Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bones turn and burn during surge operation

by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

6/17/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 9th Bomb Squadron tested the capabilities of their aircrew and maintainers during a four-day surge operation June 10-13, launching a total of 58 sorties and setting the stage for future operations.

The training mission allowed aircrew members and maintainers to practice as if they were operating in a deployed environment, with the goal to launch as many sorties as possible within the shortest amount of time. To do this, hours of mission planning was accomplished beforehand, shrinking what would normally have taken two days to put a B-1 in the air into one.

"The typical process for a flyer would be to come in and plan for six hours, brief and then fly the next day," said Maj. Mike Taylor, 9th BS chief of weapons and tactics. "But to fly the amount of sorties we needed for the surge, the mission planning was done before we arrived, allowing us time to come in, get what we need and fly, all within about two hours."

Furthermore, due to the increase in flights, the B-1 Bomber required more maintenance than usual, according to the 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen, who ensured more jets were in the air than on the ground.

"The B-1 can be very labor intensive at times, especially when we are short on man power, money and resources," said Master Sgt. George Campbell, 7th AMXS production expeditor. "But as a maintainer, we never want to turn down a challenge. When told we needed to launch almost double the amount of aircraft we normally do, we went straight to work and hit it head on."

To accomplish the mission successfully, maintainers had to incorporate hot pit refueling, a procedure that rapidly refuels an aircraft while the engines are running. By doing this, the longevity of the jet is increased, reducing the need to replace parts. Maintainers say this step is crucial for an aircraft that has been around since the 1980s. The procedure also allows the aircrew to keep valuable systems running, which decreases the time it normally takes to restart the systems and then re-launch the aircraft.

"I take a lot of pride in the aircraft I work on," said Senior Airman Antwan Henry, 7th AMXS crew chief. "There are numerous times I would come in early, stay late or even work through my lunch break because I believe in having my aircraft ready. Going through the surge gives us an opportunity to train all of our new Airmen, so they have a better understanding of the importance of what we do and how to accomplish it to the best of their ability in a timely manner."

Triple amputee gives words of wisdom during visit to Okinawa

by Airman 1st Class Malia Jenkins
18th Wing Public Affairs

6/18/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Bryan Anderson, a triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient, visited Okinawa June 12-19 to deliver his message of perseverance and determination to service members and their families across the island.

"His reach is much more beyond the military and wounded Soldiers," said Dick McLane, Anderson's manager. "There's a whole community of people with disabilities he supports and serves, especially the kids."

Anderson enlisted in the U.S. Army April 2001 and was a military policeman as a sergeant. He served two tours in Iraq and was injured October 23, 2005, due to an improvised explosive device.

As a result of the explosion, Anderson lost both his legs and his left hand. Although his life has changed, he still has a positive attitude on life, an energetic personality and is one of many examples of resiliency throughout the military.

"It's really all about your attitude and how you look at things and perseverance basically, adapt and overcome," Anderson said. "Just because something bad happens doesn't mean you have to have a (crappy) life."

Anderson said he's all about doing things for the first time. The two years in Iraq seemed like they flew by and those two years were new experiences and that's what he cherishes now; new experiences, he said.

"I don't see this as a bad thing or a tragedy. It's just another life experience that has taught me a lot about who I am, what I'm capable of and opened a lot of doors that might not necessarily (have) opened otherwise," Anderson said. "I have a great life and I'm very thankful for what I have, what I do and who I am."

Although he lost three limbs, he doesn't see his injury as being debilitating. Since he used to be a gymnast, he now sees the world as his personal jungle gym.

"People underestimate the power of having fun," Anderson added. "I think in life, (having fun) is important. Even being in a wheelchair, I think about it as skate boarding all the time."

Since his injury, Anderson has become the national spokesperson for Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride Mobility Corp., and USA Cares, which focuses on assisting post 9/11 veterans in times of need.

He also has had the opportunity to be featured in a Marvel Comic, be a murder suspect on Crime Scene Investigator's New York episode and has written a book, No Turning Back, about his experience of being in an explosion and his struggles with being an amputee.

He emphasizes taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves and challenges everyone around him to do the same in spite of the challenges they face.

Before Anderson departed the base, he left the 18th Wing with one thing, to look at the world with a different eye and to see the positives in life.

"Life is what you make of it," Anderson said. "Don't do things for the last time, do them for the first time."