Saturday, May 11, 2013

Face of Defense: Deployed Soldier Returns for Mother’s Day

By Sgt. Jesse Houk
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

ROCHESTER, Ill., May 10, 2013 – The bond between a mother and her children is one of the most foundational and significant relationships between human beings. This connection is so profound that not even time and distance can separate a mother's love and devotion for her children.

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Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Sarah J. Campbell with her children in Rochester, Ill., May 6, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jesse Houk

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Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Sarah J. Campbell, of Rochester, Ill., is the operations noncommissioned officer with the 633rd Theater Gateway Personnel Accountability Team in Springfield. She was separated from her two children, Austin and Kiana, ages 10 and four, respectively, while deployed to Kuwait from June 2012 to March 2013.

"I tried calling them every chance I got," Campbell said. "It was hard sometimes, hearing them continuing on with their day-to-day life and telling me their stories and what they did that day."

Campbell relied on phone conversations and video conferencing to stay connected. She worked the night shift and was able to make calls on her breaks while it was daytime back home.

Campbell said she tried her best to be there for her children and admits she missed out on some things during her nine-month deployment. The most obvious were the physical and academic growth of her children.
The deployment was not only challenging for Campbell, but also her children.

"I really missed her," Austin said. "But I think it's cool that she's in the Army because she gets to shoot bazookas."

Although being away was difficult, Campbell said, the deployment provided time to reevaluate her priorities.
"I got to reflect a lot about my life," Campbell said. "A lot of my reflection had to do with my children.
Sometimes life overwhelms you or kind of throws you off-track and my deployment really helped me reflect on who I want to be as a person, a mother and soldier."

It's difficult to balance the commitments of being a mother and a soldier, Campbell said. Yet, she said, there’s a way to mesh the two. Her motherly instincts compelled her unit to give her the nickname of "mother hen" for the way she took charge during training.

"It is difficult juggling National Guard obligations with the responsibility of being a mother, but I feel they do complement each other at times," Campbell said. "I think being a mother helps me in my role as operations NCO because it's all about taking care of people."

Campbell said she discovered a lot about herself while on deployment. That time, she added, was vital in defining her priorities.

"I would do anything for my children and for the military," Campbell said. "My children will always come first -- no matter what."

It has been said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. In Campbell's case, ruling the world is not an aspiration, nurturing and protecting is. As a mother first and citizen-soldier second, she has already set a solid example of what that looks like.

Columbarium Dedication Honors Military Veterans

By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013 – Though the six veterans whose service era spanned the Civil War to Vietnam had no known relatives to see them rendered full honors and final respects at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, they were not forgotten.

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Casket teams carry the engraved urns with the unclaimed cremated remains of the first service members to be placed in newly dedicated Columbarium 9 at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., May 9, 2013. U.S. Army photo

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Hundreds of service members and senior military leaders came out for the mid-morning service under rain-threatening skies to pay tribute to the two Union Army brothers, a Marine, a Sailor, an Airman and a Coast Guardswoman.

Their unclaimed cremated remains were recovered by the Missing in America Project. The veterans are the first to be inurned in the cemetery's ninth and last columbarium.

Several weeks before yesterday’s dedication of Columbarium 9, Kathryn Condon, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries, said, "The military traditions associated with burials at Arlington National Cemetery, the nation's premier military cemetery, are honoring these heroes who were identified by the Missing In America Project.

"I can't think of a better way to dedicate this hallowed ground,” she continued, “than by honoring these forgotten heroes who until now, did not have a resting place befitting their service and sacrifice.”

Part of the cemetery's three-part expansion program, Columbarium Court 9 allows for 20,296 niches for cremation urns. The $12.9 million project covers 2.35 acres -- the length of two football fields -- and is more than twice the size of the next-largest columbarium at Arlington.

Following dedication remarks by two military chaplains, a lone horse-drawn caisson carried a single flag-draped casket to symbolize each of the six urns. Peeling off from the caisson, casket details from each service branch bore a rectangular urn engraved with the veteran's name and service emblem which the detail placed on a pedestal, over which a flag was presented and folded.

After the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) firing party let off three rifle volleys, Taps was played. The urns were each placed in niches side-by-side and a marble cover – each engraved with the veteran's name, rank, service branch, date of birth and death, and the words "You are not Forgotten" -- was placed over the top.

The committal service honored the following six veterans:

-- Army 1st Lt. Zuinglius K. McCormack (1843-1912), served with the Indiana 132nd Infantry Regiment in 1864 during the Civil War. He saw action with Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's Army of the Tennessee in such campaigns as Buzzard Roost, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain and the Battle of Jonesboro.

-- Army Pvt. Lycurgus McCormack (1845-1908), served with the Indiana 103rd Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. He saw action in July 1863, helping to repel a Confederate force of 6,000 troops under the command of Brig. Gen. John Morgan in what would become the Battle of Corydon, the only Civil War battle fought in Indiana.

-- Marine Corps Pfc. Albert Klatt (1921-1999), served with the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific island-hopping campaign during World War II. He fought at the Battles of Guinea, Peleliu and Okinawa.

-- Air Force Staff Sgt. Dennis Banks (1943-2004), joined the Air Force in 1967 and served a combat tour in Vietnam. He left the service in 1971.

-- Seaman 2nd Class Peter Schwartz (1898-1986), served with the Navy during World War II from 1917-1919.

-- U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Seaman 2nd Class Virginia Wood (1923-2010), enlisted in 1944 during World War II as a SPAR, the nickname for the Coast Guard Women's Reserve.

Everest's summit beckons 2 SOPS captain

by Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2013 - NEPAL -- It's been more than a month since Capt. Colin Merrin, a GPS operator from the 2nd Space Operations Squadron here, arrived in Nepal to begin his two-week trek to Mount Everest Base Camp where he has spent time acclimating to the world's tallest peak.

"It was fun to get up on the [Khumbu] Icefall today and do a little climbing," said Merrin, April 21 during one of his few phone updates. "I imagine it gets a little crazier up higher."
Merrin is part of the USAF 7 Summits Challenge summit team bound for Mount Everest, an independent team whose vision since its creation in 2005 has been to reach seven famed summits and plant the American and Air Force flags.

For the initial 40-mile trek to base camp, Merrin had a few friends to cheer him on aside from his teammates. Capt. Megan Harkins from the 1st Space Operations Squadron and Capt. Heidi Kent from the 7th Space Operations squadron, also joined the first leg of his journey through Khumbu Valley.

"I don't think anyone would be able to explain just how beautiful the scenery is throughout the entire Khumbu Valley," said Harkins. "Standing at the top of Kala Pattar at an elevation of 18,200 feet, and still straining my neck to look up at gigantic mountains in every direction, is an experience that I will probably never have again in my life. It's literally breathtaking, and pictures will never be able to fully portray just how amazing those views are."

Although getting to Everest Base Camp took roughly 14 days to reach, the group arrived just as planned despite several members of the group contracting a stomach bug along the way.

At around 14,000 feet, Merrin was putting on his game face, said Harkins.

"He's a very easy going and funny guy," she said. "But, you could tell he was pretty focused and excited."

The base camp is set up to provide climbers with all the necessities they will need to reach the summit of Mount Everest and serves as an operations base for climbers, climbing guides and Sherpas.

"Everest Base Camp is unlike anything I've ever seen before or will see again," said Harkins. "A large tent city set up on top of a rock-covered glacier. It was eerie to hear the glacier cracking underneath you at night."

Merrin and the USAF 7 Summits Team will climb the Southeast Ridge of Mount Everest via the South Col, a route originally pioneered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

The team, for a little more than a month, has relied on four camps to become acclimated to the extremely high altitude they will endure to reach Mount Everest's summit.
Camp 1, used for early acclimation, has an elevation of roughly 19,500 feet and sits at the top of the Khumbu Icefall. Separating Camp 1 and Camp 2 is the Western Cwm (pronounced "coom") a bowl-shape valley near the Lhotse Face, where Camp 2 is located.

The base of Lhotse Face sits at an elevation of 21,300 feet, and is a perfect place for climbers to practice ascending fixed ropes up a 3,700 foot wall of glacial ice with an average pitch of 40 to 50 degrees leading to Camp 3 on a small ledge near the top of the face.

The final camp sits in the saddle between Mount Everest and Lhoste, the fourth highest peak in the world. At an elevation of roughly 26,000 feet, Camp 4 is one of the most remote and desolate locations that humans regularly visit.

The month of May provides climbers with favorable conditions for a summit attempt of Mount Everest. With an elevation on 29,035 feet, the upper portion of the colossal mountain actually enters in to the jet stream and causes winds in excess of 100 mph. However, as monsoon season approaches, warmer air moving in to the area allows windows of more hospitable winds of 20-30 mph at the summit.

Generally, climbers are looking for a four to five-day window of stable weather to make a safe journey to the top. The latest report from the 7 Summits Challenge Team predicts that their final ascent from Camp 4 to Mount Everest's summit will take place on or around May 18.

Soon, the dream of reaching the summit of Mount Everest will become reality for Merrin as he and the USAF 7 Summits Challenge Team become the first team of active-duty military members to reach its summit in honor of friends and colleagues who have died in the line of service since 9/11.

Follow the team's progress at

(Editor's Note: This is the second story in a three-part series highlighting Capt. Colin Merrin's journey to Mount Everest.)

Air Force mom juggles 6 kids, deployed husband, own career

by Staff Sgt. Katie Gar Ward
Joint Base Langley-Eustis Public Affairs

5/10/2013 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- She looked up to the ceiling and took a deep breath as tears began to glisten from behind her dark, square-framed glasses - a stark contrast to the precise composure displayed just moments before.

"My mom was..." she stopped, blinking rapidly and clearing her throat. "When my sister and I were little, my mom and dad separated for a while. We were really poor when I was a kid, and I remember we wouldn't get whatever we may have wanted, but we always had everything we needed."

Staff Sgt. Heather Seeger paused a moment to wipe her eyes.

"I remember times waking up in the middle of the night and coming out in the living room, seeing the lights on at 2 o'clock in the morning," she continued with a faint crackle in her voice. "I would see my mom sitting at the table studying. She was going to school trying to get a better job for us, and I had no idea how she did that. How she did school and took care of my sister and me by herself. For that, she is the strongest person I know."

For Heather, that memory holds significance now more than ever. As a mother of six children, two with special needs, she devotes every effort to creating lasting memories which keep her family strong during her husband's deployment.

However, being a full-time mom and noncommissioned officer in charge of production analysis for the 1st Maintenance Operations Squadron would be an impossible task if not for a strong support system of family, friends, co-workers and even her own children.

Shortly after first learning of her husband's deployment tasking, the Seeger family sat down to discuss how this would impact 12-year-old Gregory, 10-year-old Haely, 9-year-old Angel, 7-year-old Kevin, 5-year-old Nick and 3-year-old Jake.

"We had a talk with the kids, letting them know they'd have to be more responsible and help me out more since their dad was going to be gone," said Heather, as she glanced toward a framed picture of her children. "I didn't even tell them to do this, but they each wrote me a letter of how they were going to help me.

"Angel wrote, 'If you ever need help, just let me know. I'll watch Kevin and make sure he doesn't get in trouble and I'll make sure Nick does his homework.' The fact they took on the responsibility themselves, that they were not going only going to help me out but also help each other, spoke volumes," Heather continued, blinking back tears. "I was so proud they stepped up without me having to say anything."

For Angel, watching her younger brothers is her way of taking the load off her mother.

"It's been a little hard because Dad isn't here to help out with the boys," said Angel. "I've been trying to help watch Jake and take care of the others for Mom."

While her children have started helping her in little ways, Seeger said one of the hardest things to cope with during her husband's absence is having to bear the load of their tiring schedules alone.

"When I get off work, I'll go pick up the kids from daycare and school, and one has a tutor so we take her there and we all sit in the car and wait for her to get done," she said. "Most of the time I don't get home until 6:30 or 7 p.m. As soon as we get in the door, it's dinner, homework, baths, bed, and I'm not even out of my ABUs until 9 p.m., sometimes."

Her ability to juggle all aspects of being a mother and Airman is a testament to the type of person she is, said Heather's husband, Tech Sgt. Doug Seeger, assigned to the 1st MOS maintenance operations center, and currently deployed to Japan.

"She's nonstop on the go from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed. I don't know how she does it," he said. "The fact she's been able to handle all of that and still make sure the kids have everything they need, and still manage being in the military herself, amazes me every day."

According to Heather, the flexibility found within her work center plays a huge role in ensuring the family's daily operations run smoothly during her husband's absence.

"Now that he's deployed, his supervisor is asking me all the time if I need anything," she said. "My shop has also been really awesome, if I need to take my kids to appointments, or if anything else comes up. Support from our shops has honestly been the best."

In addition to the support given by her co-workers, Heather has also relied on friends to help relieve some stress, and ensure she has those critical moments of "me time."

"Even if I go to the grocery store by myself, it's almost my alone time. I can crank my radio in the car and I can be by myself for 20 minutes," she said. "I have to take the breaks when they come and grab the minutes when I can. Even now, coming to work is like a break for me. This is where I can talk to grown-ups and have normal conversations, because I have to switch into kid mode as soon as I get off work."

While this is the first time the family has had to endure a long separation, Heather's ability to keep her family together stems from lessons learned along her journey of motherhood.

She picked up the framed photo of her children, pointing to her first child, Gregory, whom she had when she was 18. Heather held the photo, expressing how having to adapt to caring for a child with special needs at such a young age helped her face the many other challenges that have resulted in her family, such as her son Nick's recent diagnosis of a learning disorder.

"[Gregory] is autistic and has Tourette syndrome, so especially with those challenges, it made me grow up a lot quicker," she said. "I was obviously scared being so young, I didn't know it wasn't my fault, and in a way it made me feel inadequate. But after much research and doctors' advice, I realized it wasn't my fault. It has made other challenges that have come along a lot easier to deal with now than when I was 18."

While for some, hurdles that naturally arise with a special needs child may be discouraging, Heather said it only brings her more joy.

"Even though we had our challenges with Gregory, he is still one of the sweetest, most loving and considerate kids I've ever met," she said. "He's the type of kid that would tell me I looked pretty, or snuggle with me on the couch - how could I not want more children after that?"

As she set the picture frame back on the table, Heather admitted that while her husband's absence takes its toll on her at times, she finds strength in her children's happiness.

"I've had my crying moments, my moments where I've gone into the bathroom, closed the door, sat on the edge of the tub and cried," she said. "But you don't have a choice; you have to do what you have to do. As long as they're happy and they're having fun, that's all I really care about."

Doug said the strength and devotion his wife has displayed during his deployment is unparalleled.

"It's been really hard knowing all the challenges she has faced while I have been gone, knowing there is very little I can do from so far away, but she is also one of the toughest people out there," he said. "She has been able to handle everything that's been tossed her way while I've been gone, without even blinking. She is an absolutely amazing person and mother, by far the most kind and caring person I have ever met."

Heather said she wants to show the love and care she has for her children through her actions; something she learned from her mother.

"I don't necessarily think buying kids things shows them how much you love them," she said. "I can't remember one thing my mom bought me as a kid, but I remember her taking me places, like going to get ice cream and going to parks."

Angel remembers those very moments - a reflection of her mother's efforts.

"I love that Mom takes us to fun places," said Angel. "She's nice, caring, loving, fun and awesome."

Creating lasting memories with her children is important to Heather, but sometimes finding the time to do so can be challenging. Whether through friends, utilizing resources provided by the Airman and Family Readiness Center or telephone calls to her own mother for advice, Heather said one of the most important lessons she has learned over time is asking for help when she needs it.

"As much as you may feel that you have to do everything yourself, you don't. I know a lot of times I would feel guilty letting people watch my kids or letting people help me because I thought it was my job to do everything," she said. "You don't have to be 'Super Mom' - it's ok to let someone else help you and take the reins for a while."

With Mother's Day just around the corner, Doug regrets he won't be able to take the reins for Heather, or share the day with his wife and children.

"I wish I was home this year for it to give her the break she so greatly deserves," he said. "Mother's Day is very important to me - it's great to have a day to honor her and to simply say 'thank you' for all the things she does, all the things we take for granted, all the sacrifices she has made to make sure everyone else is taken care of and all the happiness she brings to our lives every day."

Although bearing the weight of her family's challenges may be stressful, Heather said she wouldn't have it any other way.

"No matter how bad my day can get, the kids can still light up the room," she said. "They humble me. With kids, you slow down and learn to appreciate what's important; you try to enjoy the little things because they aren't going to be little forever. They're always excited to see you, and they love you unconditionally and wholly. I can't imagine how boring my life would be without them."

Through the trials of her husband's deployment, Heather feels her journey as a mother has come full circle.

"I hope they see me the same way I see my mom," she said. "I hope they see that maybe they don't get every single toy that they ask for, but they get what they need from us emotionally, and we love them - we make sure that they're loved. I hope they remember that love."

And with that, she took the picture of her children in her hands and smiled, the faint glisten of tears returning to her eyes. She expressed pride in her family and its ability to endure during such a delicate time, never once crediting that success to herself - speaking with a humility displayed only by someone who possesses a keen sense of what it truly means to be "Mom."

A historic validation

by Senior Master Sgt. George Thompson
386th Air Expeditionary Wing

5/10/2013 - UNDISCLOSED LOCATION  -- A team of Airmen and contractors from Air Mobility Command, the Central Command Deployment & Distribution Operation Center and the Defense Logistics Agency worked together to validate a big shredding theory.

The Granutech Mobile Rotogrind Shredder assembly, Model 525 HP, is used to shred everything from paper and electronics to body armor and ballistic glass in a matter of seconds.

"This is the first time we've moved this shredder on a C-5," said Ronald Fine, Louis Berger Services general manager. "This is a validation load and after this we will get back to Air Transportability Test Loading Activity with any updates for the certification letter."

The team loaded an 87,000-pound Granutech Shredder Model 525HP onto one of Air Mobility Command's newest airlifters, a C-5M Super Galaxy based out of Dover Air Force Base, Del.

"It's been at least two or three years since one of these shredders was moved on an Antonov An-24, but that was the 2-axle," said Fine. "This is the 3-axle and it's bigger and heavier."

Moving one of the world's largest shredders required a total team effort.

"AMC provided the aircraft, the crew and the load team, the CENTCOM DDOC did all the coordinating with U.S. Transportation Command to get a mission and to get the aircraft here, DLA owns the equipment and the 47th transportation company provided the drivers and truck to get this thing on the aircraft," said Col. Michael Cannon, Defense Logistics Agency, support team commander.

The shredder is being moved Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, to not only support the United States retrograde mission in Afghanistan, but to also return money to the U.S. Treasury.

"This is used to take assets that are no longer useable or assets that we want to demilitarize and shred them into an unusable condition," said Cannon. "The majority of the scrap is sold by the pound to a local vendor which helps the local economy, helps us clean up the camp that we are leaving and it can return money to the treasury by us recouping some of the money dollars per pound."

The AMC team of Airmen from the 9th Airlift Squadron was excited to be a part of this historic airlift event, but they realize it could not have been done without everyone's involvement.

"It's always an honor to take things out of the combat zone and back into the combat zone to help the warriors downrange," said Tech. Sgt Antonio Little, the mission's primary loadmaster. "This was not a one-man show. Everybody pitched in from the guys here on the ground to our loadmaster onboard, it was great team effort."

Camarillo Springs Fire hits home for Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing

by Maj. Kimberly Holman
146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard

5/10/2013 - PORT HUENEME, Calif. -- When hot, dry, gusty winds from the east, known as Santa Ana winds, carried the sparks and embers of the Camarillo Springs wildfire dangerously close to homes and neighborhoods late last week, the California National Guard members who responded alongside fire personnel had a unique opportunity -- to protect their own homes and communities.

The Port Hueneme, Calif.-based 146th Airlift Wing, which flies C-130J aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems II, is called upon each year to fight fires across the United States.

Last year the 146th and the Air Force's three other MAFFS units dropped more than 2 million gallons of fire retardant on wildfires in eight different states.

This year the fire season kicked off early, and right in the 146th's backyard, as the unit's Airmen were called upon May 3 to fight the flames in Ventura County.

In addition to requesting that two C-130J aircraft take to the skies, Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, the adjutant general of the California National Guard, authorized air tanker base operations to be staged out of Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in Port Hueneme. This enabled shorter response times for the civilian and military aircraft working the fires, which were less than five miles from the base.

"As far as operationally, it's the same," 146th pilot Lt. Col. Bryan Allen said shortly after dropping retardant on Newbury Park, near the home where he grew up. "We took an oath to serve because we want to help save Californians' lives and property, and everyone deserves a quick reaction time.

"But it just hits home flying over your neighborhood that this is your house, or your friend's house, or your family's house," he continued. "When it comes home, well, the anxiety level raises a little bit."

The 146th Airlift Wing has responded to numerous state and federal firefighting missions in the past, but this was the first time the 146th's flightline was used as a tanker base. Staging operations at Channel Islands provided a huge advantage for the firefighters, said Lt. Col. Brian Kelly, 146th vice commander.

"Aircraft were able to have a 12- to 17-minute turnaround time on fires that were within just a couple miles," he said. "Previously the nearest reload base would have been about a 30-minute flight away."

Kelly is a Camarillo native and C-130J pilot whose home was within a few miles of the Camarillo Springs Fire.

"This was definitely a different kind of fire for me," said Master Sgt. Amy Zuniga of the 146th. While Zuniga was working with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to set up tanker base operations at Channel Islands, her 23-month-old son and his babysitter were fleeing Naval Air Station Point Mugu, which is next door to the 146th's base.

"The focus was not only on preparing our tanker base; we were all worried about protecting our families and our own homes," Zuniga said. "It was a little unnerving, but the babysitter called and let me know that they were safe in Oxnard, far away from the fire."

The MAFFS II is capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant at a time. The system slides into the back of an aircraft, and retardant is released through a nozzle located on the rear left side of the plane. MAFFS equipment and aircraft are activated to supplement U.S. Forest Service and civilian air tankers during periods of high wildfire activity throughout the nation.

"California is no stranger to wildfires," said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of (CAL FIRE). "Our well-exercised and long-standing relationship with the California National Guard allows for rapid, effective deployment of these additional resources during times of elevated fire activity."

Carter Visits U.S. Africom Troops, Civilians

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART, Germany, May 10, 2013 – The Defense Department understands the strategic and political importance of Africa and U.S. Africa Command, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said here today.
Counterterrorism efforts around the world will continue, Carter told civilians and service members assigned to Africom’s headquarters.

“As long as there’s humanity and as long as there’s civilization, there will be the uncivilized. There will be the problem of the few against the many and whatever cause they have -- from crackpots to ideologues to whatever, they’ll always be out there,” he said.

“And it’ll always be the responsibility for those of us who are charged with providing security for the many to combat the aberrant few,” Carter added.

The U.S. has gotten better at counterterrorism during the last decade, Carter said.

“We can never cease improving ourselves in that effort [but] … it doesn’t have to be the riveting preoccupation that it has been,” he said.

The continent of Africa looms large on the geostrategic world stage, Carter said. This is especially true, he said, as the U.S. turns a strategic corner and moves away from an era dominated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, toward a time when America can renew its focus on other international partners.

While conceding that terror groups like Boca Haram and Al Shabab pose challenges, Carter said Africa also presents opportunities.

“And we need to make sure we’re seizing upon that as well, and not just playing a game of … Whack-A-Mole [against terrorists],” he said. “In the long run, that will be an investment that we will be very glad we made.”

Following his speech, Carter presented his personal coins to and took photos with about 150 Africom personnel.

Africom is working hard with its African partners, said Terrell “TC” Lasker, assigned to the Africom J-352.
“I believe that we’re doing a good [job], and I believe [Carter] coming here and letting us know that is awesome,” he added.

“It means a lot for me, for Dr. Carter during his busy schedule, … for him to take the time to come over here to Africom to thank us all. It means a lot to us,” said Jimmie Burney, assigned to Africom’s J-3 Admin office.

Official Explains DOD’s Role in National Arctic Strategy

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013 – The Defense Department worked closely with other federal agencies in support of the National Security Staff effort that generated the National Strategy for the Arctic Region released today, a senior Pentagon official said.

Daniel Y. Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, said the strategy establishes a framework for future U.S. Arctic activities based on three lines of effort: advancing U.S. security interests, pursuing responsible Arctic region stewardship, and strengthening international cooperation.

“Our overarching emphasis is on sustaining a peaceful, stable, and conflict-free Arctic region in support of the National Strategy,” Chiu said. “In the near term, this means DOD will be prepared to support civilian authorities responding to an incident or natural disaster of such magnitude that it outstrips the local and state response capabilities. Over the longer term, the department will continue to prevent and deter conflict in the region and be prepared to respond to a wide range of contingencies.”

Though DOD has few niche Arctic capabilities -- ski-equipped C-130 aircraft among them -- it has an extensive assortment of capabilities that can be employed in a variety of operating environments that, with proper preparation, include the Arctic, Chiu noted. This approach is in keeping with DOD’s policy of preparing for a wide range of global challenges, and it supports the new strategy’s first line of effort, which is advancing U.S. security interests, he added.

“DOD sees the opening of the Arctic waters in the decades ahead as a prime opportunity to work cooperatively in multilateral forums over time to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region,” he said. “This is captured in the strategy’s third line of effort, strengthening international cooperation.”

As the Arctic becomes more accessible, Chiu explained, it will join the world’s other oceans and airspace as part of the vital web of global commerce and communication, from which all nations benefit. DOD supports use of existing mechanisms within the framework of existing international law, he added, including addressing issues such as resource development and preserving the rights, freedoms and uses of the sea as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.

“As the changing climate allows increasing access to the vast and remote Arctic region, human activity will increase as well, leading to increased chance of incidents,” he said. “While we must be prepared to respond to mishaps in a harsh and unforgiving environment, thoughtful development of measures to prevent accidents is of even greater importance. This makes responsible stewardship key to accomplishing our strategic priorities, one which DOD fully supports.”

The United States shares many common interests with the other Arctic nations and historically has cooperated well with them on a wide range of regional issues, from search and rescue to fisheries management, Chiu said.

“Russian support in sending the Motor Vessel Renda to provide emergency fuel to Nome last year is just one of many examples,” he added. “We expect that this tradition of cooperation will continue as the Arctic nations address new challenges presented by climate change.”

JBSA-Randolph Airman earns Senior NCO of Year

by Robert Goetz
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

5/9/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- When Senior Master Sgt. Felix Bradford, Air Education and Training Command F-35 functional manager, walked into the office of one of his superiors one morning last month, he was somewhat apprehensive.

Col. Craig Berlette, AETC Logistics, Installations and Mission Support deputy director, had summoned Bradford for an urgent matter. His demeanor was serious, if not stern.

Then he directed Bradford to look at an email on his computer screen.

"He got me good," Bradford said. "I was shocked; I was expecting it to be F-35 stuff."

The senior master sergeant had reason to be surprised; the email announced that he had been named AETC's Senior NCO of the Year.

"It humbled me," he said. "There are a lot of deserving senior NCOs at AETC, from specialists to engine guys."

Though the announcement caught Bradford off-guard, it came as no surprise to his immediate supervisor, Chief Master Sgt. Mark Samborski, AETC Combat Aircraft Maintenance Section chief.

"I'm very happy for Felix and for the A4M team, but I'm not surprised in the least," he said. "His character and airmanship are impeccable. He's an enterprise-level thinker whose foremost concern is the prosperity of the Air Force. At times, that can conflict with the local way of doing business, but Felix possesses the unique combination of fortitude, tenacity and diplomacy that cause most, if not all, who encounter him to understand and appreciate the Air Force's long-range vision."

Samborski also called Bradford "a modern-day gladiator."

"His hallmark is that he treats everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve," he said.

Bradford, a Greenwood, Miss., native who recently reached his 20-year mark in the Air Force, said he's "an F-16 crew chief by trade." He enlisted in the Air Force after visiting a recruiter with every service and began his career working on F-117s at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Since then, he's been assigned to bases in the Republic of Korea and Turkey as well as Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

One of Bradford's most challenging assignments was his involvement in the aircraft battle damage repair program at Hill Air Force Base, he said.

Bradford's current job at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph has taken him out of the field, but it's enabled him to see the Air Force's bigger picture.

"Everyone should do a stint in a staff position," he said. "You're able to get a broader spectrum of the Air Force."

Bradford's playing a major role in the stand-up of operations for the Air Force's newest platform, Samborski said.

"Felix facilitated the Air Force's initial stand-up of F-35 operations at Eglin Air Force Base and is now coordinating the stand-up and follow-on F-35 operations at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.," he said.

Bradford calls himself one of the "go-between guys" for Eglin.

"It's the first base with F-35s, the Air Force's new platform," he said. "We help them with their problems."

Bradford, who said he initially planned to serve for four years, has earned bachelor's and master's degrees and now looks forward to becoming a chief master sergeant. He has no regrets.

"I wouldn't go back and change anything," he said. "I couldn't imagine anything else but the maintenance career field."

Four Keesler volunteers win Air Force award

by Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

5/9/2013 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- "A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens - citizens in the fullest sense: partners in civilization."

Those words from the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, resound in the accomplishments of the military members, civilians, contractors, retirees and family members honored at the base's annual volunteer recognition ceremony May 7 at Sablich Center.

Keesler volunteer coordinator Sandra Brzovic said that in 2012, Keesler volunteers contributed more than 178,476 hours of volunteer service at an estimated value of nearly $3.9 million. She noted that the strong partnerships built with local schools, communities, youth sports and nonprofit organizations have had a positive impact on the quality of life of individuals, communities and the environment.

"Our volunteers can take credit for the success of events such as Child Pride Day, Special Olympics, Operation Hero, Homeless Veterans' Stand Down, beach cleanups and fundraising walks for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and March of Dimes," Brzovic pointed out.

"Keesler volunteers have supported our local schools as science fair judges, test proctors and mentors," she added. "They've visited nursing homes, assisted local hospice agencies and responded to elderly neighbors who need help. Others have supported Toys for Tots and community food kitchens."

Four longtime Keesler volunteers were recognized with the Air Force Chief of Staff Volunteer Excellence Award. The honor is presented to federal civilians, family members, and military and federal retirees who perform outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained and direct nature.

This year's VEA winners are:

Caesar Purnell, a retired Army master sergeant, has volunteered in the retiree activities office to assist other retirees applying for VA disability benefits. He is the service officer for American Legion Post 42 in Ocean Springs and volunteers with his church and the Veterans Affairs Service Center.

Carl Nehlig, 333rd Training Squadron, is president of the Biloxi Lions Club. He developed and chaired numerous fundraisers for the Lions, including a 5-kilometer walk to raise awareness about diabetes, and organized the donation of more than 1,200 pairs of glasses for a Keesler medical mission to Chile in 2012.

Ed Guardanapo, 81st Medical Group volunteer, has contributed 400 hours a year in Keesler's main and satellite pharmacies and has devoted 150 hours annually to handle filing in the physical therapy clinic. He created and implemented a new policy adopted by the flight that reduced misfiling errors.

Juanna Dawn Lyons, another 81st MDG volunteer, also serves as a tutor and fundraiser at a local elementary school. She has worked with Morning Star Pregnancy Care Center in Gulfport, the American Red Cross, Loaves and Fishes community soup kitchen in Biloxi and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

The 81st Training Wing's quarterly volunteer award recipients also were honored, along with special group recognition for volunteers from the base's retiree activities office, medical center, 81st Training Group, American Red Cross, Airman's Attic, youth center, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, sexual assault victim advocates, airman and family readiness center, voting office, Keesler Spouses Club and Keesler Key Spouses.

Rub-a-dub, Stratotanker in the tub

by Senior Airman Mark Hybers
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/10/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Staff Sgt. Ryan Harris, 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief rinses soap off the belly of a KC-135 Stratotanker which was scheduled for its routine wash on May 5, 2013 in the hangar also known as the fuel barn.

Aircraft go through a general wash cycle of 180 days unless they are sent into more corrosive environments. Depending on the kind of environment the wash cycle changes to either 30, 60 or 120 days. Flights conducted in salt water areas would be scheduled more often to ensure the salt does not corrode any parts.

Although the aircraft is generally washed with aircraft soap and hot water, some chemicals are authorized for specific needs.

Once the entire aircraft has been thoroughly washed and rinsed, the joints and other parts will get re-lubricated and inspected.

This aircraft being washed during the May Unit Training Assembly is good training for traditional reservists. It not only gives them a chance to perform a through and proper wash along with re- lubricating joints and other parts, but also gives them a chance to properly follow instructions from the technical order provided for a proper wash.