Monday, February 25, 2013

305th APS improves PAX terminal's family focus

by Pascual Flores
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

2/22/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Personnel from the 305th Aerial Port Squadron conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 12, 2013 for the McGuire Passenger Terminal's newly renovated Family Lounge and Teen Room, here.

The impetus for the renovations came about when for Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Raymond Johns, identified a number of facility standards discrepancies during his 2010 Pacific and European passenger terminal tours.

Personnel within AMC undertook an effort to standardize terminals around the globe as a result of those observations. Family lounges across 24 Air Force and four Navy locations throughout installations in the Pacific region, Europe and the United States were the primary focus of the standardization efforts.

"Today, we're proud to recognize a much-needed enhancement to the McGuire Passenger Terminal Family Lounge which now includes a Teen Room," said Col. Richard Williamson, 305th Air Mobility Wing commander. "This passenger terminal supports an average of over 45,000 passengers a year and many of those passengers are families with children. There is no doubt in my mind that the joint base will remain a gateway for travel in the coming years and that this facility improvement could not have come too soon in support of our valuable men and women in uniform and their families."

The Family Lounge contains new furniture, a television, a play area with toys and books as well as a baby-changing station and cribs.

The Teen Room was added to the second floor mezzanine of the terminal. The room isequipped with a small kitchen area containing tables and chairs, a monitor displaying inbound and outbound flights, a Microsoft Xbox and a foosball table.

"This renovation realizes AMC's commitment to quality facilities," said Maj. Edward Hogan, 305th APS commander. "Any upgrade in support of Department of Defense families and personnel is well worth the investment."

The renovated Family Lounge replaces the 2009 Sesame Workshop's Sesame Room. The Sesame Workshop, a non-profit organization associated with the children's television show "Sesame Street," also launched a project for military families called "Talk, Listen, Connect," in 2006. The project helps children cope with the challenges of military deployments.

The Sesame Room ribbon-cutting ceremony was held June 29, 2009, and featured a special dedication to Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Keefer. Keefer, who passed away Jan. 16, 2009, was an active volunteer with the Sesame Workshop during his Air Force career.

"We intend to honor the selfless contributions of Staff Sgt. Keefer through a simple display set aside in the corner of the family lounge which captures the memory of the original renovation and dedication through a photo collage, memorial plaque and retained memorabilia," said Hogan.

Ceremony guests were then permitted to tour the new rooms to get a hands-on review of their features and amenit

36th LRS earns best fuel flight in PACAF

by Senior Airman Robert Hicks
36th Wing Public Affairs

2/24/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- The 36th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight won the American Petroleum Institute Award for best fuels flight in Pacific Air Forces for 2012.

"Winning this award goes to show that the flight's hard work paid off," said Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Dollard, 36th LRS Fuels Management Flight superintendent. "The Airmen now realize it's not just another gallon on an aircraft, but there's a bigger mission were supporting."

To win the API Award, the flight must excel in three categories: direct mission support, innovative management and quality of life programs.

In 2012, the flight directly supported and trained personnel temporarily assigned here from 30 bases worldwide in support of six joint-combat exercises. These exercises focused on training joint and coalition forces, both on the ground and in the air over Guam and the islands of Micronesia.

During Cope North 12, a trilateral exercise between the U.S., Japanese Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, the joint-refueling force issued 5.7 million gallons of JP-8 fuel to sustain more than 1,000 multinational combat training sorties.

In September 2012, the fuels flight also supported exercise Valiant Shield by issuing 4.1 million gallons of JP-8 fuel, generating 2,000 combat sorties.

"No base outside the active combat zone operates with this unique joint mission or performs vital Air Force strategic functions like we do," said Chief Master Sgt. John Reed, 36th LRS Fuels Management Flight fuels manager.

The 36th LRS Fuel Management Flight also stood out amongst the rest of their competitors in the innovative management section when they teamed up with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron to tackle Guam's corrosive environment.

The two squadrons came up with a plan to extend the life of their refueling fleet by performing daily on-the-spot corrosion touch ups for rust, paint chips and chains as well as washing harmful residue off the trucks every five days and sending them to a dedicated booth at DZSP-21 for paint touch ups.

"Our corrosion control program is benchmarked in PACAF, using our program as a standard for other bases throughout the command," Dollard said.

Along with excelling in the other two categories, the fuels flight also did well in the quality of life section. A couple of the Airmen took the initiative to convert an unused preventive maintenance storage bay into their very own Pacific POL Warrior Fitness Center.

"We wanted to ensure 100 percent of our Airmen have the opportunity to engage in fitness 24/7," Dollard said. "This endeavor highlights the chief of staff of the Air Force focus on the physical training program. We also increased our PT test pass rate from 84 to 96 percent."

Team Andersen's 36th LRS Fuels Management Flight will continue on later this year to compete at the Air Force level.

ANG team helps ensure medical readiness in Korea

by Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/24/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Nearly 40 Airmen from the 121st Medical Group from Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Columbus, Ohio recently arrived here to team up with members of the 51st Medical Group.

The team, made up of doctors and medical technicians, came to Osan for two reasons; to help Airmen for the 51st MDG train and to set up an Expeditionary Medical System.

"We're here for EMEDS training and to help exercise and inventory the EMEDS here for the 7th Air Force and the 51st MDG," said Col. Michelle Gavin, 121st MDG commander.

The 51st Fight Wing has three core missions; defend Osan, execute combat operations and receive follow-on forces. As the 40 Airmen from the Ohio ANG arrived in the middle of Exercise Beverly Bulldog 13-02, members of the 51st MDG used the opportunity to realistically train on receiving those follow-on forces.

"We used this visit to practice receiving those bodies," said Col. Rawson Wood, 51st MDG commander, and 7th AF surgeon serving for all Air Force medical forces on the Korean Peninsula. "It allowed 40 members to arrive to the base under contingency operations and get in-processed and then to arrive in the MDG and reinforce the approximately 300 Airmen serving in the hospital. It was really key to receive these forces in the middle of the exercise to practice one of our three core missions."

After in-processing and providing support to the 51st MDG, the team headed to Suwon Air Base, just a few miles north of Osan to a set up an EMEDS.

"(We're setting up EMEDS) to ensure this could be a functioning system in case something happened here on the Korean peninsula that it needed to be used in a contingency operation," Wood said. "So if something was to happen on the peninsula where they needed to set up a hospital very quickly, and the equipment wasn't inventoried and maintained then it wouldn't be ready."

As part of setting up the EMEDS, the 40-man team built a tent from the ground up that would be used to house the temporary hospital, tested and inventoried more than 1,000 pieces of equipment worth more than $1 Million and ran through a few training scenarios to ensure the faculties were functional.

"I'm really enjoying being here and doing this mission," said Senior Airman Megan Betts, 121st MDG technician. "We are a part of Homeland Response Force back home, and we do a lot of EMEDS training there but coming out to Korea and training really helps with getting a feel for being in different environments."

The group of guardsmen stayed for more than a week and took advantage of their time here by doing as much training as possible and experiencing South Korea to fully understand how important it is to be prepared and trained because something could happen here at any time.

"(My favorite part about this mission)is the teamwork and I love the capability that I can look at almost 40 professionals who I've never met before and not just by the uniform they wear, but by their capabilities and their past experiences I know that these are medics who I would trust to care for me or any of my loved ones in peace time or contingency time," Wood said.

Gen. Selva visits JB Charleston for three-day tour

by Airman 1st Class Tom Brading
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

2/25/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Gen. Paul Selva, Air Mobility Command commander, arrived at Joint Base Charleston, Jan. 13, 2013, for a three-day visit, kicking-off a series of extended tours of AMC units and installations.

Accompanying Selva was his wife, Ricki, and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Kaiser, AMC command chief.

The visit included an opportunity for the general to witness JB Charleston's Total Force program in action. He met with active duty and Reserve Airmen, as well as service members from every branch of the armed forces, who work together at various units throughout the Air Base and Weapons Station.

"The intent of my visit, along with my wife and Chief Kaiser, was to take a good hard look at how we're taking care of the Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines right here at Charleston," said Selva. "I'm just getting my feet on the ground as the AMC commander. JB Charleston is the first of a series of longer installation visits to meet some of the most talented men and women of the Air Force ."

Selva assumed command of AMC in Nov. 2012, and has had the opportunity to briefly visit AMC bases introducing himself and his expectations and priorities. His top priority as commander is ensuring Airmen are resourced, equipped and trained to do the mission.

According to Selva, he was most impressed with the teamwork at JB Charleston ... not just the teamwork within leadership ... but also the younger service members pulling together to make the joint base concept successful.

"It's not about one service branch in joint basing," said Selva. "It's about multiple branches working together for one mission, and JB Charleston has really impressed me with how well they work together and accomplish their mission on a daily basis. It is evident that it's the hard working service members, both active duty and Reserve, that make JB Charleston successful."

One reason for that success is that commanders are training, leading and respecting Airmen so they can get the mission done. Since assuming command of AMC, Selva has consistently communicated the importance of a professional work environment that respects all Airmen and focuses on mission readiness.

"Chief Kaiser and I, as a leadership team at AMC, are interested in innovation and imagination of our youngest Airmen," said Selva. "They are all part of the team and every one of them is important to make the Air Force a better place."

AMC's mission is to provide rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America's armed forces. The command also plays a crucial role in providing humanitarian support at home and around the world. AMC is made up of 135,000 Total Force Airmen - Active, Guard, Reserve, and Civilian who provide aerial refueling, airlift, special air mission and aeromedical evacuation capabilities who provide global support to joint partners, allied nations and fellow Americans in need.

Vietnam vet awarded Purple Heart at Davis-Monthan

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Many Vietnam veterans did not come home to open, welcoming arms. Many people did not honor these veterans for their service, but members of the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., got to honor one Vietnam veteran Feb. 19.

In 1969, as a field maintenance squadron personnel, Stanley Clark was deployed to Vietnam, where he was injured during an attack. During a bombardment in the early part of his 365-day deployment, Clark received injuries to both of his knees while trying to make it to a hardened cover. After receiving the injuries, Clark still managed to get himself to safety. Clark's knees were never the same; however, he not only managed to finish his tour, but also served for 10 years in several career fields.

More than 40 years after the injury, Clark was awarded the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained during the attack.

In a show of respect for the decoration he would receive and the career field in which he served at the time of the injury, Clark requested the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan present him with the Purple Heart.

Field maintenance squadrons were re-designated as equipment maintenance squadrons around the 1980s. Clark along with Maj. Richard Worcester, 355th EMS commander, decided that holding the ceremony, which few current military members have ever seen, in front of the 355th EMS would be best.

Before the ceremony ended, Clark left the men and women of the 355th EMS with some advice that he says took him years to figure out.

"Everyone that serves in the military has been given the greatest gift," Clark said. "You have been given the gift of honor to serve your country."

Getting back to basics can save lives

Commentary by Bill Parsons
Air Force Chief of Ground Safety

2/25/2013 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- In the stressed, overworked and strained ops tempo environment of today's Air Force, safety sometimes ends up pushed to the back burner.

While cutting back on safety precautions is one solution to our over-filled plates, it is the most dangerous, with literally, life-threatening consequences. However, there is another option that can be lifesaving, and it has to do with our safety professionals getting back to the basics of our jobs, although I suspect many will not be happy with this solution.

We must reset our safety priorities because, frankly, things aren't going very well when it comes to on-duty fatalities. In my not-so-humble opinion, four on-the-job fatalities in the Air Force so far this fiscal year -- more than all of last fiscal year -- is four too many. On-duty fatalities occur in a controlled environment and are preventable. Therefore, each of the four fatalities we've experienced this year was preventable.

The Air Force has the very best safety and health professionals and the most well-developed and managed occupational safety and health program in the world. We have more than 650,000 Air Force military and civilian personnel working worldwide. These men and women receive the very best of occupational safety and health training. A single fatality is an indicator of a weak link in our program. What is the link?

Every injury or death is a failure; likely the failure of one or more of these groups: the commanders, the supervisors or the safety professionals. This trio must work to protect our Airmen from hazardous exposure, hazardous environments and/or poor decision making. One of the roles of the safety professional is the "boots on the ground" function; this could be our weak link. That function is a basic part of our job where we are out in the field making sure everyone is doing their part in protecting our Airmen. Our safety program must make spot inspections, workplace visits and Air Force instruction enforcement a priority. Out of those inspections and visits come priceless educational opportunities for skilled safety professionals to ensure every Airman has the necessary knowledge to create and maintain the safest possible work environments.

When safety professionals put their "boots on the ground" as often as possible, relationships develop that foster an environment focused on protecting Airmen and, by extension, preserving all combat capabilities. And let's not lose sight of the vital importance each on-site visit provides as the perfect educational tool for use by all participants in the visit. Airmen will learn instantly if there is something that needs attention, while safety professionals hone their skills in being able to apply safety concepts as well as AFI requirements.

The only bad part of our job as safety professionals is that we seldom know when we're successful, but we always know when we fail. Failure is not an option. I encourage all safety professionals to work diligently with commanders and supervisors toward our goal of zero on-duty fatalities. No one group can do it alone. Remember: commanders, supervisors and good safety professionals, do what it takes to keep all our military and civilian personnel safe.

Tuskegee Airman inspires hundreds of Team MacDill Airmen

by Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- More than 400 people rose and applauded as the 92-year-old American patriot was escorted in his wheel chair into the base theater, Feb. 13.

The highly decorated Airman, who is a living part of American and military history, started off standing on stage, but after some Airmen noticed he was having difficulties, they took it upon themselves to make the stage more comfortable for him by moving a chair and microphone into position for his convenience.

From his seat, Tuskegee Airman retired Tech. Sgt. George Watson proceeded to share almost a century of experiences, adversities he overcame and his outlook on life with Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and civilians for a Black History Month observance event.

Watson enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was stationed at Tuskegee, Ala. He became a part of something much greater then himself at the time-- the Army Air Corps program to teach African Americans to operate and maintain combat aircraft (something that had never been done before in the U.S.).

Watson spoke for nearly an hour and a half. He started off by saying he didn't want to talk about the negative experiences that he dealt with, but the positive outcome of those experiences.

"I don't dwell on the negatives too much; you learn from that," Watson said. "I learned that I have a lot of patience that I didn't think I had. I had a lot of negative things done to me, but we (Tuskegee Airmen) overcome those things."

When Watson entered the service, the checkout lines at the Post Exchange were labeled "Whites only" and "Colored's." He endured segregation, prejudices and hatred daily, but was committed to defending his country nevertheless. Watson's life is a lesson for Airmen on how to be resilient.

"It's amazing to me, how far we have come as a nation," said Tech. Sgt. Holly Garcia, 6th Medical Group, Optometry NCO in change. "To hear someone standing right in front of you recall memories of the ugly prejudices and miss treatment as if it were only yesterday, is crazy to me. I thought it was incredible to hear him tell his story. It truly goes to show if you set your mind and heart, you can achieve your dreams."

Watson attended the first class of African American pilots to graduate from Tuskegee. Thirteen African Americans were enrolled in the program, but only five graduated.

After dedicating 26 years to the military, serving in WWII (where he earned a purple heart), traveling to Italy, German, England, Turkey and Iran, Watson retired at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.

Master Sgt. Laura Stanton, from the Joint Communications Squadron Element, has known Watson for seven years and was instrumental for arranging Watson's visit to MacDill AFB.

"I met him at McGuire AFB when I used to teach at the first-term Airmen center," said Stanton, JCSE Equal Opportunity liaison and a Black History Month committee member. "We needed a guest speaker and I thought who better than him?"

"He's just a great man. He's a legend; we are honored to have him here," said Stanton.

Watson shared his stories of how he steered through, overcame, reached out and bounced back from adversities in his life--a message that is very timely considering the challenges service members face in today's Air Force.

"I'm so proud of today's Airmen. We thought we were the best. We thought we knew everything, but seeing them, they are the best!" Watson said.

Defenders honor vets' sacrifices

by Master Sgt. Cesar Ochoa
21st Security Forces Squadron

2/25/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Two non-profit organizations, the National Museum of World War II Aviation and Honor Flight of Southern Colorado, invited 14 local World War II Veterans to gather at the National Museum of World War II Aviation ,Feb. 2 to celebrate and honor the sacrifices they made for our nation.

Eleven Airmen from the 21st Security Forces Squadron and the National Security Space Institute helped with the event. The museum curators took the veterans, Airmen and community members on tours through the museum to explain the history surrounding World War II and the ongoing restoration of aircraft and vehicles from that era.

The president and CEO of the museum, Bill Klaers, showed his true passion by starting up one of their flyable vintage bomber fighters, a B-25 named "In the Mood".  It was just one of the operational aircraft at the museum.

"I realized that we have it easy because of the technology we have now," said Senior Airman Candon Brake, a 21st SFS Defender. "I also got to meet a Pearl Harbor survivor (one of 13 living USS Arizona survivors) by the name of Donald Stratton. I also really enjoyed witnessing the World War II B-25 running the engines and having conversations with the vets, who were very humorous and very active despite being almost five times my age."

The World War II veterans in attendance were transported back to a time when planes such as these rolled off the assembly lines; you could tell they were happy to hear the roar of the engines as they grinned ear-to-ear.

"I volunteered because I wanted to meet and hear the stories from the World War II heroes and thank them for what they did," said Senior Airman Honore Melton, also a 21st SFS Defender. "My great grandfather also served in World War II. I got an understanding of how hard these men and women had it during their young lives and how strong they are now."

The veterans also shared heroic stories of the battles they won, the hardships they overcame and the lives they saved around the world. They patted each other on the back as they pointed at the gun turrets, remembering what it was like to defend our country one bullet at a time.

15th Wing partners with Make- A-Wish Foundation

by Staff Sgt. Terri Barriere
15th Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Disneyland isn't the only place dreams come true. Members of the 15th Wing recently partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation here to help make sure one child's ultimate dream became a reality.

When 11 year-old Carl Hess was chosen by the MAW Foundation to have his wish granted, he let his passion for history and desire to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience drive his request: he wished to become a downed World War II pilot.

"There's a lot to learn about WWII and I wanted to do something unique that no one had ever chosen," he said of his distinctive wish.

Carl, whose wish was granted after he was diagnosed and entered into treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in June 2011, was accompanied to Hawaii by his mother, father and sister for the adventure.

"When he first made the wish, my first thought was, 'how are they going to pull that off,'" said his mother, Heidi Sullivan.

James Sullivan, Carl's dad, wondered if the wish fulfillment would resemble a Survivor episode or if Carl would simply be "dropped in the woods."

Carl was greeted at the airport by a host of U.S. Marines and members of the Make-A-Wish team. He was then convoyed in an original World War II jeep from the Honolulu International Airport to the USS MISSOURI, his home for the night. On the next day, his wish was granted. While on an air tour of the bombing route of Pearl Harbor, his plane conducted a simulated emergency landing forcing Carl and his team to have to "evade" and "survive" until help arrived the next morning. It was Carl's dream come true.

Also as part of Carl's wish, he donned a custom-made period uniform, received Air Force survival training and took a VIP tour of Pearl Harbor.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'd say this was a 10," said Carl. "I can't wait to tell my friends that I flew a plane ... and they'll never be as cool as I am."

Carl was undecided on whether the best part of the experience was flying the plane or convoying to the USS MISSOURI; but for his parents, the effort put into fulfilling Carl's wish left them overly impressed.

"One thing just kept topping another, it was amazing ... outrageous," James said. "Just the walk through the airport, the ride in a real World War II vehicle and getting to stay on the Missouri ... I'm amazed at all the different pieces and how well thought-out they were. The passion and love everyone had for what they were doing was pretty awesome."

In addition to unforgettable memories, Heidi said Carl was excited about the keepsakes he was given to memorialize the occasion.

"They gave him quite a few things to take home with him and he's looking forward to sharing that with a lot of people," she said. "He's got quite a few people waiting for the reports [of his trip] on the other side. This will go on for quite some time."

Heidi said besides getting through the first year of Carl's expected three years of chemotherapy treatments, seeing the joy on his face was the best part for her.

"Carl says he's fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he doesn't say he has ALL, he says he's fighting it," she said. "The day he found out he was diagnosed he said he knew that he was already healed and he has God in his heart and even though he knew he'd have to get through treatment, he'd be okay. So it was nice for us to have this vacation and be able to realize, alongside of him, that he's going to be okay."

After recovering from his wish experience over the weekend, Carl and his family were treated to a survivor tour of the USS ARIZONA, a tour of the Pacific Aviation Museum and a Hickam Air Force Base tour. The overall experience left a positive impression on Carl, who said he looks forward to joining the Air Force.

Troops, Vets Want ‘Fair Shot’ at Employment, Battaglia Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2013 – Service members and veterans are more than prepared to transition into civilian employment, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Following the release today of a report by the Executive Office of the President titled “The Fast Track to Civilian Employment: Streamlining Credentialing and Licensing for Service Members, Veterans and their Spouses,” Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bryan B. Battaglia told reporters in a conference call with White House officials that the skills, dedication and discipline conferred by military service makes veterans an asset to any civilian employer.

In February 2012, only 11 states had legislation intended to assist military spouses in transferring their licenses or certifications when they moved to a new state, said Tina Tchen, chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. In part due to the efforts of the “Joining Forces” initiative championed by the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden -- along with the president’s military credentialing and licensing task force, 28 states now have such legislation, she said, and more are working toward that goal.

The first lady and Dr. Biden spoke today to the National Governors Association and called on them to help service members and their spouses and the nation’s veterans by making it easier for them to translate their military skills and training into state certificates and licenses.

For now, the task is to build upon existing success by reforming the state regulatory systems around health care and transportation professions to make it easier for veterans and service members to transfer their military training, Tchen said.

The administration’s goal is for all 50 states to have taken legislative or executive action by the end of 2015 to help service members and veterans get the credentials they need, she added.

Service members have the skills that civilian employers need, Battaglia said. “Our service men and women are some of the most highly trained, innovative, resilient [and] adaptable … individuals that our country has to offer.”

Those troops enlisted in large part while the United States was at war, he said, but now, due to the drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing numbers of service members are separating.
"In addition to the 34,000 troops coming home from Afghanistan, … over the next several years we expect as many as a million service members to return to civilian life," Tchen said.

As activity overseas declines, America's commitment to veterans, service members and their families must ramp up, she continued. "We owe it to them to make sure … they have jobs -- and good jobs that they can support their families on."

The transition program for service members separating from military service was completely overhauled recently, Battaglia said, adding that he’s now confident that service members are far better prepared to return to civilian life than they were when he was a young Marine.

“Our men and women transitioning from the military are looking for a fair shot,” he said. “Most leave the military with some invaluable skills, and they have used those skills. … I’ve seen them do it on a battlefield with my own eyes.”

With the support of the American people, he added, their transition back into the civilian workforce will make a difference.

“These are 21st century veterans,” Battaglia said, who will help America shape and rebuild a strong economy.

Soaring to Success -- 94th FTS glider instructor named most active in nation

by Capt. Ashley Walker
12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

2/22/2013 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.  -- For Mark Matticola, a civilian soaring instructor pilot assigned to the 94th Flying Training Squadron, being recognized as the most active glider instructor in the nation by the Soaring Society of America was easy.

"I get paid to do my hobby every day," said Matticola, who was recognized earlier this month. "We mentor the cadets. We teach them disciplined standards, enthusiasm and teamwork. The cadets do all the real work."

Matticola, who is also a lieutenant colonel reservist assigned to the 70th Flying Training Squadron but attached to the 94th FTS, beat more than 400 other soaring instructors from across the country for the honor.

He is the first instructor recognized and certified as a master SSA cross-country instructor in U.S. Air Force Academy history and is the first instructor to be a national judge for the International Aerobatic Club.

"I rely on Matti's talents daily to keep our young officer candidates safe and to develop their Airmanship and Leadership," said Lt. Col. Brad Roller, 94th FTS commander. "His contributions directly support the Academy's mission to develop leaders of character."

Matticola is the coach for the 94th's Advanced Soaring Programs. They include the Cadet Aerobatic Demonstration Team and the Cadet Sailplane Racing Team. Each program is led entirely by cadets, but the squadron is responsible for overseeing all aspects of training; from aerobatic training, cross-country soaring and participation in intercollegiate competitions. Throughout the course of the year Matticola instructs 12 cadets and five officers on each team.

According to Matticola, "For the Cadet Sailplane Racing Team to compete, the tow plane carries the glider to 2,000 feet and then it is up to the pilot to read the sky for weather and use the lift to soar as far as they can."

Matticola is one of only 42 SSA master cross-country instructor pilots in the nation and uses his knowledge to teach students after 15 flights to go on cross-country soaring tasks. The average sailplane competition flight last summer was 250 miles. These distances allowed the racing team to break the distance record for most miles flown in U.S Air Force Academy history with more than 30,700 miles flown in 2012.

"In advanced soaring, students are breaking records that I've never seen before. I teach students to beat me; to be better than me. They are learning faster than we can teach them," he said.

The 94th FTS' competitive soaring teams frequently compete against civilian glider enthusiasts who have 20-30 years of experience. Despite the odds, Matticola led the Cadet Aerobatic Demonstration Team to the best season in more than 23 years, earning 77 medals and 27 trophies.

The 94th FTS conducts more than 16,000 training and competition soaring sorties annually using 24 TG-15 and TG-16 aircraft. The squadron focuses on developing officership, leadership and character in the more than 1,600 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets who go through its program each year.

"The soaring program is an outstanding leadership lab for cadets. Aviation experience is just a byproduct of what we do," Matticola said.

Vietnam War vet receives Bronze Star at JBSA-Randolph

by Alex Salinas
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

2/22/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- An Air Force retiree received a Bronze Star Medal with valor and a Purple Heart at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph's Taj Mahal Feb. 15, nearly 48 years after rescuing officers and protecting military resources during a deployment to Vietnam in 1965.

Placido Salazar, who joined the Air Force in 1956, was stationed at Randolph from 1966 to 1974 and retired from service in 1976 after several deployments, including a four-month stay he would never forget.

Salazar volunteered to deploy to Vietnam, and was stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, from August to November 1965. Salazar was part of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing belonging to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

The wing, which was deactivated in 1966, was a high-altitude reconnaissance wing and the first U.S. Air Force wing to operate the Lockheed U-2, a plane known for gathering intelligence prominently during the Cold War.

At Bien Hoa, Salazar was part of a team that decrypted numerically garbled messages from allies in Vietnam. His team worked in a compound across from the base's central command post.

On Aug. 21, 1965, Salazar was woken up at midnight by a young Airman who delivered a message that needed decrypting.

"I walked to the command post to sign for the message and as soon as I opened the command post door, all hell broke loose," Salazar said. "Bombs went off all around us, one right after the other."

He secured the encrypted message in his hand by placing it in a safe located in the room.

Salazar then realized his commander, who was in nearby sleeping quarters sedated and bandaged from a recent burn injury, was a vulnerable target.

"I ran outside to check who was on guard, but nobody was near the guard gate, so I closed the gate, slipped in a padlock and then ran to the sleeping quarters - a mobile home - to grab the commander," Salazar said. "I put one arm around his waist and my other arm around his shoulder and dragged him to the command post."

After supporting the colonel to the underground command post bunker, Salazar backtracked to assist two other senior officers at the sleeping quarters to safety while mortar rounds exploded in the area.

At one point in between helping the officers, Salazar saw a white flash from a bomb that caused him to slip and hit his head on the tarmac, knocking him unconscious.

Little time passed before he woke up, secured the remaining officers and advanced directly toward the command post, which contained highly classified documents he then guarded from possible enemy breach until he was relieved.

Years after battling post-traumatic stress disorder, Salazar has focused his energy on the medical care of veterans, especially to those who served before 9/11.

His Bronze Star Medal was approved in 2000 and his Purple Heart was approved in February for injuries he received during the event in Vietnam.

During the awards presentation, retired Col. Colin Chauret, who was Salazar's commander at Randolph, pinned the medals onto Salazar's uniform and spoke about the war veteran's "V" for valor distinction.

"They don't come for free; people have to make sacrifices," Chauret said. "I am honored to pin the medals."

728th controls F-35s for final mission

by Samuel King Jr.
Team Eglin Public Affairs

2/25/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 62-year-old 728th Air Control Squadron Demons completed their final mission Jan. 31, adding the Air Force's newest aircraft, the F-35A Lightning II, to its exponential tally of controlled combat aircraft.

"Talk about going out on top," said Lt. Col. Jon Rhone, the 728th Air Control Squadron commander. "People will always remember our history, but they will also remember the last thing we did as well. This is how you want to complete a legacy."

In early 2012, Air Combat Command was directed to reduce its number of U.S. based control and reporting centers from three to two. The 728th was selected for deactivation because it was not collocated with operational aircraft and live, air-to-air opportunities were limited here, according to a statement released by the Secretary of the Air Force when the closure was announced.

The 728th ACS's mission is to execute the air tasking order given to them by the Combine Forces Air Component commander, or CFACC. At the basic level, the ACS provides persistent battle management for aircraft packaged to support ground forces as well as enforce air dominance. The squadron uses 25 different Air Force specialty codes and is capable of self-sustained operations at either a main operating base or in austere conditions.

The communications and maintenance personnel ensure the equipment is optimized for controllers to pass vital information to and from ground units, component commanders, such as the CFACC in the air and space operations center and military aircraft to ensure the airpower mission is successful.

The 728th operators transfer large amounts of data to and from aircraft, via voice or data communications, including instant messages.

"Acting as a communication conduit, we take the combatant commanders' vision and intent and translate it into the tactical language for the end users in the air," Rhone said.

For their final mission, they provided communications and data to a four-ship of F-35s from the 33rd Fighter Wing, the wing the 728th was assigned to from 1992 to 2008. To honor and say goodbye to their former squadron, the 33rd FW's commander and 58th Fighter Squadron leadership flew the mission.

The sortie was a tactical intercept mission against two F-16s over the Gulf of Mexico. With information and direction provided by 728th weapons directors, the joint strike fighters tracked their targets, engaged and destroyed them within the exercise. This scenario was repeated six times, meeting various aircraft and controller mission objectives.

Typically, the 728th operators control both of the aircraft players in the scenario. To make it a special last mission, the 552nd Air Control Wing, the host wing for all CRCs at Tinker AFB, Okla., sent an E-3 Sentry to control the simulated enemy aircraft.

"This mission was really a capstone of a long heritage of impressive command and control operations," said Col. Alexander Koven, the 552nd Air Control Group commander. "Having the 33rd involved was a reminder of where they've been. For the 552nd, it was a symbolic passing of the torch as we carry on the battle management and command and control capability."

Now that the final mission is complete, the Airmen of the 728th begin deactivation procedures. While the communications and equipment maintainers focus on preparing to transfer equipment to other combat-coded squadrons, the weapons directors and surveillance technicians will be the first of the 298 Airmen to begin exiting to other CRCs under the 552nd.

Many of the Demons fulfilling support functions will either be incorporated into the Eglin and Hurlburt missions or sent to another Air Force base within the U.S.

The official deactivation ceremony is scheduled for May 17. A detachment will remain until the personnel and equipment are processed out.

AFSO 21: Innovations for T-38 Maintenance

by Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

2/20/2013 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Using the Air Force's Smart Operations for the 21st Century Program, members from the 47th Maintenance Directorate and 47th Operations Group developed a plan to trim hours required to maintain Laughlin's aging fleet of T-38 Talon aircraft.

The eight-member team spent last week using AFSO 21's multi-step, continuous process improvement system to review how the T-38 is maintained from start to finish when new inspection guidelines were added risking impact to Laughlin's mission of training world-class pilots.

"This was the perfect opportunity to put a team together and further advance our innovative Team XL culture to improve our processes," said Col. Tom Murphy, 47th Flying Training Wing Commander.

"Adopted by the Air Force and based on private sector Knowledge, AFSO 21 is geared at finding wasted efforts in how organizations work and developing innovative means of improving those processes," explained Robert Wade, 47th MX Chief of Data Management and AFSO 21 Facilitator.

AFSO 21's innovative process was critical in confronting an issue facing Laughlin maintainers. The T-38 fleet is more than 40 years old, and age breeds problems that can impede pilot training.

"As an aircraft flies through the air, its frame flexes," said Philip Pulliam, 47th MX Strategic Plans and Programs Manager and AFSO 21 Team Leader. "The metal begins to harden as it ages and becomes brittle and begins to crack. With no replacement on the horizon for the T-38, a solution had to be found."

"To keep Laughlin's current fleet operational, the T-38 is required to undergo an inspection every 450 hours. At the Air Force's busiest airfield, this number is quickly hit," said Pulliam.

New inspection requirements mandated by new technical data to counter the airframe problems growing in the aging fleet were tacked on to Laughlin's current periodic inspections and that's when the maintainers hit a snag.

"The minor periodic inspections can be simple and take only seven to eight days. However, more comprehensive, periodic inspections require the T-38 to be grounded for close to a month. The additional inspections added close to 45 days of work to the already time-consuming periodic inspections, making it impossible for the maintainers to fully support the wing's T-38 flying-hour requirements," said Pulliam.

That's when Michael Johnson, 47th FTW Director of Maintenance, called for the AFSO 21 event to find a way to complete the inspections while ensuring pilot training went unaffected.

"I directed this AFSO 21 event to solve an equation consisting of unequal parts of workload, manpower, and time. The new inspection increased the amount of time and workload without providing for additional manpower to complete these inspections on our T-38 aircraft," said Johnson. "The AFSO 21 process is perfectly suited to examine in detail all elements of that equation and balance them to where we can once again fully support the T-38 flying mission."

The team met together on Jan. 18 and 25, for two preliminary meetings before officially beginning their week-long rapid improvement event.

Pulliam explained that the initial events allowed the team members, who each play a part in maintaining the T-38, to see the complete process from beginning to end.

"We looked at the plane from 'chock to chock'," said Pulliam. "From when the aircraft lands until it was ready for another mission, we looked at everything to find the best way to implement. The wheels were turning and the team saw where things were working and where they weren't."

From Feb. 4-8, on a long sheet of paper stretching from wall to wall, the team began placing countless little yellow sticky notes detailing each individual process in the T-38 maintenance chain, which provided the members a vivid and daunting picture, explained Pulliam.

The team reviewed each step, discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each and brainstormed ideas on how to make them better. What they found was a lot of waste that could be trimmed from the process and procedures that could be improved by simply shuffling the order in the chain, said Pulliam.

"The process identified areas where there was no value added, meaning non-production time on the aircraft," said Pulliam. "Things like waiting around for paint and sealant to dry which can take 12 to 18 hours, or moving the aircraft from one location to another when you could simply consolidate the pieces in one location."

With each new idea the long sheet of notes began to shift and shorten, numbers were written indicating hours saved by each shift in the process. And when all was said and done they had made an impact.

The overall process had cut nearly in half, from more than 600 hours to about 300; a 48 percent improvement, explained Pulliam.

Already, changes are being put in place to revitalize T-38 maintenance with the final pieces scheduled to be in place by August. Hanger Two will become the focal point for T-38 inspections; the structural inspection will be kept separate from the regular T-38 periodic inspections, new tools will be purchased reducing time spent on removing paints, sealants and fasteners, and numerous work steps were ordered, helping to reduce unproductive time, explained Pulliam.

Wade, who hosted several AFSO 21 events in the past, commended the group for their work, how smoothly the event went and their quick implementation of recommended ideas.

"This team did some amazing things and kept moving to logical and interesting countermeasures to the problem," said Wade. "The team tested many ideas during the week to see if their ideas could meet reality. They were enthusiastic."

AFSO 21 did more than just reduce maintenance time. The team's work potentially saved Laughlin and the Air Force countless dollars in line with the Air Force's Cost Conscious Culture, explained Pulliam.

"This defined the kind of innovation we need in today's environment and we are challenging every unit to make sure they are doing everything in the most efficient and effective way possible," said Col. Murphy.

The AFSO 21 Team showcased Laughlin's level of ingenuity and resolve needed in today's fiscal climate.

"By thinking outside of the box and examining how we use our resources to be most effective, the team managed to reduce the time in half to complete the new inspection requirements," said Johnson. "They are to be commended for putting aside their preconceptions, looking at the process with fresh perspectives, and working together to solve this very difficult problem."

Battle drills the Arctic Defender way

by Staff Sgt. Adrian Cavazos
821st Air Base Group

2/25/2013 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- Over the past several years, installation security has evolved from air base defense, to integrated base defense, to integrated defense. The Arctic Defenders of the 821st Security Forces Squadron at Thule Air Base have embedded integrated defense within our actions and everyday thinking.

As an installation, we grasp the concepts and functions of integrated defense and have taken continuous stringent practices to implement perfected procedures in the Arctic region. Through developed training methods, technology and base operations, we have applied advanced measures to deter, detect and defeat any potential threat by acting rather than reacting and thereby making the installation a harder target for potential terrorist threats.

The goal and standard of integrated defense training is to increase readiness and provide opportunities to better prepare us for worst-case scenarios. The 821st SFS has created realistic training scenarios that apply to our local threat and our facilities to better handle any situation we may be faced with and must overcome.

More specifically, we have initiated the use of battle drills. Battle drills are basically minimal orders from leaders applied to a small unit repetitively to ensure sequential actions become a trained response. Battle drills, most commonly utilized prior to combat operations in a deployed environment, provide standardized operating procedures and allow Airmen to train to "what if" scenarios. Additionally, Airmen train by the use of instinct and constant rehearsal which maximizes proficiency and minimizes exertion of force. Staff Sgt. Joseph Cull, 821st SFS flight sergeant, took the lead and volunteered to design the battle drills due to his extensive knowledge in security.

"Battle drills are a way to have a plan in advance for different security situations so everyone knows their role and the role of the defender next to them," Cull said. Battle drills have allowed the Airmen to tailor training to a hands-on and mission specific approach to ready Airmen and heighten security measures.

The battle drill concept was initiated using the crawl-walk-run system. The concept started at a flight sergeants meeting where potential scenarios were discussed and the concept of drills quickly took off. The scenarios included active shooter, duress, alarm response and unauthorized individual drills. The battle drills exercise any situation the responding patrols may encounter such as a downed defender, barricaded subject or downed communications. In the past, these types of responses were typically incorporated into quarterly Condor Crest, short sprint and flight level exercises. They have now become a daily part of operations. Whether it is a terrorist attack, an insider threat, or a large scale disaster, we are all susceptible. This battle drill approach provides junior Airmen an opportunity to learn invaluable leadership and communications skills in an environment that also hones their tactics, techniques and procedures.

Never content with current progress, Cull and the other flight sergeants continue to expand their efforts by integrating new scenarios into each facet of our integrated defense.

"The best thing about battle drills is that they can continue to be improved," Cull said. His enthusiasm is infectious and almost every day, he is approached by a fellow defender offering to assist with new ideas on how to respond to different incidents. He continues to improve established drills, to apply the validated upgrades, and to provide valuable training so all personnel remain technically proficient and stay on a constant paralleled regiment. These battle drills encourage constant innovation which enhances the entire team as we maintain an ever-present security footprint.

"It Takes the Defend the REST" is the 821st SFS motto. It's an honor Defenders there truly believe and carry with them every day. Battle drills allow the Airmen to be the best and defend Thule Air Base as well as its host nation. Never being satisfied and continuing to find a better way of training, use of technology and implementing future base operations is crucial to defending the base.

The austere environment and conditions at Thule Air Base require its Airmen to be ready both as an individual and as a team. Challenges like these make readiness even more important. Battle drills keep the 821st SFS Airmen motivated, focused, trained and prepared for anything.

Royal Saudi AF's top training leader sees 'inspiration' at Sheppard

by Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

2/21/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Royal Saudi Air Force's top training leader visited here Feb. 21 for a first-hand look at the 82nd Training Wing and the facilities used by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Airmen-in-Training.

Maj. Gen. Saeed Muedh Alzahrani, commander of the RSAF Technical Studies Institute, led the Saudi delegation during the visit. The Technical Studies Institute is responsible for all RSAF basic and technical training.

The number of Saudi airmen-in-training at U.S. air bases increased after last year's completion of a $29.4 billion Foreign Military Sales agreement for the purchase of 84 F-15SA fighter aircraft, as well as upgrading RSAF's fleet of 70 F-15S aircraft to the SA model. 

Saudi airmen train directly with personnel from other services during their time here and the visit gave the RSAF delegation a chance to see the overall training life of Airmen-in-Training, regardless of country, while at the base.

"He (Alzahrani) was very interested in every aspect of our operations," said Brig. Gen. Michael Fantini, 82nd Training Wing commander. "Tthe 'inspire' piece of our wing mission statement was one of the key peices of our training that he was excited about."

Incorporating the inspiration aspect to training and making sure the RSAF Airmen are exposed to every element of the training environment was high on the priority list for the RSAF, Fantini said.

Another strong area of interest during the visit was the professional development training offered by the Air Force.

"The RSAF were very impressed with our NCO Academy," said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Johnson, 82nd TRW command chief. "Developing every aspect of their force continues to be a focal point for them."

After breakfast at the Tumbleweed dining facility and an office call with Fantini that included a wing mission briefing, the visitors were shown RSAF training areas in the 361st, 362nd and 363rd Training Squadrons.

This included apprentice course training in F-15 tactical aircraft maintenance, F-15 aircraft armament systems, munitions systems and propulsion systems.

RSAF students also got the opportunity to attend an all-call with Alzahrani at the Solid Rock Café for a question and answer session about the student experience at Sheppard.

Later in the day, the delegation viewed the RSAF dorm areas before heading to the 82nd Training Wing conference room for a round-table discussion on overall program operations.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Alghamdi, F-15 project officer and director of procurement, along with Brig. Gen. Abdullah Saleh Alqahtani, base training and KKT commander, were also part of the RSAF delegation.