Friday, March 08, 2013

Filipino survivors of a 2012 earthquake receive medical care during Operation Pacific Angel

by Senior Master Sgt. J.C. Woodring
Pacific Angel Public Affairs

3/8/2013 - DUMAGUETE, Philippines  -- U.S. servicemembers partnered with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide medical care for Filipino survivors of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated their town in 2012, as part of a humanitarian effort currently underway here through March 9.

Operation Pacific Angel-Philippines, a humanitarian medical and civil engineering mission that kicked off March 4 at five worksites throughout Negros Oriental Province, included approximately 55 U.S. servicemembers from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines, members of the AFP and several local non-governmental organizations.

"We are here to help, and we have all of the patients organized and coming in very orderly," said Capt. Eddie Donovan, a medical service corps officer from Osan Air Base, South Korea, who organized patient flow with Tolentino. "About half of the patients were seen here, and the others were taken to Dumaguete."

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines drove approximately 100 patients from a nearby mountain area that was hit hardest by the quake to the PACANGEL-Philippines medical sites for treatment March 6.

"That's what Pacific Angel is about," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alvin Alana, Pacific Angel-Philippines mission commander from the Hawaii National Guard. "Within our resources, we want to care for those who need our help most. These families have lost a lot, and if we can make their life a little better, it is the right thing to do."

Since the earthquake hit the province in February 2012, the survivors have been without a medical clinic in their area.

"It is so important for them to be here that they rode in the AFP trucks for four hours just to make it," said AFP 2nd Lt. Ruth Zandra Tolentino, a nurse who assisted with patient flow . "They are so thankful for the medical treatment."

She came to Negros Oriental Province from a neighboring island to participate in the operation.

The added workload didn't seem to faze the team providing the care. Both of the medical sites provided primary, dental and optometry care, as well as physical therapy.

"There was always a Filipino doctor working alongside his American counterpart," said Master Sgt. Kimona Woodward, a medical administrator from Misawa Air Base, Japan. "It was good to see them team up like that."

Despite the obvious benefits for the patients who receive free health services, the caregivers benefit from it as well.

"The Filipino dentist deals with these types of cases all of the time, and he is fast," said Capt. Cherie Gabriel, a dentist from Yokota Air Base, Japan. "Helping them with their teeth really matters to them."

The patients who received treatment didn't hide their gratitude for the assistance.

"It was amazing how much reading glasses can make someone's day," said Staff Sgt. Dwain Tolvert, an optometry technician from Kadena Air Base, Japan.
The mission didn't go unnoticed by local government officials.

"We are very honored to have you here in Negros Oriental Province. You are making a difference throughout our province," said Roel R. Degamo, governor of Negros Oriental Province, during a meeting with Alana.

Alana joined his AFP counterpart, Col. Francisco M. Patrimonio, on regular visits to the sites and meetings with mayors of the cities closest to the sites.

Two of the sites provided medical care and three contain civil engineering programs to improve schools  in the area. 

Operation Pacific Angel is a U.S. Pacific Command humanitarian mission that sends primary care, dental, optometry and civil engineer experts to different countries each year to partner with their militaries and other non-governmental organizations. This marks the sixth year of the operation, and Pacific Angel-Philippines is the first trip of the year. It is scheduled to last through March 9.

Langley CES show their skills during fuel spill exercise

by Senior Airman Brittany Paerschke-O'Brien
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/7/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- A bulk tank holding 500,000 gallons of fuel collapses, releasing more than 400,000 gallons over the northeast corner of the base. While the emergency response teams arrive on scene, fuel creeps dangerously close to the water's edge with every passing minute.

Fortunately, this extreme situation was only part of a fuel spill exercise at Langley Air Force Base,Va., Feb. 28. Exercises such as this help prepare first-responders in the event a real-world situation like this occurs.

The exercise began with a fuel-farm tank operator identifying the situation, evacuating the building and shutting down the electricity to the area around the spill. From there, firefighters and security forces were notified of the emergency and began arriving on scene to perform necessary containment procedures. For some of these responders, this is a time where training finally kicks in.

"I was a little nervous; my blood started flowing a little quicker," said Michael Mallozzi, 633rd Civil Engineering Squadron environmental quality assurance manager. "But as long as you know exactly what to do and you are prepared, the nerves go away. That's why we do things like this; so we are not scrambling trying to figure out what to do."

Once on scene, the incident commander set up a control center to map the area involving the spill. Meanwhile, security forces personnel established barriers and directed traffic to prevent congestion around the contaminated area.

The reaction of the emergency response team is critical to keep everyone safe because a situation like this actually could happen, said Mallozzi. Responders must be prepared and well-trained on procedures for a spill of this size in order to contain it before it reaches the water, due to its potential to reach the public, causing serious injury, he said.

Mallozzi also said that facilities that contain potential pollutants, such as the tank farm, must have mandatory spill and emergency plans so occupants can familiarize themselves and actively participate in the training.

"It's important to get this practice so if this incident does actually happen, we are not taken by surprise," said Airman 1st Class Jeremy Burnett, 633rd Civil Engineering Squadron firefighter. "The more exercises we do, the more we can be prepared for a real-life incident."

As the first-responders left the scene one-by-one, they could rest assured had this been a real-world situation, they would have taken appropriate steps to contain the spill and prevent further contamination.

Exercise brings joint team together for 'demanding' mission

by Maj. Michael Meridith
18th Air Force Public Affairs

3/8/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Hundreds of total force Mobility Airmen and nearly 20 aircraft participated in a Joint Operation Access Exercise alongside U.S. Army Soldiers and Canadian Forces service members at Pope Army Air Field, N.C., Feb. 22 through March 1.

JOAX prepares air mobility forces along with Army and Canadian paratroopers, to respond as part of the Global Response Force. The GRF is a joint force that can deploy on short notice anywhere in the world by land, air, or sea to conduct a variety of missions.

"JOAX is designed to enhance cohesiveness between U.S. Air Force, Army and allied personnel," said said Air Force mission commander Col. Paul Eberhart, 62nd Operations Group commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "Training in a joint environment allows us to conduct operations that a single service would be unable to perform. I'm very happy with the way we came together and worked toward a common goal."

Exercise participants included Air Force C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, crews, maintainers, security forces, contingency response Airmen, and tactical air control party members from bases across the country, in addition to Soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Corps and Canada's 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment.

The Air Force team executed more than 125 sorties, dropping 5,800 troops and delivering more than 409 short tons of cargo with refueling aircraft providing more than 520 thousand gallons of fuel.

According to exercise planners, the joint team successfully met all of their training objectives and aided one brigade combat team in achieving jump currency while preparing another for an upcoming overseas deployment.

"JOAX allows the Air Force to train in one of our most demanding missions: large formation airdrop," said Harry Anson, lead planner at the 18th Air Force, which oversaw the Air Force contribution to the exercise. "By interacting and working closely with their joint partners, Airmen in JOAX are able to develop refinements to processes and procedures that can potentially enhance the effectiveness of real-world operations."

Eberhardt echoed those comments, noting that the success of JOAX sends a strong message about the capabilities the Air Force-Army team provides the nation.

"Large formation airdrop is essential to our national defense and it is important for us to exercise it. Only the United States has this incredible capability of rapidly introducing forces into hostile environments to conduct operations - whether combat or humanitarian support. It really illustrates the critical partnership between the mobility Air Forces, the joint team and our international partners."

Vampire Bats named Air Force's top air superiority squadron

by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Doyle
18th Wing Public Affairs

3/5/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander, recently announced Kadena's 44th Fighter Squadron "Vampire Bats" as the winner of the Raytheon Trophy for 2012.

Awarded annually since 1953, the Raytheon trophy is awarded to the top air-superiority or air-defense squadron in the Air Force. Units are not only evaluated on operational mission performance, training and organization as a whole, but also individual achievements, awards and unit incentive programs.

The 44th FS closed out the year with more than 3,000 sorties, logging more than 5,000 hours of flying; and also provided air superiority for 11 countries across three continents.

"I would just like to thank all the Airmen for their professionalism, hard work and sacrifices that ultimately made this award possible," said Lt. Col. David Eaglin, 44th FS commander. "The 44th FS was deployed for over 290 days, and that kind of operation tempo can take a toll on our Airmen and their families. To their credit, no one ever complained. They just packed a bag, suited up and did what they were asked to do."

In 2012, the squadron did more for global United States' interests both at home and abroad than any other fighter squadron in the world.

The Vampire Bats re-wrote a joint and combined operational plan which is now being adopted verbatim by Allied Forces Central Europe. They also participated in two major contingency deployments, three flag-level exercises, six international training exercises, five operational readiness exercises and four international air shows.

"Whether flying from their forward-based home in the Pacific or protecting joint assets throughout the world, the Vampire Bats always delivered unparalleled air supremacy," said Lt. Gen. Stanley Kresge, Pacific Air Forces vice commander.

During the year, the squadron proved they were the best not only as a whole, but individually as well. Airmen from the 44th FS were awarded various awards: Bronze Star, Air medals, Air Force Commendation medals and Air Force Achievement medals.

"They have set themselves apart as dominant air superiority warriors," said Carlisle. "Their long legacy, from flying some of the first sorties on Dec. 7, 1941, to combat sorties in U.S. Central Command, have proved them worthy to join the long line of excellence that spans 57 years of Raytheon trophy competition."

C-130 maintainers keep 'em flying

by Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

3/8/2013 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan  -- Every day, Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are performing essential repairs to C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft.

C-130s generally spend a year here while crews rotate in and out.

Tech Sgt. Michael Raver, 455th AMXS dedicated crew chief, said that the crews currently deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., may be from different squadrons at home, but they're all a team out here.

"We all come together to do our thing," Raver said. "We're the system specialists, anything from changing tires to refueling to doing the everyday inspections."

While perhaps not as glamorous as the F-15 Eagle fighters Raver once worked on before cross-training to cargo aircraft, Raver found a certain charm in them. He said many of the aircraft earn themselves nicknames.

For example, he pointed to one C-130 and said it was dubbed 'Gizmo' after a character in the movie Gremlins, "because we're always chasing gremlins around it."

Raver said that because the C-130s are aging aircraft, each day presents a new challenge. Senior Airman Zach Pectol, 455th EAMXS crew chief, added that in a deployed environment those challenges take on an added urgency.

"You know there's a real mission to get done, it's not just a training mission," Pectol said, "so if something breaks you're on point to get [it fixed]."

On the other hand, both Raver and Pectol marveled at the versatile, 'go anywhere' nature of the C-130.

"Very rarely will these things not fly because of weather," Pectol said. "Just recently, we had a snowstorm and we wiped the snow off the plane, de-iced it, put heater cards on the prop[eller]s and [it] took off."

When he cross-trained, Raver found that just learning the details between the two airframes was the biggest challenge.

"The workload is about the same, the pace is a little slower on the heavy side," he said. However, he said when comparing the missions of dropping munitions to dropping cargo, "it can be just as satisfying."

AF civil engineer visits PRTC, commends progression

by Staff Sgt. Veronica McMahon
36th Wing Public Affairs

3/5/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- The U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer, Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers, visited the Pacific Regional Training Center as part of a joint-service tour at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 26 and 27.

The PRTC was a concept Byers was engaged in developing during his time as the PACAF Civil Engineer from 2003-2005, and has been one of Team Andersen's major civil engineer developments during the past decade.

"I knew it would take some years to build, but the PRTC is integral to the shift in the Pacific," the general said. "As we bring in RED HORSE, combat communications, Commando Warrior and the next Silver Flag, this expeditionary combat skills capability will help us focus on the Pacific. It will also help us work on tactics, techniques and procedures with allied nations which will help us build partnerships."

The PRTC is an integrated contingency response environment designed to enhance basic skill sets, as well as teach advanced tactics Airmen would not have encountered in technical school or at home stations.

"Out here we teach students expeditionary skills as they go downrange," said Capt. Nathaniel Lesher, 736th Security Forces Squadron Commando Warrior Flight officer in charge. "We are trying to make this look like the best regional training center there is."

Byers was accompanied by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James Kessler, Commander of Marine Corps Installations Command, and other Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy leadership. They toured multiple aspects of the PRTC and were briefed on the progress of the site since its inception.

The leaders experienced an interactive demonstration of the various training capabilities conducted at the PRTC by walking through a counter-improvised explosive device lane, watching a TTP demonstration and viewing weapons currently used at the facility.

Members of 554th RED HORSE Squadron are constantly working on improving the PRTC facilities. The Airmen of the 554th were able to show Byers how they conduct tilt-up construction. Byers said he was impressed by the PRTC's development and progress. He admires the capability of the Airmen and their ability to work together as a team.

"There's been great work ethic from 554th RED HORSE and 254th Air National Guard units," Byers said. "They've also integrated the Naval construction force and Army engineers to help build up the site."

Team Andersen's accomplishments did not go unnoticed. Byers praised the work ethic of Andersen Airmen throughout his tour and recognized several service members for their hard work and dedication.

"Look at the facility," said Byers. "Six years ago it was a jungle out there, and now, a mini city is standing. Their efforts are outstanding and I think it's going great."

The PRTC is an ongoing project that is the center for training Airmen from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam and is responsible for training approximately 400 students, but will continue to grow as the training site expands.

"There has been a lot of progress so far but there is a ways to go before the site is complete," said 1st Lt. Ronda Underwood, 554th RHS section commander. "The idea is that it will be the focal point training site in the Pacific for Commando Warrior, which is already there operationally, and Silver Flag, which will be moving from Kadena Air Base in Japan."

According to Underwood the site will also be the future home for the 554th RHS, the 254th RED HORSE Air National Guard Unit and the 644th Combat Communications Squadron.