Military News

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reservists stay mission ready while delivering humanitarian aid

by Maj. Wayne Capps
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/23/2013 - EL SALVADOR  -- Reservists from the 315th Airlift Wing delivered more than 86,200 pounds of humanitarian aid this weekend while conducting a vital training mission.

The mission delivered donated food, clothing and medical supplies to orphanages and schools in Haiti and El Salvador and is estimated to help 11,200 people in need.

Amid budget woes, overseas training missions like this one are now few and far between and this is the first mission the 315th Airlift Wing has flown delivering humanitarian cargo under the Denton program since sequestration was enacted.

"Training missions like these are a win-win for everyone," said Lt. Col. Mike Phillips from the 701st Airlift Squadron and one of the pilots on the mission. "Not only do the aircrew members on the trip get some valuable training, we are able to help a lot of people in need."

Training missions like these are made possible by the Denton Amendment, a state department/U.S. Aid program allowing the delivery of donated humanitarian aid to fly on Air Force assets on a space available basis.

This mission was especially important to Capt. Jackie Bergey, a 5-year pilot who is a traditional reservist and is currently in upgrade training to become an aircraft commander. "With a mission like this that is focused on training, you get to explore all the boundaries and do things that you just can't do on an active mission," she said. "Some of our most experienced reserve pilots can only fly on weekend trips and without these trips we lose the benefit of their knowledge and experience."

Capt. Trey Hamilton, a civilian banker and one of the reserve pilots on the mission understands first hand what it is like to have limited availability and rely on these types of missions. "I am a traditional reservist with minimal availability," he said. "With a demanding civilian job, I have to rely on these weekend missions to stay current and keep my readiness up."

While the pilots where conducting training, the loadmasters on the crew had additional challenges they had to face. Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Piccione, one of the loadmasters on the trip, from the 701st Airlift Squadron, stressed the importance of conducting these types of missions. "These are important for a couple reasons. First, you get to see an upload and a download of the aircraft cargo and all the challenges that comes along with that," he said. "Then you get to interact with people and equipment from a foreign country, which presents a whole new set of challenges." Referring to broken down forklift used to unload the aircraft in Haiti.

Besides the vital training being accomplished on the mission, the C-17 delivered aid helping a lot of people, said Sergeant Piccione. "I think this is great and very fulfilling to know that this cargo is going to help so many people who need it."

Mario Alberto, the donation coordinator from the El Salvador first lady's office was happy to greet the crew when they arrived with clothing and medical supplies bound for the La Palma region in El Salvador, a place with limited resources and work opportunities. "We are very happy that you are doing this for the people of El Salvador," said Alberto. "Donations like these work to create stronger bonds between our people."

Tammy Dipenti, a volunteer aid worker with the Children's International Lifeline and teacher from Cincinnati, OH. was on hand with a number of volunteers to receive the food and clothing in Haiti. "The Denton program is very important for the children in Haiti," she said. Seeing that airplane being unloaded with supplies that will help all of these people makes me proud to be an American," said Dipenti.

As the empty C-17 headed back to Charleston after a long mission, Senior Master Sgt. Piccione smiled and summed up his thoughts on the flight. "Today we just helped feed over 8,000 kids. Now that is cool."

Joint AES training mission highlights AF Reserve efficiency

by 1st Lt. Jeff Kelly
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/23/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- When personnel are injured in Afghanistan, help is no farther away than a medic's tactical field care, a nine-line medevac request and a helicopter flight to a forward operating base. Depending on the severity of an injury, a wounded service member might be sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, or stateside for follow-on treatment. But getting these wounded warriors from a field hospital to a fixed facility halfway around the world can be a challenge.

This is where the Air Force's aeromedical evacuation squadrons step in.

The 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, part of the Air Force Reserve's 315th Airlift Wing based at Joint Base Charleston, and the 36th AES from Pope Army Airfield, N.C., recently held a three-day joint training exercise for its aeromedical technicians that took them to JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and back to JB Charleston. The training exercise re-certified many of these Airmen to safely transport casualties out of the combat zone.

With flight hours curtailed these days because of budget short falls, this was a fantastic opportunity for both units to team together and get a large volume of training accomplished on one long C-17 mission ensuring that the Air Force got efficient use of the time the aircraft was in the air.

"This three-day mission accomplished an incredible amount for the Air Force in a very short time," said Capt. Cory Kemble, 701st Airlift Squadron pilot and aircraft commander for the mission. "Our aircrew members were able to log hours necessary to stay proficient, we hauled troops and cargo where the Air Force needed them and of course our aeromedical evacuation team members on board were able to train for extended periods of time while we were in the air. The benefits of a mission of this type for the Air Force are far reaching."

It is important for AES technicians to train while in flight in order to closely simulate the conditions they face when saving the lives of our wounded warriors at 30,000 feet in the air. The benefit of this particular joint training mission was evident when discussing it the Airman who participated.

"Missions like this with longer flight times allow us to get very detailed in our training," said Second Lieutenant Jason Foster, a flight nurse with the 315th AES. "Being able to focus on premixing our drugs, intensive drip rates and several realistic scenarios gives us the ability to train like we fight and there is no substitution for that."

Members of the 86th AES agreed with Foster's sentiment and the usefulness of this particular joint training mission was echoed by everyone who participated. The 86th AES normally flies on C-130 aircraft so the extended training time on a C-17 was unique and very beneficial.

"One of the many benefits of training with the 315th AES is being able to rainbow or blend the AES crew members," said Capt. Donna Olson, flight nurse with the 86th AES. "We often fly with techs or nurses while in deployed locations that we may not have met before. This mission has been another way of training for that real world scenario. It also gives us an opportunity to view how other units manage their programs and to be able to learn from their strengths. It gives us the opportunity to fly dissimilar aircraft as my primary airframe is the C-130. This has been very beneficial. The crew members from the 315th AES are extremely knowledgeable and they are eager to share their expertise and experiences with our crew."

The benefit of training with a blended AES crew from multiple units was gained by both squadrons involved.

"Although the concept of tactical versus strategic AE is out of vogue, there remains an underlying culture in the C-130 community of no nonsense, pragmatic, get-it-done attitude which is both valuable and refreshing," said Lt. Col. David Ball, 315 AES director of operations. "With flight hours at a premium it is especially important to get all the training possible. This mission serves both squadrons well. Squadron members from Pope get time on the C-17 which improves their readiness. As they transition to the C-130J we look forward to flying with them more often."

CSAF thanks Team Schriever, addresses importance of every Airman

by Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

7/23/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III visited Schriever Air Force Base July 19 to thank the team as well as provide some insights on current Air Force issues.

As part of a two-day visit to Colorado, Welsh and his wife, Betty, met with Schriever Airmen and their families at a key spouse meeting, hosted an Airman's call and had lunch with Airmen from across the wing

"I am here to say thanks for who you are, for what you do, for how well you do it, for enabling the entire rest of our Air Force to do its job all [around] the world and enabling the entire joint team to get the job done all [around] the world," Welsh said.

Additionally, he highlighted the importance of Team Schriever to the Air Force and the joint mission.

"There is not a single weapon that gets dropped anywhere on the planet precisely without you. There is no secure [communication] on the Osama Bin Laden raid without you," Welsh remarked. "There is no ability to move people, equipment, keep things on time, without you. There is no ability to do nuclear command and control, communication, anything without you. In every mission we do in the Air Force, and there are five core ones that we do where the rest of the Air Force is involved, you enable every one of them."

Team Schriever performs its mission well and people understand how critical it is to everything the Air Force does, he said. There is no success the military has had that doesn't integrally involve Team Schriever.

The Chief reminded the team that each member is critically important to what the Air Force does whether "you are a commander, supervisor, civilian Airman, uniformed Airman, a spouse or a key spouse."

"This team doesn't operate well without everybody operating well; it just doesn't work that way," he said. "You've got to know each other and care about each other."

Welsh, who was born into the Air Force family as the son of a veteran pilot, talked about his love and pride for the service.

"One thing [my father] taught me was people plus pride equals performance," he said. "Our Air Force recruits the best people possible. We've always educated them and trained them better than anybody else does. And we've always tried to keep them proud because they come in that way."

The Air Force needs to remind itself that performance is "our only bottom line," the general said.

"If you don't treat your people well, you'll never get that performance and that pride that produces the incredible capabilities that we have in our Air Force," he said

And one of the issues that puts that at risk is civilian furloughs. Currently, civilian Airmen are furloughed one day per week from the pay period that began July 8 until Sept. 21.

"To the civilians in the audience, I just want to say I am sorry," Welsh said. "The [Secretary of the Air Force] and I are doing everything we can to ensure that this does not happen next year. We've got to figure out a way to avoid this. This is a breach of faith with you and I apologize."

Welsh also issued his keys to success - common sense, communication and caring.

"If you are doing something that wastes your time, if you are doing something that doesn't make your people better, take better care of them and their families or improve the mission, then quit doing it," he said.

Additionally, he reiterated the importance of better communication. He said the Air Force needs ideas on how to get the information better and faster to its Airmen.

"Communication is key to us to move forward," the Chief said. "You need to know what's happening."

Moreover, the chief talked about how every Airman has a story and encouraged everyone to learn about each other.

"The stories are magnificent, some are sad, some are inspirational, some are uplifting, but everybody has one," Welsh said. "Please learn the stories. The simple fact is, if you don't know the story, you can't lead the Airman as well as you could otherwise."

He added that by knowing each other better, the easier it is for everyone to take care of each other. This will help combat problems such as a lack of respect for each other in the workplace as demonstrated by sexual assaults, he said.

"We'll have to work at those things," Welsh said. "The Air Force is a phenomenally good news story and these things are not. To be the Air Force we want to be, to build the workplace you want to work in, that's what we've got to do. I need your help."

Welsh emphasized that although everyone is not part of the problem, everybody has to be part of the solution.

"We talk to all of our people about standing side-by-side with each other, how we're going to go to war together, we'll fight with each other, we'll die with each other; but if we really feel that way, if you have the worst thing that's ever happened in your life happen to you, why wouldn't you come and trust me enough to let me help?'" Welsh said. "It's not your fault. It's my fault. If we can figure that out, we'll get ahead of this, but it's going to take everybody's effort."

Concluding the Airman's call, Welsh said he loves being in the service, everything about it and everybody in it.

"I really love the fact that I would die for you if I have to," he said. "I really like the fact that you will do the same for me if it's necessary. That is what this business is about, that's why we have to take care of each other, that's why we have to be able to trust each other and that's why it's important you wear your uniform. Thanks for choosing to serve, thanks for who you are, thanks for making me proud every single day."

(Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys contributed in the story)

Peterson pilot sets new world record in velodrome cycling

by Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

7/23/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The weather and track conditions were perfect early July 13 at the Colorado Springs Velodrome as cyclist, Lt. Col. James Lawrence, a pilot with the 200th Airlift Squadron Colorado Air National Guard, started his initial laps to bring his bike up to speed before making a world record attempt.

After more than a year of training and preparation, Lawrence's front tire rolled over the sensing strip that triggered the electronic clock to start. Pedaling furiously, his attempt was over in mere seconds. Wearing an aerodynamic helmet and traveling more than 40 mph, he was unsure if he had broken the record or just barely missed it.

Lawrence had unknowingly broken two records in the Flying 200 Meter Time Trial in the 45-49 age group. The current U.S. record time was 10.959 seconds while the world record was 10.927. Lawrence had stopped the clock at 10.713.

"I didn't know my time for a while; I couldn't see or hear anything. I knew I had gone fast, it felt really fast, but I had no idea," Lawrence said.

Lawrence knew he had broken the record when he saw his oldest daughter Victoria, who was volunteering at the event, jumping up and down giving her dad a thumbs up.

Lawrence never intended on becoming a competitive cyclist, let alone a world record holder. Riding bikes was a family affair with him and his family spending hours practicing at the velodrome to prepare for youth race competitions.

"I went to Masters Nationals, and figured I would go out there and get crushed but I wound up taking fifth," he said when talking about his first cycling competition.

Lawrence's official time was more than two-tenths of a second faster than the current world record set by an Australian cyclist two years ago. The two-tenths difference is a large margin in such a short race.

"If I had been able to beat it by 17 one-hundredths of a second, that would have been a pretty good thumping. But to beat it by two-tenths is unheard of, it's ridiculous," he said.

"The guys at the track are like, 'dude, that is going to stand forever,'" Lawrence said when recalling reactions from fellow cyclists at the event.

As a C-21A Learjet pilot and assistant director of operations for the 200th AS, Lawrence had a full schedule to balance when making time to train and prepare for his world record attempt.

"It's tough, especially with the kids and all of us racing and training. It's difficult but basically every minute that I am not here (at Peterson) we are doing something cycling related," said Lawrence.

"Altitude is absolutely a key factor in our track being fast because the air is thinner, there is less resistance so you go faster," he said when asked if altitude played a factor in the large margin of his time.

The official paperwork and results have been submitted to the Internal Cyclist Union office in Switzerland, the governing authority that verifies and maintains all world records associated with cycling.

188th's Neal earns NAACP Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award for ANG

by Senior Airman John Hillier and Senior Airman Hannah Landeros
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/23/2013 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- For his long career of service and mentorship to others, Lt. Col. Anderson Neal, Jr., 188th Maintenance Group commander, 188th Fighter Wing, Fort Smith, Ark., was presented with the 2013 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award on July 16, 2013, at the organization's annual convention held this year in Orlando, Fla.

"The mentoring Lt. Col. Neal does is huge," said Lt. Col. Judith Mathewson, 188th Mission Support Group deputy commander. "He mentors individuals all around the base, not just people who work for him in Maintenance Group. He is a role model, not only for African Americans but for all individuals in the unit so they can perform at their best. He does the same things for people working for him at USDA that he does at the 188th: Mentors people who want to be leaders."

Named for noted civil rights advocate and former NAACP executive director Roy Wilkins, the award honors military members and Department of Defense civilian employees who have made a significant contribution to civil or human rights and exhibit the core values of their respective military service. Neal was presented the award during an Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards luncheon in Orlando, where the NAACP recognized military members and civilians for their contributions to equal opportunity, human relations and America's veterans.

Neal is a soft-spoken leader known for his personable manner and warm smile. Those traits also served him well when he began his career at the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1987, he was promoted to the Soil Conservation Service's regional office in Hope, Ark., and saw his opportunity to make needed changes in the organization.

"That [position] was my first leadership role at USDA," Neal said. "In that role was the first opportunity I got to do some things as far as making a difference, being able to hire a diverse staff, that kind of thing. When I started there I was 27 years old and all of my employees were probably 45 and up - and all white. The entire agency was primarily white, so I took it upon myself to try and make a difference as far as diversity, and really do some things to make sure that people of color were actually participating. When I left there, I had the most diverse staff of anybody."

Guest speaker Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, called diversity a military necessity and an asset that will make the National Guard and the military stronger.

"In the National Guard and the United States military we have adopted many of the principles the NAACP holds dear in order to build a more diverse, and therefore stronger workforce," Clarke said.

Neal grew up on an Eastern Arkansas farm as one of 11 children. His parents were sharecroppers who had little opportunity for formal schooling, but impressed upon him and his siblings the values of hard work and education.

"We've got one doctor, one accountant and two school teachers [among my siblings]" Neal said. "Most of the others have a few years of college as well. When I went off to college, I knew there were several things I didn't want to do: I wanted to get away from farming, I didn't want to teach and I didn't want to do anything with the military. Now, I have 28 years in the military and almost 37 years with the Department of Agriculture. I started to work for USDA right in my hometown. I actually went out to advise people that I used to work with as a sharecropper."

The Guardsmen who have worked alongside Neal attest to his willingness to make connections and forge relationships between people of differing backgrounds.

"I had an opportunity to work with Lt. Col. Neal on some personnel issues for the Maintenance Group," Mathewson said. "At the time, he had an individual who was in a crisis situation. Lt. Col. Neal was able to talk to that person and using his personality, his mentorship and his leadership, help that individual through their crisis. What I saw in Lt. Col. Neal was that not only was he personable, but through his leadership he was giving his Airmen good guidance and was understanding of the personal crisis that individual was going through."

Maj. Lionel Riley, 188th Equal Opportunity Office chief, said Neal was a strong mentor to him early in his career as an officer.

"I was a first lieutenant, just made Services Flight commander," Riley said. "Lt. Col. Neal took me aside and said 'Don't hesitate to let me know what you need. This job can be hard to do when you don't know everyone.' That mentoring continued through my career. He would sometimes stop me on base and ask if I knew so and so - some random person, it seemed - and then would give me their contact information and encourage me to call.

"He knew that I worked for Wal-Mart and would get me in touch with people there, too. He's always been proactive about relationships. He's always providing tidbits of advice without me seeking him out and he's open that way with everybody, really. Anyone who approaches him, he's going to address candidly and sincerely and that goes a long way with the younger troops."

Whether it was helping farmers increase their crop yield in rural Arkansas, counseling Airmen on how to advance their careers, or working to ensure a more level playing field for the people around him, Neal has made building bridges between people his primary focus.

"When I was enlisted out here, our commander would always be standing on the catwalk overlooking the hangar," Neal said. "You never saw him out on the flightline or in any of the shops. I don't want to be remembered like that. I'm trying to make a difference."

62nd AW Airmen support massive U.S.-Australian exercise

7/23/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing here, along with other Mobility Airmen from across the U.S., will join more than 28,000 of their fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Australian counterparts in northern Australia for Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.

Talisman Saber is a biennial training activity jointly sponsored by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Operations Command and the U.S. Pacific Command to train forces from both nations to operate as a combined joint task force. The Air Mobility Command contribution to the team will include C-17 air crews from the 62nd Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. and the 437th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, S.C., supported by KC-135 Stratotankers from the 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

The commander of the 62nd Operations Group here, Col. Andrew Hird, will be the overall U.S. Air Force mission commander during the exercise.

As part of the exercise, Mobility Airmen, comprised of C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 Stratotanker crews, will support the airdrop of more than 400 U.S. Soldiers as well as a combined airdrop of cargo alongside the Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Talisman Saber 2013 spokesman Brigadier Bob Brown said the exercise would mobilize both nation's forces to react to a "peace enforcement" scenario, with the combined task force setting the conditions for hand-off of responsibilities to a follow-on United Nations peacekeeping force.

"Talisman Saber is a unique and invaluable opportunity to exercise combined and joint Defence capability between Australia and the US. As with the previous Talisman Saber exercises, this activity is a major undertaking reflecting the Australian and US alliance and the strength of the military-to-military relationship," said Brown .

Approximately 21,000 US and 7,000 Australian Defence Force personnel will be involved in the exercise, along with other Australian Government agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, Australian Federal Police, and Australian Civil-Military Centre.

Talisman Saber 2013 runs from July 15 until Aug. 6.

Two special operations Airmen earn Silver Stars

by Mike Joseph
Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Public Affairs

7/23/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND (AFNS) -- Two Air Force Special Operations Command combat controllers stationed in San Antonio were each presented a Silver Star for gallantry in combat during a ceremony here July 22.

The two combat controllers, Tech. Sgt. Ismael Villegas and Staff Sgt. Dale Young, were decorated by Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel, the commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The Silver Star is the third highest award exclusively for combat valor.

"Gentlemen, your bravery and tenacity epitomize what being a warrior is all about," Fiel said during the ceremony. "Your brave actions under hostile fire at great risk to your lives not only decimated the enemy, but also saved lives of your teammates. Your unwavering gallantry and devotion to duty are an example for all of us to follow."

It was the second Silver Star awarded to Villegas, who is currently the only active-duty two-time recipient in the Air Force. Villegas is assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field and presently works as a recruiting liaison for the 369th Air Force Recruiting Group at Lackland.

Young is assigned to the 342nd Training Squadron at Lackland as an instructor in the entry level course for all special operators.

Both recipients expressed how humbled and honored they were by the award.

"I was surprised," Young said. "It was submitted as a Bronze Star with Valor and after statements from some of my team members, different boards recommended an upgrade to Silver Star. It's an honor."

Villegas, a 16-year veteran with eight deployments, used "surreal and shock" to describe his reaction.

"The first one (in 2011) you don't even expect -- that in itself is a shock," he said. "To receive two -- that's even more incredible. For me to be awarded a second one is even more of a shock."

Both men received their awards for gallantry in action during separate military operations near Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Villegas' citation states he risked his life from Feb. 6 - 24, 2011 during nonstop enemy engagements. In an 18-day mission riddled with trench warfare battles, Villegas controlled 40 aircraft that delivered more than 32,500 pounds of precision ordnance. The air strikes resulted in 21 enemies confirmed killed in action and destroyed eight fighting positions and two communication repeaters.

During the mission, Villegas gathered intelligence from fortified insurgent positions at great risk. He also protected, covered, then pulled to safety a teammate hit by shrapnel.

Col. Marc Stratton, the commandant of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Lackland, was one of Villegas' first commanders when both served in the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., in 2002. Stratton is a special tactics officer who has spent 25 years in the career field.

He recalled that Villegas, then a senior airman, impressed his teammates in the field when directly engaged with the enemy on numerous missions during his first deployment to Afghanistan.

"Little did any of us know, at the time, that we would be here many years later at an event recognizing his courage under fire, not merely for one isolated incident, but for consecutive exceptional selfless actions during successive engagements over time," Stratton said.

"In short, this oak leaf cluster carries a great deal of significance," he said. "The award of a second Silver Star is very rare for good reason."

Young compared the award upgrade to "the kind of stuff you see in movies and TV."

"You never really see yourself in that position," he said. "The training we get is so good, so precise and key in building our skills.

"This is a tribute to my supervisors, the first controllers I met and the ones who taught me everything I know," Young said.

From May 19-23, 2009, near Helmand province, Young's citation states he served as the primary combat control joint terminal attack controller assigned to an Army Special Forces team. Young's element was under continuous enemy fire for 94 hours.

Young controlled up to 11 coalition aircraft and ensured safe and effective fires on enemy positions despite small-arms and rocket fire within 10 meters of his position. The mission also destroyed more than $1 billion in black tar opium.

During his remarks, the AFSOC commander cited the humility and training of special operations Airmen.

"Special operations is a community of quiet professionals," Fiel said. "If you ask these men or anyone who wears our berets their thoughts about decorations, I think they would all say, 'I was just doing what I was trained to do.'

"The citations detail your amazing acts of heroism and bravery," he said. "Your stories are truly inspiring."