAs from the 304th."

Along with operating in a diverse range of environments, the rescue mission also employs a diverse range of weapon systems. Bianchi said the 920th RQW is unique because they have three weapon systems: the HH-60, the C-130, and the Guardian Angels, which includes PJs, combat rescue officers, and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists.

"We're one of the very few units that have three weapon systems, and for all three of them to come together to train is paramount to what we do, which is rescue," Bianchi said.

The HC-130 P/N King is the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory and can be tasked for humanitarian assistance operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation, casualty evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations. The HH-60G Pave Hawk's primary mission is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The mission of the Guardian Angels is to rescue, recover, and return American or Allied forces in times of danger or extreme duress. Together, these weapon systems can provide search-and-rescue capabilities anywhere in the world.

But this coalescence takes months of planning to execute successfully. Graver said the 304th RQS overcomes the challenges of being a geographically-separated unit by forecasting a plan for their mission-ready currencies throughout the year. When Reservists come to each monthly unit training assembly, they must spend their time wisely by doing relevant, necessary training to keep them mission-ready. He said having a good schedule far in advance is key.

All this training, from the water operations to the mountainous flying, translates directly to the skills needed downrange when these Airmen deploy.

"We have a really good working relationship with those other rescue squadrons," Graver said "In the end, the training allows us to be proficient in our skills to save lives and aid the injured."

Memorial run unites tanker units around globe

by Lt. Col. Kimberly Howerton
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- An idea to honor a friend, former co-worker and the members of his flight crew turned into an international outpouring of support from KC-135 Stratotanker units around the globe during the July 13 and 14 Unit Training Assembly weekend.

The Shell 77 Memorial Runs united KC-135 tanker units around the world over the July weekend and saw Air Force active, Reserve and Guard members and their families and friends pay tribute to three of their own.

On May 3, 2013 a KC-135 with a crew from the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron from Fairchild Air Force Base went down in Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan. All three crew members, Capt. Mark T. Voss, 27, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Capt. Victoria A. Pinckney, 27, Palmdale, Calif.; and Tech. Sgt. Herman Mackey III, 30, Bakersfield, Calif. died in the crash. The three Airmen were deployed to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The call sign for the aircraft was Shell 77.

When Sky Ablay, wife of Capt. T.J. Ablay, learned of the crash and realized their friend Mackey was among the crew she wanted to do something to honor him. She talked with another friend, Tech. Sgt. Sean Gilson, 465th Air Refueling Squadron member and a boom operator like Mackey about the possibility of doing a memorial run.

"I thought it was just going to be Tinker involved in the memorial event," Gilson explained but Ablay had much bigger plans. It evolved into a world-wide weekend event with refueling wings from around the globe participating.

Runs were conducted at more than 30 sites, she explained, including Kadena Air Base, Japan, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, United Kingdom, bases in Alaska and Hawaii, and two units in Southwest Asia.

Approximately 30 runners signed in for the July 13 Tinker event. The runners ranged from 507th Operations Group leadership and members to small children and a small dog.

Gilson spoke to the group before they began to pay tribute to the three crew members, especially Mackey, his fellow boom operator and friend. The mood of the group took on a somber tone as they remembered the Airmen who brought them together that day.

Ablay and Gilson were pleased with the turn out and overwhelmed by the worldwide support for the Shell 77 Memorial Run idea.

Airman of the Month: striving for excellence

by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- A young Airman from Henderson, N.C., wants to one day be a politician, but in the meantime is being recognized by her peers as a hard working professional here.

Airman 1st Class Tatjuna Talisa Johnson, 436th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, is being recognized as Team Dover's Airman of the Month.

Master Sgt. Anita Walls, 436th Contracting Squadron NCO in charge of base operations flight and Johnson's supervisor, said her Airman will do anything you ask her to do and is eager to do it. She gets the job done fast and that allows them to do more. Walls also said Johnson's personality sets her apart from her peers.

"Johnson has displayed exemplary service on and off duty," said Walls. "She has administered several large dollar contracts on Dover AFB totaling $ 1.5 million. She also stays involved with our squadron activities as well as the local community. Johnson has been with us a year and continues to deliver timely customer support."

Johnson joined the Air Force in November 2011 and has been stationed at Dover AFB since May of 2012.

Johnson said she joined the military to experience something different from her friends back at home. The opportunity to travel influenced her the most. Her father is a retired colonel in the Air Force and that played a part in her joining the Air Force as well.

"I have been thinking about the military since I was in high school," said Johnson. "I have a friend who graduated from college and now works for a call center. That is definitely not something I envisioned for my life."

Before joining the military Johnson went to college and majored in Political Science.

"After the military I want to go to graduate school and get my masters in international affairs," said Johnson. "I want to work in Washington, D.C."

In Johnson's spare time she enjoys reading and learning new things.

"I read a lot," said Johnson. "I really want to get my brain working because sometimes if you are stationary you feel like you are losing some of what you have learned in the past. I like to read a lot of political and self-help books."

Johnson said the person that inspires her most is Beyonce Knowles, a popular female musician, because she is fearless, consistently excellent in her work and has amazing drive and resilience.

"She is a really hard worker and goes after what she wants," said Johnson. "I really respect that and I try to be more like that. She has a strong work ethic and doesn't let negativity get her down. She is just an all-around alpha female."

Johnson said she has definitely taken advantage of the base activities and community service that Dover AFB has to offer. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympic Cycling and said she plans to do it again this year.

"The community service has impacted me," said Johnson. "I am definitely more likely to help out my fellow peers than I was before. I want a more public type career in the future due to the community service I have done."

Senior Master Sgt. Nicola Natale, 436th Contracting Squadron superintendent, has recognized Johnson's hard work and dedication.

"She gives back to the local community through volunteer opportunities, strives to excel academically and has a positive attitude toward her work," said Senior Master Sgt. Nicola Natale, 436th Contracting Squadron superintendent.

Memorial Service Held for Fallen Airman

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Friends and family gathered at the Prairie Rose Chapel here July 30 to pay respects to the memory of Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hullman, 319th Medical Operations Squadron.

"Last week, we lost one of our warriors," said Lt. Col. Brett Nishikawa, 319th Medical Operations Squadron commander. "We are diminished for having lost him, yet we are far better for having known him."

Hullman was declared dead following a shooting incident on base July 21. That incident remains under investigation.

The ceremony began with a photo slideshow of Hullman, his family and friends.

Chaplain (Capt.) Ruben Covos sang the National Anthem and offered an opening prayer, followed by Nishikawa's remarks.

Hullman was remembered for his sense of humor, his talent for Texas Hold 'Em poker, and his dedication to duty, but above all he was remembered for his devotion as a father.

Hullman was born in Omaha, Neb., and grew up in Shenandoah, Iowa, and San Antonio. He graduated from William H. Taft High School in San Antonio.

He enlisted in the Air Force in the fall of 1996 as an aerospace medical apprentice and attended technical training at Brooks AFB, Texas. He later joined the public health career field.

140.6 miles of bliss

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/25/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan  -- She can carry on full-fledged conversations in English and Spanish ... and Hebrew, French, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic.

She's accomplished more in the amount of years you can count on one hand than many people will attempt in a lifetime. And through it all, her personal apex was just recently reached ... for now. The only problem is she can't tell you why.

"I have no idea how it makes me feel," said Capt. Hila Levy, fighting back an enormous smile.

If the smiles were any indication, it's a feeling comparable to ascending the peak of Mount Everest - something Levy said is probably out of the question for her.

You can hold your breath on that one; she's great at deflecting attention and praise. But at least for now, she'll stick to conquering other slopes.

Levy qualified to take part in the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii - a grueling triathlon made up of a 2.4-mile rough water swim, 112 miles of bike racing and a 26.2-mile marathon to finish the event off. To top it off, black lava rock dominates the panorama, and athletes battle fierce crosswinds of 45 mph, 95 degree temperatures and a scorching sun.

In all, it's 140.6 miles, and Levy is one of nearly 1,800 athletes worldwide who qualified to take the plunge. Her first-place finish in her age group during the 70.3-mile Ironman in Tokoname, Japan, ensured her one of 30 qualification slots there for the Kona championship scheduled for Oct. 12.

The path she took to get here took more than crossing just one finish line.

Levy was raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and was born into a military family. Her father, Ramon, was also a captain who worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Her aspirations to shoot for the moon - literally - began at 3-years-old when she set her sights on being an astronaut. By the sixth grade, Levy made attending the U.S. Air Force Academy her main goal.

Levy's mother, Rachel Salpeter-Levy, said she didn't give it much thought as a parent and figured she had plenty of years to get educated on the idea.

Not exactly.

On her 16th birthday, Levy's parents presented her with a certificate to begin flying school, where she dedicated countless hours to ground and flying lessons and obtained her pilot's license within a year.

"Uneasiness is an understatement to describe the feeling of sitting next to the pilot -- your child in an airplane," said Salpeter-Levy.

Levy took her pilot training and fulfilled her dream at the time by accepting a slot at the USAFA, where she enrolled in 2004 and became part of the academy's flying team.

During her time at the academy, where she eventually graduated at the top of her class, she picked up the sport of power lifting. By her senior year, she was competing nationally and locked in a top-10 finish at collegiate nationals.

After some time, Levy felt her cultural background provided more abilities to serve her country, so she switched career fields to become an intelligence officer where she works as the chief of the combat intelligence cell for the 35th Operations Support Squadron here. Having spent time in more than 35 countries and being fluent in seven languages, intelligence is a fitting term to classify Levy.

"We always knew Hila was very bright; her ability to read, comprehend, analyze and absorb is astounding and admirable," said Salpeter-Levy. "We just didn't anticipate how bright she'd shine in the bigger skies."

Another prestigious opportunity arose at the twilight of her academy career, when she was one of only 32 Americans selected as a Rhodes scholarship recipient to the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom -- one of the most well-known and respected opportunities in the world of academics. Levy was the first Puerto Rican-born recipient in the scholarship's existence, and went on to complete two master's degrees in biology and historical research.

After a few months at Oxford, fumbling with finding her place, tragic news came that changed her life. A roadside bomb in Afghanistan violently captured the life of a friend and mentor she spent time with at USAFA; exposing the fragility of the contract we call life.

Levy was rattled, in search of some way to release all the emotions that had relentlessly been building up.

"What am I doing?" she asked herself rhetorically, internally sifting through immense inspiration and desire for purpose. "I needed to do something, anything."

What'd she decide?

She rode a bicycle across the entire United Kingdom, alone.

All 956 miles, from a town called John O'Groats to Lands End, most of the time directly into the heart of a headwind. It was her first time on a bike, and it took her 11 days - a blink of an eye compared to what the spontaneous trip unearthed in the coming months and years.

Her mother called the journey harsh, lonely and daring. Levy called it an amazing experience.

It was an experience made less lonely by the aid of one of her five "children" - all of whom instead of traveling by two legs, roll around on two wheels and were purchased at cycling shops around the world. This time she was escorted by the aptly named "William the Conqueror" as she conquered the English countryside.

On top of falling in love with a newfound activity -- or a healthy addiction, as Levy puts it -- she found a way to make it about others. She raised around $4,000 for British and American wounded veterans along the way.

The U.K. trip sparked a deep-felt passion, and since then Levy has completed double-digit triathlons, marathons and cycling races. She's finished in the top three in more than half of them, along with notching two first-place finishes.

Levy belongs here; she's earned it -- even though she still doesn't quite know how.

"I don't feel I was gifted naturally with any athletic abilities," said Levy. "I'm not tall, I have legs of uneven length, and I have shoulder and knee problems. I have to work hard every single day."

The Ironman mantra is "Anything is Possible," and Levy said she's living proof it's true.

"I would have never dreamed of running a half marathon a year ago ... now I am running that distance at least once a week."

She can thank her coach, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Chase, for some of that. Chase, an Air Force triathlon team member himself, met Levy at an Ironman competition in her birth country, and referred to her as "the most intense woman I know."

"It's hard to think about now, because it's all become so normal to me," Levy said.

"She's unique in that she really will not quit and puts a hurting on plenty of men who think themselves worthy," said Chase. "She's always pushing her results and my expectations as a coach higher and higher."

Chase and Levy are both part of Team Red, White and Blue, an organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

The duo communicate through online technology, where they mainly discuss nutrition and a training routine that consists of workouts like 3-hour bike rides, 5,000-yard swims and 16-mile runs. Some weeks run upwards of 20 hours of pure training.

Like anyone else, Levy has her low points, but it's never enough to make her quit.

"There are some days when you just feel slow, and you know you are," she said. "The great thing about having a coach is having a focused workout. If I lose focus, I won't accomplish anything."

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but Levy doesn't leave much room for excuses. Or any room, for that matter.

"You can't say 'I got injured' or 'I got fat' -- everyone can do this. I have seen people with missing limbs, no vision and traumatic brain injuries compete. I don't want to speak for other people, but there's a lot you can overcome no matter how big the challenge.

"When a guy with one leg passes you during a race, the pain seems to hurt a little less than you thought it did."

For many, the question remains: Why would someone want to voluntarily put themselves through something so demanding?

As a 15-year-old, Levy was highlighted in a student profile. In a section titled "What's important to me", her response was "Achieving my goals and upholding my beliefs."

In that aspect, not much has changed in 11 years.

"What drives me is accomplishing tasks - really following through on accomplishing a goal," said Levy. "I don't question my innate motivations to do it."

She also said the overwhelming support she has received from her leadership at Misawa to pursue these dreams provides positive pressure to give everything she has day in and day out.

"This lifestyle has changed my perspective on life," said Levy. "Working with all these people who challenge themselves and who have overcome so much is so inspiring. It makes you worry a lot less about little things in life.

"It's really nice to be able to bring someone along and be there for someone who needs encouragement. We all started somewhere."

For Levy, it started as a hobby, and ended as - well, let's be realistic. It's far from over. It's only just begun.

US Air Force, RAAF command airfield in Talisman Saber 2013

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

7/25/2013 - WILLIAMSON AIR FIELD, Australia -- U.S. Air Force 36th Contingency Response Group (CRG) Airmen from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, worked hand in hand with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 382nd Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron (ECSS) from RAAF Base Amberley on an airbase opening and sustainment mission during Talisman Saber 2013.

The 36th CRG's key mission was to open up the initial airhead for the surge that would bring in the remaining ground forces for Talisman Saber. Airhead is a military term used for an area secured in hostile territory used as a base for the supply and evacuation of troops and equipment by air.

"We sent an advanced echelon team to Amberley to finalize coordination that has been going on for almost a year," said Lt. Col. Bill Percival, 36th CRG mission commander for Talisman Saber 2013 and 36th Mobility Response Squadron commander. "From Amberley, we boarded Australian C-130Js and infiltrated Williamson Airfield."

The 36th CRG assumed command and control of the airfield from the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Airborne), who seized the airfield shortly after their airdrop July 20.

"In this phase, we are focused on pushing out enemy forces so that we can quickly transition to the next phase," said Percival. "We just received the main body of the 382nd ECSS, led by Wing Commander Andrew Lancaster. Their task is to make the airfield more robust for sustainment and move toward the humanitarian support phase of the exercise."

Though the airfield transitioned to Royal Australian Air Force Command on July 22, Airmen from the 36th CRG continue to perform integrated airfield functions with the RAAF.

"One of the interesting things about this exercise is we're totally integrated, which shows our great partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force," Percival said. "Our guys are manning the entry control point and defensive fighting positions with RAAF security forces, providing scenario-based and real-world security. The RAAF air load team is working side by side with our aerial porters. Our engineers are working with their engineers to maintain the camp. Every function that we do for airfield management -- from intelligence to command and control -- is seamlessly integrated with our allied partners."

Participating in Talisman Saber 2013 provided the Airmen the opportunity to communicate with their Australian counterparts, allowing them to learn different aspects of their job and skills for working in a combined environment. The units learned about each other's organizational processes, acronyms and equipment.

"Working with the Australian Defence Force, particularly the RAAF 382nd ECSS, has been simply outstanding," said Staff Sgt. Sydney Okagu, 36th mobile command and control (C-2) controller. "Not only do we work well together, both teams have learned a lot from our interaction in the field."

Percival said that 382nd ECSS and the 36th CRG create a complementary team. The key differences in how each team deploys their airbase opening elements allow the units to build on each other's strengths and mitigate weaknesses.

"Both units are separately very good, but together, unbeatable," he said. "In a lot of other ways - functions, mentality, mission set - we're still the same. It's remarkable to see everyone work together. We're all one team."

Despite donning different uniforms and conversational vocabulary, members of the Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Air Force continue to move forward together in Talisman Saber 2013 to improve combined force integration for future operations in the Pacific area of responsibility.

"We have gained an operational and tactical understanding of a key skill set and expanded the operational capabilities of U.S. Pacific Air Forces CRG," Okagu said. "Working side by side with our Australian partners will enable future coalition operations in a critical region."

Security forces BEEF up engineers' capabilities

by Airman 1st Class Emily A. Bradley
36th Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Trainers from the 736th Security Forces Squadron paired up with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron in a unique training opportunity to increase expeditionary skills of the prime Base Emergency Engineer Force, or prime BEEF, July 29 on Northwest Field.

The purpose of the training was to increase the 36th CES Airmen's abilities to respond to global threats and provide them with the most up-to-date tactics and procedures used in deployed environments.

"This training will help our Airmen survive in dangerous situations and in high-threat environments like Afghanistan," said Master Sgt. Jacob Tefteller, 36th CES readiness NCO in charge. "Another benefit is the Airmen who learned these skills can pass the knowledge to others in our squadron."

Master Sgt. Eduardo Zepeda, 36th CES electrical systems NCO in charge said the training was important because, while prime BEEF Airmen keep their numerous specialty skills sharp by assisting in maintaining the base, the course served as a refresher on the tasks unique to a deployed location.

Prime BEEF Airmen spent time in the classroom to learn a variety of ground combat skills which included night vision, mission planning and development, various fighting positions, and base security operations. After the class finished, the Airmen applied the skills in the field.

"Each of these new skills the Airmen learned raises their level of knowledge of deployment operations," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Dirner, 736th Security Forces Squadron combat skills instructor. "When it comes time for them to perform, they will remember what they learned."

Prime BEEF Airmen must complete dismounted operations training, where Airmen leave tactical vehicles and patrol in formations on foot, as part of their home station training requirement.

"It's really nice to have hands-on training and a facility to work in, provided by the 736th SFS, that will keep our Airmen ready to deploy," Tefteller said.

62nd APS Airman receives Spirit of Service Award

by Staff Sgt. Jason Truskowski
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Christopher Javier, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron passenger service supervisor, was recently awarded "The American Legion's Spirit of Service Award for the state of Washington" at a ceremony in Yakima, Wash., July 19.

This award recognizes military members who excel in their performance on-duty, and who are also actively involved in their local community. Javier received this award for his exceptional military service throughout his 11-year Air Force career.

"I have always had good leadership and mentors and I am never afraid to go out there and get involved," said Javier. "The strong support of my leadership and peers has always pushed me to excel into that next level in my career."

Javier, a native of Millington, Tenn. has been a hard charger as far back as he can remember, excelling in high school sports and academics as a student at Granada Hills Charter School in Southern California. After the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded, Javier felt his family's military heritage calling him.

"At that point in time I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. My father and grandfather were in Navy, so I was looking at that path," said Javier. "I just wanted to get involved to do my part like my father and grandfather and 9/11 was my calling."

During the three years Javier was stationed at his first duty location, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, he garnered four quarterly awards, an Airman of the Year award at the wing level, and was a Senior Airman Below-the-Zone recipient.

Later, he found himself stationed at Pope AFB, North Carolina, assigned to the 3rd APS, where he continued his award-winning trend by picking up two Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter Awards.

It was after a 376-day deployment to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan and Al Asad Air Base, Iraq in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom that he found himself with orders in-hand, headed to Maxwell AFB, Ala., where he was selected as 1 of 15 NCOs to be an instructor at the Air and Space Basic Course.

This course was part of an Air Force Chief of Staff initiative that created a common Airman experience for all commissioned officers.

During his three-year tenure as an instructor at Maxwell AFB he trained more than 6,600 company grade officers in various field tactics as well as co-authored the Air Force Combatives Program. These milestones helped earn him three NCO of the Quarter Awards and the Air University Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Award.

"I've never liked talking in front of people," said Javier. "Being urged and motivated to get out there and face what I was uncomfortable doing by my fellow instructors really changed things for my Air Force career."

In November of 2011, Javier and his wife moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. where he became the passenger service supervisor at the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron.

Since his assignment to McChord Field, Javier has spent countless hours helping Airmen and soldiers in need at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and residents in his local community through such programs as Habitat for Humanity, local food drives, and the Deployed Airmen Care Program, to name a few.

Chief Ordena Willis Jr., 62nd APS air terminal director, commented on Javier's recognition by saying, "We are extremely excited to have him represent the Air force and Washington state because he truly does personify the spirit of that award."

93rd ARS earns AFA Shilling Award

by Staff Sgt. Michael Means
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., -- The Air Force Association announced recently that the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron earned the 2013 David C. Schilling Award.

The 93rd ARS is the second refueling squadron to receive the award in its 65 year history.

"We had an incredible year in 2012. Not only the 93rd but the whole Operations Group," said Lt. Col. Patrick O'Brien, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron commander. "We couldn't have done this without the support of Team Fairchild and I couldn't be more proud of the men and women of the 93rd ARS."

The 93rd ARS provided aerial refueling support on more than 1,300 overseas combat missions offloading 82-million pounds of fuel while sustaining over 6,000 hours of ground alert supporting Operation Noble Eagle. The units accomplishments, too many to list, also include maintaining a tremendous operations tempo with more than 7,000 man-days deployed at locations around the world.

"The 93rd Air Refueling Squadron received the Schilling Award for the most outstanding contribution to national defense in the field of flight," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "This is a victory for all of Team Fairchild and the first class work we do. We fuel the fight with unmatched professionalism and passion!"

According to the AFA the Schilling Award recognizes an Air Force military member, Department of the Air Force civilian, unit or group of individuals for their contribution in the field of flight in the atmosphere or space. The award was first given in 1948 as the Flight Trophy and renamed in 1957 in honor of Col. David Schilling.

Schilling, one of World War II's most decorated fliers, was a quadruple ace and credited with destroying more than 23 enemy aircraft. He was also key in the development of aerial refueling techniques for fighter aircraft.

"For our unit to receive an award named after someone who was responsible for the early development of aerial refueling is truly an honor," said O'Brien. "We would not be where we are today without his contributions."

In 1950, Schilling went to Manston, England, where he flew a British jet to test the probe-and-drogue system in a refueling operation.
After he landed Schilling said, "Couldn't have been simpler."
Upon his return to the U.S. he personally sold the Air Force on a research and development contract to modify two F-84s to utilize the United Kingdom's Flight Refueling Limited, probe-and-drogue system.
Schilling used this system to make the first non-stop, air-refueled flight by a fighter across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to O'Brien, the 93rd would not be able to achieve the award without the leadership of Lt. Col. John Pantleo, former 93rd ARS commander who led the squadron the first half of the year.

"We are lucky to have been a part of a squadron with such hardworking and dedicated Airmen but this award not only recognizes the hard work that our men and women do every day in the squadron but also the support that Team Fairchild has given us," said O'Brien. "We would not have achieved any of this without their tremendous support."

O'Brien will accept the award on behalf of the squadron Sept. 16 at the 2013 Air and Space conference in Washington, D.C.

(Lt. Col. Clarke Newlon contributed to this story)

Past, present rescue Airmen reunite in Portland

by Tech. Sgt. Anna-Marie Wyant
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Ore. -- Former and current members of the 304th Rescue Squadron reunited in Portland July 26-28 to reminisce, learn and enjoy the camaraderie of wingmen, friends and family.

The 304th RQS, which originally stood up in 1957, is a geographically separated unit of the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.--Air Force Reserve Command's only combat search-and-rescue wing. Previously, the squadron was part of the 939th Air Rescue Wing, which has since been deactivated.

The reunion included a social, banquet, tours, static aircraft and equipment displays, picnic, and most importantly, a time and place for past and present members of the 304th RQS to see familiar faces, meet new friends and share the squadron's great heritage.

"In the rescue family, being able to capture those experiences and show that long tradition of saving lives is pretty amazing," said Col. Jeffrey Macrander, 920th Rescue Wing commander, who was an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot with the 304th RQS from 2001 to 2002. "It's important to share the heritage, especially some of the folks who were around since 1957, hearing their stories."

Retired Master Sgt. Sam Barnett, a former jet engine mechanic and quality assurance technician with the 304th from 1970 to 1993, said he enjoys sharing the stories and heritage with his rescue family at reunions.

"A lot of us have been retired for twenty years, but we still come back to see old friends, old commanders, and see that the PJs (pararescuemen) and HH-60s are still flying," said Barnett, who initially enlisted in the military in 1956. "I miss the camaraderie with the people I got to know over the years. It was a great career."

Barnett's great career included responding to the major eruption at Mount St. Helens, Wash., in 1980. He said the squadron was responsible for saving 67 lives following the eruption, adding that helping people was the most fulfilling part of the mission for him.

Although there have been many changes during the last two decades since his retirement, Barnett said he enjoys meeting the new generation of rescue Airmen in the squadron, and he respects and admires what they do.

"We're all family," Barnett said. "I'm glad to see somebody else has carried on our tradition, especially in rescue."

One of the members carrying on the rescue tradition is Maj. Chris Bernard, a combat rescue officer with the 304th RQS. Bernard, a prior-enlisted pararescueman, has been with the squadron since he joined the Air Force in 1987. Bernard said having squadron reunions is important for him and his fellow Airmen because of the common heritage and bond shared by those in the rescue community--a relatively small community within the Air Force.

"There is already a special bond among military veterans, especially those who have served in combat," Bernard said. "I believe there is an additional bond of those who serve in rescue; rescue has its own special purpose and higher calling."

Bernard said the 304th RQS is a devoted team where Airmen of all specialties are deeply dedicated to rescue and come together to get the job done. He said the reunion was a great opportunity for those currently serving in the unit to learn the lessons from their predecessors and feel proud to be part of an elite squadron with a noble mission.

"In my opinion, it has always been and will always be the most amazing mission in the Air Force," Bernard said of rescue. "We have always been and will always be a tight-knit community who does what is necessary to complete mission. Anyone I know who has been a part of the 304th family holds such fond memories of being part of a team that saves lives."

Bernard said he is grateful for the former 304th RQS members who paved the way for him and his fellow rescue Airmen.

"As the quote by John of Salisbury states the sentiment of those who have come before us, 'we see things that are more distant not because our sight is superior ... but because they raise us up and by their great stature add to ours,'" Bernard said. "We are indeed 'standing on the shoulders of giants.'"

Pro football team honors Bronze Star recipent

by Tech Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino
433 Airlift Wing

7/29/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Lackland -- The final regular season game for the Arena Football League's San Antonio Talons was supposed to be about thanking the fans on Fan Appreciation night, but instead it was Bronze Star recipient, Master Sgt. Robert Mott, who stole the show.

Mott, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Program Manager at the 433rd Civil Engineering Squadron, was honored during the game in the San Antonio Alamodome, when his story of bravery was read to more than 9,000 in attendance.

"This is an incredible experience," Mott said after the ceremony during a timeout in the game.

As a television camera beamed his image to big screens throughout the dome, and the American flag held up behind him, the EOD technician stood at parade rest.

While his team was going through the wreckage, he discovered a hidden room in the foundation of the building. Under the incessant threat of booby traps, Master Sgt. Mott spent the next five hours searching the cramped and dusty hole, and at one point in the recovery, he encountered a fully operational Improvised Explosive Device and disabled it by hand.

"The Arena Football League honors our men and women because they are serving our great country," Arena Football League Commissioner Jerry Kurz, himself a veteran, said via email.

With the crowd on their feet and the benches of both teams applauding, Mott was given a handshake and a game ball by Commissioner Kurz.

"Without their service, we could not exist as we have and will continue to do, due to their service, dedication and sacrifice," Kurz said.

"I have never been to one of these games before. It was one heck of a way to get introduced to the sport," Mott said. "It's been a lot of fun."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Born in the military: One family's legacy of service

by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Military deployments are difficult for both the service member and the family members they leave behind. Being in a dual-military parent family doesn't make it easier, but after nearly 50 years of combined service, the current Wakefields are continuing their family's tradition.

"My great uncles served in the Army during WWII, my dad was an Army mortar man, I'm an aircraft maintainer and now my son is an infantryman in the Marines," said Chief Master Sgt. Gary Wakefield, the 7th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit chief deployed from Robins Air Force Base, Ga. "As soon as my youngest graduates high school, he'll also join the Marines."

For the Wakefields, the military has become a way of life that's been passed down through the generations and as if by fate, the chief found himself a wife whose family also has a strong legacy of service.

"My dad spent 23 years in the Air Force as basically a security police officer," said Master Sgt. Dana Wakefield, who is assigned to the 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Dobbins Air Reserve Base and working for the Air Force Reserve Management Group's Training Management Branch at Robins AFB. "So I grew up in the life of the military child with father gone a lot and mom struggling to keep it all together."

That sentiment is nothing new for (dual-) military families with at least one member gone every 20 months or less for various deployments, temporary duty assignments and unaccompanied one year "short" tours to places like Turkey and South Korea.

"I'm not going lie, it has been difficult at times leaving my family as often and as long as I have throughout my career," the 25-year chief said. "But we pulled through it as a family and I believe these experiences have made us stronger."

Not only was it hard for the chief, but those times dad was gone, were difficult for the family as well.

"All the deployments, unaccompanied tours and moving every two to four years does make you earn your pay check in very unexpected ways," Dana said, who has served for nearly 23 years herself. "I thought it would be easier for me having grown up that way, but it has been just as hard, maybe harder as I struggle to balance being a mom and serve my country in uniform as well."

Dana talked about how she's felt during deployments, especially now both her husband and oldest son are deployed at the same time.

"In the past deployments, I have felt every dark emotion known to womankind," she said. "You become needy in ways you can't understand and you can't explain. It is a strange situation because then they come back and while your new needs start to be filled, the deployment-related needs stay unmet."

Dana thinks this is why many spouses suffer from various forms of stress disorders and depression.

"You think all is fine when they come back and then another deployment comes and bam, you get it right in the kisser and it all comes flooding back and your fears return," she said.

Deployments can be tough for military families, but Dana said the blessing is knowing they are coming home.

"While you are missing many areas of support from your spouse, your burden will lighten when they come home, especially if both of you work on the recovery after deployment," she said. "Having my husband and my son deployed at the same time is very strange. I think I am over my initial fear and anxiety, though I do get very weak in the knees whether I am sitting down or standing up when I say, 'They are both deployed.' But then I focus on how very proud I am of both of them."

Marine Pfc. Seth Wakefield, currently deployed to an undisclosed location in Africa, said it was his parents who really got him interested in the family business.

"I was always fascinated with the military and when Mom and Dad would sometimes come pick me up from school in their battle dress uniforms -- I thought it was so cool," Seth said. "I think anyone who has family in the military, even distant relatives, when you tell someone about it, you fill with pride."

Seth is the older of the two Wakefield boys, who beat his younger brother, Gage, to the "Semper Fidelis" way of life.

But how do you go from growing up Air Force to joining the Marines?

"I wanted a challenge," Gage said with a smile. "When I was little and my brother and I said we were going to be Marines, Mom would say, 'Ok, if you want to make your mother cry.' Now that we are older, she is happy with my choice, although she wishes I would be a linguist or intel."

Yet, like his brother, he plans to join the infantry.

"It gives me a sense of nationalism and pride," Gage said. "I see from my parents that being in the military is a wonderful way of life that grants amazing opportunities for my future."

Echoing his brother, Seth explained what it means to him to have such strong figures in the home.

"My dad is an outstanding example for a young man to follow and I often times find myself in situations where I think of him and what he would do," Seth said. "And just like any good Marine, I often find myself paving my own path right through the hardest route then thinking, 'Shoot, I should have listened to him!' No, but I'm thankful my dad and mom are such great examples of outstanding military personnel."

That token holds true for how the chief and Dana feel of their son's continued commitment to the family tradition of service.

"I'm proud of my boys," the chief said. "What they've accomplished and plan to do with their lives -- that commitment to service, like Dana and I have had, it is truly humbling to know your boys want to serve their country because you served."

Dana added the military is their family business; it is passed down from father or mother to daughter or son.

"It is the way our family gives back to our community and our country," she said. "I am very proud of the two patriots we have raised and my hopes for them are bright and shiny just like the stars on our flag. We have a great love of our country, and as my Mom would say, 'Worts and all.'"

After more deployments, permanent changes of station, TDYs, etc., Dana and the chief said they couldn't have done it without their family, friends and often times, complete strangers.

"I am grateful for the many Americans I meet almost every day who say, 'Thank you for your service,'" Dana said.

Inaugural Olympic match held at Cannon

by Senior Airman Alexxis Pons Abascal
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

7/16/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- Emergency first responders with the 27th Special Operations Wing came together to compete and display capabilities in an Olympic-style competition held at Unity Park here, July 12.

The joint training competition pulled participants from bioenvironmental engineering, emergency management and fire protection.

The HAZMAT Responder Olympics consisted of several three-person teams comprised of one member from each department. Each team competed in timed scenarios covering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents.

"This training event focuses on team cohesion, communication and response capabilities - but in a fun, competitive atmosphere," said Staff Sgt. Kristen Taylor, 27th Special Operations Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight. "After participating in this event, competitors will be able to identify their specific strengths as well as areas they need to give more attention to during future training."

Between each scenario, members faced challenges before being able to move on to the next task and downgrade personal protective equipment.

The three agencies involved were selected due to the fact that they already conduct joint training routinely. There is the possibility that other agencies could be involved in future games.

"We wanted to focus on three challenges today that included the CBRN incidents," Taylor said. "We started the teams in Level A with fully encapsulated suits and self-contained breathing apparatuses, and continued downgrading gear.

"The teams were required to operate response equipment for each scenario to sample and identify hazards while suited up," she continued. "Between each scenario, we included a fun challenge that each team had to complete in order to move on to the next scenario."

The event not only brought on a sense of camaraderie between the three agencies, but showcased some of Cannon's best and brightest emergency responders.

"We conduct joint training to better enhance Cannon's response capabilities in preparation for an accident or terrorist event occurring," Taylor said. "In a real world CBRN situation, all competing agencies would enter the scene together to sample, identify and monitor hazards. All agencies would work together for personal protective equipment determination, decontamination planning, downwind hazard areas determination, and evacuation plan development.

"While this event was our trial run, we received the support we hoped for from the participating units," she continued. "Hopefully, we can make future competitions more advanced and involve other agencies."

Cruise missile flight Airmen protect aircrews, aim for excellence

by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Raughton
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- There's a single point on base where Airmen perform a critical part of the mission here to fuel, maintain, load and test missiles -- all under one roof.

The Airmen assigned to the 2nd Munitions Squadron Cruise Missile Flight at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., sustain Air Force Global Strike Command's only Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missile stockpile.

"Our number one goal is deterrence," said Master Sgt. Scottie Cantrell, the NCO in charge of launcher maintenance. "We work on a fascinating weapons system that is guaranteed to work."

"One can think of a cruise missile as a small aircraft that doesn't come back," said 2nd Lt. Dayna Grant, the 2nd MUNS assistant cruise missile flight commander. "It is one of the smartest weapons in our inventory and provides a long-range strike capability."

However, cruise missiles boast more than just a longer range over conventional munitions.

"The cruise missile has a jet engine, flight control surfaces and internal navigation controls which act like a pilot to steer the missile," said Capt. Andrew Cooper, the 2nd MUNS cruise missile flight commander. "It can change altitude or direction and make multiple passes over its target."

Cruise missile technology allows B-52H Stratofortress aircrews to launch them far from harm.

"The B-52 can fly into a region and the missile will cover the rest of the distance while the B-52 flies home without being in danger," Cooper said.

Due to the missile's highly technical construction, Airmen who work on them require diverse training that begins at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

"This career field is one of the most versatile career fields in the Air Force," Grant said. "It encompasses a variety of different skill sets, to include technical expertise in fuels, structures, weapons loading, electric maintenance, avionics and handling."

In pursuit of excellence, cruise missile flight Airmen work hard to accomplish the deterrence mission.

"The world doesn't know where our nuclear-capable submarines are, and they don't know the status of our intercontinental ballistic missiles," Cooper said. "But they can see Barksdale (AFB Airmen) generating B-52s on the flightline which can be enough to quell conflict in a region because they know America's capability. The rest of the world can see the B-52 fleet and its arsenal of weapons and know that we can reach out and touch them."

Haney Vows to Maintain Deterrence as Stratcom Commander

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2013 – Calling the pursuit of nuclear weapons by violent extremists and nuclear weapons proliferation the greatest strategic threats to the United States, Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney told Congress today he will make providing a safe, secure and effective strategic nuclear deterrent his top priority if confirmed to lead U.S. Strategic Command.

Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet and Stratcom’s previous deputy commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he will do everything in his power to ensure a ready nuclear force that provides strategic deterrence for the United States and its allies.

That, he noted, includes continued modernization of the nuclear triad and the warheads, platforms, sensors and industrial base that supports it.

“As long as other countries have nuclear weapons, we are required to have a safe, secure and effective means to address that,” he said.

Haney also vowed to continue vital Stratcom support to ongoing combat operations being conducted by U.S. Central Command and other combatant commands.

Haney recognized the pace of technology, particularly in the space and cyberspace realms, and the need to maintain a strategic edge in support of the United States and its global interests.

So another top priority, he said, will be to preserve U.S. access to and freedom of action in space, as outlined in the new National Space Policy. This vast operational area is “competitive, congested and contested,” he said, but provides capabilities vital to situational awareness and other capabilities the joint force requires.

Haney also emphasized the importance of partnership and cooperation to ensure the cyber capabilities military operations require.

“Addressing the cyber threat is critical to our national security,” he said. “Intensive and extensive cooperation across the whole of government and the governments of our allies, partners and friends is required to prepare for and respond to these developments.”

Asked his views about elevating U.S. Cyber Command, currently a subunified command under Stratcom, to a separate combatant command, Haney said he is open to consideration, but believes the current structure “is working in a very synchronized fashion.”

“I am a fan of a command and control structure that allows us to win,” he told the panel, emphasizing the importance of Cybercom’s continued alignment with the National Security Agency.
“That synergy is so important,” he added.

Adaptability will be vital as the United States faces ever-changing traditional and nontraditional threats that pose challenges to U.S. global interests, Haney said.

“Our potential adversaries have studied the U.S. way of warfare and are actively developing asymmetric responses,” he noted in his written statement, submitted for the record. “We will need flexible and adaptive capabilities to respond to unknown abilities.”

Haney said he looks forward to working with Congress to address the strategic threats and challenges facing the nation. “They are complex and compelling, and Strategic Command plays a key role in each,” he said.

“Complex threats provide opportunities for terrorism and raise significant security concerns,” Haney added.

Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the current Stratcom commander, told reporters last week the command that has matured over time as it adopted additional missions.

 “I think it is a better command to take on the challenge of the nation’s strategic deterrence,” he said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

“Our approach today is to tailor deterrence to specific actors. One size no longer fits all,” Kehler said. “The nature of the threat has changed pretty dramatically. … The threats we face today are not the same, so this command can’t be the same.”

Kehler said he has full faith in his former deputy’s ability to assume Stratcom’s reins.

“I think he will inherit a command that has come a long way in the last eight or so years -- a long way,” he said.

Face of Defense: Pilots’ ‘Pipe Dream’ Comes True in F-22 Cockpit

By Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance
49th Wing

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., July 30, 2013 – After three years of rigorous training, 25-year-old Air Force 1st Lt. Andrew Van Timmeren, a pilot with the 7th Fighter Squadron here, finally got to climb into the cockpit of an F-22 Raptor -- the world’s most advanced fighter jet -- and take it for a spin.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force 1st Lt. Stephen Renner, 7th Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptor pilot, examines the maintenance order on the aircraft before flight at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., July 25, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasey Close

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The single-seat, twin-engine aircraft is an air dominance fighter that uses stealth technology and eventually will replace the aging F-15C Eagle fighter jets.

“It is a pipe dream to fly the Raptor,” said Van Timmeren, who was assigned the F-22 after completing undergraduate pilot training.

The Grand Rapids, Mich., native studied political science at the U.S. Air Force Academy and graduated in 2010. Everyone asked him what he wanted to fly while he was at the academy, he said, but cadets who expressed a desire to fly the F-22, were laughed at because it was an unrealistic dream.

Previously, F-22 aircraft were assigned only to F-15 and F-16 pilots with fighter experience. The Air Force opened up the F-22 pipeline to new pilots after several years, once experienced instructor and evaluator pilots were in place.

“It is well within the capacity of these new pilots to fly the F-22,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Shawn “Rage” Anger, 7th Fighter Squadron commander. “New pilots make our experienced instructor and evaluator pilots even better at their jobs because of the meticulous training required when you are brand new to the jet.”

Once pilots arrive to the 7th Fighter Squadron, they have several weeks of training before they are considered “combat ready” in the F-22. Since the F-22 is a single-seat airplane, its pilots are on their own, with a wingman flying alongside for support.

Air Force 1st Lt. Stephen Renner, another 7th Fighter Squadron pilot, said that when he walked out to an F-22 for the first time, he had to do a “gut check.”

“I knew I was prepared because of my amazing training, but I did feel anxious to fly the F-22 on my own the first time,” he said.

Renner graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in astronautical engineering in 2010. The Piedmont, Calif., native said he has wanted to be a pilot for as long as he can remember.

“It has been a long road, but entirely worth it,” he said. “Flying the F-22 is a far-fetched dream come true.”

Van Timmeren and Renner both graduated at the top of their undergraduate pilot training classes. “We were pretty lucky to get F-22 drops, because it doesn’t happen often,” Renner said.

Both lieutenants have spent the past three years enduring the Air Force’s intense pilot training program, which includes hundreds of hours of simulator and training aircraft flying, water survival, austere land survival, and medical evaluations.

The training also includes three flights in an F-16 Fighting Falcon to prove could the pilots can withstand 9 G’s of gravitational force, land a fighter aircraft and complete aerial refueling, Van Timmeren said.

“Flying is a bug I was born with,” he added. “I was just blessed to be able to realize it, and to chase my dream.”

U.S.-South Korea Exercises Vital to Readiness, General Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2013 – North Korea is investing in asymmetric systems such as special operations, cyber, and ballistic missiles as its conventional forces have declined in capability, the nominee to serve as the top U.S. and allied commander in South Korea told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

Army Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti was testifying as part of the confirmation process to receive his fourth star and become the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, United Nations Command and Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command. He currently serves as the director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon.

The present strategy for dealing with North Korea -- one of diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions -- is correct, Scaparrotti told the Senate panel.

“I think we have to be persistent and consistent with that strategy,” he said.

“I think the more influence we have, both in the region and internationally, … will be helpful in our strategy,” the general added. “And I think those [military-to-military] relationships are very important to progressing … to our objective about de-nuclearization of the peninsula.”

Joint U.S.-South Korea exercises such as Bold Eagle and Key Resolve are important parts of that influence building, as well as being vital to maintaining readiness on the peninsula, he said.

Scaparrotti said the exercises help to test and develop the milestones in Strategic Alliance 2015, the bilateral agreement to turn over wartime operational control of the Korean defense mission to South Korea in December 2015.

“I also think they're essential in terms of the integration that we're trying to attain and the improvement in both our forces and the Republic of Korea forces,” he added.

Sequestration eventually will put the mission in South Korea at risk, the general said. A reduction in the size of naval forces in the region would undercut the deterrent role they play in the eyes of North Korea and may lead to a greater possibility of miscalculation, Scaparrotti said.

U.S. forces in Korea remain comparatively unscathed by sequester, he said, but they eventually will feel its effects. “We already see the impact on readiness,” the general noted.

For now, though, U.S. Forces Korea enjoys a very high priority in terms of funding and resources, Scaparrotti said, “because we have to be ready to fight in Korea tonight. It's that uncertain.”

Despite concerns about costs, ongoing plans to relocate U.S. troops currently based near Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek are part of Strategic Alliance 2015, the general said.

“We've made agreements with our [South Korean] allies, and those moves are tied to that,” he said. “But I would say, too, that those moves help us posture our forces better,” Scaparrotti added.

Monday, July 29, 2013

New Communications Group commander

by Senior Airman Jake Eckhardt
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/25/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The 375th Communications Group met their newest commander--Lt. Col. Michael Cote--during a change of command ceremony June 26.

The commander shared his leadership philosophy, which consists of four things: mission, people, professionalism, and teamwork. He said all of these are critical to realizing where each person fits in the organization.

"It's important to see where you fit in the mission," he said. "I have airfield maintenance guys who directly affect the mission. Then in many cases, we have Airmen who are three or four layers deep, so it's harder for them to see where they fit in. But when you can see how you contribute to the mission, it makes you take more pride in your organization, while taking care of those around you."

His view on leadership also relates to what he expects out of his Airmen. The core values are what make up the Air Force and we should be held to that standard, he said.
"I expect dignity, fairness and respect from my Airmen," he said. "That's a good foundation for any situation you should run into. We are all professionals, so I expect professionalism just like they should expect it from me."

The commander said that the Airmen should expect the same qualities out of their leader, and they shouldn't be afraid to ask for help or speak up.

"I want my Airmen to push up the problem if you're not getting the intended result," he said. "If you don't get the answer then you are not serving those below you. There is nothing worse than an unasked question."

Out of all the people he looks up to, he said his leadership style is considerably derived from two people.

"I have been reading a lot about Abraham Lincoln. From what I've read, he led us through, arguably, one of the hardest times of our history. He also had a real personal touch. He didn't want people to come into his office; he was often the guy who was with the people. He understood people's strengths and weaknesses."

He said his other role model is his father.

"My father taught me a lot about life lessons, values, integrity and work ethic," he said. "We only had one car, so he worked down the street in a tool and dye shop. Every once in a while, he would take me there to show me everything. He encouraged me to be better than what I am."

"When I was either eight or nine, we were walking to the shop, and he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him that I wanted to work in a tool and dye shop. He looked at me and said, 'I want you to do better than that.' It took time for me to understand that, but really he was just challenging me to be the best I could be."

Cote is originally from Maine. He enlisted in 1986 and received his commission in 1992 as a distinguished graduate of the University of New Hampshire ROTC Program. His first assignment was Keesler AFB, Miss., where he attended the Basic Communications-Computer Systems Officer Course.

Cote's other assignments include serving as the commander of the 39th Communications Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; coalition C2 interoperability action officer, deputy chief, strategic engagement division, command, control, communications computer systems directorate, the Joint Staff at Washington D.C.; and commander of the 332nd Expeditionary Communications Squadron, Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

His last assignment before arriving at Scott was as the chief, capabilities and planning division, defense information system agency at Fort Meade, Md.

MacDill K-9 handlers give homeless dogs a "paw" up on adoption

by Senior Airman Melissa Paradise
6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

7/25/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Members of the 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog section volunteered their time and skills to train dogs at the Society for Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Fla., July 19, 2013.

Staff Sgt. Shannon Hutto, 6th SFS MWD lead trainer, along with four K-9 handlers, trained 15 dogs using basic commands with treats, toys and praise to reinforce good behavior.

"Being able to use our training to get dogs adopted is very rewarding," said Hutto.

Most of the dogs learned quickly while the others were a little slower to catch on, but the handlers took their time until the dogs made progress.

"Our volunteers take the dogs from their cages to train and play," said Megan Montmeny, SPCA Tampa Bay behavior department manager. "Some days they are not out for as long, which causes the dogs to act out, deterring people from adopting them so it's great having these guys here to help us out."

Teaching the fundamentals to the future companions also taught the K-9 handlers how to train a dog with little to no previous training.

"This is a great opportunity for the handlers to be involved in the community especially since dogs are something they are all passionate about," stated Chief Master Sgt. Scott Blake, 6th SFS security forces manager. "It also benefits the handlers to prepare them for advanced supervisory courses on how to train the handlers and the K-9's."

This training opportunity proved to be beneficial for local families as well.

"On the weekends we average 4-6 adoptions, but this weekend we had 18 dogs adopted with the help of the handlers," said Montmeny. "I can't wait to have them come back. I love that they are so willing to donate their time and talent to helping prepare these dogs for adoption and transitioning to their new homes."

The MWD handlers will continue to volunteer at the SPCA Tampa Bay periodically.
by Airman 1st Class Joshua Eikren
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/25/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The Airlift/Tanker Association inducted Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. William H. Pitsenbarger into the ATA Walk of Fame at Scott with the unveiling of his bust in front of 375th Air Mobility Wing headquarters July 18.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, then-Airman 1st Class Pitsenbarger distinguished himself by extreme valor April 11, 1966 near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, while assigned as a Pararescue Crew Member, Detachment 6, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. He was also posthumously promoted to staff sergeant.

"What Sgt. Pitsenbarger did that day was nothing short of heroic," said Gen. Paul Selva, Air Mobility Command commander. "He put his life on the line over and over again."

On that date, Pitsenbarger was aboard a rescue helicopter responding to a call for evacuation of casualties in an on-going firefight with the Vietcong. With disregard for his personal safety, he volunteered to lower to the ground and help evacuate the wounded.

Refusing evacuation, Pitsenbarger subjected himself to enemy fire to save the lives of Army soldiers on the ground, saving nine lives, giving first aid to countless soldiers and braving intense gunfire to gather and distribute vital ammunition to infantryman, said Selva.

"He gave his life that day so others might prevail. He showed that service and excellence are what we in air mobility are all about."

Pathfinders head overseas for combat airlift deployment

by Airman 1st Class Jacob Jimenez
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/29/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Airmen from the 10th Airlift Squadron deployed July 28 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 70 Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing's 10th AS "Pathfinders" departed for a 60-day deployment to the Middle East. They will be accompanied by Airmen from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The Airmen will take over operations of the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.

"This is what I joined for, to contribute to the mission making a difference in nations overseas and to serve my country," said 1st Lt. Althea Johnston, 10th AS pilot. "Deploying is never easy, but it's worthwhile sacrifice."

The unit will operate out of two bases, managing and flying missions in and around Southwest Asia. They are replacing the 7th Airlift Squadron, which is scheduled to return in early August.

The mission of the 817th EAS is to provide global strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the assigned areas of responsibility.

"I am excited to answer the call to duty and make my country proud," said Airman 1st Class Brian Baker, 10th AS loadmaster. "I know my training has prepared me for this day and the days to come."

The 62nd AW's four active duty flying squadrons share responsibility for the deployed squadron and rotate operating the 817th EAS continuously. The deployments allow Air Mobility Command to consistently position assets closer to the action.

Prosecution, Defense in Manning Case Make Closing Arguments

By David Vergun
Army News Service

FORT MEADE, Md., July 29, 2013 – Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's release of classified material did immeasurable harm to national security and put lives at risk, the prosecutor in the soldier’s court-martial here said during his closing arguments July 25.

The next day though, Manning's defense attorney argued the accused was a young, naïve but well-intentioned soldier who wanted to make a difference for the better by bringing to light wrongs that were done during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Manning, now 25, was an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010, working in a tactical-sensitive compartmented information facility, or T-SCIF, at Forward Operating Base Hammer near Baghdad. A SCIF is a restricted facility where secret materials are transmitted, collected and analyzed.

The prosecutor, Army Maj. Ashden Fein, stated that the facts clearly pointed to Manning's culpability, while the defense, led by David Coombs, argued that the prosecution's charges amounted to "diatribes not based in facts."

At the start of the trial on June 3, Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 21 original charges regarding having leaked classified information to the WikiLeaks organization, which then made the documents accessible to the public on the Internet and through media outlets such as the New York Times, the United Kingdom-based The Guardian and the Germany-based Der Spiegel.

Even the term "media" was argued, with the prosecution saying the WikiLeaks organization was not a legitimate news outlet and the defense arguing that it was.

Despite Manning's guilty plea to 10 of the charges, prosecutors went forward with the other 11 charges against him. Those charges stated that he leaked secret documents that he clearly knew from his intelligence training to be harmful to the United States and would result in putting lives at risk.

The charges to which Manning pleaded guilty could result in a maximum possible prison sentence of 20 years. The most serious of the 11 other contested charges, "aiding the enemy," could result in a life sentence if the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, finds him guilty and gives him the maximum penalty. Even if she finds Manning guilty, his sentence will be reviewed by the Military District of Washington commander, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan.

Manning chose to have a trial by the judge alone, rather than a trial by a panel, which is the military's version of a jury.

Manning's rigorous and thorough training as an intelligence analyst instilled in him the importance significant activities, or SIGACTS, have on whether soldiers succeed in battle, fail or are killed, said Fein, the prosecutor.

Yet despite this knowledge, Manning downloaded some 470,000 SIGACTS from the SIPRNET to a memory card, which he later transferred to his home computer. Some 380,000 documents were from Iraq, and 90,000 were from Afghanistan.

The SIPRNET is the military's classified section of the Internet.

In addition to SIGACTS, Manning released Apache attack helicopter videos and thousands of State Department cables, Fein said. A SIGACT, he explained, could include anything from where an attack or improvised explosives device detonated to how an attack helicopter engages the enemy and numbers of casualties resulting from an ambush or IED.

He said commanders decide their main supply routes, plan their battles and base other tactical decisions on SIGACTS, which are even plotted on maps to provide a clear picture of where dangers, as well as where opportunities lie.

If the enemy gets these SIGACTS, they will have access to the Army's "playbook" and can then deduce the tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTP, used and can devise effective countermeasures or adjust fires, Fein said.

A number of foreign governments would gladly pay millions of dollars to have this sort of information, Fein added.

Having released the information soon after deploying to Iraq, Manning "basked in the amount of press he was receiving" and even posed and smiled in a photo he had taken of himself, holding his memory card containing the data, Fein said.

He clearly was on an ego trip and knew the information he'd released would harm U.S. national security, Fein said, adding that Manning even wiped his machine seven times during a three-hour period to ensure his tracks were covered. Wiping a machine means deleting everything on it. Traces of information often remain so multiple wipes are preferred as a more effective scrub.

In short, Fein said, Manning "wanted to be hailed as famous" without regard for the lives of his fellow soldiers. "The flag meant nothing to him," he added.

Coombs, Manning’s attorney, said Manning had access to the entire SIPRNET, which contains millions of documents, and that he probably could have downloaded and released the entire SIPRNET. Yet, he selectively chose to download and pass on only those secret documents that he felt would show how U.S. policy exploited third-world countries and harmed a lot of innocent lives, he said.

If Americans learned about what their government was doing, Manning truly believed they'd see the light and demand changes, Coombs said.

Coombs argued as well that classified documents were arbitrarily labeled "secret," and that most released by Manning could arguably be deemed appropriate for declassification by any reasonable person.

Far from being a traitor, Manning was acting in a way he thought was patriotic, Coombs said, citing recorded conversations Manning had with his friend Lauren McNamara, and with Adrian Lamo, the man who ultimately turned him in to the FBI.

Wiping his computer seven times was normal procedure, Coombs said, as the software often got corrupted and had to be reinstalled. Additionally, Manning continued to use his computer to gain classified materials for several months and never subsequently wiped it, the defense attorney said.

As to TTPs, playbook and SIGACTS, Coombs said those and other terms are "buzzwords" designed to cast aspersions on Manning. In fact, the enemy already was adjusting fires and adapting based on their own observations, and doing so effectively, he said.

Coombs said WikiLeaks was a legitimate news organization, having been recognized with journalistic awards, vetting its sources and publishing information that turned out to be highly accurate. The press, including WikiLeaks, has a responsibility to provide government oversight as part of its Constitutional 1st Amendment rights, he added.

The Watergate scandal that led to President Richard M. Nixon’s 1974 resignation never would have been brought to light had it not been for intrepid journalists, the defense attorney told the judge.

Coombs concluded that there is absolutely zero proof Manning ever even hinted that he was knowingly aiding the enemy. "He really did care what happened to people and hoped to spark a worldwide debate with discussions and reforms," he said.

In addition to the charge of "aiding the enemy," which carries a life sentence, the 20 other charges Manning faces could result in a combined maximum sentence of 154 years in prison.

Not your typical prototype: Block 45 upgrades take off

by Airman 1st Class Jose L. Leon
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/25/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Pilots from the 22nd Operations Group flew the first training mission with Block 45 upgrades in one of the wing's KC-135 Stratotankers July 22, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.

Block 45 addresses critical obsolete aircraft equipment and safety of flight issues including a new auto pilot, a new radio altimeter and an LCD screen that replaces analog gauges as well as other minor changes.

Two of the 62 Stratotankers assigned to McConnell AFB have been retrofitted by Air Force Material Command for testing as prototypes before initial production begins on 17 additional KC-135's.

"Having Air Mobility Command pilots flying prototype AFMC aircraft is a very unique and unprecedented situation," said Maj. Christopher Brockman, 22nd Operations Group KC-135 Stratotanker Block 45 program chief pilot. "These flights provide the cadre an opportunity to develop techniques to best utilize the new equipment."

The cadre, Maj. Scot Stewart and Capt. Travis Neal, 22nd OG instructor pilots, worked a sequence of events confirming the modifications on the aircraft as described in the technical orders and training materials during the flight.

"The jet flew as advertised," said Stewart. "[I] was impressed with the new automation and believe this enhanced modification will bring increased capabilities to the tanker fleet."

Block 45 is the fourth series of major modifications to add capability to the aging KC-135 fleet.

"This new equipment will allow pilots to fly more precisely while increasing their situational awareness and margin of safety," said Brockman. "This is also the first time the plane was flown with training objectives in mind instead of system validation."

Stewart, who was the aircraft commander for the flight, will be assuming the Block 45 program chief pilot position. He shares a similar passion as Brockman when it comes to the KC-135.

"I am very excited to be a part of this program," said Stewart.

Hagel, Winnefeld Honor Korean War Vets, Those Still Serving There

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Navy Adm. James Winnefeld remembered the Korean War as the first time the world united under the banner of the United Nations to stand up to aggression and support the rule of law.

The men spoke today at the ceremony here marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice ending active combat on the Korean peninsula.

More than 1.7 million Americans served in Korea during the 1950-1953 war. A total of 36,574 Americans were killed.

“We stood with our fellow citizens of the world, even though they lived on the other side of it,” Hagel said during the ceremony. “And we did not do it alone.”

Today, one of America’s closest allies is the Republic of Korea. All told, 22 countries fought aggression under the banner of the United Nations.

“The Korean War teaches us an important lesson – that alliances and international institutions are extensions of our influence, not constraints on our power,” Hagel said. “And they are critical to our long-term vision of peace and stability, especially in the Asia-Pacific.”

The American, Korean and allied sacrifices were not in vain. The war in Korea began an unprecedented era of growth, security and prosperity in Asia, and that was made possible by America’s leadership, Hagel said.

“To sustain this security and prosperity in the 21st century, the United States is strengthening its economic, diplomatic, cultural, and security ties with countries throughout Asia,” Hagel said.
But the bedrock alliance remains Korea. The United States still maintains 28,500 U.S. service members in South Korea. “Just as veterans of the Korean War held the line from Pusan to Panmunjom, so too do these current-day defenders stand ready to help guard freedom – and to promote peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and throughout East Asia,” the secretary said.

“For many of us it’s personal – a parent, a brother, a relative, a friend who served far from our shores,” the admiral said. “And I’m no exception – my own father, as a young Navy ensign, served with honor alongside the more than 36,000 heroic Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion to this war.”

The sacrifice of those Americans cemented the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance, and serves as an inspiration to the newest generation to defend the peninsula. All allied forces in South Korea know the motto Katchi Kapshida, or “We Go Together,” Winnefeld said. “For them, for every warrior who served before them, and for those who are serving today in harm’s way, we will always remember,” he said.

Face of Defense: Marine, Wife Save Family After Car Crash

By Marine Corps Cpl. Robert Reeves
1st Marine Division

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., July 29, 2013 – With help from his wife, an amphibious assault vehicle crewman serving here with Charlie Company, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, helped to rescue a family of four after a car crash July 9.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Sgt. Richard Skates and his wife, Jacqueline Skates, helped to save the lives of four people after a car crash. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert Reeves

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Corps Sgt. Richard Skates and his wife, Jacqueline, were traveling with their 2-month-old son when they noticed a large cloud of dirt and debris on an exit ramp from state Route 78 to Interstate Highway 5. As they drove closer, it became apparent to them that a vehicle had veered off the road, through a fence, and overturned into a ditch.
“At first, we thought it was a dust storm,” said Skates, a 25-year-old native of O’Fallon, Mo. “Once we got closer, I thought maybe a motorcycle had hit the fence because of the way it was damaged. Then as we came up to it, I saw a car pointing its nose straight up to the sky.”

Despite having been released hours earlier after treatment for injuries he suffered in a separate incident, Skates didn’t hesitate to rush to the crash site.

“I saw the fence was broken down and the power line pole had been knocked in half,” Jacqueline Skates said. “As I came to a stop, Richard jumped out, and I called 911. He just instantly knew what to do and how to help. He just got in there.”

Skates assessed the situation once he reached the vehicle and realized that the family needed to evacuate the car quickly.

“I could hear them screaming for help as I got to the car,” he said. “Everyone in the vehicle was injured and struggling to get free. I remember seeing the little girl in the back with her brother, and she was trying to be brave.”

Making a split-second decision, he reached through the back window and started pulling the children out first. Despite the chaos in the vehicle, Skates kept his cool and rescued both children from the back seat and a teenager from the passenger seat. He helped them out of the car and into the care of other motorists who had stopped to help.

“He was in there for what seemed like forever,” Jacqueline said. “There were other men outside holding the car up by hand so it didn’t roll over and hurt anyone else. Everyone at the scene was in helping mode. ”

Skates crawled in through the passenger-side window once the children were safely out. He assessed the driver of the car and talked to her to keep her mind off of the crash and keep her conscious.

He was able to use his combat lifesaver training to recognize that although she was bloody, she was able to move both of her arms and legs without restriction from her injuries.

“I got everyone out but the driver,” he said. “A California Highway Patrol officer told me to sit tight and remain in the vehicle, because the car was shaking too much.” The officer instructed them to wait for emergency services and towing crew, who would help stabilize the vehicle by rolling it onto its roof. Skates told the driver to place her hands on the roof of the vehicle and make sure her feet were planted firmly on the floor to brace for the rollover.

“The car was on its side in the ditch with my husband and the driver still inside,” Jacqueline said. “He helped her position herself in the car so the roll wouldn’t hurt her.”

Both the driver and Skates got out the car safely after the fire department and towing crew rolled the vehicle.

“As soon as the car rolled, I helped her turn and crawl out of the window to the CHP officer,” Skates said. “After that, we had to evacuate the area, because the power lines were knocked down, and it was too dangerous to hang around.”

Skates credited his decisiveness to combat lifesaver training and other first-responder training he has received with throughout his career.

“We all received basic lifesaving techniques in recruit training,” Skates said. “It’s funny how quick that stuff comes right back when you need it. It just hit me. I thought, ‘This is how I do it, and this is what needs to happen.’”

Jacqueline said her husband is a good Samaritan at heart who doesn’t mind assisting anyone in need.

“It’s a really good thing we have someone like Richard out there,” she said. “He just wants to help everyone.”

“He is the definition of what a [noncommissioned officer] and a professional Marine sergeant should be,” said Marine Corps Capt. Matthew Hohl, “both engaging junior Marines and his peers and dealing with them on a daily basis for myself and the master sergeant. He is a ‘fire-and-forget’ Marine, always keeping the leadership and myself in the loop so we don’t have to worry.”

Skates has been deployed twice, and stopping to assist in the rescue of this family is typical of the behavior his chain of command has come to expect of him, Hohl said.

“He did really well while deployed,” Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Tyrel Camble said. “Tactically, he has always been a sound individual. He’s the one who takes charge in the heat of the moment. When everyone else seems to be at a loss, when no one knows what to do, he is the one who knows what to do and directs everyone accordingly. He is your top-tier NCO, and he is motivated.”