Military News

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Face of Defense: Female Army Mechanic Paves Way for Others

By Army Sgt. Thomas Duval
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

FORT KNOX, Ky., Oct. 15, 2013 – Silhouetted by the shadow of a 38,000-pound M978A2 military fuel truck, Army Spc. Tiffany Willand is a long way from home.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Tiffany Willand, light-wheeled mechanic serving with the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, mounts a tire on a M978A2 Army fuel truck at the Mansfield Motor Pool at Fort Knox, Ky, Oct. 3, 2013. Willand is helping pave the way for future women aspiring to be military mechanics. U.S. Army photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Once a city girl from Tacoma, Wash., Willand is now a light-wheeled mechanic assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division here.
 
As a mechanic with the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd IBCT, Willand is one of a dozen soldiers who specialize in servicing, repairing and maintaining more than 400 pieces of rolling equipment ranging from Humvees to generators.

Through hard work and dedication, Willand is helping lead the way for future females aspiring to be mechanics in the Army.

“Most people are surprised when they find out we have a female working as a female mechanic that can hold her own,” said Army Staff Sgt. Timbya Whitted, senior floor mechanic for Company B, 201st BSB. “Willand is one of the best soldiers that I have turning wrenches, and among the best that I have worked with.”

Since arriving to the unit, Willand has earned the respect of her fellow soldiers.

“Specialist Willand knows her job inside and out, and can keep pace with all of the other soldiers,” Whitted said. “She is our battle buddy-in-arms, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.”

“There is a good chance she might know more about vehicles than me,” said Army Spc. Demetrius Griffin, a fellow light-wheeled mechanic assigned to Willand’s unit.

Although her work ethic has won the support of her battle buddies it wasn’t always easy to come by. After graduating high school, Willand’s career path wasn’t in line with what her family had in mind.

It took a lot of back-and-forth talking, she said, but once everyone understood how she felt about joining the military, they were OK with her decision. Her family just didn’t want her to deploy to a bad place, Willand said.

“When I talk to them now they still worry, but I remind them that someone has to fight for the right of freedom and liberty,” she said.

Like most soldiers, fighting for that freedom means sacrificing much more than just time. In addition to working long hours, Willand has traded in many luxuries like manicures, pedicures and fancy clothes for greased-stained gloves and oily coveralls.

“I enjoy being a female mechanic,” Willand said. “I see it as an honor and privilege to serve alongside my male counterparts even if it means I have to get a little dirty sometimes.”

With the supply of Army vehicles needing serviced in high demand, Willand’s days working underneath warfighting equipment are far from over.

“I plan on making the Army a career, and if I stay a mechanic I want to learn all there is to know about all military vehicles and maybe even go warrant officer,” she said.

Regardless of where she finds herself in the future, Willand plans to inspire as many young females as she can while wearing the Army uniform.

“I want to let young females thinking about joining the Army know -- don’t limit yourself, always push yourself and always prove you can do anything you put your mind to,” Willand said.

Face of Defense: Female Army Mechanic Paves Way for Others

By Army Sgt. Thomas Duval
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

FORT KNOX, Ky., Oct. 15, 2013 – Silhouetted by the shadow of a 38,000-pound M978A2 military fuel truck, Army Spc. Tiffany Willand is a long way from home.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Tiffany Willand, light-wheeled mechanic serving with the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, mounts a tire on a M978A2 Army fuel truck at the Mansfield Motor Pool at Fort Knox, Ky, Oct. 3, 2013. Willand is helping pave the way for future women aspiring to be military mechanics. U.S. Army photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Once a city girl from Tacoma, Wash., Willand is now a light-wheeled mechanic assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division here.
 
As a mechanic with the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd IBCT, Willand is one of a dozen soldiers who specialize in servicing, repairing and maintaining more than 400 pieces of rolling equipment ranging from Humvees to generators.

Through hard work and dedication, Willand is helping lead the way for future females aspiring to be mechanics in the Army.

“Most people are surprised when they find out we have a female working as a female mechanic that can hold her own,” said Army Staff Sgt. Timbya Whitted, senior floor mechanic for Company B, 201st BSB. “Willand is one of the best soldiers that I have turning wrenches, and among the best that I have worked with.”

Since arriving to the unit, Willand has earned the respect of her fellow soldiers.

“Specialist Willand knows her job inside and out, and can keep pace with all of the other soldiers,” Whitted said. “She is our battle buddy-in-arms, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.”

“There is a good chance she might know more about vehicles than me,” said Army Spc. Demetrius Griffin, a fellow light-wheeled mechanic assigned to Willand’s unit.

Although her work ethic has won the support of her battle buddies it wasn’t always easy to come by. After graduating high school, Willand’s career path wasn’t in line with what her family had in mind.

It took a lot of back-and-forth talking, she said, but once everyone understood how she felt about joining the military, they were OK with her decision. Her family just didn’t want her to deploy to a bad place, Willand said.

“When I talk to them now they still worry, but I remind them that someone has to fight for the right of freedom and liberty,” she said.

Like most soldiers, fighting for that freedom means sacrificing much more than just time. In addition to working long hours, Willand has traded in many luxuries like manicures, pedicures and fancy clothes for greased-stained gloves and oily coveralls.

“I enjoy being a female mechanic,” Willand said. “I see it as an honor and privilege to serve alongside my male counterparts even if it means I have to get a little dirty sometimes.”

With the supply of Army vehicles needing serviced in high demand, Willand’s days working underneath warfighting equipment are far from over.

“I plan on making the Army a career, and if I stay a mechanic I want to learn all there is to know about all military vehicles and maybe even go warrant officer,” she said.

Regardless of where she finds herself in the future, Willand plans to inspire as many young females as she can while wearing the Army uniform.

“I want to let young females thinking about joining the Army know -- don’t limit yourself, always push yourself and always prove you can do anything you put your mind to,” Willand said.

Newer F-16s extend 301st mission to 2030

by Master Sgt. Julie Briden-Garcia
301st Fighter Wing


10/11/2013 - NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas -- Newer F-16s transferred from the Air National Guard will allow the 301st Fighter Wing here to continue their flying mission through 2030.

The last of nine low-flying-hour F-16s arrived Oct. 8 from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard to replace eight F-16s the 301st is transferring to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., better known as the "Boneyard."

"These moves help us keep our Air Force's critical F-16 capability here in Fort Worth deep into the next decade," said Brig. Gen. Ronald "Bruce" Miller, 301st FW former commander.

The new jets arrived with about 10 percent fewer hours per airframe.

"The aircraft we received have an average of 5,700 flying hours. The aircraft that we are sending to AMARG average almost 6,300 flying hours," said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Jongewaard, 301st Maintenance Group superintendent.

"Swapping those nine aircraft provides the wing with more than 12 years average per aircraft, said Jongewaard. "Our entire fleet is estimated to last now until 2030."

When the jets arrived in Fort Worth, they required some work to become deployment ready. Jongewaard explained they need to complete maintenance that was previously deferred since these airframes were expected to go to the boneyard.

The chief said modifications, including engine swaps, will be made to the new jets to bring them up to standard.

"This was a lot of work and took a lot of coordination on our wing's part, 10th Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command and the 177th FW. In the end it is well worth it. This finally gives us the extra time needed until a new airframe is put into service for the 301st Fighter Wing," he said.

Hispanic Heritage Month reflects on 65th IR's service

by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and commemorate the contributions that Hispanics have made to American culture, history and the armed forces.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 Osan celebrated this year's Hispanic Heritage Month, and reflected on this year's theme, "Hispanics: serving and leading our nation with pride and honor."

The observance was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, who chose the date because five Latin American countries celebrate their independence on Sep. 15, and three other countries celebrate their independence on Sept. 16. At first, Hispanic Heritage Month was only observed for a week, but it was expanded to a 30-day period in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.

In President Barack Obama's Sep. 13 proclamation of Hispanic Heritage Month, he also emphasized the important impact Hispanics have on American culture.

"From the earliest days of our republic, Hispanic Americans have written crucial chapters in our national story," Obama said. "Hispanics have honorably defended our country in war and built prosperity during times of peace. They run successful businesses, teach our next generation of leaders, and pioneer scientific and technological breakthroughs. This month, America acknowledges these vital contributions and celebrates our Hispanic heritage."

Proof of how Hispanics have contributed to U.S. history can even be found here in the Republic of Korea.

One of the most outstanding and unsung minority units is the 65th Infantry Regiment, which served honorably during the Korean War. The 65th IR was known as the Borinqueneers, was made up of mostly Puerto Rican soldiers and the only all-Hispanic unit in Army history.

Deployed in support of the Korean War just two months after it started, the 65th IR was one of the first units to face the North Korean army and helped drive them back past the 38th parallel. When the Chinese army stepped in to aid the North Korean army, the Borinqueneers faced the Chinese People's Liberation Army on a daily basis.

The 65th IR was also part of the task force which held the perimeter of the port city of Hungnam to ensure the safe retreat of the 1st Marine Division. The Borinqueneers are credited with executing the last U.S. battalion-sized bayonet assault on Chinese forces while taking a vital hill.

During its distinguished service, the 65th IR earned 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, 256 Silver Stars, 606 Bronze Stars, and 2,771 Purple Hearts. The unit is also on its way to receiving the coveted Congressional Gold Medal.

"Hispanic men and women have shown their love for the United States by answering the call to service, and we owe them and their families a tremendous debt of gratitude," said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edwin Reyes, 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment airspace management chief. "Their patriotism and valor have added to the character of this great nation."

Boxing veteran trains ringside with Fairchild Airmen

by Senior Airman Taylor Curry
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/11/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Growing up in a professional boxing home, with constant training, matches and running his family's boxing camp, Coach Danny Graves has grown to appreciate the fine art of his intense sport and now shares that appreciation with Fairchild Airmen.

Graves, age 68, is currently a coach for the USA Amateur Boxing Association, working in the base fitness center during the summer and fall seasons. He was trained by his father, World Boxing Hall of Famer, Jackie Graves. Jackie was a Golden Gloves Champion in 1942. In October 2006, he was posthumously inducted into the hall of fame.

"I grew up watching my father box," Graves said. "I wish I understood at the time how great he really was as he'd draw crowds of thousands to his fights. He was a rock star and a great influence in my eyes."

Graves has had a passion for this sport since he was 6 years old. He was interested in becoming a boxing instructor when he was in high school.

"My peers just wanted to learn how to fight, so I then began to take it seriously," said Graves. "I became fascinated by the way the fighters threw the punches and why they did."

When asked about his favorite aspect of boxing, he mentioned being around fellow boxers is the greatest part of the sport.

"It's all about the camaraderie," he added. "You just respect everyone around you while building pride and character, something a lot of younger people don't have."

The workouts involved with his boxing clinic are tailored to the individuals with consideration for their physical abilities, ages and learning levels. For more advanced mixed martial arts or boxing students, the clinic is more intense in the skills and endurance training for competition.

"Exercises start with stretches, and then I coach my students in the correct use of a variety of boxing equipment and techniques," said Graves. "Boxing is something you don't learn overnight. It takes years because there is so much to learn. A three-minute round is a long time if you don't know what you're doing. You first have to learn how to dance."

Graves also served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1991. He is a retired Seabee utilitiesman 1st class petty officer.

"When I was in the Navy, I didn't have much time for boxing, but my buddies and I would still find ways to fit it into the schedule," he said. "We would organize 'smokers', which are basically unofficial amateur brawls that were kept off the record. I always tried to find a place to hit a bag though."

Being at Fairchild, Graves passes on his knowledge of the sport to men, women, children and just about anyone interested in the sport. But mostly, he really influences the Airmen here.

"Boxing can really benefit Airmen because it teaches discipline and how to work well with others," he said. "It helps with goal-setting and keeping the mind sharp. It helps you stay healthy, and it earns you respect from your peers. There are many ways an Airman can stay healthy, but the experience you get from boxing will last a lifetime."

Spending the last seven years at Fairchild has been the greatest experience for him in his profession, Graves added.

"I really enjoy helping the Airmen here," he said. "If they never showed up--I would probably just be fishing."

From it to WIT

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Kee
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- He started off under the microscope during an Operational Readiness Exercise, working on the day's tasks and receiving exercise injects while members of the group formerly known as the Exercise Evaluation Team watched his every move.

As a crew chief who spent his time inspecting aircraft and performing maintenance during exercises, Tech. Sgt. Stephen Morin, 35th Maintenance Group, didn't know it would be his last ORE under the spotlight.

Now, as a member of the Misawa Wing Inspection Team, Morin gets to see what it's like on the other side of the house and what it's like to be the one who looks into the microscope.
To be a part of WIT, members must show good work-ethic and be able to ensure Airmen are performing exercise scenarios properly and with a sense of urgency.

"Transitioning to this side I understand a lot more," said Morin. "Instead of being grumpy and hunkered down in a simulated bunker thinking 'why are they always hitting us,' I can see it might not be us that they were testing it could be another section of the base we happened to fall under.

I really enjoy seeing a broader spectrum of operations, as opposed to just my maintenance career field," he added. "Now, I get to see how the base reacts and not just my section. I enjoy taking a step back and seeing how people actually go through the entire process."

Morin's experience includes being deployed to various locations, and he's used that along with prior exercise experience to strengthen his role as a WIT member. He said it has increased his ability to throw better scenarios at people during the exercise.

"Seeing combat first-hand as far as indirect fire, unexploded ordnance and things like that, you understand how important it is to play correctly and how to respond to things with a sense of urgency," said Morin.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Shoultz, 35th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, says having Morin's experience has played a huge role in his team learning the right way to do post attack reconnaissance sweeps and other exercise injects.

"He has the experience of doing this already," said Shoultz. "He used to be in our shoes so his experience can help us exponentially when we do this in the future."
Morin said he was trained to give Airmen the best scenarios possible and push them to be ready for a deployment.

"I take great satisfaction in being able to help the team and help Airmen learn and correct their mistakes," said Morin. "It's about knowing we will get it right when we go downrange. If we nail it here in practice, we are going to nail it downrange and, ultimately, save lives."

Muddy wingmen: Building bonds with mud, sweat, fitness

by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch
352nd Special Operations Group


10/9/2013 - SUFFOLK, United Kingdom -- Members of the 352nd Special Operations Group participated in the Tough Mudder U.K. Southwest 2013 event Sept. 21, at Crickhowell, Wales.

During the event, members of the "352 SOG Tough Mudders" team helped each other carry logs, scale walls, get through tunnels, jump ditches, cross a river and traverse miles of muddy trail before crossing the finish line.

"It is a team-building event. It wasn't a race," said Chief Master Sgt. William Markham, 352nd SOG command chief. "Just about every obstacle required the help of a team member to get through it or over it."

"It would have been a lot more difficult to complete if I had to go through it on my own," said Col. Christopher Ireland, 352nd Special Operations Group commander. "So for me, it was about signing up with teammates who wanted to physically challenge themselves. Each of us struggled at some point during the challenge, but we motivated each other through the course and across the finish line. It was even a little fun at times."

"Everyone needs a strong wingman; no one can do the mission by themselves," said Markham, echoing Ireland's sentiment. "You need wingmen to help you along. Sometimes when you're down and struggling, they will pick you up. Sometimes when they are down and struggling, you are there to pick them up."

Although teamwork was important, it was not the only attribute needed to complete the event.

"Physical fitness was essential to this event and is also one of the key elements to the Air Commando lifestyle," Markham said. "Having a healthy lifestyle helps us when we are under stress to stay at peak performance longer than others. Our recovery time is quicker when we stick to a good physical fitness regimen and an Air Commando lifestyle.

"Physical fitness is also important because it builds self confidence that will carry into your professional appearance and attitude. It also helps you know who you can count on to your left and right - having a good wingman or teammate," he added.

According to Markham, just as teamwork and fitness allowed every member of the 352 SOG Tough Mudders to cross the finish line, it can also help Airmen achieve success in everyday life.

"Being physically strong helps keep you spiritually and mentally strong as well," the chief said. "Being our best helps keep our nation it's best.

"Wingman - don't leave home without it!" he added

Altus earns Oklahoma environmental award

by Airman 1st Class Franklin R. Ramos
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


10/11/2013 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 97th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Office received the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Oklahoma Star Platinum Award Sept. 20, 2013, for protecting the environment.

The award is based on what the environmental office inspects and how often their inspections are completed on and off base.

"Once you win, it's good for three years and then you have to qualify again," said Michael Reyes, 97th environmental program manager. "We have won this award before at the platinum level; we were confident we would receive it at the same level because of everything we do."

The ODEQ takes into consideration the number of people who live on base and what environmental implications are associated with that population.

"Energy and water consumption, solid waste and the amount of air emissions that are generated on the installation through mobile and stationary sources [are all factors for the award]," said Reyes. "The state wants to know how we manage that waste properly to make sure the waste gets off base and is tracked."

On a monthly basis, environmental members accompany the wing safety office to conduct inspections within different sections of the base.

"It's a team effort ... our responsibility is to the wing, so we all understand that what we do impacts the base," said Reyes. "The base was awarded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Programs Star which says a lot towards the safety aspect of it. Now, it's being awarded the Oklahoma Star for environmental management. That tells everyone right off the bat that these guys know what they are doing and they do it very well."

When asked if the base will win another Platinum Award, Reyes stated, "Yes, because we meet the rules of environmental performance and have things in place that are above and beyond that. As long as we continue doing that, we are exceeding. I think the people on the base understand that everything we do is to make life simpler for them."

Soldier saves life at Hurlburt gym

by Staff Sgt. Victoria Sneed
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Sept. 19 was just another day to work out at the Aderholt Fitness Center for Army Spc. Robert Taylor, a health care specialist attached to the 6th Ranger Training Battalion.

However, Taylor noticed something out of the ordinary during a water break.

"I saw a man sitting on the floor between two treadmills and a woman trying to get him to drink," he said. "It struck me as odd that he wasn't taking the water, so I kept watching. I remember saying to myself, 'Please don't faint.'"

At that very moment, the gentleman lost consciousness.

"I ran over immediately and did all my primary assessments," Taylor said. "He had no pulse and wasn't breathing."

Taylor said his training as a combat medic kicked in and he instructed a bystander to bring the Automated External Defibrillator and call 911.

"The AED was brought over, plugged in and placed on the patient," he said. "The device analyzed the situation and administered a shock. There was no response, so I continued CPR."

After a few rounds of CPR, someone else joined him, administering "rescue breaths" between sets of chest compressions until the emergency medical technicians arrived.

"Once the EMTs arrived, the patient received oxygen and I continued compressions until he could be loaded into the ambulance," said Taylor.

The patient was at the gym with his family and suffered a heart attack while on a stationary bicycle.

He went to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center by ambulance, where he underwent a procedure to unblock the clogged arteries which led to the heart attack.

"If it weren't for [Taylor and his accomplice] that man may have been another statistic," said Col. Mark Fassl, Army Joint Support Team director, who witnessed the event. "Those two men exhibited the reasons we join -- to serve others at the highest level."

However, Taylor said he doesn't think he did anything extraordinary.

"Given my abilities, I did what I had to do," he said. "Anybody would do what I did."

Underneath his quiet, humble exterior Taylor has the heart of a leader.

"In the military we are trained from day one to become a leader," he said. "Leaders act and don't wait for someone else to step in, you do what you are trained to do."

Because of Taylor's actions, Fassl recommended him for the Soldier's Medal, which is the Army's highest non-combat decoration.

"To know a colonel even thinks of recommending a medal [to me] is amazing and humbling," said Taylor. "Just to know I could help and the patient survived feels good."

Luke sports clinic helps veterans

by Senior Airman David Owsianka
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/11/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Have you ever tried running with one leg or shooting an arrow blind?

Forty-two Luke Air Force Base Airmen volunteered to help more than 100 veterans with disabilities participate in the 6th National Disabled Veterans Summer Sports Clinic Sept. 12 through 22 in San Diego.

Staff Sgt. Krystal Hughes, 56th Contracting Squadron client systems technician, and Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hughes, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions inspector, began volunteering for the event four years ago and have organized volunteers from Luke the past three years.

"I realized the impact we had on the veterans during my first year being involved and I wanted to continue to provide support," Krystal Hughes said. "It's important to give back to those who served before us. If they hadn't made the sacrifice for us, we wouldn't be here."

The veterans have a range of disabilities including amputated limbs, burns, neurological disorders, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The event is a unique opportunity for veterans and active-duty service members on medical hold to come into an environment that allows them to do adaptive sports that helps them re-transition into the lives they had before their injuries," said Tristan Heaton, Department of Veterans Affairs National Disabled Veterans Summer Sports Clinic director.

The clinic taught veterans adaptive surfing, sailing, cycling, kayaking, rowing, judo and archery.

In 2010, the clinic had only 10 volunteers from Luke. That number quadrupled to 42 this year.

"Luke Airmen are an amazing group of people that allow us to do a logistical move throughout the event, have volunteers at the venues and command center," Heaton said. "Without the contingency of personnel, our program would be seriously limited in its effectiveness."

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Michael Pence, who suffers from PTSD, lost half of his hearing, has had his right shoulder rebuilt twice and has back and neck injuries, participated in his first NDVSSC.

"This week has been great," he said. "I had trouble getting out and being active while having PTSD. This clinic helped me realize there are a lot more activities I can do and enjoy."

The volunteers agreed they came away from the clinic with a new perspective.

"It was amazing to see the veterans from each service show what they can do physically," said Staff Sgt. Samantha Sarmiento, 56th Operations Support Squadron current operations scheduler. "It was astounding to see the amount of drive and persistence they have, and it reminded me to never give up."

U.S. Officers Attend South Korean Military Training Course

By Walter T. Ham IV
U.S. 8th Army

SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 15, 2013 – The Korean National Defense University here welcomed American military officers to its first combined training course in September.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
American and South Korean military students attending the first Korean National Defense University combined training course eat lunch at a South Korean restaurant after a recent class trip to the Demilitarized Zone. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The week-long Combined Operations Training Course brought together South Korean and U.S. military officers to address security issues and learn more about the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

“We all began to better understand and respect the variety of perspectives in our group,” said U.S. Army Maj. Lisa Livingood, an 8th Army planner who attended the inaugural combined course. “It is the only course in my career where I have studied in equal numbers with allies.”

Livingood said the combined course covered a wide variety of topics, including Korean history, the history of the U.S.-South Korea alliance and South Korean military command structures.
According to Livingood, the students visited the world’s most heavily armed border.

“We traveled into the [Korean] Demilitarized Zone to learn about its structure, the role of the United Nations Military Armistice Commission and the functioning of a front fence line ROK guard post,” said Livingood, who grew up in Frankfurt, Germany.

The course is one of many initiatives designed to enhance the alliance that has defended South Korea for more than 60 years. South Korean Army noncommissioned officers also train together with U.S. Army NCOs at the Wightman NCO Academy at Camp Jackson, South Korea.

Livingood said she would recommend the course to anyone interested in learning more about the alliance and the role it plays in deterring aggression on the Korean Peninsula and maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

The 8th Army planner added that the course enabled the U.S. military officers to bond with their host-nation allies.

“The course promoted camaraderie between the U.S. students, the ROK students and across national lines,” Livingood said.

Barksdale Airman takes innovation to new heights

by Tech. Sgt. Mike Andriacco
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Air Force's new vision, "The world's greatest Air Force powered by Airmen, fueled by innovation," has resonated through the force in recent months and one Barksdale Airman has taken the message to heart.

1st Lt. Joshua Bedel, 2nd Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight officer in charge, recently leveraged his professional network and created his own opportunity to advance himself personally, when he helped build an internship opportunity from the ground up.

"I've always been interested in politico-military affairs," he said. "So I decided to see if there were any short-term internships available that I could take part in."

After looking and not finding anything, Bedel chose not to give up and thought about ways to create his own opportunity.

"I started talking to people I knew from my Air Force ROTC Detachment at Indiana University," he said. "I already knew one of my mentors, Col. Jeffrey Fischer, was stationed in Austria but I wasn't sure what he did at the time."

Fischer, the senior military advisor to the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, didn't have internships or similar opportunities available in Vienna, but was open to the idea of working with Bedel to create an opportunity.

"Col. Fischer graciously agreed to put together a week long internship for me, where I would be attending meetings on the Open Skies Treaty, [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty], meetings with arms control delegates and other military treaties or accords affecting our European partners," Bedel said. "We literally built this program from the ground up; everything from scheduling the meetings, transportation and lodging. Once we had firm dates set, we coordinated the rest of it."

Bedel was able to get a permissive temporary duty leave approved in accordance with Air Force Instruction 36-3003, Military Leave Program, and paid for the trip himself. It was an investment he considers well worth it.

"Some of the higher level meetings on arms control were pretty cool," Bedel said. "I got to speak with one of the original authors of the START, and we had a good discussion about how the treaty is implemented on the end user level and some of the political and military ramifications of the treaty. One of my favorite moments, however, was the Arms Control reception at the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission's residence. A lot of important talk happens on the margins."

Airmen looking to improve themselves professionally and personally don't necessarily need to be well connected or take Bedel's approach and seek out high-level opportunities; they can find or create programs a little closer to home.

"A quick Internet search under the DOD approved training sites Defense Acquisition University and Air Force Institute of Technology can reveal many training programs in the areas of leadership, mentoring, public speaking, business, critical thinking and beyond, all for little to no cost to the user," said Master Sgt. Marquet Johnson, Barksdale's career assistance advisor. "Tuition Assistance and the Montgomery GI Bill also have provisions for professional development and will pay all or part of the costs associated with acquiring a professional certification."

Many civilian educational institutions and professional organizations offer similar opportunities, often including certificates of completion. Bedel doesn't think that a lack of obvious opportunities should be a barrier to improving oneself.

"If there's something you're interested in and can't find any traditional opportunities out there, make one," he said. "One of the key aspects which helped me get this opportunity was networking. Col. Fischer was alumni from the 90's from our ROTC detachment. We've kept in contact since I'd been in college, so once I found out he was stationed in Vienna, I reached out to him to see if there was anything I could get my hands on."

Ultimately, the Air Force puts the responsibility for personal and professional development in the hands of its Airmen. By looking for opportunities, Airmen can more closely align themselves with the Air Force's vision, and truly fuel change and improvement through innovation.

"There are a lot of traditional and non-traditional programs out there in which to take part," Bedel said. "You just have to be willing to do a little leg work to find them."

Tyndall stands up new F-22 squadron - 24 total aircraftTyndall stands up new F-22 squadron - 24 total aircraft

by Ashley M. Wright
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- The 95th Fighter Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit will once again call Tyndall home as officials announced the new F-22 Raptor squadron activated Oct. 11.

"We are honored to have the 95th call Tyndall home again," said Col. David E. Graff, 325th Fighter Wing Commander. "It symbolizes so much to both our local community and military history."

The 95th called Tyndall home for three decades with their mascot, Mr. Bones, a skeleton with a top hat and cane, adorning the unit patch.

"I feel very fortunate to bring the 95th and Mr. Bones back home to Tyndall," said Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert, current 325th program integration chief and soon-to-be 95th Fighter Squadron commander.

From September 1974 to December 2010, the squadron trained thousands of fighter/interceptor pilots and weapons controllers using the T-33 Shooting Star and F-15E Strike Eagle. The squadron was the last of the three F-15 squadrons to be inactivated at Tyndall due to its significant local history, but also due to its significant contributions during World War II resulting in 199 aerial victories, the destruction of more than 400 strategic targets and ultimately being awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.

The unit activated during a ceremony Oct. 11 to prepare for the transfer of 24 F-22s and more than 1,100 positions to the base. The squadron has started receiving an average of 50 to 60 personnel per month and will continue to do so for the next several months.

Once reaching its initial operating capability, the squadron will be capable of deploying one of the most advanced aircraft in the world into a combat area of responsibility.

"We are charged to project power to wherever needed in support of our national military objectives," Gilbert said.

The additional F-22s bring the total number of the 5th generation fighters to more than 50 at Tyndall. This is the largest contingent of F-22s at one location.Gilbert recognizes the activation as an important opportunity for Airmen to work together in both maintenance and operational areas to improve daily practices and "sharpen the sword."

"We will work together as a team, both maintenance and operations from both the 95th and the 43rd Fighter Squadrons and aircraft maintenance units to better train F-22 pilots and prepare them for combat operations," Gilbert said.

Aircraft for the new squadron will start arriving in early 2014; however, opening the 95th FS for business early allows for the bed down of the influx of personnel and helps establish the critical road map to combat capability, said base leadership.

"We have a huge challenge ahead of us, but we are more than equipped to handle anything that stands in our way of bringing the 95th back to Bay County," Gilbert said.

The F-22 arrived at Tyndall 10 years ago with the mission of training pilots on the first fifth generation air dominance platform. The new squadron's arrival, which has been years in the making, will take Tyndall air power directly into a combat role.

"There is a significant responsibility of living up to the legend established by the heroic acts of the previous WWII-era Airmen when thinking of the past actions of the 95th," Gilbert said. "There is a ton of local heritage. It is incredibly exciting to reactivate the 95th due to its rich history of flying T-33s and the mighty F-15 locally for so many years. There could not be a bigger following than that of Mr. Bones and the 95th FS. The new combat F-22 mission only adds to the legacy."