Military News

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hagel, Senior Chinese Official Meet at Pentagon

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 12, 2013 – Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi met at the Pentagon today to discuss the United States-China military relationship, the Defense Department announced.


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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the Pentagon, July 12, 2013. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

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Hagel expressed DOD's support for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the related Strategic Security Dialogue and Cyber Working Group. The defense secretary was pleased that the day-long security dialogue expanded this year to include nuclear policy and missile defense issues.

The defense secretary also affirmed the importance of the inaugural cyber discussion, which will serve as a platform to build better understanding and increase practical cooperation in cyberspace and enhanced cooperation on regional security issues of concern to both the United States and China, including North Korea.

Hagel congratulated State Councilor Yang on his promotion, and the two leaders discussed their shared history and friendship that stretches back many years to their previous positions in government service.

The defense secretary told State Councilor Yang that he looks forward to hosting China's Minister of National Defense General Chang Wanquan at the Pentagon next month

A Brief History of VA Home Loans



Since 1944, the Department of Veteran Affairs has guaranteed over 18 million loans to veterans who were purchasing, constructing or refinancing their home.  The original law was part of the Servicmen’s Readjustment Act of 1944.  The original act only guaranteed loans up to $2000 and was essentially restricted to World War II Veterans.  Additionally, the original benefit had to be used within two years of the end of World War II.  The Act was a good idea, but the initial limitations made the Act unworkable.  As an example, by the time the war ended, real estate prices around the country had already exceeded the maximum guarantee amount.

The law was amended in 1945, doubling the maximum about of the guarantee (to $4000) and extended the loan repayment from 10 years to 25 years.  What really changed was the philosophy behind the act.  The original act was intended to accomplish two goals.  First, to assist World War II veterans in “readjusting” to civilian life; and, second, to give the post war economy a boost. 

The 1945 Amendment changed the philosophy to seeing a VA Loan as a general benefit of military service and recognizing the long-term economic and social benefits to homeowners.  Successive amendments to the act continued down this new philosophical path.  As an example, in 1950, the loan guarantee amount was again increased, the loan repayment lengthened and the benefit was extended to the unremarried widows of veterans. 

Nearly 70 years later, the benefit program has expanded to where over 14 million Americans are eligible for the program.  Futhermore, numerous companies such as www.lowvarates.com have been created to assist veterans in the technical aspects of obtaining the benefit.

Navy's First Mobile Landing Platform Departs San Diego

From a Military Sealift Command News Release

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2013 – The USNS Montford Point departs San Diego today for Naval Station Everett in the state of Washington.


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The mobile landing platform ship USNS Montford Point is floated out of General Dynamics’ shipyard in San Diego on Nov. 12, 2012. U.S. Navy photo
  

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The Montford Point is the U.S. Navy's first mobile landing platform. It was delivered to the Navy in San Diego May 14. The vessel is expected to be fully operational in fiscal year 2015.

The ship, crewed by 33 contract mariners working for a company under charter to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command, will perform system tests during the voyage to its temporary berth. The Montford Point is scheduled for final contract trials in September, with its core capability set to be installed later this year.

The Navy's second mobile landing platform vessel, the USNS John Glenn, had its keel constructed in December 2012, with completion and delivery expected in March 2014.

The MLP class of modular, flexible ships belongs to MSC's Maritime Prepositioning Force as a mobile sea-base option that provides the Navy with critical afloat capability supporting the flexible deployment of forces and supplies. Contract mariners will operate and navigate the MLP ships on behalf of the Navy and Marine Corps.

"Montford Point will provide the key link -- 'the pier in the ocean' -- that will permit the military to engage in true sea-basing sustainment of equipment and supplies to our troops ashore, from beyond the horizon," said Mike Touma, assistant engineering officer in MSC's prepositioning program.

Designed to increase inter-theater agility, the MLP is designed to support U.S. warfighters wherever and whenever needed, officials said. The MLP vessel is a highly flexible ship class that provides logistics movement from sea-to-shore, supporting a broad range of military operations.

Leveraging float-on/float-off technology and a reconfigurable mission deck to maximize capability, the MLP provides a seagoing pier when access to on-shore bases and support are unavailable. The platform includes add-on modules that support a vehicle staging area, vehicle transfer ramp, large mooring fenders and up to three landing craft, and air-cushioned-vessel lanes to enhance its core requirements.

The MLP vessel can operate up to 25 miles from shore and transfer equipment at sea with 1.25-meter waves, officials said. And when its mission deck is removed, it can serve as a semi-submersible platform, offering salvage and point-to-point capabilities as well.

Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant U.S. Navy civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners

A 5,000-mile journey to recovery

by Senior Airman Hailey Haux
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


7/12/2013 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS)  -- An active-duty Air Force crew aboard a C-17 Globemaster III made history July 10 while flying specialized medical teams and a patient requiring equipment never before used on board a trans-Atlantic mission.

The spouse of an active-duty Army service member, who wishes to remain anonymous, was being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, at a local German hospital prior to being temporarily transferred to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center here for movement back to the United States.

The patient had been receiving the treatment in veno-venous mode by a German medical staff for approximately one week prior to arriving at LRMC. ECMO is the process of removing blood through a large vein, placing it through an oxygenator to remove carbon dioxide, and depositing the blood back into the body through another large vein -- a medical process similar to dialysis treatment.

ECMO teams from San Antonio Military Medical Center, a 24-person staffed hub officially recognized as an ECMO center in May, flew to Germany to coordinate and fly the 5,000-mile specialized mission back to SAMMC in Texas, alongside LRMC medical staff.

"ECMO is designed to replace the heart and lung function as a temporary measure to give the body the ability to recover," said Lt. Col. David Zonies, the LRMC medical director of the ECMO program. "Today's mission is to bring the team that is similarly developing in the states our experience and fly together as a validation. So the next step for the San Antonio team will be to stand alone to perform the long-range strategic evacuations."

In order for something of this magnitude to be successful in flight, there are several things that need to happen. Crew members said teamwork is essential.

"We need to make sure the equipment and patient are secure while in flight," said Maj. Michelle Langdon, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa critical care air-transport team lead. "It is important that the team knows their equipment and the other people on the team and what roles they are good at."

The LRMC team first purchased ECMO equipment in 2010, using it primarily to transport patients back from Afghanistan. This trip was the first opportunity for the San Antonio and German-based ECMO teams to transport a patient such a far distance.

"We have practiced this type of movement in short chunks," Langdon said. "We anticipate what could happen and practice our responses, but there is more to consider while transporting someone this far."

The challenges increase for medical teams when a patient is in the aircraft for an extended period of time.

"We could have equipment failure, where we would then hand-crank the machine until we were able to troubleshoot and get the device running again," Langdon said. "We have little control over the environment in the back of the aircraft. It could be hot or cold and sometimes dry, but we do our best to keep the patient as comfortable as possible."

This ECMO capability is a breakthrough on many levels for the medical field.

"This is a huge milestone; from technology application, to team development, to standing up ECMO capabilities both in Germany and San Antonio," said Lt. Col. Jeremy Cannon, SAMMC chief of trauma and ECMO medical director. "The original vision was to maintain this capability for our combat wounded, but everyone in the (Department of Defense) community benefits."

This program not only touches the patient but their family as well.

"We're excited that this technology is available for Soldiers and spouses alike, and that they care as much for family members as they do for (active-duty Airmen)," said the patient's husband. "It makes me excited and happy that this capability is there and they're willing to do it in such a quick fashion. We were thinking the transport (back to the U.S.) would take months, not days."

Last year alone the LRMC ECMO team made 18 trips to Afghanistan. Of those, six patients were put on ECMO treatment prior to being taken back to Germany.

One of the Air Force's key capabilities is global reach, and this mission solidifies that concept. According to both Zonies and Cannon, the idea is to create teams in Europe, the U.S. and in the Pacific so there is an ability to strategically move patients from around the globe to the central ECMO center in San Antonio.

AMC commander visits Dover

by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


7/12/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Gen. Paul Selva, Air Mobility Command commander, visited here July 8-10, 2013, to get a first-hand look at Team Dover in action.

The commander visited the flightline, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, The Center for Families of the Fallen, the AMC Museum and talked with many Dover Airmen in the process.

"I've had a great time at Dover," he said. "The hospitality has been awesome and the professionalism I have seen is exceptional. I know how hard it is to maintain that level of excellence, but you all do it so well."

The general said visits to AMC bases are very important to him.

"The best way to see how the base is operating is to actually come out and put my eyes on the units," said Selva. "There is an incredibly great team of people from across the base that is doing everything they can to get the mission done."

Near the end of his tour the general conducted an all call at the base theater. During his introduction he shared what he views as the top priorities for Airmen: mission, professional and caring workplaces and training Airmen.

He talked about how Team Dover exemplified the dedication to mission with its support of operations in Mali.

At the request of the French government, airlift operations began Jan. 21 and the Air Force flew multiple missions under the control of U.S. Africa Command. The U.S. committed to supporting France and international partners to confront Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, an Islamist militant organization, as well as affiliated extremists in Northern Africa.

A Team Dover C-17 Globemaster III aircrew piloted the first mission into the country.

"It is very clear to me that you are among the best the command has to offer," he said. "You broke every record I can think of and that's a testament to your professionalism."

Dover has also found itself front and center in the current retrograde mission in Afghanistan. Dover operates the largest aerial port in the Department of Defense. More than 50 percent of cargo in support of the retrograde operations moves through the "Super Port". Additionally, the C-17 and C-5M Super Galaxy will be the work horses for this operation, he said.

"Retrograde is underway and it will play out over the course of the next year and a half as we decide with the Afghan government what the final footprints of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan look like," he said.

The future will hold new challenges as well, said the general. When the retrograde winds down, AMC Airmen will have to adapt to working in a new theater, he said.

"We are going to be heading to the Pacific theater a lot more," he said "We are going to small places that you may have never heard of."

The general said another ongoing issue will be funding.

"The budget outlook is not good and we have to learn to be more efficient," he said. "In the face of the sequester, we have to decide if we cut things that are mission oriented or do we scale back on things that make us more comfortable. Preserving capability is going to be big over the next couple of years."

The general said he thinks Airmen are capable of passing these obstacles with flying colors.

"You are doing the nation's work and it is incredibly important work," he said. "There is no air force in the world that comes anywhere near us. I have traveled nearly the entire planet and seen them all. They all want to be just li

Experts Recover Military Personnel Records 40 Years After Fire

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2013 – Forty years ago today, an enormous fire erupted at the National Personnel Records Center in suburban St. Louis. Burning uncontrollably for almost 24 hours, it destroyed some 16 million to 18 million military personnel records including official documents veterans need to apply for the benefits they’ve earned.


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A devastating July 12, 1973, fire at the National Personnel Records Center in suburban St. Louis, shown in this file photo, destroyed some 16 million to 18 million military personnel records. Today, a special team at the center continues working to piece together the remnants, sometimes literally, to ensure veterans and their descendants have the documentation they need to qualify for service-related benefits. Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration
  

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Today, a team of about 30 people continues to put the pieces back together. They use the latest restoration techniques so reference technicians can gleam details from charred and water-damaged documents.

“It’s like a MASH [Mobile Army Surgical Hospital] unit,” Marta O’Neill, who heads the National Personnel Records Center’s Preservation Lab, said during a telephone interview. “There may be 15 different routes that a record could take so we can still preserve the information and get the benefits to the veteran.”

The July 12, 1973, fire destroyed up to 80 percent of the 22 million records of veterans of the Army, Army Air Force and Air Force who served between 1912 and 1963, reported William Seibert, senior archivist and chief of archival operations at the National Archives in St. Louis.

About 85 percent of the records of soldiers discharged between 1912 and 1959, including veterans of World War II and the Korean War, went up in smoke. In addition, about 75 percent of the records of airman with last names beginning with “H” through “Z” who left service between 1947 and 1963 were lost.

The true extent of the loss remains a mystery, because the center had no central registry of its holdings at the time, explained Seibert. Even if it was physically possible to reconstruct every single missing document, nobody knows for sure which ones they are, he said.

Records are being tracked down and, when necessary, restored, by request. And four decades after the fire, requests for documents from the burned holdings or “B-Files” continue to roll in at the rate of 200 to 300 every day, O’Neill said.

Some come from veterans needing a record of their service to receive federal health-care, home loans or other veterans’ benefits, she said. A homeless veteran, for example, may need a copy of his or her DD-214 discharge certificate to qualify for Department of Veterans Affairs-sponsored shelters or meals.

Sometimes requests come from veterans’ families, needing the records to apply for entitlements on their loved one’s behalf, or to have them buried in a national cemetery. In some cases, family members may need the records to qualify for scholarships or other benefits based on their family’s military affiliation.

Other requests also come from historians or genealogists trying to piece together their own family histories.

Fulfilling those requests can be as straightforward as tracking down one of the estimated 6.5 million records recovered from the fire, all now stored in temperature- and humidity-controlled conditions at the new National Personnel Records Center outside St. Louis.

The effort can become slightly more difficult if it requires cross-referencing of other official records to ferret out and verify the information needed.

But in other cases, fulfilling a records request involves the painstaking and time-intensive process of reconstructing a document blackened by fire, soaked with water or tainted with mold.

This is highly detailed work that O’Neill said demands both patience and a steady hand. In addition to a fulltime staff of 24, her team of technicians relies on the help of college interns eager to get hands-on experience in document preservation.

Donning gloves to handle the fragile materials, they use special equipment and techniques to clean documents of debris and mold, separate pages stuck together for the past 40 years and piece together brittle fragments into more complete documents.

State-of-the-art digital technology now helps them reconstruct documents once considered beyond repair, O’Neill said. “You can’t reverse ash,” she said. “But you can use scanners and digital software to enhance the document so the text on the burned part can be lifted and revealed. Basically, you look at a piece of ash, and when you digitally enhance it, you can see the writing on it.”

Regardless of what it takes, O’Neill said she and her staff get tremendous gratification from their mission -- as preservationists, archivists and human beings. They delight in taking something badly damaged and making it, although not like new, better than most people could ever imagine possible, she said.

From the archival perspective, they enjoy reconstructing history, one document at a time. Since 1999, official military personnel records are now among the small percentage of government records now maintained permanently, based on their historical significance, she noted.

But the biggest reward of the mission, she said, is being able to recover documents that can make a real difference in someone’s life.

“We are helping so many people in so many ways,” she said.

EOD Airman recognized for courage

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs


7/11/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- On a bright sunny day, many people may think it's a good opportunity to go outside and enjoy Alaska's great outdoors. According to Air Force Master Sgt. Andrew Adrian that means it offers an opportunity to defuse bombs.

Adrian, 673d Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal Flight, grew up always working hard to get what he needed and where he wanted to be, which has made him successful at his job.

"Nothing in life comes free," Adrian said.

His hard work and bravery earned him a nomination for Portraits in Courage, an annual recognition of Airmen past and present for their achievements and sacrifices in combat situations.

When he joined, he knew exactly what job was right for him - EOD. He never thought twice about the decision. He said deciding to join the Air Force was the right thing for him to do.

"It just looked like it was a lot of fun and now that I'm in it, I love it," Adrian said. "I wouldn't want to be doing anything else, that's for sure."

He wanted to travel, and travel he did.

At the beginning of his career, traveling was not too common. But he said once the attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred, all that changed. Just about everyone working in an EOD unit started to deploy at least once a year.

"I have been all over the world with six different [permanent change of station] assignments and nine deployments," Adrian said.

His deployments and temporary duty assignments have taken him to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea and Egypt.

During most deployments, he said an EOD technician performs duties in a wide range of locations, such as in remote areas and aboard aircraft carriers.

In many cases, there may be no way to bring bomb suits or robots that can defuse bombs. Adrian explained in these situations, knowledge and education come into play, and knowing what to do every step of the way is critical for a team to walk away uninjured.
Most missions are briefed days in advance to provide the necessary intelligence information, and research on the team's destination.

Not every day was meant to find improvised explosive devices or weapons caches. Some were full of anything and everything - including firefights. In one of the missions Adrian was on a team that came under enemy fire as soon as they landed. It was very disorienting for Adrian to figure out where the shots came from with IEDs blowing up around them from enemy fire, he said.

In another mission Adrian took on, he knew the location was a known area for IEDs.
He served on a team with the British Task Force 528 Mobility Operation Group and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, to conduct in an IED sweep through an abandoned four-room mud hut. Adrian's job was to watch them sweep through the mud hut and to make any corrections.

The first room they checked was empty and cleared, but the second was not. As they investigated the room, they did not recognize the dirt-covered rectangular pressure bomb three feet in front of them. Adrian looked and hesitated, but saw the IED before the Afghan soldiers had reached it. He yelled "Stop!" and ran to grab them, but the ANA members didn't understand. Adrian ran toward them, grabbed their shoulders, and pulled them back to safety.

While working with the British, Adrian and his team had to train new EOD technicians as much as possible so they knew what to look for when doing a random sweep during a mission. After talking consistently to the British commanders, Adrian said he built a great knowledge and strong working relationship with the British Task Force.

While stationed at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, Adrian was mentored by an EOD Soldier who he was replacing. The Soldier would take Adrian on missions to farmiliarize him with the area.

Adrian was made team leader with the Soldier as his transitional back-up. During a sweep of one compound, members of Adrian's team found IEDs. That's when Adrian went to work.

There were two pressure-plate IEDs and a jug full of homemade explosives. Adrian slowly removed the bombs from the room with a rope so if they were booby trapped it would not harm any of the team members inside the room. After that sweep of the third room, he carefully moved to observe the fourth room.

Adrian found an IED in the doorway. He needed his rope again and asked the soldier to retrieve it. While walking to where the rope was, the Soldier wandered into a non-safety zone.

"My counterpart happened to step on an IED about seven feet behind me and got severely injured," Adrian said.

Adrian quickly went into life-saving mode and ran out to help the Soldier, who was bleeding from his legs. Adrian applied tourniquets and waited for the medic to get to him.
"We got him out of there and got him on a medical evacuation by helicopter," Adrian said.
Later, he found out that the blast had broken the Soldier's legs, but fortunately did not need to be amputated.

The training and hands-on experiences over the years made Adrian skilled at what he does.

These acts of bravery and knowledge of previous deployments gained him a Bronze Star Medal and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.

F-16s make strides while at Chitose AB

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/10/2013 - CHITOSE AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons didn't wait long to roar into high-flying action while traveling here July 8 to train with F-15Js assigned to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

Pilots from the 35th Fighter Wing stationed at Misawa Air Base, Japan, "fought" their way into Chitose airspace early in the day while performing simulated combat training with their Japanese hosts. The purpose of the weeklong Aviation Training Relocation is to gain proficiency in air-to-air combat sets while simultaneously strengthening the U.S. Air Force and JASDF relationship through training.

"With the bases being so close together, this ATR provides a great opportunity to make each other better through bilateral training, focusing on air-to-air combat employment," said Capt. Matthew Hoyt, 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot.

1st Lt. Michelle Hamland, also a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot, explained how the training benefited Misawa pilots.

"It helps us both improve tactically in the air, and secondly, it's a big deal to fight dissimilar aircraft," said Hamland, who fought in both single-jet and team scenarios through the week.

The mission of the F-16s at Misawa is the Suppression of Air Enemy Defenses, known as SEAD, and typically, pilots are either engaged in simulated fighting with one another or a land target. Dissimilar aircraft, such as the Japanese F-15Js in an air-to-air setting, bring a new challenge to the fight.

Capt. Michael Cady, 13 FS, said the training was centered on basic fighting maneuvers, and set up pilots to hone close-range combat skills.

"We set up simulated scenarios where weren't able to destroy the enemy from a distance, which is what we like to do, so we have to use our close-up weapon of choice -- the gun," Cady said. "We have to be able to get our nose in the right direction in order to hit the other airplane. The baseline is maneuvering your jet while looking at the enemy and putting yourself at the position of advantage to be able to destroy them."

The varying tactics between the different forces' jets forced adjustments on both ends.

"We also usually fight the same aircraft, so this ATR provides us the opportunity to change up our regular methods and focuses," said 1st Lt. Akifumi Sakaima, 201st Fighter Squadron F-15J pilot.

1st Lt. Shuntaro Takeuchi, also with the 201 FS, said the tactics of their F-15Js vary from those of the U.S. F-16s, and added that learning different techniques from U.S. pilots was very beneficial to the JASDF.

Hoyt said the training was significant in that both members of the USAF and JASDF alternated leading missions, further enhancing the mutual trust and cooperation to build a better airborne relationship.

"This was my first experience working with the U.S. Air Force, so it was a very important experience for myself and my wingmen," said Takeuchi. "The cooperation is great and we have built a strong relationship with these pilots. Together, we fight united."

"Being able to form these relationships keeps us not only ready to defend Japan together, but to be ready for any potential adversaries that step out of line in all of the pacific region," said Hoyt. "We are thankful to the government of Japan for supporting these ATRs."

On top of gaining invaluable tactical experience in the air, Cady shared the lasting effects of working with Japanese hosts.

"Not only does this allow us to train in our daily jobs as fighter pilots, but it also provides the opportunity to spend time together in face-to-face settings," he said. "That's important because when it all comes down to it, the U.S. and Japan are one team together."

A final farwell to the Band of The Pacific

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs


7/11/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In late May, Air Force Band of the Pacific members packed their bags and said farewell to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The Band of the Pacific provided musical support from their rock, jazz and ceremonial orchestra groups to civilians and military members on and off JBER for many events, such as memorial services and seasonal performances.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, former Air Force chief of staff, made a decision to downsize the Air Force by 10,000 Airmen.

"This detachment's deactivation was a part of that decision," said Senior Master Sgt. Gail Tucker, band manager and detachment chief.

The Band of the Pacific has been around since 1941, when the U.S. Army Air Corps needed an orchestra. The band performed for more than 70 years as JBER's only band.

"The band is so vital to events that have happened in Alaska," said Air Force Master Sgt. Mike Williams, noncommissioned officer in charge of the rock band.

The band members said that live musical support for events gives a different atmosphere for many individuals and brings out the emotion of the event. The band and its former members will always be a part of JBER's history, they said.

"The band here is really unique and we get to represent the Air Force in many ways that are not necessarily done the same as other locations," said Air Force Master Sgt. John Ryder, band director of operations.

The band played at many events including their "Sounds of the Season" concert, which was held every year in December. Some events they supported were for promotion ceremonies and change-of-command ceremonies.

Band members said without support from the band, many of the events will never be the same. They said people want that tempo, which only comes from live music and the atmosphere of watching an orchestra play.

"It provides an energy that a prerecorded show will never compare to," Williams said.

Fourteen band members moved to the Lower 48 at the end of May and early June. The bases are adding more members to accommodate the Alaska band.

The band played its final concert In December 2012, but they still performed through the end of May 2013.

Yokota's Drill Team - one of a kind

by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


7/9/2013 - TOKYO, Japan -- In the Manhattan II Ballroom at the Tokyo American Club, seven Airmen in full service dress stood side-by-side. Each held a polished M1 Garand rifle in close proximity to their face, muzzles precisely alligned. Thus began a series of disciplined movements.

The Airmen were running through a final practice before their performance during the Independence Day Ceremony at the club, June 30. It was the inaugural event for the only honor guard drill team in the entire Pacific Air Force.

"We got in contact with some of the other honor guard teams around PACAF and none of them had a drill team," said Staff Sgt. David Eiler, lead trainer of the Yokota Air Base Honor Guard Drill Team. "We're hoping that this starts something and other bases form drill teams."

The team consists of Staff Sgt. David Eiler, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron; Senior Airman Simon Tarango, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron; Airman 1st Class Ronald Sloane, 374 LRS; Staff Sgt. Jarrod Leonard, 374 CES; Senior Airman Tiffany Jones, 374th Medical Operations Squadron; Airman 1st Class Virbon Frial, 374th Dental Squadron; and Senior Airman Ariful Haque, 374 CES.

The seven Airmen are from a variety of career fields, age groups, nationalities and ranks, but when they perform, none of that matters as they cohere a small, disciplined unit. The ability to work together as a team became crucial with the limited drill experience each individual initially had.

"Almost everyone started out with a clean slate," Eiler said. "No one really had any experience throwing rifles. I've had some experience and I'm glad that the other Airmen were willing to take my guidance and work with me."

Even the routine itself came together as a team effort. Members would come to Eiler with movements that they could use and he would help fit them in to a cohesive performance.
Just like learning to ride a bike or swim, you first learn the basics and then improve upon them, Eiler said.

"First we started out with learning to spin a rifle properly and how to move our body," Eiler said. "After that, we learned how to incorporate all the steps together and how to transition from one movement to the other. It took a while, we practiced for three months and a total of roughly 145 hours, but having the honor guard background really helped."

Following the drill team's performance, audience members weighed in with their approval.

"They're wonderful people and the performance was great," said Allan Smith. "They were very acrobatic and they did a fantastic job."

How to Simulate Being a Sailor




1. Buy a steel dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.

2. Run all the pipes and wires in your ho...use exposed on the walls.

3. Repaint your entire house every month using gray paint.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Lower all showerheads to four and one-half feet off the deck.

5. When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.

6. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn water heater temperature up to 300 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn water heater off.

7. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they used too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed.

8. Put 5W-20 lube oil in your humidifier, instead of water, and set it on high.

9. Leave your lawn mower running in your living room 24 hours a day to maintain proper ambient noise level.

10. Once a month, disassemble all your major appliances and electric garden tools, inspect them and then reassemble them. Do this every week with your lawnmower, weed whacker and other gasoline powered tools.

11. Once a week blow compressed air up through your chimney, making sure the wind carries the soot across and onto your neighbor's house. Laugh at him when he curses you.

12. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors, so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.

13. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can't turn over without getting out and then getting back in.

14. Have a fluorescent lamp installed on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books.

15. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 4 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry, wrong rack."

16. Make each member your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house i.e., dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.

17. Find the dumbest guy in the neighborhood and make him your boss for the next two years.

18. Have your neighbor come over each day at 5 am, blow a whistle so loud Helen Keller could hear it, and shout "Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and trice up."

19. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in your back yard at 0600 ( 6 A .M.) while she reads it to you.

20. Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day, whether it needs it or not.

21. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering it to you.

22. Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, and then show a different one.

23. When your children are in bed, run into their room with a megaphone shouting that your home is under attack and ordering them to their battle stations.

24. Post a menu on the kitchen door informing your family that they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour. When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.

25. Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.

26. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread.

27. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to button your top shirt button and tuck your pants into your socks. Run out into the back yard and uncoil the garden hose.

28. Every week or so, throw your cat or dog into the pool and shout, "Man overboard port side!" Rate your family members on how fast they respond.

29. Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don't plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup "Stove manned and ready." After an hour or so, speak into the cup again "Stove secured." Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoebox.

30. Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4-hour intervals. This is best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.

31. When there is a thunderstorm in your area, get a wobbly rocking chair, sit in it and rock as hard as you can until you become nauseous. Make sure to have a supply of stale crackers in your shirt pocket.

32. Buy a trash compactor but only use it once a week. Store up garbage in your bathtub.

33. Invite at least 375 people, most of whom you don't really like, to come and live with you for about 6 months.

34. Lock-wire the lug nuts on your car wheels.

35. Start your car and let it run for 4 hours before going anywhere, to ensure the engine is properly "lit off".

36. Walk around your car for 4 hours checking the tire pressure every 15 minutes.

37. Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking.

38. Have the paperboy give you a haircut with sheep shears.

39. Submit a request form to your father-in-law, asking if it's OK for you to leave your house before 1500 (3 PM).

40. Take a two-week vacation visiting the Far East, and call it "world travel".

41. Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to Disney World for "liberty." At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need to get ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house.

42. Needle gun the aluminum siding on your house after your neighbors have gone to bed.

Now, who's ready to go back to sea?

Pacom Commander Supports Review of JPAC

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2013 – The Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command has an important and unique global mission and a sacred duty, so defense leaders must ensure the unit has the organizational construct, the right oversight and the right direction, the commander of JPAC’s higher headquarters said today.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, responded to Pentagon reporters’ questions about JPAC during a news conference here. JPAC conducts global search, recovery, and laboratory operations to identify the remains of unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts. The Hawaii-based unit reports to Pacom.

Media outlets reported earlier this week that an internal review performed at JPAC had indicated organizational issues. Locklear pointed out the unit has a limited, set number of experts to perform its unique mission.

“I do think that there are areas where we need to take harder looks at how it is organized and how the mission steps are prioritized,” the admiral said. He added he’s very supportive of the announcement by James N. Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy, that the department will perform a deeper review of JPAC operations.

“The people in that organization are good people,” Locklear said. “And they've done a lot of good work. And they continue to work in some very difficult conditions and difficult places under different political situations.”

Locklear said the real issue, for him, is ensuring JPAC has prioritized where and how they pursue their mission, “so that we can get them on an up-ramp as far as number of remains that get recovered.”

He noted the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 set a goal of 200 recoveries a year by 2015. “And we're not approaching that,” he said. Locklear said the political will of the nations JPAC operates in, along with support and access issues, often influence mission accomplishment.

“It's a very complex issue, globally, to try to get at,” he said. “ … I just think that we need to work harder to make sure that the goal that they've been given, that they can achieve it.”

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters during a July 9 news conference that reviewing JPAC operations is the prudent thing to do.

“We're going to review the concerns raised in the report to see how JPAC is or isn't functioning well,” Little said. “And if steps need to be taken to remedy what's happening inside JPAC, then we'll take action.”