Friday, December 27, 2013

Inside the Air Force Office of Special Investigations

The February 15, 2014, episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation with Colonel Bob Doerr, USAF (ret.), the author of Loose Ends Kill, Dead Men Can Kill, Cold Winter’s Kill and Another Colorado Kill.

Program Date:  February 15, 2014
Program Time: 1500 hours, PACIFIC
Topic: Inside the Air Force Office of Special Investigations

About the Guest
Colonel Bob Doerr, USAF (ret.), “grew up in a military family, graduated from the Air Force Academy, and had a career of his own in the Air Force.  Bob specialized in criminal investigations and counterintelligence gaining significant insight to the worlds of crime, espionage and terrorism. His work brought him into close coordination with the security agencies of many different countries and filled his mind with the fascinating plots and characters found in his books today. His education credits include a Masters in International Relations from Creighton University. 

A full time author, he has published five mystery/thrillers and was selected by the Military Writers Society of America as its Author of the Year for 2013. The Eric Hoffer Awards awarded No One Else to Kill it first runner up to the grand prize in the category of commercial fiction for 2013. Two of his other books were selected as finalists for the Eric Hoffer Award in earlier contests. Loose Ends Kill was awarded the 2011 Silver medal for Fiction/mystery by the Military Writers Society of America. Another Colorado Kill received the same Silver medal in 2012 and the silver medal for general fiction at the Branson Stars and Flags national book contest in 2012.  A novella titled The Enchanted Coin which he wrote with his granddaughter for middle grade readers was released in September 2013.  Bob lives in Garden Ridge, Texas, with Leigh, his wife of 40 years, and Cinco, their ornery cat.”

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life.  Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.
About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years.  He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant.  He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University.  He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, law enforcement technology and leadership.  Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One.  He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

New York Guard to render final honors for 10,000 veterans by end of 2013

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Eric Durr

HUDSON, N.Y. (12/27/13) - The New York Military Forces Honor Guard expects to have provided funeral services for just over 10,000 families in 2013 by the time 2014 arrives at midnight Dec. 31.

For the New York Army National Guard team, this is slightly less than the 10,175 funerals the New York Military Forces Honor Guard conducted in 2012, and well below the peak of 10,752 military funerals conducted in 2011.

This decline is not unexpected as the World War II generation, with its millions of service members, ages and passes, said Chief Warrant Officer Ryan Comstock, the honor guard officer-in-charge.

The Honor Guard anticipates performing about 265 funerals before 2013 ends, said Staff Sgt. Erwin Dominguez, the operations sergeant for the Honor Guard. As of Dec. 23, 2013, the New York Military Forces Honor Guard has provided services for 9,735 ceremonies.

During 2013, the Honor Guard also performed its 100,000th funeral since it first organized in 1999, Comstock added.

Since 2000, federal law has mandated that any military veteran who did not receive a dishonorable discharge from the armed forces is eligible for military honors at his or her funeral. The ceremony must include the folding and presenting of the flag of the United States to the veteran's survivors and the playing of Taps.

The New York Army National Guard Honor Guard employs 35 Soldiers on a full-time basis to man the funeral details and calls upon 135 other Soldiers on an as-needed basis to help, Comstock said. They operate from eight regional offices. About a third of the Honor Guard Soldiers are women.

Doing the job is incredibly rewarding, said Pvt. Shelbi Vanderbogart, a member of the 206th Military Police Company who lives in Averill Park, N.Y.

"This is a great privilege," said Vanderbogart, who has provided services at more than 150 funerals since he joined the Honor Guard in May, 2013.

At least two members of the armed forces must be present for the ceremony. The New York Honor Guard normally sends two Soldiers to fold the flag and play Taps, Dominguez said.

The federal law requires that at least one of the service members at a veteran's funeral must be from the deceased veteran's service.

Veterans who served for 20 years or more and retired from the military, those who received certain medals for heroism for their service, general officers and Soldiers who have died in combat receive more elaborate services.

A veteran in this category of "full military honors" can receive a nine-member detail which provides pall bearers who can also serve as the firing party for a final three-volley salute with rifles loaded with blanks, a bugler and Soldiers to fold the flag and present it to the next of kin, according to Army regulations.

More members can be added to the funeral detail, which includes a military chaplain and separate pall-bearers and firing party if available. This is normally done for the funeral of a service member killed in action.

The New York Honor Guard has been performing more than 10,000 funerals annually since the federal law in 2000 mandating military funerals for veterans.

New York is home to 943,000 veterans, according to the most recent Department of Veterans Affairs statistics from late 2012. Of those veterans, more than 300,000 are age 65 and older.

Originally the bulk of the veterans being buried by the Honor Guard were from the World War II generation, Comstock said. Now that is starting to shift to those who served in The Korean War (1950 to 1953) and the families of more and more Vietnam Era veterans are now asking for services from the Honor Guard, he said.

The busiest Honor Guard office is on Long Island, Comstock said, which handled 3,518 military funerals as of Dec. 23. The office based in Horseheads, N.Y., handled the fewest military funerals at 607 during 2013.

The large population in the New York City/Long Island region and the presence of the Long Island National Cemetery and Calverton National Cemetery accounts for the larger number, Comstock said.
The New York Army National Guard Military Forces Honor Guard was launched in 1999 as a state-funded effort. Since 2000, the federal government has funded the program, with some state financial support in the past.

Currently, the federal government covers the cost of the Honor Guard: $2.3 million in fiscal year 2013, with $1.95 million budgeted for fiscal year 2014, which began Oct. 1.

All Honor Guard members must go through a week-long training program in drill and ceremonies to qualify as Honor Guard members, Comstock said.

The New York Honor Guard normally provides services at the funeral of Army veterans, historically the largest of the services, but can provide services for any veteran if the veteran's service cannot provide a detail.

Funeral home directors are responsible for contacting one of the Honor Guard's local offices when a deceased veteran's family requests military funeral honors. Families are asked to provide proof of the deceased service, normally the Department of Defense Form 214, known as a DD214, which service members receive when they leave the military, or an honorable or general discharge certificate.

One of the most critical moments at any military funeral is the playing of Taps, the Civil War-era bugle call which has signified a dignified end to a service member's life since then.

Taps at more than 90 percent of the funerals the New York Military Forces conduct each year is played on a ceremonial or electronic bugle, Comstock said. This is a bugle with an electronic device inside which plays the tune.

More than 16,000 are in use across the country, although live human buglers are used when appropriate.

Prior to this innovation, Taps at most Honor Guard funerals was provided as a recording with a boom box or other music device.

Military Funeral services provided by New York Military Forces Honor Guard regional Offices for 2013 as of Dec. 23:
  • New York City-1,404
  • Long Island-3,518
  • Hudson Valley-764
  • Capital Region -779
  • Southern Tier-607
  • Western New York-1,211
  • Rochester Area-739
  • Central New York-713

VAFB firefighters, leaders gather to remember 36th anniversary of Honda Ridge Fire

by Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello

12/27/2013 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Members of the Vandenberg Fire Department and senior base officials met on South Base Dec. 20th to honor the memory of Team V personnel who perished in the Honda Ridge Fire 36 years ago.

"Fires on this base usually burn low-frequency but high-intensity," said Jesse Hendricks, Vandenberg Hot Shots superintendent. "So when we do have fires on this base, they burn hot. About 51,000 acres of 91,000 acres of this installation is brush and wildlife."
This held true on the morning of Dec. 20, 1977, when high winds caused a power pole to snap, allegedly igniting the dense chaparral that covered a canyon on the southern portion of Vandenberg.

According to historical documentation, throughout the duration of the incident firefighting resources attempted numerous tactics attempting to suppress the fire. Many of these tactics may have proved to be effective on an average brush fire, but the volatile conditions faced on this fire were anything but average.

"The winds gusted to exceed 100 miles per hour," Hendricks said. "The fire was pushed through drought-stricken chaparral at abnormally high speeds. Fire rapidly moved down through Honda Canyon to the west before taking a path towards the north along Vandenberg's coast. Firefighters continued to alter suppression efforts in order to meet the dynamic challenges brought on by the raging fire."

The fire not only claimed 9,040 acres but also the lives of Vandenberg Installation Commander Colonel Joseph Turner, Vandenberg Fire Chief Billy Bell, Vandenberg Assistant Fire Chief Eugene Cooper and Heavy Equipment Operator Clarence McCauley.

"We don't know where and when the next base wildfire will be," said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander. "It likely will not be on this spot, in this canyon, or with that kind of fire, but a positive take-away from this tragic fire is all the lives that have been saved and will be saved since 1977. The Hot Shot program was birthed from this tragedy, policies and procedures changed... we also adapted our training programs and resources to prepare in case of future incidents."

The group paused for a moment of silence at 9:36 a.m. in remembrance of those who had died that day, the same time the late Vandenberg Fire Chief Bell sent his last transmission to say that he was trapped.

Base leaders and firemen alike have a mutual message when talking about the 1977 Honda Canyon Fire: Never forget the fallen or the lessons learned that day.

"The lessons that were learned were hard paid," said Clem Marrero, a Vandenberg Fire Department chief. "The atmosphere that we have now with an emphasis on training and top-notch equipment is due in part to that fire. The take away is to not forget what happened before us and carry those lessons forward."

Officials Praise Decision on Futenma Facility

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2013 – Senior defense officials praised the governor of Okinawa, Japan, today for his approval of construction of a long-postponed air base to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma-Camp Schwab in Henoko Bay.

During a media conference call, Pentagon spokesmen hailed the governor’s green light of the landfill permit allowing a new runway to be built as a significant milestone in both the project’s progress and the United States’ partnership with Japan.

“We view this as a very important, critical milestone on our posture in Japan and Northeast Asia at large,” a DOD official said. “It keeps our presence forward in Okinawa … [and] it moves our presence … to the least populated part of the island and reduces our footprint there.”

The base houses U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and other aviation assets as the United States continues its relocation of Marines to Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific region.

In addition to Okinawa, the official explained, the decision complements the United States’ overall strategy of rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region.

“We view the U.S.-Japan alliance and our posture there … as one of the key pieces of the rebalance,” he said. “If you get the Northeast Asia posture -- Japan and Korea -- right, it is a tremendous foundation from which to continue the rebalance and the momentum and course it’s on.”

Officials noted the project will also enable the alliance to address other strategic issues in the region.

“It will free up a lot of senior-level attention and allow [focus on] bigger and broader security issues in Northeast Asia,” an official said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is not only in negotiations to develop an environmental plan, but has engaged with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and the chairman and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to build a strong, sustainable U.S. military presence with less impact on the people of Okinawa.

“The secretary made a commitment on this issue to try and make progress with our very good allies in Tokyo,” a DOD spokesman said. “This was a landmark step forward that was good for the alliance and good for the agenda moving forward.”

Robins location, operation instrumental to multi-service exercise

by Faye Banks-Anderson
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

12/23/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Iron Triad -- which includes the Joint STARS E-8C, the AWACS E-3 and the Rivet Joint RC-135 aircraft -- were at Robins Dec. 12 preparing for the Composite Unit Training exercise off the east coast with the Marines and the Navy.

"It's a big event at Robins, especially for TEAM JSTARS and Robins Air Force Base as the sole location of the E-8C Joint STARS to work with Rivet Joint and AWACS in sea trials for the George H. Bush Carrier Group," said Col. Stephen Melton, 116th Air Control Wing vice commander.

"It's really exciting for us," he added. "We have a new capability with the radar which allows us to track surface movements of various vessels and relay that for this exercise to both our airborne partners and carrier battle group on the surface."

Col. Bill Gould, 461st Air Control Wing vice commander, agreed.

"This is a unique opportunity," he said. "We don't really get these kinds of aircraft together anywhere in the United States outside of Nellis Air Force Base (Nevada) for a major exercise. The fact that it's an east coast exercise going on allows all three of these unique strategic assets on one ramp at the same time."

This coordinated exercise is able to provide both surface and air threats, and to help the units be worldwide certified for these Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft.

"It's a rare opportunity for us to bring these three C2ISR assets together, working with the carrier battle group, to test our command and control between our platforms ... and allows us to test our air and sea battle tactics and capabilities," Melton said. "It's an excellent opportunity for the 116th and our partners, the 461st, to work together with crews from both organizations taking advantage of this rare training opportunity."

Another plus for the aircraft staging out of Robins is that no refueling resources are needed.

Gould explained that since this AWACS is stationed at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and the Rivet Joint is out of Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., air refueling assets would normally be required to fly these missions round-robin from their home stations to get to the east coast exercise location.

"By us staging them here at Robins, we're able to eliminate that pressure for the tanker fleet right now in the Air Force because they're in high demand overseas with our ongoing operations."

Face of Defense: Simple Play Makes Impact in Grafenwoehr

By Molly Hayden
U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany, Dec. 27, 2013 – Like many service members currently serving, a surge of patriotic fervor following the events of 9/11 catapulted Adam Driver into the military.

And though Driver, now an actor, is no longer a member of the Marine Corps, his connection to the military continues.

Driver is best known for his role as the commitment-phobe Adam on the HBO show "Girls," and also stars in the new Coen brothers' film "Inside Llewyn Davis," alongside Justin Timberlake and Oscar Isaac.

As founder and co-artistic director of Arts in the Armed Forces, Driver, along with 10 other actors, partnered with the Red Cross to give a free theater performance for soldiers, civilians and family members at the Grafenwoehr Performing Arts Center here, Dec. 18.

The center’s stage was bare and quiet just before the show started.

Then, the sound of scuffling shoes echoed across the linoleum floor as the actors entered stage left and sat in scattered folding chairs.

Michael Chernus, Tracie Thoms, Desmin Borges and Elizabeth Rodriguez walked to the front of the stage and began to recite a scene from the play, "Den of Thieves."

The audience seemed content with the opening performance piece, albeit a bit confused. They laughed nervously at the actors' delivery and shifted in their chairs, sitting up taller to make eye contact with the performers, who were only six feet away.

Because of the intimate nature of the show, the audience's initial apprehension was expected, by design. Everything in the show is stripped down to the basics -- no costumes, no elaborate stage production. The house lights remain up, allowing the actors themselves to become part of the audience, attentive to the dialogue of their fellow performers.

Driver described the stage environment as "aggressive," but in a good way.

"You can't hide from anything," he explained.

Driver also believes this type of environment fosters a more intimate experience for both actor and viewer.

"We want to make it as approachable as possible," he said. "We pick monologues from contemporary American plays that allow the audience to draw their own parallels, to have their own experiences with the material.

"Half of what the theater experience is includes what the audience brings to the table,” Driver added. “That's the beauty of live theater."

And, as the show progressed the audience relaxed. Comfortably lounging in the folding chairs, the audience laughed wholeheartedly as Gary Cole told a drunken tale of debauchery in a thick British accent, complete with some impressive air guitar moves. They sat on the edge of their seats as Raven Symone delivered a disturbing anecdote of a Peter Pan performance gone wrong.

Reed Birney's physical interpretation of bacon cooking in a pan garnered applause. Birney laughed as much as the audience during his skit.

When Borges stepped center stage to deliver a monologue from Kristoffer Diaz's "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," a comedy about television wrestling, Army Spc. Monique Moore, a visual production specialist with the Armed Forces Network in Bavaria, fought back tears.

"You find your own way to connect," Moore said. "I watched this piece and it's about wrestling for some, but I took so much more out of it. For me, it was about the love of a grandfather. It was touching."

Driver knows his audience well and chooses material accordingly.

"We think about the overall human experience. We're not thinking of military or civilian," he said. "The audience … picks pieces that speak to them more. The military audience will hear it differently. They teach us a lot about what the material is about since we're already taking it out of context."

As a veteran, Driver connects with the audience and understands that service is not something you simply leave behind. He said his military training significantly contributed to his current success, including his stage performances with the Arts in the Armed Forces.

"The things I learned in the military were some of the best acting training," Driver said. "You are isolated with a group of guys who are facing these heightened life- or-death stakes. Not only that, but the community, the camaraderie; you have a mission that is bigger than one individual."

He continued, "The discipline, the self-maintenance -- all of that is applicable to acting. You have to be disciplined, and what better way to learn discipline than to be in the military.”

Driver's military career ended just shy of three years due to an injury sustained in a non-combat situation. He earned the rank of lance corporal while serving with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Weapons Company, 81st Platoon, at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

He believed he was still fit for deployment despite his injury, but his unit disagreed and he was medically discharged.

Marine to actor was an unlikely transition, and Driver said it wasn't easy. He had learned skills in the military that didn't parlay well into civilian life. In a sense, he had to start over.

After his discharge, he attended the University of Indianapolis for a year before transferring to Juilliard to study drama. There, he met his future wife, Joanne Tucker, and the two co-founded Arts in the Armed Forces.

"Performing theater for the military was an area that was completely untapped," Tucker said. "There is a diversity of audience and as an actor in New York that's something you're always looking for."

Along with Julliard alumni Laura Linney, Thoms and David Denman, Driver and Tucker presented the inaugural performance to an audience at Camp Pendleton in 2006. Like the audience in Grafenwoehr, the Camp Pendleton crowd soon warmed to the idea of live theater.

"After that first performance we learned there was a real hunger for this type of art," Tucker said. "With the response we got, we thought, 'We have to keep doing this.'"

Seven years later, Arts in the Armed Forces made its overseas debut with three shows in Germany, including Ramstein and Landstuhl. The makeshift theater in Grafenwoehr was the final stop on the tour.

Although nearly a decade has passed since he was a Marine, Driver still yearns to sustain that communal feeling of being in the military. And it's easy for him.

He's engaging and gregarious. Driver has shared experiences with military personnel, but he’s also curious about the nuances he's unfamiliar with.

Driver was rarely at a loss for words when conversing with audience members after the show, except when asked whether acting or serving in the military was more hazardous.

It was at this moment that Driver chose not to speak. Instead, he simply answered with a laugh.