Military News

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Nigerian, U.S. Air Forces partner for disaster relief seminar

by Capt. Sybil Taunton
U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa


2/4/2014 - ABUJA, Nigeria  -- "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

This African proverb was referenced several times during a disaster relief seminar hosted by the Nigerian air force at the National Defense College here, Jan. 27-30. More than 40 senior service members from various career fields and units all over Nigeria attended the seminar to discuss capabilities for contingency operations.

Throughout the week, briefings and discussions covered topics such as logistics, airlift support, medical and public affairs. There were also two scenarios introduced that required seminar attendees to brain storm as teams and use the briefings to develop their own plans for responding to the crises.

"The U.S. has gone through the process and has mitigated disaster. This is a way for us to share knowledge and experience. Ideas have been presented that we haven't thought of," said Nigerian air force Group Capt. F.C.S. Uwakara. "Knowledge is power, and when you have the knowledge you have the power to overcome any circumstance. Seminars like this help us find ways to solve our own problems."

Under the direction of U.S. Africa Command, personnel from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, and the 621st Contingency Response Wing also took part in the seminar by delivering crisis planning briefings on best practices used by the U.S. Air Force during disaster relief operations.

"It is important for us to attend seminars like this with our partner nations," said U.S. Air Force Col. David Poage, USAFE-AFAFRICA Plans, Programs and Analyses Directorate, building partnerships division chief. "By sharing our best practices and learning what works for the Nigerian air force, we enable ourselves as well as our partners to develop more effective crisis response plans for the future."

Members of the Nigerian air force also facilitated discussions and shared personal experiences regarding contingency operations.

"For Nigeria, we have had our own share of disaster relief operations, just like everyone else," said Nigerian air force Group Capt. E.O. Shobande. "This coordination needs to happen. Synergy is very, very important."

Combat airlift role critical to retrograde operations

by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson
U. S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs


2/4/2014 - AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircrews are working around the clock to support Operation Enduring Freedom retrograde operations, airlifting equipment out of Afghanistan and fulfilling a vital role at one of U.S. Central Command's regional deployment and distribution operation centers, strategically located air, land and sea logistics hubs.

Airmen of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron fly multiple sorties a day to airlift mine resistant ambush protected vehicles out of Afghanistan.

"We're working a strategic initiative to do a mass airlift retrograde operation to get 500 mine resistant ambush protected vehicles out of Afghanistan over the next couple weeks," said Capt. Lauren Hoyt, 816th EAS pilot from Woodbridge, Va. "It's a multi-modal mission; we airlift them to the logistics hub, then they get on a boat and make their way back home."

Airlifting three to four MRAPs on each sortie keeps the airlifters extremely busy.

"We're keeping the jets moving and it's a tight turnaround time for the maintainers, but everyone's leaning forward and making the mission happen," said Hoyt, deployed from the 16th Airlift Squadron, Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

With an average weight of more than 14,000 pounds each, three to four heavily armored MRAPs take up the entire cargo area of a C-17.

"This mission showcases the maximum payload capability of the C-17 to carry over 170,000 pounds of cargo," said Hoyt.

"With Afghanistan being a land locked country we have limitations in driving equipment out," said Hoyt. "The ability and flexibility to airlift MRAPs out of country is a huge strategic advantage."

"The long days and hard work make it worth it to me knowing we're helping people get out of Afghanistan and back home," said Senior Airman Kyle Weaker, 816th EAS loadmaster from Wichita, Kan.

Averaging 20 hour days, aircrews involved are on track to meet mission deadlines.

820th BDG trains for real-world operations

by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers
23d Wing Public Affairs


2/4/2014 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Defenders from the 820th Base Defense Group geared up to deploy to the fictitious country of the People's Republic of Bemiss in support of exercise Safeside Guardian Jan. 24 through 29 here.

Members from the 822nd Base Defense Squadron kicked off the first 72 hours of the exercise with airborne insertions, patrols and perimeter scanning while encountering various scenarios that are seen while deployed. The exercise was then turned over to the 824th BDS who took over operations just as they would in a real-world deployment.

"We do this training every three to six months to validate our capability to perform while deployed," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. J.D. Walden, 820th BDG NCO in charge of standards and evaluations. "All of our training scenarios are based on current intel of tactics used by the enemy downrange."

During the exercise, Airmen encountered indirect fire, attacks on the forward operating base, suspicious people and vehicles, and protests by the villagers.

Walden said the training is based on real situations that happen while deployed. He also added that  the training keeps them up to date on skills they use in their deployed environment.

"Our main mission is to train and be ready to deploy in a moment's notice," said Walden.
Walden also mentioned that it takes all hands on deck to make the exercise possible.

"We have operational and support squadrons in our group who help with our training," said Walden. "Whether you're in a support role or in the field, everyone matters."

Since members are constantly deploying, the 820th BDG leadership and personnel are fully involved with the happenings downrange. They take those real-life scenarios and integrate them into their training so they can meet mission-specific requirements.

"We bring a lot to the fight," said Master Sgt. Joshua Allen, 820th BDG standards and evaluations superintendent. "In order to make sure we can operate as a group, we need to practice and train together."

Allen also mentioned the training gives Airmen a good idea of what they will encounter in theater.

Though the exercise was cut short due to inclement weather, members of the 822nd and 824th BDS were still able to validate their capabilities to perform downrange.

"Overall, it was a good exercise," said Walden. "Even though it was ended early, it still allowed our people to sharpen their skills and to be prepared for anything."

Airmen deliver care despite lockdown

by Airman 1st Class Timothy Young
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


2/3/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Jan. 30 was anything but a normal day for the patients and staff at the Mike O'Callaghan Federal Medical Center.

A disgruntled man brandishing a handgun outside the emergency room caused the hospital to lockdown at about 10 a.m., but the care provided by the 99th Medical Group staff was not.

The medical staff's training provided them with the skills needed to continue the care that couldn't be put on hold -- such as delivering a baby.

"We do [exercises] all the time within our unit," said 1st Lt. Andrea Simpson, 99th Inpatient Squadron registered nurse. "We are trained to handle these situations."

According to Simpson, who was the on hand during a delivery, good leadership and the overall unit's cohesion helped her feel more then prepared for the situation.

"During situations like this, our leadership is always up front providing us the support for anything we might need," Simpson said. "Everyone just comes and plays their part and knows their roles."

Téa Burke was one of the patients in labor and delivery and gave birth to her daughter, Noélani Burke, just hours into the lockdown.

According to Téa's mother, Teisha Burke, besides the call over the intercom explaining the situation and not being able to leave the room, the lockdown was almost nonexistent to them.

"I was fine; I know that the Air Force had it [under control]," Teisha said. "I knew that we were more secure than anyone else."

Téa said Maj. (Dr.) Wendi Holmes, 99th Medical Support Squadron, seemed to only care about doing what she needed to do to deliver her baby.

"[Holmes] kept her focus on me," Téa said. "When I was having contractions, she helped me through it.

"I grew up a military brat and know the base like the back of my hand," she added. "I know they give the best care, that's why I wanted to have my daughter here."

During the lockdown the 99th MDG was also able to deliver a second baby, complete two surgeries and continue providing some basic patient care.

Black Airmen turn racism, bigotry into opportunity



By Randy Roughton, Air Force News Service / Published February 04, 2014

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AFNS) --

This year's National African American History Month observance celebrates 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. But for the Air Force, an important evolution on the road to equality for African Americans can be traced more than two decades earlier with an experiment from senior leaders to train black pilots at the famed Tuskegee Institute.  Part one of a three-part series focuses on the program itself, how that experiment turned into the ultimate opportunity for young African Americans with a dream to fly in the military. Part two paints a picture of the training these young men endured and the results that led to desegregation of the military. Film and television often portray the Tuskegee Airmen as bigger than life, and the final article in the series deals with the top five myths associated with their legacy.

As the 13 young African-American men stepped off the train in this small central Alabama town on a July day in1941, their first impression was the oppressive heat that immediately hit them in the face.  With no breeze, the stifling hot air could be practically cut with a knife.

When they stepped off the bus at the nearby airfield, their first collective thoughts were – where’s the airfield? In front of the young men, who were there to learn to fly, was an open field that over the next several years would become a bustling training base. They would take an experiment by senior Army leadership to see if blacks were “teachable” to fly airplanes and turn it into the ultimate experience for African-Americans to do something that until then was strictly off limits.

Eventually, Moton Field, named for the former Tuskegee Institute president Robert Moton, would consist of two aircraft hangars, wooden offices, storage buildings, a locker building, clubhouse, vehicle maintenance area, and a control tower. However, in the first few years of the war, riggers hung parachutes from the hangar trusses to dry because the field’s tower wasn’t built until 1943.

Cadets first completed their primary flight training there before they advanced to basic and advanced training at Tuskegee Army Air Field.

Some Army leaders considered training in Tuskegee during World War II “an experiment.” But African American pilots saw it as an opportunity, with one surviving Tuskegee Airman calling it the “Tuskegee Experience.”

Surviving Tuskegee Airmen say the standard was higher for them than it was for white pilots, and that the training was “an experiment designed to fail,” with many qualified African American pilots washing out during basic and advanced training. Of the 3,000 who trained to fly at Tuskegee, only 1,000 graduated. About 650 were single-engine pilots, with the remainder qualified as bomber pilots who never saw combat. Cadets faced racism and segregation at Tuskegee and other training bases such as Selfridge Field, Mich., and Walterboro Army Air Field, S.C.

“We just loved the airplane, but we knew segregation at that time was the rule of the world,” said Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr., a Tuskegee Airmen who graduated on March 12, 1944, and later became commander of the 100th Fighter Squadron and one of three Tuskegee Airmen who shot down German Me-262 jets from the P-51 Mustang.

“People who never grew up during segregation can’t realize how rigid it was,” said Brown. “You could go as high as you could in the black community, but you couldn’t go nearly as high in the white community. Opportunities were denied to you, and you had no recourse. That was why the NAACP and the civil rights movement got started back in the 1920s and ‘30s. That was the struggle the people of my generation went through.”

But, according to Brown, “excellence is the antidote to prejudice.”

Only six of those original 13 cadets survived all four phases of training to earn their wings on March 7, 1942. That initial class included Capt. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., who would go on to become the Air Force’s first African American general.

Because construction on Moton Field was delayed by rain, the class started training at Kennedy Field, where chief flight instructor Charles A. (“Chief”) Anderson took first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on her heavily publicized flight on March 29, 1941.

According to historical documents, if many military leaders had their way, the effort to train African American pilots for combat would have been a failed experiment. As late as 1925, an Army War College study referred to African-Americans as “mentally inferior subspecies of the human race,” with “smaller brains that weighed 10 ounces less than whites.”

Much of the leadership believed blacks lacked the intelligence, leadership or coordination to be pilots, much less fighter pilots. “Experiments within the Army in the solution of social problems are fraught with danger to efficiency, discipline, or morale,” wore Gen. George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff, in a letter in 1941. Just a year earlier, he had also written that the military wasn’t the proper place to change the segregation policy prevalent in American society.

Fortunately, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was concerned about the black vote in the 1940 presidential election, and announced after the Civil Pilot Training Act passed in 1939 that African Americans would be trained as military pilots in the Army Air Corps.

The Tuskegee Institute was already training African American civilian pilots, and in 1939, the Civil Aeronautics Administration approved the school as a civilian pilot training institution. The Army Air Forces allowed the 99th Fighter Squadron to become the first African American flying unit to deploy to North Africa in the spring of 1943. Tuskegee pilots were initially limited to flying patrols along the coast and on shipping targets, but would go on to become one of the most successful escort groups within the Army Air Corps.

But by the end of the war, Tuskegee Airmen in the 99th Fighter Squadron, part of the 332nd Fighter Group, had flown about 1,500 missions, destroyed 260 enemy planes, and were instrumental in the destruction of many enemy targets.

Not too long ago, many Americans were unaware of the role African Americans and their training in Tuskegee played during World War II. Most of the Tuskegee Airmen, like intelligence officer 2nd Lt. Ted Lumpkin, kept their experiences to themselves.

“There was no real recognition that we had been overseas, other than our immediate family and friends,” Lumpkin said. “It eventually got to the point where most of us just did not talk about the experience at all, because no one really believed you, and it became a secret.”

Dr. Daniel C. Haulman is the organizational histories branch chief at the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxell Air Force Base, Ala. and co-authored the book “The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History: 1939 – 1949.”  He explained that for about two decades after the war, important documents, histories and mission reports on the Tuskegee Airmen remained classified. But beginning in the late 1950s, several important steps led to the Tuskegee Airmen finally being recognized for their service, struggles and accomplishments.

“It was not until the documents were de-classified and people could read them that the Tuskegee Airmen slowly came to the attention of the public,” said Haulman, “The first step was the one that gave them their name, Charles Francis’ book, ‘The Tuskegee Airmen,’ first came out in 1955. The second step was the formation of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., which formed to publicize what they accomplished during World War II. The third step was the HBO movie (also called ‘The Tuskegee Airmen’) in the 1990s that helped increase the publicity the Tuskegee Airmen got.”

The Tuskegee-trained pilots went on to earn their place in U.S. military history, but some historians are skeptical of the role they played in President Harry S. Truman’s decision to desegregate the military on Feb. 2, 1948. Haulman has a much different view.

“Not everyone agrees with me, but I believe they did have an influence on Truman’s decision,” Haulman said. “The Air Force was already moving toward desegregation even before Truman issued Executive Order 99801. The first secretary of the Air Force, Stuart Symington, was well aware of the Tuskegee Airmen record, and he was long an advocate of desegregation of the Air Force.

“There are those who believe Symington helped Truman draft the executive order because the Air Force was already moving toward desegregation. (Col.) Noel Parrish wrote a thesis advocating the desegregation of the Air Force right around the time the Air Force was born. I think Parrish influenced Symington, and Symington influenced Truman.”

Lumpkin, now 94, sometimes uses his lessons from overcoming prejudice to serve his country during World War II to help prepare young people for their “own Tuskegee experience.”

“I think one of the things the Tuskegee experience can do for youngsters is to help them to realize that, because the Tuskegee Airmen were able to do their best on a day-to-day basis, these kinds of actions accumulate,” Lumpkin said. “And as they do, they build a strength which connects with other people and also strengthens the person going through this experience.

“Tuskegee was a challenge for the Tuskegee Airmen. I think this is important for youngsters to know that they are going to have their own Tuskegee experiences because those things come up in life. But if they do their best, each and every day, the accumulation of that effort will show itself in a positive way in their lives and help them to be better citizens and be more comfortable in their life activity.”

Original Tuskegee Airman visits Alaska F-22 Reserve Unit, JBER

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs


2/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- An original Tuskegee Airman had the chance to visit with the Airmen of the 477th Fighter Group that are continuing the Tuskegee legacy of excellence here Jan. 31.

After a tour of the 477th Fighter Group headquarters where Tuskegee Airmen photos and memorabilia adorn the walls, retired Lt. Col. Leo R. Gray, a P-51 pilot assigned to the 100th Pursuit Squadron during World War II spoke to Reservists.

"The Tuskegee Airmen experiment is a classic example of overcoming adversity," said Gray. "They said we couldn't do it. But we did. "

Gray joined the Army Air Corps and began his aviation cadet training in 1943. Little more than a year later he graduated from the Tuskegee Army Airfield as a 2nd Lieutenant, single engine pilot.

He arrived in Italy in March 1945 and flew 15 combat missions before the war ended while assigned to the 100th Pursuit Squadron. He eventually amassed a total of 750 flight hours. He left active duty in 1946, but remained in the Air Force Reserve until 1984.

Gray's 100th Pursuit Squadron along with the 301st, 302nd and 99th Pursuit Squadrons all fell under the 332nd Fighter Group, better known as the Red Tails. Today the 302nd Fighter Squadron is Alaska's only Reserve F-22 unit and falls under the 477th Fighter Group, which also traces its lineage back to the another Tuskegee unit, the 477th Bombardment Group.

While the Red Tails were known for their achievements, ultimately flying more than 15,000 sorties with 261 aerial victories to its credit, the group is also known for the adversity it faced.

"Lt. Col. Gray and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen are shining examples of personal and professional courage," said Col. Tyler Otten, 477th Fighter Group commander. "Not only did they exhibit that courage in aerial combat, they displayed it at home in America as they stood for the concept that our nation is stronger and better when we are united. We are thrilled to have him here to share some of his experiences with us and deepen our connection with our unit's Tuskegee heritage. "

Before leaving the 477th Fighter Group to get a tour of the F-22 Grey shared some wisdom and also encouraged service members to continue to better themselves as individuals.

"You are part of our heritage Air Force. People don't know that and it's not widely publicized. The roots are there but it's up to the people to spread the word about our Air Force's history and how you are continuing our legacy," said Grey

In addition to the 477th Fighter Group tour Gray lunched with JBER Airmen, spoke at the 3rd Wing All Call and attended the 673rd Air Base Wing promotion and award ceremony.

Leaving a better Air Force



By Master Sgt. Peter Perez, 4th Maintenance Group / Published February 04, 2014

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- Recently, I volunteered to write an article on mentoring, thinking I was pretty good at putting words on paper. If only it were that easy. The honest fact is I'm not really sure how to explain mentoring. After 19 years in the Air Force, I just know it when I see it.

My first military experience as a mentor started when I graduated Airman Leadership School 13 years ago and was assigned five Airmen to lead. To give you some idea of what I was up against, two were under investigation for drug possession/distribution. Both would eventually be discharged from the Air Force; not much I could do for those two. But I will always remember one of those five Airmen very distinctly.

He is still in the Air Force and even caught up to me as a master sergeant. I watched him progress over the years and am proud that I have been part of his career from the day he showed up at his first assignment.

I may have trouble putting into words what mentoring is, but I can sure show you the results.

A while back, this standout Airman contacted me to thank me for helping him get where he is in his Air Force career. He also took the time to remind me how hard I was on him and how much of a pain in the neck I was.

He was referencing our Thursday ritual.

We had a unit requirement to document on-the-job training records every week for Airmen who were in upgrade training. The ideal time to do this was at the end of the week so we could go over everything the Airmen did that week. This allowed me the opportunity to sign them off on tasks they were proficient in or start new tasks if needed. It also provided the perfect opportunity to document where they were at in their career development courses.

As a crew chief, my Airman had close to 200 tasks and three volumes of CDCs to finish. Needless to say, we spent a lot of Thursdays together. It got to the point where he knew he couldn't go home on Thursday before we did our review. He would get his training records and track me down wherever I was on the flightline.

I will never forget how hard he worked at telling me he was going to get his 90% on the end-of-course CDC test so he could earn his one day pass. He was a smart kid and I kept telling him he could do it. We were both shocked when he only scored in the mid 80s. I will never forget his response when I asked him what happened.

"Sergeant Perez, I would have scored higher if I studied longer but I just wanted to get it over so you would stop hounding me about it."

You have to love honest feedback.

Some people looked at our Thursday ritual and shook their heads: "Why are you putting so much effort into this? Just sign their stuff and be done with it. They're going to pass, so what does it matter?" I heard all this from fellow noncommissioned officers and it really ticked me off. My Airman deserved better than that. I was his supervisor and I was going to do everything I could to ensure his success.

When my Airman contacted me years after that experience, he was an NCO himself. He told me he looked back on that time and realized what I was trying to accomplish. He told me he was doing the same thing with his Airmen because he wanted them to be as successful as he was. Maybe that's what mentoring is -- training not just your replacement, but your replacement's replacement.

In a few years I will be gone from the Air Force. I want to look back on my time and know that I left it better than when I found it. I can only do this if I know I have invested everything I have into my Airmen. When I graduated ALS, I had five Airmen. Today I am the proud first sergeant of 165 Airmen. Whether it is five or 165, they all deserve the same opportunity to be mentored and set up for success.

VA Launches Online Tool to Calculate Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits



From a Department of Veterans Affairs News Release

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2014 – The Veterans Affairs Department today launched a new online tool to make it easier for veterans, service members and family members to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and learn more about VA’s approved colleges, universities and other education and training programs across the country.

“We are pleased that Post-9/11 veterans are taking advantage of this significant benefit program,” said Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary of veterans affairs for benefits. “The new GI Bill Comparison Tool will help future beneficiaries as they make decisions about what education or training program best fits their needs.”

The GI Bill Comparison Tool provides key information about college affordability and brings together information from more than 17 different online sources and three federal agencies, including the number of students receiving VA education benefits at each school. It is one item in a series of resources VA is launching in response to President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13607, which directs agencies to implement and promote “Principles of Excellence” for education institutions that interact with veterans, service members and their families, and to ensure beneficiaries have the information they need to make educated choices about VA education benefits and approved programs, VA officials said.

Recently, VA also instituted a GI Bill online complaint system, designed to collect feedback from veterans, service members and their families who are experiencing problems with educational institutions receiving funding from federal military and veterans educational benefits programs, including benefits programs provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Defense Department’s military tuition assistance program.

The executive order, signed April 27, 2012, directs federal agencies to provide meaningful cost and quality information on schools, prevent deceptive recruiting practices and provide high-quality academic and student support services. VA works closely with partner institutions to ensure the GI Bill beneficiaries’ needs are met, officials said, noting that more than 5,000 education institutions have agreed to the Principles of Excellence.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a comprehensive education benefit created by Congress in 2008. In general, veterans and service members who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001, are eligible. Since 2009, VA has distributed more than $30 billion in the form of tuition and other education-related payments to more than 1 million veterans, service members and their families, as well as to the universities, colleges and trade schools they attend.

SecDef promotes partnership at Aviation Detachment

by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/3/2014 - POWIDZ AIR BASE, POLAND -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited with U.S. and Polish airmen at Powidz Air Base, Aviation Detachment, 52nd Operations Group, Jan. 31, 2014.

Hagel traveled to Poland to discuss U.S. and Polish partnerships and defense alliances across a range of global security issues. He also thanked them for their support in Afghanistan and expressed the importance of U.S. support for Poland's defense modernization.

Hagel recognized the efforts of the U.S. and Polish service members working together in support of the U.S. Air Force Av-Det.

"It's important that our two countries, working side by side in this effort, at this place, serve as an example," said Hagel. "It will continue being an expanding opportunity for more joint exercises and more opportunities to work together."

Hagel stressed the importance of cooperation between Poland and America.

"What you're doing here is important for our two countries; it's important for NATO, it's important for freedom, and it is a significant symbol around the world," said Hagel.

The Av-Det's 10 unaccompanied Airmen shared their appreciation of Hagel's visit. The small team handles the full-spectrum Av-Det mission: To foster bilateral defense ties, enhance regional security and increase interoperability among NATO allies through combined training exercises with periodic rotational aircraft.

"It's an honor to have the Secretary of Defense visiting," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Spears, commander of the U.S. Av-Det in Poland. "It demonstrates the importance of our mission and the importance of our partnerships here in Poland."

The Av-Det was activated in November 2012, and marked the first enduring presence of U.S. military members on Polish soil. The Av-Det's presence in Poland makes it possible to host multiple allied Air Force elements and serve as a regional hub for air training and multi-national exercises. The Av-Det also facilitates and enables combined U.S. and Polish training and exercises to increase air support to NATO.

Face of Defense: Father, Son Team Up for Exercise Airdrop



By Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Thompson
182nd Airlift Wing

GRAYLING, Mich., Feb. 4, 2014 – As Air Force Senior Airman Nick Barth prepared a standard airdrop training bundle on a C-130 Hercules during Exercise Northern Strike on Aug. 6, 2013, he reflected on what his father told him right before his deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Barth is a loadmaster with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 169th Airlift Squadron, based in Peoria, Ill.

"Whenever you are resupplying troops in the field, put a care package in the bundle that says, 'For the JTAC only,'" he said, quoting his father, Air Force Master Sgt. Chuck Barth, a joint terminal air controller for more than 25 years with the 182nd Air Support Operations Group in Peoria.

The elder Barth said he knows all about how important resupply airdrop bundles are in the field. To receive a personal package only for the JTAC, he added, is like gold.

Nick Barth said he remembers dropping his father off at the Greater Peoria Air National Guard Base for many different deployments, and he wanted to follow along his family's tradition of serving in the military. With advice from his father, he decided three years ago to join the Air National Guard.

That August airdrop was different from most, as Chuck Barth controlled the drop that his son released. They’d never had the opportunity to work together until Northern Strike at Grayling Air and Gunner Range in Alpena, Mich.

As Nick Barth finished his checklist, he slid in a handwritten note that he knew his father would receive when he collected the deployed bundled.

During his control duties with the C-130 at Grayling Gunnery Range, Chuck Barth said, he knew he was not speaking directly to his son, but that he could have the pilot relay a message.

"Hey Torch, tell the load in No. 2 hi," he said over the radio.

As the Northern Strike exercise continued, another opportunity came up for the Barths to work together. During a demonstration for distinguished visitors, Chuck Barth would control aircraft at the Grayling Gunnery Range. His son, who was scheduled for a down day, took the opportunity to watch his father in action so he could get the true understanding of what a JTAC does.

Though they might not have another opportunity to work so closely together again, the father and son said, the memory is one that they can share together for a lifetime.