Military News

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

True wingmen: Minot Airmen earn Humanitarian Service Medal

by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


8/6/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. are eligible to receive recognition for their role in the relief and recovery efforts related to the historic flooding that devastated the area two years ago.

On June 3, the Secretary of the Air Force approved the Humanitarian Service Medal for more than 5,600 members of the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing for humanitarian relief efforts to the civilian community in the wake of the severe flooding in the area of Minot, Burlington and Velva, N.D.

The Souris River broke records in June 2011, cresting at more than 1,560 feet above sea level. This massive surge damaged more than 4,000 homes and displaced approximately 11,000 people including more than 1,100 Airmen and their families.

Airmen at Minot immediately responded to the disaster, building sandbag levees and helping to evacuate those affected. Many personnel quartered on the base opened their homes to Airmen and their families who were displaced by the flooding.

The Humanitarian Service Medal is authorized to U.S. military personnel providing humanitarian and disaster relief assistance during the period of May 10 to Nov. 21, 2011. Personnel must have been assigned to the immediate area of operation, which is determined to be in the areas of Minot, Burlington, and Velva, N.D. To qualify, personnel must have provided at least one day of direct support in the above designated area.

Personnel records will be automatically updated. If any eligible Airmen doesn't see the update in their records, they may take documentation proving their eligibility to their local military personnel flight.

The Humanitarian Service Medal was created by Executive Order 11965, Jan. 19, 1977. It was established to honor personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States who distinguished themselves by meritorious direct participation in a significant military act or operation of a humanitarian nature, or have rendered a service to mankind.

DOD Aids Reduction of Emergency Personnel in Yemen

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2013 – In response to a State Department request, the Air Force transported personnel out of Sanaa, Yemen, early this morning as part of a reduction in emergency personnel, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

"The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation," Little said in a statement.

The State Department today ordered a reduction in the number of emergency U.S. government personnel in Yemen.

“As we have said, we are concerned about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks against U.S. persons or facilities overseas, especially emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. “As such, the department is taking appropriate steps to protect our employees, including local employees and visitors to our facilities.”

CCATTs continue life saving missions

by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook
59th MDW/PA


8/5/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- A 20 year old United States Army soldier has sustained serious injuries from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan - 70 percent of his body is badly burned, and he has lost one of his legs.

An Air Force pararescue team flew him from the point of injury to the nearest forward operating base in Afghanistan for immediate medical care. His journey back to the states relies on Critical Care Air Transport Teams, and so does his life.

In critical condition, he will be flown by CCATT to the Afghanistan theater hospital at Bagram Air Base, and roughly 19 hours later he'll be in a hospital bed at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany - the nearest treatment center for wounded warriors coming from Afghanistan. Sixty-one hours later he is done with the transatlantic flight and at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, with all flight care conducted by CCATTs while en route.

During the Vietnam War, it took an average of 45 days to return patients to the states and only 75 percent of wounded warriors survived. The Air Force's CCATT capability allows service
members to be transported from the point of injury to a stateside hospital in less than 3 days and 98 percent survive their injuries.

The concept of CCATT was developed in the early 1990s at the 59th Medical Wing by retired Maj. Gen. P.K. Carlton and retired Col. Chris Farmer in an effort to expand the Air Force's aeromedical critical care transport capabilities. Carlton and Farmer created the first written concept of operations, a table of allowances and a plan of action for formalizing the CCATT program.

Two Combat Controllers hike with USAF Seven Summits Team

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


7/25/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- For some, hiking and climbing for days, and sometimes months, through some of the harshest environments known to man, would seem like an arduous task not enjoyed by many.

Two Airmen from Team McChord experienced just that as they summited Mount Rainier, Wash., July 19 through 22.

Staff Sgt. Brian Wadtke and Master Sgt. Doug Neville, who are both combat controllers assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, participated in the first trip of the U.S. Air Force Seven Summits Challenge, "Climbing for Warriors" project.

Maj. Rob Marshall, a CV-22 Osprey acceptance pilot, and Maj. Mark Uberuaga, an Air Command and Staff College student, are the co-founders of the team and are part-masterminds behind "Climbing for Warriors."

"This new program is aimed at helping Airmen overcome physical and mental challenges and to introduce them to the healing powers of the mountains," said Marshall. "Whether they have been wounded in combat, sustained a work-related injury or are just battling seasonal depression and tough times, we want to teach them the coping skills that come from time in the high mountains."

Wadtke went through numerous surgeries to repair his shoulder and nose after a combat incident and a routine training mission accident.

"This is a test to show myself I can still perform despite being injured," he said.

Neville sustained numerous injuries while deployed to Southwest Asia and is unable to return to duty. He has served for 19 years in the military and is only four months away from retirement.

"Getting back into a camaraderie-style atmosphere and being a part of the Seven Summits Team is awesome," he said. "This team accomplished a lot and promotes everything the Air Force stands for."

Both Wadtke and Neville have undergone months of physical therapy and strength building exercises in an effort to regain their ability to serve in the military at peak performance.

"I speak for Doug and me, but we want to thank the 22nd STS medical staff, strength coach, and physical therapist," said Wadtke. "They are the reason we could both do this hike."

Wadtke and Neville met up with the Seven Summits Team in Ashford, Wash. July 19. The evening began with a relaxed dinner and shared personal stories about a troubling time in all of their lives and how they overcame or are currently overcoming those boundaries.

After collecting gear from a local Ashford, Wash. mountain-guide outfitter the team leader for the Mount Rainier summit, Uberuaga, and other team members instructed Wadtke and Neville how to do gear functional checks and properly stuff their packs for proper weight distribution and comfort.

The next day began early with breakfast and one final pack check before carpooling 20 miles to Paradise, Mount Rainier. Arriving at Paradise, the team registered for their summit and overnight accommodations at Camp Muir and marched with their packs, single-file, toward the visitor's center.

Marshall, with his Seven Summits Challenge T-shirt, rallied the 12-man-team and took a knee as he read one of his favorite inspirational quotes from an old tattered tan-colored book. Marshall carries the book with him on his trips to help inspire him and others as they face challenges on the mountains.

The U.S. flag and Air Force flag were held up for group shots and everyone on the team smiled bright as a volunteer took the group's photo. Those passing by stopped and tried to figure out what was going on.

"We are an unofficial Air Force climbing team and are embarking on our first trip in a new program for wounded warriors," said Marshall with a proud smile on his face.

With trekking poles in hand, Wadtke and Neville joined the hiking line headed toward Camp Muir. Early morning, many small groups headed for Muir, usually consisting of roughly four hikers, hit the trail trying to get a jump start on the looming warmer temperatures. The sun was bright and visibility was limitless at 5,400 feet in elevation at the visitor's center. One of the team members was heard saying, "I can only imagine what the view will be from Muir!"

The trek to Camp Muir took roughly six hours with the team taking 10-minute comfort breaks each hour to eat snacks, hydrate and make clothing adjustments.

Maj. Grayden Muller, a helicopter pilot from the 6th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., taught pressure breathing, the proper way to walk on snow, and trail etiquette at each of the pre-determined stops.

Arriving at the Muir Snow Field the pace turned almost into a crawl as the elevation steepened drastically. Team members were carrying 40 to 50 pound packs depending on what they were required to carry. Every step forward was planned and executed carefully. Overall, the trek up was slow but steady as the team traveled the 4.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,680 feet.

Staff Sgt. Savanna Wadtke, a member of the 627th Force Support Squadron commander's support staff, joined her husband on the hike up to Camp Muir.

"This is something that my husband has had on his 'bucket list' and he wanted me to join him for moral and inspirational support," she said. "I felt proud of him because he had that huge pack and even with his injury he kept on going. It was great to see him overcome those obstacles."

The entire team made it to Camp Muir just before dinner time and began setting up tents at the snow covered camp. July 21, the team recovered from their previous day's arduous hike and various team members taught Wadtke and Neville self-arrest techniques (stopping yourself if you fall on snow/ice), crampon skills and crevasse travel/rescue.

July 22, at midnight, the team hit the moon lit snow with headlamps and required gear as they made the final push to the 14,411-foot summit. They returned from Camp Muir to Ashford, Washington July 23.

To follow the journey of this team of Airmen, visit http://www.usaf7summits.com/index.php, http://www.climbingforwarriors.com or on Facebook "USAF 7 Summits Challenge."

Face of Defense: Airman Spends Leave Upgrading Children’s Home

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn L. Rich-Pendracki
18th Wing

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan, Aug. 6, 2013 – When service members take leave, it’s often to reinvigorate or re-energize themselves. One airman here spent his time away from the day-to-day grind reinvigorating a children's home in Thailand.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Gargus is surrounded by the tools of his trade while holding a cross that he crafted in his free time. Gargus recently returned from Thailand, where he helped to build a playground for children who live in homes supported by an organization that fights human trafficking. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn L. Rich-Pendracki
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Gargus, a 18th Civil Engineer Squadron structural craftsman, attended a service at the Kadena chapel in January and he learned of an upcoming trip to Thailand to make a difference in the lives of children who have been taken off the streets and out of lives that could lead to tragedy, living in homes supported by the organization Remember Nhu.

"Remember Nhu deals with the prevention of human trafficking, and they have scores of kids to care for," said Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Daniel Call.

Intrigued, Gargus did more research and found out more about Remember Nhu.

"When I heard about this trip, something inside spoke to me," he said. "[It was] a calling. I had to go."

Remember Nhu is a nonprofit organization that supports homes for children in Thailand, Burma and Cambodia with the intent of getting them off the streets and sparing them from human trafficking. The organization's namesake, Nhu, was such a child, before being rescued and adopted by Carl and Laurie Ralston from Portland, Ore.

Remember Nhu's approach at combating human trafficking is to help one child at a time by creating a loving, educational, peaceful and happy environment with spiritual guidance.

After learning all that he could about Nhu and the organization, Gargus reached out to a member of the Kadena chapel’s youth ministry. They began discussing ideas for a new playground to be built on the grounds of homes in northern Thailand. Talk became action, and before long, the plans were drawn and the trip was underway.

"We came up with plans for the playground that we wanted to build for these kids something for them to enjoy," Gargus said.

The playground went from the drawing board to reality.

"We used [about] 10,000 feet of rope and webbing to make the cargo nets that made up the playground,” Call said. “All the nets were hand tied by the teams. The playground also included a 60-foot zip line. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing 30 to 40 children delighted in the gift of the playground through the squeals and laughter that we saw the last day we were in Thailand."

Remember Nhu supports four homes with about 45 children in each home, and organization officials hope to open more.

Gargus worked at the houses in northern Thailand for a month.

"These kids were incredible," he said. "We got to eat with them every day. I sat on the floor with one little boy that I saw eating by himself. The next thing I knew, there were kids surrounding me. The experience was life-changing."

Since his initial involvement seven months ago, Gargus said, he has decided to increase his participation.

"I want to go back someday, and am looking forward to returning soon and fulfilling my calling," Gargus said.

He also plans on continuing his support by raising money and volunteering as much time as he can.
"God has blessed me with a certain skill set needed for my job, as well as the love to help people," Gargus said. "Doing the job I love and helping people while serving God is a dream come true."

Military Spouses Choir to Perform on ‘America’s Got Talent’

By Tim Hipps
U.S. Army Installation Management Command

SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 6, 2013 – A group that got its start in Army Entertainment is the driving force behind the American Military Spouses Choir, an "America's Got Talent" quarterfinalist scheduled to perform tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The show will be televised live on NBC at 9 p.m. EDT.

The competing choir consists of 37 spouses of active-duty military personnel, including 10 Army wives whose husbands range in rank from sergeant to major general. All told, there are 50 military spouses in the choir, ranging in age from 19 to 54, whose husbands range in rank from corporal to two-star general.

The group is the brainchild of Victor Hurtado, an Army Entertainment veteran who has performed in and directed programs such as the U.S. Army Soldier Show, Operation Rising Star, Military Idol and Stars of Tomorrow, among others, for nearly three decades. Hurtado also founded CAMMO, a nonprofit Center for American Military Music Opportunities, which supports the military wives choir.
The group was assembled for a May 6 performance at the 2012 Kennedy Center Spring Gala in Washington, D.C., where they sang "The Promise That We Make," an original song co-written by Charlie Midnight, who penned "Living in America" for James Brown, and Bernie Herms, who arranged the Natalie Grant version of "Joy to the World."

"They were supposed to do a one-night performance at the Kennedy Center," Hurtado deadpanned. "And, oh, by the way, I put them together over the Internet while directing the last two weeks of Soldier Show last year."

Several clips of Foster introducing the American Military Spouses Choir are available on YouTube, as is footage of them singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on "America's Got Talent."

The lead vocalist for that number, Melissa Gomez, won Army Entertainment's 2010 Operation Rising Star, a military singing contest about to embark on its ninth season.

"Melissa has risen to the top from the very beginning," Hurtado said. "Her training that she got over the years with Army Entertainment was extremely evident."

The military wives climbed their first mountain, which obviously was not high enough, May 10 in Chicago, and advanced to the second round in Las Vegas, where they were told July 16 to pack their bags for a trip to New York.

"Their performance was strong enough to put them through," said Hurtado, who explained that 60 acts advanced to the "America's Got Talent" quarterfinals in New York, where 12 will perform each week for five weeks.

"There were a few that were put through without having to perform again [in Las Vegas],” Hurtado said. “It's going to keep going, because these ladies ain't playin."

Vicki Golding, Army Entertainment's 2006 Military Idol champion, is the choirmaster for the American Military Spouses Choir.

"She is the reason why we're able to do what we do," Hurtado said. "I send her the arrangements, she writes out the parts, and then Joey [Beebe] checks our work. She has become a real viable music director/choirmaster."

Beebe, another former Soldier Show performer, currently serves as music director of Army Entertainment's marquee program. He also works with soldiers and military family members competing in Operation Rising Star.

"Joey Beebe is the music director for CAMMO, so that makes him the music director for all the artists that fall under CAMMO," Hurtado said. "When the ladies first met, they actually met the night before the gig at the Kennedy Center. They had never met before. And Joey has had that choir since that night. He taught them the song. He made it sound amazing. And they performed the next day at the Kennedy Center.

"David Foster said it was some of the best vocal choral work, dynamically, musically, pitch-wise, everything, that he had ever experienced in his life," Hurtado continued. "And he told Joey that himself. Joey just stood there and listened. I've never seen Joey at a loss for words like that before."

Ron Henry, another former Army Entertainment performer and original member of the 4TROOPS recording group, also helps the American Military Spouses Choir.

"He's in line to work with the ladies when one of us is not there," Hurtado said. "Vicki, Joey, Ron and I have all groomed so well that we can all sing, fill in for 4TROOPS, or conduct a choir. To have that sort of stable, that we are all interchangeable like that, is pretty satisfying for someone who had Sergeant Henry coming to Alaska with me, and Specialist Beebe coming to be the first assistant director, or Vicki Golding, who won Military Idol and sings so beautifully and is such a skilled music director. Who knew, right?"

And then there are the ladies getting it done on stage for their troops.

"I have been a military spouse for 34 years, and this choir experience validates what I have learned about all military spouses," said Karen Gravlin Bartell of Fort Eustis, Va. "They are strong, loyal, resourceful, supportive, kind-hearted, honest and, of course, talented. 'America's Got Talent' and Radio City Music Hall are giving us the chance to show that to America."

"I love being part of a choir that sings in tribute to our military," said Michelle Gable, of Fort Meade, Md. "I sing to say 'thank you.' I sing to say 'I love you.' I sing so that those who are silent will be remembered."

"Being in the choir is a dream come true for me," said Gomez, an Army veteran and spouse with the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. "I feel I am part of something so special that is afforded to me because I am a military spouse. Being in New York is still surreal. Performing at Radio City Music Hall solidifies our status as true artists in the music industry, and our cause is one worthy of recognition."

"First and foremost, I am in total awe, total shock of where we are now: New York City!" said Yari Dominguez, of Fort Rucker, Ala. "And we'll be performing at Radio City Music Hall, where the big dogs perform -- where legends have paved that path for others' dreams. It's a true honor to be singing with such an amazing group of ladies, knowing we all represent and stand for the same reason. It's a blessing -- a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The experience is more than just a competition, said Crystal Wood, of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

"This choir has given me a sisterhood and a support system that I have never had,” she added. “The love and support we have received from not only military families, but also from the public, is incredible. So many times as a military family, we are isolated and struggle alone.

“Since being on the show,” she continued, “so many families have said that we have inspired them, when in fact their support has inspired us. We are representing not only military families but also anyone who has been separated from their loved ones or experienced difficult situations. We are a beacon of hope for so many, that no matter how difficult the journey may be, you can always find a glimmer of light and the end of even the darkest tunnel. Performing at Radio City Music Hall is affirmation that as a society we all should support each other and we can overcome even our darkest moments."

Stephanie Holberg of Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said being in the choir means she is not alone.
"It's a blast being in New York City, beyond a dream to perform at Radio City Music Hall, and a huge honor to give military spouses a voice,” she said. “In a world where you hear so much negative news, this is such an amazing forum to share our stories and share something positive and patriotic like military spouses singing for their husbands and choir."

The remaining Army wives in the choir are Brandy Albert and Rachael Smith, both of Fort Belvoir, Va.; Deidra Lee Stubbs of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.; and Sonjia Perry of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dropped by to visit during one of the American Military Spouses Choir rehearsals and his wife, Deanie, personally thanked the ladies.
More than 35,000 acts auditioned last autumn for this season of "America's Got Talent," which will culminate in September.

Airman's 6-year journey leads to citizenship

by Senior Airman Charles Hutchinson IV
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/2/2013 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- Senior Airman Jean Marc Tchazou knows being a U.S. citizen is a privilege. Some people are born with it; others have to work hard to obtain it.

"I am originally from Cameroon, but I'm from the United States now," said Tchazou.

Born in Douala, Cameroon,  Tchazou is a finance specialist with the 439th Airlift Wing. He fled Cameroon in 2007 due to political instability.

He became a United States citizen July 4.

"It was in Sturbridge, Mass., and it was a change in my life," said Tchazou while talking about his swearing in as a U.S. citizen. "It's a blessing and also a big privilege to be a United States citizen. I think that maybe some people born here don't know how lucky and blessed they are."

"After you are sworn in and they call your name and give you that certificate, the feeling is something that words cannot describe," said Tchazou.

With countless possibilities in America, SrA. Tchazou isn't letting any go.

"So far what I have accomplished in this country I'm sure if I was in Cameroon I would never do," he said. Tchazou came to America with a bachelor's degree in finance from Douala University and recently graduated from Fitchburg State with a master's degree in accounting.

He also owns a brand-new car from working hard.

"These are things that are tough to obtain in Cameroon," he said. "The system doesn't allow you to really show your potential."

Cameroon is in West Central Africa, between Nigeria and Chad on the Gulf of Guinea. The capital of Cameroon is Yaoundé, and the country is home to more than 20 million people.

While co-workers find his work ethic absolutely astounding, Tchazou does allow himself time to relax.

"After I got my citizenship I threw myself a really big party" he said, in his soft-spoken French accent. "You have to really celebrate it. I came here just six years ago and I already have my citizenship."

Tchazou said to gain citizenship "you have to work hard and put trust in the system. You have to stay out of trouble and do what is right. That's what makes America special."

This ambitious United States citizen ended the interview by saying, "It's not who you are, it's not how you look, or how you talk, but you are judged on what you can do. I have been given that chance. I'll continue to try."

Beale reservists learn, excel at Talisman Saber 2013

by Dana Lineback
940th Wing


8/6/2013 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Reservists from the 940th Wing here returned last week from Talisman Saber 2013, bringing home invaluable training experience and an outstanding performer award from the multiservice, bilateral exercise.

Six members of the 713th Combat Operations Squadron were among the nearly 21,000 U.S. and 7,000 Australian military personnel who participated in this year's training exercise, the largest since the biennial series began in 2005.

Talisman Saber is a joint exercise between U.S. Pacific Command units and Australian Defense Forces designed to enhance multilateral collaboration in planning and conducting command task force operations. The training, which took place in the region of Australia and adjacent maritime areas, also involved several government agencies from the two countries and non-government agencies, such as the Red Cross and the Asia-Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence.

Fictional scenarios involved more than 70 different major training events that included combined Special Forces operations, parachute drops, amphibious landings, land force maneuvers, urban and air operations, and the coordinated firing of live ammunition from a range of weapons systems.

The exercise is an opportunity to focus on bilateral collaboration in support of future combined operations, humanitarian emergencies and natural disaster response to demonstrate mutual dedication to maintaining regional security, peace and stability.

"A goal of Talisman Saber is to improve interoperability between the armed services of both countries," said Lt. Col. Brett Gennarelli, 713 COS deputy commander.

"Our squadron's mission is to provide steady state, contingency and wartime augmentation to PACAF's Air Force Forces staff through reachback capability and the ability to deploy throughout the Pacific Theater," Gennarelli said. "This exercise was excellent training for our members and a great opportunity to foster important relationships with our PACAF and ADF counterparts."

Although the unit has participated in Talisman Saber in the past, this was Senior Master Sgt. Ian Troxell and Master Sgt. Eric Nehls' first time at the exercise. Both reservists were assigned as Noncommissioned Officers in Charge of their work sections at PACAF Headquarters, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

"It was an exceptionally rewarding experience to work together as a team with people you hadn't even met before. Mission effectiveness requires this kind of cooperation and dedication," said Nehls. "I was particularly struck by the motivated young airmen doing very difficult analytical tasks. If we want to be able to operate seamlessly in a real world scenario, this type of training is vital."

Troxell was also impressed by the Total Force Integration of active duty and reserve forces, as well as the interoperability with their Australian counterparts.

"There was no lag time in the exercise, and situations had to be dealt with quickly and efficiently," Troxell said. "Regardless of what you're facing, the key is communication across organizations and cultures. I was exceptionally pleased with how well we were able to work together.'

Another benefit of the exercise, according to Troxell, was the opportunity to see an operational plan go into action.

"At the PACAF level, we have all kinds of contingency plans on the shelf for every imaginable scenario, but the plans are abstract. We don't get to see how all the aspects of a plan actually work until we put that plan into action."

Tech. Sgt. Doyle Cook was also a first-time participant in Talisman Saber. A personnel specialist with the 713 COS, Cook was assigned as the Combined Forces Air Component's Chief of Personnel Support for Contingency Operations, during the exercise. He also headed up the Joint Reception Center, handling the arrival and departure of exercise participants. Cook was responsible for accountability and strength reporting, tracking more than 500 active duty, civilian, contractor and reserve participants.

"I hadn't had much PERSCO training in this type of support capacity. We were forced to learn quickly by working through the issues that arose throughout the exercise. The PACAF staff I work with on a regular basis in our squadron's day-to-day mission were extremely helpful," Cook said. "With this experience, I feel like I can deploy anywhere and do that particular job now."

Cook was named a Talisman Saber 2013 Outstanding Performer, recognizing the technical sergeant as a top five percent performer.

"Sergeant Cook is carrying on a long tradition of excellence in this squadron. On a routine basis, ten to twenty percent of our members return from major exercises with these awards. I attribute this success to the very extensive training program in this squadron and the caliber of people it takes to do this mission," Gennarelli said.

Reservists assigned to the 713 COS are required to train in at least one major exercise each year, according to Gennarelli.

"The cultural knowledge and operational expertise that result from working a joint coalition exercise like Talisman Saber ensure our members are trained to perform their duties in providing regional and global security alongside other military services and our allies.

McChord members return from U.S.-Australian exercise

by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/3/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Sixteen Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing recently returned from their participation in a coalition exercise between the U.S. military and the Australian Defense Force. That exercise is known as Talisman Saber 2013 and was executed in eastern Australia from July 15th through July 29th.

Joining more than 28,000 of their fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Australian counterparts, the Airmen from McChord were part of an exercise that trained forces from both nations to operate as a combined joint task force.

"Talisman Saber is a critical show of coalition interoperability and Theater Security Cooperation between the United States and Australian militaries," said Col. Andrew Hird, 62nd Operation Group commander and Talisman Saber Air Force mission commander. "The strategic airborne insertion was part of a much larger exercise including the certification of the U.S. 7th Fleet in a high end war fight."

Exercises are meant to prepare, train, evaluate, identify issues and further the understanding of how and why things work, this exercise was no different.

"The most obvious difference between this exercise and our local training missions is the amount of interest garnered at the highest levels of military and civilian leadership," said Capt. Dan Edelstein, 10th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot and Talisman Saber aircraft commander for the lead C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. "It was also a great opportunity for us to plan and train with C-17s from Hickam and Charleston.

"We even had a chance to fly a local training mission with the Australian C-17s a few days later. Even though we were dropping in a foreign country, our procedures didn't change. In the end, the way we train at home station is not so different from the way we executed at Talisman Saber."

Five C-17A aircraft, loaded with more than 400 members of the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division departed Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 19th, enroute to drop zone Kapyong on the east coast of Australia.

In what is likely a first ever event, a 5-ship of KC-10's refueled a 5-ship of C-17s in a single formation alleviating the need to split the formations into smaller groups requiring multiple airspace reservations and formation rejoins. The KC-10 aircrews affected a perfect rendezvous and excellent air refueling formation passing possibly a record amount of fuel to the C-17's. This massive formation passed nearly 750,000 pounds of fuel is also a potential first in a single C-17 formation.

"The air refueling likely set records," said Hird. "For a C-17 formation passing 750,000 pounds of fuel in one element is amazing.

"Conducting the large formation air refueling was an objective that was proved feasible by the exercise and provides additional flexibility when time and airspace limits factor into a strategic employment mission such as this one. I'm confident that this is the first 5-v-5 accomplished by the C-17."

McChord played a significant role in the execution of this exercise and ensured the mission was successful.

"McChord teammates planned multiple layers of contingencies and aided with Army, Australian Air Forces and joint base support in Alaska and Hawaii," said Hird. "McChord fielded two of the five C-17's as well as provided aircrew in partnership with Joint Base Charleston and Hickam AFB aircrews.

"The phenomenal support and leadership and motivation of the Army and Air Forces units enabled a last minute successful tail swap and an on time departure. The planning by all players ensured this mission success."

"Maj. Wes Skenfield was the key performer for this event," stated Edelstein. "As the lead planner he did most of the leg work for this exercise for several months before any of the other crew members became involved. His experience and continuity were the keys to success for the mission."

Not only is it important to conduct local and national exercises but international exercises with our allies are just as equally important.

"This exercise of partnership with our regional ally demonstrated our ability to successfully operate as a coalition," said Hird. "For the C-17 community, working together with a foreign military practicing tactical airdrop employment demonstrated to aircrews from all commands that we can learn from each other and work together to successfully execute tactical objectives.

"The positive second order effect is that the captains and staff sergeants executing the mission last week will be the commanders and senior noncommissioned officers who are charged to build future relationships with partner nations. This very successful exercise will give each of them a positive experience to build from."

McChord members return from U.S.-Australian exercise

by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/3/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Sixteen Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing recently returned from their participation in a coalition exercise between the U.S. military and the Australian Defense Force. That exercise is known as Talisman Saber 2013 and was executed in eastern Australia from July 15th through July 29th.

Joining more than 28,000 of their fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Australian counterparts, the Airmen from McChord were part of an exercise that trained forces from both nations to operate as a combined joint task force.

"Talisman Saber is a critical show of coalition interoperability and Theater Security Cooperation between the United States and Australian militaries," said Col. Andrew Hird, 62nd Operation Group commander and Talisman Saber Air Force mission commander. "The strategic airborne insertion was part of a much larger exercise including the certification of the U.S. 7th Fleet in a high end war fight."

Exercises are meant to prepare, train, evaluate, identify issues and further the understanding of how and why things work, this exercise was no different.

"The most obvious difference between this exercise and our local training missions is the amount of interest garnered at the highest levels of military and civilian leadership," said Capt. Dan Edelstein, 10th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot and Talisman Saber aircraft commander for the lead C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. "It was also a great opportunity for us to plan and train with C-17s from Hickam and Charleston.

"We even had a chance to fly a local training mission with the Australian C-17s a few days later. Even though we were dropping in a foreign country, our procedures didn't change. In the end, the way we train at home station is not so different from the way we executed at Talisman Saber."

Five C-17A aircraft, loaded with more than 400 members of the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division departed Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 19th, enroute to drop zone Kapyong on the east coast of Australia.

In what is likely a first ever event, a 5-ship of KC-10's refueled a 5-ship of C-17s in a single formation alleviating the need to split the formations into smaller groups requiring multiple airspace reservations and formation rejoins. The KC-10 aircrews affected a perfect rendezvous and excellent air refueling formation passing possibly a record amount of fuel to the C-17's. This massive formation passed nearly 750,000 pounds of fuel is also a potential first in a single C-17 formation.

"The air refueling likely set records," said Hird. "For a C-17 formation passing 750,000 pounds of fuel in one element is amazing.

"Conducting the large formation air refueling was an objective that was proved feasible by the exercise and provides additional flexibility when time and airspace limits factor into a strategic employment mission such as this one. I'm confident that this is the first 5-v-5 accomplished by the C-17."

McChord played a significant role in the execution of this exercise and ensured the mission was successful.

"McChord teammates planned multiple layers of contingencies and aided with Army, Australian Air Forces and joint base support in Alaska and Hawaii," said Hird. "McChord fielded two of the five C-17's as well as provided aircrew in partnership with Joint Base Charleston and Hickam AFB aircrews.

"The phenomenal support and leadership and motivation of the Army and Air Forces units enabled a last minute successful tail swap and an on time departure. The planning by all players ensured this mission success."

"Maj. Wes Skenfield was the key performer for this event," stated Edelstein. "As the lead planner he did most of the leg work for this exercise for several months before any of the other crew members became involved. His experience and continuity were the keys to success for the mission."

Not only is it important to conduct local and national exercises but international exercises with our allies are just as equally important.

"This exercise of partnership with our regional ally demonstrated our ability to successfully operate as a coalition," said Hird. "For the C-17 community, working together with a foreign military practicing tactical airdrop employment demonstrated to aircrews from all commands that we can learn from each other and work together to successfully execute tactical objectives.

"The positive second order effect is that the captains and staff sergeants executing the mission last week will be the commanders and senior noncommissioned officers who are charged to build future relationships with partner nations. This very successful exercise will give each of them a positive experience to build from."