Military News

Monday, April 29, 2013

Team Buckley takes a Power Lunch

by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau
460th Space Wing Public Affairs


4/25/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Team Buckley members travel to John H. Amesse Elementary School every week to participate in the Power Lunch Reading Program to help students improve their reading skills and provide them with positive mentorship.

This is the first year Buckley volunteers have engaged in Power Lunch, but according to Michael Williams, Denver Public Schools parent and community engagement specialist, their impact is already being felt.

"Reading is improving with a lot of the kids. In fact, volunteers are finding that they are reading better and better each week," Williams explained. "You are seeing a lot of better behavior; teachers are saying that kids are acting a lot better.

"We have some kids that have some confidence issues in some ways and teachers are saying, 'He's a little more confident, he's got a little more pep in his step and he's got his shoulders up a little bit.' I am looking at that and I know where that is coming from. That's coming straight from the Airmen," Williams stated.

DPS reached out to Team Buckley in an attempt to connect third graders with service members.

"Military members have an innate piece of leadership and authority that comes across with kids, as well as that professionalism that they don't get to see all the time," Williams said. "It just an awesome thing to have for the kids -- to be able to have that interaction with folks that have that presence about them."

Each week, Team Buckley members carpool to the school, because as Senior Airman Eric Parker, 460th Space Communications Squadron, puts it, "It gives me an opportunity to help Luis."

Each volunteer is teamed up with a child for the school semester, as with Parker and 9-year-old Luis, and they get to see first-hand the effects of their efforts.

"It gives him a little more practice and a little more motivation so that he keeps coming back (to reading)," Parker explained. "When he finishes something that I think is really hard for him and he does a really good job at it, it is rewarding for me."

As for Luis, he said he sees his reading improve because every day he is reading harder and harder books. But his favorite part about Power Lunch is much simpler.

"I get to read with somebody," the third grader said with a smile.

U.S. Airman returns to Indonesian roots during PACANGEL

by Airman 1st Class Kia Atkins
Pacific Angel 13-2 Public Affairs


4/29/2013 - Yogyakarta, Indonesia  -- Staff. Sgt. Endro Accettola, an electrical systems journeyman from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, left his hometown of Balikpapan, Indonesia, in 2002 at the age of 14. His first time back to Indonesia was with the U.S. Air Force on a humanitarian operation called Pacific Angel.

PACANGEL is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance mission held in various countries several times a year and includes medical, dental, optometry, engineering programs and various subject-matter expert exchanges.

"I really didn't expect to come back here as part of an Air Force operation," said Accettola. "When I first joined the Air Force my dad told me I might get to come back through the Air Force. I always told him I didn't think that would happen."

During Pacific Angel, Accettola is the site lead for a clinic that U.S. and Indonesian service members are renovating.

"I feel like I'm giving back to my home country by helping out. It makes me want to come here more often; after being in the U.S. for ten years, I'm starting to lose my culture and my native language. I understand what my Indonesian counterparts are saying, but my language skills have become quite limited so it's a little hard to talk to them as well as I would like."

Accettola said working side-by-side with members of the Indonesian military is a great experience.

"The members of the Indonesian Armed Forces that I am working with are really good guys," he said. "They are hard workers and never complain. They are very comfortable with the materials and they have so much experience and knowledge."

Accettola said Pacific Angel is a great operation to show the world that the U.S. military is here to lend a helping hand and hopes operations like this will continue to happen to further improve relations in the Pacific region.

"Once we leave here these locals are going to remember that the U.S. military came here and helped them," said Accettola. "The job might not be huge, but it's enough to impact a community and they're going to see this and remember this for a long time."
Operation Pacific Angel missions were previously conducted in Indonesia in 2009 and 2011. The first Pacific Angel of this year was conducted in the Philippines in March, and others are scheduled for Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

Thule marks Armed Forces Day with Greenlandic residents

by Senior Airman James Sparks
821st Air Base Group


4/29/2013 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland  -- Thule Air Base celebrated Armed Forces Day March 30-31 by inviting native Greenlandic residents to the base, some of whom traveled up to three days across the extremely cold environment by dog sled to attend the celebration.

Most of the activities took place on the frozen Arctic Ocean and included a modified ice hockey match and a dog sled race sponsored by Thule's Operation Julemand private organization. The events concluded with a native craft sale provided by Greenlandic villagers.

While many of the hunters come to Thule each year for the celebration, it was a unique opportunity for the Airmen assigned to the Department of Defense's northernmost and most remote installation to have such an experience. Thule Air Base is one of six installations operated by the 21st Space Wing and is located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

These events also allowed the Airmen to learn about the local culture as well as share a special Easter weekend with their Arctic neighbors.

"New friendships, friendly competition and once-in-a-lifetime experiences were shared by everyone," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Skonetski, the 2013 Armed Forces Day coordinator. "This event, and ones like it, provide an opportunity for the local and military communities to come together, work together and build relationships that will last a lifetime. It was an honor to be involved."

Every event at Thule AB is undertaken with careful planning and involvement because of its unusual environment and location. The 2013 Armed Forces Day event was no exception.

The Armed Forces Day celebration is particularly special to Thule because it brings three distinct cultures from Greenland, Denmark and the United States together for one great event. Learning more about the Arctic natives and our Danish brothers and sisters has become a huge morale and cultural relations boost for all of "Team Thule."

"It showed me how important it is to be a part of something bigger and how a small community could be so family-oriented," said Staff Sgt. Theodore Burley, 2013 Armed Forces Day assistant coordinator. "It opened my eyes on another's culture and the importance of the relationship between the U.S. armed forces, its host nations, and all the many working pieces it takes to maintain such a strong bond."

552nd Air Control Wing wins 23rd Outstanding Unit Award

by Darren D. Heusel
Tinker Public Affairs


4/26/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 552nd Air Control Wing has won the 2012 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, bringing its total of AFOUAs won to 23, it was announced recently.

"The men and women of the 552nd Air Control Wing are very proud to earn the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award," said Col. Greg Guillot, 552nd ACW commander. "As with the previous 22 times the wing has been so honored, this award recognizes the outstanding results that come from the disciplined and dedicated approach the wing's Airmen take to accomplishing their mission."

According to Curtis Swift, 552nd ACW historian, the most recent AFOUA was for the period June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012. Prior to this, Mr. Swift said, the last one earned was for the period of June 1, 2010 to May 31, 2011.

Mr. Swift said of the wing's 23 AFOUAs, four came with the "Combat V" device for valor, with the most recent of these being for the period of June 1, 2002 to May 31, 2003, coinciding with the initial months of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
In addition to the 23 AFOUAs, Mr. Swift said the 552nd ACW has also received two Meritorious Unit Awards; one from 2006-2007 and one for 2008-2009.

"Over the entire year, the 552nd ACW had forces tasked to three combatant commanders, and for a period of time served a fourth, in addition to meeting all local readiness training requirements," Colonel Guillot said. "At home and abroad, 552nd ACW Airmen delivered combat airpower to meet all mission tasks."

Subordinate units within the 552nd ACW authorized to share in the award include: the 552nd Operations Group, 552nd Operations Support Squadron, 552nd Training Squadron, 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron, 963rd AACS, 964th AACS, 965th AACS, 966th AACS, 552nd Air Control Group, 607th Air Control Squadron, 552nd Air Control Networks Squadron, 726th ACS, 728th ACS, 729th ACS, 752nd Operations Support Squadron, 552nd Maintenance Group, 552nd Maintenance Operations Squadron, 552nd Maintenance Squadron and the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Airmen make progress in bid for Everest

4/29/2013 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- A team of Air Force mountaineers began their journey to ascend and summit Mount Everest recently as the final expedition of the independent U.S. Air Force Seven Summit Challenge.

The team of six Airmen is underway on a 50-day journey to the highest mountain on earth, completing a project that began eight years ago with the goal of reaching the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, to plant the American and Air Force flags.

Collectively, teams of the Summit Challenge have already scaled the more than 104,337 vertical feet on Mount Elbrus, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Aconcagua, Mount McKinley, Mount Vinson and Mount Kosciuszko.

The summit team is accompanied by four trekkers and three wounded warriors (two pararescuemen and a combat rescue officer) who will not make a summit attempt but support the team in their feat.

The team reached Nepal March 31, and began the final stages of the trip. After spending a few days in the region getting used to the increased elevation, the team pushed on to Everest.

By April 10, most of the team had moved up to base camp facilities at Lobuche, a mountain peak near Everest. The group then moved on to the Everest Base Camp to acclimatize at further increased elevation and practiced important procedures such as crevasse rescues and ladder handling.

At Everest Base Camp, Capt. Rob Marshall, one of the co-founders of the AF Seven Summits challenge and the leader of the team, was able to make a call home early April 15.

"We were having an awesome day today. We had our Puja, a big spiritual blessing (ceremony), where we ask Mount Everest and essential the spirit of the mountain to bless the team and give us good luck," Marshall said, shortly before his data connection was interrupted.

With a view of the Khumbu icefall, a precarious gateway on the ascent to Everest, Marshall said the team grew more excited -- looking at the mountain they've prepared so hard to climb.

Scaling Mount Everest is not a quick affair. Marshall said the group will move at a slow pace to improve their chances of getting as many people as possible to the summit.

"You can climb Everest at a faster pace, but from our research, we are giving ourselves the best chance to acclimatize and the optimal amount of time to reach the top," Marshall said.

Health is an especially difficult issue for expeditions in the Himalayas. Most of the team fell ill with intestinal "bugs," shortly after their arrival in Nepal, due to the foreign food and living conditions.

The team since returned to Lobuche, which with nearly 20,161 feet elevation is already higher than any point in the continental U.S. They plan to ascend the lower peak April 16 for a "shakedown climb," giving everyone the important chance to check out their gear on a lower elevation, lower risk climb before making their first trip through the Khumbu icefall and up to Camp 1 on Everest.

The mountaineers plan their final ascent to Everest for mid-May, however the teams anxiety is rising.

"The stakes of this climb are the highest (no pun intended) of my life," Marshall wrote online. "There is a lot of personal pride and no shortage of money on the line here."

They climb to promote camaraderie and team spirit among Airmen, raise money for charity and to honor and commemorate the fallen.

Though not on an official military mission, if successful in their endeavor to scale 29,029-foot Mount Everest, the crew will become the first team of active-duty American military members to have reached Everest's summit.

On the team are:

- Maj. Rob Marshall, a V-22 Osprey pilot from Mercer Island, Wash., stationed in Amarillo, Texas
- Capt. Kyle Martin, a T-38 Talon pilot, from Manhattan, Kan., stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
- Capt. Marshall Klitzke, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot from Lemmon, S.D., currently an instructor pilot at the Air Force Academy.
- Capt. Colin Merrin, a GPS satellite operations mission commander from Santee, Calif., stationed at Schriever AFB, Colo.
- Staff Sgt. Nick Gibson, a Reserve pararescueman and physician-assistant student from Gulf Breeze, Fla., stationed at Patrick AFB
- Capt. Andrew Ackles, a TH-1N instructor pilot, from Ashland, Ore., stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala.

(Information courtesy of USAF Seven Summits Challenge blog and U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs. For more information, and to support the crew's effort, follow the team's progress at http://www.usaf7summits.com and at http://www.facebook.com/pages/USAF-7-Summits-Challenge).

New under secretary sworn in during Pentagon ceremony

4/29/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Senate confirmed the nomination of Eric Fanning to become the next under secretary of the Air Force April 18 and he began his transition into the office after being sworn in April 29.

"On behalf of the more than 690,000 men and women of the U.S. Air Force, I want to welcome Eric to our Air Force family," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. "He will be a tremendous asset to our Air Force and our leadership team. His diverse background in national security matters, coupled with this communications and congressional experience, will enable him to be a champion for our Airmen and their families during this challenging time in the Department of Defense."

President Obama nominated Fanning Aug. 1, 2012. At that time, he was serving as the deputy under secretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy.

"I have been immensely proud to serve these last four years with the men and women of the Navy and the Marine Corps, and I look forward to being part of the Air Force family," Fanning said. "I am honored by this opportunity and look forward to stand beside Secretary Donley in making sure the men and women of this great service receive the support they need in undertaking the mission of defending our country."

The Air Force has been without an under secretary since June 2012, when then-Under Secretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton was appointed to under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Dr. Jamie Morin was appointed to serve as the acting under secretary in July 2012.

"I want to thank Jamie for his dedication to the team as the acting under secretary of the Air Force these last ten months. His command of complex issues and tireless efforts ensured the best interests of the Airmen, their families and the Air Force remained at the forefront of every decision," Donley said. "We will continue to benefit from his leadership as he continues his role as the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller."

The under secretary is responsible for Air Force matters on behalf of the Secretary of the Air Force to include the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its Total Force Airmen and their families. He will oversee the service's annual budget of more than $110 billion, and serve as acting secretary of the Air Force in Donley's absence. Fanning will also serve as the chief management officer of the Air Force, the senior Air Force energy official, and the focal point for space within Air Force Headquarters.

Fanning served as the deputy under secretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy since 2009. Prior to that position, he was deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Fanning joined the commission staff from CMG, a strategic communications firm, where he was managing director.

From 2001 to 2006, he was senior vice president for Strategic Development at Business Executives for National Security, or BENS, a Washington, DC-based think tank, where he was in charge of international programs and all regional office operations in six cities across the country.

Previously, Fanning worked at Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery, another strategic communications firm. He also worked on the national and foreign assignment desks at CBS National News in New York and has held various political positions in Washington, D.C. He was a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee, a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense, and associate director of political affairs at the White House.