Friday, January 04, 2013

E.R. in the sky

by Lt. Col. Bill Walsh
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/3/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICHAM, Hawaii -- Moving wounded heroes off the battlefield to hospitals sometimes thousands of miles away is no easy task, but the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron makes it look easy.

These flying medical pros are responsible for saving lives and train hard for this unique Air Force Reserve mission.

"It's a complex mission and requires long hours just to be familiar with how we do things," said Lt. Col. Paula Frasier as she leads her team on an overseas training mission to the Pacific. "Nineteen hour days are not unusual and dealing with that can be stressful."

Most people think about hospitals as big buildings where medical arts are practiced. Members of the 315 AES think about hospitals as aircraft flying though the sky at thirty-five thousand feet.

24-year-old Senior Airman Storm Ford is new to the squadron and cutting his teeth as a medical technician learning from those who have done the job for years.

"Today I am going to be role playing as a patient and we will be running some different scenarios," he said preparing to lie flat on a combat litter.

On missions like this one, members of the squadron are tested on various elements of patient care sometimes acting out medical emergencies.

These Charleston-based AES crews have to be qualified to do their job on various types of aircraft like the C-17, C-130 and KC-135. Each aircraft is unique but they all share a common goal of transporting wounded. Throughout the training mission nurses rotate the responsibility of being the Medical Crew Director. The MCD is in charge of the AES element onboard the aircraft. Along with the medical care they give, these Airmen have to be able to handle in flight emergencies.

With 26 years of experience, Fraiser has seen it all, but one mission stands out in particular.

"Patients were stacked four high," she said recalling a mission from Ramstein Air Base, Germany to Joint Base Andrews, Md. "We had 82 patients with a crew of nine including a lot of orthopedic injuries and antibiotic patients. There were so many, sometimes it was hard to get to them."

The speed of moving a wounded warrior has changed over the last few decades thanks to heavy airlift and teams like this one who stand ready to go. That speed has saved countless lives especially when it comes to critical care.

"If a patient is critical, a 'C-CAT' (Critical Care Air Transport) team will be aboard just for that one person," said Senior Master Sgt. J.R. May. "That includes a doctor, nurse and repertory technician."

Capt. Dinah Lewis, one of the squadron's flying nurses, explained that some injuries are not seen on the outside.

"We have to be able to deal with psych patients who sometimes might get out of control," she said while preparing her checklist. "We will talk to them to calm the situation but if it gets out of control, we can restrain a patient."

Lewis noted that if patients are restrained in flight, they have to be monitored every fifteen minutes, something they also practiced on this mission.

Like any job in the Air Force Reserve, these men and women are highly focused on their mission especially knowing that they touch so many lives personally.

"Sometimes we develop personal relationships," said Fraiser. "Patients will come back and thank us for helping them."

Soldiers can experience great hardship on the battlefield and these aeromedical evacuation personnel bring a human touch to the job.

"Often times we make cookies to give them a taste of home when they come on the airplane," explained Fraiser.

Deployments far from home come with the job and units stage out of places like Germany, Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the world. Flights are typically long with eight-hour legs not too uncommon. Dealing with these long flights is one of the reasons AES crews do overseas training.

Jumping time zones is tough on the body and lugging pounds of equipment and personal baggage on and off the aircraft can take a toll. These amazing medical crews do it day in and day out highly dedicated to their patients and the Air Force.

Whether as a nurse, doctor, medical technician or any of the other jobs which make up an Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, these Air Force Reserve troops earn their wings every time they step foot on an aircraft.

Face of Defense: Flight Surgeon Notches 1,000 F-16 Hours

By Air Force Senior Airman Victoria Greenia

158th Fighter Wing
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 4, 2013 – When back in August people began telling Air Force Col. Donald Majercik, a flight surgeon here at the Vermont Air National Guard, that he was 20 hours short of 1,000 flight hours he didn't think too much about it.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Col. Donald Majercik, state flight surgeon with the Vermont Air National Guard, surpassed 1,000 hours of flying time in the F-16 Fighting Falcon at the Burlington International Airport, South Burlington, Vt., Nov. 29, 2012. Majercik has served with the Vermont Air National Guard for more than 40 years. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sarah Mattison

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
But as time marched closer to his February 2013 retirement, Majercik began to view the 1,000 hours as a goal.

"I wanted to do something special before I left the Guard," he said.
True to his word, Majercik hit the 1,000-hour milestone on Nov. 29, 2012. Returning from the blue skies with his long-time flying partner and friend, Air Force Lt. Col. Terry Moultroup, the flight surgeon met both his goal and an unexpected group of admirers.

While he had been in the air a coworker on the ground had contacted people, like Wing Commander Air Force Col. David Baczeweski, retired former Wing Commander Air Force Col. Phil Murdock, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Kinney, and many others. They all came to witness the auspicious moment of his return. Most importantly, Majercik’s wife was standing in front of the crowd waving an American flag.

While Majercik said he was surprised by the welcome back, at the same time he was filled with a sense of accomplishment in the belief that he is the first flight surgeon to have completed 1,000 hours in an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

It takes dedication to put that much time into flying.

"The 1,000 hours of flying time represents only a small fraction of the time that it takes to reach that goal," Majercik said. "Each hour of flying requires four to five hours of additional time and effort in order to accomplish that flight."

Flight surgeons are required to log flight hours as part of their aerospace medicine practice. Most, however, do not amass the overwhelming number of hours that Majercik has under his military belt, especially in an F-16.

Another interesting fact is that flight surgeons do not have to be pilots but Majercik is also an avid pilot in his civilian life so he often was able to fly the F-16, not just ride in it.

"We've been flying together for a long time," Moultroup said of Majercik. "I've been here since the early 1980s when we flew the F-4s, and I remember when he was the only flight surgeon the base had. He carried that responsibility all by himself for a long time."

Majercik joined the Vermont Air National Guard when he was an intern in surgery and the Vietnam War was in full swing. He knew it was likely he would be asked to serve in the military in one way or another, and was introduced to the National Guard by William Fagan, who was serving in the Vermont Army National Guard at the time.

For Majercik, the Vermont Air National Guard has given him an amazing legacy. And now he's given the VTANG a legacy as well.

"This achievement is important to the 158 Fighter Wing because it represents a milestone not reached by any other unit," he said. "Over the years, the base has set the benchmark for excellence in all of its endeavors. Its performance in inspections, in theater, and at home has been nothing short of outstanding. Throughout my career I have been privileged to be a part of this."

As his service in the military comes to a close, Majercik said he feels like he can leave knowing he's accomplished something few ever will.

But it isn't without sadness that he says goodbye to his brothers and sisters.

"The best thing about being a flight surgeon here for more than 40 years is all the wonderful people I've had the opportunity to know," Majercik said. "The second best thing is flying the F-16s. The future is bright for the 158th, and as time goes on, I hope to maintain close contact with all of those that are making it so strong. It has and always will be a significant part of my life."

2013 brings big surprise for new family

by Tech. Sgt. Marie Brown
35th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs

1/4/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- A new year brings many good things. For one happy couple, the New Year delivered a new bundle of joy. On Jan 3, just three short days into the new year, Staff Sgt. Shangjung Chiu, 35th Maintenance Operations Squadron, production analyst, and his wife Christi-June, celebrated the birth of their first born at the 35th Medical Group's labor and delivery department.

The baby was due to arrive on Jan. 26, but the happy couple got the surprise they had been waiting months for approximately three weeks early. Evangeline Evelyn Chiu was born at 6:57 p.m. Thursday evening, weighing 5 pounds 1 ounce and measuring 19.3 inches long.

"I am really happy she is here, I was tired of waiting," said Christi-June. "So I am happy she was early."

When asked if they had any big plans for their new daughter in the future, the Chiu's just mentioned that they wanted her to be a winner.

"She was just born but already she is a winner," said Christi-June.

The Chiu family received gift baskets full of baby items that are essential for any newborn including a stuffed bear. The gift baskets were donated by the Misawa Commissary and base Exchange.

The new family will be heading home Jan. 5 where Evangeline will be introduced to her new room already decorated with Winnie the Pooh d├ęcor.

Uniform Wear Policies Vary Among Military Services

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2013 – Goodbye casual Fridays, at least for the Marine Corps.
Effective today, all nondeployed Marines and sailors assigned to Marine units are required to wear the appropriate seasonal service uniform.

Except in cases where commanders allow exceptions based on operational requirements, active- as well as reserve-component Marines will show up for duty every Friday wearing service uniforms.

The change comes from a directive Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos issued in November. The designated uniform worn from November to March will be the Service B “Bravos” and from April to October, the Service C “Charlies” will be worn, the directive specified.

“Unlike the utility uniform, the service uniforms are form fitting, and this characteristic provides leaders with an opportunity to frequently evaluate the personal appearance of their Marines without inducing a work stoppage,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Michael E. Sprague, senior enlisted advisor for Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve.

“Watching Marines square their gig line away and adjust their uniform is indicative of the ‘spit and polish’ pride we seem to have strayed from,” he said.

The new Marine policy came just after the Air Force rescinded its “Blues Monday” policy that had required most airmen to wear the blue uniform every Monday. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III announced in November that he was eliminating the service-wide policy, giving commanders authority to designate uniform wear.

Welsh’s decision overturned one former Air Force Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz had instituted in 2008 as a partial return to pre-9/11 uniform practices. Airmen had been wearing camouflage uniforms at the time, but Schwartz said he believed that “part of our image, culture and professionalism is instilled in our blues.”
Neither the Army nor Navy have servicewide requirements regarding wear of service uniforms, spokespeople for both services confirmed. Wear of uniform decisions are made by commanders or, in the Navy, by designated uniform prescribing authorities who issue uniform policy within their geographic regions.

However, Frank Shirer from the Army Center of Military History recalls a day when all soldiers were required to wear their service green uniforms -- and undergo an inspection -- when they reported to receive their pay. That requirement and the so-called “pay-day inspections” were discontinued during the 1970s as the Army began making direct deposits through electronic banking, Shirer said.

This Day in Naval History - Jan. 04

1863 - Blockading ship USS Quaker City captures sloop Mercury carrying despatches, emphasizing the desperate plight of the South.
1910 - Commissioning of USS Michigan (BB 27), the first U.S. dreadnought battleship.
1989 - F-14 Tomcats from Fighter Squadron 32 embarked aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) shoot down two hostile Libyan MiGs.

Seabees Perform Construction Operations at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras

By Lt. j.g. Teresa Bustamante, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 27 Public Affairs

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 27 continue construction operations at Soto Cano Air Base, the Republic of Honduras supporting construction operations for the base and U.S. Special Operations Command South while assigned to U.S. 4th Fleet.

Located in Honduras, Soto Cano Air Base is home to U.S. Southern Command's Joint Task Force Bravo.

Established in 1983, JTF-B is one example of the longstanding partnership between the United States and Honduran governments and the enduring commitment by the U.S. military in Central America. JTF-B's multifaceted outreach is highlighted in the command's mission statement:

"Joint Task Force-Bravo, as guests of our Honduran host-nation partners and the senior representative for USSOUTHCOM at Soto Cano Air Base, conducts and supports joint operations, actions, and activities throughout the joint operations area maintaining a forward presence in order to enhance regional security, stability, and cooperation."

The Seabee Detachment is tasked with approximately six rehabilitation projects to improve both the quality of life for service members and the serviceability of the base. Excited to take on this new challenge, the team has started work on several projects: a 20 foot by 12 foot concrete pad, the construction of wall partitions at the Special Forces compound and the construction of a steel pole barn.

The team's work is already being noticed by the Soldiers and Airmen stationed here and is fueling additional work requests. The Seabees said they are used to being in demand after working at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and welcome the challenge of new work in a different location.

In addition to working here, the team will forward-deploy to a U.S.-Honduran training site to make interior building renovations, repair a base electric grid, install a new roof, and take care of plumbing for the troops currently occupying that space.

The Seabees are part of a larger group of Navy Reservists from NMCB 27, Chicopee, Mass., who were recalled to active duty in July and deployed throughout South and Central America in support of U.S. Naval Forces

USS Gonzalez Deploys

By Lt. j.g. Kelly Wilson, USS Gonzalez Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) departed Naval Station Norfolk, today, for a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility to participate in anti-piracy and maritime security operations.

"Our crew is ready and motivated for the work that lies ahead," Lt. Alexa Forsyth, Operations Officer, said. "This ship remained focused throughout the training cycle; I am confident that we will be a valued asset for Combatant and Naval Component Commanders."

"Our mission, to assist with regional maritime security by helping to keep sea lands free and safe, is one that we are prepared for and ready to undertake," she said.

The deployment is the culmination of two years of strenuous preparations by the ship. The crew, led by Cmdr. Christopher H. Inskeep, recently completed the Board of Inspection and Survey's five-year material inspection (INSURV) and received the highest score of any destroyer in the last six years.

The crew is looking forward to the opportunity for more hands-on training in a real-world environment, as well as port visits through the Mediterranean and Africa.

Commissioned in 1996, Gonzalez is named for Marine Corps Sgt. Alfredo Gonzalez. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership in the Battle of Hue City, where he was killed protecting the members of his platoon.

Honor Flight Network helps veterans see memorials built in their honor

by SrA. Kelly Galloway
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/2/2013 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- Hobert Yeager was 18 and working on a gas field in rural West Virginia when he received a draft notice in the mail in 1943. "I didn't think much about it at the time, I guess. A close buddy of mine was also drafted the same day," Yeager said. The two left for boot camp together but after training they were separated. His buddy fought in Germany while Yeager was sent to the South Pacific.

"My buddy didn't make it home," Yeager, now 88 years old, recalled.

Nearly 70 years later, he was able to take his first trip to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the Honor Flight Network, to see the memorial that honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home.

As light infantry and mortar gunner, Yeager was assigned to the 21st Infantry Regiment, under the 24th Infantry Division, one of the first U.S. Army Divisions to see combat in World War II. "There were three or four regiments on board to New Guinea," Yeager said. After the troops made landfall, they set up tents and camped at the bottom of the mountain for a few months while waiting for assignment.

"We could see General MacArthur's headquarters, 'Ol' Stovepipe' as we called him, from where we were camping," Yeager said.

In late 1944, the 24th division made an assault landing at Leyte Island in the Philippines, initially encountering only light resistance. However, once the 24th drove further into the Leyte Valley, they came under heavy enemy fire, facing snipers and mortar fire.

"There was constant attack for a good while," Yeager recalled.

"While at Pinamopoan Ridge, my buddy was killed right next to me by an exploding mortar - The Lieutenant to my left had his jaw blown off," Yeager said without emotion. With the entire regiment under constant fire and explosions all around, Yeager says he was lucky to only have had shrapnel driven into his sides. After the fire subsided, Yeager was rushed to the 36th Evacuation Hospital for treatment. While there, he developed malaria. "I don't remember much after that because my fever was so high," Yeager recalled. After 20 days, he was released and rejoined his regiment who were still fighting on the front lines in Leyte.

After taking Leyte Island, Yeager's regiment was sent to aid occupied Japan.

"We thought we were to go to Australia to pick up more troops, but were diverted and sent to Okayama, Japan," he said. "We passed through bombed-out Hiroshima on the troop train - I could see debris and rubble."

After 31 days in occupied Japan, Yeager returned home to West Virginia and received an honorable discharge in 1946. For his service and sacrifices, he was presented with two Purple Heart Medals, a Bronze Star, an Army Good Conduct medal, Victory Medal, Occupation medal and an Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal.

"After the war, I received a letter from the 24th division commander which stated: 'during the entire period, this regiment was attacked, fighting in terrain which favored the enemy more than us. The 21st Infantry Regiment counted 2,133 enemy kills... 14 captured prisoners. The total for the 24th Division was 5,149 enemy casualties. This regiment therefore accounted for 42 percent of the division total.'"

When asked what he thought of seeing the monuments in D.C., he replied: "It was good to finally be able see what had been built in our honor." On the bus back to the hotel, the chairman of the Honor Flight Network, Jim McLaughlin, addressed the 15 veterans on board: "Although none of you will ever accept the title -- in my eyes you are all heroes."

CSADD Encourages Family Planning During Your Navy Career

By Ensign Amber Lynn Daniel, Diversity and Inclusion Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) will address the topic "Planning a Family During Your Navy Career" throughout the month of January.

CSADD, whose motto is "Shipmates Helping Shipmates," will provide information and training across the fleet on resources available to Sailors considering parenthood, as well as information for Sailors who are already parents.

"We want you to continue your career in the Navy, and we want to make sure that child is cared for as well," said Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education Fleet Master Chief (SW/AW/SCW) Scott Benning. "It's a holistic view of the whole situation, it is not about trying to tell someone not to have a family. Our leadership is focused on making sure that our Sailors and their families have the very best in resources. You can see that in housing, in medical facilities, and in the compensation that we have for our families."

The CSADD topic is intended to facilitate an open discussion with Sailors about the many ways having a child can affect an individual Sailor's life. The responsibilities of parenthood require consideration and planning for both men and women in uniform, as all naval service members are expected to balance the demands of a naval career with their family responsibilities.

"At the end of the day, if you want your child to be well taken care of, you've got to prepare," said Benning. "You can't take childbirth lightly. Understand that your family does come first, but that you'll have commitments to taking care of that child, while serving your country and the contract you've signed to serve the Navy. At the end of the day that child has got to be well taken care of."

While a woman could become pregnant at any time, pregnancy can cause less disruption during shore duty. Unplanned pregnancy on sea duty can disqualify a female Sailor from her current duty position, and possibly create a manning loss for her operational command. Ensuring Sailors understand the seriousness of becoming a parent can potentially make a big difference to overall Navy mission readiness.

"Many times we are taught to separate our personal life from our professional life, but in reality the decisions we make can affect both," said Chief Operations Specialist Jessica Myers, senior enlisted advisor to the Navy's Office of Women's Policy. "It is important that male and female service members, to the best of their ability, plan a pregnancy in order to successfully balance the demands of family responsibilities with their military obligations."

According to the Navy's most recent Pregnancy and Parenthood Survey, 74 percent of pregnancies in the Navy were unplanned. Of those unplanned pregnancies, only 31 percent were using birth control at the time they conceived. Furthermore, in 70 percent of enlisted pregnancies, the father was identified as being in the military.

In the Navy, single parents make up 7.6 percent of the total number of service members with children. Additionally, there are approximately 84,000 dual military couples in our Navy, of which 36,000 have children. While some Sailors may intend to be single parents and thrive in that role, January's CSADD topic promotes discussion among men and women about the benefits of planning a family.

Unintended pregnancies can jeopardize operational mission readiness for both male and female service members, and can disrupt a naval career by causing unexpected financial hardship - from the high cost of daycare to possible child support garnishment. In some cases, parenthood can also cause an unexpected and undesired increase in personal responsibilities.

Benning, who helped spearhead the initial creation of CSADD, believes the peer-to-peer education emphasis of CSADD will help ensure Sailors succeed in their family planning goals, whenever they decide to take on the responsibility of having a child.

"Life happens, and we understand that," said Benning. "It is all about educating Sailors on family planning."