Saturday, October 19, 2013

Behind the Scenes - Joint Base personnel work to made distinguished visitor visits seamless

by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

10/17/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- It is just another Aloha Friday in sunny Hawaii. The temperature is 84-degrees and you're driving, windows down, to the commissary on Hickam to grab some groceries for this weekend's game. You pass the AMC terminal, look left, and see a white plane with a few light-blue accents slowly coming to a halt.

"I wonder who is visiting," you ponder.

It is probably a senator or state representative. Who knows, maybe it's the president. However, you drive past with nothing but food, beverages and the countless people assured to be at the commissary in your head.

While seeing this plane pull-in is nothing more than a simple observation to you, the arrival of this Boeing VC-25 (Air Force One) means it is going to be a long weekend for quite a few people, namely those who help plan and support visits for distinguished visitors.

According to Air Force Captain Nathaniel Cavender, 15th Wing Plans officer, the purpose of the DV group is to make sure all distinguished visitors arriving at Hickam get all the support they need for their aircraft, aircrew, and anyone that may be traveling with them.

Cavender, who has been part of the group since April of this year, said the group also ensures the wing commander is kept in the loop on any changes or problems that may arise during the DV's visit.

"We are a working group made up of individuals from agencies around the 15th Wing to include: Public Affairs, Logistics Readiness Squadron, Operational Support Squadron, Force Support Squadron, Security Forces Squadron, CP, Safety, Maintenance, and XP. The members of this group constantly change and there are multiple people from each agency."

Cavender said having a representative from each agency is critical when scheduling a visit, especially if it is someone like the President. Countless hours are given by many individuals to create a schedule that is planned to the second.

"There is a lot of coordination that goes into a visit for someone like the POTUS. We hold many working group meetings to discuss all the details ranging from security, fuel, parking, airfield operations, maintenance, transportation, lodging, public affairs, and all contingencies in-case there are any changes in the DV's plans."

One thing Cavender said is more important that having a representative from each agency is having Airmen dedicated to making each visit a success.

"The work we do wouldn't be possible or successful without everyone else doing their job perfectly," he said. "Whether it's refueling the Jet, the security forces troops providing perimeter security for the aircraft from dusk 'till dawn, or the troop driving the air stairs quickly and precisely to make sure it's exactly in place on the jet to avoid delaying the DV. It's everyone that makes the group efficient and the visit successful."

Cavender and the planning group's most-recent conquest was planning the visit for the Secretary of Defense. The group will have to push through here shortly as the President is expected to make his way back to JBPHH. He reminds his team while the job may be tough, it is very rewarding.

"I would say that we are sometimes jaded by what we do on a day to day basis," he said. "If you sit back and think about the impact that we have on what is going on in the world, it really gives you a sense of pride. Can you imagine if we delayed the President, and in turn, he didn't make an important meeting or event?"

The Working Group point-of-contacts and the Airmen who make every visit happen may not get much of the glory or recognition, but they definitely have an impact on success of and DV's trip who is traveling through Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam."

So remember, every time you hear about a DV coming to Hickam, or see a unique aircraft by the flight line, think of the Security Forces Airmen working even-longer shifts and protecting the aircraft, the Public Affairs personnel contacting and arranging media visits or the countless other personnel working longer than they want to.

Lost and Found - Hickam Airmen participate search and recovery training

by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

10/17/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- To better prepare for possible accidents and incidents on base, Airmen from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam completed their first search and recovery team training on Sept. 26, held on Hickam Beach.

The purpose of the search and recovery team is to respond to military-related incidents on base, including military vehicle, aircraft mishap and mass casualty incidents, if and when they occur.

If called upon, the team must search and cover selected areas, keeping an eye out for evidence, things out of place, or personal effects. A line is formed with one step taken at a time, a quick search of that immediate area conducted, and then the line moves one step forward yet again.

Anything that could be considered out of place is collected, then bagged and tagged as evidence. The team then covers the entire area again from a different direction, only to ensure nothing has been missed.

According to Air Force Technical Sgt. Brian Wingo, 647th Force Support Squadron Unit Training Manager and search and recovery team lead, said the training, hosted quarterly, is used to train Airmen to recover and help preserve evidence, which could help determine the cause of an incident.

"Search and recovery is important because it provides a method to recover and return home the remains of fallen personnel," he said. "The team is trained to conduct operations to recover all remains, and do so in a manner that preserves dignity and respect."

Wingo has only been a part of the team on Hickam for nine months, but said he has been fortunate enough to have never needed to respond to a real-world incident. However, this does not stop him from ensuring new Airmen added to the team know how to respond accordingly.

"Usually, we (the instructors) will conduct a classroom session covering search and recovery procedures," he said. "Then we will go out and apply those instructions in the field. The location for the outdoor portion changes to keep a sense of realism, because the terrain for a real-world incident could be anywhere."

Maintaining a sense of realism in a training environment is nearly as important as ensuring the training given is the best it can possibly be. This is why Air Force Staff Sgt. Jay Waddell, Hickam Mortuary Affairs non-commissioned officer in charge, not only helps maintain and train the team, but the trainer as well.

"I draw up a crash site for the team and give all the crash details to the team lead," said Waddell. "I inspect the team lead on his communication and leadership, as well as question him or her on the procedures they are about to conduct. I also conduct equipment checks and see if the team lead inspects said equipment prior to sending their team out."

Waddell said the teams are there help aid Civil Engineering, Security Forces and local law-enforcement agencies, if there ever is a need. He also said sharing part of the flight line with the Honolulu International Airport makes the team that much more helpful if there ever was an incident.

"Completing the training and providing hypothetical situations for my team ensures that I'll have the knowledge to perform the mission," he said. "Accidents happen all the time, so I have to be ready to lead my team into any operation."