Military News

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Focus on my voice': Buckley hero saves 4 lives

by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury
460th Space Wing Public Affairs


12/17/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Without warning, a car races toward a red light on one of the busiest streets during rush hour. As the car picks up speed, it quickly closes in on another vehicle causing an unimaginable, life-threatening impact for the three other people involved.

What happened next was nothing but instinct and adrenaline for Senior Airman Robert Duchesne III, 2nd Space Warning Squadron satellite systems operator evaluator and also a volunteer firefighter.

As one car slams into another, sending it into a dizzying amount of spins, Duchesne, instinctively acts on his training as an emergency medical technician, immediately working to save the four people involved.

Duchesne was driving back from lunch when he became the first responder to a multiple vehicle crash. Because of his brave actions, he is credited with saving the lives of all those involved, including a possible cervical spine injury and a woman who was seven-months pregnant.

"I saw a lot of things as an EMT so this wasn't anything I wasn't used to," said Duchesne. "I wasn't scared. I stayed very calm, but it's because I've done this since I was 18 years old."

While safely maneuvering traffic himself, Duchesne quickly parallel parked his car behind the wreck. He diverted all eight lanes of traffic, making sure other cars stayed well away from the scene.

"That's what we'd do with our ambulance," Duchesne remembered. He was more concerned about a person being hit by an oncoming car than his vehicle.

Although the victims were slightly apprehensive at first, Duchesne believes his Air Force uniform helped put their minds at ease.

"I think they trusted me a little bit more with the uniform on," he said. "I just talked to them. Focus on my voice. You're OK. Everything's going to be OK,'" he reassured them.

When the fire department arrived on the scene, Duchesne directed the emergency responders toward the most crucially wounded, an older woman with a possible spinal injury who had veered off the road.

"I always follow the triage," said Duchesne, recalling what he learned as an EMT. "We learn to always start with the ones that need urgent care first-what patient's more critical."

Duchesne is the Buckley Air Force Base nominee to receive the Vanguard Award for his outstanding selflessness. The annual award is given to members of each military branch who perform a heroic act, resulting in the saving of a life or preventing a serious injury.

According to the Armed Forces website, the act must be a voluntary action, initiated by the nominee and not a result of directions or orders. It must have been a legitimate attempt to save a life or prevent serious injury to another person or persons.

Duchesne credits his motivation to help those in need with the way he was raised, recognizing his dad as his biggest inspiration and mentor. The smile lines around his eyes deepen as he remembers his childhood hero.

"I grew up seeing my dad helping everyone out," Duchesne recalled. "He was a police officer."

Duchesne acknowledged that growing up, like most teenagers, he didn't want to be like his parents, "But I found I'm everything like my dad," he said proudly.
Although thankful, for him it was just another day.

"To be nominated for this award seems selfish," a humble Duchesne explained. "I know any of us would have done the same thing. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It was just my job-not only as a firefighter, but as a member of the military."

"It feels good to make a difference in someone's life," he said, "to be there on their worst possible day."

Beauty and a Beast: Airman's road to becoming world's strongest woman

by Staff Sgt. N.B.
432d Wing/432d Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


12/16/2013 - LAS VEGAS, Nev.  -- It's not uncommon to see Alanna flipping a 600-pound tire, carrying a 200-pound keg or a 150-pound sandbag, or doing a 225-pound farmers carry; things her neighbors have grown to see as normal.

She can be seen at all hours of the day and night lifting weights or lugging atlas rocks around. Yet she doesn't just do this to work out, she does this to compete.

Her competition is a group of seemingly everyday women vying for a common goal: to be the best. They are the world's strongest women.

"I do this because it's important to me," said 1st Lt. Alanna, 42nd Attack Squadron intelligence training officer in charge. "I do this because I think I'm good at it."

The 24 year-old Maryland native attended the University of Delaware. During her junior year, a friend asked her to compete in a local strongwoman show. Adaptability proved crucial as the competition rolled on and she fought to stay in the game.

"My friend gave me two weeks' notice," Alanna commented. "I was literally learning the events as I performed them."

During the three years since she started competing, Alanna has earned many titles, including the title of World's Strongest Women in the 150-pound category at the 2013 Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, in August.

Training sessions require immense concentration, Alanna said winning doesn't come without personal sacrifice.

"My life outside the Air Force revolves around my training schedule," she said. "I train four days a week for about an hour and a half to three hours at a time."

During her sessions, she also trains to walk with 550 pounds on her back, lift a 200-pound axle over her head, and load up a 225-pound atlas stone.

Despite all her preparations, Alanna recalled her most memorable competition as a resiliency lesson learned.

"I competed in the America's Strongest Woman competition in 2011 and failed myself," she admitted. "I placed second by half a point and it motivated me to never again be in that position."

This loss reaffirmed every detail and effort mattered, no matter how small. Alanna uses this to motivate her Airmen when pursuing their own goals.

"I realized the difference between first and second place was mental discipline," she said. "If you remain focused you can accomplish anything that you set out to do."

It was through honing her mental discipline that Alanna was able to win the World's Most Powerful Woman under 75 kilograms in Glasgow, Scotland, in early October.

"Winning in Scotland validated my previous win in the 2013 Arnold Sports Festival and proved without a doubt, that I am truly the best," she said.

Considering her success, Alanna said the Air Force has been understanding and supportive of her fitness goals.

Although she has come a long way through the years Alanna said she keeps striving to meet her goals and once she meets a goal she replaces it with a more difficult one.

"Each competition gives me a new goal to work towards and, like joining the Air Force, gives my family something to be proud of," she said.

For now, Alanna is training for her next competition, the 2014 Arnold Strongwoman Championship which will take place late February 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.

Alanna embodies the Air Force's core values and says they play a huge part when it comes to not cheating yourself.

"Have integrity to push yourself past what you accomplished yesterday, stay fit to serve, and if you're going to do something push yourself to be the best that you can be," she said.

Winning big in Vegas, Peterson runner finishes first

by Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer


12/17/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Runners made their way through the twilight night, in and out of the glowing lights of Las Vegas, battling the heat and each other for a medaling position.

Peterson's own Capt. Jason Brosseau raised his arms and smiled as he crossed the finish line, clinching first place at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series in Las Vegas Nov. 17. On leave in Las Vegas following his deployment, with a cool Sunday night for running, Brosseau barely broke a sweat after winning his first marathon with a time of 2 hours, 35 minutes, 26 seconds.

"I ran division one track and field at Southern Illinois University where I did ROTC. I have always been a track guy. When I commissioned into the Air Force, it was a lot harder to find local track races, so I had to up my distance and started dabbling in 5k and 10k races, then half-marathons," said Brosseau, 76th Space Control Squadron crew commander. "Eventually I got involved with the Air Force's running team, where I started competing in a couple of different events a year - from the half-marathon at the Air Force Marathon to the Armed Forces Championship."

Brosseau credited his success in Vegas to the desert training he did while on a six-month deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Temperatures averaging more than 100 degrees with up to 80 percent humidity helped Brosseau acclimate himself for the full marathon in Vegas heat.

"I found the Vegas marathon while on deployment to Al Udeid. It's really hot and sandy there so being the runner I am, I kept up my miles on my downtime and went to the drawing board on when I thought would be a good time to do a race, because you train like you fight," he said. "I enjoy running, it is a hobby for me. It is something that I have been doing since I was a kid and it makes it even better when you can throw on an Air Force jersey and represent our force."

Brosseau returned to the United States after his deployment and wasted no time before heading off to Vegas to test his mettle. The 26.2-mile race started in front of Mandalay Bay, winding in and out of the city in a series of loops leading to the final stretch down the famous Las Vegas Strip to the finish line in front of The Mirage.

"In Al Udeid I would do laps around the base, running about 70 to 90 miles a week at night when the sun was down," said Brosseau. "We started the race at 4:30 p.m. and finished up around 7 p.m. It was cool, they closed Las Vegas Boulevard and we got to run right down the strip."

Brosseau paced Las Vegas resident Andrew Duncan--the two of them running in third and fourth place--for the majority of the race before beginning the battle back and forth starting around mile 23 and continuing to the finish line.

Runner Yon Yilma, of Edmonds, Wash., commanded a dominating lead of five minutes until he began to cramp and wane around the 23-mile mark, dropping the lead. The second place runner also fell back because of cramping, giving Brosseau and Duncan a shot for the win.

"Being a track guy, I know if it came down to a (sprint), no one was going to beat me. I could taste victory, (Duncan's) breathing was a little taxed but he was definitely pushing the pace with me. I thought to myself--be patient, be patient, let him do all of the work. The last quarter mile I opened up my stride and could hear his breathing getting further and further away from me," said Brosseau.

"I wasn't supposed to win. These kinds of things happen, you hate to have that kind of luck fall onto you but it happens, guys cramp up, people get lost on the course, people roll their ankle. It's just bad luck sometimes," said Brosseau.

Brosseau crossed the finish line first and beat Duncan by nine seconds, clinching his first title. "That's why it's called a marathon; you have to be in it for the long-haul."

21st SFS hones skills during shoot, move, communicate course

by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs


12/17/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Small arms fire, muffled footsteps and shouts for 'cover' filled the gun powder-drenched air of Peterson's former Exchange, while members of the 21st Security Forces Squadron maneuvered a Shoot, Move, Communicate course Dec. 4.

Tech. Sgt. David Stewart, 21st SFS trainer and instructor for the day, said the Shoot, Move, Communicate course prepares security forces members to effectively adapt and respond to one another while reacting to enemy fire.

"Communication is an extremely important aspect of reacting to enemy contact," Stewart said. "If you're not in constant communication with your partners, they can't cover you the way they should."

"Our Airmen get a lot of benefits from the course," said Stewart. "One of the biggest benefits is that (security forces members) become very proficient with their weapons and communicating with each other when responding to hostile actions."

Stewart said using simunitions, a paintball-type round, provides an added sense of realism.

"We are sending projectiles down range so we can judge students' accuracy," said Stewart. "As we move past the 'crawl' stage and we actually have 'enemy combatants' down range, we'll have rounds coming back at our students that are safe and allow them to get real-time feedback if they are not using proper cover or not using proper tactics."

Stewart added that this training provides an Air Force-wide standard of practice making it easier for security forces personnel from units around the world to integrate seamlessly.

"The course allows us to train to the same level so when we arrive in theater we don't have to take the initial time to get to know each other's tactics," said Stewart. "We're all trained to the exact same standards across the Air Force."

Stewart said when the Shoot, Move, Communicate course was first implemented at Peterson, security forces personnel conducted their training outdoors, on a remote area of the base, often in harsh elements.

"The benefit of using this facility is one; it gives us a place where we can conduct our training indoors, in a safe manner, and two; it is not adding any cost to the Air Force," said Stewart.

Stewart said he was grateful for the facility and security forces has plans to maximize training opportunities until the building is demolished once funds become available.

"Our future plans are to incorporate this facility into our active shooter training because this building is set up very similarly to high-risk buildings on base where we may have to respond to in the future," said Stewart. "In addition, we plan on setting up a Beam Hit range, an electronic system that uses lasers to target our weapon system and allows us to practice fundamentals."

As with any training, which incorporates live-fire exercises, safety is paramount.

"This facility affords security forces a great opportunity, but it is extremely important that people understand that we are using this as a range and it needs to be treated as such," said Stewart.

"We take several safety precautions when using our simunitions," said Stewart. "All students are required to wear ear protection and eye protection to ensure that there are no injuries."

Students also wear Kevlar helmets, which are mandatory, and body armor since this training simulates a deployed environment, said Stewart.

Stewart added that safety for the general public is also one of their major concerns.

"We've got several safety precautions in place to ensure that people do not come into our impact areas of the range and people need to ensure that they follow these procedures," said Stewart. "Signs are posted on all doors giving instructions on how to contact range officials or instructors if they need access to the facility. We would ask that people do not enter the facility without making contact with SF prior."

Anyone with questions regarding the Shoot, Move, Communicate course may contact 21st SFS at 556-4000.

Haney Charts Way Forward for U.S. Strategic Command



By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2013 – A month after taking the helm of U.S. Strategic Command, Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney is moving full steam ahead to continue bolstering the deterrence that protects Americans from what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel describes as “the world’s most complex and dangerous threats.”

Stratcom’s No. 1 mission is to ensure the United States has a credible nuclear deterrent that the president could call on at any time to go operational, if needed. Haney, with vast experience in the Navy’s ballistic-missile submarine fleet, said this mission remains paramount.

“Having a safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent is clearly important to our nation today, as it has been historically,” he told American Forces Press Service at the Pentagon yesterday.

To underscore that point, Haney immediately set out after arriving at Stratcom’s headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., to deliver that message personally to the nuclear force he calls the heart and soul of nuclear deterrence.

Haney visited Minot Air Force Base, S.D., and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and was headed today to Navy Submarine Base King’s Bay, Ga.

The visits, he said, helped him assess the state of various legs of the nuclear triad and developments within the force itself since he left his post as Stratcom’s deputy commander just under two years ago to command U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“I wanted to get out and pass my guidance to the teams,” Haney said. “I also wanted them to know they have my confidence and trust, and how important their mission is to this country of ours and how relevant it is today.”

Stratcom’s responsibilities have expanded beyond nuclear deterrence over the past eight years to include deterrence against a far more extensive set of threats and challenges. With that charter, the command also serves as the global synchronizer for ensuring space, cyberspace, missile defense and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities across the military.

All of these missions have a direct impact on U.S. military operations around the world, Haney noted. “What is neat about working at U.S. Strategic Command is that it is a global command,” he said. “As a result, it really allows me and my team to participate across the globe on strategic issues.

“In addition to our nuclear strategic deterrent mission, as you walk through all of our unified command plan responsibilities, there is significant connective tissue between our mission areas and what the other combatant commands do – particularly the geographic combatant commands that our nation depends on,” he said.

To chart the way ahead for Stratcom, Haney has set several key priorities that align its broad missions and responsibilities:

-- Deter a nuclear attack with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force.

This effort extends beyond the nuclear force and its operations to include modernization that ensures the reliability of the triad of ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear-capable heavy bombers, and provides an assured warning and command-and-control system and a safe, reliable nuclear stockpile.

“I am looking very carefully to ensure we are on course and making the right modernization decisions,” Haney said. “Those decisions go across every leg of our capability in the nuclear strategic domain, to include nuclear-control mechanisms.”

Recognizing the tough budgetary decisions ahead for the Defense Department, Haney said he will advocate for the most critical requirements, including the long-delayed Ohio-class submarine replacement and other modernization issues.

Haney said he’s grateful that leaders in the Defense Department and Congress recognize the importance of the nuclear triad and the need to modernize it. “The good news is that I am a part of the decision-making apparatus,” he said. “I’m able to ensure … through the [budget] deliberations that occur that our leadership understands what we need as we go forward.”

-- Partner with other combatant commands to win today.

Stratcom provides many of the capabilities that directly support warfighters on the ground and military operations around the world. Its contributions range from satellites that allow them to communicate, cyber defenses that protect their networks, and GPS capabilities that help them navigate and, when necessary, lock in on and engage targets.

Stratcom also coordinates the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that give U.S. and coalition forces a decisive edge on the battlefield that saves lives.

“We work diligently with our fellow combatant commands,” Haney said. “When you look across those [mission] areas, it is very important that we are able to work as a team and synchronize our efforts so that at the end of the day, we can win. We win by working together.”

-- Address challenges in space.

Stratcom’s mission includes ensuring space-based assets are available to support military operations and that these high-demand resources are used efficiently and effectively to promote mission accomplishment. But the importance of space extends beyond military operations, Haney emphasized.

“When you look at where we as a nation have gone in space and our dependency on it – not just militarily, but as a society at large – you realize how important it is and why we work that particular area,” he said. “There is just so much going on in space today that it clearly warrants our attention in how to operate efficiently and effectively and have that awareness we need [that enables people] to do everything from banking to understanding weather patterns.”

-- Build cyberspace capability and capacity.

“Our command-and control and communication structure and our network-centric methodologies all require continuity of the ones and zeros in the cyber world,” Haney said. Working primarily through U.S. Cyber Command, one of its subordinate commands, Stratcom focuses on protecting military networks, helping other combatant commands as well as allies and partners confront cyber challenges and building a strong cyber workforce.

“Cyber is a day-to-day business that we are all involved in,” both through addressing immediate challenges and “at the same time working on our strategic approaches to address this for the future,” Haney said.

“There is a lot of work going on,” he said. “There is also a lot of work to do, and our plans are moving forward to synchronize those efforts across all the other geographic commands.”

-- Prepare for uncertainty.

As commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, Haney frequently took people to the USS Arizona Memorial to talk about the history-changing events that occurred after the surprise Pearl Harbor attack. “Then you look at the variety of events that have happened since: the USS Cole [attack in Yemen], the Kobar Towers bombing [in Saudi Arabia], and the 9/11 attack,” he said.

Stratcom has a robust planning cell that studies “the way the world is,” the admiral said. But Haney also challenges its members to think “in terms of what we see and what we don’t see … and what we know and what we don’t know” so they can connect the dots in new and often revealing ways.

“Our ability to predict, and refining that capability requires dedication and effort, wargaming and analysis, intelligence and fusing that all together in order to work as best we can to prevent surprise,” he said. “So clearly, dealing with strategic surprise and uncertainty is at the top of that [priority] list. Our nation has been surprised in the past. So it is very important that we use our unique capabilities and fuse them together in order to deter conflict and, at the same time, be ready to respond, if called upon.”

As the U.S. military winds down combat operations in Afghanistan and the Defense Department rebalances toward the Asia-Pacific region, Haney said Stratcom will continue exploring ways to strengthen America’s deterrence posture.

“When you look at U.S. Strategic Command’s missions, they are enduring. These are missions that don’t go away with Afghanistan,” he said. “The business of strategic deterrence goes on day in and day out, and that is the piece that excites the folks who work for me. They are making a valuable contribution to our country, day in and day out.”

Dirt Boy family pushes snow aside

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Kee
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/18/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- As everyone who has been through a winter here knows, Misawa gets an abundance of snow. For those who don't know, it won't be long until another Misawa winter is in full swing.

Even after you bust out your shovel, ice scraper and start your vehicle 10 minutes earlier than usual, there may still be an obstacle in your way -- snow. Who's going to clear the way?

It's the job of the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron Snow Control team to clear all roads on base. But many people may not know they have a primary mission and may not get to certain parts of the base if the top priorities need tended to first.

"Our top priority is any portion of the airfield," said Airman 1st Class William Klein, a 35 CES pavement and construction equipment operator. "We try to maintain bare pavement as much as possible and keep the mission going. We have to ensure access to anything we need to maintain war readiness."

"Dirt Boyz" -- as they are more commonly referred to throughout the Air Force -- are the first to get the call when winter hits and the runway needs to be cleared.

Klein said this makes him and the rest of his team feel especially significant.

"It's a great feeling to know just how big of an impact we have on the base," said Klein. "There aren't a lot of opportunities for us to feel that way year-round, but during snow removal season it's very easy to see how we enable the base to perform the mission."

In some cases, their job can be a difficult task. From whiteouts, to clearing parking lots with cars parked idly on the snow covered blacktop, the snow control team has to find a way to fight through the white.

"A bad day out in the snow is when you are going to clear a parking lot and all of a sudden you get hit by a whiteout and you can't even move because you can't see anything around you," said Senior Airman Brandon Hotopp, a 35 CES pavement and construction journeyman, who has been in Misawa for three winter seasons.

There isn't much the team can do during whiteouts other than let it pass. But for the cars parked in their way while trying to clear a parking lot, Hotopp said they can call "Misawa's towing service" -- a forklift from the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron to move the vehicle.

"If people don't move their cars at the set times, we will call LRS and move it for them," said Hotopp. "I have seen them move plenty of cars during my time here."

It's important to adhere to the set times for parking lot snow removal so you don't have to face these consequences, he said.

With the holidays upcoming and snow sure to hit Misawa, Dirt Boyz have to be ready at a moment's notice to keep the roads and runways clear. For many, this may be a sign that more work is on the way -- which is true enough considering Misawa receives the most snow on average for any base in the entire Air Force.

Master Sgt. Daniel Draper, 35 CES NCO in-charge of pavement and construction equipment, said he thinks his team excels at the job because they don't stop working throughout the day.

"Although snow removal is at times tedious, I think the guys enjoy it because for the most part, they never have to get out of the equipment," said Draper. "They get to play in the equipment the whole time, whereas on a day-to-day basis in the summer, their piece of equipment might be a shovel. But now they're always in a piece of heavy equipment."

Snow removal is the primary duty during the winter season for Dirt Boyz and it can't hurt to enjoy the job.

"I think it's fun," said Hotopp. "Instead of sitting around and waiting for something, we'll be in equipment for eight hours of our day. It keeps you busy and allows us to focus on the job. I love being a heavy equipment operator."

The love he has for his work as a Dirt Boy carries outside his duties and into his relationship with his co-workers as well.

"When we get together, it's not just people getting together, it's Dirt Boyz getting together and we click pretty well," said Hotopp. "It has a kind of family feel."

Since the Airmen who make up this team can't take time off during the winter due to the amount of snow the base gets, having this family can greatly benefit them.

"We find the will to keep going through the job and each other," said Hotopp. "Being called in to me is like a teacher giving a student extra recess. It's not bad the fact I can't go home for Christmas like a lot of other people can. I have my Dirt Boy family here and we always try to have fun."

With each other, Dirt Boyz will continue to perform their duties and do their part to ensure the Misawa mission goes on.

"As Dirt Boyz, we feel we can do anything," said Hotopp. "No matter what scenario is thrown at us we will work together and find a way to get the job done."

Twins separated as boys now serve together

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Burke Baker
386th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA (12/18/13) - By any measure, Air Force Staff Sgt. Billy and Senior Airman Barrington Medeiros of the 143rd Airlift Wing had a tough childhood. Born in California, the identical twins - separated by only a minute - moved to Rhode Island at a very young age.

 For the brothers, life there wasn't easy.

"My parents had a checkered past," Billy said. "It didn't stop when we were born. So when we were 10 years old, the state stepped in and removed Barrington, my two sisters and myself from our home."

The brothers initially stayed at a group home for troubled youth while the state looked for a foster home that would accept them all together.

"It was interesting," Billy said. "It's hard to place that many children, and even harder to place teenagers, as our situation was getting close to being."

The children initially were placed in a foster home together, but it was a short-lived situation. The state separated them about the time the twins turned 13. Billy went to a foster home in North Kingstown, R.I., and Barrington went to a home in Scituate, R.I.

The two lived 45 minutes apart, and although they saw each other at least monthly, they never lived together again. "We stayed in contact, but we grew up apart," Barrington said.

"It was tough," Billy said. "I probably went to six different elementary [and] junior high schools and three different high schools."

When he was 20, Barrington said, he lived in a car for a couple of weeks. "It had a great view, over the laundry basket in the passenger seat," he joked. "I was never late for work, because I slept in the parking lot."

Despite the obstacles, the two Air National Guard members have used the lessons learned in their youth and now serve their state and nation through a combination of hard work and discipline.
At 24, Billy was the first of the pair to join the Air National Guard as an aerospace propulsion technician. Barrington enlisted four years later, joining his brother in the engine shop.

"He went away to [basic training], and I went away to Afghanistan" Billy said. "I wanted more out of life, and the Guard gave it to me - it really did."

"I wanted to do something that my kids could be proud of," said Barrington, who recently was promoted to senior Airman.

In late October, the brothers, who are stationed at Quonset Air National Guard Base in Rhode Island, deployed here as part of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. Though Billy has deployed multiple times, this is Barrington's first time.

"It's a lot less stressful than being here alone, I will say that," Barrington said. "There's no one else I'd rather be working with. There's no one else I'd rather have watching my back."

Air Force Maj. Christopher Peloso, the officer in charge of the brothers' section, said the twins have made a distinct impression on him.

"Having the Medeiros twins on this deployment has been a force multiplier to our aircraft maintenance unit," he said. "They're cut from the same cloth, which embodies hard work ethic, integrity, responsibility and accountability. To witness their success in life and on this deployment, despite the obstacles, is inspiring. I'm extremely proud to have them on the team."

The Medeiros brothers are similarly proud of their service.

"[Deploying] has definitely been something very positive," Billy said. "It offers something that most civilians will never see or do."

C-17 crew members reflect on Philippine relief efforts

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs


12/17/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- 
Days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippine's eastern seaboard Nov. 8, C-17 Globemaster III crews from the 535th Airlift Squadron began flying sorties in and out of the hardest hit areas as part of Operation Damayan.
 
Tacloban, the capital city of the Philippine Province Leyte, served as a staging area for international relief efforts, receiving more than 2,080 tons of food, water, machinery and other supplies from Pacific Air Force's aircraft. And what left from Tacloban with the aircraft bound for Manila, was their most precious cargo: people displaced by the storm.
 
Captain Michael Hank, 535th AS, the aircraft commander of the first C-17 to touch down in Tacloban, said this was an operation that will always stand out to him.
 
"Relief efforts like this are all about helping others out the way we would want to be helped in our time of need," Hank said. "Our C-17 crew was just a small part of the effort."
 
Hank and his crew flew 40 sorties in and out of the affected areas, evacuating thousands of people from the hardest hit areas to Manila, where evacuation centers were established.
 
"I can remember flying in and seeing [what seemed like] 20,000 people at the gates of the flight line waiting to get out of there," he said. "Many of the people we were flying out were women, children and the elderly, so it made it challenging sometimes."
 
Sometimes the crew members had to do things that they wouldn't normally do on other missions.   
 
"Me and a couple other guys on the crew had to carry some elderly women onto the aircraft; I couldn't speak their language and they couldn't speak mine," Hank said. "We sat them in their seats and buckled them in. The lady I carried looked at me with a smile on her face, put her hand on my face and kissed me on the cheek, and you just know that is a universal 'thank you.'"
 
Cargo pallets, heavy machinery, all-terrain vehicles, water purification units and first-aid supplies are just some of the relief items flown in to the area.
 
Senior Airman Dylan Porras, a C-17 loadmaster with the 535th AS, was on a different crew than Hank for the Operation, but flew similar sorties in, out and around the country.
 
"It's great to see that the Air Force has the opportunity and manpower to help the Philippines, and the fact that we help makes me feel good to do what I do," Porras said. "Not everyone has the opportunity to participate in this [Operation], so I'm glad I could help," Porras said.

DOD Aids State Department in South Sudan Evacuation

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2013 – Early this morning at the State Department’s request, the Defense Department directed two U.S. C-130 aircraft to evacuate 120 personnel from Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to Nairobi, Kenya, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters today.

The department also augmented physical security at American diplomatic facilities in Juba with members of the East Africa Response Force, Warren said, a Djibouti-based joint quick-response team formed after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In a statement to the media today, Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokesperson, said the United States is deeply troubled by the recent fighting in South Sudan.

“We call on the country’s political leaders to refrain from any action that could escalate an already tense situation or fuel the violence,” she said. “It is absolutely critical that political differences be resolved by peaceful and democratic means.”

Harf acknowledged the safe and successful evacuation of three groups of U.S. citizens from Juba in South Sudan this morning -- nonemergency chief-of-mission personnel and private U.S. citizens in the two C-130s, and a group of third-country nationals in a private charter flight.

“We continue to urge U.S. citizens to depart South Sudan and will work to arrange for additional transportation as necessary to accommodate demand, taking into account security conditions and availability of regular commercial flights,” she added.

“The Department of State expresses our sincere gratitude to Department of Defense colleagues for their critical assistance,” Harf said.

Also today, Susan D. Page, U.S. ambassador to South Sudan, met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit in Juba to discuss U.S. concerns about the continued violence, increasing death toll and growing humanitarian challenges, the State Department deputy spokesperson added.

With the president, Page raised the arrests of several opposition members and called on the government to ensure their rights are protected in accordance with South Sudan’s constitution and international humanitarian and human rights laws and norms, Harf said.

PACAF commander celebrates Singapore's 20th anniversary at Luke

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


12/18/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona -- The commander of Pacific Air Forces visited Luke Air Force Base Dec. 11 and 12, observing the Republic of Singapore's exercise Forging Sabre. The exercise and visit also coincided with the Singaporean air force's 20th anniversary at Luke.

Gen. Hawk Carlisle met with Maj. Gen. Hoo Cher Mou, Chief of the Singapore Air Force, and participated in a day of celebration. The day started off with an office call at the Wigwam Resort, then a parade at the 425th Fighter Squadron and ended with an anniversary dinner hosted by the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

"It's a great honor to be here for this historic event," Carlisle said to packed house of more than 300 people at a celebration dinner Dec. 11. "This day marks a significant milestone in the relationship between the USAF and the RSAF."

Attendees from the United States also included Ms. Heidi Grant, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs, and Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz, Air Education and Training Command director of intelligence, operations and nuclear integration. Other representatives from Singapore included Dr. Ng Eng Hen, the country's minister of defense and Dr. Lim Wee Kiak, Singapore member of parliament.

During the parade, Dr. Ng Eng Hen inspected the RSAF parade and gave comments, highlighting....?. [any quote from this on the RSAF-USAF partnership?]

At the end of the parade, Carlisle and Hoo unveiled the newly-painted tail flashes of USAF and RSAF F-16s, painted to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Peace Carvin II, the RSAF F-16 detachment which provides pilots with continuation training in F-16A/B.

Later that night at the anniversary dinner, Carlisle spoke on the partnership that the two countries have enjoyed over the years.

"I'm proud that Peace Carvin II has been a part of RSAF's transformation, enabling quality for the RSAF for the past 20 years," Carlisle said. "From bilateral engagements such as Commando Sling, to full scale multilateral exercises such as Red Flag, the RSAF has been a staunch supporter of high fidelity training with the United States for almost a quarter of a century. Incredibly impressive."

Exercise Forging Sabre is [insert brief description/goal of XFS here]. This year's exercise is the fourth in the series, which began in 2005. During exercise Forging Sabre, leadership from both countries travelled to Gila Bend in a CH-47 Chinook, where they observed bombing of dynamic targets on the Barry M. Goldwater bombing range.

From the command post, Col. John Hanna, 56th Operations Group commander and RSAF personnel watched the bombings on screen. F-15s, F-16s and AH-64 Apaches dropped guided bomb unit-12s, Mark 84 bombs and rockets before returning to Luke.

The week of celebration highlights the partnership the USAF and the RSAF have enjoyed over the last 20 years.

"We look forward to many more years, many more decades of this kind of friendship and relationship," Carlisle said. "It represents the best of both worlds."

517th AS reflects on Exercise Kiwi Flag

JBER Public Affairs Staff Report

12/18/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The end of November is usually a busy period. A time when most celebrate one holiday and immediately begin preparations for a second, only weeks away. The 517th Airlift Squadron experienced a different urgency during this period, but with warmer weather.

In November, the 517th AS participated in Kiwi Flag, a multinational tactical air mobility exercise in New Zealand. Kiwi Flag was the airlift portion of Exercise Southern Katipo 2013, the joint military exercise, which hosted ten nations and more than 2,000 people.

"Kiwi Flag provides the 517th Airlift Squadron an opportunity to practice deploying into an environment simulating wartime operations in a foreign country," said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Dobbels, 517th AS commander.

Air Force Capt. Gabriel Wetlesen, 517th C-17 Globemaster III AS pilot, said the practice mirrors some aspects of deployments.

"Both require extended time away from home and family," Wetlesen said. "Both have a higher operations tempo and integration with foreign countries."

The unit's role in Kiwi Flag was to move cargo and people between New Zealand's north and south islands.

"More airdrop and formation training is available in these exercises than at home station," Dobbels said. "This increases the level of experience crews gain during condensed training timelines."

Dobbels also mentioned the exercise serves as an opportunity to strengthen partnerships with U.S. allies in the Pacific region, which the tasked aircrew reiterated.

"We were constantly working hand-in-hand with the New Zealand Air Force from mission planning to loading cargo and personnel," said Senior Airman Chelsea DiMarco, 517th AS loadmaster. "If we weren't capable of doing something, they were right there trying to problem solve with us. We were able to show them just how much cargo and personnel the C-17 is capable of loading as well as all the different procedures we have for loading specific items."

Wetlesen said members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force flew with them on every flight. They shared perspectives and experiences to include one such conversation with the Singaporean Air Force C-130 Hercules director of operations.

"They fly with five crew members, but may reduce that after their C-130s are upgraded," Wetlesen said. "He flew with me to see how we operate a C-17 with only three crew members."

DiMarco and Wetlesen said they had great experiences during the exercise, but one event that stuck out was flying the first C-17 mission of the exercise.
"We had to deal with low ceilings and poor visibility to make it into the airfield," Wetlesen said.

"We flew into Timaru to drop off the first load of cargo and personnel," DiMarco said. "There were so many locals gazing through the fence line, snapping photos and watching our every move. It was amazing to see that many people interested in what we were doing down there."

"It was after this sortie that I found multiple entries in blogs and on YouTube, which highlighted the importance of the (USAF) C-17s as part of the exercise," Wetlesen said. "New Zealand is a beautiful country and the people are wonderful to get along and work with. We learned a lot about flying in New Zealand, which we will pass to the group going next year."