Saturday, April 13, 2013

Global Strike announces 2012 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, Annual Operations Awards

by Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

4/12/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Air Force Global Strike Command announced its 2012 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, along with AFGSC Operations Awards, in the Global Strike Headquarters Building April 10.

"This is our opportunity today to recognize our top performers and top units in the command," said Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski, AFGSC commander. "Our success as an Air Force and our success as a major command depend on success at the tactical level."

The winners were announced during the annual AFGSC Spring Commander's Conference via a virtual teleconference. Each winner was recognized in-person by leadership at their respective bases.

"When the Chief [of Staff of the Air Force] was here at Barksdale last week he talked about the nuke mission. He said that it's the backstop to everything that we do." Kowalski said. "For the winners, hopefully this award encourages you to be a leader and be the example of excellence."

Congratulations to the 2012 AFGSC Outstanding Airmen of the Year:

Outstanding Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Joseph C. Senteno, 2d Comptroller Squadron, Barksdale AFB, La.

Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Gregory L. Bailey, Jr., Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command, Barksdale AFB, La.

Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Donald S. Gallagher, 620th Ground Combat Training Squadron, Camp Guernsey, Wyo.

Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Christopher A. Owen, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, Minot AFB, N.D.

Outstanding Honor Guard Member of the Year: Senior Airman Hope M. Dabney, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Whiteman AFB, Mo.

Outstanding Honor Guard Manager of the Year: Tech Sgt. Gary S. Wayland, 90th Force Support Squadron, F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.

Congratulations to the 2012 AFGSC Operations Awards winners:

Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle Memorial Award for Outstanding Bomb Wing: 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB, N.D.

Col. Lee R. Williams Memorial Award for Outstanding Missile Wing: 90th Missile Wing, F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.

Gen. Samuel C. Phillips Award for Best Overall Missile Squadron: 320th Missile Squadron, F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker Memorial Award for Best Overall Bomb Squadron: 69th Bomb Squadron, Minot AFB, N.D.

Maj. Charles J. Loring, Jr. Memorial Award for Best Overall Bomber Operations Support Squadron: 2d Operations Support Squadron, Barksdale AFB, La.

Col. Lowell F. McAdoo Award for Best Overall Operations Support Squadron with ICBM mission: 90th Operations Support Squadron, F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.

Col. James P. Fleming Award for Best Overall Helicopter Squadron: 40th Helicopter Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Mont.

320th STS facility strengthens battlefield Airmen

by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer
353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- "Humans are more important than hardware" is a saying heard continuously throughout the special operations community. One special tactics squadron has a facility that turns these words into action.

The 320th Special Tactics Squadron's Human Performance Training Center offers battlefield Airmen an opportunity to ensure they remain mission-ready.

"Much like our aircraft have dedicated crew chiefs and our aircrews have flight medicine, our battlefield Airmen here in the Pacific now have their own dedicated team working to ensure they are in peak physical and mental condition," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Smith, 320th STS senior enlisted manager.

The HPTC houses the Human Performance Program, which is part of Preservation of the Force and Family, a U.S. Special Operations Command initiative.The HPP focuses not only on physically strengthening a battlefield Airman, but also rehabilitating them to ensure they are performing to their maximum potential for as long as possible.

"While deployed, we are doing direct and close combat on a daily basis and that is the nature of our mission. We are extending ourselves, both body and mind, to the limit," said Maj. William White, 320th STS commander. "We have got to do more to preserve the force, so we can continue to provide the same caliber of combat skills for years to come."

In an effort to preserve the force, the HPP includes a seven-person team of medical personnel who provide each STS Airman with an individual plan making this facility more than just a gym. The staff includes a physical therapist, social worker, operational psychologist, strength and conditioning coach, athletic trainer, physicians assistant, and a flight doctor. Each of these specialists ensure Airmen are constantly challenged or correctly rehabilitated.

"If I have one Airman who is running 12 miles an hour at a 15 percent incline, I need to be able to challenge him. If I have another who is coming back from an injury, I need to rehabilitate him," said Maj. Mark McElroy, 320th STS, physical therapist. "With the equipment here like the force treadmill and the antigravity treadmill, I can individualize each workout making each workout count."

As a combat controller who has deployed nine times, White knows how important this specialized approach is to the STS community. After his last deployment, his back issues finally caught up with him. Even after surgery, the pain persisted.  He also didn't see the improvement needed to continue meeting the demands of his mission.

"Structurally they fixed me," said White, "but without the proper rehabilitative workouts, it was just a band-aid that was covering up the problem."

Finally, White visited the athletic institute, which was used as a benchmark to create the program in the HPP.

"In just three-and-a-half weeks, I went from running assisted to completely healed," said White.

While this facility is a huge step in the right direction for the ST community, they are just getting started.

"This facility is a bridge to the future," said Smith. "The long-term vision is to increase the size of the facility, so we can continue to preserve of force and enable the Air Force to ensure a continuum on its investment."

Air National Guard participates in AF Community Assessment

by Courtesy Story

4/12/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- "We're listening" is the call from the Air Force Integrated Delivery System (IDS). The AF IDS is sponsoring the 2013 Air Force Community Assessment Survey. For the first time, the Community Assessment Survey will be administered to the Total Force: Active Duty members and their spouses, Reservists and their spouses, civilian employees, and for the first time, Air National Guardsmen and their spouses. The survey plays a key role in identifying where resources are needed most to enhance the well-being of the entire AF community.

The Community Assessment Survey will sample members of the Air Force at installations worldwide along with key Reserve Installations and Air National Guard Wings. Active duty members, Reservists, Guardsmen and civilian employees will be notified by e-mail to participate in this survey. Spouses will be contacted by postcard with an invitation to participate. Each invitation will include a link to the online survey. The anonymity of survey participants is assured as no personal identifying information is linked to responses. This means that no one - the Air Force, the government, nor the contractor - will be able to link any aspect of your responses to your personal identifiable information. The overall success of this survey relies on the full cooperation and participation of each survey respondent. Guardsman and spouses are strongly urged to take part in this important study.

"Everything we do depends on our people, the living engine of our Air Force. The entire Air Force leadership team is committed to doing all we can to support our Total Force Airmen and their families. We know that through your valuable input, the state of our Air Force will remain strong, ready and capable of delivering airpower, whenever and wherever the Nation calls."
-- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley

Opinions and comments made from the previous waves of the Community Assessment Survey have directly influenced support activities and family services throughout the Air Force. The benefits of participating in the survey can influence policies and programs that directly impact services and support to members and their families. Policies and programs impacted by this survey include better financial counseling programs, increase support for Guardsman and their spouses, and reduction of ancillary training requirements, to name just a few of the benefits participation in this survey will produce.

We, ANG are listening, but we need you and your spouse to complete the survey.

If you have any questions regarding the Community Assessment Survey 2013, contact your Wing CAIB/IDS POC or Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager.

Face of Defense: ‘Simply Sammy’ Celebrates Nestico Legacy

By Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Amanda Simmons
“The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2013 – Fifty years ago he joined the U.S. Marine Band, and this week legendary composer and arranger Sammy Nestico will return to the Washington, D.C., area for a concert celebrating his legacy as part of the Marine Band’s Living History concert series.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Sammy Nestico, former chief arranger with the Marine Band. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Amanda Simmons

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
At 2 p.m., Sunday, April 14, “The President’s Own” will present “Simply Sammy,” a concert featuring the music of the Grammy Award-winner Sammy Nestico, who also formerly worked as chief arranger for the Marine Band and arranger for Count Basie and Quincy Jones. The program will include music Nestico composed or arranged while he was a member of the Marine Band from 1963-68 and feature works for concert band, orchestra, and dance band.
“I’ve been wanting to do a Nestico concert for a number of years and thought this year would be perfect since we’re celebrating our 215th anniversary,” Marine Band Director Col. Michael J. Colburn said. “We’ve been highlighting various time periods and elements of Marine Band history, so I’m thrilled to revisit the ‘Nestico era’ as part of our 2013 showcase series.”

Throughout the performance, each selection will be introduced by a video clip of Nestico offering background information on the piece. He’ll share anecdotes about the 1940s swing era and his favorite memories as Marine Band arranger during President John F. Kennedy’s administration.

Program highlights include a Stephen Foster medley; the love theme from Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” Victor Herbert selections, a medley of Henry Mancini’s popular hits and Jimmy Dorsey’s fast-paced “Oodles of Noodles,” featuring saxophone soloist Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Steven Longoria.

The concert will conclude with one of Nestico’s timeless arrangements -- The Marines’ Hymn, “Apotheosis.” Nestico summed up the “Apotheosis,” noting, “It’s not only bold but it’s also sad. It’s glorious. It’s beautiful.”

Nestico wrote the arrangement at the request of then-assistant director Capt. Dale Harpham for the Marine Corps’ birthday. A Marine brass ensemble premiered the piece at the National Cathedral here. During that performance, Nestico said, there was “not a dry eye in the house … because I give it my heart, a Marine’s heart.”

Nestico recalled: “I didn’t want to be John Philip Sousa, I want to be Sammy. So always in my music I want to make it sound like the Marine Band but there’s always a little bit of Sammy in there too. You put your own personality -- your heart is in there. … That’s the whole idea of being an arranger.”

By virtue of his arrangements and compositions, the name Sammy Nestico is familiar to concert band and jazz musicians around the world. And although his career with “The President’s Own” lasted only five years, the legacy of his talent continues to grow.

Nestico has collaborated and arranged for songwriters such as Johnny Mercer, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Phil Collins. He has orchestrated for major film studios such as Warner Brothers, Paramount, MGM, and Columbia. He has written for the Count Basie Orchestra, Glenn Miller Orchestra and other bands in Hollywood, and he has more than 50 television credits, including “Gomer Pyle,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “Charlie’s Angels.” Based on his experience with the Marine Band, Universal Studios hired him to compose marches.

20th Century Fox hired him to write for the TV show M.A.S.H.; if “Hawkeye” or “Radar” turned on the radio, viewers heard Nestico’s big band arrangements in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, stationed in Uijeongbu, South Korea. But Nestico is most proud of his 600 works published in the education field and played in schools.

“Sammy Nestico is one of the most talented and successful composers and arrangers in the field of band, orchestra, and dance band music, and we are very fortunate to have had him as a member of the U.S. Marine Band back in the 1960s,” said Marine Band Historian Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Ressler. “In the years he was with us he created some of the most interesting, imaginative, and well-crafted arrangements in our repertoire. It will be a great celebration of one of the most talented musicians who ever wore our uniform.”

Even after more than four decades away from the nation’s capital, Sammy Nestico still has a special place in his heart for “The President’s Own.”

“The Marine Band is very, very important to me,” he said. “I walked a little taller when I was in the Marine Band. I’ve always been very proud to say I was a member.”

“Simply Sammy” is free and open to the public and will take place at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College, 3001 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Va. Parking is available in the adjacent garage for a $6 fee.

Before the concert there will be a string quintet pre-concert performance in the lobby. Following the performance, Nestico will greet patrons in the lobby.

Reserve Red Horse unit has happy homecoming at Charleston

by Michael Dukes
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

4/12/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Hundreds of family members and friends waited anxiously in a packed Joint Base Charleston Passenger Terminal for a 747 charter jet carrying nearly 100 Airmen from 560th Red Horse Squadron returning from a six-month deployment  April 11.

The Air Force Reservists have been deployed as part of the the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron since November and were responsible for heavy construction projects at various Middle Eastern locations. This marks the first deployment for the newly formed squadron, which started operations on Nov. 1, 2008.

"These HORSEmen have done some amazing work," said Lt. Col. Joseph Swaim, 560th RHS commander. "Much of this could not be possible without the support of the family back home -- the wives, husbands, moms and dads that make things possible for these men and women to do what they did."

Reserve leadership was the first to welcome the troops back home. Col. James Fontanella, 315th Airlift Wing commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Gigi Manning joined Lt. Col. Swaim, and his 560th RHS chiefs, Chief Master Sgt. James Hampton and Chief Master Sgt. Tonya Blythe at the side of the jet. Col. Timothy Lamb, 622nd Civil Engineer Group commander at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Also was on hand to welcome the Airmen back home.

Family members holding up welcome home signs cheered as the first returning Airmen in red hats stepped out the jet's door and made their way down the stairs to the tarmac. One sign read: "We are so Proud of You Welcome Home," and another read: "We Miss Our Hero." Other signs and banners had similar cheerful messages--many, no doubt, made by the tiny hands of these Airmen's children. Tears of joy stained the cheeks of some of the loved ones as they jumped up and down waving.

"The difference that we're making in the world; you see it on the news, but to see it first hand, it's a terrific experience to be there and do it," said one of the returning Airmen Senior Airman Michael Crump as he held his two children in his arms. "I wouldn't say I want to do it often, but any time our country calls on us we'll be there."

"This is what we have been waiting on, it's fantastic," said Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Rice of the enthusiastic reception. "We really missed them and we are just ready to go and spend some good time with our family. It's good to be home."
Approximately two months into their deployment, the 560th RHS executed a critical $31 million construction program spanning from the Middle East to Central Asia. Projects included a tactical operation center, command and control infrastructure, strategic airlift ramp and fuel farm, emergency airfield repairs and several other facilities delivering mission and life-support functions across the U.S. Central Command area of operation.

Swaim said there were over 20 individual Red Horse construction projects distributed across eight different sites throughout Southwest Asia, with majority of the projects located in Afghanistan. The HORSEmen moved over 100,000 tons of dirt, maintained over and distributed over $20 million worth of materials, and performed many maintenance actions on Air Force Central Command's largest single-unit fleet worth $85.2 million.

"These HORSEmen have done some amazing work," Swaim added. "Much of this could not be possible without the support of the family back home. The wives, husbands, moms and dads that make things possible for these men and women to do what they did."

Red Horse squadrons are capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments worldwide and provide heavy repair capability and construction support for the Air Force.

Austere runway ops validate C-17 combat capability

by Tech. Sgt. Rachel Martinez
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/12/2013 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- In 2009, the Air Force conducted semi-prepared runway operations testing at numerous airfields around the world where they found that the C-17 Globemaster III is capable of taking off and landing on 65 percent of the world's soil.

The capability to operate on semi-prepared airfields increases the C-17's ability to deliver much-needed cargo to forward deployed troops in Afghanistan, as was recently demonstrated by members of the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.

On March 26, 2013, the 817 EAS was tasked to deliver critical communications equipment to Forward Operating Base Farah in Afghanistan where the airfield is little more than dirt. While the aircrews deliver cargo to bases in Afghanistan on a daily basis, this was only the second time in the last year that the 817 EAS had been tasked with a SPRO mission.

"We train for it, and have procedures in our manuals on how to conduct SPRO, we just don't get to do it very often," said Capt. Cliff Caldwell, 817 EAS aircraft commander for the mission. "These missions are cool because they really validate the capabilities of the C-17."

There is extra preparation and precaution when it comes to conducting SPRO missions. Aircrews conduct careful pre-flight plan study and maintenance airmen prepare the jet for operating in dusty and austere environments. Waivers need to be coordinated through Air Mobility Command and, in this case, the cargo needed to be certified for airlift. Additionally, the austere location required security support from Phoenix Ravens, specially trained security forces personnel dedicated to providing support for AMC aircraft transiting airfields where security is unknown or additional security is needed to counter local threats.

Caldwell, who had conducted SPRO training at an airfield in the U.S., was the only aircrew member who had actually conducted such a mission. Despite the uniqueness of the mission, the other aircrew members said they were prepared for successful operations.

"We keep documents on these types of missions and that was a huge part of our mission review," said Capt. Chris Gilbert, 817 EAS pilot. "We were well prepared. Other than landing the aircraft on dirt, it was just another mission for us; and the jet performed really well that day."

With such proven combat capabilities, the 817 EAS continues to provide airlift as needed to meet warfighter needs.

20th AF turns 69

by Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

4/12/2013 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Since 1944, the 20th Air Force has been one of the Air Force's most storied units.

The 20th AF was established to bring strategic bombardment against our enemy of the time, Japan.

Originally part of the Army Air Corps before the U.S. Air Force was created, the 20th began as the first non-sequentially numbered air force, that is, Army Air Corps leadership designated NAFs from one to 14, but when it came time to create a NAF for bombers like the Enola Gay they skipped straight to 20, said Capt. Daniel Newcomer, 20th Air Force director of intelligence.

"That, in and of itself, is significant," he said. "It let everyone know these guys were going to be different."

The unit's B-29 Superfortresses bombed Japanese Islands during World War II. Twentieth Air Force bombers, the Enola Gay and Bock's Car, brought an early end to the war after they dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan.

"After 18 years in the Air Force, this is one of the most storied units I've been in, and it has been an amazing experience," Newcomer explained. "I've enjoyed learning about all the hard work that goes into the mission. No one outside of the missile community really understands all the effort it takes to perform the strategic deterrence mission."

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, the current 20th AF commander, said he is proud to be a part of 20th AF history.

"It's an honor," he said. "It characterizes all of the inspiring elements of command. To command the only fully generated nuclear force in the U.S. and the professional Airmen who conduct that mission every day and have done so for 42 years is amazing.

"When you look at the photos of the commanders who came before you and you see names like 'Hap' Arnold and Curt LeMay, you're in a good family line. You know you carry the same burdens they had and the accountability to Americans and their allies."

On this anniversary, it is a time to reflect on the history of the NAF and learn from it.

"You study and learn from the past," Carey said. "You bring in elements of the current environment to make sure you'll always be able to execute in the future, whether its missile field security, maintaining alerts or addressing crises like floods or fire. You can always learn from the past to improve your future situation."

Though it has come far from its original bombardment mission, the 20th AF is still an integral part of the U.S. nuclear deterrence force.

"Today, we're still uniquely trained, uniquely equipped Airmen," Carey said. " The only difference is we have ICBMs instead of B-29s."

Senior Defense Official Makes Case for BRAC to Congress

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2013 – The acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment and his service branch counterparts presented their military construction budget requests to Capitol Hill legislators here today and made a case for another round of base realignment and closure.

John Conger told the House Committee on Appropriations that the budget request allows the Defense Department to continue prudent investment in its infrastructure.

The DOD budget request, Conger said, allocates $11 billion for military construction, $10.9 billion for facility sustainment and restoration and $3.8 billion for environmental compliance and cleanup.
However, Conger said, the department needs “to find a way to strike the right balance, so infrastructure does not drain too many resources from the warfighter.”

Pentagon officials said the latest BRAC proposal stems from a DOD study issued in 2004 that indicated a 24-percent excess capacity in infrastructure amid constrained budgets and reductions in force structure.

“Then we had a BRAC round [in 2005, which] reduced approximately 3.4 percent of our … replacement value,” Conger said. “So as a consequence, we deemed there's still a lot of excess there.”

Significant force structure reductions followed, Conger said, including projected Army scale-backs of 80,000 personnel, Marine Corps reductions of 20,000 people and the Air Force’s paring of 500 aircraft since 2005. Consequently, there’s “significant evidence that we have excess [infrastructure] capacity,” Conger said.

“We need to be cognizant that maintaining more infrastructure than we need taxes other resources that the warfighter needs as well, from depot maintenance, to training, to bullets and bombs,” he said.

As DOD seeks ways to lower military construction and operating costs and invest in energy efficiency, Conger assured the committee members that BRAC is another method to reduce infrastructure costs to the department.

“The previous five rounds of BRAC are providing us with a recurring savings of $12 billion every year,” he said.

Conger also acknowledged skepticism that some members of Congress have about the need for another BRAC.

“In essence, our past investments in BRAC are paying for our entire [military construction] bill, and then some,” Conger said. “I think there's a good case for presuming another round.”

Secretary of the Navy Names Multiple Ships

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today the names of seven ships: three joint high speed vessels (JHSV), the USNS Trenton, the USNS Brunswick and the USNS Carson City; an amphibious transport dock ship (LPD), the USS Portland; two littoral combat ships (LCS), the USS Wichita and the USS Manchester; and an ocean-class auxiliary general oceanographic research (AGOR) ship, the R/V Sally Ride.

"As secretary of the Navy, I have the great privilege of naming ships that will represent America with distinction as part of the fleet for many decades to come," Mabus said.  "These ships were all named to recognize the hard working people from cities all around our country who have contributed in so many ways to our Navy and Marine Corps team."

Joint high speed vessels are named for small American cities and counties that embody American values.  The future USNS Trenton (JHSV 5), named in honor of New Jersey's capital city, will be the fourth ship to bear this name.  Similarly, the USNS Carson City (JHSV 7) is the second naval vessel to be named in honor of Nevada's capital city.  The USNS Brunswick (JHSV 6) is the fourth naval vessel named for the seaport city in Georgia and recognizes its longstanding relationship with the Navy. 

Military commanders will have the flexibility to use the JHSV in a variety of roles to include supporting overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts.

The 338 foot-long aluminum catamarans are being constructed at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., and are designed to transport 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.  These vessels can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility.  JHSVs are equipped with an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations.  JHSVs have berthing space for up to 104 personnel and airline-style seating for up to 312.  

Amphibious transport dock ships are named for major American cities.  Mabus named the future USS Portland (LPD 27) in honor of Oregon's most highly populated city.  LPD 27 will be the third ship to bear this name.

The principal mission of Portland will be to deploy combat and support elements of Marine expeditionary units and brigades.  With the capability of transporting and debarking air cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing craft and augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft (MV-22), these ships support amphibious assault, special operations, and expeditionary warfare missions.  The USS Portland will provide improved warfighting capabilities including an advanced command-and-control suite, increased lift capability in vehicle and cargo-carrying capacity and advanced ship survivability features.

Portland will be a San Antonio-class (LPD 17) amphibious transport dock ship, built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss.  The ship will be 684 feet in length, have an overall beam of 105 feet, a navigational draft of 23 feet, displace about 24,900 tons and capable of embarking a landing force of about 800 Marines.  LPD 27 will be capable of reaching sustained speeds in excess of 22 knots.

Littoral combat ships are named after great American communities. 

The littoral combat ships named for Wichita and Manchester recognize regionally beneficial cities that are also within the top five highly populated communities in their states.  The USS Wichita (LCS 13) is named in honor of Kansas' largest city and will be the third ship to bear the name.  The USS Manchester (LCS 14) will be the second ship named for one of New Hampshire's industrial centers.

Wichita and Manchester will be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission packages, which can be changed out quickly as combat needs demand.  These mission packages are supported by special detachments that will deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine, undersea and surface warfare missions.

These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in the coastal waters.  A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions close to the shore such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.

Lockheed Martin with Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., will build the Freedom-variant, USS Wichita (LCS 13), which will be 388 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 58 feet, displace approximately 3,400 tons, and make speed in excess of 40 knots.  Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., will build the Independence-variant, USS Manchester (LCS 14), which will be 419 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 103 feet, displace approximately 3,100 tons, and make speed in excess of 40 knots.

Mabus named the future R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28), which will be a Neil Armstrong-class AGOR ship, to honor the memory of Sally Ride, a professor, scientist and an innovator at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.  Ride was the first woman and also the youngest person in space.  She later served as director of NASA's Office of Exploration.

Traditionally, AGORs are named for nationally recognized leaders in exploration and science.  The R/V Sally Ride is the first academic research ship to be named in honor of a woman.

"Sally Ride's career was one of firsts and will inspire generations to come," said Mabus.  "I named R/V Sally Ride to honor a great researcher, but also to encourage generations of students to continue exploring, discovering and reaching for the stars."

The ship will be a well-equipped modern oceanographic research platform that includes acoustic equipment capable of mapping the deepest parts of the oceans, and modular onboard laboratories providing the flexibility to meet a wide variety of oceanographic research challenges.  These make them capable of supporting a wide range of oceanographic research activities conducted by academic institutions and national laboratories.  The research vessel will be outfitted with multi-drive low-voltage diesel electric propulsion systems.  This upgraded system will help maintain efficiency while lowering maintenance and fuel costs.  

The Neil Armstrong-class AGOR ship will be 238 feet in length, have a beam length of 50 feet, and can operate at more than 12 knots.  AGOR 28 will be built by Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. in Anacortes, Wash.

Hagel Inducts Army Chaplain Into Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today inducted the nation’s latest Medal of Honor recipient into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes: Army Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, who died while counseling and saving countless fellow service members even as his own life was about to end in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean War.

Kapaun was just 35 years old when he died May 23, 1951. His remains were never recovered.
A day after President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Kapaun the nation’s highest military honor for acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, Hagel described Kapaun as one of the unheralded heroes of the Korean conflict, noting the courageous Catholic chaplain had sacrificed everything so that others could live.

“In a day when real heroes are hard to find, at a time when America is searching for a center of gravity, it’s particularly important that we grab ahold of people like Father Kapaun and not just acknowledge those acts of heroism and gallantry in what he did as a clergyman but the composite, who he was and what he was about,” Hagel said at today’s Pentagon ceremony.

Kapaun was serving with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Calvary Regiment, 1st Calvary Division at Unsan, Korea, in 1950 where as a prisoner of war held by the Chinese he administered faith to his fellow POWs, giving last rites to some, his own clothes to others, even regularly sneaking out of camp to steal food so other captives would not perish.

Accounts from survivors credit him for their ability to endure horrific camp conditions including severe cold, disease and starvation.

Kapaun would himself die as a prisoner, but not before serving as a leader to thousands of men captured along with him.

“I know of no finer example to point to,” said Hagel, as he inducted Kapaun, who hailed from Pilsen, Kan., into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes.

Kapaun “just didn’t appear in the Korean War. Something shaped him,” the secretary added.
Only six other chaplains have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Kapaun has been named a “Servant of God” by the Vatican, and he is considered a candidate for sainthood.

POLAR FORCE: A total force of JBER Airmen sharpen their skills during Operation Readiness Exercise

by Air Force Staff Sgts. William Banton and Nancy Goldberger
JBER and 176th Wing Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The continuous 24-hour operational readiness exercise, Polar Force 13-3, came to a close Monday after a week of evaluating Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Air Forces deployment capabilities, despite weather complications.

"Arctic Warriors, congratulations on a very successful Polar Force 13-3 exercise," said Air Force Col. Brian Duffy, 673d Air Base Wing commander. "Whether you were out front helping us get simulated people, equipment or aircraft ready for deployment, or whether you were working in our child development centers or manning our gates, you were all part of the collective success and we have a tremendous amount of thanks to give everyone."

The 3rd Wing commander, Air Force Col. David Nahom, echoed sentiments of thanks to all his personnel and their hard work throughout the exercise.

"I think we learned a lot about how to operate in a non-permissive environment," Nahom. "I think also we were probably fighting the conditions of the weather here in Alaska, more than the scenario at times.

Nahom concluded his assessment of the exercise by highlighting that, despite the weather, he thinks the 3rd Wing is more prepared to go forward to the next exercise and on to the exceptions next year.

The weeklong ORE helped validate and evaluate the wings' ability to integrate, mobilize, and prepare assigned personnel, aircraft and equipment for their wartime mission.
Designed with long hours and a busy work load, the intent was to push Airmen to their limits so they can do their best didn't go unnoticed.

"Aside from the 12-hour shifts, it's not too bad," said Airman 1st Class Terah Spear, 703rd Aircraft Maintence Squadron, aerospace propulsion apprentice, about her first exercise. "It kind of makes you think about what you're doing so you can get used to it."
Tech Sgt. Adam Aguilar, a member of the services Exercise Evaluation Team from the 673d Force Support Squadron agrees.

"It's important to sharpen our contingency skills," Aguilar said. "[This] gives us the opportunity to test our equipment and skills that we would otherwise not have the opportunity to until we got into the field."

The process is designed to provide operational training to prepare for deployment situations. These scenarios include in-processing newly arrived overseas personnel from a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation, deploying Airmen, and preparing strategic mission postures from deployed locations.

The contributions of the Guardsmen and Reservist as contingency assets during real world operations helped increase the authenticity of Polar Force 13-3, and helped to make it a success.

"Our biggest success within civil engineer was the total force integration of active duty, Guard and Reserve," said Chief Master Sgt. Keith Wilson, 176th Civil Engineer Squadron EET. "I think we have some challenges, but we can overcome those challenges. If we continue to work together, we'll achieve success."

Aguilar said he agreed with Chief Wilson's assessment.

"I think that's important to keep ties between our Guard and Reserve," Aguilar said. "We will do the same job. It's good to know who our counterparts are."

The combined partnership of Active, Guard and Reserve was an important step in making Polar Force 13-3 a success."I was extremely pleased with the effort the planning, execution and the ultimate total force combined effort that went into this exercise," said Air Force Col. Donald Wenke, 176th Wing commander. "I think we all learned a lot out of it. I think we are going to get better day as we continue to exercise in the future and prepare for war time tasking's and our readiness inspections in the future."

Colorado reserve wing mourns loss of former command chief

by Ann Skarban
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Members of the 302nd Airlift Wing mourned the loss of former 302nd AW Command Chief Master Sgt. Suzette Cherry who lost her battle with leukemia in a local Colorado Springs hospital intensive care unit April 7. Cherry passed away with her husband Robert, also a Chief Master Sgt. and daughter by her side.

"With a very heavy heart I send this email to inform you that after courageously fighting cancer and a serious blood infection, Chief Master Sergeant Suzette Cherry passed away today," wrote 302nd AW commander, Col. Jay Pittman in an email to the wing's Reservists on Sunday afternoon. His note also let the members know that Cherry was aware and appreciative of the overwhelming support given by 302nd Airlift Wing members during her illness.

The news of the former 302nd Command Chief Master Sergeant's passing hit the tight-knit reserve family, which Cherry had been a part of for years, extremely hard. It had been only one year ago that Cherry retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve after 25 years of service. The wing had honored her in a retirement ceremony, April 14, 2012.

During her retirement ceremony, the chief asked her fellow reserve members to "Take care of one another," -- words that are again, most fitting just one year later. Cherry had become a mentor, leader and friend to hundreds throughout her career, and most recently with the approximately 1,500 members of the 302nd AW. Cherry's retirement Meritorious Service Medal citation lauded the leadership she had provided to the wing's enlisted members as well as her expansion of the wing's quarterly and annual awards programs.

"Chief Cherry, you are the most inspirational woman thus far in my AF career, losing you today is such a sad thing. I will remember everything you have taught me and carry you in my career. I know you will always be looking down on are missed and loved," said Staff Sgt. Francine Palmer of the Air Force Reserve Command's 622nd Force Support Squadron, in one of hundreds of social media posts and Facebook tributes to Cherry since Sunday.

Chief Cherry announced her diagnosis and the start of her battle against the disease with a Facebook post to hundreds of friends on March 9. In that post, she asked for prayers, not pity and vowed to fight the disease as best she could.

In addition to serving in the Air Force Reserve, Cherry was a full-time federal civil service employee working as the Director of Staff, Missile Defense Agency Space Systems at Schriever AFB, Colo. She was also a U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Sponsor and volunteered for several local organizations including the National Museum of World War II Aviation and the Dreamcatchers Equine Rescue.

"Today we lost a great is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we say goodbye to an amazing person. Suzette Rickenbacker Cherry is in peace after a short bout with cancer. Suzette was a very special lady who shared her talents and joy of life with everyone she met. She was a great friend to the museum and all she came across. To say she will be missed by all would be a gross understatement. We send our condolences to Robert, Kyler and her entire family. Godspeed Suzette," said representatives from the National Museum of World War II Aviation.

A memorial service for Cherry is planned for 2 p.m., Sat., April 13 at New Life Church, 11025 Voyager Parkway in Colorado Springs.