Military News

Friday, February 07, 2014

A 'Selena' story: Local MHAFB medic selected for premier performance troupe

by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/6/2014 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- A Mountain Home Air Force Base Airman and Riverside, Calif., native was selected to perform with the Air Force's premier entertainment showcase 'Tops In Blue.'

Senior Airman Myra Hernandez, 366th Medical Support Squadron nutritional medical technician, learned Feb. 5, that she was selected above 70 others to perform with Tops In Blue.

Hernandez described her blossoming singing career as a "Selena story," referring to the Mexican-American pop musician Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who was named the top Latin artist of the 90s.

Like Selena, Hernandez's father, Raul, was an avid musician and sang to Hernandez and her siblings. During her freshman year at Norta Vista High School in Riverside, Hernandez grew a passion for singing and that flame has been burning progressively brighter ever since.

During a deployment in 2010, Hernandez recalled when Tops In Blue came to perform at her deployed location and inspired her. With five years in the Air Force and currently attending Airman Leadership School, Hernandez said she's very busy with her career, but felt she should try out for the troupe anyways, and succeeded.

"I was deployed and really stressed out and went to see Tops In Blue when they performed, it really brought my morale back up," said Hernandez, who had already tried out for the troupe in 2009 and didn't make the cut. "I knew then I had to try out again, and seeing them perform gave me the courage to go for it. It paid off because I got selected the second time."

Col. Sarady Tan, 366th Medical Group commander, visited Hernandez during her ALS class and shared the news of her selection in front of all her classmates.

After enjoying a brief celebration with her classmates and leadership, Hernandez performed "The Star Spangled Banner" in the ALS Auditorium.

A mere two weeks away from graduation, Hernandez will soon ship off to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, to begin her nine-month TDY. There, she said she hopes to help people get past work-related stress through music and performance.

"I've always liked performing and my father really supported me, telling me, 'Hey, you can really sing,'" said Hernandez. "I'm shy, but little by little, I've come out of my shell and have learned how to motivate others through my Air Force career. I think it's time I use that motivation and give back. I want to give back with my talent."

Air Force Medical Service 2013 annual award winners announced

by Capt Robert Smalley
Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs


2/4/2014 - FALLS CHURCH, VA.,  -- It is with great pride that the Surgeon General's Medical Force Development Directorate announces the winners of the Air Force Medical Service Annual Award competition. The competition included individual and team awards, based on criteria outlined in AFI 36-2856, Medical Service Awards.

The winners listed below are a broad cross-section of every Air Force MAJCOM and medical career field. Their accomplishments include patient care in Afghanistan and other forward-deployed locations, world-class research and teaching, improvement of home station medical care, and outstanding oversight of the medical Personnel Reliability Program.

Congratulations to all our winners, and the many outstanding medics who continue to provide "Trusted Care, Anywhere!"

Individual winners (only Air Force Global Strike Command members included):

USAF Biomedical Clinician Civilian of the Year
Mr. Robert Washburn
90 MDOS/SGOX, F.E. Warren AFB, AFGSC

Air Force Medical Service SNCO Leadership Award
MSgt Lynette Nettleton
341 MDSS/SGSD, Malmstrom AFB, AFGSC

Outstanding PRP MTF Monitor of the Year
Ms. Jill Emmons
90 MDOS/SGOX, F.E. Warren AFB, AFGSC

Team Awards (only AFGSC teams included)

Outstanding Resource Management Team Award
Barksdale Resource Management Team
2 MDSS/SGSR, Barksdale AFB, AFGSC

Surgeon General's Medical Information Services Award Team Award
Minot Medical Information Systems Flight
5 MDSS/SGSM, Minot AFB, AFGSC

Outstanding PRP Team of the Year Award
Minot PRP Team
5 MDOS/SGOQ, Minot AFB, AFGSC

2nd CES dirt boys pave way to mission success

by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Raughton
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


2/5/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Before infrastructure can be built, it must have a strong foundation, the 2nd Civil Engineering Squadron pavements and equipment flight uses more than 17 Airmen and specialized equipment to build it.

The 2nd CES dirt boys are responsible for building a base's foundation, which without it, there would be no roads or buildings.

"They're our horizontal construction element," said Maj. Ryan LeBlanc, 2nd Civil Engineering Squadron operations flight commander. "We call them the dirt boys because of their role. They'll do pavements, grounds, and also handle drainage, fencing and sweeping."

The dirt boys' first priority is to ensure the 2nd Bomb Wing provides devastating B-52H Stratofortress combat capability.

"They make sure the runway is maintained so the aircraft can take off and land safely," LeBlanc said. "If there's a slab that's failing because water is getting underneath it, or if it cracks, the slab itself can actually shatter. The dirt boys tear out the full depth of the old slab and pour a new slab in its place."

Preventive maintenance is a vital role in ensuring aircraft fly, fight and win.

To prevent failure of the runway and aircraft areas, the dirt boys inspect and repair cracks, said Tech. Sgt. Floyd Butkiewicz, 2nd CES pavements and equipment NCO-in-charge. "Small cracks in the airfield can be patched with a heated seal, which is then pushed into the crack."

Another way the dirt boys protect Barksdale assets is by preventing foreign object damage, otherwise known as FOD.

The dirt boys use a sweeper to help the 2nd Maintenance Group Airmen keep the flightline and aircraft parking areas FOD free.

In order for the dirt boys to maintain the base groundwork, their job requires specialized skills they learn at a multi-service technical school in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

"In addition to tech school, we also send new Airmen to classes at a regional equipment operator school," said Butkiewicz. "It's like technical school, but with more one-on-one training and more in-depth."

While honing their skills at homestation, the dirt boys are training for deployment.

"We prepare them as best we can here," Butkiewicz said. "Downrange, they learn more because they're doing bigger projects. There's always runway repair, but barriers become a huge [focus] because of force protection."

Flexibility is key for dirt boys who may deploy with rapid engineer deployable heavy operational repair squadrons, who are the first on-site to set up a new base.

"The job is very broad," Butkiewicz said. "With our career field, if you go into a REDHORSE squadron, there are special capabilities that broaden things out even more, such as well-drilling and blasting."

While no shortage of work means plenty of training opportunities for the dirt boys, Team Barksdale can rest assured these Airmen have the knowledge and training to ensure the flying mission.

Ground Safety NCO of the Year

from AMC

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- Ground Safety NCO of the Year

TSgt Calvin Grade Jr.
730 AMS, Yokota AB, Japan

TSgt Calvin Grade is the NCOIC of Safety for the 730th Air Mobility Squadron, Yokota AB, Japan. TSgt Grade is responsible for implementing the commanders' safety program and providing safety program oversight and support for all AMC transient aircraft. His background includes the management of all ground, flight, and weapons safety programs.

Over the past year, TSgt Grade led many successful safety initiatives. He established an OSHA outreach training program for his host Wing, where he trained 75 managers in employee rights and employer responsibilities. He created and published a new mishap reporting form, which ensured supervisor recommendations were up-channeled to the appropriate commander. TSgt Grade also identified and mitigated several critical hazards through his robust spot inspection program.

TSgt Grade majored in Occupational Safety and Health at Columbia Southern University. There he completed a bachelor's degree in 2010 and a master's degree in 2012. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Safety from Capella University.

TSgt Grade is a native of Baltimore, MD, and joined the Air Force in 1998. He began his career as a supply apprentice. His supply assignments include Minot AFB, ND; Moody AFB, GA; Eglin AFB, FL; and Andrews AFB, MD. Tsgt Grade re-trained into Ground Safety in April 2004. His safety assignments include Luke AFB, AZ; Kadena AB, Japan; Tyndall AFB, FL; and Yokota AB, Japan. He has deployed numerous times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spotlight Award: 101 Maintenance Group (MXG), Maine ANG

by AMC FLIGHT SAFETY

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- AMC FLIGHT SAFETY is proud to spotlight the 101 Maintenance Group (MXG), Maine ANG, for proactive mishap prevention efforts in identifying and mitigating C/KC-135 hydraulic system failures caused by chafing Air Refueling (AR) pump hydraulic lines. While troubleshooting an aircraft that had a hydraulic leak and was subsequently ground aborted at Bangor International Airport, hydraulic specialists discovered a leak caused by two AR pump hydraulic lines chafing each other. Rather than simply replacing the lines and closing out the discrepancy, the specialists took the initiative and looked deeper at the failure to determine if there were potential fleet-wide trends. Maintenance analysts searched historical records from other aircraft and discovered there had been similar events on other KC-135 aircraft. Additionally, technicians from the 101 MXG Inspection Dock analyzed an aircraft undergoing a Periodic Inspection and discovered chafing on its AR pump hydraulic lines.

The 101 MXG immediately initiated a One Time Inspection of all its aircraft and discovered 70 percent of their fleet had some chafed AR pump hydraulic lines. They up-channeled their findings to the ANG and AMC A4M communities so appropriate risk assessments and mitigation actions could be performed. After a coordinated effort with the KC-135 System Program Office, a 90-Day Routine Safety Time Compliance Technical Order was issued to inspect for and repair chafed AR pump hydraulic lines on all C/KC-135 aircraft in the AF inventory.

An in-depth review of inspection work cards identified improvement areas to mitigate future AR pump line chafing. The 101 MXG drafted and submitted an AFTO Form 22, Technical Manual Change Recommendation and Reply, to add inspection of all AR pump hydraulic lines to the 24-Month Periodic Inspection work cards.

As a direct result of the motivation and initiative exhibited by the 101 MXG, the entire C/KC-135 fleet flies safer today. We commend the Maineiacs of the 101st Air Refueling Wing Maintenance Group for their dedicated safety culture. Well done!

Flight Safety NCO of the Year

by AMC

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- Flight Safety NCO of the Year

MSgt Christopher L. Gill
19 AW, Little Rock, AR

MSgt Christopher L. Gill is the Superintendent, 19th Airlift Wing Flight Safety, Little Rock AFB, AR. He is the principal advisor on matters affecting flight safety for the world's largest multi-command (AMC and AETC) C-130 aircraft installation and AMC's second largest air wing. His responsibilities include investigating, reporting, and disseminating mishap information to more than 4,000 aircrew and maintenance members in hopes of reducing and preventing future mishaps. Additionally, he tracks trends, reports aircraft mishaps, and advises the Chief of Safety on maintenance concerns affecting safe repairs and operations on over 88 assigned C-130E/H/J aircraft with totals exceeding $2 billion in assets.

MSgt Gill is a native of Huntsville, AL, and entered the Air Force in January 1993. He began his career as a Hydraulic Systems Apprentice and has served in various positions and fields: Pneudraulic Systems Craftsman, KC-135R Hydraulic Systems Shop Chief, C-130E/H and J Hydraulic Master Instructor, C-130H/J Section Chief, and Superintendent of Wing Safety, Flight Safety NCO. His assignments include Malmstrom AFB, MT; MacDill AFB, FL; and Little Rock AFB, AR. He also served overseas, deployed to Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, the Azores, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan in support of Iraqi Freedom, Operation Deny Flight, Decisive Endeavor, Northern Watch, and Enduring Freedom.

Success of Proactive Safety Programs Relies on "Just Culture" Acceptance

by Mr. Tim Grosz, HQ AMC/A3TO
Chief, Operations Risk Assessment and Management System (Ops RAMS)


2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 --

First, what is "Just Culture"?

A widely accepted and published definition comes from Dr. James Reason, a noted psychologist who has worked in the aviation field with the Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine and the U.S. Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, and received the 2001 U.S.A. Flight Safety Foundation/Airbus Industry Human Factors in Aviation Safety Award. He writes, "Just Culture is an atmosphere of trust in which people are encouraged to provide safety-related information, but in which they are also clear about where the line must be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behavior."

That sounds great, but what does this really mean, and how does it apply to Air Mobility Command's proactive safety programs? People make mistakes. Yes, believe it or not, even aircrew members, maintainers, and other aviation professionals commit errors. If the error is an "honest" one--the kinds of slips, lapses, and mistakes that even the best people can make--then the individual should not be punished for committing or reporting the error. Don't confuse this with a "no-blame" culture or a "get out of jail free" card. Individuals who willfully engage in behavior that displays misconduct or the intentional disregard for safety must be held accountable for their misdeeds. Airmen who do make an honest mistake should not be placed in the same category as those willful violators.

We, as an institution, can learn a lot from the identification of these self-reported errors to increase awareness of the crew force, focus training programs, and improve the level of safety before an accident happens. That's where the proactive safety programs such as the Line Observation Safety Audit (LOSA), Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance (MFOQA), and Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) become so valuable. These programs are designed to gather information from the crew force during everyday activities while not under the increased scrutiny of a checkride or while flying with squadron supervision, which allows for a more realistic opportunity to identify areas where the risk for a potential accident might be mitigated. Rather than being reactive and relying solely on accident investigations to identify aircrew errors, these programs take a proactive view to identify systemic enterprise-wide issues. By identifying and mitigating risks, we can hopefully prevent an accident. We do collect trends from evaluations, but because aircrew are on their "A" game and focused on performing to the highest standards, we don't get a true view of everyday crew activities. For proactive safety programs to be fruitful, a Just Culture must be present.

Just Culture is inherent in the way we execute the LOSA and MFOQA programs. During a LOSA observation, the observer takes copious notes; it routinely takes 6-8 hours to complete the report for each mission. However, nothing that could potentially identify the aircrew is reported: no names, no mission numbers, no tail numbers--nothing. After the reports are sent to the LOSA contractor, they are sorted and categorized to identify trends, both positive and negative, without any identifying information. Once the contractor produces the report and delivers it to HQ AMC/SE, a Safety Investigation Board (SIB) is formed to produce actionable observations and recommendations to mitigate the risks identified during the LOSA.

MFOQA is similarly identity protected. Analysts gather information from the aircraft flight data recorders to evaluate aircrew performance at the aggregate level during all phases of flight, with the current focus on analyzing stable approaches. From this analysis, we can make recommendations on where to adjust training or focus evaluations, make changes to directives or procedures, or change/upgrade aircraft equipment. However, if the gross analysis reveals an outlier (a data point that is well outside the expected range of values), a trusted agent, called a Gatekeeper, is appointed. The Gatekeeper is tasked with protecting the identity of the aircrew while gathering enough detailed information to adequately assess and mitigate the hazard or error identified. If the Gatekeeper suspects misconduct or intentional disregard for safety, the proactive safety process stops, and in line with the tenets of Just Culture, the incident is turned over to the appropriate authority for further investigation.

The program with the largest Just Culture challenge is ASAP, because we rely on aircrew members to self-report. Ideally, the individual identifies the error to the unit chain of command and simultaneously completes an ASAP. This allows analysts at the unit level to correct any local issues while consolidating inputs at HQ AMC for a system-wide analysis of trends and aircrew awareness--that is the long-term goal. In the commercial aviation industry, Just Culture is generally codified and documented in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the company, the FAA, and the pilot union, and a Letter of Agreement (LOA) between the company and the pilot union. ASAP reports are received and processed by an Event Review Committee, which includes members of the company, the FAA, and the pilot union. No disciplinary action from the company or FAA enforcement action can be taken against an ASAP submitter if the submission is timely (normally within 24 hours from the end of the flight sequence) and does not involve criminal activity, substance abuse, controlled substances, alcohol, or intentional falsification.

Unfortunately, the military cannot have this type of arrangement because we don't have a pilot union, and numerous MOUs/LOAs would be required at multiple levels of command. So, until we can build that complete "atmosphere of trust" from Dr. Reason's Just Culture definition that would obviate the need for formal written agreements, we have built protections into our ASAP processes. ASAPs can be submitted anonymously, but when the submitter provides his or her name, the ASAP program manager redacts it and any other pertinent information (mission number, wing assigned, tail number, etc.) to ensure identity protection before sending it out for review at HQ AMC. In addition, none of this identifying information is posted on the ASAP scoreboard.

We're striving to gain the trust of aircrews and the confidence of leadership at all levels to move us closer to a Just Culture that will enable our proactive safety programs to be as effective as possible. You can help by continuing to support and participate in these programs.

Nuclear Surety Individual of the Year

from AMC

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- Nuclear Surety Individual of the Year

Mr. Thomas E. Thompson
62 AW, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA

Mr. Thomas E. Thompson is the Wing Nuclear Surety Manager for the 62d Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, where he manages the Nuclear Surety Program for the Department of Defense's only airlift unit authorized to provide transportation of nuclear weapons and critical components.

Mr. Thompson has been a part of the Air Force nuclear enterprise since 1987, first pulling alert as a B-52G aircrew member in the Strategic Air Command, and then as an AMC PNAF-qualified courier and aircraft commander in the C-141B and C-17A. He has been the Wing Nuclear Surety Manager at McChord since 2002, first as an active duty member, then as an Air Force civilian. During his military and civilian career, he has been through 24 NSIs as an inspected unit member or NSI inspector. During the April 2013 Defense Nuclear Surety Inspection, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Team Chief lauded the 62d Airlift Wing's Nuclear Surety Program as the best seen by the DTRA Team in the previous four years.

Mr. Thompson entered the Air Force in 1986, upon graduation from Carnegie Mellon University. He served as an aircrew member on five aircraft and was PRP certified for 16 of his 20 years on active duty. He also served on the AMC Inspector General Team as an inspection planner and inspector. He retired in 2006, beginning his career as an Air Force civilian.

Locklear: U.S. Must Remain ‘Out and About’ to Succeed in Pacific



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2014 – The key to succeeding in the Asia-Pacific region is to be there, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said yesterday during a media forum sponsored by the State Department.

Speaking in Tokyo, Locklear pointed to the success of Operation Damayan following Typhoon Haiyan last year as one example of the leverage that a forward presence can provide. U.S. forces were able to provide almost immediate humanitarian assistance after the storm devastated the a wide swath of the archipelago, he said.

“So, why did we do well? Well, first of all, we were here -- we were out and about. Our alliances were out and about,” the admiral said.

Perhaps more importantly, the U.S. and Philippine militaries had a history of working together, he said.

“We had operated together in multilateral forums that allowed us to practice the interaction during crisis,” Locklear said. “It allowed us to be able to communicate. It allowed us to quickly set up command and control. It allowed us to be able to do such things as have networks, it allowed us to email each other and to pass massive amounts of information that allowed us to quickly respond.”

Militaries are not well-suited to long-term disaster relief, he said. “They don't have the capability or the capacity; that's not what you build militaries for,” he added.

But, Locklear said, militaries are particularly well-suited to respond quickly to an event and put command and control capabilities in place to deliver humanitarian assistance supplies to those who need them and to do the grunt work of clearing roads and runways so other organizations can take over long-term relief.

“So, if you take a look at this operation, I would say we give ourselves pretty high marks in the region,” he said. Within days, the Philippine government and military had taken charge of the operation, and the U.S. military was able to withdraw its assets fairly quickly, Locklear noted.

In a part of the globe where 80 percent of the world’s natural disasters occur, it’s essential to build these kinds of relationships before disasters strike, he said.

“When you have a disaster that occurs and you can get on it quickly and you can get human suffering to a minimum, it underpins security and prosperity,” the admiral said.

Another strong relationship in the Pacific region is the one between the United States and Australia, Locklear said. “We have worked hard together over the last few years to look ahead at the alliance and our security relationships and to look for opportunities for us to see where our shared security interests overlap and the places where we can work together,” he said. The periodic deployment of Marines to the north of Australia is just one aspect of that relationship, he added.

The deployments started two years ago, with a small number of Marines training at bases near Darwin. This year, Locklear said, about 1,100 Marines will deploy for six months to train with their Australian and other regional counterparts. “I think in the long run, it will add peace and stability to this part of the world, which is of growing importance to all of us that operate in the global economy,” the admiral said.

Elsewhere in the region, Locklear hailed the relationship with Thailand, America’s oldest regional ally.

“It's a strong and a productive alliance with a very healthy and productive [military-to-military] relationship,” he said. “So, the current political unrest that is occurring in Thailand, we hope that it will be resolved peacefully, that democracy will prevail and that it will be done in a way that respects the human rights of the people of Thailand. And the role of the military, I would say, is very important in ensuring that that happens.”

The future of the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region lies in continuing to develop ties with the nation’s allies and partners, Locklear said.

“The U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific has many aspects to it, and it's not just military -- it's economic, it's social, it's diplomatic,” he said. “I want to make sure that we give due credit to those aspects of it that are working and that are being executed that will ultimately have a huge impact on the security of this region as well as security of U.S. interest here.”

The first step is to look for opportunities to ensure the nation’s allies are relevant for the 21st century, he said. That includes supporting the growth of organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Locklear noted.

“This is not just about the United States,” the admiral said. “It's about how we collectively ensure security in this part of the world -- how we build an environment for continued prosperity for our children and our grandchildren.”

Face of Defense: Soldier Recalls Long Road to Guard Service



By Army Capt. William Martin
California National Guard

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 6, 2014 – The U.S. Consulate in Nigeria is more island than institution. Centered in the most exclusive section of Lagos, a booming city in Africa’s most populous nation, the mission reflects both the affluence and strength one would expect from a superpower.

To approach the U.S. seal that adorns its entrance is to pass through well-armed guards and manicured lawns. It was here, in 1996, that 25-year-old Wilson Ugah determined he would claim his birthright as a U.S. citizen.

Ugah’s initial stay in the United States was short-lived. His father, a Nigerian infantry officer, was training alongside U.S. forces at Fort Benning, Ga., when his wife gave birth to Wilson in 1975. Less than a year later, the Ugah family was back in Africa, where his father wasted no time moving up the ranks of the Nigerian army.

By 1985, Ugah’s father was a battalion commander in the nation’s northern region. Wilson and the rest of the family enjoyed the relative luxury of a senior officer’s quarters, including the security offered by several armed guards throughout the evenings. In the mornings, one armed guard typically remained to keep watch over the Ugah family.

Aug. 27 was strikingly different.

“I woke up that morning … and 15 soldiers showed up,” said Ugah, who was 10 years old then. “I remember that morning Mom was trying to get to the guest house, and the soldiers wouldn’t let her leave.”

With his father away on duty, Ugah and his family grew restless in the confinement of this unexpected prison, submerged in worry and ignorance. By mid-morning, a helicopter landed carrying his father, who emerged only long enough to grab his uniform before disappearing for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until 6 p.m. that he returned and announced to the family there had been a coup, and he had been ordered by the nation’s new regime to stay home until told to do otherwise.

“My younger brother [asked], ‘What is a coup?’” Ugah remembered. “Everybody was anxious, but the night passed quietly.”

It was only in reading the morning newspaper that Ugah’s father learned he had been forcibly retired. Though bloodless, the coup went a long way in draining life from the 15-year veteran of the Nigerian armed forces.

“He took it pretty hard. He really wasn’t himself for years,” Ugah said of his father. “He really had no plans for anything outside the military.”

Amid his despondency, Wilson’s father failed to maintain critical records regarding his travels and family, something that would haunt Wilson upon graduating a Lagos high school in 1996.

“About that time, I was deciding what I was going to do,” Ugah said, when a family member suggested possibilities open to him if he could just get his hands on a U.S. passport.

Carrying only a U.S. birth certificate and the American dream, Ugah approached what at the time was the U.S. embassy in Lagos to seize his birthright. But the gauntlet of guards proved as uncompromising in action as they were in appearance.

“The biggest issue people have is getting by the guys at the gate,” Ugah said. “It would take me about two hours to get there, and I would go every day [only to be turned away for lack of identification].”

After four months of daily attempts, Ugah said, “the guard finally got sick of seeing me [and let me go in.]”

The obstacles that awaited Ugah inside proved even less forgiving. Every bit the Nigerian in mannerisms and appearance, his American citizenship made for a tough sell to U.S. officials.

“All I have here is a birth certificate and a body, and somehow I have to connect these two together,” Ugah remembers being told by a skeptical consular official.

They handed Ugah a task list that would have defeated a lesser man. It he secure a new birth certificate from the United States, provide photographs from nearly every stage of his life and present any paperwork that would prove he was, indeed, the son of the Nigerian infantry officer.

In 2000 — after three years constructing a paper trail proving he was a son of the United States — Ugah was granted a U.S. passport.

With a mere $300 in his pocket but ambition to spare, Ugah hitched himself to a Canadian oilman who had befriended Ugah’s mother during business in Nigeria. The family friend was headed to the Western United States in September 2000, and he offered his Alta, Calif., cabin to Ugah until he got on his feet in his new homeland. The cabin was so remote that it lacked power, depending only on an unreliable generator.

“I called my brother, who told me they didn’t have power [in Nigeria],” Ugah said. “I told him I didn’t have power either, and he said ‘Are you doing drugs, already? It’s not possible. You’re in the U.S.’”

With a rich heritage of military service coursing through his veins, Ugah almost immediately made his way to the nearest armed forces recruiter. He chose the Marine Corps, in large part due to its association with the U.S. Navy. “For people outside the U.S., the might of the U.S. military comes in the form of the Navy,” he explained.

That November, Ugah found himself lined up on the infamous yellow footprints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, where drill instructors promised to transform him into a Marine or die trying. The transformation for Ugah, however, went smoother than for most.

“I had seen things kids didn’t experience over here,” said Ugah, who suffered intense corporal punishment and hazing at the hands of his peers in Nigeria’s British-based boarding schools. “Someone yelling at me [in boot camp], … I wouldn’t be afraid.”

Though his high aptitude-test scores allowed him to choose any military occupation, Ugah again honored his family heritage by becoming an infantryman. His training took him to Japan, Australia and Hawaii, and it was in Honolulu that his life would be changed forever, along with the rest of America.

“We were off on patrol early in the morning, and the patrols were called back,” said Ugah, recalling his training on Sept. 11, 2001. “The officer asked if anyone was from New York, and there was one guy, and he handed him his phone so he could call his family. We had to run back to base because they were locking it down, and we got the full story of what happened. [The 9/11 attacks] were just horrible to watch.”

Ugah’s immediate response to the attacks, like that of most patriots, was “Hey, let’s go to war.” But it would be a few years before his desire to trade blows with insurgents was realized amid the urban chaos of Iraq.

In 2004, Ugah found himself at Camp Snakepit, a company-sized outpost in Ramadi, Iraq, that offered none of the celebrated comforts of the massive U.S. installations that would later populate the country. Instead of Baskin-Robbins ice cream and salsa dance nights, the space was filled by “a place to sleep, a place to wash, a toilet, a chow hall — that’s all you get,” Ugah said.

If war was Ugah’s trade of choice, he soon would ply it in earnest. With President George W. Bush’s “mission accomplished” declaration and the traditional war behind them, Ugah and the rest of the U.S. forces found themselves in the thick of a maddening insurgency. The Marine battalion his unit replaced had suffered death or injury to about 50 percent of its men during its tour. “Not a friendly crowd,” Ugah recalled.

Only one week into his deployment, Ugah found himself rolling down the recently christened Route Michigan in an armored vehicle when “everything just went black.” The Marines in the vehicle behind Ugah “swore [my] entire vehicle went up in a ball of flames,” he said.

Ugah exited his charred carriage and sized up the scene. Blood-soaked streets, decapitated bodies once belonging to insurgents, screaming Marines and enemy fire from all directions made for a sobering crash course in reality. “It was a hell of a welcome.”

Though he escaped his initial brush with death, Ugah soon would lose a close friend to combat, repeatedly gain promotions due to others’ injuries as much as his own merit, and work his way through a number of ambushes and close calls. Still, when Ugah ruminates on his time in Iraq, he exhibits an optimism and resilience that his time with the Marines exposed more than forged.

“We were always on the offensive,” Ugah said. “We had a few more KIAs, but it ended up being a good deployment. We killed a lot of bad guys. We brought some safety and stability to that place.”

It soon became evident that Ugah’s dogged spirit translated beyond battles with embassy bureaucracies and Iraqi insurgents. Wanting some stability to pursue his education, Ugah became an embassy security guard with the Marines, a gig that begged “full circle.”

During an embassy social event in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a striking “lady in red” made her entrance, snapping the heads of Ugah and other socially starved Marines. Quickly sensing they were out of their league, the other Marines chose to admire from afar. In Ugah’s case, however, social challenges triggered his courage as much as Ramadi firefights.

“No one was talking to her, so I did the smart thing and went and talked to her mom,” said Ugah, beaming with pride over his innovative approach. “Once the mom introduces you to her daughter, you know you’re in.”

Ugah’s social instincts were keen, as the woman of interest was also the daughter of the embassy’s local guard chief, and she was studying to become a physician. It wasn’t long before Olga and Wilson fell in love and found themselves married with a child, eager to make their way to the United States. The process of gaining entry for Olga left Wilson shaking his head in both delight and disbelief.

“It took her only three days to get an immigrant visa,” said Ugah, remembering his three-year ordeal in securing his American birthright.

Once home, Ugah pursued his education in earnest, and soon set his sights on an officer’s commission. Too old to become an active duty Marine officer, he learned of the Army National Guard and its diverse commissioning programs. He ultimately separated from the Marines and became a second lieutenant after two months in the accelerated Officer Candidate School.

Bouncing between several lackluster civilian jobs, including a stint as an insurance agent — “Of course, I didn’t sell anything, so I didn’t get paid” — Ugah finally found full-time work at the state military department, where he excels today as the California’s ammunition manager.

His aspirations, however, include a position for which he seems ideally suited: liaison officer for the California National Guard in Nigeria, one of two nations, along with Ukraine, with which the California Guard shares a state partnership program.

“It’s something I’d really love to do,” Ugah said. “I lived there for 25 years [and] have ties with their military through my family. … I understand the people, understand the language, understand the culture.”

Despite his international goals and experience — he traveled to more than 30 nations during his time with the Marine Corps — Ugah is quick to affirm that his heart rests with the United States, the nation of his birth.

“I am an American,” Ugah said. “It is home.”

Spotlight Award: SSgt Ryan Rodgers

by AMC

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- SSgt Ryan Rodgers serves as the Aerial Port Support Section Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, 728th Air Mobility Squadron, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. He identified numerous hazardous conditions in the work environment during his weekly safety inspections. In response, he co-authored four Job Safety Analyses to train and educate personnel on how to recognize and abate potential hazards and mishaps. In an effort to reverse the trend of vehicle mishaps throughout the enterprise, he organized a flight safety day to refresh all personnel on risk management and material handling equipment operations. This renewed focus cultivated a safety mindset in the 101 personnel under his scope of responsibility, which is evidenced by the fact that even with an influx of newly assigned personnel, there have been no safety incidents within the Aerial Port. Finally, as a hazardous material and explosives handling instructor, SSgt Rodgers oversaw the training and certification of all Aerial Port personnel on the safe disposition of dangerous goods. His diligence paid off with the safe and efficient airlift of 10 tons of explosives on three aircraft.

Well Done Award: TSgt Cory B. Little

from AMC

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- Congratulations to TSgt Cory B. Little, 573d Global Support Squadron, 621st Contingency Response Wing, Travis AFB, on his recent receipt of the Air Force Weapons Safety Well Done Award for outstanding achievements in Weapons Safety.

Sergeant Little was recognized for his excellence in handling the safety, security, and maintenance of 975 weapons and 627,000 rounds of ammunition valued at approximately $1.9 million. His thorough oversight ensured 662 Contingency Response Wing personnel were safely trained, armed, and prepared to support the Wing's capability to respond rapidly to global contingencies, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief operations.

An innovative thinker, Sergeant Little initiated multiple training, standardization, and certification programs, promoting a culture of safety that directly contributed to the Wing's impressive zero Class A and B mishap record and the Squadron's receipt of the Contingency Response Unit of the Year Award.

It isn't possible to list all of Sergeant Little's accomplishments, but a few specific milestones include initiation of a Wing Explosive Detector Program, spearheading ammunition deployment Standard Operating Procedures, and launching a Squadron Armory Training Program. Additionally, several of his ideas for managing inventory saved the Air Force a considerable amount of money.

These and his many other accomplishments, along with Sgt Little's overall commitment to excellence, exemplify the highest standards of weapon safety. Thank you for your dedication, Sgt Little, and congratulations on receiving the Well Done Award.

Providing Care: Senior Airman Taryn Summers

by Senior Airman Shandresha Mitchell
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


2/6/2014 - TAMPA, Fla. -- U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Novak, United States Special Operations Command, lay in the middle of the road waiting for care after his motorcycle had collided into a car early Tuesday morning outside of the Dale Mabry gate of MacDill Air Force Base.

Senior Airman Taryn Summers, 91st Air Refueling Squadron, arrived on the scene unaware of the events that had taken place only a few moments earlier but was ready to provide care.

"When I parked my car, he was surrounded by a group of elderly women who were trying to provide care; I immediately made them aware that I was a certified EMT and took charge of the situation," commented Summers.

Novak commented he was suffering from pain in his legs; however, Summers wanted to verify this was the only thing he was suffering from.

"I conducted a blood sweep and checked him for broken bones," stated Summers. "I discovered that his femur may be broken and that his ankle was bruised and swollen."

Lt. Col. Richard Briscoe, United States Central Command, arrived on the scene and assessed the situation.

"Senior Airman Summers was in charge of the situation. Tampa police and medical were still en route, but Senior Airman Summers had triaged the man for wounds, and directed a civilian to keep the man's head and neck stable," commented Briscoe. "When I asked if anyone had performed Self Aid and Buddy Care, she mentioned that she had and that she was also an EMT. Since she was doing great as the first-responder, I turned my attention to directing traffic and ensuring the scene was as safe as possible."

Briscoe mentioned to Summers how lucky the victim was she took the initiative to get advanced medical training, and thought to himself how glad he was that she was in our Air Force.

"I was impressed with how calm and confident she was during the entire event," stated Briscoe.

When the medics arrived, Summers relayed her exam findings, and they deduced to the same conclusion as Summers, commenting Novak's injury was in fact a broken femur.

"This is the first time I have taken on a real-life trauma situation alone," stated Summers.

"I usually work with a team or a class on medical emergency scenarios."

Summers has no military medical background. She works as an executive assistant at the 91st ARS; and prior to this assignment, she was an executive assistant at the 6th Operations Support Squadron.

The flame that pushed Summers to take an emergency medical technician course at Hillsborough Community College was her two small children.

"My two children are daredevils; so when my oldest son, Bradley, broke his arm I panicked as a mom and the training I received from the military went out the window," commented Summers. "I didn't want that to happen again; so about a week later I enrolled into a 16-week EMT course."

Summers efforts did not go unrecognized; Col. Scott DeThomas, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, coined Summers for the services she provided to Novak.

Summers stated, "To be completely honest the recognition is a bit overwhelming. I only really did what I was trained to do."

18 AF Surges in Africa Mobility Airmen: Ready and Responsive, Anytime, Anywhere

by Maj Michael Meridith
18th Air Force


2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- 18 AF Surges in Africa

Mobility Airmen: Ready and Responsive,
Anytime, Anywhere
As the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela drew the world's attention to the African continent, Mobility Airmen raced against the clock to ensure President Obama's security, communications, and mission support was in place.

Within days, those would become part of an international effort to help end violence in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Minutes after the international press announced Mandela's death on Dec. 5, planners at the 18th Air Force and the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center), Air Mobility Command's operational warfighting arm, began working to support anticipated presidential travel to South Africa. Linking up with their counterparts at U.S. Transportation Command and Air Forces Africa, 18th Air Force planners immediately began the complex effort of orchestrating the movement. And then things got complicated.

An initial deadline of Dec. 11 quickly shifted to Dec. 10, leaving the team with only about 60 hours to move thousands of tons of equipment halfway across the globe in advance of the President's arrival. Capitalizing on lessons learned from earlier presidential trips to Africa, the planners crafted a sophisticated network of Airmen and infrastructure at overseas locations in Puerto Rico, the Indian Ocean, Africa, and Europe to support the 24 airlift aircraft, which included 23 C-17 Globemasters and a C-5 Galaxy. In addition, the lack of fuel availability over vast distances and in Africa mandated the support of four KC-135s and 12 KC-10s.

Around the same time, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the United States would support French and African peacekeeping efforts in the Central African Republic, specifically airlift of Burundi troops to the CAR.

"Our ability to accomplish the short-notice planning to support the Burundian deployment without losing focus on the execution and branch planning for the President's travel demonstrates the dedication and agility of the 18th Air Force/618th team," said Col. Kurt Meidel, the 18th Air Force's Director of Operations.

Within days of the announcement, as the presidential support operation began to switch gears to the redeployment of personnel and equipment, 18th Air Force's Air Operations Center, the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center), had already coordinated two C-17 aircraft to transport more than 800 Burundi peacekeepers and equipment from Uganda to the CAR, where they were greeted by cheering crowds.

"The scale of the rapid support of a presidential movement into an austere location with only 60 hours to execution was impressive," said Maj Gen Barbara Faulkenberry, 18th Air Force vice commander. "It was a testament to the phenomenal planning and coordination that is simply a fact of how we do business."

Simultaneous execution and quick pivoting is nothing new for Mobility Airmen. In 2011, Air Mobility Command forces successfully responded to the near-simultaneous demands of humanitarian relief to Japan while supporting combat operations in Libya. In the case of the Africa missions, the nimbleness of the enterprise built not only on support of past presidential missions, but also a foundation of continued engagement on the continent.

Since 2011, the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center's 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron (MSAS) has conducted engagements and training with African partner nations where air mobility operational support is either non-existent or insufficient. The squadron is a tailorable, expeditionary organization whose members have expertise in command and control, air operations, aerial port operations, and aircraft maintenance. Additionally, since December 2012, the 818 MSAS has conducted three engagements, training its counterparts in the Burundi military in cargo preparation and load planning.

"It was great working alongside the Burundi Air Force," said Capt Louis Crooms, 818 MSAS senior air advisor, who noted that the Burundis his team trained had since assisted in an African Union mission to Somalia. "It was great to know they were able to put the skills we taught to use. In fact, I recently received an email from one of my counterparts saying that all people we trained with were using those same skills for the Central African Republic mission. He thanked us and asked when we were going back. To me, that's the mark of success for our efforts ... Africans helping Africans."

Although operations in Africa continue, AMC planners continue to look "around the corner" in anticipation of new requirements, ensuring the flexibility and readiness that is the hallmark of Mobility Airmen.

"As Mobility Airmen, our charge is to be ready to respond anywhere on the globe where we're needed," said Faulkenberry. "Thanks to the expertise of our planners and our continuing efforts to build the capacity of our partner nations, we were able to very quickly answer America's call and support the international partnership seeking to stop the sectarian violence and restore security in the Central African Republic."

Effectiveness inspection begins for Fairchild's classic-association wings

92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE Wash.,  -- Fairchild Air Force Base's Unit Effectiveness Inspection capstone visit began Wednesday as the first inspection of a KC-135 Total Force Integration organization under the new Air Force Inspection System.

About 90 members from the Air Mobility Command Inspector General's inspection team, consisting of functional experts from various career field backgrounds, will inspect and validate the effectiveness of programs and self-assessment processes within the classic-association between the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings.

"The UEI capstone will validate the Fairchild's Total Force culture of compliance," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "This inspection signifies our transition from a system of being 'evaluated' for compliance to a system of 'demonstrating' that we can measure our own compliance and mission effectiveness."

The capstone visit provides higher headquarters an external evaluation of wing performance based on four major graded areas: 1) Leading People; 2) Executing the Mission; 3) Managing Resources; and 4) Improving the Unit.

"In our usual association fashion, we immediately seized the opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of both wings and created a combined IG office," said Col. Daniel Swain, 141st ARW commander. "The 92nd and 141st IG teams have been in constant communication with both AMC and Air National Guard IG to make sure we are in line with the expectations under this new UEI concept. Our success is always in the partnership between both wings."

Unlike previous inspection processes, the UEI includes confidential interviews with some wing-level Airmen and family members called "Airmen-to-IG sessions" explained Col. Brian Hill, 92nd ARW vice commander.

"The interviews will help identify the needs and challenges of Airmen and their families in order to measure the command's overall effectiveness," said Hill. "The visit as a whole will provide MAJCOM and Air Force-level leadership an accurate evaluation of Fairchild's total-force compliance and effectiveness."

The UEI, which was officially launched Air Force-wide in June 2013, focuses on continuous mission readiness rather than one-time inspection readiness.

The in-person visit also helps identify areas where risks from undetected non-compliance are greatest, said Lt. Col. David Parlotz, 92nd ARW IG.

Outlined in Air Force Instruction 90-201, the UEI operates on a two-year cycle that requires wing and unit commanders to continuously inspect their own programs using the Management Internal Control Toolset program.

"MICT is the tool that allows units to keep the commander informed on the compliance of their programs," said Parlotz. "MICT helps continually identify focus areas to the commander and will serve as a starting point for the AMC IG inspectors during this UEI capstone visit."

Fairchild's UEI process first began in August when base members, spouses and contractors were asked to fill out a voluntary, anonymous survey to provide the AMC IG a baseline comprehension of wing processes.

Since then, the base has stood up a Wing Inspection Team to outline and perform self-assessment processes to ensure the effectiveness of the Commander's Inspection Program, or CCIP, while continually working with the AMC IG team and functional experts to ensure continual compliance.

Fairchild is the third AMC wing to be inspected under the new process. Little Rock AFB and Joint Base Charleston conducted their capstone visits September and December, respectively.

Explosives Safety Individual of the Year

from AMC

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- Explosives Safety Individual of the Year

TSgt Byron K. Allen
375 AMW, Scott AFB, IL

TSgt Byron K. Allen is the Weapons Safety Manager for the 375th Air Mobility Wing, Scott AFB, IL. He is solely responsible for implementing the weapons safety program for the entire installation, in addition to providing safety oversight and support to 23 tenant units.

While deployed, he created numerous Explosives Site Plans for multiple Africa Command airbases, establishing munitions storage operations and combat aircraft parking that provided deployed Combatant Commanders with kinetic air power. As the Scott Air Force Base Weapons Safety Manager, he personally trained 38 additional duty weapons safety representatives and authored a comprehensive training and compliance guide. TSgt Allen also led munitions operations in the first ever Military Ocean Terminal Concord Air Force Prepositioned Fleet refresh operation, loading the Motor Vessel Bennett with 4.6 million pounds of net explosive weight. This returned the vessel to Pacific Command ahead of schedule, saving the Air Force over 5 million dollars.

TSgt Allen is a native of Enterprise, AL, and entered the Air Force in 1998. He began his career as Munitions Systems Apprentice and has served in various positions and fields: Conventional Maintenance, Munitions Control, Senior Munitions Inspector, and Precision Guided Munitions (Missiles). His assignments include Barksdale AFB, LA; Kunsan AB, South Korea; Elmendorf AFB, AK; RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, and finally Scott AFB, IL. He has deployed numerous times in support of Operation Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.