Sunday, May 05, 2013

Alamo City Blue

Jim Middleton, USN, served in the United States Navy from 1964 to 1969.  He is a retired San Antonio Police Officer and the author of Alamo City Blue.

According to the book description of Alamo City Blue, “Shots fired. An officer is down." A "sniper" opened fire with shotguns on the police officers standing in the intersection of Broadway and Grayson. Six went down wounded from the barrage of rounds fired. Forty nine citizens were injured by shotgun blast and semi-automatic rifle fire. Two died as a result of being struck by the "sniper's bullets. The crazed gunman, high on "angel dust," reigned terror at the Battle of Flowers Parade in San Antonio. 

More about Jim Middleton

Travis gives the hook up to transportation of unmanned vehicles

by Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Travis porters transferred two unmanned aerial vehicles and their support equipment from ground transportation to a C-17 Globemaster III Tuesday on base. The UAVs were moved through Travis because the special cargo mission here makes it feasible.

"It takes a lot of coordination to do something like this," said Matthew Greenwood, 60th Aerial Port Squadron special plans and projects. "A lot of people have to inspect and supervise cargo like this and when it's finally loaded on the aircraft, they have to be very cautious of the sensitive equipment inside."

The UAVs weighed in at more than 11,000 pounds each. Including their support equipment, the total load on the plane was around 50 or 60 thousand pounds, he said.

Special cargo must be carefully inspected, supervised and planned before it can finally be loaded onto the aircraft, Greenwood said.

When moving this much special cargo with so much coordination required, the porters here can use all the help they can get. This is where extra porters from a Reserve unit at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, came to help.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Airman 1st Class John Tapia, 74th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation specialist. "We are getting training here we don't usually get a chance to get. I am learning a lot about tiedowns, chains and shoring, as well as safety around aircraft."

The mission at Travis makes it a go-to destination for Tapia's squadron to visit for their training and proficiency, he said.

"Not only is it beneficial to the Reserve squadrons to come here and train, but it helps us out greatly to have the extra manpower around to deal with the operations tempo," Greenwood said.

The 60th APS frequently uses the unique relationship they have with their Reserve counterparts to handle their busy and ever-growing mission, he said.

"We really do deal with everything," Greenwood said. "Today we are moving UAVs, tomorrow it could be relief cargo for downrange or foreign equipment for our allies around the world. This is the mission."

New parachute test to provide AC-130 aircrew with the best

by Jet Fabara
412th Test Wing Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- There's a lot to be said by AC-130 gunship aircrew members who are proud of their heavily armed aircraft. The aircraft has the latest in sophisticated weapons, high tech sensors, navigation and fire control systems; however, it lacked one thing -- a lightweight parachute that was agile enough for the entire crew to use.

Thanks to the work of the Aircrew Performance Branch Program Office, part of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Agile Combat Support Directorate, and testing completed in April by the Global Reach Combined Test Force Test Parachutist Program, crew members aboard AC-130s will now have a lightweight alternative, the Low Profile Parachute.

"The LPP program is a success story for Air Force Materiel Command's newly established 5-center construct. The five centers, which report directly to AFMC, include Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Test Center, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force Sustainment Center," said Lt. Col. Christopher Lemanski, AFLCMC Aircrew Performance Branch program manager. "The men and women of two of these centers, AFLCMC and AFTC, worked very closely to select and test a low-cost, commercially available emergency egress parachute suitable for the AC-130 community. Within AFLCMC, the Aircrew Performance Branch is responsible to the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Agile Combat Support for acquiring LPPs within cost, schedule and performance requirements and timelines."

"Ultimately, AC-130 crew members needed a chute that was easy to walk around with while they executed their mission and they needed a parachute rig that was lighter and slimmer," added Tech. Sgt. Joe Monreal, 418 FLTS NCOIC of the Test Parachutist Program, who was also a test jumper during the test phase of the LPP. "After carefully going through the research, planning and selection phase in 2010, the LPP eventually proved to be the best alternative."

According to Monreal, the LPP is intended to replace the BA-22 parachute, which is currently configured for use in the AC-130 and weighs approximately 40 pounds, depending on the configuration.

"In addition to weighing nearly one-half of what the BA-22 does, this new parachute will help save the Air Force money on the purchase price of emergency chutes and on the repacking cycle, but more importantly, it will help save lives of crew members that may find themselves in an egress situation," added Monreal.

With the execution phase beginning in early February 2012, the team of test jumpers, flight test engineers, human factors engineers, rigger support specialists and drop zone safety officers all said that to get to the completion phase, extensive training had to be completed before any of the test jumpers could don the LPPs.

"Before we could perform actual jumps, we first had to accomplish wind tunnel training in Perris, Calif., with the parachutes," Monreal said. "After this, we outfitted dummies with the LPPs and used a World War II B-25 Bomber and SC.7 Skyvan to drop them out of the bomb bay. Soon after this, we began staging out of the California City airport in order to execute live drops at the Edwards Farm Drop Zone."

During the duration of the test, the team flew approximately 55 sorties with challenges along the way, according to Monreal.

"Some minor malfunctions, such as line twists, were experienced, not to mention some hard openings at high speeds and some hard landings, so you can say we all definitely earned our pay," said Monreal. "But, in the end, we all feel that this new system will help AC-130 aircrew members across the Air Force accomplish the mission more effectively and safely."

Grand Forks Airmen, Youth Commission assemble care packages for deployed troops

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- About a dozen service members from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., teamed up with the mayor's office and 35 members of the Grand Forks Youth Commission April 27, 2013, to assemble care packages for deployed troops.

The effort on the part of the Airmen was led by Master Sgt. Jesse Maki, Grand Forks Air Force Base Airman & Family Readiness Center superintendent; Margarita Consing, a student at Red River High School, led the Youth Commission.

"We came up with the idea for this project in January, so it hasn't taken very long to plan," said Consing. "We wanted to do this because we look up to these troops as our heroes and mentors, and they are all from our community."

The boxes contained a variety of foods and hygiene items donated by the community, as well as hand-written thank-yous and group photos of the students of the Grand Forks Youth Commission.

Volunteers made short work of the nearly 200 boxes of goods, totaling about $5,500 in value. They formed assembly lines to pack and close the boxes, then filled out customs forms to prepare them for shipping. About 90 active-duty Airmen and a dozen North Dakota Air National Guardsmen are set to receive the packages.

"Helping out with these care packages is a perfect opportunity for me to give back what was done for me when I was deployed," said Senior Airman Daryl Klepsa-Andries, 319th Force Support Squadron. "It means so much to get these while you're downrange; a lot of these items are hard to come by."

Staff Sgt. Christopher Young, 319th Force Support Squadron, agreed.

"These care packages are a godsend when you're deployed, especially in remote locations," he said. "It's really nice to get things from home."

Mayor Michael R. Brown spoke very highly of all the volunteers who gave their time and effort to make the event a success.

"I am so proud of everyone who came and helped out today," he said. "Here they are making a positive difference in people's lives, and they're enjoying themselves while they do it."

Maki said that he was also very pleased with the volunteer turnout and the project overall.

"This was a great turnout and the Grand Forks Youth Commission did an outstanding job promoting this event throughout the community," he said. "It was humbling to see the junior leaders in our community go to the lengths they did to support our deployed Airmen and Soldiers. I think I can speak for the recipients of the care packages in saying a heart-felt thank you to the city of Grand Forks, the Youth Commission and all the volunteers for a job well done."

Maki said he looks forward to doing the project again next year.

"The support I received from Mayor Brown and his office was incredible and I certainly look forward to working with them in the near future," he said. "We have already discussed preliminary plans for next year's campaign and I can tell you everyone is very motivated to work together. The bar has been set very high."