Monday, October 28, 2013

Face of Defense: Dad Shares Last Deployment With Son, Son-in-law

By Air Force Master Sgt. Marelise Wood
386th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Oct. 28, 2013 – Members of the military commonly refer to each other as family. They share experiences that most times can't be truly understood by those who haven't lived them. Often these experiences are forged in places far from home where mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children and other loved ones can be seen only on the screen of some electronic device, or not at all.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Steven Buchwald is flanked by his son-in-law, Air Force Senior Airman Hans Hock, left, and his son, Air Force Senior Airman Travis Buchwald, right, in front of a C-130 from their home unit, the New York Air National Guard’s 107th Airlift Wing. The airmen are deployed together to Southwest Asia with the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marelise Wood

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
But for three members of the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group, the only thing standing between them and a family member is shift change.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Steven Buchwald, 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, is the lead production superintendent for the C-130 aircraft maintenance unit. He, his son and his son-in-law are members of the Air National Guard’s 107th Airlift Wing, deployed here together from Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Buchwald is responsible for the C-130 personnel and flying schedule. His son, Air Force Senior Airman Travis Buchwald, is a crew chief who ensures the aircraft are ready for flight and repairs them when necessary. Senior Airman Hans Hock, the elder Buchwald’s son-in-law, is an aircrew ground equipment mechanic in the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron. He keeps the machinery and tools supporting the aircraft in working order.

For the senior Buchwald, deployments are nothing new; this is his 18th. But being deployed with his family is a whole new experience, he said.

During four years on active duty as a crew chief, Steven was assigned to a base in England, and later to another in New Mexico. By the time he was in New Mexico, he had married his hometown sweetheart, and they’d already had their first of three children.

He began exploring the option of getting stationed closer to home, he said, and after his attempts were unsuccessful, the Lockport, N.Y., native, chose to join the Air National Guard and move back to his home state.

"I took mechanics in school. If you could tear it apart, I did," he said. "When I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, mechanics was my top score, and I was told I could pick any job. They told me I could work on airplanes, and that sounded cool, so that's what I did."

His time as a crew chief and his passion for his job made an impression on Travis, who frequently went to work with him. It was really no surprise to the elder Buchwald that his son is now a crew chief.

"It was basically something I grew up doing," the younger Buchwald said. "For as long as I can remember, I was out in the barn working on cars [and] anything else you can think of --four-wheel motorcycles, tractors. It just seemed right."

But for Hock, the elder Buchwald's son-in-law, the decision to join the military was not such a foregone conclusion. He met Milissa Buchwald during his freshman year in college. They began dating, and he had his first encounter with the military.

"She wasn't shy about telling everybody that her dad was in the military," Hock said. "The first time I went to her house, he did the dad thing. He came out in his uniform on the porch, and I was like, 'I am not getting out of the car.’ That was a pretty scary thing."

However, Hock was not scared off. The pair kept dating and got married in 2010.

By then, Hock had graduated from college and was working odd jobs. His wife had begun a teaching career, he said, and he wanted something steadier so he could contribute more to his household. His father-in-law broached the subject of joining the military.

"I wasn't so sure," Hock said. "I didn't want to be away from home. I didn't want to do the whole back-and-forth thing. But then I looked into the Guard and Reserve side and I thought, ‘This could actually be pretty nice.’ I was talking to a recruiter for a couple months, and he assured me it would work out. It didn't work out the way he said, but it has worked out."

Now, almost three years later, he is on his first deployment, sharing the experience with his brother-in-law and father-in-law.

"I knew my brother-in-law was coming, and that was one of the biggest reasons I was going to do it, because there would be somebody here who I already knew," Hock said. "Then we found out just before we left that my father-in-law was going to come, too."

Steven, who is on his last deployment before he retires after 32 years of service, said he is especially proud to be here with his family.

“This is my last deployment. I'm retiring in December, and it's neat to be here with the two boys," he said. "[Travis's] first deployment was as a third-country-national escort, so this is his first deployment doing his real job. This is my last, and their first, hand-off."

Stellar NCOs are Leading Edge of JB MDL

by Capt. Brzooke Brzozowske
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center

Twenty-five service members from seven installation units participated in the Leading Edge seminar Oct. 20-25, 2013, here.
Leading Edge is a program designed to give top performing E-5s and E-6s from all service branches a view of the installation's strategic operations and leadership, providing them leadership skills and demonstrating their impact and role in their installation's mission.
The program and yearly seminar are based off of Air Mobility Command's Phoenix Stripe, the major command's initiative to develop noncommissioned officers and mid-grade civilians into future leaders by teaching leadership skills and illustrating each Airman's role in the overall mobility mission. 
"Our goal was to not have any run-of- the-mill air-show-type briefings," said Master Sgt. C. Chris Sherman, 6th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and seminar lead. "These are the future enlisted leaders and we want them to understand the joint base from a strategic level and how we fall into the grand scheme of AMC and the Air Force."
The selection criteria are extensive and strict. Along with prerequisite reading, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, each of the participants had to exemplify excellence in all areas of their work. 
"The participants were nominated and selected because they were the best of the best within their respective units," said Sherman. "They also had to be nominated by their group commanders, so they had to be 'fit to fight' in every way."
"This program was incredibly informative," said Staff Sgt. Annie Ford, 87th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician. "The participants were a great group of people, and it really opened my eyes to so many new careers and missions across the installation."
This was also the first Leading Edge seminar with joint participants including representatives from the Navy, Marines and Army along with Air Force members. 
"I thought this was a great platform to really build relationships and to better understand the role of the other services on the installation," said Marine Sgt. Xavier Ten, Marine Aircraft Group 49 logistician.
In addition to many other benefits, Leading Edge fills a gap in the NCO Professional Military Education cycle. It is considered to be a milestone professional development event for joint base members.
 "I hope that in the future this becomes even more joint," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Megan Munoz, 422nd Joint Tactics Squadron instructor. "The professional insight we gained was invaluable because this was extended to the other services."
While the seminar was hosted out of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Headquarters, the Leading Edge participants had the opportunity to visit more than two dozen locations across JB MDL and speak with a variety of panels from current enlisted and officer leadership. 
"The panels were outstanding," said Ford. "As an E-5, you don't normally have the opportunity to engage with senior enlisted members, especially from other career fields.  The panels were an opportunity to gain a new perspective into another area of the installation."
The Leading Edge program is a McGuire Top Three annually sponsored event, with additional support from the Eagles Top Three Association, Contingency Response Wing Top 3, Chief's Group, First Sergeants Council and United Communities. 

Guard Soldiers Host British, Danish Wounded Warriors

By Army Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 28, 2013 – Conversational buzz filled the atrium of the Army National Guard Readiness Center here Oct. 25 as those assigned to the readiness center anticipated the arrival of special guests.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk W. Conley, the command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, shares stories with British soldiers during a wounded warrior event at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va., Oct. 25, 2013. The visit was the first stop in a week-long visit for British and Danish wounded warriors. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez 
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army National Guard soldiers embraced the opportunity to foster international camaraderie by honoring the service of some 57 wounded warriors and their support teams from the United Kingdom and Denmark.

After a poignant reception by the welcoming line, the U.S. soldiers took the opportunity to meet and exchange stories with their British and Danish comrades.

“The welcome has been phenomenal,” said British Cpl. Jay Watt, with the British army’s 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment.

“I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome,” Watt said. “I’ve never seen that before.”

Staff Sgt. Laura Atkinson of the British army’s Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s been overwhelming and quite humbling,” she said. “We don’t get this sort of support over in the U.K., not only from the public but from other corps and services.”

The event was a way to say thank you.

“I’m excited for you to be here,” Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., the director of the Army National Guard, said in his opening remarks. “Hosting this group today provides an opportunity to thank you for your service and the sacrifices that you’ve made to the cause of freedom around the world.”

And that sacrifice was shown both on and off the battlefield, Ingram said.

“You’ve shown valor on the battlefield,” he said, “but just as importantly, each of you has shown incredible courage and determination throughout the course of your rehabilitation.”

Throughout the day, guests received background briefings on the National Guard’s history, followed by sessions broken out by specialty that allowed for an exchange in cultural ideas that cultivated ongoing relationships.

“We recognize that we are partners and that we need each other,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk W. Conley, command sergeant major of the Army National Guard. “If we maintain our relationships, the next time we call on each other and need each other’s help, we’ll be there standing side by side, ready to do whatever the mission calls for.”

Guests ended the visit with sharing a barbeque-themed lunch with National Guard Bureau leaders.

For these wounded warriors and their support teams, the reception at the readiness center marked the first stop of a week-long trip that includes participating in yesterday’s 38th Marine Corps Marathon, a tour of Arlington National Cemetery, a trip to Capitol Hill and a visit to the Pentagon.

“I’m looking forward to all of these,” Watt said.

European Partnerships Vital to Global Security, Breedlove Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2013 – It makes fiscal and strategic sense for the United States to continue to base troops in Europe, the officer who serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command said today.

Together, the United States and Europe make up half of the world economy, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove said in a discussion with reporters at the Pentagon. And even as force structures change due to shifting economic climates, he said, the transatlantic bond will remain strong.

“We're absolutely connected to these nations militarily,” he said. “After 12 years of fighting together in Afghanistan, we are at the pinnacle of our cohesiveness -- at the pinnacle of our interconnectedness.

“Our ability to work together -- our tactics, techniques and procedures -- are all the same and forged around what is NATO-standard,” Breedlove continued. “And therefore, it is very easy for us to take the field together and do those missions that our nations want them to do.”

The general noted that between 2007 and 2011, Eucom trained 42,000 NATO and NATO-partner troops to deploy to Afghanistan.

“That’s 42,000 Americans that didn’t have to go to Afghanistan,” he said. “Our ability to remain connected to these armies and these air forces [is] directly related to our force structure in Europe.”

The United States has sharply reduced the number of U.S. forces and facilities in Europe, Breedlove said, noting that Eucom has shed about 75 percent of its infrastructure since the Cold War ended.

“I believe there is more infrastructure that can be cut,” he added.

However, he said, he doesn’t think there’s more room to cut Eucom’s force structure.

“We are down now to the point where I believe we are at the right size for the mission that we are being asked to do currently in Europe,” Breedlove said. “If we come down too much more [in] Army structure, that will give us some challenges on the connections that we have to our European partners.”

Those connections have forged longstanding relationships built on trust, the general said. Such relationships are essential to guaranteeing that NATO forces can respond rapidly to a crisis, he noted.

“[Those] relationships add up to access. … The bottom line is you cannot surge trust,” Breedlove said. “You cannot surge relationships. These are things that are built over time.”

Recent conflicts have reinforced the critical global security role played by European partnerships, Breedlove said. During the intervention in Libya, for example, NATO nations -- who have been fighting and training together for years -- were able to quickly become operational, he said.

“It took a little longer to assimilate some of our other partners,” the general added.

The access that the United States enjoys in Europe should not be taken for granted, he said. Breedlove noted that in a crisis, all of the forces that operate in North Africa will first come from bases in Europe. Most of the forces that would eventually deploy in such a crisis are shared between Eucom and U.S. Africa Command, he said, but they are housed on Eucom bases in Eucom nations.

“You cannot get to the Middle East without using the lens of the bases and infrastructure in Europe,” he said. “Everything I do, and everything European [that] Eucom forces do in Europe to support [U.S. Central Command] relies on these bases.”

And the United States has begun asking more of its European allies, Breedlove said. Support of North Africa requires that the U.S. be able to move and base forces “in different ways and places,” he added.

Moving forces around inside sovereign nations is not a trivial matter, the general noted.

“It’s those relationships … that allow us to quickly go to an ally and say, ‘We need to move this special purpose [Marine air-ground task force] to this location to be more responsive to something that’s going on. Can you accommodate?’”

NATO’s imminent challenge is to hold on to these hard-fought gains in cohesiveness as force structures change and the mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, Breedlove said. The United States will deploy with its NATO partners for the foreseeable future, he said, and withdrawing from Europe could weaken transatlantic ties.

“I think Europe is incredibly important to America,” Breedlove said, “and I think that … the long-standing trust relationships in Europe that allow us to project force into Africa [and] that allow us to project force into the Middle East are absolutely key to the future.”

Missouri Guard Unit Protects World Series Teams, Fans

By Army Sgt. Jacqueline Courtney
70th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 28, 2013 – Members of the Missouri National Guard have been on hand at Busch Stadium here this week to support safety and security during the 2013 World Series.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Members of the Missouri National Guard 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team support safety and security measures during the 2013 World Series in St. Louis. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jacqueline Courtney

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, from Jefferson City, assisted local and federal agencies in surveying the area to confirm that no hazardous materials were present.

The team’s goal was to assess suspected or known terrorist threats, advise civilian authorities of appropriate responses, and assist local emergency responders in the event any incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear activity were possible.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Juan Gallego, a reconnaissance noncommissioned officer for the 7th CST, said five teams walked the entire stadium and took initial readings of radiation to establish a baseline for continued monitoring throughout the World Series games played here.

“We’ve walked around the stadium and done some background readings of radiation and will use that information so we can plug the readings into a computer, then during the games if we see any elevated reading we can respond,” said Gallego, who is working his third World Series mission. “If there’s a spiked reading, it will come over the computer. We would then disseminate the information and do further monitoring to make sure the reading is not a threat.”

The surveying teams used radioisotope identification devices, also known as gamma spectrometers, to gather the readings. The devices allow users to quickly detect, locate, and identify radioactive sources.
Walking alongside the Guard members were members of the Energy Department, who were also verifying the possible presence of hazardous materials. Other members of the 22-person unit assisted the St. Louis Fire Department in safety efforts around gate entries at the stadium.

“We work hand in hand with the first responders of Missouri,” Gallego said. “We always have to stand on alert, because we’re the first ones they’re going to call.”

The presence of Guardsmen put baseball fans’ minds at ease.

“It makes me feel like something is being done and people are looking out for me,” said Chris Endicott, a Cardinals fan from Minnesota.

Dylan Rainey, a Red Sox fan from Oklahoma, agreed with Endicott, saying it makes him feel very comfortable knowing there are people in place to help protect him so he can enjoy the game without having to worry.

“We rely on our training and constant professionalism,” said Army Capt. Richard Sambolin, the operations officer for the 7th CST, and a Lake Ozark, Mo., resident. “We like being able to demonstrate and share our ability with the public.”

The active-Guard unit is made up of Missouri Air National Guard and Army National Guard members. The unit works and trains regularly with first responders throughout the state and are able to support major national events.

ROK army ROTC cadets experience Osan from inside out

by Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/27/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Nearly 60 cadets from Sungshin University's Republic of Korea army Reserve Officers' Training Corps were welcomed here, Oct. 9, and given an in-depth look at how Osan works to fight and win.

The tour included stops at several units on base, and was part of an ongoing effort to build relationships between U.S. and ROK military personnel.

Pomi Mun, Sungshin University ROK army ROTC cadet, said she was amazed at all of the information presented to the cadets in such a short period of time.

"Even during just the morning session, I've already learned a lot," Mun said. "It was very meaningful to me to see and touch the actual fighter jets."

The presentations were made possible by various members of Team Osan, including 1st Lt. Clancy Morrical, 36th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, who said she enjoys sharing her experiences with younger people.

"It was great to have a group of female ROTC students from a ROK school who are interested in learning more about what we do here," Morrical said. "It gives you a renewed sense of pride in what you do and it rejuvenates the joy that I have in doing my job and reminds me why I do what I do."

Mun said her class has visited a Navy base, as well, and she hopes these tours will better prepare her for a career in the ROK armed forces.

"After I am commissioned, I will be working as an officer and there will be lots of joint operations for me to be involved in," Mun said. "This is really great, because we need to be able to get a sense of joint operations and the joint atmosphere."

Morrical said building relationships goes a long way to enhance that joint atmosphere.

"These are people that we're going to be working with in the next couple of years," Morrical said. "I think it's wonderful to integrate at the earliest time possible so we can start to build that bond, and so there's a friendship there and not just a working relationship."

From the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron to the 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment, and everything in between, the cadets now have a greater understanding of the help available to them from their American brothers and sisters-in-arms stationed at Osan.

Yi Kyung Hwyn, Sungshin University ROK army ROTC cadet, said having a partner is always reassuring.

"There's an old saying in Korean that goes `even a blank sheet of paper is better handled by two people," Hwyn said. "I think it will be easier for us to deter any North Korean aggression or offensive operations if we can conduct those operations with our U.S. friends."

MacDill Airman rectifies Army Helo hit by lightning, twice

by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

10/25/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Lightning never strikes the same spot twice, right? Well, for Army Blackhawk helicopter 27107 that was true, until a second strike blasted its tail rotor leaving it once again grounded.

Noticing unreliable compass deviation, the testing crew of the U.S. Army Reserve's 5 Batalion-159th Aviation Regiment set out to find the source of the problem.

Remembering the characteristics that resulted from the aircraft being hit eight months prior, the maintainers searched for signs of a lightning strike--and that's exactly what they found.

"Up on one of the tail rotor paddles we found various burn marks which are telltale signs of a strike," said Avery Whetstine, an aircraft mechanic for the 5B-159th AR's aircraft. "We couldn't believe that it had happened to the same aircraft again."

After ripping apart the tail section from rotor to horizontal stabilator to assess further damage, the maintenance crew noticed electrical arching had occurred, leaving "off the charts" magnetization.

"This sort of rare but hazardous occurrence is more than likely the culprit for the errant magnetic fields that are affecting our magnetic flux valve," said Staff Sgt. Mark Bradley, Aviation Support Facility Clearwater aircraft inspector. "Due to the nature of the findings, we must rely on our Air Force counterparts to diagnose and fix the problematic areas."

That's when the skill and expertise of Tech. Sgt. Stanley Mays, 6th Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection specialist, was called into play.

"Upon hearing about the lightning strike, I knew that there were going to be major magnetization issues, but after taking the readings--I was shocked to see just how high they actually were," commented Mays. "This was a first for me; it's not often that a NDI specialist conducts a procedure like this."

After completing a series of specialized demagnetization procedures over the mounting section of the tail's stabilator, the readings were returned to normal and the problem areas were neutralized.

As the aircraft is again pieced back together and functional checks are made, the members of the 5B-159th AR are keeping their fingers crossed that the demagnetization is what was needed to get the search and rescue aircraft flying once again.

Creating the core of F-16s

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/25/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- As the throttle is pushed forward, a 15-foot burst of blue flame pours from the back of a 100,000 horsepower engine. Only 50 feet and a 6-inch line of red caution tape stand between you and the heart of one the most dangerous war machines in the world.

"It's an incredible power that shakes you down to the core," said Staff Sgt. Mitchell Morelos, 35th Maintenance Squadron. "It's an odd feeling ... really hard to explain."

Morelos is talking about a feeling he experiences every week as an engine test cell craftsman for U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons. He's been testing the engines for the past three years, and explained what lead him here.

"I saw an Air Force recruiting video that said something along the lines of, 'Join the Air Force, and you can do this,'" Morelos said. "This is the Air Force -- we are airplanes. Of course I'm going to take the opportunity to work with jets."

Morelos' "office" - a warehouse-esque structure known as the "Hush House" because of its unique ability to muffle the deafening sound of engines -- supports one of the most important components of the 35th Fighter Wing's mission of Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses. It's one of only two test cells in the Air Force with its unique design and ability to host both an aircraft and its engine simultaneously by converging both the test cell and Hush House into one.

The test cell crew's career field is called aerospace propulsion, and their specialty is making jets fly. They average about one engine inspection every week, and test engines used in F-16s all over the world. Each engine is built and delivered to a back shop where the test cell pulls from to perform testing.

"We check the engine's parameters, core speeds, temperatures, vibrations - basically everything to make sure it's safe to fly," Morelos said.

The engine is placed on a massive stand and bolted to the ground, where the most in-depth, close-up look at an F-16 engine in full afterburner takes place. Morelos pushes a lever a few inches forward, resulting in an engine thrust up to 30,000 pounds that emits the loudest roar across the base.

"It's the best part of the job," smiled Morelos. "To control all that power is amazing; it's one of the most powerful machines on the planet."

Morelos is one of 11 Airmen that make up the shop, and they work around the clock to carry their weight. The flurry of tests they perform can last days and even weeks, depending on what maintenance is necessary.

"Our goal is to catch any issue and have each engine ready to go before it reaches our flight line maintainers," said Senior Airman Joseph Martinez, 35 MXS. "It's imperative to have our end squared away so maintainers aren't spending too much time troubleshooting and making repairs."

Along with primarily serving Misawa Air Base, the test cell fully supports the F-16s of Osan and Kunsan Air Bases in Korea. They also perform tests for jets from Air Force bases in Alaska and most recently tested engines used at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

"If they lose an engine for whatever reason, it's more downtime for them," said Martinez. "It's important for us to support aircraft around the world to keep the mission moving."

Above all, Morelos said supporting the mission of the Wild Weasels here holds the most unique significance to him.

"At Misawa, we fly single-engine fighters, so it's a special opportunity," Morelos said. "That one pilot is putting his or her life on the line to keep the rest of us alive. It means everything to us to know that we're the reason those jets are in the air."

Dedicated to excellence: SJ Airman recognized as AF top crew chief

by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/28/2013 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Being a crew chief may not be the most glamorous of jobs. It usually requires working long hours, often in extreme temperatures, heavy workloads and a fast-paced environment. Sometimes the blood and sweat poured into each day goes unnoticed.

However, the Air Force has recognized one 4th Fighter Wing Airman for his hard work, dedication and leadership. Staff Sgt. Jason Williams, 4th Maintenance Group quality assurance (QA) inspector, has been awarded the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Thomas N. Barnes Crew Chief of the Year Award.

Through work ethic and dedication, Williams has risen to the top of his career field, but he said it hasn't always been the norm for him.

"[The hard working conditions] can easily get the best of you," he said. "Eventually, you just become numb to it."

For Williams, being numb can be taken literally. After finishing technical school, his first assignment landed him at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. On the flightline, where protection from the elements was minimal, he was finally able to put his mechanics training to the test.

"Just seeing the guys on the flightline for the first time was pretty cool," Williams described. "Actually seeing how [the flightline] works really made me excited to get started."

After almost four years in Alaska, Williams was reassigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. with the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. As a native of Clayton, N.C., the Carolina skies were a welcomed sight.

Williams began honing his skills and taking on more responsibility. He didn't mind the fast-paced, long days; in fact, he thrived and developed as a leader of his fellow maintainers, according to his supervision.

"The leadership he brought to the table, day-in and day-out, really made him stand out," said Master Sgt. Dean Kunz, 4th AMXS aircraft section chief. "He's an excellent leader and he understands what a leader is supposed to do."

As Williams' role continued to grow with more responsibilities, so did Kunz's admiration for the crew chief's work ethic. When the time came to nominate Airmen for the Thomas N. Barnes Award, Williams' name was at the top of his list.

According to Kunz, the award package went through a "murder board" within the unit, meaning every supervisor had a hand in writing and editing it. Once the final edits were made, the "pure gold" package competed against the other three AMUs in the wing.

After defeating other strong competitors, Williams contended with other wing selectees at the Air Combat Command level, consisting of 22 wings total. Again, his standards rose above the rest.

Finally, he competed against other major command winners. After meticulously analyzing and grading all of the submissions, the award review board selected Williams.

"It means a lot to me to be selected at the top of my career field, but at the same time, there are a bunch of other people who deserve it just as much as I do," Williams explained.

During the selection process, Williams was reassigned to QA; a position he said allows him to focus more on teaching younger Airmen.

"The best perk about QA is that I can teach while I'm on the flightline, which I love," Williams said. "Here, that's my focus; training and teaching."

Even before his transition, Williams said he would always make time for his crewmates if they were looking for help. His passion for training others has also drawn him to consider becoming a tech school instructor in the near future.

According to Staff Sgt. Phillip Butche, 4th MXG quality assurance inspector, Williams' knack for educating others is what made him stand out as the Air Force's best.

"What makes him a great leader is his ability to keep guys focused and teaching them when they have questions," Butche said. "He has a good attitude about his job and that really helps the people you work with. That's hard to find out here."

Since winning the award, Williams and his co-workers said his attitude hasn't changed. He's still the same hard-working, humble Airman and though he may get a few extra jokes from the other Airmen in his office for winning the award, he wouldn't want it any other way.

"Work ethic defines a lot of people," Williams said. "You have to come into work each day ready to get the job done so you don't leave a mess for the next shift. Put in a good day's work and you go home happy knowing you did your best."

For Williams, his best is also the Air Force's best.

Military working dog monument dedicated

by Mike Joseph
Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Public Affairs

10/28/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- The first national monument dedicated to U.S. Military Working Dog teams was unveiled in a ceremony here Monday.

The dedication and unveiling ceremony completes a quest to nationally recognize military working dogs and handlers started in 2001 by John Burnam, a Vietnam scout dog handler and author of two books on military working dogs.

"This is a great day for Joint Base San Antonio and the Department of Defense," said Brig. Gen. Bob LaBrutta, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander. "To the working dog members and the dogs in the audience, this is your day. I'm so glad Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland could be the home of this monument. "

The Department of Defense Military Working Dog program, the world's largest training center for military dogs and handlers, has been based at JBSA-Lackland since 1958. The DOD Military Working Dog Veterinary Service and the Holland Working Dog Hospital, the largest for military working dogs, are also located on JBSA-Lackland.

The monument's main granite pedestal features the U.S. military's four prominent working dog breeds since World War II: Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois.

A nine-foot tall bronze dog handler represents all U.S. military dog handlers who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the war on terrorism. Another design feature is the "Not Forgotten Fountain," a fully functional bronze dog and handler water fountain that epitomizes the bond between dog and handler.

"As a nation we owe our war dogs a tremendous debt of gratitude," said Burnam. "Their selfless service, loyalty and sacrifices to our country must never be forgotten. The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is a treasure for us all to ensure they are honored and remembered forever."

The monument is located on the southeast corner of Air Force Basic Military Training parade grounds on JBSA-Lackland.