Military News

Monday, March 11, 2013

Barksdale dedicates building in memory of fallen hero

by Master Sgt. Sabrina D. Foster
2nd Bomb wing Public Affairs


3/8/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- More than 100 Team Barksdale members, community leaders, family and friends, gathered at the Fitness Center March 8 to pay honor and tribute to the legacy of a hero who gave his all in the defense of his country.

The Fitness Center was officially renamed "The Senior Airman Bryan Bell Fitness Center" during a dedication ceremony.

Bell, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, was killed Jan. 5, 2012, by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Col. Andrew Gebara, 2nd Bomb Wing commander, talked about the accomplishments of Bell.

"First and foremost Bryan was a member of the Deuce. In many ways when accomplishing his impressive feats he was a symbol of the 2nd Bomb Wing.

Now, I never met Bryan, but I wish I had. I've heard said that nobody ever had a better outlook towards life. He joined the Air Force in 2007, and in his four short years in the Air Force, Senior Airman Bell directly contributed to more than 209 successful counter-IED missions; cleared IEDs from an area of over 745 miles of supply routes; trained local Iraqi and Afghan units on CIED tactics, techniques, and procedures; earned the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, both the Air Force and Army Commendation Medals and the Purple Heart.

Bryan would do anything he could to help those around him, even if it meant putting aside his own needs and wants.

Men and women of the Barksdale family-that is why we are here today. Not to grieve over Bryan... to simply honor his sacrifice and his legacy by providing a way to remember Senior Airman Bell's example for years to come.

Future Airmen will walk through the front entrance of the Bell Center and see Bryan's picture and his bomb suit. They will learn of his legacy. When they do, they will remember Bryan as a man with a wonderful smile and the courage to tackle a tough job so that our nation could remain safe and free. I can't think of a better way to remember a man than that."

Senior Airman Candice Bell, Bryan's sister, stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, shared remarks on behalf of the Bell family.

"Wow, this is an amazing turnout. I can't believe you all are taking time out of your busy schedule to be here," said Bell.

"Thanks to everybody who had anything to do with this. Even though it has taken a year, we still can't believe it, it's amazing and there are no words to express how much we thank you."

Candice recalled Bryan as a kind, loving individual who cared about those around him and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Because of his size, she referred to him as a "big, friendly giant."

After the remarks, Bell's family unveiled the new name on the side of the Fitness Center in big, brown, bold letters - "SrA Bryan Bell Fitness Center".

Immediately following the first unveiling, the crowd, led by Gebara and the Bell family, gathered at the main entrance of the facility to unveil the official Air Force memorial plaque that will be seen by thousands as they make their way in and out of the Bell fitness center.

The plaque, affixed to its permanent structure outside Building 3800 reads:

Bell Fitness Center
Named in Honor of
Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell
KIA Afghanistan, January, 5, 2012
A Courageous Gentle Giant....
Loved and Respected by All Whom He Touched

Dedicating a building does not happen overnight, and a lot of behind the scenes paperwork has to be accomplished in order to make this a reality.

In accordance with Air Force Instruction 36-3108, "The intent of the Air Force Memorialization Program is to provide lasting honor and pay tribute to deceased as well as living Air Force military and civilian personnel with records of outstanding and honorable service. This program also fosters favorable relations between the public and the Air Force. All memorializations should be carefully evaluated to ensure that only the most deserving persons are selected. These selections should bring honor and goodwill to the Air Force and local communities."

A memorialization request, along with a biography, supporting data reflecting the association of the person with the installation, a base map indicating the real estate (facility) considered for naming, and a memorandum from the wing commander or vice commander stating sources reviewed to verify the individuals background, and that no derogatory information was found that would preclude memorialization honors had to be submitted to Air Force Global Strike Command for this request to be considered.

"The idea to rename a building in Bell's honor was a collective decision," said Steven Vincent, 2nd CES deputy commander. "It involved the 2nd CES, 2nd Mission Support Group and 2nd Bomb Wing leadership."

AFI 36-3108 lists facilities on installations that may also be considered for memorialization such as clubs, libraries and service centers, but the Fitness Center held the most significance to rename in Bell's honor.

"The Fitness Center was chosen because it is an extremely visible facility," said Vincent. "Virtually every active duty member as well as many civilians and retirees visit the facility on a regular basis. Also, fitness is of paramount importance to the EOD mission. These two factors made it an obvious choice in honoring the first combat fatality from the 2nd Bomb Wing since World War II."

All gave some, but Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, gave all. Gone, but not forgotten. His legacy will live on forever at Barksdale Air Force Base.

First sergeants find value in Air Guard's Warrior Network

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center


3/8/2013 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- When Chief Master Sgt. Michael Kennedy wanted to communicate to more than 800 first sergeants across the Air National Guard as their functional manager this week he turned to the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center.

The Center told him, no problem.

Its Media Engagement Division and "Warrior Network" here broadcast Kennedy live from an anchor desk, in high definition. They set him up in a state-of-the-art video broadcast, while at the same time fielded questions to him via email, text and phone.

Subject matter experts and top Total Force leaders were also connected in live via high definition video teletraining systems or telephonically, creating a virtual conference that was pushed out to all of the Air Guard's first sergeants.

If that's not enough the broadcast went out via satellite to the entire Air Guard, nationwide, through base cable networks and directly to some Airmen's desktop computers.

Maybe best of all, it cost Kennedy's department little more than a plane ticket and a hotel stay for one.

"I think we are capturing all the facets here at this jewel and really making it sparkle today," said Kennedy. "It's very cool, and I'm pretty excited about it."

The Warrior Network and its dedicated satellite television system beams out to all of the Air Guard's sites, for a total of 186 downlinks, for the purpose of delivering news, command information and professional training, among other creative uses.

Managers of the advanced television studio network said the recent fiscal constraints are proving the value of having a combined physical and virtual campus with conferencing capabilities.

It's a center of learning that has grown toward its golden age for decades.

"I think the Warrior Network is at the start of a level of usage that has not been seen," said Maj. Gabe Johnson, division chief. "It's cost effective ... really the only travel is for you to come to TEC, your audience doesn't have to go anywhere, and that's a huge benefit."

As the physical school house and satellite campus for the Air Guard's enlisted academies, members at the Center are working hard to serve the field with innovation and technology to "be the all-encompassing place for knowledge, comprehension and application levels of learning," said Johnson.

Having been a participant in the Center's satellite Noncommissioned Officer Academy back in the '90s, Kennedy said he knew right away the Air Guard was "bringing a very unique perspective to professional training."

"Working with the crew here and what they bring to the fight every day, it's just quality, bar none," said Kennedy.

The award-winning media team consists of Air Guard and Air Force active duty Airmen on special assignment, as well as civilian studio engineers and technicians.

Every duty day, the studio broadcasts its signature "Minuteman Report" - a news story from the field - to the National Guard as well as to the Department of Defense's Pentagon Channel and American Forces Network, reaching millions of viewers around the world.

The studio is preparing to deliver the next Airman Leadership School via satellite to sites all across the nation on Monday. The Air Guard's Senior Leadership Conference was broadcast live through the studio, and Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, command chief of the Air Guard, recently recorded and broadcast his introductory message to the field here.

Johnson said the Center and its Warrior Network see endless opportunities for innovative communications for all of the service components and Departments.

"At the very basic level we are willing to work with customers to put out computer-based training or a recorded video, all the way up to producing interactive broadcasts and hosting campus workshops and classrooms with live coverage," said Johnson.

"This is our third time using the Warrior Network," said Kennedy. "It's a low-cost, high impact way to reach 100 percent of our Wings."

Kennedy said he once brought a cadre of instructors here, even the Air Guard's command chief, who was scheduled to broadcast with him that afternoon.

"I can hold a Total Force broadcast here with just a few phone calls and speak to the entire Air Force, worldwide," said Kennedy. "To me, that's just an awesome venue to take advantage of."

North Korea Nullifies Armistice, Key Resolve Kicks Off

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013 – U.S. and South Korean forces kicked off the annual Key Resolve exercise today, with the North Korean army’s supreme command reportedly responding by nullifying the armistice agreement that has maintained peace on the Korean Peninsula for six decades.

Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, opened the annual combined and joint command post exercise today, calling it “a critical exercise in strengthening the readiness of combined Republic of Korea and U.S. forces.”

The exercise, which will continue through March 21, begins during a particularly tense time in Korea. North Korea, angered by tighter sanctions the U.N. Security Council approved in response to its latest nuclear test in February, has increasingly ratcheted up its threats over the past week to invalidate the armistice agreement.

Today, the North Korean press reported that “the U.S. has reduced the armistice agreement to a dead paper.” North Korea also reportedly cut off a phone line between North and South Korea that provided immediate communication when required to reduce tensions.

Meanwhile, under scenarios developed for Key Resolve 2013, more than 3,000 U.S. participants are working with about 10,000 of their South Korean counterparts to hone the skills necessary to defend South Korea. This, officials said, includes improving the operational capabilities of combined U.S. and South Korean forces, coordinating and executing the deployment of U.S. reinforcements and maintaining South Korean military combat capabilities.

Key Resolve is part of an ongoing effort to increase the alliance’s readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula, officials said. U.S. Pacific Command, which is heavily involved in Key Resolve 2013, plans to participate in naval training exercises around Korea and other activities to improve the alliance’s capacity to deter aggression, they reported.

Thurman declared this year’s exercise a major step in advancing the alliance. “This year is particularly important, because it is the first time the [South Korean] Joint Chiefs of Staff have planned and executed this combined exercise,” he noted. “In doing so, they are taking great strides to assume wartime operational control of forces in December 2015.”

Swedish and Swiss Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observers are on the ground to monitor the exercise to ensure it complies with terms of the armistice agreement, officials said. Five United Nations Command states also are participating: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Foreign ministers from 27 European Union nations are meeting in Brussels today to discuss a range of diplomatic issues, including imposing fresh sanctions on North Korea for its latest provocations.

Thurman emphasized last week the importance of the armistice that has kept an uneasy peace on the peninsula since it ended Korean War hostilities in 1953.

“For 60 years, the armistice agreement has ensured peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” he said in a statement released from the South Korean capital of Seoul. “It concerns me when any signatory to a mutual agreement makes a public statement contrary to that agreement..

“As the UNC commander, I am charged to fully enforce the conditions of the armistice,” Thurman continued. “The success of the armistice has enabled the Republic of Korea to become a vibrant democracy, and we remain ready to defend the Republic of Korea.”

435th FTS and 12th OSS bring home AETC Top Ops Awards

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


3/8/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- The 435th Fighter Training Squadron and 12th Operations Support Squadron were recognized as Air Education and Training Command Top Operations Squadrons for 2012.

"We can all be proud of their outstanding accomplishments," said Col. David Morrissey, commander of the 12th Operations Group. "The 12th Operations Group exists to forge the world's best remotely piloted aircraft pilots and sensor operators, fighter candidates, and flight instructors. The 435th is integral to that mission, and sets the standard for the 12th Flying Training Wing and AETC. It doesn't happen without the world-class support provided by the 12th Operation Support Squadron. Both of these squadrons are shining examples of what the 12th OG does every day - Airpower's Blacksmith, forging aviators for our great nation."

The 435th Fighter Training Squadron earned the title of Top Operations in the fighter category and went on to be named the overall Top Operations Squadron for all categories in all of AETC.
The 435th FTS, which conducts initial Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals instructor and student training, was honored for their seamless integration of 20 aircraft into their squadron and a 41 percent increase in flying following the consolidation of the IFF program in 2012.

Undeterred by the consolidation initiative and 30 percent of their officers deployed, the squadron went on to earn an "Outstanding" rating during AETC's aircrew standardization and evaluation visit and an "Excellent" rating during AETC's combined unit inspections. The 435th FTS also transitioned to a new syllabi hallway through the program to eliminate 54 sorties total and save $162,000 in the flying hour program.

"The 435 FTS is exceptionally honored to even be considered for these awards," said Lt. Col. Ki Jackson, 435th FTS commander.

"We recognize that no one organization earns such accolades by itself; multiple organizations contributed to these accomplishments, including the 12th FTW Maintenance Directorate and the 12th OSS, among others," he said. "The total force of Active Duty, Reservists, and Civilian workforce provide a world-class combination in the 12th FTW and in the 435th FTS. We are humbled by these AETC honors."

The 12th Operations Support Squadron was named the AETC Top Operations Squadron in operations and training support category.

The 12th OSS is responsible for simulator training, scheduling, air traffic control, airfield management, flight records, registrar, weather, airspace management, international training and aircrew flight equipment for all 12th Operations Group training.

During the award period the 12th OSS supported more than 38,000 flying hours and 27,000 sorties for five different squadrons, three unique aircraft and three airfields. Their air traffic control towers are the busiest in the Air Force with more than 220,000 flying operations per year. The towers were also recognized as Ray D. Harding ATC Facility of the Year. The hard work of the 12th OSS was also recognized with an "Excellent" rating in the 2012 AETC's CUI.

"We are extremely humbled to be selected as the number one of 21 operations and training support squadrons in the command for 2012," said Lt. Col. David Nyikos, 12th OSS commander. "I'm very proud of the men and women of the 12th OSS. The award is a testament to their experience and professionalism shown each and every day."

AETC commander presents Duckworth Award to 558th FTS

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


3/8/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, TEXAS  -- Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, presented the 2011 Col. Joseph B. Duckworth Annual USAF Instrument award to the 558th Flying Training Squadron here March 8.

The award recognizes an individual or unit who has made the most significant contribution to aerospace instrument flight over the previous year. Submissions usually include new or improved flight instructional methods, use of existing equipment, aircraft instrumentation, and development of equipment.

The 558th developed a flight training program that satisfies Federal Aviation Association and International Civil Aviation Organization requirements for instrument flight. The evolutionary training program leverages existing joint primary pilot training courseware and extensive use of simulators. The remotely piloted aircraft instrument qualification team was chosen for their efforts in developing the first pilot instrument qualification course for RPA operations.

"When undergraduate RPA training was first developed students were able to use existing T-6 simulators that all undergraduate pilot training students use, but as the number of RPA pilot students increased the simulator time became scarce," said Lt. Col. Scott Cerone, 558th FTS commander.

In 2011 the subject matter experts in the 558th FTS teamed with SimiGon to develop and improve a flying training device, or FTD, that would meet the squadron's training needs. The FTD they developed was not only certified by the FAA as a level five training device, it was built at less than one tenth the cost of a traditional flight simulator.

"Our FTDs cost the Air Force $270,000 versus a traditional T-6 simulator which has a price tag of $3 million and it still provides a level of fidelity where traditional flight requirements can be accomplished," said Cerone.

Cerone credits the squadron's expert instructors with the evaluation and operational development of the FTD and its FAA certification.

"The device we developed has capabilities that are almost like a traditional aircraft yet costs less than a simulator," said Chris Schweinsberg, 558th FTS lead civilian simulator instructor.
"This process took more than a year to design and implement with an additional three months of evaluation and improvements," said Schweinsberg. "Our civilian simulator instructor team continued to work with SimiGon to improve simulated aircraft handling, T-6 flight modeling and avionics, graphics, and hardware improvements."

"We are very fortunate to have a motivated instructor cadre who believe there is always room for improvement," said Schweinsberg of his team who are all former Air Force instructor pilots, who flew aircraft ranging from the F-4s and F-111s, to the MC-130, B-52 and C-17.

"This is a tremendous honor for the squadron and all credit goes to the instructors of the 558th FTS and their dedication to the mission," said Cerone.

"This advancement of instrument training is a testament to the high caliber training that occurs here. Our instructor cadre is innovative and looks for every opportunity to drive forward and push the boundaries of training. We are honored that General Welsh acknowledged the efforts of our instructors."

While presenting the award to the 558th FTS, Rice commented "Job exceedingly well done. You not only represent your squadron, but the wing and AETC well as you continue to produce quality pilots and aviators."

Andersen saves $25 million with contamination cleanup concept Posted 3/10/2013 Updated 3/11/2013 Email story Print story Share by Senior Airman Robert Hicks 36th Wing Public Affairs 3/10/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Flight is currently working on containing contamination to protect the environment at Site 14 on Andersen Air Force Base. The site, located in the southeastern corner of the base, was contaminated with harmful substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl and asbestos since the 1970s when it was used for a construction waste site. The cleanup effort is estimated to be completed later this month. "Before we started the project, our biggest worry was if the contaminated soil had gone over the cliff edge and infected the marine biology below," said Gregg Ikehara, 36th CES environmental restoration manager. "We did find some small concentrations of PCBs in the fish tissue, but it did not trigger any risk to the occasional fisherman." Ikehara added that the Site 14 area is part of the Pati Point Preserve, which means certain activities, such as fishing, are restricted to protect coral reef habitats and aquatic animals such as fish. After brainstorming about ideas to do away with the contaminated soil, the environmental flight developed a cost-effective plan that would save the Air Force millions of dollars. All of the affected soil was removed from Site 14 and buried in an engineered cell at an on-island base consolidation unit and sealed to prevent further contamination. Rather than sending the soil back to the U.S. for processing, the environmental flight saved the Air Force approximately $25 million, Ikehara said. After the affected soil was removed, they sloped dirt around the original area and constructed a trench to divert storm water away from the site, so as not to risk trace amounts of contaminated soil flowing over the edge of the cliff. During the early 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency identified Andersen on the National Priorities List. Since then, Andersen has been mandated by Congress to have a remedy in place for 80 sites by 2014. The National Priory List identifies known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories. The sites on Andersen consist of chemical weapons storage areas, landfills, firefighting training areas and other items that can affect the environment through releases or mishaps. Restoring sites here has been an ongoing process since 1993. Including the restoration to Site 14 Team Andersen is down to its final eight sites. The expected completion date of those remaining eight sights is 2014. "Team Andersen is fully dedicated in protecting the environment by promoting conservation and sustainable actions throughout the 36th Wing," said Joe Vinch, 36th CES Environmental Flight chief. "Environmental stewardship is everyone's responsibility."

by Senior Airman Robert Hicks
36th Wing Public Affairs


3/10/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Flight is currently working on containing contamination to protect the environment at Site 14 on Andersen Air Force Base.

The site, located in the southeastern corner of the base, was contaminated with harmful substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl and asbestos since the 1970s when it was used for a construction waste site. The cleanup effort is estimated to be completed later this month.

"Before we started the project, our biggest worry was if the contaminated soil had gone over the cliff edge and infected the marine biology below," said Gregg Ikehara, 36th CES environmental restoration manager. "We did find some small concentrations of PCBs in the fish tissue, but it did not trigger any risk to the occasional fisherman."

Ikehara added that the Site 14 area is part of the Pati Point Preserve, which means certain activities, such as fishing, are restricted to protect coral reef habitats and aquatic animals such as fish.

After brainstorming about ideas to do away with the contaminated soil, the environmental flight developed a cost-effective plan that would save the Air Force millions of dollars.

All of the affected soil was removed from Site 14 and buried in an engineered cell at an on-island base consolidation unit and sealed to prevent further contamination. Rather than sending the soil back to the U.S. for processing, the environmental flight saved the Air Force approximately $25 million, Ikehara said.

After the affected soil was removed, they sloped dirt around the original area and constructed a trench to divert storm water away from the site, so as not to risk trace amounts of contaminated soil flowing over the edge of the cliff.

During the early 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency identified Andersen on the National Priorities List. Since then, Andersen has been mandated by Congress to have a remedy in place for 80 sites by 2014.

The National Priory List identifies known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories.

The sites on Andersen consist of chemical weapons storage areas, landfills, firefighting training areas and other items that can affect the environment through releases or mishaps.

Restoring sites here has been an ongoing process since 1993. Including the restoration to Site 14 Team Andersen is down to its final eight sites.

The expected completion date of those remaining eight sights is 2014.

"Team Andersen is fully dedicated in protecting the environment by promoting conservation and sustainable actions throughout the 36th Wing," said Joe Vinch, 36th CES Environmental Flight chief. "Environmental stewardship is everyone's responsibility."

Dyess maintainer named 2012 AMC crew chief of the year

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


3/11/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- Staff Sgt. Jamie Febus, 317th Maintenance Squadron, was recently named one of three Air Mobility Command crew chiefs of the year.

"I am honored and privileged to represent the 317th Maintenance Squadron as their crew chief of the year," Febus said. "Working alongside my fellow maintainers would definitely be why I enjoy coming to work. I couldn't have done much without their help, and it shows as we see how the maintenance we perform takes off and lands safely. They're always a pleasure to work with."

As a top member in one of the Air Force's premier mobility units, Febus played a critical role in transitioning the 317th AG from the C-130H to the C-130J, as well as generating more than 500 sorties with an 88 percent mission capable rate.

"My primary duties are the supervision and organization of great maintenance on the flightline," the Augusta, Ga., native said. "Also, since I serve as a flying crew chief, I'm considered a jack of all trades for the aircrew. I need to be able to diagnose and troubleshoot any issues that may happen while we are flying or off-station."

"I'm very proud of Jaime for all the hard work he did to support our mission," said Col. Walter H. Ward, 317th Airlift Group commander. "Through his dedication to the culture of Airman excellence and putting the mission and team first, he received a significant individual recognition."

As an AMC nominee, Febus will go on to compete for the prestigious Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Thomas N. Barnes Award, which is awarded to the Air Force's crew chief of the year at the Air Force Association National Convention later this year in Washington, D. C.

USO honors two Scott reservists

by Public Affairs
932nd Airlift Wing


3/10/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill -- Two members from the 932nd Airlift Wing were honored by the USO of Missouri during their ninth annual "Armed Forces Salute" event that was held March 7 in St. Louis.

Master Sgt. Kelly Lawless, is a senior weather forecaster assigned to the 12th Operational Weather Flight.  Staff Sgt, Blake Witte, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist,  is assigned to the 932nd Civil Engineer Squadron.

Lawless and Blake were among 13 area servicemembers who were recognized by the USO of Missouri as among "the best and brightest" military men and women. 

Lawless was recognized for excellence in her military duties and her community service.  As a senior forecaster, Lawless lead a 24-member team that supports commanders, aircrews and ground forces for the past four years. Her community involvement includes being a Brownie troop leader, serving breakfast to the needy at her local church and mentoring young gardeners and the base teen center. 

Witte, as an EOD specialist, successfully executed 90 combat missions, helped mitigate 42 improvised explosive devices and removed 3,500 pounds of explosives from the battlefield, while deployed to Afghanistan.  Additionally, while deployed, Witte received the Air Force Combat Action Medal. for having been under hostile fire and engaging hostile forces with lethal fire during military operations.  He also was named as the 932nd Airlift Wing NCO of the Year for 2012. 

Navy EA-6B Crash Kills Three in Washington State (Updated 2 p.m. PST)

From Naval Air Forces Public Affairs
CORONADO, Calif (NNS) -- All three crew members aboard a Navy EA-6B Prowler jet assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., were killed when the aircraft crashed this morning in an unpopulated area approximately 50 miles west of Spokane, Wash.

The names of those killed in the crash will not be released until 24 hours after family members have been informed.

The aircraft was conducting a training flight prior to the crash.

A safety investigation is underway to determine the cause.

Japanese officers: Columbus' pilot training is 'impressive'

by Senior Airman Chase Hedrick
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


3/8/2013 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Two Japanese Air Self-Defense Force officers visited Columbus AFB Feb. 26 to 28.

Col. Masaharu Iwaoka and Maj. Satoru Oshima of the Personnel and Education Department traveled from Japan to gain a better understanding of the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Mission here.

"It was great; a very useful experience," said Iwaoka after touring training facilities and meeting with commanders, instructor pilots and Japanese students in training here.

The JASDF colonel said the system for pilot training at Columbus AFB is impressive, noting the base's consolidated training process as a point of interest.

"In Japan one base has one kind of airplane so we need to move the students across bases," he said. "In Columbus there are three kinds of aircraft so it's very easy for students to study. "

Select students from Japan are trained through Foreign Military Sales, a program that allows allies to train their student pilots alongside U.S. Air Force student pilots using an identical syllabus.

"I really appreciate the United States Air Force's hard work to give the students a better education," said Iwaoka. "The system of education here is very good for students; it improves both their skills and motivation."

Currently nine JASDF student pilots are training at Columbus AFB. A portion of the visit was dedicated to allowing those students to speak with Iwaoka and Oshima about the training environment and their experiences so far.

"The Japanese students here said that they really appreciate not just the instructor pilots but also the supporting personnel," said Iwaoka. "They especially appreciate their U.S. classmates, who are always taking care of Japanese students and studying with them to help teach concepts."

It is interactions between classmates in the international training environment at Columbus AFB that will strengthen the countries' joint operations he said.

E-8C maintainers earn the 2012 Maintenance Effectiveness Award

by TSgt Regina Young
116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs


3/5/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Members of the 116th and 461st Air Control wings were the recipients of the 2012 Air Force Maintenance Effectiveness Award, Category I, Small Aircraft Maintenance, based on support to six combatant commanders in five geographically separated areas of responsibility.

The 116th and 461st Aircraft Maintenance squadrons were vital to launching 766 local and 1,033 deployed sorties [during the award time frame], providing critical ground and maritime surveillance and command and control capability to COCOMS.

Maintainers juggled "robust home station Ready Aircrew Program requirements and higher headquarters inspections while simultaneously delivering unprecedented aircraft generation rates that met the appetite of multiple combatant commanders," said Lt. Col. Bobby Nash, 116th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "It's truly an honor for our team to be recognized with this award."

Striving to adapt aircraft capabilities to suit the 21st century battlefield, Team JSTARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) continually improved the fleet making four major aircraft modernizations while reducing labor hours by 22 percent and saving $3 million.

"The long work hours required to maintain our high operational tempo surpasses a commitment to efficient processes and technical proficiency, it requires a personal sacrifice," said Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Walsh, 116th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. "Our families, and friends whom we deem family, are woven into the structure of Guard organization-we could not achieve excellence without them."

While deployed to support operations over Libya, Team JSTARS maintenance generated a perfect 141 of 141 tasked combat sorties; a 100 percent mission effectiveness rate recognized by Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, director of the Air National Guard, as "a feat so impressive, it may never again be duplicated."

In Iraq, Team JSTARS successfully escorted the last ground convoy, leading a protective over-watch for the largest convoy operation since World War II and keeping more than 4,000 personnel safe.

"Simply put, it's all about the people, both aircraft maintenance squadrons working side by side." said Lt. Col. Karen Bice, commander of the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Back home, Guard and Active Duty maintainers were recognized by inspectors earning two team and 12 individual 'Superior Performer' awards during the Air Combat Command phase II Operational Readiness Inspection.

"The 116th and 461st Air Control wings have set the bar for the Total Air Force and is a shining example of how we can leverage the strengths of all components in this new strategic environment," said Brig. Gen. James C. Witham, deputy director, Air National Guard.

Shaw stands up new fighter group

by Staff Sgt. Amanda Currier
9th Air Force Public Affairs


3/11/2013 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 495th Fighter Group stood up during an activation ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 8.

The group's activation is part of the Air Force's ongoing initiative to integrate traditional, active-duty Airmen with Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units to streamline training and resource use. Such integrated units are called active associate units.

The 495th Fighter Group, headquartered here, is responsible for guiding 10 active associate, 9th Air Force-affiliated fighter detachments located at host Guard and Reserve units across the country. These units pair traditional active-duty fighter pilots and aircraft maintainers with their Guard and Reserve counterparts to generate efficiency and cost savings by sharing resources and reducing duplication of efforts.

"My job is to make sure the active-duty Airmen and their families assigned to these locations are taken care of" said Lt. Col. Juris Jansons, who took command of the 495th Fighter Group during the activation ceremony.

Prior to the activation ceremony, five of 495th Fighter Group's 10 detachments were already established. Four units flying F-16s in South Carolina, Vermont, Florida and Texas, reported to the 20th Operations Group here. The fifth detachment, flying A-10s in Missouri, reported to the 23rd Operations Group at Moody AFB, Ga.

"The significance of today's event is that it marks, for the first time, the transfer of administrative control for these active associate detachments to one commander - Colonel Jansons," said 9th Air Force commander Maj. Gen Lawrence Wells, who presided over the ceremony. "In the near future, we will double the number of detachments in his command to 10, when we are joined by detachments located in Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alabama."

Five years ago, Air Force leaders recognized a changing force structure and budget constraints demanded creative ways to generate experienced fighter pilots. Their solution was to leverage the Guard's and Reserve's experience, continuity and assets through an initiative called Total Force Integration.

"The Air Force created the TFI initiative that assigned active-duty service members to Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Units; we did this to make use of the vast experience already resident in those units - for both operational flying missions and maintenance training. History will show that this will prove to be a mutually beneficial relationship."

The 495th Fighter Group's legacy dates back to Work War II to the 495th Fighter Training Group, established in England on Oct. 9, 1943. Then, the group flew and maintained the P-47 Thunderbolt. After World War II, the 495th Fighter Training Group was disbanded April 15, 1945, due to the end of fighting in the European theater.

"Just like a Phoenix rising from its ashes, today the 495th Fighter Group rises again, proudly displaying its World War II heritage and taking on a mission our Air Force so desperately needs," Wells said.

"We are focusing on that next generation of warrior leaders who are going to champion this TFI endeavor. That will be the legacy of this group, said Col. Jansons, a command pilot with more than 2,000 flying hours in the F-16.

Currently established 495th Fighter Group detachments
· Detachment 93, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.
· Detachment 134, Burlington International Airport, Vt.
· Detachment 157, McEntire Joint National Guard Base , S.C.
· Detachment 303, Whiteman Air Force Base, Miss.
· Detachment 457, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas

495th Fighter Group detachments in the process of being created
· Detachment 100, Dannelly Field, Ala.
· Detachment 120, Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.
· Detachment 175, Joe Foss Field, S.D.
· Detachment 176, Dane County Regional Airport, Wis.

Heritage Flight showcases past present and future

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/11/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The Air Combat Command Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course was held at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 28 through March 3. The course showcased aircrews performing ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of past military aircraft and Air Force pilots of present fighter aircraft to fly in formations together.

Throughout the four-day course, crews from the Heritage Flight Museum, A-10 East Heritage Flight Team, A-10 West Heritage Flight Team, F-16 East Heritage Flight Team and F-16 West Heritage Flight Team practice flying together in formation in preparation for possible air shows should funding allow.

Heading into Women's History Month, Heritage Flight also showcased ACC's first female Heritage Flight demo team pilot.

Capt. Tess "Xena" Labowitch, F-16 East Heritage Flight Team pilot from Shaw AFB, S.C., received her certification in the F-16, and even got to tag along in one of the heritage aircraft during the first day of flying. She then flew in formation with pilots from the other team for the rest of the course.

"This is so cool," Labowitch said. "We get to showcase past, present and future from the Air Force. We get to work with these older, experienced guys who have so much passion for aviation and the history of it, which actually inspires passion in you."

The course, which began in 1997 as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, certifies and re-certifies pilots enabling them to fly in both civilian and military air shows. The course was continued this year in the event that there is a favorable resolution to current financial challenges allowing Air Force and civilian Heritage pilots to participate in air shows.

Labowitch and other pilots not only showcased their formation flying but also some of the combat maneuvers their respective aircraft are capable of.

"We do a high-speed pass and also some afterburner maneuvers," Labowitch said. "That's important to showcase what we do on a daily basis in combat, getting away from the ground quickly, away from the enemy. Then, obviously show our maintenance guys kicking butt as always, taking care of the jets and keeping the combat and day-to-day capable."

Though she is ACC's first female F-16 Heritage Flight demo pilot, Labowitch is just another trained pilot.

"I imagine it feels the same as everyone else," Labowitch said. "It's just a really cool opportunity and so much fun to come out here and get to fly with these guys."

Australians hone command, control battle management skills at Red Flag 13-3

by Lawrence Crespo
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


3/11/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- Officers and Airmen from the Royal Australian Air Force's Number 2 Squadron Airborne Early Warning and Control, from Base Williamtown located on the southeastern coastal city of Newcastle in New South Wales Australia traveled more than 7,700 miles to participate in Red Flag 13-3.

This is the first time the squadron and the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft have participated in a Red Flag exercise.

The No. 2 Squadron's participation in Red Flag is a significant milestone in the development of the E-7A's capability as it continues a transition towards full operational capability by completing critical tasks to ensure it is capable of accomplishing command and control battle management mission requirements.

The exterior design of the E-7A is based on the Boeing 737-700 commercial airplane. The aircraft is modified to accommodate sophisticated mission systems and advanced multi-role radar to increase Australia's surveillance and air combat capability by providing increased capabilities to support Australian Defence Force assets in all joint arenas and assist in civil operations such as border protection and search and rescue missions

In the case of conflict, the aircraft can be employed in both offensive and defensive roles to support a variety of military fighters, electronic jammer, anti-radiation missile equipped and other Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.

"The E-7A Wedgetail is a major new capability for the Australian Defence Force, which will significantly multiply the effectiveness of our existing navy, army, [and] air force assets well into the future," said Wing Commander Paul Carpenter, No. 2 Squadron commander. "This will ensure Australia maintains its reputation as a world-class air force, allowing us to provide for the self-defense of Australia and fulfill our role as a close coalition partner."

During the three week-long exercise the No. 2 Squadron will fly their aircraft twice daily in the skies above the Nevada Test and Training Range to get a real-time picture of the battle-space and to integrate command and control battle management.

"Both Wedgetails have been behaving well," said Flt. Lt. Scott Harvey, flight line superintendent. "From a maintenance perspective, the exercise has given the guys an increased rate of effort to see how the aircraft performs in a realistic environment and giving us access to [aircraft] equipment to practice on as well."

"The Red Flag exercise forms part of the regular cycle of Australia's air combat and surveillance training for Surveillance and Response Group personnel," Carpenter added. "This opportunity allows for Surveillance and Response Group members to hone their particular skill sets in close proximity to our major allies at one of the world's best air combat training facilities."

Red Flag provides complex aviation combat training at a level not available in Australia.

"It is essential our people are trained at this level to ensure they are able to effectively operate and integrate the Wedgetail's highly technical equipment in a complex air warfare environment with coalition partners," Carpenter said.

"We are giving 100 percent daily, but the exercise is giving us 150 percent in return."

Airman saves life, earns city's recognition

by Eric M. White
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/11/2013 - YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AFNS) -- In the early morning, you're driving through the city when you see two men pushing a stalled vehicle. You stop to see if they need help, and another vehicle strikes the two men against their car, fracturing one man's leg and severing the other's below the knee. The victim with the severed leg is bleeding profusely and showing signs of shock. What do you do?

The morning of Feb. 5, 2013, Senior Airman Steve Cresanto, an air transportation journeyman with Youngstown Air Reserve Station's 76th Aerial Port Squadron, was driving through the city when this scenario became reality, forcing him to make quick decisions.

Jawkwan Rudolph, one of the victims, had the most serious injuries.

"His leg was amputated," Cresanto said. "You want to stop the hemorrhaging, so I applied a tourniquet."

"I didn't have a tourniquet there, so I made one. I made the tourniquet out of the individual's belt and a windshield wiper from the car that struck them," Cresanto said.

Cresanto then fashioned a splint for the second victim's fractured leg using an ice scraper and another belt.

When first responders arrived at the scene of the accident, they asked Cresanto where he learned to do what he did, stating that his actions likely saved Rudolph's life. Cresanto credited the self-aid and buddy care training he receives annually as an Air Force reservist.

"We do it every single year, do the training, and I never thought I would actually use it in the field. It turns out I did, and I am glad I had the training," Cresanto said.

SABC training includes basic life support and limb-saving techniques to help injured persons survive until medical help arrives.

Charles Sammarone, the Youngstown city mayor, presented Cresanto with an award on behalf of the city at a city council meeting March 6.

Detective/Sergeant Patricia Garcar, one of the first responders to the accident, recommended Cresanto for the award and presented at the council meeting her account of what unfolded the morning of the accident.

"I was just so impressed with what he did," Garcar said. "He did not have to stop and didn't have to offer the assistance that he did, and it just amazed me."

Cresanto is one of more than 1,600 Citizen Airmen stationed at Youngstown ARS.

"This is just another amazing example of the Airmen that we have here and the tie that we have to the community," said Col. James D. Dignan, the 910th Airlift Wing commander. "There's a sense of family here at the 910th Airlift Wing."

PACANGEL team restores water to school

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


3/11/2013 - DAUIN, Philippines -- A team of Operation Pacific Angel-Philippines civil engineers installed a water tower at an elementary school here March 7.

Before the tower was installed, the school received their water from nearby residents, said Judith Cofino, a teacher at Tugawe Elementary School.

"When they (the civil engineers) visited in December, they said that they couldn't make promises, and there it is," she said while pointing to the shiny tank on top of the tower and smiling from ear to ear. "We are very grateful."

Now that the tower is operational, the residents come to the school for water because the pressure is better than existing facilities. The engineers noticed and added showers to the bathrooms.

"The whole town wants to come to the school to shower," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chad Gerrits, an engineer from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, who worked on the last-minute install. "It was wild!"

The team also painted the school's restrooms and wash troughs, which serve 242 students.

"I came to the Philippines with last year's PACANGEL team, and I jumped at the chance to go again this year," said Senior Airman Taylor Vondrasek, an engineer from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. "Seeing the difference we are making is incredible. They are so appreciative of what we are doing."

The school is one of three work sites the civil engineers improved during the mission.

Obama to Award Posthumous Medal of Honor to Korean War Chaplain

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013 – President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor posthumously to an Army chaplain for conspicuous gallantry during the Korean War, White House officials announced today.

The ceremony will take place April 11 at the White House.

Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun served with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea, Nov. 1-2, 1950.

When Chinese communist forces viciously attacked friendly elements, Kapaun calmly walked through withering enemy fire to provide comfort and medical aid to his comrades. When they found themselves surrounded by the enemy, the able-bodied men were ordered to evacuate.

Kapaun, fully aware of his certain capture, elected to stay behind with the wounded. As hand-to-hand combat ensued, he continued to make rounds.

As enemy forces approached the American position, Kapaun noticed an injured Chinese officer among the wounded and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of the American forces. Shortly after his capture, he pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute a comrade.

The chaplain, a Roman Catholic priest, died May 23, 1951, at a prison camp in Pyoktong, Korea. His nephew, Ray Kapaun, and family members will be on hand for the ceremony.

Cope Tiger 13 commences in Thailand

by 2nd Lt. Jake Bailey
Cope Tiger 13 Public Affairs


3/11/2013 - KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand -- Combined forces from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force joined hands today to execute Cope Tiger 13 here March 10.

The annual field training exercise, comprised of aviation and ground units, is designed to enhance interoperability and relations amongst each nation's air forces.

"Cope Tiger offers U.S. personnel a unique opportunity to integrate closely with our Thai and Singaporean counterparts to develop a multilateral common operating picture and improve combined combat readiness," said Lt. Col. Keith Gibson, deputy director of Cope Tiger 13.

More than 1,900 people are participating in the exercise, including approximately 365 U.S. service members and 1,500 service members from Thailand and Singapore.

Gibson said establishing relationships early on during the planning phase of the exercise is a key component to the continued success of Cope Tiger, which the U.S. has participated in since 1994.

U.S. and Thai service members make it a priority to engage with one another during the days leading up to the exercise by discussing ways to improve communication, execute command and control of forces, and by enhancing large force employment capabilities through aircrew subject matter expert exchanges.

Leading the U.S. exchange effort is Capt. Jon O'Rear, an F-15 pilot assigned to the 44th Fighter squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Maj. Bryan Nickola from the 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The pair instructed approximately 75 Thai counterparts during a mission commander course at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base March 9.
"As a mission commander, it's important to understand the different facets and angles that you have to take in account to plan an operation with multiple types of aircraft in order to get the mission done--from the planning and execution phases, to the debrief," O'Rear said.
O'Rear said the exchange was mutually beneficial by continuing to build upon U.S.-Thai security relations and sharing corporate knowledge of operations with the Royal Thai Air Force.

Five types of training will be conducted during Cope Tiger 13, including dissimilar basic fighter maneuver training, air combat tactics training, close air support training, tactical airdrop training, and large force employment training.

"I sincerely believe the knowledge and experiences gained from this exercise will be of great benefit to our participants and to our air forces as a whole," said Group Capt. Napadej Dhupatemiya, Royal Thai Air Force exercise director.

The exercise is scheduled to conclude March 22.

CAPEX tests ammo ammunition ability

by Airman 1st Class Malia Jenkins
18th Wing Public Affairs


3/6/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- The 18th Munitions Squadron participated in a week-long Pacific Air Forces' Combat Ammunition Production Exercise March 4-8.

Tech. Sgt Scott Layne, 18th MUNS NCO in charge of the commander support staff, said because Kadena is an air-to-air fighter aircraft base and does not build bombs, the exercise was conducted to test the squadron's combat capabilities to produce munitions in a wartime scenario.

The exercise gave munitions squadron personnel an opportunity to practice delivering ammunition to aircraft and building ammunition to a simulated wartime requirement flying schedule.

"Validating a munitions employment plan is also important if, during a wartime effort, reinforcements were to come to Kadena," 1st Lt. Richard Danaher, 18th MUNS CAPEX project officer, said in a previous story. "CAPEX allows ammunition personnel to receive training necessary to provide inbound force aircraft with the ammunition they need to carry out a mission."

Other air-to-air PACAF and Air Combat Command bases also participated in the exercise here. The bases were Anderson Air Force Base, Guam; Beale AFB, Calif.; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Kunsan Air Base, South Korea; Langley AFB, Va.; Misawa AB, Japan; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Osan AB, South Korea.

Layne said the various units came to Kadena and participated in the exercise because building air-to-ground munitions is their specialty. Although there are members from various bases in this exercise, the crews have gelled together and pushed out quality products, he said.

"This exercise helped Airmen walk away with a better understanding and greater appreciation of what it takes to initiate and sustain combat efforts in the Pacific," Layne said.

15th OSS Airman nominated for heroism award

by Tech. Sgt. Jerome S. Tayborn
15th Wing Public Affairs


3/5/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Tech. Sgt. Ronald J. Giannetti, 15th Operations Support Squadron special missions flight attendant instructor, was recently selected as the Pacific Air Forces 2013 Non-commissioned Officer Association Vanguard Award recipient.

The NCOA Vanguard Award, which recognizes enlisted members for acts of heroism that directly result in saving lives or preventing injury, was awarded to Giannetti on Sept. 3, 2012 for his part in rescuing a young girl.

While hiking with his friends on Labor Day, Giannetti noticed a teen girl having difficulty on the trail. He leaned down and offered her his hand and to help pull her up a wall, then continued his trek. On the return leg of the hike, he crossed paths with the girl again. She was sitting on a rock, slumped over and being held up by two friends.

He noticed that she was breathing very heavily, appeared unconscious and non-responsive.

Giannetti immediately offered aid to the teen. Joined by a few other hikers, Giannetti and the group offered the young girl food and water before building a make-shift gurney out of their clothing and tree branches, and carrying the girl down the mountain.

"Moving the girl down the mountain was very tricky because it involved navigating rock walls, mud and hills," he said. "We could have easily slipped and fell 30 feet if weren't careful."

Giannetti said the group took turns carrying the litter to make sure no one became exhausted on the hike down. He used his break to call 911 for emergency assistance, but the call was dropped due to low reception in the area.

The hike continued on for some time before the group was discovered by a nearby helicopter, and finally rescued by a local fire department. The teen was airlifted to a local hospital where she made a full recovery, thanks to the help of Giannetti and his fellow hikers.

"I have no doubt my Air Force training helped me in this situation," he said of his rescue efforts. "I can say with no hesitation that the Self Aid Buddy Care, Air Care Flight Attendant Cabin Training Systems training and my Combat Survival School training came into play on that mountain."

According to Capt. Gabriel Chavarria, PACAF 15th Operations Group, nominating Giannetti for the award was an easy decision. He knew Giannetti would be a perfect candidate for the 2013 Non-commissioned Officer Association Vanguard Award.
"After hearing the story and seeing his interview on TV, I felt he needed to be recognized for his good deed," he said. "His story was simply amazing and is a testament to what kind of person he is. He is always there to help anyone in need both in and out of the office."

Chavarria said Giannetti's proactive attitude is present on and off duty.

"Tech. Sgt. Giannetti is one of the most professional NCOs that I have had the pleasure and honor to work with," he said. "His work ethic, can-do attitude and professionalism are all exceptional. He is creative and ingenious, which was evident in how he handled himself when coming to the aid of a fellow hiker."

As PACAF's 2013 Non-commissioned Officer Association Vanguard Award recipient, he has advanced the Air Force level competition. The winner of the Air Force Vanguard Award is expected to be announced in the near future.