Thursday, June 13, 2013

Always there, Always ready

by Senior Airman Brook Payette
157th Air Refueling Wing

6/11/2013 - DURHAM, N.H. -- The Air National Guard's motto rang true during the Special Olympics of New Hampshire's 44th Annual State Summer games held at the University of New Hampshire on May 31 and June 1.

Despite the challenges of the blistering heat, extended competition and new volunteer coordinator within the ranks, the latest edition of the games went off without a hitch according to long-time Special Olympics of New Hampshire volunteer Timothy Acerno.

"They go above and beyond and that is what makes this event so successful," said Acerno of all the uniformed volunteers, including 20 members of the 157 Air Refueling Wing and 64th Air Refueling Squadron. "They just want to know what we need and how we can get it done. The volunteers are all about the athletes and getting it done for them. They are fantastic to work with"

For the first time, the games moved its opening ceremony to Friday morning in order to include two full-days of competition. The opening ceremony included an appearance from the New Hampshire Honor Guard.

"Having the honor guard there for the opening ceremonies is great," said Acerno, former assistant to the chief of law enforcement with N.H. Fish and Game. "You get everything nice, crisp and smooth. I can't say enough about what the guard does for the Special Olympics."

Volunteers from the 157th and 64th Air Refueling Squadron also presented medals to the athletes following events. Nearly 1,000 athletes from all over the state competed in 57 track and field events, 31 aquatic events, equestrian and bocce over the two days.

"The joy in their eyes and the look of their faces when we give them their medals (is great)," said Technical Sgt. Jessica Davidson, who served as the volunteer coordinator for the 157th." They are so proud and so thankful that we are there to support them."

Davidson and Master Sgt. Samantha Buder of the 64th Air Refueling Squadron coordinated with Acerno to ensure uniformed military members took part in presenting hundreds of medals to athletes over a two-day period. Davidson said the volunteer experience is a way to remind the community the New Hampshire Air National Guard's commitment to community service.

"We are there not only in times of crisis or national disaster, but to support the community any way we can," said Davidson. "We live in the community, we work in the community, we go to school in the community and we have our families in the community. We want to show them that we are approachable and to embrace that guard family concept."

It was the first year Davidson served as the point of contact for the 157, taking over the reins from retired Senior Master Sgt. Norma Long. Long began volunteering with the Special Olympics in 1998 as a "hugger." After that first year, she knew she wanted to become more involved and has been a volunteer at the event every year since.

"It is a really good feeling to come out here and give back," said Long. "Doing this over the years has been nice. I have seen the Olympians grow. They recognize me every year I come and their parents love us to be out here."

Though Long gave up here official duties as the coordinator at the 157th, she plans to continue her volunteer efforts each summer. It is a decision that does not surprise Acerno.

"Once you get (volunteers) to come once, they are hooked," said Acerno. "They can see the impact they have on the athletes and how much the athletes respect them. The admiration for the athletes keeps people coming back. I think that is why Norma (and others) keep coming back."

As Nellis grounds aircraft, training goes virtual

by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The skies over southern Nevada are quieter than they have been in quite some time due to the June 1 Air Combat Command directed stand down of flying operations.

Despite the stand down, the 64th Aggressor Squadron remains committed to accomplishing their mission, said Lt. Col. Michael Shepherd, 64th AGRS academic assistant director of operations.

"Our motto is 'know, teach and replicate,'" Shepherd said. "As Aggressors, we are subject matter experts in a field of adversary tactics or systems anywhere from airplanes to missiles to actual tactics to electronic attacks."

The 64th AGRS is assigned to the 57th Adversary Tactics Group at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Their primary mission is to provide support to the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, Red Flag exercises, the various test and evaluation squadrons and to provide training to units in the Combat Air Force on adversary tactics.

The 64th AGRS plans to focus on learning as much as possible about adversary tactics and providing training to the rest of the CAF due to the reduction in flight hours.

"We will continue to seek out the most current intelligence and update our briefs so we can disseminate that information to the CAF as much as we can," Shepherd said. "By no stretch of the imagination are we just shutting down our squadron."

There are plans in place for the 64th AGRS to work together as a team with other Nellis units to gain valuable insight and experience, Shepherd said. The U.S. Air Force Weapons School's 16th Weapons Squadron, which teaches the F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons course, will work together with the 64th AGRS.

There is an academic agenda in place for the summer, Shepherd said. The 16th WPS will refresh the 64th AGRS on the tactics currently employed by the CAF and the 64th AGRS will reciprocate by teaching the 16th WPS the Aggressors' academics. Every week a member of the 64th AGRS will certify as a subject matter expert in one of their assigned adversary equipment and tactics categories.

"We have a robust schedule throughout the summer. We will still be busy; it will just be a different kind of busy than we have become used to," Shepherd said.

The pilots of the 64th AGRS will also try to stay current in their flight ratings using flight simulators and limited flying in support of the 422nd Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron, according to Shepherd. Many pilots will lose most of their currencies and will have to regain them in October. Simulators will be used to try and mitigate the lack of practice.

The 64th AGRS pilots will concentrate on practicing emergency procedures in the simulators.

"They cannot afford to lose proficiency in carrying out those procedures because they need to be able to fly and land safely," Shepherd said.

There are few flight currencies that can be updated in simulators.

"While we can't officially update them, we can still use the simulators to stay proficient," Shepherd said.

"In order to keep ourselves sharp and keep our mindset, we have adopted a kind of back to basics mentality, said Capt. Paul Anderson, 64th Aggressor Squadron B-flight commander. "We just went over and did the first run in the simulators today to establish how we want to use them. It was really good; we got to see some of the challenges others are facing and learn how to better challenge our customers and improve their learning and training."

64th AGRS pilots are flying against recent adversary tactics in simulators to gain a greater perspective of what CAF units' experience in simulators as well.

"It validates our credibility as Aggressors," Shepherd said. "We have to stay as current in the tactics and knowledge of things as we possibly can and of executing our mission in new ways."

"The ideal way to train is to combine academics with flying, but since we are not flying we are offering as much academics as we can," Anderson said. "You are able to talk about a threat and then go and see how it is actually employed. It drives home the point."

In addition to staying professionally proficient in their own fields and teaching others through traditional in-person briefings, the 64th AGRS will use innovation and technology to accomplish their mission.

"The technology gives us a greater ability to get the information out there," Shepherd said. "We have something called Virtual Flag. It's like Red Flag, but in simulators. Everyone taps in, and we can be Aggressors in our simulators here. We can fly against the guys in [Royal Air Force] Lakenheath, England. I don't think simulator training will ever be able to fully encompass what you get in real life, but it is good training."

The goal is to continue to give the CAF the training needed to go out and fly, fight and win without sacrificing safety or airmanship, according to 64th AGRS leadership.

"One of my best directors of operations, when we were getting ready to deploy to Iraq, his mantra was embrace the pain," Shepherd said. "I think that's very relevant. It's hard when you deploy, and it's hard when you suddenly have all of your flying hours taken from you. Embrace it and make a positive out of it whatever way you can."

"Know, teach and replicate," Anderson said. "We are still trying to carry out our mission."

Making the trip: Airmen tackle life at missile facilities

by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
Air Force News Service

6/13/2013 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS)  -- Senior Airman Jacob Petersen is packing for the "trip." Extra uniforms, underwear, socks, some special snacks. He kneels to give his 18-month-old daughter an extra hug and kiss before heading out the door. But Petersen isn't going on a deployment or an extended TDY or school.

On this morning, Petersen is one of about 10 Airmen from his unit at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, in Wyoming, headed out the door for work. But work for this security forces Airman is a lot different than for most of his Air Force counterparts. Petersen and his team of security forces, chefs and facility managers will spend the next three to four days at a remote missile alert facility supporting the underground ICBM mission.

Most of the roughly 15 teams supporting missile alert facilities at this Wyoming base are made up of junior enlisted Airmen, responsible for maintaining, securing and feeding missile crews with missions that cover more than 9,600 square miles over three states.

According to Petersen, the facility he and his teammates will call home for the next 72 to 84 hours is a nondescript building in the middle of nowhere, with a living area, several bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and a gym area.

Many Airmen who support missile facilities liken the environment to a short deployment, where trips can be isolated and weather conditions, at times, austere. Airmen drive as long as two hours to get to their facility and oftentimes civilization is transformed to open fields with very little else.

"It gets lonely sometimes, but I think a big part of dealing with it is the people you're with," said Airman 1st Class Jake Newinski, a missile support team member at Minot AFB. "I work with some of my best friends, and I think it's the support element that really helps out with being isolated."

Newinski realizes that everyone in the missile arena goes through something similar and, at the end of the day, teams have each other's backs. "In the back of my mind, I know we're not in the missile field by ourselves. We know there are other cops going through the same thing, whether they're at Minot, F.E.Warren or Malmstrom."

Staff Sgt. Ashley Sakurai, is a missile facility chef at Minot AFB who believes life at a remote site is quite a bit different than working as part of a larger team at a traditional dining facility on main base. "It's different for the young Airmen because, when you're out there in the field, you're working by yourself. You are the shift leader, the manager, the worker - it's like doing everything in a dining hall but with only one person. It's a lot of responsibility for a young Airman, but, to me, it's a privilege to be so young and in charge of something so big."

Petersen agrees that, for a young Airman, regardless of the career field, working in a small group, as an Airman, can be nerve-wracking. "Our first alarm was like that. I'm running down an access road, in an open field, by myself, not knowing what is going to happen. Fortunately nothing usually does happen, but when it does we have to be ready. And that's what we train for."

Probably the busiest job at the missile alert facility goes to the facility manager, a jack of all trades, of sorts, whose job is to make sure his support Airmen can do their jobs and ensure the missile teams have what they need to make sure they have mission success 24/7.

"I have three different jobs while I'm at the facility," said Tech. Sgt. Sean Walko, a facility manager at Minot. "I'm also kind of like a mini first sergeant because I have to know personnel issues, deal with a group of personnel, counsel, mentor and things of that nature. I help guide and take care of the facility once the missile crews go downstairs for 24 to 36 hours. Once they go underground, they have absolutely no way of knowing what's going on outside, and I'm the only link."

Staff Sgt. Daniel Khrayzat is a facility manager at F.E.Warren who explains that running a topside facility encompasses much more than simply doing one thing. "We're responsible for checking the water, making sure the sprinklers are good, monitoring the fuel, running the generators and making sure everyone is safe. As MAF managers, we're also the chief of safety, so anything that happens, from a fire to a tornado, we're there to respond."

But, according to Airmen who work along the approximately 32,000 square-mile stretch of northern tier plains and foothills at more than 50 facilities, it's the families of these Airmen who are impacted the most.

Petersen noted that it takes time for family members to adjust. "Now that my daughter is older, I think she's starting to understand and get into the routine like we are. When she sees me packing my bags to go, she's always in there messing up my clothes in hopes that it will make me stay or at least make me leave later. But she understands that I'm going to be leaving that morning."

Sakurai is a single parent at Minot who says it's tough at times to balance between her obligation to the Air Force and her responsibilities as a parent. She credits the Air Force's missile care program for helping provide child care above and beyond the normal hours of the child development center.

"When we got to Minot, he was still very little and didn't understand when I went away for days at a time," said Sakurai. "Now he knows what I mean when I say I have to go to work. He knows that when I pack my bags, he packs his. He says, 'Mommy's going to work, and I'm going to Miss Jane's house.'

"It was very hard at first because I felt very bad and guilty." But Sakurai explained that, like most single parents, she's glad to be in a stable environment, with a "roof over her head, food on the table and stability."

Newinski is part of a security escort team who says that his family and friends help him put his work at remote sites in proper perspective. "To people on a national or world scale, we work on some of the most isolated places on the planet. It makes me proud to be in the field that I am and I feel that the job we do in the military, and with our missiles, is a very important one."

22 years of C-17s at JB Charleston

by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

6/12/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- June 14, 2013, marks the 20th anniversary of the delivery of the first C-17 Globemaster III to then Charleston Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force.

'The Spirit of Charleston,' tail number 89-1192, landed at Charleston AFB at approximately 10:45 a.m. June 14, 1993, and was piloted by Gen. Merrill McPeak, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force at the time. Approximately 2,000 people witnessed the historical event, including South Carolina's senators, congressmen, service members and local residents.

The aircraft was delivered to the first C-17 squadron, the 17th Airlift Squadron. The squadron was declared operationally ready Jan. 17, 1995.

"Today, JB Charleston's C-17s have revolutionized the way cargo and passengers are transported throughout the world," said Stan Gohl, 437th Airlift Wing historian. "The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic deliveries to main operating bases or directly to forward operating bases in the area of responsibility.

"The aircraft can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and can also transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations," he said.

The C-17s replaced the older C-141s, which operated from 1966 to 2000.

"Due to threats to the U.S. in recent years, the size and weight of U.S.-mechanized firepower and equipment have grown in response to the improved capabilities of potential adversaries," said Gohl. "This trend has increased air mobility requirements and the C-17 meets the Air Force's needs."

Before C-17s, C-141s carried cargo, supplies or troops, but the aircraft needed to land in a structured air field with a long runway, usually far away from hostile environments. The C-17 was designed to land in austere airfields and can take off and land on runways as short as 3,500 feet and 90 feet wide.

"The C-17's capability to land on dirt runways in hostile locations has cut out an extra step in transporting equipment and personnel," Gohl said. "C-17s save the Air Force man-hours and expenses by cutting out the cost of unloading and loading supplies multiple times."

The first flight for the C-17 occurred Sept. 15, 1991, almost two years before the delivery of the first operational aircraft to the Air Force.

"Since then, the C-17 has participated in almost every American contingency and humanitarian operation," Gohl said.

According to Boeing's website, the C-17 has broken 33 world records including payload altitude, time to climb and short takeoff and landing marks.

"During the past 18 years, the men and women who fly and maintain C-17s have amassed an impressive list of accomplishments," Gohl said. "In 2006, while the 17th AS was deployed as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, they set four world records; number of drop zones, airdrops, sorties in a month and number of time definite delivery of passengers."

"On March 20, 2006, the C-17 airframe achieved its one-millionth flying hour during an evacuation mission in Iraq. On Dec. 21, 2006, members of Charleston AFB flew a world record, setting the largest formation flight from a single base; 20 C-17s in a single formation."

The maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 pounds and it has an approximate cruise speed of 450 knots. The C-17 measures 174 feet long with a wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches.

"The aircraft is operated by a crew of three; pilot, copilot and loadmaster, reducing manpower requirements, risk exposure and long-term operating cost," said Gohl.

The base received another C-17 in May and is scheduled to receive the final C-17 to roll off the Boeing assembly line for the Air Force later this year. The first C-17, The Spirit of Charleston, is still assigned here.

"Even though the C-17 is 20 years old, we will continue to see them in the air for many years to come," Gohl concluded.

General Characteristics of a C-17
Primary function: Cargo and troop transport
Prime Contractor: Boeing Company
Power Plant: Four Pratt and Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines
Thrust: 40,440 pounds, each engine
Wingspan: 169 feet 10 inches
Length: 174 feet
Height: 55 feet one inch
Cargo compartment: Length 88 feet, width 18 feet, height 12 feet 4 inches
Speed: 450 knots at 28,000 feet
Service ceiling: 45,000 feet at cruising speed
Range: Global with in-flight refueling
Crew: Three
Maximum peacetime takeoff weight: 585,000 pounds
Load: 102 troops, 36 litter and five ambulatory patients and attendants, 170,900 pounds of cargo
Unit cost: $202.3 million
Date deployed: June 1993

McChord museum's SA-10 restoration wins AMC award

by Airman 1st Class Jacob Jimenez
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/12/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The men and women volunteers of the McChord Air Museum were recently selected as recipients of the Air Mobility Command's Heritage Award for their recent restoration of a SA-10 Catalina aircraft.

The award recognizes outstanding achievements by Air Force museum personnel who have helped preserve and promote the history and heritage of the Air Force.

"I'm excited to have won the award and to know that the outstanding work of our volunteers has been recognized," said Ray Jordan, McChord Air Museum curator. "Without their hard work and dedication, our SA-10 wouldn't be what it is today."

For more than 25 years, volunteers from the McChord Air Museum worked to restore the SA-10. The SA-10, also known as the PBY, crashed in Wisconsin in 1983. It was delivered to the museum here in December 1987 and completed November 2012. The restored aircraft represents a SA-10 from the 4th Air Rescue Squadron assigned to McChord in 1948-1950 and had helped provide critical search and rescue capabilities during World War II.

"We decided if it was going to get done, we've got to do it," said Jim Bermethy, who's been a McChord Air Museum volunteer since 2007.

The restoration of the aircraft took more than 30,000 man-hours to complete. Volunteers had to repair, remanufacture and refabricate nearly every section of the aircraft. An additional 400 hours of research went into ensuring every aspect of the aircraft was authentically restored.

Parts from five different aircraft were involved in putting this plane together, said Bermethy. It was probably the most work we've ever had to do to restore an aircraft.

The McChord Air Museum has only one paid staff member and is mostly comprised of retired military veterans that volunteer daily. These volunteers work more than 9,500 hours each year supporting various projects. Currently, there are more than 15 volunteers, many of which are in the age range between 80 and 90 years old.

"We don't do this for the money," said Bermethy. "We do it because we have a love and passion for restoring these planes."

The SA-10 is one of 15 aircraft at Heritage Hill Air Park members have helped restore and display at JBLM, representing the history of the different aircraft that have been stationed at McChord.

"These members take a lot of pride in helping to maintain and accurately showcase each aircraft as a piece of history," said Jordan. "Every aircraft in the air park is a part of McChord's history and lineage."

Family strength helps Air Commando fight cancer

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

6/10/2013 - KADENA Air Base, Japan -- Family strength, one of the 13 critical attributes of an Air Commando, holds different purpose and meaning for many people. For one senior NCO, family strength helped him live.

After enduring two major surgeries, completing radiation treatments, and battling depression along with other side effects caused by the prescription drugs to combat his thyroid cancer, Master Sgt. Edward Timmons, 353rd Special Operations Group safety manager, knows first-hand how family strength can save your life.

"I feel lucky to be here today and that every day is a blessing," he said. "My family was with me every step of the way. That is not only my extended family, but also my special operations family."

The diagnosis came after Timmons visited the clinic for food poisoning. The doctor noticed a lump on the left side of his neck. After an ultrasound and biopsy, the doctor called him with the bad news.

"I didn't know anything about cancer at the time," he said. "I have done fundraisers to help raise money for charities, but I never actually knew anything about cancer. It was an eye opener for me."

Although Timmons said he knew life doesn't always go as planned, he did his best to stay positive.

"There are three types of thyroid cancer, and I have papillary," he said. "I was told it was treatable, can be removed with surgery, and that it has a low mortality rate."

About a month after his first appointment, Timmons went to the hospital at neighboring Camp Lester to have his tumor removed. What was supposed to be a two- to three-hour procedure turned into a six-hour surgery in which three surgeons worked to remove a baseball-sized tumor from his thyroid gland.

After the surgery, Timmons opened his eyes and was greeted by his anesthesiologist and surgeon.

"I was semi-conscious, and as I looked at him I put my thumbs up... he knew what I was asking," Timmons said. However, "the surgery didn't go as planned. They were able to remove the tumor, but it had spread to my trachea."

At that point, the cancer was beyond the capabilities of the Camp Lester doctors. Timmons needed to go to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii for more specialized care.

But first, he needed to remember one very important thing.

After such a grueling surgery in which a machine was breathing for him, Timmons forgot how to breathe on his own.

"At that moment, I had to make a choice," he said. "I could either stop breathing and give up, or I could find a reason to breathe. That's when I started thinking about my family."

Timmons said he began with his 7-year-old daughter. He said her name and took a breath. He continued to name off each family member with each breath.

"They need me, I can't leave yet," he said he thought to himself. "My family needs me."

Although Timmons said his optimism was wearing thin, those thoughts kept him alive.

"That surgery took a lot from me," he said. "It capped the positivity I had. It took away my hope, especially when I found out I had to have another surgery."

Timmons took a-month-and-a-half to recover before his next surgery. However, the recovery time didn't bring him back the person he was before the surgery.

Depression and insomnia were affecting him. In addition, Timmons said had to figure out the logistics for his next surgery.

Although the Air Force paid for Timmons and his wife to travel for the surgery, he really wanted to have his entire support system there. That's where the U.S. Special Operations Command Care Coalition, which advocates for USSOCOM wounded, ill or injured service members and their families, stepped into help.

"Upon notification of Timmons' situation, we immediately started looking for resources and ways to help ease the stress that comes with a difficult situation like this," said Michael Stewart, USSOCOM Care Coalition advocate. "We contacted the Fisher House in Hawaii and arranged support from Special Operations Command Pacific who is located in Hawaii as well. We were basically the support system who took care of the little things to help ease the burden on Timmons and his family."

To help ease the financial situation, the Care Coalition contacted different agencies such as the Air Commando Association who could provide assistance, but it was really the personal involvement the Care Coalition which helped Timmons.

"I received emails and phone calls from group and SOCPAC leadership asking what I needed," he said. "They ensured there was someone there every step of the way. From a local cell phone, to transportation, to a simple phone call or email asking how I was doing, the Care Coalition ensured my family and I had everything we needed."

At that point, Timmons was able to completely focus on fighting cancer.

And, the surgery went well.

"It was best-case scenario the second time around," he said. "I had no trouble breathing and was up and running around the hospital much quicker than expected."

Now, Timmons is looking forward to hitting the one-year survivor point, so he can officially be in remission. Until then, he is holding onto his positive attitude and his family strength.

Nellis combat rescue commemorates fallen wingmen

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/13/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -  -- The 66th Rescue Squadron took a step on June 10 to ensure that their fallen comrades will never be forgotten, during a ceremony where they named three roads after Airmen who died exactly three years ago in the district of Sangin, Afghanistan.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, call sign "PEDRO 66," was en route to rescue British service members in Southwest Afghanistan June 9, 2010, when it was hit by enemy fire and crashed, killing five ofseven crew members.

"I need people to remember; everybody who comes in here will see the names and see the pictures and remember that those are the people who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera, 58th RQS acting first sergeant and the aerial gunner onboard PEDRO 66 when it went down.

Covers were pulled off the signs to reveal three new street names during the ceremony, all of which will serve as a constant reminder to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Pedro Drive will honor the entire crew comprised of seven Airmen from Nellis AFB, Nev., and Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., who lived every day of their Air Force careers under the motto, "These things we do so that others may live."

"Today was all about remembering our brothers who lived true to [that motto]," Aguilera said.

Smith Avenue will honor Staff Sgt. David C. Smith, a 58th RQS flight engineer.

Wisniewski Way will honor Capt. David Wisniewski, a 58th RQS Pave Hawk pilot.

Lt. Col. Daniel Duffy, 66th RQS commander, spoke to members of the 66th and 58th Rescue Squadrons as well as family members and friends of those who gave their lives that day during the ceremony. Duffy explained that he wanted the ceremony to be as modest as possible, reflecting the lives of Airmen in the rescue community who carry out their duties on a daily basis both at home and down-range.

"It's wonderful that the family members were able to come out and experience this with us as we're all one big family in rescue." Duffy said, in a crowded parking lot full of service members exchanging stories about the fallen and expressing gratitude after the conclusion of the ceremony. "[These men] wouldn't claim to be heroes but they were, so we're going to remember them every day when we come into work."

For Aguilera, who survived the crash, along with Capt. Anthony Simone, remembering and celebrating the lives of those who died is vital.

"It's the thing that keeps me going," he said. "In everything that I do, I carry them with me."

2 SOPS welcomes SVN-66 to GPS constellation

by Scott Prater
Schriever Sentinel

6/13/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 2nd Space Operations Squadron accepted satellite control authority of its fourth GPS Block IIF satellite during a ceremony here June 7.

Following its launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., May 15, acquirers from the Space and Missile Systems Center and operators from the 50th and 310th Space Wings first performed an extensive checkout of the spacecraft before placing it into a primary slot in the GPS constellation.

On-orbit checkout took only 19 days, which is the fastest OOC completion and SCA transfer in the history of the GPS Block IIF satellite program.

Col. Bernard Gruber, GPS director at the SMC, started the ceremony by transferring satellite control authority of the vehicle, known as SVN-66, to the 14th Air Force. Col. Todd Brost, 14 AF director of operations and exercises, accepted SCA and transferred it to 50 SW Commander, Col. James Ross.

"Today's successful transfer of satellite control authority is a shining example of how a strong relationship between our acquisition and operational communities can produce outstanding results," Ross said. "We have now established a pattern of delivering state-of-the-art satellites on orbit and available to users in record-setting time, this time in a matter of weeks. I am very proud of our 2 SOPS and 19th Space Operations Squadron teams for their hard work."

Ross immediately delegated command and control of the vehicle to 2 SOPS.

"We continue to be honored and humbled to bring new satellites with new capabilities in to the GPS constellation," said Lt. Col. Thomas Ste. Marie, 2 SOPS commander. "The partnership between SMC, 19 SOPS and 2 SOPS for launch and initialization only gets stronger each time. My hat is off to the whole team for another extremely smooth and successful campaign."

The Air Force's newest GPS satellite was positioned in its final orbital location May 29. It replaces SVN-33, an older Block IIA space vehicle that has served the GPS mission for more than 17 years.

Global Positioning System satellites transmit digital radio signals to receivers on the ground, allowing military and civilian users to calculate their time, location and velocity.

The Block IIF series is the fifth generation of GPS spacecraft and provides improved timing technology, a more jam-resistant military signal and higher powered civilian signal compared to previous models. SVN-66 was designed to operate on orbit for 12 years and includes a reprogrammable processor capable of receiving software uploads.

The new vehicle joins 31 other GPS satellites currently on orbit in operational status. The squadron also maintains four spare GPS vehicles in a residual constellation.

Despite being replaced, SVN-33 is not going away. It is still producing healthy signals and will continue to contribute to GPS missions for the foreseeable future. However, SVN-66 will now be the primary satellite occupying that specific orbital slot.

The fifth GPS Block IIF is slated for launch in October. Ultimately, the Air Force plans to launch 12 Block IIFs and has three launches in the planning stage for 2014.

More Guard Members Join Firefighting Effort

From a Colorado National Guard News Release

CENTENNIAL, Colo., June 13, 2013 – More than 140 personnel from the Colorado National Guard are continuing to assist civil authorities with firefighting support at the Black Forest fire in El Paso County, Colo.

Three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, each equipped with a bucket capable of carrying and delivering nearly 500 gallons of water at a time, have dropped about 64,000 gallons of water on the fire so far. Meanwhile, a LUH-72 Lakota helicopter and crew are continuing to provide aerial firefighting coordination.

Thirteen members of the 1157th Firefighting Company (Engineers), along with their firefighting trucks and tenders, also are fighting the fire. Additionally, 80 more personnel and additional vehicles from Colorado’s National Guard Reaction Force have been called to provide additional security at up to 17 checkpoints in the Black Forest area, bringing the total response force to 120 Guard members and 24 vehicles.

Eight airmen from the Colorado National Guard’s Joint Incident Site Communications Capability Team 16 are providing communications support.

At any given time, about 20 additional personnel are providing various types of assistance in direct support of the operation, officials said.

The Colorado National Guard is operating in state active duty status to assist the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department in fighting the Black Forest fire.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Colorado’s citizen-soldiers supporting our communities,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado’s adjutant general. “It is usually unfortunate circumstances when the National Guard is called in, but for Guard members, supporting our neighbors is the most rewarding mission we do.”

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Colorado National Guard and Fort Carson aviation assets are providing firefighting assistance to civil authorities at the Black Forest fire in El Paso County, Colo. U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Skye A. Robinson

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The Colorado National Guard helicopters and crews launched from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., and are members of 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation.

An additional UH-60 outfitted with a hoist is on standby at the High-altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., to provide medical evacuation and search-and-rescue capabilities for civil authorities fighting the Big Meadow fire in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colo.

Two Wyoming National Guard Civil Support Team personnel provided an initial commercial Internet and phone support bridge between military and civilian responders until they were relieved by the Colorado joint incident site communications capability Team team yesterday.

White House Assesses Assad Used Sarin, Will Boost Opposition Aid

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2013 – The White House in a statement today condemned Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria for multiple uses of chemical weapons against Syrian citizens, and pledged increased aid to opposition forces there.

In a statement to Congress and the public, the administration alleged “that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.”

The statement, credited to deputy national security advisor for strategic communications Ben Rhodes, noted President Barack Obama has said his strategic approach to the Syrian conflict would change given clear evidence of chemical weapons use.

“Following on the credible evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, the president has augmented the provision of non-lethal assistance to the civilian opposition, and also authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council, and we will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks,” the statement reads in part. “ … Put simply, the Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC. These efforts will increase going forward.”

The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available, Rhodes said.

“We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline,” he said. “Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity.”

The statement cites intelligence reports, witness interviews, medical reports and open-source reporting, including on social media platforms, as providing “multiple, independent streams of information” on which to base the assessment of chemical weapons use.

“The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete,” Rhodes said. “While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades.”
He added, “We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons. We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.”

The White House and allies will “present a credible, evidentiary case to share with the international community and the public,” Rhodes said. “… We will also be providing a letter to [United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon], calling the U.N.’s attention to our updated intelligence assessment and specific incidents of alleged chemical weapons use. We request that the U.N. mission include these incidents in its ongoing investigation and report, as appropriate, on its findings.”

Hagel Salutes Army at 238th Birthday Celebration

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel helped the Army celebrate its 238th birthday at the Pentagon today with a cake-cutting ceremony and a reminder that after 238 years, the service, perhaps unique among militaries, continues to have “the astounding confidence and trust of the American people.”

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From left, Army Col. Arthur Wittich, the oldest soldier serving in the Military District of Washington; Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Army Secretary John M. McHugh; Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III and Pfc. Andrew Segla, the youngest soldier serving in the Military District of Washington, cut the cake during a Pentagon ceremony marking the Army’s 238th birthday, June 13, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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“I don’t know of any other country in the world that can say that,” Hagel said, citing what he said were consistent results of Gallup polls that “put the military in the stratosphere” in terms of public opinion, even though most Americans have never served in the military.

“You could also say it’s the 1 percent that bears all the burden. … That’s true. There is still an outstanding respect for our military in society even though they are disconnected, probably more so than at any time in the history of this nation,” added Hagel, who is the second consecutive Defense Secretary to have served in the Army, and the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the department.
He attributed the great respect for the military to the values that have shaped it and the sacrifices that have been made, especially by Army families, who he said “are not covered in great glory or attention, but they deserve as much recognition and thanks.”

Hagel was accompanied by Army leadership, including Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, who noted the service began as and remains an all-volunteer force, always ready to sacrifice everything when the nation calls -- no more so than during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said more than 2.5 million soldiers have served.

“Over 600,000 have deployed three, four, five, six times,” the general said. “Over 4,800 soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice, over 35,000 have been wounded, but over 15,000 medals of valor have been handed out.”

Hagel said the ethos of the soldier goes far beyond fighting and winning wars. Having just completed several days of congressional testimony, he recalled being asked why the military’s mission should include responding to natural disasters overseas.

“I said when you look at what the soldier is about, it’s about preserving the peace, because it’s the soldier, when we don’t have peace, that makes the sacrifices,” Hagel said, noting the iconic photos that have been taken of American soldiers through history engaged in actions far beyond those on the battlefield.

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said the first orange he ever saw in his life came from an American soldier, Hagel noted.

“The Americans troops were marching into this German village, and every German citizen was scared to death, thinking they would be massacred,” the secretary said. “And the American troops hugged these children and gave them chocolate bars and oranges.”

This year’s Army birthday is tempered somewhat by the spending shortfalls triggered by the budget sequester and uncertainty over future spending, Hagel acknowledged.

“These are difficult times,” he said. “But if you ever want to put your money on an institution, you want to put it on the Army. The Army has weathered a lot of things, and we will get through this.