Military News

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hickam NCO remembers grandfather during Dec. 7th ceremony

by Staff Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs


12/10/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Tears prick the corner of Tech. Sgt. Andrew Shepherd's eye as he accepts the folded flag in honor of his late grandfather, Marion Shepherd, at the December 7th Remembrance Ceremony at Hickam Field, here.

Shepherd, who's assigned to the 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, had the unique opportunity of attending the remembrance ceremony on behalf of his family and being a participant - an experience he said left him "utterly speechless."

"Today was different than I expected it to be," he said after the ceremony. "I knew it would be emotional, but it was almost hard for me to keep my composure at times ... there are really no words to describe the moment. Being able to participate gave me a chance to honor my grandfather and show my gratitude to him and his comrades on a personal level, and I'm thankful for having had the opportunity."

Marion Shepherd was assigned to Hickam Field after enlisting into the Army Air Corps, and survived both the December 7th attack on the base and the Battle of Midway in 1942 before passing away at 89 years-old when Shepherd was nine years old--but not before leaving a lasting impression on his grandson who enlisted in the Air Force nearly 10 years later.

"I'd always thought my grandfather had an interesting story and it definitely did influence me joining the military and volunteering to come to Hawaii," said Shepherd. "He's definitely remembered as a hero in my family, and whenever I drive to and from work ... and I see the hangar he worked in or the old consolidated barracks he lived in it's a reminder that grandpa was here. It's a very sobering moment, a very cool memory."

Shepherd said he'd found out about the annual ceremony, which pays tribute to the fallen heroes and survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Hickam Field, shortly after permanently changing station to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in August 2013. Given his family's history he was eager to get involved with the event.

"I was raised in a very patriotic family," he said. "I remember grandpa's patriotism. He had a flag at the house he would raise and lower every day and his medals were on the wall and I think that was passed down to me through my father. Days like this reinforce that patriotism for me."

The Wyoming native said though he'd learned of his grandfather's historical past when he was a child, it wasn't until growing up and joining the military himself that he gained a full appreciation for his grandpa's service himself.

"Grandpa left quite the legacy in our family and Dad was really proud of me for joining the Air Force," he said. "I'll never forget the first time I deployed he told me that he knew his dad would have been proud of me and that made me feel pretty good. I was proud because I knew what I was doing was bigger than myself and I was honored to be doing something that would have made someone I always looked up to proud of me."

In addition to honoring Marion Shepherd, the ceremony recognized four Hickam Field attack survivors as well as a host of family members who were in attendance on behalf of their loved ones who were killed in action or deceased. Shepherd said that was the best part of the ceremony for him.

"The symbolism of seeing them present the flags to the survivors and the families was overwhelming," he said. "Those flags represent everything we stand for, and it was a very emotional moment for me."

Shepherd said it was surreal being able to talk with men who'd worked with is grandpa when he was stationed at Hickam.

"It was awe-inspiring talking to guys who had worked with grandpa," he said. "I met a widow whose husband was on the same flight my grandpa got shot on in during the Battle of Midway, and that to me, is what these types of events are all about. I'm proud to know his memory is still being honored even though he's since passed on."

Though this was Shepherd's first opportunity to participate in a remembrance ceremony, his family members are actively involved in events and Shepherd said he's a firm believer that it is necessary to make sure people always remember.

"Everyone remembers Pearl Harbor because so many lives were lost, but it's unfortunate that most people don't remember the other places that were attacked and the other service members that were lost," he said. "These types of events are necessary because it's our small way of showing that we remember them and to express our gratitude for their sacrifices. Some of these people gave everything ... they gave their lives and there's no real way that we can ever repay that other than to keep honoring their memories and remembering their sacrifices."

Misawa Airmen master the wing change

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/10/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Two days of knuckle-breaking work comes down to one single moment as two Airmen stand under the wing of an F-16 Fighting Falcon, finding the most comfortable stance to test their strength against its weight.

As Master Sgt. Jeffrey Cornell and Airman 1st Class Randall Dennery lay their weight into the wing with a simultaneous push, pungent fuel from inside the wing splashes the hangar floor. It's the sound and smell of accomplishment, as it signifies the separation of the wing from the jet.

As the wing is wheeled away, it leaves the body of the jet looking something like a bull without its horns. It's only temporary - a replacement wing sits in the hangar next door - but Cornell said the reward of reaching the halfway point is a whole different animal.

"It gives you the feeling like you killed a bear with your hands," said Cornell, an assistant shop chief with the 35th Maintenance Squadron. "It's a big accomplishment. Not a lot of people can say they've torn the wing off an F-16."

Cornell is right -- most people can't say they've spent a week fighting a 700-pound piece of metal, but it's become a regular occurrence for Airmen in the Aircraft Fuels System Repairs shop.

Ever since an Air Force-wide inspection on more than 1,700 F-16 wings uncovered corrosion discrepancies that required mass wing replacements, Misawa maintainers have mastered the art of an F-16 wing change. What started as a month-long learning process more than a year ago has transformed into an expedited operation that can now be completed in about a week.

They've changed 11 wings in the past year-and-a-half, making Misawa responsible for executing nearly 15 percent of F-16 wing changes across the Air Force.

Having a fleet of 44 F-16s, the workload at Misawa has seen a significant increase. Maj. William Adams, 35 MXS operations officer, said maintainers were able to combat this by making the fuel cell the go-to shop for wing changes. It's a job that's earned them the nickname "Wings-R-Us" around the flightline.

"It's one of our busiest shops in the maintenance group," Adams said. "Our fuel technicians are smart, skilled, talented and dedicated."

While essentially teaching themselves how to most effectively flip the wing of one of the world's most powerful machines, Airmen within the fuel cell were able to further expedite the process by coming up with a few valuable time-saving techniques.

Adams said they designed a method to pre-assemble wing change seal kits and through Pacific Air Forces, acquired a pneumatic sealant scraper tool that's cut removal time in half. They also built a hydraulic bolt extraction tool for wing attach bolts, which are no walk in the park, as each wing possesses 16 wing attach bolts.

"Sixteen bolts may not sound like a lot, but it takes a lot of patience, effort and a few different minds to throw at the airplane to get the job done," Cornell said. "Each bolt torques at 400 to 600 foot-pounds. To equate that, your typical four-cylinder car has around 90 foot-pounds of torque the engine produces. It's a tremendous amount of pressure."

Working under pressure is something these Airmen are used to, and if things stick to schedule, that won't be changing anytime soon. Adams said the high demand on wing changes has Misawa slated for at least five more in the foreseeable future.

"We have to understand we have to press on with the job and keep forward motion on these because they're coming in back to back," said Staff Sgt. Brent Cratty, 35 MXS, lead technician on the shop's most recent wing change.

While the fuel cell Airmen are the catalyst of the operation, they're quick to spread the credit to all the shops that play a role in the overall process.

"Everyone plays a role in making this mission happen," said Cratty. "It's a total team effort."

Cornell said the entire process takes around 160 hours of hands-on work. It's tedious, it's repetitive and most importantly, it's rewarding.

"The feeling of accomplishment once we're finished is like saving a life," said Cornell, who has completed five wing changes. "Our role plays a big part in our mission of defending and keeping people alive all over the world with these jets."

Duffy stresses situational awareness, good judgment

Commentary by Air Force Col. Brian P. Duffy
JBER and 673 ABW commander


12/12/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Arctic Warriors, a recent uptick in our JBER team members being needless casualties in off-duty incidents, in some cases not too far from the installation, has me very concerned.

The Office of Special Investigations recently accomplished a criminal threat assessment using local, state, and federal law enforcement agency sources demonstrating while the overall criminal threat remains moderate, there are areas within Anchorage identified as having higher risk for crime, including violent crimes. I highly encourage you to increase your awareness of our surroundings and understand our environment.

To assist you, the Municipality of Anchorage Police Department publishes a daily "Crime Map;" you can view this important resource at: http://crimemap.muni.org/. While this is not a complete accounting of all incidents and, as described therein, as "preliminary data...subject to change," it can serve as a valuable resource.

Another area that requires our undivided attention is alcohol-related incidents.

Unfortunately, over consumption of alcohol too often leads to serious consequences such as driving under the influence, domestic abuse, sexual assaults and even firearms mishaps. We're certainly not proud to report that JBER team members recorded more than 140 DUIs on and off the installation during Fiscal Year 2013.

Two months into the new fiscal year, we are on pace to pass last year's rate by 20 percent. I ask you to please join me in saying "Enough is enough," especially when you consider the numerous sources of assistance available should all other plans fail.

Finally, we cannot underestimate the realities of living in Alaska; after all, this is the arctic. Abundant wildlife, severe weather, agitating tides, and harsh terrain present their own challenges that have unfortunately claimed too many lives this year.

I encourage you to maximize your time at JBER and enjoy the community and surrounding areas, but to do so safely and responsibly so we can continue our important efforts in defense of our great nation.

Aviano Airmen define resilience

by Senior Airman Briana Jones
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/11/2013 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Nine Aviano Airmen shared their stories of resiliency during Aviano's 'Storytellers' event, Dec. 6 at the La Bella Vista Club.

Demonstrating great resilience in the face of abuse, death, motorcycle accidents and life-altering events, the Airmen spoke in front of a full audience in hope that other Airmen will learn from their experiences and know that it is okay to ask for help when it is needed.

The Storytellers forum, created in 2012, began in response to an open question from former Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy on how to create community connections and open dialogue among Airmen.

"Resilience to me is a way to bounce back from adversity," said Master Sgt. David Dries, storytellers participant. "Life may beat you down, it may feel like the world is out to get you, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay positive, use your support system and keep moving forward. Don't let anything keep you down."

Dries spoke about a motorcycle accident he was in that claimed the life of his passenger. He was driving a friend home when, sitting at a stoplight, he was struck from behind by a distracted driver texting on her phone. Hitting the motorcycle at 45 mph, the impact sent him and his friend flying more than 135 feet. His friend landed just five feet in front of him--dead. Dries was on convalescent leave for two months and fell into a deep depression.

Dries soon sought help after realizing his depression was only getting worse, he wanted to finally move on with his life and with the support of his leadership, fellow wingmen and base agencies he finally did.

"I decided to get over my depression and press on forward with my life and not let this hold me back," said Dries. "My advice to those who are going through something right now is that no matter what life throws at you, you can get through it. Keep a strong mental focus, and know that you are never alone."

Personal tragedies come in many forms and people have different ways of dealing with them. Senior Airman LaShana Muller, a storyteller participant shared her personal struggles with the audience, and told them how she persevered and became resilient.

Muller spoke about being trapped in an abusive relationship, suffering through molestation and bullying, and how she got through it.

Muller said her leadership was very supportive of her and helped her get to where she is now, and she felt that her story is a good example of how your wingman cares as long as you let them.

"To the Airmen who are going through tough times right now, I want to tell them to hold on, stay strong. You are beautiful and you are not alone," said Muller.

As the event organizer for the second year in a row, Tech. Sgt. Eva Henry, hopes that once Airmen see that others can truly relate to what they are going through, they will seek assistance and understand that they too can get through difficult times.

"Storytellers is meant to build resiliency in our Airmen through a very memorable interpersonal experience," said Henry. "I saw it positively impact many people and I truly wanted even more people to understand that difficult times are temporary."

Henry stressed that every Airman has a story and every Airman has the ability to change someone's life for the better.

"I really just want to help people who may be undergoing hardships," said Henry.

Overall, the event encouraged Airmen to seek out help when in times of trouble, whether through their chain of command, fellow Airmen, mental health professionals or base chaplains.

"You do not have to face everything you have gone through alone--open up to people, let them in and let them help," said Muller.

Joan Orr Spouse Award nominations due Jan. 31


by Gloria Kwizera
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs


12/12/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- Nominations for the 2014 Air Force Association Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year Award are due to the Air Force Personnel Center by Jan. 31.

The award honors significant contributions made by non-military spouses of Air Force military members and covers achievements from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.

The nominee's spouse must be serving in the Air Force (on active, Air National Guard or Reserve duty).

Organization and base-level personnel must contact their major command, combatant command, field operating agency or direct reporting unit for applicable suspense dates and additional information regarding nomination procedures.

Each MAJCOM, COCOM, FOA or DRU may submit one nomination.

For more information on Air Force recognition programs and other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil.

Hagel Warns Ukraine Not to Use Military Against Protestors


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday warned his Ukrainian counterpart against using the military to quell demonstrations over President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to shelve a trade agreement with the European Union.

Hagel spoke by phone with Ukrainian Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedyev, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement summarizing the call.

“Secretary Hagel warned Minister Lebedyev not to use the armed forces of Ukraine against the civilian population in any fashion,” Woog said. “He underlined the potential damage of any involvement by the military in breaking up the demonstrations and called for restraint.”

Lebedyev stated that it is Yanukovych's position not to use the armed forces against the protestors, Woog added, and said he would pass Hagel's message directly to Yanukovych.

U.S., Georgian Defense Officials Meet at Pentagon



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 – Senior defense officials from the United States and Georgia met at the Pentagon yesterday for the U.S.-Georgia Bilateral Defense Consultations.

Evelyn N. Farkas -- deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia -- co-chaired the meeting with Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Misha Darchiashvili, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

“These productive high-level ministry-to-ministry talks were an important opportunity to review our defense relationship and set the course for our cooperation into next year and beyond,” Lainez said in a statement summarizing the meeting.

In the meetings, she added, the leaders discussed all aspects of defense cooperation between their countries, including Georgia's defense reforms, preparing Georgian units deploying to NATO's mission in Afghanistan, wounded warrior care, and other areas of defense cooperation that will help Georgia meet its NATO partnership goals.

Farkas told Darchiashvili that the Defense Department remains committed to its strong partnership with the Georgian Defense Ministry and looks forward to continuing and strengthening all aspects of our close partnership and defense relationship, Lainez said.

Syracuse Career Transition Program Now Includes Spouses



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 – The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University in New York has expanded eligibility to enroll in its Veterans Career Transition Program to spouses of eligible veterans and active duty service members.

This allows these spouses access to online courses along four professional tracks that will help them gain knowledge, skills and certifications that civilian organizations seek in their employees, all at no cost, institute officials said.

The deadline for spouses and eligible veterans to register for courses that begin in January is Dec. 15.

The Veterans Career Transition Program delivers career-focused online training to transitioning U.S. military members, members of the Guard and reserves, post 9/11 veterans and now military and eligible veterans’ spouses. The program is paid for in its entirety by JPMorgan Chase and Co., so participants don’t incur any costs or use their education benefits to take part, officials said.

“The Veterans Career Transition Program has helped many veterans successfully transition into civilian careers – and that’s why we’re expanding it to military spouses,” said Maureen Casey, managing director of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. office of military and veterans affairs.

“Our aim is to position military families for post-military service success,” Casey added. “Through VCTP, veterans and spouses can add to the valuable skills they already have and gain additional knowledge, skills and certifications that employers are seeking.”

Program participants select an independent study track or follow education tracks in Professional Skills, Technology or Human Resources -- a new course of study that will begin in January.

Mike Haynie, executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, noted that every service branch includes people who have worked in human resources, project management and information technology.

“Where they struggle in the civilian job market is with professional certifications that military training doesn’t provide,” he said. “The Veterans Career Transition Program helps veterans and military spouses meet the requirements to fill growing demand from companies for skilled, experienced workers.”

'A Generous Season' at 14th Air Force and JFCC SPACE

by Maj. Larry van der Oord
14th Air Force Public Affairs


12/11/2013 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- The men and women of 14th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Command for Space have dedicated this holiday season to giving back to the community around Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Eight teams of approximately 450 Airmen and joint partners participated in an effort to accomplish more than 3,850 hours of volunteer service in the local area.

The three-month long service competition culminates Dec. 14, 2013, at the organization's holiday party where Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, JFCC SPACE and 14 AF commander, will announce winning team members of the campaign appropriately themed, 'A Generous Season.'

"This effort extended as far north as San Miguel and as far south as Port Hueneme," said Master Sgt. Jim Desgrange, non commissioned officer in charge within the requirements branch of the 14th Air Force communications directorate and lead for the community service endeavor. "It has been an amazing competition, and we have been fortunate enough to positively impact some outstanding organizations."

With a focus on areas such as community, fitness and education, the volunteer efforts of JFCC SPACE and 14 AF members supported youth after school programs, homeless shelters, youth sports teams, adult fitness classes and tutoring programs at various elementary, middle and high schools.

As part of his team's activity during the campaign, Desgrange helped lead two events to provide holiday parties for kids at a nearby homeless shelter's after school program and troubled youth at the Santa Maria Alternate Report and Resource Center.

"I think both groups of kids really enjoyed the parties we put together for them," said Desgrange. "It gave them a chance to paint ornaments, watch holiday movies, eat pizza and just enjoy this time of year."

Desgrange's team also worked with the kids to put together a surprise for guests attending the upcoming JFCC SPACE/14 AF holiday party.

"I think everybody in attendance will really appreciate what these kids came up with," he said. "We were lucky to have the chance to be part of it."

In the spirit of friendly competition, JFCC SPACE and 14 AF personnel are eager to see how their respective units fared when the final results are announced. However, the true spirit of the this year's campaign was prevalent across the entire organization.

"The 14 AF/JFCC SPACE team is full of people who have tremendous strength and, on top of that, the ability and passion to help carry those who may be in need," said Desgrange.

Hagel: U.S. Committed to Singapore Relationship



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 – The United States-Singapore relationship takes on particular importance in light of the Defense Department’s strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today during a joint press conference with Singapore Defense Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen.

The two defense leaders spoke to the press following a morning meeting, which Hagel described as “warm and productive.”

Singapore is making important contributions to U.S. counter piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, in addition to being a significant partner in Afghanistan, he added.

The defense secretary also noted that Singapore provides logistical support to U.S. military aircraft and ships operating in the Pacific Ocean.

“This … enables our forces to maintain a strong forward presence in that part of the world,” Hagel said.

During their meeting, Hagel and Ng also discussed new ways to increase bilateral collaboration in cyber and maritime security. The two countries are seeking to develop more complex exercises and to conduct additional exercises involving more nations, Hagel said.

China’s unilateral decision to expand its air defense identification zone into the East China Sea was an attempt to “influence the status quo,” Hagel said. And while the move has raised regional tensions, he noted, it will not change how the U.S. military operates in the region.

“The United States will continue to stand by our allies and partners in the Asia Pacific … [and] remains committed to the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific in every way and to our important partnership with Singapore,” the defense secretary said.

The U.S.-China relationship will impact all countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Ng said. There will be strategic competition, he added, but President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have indicated “that the Pacific region is big enough to accommodate both a resident power and a rising power.”

Existing platforms like the Shangri-La Dialogues and the upcoming meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can help prevent tensions and avoid conflict, Ng said. And the longstanding U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region has been a critical force for stability, he added.

It was in this light that Singapore signed a memorandum of agreement in 1990 to allow U.S. ships and aircraft to transit Singaporean naval and air bases, he said. A strategic framework signed in 2005 paved the way for the recent and future deployments of littoral combat ships, Ng added. These rotational deployments are expected to continue through at least 2015, Hagel said.

“The deployment of these ships is part of our commitment to a deepening military engagement in the Asia-Pacific,” Hagel added.

Yesterday, Ng visited the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Peace Carvin II F-16 Fighting Falcon training detachment at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary. The detachment also held an integrated live-fire exercise as part of the annual Forging Sabre exercise, and U.S. Marines demonstrated the F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft, Ng said.

The United States hosts several Singapore Air Force training detachments for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

Singapore is “seriously looking” at replacing its F-16 fleet with the F-35B, Ng said. But, he continued, “We're in no particular hurry, because our F-16s are still very operational, and they're due for upgrades. But it is a serious consideration.”