Thursday, September 12, 2013

The flipside of an Airman’s unexpected journey with cancer

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

9/10/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- "It doesn't look good" are four words no one ever wants to hear from a doctor.

For Col. David Barnes, 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) senior director of operations, those words began a journey from cancer to passing a physical fitness test.

Just two months after arriving here from Germany, the colonel went to the doctor for what he thought was hypertension. After running some blood tests, the doctor noticed his creatinine (kidney enzyme) levels were slightly elevated, which led to an ultrasound. That same day, Sept. 4, 2012, Barnes learned he had a mass the size of a fist on his kidney.

"Thanks for ordering the blood work Dr. Sajid, now how do I get it out of me?" was the colonel's first reaction.

Jenny Juenger, 375th Flight Medicine nurse, called five different hospitals to see which of them would remove the mass on his kidney. She found a kidney specialist, a general surgeon and an oncologist located at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (no relation to Colonel Barnes) in St. Louis.

Less than two weeks later and many "what if's", Barnes' kidney was removed and it was confirmed he had cancer.

Barnes' wife of 23 years, Kelly, his daughter and his Air Force family at work and at the 375th Medical Group were crucial to his recovery.

Barnes' co-workers also helped by providing meals, performing chores around the house and mowing their lawn.

"Everyone kept telling me to keep moving," said Barnes, who hails from Jacksonville, Fla. "So Kelly and I would walk first 100 yards, then we worked our way a bit further by walking to the stop sign in front of our house, eventually 10 minutes led to an hour and now we continue to walk because it has strengthened our marriage."

Juenger explained movement is so important is because it prevents clotting, a common complication following surgery.

The Barnes family also credits the power of prayer as a key factor in his recovery.

Barnes also praises the Tricare health care system. While some might find the system tricky, Barnes found it beneficial.

Although cancer free now, Barnes tells people he is "beating" cancer because he knows it's a on-going process. One of the first challenges in getting back to "fighting shape" was to pass the Air Force physical fitness test. Two months after kidney surgery, Barnes was due for his test. Despite not needing to take the waist measurement test following an abdominal surgery, he opted to take it and passed.

Six months later, Barnes was again faced with accomplishing his next PT test.

"He called me to inform me he was about to do his PT test, so I asked him if he needed a profile to get him through it," said Juenger, a native of Visalia, Calif. "He said, 'No, I'm going to do it on my own.'"

Barnes did more than complete his PT test, he earned a 91 percent, placing him in the top 10 percent of all Airmen when it comes to PT test scores.

One of the final stops on Barnes' journey was his "note to normal" - a waiver to remain on flight status he signed June 13.

In addition to Barnes' fitness regime, he and his lone kidney are on a modified diet while continuing to be monitored by doctors.

"I'm still trying to figure out what the new normal is," said Barnes. "While a cancer diagnosis may initially come as a shock, it is not necessarily a death sentence and this experience has taught me that I always have a Wingman."

MG Martin assumes command of USAF Expeditionary Center

by Capt. Brooke Brzozowske
US Air Force Expeditionary Center

9/11/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- Maj. Gen. Frederick "Rick" Martin assumed command of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center during a ceremony Sept. 9, 2013, at the Expeditionary Center, here.

General Paul J. Selva, Air Mobility Command commander, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., presided over the event, attended by nearly 200 service members, family members and honored guests from across the joint base. Additionally, the assumption ceremony was broadcasted live on Defense Connect Online for members of the EC across the globe to watch.

The USAF Expeditionary Center is the Air Force's Center of Excellence for advanced expeditionary combat support training and education, while also providing direct oversight for en route and installation support, contingency response, and partner capacity building mission sets within the global mobility enterprise. The Expeditionary Center provides operational control of the Mobility Operations School and the Expeditionary Operations School, and administrative control for six wings and two groups within Air Mobility Command.

Selva recognized the mission scope the EC holds for all mobility forces, and the type of leadership caliber Martin brings to the mission.

"I called every secretary, every exec, every aide and most of the squadron commanders who have ever worked with Martin, and the answer to the question I asked was universal," said Selva. "I said, 'what can you tell me about Rick Martin?' They all said he is the calmest, most enjoyable person to work for they have ever met. "

Selva continued explaining Martin's variety of assignments, including his recent deployment as the Deputy Chief for the Office of Security Cooperation in Baghdad, Iraq.

"It didn't matter how hard the challenge," Selva said. "It didn't matter how complex the question. It didn't matter how tough the tasker. He would be the calm person in the middle trying to figure out how to get it done. That's what you get as your new commander. Calm. Capable. Courageous. An undaunted leader. That is Major General Rick Martin."

After assuming command, Martin expressed his gratitude, reaching out to each of the units the EC supports and the community partnerships supporting the Airmen and families at locations across the globe.

"When I think of partnerships, there's a quote," he said. "'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.' I think this holds true for our community and mission partnerships."

"What do we do in this wonderful organization called the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center?" Martin asked. "We build relationships. Why is that important? That develops partnerships."

"There is mobility happening everywhere on every continent of the globe," Martin concluded. "Who's touching that? The people of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, and that means something."

Travis drill event puts focus on skill training

by Tech. Sgt. Rachel Martinez
349th Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Reserve Airmen from the 349th Air Mobility Wing honed their primary job skills during a multi-day training event on flight line here, Sept. 7- 8.

More than 500 Airmen from 21 units participated in job-specific skills training focused on the wing's core missions of moving passengers and cargo, generating sorties, flying aircraft, defending the base and providing high-quality medical care.

The training event was developed based on input from wing personnel. Surveys and informal feedback indicated Reservists wanted more time to perform the Air Force jobs they signed up to do, without the distraction of readiness requirements and additional duties, said Col. Matthew Burger, 349th Air Mobility Wing commander.

"The purpose is to train folks to do their jobs. It's what we do and why we show up," Burger said. "There are 500 folks who received training this weekend that wasn't computer based. Some of it was tough, but they were just happy to be doing what they signed up to do."

The varied training included aircrews and maintainers working together to launch and fly sorties with the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-10 Extender; aircrews working with aerial porters to conduct engine running offloads of cargo; aerial porters working with the Army to complete joint inspections of specialty equipment; civil engineers working with security forces to conduct convoy operations; civil engineers working with force support to establish and run a bivouac; and medics working in the simulation lab to practice life-saving skills.

"When it comes to flying, we're doing our normal flying proficiencies. We're flying six jets over the weekend and getting our standard currencies," said Maj. Alexander Salogub, 349th Operations Group chief of tactics. "The big thing we are doing is building relationships with the 349th maintainers and cops.

"The success of flying aircraft was not ours; we couldn't do it without maintenance. Additionally, it's rare we get a C-5, KC-10 and C-17 out on the ramp at the same time. Getting the chance to get them all out on the line and work on communications training was a great opportunity," he added.

For the 45th Aerial Port Squadron Airmen, known as "2T2s" in the career field, the weekend's training provided positive challenges in mission tempo.

"We depend on our host unit (60th) for operations, and there are not always a lot of missions happening, especially on the weekends when we're here," said Senior Master Sgt. Teresa Serrano, 45th APS air transportation manager.

To make up for the lack of real-world missions on drill weekends, the 45th APS often conducts in-house training. This weekend gave all sections in the aerial port a chance to provide skills training in a realistic environment. Airmen in the special handling section conducted joint inspections with an Army National Guard unit. The aerial porters in the cargo section were busy weighing, marking and fixing equipment pallets. The passenger team set-up a mock terminal for the Army personnel, conducted security inspections and manifested passengers. Load planners verified loads and prepared sequences for weight and balance on the aircraft. Ramp teams loaded equipment onto KC-10 and C-5 aircraft ground trainers and conducted engine running offloads. And the Airmen in the air terminal operations center kept the entire aerial port in sync with the multiple mission aspects happening.

"2T2s like to work and get their hands dirty, so this is perfect for them," said Serrano. "From reading their faces, they're happy, active, working and have a sense of purpose. They are doing what they came here to do. We have a very high ops tempo so far this weekend - everyone is meeting the challenge and the attitudes are great."

The Army unit also benefited from the training with the aerial porters. The 149th Chemical Company out of Turlock, Calif., brought one piece of every type of equipment they have to be air load certified by the porters. Receiving the training and certifications now enables the team to more efficiently respond to emergencies when called upon.

"This is our first time working with the 45th APS," said Army Staff Sgt. Shane Garber, 149 Chem. Co. operations NCO. "It's going excellent. I would think that the Guard and Reserve - Army and Air Force - working together is what the military is all about. We're building relationships and that's always great."

The weekend's convoy training also brought many units together for one common purpose - delivering cargo from an aircraft to its final destination. Security forces ran the training for all participants, which included civil engineers, aerial porters, Soldiers and fellow defenders.

"Our objective this weekend is to get people more confident and comfortable with combat skills," said Staff Sgt. Colby Wilson, 349th Security Forces Squadron trainer. "We have a lot of young Airmen who haven't had a chance to really do this in a practical environment out of the classroom. For some, this is the first time participating in an operational exercise of this level. We're not grading them; we already did that during the operational readiness inspection. This is meant to get them familiar with the skills and have fun while doing it."

The training included basic convoy skills, but focused on communication, teamwork and leadership.

"As a unit, we are good at the individual skills that go into operations; this is a chance to put that all together," said Wilson. "With the large quantity of training requirements, we don't always get the time to do the hands-on training we like to do. When we do get that chance to get outside, put the gear on and load up the vehicles, we try to take advantage of it."

Senior Airman Eric Tong, 349th SFS fire team member, participated in the convoy training. As someone who has been in the Air Force Reserve for five years, he said the training was concise and helpful.

"I like doing the hands-on training. It's better for everyone because you can't really learn it sitting in front of a computer screen," Tong said. "This environment is much more relaxed, less stressful and better for learning."

Hands-on training in the medical simulation lab also provided a valuable opportunity to sharpen skills. The skills lab for medics included training stations on sutures, nasal gastric tube insertion, muscular skeletal traction, venous puncture, medication administration, and casting, among other things.

"The whole training was very interesting" said Staff Sgt. Deborah Spangler, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aerospace medical technician. "We went around to various sections to learn the skills. We talked with the trainers and then got to practice the skills.

"Many of us don't do this kind of work in our civilian jobs on the outside, so this is a good opportunity to apply our skills - we get the training and keep up on our qualifications," she added.

While many units conduct in-house skills training on their own, a wing-wide training exercise adds a number of benefits.

"The wing is trying to improve planning, fuse capabilities and generate greater training opportunities," said Lt. Col. Roderick Grunwald, 349th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. "We're looking for units to identify training desires, and then, as a wing, we can come together. The more units participating, the greater opportunity there is to further training objectives."

"Units have indicated, 'If I had know the other units were doing that, then we could have done X, Y and Z,'" added Grunwald. "We're now more aware and able to provide better training in the future for our Reservists."

Additionally, a combined training scenario offers the chance to build on communication, Grunwald said. "When we do these big exercises, the biggest challenge is coordination and communication," said Grunwald. "This forces us to do a better job, we are getting command and control training along with it everything else."

While the hands-on, practical training was good experience, most participants agreed the biggest benefit was relationship building.

"I kept surveying everywhere we went throughout the weekend and, universally, folks said it was a good investment for the unit," said Burger. "But the aspect that doesn't create a bean to count is the relationships we built all weekend."

The wing plans to continue building those relationships with continued training events.

"We're looking to establish a pace to do this three-to-four times a year," said Grunwald. "The idea is that each time, we pull the blueprint from last time - so we're spending less time and effort - but the training objectives can be built upon. There are many training objectives - we're only limited by the unit's imagination."

Pope reservists learn to run right during shoes-off workshop

by Tech. Sgt. Peter R. Miller
440th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - POPE FIELD, N.C. -- "The class was outstanding, a must," said Tech. Sgt. Heidi Zawistowski, 440th Airlift Wing command post. "It should be mandatory. Running is the meat and potatoes of the military. This class should be taught to every Airman coming in."

Dr. (Lt. Col.) Antonio Eppolito, Chief of Air Force Telehealth, visited Pope Field to present a two-hour shoes-off workshop on efficient running to 80 Airmen at the Hercules Gymnasium Sept. 8. "Our hypothesis is that the high-heeled big bulky cushioned shoe, the traditional running shoe that we have known for the last 30 or 40 years in this country, is causing running injuries," said Eppolito.

The natural barefoot runner strikes the ground with the ball or middle of the foot, said Eppolito, which allows the natural mechanics of the foot to spring a runner along. "High-heeled" running shoes force the heel to impact the ground first, which sends three- to four-times the runner's weight concussing through the foot, knee, and hip, which underlies many podiatric problems experienced in American athletes.

"Big shoes change the gait of a runner," he said. "The heel strike causes injuries. Big heeled shoes are causative of injuries, not preventative."

Eppolito said that returning the body to its natural physiology and allowing the foot to function as designed has reduced running injuries in thousands of his classroom participants. Although, he said the evidence is anecdotal, the results have encouraged him to take the Efficient Running workshop on the road to Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force bases across the country.

Master Sgt. Jason Bigart, a quality assurance technician with the 440th Airlift Wing Maintenance Group, said the information presented in the class made a lot of sense.

"I knew before this class that I was supposed to run on the balls of my feet, but it's tough to do in my athletic shoes," said Bigart, "and the exercises weren't as easy as they looked, let me tell you."

During the demonstration, Eppolito had the Airmen perform squats, balancing on one leg with eyes closed, stretches, jumps and plyometric exercises. A few Airmen stood upon one leg like patient Oak trees, while most fidgeted and some fell.

"If anyone here has kids at home, they can stand on one foot all day," said Eppolito. "But by the time we become adults we are pathetic."

Eppolito said that people lose their proprioception, or the location of one's own body parts in space, over their feet in particular because of the foam heel, arch support, and toe-tightness inherent to modern athletic footwear. However, dancers, martial artists and everyday beach-goers rarely have this problem due to the time they spend shoeless or in minimalist footwear. These same individuals, approximately 25 percent of running athletes, never develop the problematic heel-strike gait.

The track record of injuries in American runners differs distinctly from those in nations where athletes have traditionally run shoeless like in New Zealand and Kenya, he said.

"Research shows that every year approximately 30 percent of runners [in the United States] suffer an injury," said Eppolito, a practicing family physician. "That number goes up to 80 percent in competitive athletes."

The number of running injuries suffered by barefoot runners in New Zealand and Kenya is close to zero, he said.

"We want to prevent running injuries in military members," said Eppolito. "If we can impart a little bit of prevention and a little bit of education on how to transition to the more minimalist shoes, and do so safely and effectively without getting hurt, we hope that in the long term we will have fewer injuries and get a handle on this epidemic of running injuries that is just flooding our primary care clinics."

"This is the number one cause of injuries we see in our primary care clinics."

Col. Mary Nachreiner, chief nurse of the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, said that during a deployment to Iraq, she donned her new specially-ordered minimalist shoes and headed to the gym for a punishing workout, only to discover that transitioning into minimalist footwear too quickly can have painful consequences.

"I was trying to run short distances to transition into them, but this day I decided to go on the treadmill," said Nachreiner. "Of course, I didn't want to go flat because that would be no challenge, so I put the treadmill up, way up like I was going up a hill, and I felt it pop on the top of my foot."

Nachreiner said that her symptoms were synonymous with a metatarsal injury called a stress fracture.

"Of course I didn't want to stop, I wouldn't even think of that, but it hurt me," she said, "and I know it was the heel striking that hurt me."

It took Nachreiner roughly six weeks to overcome this setback. She has since transitioned to the barefoot style of running, albeit more gradually than originally attempted.

"I usually learn by doing things, but that can be painful," she said.

Never Forget: The final state dedicates 9/11 memorial

by Senior Airman Jared Duhon
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- The Eagle Firefighters' Association unveiled Delaware's received its first public Sept. 11 memorial on the 12-year anniversary of the attacks at the Air Mobility Command museum here today.

Delaware is the 50th and final state to receive an official Sept. 11 memorial, which incorporates two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center tower one, a rock from the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site and a block from the damaged portion of the Pentagon. The steel was acquired through the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey World Trade Center steel program. The event was attended by dignitaries such as Delaware governor Jack Markell and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch.

"It is amazing. We sent the original request to get the steel on Sept. 11, 2009," said Rodney Coleman, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief. "And, we received the steel on August 10, 2010, and after some setbacks, we are glad we finally finished it."

The memorial is a gift from the Eagle Firefighters Association to the Dover AFB.

"Having this memorial means Team Dover and the local community will be able to pay their respects," Col. Randall Huiss, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander. "With a significant event, such as Sept. 11, having the memorial here next to the AMC museum is important because it allows more people to pay those respects without the problems of gaining access to the base."

The memorial was slated to be built on base at the firehouse, but the AMC museum was eventually chosen as the location, said Coleman.

"The decision to move the memorial off base was directed from higher power then my own, but the change worked out for the best," said Coleman. "Having the memorial off base at the AMC museum allows for better connections. More people will be able to see this very important and emotional site."

The AMC museum was the chosen location for the memorial said Coleman.

"Having the memorial off base at the AMC museum allows for better connections," said Coleman. "More people will be able to see this very important and emotional site."

The site went through many transitional phases throughout the four years of planning one of which is money issues.

"We were not able to start the project until we had all the funds," said Aaron Weisenberger, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "But, after some aggressive fund raising and businesses donating time, money, and resources, we were finally able to break ground."

The ground breaking of the site, which took place along with local news outlets Aug. 15, caught the attention of one individual, Steven Saymon, a first responder from New Jersey during Sept. 11, 2001, now Philadelphia's 9/11 Memorial founder and president, got wind of the project he took action.

"I was doing some research the other night and came across an article from a local Dover newspaper," said Saymon. "I saw no mention of the Pentagon and I wanted to offer a stone from the Pentagon to the memorialcause at Dover AFB."

He was able to get a hold of a contact a member of Eagle Firefightrers Association, and began coordination to get the vital missing piecelink to them.

"For them to have a block, from the damaged portion of the Pentagon to honor the sacrifices made by all of those since 2001, was important to a military base ," said Saymon. "In honor of the sacrifices made by all of those since 2001."

Saymon said he believes strongly in all the Sept. 11 memorials, which are now in on all 50 states, as well as and seven foreign countries. He said the memorials are a fitting reminder of the sacrifices that were made.

"The sacrifices I made pale in comparison to those who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Saymon. "This Pentagon block is in honor of all who sacrificed and those currently serving, not only in the military, but also as emergency responders around the world."

New program helps identify military-friendly communities, business

by Christine Spargur
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- On Patriot's Day, Sept. 11, 2013, partnering with area chambers of commerce, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois kicked off a new campaign to help servicemembers and their families easily recognize military-friendly businesses and communities.

Called the Scott Patriot Program, local communities and businesses register their support through the program's website and, in return, receive decals to display on their storefronts and certificates to post inside their facilities.

To qualify for the program, communities and businesses must demonstrate their support. There are nine categories of support.

-Providing discounts or free items to military personnel or veterans
-Supporting the hiring of veterans, retirees, military spouses, active-duty separating from service, military Reservists, or National Guardsmen
-Offering VIP treatment programs in their communities or establishments such as special parking or tables
-Volunteering or allowing employees to volunteer for military efforts and/or charitable causes
-Participating in organized events and activities that support the military at Scott Air Force Base to include participating in the Commercial Sponsorship Program
-Donating items or funds to programs that support the military such as donations to the Airman's Attic
-Supporting military advocacy programs such as American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War or military professional associations
-Supporting education for military members or veterans such as tuition reimbursement
-Donations to military supportive organizations such as the United Service Organization, St. Louis Fisher House, HEROES Cares, the Scott Field Heritage Air Park etc.
Communities and businesses whose support doesn't fall into one of the nine categories above may still participate in the Scott Patriot Program by describing their unique method of support.

"We are very fortunate to have such incredible community support for our Airmen and their families," said Col. Kyle Kremer, commander, 375th Air Mobility Wing. "There are hundreds of ways in which our local community and military members work together. This program furthers that outstanding relationship and allows our Scott AFB personnel to recognize and thank those organizations and businesses for their patriotism and support."

The idea of the Scott Patriot Program was born after the Leadership Council and the surrounding communities won the Abilene Trophy for the 2012 calendar year. The trophy is the grand prize awarded by the Abilene Military Affairs Committee with approval by the Air Mobility Commander to the community that best demonstrates support to an AMC base. It was the first win for the communities surrounding Scott AFB since the award was created in 1999.

"This program grew out of discussions on how we could do even more for our military," said Gerry Schuetzenhofer, chairman of the Leadership Council's Military Affairs Committee. "A working group thought of this campaign as an opportunity to get commitments from every business in the communities surrounding Scott to show support in some way.

"This is simply the right thing to do for those who forego comfort, face hardship, confront danger and sometimes die in defense of our nation, and for their family members who remain behind while they serve."

Made up of representatives from local chambers of commerce, personnel and volunteers from McKendree University, and the Leadership Council, the working group will start collecting registrations into the Scott Patriot Program from businesses during the next few weeks. They anticipate the Scott AFB community will start seeing the decals and certificates in the next month or so with an updated program announcement by Veterans Day in November.

"We're looking forward to widespread participation and to reaffirming for our unmatched support for our military families," said Schuetzenhofer. (Information also provided by The Hauser Group Inc. and the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois)

Hagel Calls USS Barry’s Commanding Officer to Offer Thanks

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today called the commanding officer of the USS Barry to express his gratitude to sailors serving in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks with Navy Cmdr. Thomas Dickinson, commanding officer of the USS Barry, operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, from his office in the Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2013. Knowing the sacrifices the men and women aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer are making, Hagel wanted to thank them for their service. DOD photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Hagel called Navy Cmdr. Thomas Dickinson to thank him and the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, Little said in a statement summarizing the call.

“Secretary Hagel thanked Commander Dickinson and his sailors for their service during this period of heightened readiness,” the press secretary said. “Last month, the USS Barry was ordered to remain at sea beyond their scheduled deployment in preparation for military action against the Syrian regime.

“Secretary Hagel commended the USS Barry and the other ships in her group for maintaining their posture and ensuring that the United States military can carry out the orders of the commander in chief, if called upon,” he continued. “He asked Commander Dickinson to relay to all sailors aboard that on the anniversary of Sept. 11, the secretary is proud of the men and women of the U.S. Navy who safeguard our nation far from home.”

Meadows Museum to hold Air Force art exhibit

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

9/12/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Meadows Museum of Art, Centenary College of Louisiana, will hold an art exhibit, "Air Force Art of the Atomic Age, Sept. 13-29 at the museum on the Centenary campus.

The exhibit, being held in cooperation with Air Force Global Strike Command, will feature 12 pieces of artwork from the Air Force Art Program which highlight the command and its Strategic Air Command heritage.

"It has been a long tradition of the military to capture the experiences of its military members through paintings," AFGSC Command Historian Yancy Mailes, said. "The Air Force Art Program began in 1950 with small of collection of art and since that time has expanded to include thousands of pieces.

Mailes said when the command was activated 2009, the Air Force Art Program sponsored several artists to capture the spirit of the Command's bomber mission by translating observations to canvas. Two of those paintings will be on exhibit, "Global Strike Force" and "We Keep 'Em Flying."

Lane Callaway, AFGSC History Office, has been working closely with the museum to set up the exhibit.

"This collaboration with Meadows Museum of Art on the Centenary College campus goes towards supporting the AFGSC commander in strengthening ties with the local community," Callaway said. "It also showcases how talented artists have captured on canvas their impressions of the Air Force at a specific time and circumstance."

In addition to the artwork, there will be a number of other displays.

"The selection is a good mix of art showing Air Force people, aircraft and missiles -- all related to the very essence of Air Force Global Strike Command," Callaway said. "In addition, the art exhibit is rounded out by numerous scale models of aircraft, missiles and a helicopter as well as some aviator flight items and Air Force picture books."

There will also be a commander's coin collection on display, and vintage news reels being shown in the museum's audiovisual room. On the Air Force's 66th birthday, Sept. 18, AFGSC Command Historian Yancy Mailes will give a lecture at 5:30 p.m. on the Air Force during the atomic age, which will focus on the social aspects of being associated with Strategic Air Command. The talk will focus on housing, social programs and improvements in quality of life to support the growing atomic mission of the early SAC era.

Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Meadows Museum of Art, Centenary College of Louisiana, (318) 869-5169. The museum is open noon-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, noon-5 p.m. Thursdays, noon-4 p.m. Fridays and 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For information on the Air Force Art Program, visit

522 SOS relocates

by Senior Airman Whitney Tucker
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

8/29/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Members of the 522nd Special Operations Squadron, charged with the responsibility of providing rapid global response supporting Air Force, joint and coalition special operations forces by conducting air refueling of vertical lift assets and infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces, have abandoned their previous operations center in favor of a newly minted, high end hangar.

Prior to the move, the 522 SOS doubled up with the 27th Special Operations Group before inhabiting a transitional space, which members affectionately dubbed the Combat Doublewide.

"Before we became an official squadron, we shared an office space with the 27 SOG," said Maj. Eric Mann, MC-130J Commando II aircraft commander and assistant director of operations. "Once we were activated as a special operations squadron, we grew quickly and moved to some temporary office trailers. Early this summer, our building was completed and we finally moved into our permanent home."

The squadron, one of eight flying squadrons assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing, is entrenched in a rich and sorrowful history that can be traced back to its constitution as the 16th Bombardment Squadron in December 1939.

After brief stints at both Barksdale Field, La., and Hunter Field, Ga., the squadron was relocated to the island of Luzon in the Philippines in 1941. Shortly thereafter, war erupted between the United States and Japan, thrusting the region into turmoil. When American units stationed in the Philippines surrendered, ground-based elements of the 16th Bombardment Squadron were forced to take part in a torturous, 70-mile trek that is now infamously known as the Bataan Death March. Twenty-two members of the squadron lost their lives during the journey.

Two years after the inhumane march, the squadron was redesignated as the 522nd Fighter-Bomber Squadron, and again as the 522nd Fighter Squadron, Single Engine in 1944. The appellation breathed new life into the squadron and it became one of the most decorated Army Air Force units of World War II.

The unit continued to be an invaluable asset, aiding in conflicts such as the Korean and Vietnam wars in which members flew a myriad of diverse aircraft in support of high-priority missions. Having served faithfully for decades, the 522nd Fighter Squadron was officially deactivated in 2007 before rising again as the 522 SOS on April 7, 2011.

Not content to rest on the laurels of its already colorful past, the resurrected squadron staked a fresh claim on history when it became the Air Force's first MC-130J squadron. With seemingly endless ingenuity and a top-of-the-line facility enabling advancement, the sky is the limit for members of the 522 SOS.

"The MC-130J is the lead aircraft in the Air Force Special Operations Command C-130J Super Hercules Enterprise," Mann said. "In fact, one of our MC-130Js is being fitted out to be the first AC-130J. We have been able to roll-in all the legacy MC-130 experience, knowledge and heritage and begin building new tactics, techniques and procedures for a next generation aircraft. As we continue to add new capabilities like Terrain Following/Terrain Avoidance and high speed airdrops, we will be able to replace the aging legacy MC-130 fleet. This is an exciting time in our Command and aircraft."

Hill reservist helps students honor military

by Bryan MagaƱa
419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Staff Sgt. Jonathan Morris, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, speaks to students at West Clinton Elementary during their "Our Heroes" assembly in Clinton today. About 700 students gathered to honor military moms and dads on the 12th anniversary of 9/11.

Morris, who attended West Clinton as a boy, shared his experience as a both a soldier and an Air Force Reservist, and told the students that anyone can serve their nation - not just people in uniform.

Morris began his military career in the Army, working as a combat mechanic. While in the Army, he helped with humanitarian missions in Honduras, building schools and providing security to the region. He joined the Air Force in 2008 as an F-16 crew chief. He currently works full time on the flight line at Hill AFB to ensure Air Force Reserve crew chiefs are properly trained and that the base's F-16s are ready to deploy anywhere in the world. He also volunteers as a Boy Scout leader.

Colorado aerial porters deploy to Southwest Asia

by Staff Sgt. Nathan Federico
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Approximately 30 Airmen from the 39th Aerial Port Squadron left for a six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Airmen will provide aerial port operations in support of U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia.

"We will take the mission we do here, the training we got here and apply it out there," said Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Shaw, 39th APS, air terminal operation center superintendent.

This is the fourth deployment in support of OEF for members of the 39th APS, an Air Force Reserve Command unit assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing.

"The primary mission for us is to move cargo," said Senior Master Sgt. Caron Crowe, 39th APS, passenger services superintendent. "The first mission of an aerial port is to get necessary cargo to the troops at their down range location."

Aerial port operations consist of four main sections: air terminal operations center, passenger services, cargo processing and ramp services.

Describing his confidence in the Airmen to succeed in their mission, Maj. Royce Johnson, 39th APS operations officer said, "Our troops just flow right in there, they know their job and they do it well. I have no doubt they are going to do awesome."

Maintainers keep old fleet in air, contributing to life saving mission

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

9/11/2013 - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- Every day, thousands of service members and coalition partners operating in Afghanistan rely on the C-130 Hercules and to keep this old workhorse in the air, it requires a team of maintainers.

Maintainers with the C-130 Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Bagram Air Field are charged with daily maintenance and repair of the fleet here. The maintainers work long hours, days and nights, to ensure the aircraft are ready to transport people and supplies throughout Afghanistan.

According to the maintainers, the C-130 is a dependable machine; however, given that the current models stationed at Bagram were built during the 70's, they require regular upkeep. Every C-130 must be brought into a maintenance hangar after 270 flight hours for a more thorough inspection called a home station check. The HSC inspection occurs on each aircraft about every eight months.

"C-130's are usually deployed here for a year while crews rotate in and out; in that time, if it comes due for a HSC we perform the maintenance," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Visconti, 455 EAMXS aerospace repair and reclamation craftsman deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. "My job here entails performing inspection on all aircraft flight controls, as well as landing gear cargo ramp and doors. During this HSC I replaced the nose landing gear, drag braces, elevator counterbalances and crew entrance door lower torque tube."

According to Senior Airman Jacob Reinaman, 455th EAMX aerospace journeyman also deployed from Little Rock AFB, the HSC is a more in-depth inspection where the maintainers are trying to catch things before they become problems.

"Back home I am a crew chief and here, during an HSC, it's my job to inspect the whole aircraft for cracks and damage," said Reinaman. "If I find something that needs repaired, I annotate it; and if it's a part I cannot fix, for example an engine, I call a specialist who is an expert in fixing engines."

The HSC also calls for inspections of other systems on the aircraft, such as the flight deck instrument panel gauges, to ensure they're accurately measuring the aircraft's fuel levels, engine temperature and torque, as well as a host of other measurements.

"Nobody remembers that our job is to fix the aircraft all day every day, but once something breaks really bad, or in an inflight emergency occurs, everyone knows about it and they know we are working to get it back in the air," said Visconti, a native of Brooklyn.

It all amounts to an incredible sight of numerous EAMXS specialists simultaneously moving in and out of the aircraft day and night with each member working on different parts and pieces of their individual systems in order to optimize the performance of the aircraft as a whole.

"When its broke, we fix it and I take pride in that because it's our aircraft," said Reinaman, a native of Johnson Creek, Wis. "But the best part of our job here is after we fix aircraft. We get to watch the C-130s take off and land knowing that we contributed to the medical evacuation mission, which help save people's lives."

C-130 are used to transport members back home, into theater, carry and off-load cargo to ground forces in need and transfer patients from one base to another with a hospital among other important missions, but without maintainers none of this would be possible.

Travis "Freedom Launch" hones skills, remembers 9/11

by 2nd Lt. Jessica Clark
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Travis conducted a mass launch of 22 mobility aircraft Sept. 11, 2013, to practice the combat capability of safely launching a large number of aircraft.

During the operation, dubbed the "Freedom Launch," seven C-17 Globemaster IIIs, 11 KC-10A Extenders, and four C-5 Galaxies departed in 36 minutes and 21 seconds on both operational and training missions. The launch also provided essential training for mobility capabilities for flight operations, operations support, aircraft maintenance, fuels and air traffic control.

Today's mass launch of three types of aircraft was the largest ever at Travis.

The Freedom Launch also served as a remembrance of 9/11, as the first C-17 Globemaster III took off at 8:46 a.m., the same time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001.

Joint Operational Access Exercise

by Staff Sgt. Russ Scalf
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2013 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark., -- Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing flew to Alexandria International Airport, La., Aug. 18, 2013, as part of Joint Operational Access Exercise 13-0X. The Airmen provided the Army with airlift muscle for an airborne assault training exercise in conjunction with Green Flag Little Rock 13-09.

The JOAX was a single-day combined military training event designed to prepare Airmen and soldiers to respond to worldwide crises and contingencies. In the ensuing days, combat airlift missions were flown in support of simultaneous exercises conducted by multinational joint forces.

The JOAX tested the ability of three C-130H crews from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., combined with three C-130J's and three C-17 Globemasters from other units, to rapidly deploy forces into a region, demonstrate strength, and deter aggression. Numerous contingency missions were executed by the 34th Combat Training Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, through the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., delivering combat airlift support through various resupply and humanitarian missions.

"The exercise planning began at the beginning of June with a mid-planning conference July 16 and final planning conference Aug. 8, both at Pope Air Field, N.C., with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 437th Airlift Wing and C-17 planners," said Capt. Ryan Miller, the JOAX lead C-130 planner. "We had seven mission planning cell days, two meetings with all of the supporting agencies, not including the days of execution."

The Air Force's overall objectives focused on joint planning and execution, goals which were also a priority for the 19th Airlift Wing.

The wing had additional priorities of its own for the exercise. Miller reported they hoped to develop and successfully execute joint airdrop procedures. Specifically, they were seeking to gain experience in tactical planning and flying, testing national military strategy and techniques, tactics and procedures, as well as operational plans for a joint contingency response. Additionally, through partnering with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, 93rd Fighter Squadron, and New Zealand and Canadian Air Forces, the wing gained integration experience, which according to Miller, can be very difficult to obtain.

"Our involvement in JOAX was successful," said Miller. "All of the paratroopers landed safely on target and we met our objectives. After all of the consolidated efforts working with the 82nd Airborne and the C-17's, it was a relief to know we accomplished our mission, and it was a success."

In addition to the crews in the air, Airmen from Team Little Rock also supported operations by providing maintenance support at Little Rock Air Force Base and at Alexandria. In all, approximately 75 Team Little Rock Airmen played a role in the success of the various exercises.

Amputee Earns Expert Infantry Badge

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Armas
4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 12, 2013 – Army 1st Lt. Joshua Pitcher, a paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, was conducting a routine combat patrol in southern Afghanistan last year when he was injured by an improvised explosive device that took his right leg.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army 1st Lt. Joshua Pitcher receives the Expert Infantry Badge from Army Col. Tim Watson, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, during a ceremony on Fort Bragg, N.C., Sept. 6, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Armas

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Following his injury, instead of feeling sorry for himself and basking in grief, Pitcher focused on returning to his unit and being with his troopers.

“I wasn’t going to just up and quit because I lost a limb,” he said.
“I wanted to get better and come back to be the best paratrooper that I can be,” added Pitcher, a former paratrooper and combat veteran.

Pitcher underwent 13 months of intense rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before rejoining the 4th Brigade Combat Team four months ago. He now serves as a platoon leader in 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

While he was at Walter Reed, the Rineyville, Ky., native said, the other troopers there gave him the motivation to move forward and continue to serve.

“Many of those guys were more severely injured than I was, and I know that they would do anything to get back with their units,” Pitcher said. “I was blessed with the opportunity to come back here and show everyone else that I can do exactly what they can.”

Pitcher recently earned the coveted Expert Infantry Badge: an accomplishment that is significant for troopers with two fully functional legs, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Petrik, Pitcher’s platoon sergeant.

“It’s an absolutely amazing feat, and it’s a testament to his no-quit mentality,” said Petrik, who also wears the Expert Infantry Badge.

Everyone in the platoon is proud of Pitcher’s accomplishment, added Petrik, who claims North Sioux City, S.D. as his hometown. “He is a real hard charger and an inspiration to everyone in the platoon,” he added.

Pitcher said he hopes the inspiration that his troopers draw from his injury will help them overcome whatever pain they may feel.

“To any infantry soldier out there who thinks that he can’t earn the EIB, my question to him is: What’s your excuse now?” he said.

The Expert Infantry Badge test consists of an Army Physical Fitness Test, a land navigation course that has a day and night iteration, and a timed 12-mile foot march. Between those events, troopers must successfully complete 30 infantry tasks in a timely manner and to standard.

More than 600 paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team tested for the badge during these past few weeks, and only a small percentage succeeded.

Pitcher said the most challenging aspect of the testing for him was the foot march, as his prosthetic leg had trouble staying connected the whole time. But earning the EIB is essential for any leader in the infantry community, he added.

“As an infantry officer, you have to lead from the front and set the example for all of the junior troopers, so I felt that I needed to earn the EIB,” he said. “Earning the EIB shows that you can properly execute the basic infantry tasks that are required of any infantryman.”

Pitcher said those around him deserve a lot of the credit for his success.

“If anything, I just want to thank God, my wife, my family and my friends for believing in me this whole time,” he said

745th SOS deactivates

by Staff Sgt. Melanie Holochwost
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

8/26/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.  -- The 745th Special Operations Squadron deactivated Aug. 23 during a ceremony here at the Soundside Club.

Lt. Col. Rick Seymour, 745th SOS commander, presided over the ceremony with more than 200 Airmen and guests in attendance.

The squadron originally stood up in 2007 with the mission to organize, train, equip, and deploy RC-26B aircrew members in direct support of U.S. Special Operations Command objectives.

"Initially, the 745th SOS was developed to solve a short-term, one-year capability gap," Seymour said. "However, that temporary mission eventually turned into a six-year commitment, which is now coming to an end."

During its history, more than 1,000 outstanding Air National Guard citizen soldiers nationwide have either volunteered or deployed with this elite squadron. The accomplishments of these quiet professionals are unprecedented.

"The 745th SOS is one of the most highly decorated squadrons with more than 1,500 combat citations awarded," Seymour said. "We were also awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award on three different occasions."

With just four aircraft, these guardsmen enabled more than 10,000 combat sorties totaling approximately 46,000 combat flying hours during Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and Enduring Freedom.

The squadron's combat operations were specifically applauded by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who served his last assignment on active duty as the International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan.

McChrystal said the 745th SOS is, "...accomplishing extraordinary work, a key component whose impact is immeasurable."

Charleston reservists share long history with C-17

by Michael Dukes
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

9/11/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C -- Whenever the U.S. military on the news operating across the globe, either in times of war humanitarian need, chances are, there's a Charleston based C-17 involved in making it possible. For many it has been a long journey and today the Air Force's final C-17 Globemaster III is being delivered to Joint Base Charleston.

This behemoth has a combined four-engine thrust power of over 163,000 pounds. It has nearly a 170 foot wingspan and its tail stands at about five stories high. It has a maximum peacetime takeoff weight of 580,000 pounds and can travel 500 mph at 28,000 feet, but it is also comfortable cruising at 45,000 feet. But there is much more to the story of the C-17 than these basic facts. A handful of active and reserve aircrews can take credit for working out the early "kinks" of what has become the world's premiere military airlifter.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Bryan DuBois, top loadmaster for the 317th Airlift Squadron here, the newly reactivated 317th AS was tasked "to provide an initial cadre of Reserve personnel and expertise to Team Charleston in support of the reliability, maintainability, and availability evaluation of the new McDonnell Douglas C-17 Advance Transport Aircraft at Charleston Air Force Base."

The Air Force's first C-17 squadrons - the 17th AS and 317th AS (AF Reserve) partnered in initial squadron operations, including developmental and implementation of operational, training and support policies and procedures. The 317th AS was also charged with creating the Air Force Reserve's first operational C-17 squadron. This paved the way for conversion of other Reserve flying squadrons to the C-17 Globemaster III.

Before the aircraft was handed over to the Air Force however, the aircrew had to be trained on the new airframe. The 317th's first pilots to begin C-17 training August 1992 were Maj. Paul Sykes and Capt. David Wallis. Later that year, Master Sgt. Kenneth Nicholson, 317th AS, was the first to begin C-17 loadmaster training. A small number of maintenance crews started maintainer training in 1991 at the McDonnell Douglas C-17 factory in Long Beach, Calif.

Sykes and Nicholson were part of the crew to deliver the Air Force's first operational C-17, designated "The Spirit of Charleston," to its new home at Charleston on June 14, 1993.

The initial C-17 maintenance cadre was established at Charleston AFB. They began their first maintenance and avionics training at the factory in Long Beach. Among the initial maintenance cadre was 31-year-old Staff Sgt. James Macko, who is now a chief master sergeant in charge of 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's Gold Flight.

"It was an honor to be selected to be one of the first C-17 maintainers. We knew we were taking part in something much bigger than ourselves," Macko said. "There was a great partnership with Reservists and active duty working hand in hand."

On the operations side, Sykes and his crew trained on the first C-17 flight simulator in Oklahoma.

Sykes who had been a C-141 pilot for most of his career knew his career was at a crossroads as he transitioned to the new C-17. "The C-141 had been the Air Force's workhorse since the early 1960s. It was a fabulous aircraft but it was time to move on. The C-141 and the C-17, while both being airlift aircraft, truly were two very different airplanes."

"I knew the C-141 like the back of my hand," Sykes said of his transition to the C-17. "But with having to learn all the technical orders and avionics, it was like starting the learning process all over again."

First delivery
While reflecting back on the delivery day, Sykes said, "as we landed at Charleston and taxied down the flight line, we were in a sea of C-141s. We were the only ones in the Air Force with the C-17. It's hard to imagine that today because the C-17 is such a common aircraft in military operations today."

As the shiny new cargo jet rolled into position in front of a crowd of anxious VIPs and other Air Force personnel, Gen. Merrill McPeak, Air Force chief of staff, and Gen. James Peay, Army vice chief of staff of the stepped down from the jet and walked down the red carpet as applause erupted from the crowd. Then, to the surprise of the crowd, came two M-270 multiple launch rocket systems, two HUMVEEs, a dozen airborne Soldiers, and about 120 pounds of cargo.

"This aircraft shows America's commitment to Global Reach. The bottom line is the C-17 enhances a wonderful American characteristic, our flexibility. The new cornerstone of this nation's mobility fleet is the Globemaster III," said McPeak.

Now that the Air Force had its first C-17, and another soon on its way to Charleston, the initial cadre members worked hard to bring their new C-17 squadrons up to speed on the aircraft and to work out some of the final kinks. "There were only six initial pilots and many more needed to help the aircraft reach its initial operational capability," Sykes said.

The initial plan was for the 317th AS to provide 12 crews (20 percent) of the 60 crews to be trained for the reliability, maintainability, and availability evaluation of the C-17 at Charleston.

"At first we were very restricted with what they would let us do with the aircraft," Sykes said. "We could only do 'around the flagpole' local flights - no more than a 25-mile radius of the base. I guess you could say that they wanted us to walk before we ran."

"We worked and collaborated with the 17th AS in initial squadron operations," said DuBois.

One of the pilots in the next group of cadre selected to help get the C-17 and the aircrews mission "off the ground" here was then Capt. Deborah Rieflin.

"Being one of the initial cadre was the highlight of my career. It was a collective of unprecedented expertise ... there was a free exchange of information and dedication to figure out the best solutions for the aircraft and the Air Force," said Rieflin, now a lieutenant colonel and 315th AW aircrew training chief.

In action
"I remember the first time we took the C-17 to an air show and how amazed everybody was that were able to back up the aircraft on its own power. At the time, most people had never seen such a thing in such a large aircraft. It definitely drew a crowd," DuBois said.

On July 11, 1994, the 317th AS airlifted troops and equipment to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as part of a response to Iraqi forces moving to the border of Kuwait. The aircrew from the 317th AS was part of a two-ship C-17 mission that also marked the first deployment of the C-17 to the Middle East.

In 1995, with the world's only fleet of C-17s (12 delivered to the Air Force at Charleston), the Globemaster III was given the initial operation capability green light.

Every metric mandated by the contract was exceeded, including a 99 percent launch reliability rate during the 30-day test simulating peacetime and wartime operations.

"There was a lot we had to focus on. A year later there were almost 500 interim safety and operational supplements to the dash-1 aircraft systems manual," said DuBois.

In January 1996, as part of operation Joint Endeavor, aircrews from the 315th AW helped transport cargo and troops in a pair of C-17's and a C-141B to Taszar, Hungary, for the buildup of military forces in Tuzla, Bosnia. In the first three months of operations, Air Force mobility forces flew 3,000 missions, carried more than 15,600 troops and delivered more than 30,100 short tons of cargo. These numbers also reflect the importance of the C-17, which was employed in a major contingency for the first time.
During the first month of operations, the Air Force's newest airlifter flew slightly more than 20 percent of the missions into Tuzla but delivered more than 50 percent of the cargo.

"Flying the C-17 in the Bosnia operations was very rewarding to me," said Sykes. "With the C-17 we were able to accomplish everything much more efficiently than with other aircraft in the past, and the aircraft's ability to operate in such austere environments was truly beneficial."

Since then, the C-17 has participated in nearly every U.S. military operation and humanitarian relief effort.

DuBoise, who has racked up more than 5,200 hours as a loadmaster in the C-17, said possibly the most significant memory he has over the past 20 years on the C-17 is bringing home America's first fallen warriors from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Another time that holds a special place in DuBois' collection of C-17 experiences was the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. "Realizing how much of an impact and how well suited this aircraft was to get the job done. Even though we had done this in Bosnia, it was very humbling to know we were doing this mission and how well suited the C-17 was to successfully performing it."

"Realizing I helped the Air Force get something that is so well utilized and is being used at its maximum potential is very gratifying," DuBois added.

Airemen Missing from World War II Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Force 2nd Lt. Valorie L. Pollard of Monterey, Calif. and Sgt. Dominick J. Licari of Frankfort, N.Y. will be buried as a group in a single casket, on Sept. 19 at Arlington National Cemetery. The individually-identified remains of Licari were buried on Aug. 6 in Frankfort, N.Y.

On March 13, 1944, Pollard and Licari were crew members of an A-20G Havoc bomber that failed to return to base in a country now known as Papua New Guinea. The aircraft crashed after attacking enemy targets on the island. In 2012, the A-20G crash site in the mountains of Papua New Guinea was excavated and the remains of Licari and Pollard were recovered.

There are more than 400,000 American service members that were killed during WWII, and the remains of more than 73,000 were never recovered or identified.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at or call 703-699-1169.

Behind the lens: Marine leaves lasting impact

By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs

 BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- I had never met him. I had never seen him. I didn't even know his name before that day.

But then I stood on the flightline, staring at a black coffin draped in the Stars and Stripes. It didn't matter whether or not I knew this Marine, because I could feel his impact.

Members of the base and local community showed up in force for this dignified transfer. A full formation of Marines divided the hearse from the series of cars that lined the aircraft hangar doors, with an honor guard ready to receive their fallen brother after he arrived by plane. More than 20 K-9 handlers and their dogs filled the flightline in respect of one of their own because the plane was not only carrying an American warrior, but also the remains of his military working dog partner.

So there I was, in full service dress, behind the camera's lens, capturing the final journey of this Marine for his family. I had never been in this position before, and it was a little eerie. As a photojournalist, I always try to get excited about putting out the best possible product; but as I stood next to the hearse, still close enough to hear the quiet crying of his family, excitement seemed out of place.

The six-man honor guard raised their white-gloved hands in a silent salute to the K-9 handler before the door to the black hearse closed. The Marine's wife stared at the vehicle through dark sunglasses, the tear streaks still on her cheek. His brother stood stoically beside her in his place.

This Marine, who was unknown to me until then, had spoken to me. Not through words, but through actions. He made the greatest sacrifice for his country any service member can make. He made it even though he had a family. He made it even though he had a future.

All the days throughout my career I complained about it being too hot or there being a lot of work seemed insignificant. Frankly, I was embarrassed. I lost track of the big picture in those moments, and it was sad it took a hero to remind me of that.

The corporal's sacrifice reminded me of the important things. No matter what branch of service we are in, we are all in this fight together. We stand united against America's enemies and together in the aid of our allies.

His sacrifice also showed me how fragile life is for those who take the oath to serve our country. We sometimes see ourselves as invincible, but one day it could be me in that casket and my wife wearing black. Because I will deploy again; it's what I swore to when I joined the military.

As I watched the hearse pull away bathed by the lights of fire trucks and police vehicles, every available service member and civilian on the installation lined the road awaiting the corporal's final pass. I saw hundreds of base members, lined shoulder to shoulder, place their hands over their hearts or raise their arms and render a final salute.

And it hit me. This Marine not only impacted me, he had impacted all of us.