Monday, November 18, 2013

Face of Defense: Marine Follows Dream, Becomes Drill Instructor

By Marine Corps Cpl. Pedro Cardenas
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif., Nov. 18, 2013 – For Marine Corps Sgt. Adi Luminare, migrating to the United States provided an opportunity to have a better life than his family had in Romania.

“I always wanted to be a drill instructor ever since recruit training and once I was promoted to sergeant, I volunteered,” he said. “In my mind, if I became a drill instructor, I could help Marines with anything.”

Luminare, 28, grew up in the Romanian capital of Bucharest in a poor family, and he learned to appreciate the simpler things in life because of his tough childhood. His father worked several jobs to provide for the family while his mother stayed at home. Sometimes, he said, multiple jobs weren’t enough to support a family of eight.

“It was hard, because food was scarce,” he said. “You had to save and eat rations. Our desserts were soggy bread with sugar on it. We had to boil our water and then pour it on us in the tub to shower.”

Despite all the hardships, his family remained close, Luminare said, and in 1991, the family’s luck took a good turn. His cousins, who lived in the United States, registered his family in a special sponsorship lottery that pays all expenses for those chosen to move permanently to the United States. The Luminare family was selected.

“I was only 7, but I remember my parents were jumping for joy,” the sergeant said. “People in Romania only dream of America.”

The drill instructor said he remembers looking at all the signs in the airport and not knowing what any of it meant when he arrived in the United States on Feb. 14, 1991. People asked questions, he added, and his family used signs to communicate.

Luminare had never attended school, but shortly after his arrival, he was placed in the second grade. He used phonics to learn English, and he adapted quickly to the American way of life. After high school, he moved to North Carolina and started his own granite countertops business. He met some Marines at church, he said, and liked the way they presented themselves, so he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps.

“I started talking with the Marines, and it was the dress blue uniform that got me,” he said. “I didn’t even think about the other branches.”

Luminare shipped off to recruit training Sept. 22, 2008, and was impressed with the drill instructors. Their demeanor and their knowledge about the Marine Corps enticed him to aspire to become one of the best himself, he said. He worked hard after recruit training to be promoted quickly so he could apply to drill instructor school as soon as possible.

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, three years after he enlisted, he was selected to be meritoriously promoted to the rank of sergeant. He was promoted on March 2, 2012, making him eligible for drill instructor duty. Immediately after his promotion, he volunteered to achieve one of his life goals.

“I followed my dream [and] my plan, and I made it,” he said.

As a drill instructor, Luminare said, he pushes his recruits to their limits so they learn to be the best they can be.

“He is passionate about training recruits and genuinely cares,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Eric Flores, senior drill instructor and Palmdale, Calif., native. “He is very demanding and expects the best from the recruits he is training.”

Luminare said he will make the Marine Corps his career, passing his experiences on to the next generation of Marines, leading by example and never giving up.

“I’m going to teach them to have morals and values,” he said. “Most importantly, the lesson is that your family is always there to get through the tough times.”

World War II veteran revisits regiment in the Last Frontier

by Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
4-25th IBCT Public Affairs

11/18/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Paratroopers with the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment welcomed one of their own as they celebrated their storied unit's service and history.

Vincent Speranza, an 88-year-old World War II veteran who fought with the regiment in the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne, Belgium, was the unit's honored guest for a two-day area of operation tour complete with a head-table seat at this year's regimental ball. Speranza's top agenda was visiting paratroopers, he said. The spry 88-year-old reveled in storytelling as paratroopers hung on every word about his tales from the front line.

"Mr. Speranza is a real legacy to the 501st, and he took part in the battle at Bastogne, and the fact that he could come here almost 70 years later and really connect with the guys on a level you don't see very often is amazing to see," said Army 1st Lt. Matthew Carstensen, the 1-501st Infantry's headquarters company executive officer. "His connection to the airborne community and the 501st is pretty much unbounded."

Speranza was a paratrooper assigned to H Company, 3rd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, during the siege at Bastogne in December 1944. While there, from the snow-covered ground at his fighting position, Speranza engaged in his first firefight against German forces.

Since then, the Army's units have undergone many changes including transitioning the 101st Airborne Division into a unit specializing in helicopter operations. The 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment moved to Alaska, and it is the last of the regiment still on jump status. The 1-501st Infantry is now a part of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

"I didn't keep up with anything for the first 65 years after the war," Speranza said. "When I went searching finally in 2009 for my friends, I found out that the 501 was the last of the jumpers, and the 101st Airborne Division had become a helicopter unit.

"I asked where the 501 was, and they told me they're in Alaska," he continued. "So, I wanted to visit Alaska and my old regiment of jumpers, and I'm not sorry I came. They are a fine bunch of people.

"I have been made proud all over again ... when I hear and read about what they have done in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I have talked in depth with some Vietnam boys," said Speranza. "The idea that paratroopers are a special breed is true. They are. They are America's pride, and I think more people should know about it.

"I want to remind America that our military is the best, and the best of the best are the parachute troops," Speranza said with a laugh. "Although, I'm a bit prejudiced I'm sure."

The 501st Infantry is a proud organization with an extensive history, including being the Army's first operational airborne unit. The unit's paratroopers said they were thrilled to have Speranza join them as they conducted an airborne operation aboard Alaska National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Speranza donned Army extreme cold-weather gear and boarded the aircraft for a scenic flight and a bird's-eye view of paratroopers leaping off and descending onto JBER's Malemute Drop Zone.

Familiar with Alaska because his son lived in Wasilla for more than 20 years, Speranza said he was happy to visit the 49th State again.

"I love Alaska, because I was always an outdoorsman," he said. "I love to hunt and fish, and Alaska is the last frontier. I love to be out in the woods. I went out caribou hunting one time and we were 600 miles from civilization. So, we were out in the woods."

Speranza made the trip to Alaska from Springfield, Ill., accompanied by his granddaughter, Emilie Yeager.

"He really loves doing this, and he is just super-honored to be here," Yeager said.

The beautiful Alaska landscape was just icing on the cake for Speranza, as his real reason for visiting was reconnecting with the unit he went to war with nearly 70 years ago. A gifted story teller, Speranza shared some of his thoughts and experiences.

"When the war started, I wanted to get in the fight badly," he said. "I was only a 16-year old kid in high school, and in '41 when the Japanese attacked, I just couldn't believe it. How dare they attack the United States, and in a sneak attack like that!"

At 18 years old, Speranza joined the Army as an infantryman and was assigned to the 87th Infantry Division at Fort Jackson, S.C. While there, he witnessed his first airborne operation, when his unit watched a parachute demonstration.

"They marched us all out into a field, and we sat down and waited, and suddenly three C-47 [Skytrains] came out of the sky, and the doors opened, and it was this brand new thing we had never even heard of," Speranza said. "Men came floating out of those airplanes and onto the ground. They came and lined up in front of us, shiny boots, silver wings, and great looking people. The lieutenant came up and said, 'This is the United States Parachuting Corps and we're looking for a few good men. Who wants to volunteer? You have to have had full infantry training, plus advanced infantry training, and advanced weapons.' Well, we were all of that, but we hesitated ... 'Throw yourself out of an airplane with a piece of silk hanging there?'... and then he said, 'There's 50 dollars a month jump pay.' All hands went up! They selected a few of us, but I saw it as a quicker way to get into the fight, and that it was! Five-weeks of jump school at Fort Benning and over we went."

Shortly after the war, Pfc. Vincent Speranza completed his enlistment and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. He went on to lead a successful life, getting married, and finding his lifelong profession as a history teacher.

His legacy, along with all paratroopers who have served in the Army stands as a testament in spirit, pride, and accomplishment for others to emulate.

"I think it's important to understand where we came from and what those guys started with," said Capt. Andrew Boyd, the company commander for A Company, 725th Brigade Support Battalion. "They were the best of the best, and that's what it means to be in an airborne community."

"Mr. Speranza's visit has been rich and rewarding for every paratrooper in the battalion," said Army Lt. Col. Tobin Magsig, commander of the 1-501st Infantry. "You can see it on their faces. After talking with him, they stand straighter and stick their chests out."

"Every paratrooper is a historian in some form or fashion," Magsig said. "Who doesn't idolize those who went before them and paved the way for our airborne forces?"

Speranza plans to do more traveling in the future, including another trip to Belgium to visit that frozen piece of battleground where he fought all those years ago. Also on his to-do list is one more jump, and not a tandem one either. He said he plans to exit the aircraft on his own.

Carter Pays Tribute to Nine DOD Honorees

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter honored nine Pentagon employees today with the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, which recognizes exceptional devotion to duty that leads to significant contributions in policy, science, technology and administration.

At a Pentagon ceremony, Carter, in referring to the budget situation that triggered the recent government shutdown and furloughs, said it’s times like these that make it important to honor DOD’s outstanding employees “who have made significant contributions for our country, and to get a chance to see the incredible impact that dedicated employees can make."

Carter noted that despite the challenges faced by DOD, the military and the country, the honorees exemplify the qualities and determination that allow the department to meet the challenges “head on.”

Citing great variation in the awardees’ contributions, Carter said one recipient increased the defensibility of DOD’s information network and transformed the way information is collected and shared; another mitigated national security risks of foreign investments; and still another investigated health risks for servicemen and servicewomen deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m particularly proud of the many initiatives made by our honorees that focused on leading the urgent needs of our warfighters on the battlefield,” Carter said. “Many of their efforts have also saved the department billions of dollars, which is also appreciated during these times of shrinking budgets and fiscal uncertainty.”

A single individual was selected for the ninth-annual DOD David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration Award, named for the late “mayor” of the Pentagon, 55-year “Doc” Cooke, which was established in Cooke’s name to recognize one person each year who demonstrates top leadership potential as a future federal executive.

Expressing gratitude for DOD’s civilian workforce in a time of budget uncertainty, Carter said civilians continue to care about national defense. “You get to wake up every morning and take part of something that’s bigger than yourself. And for that, [Defense] Secretary [Chuck] Hagel and I and the entire department … are incredibly grateful,” he added.

The award honorees are:
--DOD David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration Awardee: Josiah A. B. S. Dykstra, technical lead, computer network operations advanced research team, National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Md.

Recipients of the DOD Distinguished Civilian Service Award are:

--Lonny A. Anderson, director, technology directorate, NSA, office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence

--Dr. Steven F. Butler, executive director, Air Force materiel command

--Jo Ann Decker, acting principal deputy, assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management and comptroller

--Carl Gotzmer, research physicist, naval surface warfare center, Indian Head [Md.] explosive ordnance disposal technology division

--Robert S. Jack III, director, communications and information, Air Force global strike command

--Dr. R. Craig Postlewaite, director, force readiness and health assurance, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness

--Dr. Leonard A. Smith, senior research scientist, Army medical research institute of infectious diseases

--Frank W. Zardecki, deputy commander, Tobyhanna Army depot.

Beverly Bulldog 14-01 in full swing

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

11/18/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The peninsula-wide operational readiness exercise Beverly Bulldog 14-01 kicked off Nov. 15.

As with all exercises, this one was designed to test the adaptability and combat capability of U.S. Forces Korea personnel and pinpoint areas of readiness that could be improved upon in the future.

Col. Sean DeWitt, 51st Fighter Wing vice commander, said BB 14-01 could be a game changer for Osan.

"We're looking for surprise and flexibility," DeWitt said. "I hope that everyone has noticed that this is different from any other exercise that we've done."

Although this exercise promises to approach training from a different angle, some things never change. Practicing the tactical-level execution of higher headquarters taskings remains a cornerstone of Osan exercises.

"In our wing priorities, our maximum weight of effort goes to realistic and robust readiness," Dewitt said.

To help hone that readiness, DeWitt said exercise scenarios should be approached with a real-world mindset.

In some instances, however, it can be difficult to respond to a situation the same way one would in a real-world contingency. DeWitt said if a situation arises that requires a response that would risk harm to an Airman or damage to equipment, then Airman should work with their wing inspection team to figure out how best to simulate a safe response.

As the week looms ahead, DeWitt stressed the importance of keeping a positive attitude, no matter what.

"In the end, in any exercise you get out of it what you put into it," DeWitt said. "Have a sense of urgency, and give yourself the maximum opportunity for training."

Anchorage honors female veterans, history in ceremony

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs

11/18/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Department of Veterans Affairs hosted the Women Veterans' Appreciation Day ceremony Nov. 8 at the Loussac Library.

The VA hosted the ceremony to honor women who have been in or are currently in every branch of military service as a way to thank them for their sacrifice and service to the nation.

The few women who could join the Women's Army Corps, which started in 1942, were limited to nursing, clerical work and dirtier work like making bullets and guns for Soldiers because they were not allowed to fight alongside men.

"The truth is that women have been serving this great nation since its birth," said Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.

There was a separation of skill sets between men and women.

Men would go into battle while the women tended to the Soldiers who were wounded.
"Many people do not realize that women played an important role in military history dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War who were invisible heroines of the time," said Susan Yager, Veterans' Affairs Women Veterans' Director.

A former Alaska resident, Mary Louise Rasmuson, was one of the women who had an important role in the military.

She served as the commandant of the Women's Army Corps in 1957.

Her contributions to the WAC and her military service inspired the Rasmuson Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations in Alaska as they pursue their goals.

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was one of the first 1.8 million women veterans who defended the United States.

She contributed to the U.S. Army during the Civil War in 1864 as a surgeon for the Union Army and in 1917 was the first woman to receive a Medal of Honor for her work. She passed away two years later.

Her legacy lives on in the Army's Dr. Mary E. Walker Award.

This award recognizes Army spouses who contribute their time, going above and beyond to make the quality of life better for Soldiers.

The hard work and determination from Walker, created an imprint on future servicewomen and the changes that were slowly incorporated to let women do everything men could do.

"The challenge has been to remove the barriers to those who serve this nation," Begich said. "We have done that, and there are few, if any, barriers for women serving alongside male counterparts."

In January 2013, the Department of Defense lifted the 1994 ban on women in combat, combining the skill sets both men and women can bring to the fight.

The Women's Veterans' Day Ceremony brought veterans an opportunity to understand the services the VA offers, and to commemorate women veterans like Mary Louise Rasmuson, Mary Edwards Walker and Army Capt. Diana Levesque.

"I deployed in 2004 to Kuwait," said Levesque, commander of Company E, 1st Battalion,
207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard. "It was a great experience and it helped me grow as a person and as a Soldier."

Of the many women who have fought in the Global War on Terror, there have been 159 killed in combat according to

One of these women was Army 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell from Ephrata, Wash., assigned to the 1-207th Aviation.

Campbell was in a UH-60 Black Hawk when it went down near Tal Afar, Iraq, during a reconnaissance mission.

"Women now serve in every branch and every rank in our military," Begich said. "These are the women who have persisted and refused to take no for an answer when serving this nation."

"I believe that being in the military is a great honor, and I think every woman should be in the military," Levesque said. "I think being in the military even if it is only few years, people can have a chance to find themselves."

Service members past and present share experiences

by Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard
JBER Public Affairs

11/18/2013 - PALMER, Alaska -- Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's 3rd Operations Support Squadron braved hazardous road conditions to give thanks to the men and women of the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers' Home on Veterans Day.

The facility in Palmer was built in 1971 on the former site of the Alaska State Fairgrounds, and used to be known as Eden Alternatives Home.

The Alaska legislature approved development of the state's first veterans' home in May 2004.

Air Force Master Sgt. Adam Roberts, 3rd OSS first sergeant, organized and gathered eager volunteers from the 3rd OSS to attend the ceremony more than an hour away from the base.

"The 3rd OSS has been coming out to this event for years," Roberts said. "For just having a major snowstorm yesterday, the turnout was still pretty good. Any time we can reconnect with any of the veterans is an important event."

Seventy-five percent of the 79 beds in the home are designated for veterans,
and 25 percent are available for non-veterans.

The Alaska Veterans and Pioneers' Home houses more than 40 veterans who have fought in multiple wars and and from multiple branches of service.

"We have veterans here that served all the way back to World War II," Roberts said.
Before the ceremony, current and prior service members discussed their experiences in the military and what Veterans Day means to them.

"It's important to come out," said Chief Master Sgt. John Rozell, 3rd OSS superintendent. "Look at their sacrifice; to me it's worth braving the snow and roads to get out here.

"Veterans Day means to me, reflecting on our service and honoring what our past warriors have done for their country," Rozell said. "I'm always humbled when someone thanks me for my service."

After spending some time talking with residents, the ceremony opened with words from Mrs. Celia Conrad, the activities director for the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home.

"We are here today to honor our service members for the sacrifices that they have made and the courage it takes to defend honor, duty and country," Conrad said. "We stand in the midst of patriots and the families of those who have served. Thank you for answering the call of duty."

During the ceremony Girl Scout Troop #75 presented the state and national flags.

Veterans young and old rose from their seats and stood as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Alaska Senator Ed Willis, also a veteran.

The ceremony continued with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, a message from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and a poem written by a veteran.

Conrad spoke again about the importance of the ceremony as it concluded. "This is a tribute to those that have fallen and the families who have lost," she said. "This is a way to say we remember. From the Soldiers who shivered and starved at Valley Forge, the doughboys crouched in the trenches of France, the platoons that patrolled the hazy jungles of Vietnam, and the young men and women patrolling the mountains in Afghanistan, we remember and honor them all."

Seawolf ROTC cadets visit JBER squadrons

by Air Force Staff Sgt. William Banton
JBER Public Affairs

11/18/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- For most college students, a room containing bar stools, emblems featuring the image of an English bulldog and an actual bulldog would mean little more than a good time on a Friday night.

For the men and women standing in the 3rd Wing's 525th Fighter Squadron's heritage room, it had a different meaning.

For the prospective Air Force officers of the University of Alaska Anchorage Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps Detachment 001, this room represents the beginning of a day full of real insight into what it will be like to serve the United States military.

The 3rd Wing opened its doors Nov. 8, providing UAA Air Force ROTC with direct access to the officers and Airmen who ensure it stays combat ready for rapid worldwide deployment.
"I think it's great for their morale to see the operators in action, but also being more aware of the commitment they are about to take and understanding a little more about the mission," said Air Force Maj. Jill McGraw, UAA Air Force ROTC associate professor of aerospace studies. "We are lucky to be in close proximity to a base, and I believe we are creating more prepared officers for the Air Force."

In the past, the UAA Air Force ROTC was only able to visit one or two squadrons at a time, McGraw said.

This is the first year the program is able gain a full operational focus and understanding.

"I think it opens their eyes to the military community, as far as what it contributes to this nation, and how they can participate and become good citizens of the world," McGraw, said.
Chelsea Owens, UAA Air Force ROTC cadet, echoed McGraw's sentiment.

"I'm not even on active duty yet but I feel like the people we've experienced are so amazing in the lives that they've touched," Owens said. "I think it's good that we are training to be in this position."

Owens said the opportunities provided by the ROTC's four-year program, like the tour of the 3rd Wing, help form cadets into more rounded leaders.

"We are very fortunate to be so close to an installation to be able to take advantage of these opportunities," said Tech. Sgt. Maryjane Harris, noncommissioned officer in charge of personnel actions for UAA Air Force ROTC. "Some of our fellow detachments are three or four hours away from the nearest base, so it's very difficult for them to get hands-on."
The cadets stood at attention as Air Force Col. David Nahom, 3rd Wing commander, entered the heritage room to welcome them to JBER.

Their day would include F-22 Raptor maintainers, 3rd Operation Support Squadron Airmen, the Air Traffic Control Tower, weapons briefings and F-22 and C-17 Globemaster III static displays, but first Nahom provided the cadets with a few words of wisdom.

"First of all, you are always welcome out here," Nahom said. "I encourage you to not just look at the jets and things like the flying. That was a mistake I made; I was a ROTC guy too, out of the University of Colorado, and when I got into the Air Force I knew nothing but about the flying mission. If I didn't fly, I don't know what I would have done."

Nahom concluded by pointing out the multitude of career opportunities in the Air Force - though the focus on this tour was the flying mission, he asked the cadets to  let him know if there is anything they didn't see he could help provide more information.

Alaskan Raptors: Leveraging the Total Force to build combat capability

by Air Force 1st Lt. Matthew Chism
JBER Public Affairs

11/18/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- An F-22 Raptor flightline expeditor jogs outside, breaching the wall of frigid night air. His focus narrowed on ensuring that his team has the tools and parts they need to fix the jets. Planning the next step in the process and communicating with the crew is crucial to completing the tasks efficiently. He and the other Airmen on his shift have rarely taken off their reflective belts in the last three weeks while working the midnight shift. There is no crowd to cheer them on, but their work will elicit a different type of roar in the morning.

This is just one of the functions more than 2,300 Airmen of the 3rd Wing and 477th Fighter Group perform to train and equip F-22s supporting the Pacific region. Twenty four hours a day, they maintain readiness as part of the Air Force's first F-22 total force team.

"About half of the 477th Fighter Group partners with the 3rd Wing to execute the F-22 mission," said Air Force Col. Tyler Otten, 477th FG commander. "Our primary contribution is experience and longevity. The 477th Fighter Group has been able to leverage those attributes by leading the standup of the Advanced Programs Office and filling critical roles in the operation--to include operations officer, Aircraft Maintenance Squadron chief, Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, fighter squadron weapons officer and many other duties in support of the overall shared mission."

This shared responsibility has led the units through three Pacific Command Theater Security Package deployments, numerous Red Flag-Alaska exercises and innovations like the C-17 Globemaster/F-22 rapid response capability.

From the basics of training to the refined level of deployments, the pilots, maintenance and support personnel have partnered to carry out the F-22 mission.

"We continuously seek opportunities to collaborate with our Total Force Integration teammates to solve operations and maintenance challenges associated with fifth-generation fighters," said Air Force Col. David Nahom, 3rd Wing commander.

An example of that capability is the Increment 3.1 upgrade, which enhanced ground mapping and targeting capability for Alaska F-22s. Though new technology is a force multiplier, the units also maximize home station readiness by combining active duty and Reserve work schedules.

"When it comes to the readiness of the unit and our ability to go to war, it is not simply about having more pilots," said Air Force Capt. Michael Frye, a 525th Fighter Squadron flight commander. "Rather, our combat capability in the Raptor has everything to do with quality of pilots that we put into the air, something that TFI allows us to do at a moment's notice."

"Traditional Reservists are absolutely critical in allowing the squadron to quickly plus up our manning in the event of some sort of contingency operation," Frye said.

It has been six years since the active duty and Reserve F-22 units in Alaska began this partnership. What began as a TFI has now become the normal way of doing business.

"The Reservists work side-by-side with the active duty folks every single day," said Chief Master Sgt. Neal Raben, 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. "You can't tell them apart. We count on them to have enough people day-to-day to accomplish the mission."

"The biggest benefit of TFI is leveraging the vast amounts of experience that these guys bring to the fight," Frye said. "I find that we rely quite heavily on the Reserve component to fill critical roles in our day-to-day operations."

When the first F-22 landed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, now a part of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, in August 2007, Air Force Gen. Paul Hester, then Pacific Air Forces commander, said "The unmatched capabilities of this superb airplane are simply unbelievable. It furnishes our Airmen with unrivaled air supremacy and provides us with the most lopsided and unfair advantages ever seen in the air power age."

Advantages of the F-22 are amplified by the TFI as the units focus on the core AF mission, "Fly, Fight, and Win."

"Ultimately, what brings the Total Force team together is our shared mission," Otten said. "The active and Reserve component members form a cadre of great Americans serving their country by providing air power for furthering U.S. national objectives. It is awesome to watch."

"Every day I see active and Reserve Airmen partnering to implement their innovative ideas," Nahom said. "We have to continue to leverage our respective strengths to bring more combat capability to the warfighter."

Altus AFB, Fort Carson Army Brigade leverage joint training

by Senior Airman Lausanne Genuino
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2013 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  --  Airmen from the 97th Operations Support Squadron, 58th Airlift Squadron, and Soldiers from the 1st Battalion (Attack), 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade based out of Fort Carson, Colo. conducted joint training here Nov. 13 - 14.

The training focused on the ability to prepare and load two AH-64 Apache helicopters onto a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft.

Initially struggling with operational demands and budget restraints, Soldiers were finally able to come to Altus AFB with the help of U.S. Air force Tech. Sgt. Nate Griesinger, who liaised between the two services.

"Since we're here at the formal training unit, our instructor cadre don't get a chance to see real world equipment like this very often," said Griesinger, a C-17 loadmaster instructor for the 97th. "It's an added bonus for the Altus AFB FTU loadmaster's proficiency to be able to load cargo that we don't usually see at Altus."

When it's time to deploy, their load teams will be responsible for loading the Apaches on the C-17, and that's why this training is so important, added Griesinger.

The unit varies in age and experiences, allowing a wide range of expertise to be shared. It's not common that these Soldiers are able to do this training with an actual C-17.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Waylon Kepa has been working on Apaches for ten years but this is the first time these group of Soldiers have been able to conduct training like they would in a real scenario.

"It's good to be here finally," said Kepa. "Training like this is important because we need to know how to be able to load the aircraft as fast and as safe as possible. I have faith in the guys and this training."

The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or deployed locations. A total of three Apaches can be loaded onto a C-17, depending on how they are configured in the aircraft allowing more helicopters to be deployed at one time.

The opportunity to train was well worth it for the 28 who traveled more than 500 miles to Altus.

"This unit will be more advanced than most of the Apache units in the Army ... I think they'll be one of the elite especially being able to come to Altus [to train]," said Master Sgt. Justin Hood, U.S. Army 25th Combat Aviation Brigade 1st Sgt.

Fighter pilot goes above, beyond call of duty

by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- "It was dusk, one of the worst times to use night vision goggles. The sun was going down over my right shoulder. The Mediterranean was dark and the sky was dark, like being in a gigantic black hole. It was hard to tell which way was up and which way was down. We started looking for targets outside of Tripoli. We had determined, by the amount of surface-to-air equipment there, the Gaddafi regime would be using it to target coalition aircraft. Eliminating the equipment was a high priority."

Maj. Adam Thornton, 56th Training Squadron instructor pilot, says he will never forget this mission. It was the longest mission he had flown, one in which he eliminated multiple enemy targets and earned an Air Medal for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Thornton was in an airplane on his way to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., from Shaw AFB, S.C., for a temporary duty assignment, when in midflight his plane changed course and headed back to Shaw. His unit had been activated in response to Operation Odyssey Dawn, the 2011 U.S.-led operation in Libya to implement a no-fly zone and prevent forces loyal to President Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on rebel forces.

Two weeks later, on a Thursday afternoon, Thornton got word he was deploying to Aviano Air Base, Italy, without word of how long he would be there.

"We got to Aviano on a Monday afternoon and by Thursday night I was flying my first combat mission into Libya," he said.

By then Operation Odyssey Dawn had transitioned into Operation Unified Protector, which was led by North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces. Coalition forces spent the next three weeks gathering information and preparing to move in, Thornton said.

"We were kind of standoffish over the Gulf of Sidra, waiting to shoot down radars," he said. "That progressed into us going over land into Africa looking for surface-to-air radars and missile sites."

Thornton flew his longest single sortie mission in Libya on July 10, leaving the lush landscape of Italy behind and descending into the darkness of Africa.

"We took off out of northern Italy just before dusk," he said, "and I could see the snow caps of the Alps going off into the distance, something I'm probably never going to see again in my life."

Thornton "fenced in," after arriving in the combat zone, checking his aircraft's avionics first, doing chaff and flare, ground system checks and getting ready to go into hostile territory.

It was not long after arriving there he found his first target.

"We located a straight flush radar that had been broken down into travel mode," he said. "We positively indentified it as part of the Gaddafi regime and in 15 minutes we had clearance to engage."

Thornton, along with his wingman, readied to move in.

"We pressed in using the sniper pod to generate coordinates for the bomb," Thornton said. "Typical time of fall for a bomb is about a minute, which is the longest minute of your life. When it struck the SA-6 radar, it was right on target."

The bomb hit the chassis and exploded, leaving the target burning neon orange.

Thornton and his wingman were then asked to assist another coalition strike force that needed their support. Thornton and his wingman, while on station, found another radar used for strategic SAM sites. Thornton again dropped his bombs and took out the target.

"It was a direct hit," he said. "When the bomb hit, the site looked like it was made out of paper mache. It left nothing behind but a hotspot in the ground."

Thornton had flown in the dark throughout these hits. All the lights on his jet had been turned off in order to remain undetected by enemy radar.

Thornton flew a total of 11 hours from takeoff to landing. For this mission, Thornton would earn an Air Medal, which is awarded to U.S. military and civilian personnel for single acts of heroism while participating in aerial flight in actual support of combat operations.

For Thornton, the most satisfying part of his deployment was not receiving a medal, but doing the job he'd trained for over the previous eight years.

"There were a lot of guys who received medals, but none of the guys who were there felt like they did anything special," he said. "I feel flattered for the decorations, but the most rewarding thing is doing the job you trained for."

Aerial gunnery training keeps Blackhawk crews accurate

by Capt. Zach Anderson
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

11/18/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- The pounding of the rotors fills the air as the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter banks sharply to the right, hugging the terrain in a shallow valley between mountain peaks. From the side of the aircraft, a crew chiefs peers out the open window, his hands resting on the handles of a M240 machine gun. As the aircraft levels off, the sound of the rotors is overtaken by the rattle of machine gun fire as the crew chief unleashes a hail of bullets onto a target below, firing until the weapon has expended its supply of ammunition. The crew chief calmly releases the trigger and begins reloading the weapon in preparation of the next pass over the target. There's plenty of ammo ready to go--in fact, the crew chief will fire a total of 1,600 rounds of ammunition before his aerial gunnery training for the day is completed.

The ability to fire the M240 effectively and accurately is a critical skill for members of Joint Task Force-Bravo's 1-228th Aviation Regiment. Because of this, members of the regiment conduct aerial gunnery training in order to maintain proficiency and currency on the weapon system.

"To stay current, we have to fire at least 300 rounds every 180 days," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Lamont, the 1-228th standardization instructor for non-rated crewmembers. "It's important to maintain currency on the weapon in case of a deployment or any type of mission that may require it."

Crew members train on firing the weapon in a variety of conditions. During a recent training session, members practiced firing the weapon from a UH-60 that was equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks. The large outboard tanks, which sit directly next to the gunner position, pose a unique challenge.

"The tanks force you to have a smaller window for firing the weapon," said Lamont. "Because we normally fly with the tanks on, it's important to practice that. There are lockout blocks in place so the M240 doesn't move. The crew chiefs have to practice reaching out, pulling the weapon in and changing the ammo can. It's all about consistency, going through the motions and practicing accuracy on target."

U.S. Army Spc. Brad Spencer, a crew chief assigned to the 1-228th, participated in a recent aerial gunnery training session, during which he fired the weapon for the first time with the auxiliary tanks attached to the aircraft.

"A big thing is learning the difference in having a full range of movement without the tanks as opposed to firing with the lockout blocks, just getting used to firing in that limited range of moving the weapon," said Spencer. "But after getting used to that, it's a matter of looking downrange, seeing where the bullets are hitting and adjusting to hit the target."

To maintain currency, members must fire in both day and night conditions. Lamont said firing at night presents some distinct challenges as well.

"At night, wearing the night vision goggles, you have to deal with the muzzle flash from the weapon, which can white out your goggles," said Lamont. "That can bother the pilots as well, so the pilots have to get used to that and the crew chiefs have to get used to moving by feel. The training allows them to go through the motions, to learn muscle memory and how to change out the ammo can without any mishaps."

Lamont said the training serves two purposes: To keep members current as well as to increase their skill with the weapon.

"It's a good skill to have, and if you are more accurate, it means less rounds you have to put downrange and the target is eliminated sooner," said Lamont. "But it's a skill you have to keep current. If you don't use it, you will lose it."

The continuation of aerial gunnery training will ensure that the members of the 1-228th maintain this critical operational skill.

Med group's 'Super Teams' to improve access to patient care

by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The 78th Medical Group is the test base for the Air Force in finding a way to provide better patient care.

Using Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield's 'People, Process and Resources' framework, the 78 MDG this month has taken the Patient-Centered Medical Home model and modified it from a previous five-team concept to three 'Super Teams' in its Family Health clinic.

If it's successful, the Super Team model will be considered for Air Force-wide implementation.

"It took a lot of organization to try this out and to see if it works for the Air Force. We're confident this will improve efficiencies here," said Lt. Col. Christopher Paige, 78th Medical Operations Squadron commander.

The three teams, affectionately called Super Team Braves, Hawks and Falcons, consist of a medical provider, two nurses, and patient technicians and administrative support personnel.

With more health providers to choose from among each team, the idea is to increase the likelihood that patients will be seen by the same provider team, versus being referred off base.

Along with the team size, another change included the decentralization of appointments made in Family Health. When a patient now calls, instead of being patched into a main appointment line, they are scheduled through one of three "team" appointment clerks who can book more appropriately to their needs.

"By completely decentralizing appointments, we can shorten the gap and set up communication between not only nursing, but providers, technicians and admin staff," said Capt. Deana Porter, Family Health flight commander.

This also allows providers, whether they're a doctor, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner, the opportunity to build flexibility in their schedules by using their own staff to make appointments.

A third change was the addition of team administrative technicians, whose role it is to provide more office management, thereby reducing the burden on nurses and technicians who can continue providing direct patient care.

A kick-off celebration was held Nov. 5 at the base clinic, which was attended by senior leaders, as well as Litchfield, Air Force Sustainment Center commander.

Minot, Barksdale B-52 crews help save disoriented pilot

by Airman 1st Class Lauren Pitts
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

11/18/2013 -  MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  -- While the Minot-based, seven-man crew B-52H Stratofortress, HAIL13, and their Barksdale wingman, HAIL14, were flying over Alaska, they received a call for help from the Anchorage Air Traffic Control Center. The whereabouts of a small Cessna plane had become unknown after its pilot became disoriented after flying into bad weather.

Because the pilot dropped too low in altitude, ATC was unable to communicate with him over the radio, leaving him completely alone in the Alaska sky.

Capt. Andrew J. DesOrmeaux, 69th Bomb Squadron B-52 pilot, described the call they received over the radio from ATC asking for their assistance.

"They called and said they had a pilot over the radio squawking emergency and had completely lost contact with him," said DesOrmeaux. "They asked if we could try and find him and make contact. We didn't know if he was still airborne, or if we would find a crash site."

HAIL13 and its crew were approximately 200 miles away from the Cessna pilot's estimated location when they got the distress call. However, before committing to help locate the pilot, the crews of both jets needed to ensure their own well being.

"The first thing we did was calculate our fuel to make sure we had enough," said Capt. Joshua M. Middendorf, 69th BS aircraft commander of HAIL13. "We also had to ensure our wingman, HAIL14, would have enough fuel to make it back to Barksdale."

After ensuring they indeed had enough fuel to make the trip, HAIL13 headed directly west in search of the Cessna pilot.

One hundred miles into their detour, HAIL13 was able to locate and make contact with the pilot. He was flying low to the ground through a valley surrounded by rugged Alaska terrain.

"Because we were so high up, we were able to relay messages between him and ATC," explained Middendorf.

Communicating between ATC and the pilot, the HAIL13 crew relayed the weather ahead of the pilot and his best shot at finding the nearest airport.

As the pilot approached Calhoun Memorial Airport in Tanana, Alaska, HAIL13 was able to turn up the brightness of the air field lights over a common traffic advisory frequency, guiding the pilot safely to the ground.

"It was in the middle of Alaska on a Sunday night, there was no one there," said Middendorf. "We were probably his only chance at communicating with anyone. After our flight ATC personnel contacted our base and from their perspective, we saved his life."

Although both crews flew hundreds of miles off course, they did not allow the detour to compromise their mission.

"Something the 69th has been really mindful about is saving fuel," explained DesOrmeaux. "Because we were so diligent about being fuel efficient early on, it was no problem to go out there, fly back on course, and still make everything on time."

The fuel saved by the crew of HAIL13 in the beginning stages of the mission allowed them to fly faster back to their original course, putting them back on schedule. Not only did they meet schedule, HAIL13 and their wingman were able to complete every mission checkpoint, resulting in a successful mission.

Army Secretary Notes Wounded Warrior Progress, Challenges

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2013 – Army Secretary John M. McHugh acknowledged the depth and breadth of wounded warrior issues during a panel discussion at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif., Nov. 16.

Pentagon officials and stakeholders discussed the road ahead for military issues at the forum.

“We’re recognizing the kinds of psychological injuries that were never recognized previously,” McHugh said. “We’re struggling with … the great numbers of folks affected, the range of afflictions, and frankly, a lot of good intentions and not yet enough hard information on how to effect the most positive treatment.”

The secretary described results and the ongoing need for progress following more than 12 years of war. “It’s really the dimension of making sure all these terrific warriors and their families … are cared for in the most effective manner possible,” he said. From the Defense Department’s perspective, McHugh said, challenges persist in balancing expedient warrior care with meeting their unique physical and psychological needs.

Suicide has been a problem in the ranks, and McHugh reported the Army’s commitment of significant time and resources at command levels to stanch the stigma of reaching out for help and to offer stress relief and resilience-building programs for people at risk.

“This is something that rips at all our hearts -- I sign condolence letters to every survivor, regardless of how that soldier dies,” McHugh said. But about half of those condolence letters, he added, are the result of suicide.

“To have a young soldier come back, get through a deployment in Afghanistan with people out there really trying to kill them and then lose their life like that is just heart-wrenching,” the Army secretary said.

McHugh also explained that DOD officials have worked with the Veterans Affairs Department to help in reducing the backlog of wounded warrior claims, adding that VA may be caught up by August.

McHugh also praised the willingness of people to step in help veterans.

“The people of this country today want to do more things in more ways to care for the wounded warriors who have left the military service than any other time in our nation’s history,” he said, citing examples that included a fellow panelist, actor and activist Gary Sinise, and similarly notable advocates.