Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reservist balances airline career, F-22 flying

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

Balancing a military career and family life can be challenging for some but balancing a second civilian career provides an opportunity for one Alaska Reservist to live out his dream.
"Alaska provides a flying experience that is unmatched anywhere else," said Maj. Wade Bridges, Reserve F-22 pilot assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron and Alaska Airlines first officer. "Almost every pilot dreams of flying in the state of Alaska, so having the opportunity to fly the F-22 and fly for Alaska Airlines is an opportunity that I couldn't pass up."
Bridges transitioned from being a full time air reserve technician to a traditional reservist when he was hired as a Boeing 737 pilot with Alaska Airlines in 2012. Between the two jobs he works on average 23 days a month which allows him time to fulfill the requirements of both jobs and still have about 8 days off a month.  
"Both organizations have options available to trade trips or move military days, which is very helpful in providing a monthly schedule to fulfill both commitments," said Bridges. "Alaska airlines is very accommodating to its military members and the Reserve unit is structured around most members having a full time civilian job."
After graduating from Oregon State, Bridges commissioned into the Air Force and was an active duty F-16 pilot before transitioning to the AF Reserve in 2008 as an F-22 pilot in the 477thFighter Group, Alaska's only Air Force Reserve unit. Both the 477th FG and the 302nd FS trace their history back to the famed Tuskegee Airmen.  Working for two employers with such rich history is a perk for Bridges.
"Flying for a company that has such a great history as Alaska Airlines, dating back to 1932, is exciting," said Bridges. "The locations that they fly into are very interesting and challenging. From O'Hare airport in Chicago to Nome, Alaska, I have the opportunity to see a huge variation in locations."
While two careers in aviation in Alaska have enabled Bridges to meet his professional goals it also helps the 477th FG meet their objectives.
"Without supportive employers, traditional reservists couldn't do what they do," said Col. Tyler Otten, 477th FG commander. "We place significant demands on our TRs in terms of normal training and deployments.  Those demands would remain unmet if employers were unwilling to support their employees that continue to serve their country in the Air Force Reserve."  

Dempsey, Israeli Counterpart Pledge Ongoing Partnership

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 13, 2013 – On his first full day in Israel this week, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met today with Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, chief of the Israeli general staff.

After the meeting, the two generals spoke about their interaction.

After welcoming Dempsey, Gantz noted the Middle East is going through major changes that will have strategic consequences.

“We must be aware of them,” he said, noting that he and Dempsey have discussed these issues in the past and will do so again in the future.

“The cooperation between our two countries and, as a result, between our respective organizations, is a very important cooperation,” Gantz said.

Gantz said the two leaders had “very fruitful” discussions about the region and how to promote freedom, security and liberty.

He said to Dempsey, “With your leadership and your friendship, I think we can [meet] any potential challenge in this region.”

In his return comments, the chairman said this visit to Israel -- his fourth as chairman -- serves two important purposes: to continue to build the strong military-to-military relationship between the United States and Israel, and to gain regional insight from Gantz and other key leaders.

That interaction, Dempsey said, allows the two nations to compare notes and “see how we see issues as they are evolving: in Syria, in Egypt and with Iran.”

He said such senior-leader engagements, whether here or in the states, “help us understand these complex situations … and then actually illuminate not only the vulnerabilities and threats, but also the opportunities.”

The chairman’s travels will continue later this week with a visit to Jordan.

Military Spouse of the Year, committed to National Guard families

8/13/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md., -- The schedule of a military spouse is an arduous one. Appointments, dinners, and family time are vital to maintaining normalcy despite the strain of military life.

Alicia Hinds Ward, the 2013 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, is another in the long line of military mothers and spouses who work a multitude of tasks, seemingly at the same time, while staying involved and focused.

"I have to be regimented, it takes planning," said Ward, a mother of three children, ages 6 to 21. "I've had to learn what my priorities are."

During the run-up to the 2013 MSOY award announcement, Ward was busy doing what she does best: getting involved. She drafted the U.S. Air Force's Exceptional Family Member Program content for the American Military Autism Families Support website, was recognized with Volunteer Excellence Awards for 2011 and 2012, worked with the Wounded Warrior Project, and presented National Guard issues before Congress.

As a disability advocate by vocation, Ward created the EFMP outreach program at Joint Base Andrews here, to help members obtain Social Security benefits for disabled family members and participated on a Department of Defense Community & Family Policy panel. The panel was tasked with enacting program reforms across all branches of the military.

Ward is married to Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Edwinston J. Ward, but is a voice for spouses and families regardless of military component. A key element of her agenda is helping spouses understand that clear communication and a tight-knit community builds resiliency and strength, which help deal with the unique challenges and changes of military life.

"It is through this community support system that information regarding benefits and other military services is shared and our spouses are able to make better choices for their families," Ward said. "Education about services and knowing where to go for help keeps our spouses grounded, secure and able to adapt to change."

Adapting to continuous change is the norm for Ward. With a day planner full of meetings, panel discussions and events, it's hard to image how it all gets done.

"It all comes down to time management," Ward said.

The path to the pinnacle of her work in advocacy and support began more than four years ago. During her husband's reenlistment, Ward keyed into issues leaders discussed regarding support for families in the Air National Guard. Listening closely, she sensed a need for a stronger support system within the unit and volunteered immediately as a key spouse. With her involvement and the passage time, she grew more knowledgeable in the issues facing Guard families.

"I want to identify and create a database of where to go to find information military spouses need to support themselves and their families," she said. "I want to show that through learning about available support resources and understanding each other, spouses can feel less alone and stronger within themselves and their communities."

In the near future, Ward said she will support more outreach opportunities, panels and events, all geared toward supporting and uplifting the military family.

The state runners-up to the 2013 MSOY are advancing a "Team National Guard" platform. Their efforts include establishing food pantries at all wings and armories and providing more robust support service for children facing the challenges caused by family separation.

Specific to the National Guard, Ward wants to identify additional spouse and civilian employment resources, create a means of identifying and supporting special-needs family members, and identify and create a hub of additional resources for special-needs family members.

Ward hopes her work will honor the work of past MSOY honorees who have all labored on behalf of military families.

"I'm grateful and privileged to represent the 1.1 million military spouses supporting our military members," Ward said.

Enlisted Airmen may be eligible for medical prep school

8/13/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Active-duty enlisted Airmen who qualify can now apply for a new pilot program designed to prepare them for medical school, but "intent to apply" emails must be submitted no later than Sept. 6, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Aug. 12.

The Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program offers enlisted members a chance to attend medical prep school full time for two years, all expenses paid, while maintaining active-duty status and full pay and benefits. The program will include coursework in a traditional classroom setting with structured pre-health advising and formal medical college admission test preparation.

Those selected for the program will transfer on permanent change of station orders to Bethesda, Md., where they will attend school at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. Following successful completion of the 24-month program, graduates will apply for acceptance to the USUHS medical school or civilian medical schools.

Enlisted members from all career fields are eligible to apply, if they meet other criteria in the application guidelines, available on the myPers website. Applicants must be younger than 33 as of June 30, 2014, have at least 36 months but no more than 10 years time in service as of Sept. 30, 2013, and hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.

Selected senior airmen and above with promotion line numbers will be able to sew on while attending the program, but those who do not have a line number will not be eligible to test for promotion while attending the course. Senior airmen who do not have a promotion line number will be automatically promoted to staff sergeant one day prior to the course start.

Following graduation and upon acceptance in an approved medical school, program participants will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Medical Services Corps. As fourth-year medical students, those lieutenants will be eligible to apply for medical residencies approved by the Air Force Health Professions Education Requirements Board.

Applicants who meet all eligibility criteria must email an intent to apply statement to the Total Force Service Center by Sept. 6. Those who do so will be notified by Sept. 16 whether or not they have been released from their career field to compete for selection. Once notified of their eligibility to compete, Airmen must submit their applications by Nov. 1. Classes for the pilot program begin July 1, 2014.

Full eligibility criteria and application guidelines for the program, which incurs a three-year, active-duty service commitment, are available on myPers. Enter "EMDP2" in the search window.

Emerald Coast pays tribute to Col. George "Bud" Day

by Airman 1st Class Christopher Callaway
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

8/1/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Nearly 1,000 service members, veterans and citizens from across the nation paid their respects to the life and legacy of retired Col. George "Bud" Day during his funeral service at the Emerald Coast Convention Center on Okaloosa Island, Fla., Aug. 1.

Day, a Medal of Honor recipient and combat pilot with service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, passed away July 27 at the age of 88.

Airmen and Marines alike lined the sides of the solemn room. Attendees gathered together in one large line to pay respects to a man that gave everything and more to support the United States of America.

"The last word that was spoken to the love of his life, Dory, was 'home,'" said his son, George Day Jr., during the service. "This is a celebration of his life, and we are so thankful that you are here honoring him."

According to Day's biography, the Sioux City, Iowa, native enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and served 30 months in the South Pacific. At World War II's end, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve until he completed training to become a fighter-bomber pilot with the U.S. Air Force in 1950.

On perhaps one of the most fateful days of Day's life, the North Vietnamese shot down his F-100 Super Sabre Aug. 26, 1967.

Day, who suffered multiple injuries, was eventually captured and held for nearly six years, during which he endured torture on a daily basis.

One of his fellow prisoners of war, now U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, attended the service and remarked on the colonel's dedication to service and devotion to his country.

"I had the privilege of being Bud's friend for almost five decades of his 88 years," McCain said. "He was a hard man to kill and expected the same from his subordinates, but more than that, he taught me how to save my self-respect and my honor, and that is a debt I can never repay."

McCain shared a story of Day's perseverance in the face of the struggle and possible death during one of his darker days in captivity.

"He could not be broken in spirit no matter how broken he was in body," said McCain. "Knowing him in prison, confronting our enemies day in and day out, [we never yielded] in front of men who had the power of life and death over us. To witness him sing the national anthem in response to having a rifle pointed at his face -- well that was something to behold."

On March 14, 1973, the North Vietnamese released Day, and he was reunited with his wife and four children three days later. Before retiring from the Air Force in 1977, he served as the vice commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

For Day's actions as a POW and for upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force, President Gerald Ford presented him with the Medal of Honor in March 4, 1976, making Day the only recipient of the Medal of Honor along with the Air Force Cross. Of the nearly 70 military decorations and awards Day earned, more than 50 were the direct result of combat.

After returning home, the colonel dedicated his life to directly impacting the well-being of those who serve the country by advocating for military medical benefits as an attorney.

"What is it about a man who suffered more than any of us can even imagine," said Congressman Jeff Miller. "And yet was willing to take on so much more so others would not have to."

After the funeral service, a vehicle procession transported the colonel to his burial at Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Fla. Along the way, thousands of well-wishers lined the sides of U.S. Highway 98 to render a salute of honor to one of the most highly decorated combat veterans in history.

"It is the least I can do to pay my respect to a man who has done so much for our country," said Airman 1st Class Heaven Carroll, 1st Special Operations Contracting Squadron member. "Col. Day was a hero, and it is an honor to serve in his footsteps."

"Bud and I stayed close through all the years that had passed, talked often, saw each other regularly -- I am going to miss him terribly," McCain said. "I could never imagine Bud yielding to anything, even the laws of nature, but he is gone now to what I would expect an Iowa cornfield during the winter filled with pheasants. I will see him again, I know I will. I will hunt the fields with him, and I look forward to it."

Ground piercing radar guides New Boston UXO crews

by Scott Prater
Schriever Sentinel

8/8/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Unexploded ordnance removal teams at New Boston Air Force Station are using a new tool in their mission to rid the station of decades-old bombs, rockets and other potentially hazardous material.

The 23rd Space Operations Squadron has partnered with the Strategic Environmental Research Development Program in a project that should help reveal the identity of objects while they're still underground.

Since July, the SERDP team has been conducting a "metal mapper" test demonstration, the first on an Air Force site, which is designed to differentiate between UXO and cultural debris below ground. If proven, this technology will significantly reduce the number of holes that have to be dug when anomalies are identified during UXO clearing.

"We want to be more efficient in our clearing efforts," says Jeff Oja, 23rd SOPS restoration program manager. "Fortunately, we may have found some new technology that's going to help that effort."

Scientists with SERDP are using what's known as a Time-Domain Electromagnetic Towed Array Detection System. Basically, it's ground penetrating radar that can detect whether an item is unexploded ordnance or simple debris.

Oja explained that the significance of this new technology may not be apparent to some, but all people need to consider is how previous UXO clearing efforts were conducted.

In 2010 for example, NBAFS unexploded ordnance teams dug up 7,800 items while conducting a sub-surface clearing project. A grand total of seven of those items were revealed to be unexploded ordnance. The majority, however, were random debris, such as bullet fragments, machine parts, scrap metal and junk.

"Using the TEMTADS, we'll know before we dig. It's going to save us a lot of time, money and manpower because we won't be digging up horseshoes."

Since 2003, the Air Force has been clearing the land, some 2,826 acres, of unexploded ordnance because Army Air Corps and Navy pilots used this slice of New Hampshire countryside for target practice between 1942 and 1956. They dropped bombs, fired rockets and strafed the area with machine-gun fire. The Air Force assumed control of the land in 1959 and the installation was officially renamed New Boston Air Force Station in 1960 when it transitioned to a space-operations mission.

"We've put in a lot of work," Oja said. "During phase three of the clearing project, contractors and 23 SOPS personnel removed 80 live UXOs and more than 40 tons of munitions related debris on the area's surface."

Phase four of the UXO clearing project began in July and will continue through September. Army Corps of Engineers and contract crews will sub-surface clear 30 acres of recreational and operational areas, 10 miles of dirt roads and two ponds [nine acres] with the hope of opening additional recreation areas to Department of Defense cardholders.

"We are delighted by the potential of new technology to assist us in effectively and efficiently clearing UXOs with minimal impact to environment," said Lt. Col. Sarah Jackson, 23 SOPS commander. "The SERDP technology demonstrator is promising. This effort, coupled with the Army Corps of Engineers efforts, is a cornerstone to our opening a larger portion of the installation for recreational purposes, and much anticipated reopening of our FAMCAMP area and fishing at Joe English Pond to DOD cardholders."

341st Missile Wing receives unsatisfactory rating in inspection

by Air Force Global Strike Command
Public Affairs

8/13/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Air Force Global Strike Command Inspector General team visited Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Aug. 5-13 to evaluate the 341st Missile Wing's ability to execute operations while complying with nuclear surety standards.

The 341 MW received an 'unsatisfactory' rating after making tactical-level errors -- not related to command and control of nuclear weapons -- during one of several exercises conducted during the inspection. This failure resulted in the entire inspection being graded 'unsatisfactory.'

A failed inspection does not mean that the safety of the nation's nuclear arsenal is at risk, AFGSC Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski said.

"These inspections are designed to be tough to pass," he said. "A failure doesn't mean the wing isn't able to accomplish its mission."

Rather, Kowalski said identifying discrepancies is part of the process to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.

Nuclear Surety Inspections are extremely demanding, ensuring the highest standards of compliance and accountability.

"Commanders use these inspections to continually improve our training and procedures," he said. "These inspections allow us to identify causes and find solutions to problems in areas that aren't meeting our exacting standards."

The AFGSC/IG will return to inspect appropriate aspects of 341 MW within 90 days in accordance with established Department of Defense and Air Force guidance.

Seven deployments, five years: Offutt linguist tells story

by 1st Lt. Susan Harrington
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/13/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Seven deployments in five years, a feat not many can claim, but Staff Sgt. Chris can.

Serving as a career enlisted aviator on the RC-135 Rivet Joint, Chris has spent nearly 735 days deployed flying more than 2,000 hours with more than 400 combat sorties.

The Nashville, Tenn., native joined the military in 2006, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was an Army artilleryman during the Korean War. After his two years of technical training as a linguist, he was assigned to his first operational flying squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Since the beginning of his operational career, Chris said, "I haven't stopped deploying!" The numbers bear that out, as he recently served a tour here at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing.

While deployed, it was not uncommon for Chris to fly daily operational sorties over extended periods of time. The enlisted aviator flew and deployed often because of his unique ability as a linguist on the Rivet Joint. Unlike many career fields, linguists are unique in the fact that their job on the Rivet Joint is solely accomplished while deployed. For this reason, Airmen like him continuously rotate in and out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

"Having a chance to do our job and knowing that it matters makes the deployments easier to manage," Chris said. "It's extremely rewarding to know that we're providing support to our ground troops that helps ensure their safety and successful completion of their mission."

Linguist's capabilities allow them to directly support coalition forces by providing an airborne scout, increasing their situational awareness and in turn enhancing their capability to complete the mission. Because their career field is in high demand, linguists see a lot of deployment time - most of it unpredictable.

"We don't fit into a normal AEF [Air Expeditionary Force] deployment cycle," he said.
We are enablers, and as such, we deploy more frequently and are away from home quite a bit, Chris said.

"Quite a bit," may be an understatement. In his just five years of operational service, Chris has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, missing four of five Christmases at home with his wife and child.
"Being a husband and a father certainly adds to the layers of responsibility we shoulder in the deployed environment," Chris said.

Through the challenges, however, his reward has been the many opportunities he has had including flying on 10 distinctly different airframes, from the Rivet Joint to the vintage Vietnam era Cessna 337 Sky Master.

As a young Airman, Chris had many responsibilities, operating often with a small crew in remote areas throughout the AOR. He and his team were required to schedule their own sorties, maintain their own equipment and track their flight information as aviation resource managers were not available in many locations. The responsibility he and others carried, although sobering, brought with it a great sense of pride and accomplishment for he and his team, Chris said.

Despite overwhelming responsibilities and a high operations tempo, the mission satisfaction and professionalism among the individuals with whom he worked made the time worthwhile, Chris said.

With the experience, opportunities and background throttling Chris forward, he has a right to boast of his accomplishments and revel in his war stories. But Chris is is appreciative of those serving with him.

"I am incredibly humbled at the opportunities I've had to serve my country and do it in a meaningful way," Chris said. "I've been even more humbled to have had the chance to work with a huge swath of members from other services, to see what they do, and to understand my place in the big picture."

Westover chalks up overall excellent

by Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/13/2013 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- A loud cheer echoed through the room - spurred on by Command Chief Michael Thorpe turning around in his seat, standing up and gesturing to the men and women of the 439th Airlift Wing.

The Patriot Wing earned an excellent rating base-wide. Those and many other accolades reverberated through the Westover Conference Center Aug. 12 as the Consolidated Unit Inspection team provided its outbrief to more than 100 people packed inside the center.

"There were more strengths in this wing than we normally see," said Brig. Gen. John Mooney, Air Force Reserve Command Inspector General.

The CUI's listing of dozens of Westover superior performers was so long that the team directed Patriot Wing senior leadership to recognize them during September's Family Day.

"This is the longest list of superior performers we've ever seen," Brig. Gen. Mooney said.

The CUI team arrived at Westover Aug. 8. The team began its inspections throughout the base Aug. 9 and through the August A UTA. They were responsible for reviewing how the 439th conducts its day-to-day operations - from its offices to the flight line, to the base gates - virtually everything on the base proper.

The general's effusive praise also took note of the most unusual obstacle perhaps ever faced by a Westover wing -- five furlough days in July that stood between the wing's final preparation and the CUI's arrival.

"This is a wonderful wing doing a wonderful job for our country," he said. "Your reputation preceded you....you don't see this every day. You guys rock."

Joint Force provides needed medical relief to Hondurans

by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jarrod Chavana
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs Office

8/13/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras  -- A six-person mobile surgical team from Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element performed four surgeries Aug. 7 at a hospital in Comayagua, Honduras.

The surgical team assisted the hospital in removing three gallbladders and one botfly larvae from a child's body. MEDEL provides relevant, responsive care while enhancing the capabilities of partner nations.

"This day was exemplary of what we do on an ordinary basis, which is provide medical support services to a hospital and surgical team," said U.S. Army Col. Ronald Rene, MEDEL general surgeon. "We share a culture of practicing surgery while delivering healthcare, as well as augment their capabilities by providing additional supplies and staff."

During the bi-weekly visit to hospitals in towns such as La Paz and Comayagua the MST routinely perform various operations, including hernias and appendectomies.

"The atmosphere changes when someone's performing surgery on a child," said U.S. Army Spc. Kaivon Haynes, MEDEL operating room specialist. "The environment gets much more comforting and everyone is in tuned to the patient from the time they go to sleep until they wake up. I believe we show the people of Comayagua that the U.S. government is here to help and we want to provide as much assistance as possible."

MEDEL assists populations lacking funding and medical supplies.

"I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea, these surgeons are excellent and they really make do with what they have," said Rene. "They have taught me things that I have not experienced, not even in my training in the inner city of New York. They have adapted to doing things very efficiently with spectacular results. I'm happy to learn and adapt as there is always an exchange of ideas."

JTF-B has been engaged in humanitarian medical activities in Honduras since the1980s and on July 13, Col. Thomas Boccardi, JTF-B commander, accepted an appreciation award from the Honduran First Presidential Designate Maria Antonieta Guillen de Bogran, the Honduran equivalent to the U.S. vice president, for providing MEDRETEs, assisting more than 1 million Honduran citizens.

MEDRETEs are U. S. Southern Command-sponsored readiness training exercises designed to provide humanitarian assistance and free medical care to the people of the host nation, while helping improve the skills of U.S. military medical forces and those of military medical professionals of the host nation. MEDRETEs allow U.S. military medical personnel to perform critical medical skills and execute the pre-deployment, deployment, and redeployment process. The MEDRETE also provides U.S. military personnel the opportunity to work with other militaries, civilian personnel and host national non-governmental agencies.

Operation PACIFIC UNITY begins

Release Number: 040813

8/13/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and the Philippine military will conduct Operation PACIFIC UNITY in the Philippines Aug. 12 to Sep 12, 2013.

Pacific Unity is a bilateral Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) conducted in the Asia-Pacific region in collaboration with host nation civil authorities and military personnel. This year marks the fourth iteration of the operation which began in 2010.

Approximately 28 U.S. Air Force construction craftsmen and support personnel will participate alongside host province officials and construction tradesmen.

Pacific Unity helps cultivate common bonds, foster goodwill and improve relationships between the U.S. and the Philippines by conducting bilateral humanitarian and civic assistance programs.

PACOM civil engineers give back to Sri Lankan community

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Blake Mize
PACANGEL Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - JAFFNA, Sri Lanka -- 
Seventeen U.S. Pacific Command civil engineers have been given the opportunity to utilize the skills they have honed throughout their time in service to give back to a community in need.
The engineers include troops from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps who are supporting Operation Pacific Angel- Sri Lanka, a joint and combined humanitarian and military civil assistance mission led by Pacific Air Forces to provide medical and engineering support to the people of Jaffna. 

The construction projects the engineers are completing alongside their Sri Lankan counterparts include installing electricity and plumbing where before there was none. The team is also installing commodes, urinals and sinks to replace holes in the ground and water spouts. 

Additionally, the team is repairing roofs, painting buildings inside and out, installing lighting and fans, building walkways, pouring concrete and doing whatever else is within their capabilities to refurbish the schools. These efforts seek to improve quality of life for the students and to address safety concerns for the students. 

"For this specific mission, we're providing construction and repair to three local schools to make the facilities a more effective learning environment and more comfortable for the kids," said Air Force Lt. Col. Douglas Woodard, PACANGEL 13-4 mission commander from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. "The work we are doing here alongside our Sri Lankan counterparts will make the local community more resilient when another disaster strikes in the region." 

The construction projects are being conducted at the Atchelu Saivapragasa Vidyalayam grade school, Kuddiyapaulam Mixed School, and the Punnalaikkadduvan Primary Grade school in Jaffna. 

For the most part, the engineers volunteered to support PACANGEL. Many liked the idea of using their skills to help those less fortunate. 

"I loved what the mission was and what we're doing and I was excited to come along," said Air Force 1st Lt. Renee Kittka, 354th CES base energy manager. "This is a great opportunity." 
There are a total of 55 U.S. military members participating in PACANGEL 13-4. Along with the engineers, there are medical professionals providing health care to in-need Sri Lankans, as well as communication, contracting logistics, finance, public affairs and security personnel. 

"We all came here from different bases and branches of service to form out team here," Kimball said. "We're all integrating beautifully and getting along great. It's not just a one-branch site, it's a joint effort." 
The PACANGEL operations are done every year in different countries throughout the Pacific region. "We typically conduct four operations per year but this year we're conducting five," Woodard said. 
"Already this year we've been to Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and we're getting ready to head to Cambodia in September for out fifth mission." Woodard said operations like these are vital in improving our humanitarian assistance capabilities. "There is significant benefit in participating in an event like this," he said. "Most obviously, it enhances our ability to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the region. Secondly, it gives us experience wit deploying aircraft and large numbers of personnel into and out of a partner nation, which is going to be required for a disaster response." 
The Sri Lankan peoples' hospitality is making the operation much easier, Woodard said.