Military News

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reserve rescue units converge for multifaceted training

by Staff Sgt. N. Daniel Delgado
304th Rescue Squadron Public Affairs


7/30/2013 - PORTLAND, Ore.  -- Reserve Airmen from the 304th Rescue Squadron at Portland International Airport, Ore.; the 943rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.; and the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., conducted rescue training operations July 27, 2013 in the Portland, Ore., area. The 304th RQS and 943rd Rescue Group are geographically separated units of the 920th RQW, which is Air Force Reserve Command's only combat search-and-rescue wing.

Due to the diverse nature of the rescue mission, these Reservists are required to maintain operational readiness for any environment in the world--from mountain tops to ocean depths, the scorching desert to frozen terrain--as well as a broad range of different aerial platforms. This diverse readiness requirement poses a challenge, but because the 920th RQW is dispersed among three different regions, training together offers the ideal solution.

"We have the rescue triad right now, so it's a big deal," said Capt. Brent Watts, an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot with the 943rd Rescue Group. "The tankers provide us fuel, they jump PJs (pararescuemen), and then we'll swoop in and pick them up. So it's nice to see all assets working together, to see the whole big picture and see how the complete CSAR (combat search-and-rescue) mission ties together."

During the training, a 920th RQW HC-130P/N King aircraft conducted high-altitude airdrop missions with 304th pararescuemen over Beaver Oaks, Ore., while two Pave Hawk helicopters conducted water operations in the Columbia River, near Rooster Rock State Park, Ore. Maj. John Graver, 304th RQS director of operations, was one of the Guardian Angels conducting water training.

"We have a couple currency items that are related to flying on helicopters: methods that you can get on and off a helicopter--other than just walking on them--using ropes, cables, ladders, et cetera," Graver explained.

He said the team set up a rescue scenario and pushed a Zodiac boat out of the helicopter. The boat was tethered with a belay line so the crew could control its descent into the river.

"The team then got to the boat, inflated it, and then motored over, picked up the survivor, and linked up with another boat to do a trans-load from a slower boat to a bigger boat equipped with a heater, monitors, and other medical gear," Graver said.

After the water training was complete, the HC-130 and HH-60s met near Mount Hood, Ore., to practice aerial refueling maneuvers near mountainous terrain. Training together is essential, as the geographically separated units have varied assets and capabilities.

"Training here gives a total encompassment of our training missions and our currencies that we have to maintain," said Command Chief Master Sergeant Timothy M. Bianchi, 920th RQW. "We basically got a lot of the 304th set with one shot, just in one day's mission. We greened-up Davis-Monthan with the aerial refueling, we greened up Patrick with the mountainous terrain flying, and we greened-up our GAs from the 304th."

Along with operating in a diverse range of environments, the rescue mission also employs a diverse range of weapon systems. Bianchi said the 920th RQW is unique because they have three weapon systems: the HH-60, the C-130, and the Guardian Angels, which includes PJs, combat rescue officers, and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists.

"We're one of the very few units that have three weapon systems, and for all three of them to come together to train is paramount to what we do, which is rescue," Bianchi said.

The HC-130 P/N King is the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory and can be tasked for humanitarian assistance operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation, casualty evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations. The HH-60G Pave Hawk's primary mission is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The mission of the Guardian Angels is to rescue, recover, and return American or Allied forces in times of danger or extreme duress. Together, these weapon systems can provide search-and-rescue capabilities anywhere in the world.

But this coalescence takes months of planning to execute successfully. Graver said the 304th RQS overcomes the challenges of being a geographically-separated unit by forecasting a plan for their mission-ready currencies throughout the year. When Reservists come to each monthly unit training assembly, they must spend their time wisely by doing relevant, necessary training to keep them mission-ready. He said having a good schedule far in advance is key.

All this training, from the water operations to the mountainous flying, translates directly to the skills needed downrange when these Airmen deploy.

"We have a really good working relationship with those other rescue squadrons," Graver said "In the end, the training allows us to be proficient in our skills to save lives and aid the injured."

Memorial run unites tanker units around globe

by Lt. Col. Kimberly Howerton
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/31/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- An idea to honor a friend, former co-worker and the members of his flight crew turned into an international outpouring of support from KC-135 Stratotanker units around the globe during the July 13 and 14 Unit Training Assembly weekend.

The Shell 77 Memorial Runs united KC-135 tanker units around the world over the July weekend and saw Air Force active, Reserve and Guard members and their families and friends pay tribute to three of their own.

On May 3, 2013 a KC-135 with a crew from the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron from Fairchild Air Force Base went down in Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan. All three crew members, Capt. Mark T. Voss, 27, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Capt. Victoria A. Pinckney, 27, Palmdale, Calif.; and Tech. Sgt. Herman Mackey III, 30, Bakersfield, Calif. died in the crash. The three Airmen were deployed to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The call sign for the aircraft was Shell 77.

When Sky Ablay, wife of Capt. T.J. Ablay, learned of the crash and realized their friend Mackey was among the crew she wanted to do something to honor him. She talked with another friend, Tech. Sgt. Sean Gilson, 465th Air Refueling Squadron member and a boom operator like Mackey about the possibility of doing a memorial run.

"I thought it was just going to be Tinker involved in the memorial event," Gilson explained but Ablay had much bigger plans. It evolved into a world-wide weekend event with refueling wings from around the globe participating.

Runs were conducted at more than 30 sites, she explained, including Kadena Air Base, Japan, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, United Kingdom, bases in Alaska and Hawaii, and two units in Southwest Asia.

Approximately 30 runners signed in for the July 13 Tinker event. The runners ranged from 507th Operations Group leadership and members to small children and a small dog.

Gilson spoke to the group before they began to pay tribute to the three crew members, especially Mackey, his fellow boom operator and friend. The mood of the group took on a somber tone as they remembered the Airmen who brought them together that day.

Ablay and Gilson were pleased with the turn out and overwhelmed by the worldwide support for the Shell 77 Memorial Run idea.

Airman of the Month: striving for excellence

by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


7/31/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- A young Airman from Henderson, N.C., wants to one day be a politician, but in the meantime is being recognized by her peers as a hard working professional here.

Airman 1st Class Tatjuna Talisa Johnson, 436th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, is being recognized as Team Dover's Airman of the Month.

Master Sgt. Anita Walls, 436th Contracting Squadron NCO in charge of base operations flight and Johnson's supervisor, said her Airman will do anything you ask her to do and is eager to do it. She gets the job done fast and that allows them to do more. Walls also said Johnson's personality sets her apart from her peers.

"Johnson has displayed exemplary service on and off duty," said Walls. "She has administered several large dollar contracts on Dover AFB totaling $ 1.5 million. She also stays involved with our squadron activities as well as the local community. Johnson has been with us a year and continues to deliver timely customer support."

Johnson joined the Air Force in November 2011 and has been stationed at Dover AFB since May of 2012.

Johnson said she joined the military to experience something different from her friends back at home. The opportunity to travel influenced her the most. Her father is a retired colonel in the Air Force and that played a part in her joining the Air Force as well.

"I have been thinking about the military since I was in high school," said Johnson. "I have a friend who graduated from college and now works for a call center. That is definitely not something I envisioned for my life."

Before joining the military Johnson went to college and majored in Political Science.

"After the military I want to go to graduate school and get my masters in international affairs," said Johnson. "I want to work in Washington, D.C."

In Johnson's spare time she enjoys reading and learning new things.

"I read a lot," said Johnson. "I really want to get my brain working because sometimes if you are stationary you feel like you are losing some of what you have learned in the past. I like to read a lot of political and self-help books."

Johnson said the person that inspires her most is Beyonce Knowles, a popular female musician, because she is fearless, consistently excellent in her work and has amazing drive and resilience.

"She is a really hard worker and goes after what she wants," said Johnson. "I really respect that and I try to be more like that. She has a strong work ethic and doesn't let negativity get her down. She is just an all-around alpha female."

Johnson said she has definitely taken advantage of the base activities and community service that Dover AFB has to offer. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympic Cycling and said she plans to do it again this year.

"The community service has impacted me," said Johnson. "I am definitely more likely to help out my fellow peers than I was before. I want a more public type career in the future due to the community service I have done."

Senior Master Sgt. Nicola Natale, 436th Contracting Squadron superintendent, has recognized Johnson's hard work and dedication.

"She gives back to the local community through volunteer opportunities, strives to excel academically and has a positive attitude toward her work," said Senior Master Sgt. Nicola Natale, 436th Contracting Squadron superintendent.

Memorial Service Held for Fallen Airman

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


7/31/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Friends and family gathered at the Prairie Rose Chapel here July 30 to pay respects to the memory of Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hullman, 319th Medical Operations Squadron.

"Last week, we lost one of our warriors," said Lt. Col. Brett Nishikawa, 319th Medical Operations Squadron commander. "We are diminished for having lost him, yet we are far better for having known him."

Hullman was declared dead following a shooting incident on base July 21. That incident remains under investigation.

The ceremony began with a photo slideshow of Hullman, his family and friends.

Chaplain (Capt.) Ruben Covos sang the National Anthem and offered an opening prayer, followed by Nishikawa's remarks.

Hullman was remembered for his sense of humor, his talent for Texas Hold 'Em poker, and his dedication to duty, but above all he was remembered for his devotion as a father.

Hullman was born in Omaha, Neb., and grew up in Shenandoah, Iowa, and San Antonio. He graduated from William H. Taft High School in San Antonio.

He enlisted in the Air Force in the fall of 1996 as an aerospace medical apprentice and attended technical training at Brooks AFB, Texas. He later joined the public health career field.

140.6 miles of bliss

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan  -- She can carry on full-fledged conversations in English and Spanish ... and Hebrew, French, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic.

She's accomplished more in the amount of years you can count on one hand than many people will attempt in a lifetime. And through it all, her personal apex was just recently reached ... for now. The only problem is she can't tell you why.

"I have no idea how it makes me feel," said Capt. Hila Levy, fighting back an enormous smile.

If the smiles were any indication, it's a feeling comparable to ascending the peak of Mount Everest - something Levy said is probably out of the question for her.

You can hold your breath on that one; she's great at deflecting attention and praise. But at least for now, she'll stick to conquering other slopes.

Levy qualified to take part in the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii - a grueling triathlon made up of a 2.4-mile rough water swim, 112 miles of bike racing and a 26.2-mile marathon to finish the event off. To top it off, black lava rock dominates the panorama, and athletes battle fierce crosswinds of 45 mph, 95 degree temperatures and a scorching sun.

In all, it's 140.6 miles, and Levy is one of nearly 1,800 athletes worldwide who qualified to take the plunge. Her first-place finish in her age group during the 70.3-mile Ironman in Tokoname, Japan, ensured her one of 30 qualification slots there for the Kona championship scheduled for Oct. 12.

The path she took to get here took more than crossing just one finish line.

Levy was raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and was born into a military family. Her father, Ramon, was also a captain who worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Her aspirations to shoot for the moon - literally - began at 3-years-old when she set her sights on being an astronaut. By the sixth grade, Levy made attending the U.S. Air Force Academy her main goal.

Levy's mother, Rachel Salpeter-Levy, said she didn't give it much thought as a parent and figured she had plenty of years to get educated on the idea.

Not exactly.

On her 16th birthday, Levy's parents presented her with a certificate to begin flying school, where she dedicated countless hours to ground and flying lessons and obtained her pilot's license within a year.

"Uneasiness is an understatement to describe the feeling of sitting next to the pilot -- your child in an airplane," said Salpeter-Levy.

Levy took her pilot training and fulfilled her dream at the time by accepting a slot at the USAFA, where she enrolled in 2004 and became part of the academy's flying team.

During her time at the academy, where she eventually graduated at the top of her class, she picked up the sport of power lifting. By her senior year, she was competing nationally and locked in a top-10 finish at collegiate nationals.

After some time, Levy felt her cultural background provided more abilities to serve her country, so she switched career fields to become an intelligence officer where she works as the chief of the combat intelligence cell for the 35th Operations Support Squadron here. Having spent time in more than 35 countries and being fluent in seven languages, intelligence is a fitting term to classify Levy.

"We always knew Hila was very bright; her ability to read, comprehend, analyze and absorb is astounding and admirable," said Salpeter-Levy. "We just didn't anticipate how bright she'd shine in the bigger skies."

Another prestigious opportunity arose at the twilight of her academy career, when she was one of only 32 Americans selected as a Rhodes scholarship recipient to the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom -- one of the most well-known and respected opportunities in the world of academics. Levy was the first Puerto Rican-born recipient in the scholarship's existence, and went on to complete two master's degrees in biology and historical research.

After a few months at Oxford, fumbling with finding her place, tragic news came that changed her life. A roadside bomb in Afghanistan violently captured the life of a friend and mentor she spent time with at USAFA; exposing the fragility of the contract we call life.

Levy was rattled, in search of some way to release all the emotions that had relentlessly been building up.

"What am I doing?" she asked herself rhetorically, internally sifting through immense inspiration and desire for purpose. "I needed to do something, anything."

What'd she decide?

She rode a bicycle across the entire United Kingdom, alone.

All 956 miles, from a town called John O'Groats to Lands End, most of the time directly into the heart of a headwind. It was her first time on a bike, and it took her 11 days - a blink of an eye compared to what the spontaneous trip unearthed in the coming months and years.

Her mother called the journey harsh, lonely and daring. Levy called it an amazing experience.

It was an experience made less lonely by the aid of one of her five "children" - all of whom instead of traveling by two legs, roll around on two wheels and were purchased at cycling shops around the world. This time she was escorted by the aptly named "William the Conqueror" as she conquered the English countryside.

On top of falling in love with a newfound activity -- or a healthy addiction, as Levy puts it -- she found a way to make it about others. She raised around $4,000 for British and American wounded veterans along the way.

The U.K. trip sparked a deep-felt passion, and since then Levy has completed double-digit triathlons, marathons and cycling races. She's finished in the top three in more than half of them, along with notching two first-place finishes.

Levy belongs here; she's earned it -- even though she still doesn't quite know how.

"I don't feel I was gifted naturally with any athletic abilities," said Levy. "I'm not tall, I have legs of uneven length, and I have shoulder and knee problems. I have to work hard every single day."

The Ironman mantra is "Anything is Possible," and Levy said she's living proof it's true.

"I would have never dreamed of running a half marathon a year ago ... now I am running that distance at least once a week."

She can thank her coach, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Chase, for some of that. Chase, an Air Force triathlon team member himself, met Levy at an Ironman competition in her birth country, and referred to her as "the most intense woman I know."

"It's hard to think about now, because it's all become so normal to me," Levy said.

"She's unique in that she really will not quit and puts a hurting on plenty of men who think themselves worthy," said Chase. "She's always pushing her results and my expectations as a coach higher and higher."

Chase and Levy are both part of Team Red, White and Blue, an organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

The duo communicate through online technology, where they mainly discuss nutrition and a training routine that consists of workouts like 3-hour bike rides, 5,000-yard swims and 16-mile runs. Some weeks run upwards of 20 hours of pure training.

Like anyone else, Levy has her low points, but it's never enough to make her quit.

"There are some days when you just feel slow, and you know you are," she said. "The great thing about having a coach is having a focused workout. If I lose focus, I won't accomplish anything."

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but Levy doesn't leave much room for excuses. Or any room, for that matter.

"You can't say 'I got injured' or 'I got fat' -- everyone can do this. I have seen people with missing limbs, no vision and traumatic brain injuries compete. I don't want to speak for other people, but there's a lot you can overcome no matter how big the challenge.

"When a guy with one leg passes you during a race, the pain seems to hurt a little less than you thought it did."

For many, the question remains: Why would someone want to voluntarily put themselves through something so demanding?

As a 15-year-old, Levy was highlighted in a student profile. In a section titled "What's important to me", her response was "Achieving my goals and upholding my beliefs."

In that aspect, not much has changed in 11 years.

"What drives me is accomplishing tasks - really following through on accomplishing a goal," said Levy. "I don't question my innate motivations to do it."

She also said the overwhelming support she has received from her leadership at Misawa to pursue these dreams provides positive pressure to give everything she has day in and day out.

"This lifestyle has changed my perspective on life," said Levy. "Working with all these people who challenge themselves and who have overcome so much is so inspiring. It makes you worry a lot less about little things in life.

"It's really nice to be able to bring someone along and be there for someone who needs encouragement. We all started somewhere."

For Levy, it started as a hobby, and ended as - well, let's be realistic. It's far from over. It's only just begun.

US Air Force, RAAF command airfield in Talisman Saber 2013

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2013 - WILLIAMSON AIR FIELD, Australia -- U.S. Air Force 36th Contingency Response Group (CRG) Airmen from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, worked hand in hand with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 382nd Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron (ECSS) from RAAF Base Amberley on an airbase opening and sustainment mission during Talisman Saber 2013.

The 36th CRG's key mission was to open up the initial airhead for the surge that would bring in the remaining ground forces for Talisman Saber. Airhead is a military term used for an area secured in hostile territory used as a base for the supply and evacuation of troops and equipment by air.

"We sent an advanced echelon team to Amberley to finalize coordination that has been going on for almost a year," said Lt. Col. Bill Percival, 36th CRG mission commander for Talisman Saber 2013 and 36th Mobility Response Squadron commander. "From Amberley, we boarded Australian C-130Js and infiltrated Williamson Airfield."

The 36th CRG assumed command and control of the airfield from the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Airborne), who seized the airfield shortly after their airdrop July 20.

"In this phase, we are focused on pushing out enemy forces so that we can quickly transition to the next phase," said Percival. "We just received the main body of the 382nd ECSS, led by Wing Commander Andrew Lancaster. Their task is to make the airfield more robust for sustainment and move toward the humanitarian support phase of the exercise."

Though the airfield transitioned to Royal Australian Air Force Command on July 22, Airmen from the 36th CRG continue to perform integrated airfield functions with the RAAF.

"One of the interesting things about this exercise is we're totally integrated, which shows our great partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force," Percival said. "Our guys are manning the entry control point and defensive fighting positions with RAAF security forces, providing scenario-based and real-world security. The RAAF air load team is working side by side with our aerial porters. Our engineers are working with their engineers to maintain the camp. Every function that we do for airfield management -- from intelligence to command and control -- is seamlessly integrated with our allied partners."

Participating in Talisman Saber 2013 provided the Airmen the opportunity to communicate with their Australian counterparts, allowing them to learn different aspects of their job and skills for working in a combined environment. The units learned about each other's organizational processes, acronyms and equipment.

"Working with the Australian Defence Force, particularly the RAAF 382nd ECSS, has been simply outstanding," said Staff Sgt. Sydney Okagu, 36th mobile command and control (C-2) controller. "Not only do we work well together, both teams have learned a lot from our interaction in the field."

Percival said that 382nd ECSS and the 36th CRG create a complementary team. The key differences in how each team deploys their airbase opening elements allow the units to build on each other's strengths and mitigate weaknesses.

"Both units are separately very good, but together, unbeatable," he said. "In a lot of other ways - functions, mentality, mission set - we're still the same. It's remarkable to see everyone work together. We're all one team."

Despite donning different uniforms and conversational vocabulary, members of the Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Air Force continue to move forward together in Talisman Saber 2013 to improve combined force integration for future operations in the Pacific area of responsibility.

"We have gained an operational and tactical understanding of a key skill set and expanded the operational capabilities of U.S. Pacific Air Forces CRG," Okagu said. "Working side by side with our Australian partners will enable future coalition operations in a critical region."

Security forces BEEF up engineers' capabilities

by Airman 1st Class Emily A. Bradley
36th Wing Public Affairs


7/31/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Trainers from the 736th Security Forces Squadron paired up with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron in a unique training opportunity to increase expeditionary skills of the prime Base Emergency Engineer Force, or prime BEEF, July 29 on Northwest Field.

The purpose of the training was to increase the 36th CES Airmen's abilities to respond to global threats and provide them with the most up-to-date tactics and procedures used in deployed environments.

"This training will help our Airmen survive in dangerous situations and in high-threat environments like Afghanistan," said Master Sgt. Jacob Tefteller, 36th CES readiness NCO in charge. "Another benefit is the Airmen who learned these skills can pass the knowledge to others in our squadron."

Master Sgt. Eduardo Zepeda, 36th CES electrical systems NCO in charge said the training was important because, while prime BEEF Airmen keep their numerous specialty skills sharp by assisting in maintaining the base, the course served as a refresher on the tasks unique to a deployed location.

Prime BEEF Airmen spent time in the classroom to learn a variety of ground combat skills which included night vision, mission planning and development, various fighting positions, and base security operations. After the class finished, the Airmen applied the skills in the field.

"Each of these new skills the Airmen learned raises their level of knowledge of deployment operations," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Dirner, 736th Security Forces Squadron combat skills instructor. "When it comes time for them to perform, they will remember what they learned."

Prime BEEF Airmen must complete dismounted operations training, where Airmen leave tactical vehicles and patrol in formations on foot, as part of their home station training requirement.

"It's really nice to have hands-on training and a facility to work in, provided by the 736th SFS, that will keep our Airmen ready to deploy," Tefteller said.

62nd APS Airman receives Spirit of Service Award

by Staff Sgt. Jason Truskowski
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


7/30/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Christopher Javier, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron passenger service supervisor, was recently awarded "The American Legion's Spirit of Service Award for the state of Washington" at a ceremony in Yakima, Wash., July 19.

This award recognizes military members who excel in their performance on-duty, and who are also actively involved in their local community. Javier received this award for his exceptional military service throughout his 11-year Air Force career.

"I have always had good leadership and mentors and I am never afraid to go out there and get involved," said Javier. "The strong support of my leadership and peers has always pushed me to excel into that next level in my career."

Javier, a native of Millington, Tenn. has been a hard charger as far back as he can remember, excelling in high school sports and academics as a student at Granada Hills Charter School in Southern California. After the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded, Javier felt his family's military heritage calling him.

"At that point in time I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. My father and grandfather were in Navy, so I was looking at that path," said Javier. "I just wanted to get involved to do my part like my father and grandfather and 9/11 was my calling."

During the three years Javier was stationed at his first duty location, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, he garnered four quarterly awards, an Airman of the Year award at the wing level, and was a Senior Airman Below-the-Zone recipient.

Later, he found himself stationed at Pope AFB, North Carolina, assigned to the 3rd APS, where he continued his award-winning trend by picking up two Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter Awards.

It was after a 376-day deployment to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan and Al Asad Air Base, Iraq in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom that he found himself with orders in-hand, headed to Maxwell AFB, Ala., where he was selected as 1 of 15 NCOs to be an instructor at the Air and Space Basic Course.

This course was part of an Air Force Chief of Staff initiative that created a common Airman experience for all commissioned officers.

During his three-year tenure as an instructor at Maxwell AFB he trained more than 6,600 company grade officers in various field tactics as well as co-authored the Air Force Combatives Program. These milestones helped earn him three NCO of the Quarter Awards and the Air University Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Award.

"I've never liked talking in front of people," said Javier. "Being urged and motivated to get out there and face what I was uncomfortable doing by my fellow instructors really changed things for my Air Force career."

In November of 2011, Javier and his wife moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. where he became the passenger service supervisor at the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron.

Since his assignment to McChord Field, Javier has spent countless hours helping Airmen and soldiers in need at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and residents in his local community through such programs as Habitat for Humanity, local food drives, and the Deployed Airmen Care Program, to name a few.

Chief Ordena Willis Jr., 62nd APS air terminal director, commented on Javier's recognition by saying, "We are extremely excited to have him represent the Air force and Washington state because he truly does personify the spirit of that award."

93rd ARS earns AFA Shilling Award

by Staff Sgt. Michael Means
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/30/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., -- The Air Force Association announced recently that the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron earned the 2013 David C. Schilling Award.

The 93rd ARS is the second refueling squadron to receive the award in its 65 year history.

"We had an incredible year in 2012. Not only the 93rd but the whole Operations Group," said Lt. Col. Patrick O'Brien, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron commander. "We couldn't have done this without the support of Team Fairchild and I couldn't be more proud of the men and women of the 93rd ARS."

The 93rd ARS provided aerial refueling support on more than 1,300 overseas combat missions offloading 82-million pounds of fuel while sustaining over 6,000 hours of ground alert supporting Operation Noble Eagle. The units accomplishments, too many to list, also include maintaining a tremendous operations tempo with more than 7,000 man-days deployed at locations around the world.

"The 93rd Air Refueling Squadron received the Schilling Award for the most outstanding contribution to national defense in the field of flight," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "This is a victory for all of Team Fairchild and the first class work we do. We fuel the fight with unmatched professionalism and passion!"

According to the AFA the Schilling Award recognizes an Air Force military member, Department of the Air Force civilian, unit or group of individuals for their contribution in the field of flight in the atmosphere or space. The award was first given in 1948 as the Flight Trophy and renamed in 1957 in honor of Col. David Schilling.

Schilling, one of World War II's most decorated fliers, was a quadruple ace and credited with destroying more than 23 enemy aircraft. He was also key in the development of aerial refueling techniques for fighter aircraft.

"For our unit to receive an award named after someone who was responsible for the early development of aerial refueling is truly an honor," said O'Brien. "We would not be where we are today without his contributions."

In 1950, Schilling went to Manston, England, where he flew a British jet to test the probe-and-drogue system in a refueling operation.
After he landed Schilling said, "Couldn't have been simpler."
Upon his return to the U.S. he personally sold the Air Force on a research and development contract to modify two F-84s to utilize the United Kingdom's Flight Refueling Limited, probe-and-drogue system.
Schilling used this system to make the first non-stop, air-refueled flight by a fighter across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to O'Brien, the 93rd would not be able to achieve the award without the leadership of Lt. Col. John Pantleo, former 93rd ARS commander who led the squadron the first half of the year.

"We are lucky to have been a part of a squadron with such hardworking and dedicated Airmen but this award not only recognizes the hard work that our men and women do every day in the squadron but also the support that Team Fairchild has given us," said O'Brien. "We would not have achieved any of this without their tremendous support."

O'Brien will accept the award on behalf of the squadron Sept. 16 at the 2013 Air and Space conference in Washington, D.C.

(Lt. Col. Clarke Newlon contributed to this story)

Past, present rescue Airmen reunite in Portland

by Tech. Sgt. Anna-Marie Wyant
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs


7/31/2013 - PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Ore. -- Former and current members of the 304th Rescue Squadron reunited in Portland July 26-28 to reminisce, learn and enjoy the camaraderie of wingmen, friends and family.

The 304th RQS, which originally stood up in 1957, is a geographically separated unit of the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.--Air Force Reserve Command's only combat search-and-rescue wing. Previously, the squadron was part of the 939th Air Rescue Wing, which has since been deactivated.

The reunion included a social, banquet, tours, static aircraft and equipment displays, picnic, and most importantly, a time and place for past and present members of the 304th RQS to see familiar faces, meet new friends and share the squadron's great heritage.

"In the rescue family, being able to capture those experiences and show that long tradition of saving lives is pretty amazing," said Col. Jeffrey Macrander, 920th Rescue Wing commander, who was an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot with the 304th RQS from 2001 to 2002. "It's important to share the heritage, especially some of the folks who were around since 1957, hearing their stories."

Retired Master Sgt. Sam Barnett, a former jet engine mechanic and quality assurance technician with the 304th from 1970 to 1993, said he enjoys sharing the stories and heritage with his rescue family at reunions.

"A lot of us have been retired for twenty years, but we still come back to see old friends, old commanders, and see that the PJs (pararescuemen) and HH-60s are still flying," said Barnett, who initially enlisted in the military in 1956. "I miss the camaraderie with the people I got to know over the years. It was a great career."

Barnett's great career included responding to the major eruption at Mount St. Helens, Wash., in 1980. He said the squadron was responsible for saving 67 lives following the eruption, adding that helping people was the most fulfilling part of the mission for him.

Although there have been many changes during the last two decades since his retirement, Barnett said he enjoys meeting the new generation of rescue Airmen in the squadron, and he respects and admires what they do.

"We're all family," Barnett said. "I'm glad to see somebody else has carried on our tradition, especially in rescue."

One of the members carrying on the rescue tradition is Maj. Chris Bernard, a combat rescue officer with the 304th RQS. Bernard, a prior-enlisted pararescueman, has been with the squadron since he joined the Air Force in 1987. Bernard said having squadron reunions is important for him and his fellow Airmen because of the common heritage and bond shared by those in the rescue community--a relatively small community within the Air Force.

"There is already a special bond among military veterans, especially those who have served in combat," Bernard said. "I believe there is an additional bond of those who serve in rescue; rescue has its own special purpose and higher calling."

Bernard said the 304th RQS is a devoted team where Airmen of all specialties are deeply dedicated to rescue and come together to get the job done. He said the reunion was a great opportunity for those currently serving in the unit to learn the lessons from their predecessors and feel proud to be part of an elite squadron with a noble mission.

"In my opinion, it has always been and will always be the most amazing mission in the Air Force," Bernard said of rescue. "We have always been and will always be a tight-knit community who does what is necessary to complete mission. Anyone I know who has been a part of the 304th family holds such fond memories of being part of a team that saves lives."

Bernard said he is grateful for the former 304th RQS members who paved the way for him and his fellow rescue Airmen.

"As the quote by John of Salisbury states the sentiment of those who have come before us, 'we see things that are more distant not because our sight is superior ... but because they raise us up and by their great stature add to ours,'" Bernard said. "We are indeed 'standing on the shoulders of giants.'"

Pro football team honors Bronze Star recipent

by Tech Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino
433 Airlift Wing


7/29/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Lackland -- The final regular season game for the Arena Football League's San Antonio Talons was supposed to be about thanking the fans on Fan Appreciation night, but instead it was Bronze Star recipient, Master Sgt. Robert Mott, who stole the show.

Mott, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Program Manager at the 433rd Civil Engineering Squadron, was honored during the game in the San Antonio Alamodome, when his story of bravery was read to more than 9,000 in attendance.

"This is an incredible experience," Mott said after the ceremony during a timeout in the game.

As a television camera beamed his image to big screens throughout the dome, and the American flag held up behind him, the EOD technician stood at parade rest.

While his team was going through the wreckage, he discovered a hidden room in the foundation of the building. Under the incessant threat of booby traps, Master Sgt. Mott spent the next five hours searching the cramped and dusty hole, and at one point in the recovery, he encountered a fully operational Improvised Explosive Device and disabled it by hand.

"The Arena Football League honors our men and women because they are serving our great country," Arena Football League Commissioner Jerry Kurz, himself a veteran, said via email.

With the crowd on their feet and the benches of both teams applauding, Mott was given a handshake and a game ball by Commissioner Kurz.

"Without their service, we could not exist as we have and will continue to do, due to their service, dedication and sacrifice," Kurz said.

"I have never been to one of these games before. It was one heck of a way to get introduced to the sport," Mott said. "It's been a lot of fun."