Monday, October 07, 2013

Face of Defense: Former Mortarman Now Shoots Pictures

By Marine Corps Pfc. Samuel Ramsey
Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif., Oct. 7, 2013 – Whether they serve for four years or a full career, Marines develop skills and traits they carry with them for the rest of their lives, regardless of what they decide to do following their time in service.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Carlos Guerra, now a civilian photographer on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., poses with his camera during a deployment in Afghanistan during his Marine Corps service. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Carlos Guerra served as a Marine Corps mortarman for five years, and now he works here as a photographer.

During his senior year in high school, Guerra said, he took a camera mechanics class, because he wanted to know how cameras work. This, he added, began his passion for photography. He graduated from high school and joined the Marine Corps in 2001, and spent more than two years of his enlistment deployed.

“I’ve deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Israel and more,” he said. “I brought my camera to every deployment.” When he wasn’t on missions or training exercises, he added, he was honing his photography skills.

“I eventually became the ‘unofficial’ platoon photographer,” Guerra said. “I took portrait shots of all of my fellow Marines.”

Guerra, who has numerous albums full of photos from various deployments, said his passion for photography and his abilities greatly increased during his time in the Corps.

The Edinburg, Texas, native separated from the Marine Corps as a sergeant to attend Brooks Institute of Photography in California. Upon receiving his degree in photography, Guerra worked at two photo studios before being hired as a military photographer here.

“Carlos was very qualified for the job,” said Robert Jackson, officer in charge of public affairs here. “All of his answers to my questions were knowledgeable, and his photos were very impressive.”
As he worked with Guerra, he added, he thoroughly enjoyed his personality and work ethic.
“Carlos is very meticulous with his work,” Jackson said. “He puts a lot of thought into each shot. … His attention to detail is incredible.”

Attention to detail is instilled into Marines at Day One, said Jackson, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant. The combination of Guerra’s Marine Corps traits and his photography training makes him the photographer he is today, he added.

“He is much more than [a] ‘point and shoot’ photographer,” he said.

Guerra said he never thought he would be working with Marines again once he left the Corps.

“Working with Marines is almost like being back in the Marine Corps, … but without the stress of deployments,” the combat veteran said. “Every day here is a good day. I don’t need to shoot a gun, … just a camera.”

Guerra said he hopes to further his skills and increase his responsibilities.

“I love being able to take pictures of the Marines -- as a former active duty Marine, it’s a dream come true,” he said. “I get the best of both worlds … I get to be around the Marines all day, but I don’t have to shave,” he added with a laugh, stroking his beard.

Law establishes day to honor Tuskegee Airmen

by Senior Airman Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/4/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- He was 17 years old when he became part of an experiment allowing blacks to fly in the Army Air Forces. What he didn't know then was he would be a part of history.

Retired Lt. Col. Robert Ashby, 87, was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen who served during World War II.

"It was a definite struggle back then," Ashby said. "Our country was integrated at the time, but our military was segregated. We had separate drinking fountains and dining facilities. Some would say blacks didn't fly and couldn't deal with anything complicated, so we were out to prove that we could. What really made us outstanding was everyone within our organization, whether they were cooks, bakers or mechanics, had the same mentality of exceeding."

Ashby, along with six other Tuskegee Airmen, attended a ceremony Sept. 26 at the Arizona Capitol Museum honoring their service and celebrating a new law establishing the Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day in Arizona.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Al Melvin and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, designating the fourth Thursday of March as a day to celebrate the men and women who shaped the first black military wing in the Army Air Forces.

"Today is the day to celebrate how far we have come recognizing the people who worked so hard to get us here," Brewer said. "We celebrate the many battlefield accomplishments of this groundbreaking aviation unit. We celebrate their bigger message about the human spirit, about how, regardless of circumstance, brave and persistent men and women can and will overcome barriers and burdens to show the world what they're made of."

What sparked the movement for the Tuskegee flying program was Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt.

"It was when she visited Kennedy Field in Tuskegee and was taken up in an aircraft piloted by Chief Alfred Anderson, America's first black flight instructor, that she later said to her husband, 'Franklin, if a colored man is good enough to fly the wife of a president, isn't he good enough to fly for his country?'" said Ben Bruce, 56th Fighter Wing ground safety manager and Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter historian.

As a result, in March 1941, the Tuskegee flying program began.

From 1942 through 1946, approximately 996 pilots graduated and received their commission and pilot wings. In all, more than 15,000 men and women participated in the "Tuskegee Experience." More than 400 of the pilots served overseas in either the 99th Pursuit Squadron or the 332nd Fighter Group, according to the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona website.

Today, original surviving Tuskegee Airmen continue their legacy by encouraging youth to exceed in all they do. An organization was created called the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter.

The organization was created in August 1972 when the Tuskegee Airmen came together in Detroit and voted to establish a nationwide organization with membership open to all supporters.

"The motto to the Arizona Chapter is 'Reaching our youth, ensuring our future,'" said David Toliver, Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter Tuskegee Airmen Inc. president. "Yes, we are here to perpetuate the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen but every member of the chapter knows that our primary focus is on our Arizona youth, about encouraging them toward excellence in not only aviation and aerospace careers but also science, technology and engineering."

Luke Operation Swift Savior highlights VA, AF cooperation

by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nason
944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/4/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center collaborated to make history Sept. 16 through 20 during Operation Swift Savior, a patient evacuation exercise, at Luke Air Force Base.

The exercise scenario began with a simulation of the president of the United States declaring a "state of disaster" in Arizona as a result of a simulated extended power outage. The scenario required patients (mannequins) to be transported from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center to Luke Air Force Base for staging at the 944th ASTS. Once at the 944th ASTS the patients were stabilized and prepped to be loaded onto a C-130 Hercules transport and delivered to Nellis AFB, Nev., the next day.

The final destination for the patients was the Las Vegas Veterans Affairs Medical center where they stood up a federal coordinating center to receive the casualties from Phoenix.

Lt. Col. Michael Chesser, 944th ASTS Hospital Services Flight chief critical care air transport physician, was one of the original architects of the exercise. When not at his Reserve job, Chesser is employed by the VA as one of the physicians on the VA's Emergency Management Committee, and designated medical care director.

Chesser, in collaboration with Lt. Col. Lisa Banyasz, 34th Air Evacuation Squadron, Peterson AFB, Colo., Luke Ritz, Phoenix and Tucson Veterans Affairs Area Emergency Manager - Region IX, VHA/ Office of Emergency Management, 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, and the 56th Medical Group successfully organized the most extensive cooperation in an exercise between the VA and U.S. Air Force in the Southwest.

"We did a patient reception exercise in Phoenix in 2010 where we flew a plane in from the Channel Islands and conducted care on the ground here," Chesser said. "This exercise was built on that concept but was much more extensive."

Capt. John Lewis, 944th ASTS Medical Readiness officer, and Master Sgt. Alan Boss, 944th ASTS Medical Readiness/Logistics superintendent, designed, wrote and organized the official training plan for the Luke AFB portion of Operation Swift Savior. Ritz drafted the operational plan, which was used for the regional exercise.

"The primary purpose of this training was to provide 944th ASTS members with Air Force specialty-code specific and readiness skills verification training," Boss said. "The second purpose was to provide manpower and support to the VA health care system's operational mission and build stronger relationships between the VA, Arizona Department of Health Services, 944th FW, 56th FW and other participating units."

The exercise was planned and coordinated over the past six months between the players in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado through frequent conference calls. Many parts of the community (federal, state and local level) are motivated to build on these experiences and continue to improve integration and cooperative ability.

In conjunction with the official exercise, additional training for Luke participants also took place. The 944th ASTS, MDS and civil engineer squadron members, as well as 56th MDG, security forces and CE members participated in an Introduction to Radiological and Nuclear Response Course put on by the Defense Nuclear Weapons School, Kirtland AFB, N.M., during a portion of Operation Swift Savior. The one-day course was designed to train Airmen on equipment needed for dealing with various radiological or nuclear response scenarios.

"It's important they understand how detection equipment works, to provide an accurate response," said Master Sgt. Lucas Avery, Defense Nuclear Weapons School. "And this was a perfect tie into the exercise already being conducted."

"The exercise came off without a hitch on our end," Lewis said. "Deficiencies seen in past exercises, such as poor litter carry were definitely remedied before this exercise and were performed flawlessly. We are looking forward to bigger and better exercises in the future."

Nellis AFB and the 99th Medical Wing had approximately 300 personnel participating with more than 400 participants involved in the entire exercise. The Las Vegas venue also included 12 local hospitals, which provided the final reception point for 150 live patients to replace the mannequins arriving on the C-130.

"We had such great success with the exercise this week," Chesser said. "We are very excited about recreating 'Swift Savior' again in the near future and broadening the pool of who we exercise with.

There are discussions to incorporate more military units within Arizona including more active-duty, Reserve and National Guard assets in the Air Force and Army. We also hope to integrate state, local and tribal entities for our next exercise, making it a premiere event."

'I need help' ... Misawa Airmen train for war-injured

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/7/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Missiles litter the flightline as deafening sirens sound on repeat, warning Airmen to take cover. Amid the chaos, two Airmen stuck outside during the attack lay injured - one with a shattered leg, the other with an open chest wound.

The leader of a Self-Aid Buddy Care and Post-Attack Reconnaissance team, Capt. Juan Godinez, snaps on his gas mask and heads outside to assess the damage.

The first thought that crosses Godinez's mind upon finding the injured is "I need help."

"There's no way I can do all this by myself," Godinez said. "I call the teams we have in place beforehand and we rush to help." The PAR and SABC teams Godinez leads are made up of around 15 Airmen, and they perform the sweeps in full Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear.

The scenario is part of an Operational Readiness Exercise here through the week of Oct. 7-11. The ORE assesses the 35th Fighter Wing's ability to operate in a high-tempo, wartime environment.

2nd Lt. Jacqueline Mozingo of the 35th Contracting Squadron knew only hours beforehand she would be playing such a key role in another Airman's survival.

"I was a short-notice member for our post-attacks sweeps, so my training came through when I saw the body laying there," Mozingo said. "I immediately recognized the open chest wound and knew exactly what steps to take to keep him alive."

And on the other end of the process are a couple of teams who make sure the scenarios the first responders have to deal with are as realistic as possible.

The Airmen who lay injured for simulated treatment included Staff Sgt. Earvin Bundang, 35th Medical Operations Squadron, and Senior Airman Paul Takita, 35th Comptroller Squadron. They were two of dozens of Airmen throughout the week who underwent the magic of moulage artist Tech. Sgt. Anabel Parks, 35th Dental Squadron, to make the injuries appear as real as possible.

"We use fake blood, makeup, props - anything to make the injury look worse than it might feel," Parks said. "You have to make this as real as possible so first-responders can be ready for any scenario that comes their way."

Along with just the makeup, acting out the scenario in its truest form is equally, if not more important. Each role player is provided a card with symptoms and instructions on how to act out certain scenarios to allow SABC personnel identify and respond most effectively.

"My job here is to give a gruesome and realistic version of the injury so Airmen get good practice treating patients," Takita said. "Making sure we do things correctly in an exercise helps when the time comes to put it in live combat."

Godinez stressed the importance of enforcing realism during base exercises.

"Much of the realism is dependent upon the attitude of Airmen," he said. "It's important to relay the seriousness and reality that we could be out there dealing with these scenarios someday. These are as real as it gets."

Wolf Pack slices their way to savings

by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/7/2013 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Recently, the 8th Maintenance Squadron dismantled two aircraft to ship back to the states to create more space on the Kunsan flightline.

Several years ago, two F-16 Fighting Falcons crashed. After being recovered, the Falcons underwent a salvaging process and were stored at Kunsan. The 8th MXS, Crash Damage Disabled Aircraft Recovery team and 8th Logistic Readiness Squadron joined together to free up space for accepting follow-on forces, one of Kunsan's missions.

"The crashed assets here at Kunsan were taking up valuable real-estate, which has a direct effect on our ability to accept follow-on forces," said Tech. Sgt. Marvin Burton, 8th MXS CDDAR team chief. "The faster I am able to get these shipped out, the better off we'll be in our contingency war-fighting effort."

The CDDAR team also continued to save the Air Force money by lowering transportation costs of the two 19,700 lbs aircraft.

"It is more difficult for us to ship the aircraft in big bulky pieces," said Airman 1st Class Joshua Gurd, 8th LRS Traffic Management journeyman. "Bigger pieces require a crane in order to be picked up, more wood packaging materials and not to mention the cost of the vehicles."

The solution to the oversized pieces came from the CDDAR team with the necessary resources to cut, split and breakdown an aircraft.

"The bottom line is that without CDDAR breaking down the jet, we couldn't get the jets out in a timely manner," said Gurd.

After cutting, fragmenting and shattering 39,400 pounds of aircraft into manageable and transportable pieces, the CDDAR can breakdown a jet, a skill set rarely practiced and hopefully not needed, said Burton.

"Planes don't crash every day, but I know that we can effectively complete our mission at any given moment because of the knowledgeable and dedicated Airmen we have," said Burton.