Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Face of Defense: Army Brothers Enjoy Friendly Competition

By Army Sgt. Angela Paraday
121st Public Affairs Detachment

AUGUSTA, Maine, Dec. 3, 2013 – “I think it is awesome,” Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph Emery said. “I can’t wait until I get pilot in command so I can fly with him. It is pretty cool. Not many people have the opportunity to fly side by side with their brother, so I consider myself pretty blessed for this.”

Emery is a pilot with Company C, 1/126 Aviation Regiment. His younger brother, Army Warrant Officer Candidate Nick Emery, left for Fort Rucker in Alabama in early November so that he could take the first step in becoming a pilot like his brother.

Nick, who said he had always looked up to his big brother, first joined the Maine National Guard six years ago. At that time, he needed something more fulfilling in his life than college.

Nick has been working on the electronic systems on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for Company C. When he returns from flight school, he will be able to fly. Joseph said he’s more than happy to share his experiences with Nick, but he retains a brotherly competitive instinct.

“I am sure that whatever I did in warrant officer candidate school, he will try to one-up me, Joseph said. “It’s good for him -- a challenge. But I am going to have to dig up all my old grades, just to make sure. It’s just part of who we are.”

Joseph didn’t start out wanting to fly. He enlisted 11 years ago as a cook. Then after his first deployment, he requested a transfer to an infantry unit. After his second deployment, he decided he might want to be a pilot.

“The decision to go from infantry to pilot, was based on my experience with the last deployment and working with the helicopters,” Joseph said. “Not working on them but having them bring us places, drop things off for us and provide cover for us, I really got to see their role in the mission. It has definitely been an evolution for me, deploying as a cook and seeing the infantrymen and saying, ‘Wow that’s awesome, I want to do that!’ Then I went as infantry and I saw what the pilots did and said, ‘Wow that’s cool, I want to do that!’ I think that’s it for me though, I don’t want to do anything else except fly helicopters.”

Joseph’s passion for flying seems to have influenced his brother who enlisted as a heavy construction equipment operator, joining the 262nd Engineer Company in Belfast, Maine. When the 126th was preparing to deploy, he made the transfer in order to go with them.

“I really love being in this unit. The people are awesome, we all get along,” Nick said about his first experiences with Company C. “I love working on helicopters.”

Being deployed with the 126th meant Nick had a lot of time to spend with current warrant officers and pilots.

“I realized, I really wanted to fly,” Nick said. “I have always had a passion for flight. Just seeing them take off is a really cool thing but I want to do it. I never thought I could actually be a pilot but then I checked the standards, I got all of the information and realized, ‘Hey I can really do this.’”

Both brothers, who grew up in Whitefield, chose to go into the warrant officer program because of their reputation as experts in their field. They both wanted to be experts at flying.

To obtain an aviation warrant, candidates must have proof of U.S. citizenship, a 110 score on the general technical testing exam, a high school diploma, a secret to top secret security clearance, pass the flight physical and be no older than 33. Technical warrants must be no older than 46. After retaking the test and completing the flight physical, Nick worked with Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Carlo Paratore and Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Darryl Stevens to complete the packet.

“Chief Paratore and Mr. Stevens are phenomenal at their jobs,” Nick said. “They did an outstanding job making sure we were well prepared and we had everything we needed.

Nick also sought out his older brother for some advice on how to tackle flight school.

“He told me to take charge when I got there,” Nick said of Joseph’s advice. “He said it’s not just a course you can slide though. You can’t keep your head down and go through the motions or you will get called on it. Be active and take on responsibility.”

Nick said he looks up to his older brother and is thankful to have him as a sounding board.

“He has been my role model for a long time,” Nick said of Joseph. “I have looked up to him in more ways than just the military. We have always been there for each other. He has always been there for me. We trust each other, kind of rare these days. But we can be completely honest with each other, and we have each other’s back. It is a pretty cool relationship we have because we are brothers, we are flight brothers, and soon, we will both be pilots and warrant officers. I think that’s pretty cool.”

While the two are looking forward to the opportunities ahead, Nick still has to complete warrant officer school. He carries around the Warrant Officer 1 patch in his wallet to remind him of what he’s working for, which is to not only complete the course, but graduate with a better overall ranking than his brother.

“I have to ‘destroy’ him in school,” Nick said. “I have to always one-up in everything. He set the standard pretty high in school, so it will make beating him that much sweeter.”

Resiliency remains a top priority for Team Fairchild

by Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

12/2/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash.  -- Resiliency has been, and remains, a main priority for the Air Force, and Team Fairchild has continued to implement training for all ranks.

Resiliency classes are taught at least four times a month to make it possible for Fairchild to reach Air Mobility Command's goal for 80 percent of Airmen on base to receive the training.

"The goal is to give people the skills and tools to help themselves, loved ones, peers, and those they supervise get through adverse situations," said Dawn Altmaier, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Installation Resilience Program specialist. "People will gain more tools to add to their tool box."

Resiliency is an occurrence of rebounding or springing back, and right now there are 13 master resiliency trainers on base who keep this program running. Along with these trainers, there are also resiliency trainer assistants, and these are Fairchild members who are able to bring information back to their squadrons.

"I feel this training is helpful in all aspects of life," said Master Sgt. Paula Barkhauer, 92nd Medical Group Optometry Clinic and a Fairchild master resiliency trainer. "I think the fact that we use videos and students' personal stories makes it more effective."

While some attending the training may have expected a power-point presentation, it is actually an interactive approach to get the information across and apply it to real life. There are many different discussions, ice breakers and humorous videos to keep it interesting and fun.

"The resiliency class takes the four domains of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and gives you skills to strengthen those domains," said Altmaier. "Those four domains are physical, social, spiritual and mental."

All of these domains are discussed, as well as techniques that may help with situations as serious as suicide prevention, that give people the skills in order to get out of mind traps and balance their thinking.

The base is currently using two variations of resiliency training, but is starting the transition to fully integrate the base to the Air Force headquarters training in December. Altmaier said there are some different aspects, but a lot of similarities as well, and the skills individuals will learn will be just as important and useful.

"Resiliency is necessary almost every day," said Barkhauer. "The skills taught in the class can be used to steer through life's small adversities, as well as overcome more significant crises."

60th FSS sweeps five award categories in AFSPC A1 Awards

by Senior Airman Marcy Copeland
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

11/27/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- The 460th Force Support Squadron earned five awards from the Air Force Space Command 2013 A1 Awards.

The 460th FSS award-winning Airmen and organizations include the following:

- Outdoor Recreation Program of the Year
- Tech. Sgt. Sharleen M. Joacin, Force Support NCO of the Year, Installation Level
- Airman & Family Readiness Program of the Year
- Fitness and Sports Program of the Year
- Youth Program of the Year

The 460th FSS hard working and dedication led to their efforts being recognized at the major command level.

"It is truly an honor to receive this annual team award as the best Airman & Family Readiness Center in 14th Air Force and AFSPC," said Cindy R. Stark, 460th FSS chief of Airman and family services. "Our focus is to provide services to senior leaders and commanders while assisting with enhancing individual, family and community readiness, resiliency and improving the quality of life for service members and their families.

"We are humbled and appreciative to be recognized for a service we enjoy providing daily to Team Buckley commanders, Airman, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard, retirees, their families and the Team Buckley community," she added.

The 460th FSS is a customer service squadron known for their support at places like the fitness center and outdoor recreation. Hosting events like the mixed martial arts match and serving a customer base of more than 88,000 active duty, guard, reserve, civilian contractors, retired and military dependent.

"I'm very proud that the fitness and outdoor recreation staffs have been recognized for the quality support they give to Team Buckley every day," said Debra Ponzio, 460th FSS chief of community and sustainment services. "In the FSS, our priority is customer service and support. We strive to make a positive difference in people's lives."

The amount of work and planning that goes into many of the programs and events supported by the 460th FSS including mortuary and casualty affairs, honor guard, education office and professional development programs all contributed to earning these awards.

"These awards represent the hard work the squadron does every day in support of Team Buckley. I am honored to be a part of the squadron, and I'm very proud of the award winners," said David Killman, 460th FSS director.

Team Andrews fulfills 8-year-old's dream

by Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer
459th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

12/3/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Team Andrews hosted its annual Pilot for a Day Program here Nov.22.

Ne'Veah Littleton, 8-years-old, was diagnosed with stage four Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a tumor on the brain stem. He was diagnosed in April 2013. The average survival of children diagnosed with DIPG is approximately nine months. The one-year survival rate is about 30 percent and the two-year rate is less than 10 percent, according to a website for DIPG patients, www.riahsrainbow.org  .

Members from JBA, along with partners from the community, joined together to treat Littleton like a world-class pilot and made him a pilot for life through the P4D program.
The program started in the 1990s at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas and began in 2005 at JBA known as P4D, the Pilot for the Day program, and is designed to give terminally ill children the opportunity to live out their dreams for a day and for their families to enjoy time outside the challenges of everyday living. The staff from Children's National Medical Center, Washington D.C., chooses the kids to participate in the program.

"The Pilot for a Day program has grown into a joint effort with all units on base and outside organizations," said Lt. Col. Rob Balzano, 201st Operations Support Flight commander and P4D lead coordinator. "It gives us, as military members, a chance to give back to the community and show our appreciation for their support."

Ne'Veah's day began with a special initiation as the P4D by taking an oath of office in front of a crowd standing at attention at the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron's auditorium He was given a flight suit, a flight bag, and the proper insignia to ensure he was within uniform regulations.

"An oath symbolizes personal beliefs and faith ," said Maj. Kara Sandifur, 459th Operations Group executive officer and P4D coordinator. "By promising to smile, have fun, and ask questions shows his belief that his disease doesn't control his life. He is still an 8-year-old boy who likes to have a good time".

Capt. Brad Lampel, a 201st Airlift Squadron mission pilot, was Ne'Veah's wingman, and took him to experience all the different JBA units. They rode in an F-16 fighter jet simulator and sat in a parachute harness at the 121st Fighter Squadron, toured a KC-135 at the 459th ARW, received a military working dog demonstration by the 11th Wing Security Forces Squadron, ate lunch on a C-40 aircraft, which is used to transport the First Lady of the United States, shot water out of water cannons off the fire truck, and he even got to call the tower to request clearance as they taxied onto the runway in a C-38 aircraft operated by the 201st AS. In addition, the team was able to sit in a helicopter from the Maryland State Police.

"I am his wingman for life, so we will always be in contact," said Lampel. "This is all very memorable. It's the greatest thing to happen to me this year- a highlight for sure."

When asked what his favorite part of the day was, Ne'Veah said he liked the dogs. And all the patches he received.
"I liked the dogs -- I liked the bad guy part. My favorite part was throwing the bone for him," he said. I got a lot of patches too. I don't even remember where I got all of them."
After all the stops of the day and many sugary snacks later, Ne'veah and his family headed back to the 459th ARW for a special ceremony.

Commanders and other representatives from all units attended the ceremony where they saw a slide-show of Ne'Veah's special day and presented him with coins, t-shirts, model aircraft, a fire-fighter helmet, and other items from the units. He received a signed shirt from the First Lady, a signed helmet from the Washington Redksins, a signed photo from Robert Griffin III, Redskins quarterback, tickets to a Redkskins football game, and a night at the Gaylord National Resort, National Harbor, Md.

"I am beyond speechless," said Matti Littleton, mother of Ne'Veah. "Everything you all have done is beyond memorable. Watching him smile has been my favorite part -- watching everything he wishes for really come true; everything is priceless. Any chance they give us to come back we will."

In addition to the gifts from the units, the Littleton family was informed that two months of their mortgage would be paid for on behalf of the Check 6 Foundation.

The Check 6 Foundation is a non-profit organization started by Balzano to help raise funds and awareness for the P4D program as well as the Veterans Wingman program. Funds are used to aid terminally ill kids and their families by helping with bills or other hardships. For more information on the Check 6 Foundation, visit www.check6.org

"Check six is a pilot term which means check your six o'clock, or, check behind you," said Balzano. "It is a term with an underlying meaning of 'I got your back' and the foundation does exactly that- we support these kids and families and try to help them."

Just because the day is over, does not mean Ne'Veah is forgotten.

Each year the program has a P4D reunion at the Joint Service Open House and all the previous kids who are able to attend are invited with their families and re-unite with their wingmen. Despite JSOH being cancelled this year, there are still plans to have a reunion with the pilots.

The P4D program occurs twice a year- once in the spring and once in the fall; and, Ne'Veah is the 14th pilot to take the oath. As the program is focused on children who are terminally ill, it has lost three pilots due to their illnesses.

NCO to commission as first lieutenant

by Staff Sgt. Angelique N. Smythe
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

12/2/2013 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- A noncommissioned officer from the 65th Force Support Squadron was recently selected to commission as a first lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Air Force.

Staff Sgt. Jacob Williams, 65th FSS Career Development craftsman, was so anxious he couldn't eat breakfast on the morning of Oct. 18. Some of the MSC applicants with whom he was connected on Facebook had already received notification of their selection for commission. Applicants who were not selected received no response. So far, he'd received nothing.

"We played wallyball during unit (physical training), and it was so hard to focus on anything because i knew the results were out," said Williams.

After PT, Williams visited the 65th FSS director, Jeff Adams, to ask if he'd yet received any word regarding the results. Williams said Adams strung him along for a while before finally presenting the good news. He'd been selected for commission.

"Seeing my name on the list was one of the most rewarding professional moments I've ever had," said Williams. "My wife, Jennifer, and I were shocked and thrilled. I'd heard the selection numbers were going to be low, and I was prepared to not be selected."

Sixty-seven applicants were selected into the MSC commissioning program:  36 civilian recruits, 25 enlisted and six Air Force Academy graduates.

Williams will wear first lieutenant bars Jan. 12, 2014, after separating from active duty as a staff sergeant  the day prior.

"There will be a commissioning ceremony, and I will be a first lieutenant with two years of constructive credit for having a master's degree," he said. Williams will then attend Commissioned Officer Training for five weeks at Maxwell AFB, Ala.

Medical Service Corps officers perform health service administrative duties in Air Force Medical Treatment Facilities.

During the application process Williams shadowed several 65th Medical Group MSC officers, including Col. Lorn Heyne, Lt. Col. Zoya Lee-Zerkel, Lt. Col. Richard Smith, Capt. Ryan McCrae, Capt. Katherine Hass, Capt. Gillian Taylor-Dorsett and Capt. Cody Hess, to gain an overview of their various responsibilities.

"It was evident that he invested his time wisely preparing for a commission in the U.S. Air Force," said Capt. Cody Hess, 65th Medical Support Squadron Resource Management and Systems Flight commander. "Williams' interpersonal skills, education and exceptional track record instilled confidence in his new MSC family. Confidence is earned when you combine determination, hard work and credibility. These ingredients are a recipe for success and we look forward to the great things from soon-to-be Lieutenant Williams."

Williams attributes his success to his mentors and goal-setting skills.

"Goals are very important; without goals, you will lose focus on what you are working toward," he said. "My next goal is to start working toward my board certification."

Williams knows the value of mentorship; therefore, he said he makes an effort to emulate people who approach challenges differently than he does rather than those who might be in constant agreement with things he would already instinctively do.

He also credits much of his success to his very supportive wife.

"My wife is the one person who is always there to pick me up and bring me back to earth when I need that," he said. "It has not been easy. Through the last seven years, I have taken classes through two deployments, a permanent change of station, studying for promotions, professional military education, birth of a child and also as my wife attended nursing school. I took days off from work around midterms and finals. I took school work with me on leave and vacations. Weekends belonged to whatever class I was taking at the time. My wife was amazing. I could not have done it without her support and understanding."

Williams, a native of McLain, Miss., enlisted in the Air Force in February 2006. After completing his Career Development Courses, he began taking classes and earned a Community College of the Air Force associate degree in Human Resource Management in 2008. Two years later, he received his Bachelor of Science in General Business from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Miss. He then graduated in December 2012 with a Master of Arts Degree in Global Business Management from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala. With a master's in hand, Williams quickly took to starting the MSC application process.

For his fellow Airmen who might consider commissioning, Williams advises, "Do your research and seek the program that is right for you. Find someone who has gone through the process and pick their brain. Attack your education. Get in and keep going. The harder you work, the more rewarded you'll feel when it's over. Never leave tuition assistance on the table at the end of the year; this is free money the Air Force wants to give you. Take it and do your best."

Kadena Airmen head to Forager Fury II

by Naoto Anazawa
18th Wing Public Affairs

12/2/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Approximately 40 Kadena Airmen deployed Nov. 26, with more than 240 airmen following them Nov. 30, to Andersen Air Base, Guam to support the Marine Corps-led Forager Fury II exercise.

Airmen from the 44th Fighter Squadron, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron, 909th Air Refueling Squadron, 18th Logistic Readiness Squadron and 18th Force Support Squadron will support the exercise; joining Marines from Marine Corps Air Stations Futenma and Iwakuni, Japan, and MCAS Miramar, located in California.

Forager Fury II is scheduled to take place Dec. 2 to 20 on Andersen, Tinian's West and North Fields, and the Farallon De Medinilla Target Range. FF II is firmly grounded in the successes and lessons learned from prior exercises conducted in the Mariana lsland Range Complex; and, provides an excellent opportunity for Air Force pilots to integrate with Marine pilots and work on their defensive and offensive counter air basic flight maneuvers.

"It's important for us to go out and practice our expeditionary skills, deploy as a squadron and go out together to learn to deploy with the airplanes as well as work in other places," said Capt. Aaron Osborne, 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle pilot. "This is a joint exercise so we can learn to interoperate between services. That's really important to us to get practice doing that."

Approximately 120 maintainers will be deploying from the 44th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and another 41 from various maintenance shops on Kadena.

"This exercise has a great deal of importance, particularly with us flying with the Marines, the integration between us and them. We don't often get interaction as far as flying and coordination," said Staff Sgt. Vincent Slupecki, 18th AMU avionics specialist. "I think it'll be a good opportunity to show our skillset and feed off each other, learn different techniques."

Training on Tinian and Guam will incorporate a variety of U.S. Marine fixed wing, rotor wing, and tiltrotor aircraft. Participating U.S. Marine Corps aircraft will include FA-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowler, KC-130J Hercules in addition to the Air Force F-15 Eagles.

ORE tests unit's readiness

by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

12/3/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Practicing now prepares the 402nd Expeditionary Depot Maintenance Flight for the real thing later. The team honed their skills recently during an operational readiness exercise at Warrior Air Base.

"Our primary mission is aircraft battle damage repair," said Capt. David Liston, 402nd EDMX flight commander. "This entire exercise revolves around how we would operate in the area of responsibility. The aircraft here are used to simulate battle damage, whether from bullets, mortars or ground mishaps."

More than 25 members participated in the ORE. An EDMX team typically includes those with sheet metal, electrical and fuels experience, as well as crew chiefs and specialized engineers.

The exercise allows teams to strengthen their worldwide deployment capabilities and to prepare for their wartime mission of offering a highly-trained and mobile force to rapidly assess and repair damaged aircraft to support flying operations.

"The main thing is making this as realistic as possible," said Liston. "Our mission in the AOR has changed; ABDR is very specific. The expectation overseas is that instead of doing temporary repairs, we do permanent repairs on aircraft. We're trying to now design different damages on aircraft for our technicians to repair that will be closer to a permanent repair situation they will see."

Hill selected to receive first operational F-35A aircraft

by 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

12/3/2013 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah  -- Hill Air Force Base was selected as the new home for the Air Force's first operational F-35A Lightning IIs.

Air Force officials chose Hill AFB after a lengthy analysis of multiple locations' operational considerations, installation attributes, economic, and environmental factors.

"Hill AFB is ideally suited to assure a successful path to Initial Operational Capability," said Timothy Bridges, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations. "The nearby Utah Test and Training Range provides access to one of the largest and most diverse airspace and range complexes in the Air Force. Access to high-quality airspace and ranges is essential for the first operational F-35A wing."

The decision culminates a nearly four year process that included an extensive Environmental Impact Statement that examined impacts on such factors as air quality, noise, land use and socioeconomics.

Hill AFB is also home to the F-35 depot, which provides fleet maintenance support, a key factor to the long term sustainment and readiness of the F-35A fleet.

Another strength of Hill AFB is the already established classic association between the 388th Fighter Wing (active duty) and the 419th Fighter Wing (reserve). This Total Force Integrated unit is capable of providing accelerated seasoning of new personnel to maximize the F-35A's advanced capabilities.

"This is great news for Hill AFB and we welcome the addition of the Air Force's newest, next-generation fighter aircraft," said Col. Lance Landrum, 388th Fighter Wing commander. "The F-35 is critical to ensuring our dominance over the battlefield in today and tomorrow's advanced threat environment. Hill is the perfect place for this weapons system given the nearby Utah Test and Training Range, our existing infrastructure, and continued support from the local community. We look forward to paving the way for its arrival."

"Flying F-35s alongside our active duty counterparts is a great example of the Air Force's 'Total Force' vision, which seeks to increase capability from new technology while leveraging the experience, stability, continuity and cost effectiveness of our Reserve personnel," said Col. Bryan Radliff, 419th Fighter Wing commander.

"Today's announcement that the fighter wings will host operational beddown of the F-35 Lightning II is certainly great news for Team Hill and the state of Utah," said Col. Kathryn Kolbe, 75th Air Base Wing commander. "Selecting Hill to host America's newest fifth generation fighter is a tribute to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings' rich heritage. It is fitting the 388th Fighter Wing become the first fully operational F-35 unit, just as it was with the F-16 in January 1979. The selection to place it here speaks volumes to the viability of Team Hill's commitment to our nation's security."

Construction on base to prepare for the aircraft is expected to start almost immediately in order to be ready to accept the first F-35As, which are scheduled to arrive in 2015. The base is projected to receive 72 F-35As, replacing the 48 F-16 Fighting Falcons currently assigned to Hill.

The F-35A, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft intended to be the Air Force's premier strike aircraft through the first half of the 21st Century. It is a multirole fighter that is expected to eventually replace the service's F-16 and A-10 fleets.

Joint Chiefs Chairman to Host Facebook Town Hall

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2013 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is looking forward to interacting with a range of people during a town hall meeting on Facebook this week.

Questions already are coming in to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s Facebook page, with more than 150 questions and comments so far over a wide range of topics.

People can submit questions in the comments section on the chairman’s Facebook page or vote for questions they want answered during the session, which starts Dec. 5 at 1:45 p.m. EST. The chairman will answer the questions from his Pentagon office.

Dempsey sees the town hall as a way to see what people are thinking across a range of audiences and to be able to interact with them on a personal level, said Air Force Col. Ed Thomas, the chairman’s spokesman. “The chairman believes in the value of social media,” he added. “He sees it as a way to reach out and get two-way interactions on issues, and a way to connect with the larger force and the public.”

The Facebook town hall continues the chairman’s outreach efforts. Every time he travels, he makes it a point to speak with service members, and he often holds news conferences in the Pentagon briefing room.

The most popular question so far asks if the chairman is taking song requests. He has been known to sing at some of his public events. On a more serious note, questioners from inside and outside the military are asking about the budget battles here, leader development, civilian-military relations and the future of the force.

People from Australia to Europe have asked questions about U.S. relations with China and North Korea, the military rebalance to Asia, the situation in Syria, and what happens in Afghanistan after 2014.

As of 4:30 p.m. EST today, the chairman had 35,843 followers on his Facebook page. If this event proves successful, Thomas said, Dempsey will host more.